Talinghaga ng ugnayan natin

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-26 ng Setyembre 2022
Larawan mula sa bloomberg.com ng isang homeless sa New York habang dinaraos noon ang fashion week, 2019.

Sinabi ni Jesus sa mga Pariseo, “May isang mayamang nagdaramit nang mamahalin at saganang-sagana sa pagkain araw-araw. At may isang pulubing nagngangalang Lazaro, tadtad ng sugat, na nakalupasay sa may pintuan ng mayaman upang mamulot kahit mumong nahuhulog mula sa hapag ng mayaman. At doo’y nilalapitan siya ng aso at dinidilaan ang kanyang mga sugat.

Lukas 16:19-21
Alam na alam natin 
ang talinghagang ito
na marahil isasaysay muli 
sa atin ni Kristo
upang magising ating pagkatao, 
makilala sinu-sino
mga tinutukoy 
nitong kuwento
na walang iba kungdi tayo.
Tayo ang mayaman
sagana sa pagpapala di lamang
ng magagarang damit at gamit,
pagkain at inumin
kungdi ng biyaya ng buhay
handog ng Maykapal
na sawimpalad ay ating 
sinasarili, manhid sa kapwa
sarili ang sa tuwina ay tama.
Mayaman tayo 
sa mga pagpapala
ngunit hindi mabanaagan
ni masilayan aliwalas
nitong mukha, ipinagkakait
mga ngiti sa labi, hindi mabati
nakakasalubong upang mahawi
lambong ng kalungkutan,
mapawi pati mga sakbibi.
Ang tunay na mayaman
Diyos ang kayamanan
kanyang nababanaagan 
sa mukha ng bawat kapwa 
na kanyang pinahahalagahan
kesa sa gamit o kasangkapan;
hindi siya kailangang lapitan
ni daingan sapagkat dama niya
hirap at kapighatian ng nahihirapan.
Huwag tayong pakasigurado
na tayo ay mabuting tao
hindi tulad ng mayaman
sa talinghaga ni Kristo
sapagkat si Lazaro
ang taong pinakamalapit
sa iyo, nakalupasay,
nariyan lang sa tabi mo
nilalapitan ng aso maliban sa iyo.
Si Lazaro ang nanay
at ginang ng tahanan
tadtad sa sugat ang katawan
mula sa paglapastangan
ng mga anak at panloloko
ng sariling esposo;
ang mga lola at lolo rin
si Lazaro na namumulot ng mumo
ng pansin at kalinga mula sa mga apo.
Kung minsan si Lazaro
yaong nagtatrabaho sa barko
o malayong dako ng mundo
gaya ni tatay o nanay, ate o kuya
nasaan man sila, tanging pamilya
ang nasa puso nila
 hindi alintana kanilang
pagtitiis at pagpapagal
winawalwal ng kanilang minamahal.
Sino nga ba ako
sa talinghagang ito?
Ang mayaman na manhid
walang pakialam sa kapatid
o si Lazaro nagtitiis ng tahimik
walang imik sa kanyang sinapit
tanging sa Diyos nakakapit
nananalig sa Kanyang pagsagip
upang langit ay masapit!

Panalangin para sa napaka-sungit na panahon

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-25 ng Setyembre, 2022
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa Pangasinan, Abril 2022.
Diyos Ama naming
mapagmahal,
kami ay ipag-adya 
sa lahat ng kapahamakan
at mga kapinsalaan sa 
pagdaraan ngayon ng
super-typhoon;
hindi namin mapigilang
maalaala malaking pagbaha
noong petsa Setyembre 26 din
ng taong 2009 nang manalasa ang
bagyong Ondoy; kaya't dalangin
namin ang paghupa nitong
napaka-sungit na panahon
kung tawagi'y super typhoon.
Sa mga sandaling ito
ng malalakas na buhos ng ulan
at walang tigil na paghampas
at pagbugso ng malalakas na
hangin, aming idinadalangin maliliit
naming mga kapatid, lalo't higit mga
naroon sa mga baybaying dagat at 
malapit sa ilog, yaong mga walang 
sariling tirahan, at mga nasa barong-
barong:  sila nawa ay makalikas sa 
mga ligtas na lugar hanggang 
makalipas malalakas na ulan at hangin.

Ipinapanalangin namin mga 
volunteers nasa rescue operations:
ingatan po ninyo sila sa lahat ng
kapahamakan, iligtas at pangalagaan
po Ninyo kanilang mga pamilya at
mahal sa buhay habang sila ay 
abala sa paglilingkod sa mga mamamayang
apektado ng kalamidad; gayon din po
ang mga nasa iba't ibang sangay ng
pamahalaan at mga nasa media na kumakalap
ng mga balita upang magkaroon kami ng 
tumpak na kalagayan ng mga nasalanta.

O Diyos naming makapangyarihan,
hindi man mapipigilan pananalasa ng
kalikasan, buksan at panibaguhin
aming mga kalooban upang kami
ay magdamayan, magtulungan
bilang iyong pinili at hinirang na
sambayanan; gayun din naman,
sana amin nang mapagtanto at
pangatawanan pangangalaga sa
kalikasan na aming pinabayaan
sanhi ng mga pansariling kaluguran.
Hinihiling naming ang lahat ng ito 
sa ngalan ni Hesus na Iyong Anak at
aming Tagapagligtas, 
sa kapangyarihan ng Espiritu Santo,
magpasawalang-hanggan.  
Amen.

O mahal na Birheng Maria
aming Ina, kami ay iyong
ipanalangin at samahan,
liwanagan at tanglawan
paglalakbay sa gitna ng 
kadiliman nitong buhay,
sa malakas na unos
kami ay magtiwala 
tanging kaligtasa'y 
kay Kristo lamang.
Amen. 

Agosto beinte-uno

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-21 ng Agosto, 2022
Larawan mula sa inquirer.net, 21 Agosto 2021.
Agosto 21, 2022. 
Ganito rin noong Agosto 21, 1983.
May kakaibang pakiramdam.
Mayroong nangyayari.
Mayroong nangyari.
At mayroong mangyayari.
Pero, sayang.
Matatagalan na yata na
mayroon pang muling mangyari
na gayong uri ng kabayanihang
limutin ang sarili para sa bayan;
sayang, bakit natin pinabayaan
rurok ng kasaysayan
upang muling ilugmok sa kadiliman?
Gayon nga yata ating kapalaran,
tulad ng ugoy ng duyan itong kasaysayan;
hindi ko maiwasan maramdamam
ni Simoun sa El Filibusterismo
na hindi ko na nga yata maabutan
pagbubukang-liwayway ng Inang Bayan
kaya sa mga nalalabing panahon
nitong kadiliman, maging munting liwanag
upang aking mabuksan mga mata at
kamalayan ng kabataan sa katotohanan;
higit sa lahat,
huwag nang asahan mga karamihan
tularan si Ninoy
talikuran sariling kapakanan
para sa bayan.
At magbakasakaling mayroong
muling matauhan
sa awa at biyaya
ng Diyos na siyang hantungan
ng lahat ng kasaysayan.

“Sinasabi ko sa inyo ang mga bagay na ito upang makahati kayo sa kagalakan ko at malubos ang inyuong kagalakan. Ito ang aking utos: mag-ibigan kayo gaya ng pag-ibig ko sa inyo. Walang pag-ibig na hihigit pa sa pag-ibig ng isang taong nag-aalay ng kanyang buhay para sa kanyang mga kaibigan.”

Ang Panginoong Jesus noong Huling Hapunan, Juan 15:11-13

TikTok ngayon, Tiktik Magasin noon?

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-25 ng Mayo 2022
Larawan mula sa gettyimages.com at bbc.com.
Huwag sanang masamain
aking pagkagambala
pagkahumaling sa app 
na kung tawagin ay TikTok;
batid ko ang maraming kabutihan
dulot nito sa pakikipagtalastasan
at ugnayan ngunit bakit tila
nauungusan ng mga kahalayan
at kabastusan makabagong laruan?
Nakakaaliw mga katatawanan
at kalokohang napapanood
ngunit nakakabagabag mga
kalaswaan nilalarawan at
napapakinggang usapang
natutungahayan sa munting screen
buong kamalayan ang winawasak,
murang isipan nalilinlang
habang oras at panahon nasasayang.
Hindi sa pagmamarunong
ibig ko ring itanong,
"kailangan pa bang picturan"
maski sa lansangan, dalampasigan 
at may pampang mga pasiklaban
sa pag-giling ng katawan at
suot-suot ay kakapiranggot?
"Kailangan pa bang picturan"
ipangalandakan kagandahan ng katawan?
Kung ating babalikan
sariling kapanahunan 
dekada ochenta mayroong
lathalain kung tawagin Tiktik Magasin, 
mga kuwento at dibuho pulos 
seksuwal at kabastusan 
pinararaan sa panitikan 
bilang pagsasalang-alang 
sa karamihang tao na maselan.
Ang kahalayan saan mang
paraan ipahayag ay masagwa
at masama pa rin; ngunit may
higit na banta sa lahat, lalo samga bata  
nababantad sa mahahalay na 
panoorin lalo na sa TikTok at Youtube:
mga mura nilang kaisipan at kamalayan 
nasisira at nalalason na tila ang buhay
ay puro palabas na lamang.
Kaya sana ay pagnilayan
makabagong teknolohiya 
sa pakikipagtalastasan 
ay biyaya ng Diyos upang
mga tao ay mapaglapit at
mabuklod sa kanilang ugnayan,
mapalawak ang kanyang kamalayan
sa kagandahan nitong buhay at 
sariling dangal bilang kalarawan ng Maykapal! 
Larawan mula sa pinterest.com.

Priests and the elections

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 19 May 2022
Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images.

Like many of you, the people I elected lost last May 9. Fact is, I felt the same sense of loss and sadness and disappointment – but not depression nor anxiety – many of you feel today as early as 2016 when not even one opposition made it into the Senate.

It was in the 2016 elections when I realized that our people would continue to be less discerning in electing their leaders, of how it would get worst before getting any better, not even in my lifetime. The following morning after Duterte was elected president in 2016, our kasambahay came to me during breakfast to apologize, saying, “sorry po Father… binoto ko po si Bung (Bong Revilla) kasi baka wala pong bumoto sa kanya.”

You see, I have been trying to educate Manang to be more discerning in choosing candidates since the start of the 2016 elections campaign period but no amount of explanations seemed to have convinced her. Hence, I just told her, “kakaawa mo sa kanya, hayun, naging topnother si Bong Revilla, ngayon kawawa ang bayan natin.” The same thing happened last week that we now have Robin Padilla as Senator of the Republic too.

However, I am still filled with hopes in our future. We are not a hopeless case of going to the dogs if we start learning the lessons of these 2022 elections that were similar with 2016’s if we priests return to our original mission of teaching and sharing Jesus, only Jesus and always Jesus. Enough with our political partisanship, of endorsements and campaigns for candidates no matter how worthy they may be.

Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images.

This may sound very simple, even simplistic. As a priest, I feel and fear we have forgotten Jesus in these recent elections. Even a week after, many have not stopped in their “fight”, making all those unChristian comments in social media that prove we have indeed lost Christ lately.

“Oh, men of little faith!” is how Jesus would probably exclaim at some of us priests and bishops in this post-elections period.

Instead of educating the people, some priests and bishops went too far into campaigning even at the pulpit for particular candidates that led to disillusionment than enlightenment. And now, we are into this mess – the second elections in a row since 2016 – when the people resoundingly rejected not only the clergy’s candidates but also the Church we represent as an institution. What is tragic is how we priests still do not get it, even that simple lesson in history that every time priests endorse candidates, they turn out to be kiss of death!

It is so disappointing how most of the priests and bishops were so quiet, not silent, in 2020 when the quarantine period was prolonged more than twice or thrice that kept our churches closed, denying the people much needed spiritual guidance and nourishment during the pandemic. Sadly when the campaign period for the elections started last year, many priests were suddenly out, vocal and filled with courage in joining rallies even on Saturdays and Sundays when they should be celebrating the Mass in their parishes, when they should be praying and reflecting on the gospel to nourish souls but were instead baffling the faithful if their pastors were leading them to heaven or hell.

The double standard cannot be denied: when Leny declared her candidacy last October, some priests and parishes posted on social media pictures of Gaudete and Laudete Sunday’s pink motifs but, when Red Wednesday came in November to honor those persecuted in the Church, the same priests and parishes issued clarifications that the liturgical red motif was not in any way political.

Of course, it has always been non-political until they started it! Unfortunately, the bad taste of insincerity was all over and no one felt ashamed at all. Which brings us to the many sanctimonious “sermons” – not homilies (they are different) – that followed during Lent, filled with self-righteousness and holier-than-thou attitudes as if there are no thieves and liars among us.

Photo by author, Stations of the Cross at the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, March 2022.

The question being asked by the faithful – where is God? – following the results of the recent elections is an indictment of the priests who have abandoned Jesus and so believed in themselves and their candidates, denying Christ the chance to do that much-needed miracle we were all hoping for since the start of the campaign period.

A former student now based in Canada recently narrated how he and his wife told their eight year-old daughter the need to stand and defend the truth. I was impressed and touched that I congratulated him as I recalled those first 12 years of my priesthood teaching them in our diocesan school in Malolos City. I mentioned to him how it pained me that some of our graduates have joined the “dark forces” in politics with one notoriously grandstanding during the proceedings revoking the franchise of ABS-CBN.

We can only do as much but the most important thing is to remain focused in Jesus, in words and in deeds despite our weaknesses and unworthiness. When people experience and get to know Jesus, everything good follows. We called it in my former school assignment “Sanctitas in Sapientia” or “Holiness in Wisdom” – the more we get to know Jesus, the more we grow in wisdom and holiness becoming like him so that we also follow him and love him through others.

That is the challenge to us this post-election period: let us double time, spend our energies in bringing back the people, especially the young inside the churches not to the streets to learn more about Jesus in the Sacraments. Most of all, to reach out to those in the margins, the majority we love to bash in putting into office the same “unworthy” candidates as leaders of the nation.

A few days after the elections, we had the first Confession and first Holy Communion of our Grade III and IV students at the Basic Education Department of Our Lady of Fatima University in Valenzuela City. It was then when I got more convinced how in the past 24 years that priesthood is bringing Jesus to the people first through the meaningful celebrations of the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist where his words are proclaimed and cracked open to let Jesus touch the hearts of everyone.

Both in the parish and in the school, I have seen that Jesus is the One transforming people, the One who changes people, not us priests nor anyone. We are merely his instruments.

Photo by Mr. Paulo Sillonar, Basic Education Dept., Our Lady of Fatima University, 11 May 2022.

In the beautiful story of the feeding of 5000, we are told that when Jesus saw a large crowd coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do (Jn.6:5-6).

Jesus knows very well what he is going to do in every situation, especially elections. Our job is to listen to Jesus, to make Jesus present to everyone, to share Jesus.

Later after the feeding of 5000 in the wilderness, Jesus gave his bread of life discourse to the people who have followed him to Capernaum but they could not take his words that eventually, they left him along with the other followers of Christ. Only the Twelve remained with him whom he asked, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn.6:67-68).

Do we have the same faith and focus of Simon Peter in Jesus? Why worry after we have lost these elections?

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that all our affairs in this life and in this world must always be seen beyond its social and economic, even medical and political implications but always in the light of Christ and his Cross. This reality is perfectly captured by the Inquirer photographer last August 2021 when the chapel of the QC General Hospital was converted into a COVID ward during a surge. The photo speaks loudly and clearly of the one reality we always forget, especially us priests.

Again, my views may be simple, even simplistic, compared to the learned but so many times, that is how God works too. Thank you for taking time to read. Join me in praying:

Lord Jesus Christ, 
so many times we leave you behind, 
following ourselves and others 
instead of you alone who is 
"the way and the truth and the life"
(Jn.14:6). Amen.

Have a blessed weekend!

Front page photo of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 20 August 2021.

Jesus and our Vote

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Third Week of Easter, 06 May 2022
Acts 9:1-20   ><))))*> + <*((((><   John 6:52-59
Photo by author, Puerto del Sol, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 19 April 2022.
Our readings today,
O God our Father, 
are very much alike with
our situation these days:
so many tensions, so many
quarrels among friends and
families due to elections on
Monday.

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.

Acts 9:1-2

The Jews quarreled among themselves…

John 6:52
Only Jesus Christ your Son,
our Lord can dispel all these 
negative feelings and disharmony
if we can be humble like Paul and 
Ananias who prayed over him;
"level up" our thoughts to higher
realities in life, in spirituality so
that we may realize the inner truth
and beauty of Jesus our bread of life;
how sad that in this highly advanced
age and time, we can "shift" our 
thoughts to higher levels or 
advanced stages in terms of material
things only like garnering most scores
or sales or followers and other numbers
that rarely speak about realities in life.
In this final stretch of the campaign
period, remind us anew like Paul that
we are all brothers and sisters in Christ,
that whatever we do to one another,
we do exactly to you, dear Jesus;
open our minds and hearts to listen
to your voice, Lord Jesus Christ
on whom to vote this Monday based
on your teachings of love and truth.
Amen.

Ano – o Sino – ang Inaabangan sa Pasko?

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-6 ng Disyembre 2021
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa San Fernando, Pampanga, 18 Nobyembre 2021.
Taun-taon, 
halos lahat ng tao
nasasabik sa Pasko
palaging inaabangan
sa mga countdown.
Ngunit bakit nga ba
inaabangan natin ang Pasko?
Petsa lamang ba ito 
at panahon na dumarating,
lumilipas din? 
Kung gayon lang ang Pasko,
bakit hindi na lang tayo 
magbilang ng araw
Bagong Taon pa man?
Higit sa petsa 
at panahon ang Pasko
dahil ito ay ang Diyos na naging Tao;
ang Pasko ay si Hesu-Kristo 
na sumilang noon sa mundo 
at dumarating pa rin sa puso 
ng bawat tao kaya't itong Pasko 
ay isang katotohanan, isang kaganapan
nang ang Diyos ay makialam
at pumasok sa ating kaguluhan,
pinunan marami nating kakulangan,
pinawi mga kasalanan, pinalitan 
ng kanyang kabanalan upang 
buhay natin ay maging makabuluhan.
Sa panahon pa ring ito 
ng pandemya, sana atin nang 
mapagtanto ang Pasko 
ay hindi tanong ng kung ANO 
kungdi ng kung SINO inaabangan 
na tanging si Hesu-Kristo,
dumarating hindi sa sabsaban
kungdi sa ating puso at kalooban
kung saan nagmumula ating mga
gulo at kadiliman; sikaping matagpuan
Kanyang bakas sa ating mga mukha
upang tayo'y makipag-kapwa at 
maranasan Kanyang kapanatilihan
kesa tayo magbilang ng mga petsa at buwan. 
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa San Fernando, Pampanga, 18 Nobyembre 2021.

Parol ating pastol

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-16 ng Nobyembre 2021
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 11 Nobyembre 2021.
Hindi ko maiwasang umindak
sa awiting "kumukuti-kutitap,
bumubusi-busilak" tuwing 
makakakita ng mga parol 
nakasabit sa mga binatana,
binebenta sa kalsada
kahit malayo pa ang Pasko.
Ang mga parol ay tulad ng pastol
umaakay sa atin sa gitna ng dilim
hatid ay liwanag at galak
upang matunton at marating
Sanggol na sumilang sa sabsaban
habang mundo ay balot sa kasamaan
upang tayo ay tubusin sa ating mga kasalanan.
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 11 Nobyembre 2021.
Makukulay, puno ng sigla
alalaong-baga, buhay na buhay
itong mga parol at iba pang mga palamuti
hatid ay hindi lamang ngiti sa labi
kungdi tuwa at kagalakan sa puso at kalooban
isang taon na naman matatagpusan
kahit COVID-19 kayang lampasan!
Katulad ng mga bituin at tala
mga parol at palamuti ng Kapaskuhan
matutunghayan lamang sa gitna
ng malaking kadiliman kagaya sa ating buhay
kung kailan mayroong kapighatian 
at lahat ay nalalabuan, doon naman
nagiging maliwanag at makulay ang lahat!
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 11 Nobyembre 2021.
Isang kabalintunaang tunay
ganda at busilak ng mga parol
sa atin nagpapastol tungo sa
liwanag ng kinabukasan;
sana manatiling nagningning 
liwanag ni Kristo sa puso at 
kalooban natin. 
Aking dasal at hiling
ngayong Paskong darating
sana matapos na itong COVID-19;
matularan sana natin mga parol
magpastol sa kawan, huwag silang maligaw
sa kadiliman  ng mga mapanlinlang 
tanging Diyos ang maging sandigan.
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 11 Nobyembre 2021.

My screen this quarantine

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 17 August 2021
Image from Pinterest.

We are almost done with the first week of our third lockdown with nine more days before it is either extended or modified depending on what jumbled letter combinations come out from the magic roulette in the Palace. Either way, hail to all couch potatoes for longer weeks in front of that magic screen!

Thanks for the gift of Netflix in keeping our sanity in this pandemic. And more thanks again Netflix in streaming more television shows lately especially coming from the Philippines.

Forget My Amanda that should have been called My Cars or My Abs or My Hair

One series you should not miss before the end of this Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) is Bagman starring Arjo Atayde.

First released in 2019 as an original series in iWantTFC, Bagman is so unique as a Filipino series because of its fast-paced tempo of less than 30 minutes per episode without the usual Pinoy director’s penchance for intense close up shots on faces of the characters with nothing expected to happen at all.

Everything in the production is superb, especially cinematography and musical scoring as well location sets that are characteristically the hallmarks of every ABS-CBN film undertaking. In fact, Bagman is one perfect reason that ABS-CBN should get back its franchise to operate for helping elevate television and film in the country.

Unlike other socio-political movies where we already know how low and evil is politics in the country, Bagman challenges us for a more personal response in ending this vicious circle of corruption and decadence in our culture and life as a nation.

Kudos to its creators Philip Kind, Lino Cayetano and Shugo Praico who directed the two-season series we hope would still have a final sequel. Their great attention to details with subliminal meanings on the roles and manners of different characters make the viewers “experience” – not just watch – the series done in first-person storytelling with narrations by Atayde himself as a former barber becoming a bagman of the governor. Each episode opens with a disclaimer that it is a work of fiction based on realities we have heard and read.

At its best, Bagman can be described as “totoong-totoo” – very true with its great storyline with characters played out so well by every actor like a thespian, beginning with Atayde and his co-stars that included the resurrected former sex-goddess Ms. Rosanna Roces and former Bagets Ms. Yayo Aguida.

From Twitter.

Personally striking for me as a former smoker and police reporter is Atayde puffing his cigarettes clipped between his middle and ring finger.

So classic, tsong!

They must really have a superb study for Atayde and even everyone, like Mr. Joel Saracho who played a supporting role in a few episodes as a former cobbler turned “assistant” of the evil congressman played by Romnick Sarmenta. A writer himself and a veteran to many great productions on stage and the movies, Saracho brought his usual finesse in the few scenes he was included with great impact.

Bagman teems with many scenes focused on marginalized people forced to make that desperate “kapit sa patalim” due to poverty and exploitation by crooks who come from both the rich and poor alike. Here lies the beauty of the series in teaching everyone without pontificating the need to always choose the right path in life, to be careful of getting stuck into a situation one can no longer get out and cost one’s life or loved ones, or both.

One unforgettable scene for me is that episode focused on Atayde’s father-in-law played by Rolando Inocencio as a Political Science professor telling his class the story how three congressmen died and were held at the gates of heaven by St. Peter for interview. The first two were sent to hell for their sins but the third lawmaker made into heaven after “bribing” St. Peter!

The whole class burst into laughter while Inocencio lamented in a very fatherly manner how deeply ingrained is corruption among us Filipinos until the bell rang and his class dismissed. In a later episode, Inocencio would ask their hostage-taker (Karl Medina) claiming to be his former student how did the third congressman get into heaven to check if he was indeed in his class at the university.

Medina would not give any reply at all to Inocencio who would again lament how every student of his would surely know the answer because he tells the same story in every class he handled. For me as a priest, the scenes that followed reverberated with voices, asking us teachers and educators what have we really done in forming the minds of the young in our schools and parishes when corruption is even getting worst?

Bagman is a timely reminder for us in this time of pandemic of rectifying the excesses of our “old normal way of life” that is so unfair and unjust that many clamor to bring back in the face of the “new normal” that is still far from what is just and true.

One downside for me with Bagman is the excessive use of foul language, one of the worst “new normal” introduced to our society four years before COVID-19 came. The series could have been more effective and compelling minus those p*@#&^_!

See it for yourself. Enjoy and reflect the series.

More power to the people behind Bagman!

From Esquire Philippines.

Directions where to go

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 07 July 2021
Homily for Wednesday in the 14th Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 41:55-57;42:5-7,17-24  ><)))*>   Matthew 10:1-7
Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

There are two essential questions each of us asks in our lifetime that give meaning to our lives and existence: “Who Am ?” and “Where am I going?”. Both questions go hand in hand even if their answers unfold or evolve through time because the directions we take in life flow from how we have known ourselves (identity).

But of the two questions, it is the second one that we keep asking, thinking it is easier to answer that so often, we take many directions in life without much reflections.

And prayers.

Today our readings speak about “going”, directions from God that we must take in life, inviting us to pray and reflect about the many directions we have taken in life.

From the beautiful story of Joseph the “dreamer” in the Old Testament to Jesus in our gospel, God gives us directions, telling us where to go to find fulfillment and fulness in life.

Photo by author, Egypt, 2019.

When hunger came to be felt throughout the land of Egypt and the people cried to Pharaoh for bread, Pharaoh directed all the Egyptians to go to Joseph and do whatever he told them.

Genesis 41:55

Go to Joseph…

God directs us to go find people of credibility and integrity who will mold us into better persons by discovering our true selves, harnessing our talents, learning and growing from our mistakes and painful past.

Here we see the need to have a true friend, a good spiritual director, a faithful co-journeyer in life who can nourish us with their holiness and spirituality, positive outlook in life, maturity and sincerity.

The other day I came across an anecdote from the late Filipino taipan John Gokongwei who claimed that the most important decision one has to make in life is choosing the person to marry because your spouse is your lifetime partner with whom you shall make your dreams come true, clarifying things for you when there are uncertainties and doubts, showing you other perspectives to consider, and one who would always stand and believe in you.

That’s is very true!

God speaks and comes to us most of the time through people he sends us like family and friends, colleagues and superiors, even strangers and people we hardly know.

Important thing is for us to be open not only to learning new things but to simply meeting people because life is about interacting with persons. See that the author of Genesis narrated how the Pharaoh told the Egyptians to “go to Joseph and do whatever he told them.”

Photo by author, view from temple of Jerusalem, 2017.

Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Matthew 10:5-6

Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

This is the most striking but also most beautiful direction of God that he sent us Jesus Christ our Savior: to go and search for the lost, the weak and sick, the forgotten and those in the margins. We find God most among those people.

This direction of God is also a call to service, to a loving charity to share and bring his Son Jesus Christ among the poor and rejected.

It is among the poor that we find Jesus because whenever we come to them sharing Jesus, we are surprised to find out that the Lord has been with them – also waiting for us to meet him among them! And that is when grace happens and blessings abound: the Christ among the marginalized affirming the Christ in those serving and proclaiming his gospel.

That is heaven, union with God who directs us to go and share life, to have life in its fullness.

From the FB post by Julian Arguilla, 05 July 2021.

This brings us to the heroism of the 50 soldiers who died in the plane crash last July 4 in Patikul, Sulu.

One of those who perished there is an alumnus of Our Lady of Fatima University’s College of Medicine, Capt. Dr. Nigel Emeterio of Batch 2015.

From what I have gathered among some people in the University and those who have known him and his wife who is pregnant with their second baby, Capt. Dr. Nigel was a “fearless fighter in life” who have selflessly given himself to everyone since medical school, helping friends and strangers alike in every way he could.

He had always wanted to serve in the Philippine Air Force and was the flight surgeon of the the C-130 that crashed in Sulu last Sunday while transporting troops from Cagayan de Oro City.

As a flight surgeon of the Air Force, Capt. Dr. Nigel was not only at the forefront of the government campaign against terrorists.

The young military doctor is also a medical frontliner against COVID-19 when the pandemic struck early last year, serving people in remote areas of the country being served by the Philippine Air Force.

In him we find the truth that life is not measured in years but the life in years. Though he died so young at the age of 30, Capt. Dr. Nigel had lived life to the fullest. In his six years of being a doctor, he had served and saved so many lives mostly those from the margins of the society.

He had lived life to the fullest most of all with his love not only for the people but most of all to his family, especially his wife, Dr. Dana who was also a classmate at Fatima University. She is now pregnant with their second child.

From the FB post by Julian Arguilla, 05 July 2021.

I have not talked to his widow but from the screen grabs of his posts to her shared with me by their friends, the more I admired this Capt. Dr. Nigel who had followed God’s directions in life.

His messages to his wife who is also a Doctor are filled with love and respect, hopes and dreams in the future.

Most of all, Capt. Dr. Nigel was fond of speaking about the beauty of life he had found in her and their first child, his gratitude for her love and support, and “after a year of prayers”, for the gift of a second baby.

Here is a man in touch with God, who followed the Lord and Master in serving the poor, who went to follow the divine direction to go and marry his wife to raise a family.

Last Sunday, Capt. Dr. Nigel was again sent to go as flight surgeon of some 90+ troops and civilian volunteers to fight terrorists in Sulu.

Like in his previous missions of saving lives, Capt. Dr. Nigel followed orders.

Their plane crashed and exploded after missing the airport.

Though they did not make it to their destination, surely, Capt. Dr. Nigel and the soldiers and civilians with him must have found fullness of life, now in the presence of God where we shall all go in the end.

It was a mission well-accomplished in the Lord.

Eternal rest grant unto Capt. Dr. Nigel, and companions, O Lord;
May your perpetual light shine upon them.
Amen.
From the FB post by Julian Arguilla, 05 July 2021.

*Please do pray also for those wounded, for those left behind by the casualties of this accident, their friends and colleagues as well as for our military men and women who serve selflessly our country, always going wherever the Lord directs them.