Chasing mangroves in Palawan: Why we have to conserve and protect mangrove forests.

I began falling in love with mangroves when I visited the mangrove forests being protected in the island of Culion, Palawan. It was holy week and we were at the end of the Good Friday procession which culminated at the Jesuit Retreat House chapel on a hill. Overlooking Culion’s coasts, I could see the patch of green trees from the chapel. I guess I was looking for a refreshing view after a long Via Crucis. Since then, I started to research on mangroves.


A study on the Mesoamerican reef, for example, showed that there are as many as 25 times more fish of some species on reefs close to mangrove areas than in areas where mangroves have been cut down. This makes mangrove forests vitally important to coral reefs and commercial fisheries as well.

Puerto Princesa


Why do I advocate for the protection of mangrove forests?


  1. Mangrove forests protect the land from the sea.

With rising sea levels due to climate change, mangroves function as a buffer zone, a natural shield against ecological disasters (eg. erosion) and storm surges (eg. Yolanda), therefore protecting the shoreline and coastal areas and those living there (eg. fishing communities).

Puerto Princesa


  1. Mangrove forests are very important for estuarine and marine life.

It is the breeding ground and nursery for a variety of marine animals such as fish, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. When I explore mangroves, I check on fish, shrimps and crabs, the main sources of income for shoreline communities like fishing villages. It has been proven that those with a large population of mangroves also have a large population of fishes and an increase in marine diversity.


Puerto Princesa


  1. Many of us do not know that mangroves are also good for timber, fuel and fodder.

Mangroves are used to build houses, furniture, or even electrical posts. And because of the density of the wood, they are also excellent as firewood. In some countries where pastures are nearly scarce, mangroves are used to feed cattle.

Puerto Princesa


  1. The barks of many species of mangroves produce tannin.

Many fishermen use bark extracts to make their fishing nets durable. In one of my skin diving experiences, snorkelers and divers who use the flower of the mangroves to clean goggles fascinated me.

Puerto Princesa


  1. Like many trees and plants, mangroves help purify the air and water.

Mangroves absorb pollutants and heavy metals in the water and in the air. Thus, you can be assured that you are breathing fresh air if you are in a mangrove forest.

Puerto Princesa



Puerto Princesa

What can we do?


  • Plant mangroves.

Know what species of mangroves in the area. Those are the types of mangrove trees that you should plant. The introduction of a new specie will affect the ecosystem. Remember that mangrove forests have many species of mangrove trees and plants. For example, some areas have nipa palms; some do not.

Puerto Princesa


  • Organize groups to protect it.

I would highly encourage church groups to participate in government efforts as part of their living out Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si.

Puerto Princesa


  • Be vigilant.

Report to authorities destruction of these forests. Some local governments have mangrove and reef conservation efforts and programs. It is good to participate in their efforts to protect these crucial ecosystems.

Puerto Princesa


  • Create appreciation and awareness.

Since we are all on social media, we might want to post photos and articles about mangroves and reef conservation efforts, such as clean up drives, mangrove planting, etc. At the very least, post photos of mangroves when you find yourself in an island or in a place with mangrove forests. Photos of these forests posted on Instagram or Facebook make people appreciate its beauty and its importance.

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa



The Islands of Gigantes Live Up To Its Name

It was a trip devoid of a single regret.

I heard about the group of islands across the town of Estancia in Iloilo from Bok Pioquid, a faculty member of the Ateneo High School’s Christian Service Involvement Program. He and his wife would go on a “couple” backpacking tour every now and then. Until today, their unwavering passion is exploring the Philippines. They have gone to many places, and they travel on the cheap — and this is what I love about their stories. You can go on an adventure without breaking the bank.

I told Bok about Fr. Ruben Orbeta SJ’s invitation for me to help out at Sta. Maria Parish in Iloilo City for the Holy Week. I would fly in on Palm Sunday and fly out on Easter Sunday. My work was to give a recollection talk for an hour each day of the Triduum and hear confessions on Good Friday. So I had three days free: Holy Monday to Wednesday. Bok suggested the Gigantes trip because I was already there. He gave me the number of Ms. Rolin Barba (0929-3949708) of Paon Beach Club Inc,*** and off I went.

GigantesJboySJ I took the Ceres Bus to Estancia from the Jaro Terminal on a very humid Monday. It took around 2 hours to the town. From Panian Crossing, I took a tricycle to Paon. GigantesJboySJ

I woke up early the next morning for the boat ride to Gigantes Islands. It was a 2-hour trip to the islands. I learned that Gigantes did not belong to the Municipality of Estancia, but the town of Carles. So if you prefer to take off from Carles, it would be an hour to the islands.

Rey Ambito, our guide,** said that the group of islands was named after an ancient skeleton, discovered in one of the isles. The height of the human bones was taller than many natives, hence, a higante, a giant. I also heard you could go caving if you preferred that adventure, but the caves were in Gigantes del Norte. Unfortunately, I explored only Gigantes del Sur where many islands with white sand beaches were, and whose views were “Instagramable” and picturesque.

Below are great reasons why you should visit the islands. Believe me, I was in awe all the time I was there! It was indeed a gigantic experience!

  1. Cabugao Gamay Island

From a vantage point is the iconic view of the whole island. The famous photos of Gigantes are taken from here (see featured photo above). Below is the eastern side of the island. The sun was rising when I took this photo.



    1. Bantigue Island’s white sand bar.

It is a long island, but the tip of the island is perfect for a photo shoot. From a certain point, you have many islands as your backdrop. But do take a dip. The water is pure and perfect as you can see.




    1. Antonia Island’s beach.

This is the usual stop-over for lunch. Fishermen would sell scallops and wasay-wasay shellfish. You can’t imagine how cheap the scallops are: Php 1.00/per piece. When I was there, Rey and I feasted on a hundred pieces with spiced native vinegar and lots of rice. Rolin made sure that I would bring more than enough cooked rice, water and vinegar. I was so grateful for her thoughtfulness.



GigantesJboySJ GigantesJboySJ


    1. Cabugao Dako Island’s rock formation.

The rock formation is like the backdrop from the movie, “The Lord of the Rings.” Simply, the rocks are surreal. Let the photos speak for the islands.


Gigantes Gigantes



    1. Tangke Island’s Lagoon.

The boats will dock at a certain opening between towering rocks. These high-rise rocks protect a beautiful sanctuary of a white sand lagoon where you can swim. But be sure to be there before 2 PM: the water begins to drain during low tide.




    1. Cheap seafood.

In Punot Restaurant and Grill in Estancia, I ordered a bowl of Imbao (shellfish) Sinigang (sour soup) and grilled squid. I loved imbao; the flavor just bursted in my mouth. I thought the servings were just enough for me. I was surprised that the servings were good for four. Each order was just Php 100.00. (Shout out to Engr. Carlito Centeno for my dinners!)



  1. Estancia’s Dried Fish.

The town of Estancia is famous for its dried fishes. I tell you, your trip will never be complete without a sampling of their dried fish especially for breakfast. Paon serves them.





You might wonder why I write about these trips. Going out from my usual work in school enriches me. The world is far greater and bigger than Ateneo. And this is what I like to do: go and explore the richness of the very home God has given me.

When you get to see how beautiful this world is, this home of ours, then you will do everything to protect it. You will become a real steward of creation, just as God has appointed us to become. This is the premise of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si. The encyclical’s dream is for every single human person to be at home in the very planet we live in.

In a few months, I will bring my students to Iloilo. Last November 2015, I explored Iloilo accompanied by Bok and some parents. We saw what this province could offer us: a pilgrimage of churches, a food trip, an ecological adventure and a cultural experience.

We hope that our students will truly love our country because they have seen how beautiful the Philippines is. We also have a greater hope: that they would be angry enough to act when unscrupulous people would dare corrupt its beauty.

Just like falling in love, you will always protect that which matters to you — or whom you deeply care about.



Some notes:

*We call these visits to Jesuit schools, “Eco-Spiritual Pilgrimages” instead of the usual “field trips” because there is a spiritual angle to the tour. We do an “ecological examen” and end our day with a mass. And as part of Ignatian prayer, we ask God the specific grace to “Find Him In All Things” — in creation, in the people we encounter, in the experience. This program is part of the Jesuit Youth Ministry of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus.

It also includes an interaction with students from the place where we visit. This August 2016, the Iloilo Pilgrimage will include an interaction between students, parents and faculty of Ateneo de Iloilo to share our common experiences of being in a Jesuit school. In other words, the program is always in partnership with other Jesuit schools, and one of our goals is the appreciation of our common Ignatian spirituality.


** To the left of this photo is Rey Ambito, waiter and tour guide of Paon Beach Club. He accompanied me on the boat to the islands. I highly recommend him because he is both knowledgeable and trustworthy. You can call or text him at 0930-5859104. If you can’t reach him, Rolin can help you find your guides.


*** Call Paon Beach Club Inc. at (033) 397-0444 or 0929-394-9708. And oh, you can also enjoy this sunset from Estancia.


How to become fishers of people

This is a transcription of the video below:

Paano maging mangigisda ng tao? Para sa mabungang-buhay, tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

Narinig niyo na ba ang salitang “influencer”? Ang influencer ang siyang may abilidad na makalikha ng interes sa isang bagay sa pamamagitan ng pag-post sa social media. Kadalasan kilala siya ng kanyang maraming followers. Samakatuwid, marami siyang nahuhuling mga customer para sa produkto na iyon.

Paano nating ilalako ang pananampalataya sa Diyos? Nang sinunod ni Simon Pedro ang utos ng Panginoong Hesus na pumalaot at ihulog ang lambat upang humuli ng isda, “napuno ang dalawang daong na halos lumubog.” Sana all may mahakot at maimpluwensiya para sa Diyos.

Ano ang maaari nating gawin? Unang-una, kailangan nating maging ehemplo ng ating pananampalataya. Nakikita sa ating mga gawa ang ating mga pinapahalagahan. Linawin sa sarili ang ating core values at layunin sa buhay. Maging mapanlikha at huwag matakot gamitin ang teknolohiya. Makipagtulungan at hikayatin ang bawat isa kapag nawawalan ng tapang at pag-asa. Higit sa lahat, ang taong sinasamahan tayo sa buhay ang siyang tunay na nakakaimpluensiya sa atin.

Manalangin tayo: O Diyos, patnubayan mo kami sa aming pagagabay sa isa’t isa. Amen.

How to become fishers of people? For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of Coffee and Prayer. Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

Have you heard of the word, “influencer”? An influencer can create interest about a product by recommending the items on social media. An influencer usually has many followers. Therefore, he or she can attract many customers to the product being promoted.

How can we promote our faith in God? When Simon Peter obeyed the command of Jesus to “go into deep waters and lower his nets for a catch,” they caught many fishes that two boats were about to capsize. We hope that all of us can catch and influence all for God.

What can we do? First, we need to model the way. Our values can be seen from our actions. Clarify shared values and a common direction. Be creative and don’t be afraid to use technology. Collaborate and empower each other when discouraged and hopeless. Furthermore, the people who accompany us in our lives are usually the most influential to us.

Let us pray: O Lord, guide us as we accompany each other. Amen.

How can love be forever?

This is a transcript of the video below:

Paano maging forever ang pagmamahal. Para sa mabungang-buhay, tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

Bahagi ng isang ugnayan, tulad ng pag-iibigan o pagkakaibigan, ang mithiing maging panghabang-buhay ito. Subali’t maraming nauwi sa unting-unting paglaho o paghihiwalay. Madalas nagsisimula ito sa maliit na bagay na hinayaang lumala nang lumala. Saan nagkulang?

Ang pagpapatawad ang sikreto ng pag-ibig na walang pagmamaliw. Kapag nagpapatawad, hindi ibig sabihin na tayo ay mali. Sulat ni San Pablo sa mga taga-Corinto,

“Hindi natutuwa ang pag-ibig sa kasamaan, kundi sa katotohanan.”

1 Corinthians 13:6

Sa katunayan, pinapakita natin na mas mahalaga ang taong iniibig natin, kaysa sa kanyang pagkakamali. Kapag nagpapatawad, pinapahalagahan din natin ang ating sarili. Bigyan ng panahon ang galit dahil mali, at ang luha dahil masakit. Dagdag dito ang pagtutuwid sa pagkakamali. Kapag handa na ang bawat isa para pag-usapan, bigyan ng panahon para pakinggan ang bawat isa. Higit sa pagiging tama, ang pag-ibig na walang hanggan.

Ang pag-ibig ay di kailanman magmamaliw (1 Cor 13:8); at wika ng Panginoong Hesukristo, gayon din ang pagpapatawad (Matthew 18:21-22).

Manalangin tayo: O Diyos, pabanalin mo ang aming puso sa pagmamahal at pagpapatawad. Amen.

How can love be forever? For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of “Coffee and Prayer.” Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

In any relationship like those of lovers and friends is the desire for it to last a lifetime. However, many friendships fade and lovers fall out of love. It often starts with petty conflicts that worsen over time. Where did it all go wrong?

Forgiveness is the secret of a lasting relationship. It does not mean the offense is ok or that you’re wrong. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians,

“Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rather in the truth.”

1 Corinthians 13:6

In fact, we show that the person we love is more important than the offense. When we forgive, we also value ourselves. We acknowledge our anger for its offense, and our tears for its pain. In addition, forgiveness corrects what’s wrong. Only when both are ready to talk, give time to listen to each other. More than being right is the love that doesn’t fade.

Love never fails (1 Cor 13:8), and as Jesus said, forgiveness does not fail either (Matthew 18:21-22).

Let us pray. Lord, make our heart holy with love and forgiveness. Amen.

How can we be united?

This is a transcript of the video below:

Paano tayo magkakaisa? Para sa mabungang-buhay, tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

May kasabihan tayo: “Ang sakit sa kalingkingan, sakit ng buong katawan.” Kapag nasaktan tayo, nararamdaman natin ang hapdi sa kasuluksulukan ng ating pagkatao. Hindi natin pinaghihiwalay ang mga parte sa kabuuan.

Plato, the Greek philosopher, pointed out that we do not say, “My finger has a pain,” rather, “I have a pain.” There is an “I” o merong “ako” na bumubuo sa lahat ng parte ng aking katawan.  

Wika ni San Pablo: “Sapagkat kung paanong ang katawan ay iisa, bagaman marami ang mga sangkap, gayundin naman si Cristo. Kayo nga ang katawan ni Cristo, at isa-isang sangkap niya.” Ang Panginoong Hesukristo ang “ako” na nagbubuo sa ating lahat. Samakatuwid, sa ating pagkakaisa inaasa ang katuparan ng pagbabago. Sa buong lupon nakasalalay ang kaligtasan ng buong bayan.

Kailangan natin ang isa’t isa. Hindi tayo mabubuhay kung wala ang kapwa. Manaig nawa ang respeto, sa gitna ng ating pagkakaiba. Lahat ng tao ay mahalaga. Ang lahat ng paglilingkod ay pantay-pantay sa paningin ng Diyos. Magdamayan tayo. Kapag nag-positive tayo sa Covid, apektado din ang lahat na nakasalamuha natin. Nagiging sanhi ka ba ng paghihiwalay, o ng pagkakaisa?

Manalangin tayo: O Diyos, sa pandemiyang pinaghihiwalay kami, higit mo kaming pagbigkisin sa pag-ibig Mo. Amen.

How can we be united? For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of Coffee and Prayer. Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

There is a saying, “The little finger’s pain is the whole body’s pain.” When we are hurt, we feel the pain in the deepest depths of our whole person. We cannot separate the parts from the whole. Plato, the Greek philosopher, pointed out that we do not say, “My finger has a pain,” rather, “I have a pain.” There is an “I”, a personality, that gives unity to all the parts of our body.

St. Paul said, “For just as the body is one, and has many members…so it is with Christ. You are the Body of Christ, and individually, members of it.”

1 Cor 12: 12, 27

The Lord Jesus Christ is the “I” that unites all of us. Therefore, it is in our unity that we hope for change. The salvation of the whole country depends on a united governing body.

We need each other. We cannot live without our neighbors. We ought to respect each other amid diversity. All peoples are important. All service ranks the same in the eyes of God. Let us sympathize with each other. If one person is Covid-positive, that person affects all those whom he or she have socialized with. Are you the source of division, or unity?

Let us pray: O Lord, while the pandemic separates us all, strengthen our bonds in your love. Amen.

How to listen with your heart

This is a transcript of the video below:

Makinig nang buong puso. Para sa mabungang-buhay, tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

Sinimulan ng Santo Papa ang proseso ng Synodality, kung saan hinihimok niya ang buong Simbahan na makinig sa isa’t isa, kasama ang mga Katolikong iniwan na ang Simbahan.

Pakay ng Synod ang maaninag ang galaw ng Espiritu Santo para sa buong Simbahan sa kasalukuyang panahon, kasama ang mga bagay na nangangailangan ng pagbabago sa Simbahan.

Nang nagisnan ni Maria at Jose ang batang Hesus na nakikipag-usap sa mga guro ng Templo, walang naganap na pagtatalo at pagkikipagdebate. Mas nanaig ang pagkamangha sa sagot at tanong ni Hesus. Samakatuwid, kapwa pinakinggan nila ang isa’t isa.

Paano nga ba makinig? Unang-una, mag-focus sa sinasabi. Huwag mong isipin ang isasagot. Ipakita na nakikinig ka. Tingnan ang mukha ng kausap; tumango kung nararapat. Hintaying matapos ang binabahagi bago ang paglilinaw o ang pagtugon. Nakakatulong din ang paglalagom lalo na kung mahaba ang ipinaliwanag. Kailangan lang natin pakinggan ang bawat isa para magkaisa at magkaunawaan.

Manalangin tayo: O Diyos, turuan mo kaming makinig nang buong puso upang marinig din namin ang Iyong tinig. Amen.

Listen with your heart. For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of “Coffee and Prayer.” Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

Pope Francis began the process of Synodality. He encouraged the whole Church to listen to each other, including the Catholics who already left the Church.

The objective of the Synod is to glean the movement of the Holy Spirit for the whole Church in the present time, including emerging issues that needs to change in the Church.

When Mary and Joseph found Jesus in a conversation with the teachers of the Temple, there were no arguments or debate among them. What Scripture highlighted was awe at the question and answer from Jesus. In other words, they both listened to each other.

How do we listen? First, focus on what is being said. Do not think of what to say next. Show that you are actively listening. You can look at their faces and nod when appropriate. Wait for the person to finish sharing before any clarification or response. A summary helps especially if the explanation is long. We need to listen to each other for us to unite and to understand.

Let us pray: Lord, teach us to listen with our hearts, so that we will be able to listen to Your voice. Amen.

Who is the center of your life?

This is a transcript of the video below:

Sino ang bida sa iyong buhay? Para sa mabungang-buhay, tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

Nang inakala ng mga tao na si San Juan Bautista ang siyang Cristo, winika niya,

“Ako’y nagbibinyag sa tubig, nguni’t may isang darating na lalong makapangyarihan sakin, hindi ako karapat-dapat na magkalag ng panali ng kanyang panyapak.”

Luke 3:16

Alam at tanggap niya na ang misyon niya sa buhay ay pangalawa lamang kay Hesus. Ihahanda niya ang daan para sa kanya.

At tulad ni Juan, hindi sana tayo makakaramdam ng sama ng loob kung tanggap natin na may mga bagay na hindi para sa atin. Totoong dapat na galingan natin, pero hindi kailangang tayo ang numero uno, awardee o boss sa trabaho; o kaya ang pinakasikat sa tao. Sa mata ng Diyos, walang mataas, malaki o maliit na gawain kung ginawa ito nang bukal sa ating kalooban at buhos ang ating pagmamahal.

Ayon kay Juan, siya lamang ang bestman sa kasalan. Noong panahon ni Hesus, ang bestman o shoshben ang punong-abala sa kasal ng pinakamatalik niyang kaibigan. Wika niya, “Jesus must increase; I must decrease.” Ibig sabihin, hindi siya ang bida, kundi si Hesus. Sino ang bida sa iyong buhay? Ikaw pa ba, o iba na?

Manalangin tayo: O Diyos, nawa ang kapakanan ng iba ang siyang mas mahalaga, bilang pagsasabuhay ng aming pagmamahal sa Iyo. Amen.

Who is the center of your life? For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of Coffee and Prayer. Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

When the people thought that John the Baptist was the Christ, he said,

“I baptize you with water. But the one who is more powerful that I will come. The straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

Luke 3:16

John knew and accepted that His life’s mission is subordinate to Jesus. He was to prepare the way of the Lord.

Like John, it would have saved us from a great deal of resentment if we accepted that there are certain things in life which are not for us. It is true that we must be excellent, but it doesn’t mean that we must be ranked first, an awardee, the boss at work, or the most popular. In the eyes of God, there is no greater, larger, or smaller work if done sincerely and from overflowing generosity of heart.

John claimed that he is the bestman of the wedding feast (John 3:29) [Note: Jesus is the bridegroom; Israel is the bride]. In the time of Jesus, the bestman or shoshben of a Jewish wedding is the main host of his bestfriend’s wedding. He said, “He [Jesus] must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30). It means that he is not the most important, but Jesus. Who is the center of your life? Is it still you, or is it now others?

Let us pray: “O Lord, may we put others first, as our way of showing that You are the center of our lives. Amen.”

What gift will you bring to Jesus?

This is a transcript of the video below:

Ano ang ireregalo mo sa Panginoong Hesus? Para sa mabungang-buhay, tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

May mga tao ka bang kilala na ayaw magpakita? Kahit ano pa ang gawin mo: text, messenger, pinakiusapan sa kakilala, o hinanap sa Facebook, hindi sila magpaparamdam sa iyo. Nagdesisyon silang huwag magpakita sa iyo. Sa kabilang banda, ang matatagpuan mo ay ang mga kaibigan mong gusto ka ring makita. Ito ang kahulugan ng Epiphany o ang Pagpapakita ng Diyos sa atin: hangad ng Diyos na makita natin Siya, kaya nagpakita siya sa atin.

Dalawang uri ang tao sa mga Hudyo: sila at ang mga Hentil. Sa kuwento ng Pasko, nagpakita ang Diyos sa mga pastol at sa mga mago. Mga Hudyo ang mga pastol; mga Hentil naman ang mga mago. Samakatuwid, kinakatawan nila ang lahat ng tao. Sinasagisag nila ang hangarin ng Diyos na iligtas ang lahat ng tao.

Yeshua, ang pangalan ng Panginoong Hesus sa Hebreo; ibig sabihin, “God saves.” God saves all people, not just some people.

Dagdag rito, kilala din ng mga mago ang Panginoon. Makikita natin ito sa kanilang alay ng ginto, kamanyang, at mira. Ginto ang inaalay sa hari; kamanyang, sa mga pari; mira ang ginagamit sa patay—sagisag sa buhay na iaalay ng Panginoon para sa ating kaligtasan. Kung ikaw ay isa sa mga mago, ano ang iaalay mo kay Hesus?

Manalangin tayo: O Diyos, nawa’y lumalim ang pagkakilala namin sa Iyo, alang-alang sa pagsasabuhay ng aming pananampalataya. Amen.

I wish you a grace-filled new year! What gift will you bring to Jesus? For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of “Coffee and Prayer.” Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

Do you know people who hide from you? Whatever you do: you texted them, used Messenger, talked to people they know, or stalk them on Facebook, they will not respond to you. They decided to disappear from your life. On the other hand, you will meet the people who would like to see you. This is the meaning of Epiphany or the Manifestation of God to all people. God desires that we recognize Him, that’s why, He showed Himself to us.

There are two types of people to the Jews: them or the Gentiles (non-Jews). In the Christmas story, God manifested Himself to the shepherds and to the Magi. The shepherds were Jews; the Magi were Gentiles. Therefore, they embody all people. They represent the desire of God to save everyone.

The Hebrew name of Jesus is “Yeshua” meaning, “God saves.” God saves all people, not just some people.

To add, the Magi have some knowledge of Jesus. This is proven by the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold is offered to kings; frankincense is given to priests; and myrrh is used in death—a prediction of His life offering for our salvation. If you were one of the Magi, what would you offer to Jesus?

Let us pray.

Lord, may we deepen our knowledge of you for the living out of our faith. Amen.

Let us accompany each other

This is a transcript of the video below.

Samahan natin ang isa’t isa. Para sa mabungang-buhay, tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

Marahil ipinagdiriwang natin ang araw ng kapaskuhan kasama ang pamilya’t kaibigan. Hindi tayo mapipigilang bigyan ng halaga ang kapanganakan ng ating Panginoong Hesus, sa paraang face-to-face o online, gamit ang Zoom, Gmeet at iba pa. At habang nagbabakasyon tayo sa trabaho o sa pag-aaral, samantalahin natin itong pagkakataong kapiling, kasama, at kaakbay ang mga mahal sa buhay. 

Ayon sa McCann Worldgroup Youth Study 2021, nakakaranas ng matinding kalungkutan ang 89 percent ng Generation Z, ang kasalukuyang kabataan ngayon sa Pilipinas. Ito ang pinakamataas sa Asia Pacific Region, kumpara sa 66% sa buong mundo. Ibig sabihin, mas lalong mahalaga palalimin ang koneksyon natin sa kanila.

Ito ang diwa ng Pasko. Ang Panginoong Hesukristo, ang ating Diyos, ay nanananahan sa atin, kasama, kapiling at nakikiisa sa atin. Hindi tayo iniiwanan ng Diyos. Sinasamahan niya tayo nang mas higit pa sa ating paglalakbay sa buhay. Ito din ang gawin natin sa mga kabataan, lalung-lalo na ngayon. Ito din ang gawin natin sa mga kapatid nating nasalanta ng bagyong Odette.

Manalangin tayo: O Diyos, naririto ka sa amin, nawa’y maging tulad ka namin sa mga taong nangangailangan ng aruga’t pagmamahal. Amen.

Merry Christmas to all of you! Let us accompany each other. For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of Coffee and Prayer.  Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

We spent Christmas with our family and friends. Nothing can prevent us from celebrating the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ, whether face-to-face or online, using Zoom, Gmeet, etc. While we are on vacation from work and studies, let us take this opportunity to be with the people who matter to us.

According to the McCann Worldgroup Youth Study 2021, 89% of Generation Z in the Philippines, experiences a great loneliness. Generation Z (loosely born 1995-2010) are the current young people of the Philippines. This is the highest in the Asia Pacific region, compared to 66% globally. Thus, there are more reasons for us to deepen and strengthen our connections with them.

This is the spirit of Christmas. Our Lord Jesus Christ, our God, dwells with us. He is with us; one with us. God does not abandon us. He accompanies us closely in our life’s journeys. We should also accompany our youth, especially at this time. We should also accompany those who have suffered from the recent typhoon Odette.

Let us pray. Lord, you are with us. May we be like You to those who need our care and love. Amen.

Be charitable (esp this Christmas)

This is a transcript of the video below:

Makipagkapwa ngayong Pasko. Para sa mabungang-buhay, tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

Madaling pumaroon si Maria sa Juda upang dalawin si Isabel. Nais niyang samahan at alalayan ang kanyang pinsan sa kanyang pagbubuntis. Alam ni Maria na hindi madaling magdalangtao kapag matanda na. Kaya nang marinig ni Isabel ang bati ni Maria, napasigaw siya, at lumukso sa tuwa ang sanggol sa kanyang sinapupunan.

Pagkakawanggawa ang bumisita sa kapwa.

Ayon sa Carnegie Mellon University, nakakatanggal ito ng stress. Sa halip na bumaling sa negative coping mechanisms, ang pagmamahal ng pamilya’t kaibigan ang pinakamahusay na gamot sa matinding pangungulila. Nakakatulong din ito sa ating psycho-emotional at spiritual well-being. Ang pagdalaw ay isang pagpapakita ng kahalagahan sa taong dinadalaw. At tulad ni Maria at Isabel, nagbibigay ng saya ang pakikisama at pagbabahagi ng biyaya ng Diyos sa isa’t isa. Pinagpala silang dalawa ng Diyos.

Kailangang “dalawin” ang mga nasalanta ng bagyong Odette. Walang kuryente, internet at tubig. Mahirap makakuha ng impormasyon sa mga malalayong lugar dahil ipinasara ang ABSCBN at ang Project NOAH. At dahil sa pandemiya, marami ang balakid sa ating pakikipagkapwa, nguni’t hinahamon pa rin tayo na tumulong sa abot ng ating makakaya.

Manalangin tayo: O Diyos, buksan nawa ang aming puso para sa mga kapatid naming nangangailangan. Amen.  

Be charitable to others this Christmas. For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of “Coffee and Prayer.” Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

Mary went in haste to the hill country of Judah to visit Elizabeth. She wanted to accompany and serve her cousin in her pregnancy. She knew too well that it was not easy to carry a child in her womb at her old age. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, she cried out in a loud voice and the infant leaped in her womb. (Luke 1:39-45)

Visiting one’s neighbor is charitable.

According to a study done by the Carnegie Mellon University, visiting a loved one relieves stress. Instead of seeking negative coping mechanisms, the love from family and friends is the best way to cope with loneliness. Moreover, visitations help our psycho-emotional and spiritual wellbeing. When we visit someone, we demonstrate the value of those we visit. Like Mary and Elizabeth, sharing their God’s blessing gives them joy. God blessed both.

We need to “visit” those who have been gravely affected by the typhoon Odette. In affected areas, there is no electricity, internet, and water. Information about far-flung areas is difficult to come by because of the closer of ABSCBN and Project NOAH (research program for natural disasters). Aggravated by the pandemic, helping others becomes very difficult. But we are challenged to help according to what we can.

Let us pray: Lord, open our hearts for our brothers and sisters in need. Amen.

What makes you happy?

This is a transcript of the video below:

Ano ang nagpapasaya sa iyo? Para sa mabungang-buhay, tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

Kailan ka naging masaya? Ito ba ang panahong kapiling mo ang pinakamamahal mo, o nasa lugar ka na ubod nang ganda, o tuwa dahil meron kang pinagkakakitaan? According to social psychologists, a close relationship, a job, a pastime that you love and helping others all contribute to one’s happiness. Sila ang nagsisilbing gasulina kapag nawawalan tayo ng gana at sigla sa buhay.    

Sa pangatlong linggo ng Adbiyento, pinapaalala sa atin ng Simbahan ang sayang nanggagaling sa pag-asang darating ang Diyos sa gitna ng kadiliman. Kumakapit tayo sa kanyang pangako na tunay niyang isasakatuparan. Ang kasiguraduhan na tutuparin ng Diyos ang kanyang pangako ng kaligtasan ang pinakadahilan ng saya ng Adbiyento.

Mala-Adbiyento ang ating buhay: naghihintay tayong mai-ahon tayo na lantarang pagpapalaganap ng kasinungalingang sa social media. Umaasa tayong darating din ang panahon na mamumulat din ang tao at bumoto nang matuwid. Paano ninyo nararanasan ang Adbiyento?

Manalangin tayo:

O Diyos, kami’y naghihintay ng pagdating ng Mesiyas sa aming puso’t isipan, nawa’y dumating ito sa tamang panahon. Amen.

What makes you happy? For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of “Coffee and Prayer.”   Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

When are you truly happy? Is it when you are with your loved ones, or when you are in a beautiful place, or when you have work? According to social psychologists, a close relationship, a job, a pastime that you love and helping others all contribute to one’s happiness. They provide the gasoline when we lose our zest for life.

In the third week of Advent, the Church reminds us of the anticipated joy coming from the hope of God’s breaking into darkness. We hold on to the fulfillment of His promise. The guarantee that Lord will keep His promise of salvation is the reason for the joy in the Season of Advent.

Our life is like Advent. We are waiting to be saved from the outright spread of disinformation in social media. We hope for the time that people will be fully informed to vote wisely. How do you experience Advent in your life?

Let us pray: Lord, we are waiting for the coming of the Messiah in our hearts and minds. May He come at the most appropriate time. Amen.

Amidst the world’s noise, how do you know God’s voice?

This is a transcript of the video below:

Naririnig mo ba ang tinig ng Diyos? Para sa mabungang-buhay tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

Maingay ang social media. Maraming nagsisiraan. Maraming haka-haka. Lahat eksperto. Hindi ka ba nabibingi sa lahat nang ito? Nalulunod ang katotohanan dahil hindi mo na alam kung sino ang papaniwalaan mo: yung mga nakaka-aliw na vloggers, o yung boring na eksperto?

Dahil hindi tayo tumitigil sa pagsasalita, nakakaligtaan na natin ang manahimik at makinig.

Pinakinggan ni San Juan Bautista ang tinig na sumisigaw sa ilang (Luke 3:4). Dininig ni Maria at Jose ang anyaya ng Diyos na maging magulang ng Panginoong Hesus. Binigyan ng pansin ng marami pang tao ang tinig ng Diyos na sumisigaw sa kabila ng ingay ng kanilang buhay. Sumisigaw pa rin ang Diyos sa pamamagitan ng sigaw ng mahihirap, ang pagmamakaawa ng mga pinapatay sa EJK, ang hagulgol ng mga namatayan sa Covid, at marami pang iba.

Naririnig pa ba natin ang mga sigaw nila? O hindi na? O ayaw na natin silang pakinggan? Dahil alam natin na mabubulabog ang ating buhay kung papakinggan natin sila. Ngunit, “the Lord hears the cry of the poor” (Psalm 34:6). Kung pinapakinggan ng Diyos ang tinig na sumisigaw sa ilang, kaninong tinig ang iyong pinapakinggan?

Manalangin tayo: O Diyos, biyayaan mo kami ng bagong tenga upang marinig namin ang iyong tinig sa aming kapwa. Amen.”

Do you listen to God’s voice? For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of “Coffee and Prayer.”  Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

Social media is extremely noisy.  A lot bashing. A lot share their comments. Everyone is an expert. Do you feel you had enough? The truth gets mangled because we get confused by who to believe: the entertaining vlogger or the boring expert?

Because we keep on talking, we forget to listen and be quiet.

St. John the Baptist listened to the voice crying out in the desert (Luke 3:4). Mary and Joseph heeded God’s invitation to be the parents of Jesus. Others paid attention to God’s voice amidst the chaos in their lives. God’s voice can be heard in the groanings of the poor, the cry for mercy by the victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK), and the wails of those who experienced death in the pandemic, etc.

Do we still listen to their cries? Or have we been too desensitized, that we are deaf to their pleas, because we know it will be uncomfortable if we listened to them? But the “Lord hears the cry of the poor” (Psalm 34:6). If the Lord listens to their heart’s groanings, whose voice do you listen to?

Let us pray: O Lord, grant us new ears to heed Your voice we hear through others. Amen.”

What are you waiting to happen?

This is a transcript of the video below:

Ano ang pinakahihintay mong mangyari sa iyong buhay? Para sa mabungang-buhay, tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

Nag-interview po ako ng iba’t ibang tao ukol sa tanong ng paghihintay. Heto ang kanilang mga hangarin.

a. Gusto kong makatulong sa aking pamilya at makapag-aral ang aking mga anak. b. Gusto kong makapunta sa Korea. c. Naghihintay ako ng pagkakataong umibig muli. d. Gusto ko ng matatag, malusog at stress-free na buhay.

Maraming salamat po. Ramdam na ramdam natin ang kanilang mga inaasam-asam. Katunayan, pinahahalagahan ng Panginoon ang ating mga minimithi. Sa panahon ng Adviento, binibigyang halaga ang mga hangarin ng kaligtasan na nasa rurok ng ating mga puso. Kaya sa ebanghelio ni San Lukas, sinabi ng Panginoon sa lahat nang umaasa, “Stand erect and raise your heads, your redemption is at hand” (Luke 21:28). Darating ang Diyos sa ating buhay.

Kung tatanungin tayo ng Diyos, “Ano ang gusto mong gawin ko para sa iyo?” (Mark 10:51), ano ang ating itutugon? May hinaing ang taumbayan: matapos ang pandemiya, maibalik ang marangal na pamamalakad sa gobyerno, atbp. Isama natin ito sa ating mga dasal.

Manalangin tayo: O Diyos, nawa’y tumulong kami sa katuparan ng Iyong minimithi. Amen.

What are you waiting to happen in your life? For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of Coffee and Prayer. Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

I interviewed some people about waiting. Here are their desires.

a. To help my family and to send my children to school.

b. To be able to book a trip to Korea.

c. I am waiting for the right time to love again.

d. A stable, healthy and stress-free life. Just that, Father!

Thank you very much. We great feel the authenticity of their wants. In fact, God places great importance to our desires. In the Season of Advent, we focus on our desires for salvation that are the very depths of our hearts. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus said to all those who are hoping, “Stand erect and raise your heads, your redemption is at hand.” God will truly come to our lives.

If God will ask you, “What do you want me to do for you?” what would be your response? Our people are crying for help: to end the pandemic, the restoration of good governance, etc. Let us include these desires in our prayers.

Let us pray: Lord, may we be able to participate in the total fulfillment of Your will. Amen.  

Are you extremely exhausted?

This is a transcript of the video below, both in Filipino and English.

Pagod na pagod ka na ba? Para sa mabungang-buhay, tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

Napapagod talaga ang buhay-pandemiya. Sinasabi ito ng maraming mga mag-aaral na laging nakakatutok sa computer, o ng mga taong nagtatrabaho sa bahay. Wala na daw boundaries ang paghahanap-buhay sa pamamahinga. Ang silid-tulugan ang siya ring silid-aralan.

Nguni’t mahalaga ang pahinga. Isinalaysay ni San Marcos ang tugon ni Hesus sa mga alagad pagkatapos nilang mag-report sa Kanya ukol sa kanilang trabaho. Jesus said,

“Come away by yourselves and rest awhile.”

Mark 6:31

At pagkatapos nilang lumalayo nang saglit, idinagdag ni San Marcos ang isa pang detalye: nalaman ng mga tao kung saan sila pumunta, at nagdagsaan sila roon. Ibig sabihin, walang katapusan ang pagtatrabaho. Nguni’t may hangganan ang ating mga katawan.

Take micro-breaks. Kahit 15 minutes lang po: lumabas ka muna at magpa-araw. Take the 20-20-20 rule. After 20 minutes screen exposure, look at an object esp a plant 20 meters away for 20 seconds. Gawin ang nagpapasaya sa iyo araw-araw. At huwag kalimutan manahimik at magdasal.

Manalangin tayo; O Diyos, bigyan mo kami ng pagkakataon na magpahinga upang magawa namin ng buong sigla ang iyong hangarin. Amen.

Are you extremely exhausted? For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of “Coffee and Prayer.” Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

Pandemic life is indeed sapping. This tiredness is expressed by many students who spend time online or by those who work from home. There are no boundaries between your work and rest. The bedroom is also the classroom.

But rest is important. Mark wrote in his gospel how Jesus responded to his disciples who reported about what they have done. Jesus said,

“Come away by yourselves and rest awhile.”

Mark 6:31

And when they left to a deserted place, Mark added a detail: people heard about where they went, and they followed them. In other words, there is no end to work. But our bodies have limits.

Take micro-breaks for 15 minutes. Go out and soak in the sun. Take the 20-20-20 rule. After 20 minutes screen exposure, look at an object especially a plant 20 meters away for 20 seconds. Do what makes you happy every day. And remember to spend time for quiet and prayer.

Let us pray: O Lord, give us the opportunity to rest in order for us to do your will with a greater joy. Amen.

What to do when you feel lost

This is a transcript of the video below.

Nawawala ka na ba sa landas? Simula ka sa pinakadulo. Para sa mabungang-buhay, tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

Gulong-gulo ka na ba? Tila nawalan ka na ng direksyon? Pinapa-igting ng crisis, tulad ng pandemiya, ang pinakamalalim nating mithiin tulad ng kahulugan at layunin sa buhay. Upang maging malinaw ang ating pinatutunguhan, mainam na simulan natin ito sa pinakadulo.

Ang gusto nating makamtan sa kasukdul-sukdulan ay tinatawag na pangunahing layunin o ultimate goals.

Bilang Kristiyano, hangad nating makapiling nang lubusan ang Kristong Hari. Kaya maaaring paliko-liko ang ating landas, nguni’t hindi magbabago ang hangaring ito. Ultimate goals are non-negotiable. Halimbawa, hindi pwedeng isantabi ang maginhawang kinabukasan, kahit na magbago ang paraan upang matupad ito. Pwedeng pagkasunduan ang paraan, ngunit hindi magmamaliw ang mithi ng mapayapang kinabukasan.

Ano ang hangarin mo para sa ating bansa? Makakamtan ba natin ang magandang kinabukasan kapag nakabaon tayo sa utang, pinabayaan tayo sa pandemiya, pinamunuan tayo sa pamamagitan ng kasinungalingan, karahasan at pananakot? Kapag nilalayo tayo kay Kristo, maglalaho ang anumang magandang kinabukasan. Manalangin tayo: O Diyos, liwanagan mo nawa ang aming puso upang piliin namin ang magpapalapit sa piling Mo. Amen.

Do you feel lost? Start with the end in mind. For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of Coffee and Prayer. Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

Are you confused? Do you feel you’ve lost direction? A crisis, such as a pandemic, surfaces our deepest desires like the longing for life’s meaning and purpose. To clear our path, it is reasonable to start with the end in mind.

What we truly desire is our primary or ultimate goal.

As Christians, our ultimate desire is our union with Christ the King. Our journeys may take different turns, but our desire will remain unchanged. Ultimate goals are non-negotiable. For example, we cannot set aside our desire for a peaceful future, even if our methods to achieve it changes. We can negotiate the means, but our ultimate goal for a peaceful future remains.

What is your deepest desire for our country? Will our dream for a brighter future be achieved if we are deep in debt, we are left on our own in the pandemic, and we are governed though disinformation, violence, and fear? If we are taken away from Christ, our dreams for a better future will also fade away. Let us pray: O Lord, enlighten our hearts so that our choice of a leader will bring us closer to you. Amen.

When is generosity enough?

This is a transcript of the video below:

Kailan sapat ang ating ambag para sa Diyos? Para sa mabungang-buhay, tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

Ang halaga ng isang lepton o salaping tanso ay napakaliit. Kaya nang naghulog ang isang balo ng dalawang lepton bilang ambag niya sa Templo, winika ng Panginoong Hesus,

“Ang dukhang balong iyan ay naghulog ng higit sa lahat ng naghulog sa ingatang-yaman. Sapagka’t inihulog niya ang lahat niyang pag-aari, ang buo niyang ikabubuhay.”

Mark 12: 43-44

Sa mata ng Diyos, higit na mahalaga ang sakripisyong iginugol ng tagabigay, kaysa sa laki ng ambag nito. May mga nagbibigay na galing sa kanilang kalabisan, o sa hangad na may benepisyo ito sa kanila, o kaya galing sa pilit at suyo ng ibang tao. Ibig sabihin, hindi kusa ang kanilang pagbibigay. May kasabihin, “Give until it hurts.”

May pagka-walang-bahala ang tunay na pagbubukaspalad. Generosity has a certain recklessness. Hindi na naisip ng dukhang balo ang kaniyang sitwasyon o ang kanyang kinabukasan nang hinulog niya sa koleksyon ng Templo ang tanging natitira para sa kanyang sarili at kinabukasan.

Dahil dito, huwag natin maliitin ang anumang nabibigay nating tulong sa kapwa lalo na kung ito ay kusang ibinibigay nang walang hinihinging kapalit. Higit sa lahat, marami ang nagagawa ng Diyos sa kahit anong ambag natin sa kanya.

Manalangin tayo: O Diyos, mas palaguin mo sa amin ang pagiging bukaspalad upang higit na matugunan namin ang pangangailangan ng bawat isa. Amen.

When is a donation enough? For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of Coffee and Prayer. Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

The value of a lepton or the ancient bronze coin is small. So when the poor widow contributed two leptons as a donation to the temple, Jesus said,

“This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her while livelihood.”

Mark 12: 43-44

In the eyes of God, the sacrifice of the giver is more important than the size of the gift. There are people who give from their surplus, or unless they will benefit from it or sometimes contribution must be coaxed out of people. In other words, giving is not willful. There is a saying, “Give until it hurts.”

There is a certain recklessness in generosity. It was as if the widow did not consider her situation or her future when she contributed all that she had to the collection of the temple.

Because of this, we should never look down on whatever we contributed to help others, especially if we gave it without expecting anything in return. Moreover, God can do things with out small contributions to him.

Let us pray. O Lord, cultivate in us a heart of generosity to be able to respond to the needs of others. Amen.

How can we celebrate All Souls Day if we can’t visit the graves?

This is a transcript (Filipino and English) of the video below.

Paano ba ang Undas kung hindi tayo makakadalaw? Para sa mabungang-buhay, tayo na po’t magkape’t pandasal.

Mahirap ang Undas kung hindi tayo makakadalaw sa ating mga yumao dahil ipinagbabawal ang magkahawaan sa Covid. Hindi lang manganganib ang ating buhay, kundi madadamay pa nito ang ibang tao. Paano ba natin ipagdiriwang ang Undas sa ganitong sitwasyon? Balikan natin ang dahilan sa kabila ng ating tradisyon. Sa iba’t ibang kultura’t paniniwala, pinapahalagahan ang mga ninuno at mahal sa buhay na sumakabilang-buhay na bilang pasasalamat sa ating buhay. Kung sino man tayo ngayon ay utang-na-loob natin sa kanila.

Kaya sa bawat Undas, nagtitipon-tipon tayo bilang kapamilya’t kaibigan. Nakakatulong ang komunidad sa paghilom at pagtanggap sa katotohanang yumao na sila. Ipinagdarasal natin ang kanilang kaluluwa kasama ang hangaring maging mapayapa na ang kanilang buhay at malayo sa anumang sakit. Panghuli, sinasariwa natin muli ang alaala ng mga yumao. Nasa kaibuturan ng Undas ang tatlong bahaging ito na hindi nawawala kahit tayo ay magkahiwalay.

Maaaring gawin ito sa Zoom, Messenger o sa iba’t ibang apps na maaaring mag-group video call. Gumawa ng altar na naroroon ang larawan ng mga yumao, kahit isang memory ito sa social media. Magsindi ng kandila o maglagay ng bulaklak. Kung wala nito, ok lang din naman.

Manalangin tayo: O Diyos, ipagkaloob mo ang kapayapaan sa lahat nang yumao, kasama ang mga namatay nang walang saysay dahil mga biktima ng EJK at ng pandemiyang ito. Amen.

How to celebrate All Souls if we can’t visit the graves? For a fruitful life, join me in another episode of Coffee and Prayer.  Kape’t Pandasal [Coffee and Prayer]

It is difficult to celebrate All Souls Day if you can’t visit the graves because of Covid restrictions. Visiting will not only endanger your life, but also that of others. How can we celebrate All Souls in this situation? Let us return to the reason why we have this tradition. In different cultures and beliefs, importance is given to ancestral recognition and honor as a form of gratitude. We owe to them who we are today.

That is why in All Souls, we gather as friends and family. The community helps in the healing and accepting process of death. We pray for the repose of their souls free from human pain and suffering. Finally, we refresh our memories by remembering them. These three elements are at the heart of All Souls Day and they are not lost when we are physically distant.

To gather, we can use various video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Messenger, etc. To pray and remember, we can create a photo altar for those who died, including memories in our social media accounts. We can light a candle or add flowers. If you can’t do these, it is still acceptable.

Let us pray. O Lord, grant eternal peace to all who died, especially meaningless deaths such as victims of extra-judicial killings (EJK) and this pandemic. Amen.

%d bloggers like this: