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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Visita Iglesia 2019: Visit to Seven Churches in Manila and Quezon City

Last Maundy Thursday, we joined thousands of Catholic Filipinos perform the Visita Iglesia, a tradition observed on this particular day of Lent.  Pilgrims visit seven churches to pray the Stations of the Cross and meditate on the suffering and resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ.

UST Parish Church
Traditionally, one walks from church to church but we used our car and so did the other devotees.  This created huge traffic jams on the roads leading to the churches and parking spaces became battlegrounds.  Mercifully, volunteers managed the traffic inside the church grounds.

We first stopped at Sto. Domingo Church, which is near our place and is the shrine of Our Lady of Naval.  We prayed our first two Stations of the Cross and then lighted candles for our special intentions.

Our next stop was the UST Parish church along EspaƱa Boulevard.  After praying the next two Stations of the Cross, we exited the church and found a group of people distributing copies of the Way of the Cross booklets.

At the back part of the booklet. the group explained that they aim to stop the spread of communism and socialism which destroy the basic beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church.

We were supposed to make Quiapo Church our next stop but it appeared most of Manila's Catholic population converged there.  We decided to go straight to Manila Cathedral instead.  However, we made a wrong turn and ended up heading towards Binondo Church.  We decided to make it our next stop it was still not too crowded inside so we were able to do our prayers in peace.

Binondo Church

A popular deli store offered water and snacks outside the church,  It's an old tradition practiced on Maundy Thursday called, pa-caridad or charity.  It's almost forgotten and very few devotees practice it now.

We finally found our way to Manila Cathedral but the traffic jam was terrible that we had to walk to the entrance.  People had to fall in line to get inside because of security checks.  The long line due to the high volume of people almost deterred us from going in but it moved fast so we decided to go inside.

The cathedral teemed with people inside, but not everyone was praying but several people were taking selfies and groupies!  Okay, some people were actually doing the Stations of the Cross and their prayers mingled with discussions of other groups on what part of the cathedral they would take their next selfies and groupies in.

The Manila Cathedral

From the cathedral, we took another trip to the Shrine of Saint Michael and the Archangels, or the San Miguel Church.  We could not drive to the church because of the tight security since its neighbor happens to be the President of the Philippines.  So we had to walk and I immediately noticed the number of food stalls near the church.  It appeared that none of the well-to-do residents of the area made a pa-caridad.

San Miguel Church
The stations were outside, in the courtyard and as in other churches we've already visited a lot of people were busy taking their selfies and groupies.  Inside the church, the priests and their assistants were already preparing for the Mass of the Lord's Supper.  Also, the parish has a museum dedicated to the Blessed Mother and the angels.

We ended our Visita Iglesia this year at the two churches in Bustillos: the Shrine of Saint Anthony and Our Lady of Loreto Parish Church.  We did not get inside both churches because the Lord's Supper Mass has already started in both of them. However, like in San Miguel, both churches placed stations of the cross in their grounds.

We finished all 14 stations of the Way of the Cross as well as the seven churches needed to complete the Visita Iglesia.  By the way, I remember that a lay minister once told me that the Visita Iglesia should be done when the Eucharist has been removed from the main altar following the Maundy Thursday mass.  This is a response to what Christ said when He found the apostles sleeping in the Garden that they could not stay with Him for even just one hour.

Also, I hope next year, the pilgrims will be more aware that the Visita Iglesia is not a road trip and they should be more considerate of the others who were doing their prayers.  They should also learn to be more caring about the surroundings and not just throw their trash anywhere.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Kingdom on Netflix: Royal Intrigue, Period Setting and Zombies

The hottest topic online today is the Korean series on Netflix: Kingdom.

Kingdom tells the story of a crown prince whose father is suffering from a mysterious disease.  The king's wife, a young daughter of the Chief Counselor, refuses access to the sick king even by his own son.

from the Internet

The prince decided to investigate the matter and this brought him and his aide to the Southern part of the kingdom.  There he found about a bigger problem that could be linked to his father's affliction.

The series runs for only 6 episodes and has all the ingredients of a compelling drama: political intrigue, family conflict, and zombies. Yes, zombies.  All of these ingredients are masterfully meld into one fantastic story that you, as the viewer, would be drawn into.  As in other Korean series, many questions are answered before you could ask them but a lot are also left unanswered to make you continue to watch.

Another point that separates the series from the rest is the production,  The decision to make this a period piece/historical drama meant period costumes, scenic locations, and other things that contribute to the production value.  At the same time, the series was beautifully shot and captured on screen.

And the zombies! Let's talk about zombies.  These are not your run of the mill type you see on any show. You know, the ones that groan and drag their feet.  These zombies move fast and even run.  They also hibernate in the daytime and avoid the sun but there's more to that than meets the eye.  They don't appear until towards the end of episode 1 but you should see how they rise from their dead state when night falls.

Kingdom is one of the shows that you will binge on until you've seen all episodes.   I did it on one sitting and I want more.  The creators made sure that there are enough cliffhangers for viewers to wait for the next season.  Hopefully, it will come soon.

Kingdom can be streamed on Netflix.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Hello 2019!

Goodbye, 2018.

Hello, 2019.

I hope it will be a great year for all of us.

Hopefully, there would be a lot of good things to write about this year.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

IKEA is coming to the Philippines in 2020!

After years of speculation and waiting, IKEA made it official: it will open a store in the Philippines in 2020. It will be the Swedish retail company's biggest store in the world, covering an area of 65,000 square meters.  The two-story building will be located at the Mall of Asia complex, and for added convenience to loyal SM customers, there will be a walkway that will connect the store to the mall.

image from the Internet
I've been to an Ikea store in Singapore, and it was a great experience.  Although it was like going through a maze, I was like a child in a candy store.  By the way, I am not really interested in the furniture, which doesn't look durable.  What really made me go around the labyrinth-like store were the home accessories like curtains, cushion covers, and decor. Plus, the products were priced reasonably that you can be forgiven for indulging.  Hopefully, the future local Ikea store will use the same price points when they finally open their doors in 2020.  Online shopping will also be available for those who want to buy stuff from the comforts of their home.  But personally, I prefer to see and touch the products before purchasing.

Some 9,000 products will be included in the store's line-up, and this raised some concern among local netizens.  The store's opening could potentially affect local furniture producers, according to some posts,  and negatively impact the livelihood of those working in the industry.  Others hope that the retail giant would include locally-sourced products in their inventory to 

Nikkei Asian Review reported that Ikea had 422 stores in over 50 countries as of the end of August when the retailer closes its fiscal year. It attracted 957 million shoppers and generated $43.9 billion in sales during the 12 months.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

"Dugo dugo" Gang Strikes

Image from the Internet
I still couldn't believe it would happen to me. But just recently our house-helper received a phone call recently that I was involved in a terrible accident.  Our helper told the caller that I didn't have my car with me at the time but the caller, a woman, said to her that I took a ride with an office mate and I was in a hospital because I was terribly hurt and can't talk. Our house-helper started to panic and she asked what hospital I was at.  The woman then asked someone on the other line to bring "me" close to the phone so our helper could hear me. The helper could hear a male voice mumbling something.  

The woman told her that I was in terrible pain but I wrote about my money in my closet and some jewelry.  That's when our helper smelled a rat.  She knows I don't keep money at home and I don't wear jewelry.  She told the caller to get back to her as she would collect the money and jewelry.

Our helper called me on my mobile phone immediately when the caller hung up and told me the whole story.  I said I wasn't involved in an accident and did not even leave the office at the time.  I instructed her not to go out and to be watchful of our surrounding. I was worried the caller was just around the neighborhood waiting for her to come out.  

The scammer did not call back, but the experience scared us and worried us for days.

It was a classic "dugo-dugo" case.  It's a scheme where someone would call and tell whoever answers the call that someone from the household got involved in an accident and needed help.  They will then give instructions to find money or other valuables in the house and bring it to a place other than the hospital.  In other cases, the caller would pretend to be a family member who hurt someone on the road and needs money to pay for the damages.

It's good that our helper immediately doubted the story of the caller and didn't act impulsively.  But hopefully, this story will remind everyone that it could happen to any of us so let's all be careful.