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40 Days since the passing of a dear friend, Ryan B. Angeles, it is only now that I found the strength to write this tribute.  I guess the pain of losing a very dear friend and confidant was something that I had to deal with before I could muster the courage to write about as my way letting go of the grief that I felt when he had to go and be with the company of our heavenly Father.


Ryan just recently passed away due to his battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of cancer which affected his lungs and heart.  And though he was so brave in fighting to recover from this disease the physical burden was too much for him to handle; and so, he finally said goodbye to his beloved family and friends last January 20 at the Lung Center of the Philippines.


Ryan was such an endeared friend not just because he would bring laughter in whatever situation or circumstance that would come before him due to his “wit” and “infectious laugh” but also in his capacity to listen. Whenever I would have tough decisions to make either with my personal or professional life, Ryan would always be there to listen and to guide me through the process of discernment — and with this guy, I have learned that solutions even to the most complex of problems is the simplicity of a problem-solving approach … “itahimik mo lang ang puso mo, at upuan mo lang yan ng 10 minutes, malulutas mo yan” is what he would always say.


Until his last breath all he would utter is, “dahil marami kayong umaasa na gagaling ako, lalaban ako!”  — this was his mantra against Cancer; and this was his personal ideology as well.  He will always fight for the people he loved.  As a family man, his life evolved caring for his mother Cita, siblings (Rosette, Randy and Ruth) and pamangkins (Pia, Ice, Calix, Kio, Primo, et. al.); whose concrete manifestation was him striving to build their modest home at Pandi, Bulacan from all his earnings here in Manila and from his work as an OFW in Saudi Arabia.


Though he was an excellent graphic designer (to which before he died he creatively designed the layout of CBCP’s Coffee Table Book on the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines and the Coffee Table Book of Radio Veritas’ for its 50th Year Anniversary) and could have been paid hefty in the Philippines, he still left to be an OFW as means for him to share in the experience of his mother who was also an OFW in Hong Kong — “Gusto kong maramdaman ang nararamdaman ng Nanay ko para mas makibahagi ako sa buhay nya at para mas mabigyan ko ng kahulugan sa sarili kong buhay ang paghihirap nya”.  By the way, all my Christmas Posters since the day we met were designed by Ryan, so if you one of them we have him to thank for it,


Another notable act he did days before his death was that he still managed to finish the five gifts we discussed he would do.  Though, he was in no obligation to do so because of this health condition, we were discussing sometime in October to give some items (the scented candles and perfumes he was producing and selling as means of raising funds for his chemo therapy) to some people who was helping him in his medical treatment; and so, I was surprised to see in my bedroom the five gifts he prepared when he visited me with his mother last December.  That’s the kind of person he is — he will never leave a work unfinished.  Yes, despite being afflicted with Cancer he still edited the CBCP Coffee Table Book with all his remaining strength until it last launched last September 28, 2022 (Feast of San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, first Filipino Saint).


Eon Von Vikander as Ryan is popularly called in Facebook is also known for his great fashion aesthetics.  As he is an exceptional sewer too, he would sew and graphically design his own clothing apparels.  From his signature glasses, shirts, slippers and caps his motto was FASHION with PASSION.  Till, his dying days you would never see him sacrifice what he wears vis-à-vis the appearance of looking sick … “May sakit ka nga, magmumukha ka pang maysakit. Mas nakaka depress yon,” was what he would normally tell me; and that is why, even when he was sick his FB posts would always be that fashionable and smiling face that would make you love him even more.


The death of someone you love is the hardest thing in the world to deal with. It’s a kind of pain that you feel all over your body. It’s suffering of the worst kind. Then the real and true suffering begins when you realize that you have to start living without that person you love.  But I too recall the words of Mitch Albom in his novel, Tuesdays with Morrie: “Death does not end a relationship, it transforms it”.  Ryan will always remain in the hearts of all those he has touched; and his passing brings our relationship from the physical to the metaphysical — from the temporal to the spiritual or transcendental.  And, every time we cry for him, it’s a way of honoring who Ryan is in our life and what we have lost. To my dear friend Ryan, I part with this poem:


We are all beings towards death,

As we journey onto our last breath.

Such thought others find so morbid,

But preparing for it should not be candid.

Death teaches us a valuable lesson,

To love & forgive must be our disposition.

For to hate is a waste of our precious time,

And devoid us to experience the sublime.

Thus, the death of a loved one;

May be lonely when they are gone.

But in Faith we are assured of this …

That in the Father’s heavenly oasis,

They will share in the His omnipotence,

Awaiting we be reunited in God’s presence.


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Blessed are those who “think before they click” for they shall be responsible users of social media.

Blessed are those who refuse to spread fake news and propaganda for they shall be protectors of truth.

Blessed are those who spread God’s Words through social media for they shall be agents of new evangelization.

Blessed are those who suffer persecution through misinformation for they shall be comforted by God.

Blessed are those who fight for those who are cyber bullied for they shall be named children of God.

Blessed are those who honestly use cyberspace for e-commerce for they shall be profitably rewarded.

Blessed are those who gain friends not foes through online connectivity for they shall be called peacemakers.

And, Blessed are those who like, share and comment on posts as genuine gestures of love for they shall be inheritors of God’s Kingdom.


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As we rekindle the richness of our Catholic Faith when we celebrated our 500th Year of Christianity in the country; Radio Veritas, Radio Veritas Asia and the Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines recently held the Special Cinematic Screening of a Historical Documentary Film dubbed as “THE PILGRIM: 500 Years of Catholic Faith in the Philippines”. This theatrical showing is now screening at the FISHER MALL BOX OFFICE located at Quezon Avenue corner Roosevelt Avenue, Quezon City; and will run till January 31, 2023.


Directed by Real S. Florido (Chief Creative Officer, Firestarters Productions) and Produced by Radio Veritas846 & Radio Veritas Asia; this docu-drama comes in five parts: (1) Colonization and Christianization; (2) Piety and Identity; (3) War and Sovereignty; (4) Democracy and Service; and (5) Faith and Modernization; all of which are visually presented to give each and every moviegoer a glimpse on how we have evolved as a Catholic Church in the Philippines. Though chronologically designed in form, each exposition of Philippine Church History was presented thematically for a more holistic viewing experience.


Do you have a wonderful yet impossible dream? Ferdinand Magellan once had a dream. He wanted to discover a new westward route to the Spice Islands — a feat never accomplished before. There was a problem though. He needed support and funds to make this dream a reality. Magellan approached the person he thought could help him — King Manuel of Portugal. Sadly, the Portuguese King rejected his proposal not just once, but multiple times!


If you know the pain of being rejected, then you probably felt what Magellan experienced. Instead of giving up, Magellan turned to another person — King Charles I of Spain. Believing in him, the Spanish King provided the funding and support Magellan needed. Thus on 1519, with 5 Spanish ships under his command, Magellan set sail for the Spice Islands westward.  Crossing the Strait of Magellan, the Pacific Ocean, managing his own fleet’s mutiny.


On March 1521, 3 out of the 5 ships he commanded arrived on the shores of the Philippine archipelago. During his brief stay, Magellan was able to convert the natives to Christianity and celebrate the first Holy Mass.  Everything went well, until one tribal chieftain stood up to Magellan…and the rest, we know, is history.


Ferdinand Magellan never lived to see Christianity’s influence in our country’s history and identity.  But you, can. Brothers and Sisters, we would like to invite you to take part in the historic unraveling of an epic journey. A journey Magellan never would have imagined in his lifetime — Come and Watch this once in a lifetime documentary film.


The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos and kairos. The former refers to chronological or sequential time, while the latter signifies a proper or opportune time for action. While “chronos” is quantitative, “kairos” is qualitative and permanent nature. Truly, this 500th Year in our history is a moment of chronos because though God’s grace we have come this far. It is the hope of this written work that it would take this historical moment to be a moment of kairos as well — a moment of inspiration to bring the Philippine Catholic towards another 500 Years in the “missionary spirit” we are “gifted to give.” As such, may this Historical Documentary Film bring such inspiration to its readers.


As we share images, words and insights in this motion picture we will likewise rediscover our sense of identity as a Church.  From each and every visually presented image we will be able to learn how our Catholic Faith was formed as a nation, and how it evolved and developed over time. Like when individuals take it upon themselves to dive deep into their own family’s history, they can understand how their family interacted with larger historical change; so, too can we appreciate the richness of our faith experience spanning 500 years of existence vis-à-vis the events that shaped who we are as a Church in the Philippines.


Hopefully through this film, the viewers will gain access to a laboratory of faith encounters. When we reflect judiciously well on its contents, and so acquire some usable insights, as well as some basic information about the influences that affect our own spiritual lives, we emerge with relevant knowledge and an enhanced capacity for informed awareness, critical thinking and simple mindfulness.


We are all pilgrims in this world, and we hope that this Docu-Drama will be our modest contribution to your faith journey. “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).


The Radio Veritas Production Team includes: Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual (Executive Producer); Bro. Clifford Sorita (Managing Producer); Prof. Ricardo Lazo (Head Writer); Prof. Ludmila Labagnoy (Associate Writer), Prof. Raymond Datuon (Associate Writer); Ryan Angeles (Design Consultant); Dene Mickel Mondoñedo (Executive Production Head); Aurelia Elarde; Audrey Elli, Liberty Pabillore and Trixie Olandria (Production Staff). Special Thanks too to Mr. Jacques Ruby (Production Consultant).


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After almost two years of Virtual Christmas Parties, this week I was invited to attend at least six “Face to Face” Christmas Parties for each of the universities and organizations I belong to.  So besides gaining those extra pounds from eating such sumptuous meals, I started pondering on the underlying motivation of why we attend such gatherings despite the routinely done program sequence of FOOD—GAMES—RAFFLE—EXCHANGE GIFT.


Of course, the food would be such a feast, but do we attend simply because of the crispy lechon we could eat?  Or do we painstakingly sit in our chairs during the entire gathering in hopeful anticipation of that “grand raffle” prize we could possibly win and take home?  Or could it be because attendance was compulsory as a prerequisite to a Christmas Bonus?  Or is it because it is our once in a year chance to break free from the daily confines of office work to finally showcase our hidden talents which sometimes lie buried in self-defeat?


Well, as I sat in each of those Christmas Party, I realized that such gathering was more than just the food, talent show, gifts and prizes … It was celebration among family and friends that brought a sense of happiness among those sharing in the festivities.  It was an experience of the various Joys of Christmas.


THE JOY OF COMPANIONSHIP.  “The word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us.”  Christ shared in our common humanity to be one with us.  This is the spirit of the Christmas Season … to share in the company of those we love.  More than the mere merriment of our Christmas parties is the joy of togetherness, and by partaking in these festivities we acknowledge that we are part of a family, community or institution to which we are truly grateful for all the love and friendship we were blessed to have.  The so called “Samahan ng mga Malalamig ang Pasko (SMP)” will never exist if we open ourselves to the warmth and concern of the people around us most especially to those who care and feel affection for us.


THE JOY OF SHARING.  Personally, I believe that it wasn’t coincidence that Christ was born in a manger.  A manger is where we feed animals, and Christ born in a manger would eventually reveal that Christ would symbolically be “food for men”.  Christ would offer himself as the “bread of life”, inspiring us in each and every Eucharistic Celebration (holy sacrifice of the mass) to share in the same breaking of the bread for others.  So, each time we open those “exchange gifts” from our “Monito or Monita” and see that the items inside does not conform to the agreed upon amount.  Let us not be too frustrated for the true essence of Christmas is in giving.  Besides, it may sound cliché but I still believe that in each and every gift it is always the thought that counts.


THE JOY OF FORGIVENESS.  Christ was born for the salvation of men through the forgiveness of our sins.  The promise of deliverance in our Holy Bible’s Old Testament finally found fulfillment in the birth of our savior Jesus Christ.  So each time we attend a Christmas party, we should take that opportunity to reach out and reconcile with those we couldn’t see “eye-to-eye” due to personal misunderstandings.  For how can we truly celebrate the birth of Christ if hatred lurks within us?  How can the joy of the Yuletide Season fill our hearts if we allow ourselves to be consumed by the loathing, we have towards those we consider as our adversaries?  And, how can we commemorate the wonderful promise of our salvation if we ourselves are unwilling to forgive those who have sinned against us?


In a few days we will all celebrate Christmas and will be invited to a couple more of Christmas Parties but let us not be overwhelmed by the glitter and spectacle of all these festivities.  Let us look beyond the banquet, gifts and entertainment of all our Christmas parties and see the value of COMPANIONSHIP, SHARING and FORGIVENESS to which this blessed season brings.  And only then can we truly experience the true joys of Christmas.


“The Word of God, who created the world and who gives meaning to history and to humanity’s journey, became flesh and came to dwell among us. He came like a whisper, like the murmur of a gentle breeze, to fill with wonder the heart of every man and woman who is open to this mystery. The Word became flesh in order to dialogue with us. God does not desire to carry on a monologue, but a dialogue. For God himself, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is dialogue, an eternal and infinite communion of love and life. By the coming of Jesus, the Person of the Word made flesh, into our world, God showed us the way of encounter and dialogue. Indeed, he made that way incarnate in himself, so that we might know it and follow it, in trust and hope” (Pope Francis).


To all my family, friends and colleagues at Radyo Veritas 846, People’s Journal Group of Publications, San Roque de Pasay, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), Philippine Women’s University (PWU), and Caritas Manila … you are my true joy this Yuletide Season.


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Just recently, Radio Veritas (The Flagship Catholic Radio Station in the Philippines) released the results of a survey on the most preferred Gift for Christmas. This Survey uses a stratified random sample of 1,200 respondents nationwide for a +/- 3% margin of error (gathered through a text-based and online data gathering process from an existing database of previous face-to-face on-ground interviews) the following information is indicative of the respondents’ preference on what kind of Christmas Gift would they prefer, inclusive of the dates covering November 1–30, 2022.


When asked, “What kind of Gift they would prefer for Christmas?” 38% of the respondents preferred Gift in Cash, 32% preferred Gift in Kind, 22% said it does not matter (whether cash or kind) and that it is the thought that counts, and finally 8% were left undecided.


“Though there is a clear choice from the respondents.  Still, the best interest of the receiver must dictate the kind of gift we are to give … be it a gift item or money.  Always bear in mind that, ‘It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving’ (Mother Teresa).  So, in the end, the amount thoughtfulness and love that we factor-in in choosing either GIFT or CASH would reveal the true value of the gift we are to give” (Fr. Anton CT Pascual, President, Radio Veritas).


The Survey further reveals that though both Male and Female responders likewise prefer Cash Gifts more female respondents at 39% versus 37% male respondents preferred cash for their Christmas Gift.  32% Male and 33% Female preferred Gift in Kind; 27% Male and 18% Female said it does not matter (whether cash or kind) and that it is the thought that counts, and finally 4% Male and 10% Female respondents were left undecided.


When analyzed by Age, Teenagers (ages 13-20 years old) at 58% preferred Gift in Kind, 17% for Gift in Cash, 17% likewise said it does not matter (whether cash or kind) and that it is the thought that counts, and lastly 8% were left undecided; For Young Adults (ages 21-39 years old) 53% preferred Gift in Cash, 25% for Gift in Kind, 15% said it does not matter (whether cash or kind) and that it is the thought that counts, and finally 7% were left undecided; For Adults (ages 40-60 years old) 35% each preferred Gift in Cash and in Kind, 27% said it does not matter (whether cash or kind) and that it is the thought that counts, and 3% were left undecided; To finish, for Elderly respondents (ages 61 and above) 34% preferred Gift in Cash, 31% for Gift in Kind, 23% said it does not matter (whether cash or kind) and that it is the thought that counts, and finally 12% were left undecided;


The better people know each other, in terms of values, personality, humor and hopes, the more special and subtle they can be in choosing the perfect gift. A perfect gift is the one the recipient really wants, enjoys and appreciates, and possibly would not buy for him or herself. In short, ideal gifts are those that are still treasured after many years. The perfect gift is wanted, needed, deserved and appreciated. It has to be very thoughtfully and carefully chosen.


Giving CASH is the most convenient “present” we can give.  It frees us from the burden of thinking what best fits the godchild we intend to give a gift to, and with all the Christmas rush (and traffic woes) we are likewise spared from all the hassle of finding that right and appropriate gift we know our godchild would like and come to appreciate.  So, when we give cash as a gift, we rationalize such gift-giving process by saying that the child or their parents (our “Kumpare” or “Kumare”) can simply use the money to buy the items they would truly need or use.


Though, it can be argued that giving cash only teaches “materialism” to a child, who in an early age can still not appreciate the value of money … and that in some cases only ends up in the wallets of their parents.  Godparents can give money and use this as a “teachable moment” where they can impart the value of savings, and the virtue of a need versus a want.


On the other hand, a conscientiously selected gift item bears with it an element of sacrifice which gives additional meaning to the gift.  Consider this: “One Christmas morning, one of the natives brought the missionary a seashell of lustrous beauty.  When asked where he had discovered such an extraordinary shell, the native said that he walked many miles to a certain bay.  ‘Thank you!’ exclaimed the missionary with gratitude, ‘It was wonderful of you to travel so far to get this lovely gift for me.’  His eyes brightening, the native answered, ‘Long Walk part of the gift!’” (Gerald Horton Bath)


Moreover, as we give time, energy, thought and love in selecting that gift item for each of our loved ones, we reveal our personality and our generosity as a human being. Buying and giving a gift item is an opportunity to show who we really are.  In fact, part of who we are is likewise contained in each and every gift we give.  Thus, in gift giving … the giver becomes more important than the gift itself.


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It was in total anonymity that I met Dr. Vincent M. Balanag Jr. at the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP).  My friend needed a diagnosis for the tumor found in his lungs and so we decided to go for a “walk-in” consultation since I do not personally know any pulmonologist at the LCP.  This was when, Dr. Balanag generously agreed to see us for a consult.  It was only when I saw a tarpaulin (several consultations thereafter) congratulating him for his recent Career Executive Service (CES) eligibility that I started to get to know the doctor behind the humble demeanor when we first met.


What immediately struck me was the realization that the doctor who so bigheartedly agreed to see us was the Executive Director of the Lung Center of Philippines.  All we taught is that we were just consulting with a hospital’s pulmonologist who agreed to see a patient for a “walk-in” visit. But to my surprise, the kindhearted physician attending to our medical needs was the head of the hospital.  And not just that, the doctor right in front of us was indeed a doctor of the highest caliber specializing in Internal and Pulmonary Medicine plus Clinical Epidemiology.  As a Doctor of Medicine and MS in Clinical Epidemiology at the University of the Philippines, he was truly “God sent” in a time when we needed answers to my friend’s medical needs.


As I mentioned earlier, we met in total anonymity thus till now he still doesn’t personally know me (nor my background) — all he only knows is my friend (Ryan Angeles) and his medical condition; this makes me appreciate the fact that Dr. Balanag entertains patients from all walks of life and gives them the equal opportunity to avail of his medical wisdom and experience despite his hectic duties as head of the Lung Center of the Philippines.  His welcoming “smiling eyes” (I guess without the mask his smile is as welcoming as well) and reassuring demeanor allowed us to face my friend’s medical condition headstrong with the confidence that we have an attending physician who is with us all the step of the way.


Dr. Balanag’s work ethic is as impressive as well.  Witnessing him in action I saw two very remarkable disposition.  First was his sense of urgency in patient care.   It was a sense that things needed to be moved forward so that we don’t fall behind. This sense of urgency gave the impression that helping us was important to him.  It was like a “master class” in patient care — (1) He Listened and Diagnosed; (2) He set Realistic Expectations, (3) He kept us well informed; and (4) He did all these with a sense of urgency and care. While sense of urgency often “gets the job done” sooner and efficaciously, there are lessons to erudite: Sense of urgency doesn’t mean faster is better. It means functioning towards the earnestness or end goal in sight to accomplish results or success.  With Dr. Balanag the Sense of urgency takes on new meaning and purpose vis-à-vis patient care. Think about the times you walked into a hospital and waited for someone to notice and take care of you — surely you will know the difference.


Another noteworthy work ethic I came to appreciate was the preciseness of his Case Management.  In a matter of days, the treatment plan and medical team needed to help my friend was readily in place. With the help of Ms. Pauline, Dr. Balanag coordinated and provided medical care that was safe, apt, effective, effectual, reasonable, and patient-centered.  If things were managed as such in dealing with a patient he just met in anonymity, I think I can fairly say that such management style is likewise seen and felt as Executive Director of the Lung Center of the Philippines since his appointment by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on December 19, 2016.


As a man of compassion, I likewise witnessed how Dr. Balanag waived several of his professional fees after knowing the financial condition to which my friend was experiencing. It was a kind of sensitivity that saw the plight of a patient; and being able to pick up on the feelings of others, and being aware of their needs and behaving in a way that helps them feel good.  When Ryan, heard that Dr. Balanag was waiving several of his professional fees, it made him feel that he did not just have a doctor but someone who cared for him and his condition; and this was psychologically uplifting for him most especially for the medical battle he is about to embark towards the road to recovery — “Ang sarap ng may karamay. Nakakataba ng Puso”, was Ryan’s personal sentiment.


From my encounter with Dr. Vincent M. Balanag Jr, I have learned the need to learn to dichotomize between knowing someone (though a shared experience) and simply knowing about them (through publicly published information). We can know about a person, but we can’t completely understand a person. Because everyone has his own hidden truths, unnoticed personality traits and stories that need to be shared. Each one of us is an Incident. Every personality is a story — and luckily, I had one, up close and personal with Dr. Balanag.


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Last October 13, Manila Archbishop Jose F. Cardinal Advincula handed to each of the priests of the Archdiocese of Manila their new assignments after the celebration of the holy Mass held at the Lay Formation Center Chapel in San Carlos Pastoral Formation Complex in Guadalupe, Makati City.

When asked how the Cardinal chose which assignment will be given to which priest, Fr. Isidro Marinay (Chancellor) explained that the appointments were based on the profile of the priests (age, academic background, pastoral experiences and performance in previous assignments) and on the profile or needs of the parishes/communities they will be assigned. A survey questionnaire was likewise sent to the clergy asking them to give at least three preferred assignments in the order of priority, if given a chance to choose. The survey also asked the incumbent parish priests to give at least three candidates whom they will recommend as their successors. Finally, before making appointments, the Cardinal also got recommendations from the personnel board (a group of 7 priests elected by the clergy tasked to study the profile of the clergy and the profile of parishes).

As for the parish of San Roque in Pasay its parish priest, Fr. Paschal Ma. R. Gorgoña, will be transferred to the parish of San Isidro Labrador as the new team ministry moderator.  So, as he leaves behind the parish for his new assignment, he leaves behind the following lessons to us his parishioners for 11 years:

PREFERENTIAL OPTION FOR THE POOR – Fr. Paschal taught the parish that Caring for those who are less well-off is everyone’s responsibility. Preferential care should be shown to vulnerable and marginalized people, whose needs and rights are given special attention in God’s eyes. “The phrase ‘preferential option for the poor’ was first used in 1968 by the superior general of the Jesuits, Father Pedro Arrupe, in a letter to his order. The term was later picked up by the Catholic bishops of Latin America. In its early usage, particularly, the option for the poor referred especially to a trend throughout biblical texts, where there is a demonstrable preference given to powerless individuals who live on the margins of society” (Kira Dault).

In 1991, Pope John Paul II used the term, and elaborated on the concept in his encyclical Centesimus Annus. In that encyclical, which celebrated the 100-year anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum (On Capital and Labor), John Paul II expanded the use of the “option for the poor” to include spiritual as well as material poverty. Pope Benedict XVI, embraced the option for the poor as a true Catholic obligation, and extended the understanding of the poor to include all those who are marginalized in society: widows, children, people with disabilities, and victims of oppression, among others.  In San Roque, it meant being with the poor — and we will never forget Fr. Paschal sharing “Noche Buena” with them in the streets; and by giving them their special “Media Noche” baskets (which was a 1st class package with ham, etc.) for the New Year.  And, during the Pandemic Lockdowns he would visit each and everyone of them with their daily sustenance.

WE ARE BEINGS TOWARDS DEATH – This was common theme in all of Fr. Paschal’s homilies.  For human beings, time comes to an end with our death. Therefore, if we want to understand what it means to be an authentic human being, then it is essential that we constantly project our lives onto the horizon of our death. This is what Heidegger famously calls “being-towards-death”.  If our being is finite, then an authentic human life can only be found by confronting finitude and trying to make a meaning out of the fact of our death. Heidegger subscribes to the ancient maxim that “to philosophize is to learn how to die”. Mortality is that in relation to which we shape and fashion our selfhood.

“EVERY GISING IS THEREFORE A BLESSING”. To be awake and drinking your favorite beverage in the morning is always considered a blessing. It is a way of thanking the Lord that we survived the night before.  To us in modern times Eschatology (the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind) seems to be an awful idea. Who wants to think about death? But what if instead of being scared and unwilling to embrace this truth we did the opposite? What if reflecting and meditating on that fact was a simple key to living life to the fullest? Or that it was the key to our freedom — as Montaigne put it, “To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.”

And, SPEND MORE TIME WITH GOD – spending a much longer than usual Sunday Mass (usually 90 minutes or more) is for Fr. Paschal our way of spending more time with God. He taught us that going to mass is not simply because it’s an obligation. Rather, we attend Mass because it’s our loving response to the God who has loved us first. It is an active choice of the will to give of our time, treasure, and talent – knowing full well it will never amount to the sacrifice endured by our Savior. “Binigay na sa atin ng Diyos ang buong Linggo para sa ating personal na buhay.  Sana naman yung oras natin para sa Diyos tuwing Linggo (pati na rin yung mga extrang minuto na sumosobra sa isang oras) ay ialay natin sa kanya bilang pasasalamant natin sa mga biyayang ipinagkakaloob niya sa atin” (Fr. Paschal).

The Mass is for Fr. Paschal the prayer of the Church par excellence, meaning, there is no greater prayer other than the holy sacrifice of the Mass. From the opening prayer to the closing prayer (most especially the Consecration), the Mass is one continual offering to God the Father by making present the passion of his Son. Almost all of the prayers are addressed exclusively to the Father. We, as a community of believers, participate in this awesome salvation story that is relived every time the Mass is offered. We are not merely spectators but active participants in the Lord’s passion; so, a few extra minutes is always worth the time.


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Going BACK TO BASICS is stressing simplicity and adherence to fundamental principles; and like in learning the foundational elements of language we too must relearn the ABCs of our Faith. Come to think of it, in our exposure to worldly pleasures, our lives have become so complex and cluttered, that we seem to have forgotten the essentials of our “faith experience” that seems to have been lost in despair and skepticism. So, in this our challenging times (e.g., continuing COVID-19 health crisis, inflation, rising oil prices, etc.) it would be a breath of fresh air to rediscover the richness of our faith at its basicness.  So always remember …


ABC … Always Be Careful! Sin is always just around the corner, so always practice caution. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).


DEF … Don’t Ever Forget, that “for God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believe in Him shall not perish but shall have eternal life”. This well-known Gospel verse is significant because it tells us about the absolute love that God has for his creation, it teaches us about the sacrifice God made for us, and it helps us appreciate the unending insinuations of being a disciple of Jesus. This verse is a promise and upholds the hope we have as Christians that there is an everlasting life to come for those who believe in Jesus.


GHI … Go Home Immediately! The Home is the Domestic Church; your presence in it truly makes a difference. Holiness should emanate and begin from it. “Every home is called to become a ‘domestic church’ in which family life is completely centered on the lordship of Christ and the love of husband and wife mirrors the mystery of Christ’s love for the Church, his bride” (Pope Benedict XVI). Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than “the family of God.” From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers together with their household.


JKLM … Just Keep Loving the Master (God)! If we love God then our lives must be a living embodiment of this love. The constancy of our love of God is the same constancy of our life of Holiness. “But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Joshua 22:5).


NOP … No Outlandish Possession! God said, “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me.” Remember: The thing, person or being that controls us the most is our personal God. Thus, if worldly possessions are what controls us, then these material possessions are our personal gods. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).


QRST … Quit Resisting Saintly Truths! To live the lives of saints is to walk along the paths of Faith, Hope and Love. The saints inspire us to lead joyful lives; they serve as role models; they teach us that holiness means being who you are; and — as an added benefit — they pray for us from their posts in heaven. The saints are models of human excellence. They reveal by their lives how to really live and how to really die. They steadily point to the horizon of love which leads to the self-actualization of all human desire: eternal communion with the Triune God. Let’s avoid detours, ok?


UVW … Understand Very Well! FIDES et RATIO … Faith and Reason must always go hand-in-hand. “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth — in a word, to know himself — so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves” (St. Pope John Paul II).


XYZ … Xpecting Your Zeal. Living out our Religion must always be a happy experience.  We must perform our acts of Faith with great vigor and enthusiasm knowing that we do so because it is an embodiment of who we are as Catholic Christians. “So, we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).


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Weep for a nation fooled by its leaders; But Smile for its citizens who flight for the truth.

Weep for a nation governed by graft and corruption; But Smile for its citizens on the side of Good Governance.

Weep for a nation marred by Political Dynasties; But Smile for its citizens willing to be Servant Leaders.

Weep for a nation whose elections are of Payoff, Personality and Patronage; But Smile for its citizens who know the sacredness of the Ballot.

Weep for a nation misguided by trolls and fake news; But Smile for its citizens who foster the responsible use of social media.

Oh, indeed Weep for a nation in a twisted democratic system; But Smile for its citizens who never quit to regain its lost democracy.

Be critical

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Be critical of your social media feed, For it becomes what you post.

Be critical of what you post, For it becomes tools of misinformation.

Be critical of what you might misinform, For it becomes agents of ideological change.

Be critical of ideological change, For it becomes social action.

And be critical of social action, For it becomes a nation’s destiny.


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In the Philippines the Christmas Season begins during the “ber” months — months that end in “ber” — therefore, from SeptemBER to DecemBER. All these start as early as September 1, extending until the Feast of the Three Kings, making this the longest Christmas in the world. So, when you hear Jose Mari Chan Christmas songs played on the radio and in the malls, you know that it’s the Christmas season once again.


We grew up practicing this tradition but why do Filipinos celebrate Christmas this early? As a sociologist studying this phenomenon, here are some of the reasons I have come to discover:


IT HELPS US ANTICIPATE A HORIZON – time moves according to how we anticipate horizons. Anticipating Christmas from the Horizon of the BER-MONTHS allows us to open up to new possibilities in the spirit of HOPE. So what HORIZON does Christmas represent?  Answer: The Eternal God came to earth in the form of a man in order to save His own creation. Emmanuel (God is with Us) — “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign; The virgin will conceive, and give birth to a Son, and will call Him Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14) — It’s a word written on countless Christmas cards throughout the centuries and sung in some of our most-loved carols. For those of us who are overburdened by the challenges posed by 2020 (most especially during this COVID-19 Pandemic) our early Christmas Celebration allows hopeful anticipation of a better life because God is with Us! Time flies when you’re having fun thus the anticipation of that Christmas Cheer just makes the remaining days of the year bearable.


IT CREATES A SENSE OF URGENCY – like in sports, countdown clocks create a sense of urgency (our 100 days Christmas countdown starts in SeptemBER 16), but it manifests itself in a different way, and the feelings it creates will be dependent upon every individual. In sports, when a team is slightly behind in the waning seconds of the game, their awareness of the time can help focus their energy and instill in them a sense of urgency. In avoiding the “Christmas Rush” our early preparations in the BER-MONTHS allow us to properly PLAN, PREPARE and PRIORITIZE.  Highly productive people take the time to think, plan and set priorities. They work steadily, efficiently and unceasingly and seem to go through enormous amounts of work in the same time period that the average person spends socializing, wasting time and working on low value activities. Having a sense of urgency certainly suggests speed, but it also brings with it a sense of commitment and an attention on what matters most. Too often, people mistake being panicky with being productive; having focus on clear objectives is necessary in order to turn that feeling of wanting to get things done into action that helps complete your Christmas Chores.


IT HELPS CALM OUR CHRISTMAS ANXIETIES – Christmas comes with high expectations of seamless, happy and picture-perfect family celebrations and gift giving opportunities, but not all of us are able to live up to these standards. Thus, the Christmas season that was meant to be a time of joy has become for many people a time of stress, anxiety and disappointment. So, by celebrating early the Christmas Season (during the BER-Months) a Filipino becomes proactive in his or her holiday planning that can turn an otherwise stressful Christmas season into an enjoyable and memorable one. Moreover, an awareness of time (during our 100 Day Christmas Countdown) allows us to calm our anxiety and maybe even accomplish a task: Say you know that you’ve got five minutes before the next MRT or LRT train comes, that might give you enough time to send that email you need to deliver. Or, if you’re watching your favorite TV show, you know that you have three minutes to go take a restroom break before it’s back. The “extra time” provided by our long Christmas Season in the end enables us to effectively manage our time, which eventually reduces our Christmas Worries.


Finally, IT GIVES US MORE TIME TO DO THE ESSENTIAL THINGS BEFORE CHRISTMAS – being lost in all our Christmas preparations — decorating, food, gift buying, etc. — might result in neglecting the “essentials” of the season. FAITH, FAMILY and FRIENDS must always characterize the Filipino Christmas Season.  Our long Christmas Season allows the faith and family centric Filipino society more time to reunite and be together. It is expected that Filipinos should spend Christmas with their loved ones, often going home to their respective hometowns. With many Filipinos living outside the country as OFWs or as immigrants, as well as those working in other cities (or provinces), the long Christmas season is an eagerness of families sharing time together. Filipinos consider “Being Home for Christmas” intently. Our long Christmas season gives us ample time to arrange how we will be devoting our Christmas holiday, from booking our flights to working overtime to save more money for “Christmas Aguinaldo”. Most of all, our long Christmas Season sets the atmosphere for giving, kindness, and affection for one another that will culminate on the dinner table during the festive Noche Buena on Christmas Eve.


In the end, by knowing exactly how much time we have remaining to complete a task, instead of stressing about it, we will be able to better allocate our time. In fact, a 100-day countdown also acts as a secondary motivator and reinforces us Filipinos to complete our Christmas tasks before the big day.




For any personal comments or suggestions, you may call 0917-4805585 or email me at [email protected]


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Is dancing your passion? Your dance moves could be the start of something meaningful. With Nattural Quality Corporation’s (NQC) AMP UP Dance Challenge you can turn your love for dancing into a social advocacy for a charity that helps underprivileged school kids receive educational tools for their blended education during this COVID-19 Health Crisis.


In partnership with Radio Veritas (the flagship Catholic Radio Station in the Philippines), NQC has launched this “social advocacy” initiative that would allow its participants to “Dance for a Cause” that would allow them to donate an “educational computer tablet” for the use a poor student to whom they would chose to give to. Over and above the health advocacy that goes hand-in-hand with this social media campaign, this initiative gives everyone the opportunity to help a student in need by giving him/her the educational tool for his/her e-learning modality.


As a “social advocacy” this AMP-UP Dance Challenges seeks to use its brand influence to equally promote dancing as a form of exercise to help boost one’s immune system.  Dancing exercise likewise controls cholesterol levels in the blood, as well as helping to set blood sugar levels. If you suffer from high blood pressure then dancing could well be the prime exercise for you. Dancing can likewise burn between 200 and 400 calories so why not run away from that tedious treadmill training and dance along to this fitness groove? This is especially relevant in the Philippines where chronic diseases like Diabetes, Hypertension and Obesity incidence are of epidemic proportions. This AMP-UP Dance Challenge lends its platform to create awareness for the youth and for the elders that it is never too early or too late to buy-in on good health through exercise like dancing.


Moreover, since this Dance Challenge encourages the participation of family members and friends, it helps promotes the “bonding process” among loved ones, which generally helps promote good mental health under this “new normal”.  Regular dancing exercise will also reduce mental tension and lead you on the path to a stress-free mind. Dance stimulates happiness endorphins in the brain to alleviate day-to-day worries and concerns. If nothing else, dance is cheaper than going to a psychiatrist.


Another significant element to this social advocacy is its messaging. Contained within the jingle are core values of Health and Wellness. The words, “Ang Kalusugan ay Yaman” (Health is Wealth) reminds us that good health is considered valuable and precious to every individual. Sound health does not only mean the absence of disease in the body but a complete physical, mental, social as well as spiritual well-being of an individual. We endeavor for personal success often at the cost of our health. We only really appreciate the value of health once we’ve had it and then lost it again. We take our health and our bodies for granted until we’re broken, in pain or burnt out psychologically. We try to undo years of unhealthy habits often when it’s too little too late. We put other precedence ahead of our health.


To “AMP-UP” (in British English means to “work up”)  as this campaign suggest, encourages the participants to “work up” on one’s Health and Wellness through Healthy Diet and Exercise. And while diet is the best way to get the nutrients you need, dietary supplements can be an important way to fill in the gaps. Nattural Quality Corporation (NQC) through its AMPALAYA PLUS food supplement can be an excellent tool in your wellness arsenal. Ampalaya Plus is an herbal supplement that can help you manage your High Blood Sugar level naturally, together with High Blood Pressure support and helps reduce inflammation.


Ampalaya Plus is registered with the US Food and Drug Administration (U.S FDA) and manufactured in a facility with Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certifications. A clinical trial was conducted to determine if the ingredients of Ampalaya Plus can lower the blood sugar of the subjects. The result indicated lower blood sugar levels for the subjects.


In order to join, one member of the group must upload their video (following the official AMP UP Dance Steps) on his/her Tiktok account with #AmpalayaPlusDanceUp and the name of their school in the caption. Video must be in public setting for monitoring. Group representative must send a copy of the dance video via direct message to the Ampalaya Plus FB page.

All entries submitted shall be posted publicly by the Ampalaya Plus social media team on the Ampalaya Plus FB page as follows: (1) Upon receipt of each video entry, an Ampalaya Plus representative shall secure the following information via Facebook Messenger: participant’s names, ages, student’s proof of school registration, name of school and branch; (2) Participants shall be informed through a Talent Release Form to signify their consent for their entries to be used as promotional material by Ampalaya Plus. This Talent Release Form shall secure the participant’s agreement that all entries submitted for the contest automatically become property of Nattural Quality Corp., and may be used in part or in whole for promotional purposes of Ampalaya Plus Capsules and other products; (3) A Talent Release Form shall likewise, be secured from all winners who will be featured in post-campaign communication materials; and (4) A Letter of Parental Consent form shall be required for all participants below 18 years of age. All participants must follow the Ampalaya Plus Facebook page and shall be encouraged to invite FB friends to like/comment/share their entries on the Ampalaya FB account.


Our present health crisis has been challenging to everyone.  But the only way we are to survive this pandemic is for us to collectively help one another.  We have already been isolated through “physical distancing” but this should not be a reason to hamper us to reach out to those in need.  It is NQC’s hope through this “social advocacy” we can help transform our brand influence into a net positive contribution to societal well-being.


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ONLINE EDUCATION SURVEY This Survey initiated by Radio Veritas uses a stratified sample of 1,200 respondents nationwide for a +/- 3% margin of error (gathered through a text-based and online data gathering process) the following information is indicative of the respondents’ experience of their ongoing online classes, inclusive of the dates covering October 5 – November 5, 2020.  Results of which are as follows:

First and foremost the survey generated the following “emotions” the student felt during the course of their online classes: (1) Anxious, (2) Determined, (3) Disappointed, (4) Exhausted, (5) Frustrated, (6) Happy and (7) Sad (note: explanation for each emotion were likewise given by each respondent). Noticeably only 2 emotions (Determined and Happy) were positive emotions compared to the 5 other emotions (Anxious, Disappointed, Exhausted, Frustrated and Sad).


Overall the Top 3 emotions felt by the students were: (1) Exhausted at 34%; (2) Anxious at 30%; and (3) Frustrated at 10%.  This was then followed by Determined at 8%, Disappointed at 7%, Sad at 6% and finally Happy at 5%.  For elementary students the TOP 3 emotions were: (1) Happy at 35%, (2) Exhausted 25%, and (3) Disappointed at 20%.  For High School or Secondary students their TOP 3 emotions were: (1) Exhausted at 49%, (2) Frustrated at 16%, and (3) Disappointed at 10%.  Finally, for the College students in the survey their TOP 3 emotions were: (1) Anxious at 51%, (2) Exhausted at 22%, and (3) Determined at 10%.  In all three Educational Level the common emotional response was being Exhausted.


“Our survey reveals that most of our students see the emotional problems in one’s academic journey but we must likewise help them see the opportunities in these adversities. Life will be unmeaningful if we don’t have ups and downs. We are given problems for us to be stronger, for our skills to be sharpened and for us to be closer to God. We should always remember; problems are just problems and we have a bigger God than all of the burdens that we have in life. We should turn our problem into a blessing that will make you stronger and a better person” (Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual, Radio Veritas President and CEO).


On the other hand, Bro. Clifford T. Sorita shares his 8 Beatitude for Online Education to help uplift the emotional quandary of the student respondents of this survey; he explains:


Blessed are those who struggle to study and learn online;

For they will appreciate the value of education.


Blessed are those who cope with their inadequate cyber gadgets;

For they will learn to innovate and compensate.


Blessed are those who frequently catch up with lessons amid slow connectivity;

For they will understand the virtue of patience.


Blessed are those who need to find financial support to pay for their internet load;

For they will discover the importance of a hard-earned income.


Blessed are those who miss face-to-face classes with teachers;

For they will rediscover self-learning and tutoring from parents.


Blessed are those who tussle to find a quiet place for their online classes;

For they will now realize the significance of solitude and silence.


Blessed are those who yearn to share the company of classmates and friends;

For they will recognize the meaning of togetherness when they see each other again.


And, blessed are those who hope that school doors will open once again;

For they will say that, “Online Learning has prepared me for the challenges ahead”.