The streets squeeze frantically in my room
Under my door, the city lights mimic a dance with flames
The voices become shouts as if they climb a ladder to be better heard by gods
The eyes let all the stars within and mumble wishes for all their dreams
People swinging on the notes of an inner song, swerve from their ways
And all the steps pursue the rhythm of their beating hearts regaining faith
As they grope for their vanished souls, they know…
The night reigns their world.
Insecurities climb the walls to plunge into drowsy minds
The windows mirror all the wounded prides
The moon brings shadows and forgotten ghosts to tangle the already weakened thoughts
The horns signal the unexpected that walks around the well planned lives
Time, the thief that no one had a chance to catch, juggles with moments back and forth
It calls the past…
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My Encounter with a “Retired” Priest
By Apolinario Villalobos
First of all, I am not in favor of using the secular term “retired” to the priests who are advancing in age and who need to rest due to ailment. The ailing and aging priests are handicapped but they should not be considered as retired. The word is most inappropriate for them because of their spiritual vow which is supposed to be for their lifetime. The priests should not be treated like ordinary employees who retire at age 60 or 65.
I met a religious guy in Divisoria while I was taking my lunch in a sidewalk carinderia. He was neatly garbed in a black polo shirt and denim, but his age showed on his furrowed face. He was stuttering which as I learned later was due to a mild heart attack. I came to know about his real identity when he was addressed by the owner of the carinderia as “Father”. I got curious, so I broke the ice by admiring his bracelet made of cat’s eye beads. I was also glad that he accepted the coffee that I offered.
Like me, I found out that he has friends, too, living in Baseco compound. That noon, I found out that he walked all the way from the said place to Divisoria which for a guy his age, could be taxing. In all honesty, he admitted that he was a “retired” priest. He stopped saying Mass because of his stutter. In my ignorance, I asked him if “retired” priests with handicap like him are not allowed to co-celebrate a Mass, by just sitting on the side of the altar but still garbed in appropriate garment for the Mass. He said, he was not offered such invitation, yet. I asked such question because I witnessed Masses, especially, those intended for well-known personalities, with plenty of co-celebrators who just stand behind the celebrating priest. So, I thought, why is it not possible for a handicapped one to just sit on the side? All he told me was, it’s difficult to be retired, especially, if it is against one’s will.
My new-found friend is now living with his nephew who assists him in his continuing advocacy of reaching out to the children of financially-handicapped families. Some weekends, his nephew would be with him to distribute goodies that he would collect for weeks. When I asked him for future plans, he replied that for as long as his two feet can still carry him to wherever he wanted to be, he will never get tired of reaching out to his “children”.
Advocacies similar to what the priest practices are not difficult to develop in the heart of any person who is willing to share. All one needs is a resolute compassion. It can be done and the priest has proved it.
Ni Apolinario Villalobos
Dahil nadikit sa imahe ng relihiyong Kristiyano ang Bibliya, ang mga hindi naniniwala sa Diyos ay umiiwas dito. Tingin kasi nila dito ay animo nagbabagang kuwadradong bakal na umuusok sa sobrang init. Sa Bibliya nakasaad kung paanong nagsimula ang unang relihiyon ng tao sa disyerto ng Israel. Ganoon pa man, hindi dapat pangilagan ang Bibliya ng isang taong hindi Hudyo o Kristiyano, dahil kinapapalooban din ito ng interesanteng mga kuwento noong unang panahon, kahit pa sabihin ng iba na ang mga ito ay “alamat”. Sa isang banda, dahil sa mga tuluy-tuloy na pananaliksik na naging matagumpay, napatunayang ang mga sinasabing “alamat” ay may katotohanan pala.
Hindi ako pantas pagdating sa Bibliya at pag-aaral nito. Ang binabahagi ko ay batay lamang sa aking mga karanasan sa pagbasa nito at kung paano kong nagawang makakuha ng kasiyahan mula sa mga pahina nito. Ang sikreto ko ay pagturing sa Lumang Tipan na parang “National Geographic Magazine” dahil puno ito ng kasaysayan. Ang Bagong Tipan naman ay itinuturing kong “Reader’s Digest”, dahil sa mga makabago nitong kuwento ng buhay.
May mga kuwento sa mga pahina ng Lumang Tipan na ang pahiwatig ay hawig sa mga pangyayaring may kinalaman sa extra- terrestrial phenomena…pumunta lamang sa mga pahina tungkol kay Ezequiel. May mga pangyayari ding hindi nalalayo sa mga nangyayari sa kasalukuyan sa Gitnang Silangan, kaya parang nagpapatunay na umuulit ang kasaysayan.
Sa Bagong Tipan din nakapaloob ang mga kuwento na hawig sa mga nangyayari sa kasalukuyan tulad ng kaguluhan dahil sa corruption, paglutang ng ilang tao upang labanan ito pati na ang pagka-ipokrito ng ilan na ang turing sa mga sarili ay bukod-tanging mapupunta sa langit dahil literal na sumusunod sila sa “utos” nd Diyos.
Upang hindi umiskiyerda ang isip sa pagbasa ng Bibliya, laktawan ang hindi masyadong maunawaan. Iwasan ding magkaroon ng “missionary complex”, isang ugaling namumuo sa isang nagmamarunong sa mga Salita ng Diyos, kahit lilimang pahina ng Bibliya pa lamang ang nabasa. Buksan din ang isip sa mga diskusyon tungkol sa Bibliya, dahil may kasabihang “two heads are better than one”, eh di, lalo na kung marami ang nagbabahaginan ng kaalaman.
Itanim sa isip ang katotohanang may Diyos kahit hindi Siya nakikita, at siya ang gumawa ng lahat ng bagay sa sanlibutan…at pati na sa sanlibutan. Kahit pa sabihin ng iba na ang mga “extra terrestials” na nakita ng mga tao noong kapanahunan ng Bibliya ang unang mga “misyonaryo”, at inakala nilang Diyos, dapat itanim sa isip na may gumawa pa rin sa mga “extra terrestials” na ito, kaya talagang may Nag-iisang makapangyarihan sa lahat.
Hindi dapat pagtalunan ng mga tao na nagkakaiba ang pananampalataya ang kaalaman nila sa Bibliya. Dapat igalang ang paniniwala sa Diyos na ang batayan ay Bibliya. Kahit pa sabihing nagkakaiba ng bahagya ang iba’t ibang bersiyon ng Bibliya, ang laman ng mga ito ay tungkol pa rin sa Diyos. Upang maiwasan ang pagtatalo tungkol sa kaalaman sa Bibliya, dapat isaisip na lang na ang mga mensahe ng Bibliya ay tungkol sa pagmamahal sa Diyos at kapwa-tao.
Ang Bibliya ay Aklat ng Buhay…Salita ng Diyos, kaya pati ang ibang nilalaman ng Koran ng relihiyong Islam ay galing dito. Ang ibig sabihin, kung ang mga Muslim ay nagbibigay galang sa Bibliya na nagpapahiwatig ng kanilang paniniwala dito, bakit hindi kayang gawin ng mismong mga Kristiyano? At, ang pinakamahalaga ay ang uulitin kong paalala na hindi dapat pagtalunan ang “kaalaman” tungkol sa Bibliya…upang sa ganoong paraan man lang ay mabibigyan ito ng respeto!
Life is beautiful…we should love life and each other…
The Beauty of Life
(for Adoracion Paragas -Sanque)
By Apolinario Villalobos
The magnificence of creation is such
That all we need to do is open our eyes
Though the extent of our perception ends
Where the earth meets the sky –
It still oozes with awe-inspiring sights.
In loving God, we love life…
Gratitude is what to Him we show
For everything He blessed us with
There’s nothing else that we can do.
Even the whiff of the wild grass
Undulating in the wind’s caress
And the buzzing of the busy bees
That fills the air with lively drone
Lightens up, even a heavy stone.
Light feeling, ecstasy, happiness –
They grip us tight, though tenderly
As we delight in the beauty of life
That God made for all of us to see!
Mga Produktong Siguradong Magiging Mabili
Sa Kasalukuyang Panahon
Ni Apolinario Villalobos
Sa panahon ngayon, siguradong magiging mabili ang mga sumusunod na produkto kung lalagyan ng letrato ng mga opisyal ng gobyerno na ampaw ang pamumuno, o nakalbo dahil sa sobrang dunong sa pagmadyik ng budget ng bayan, o mga kapit-tuko sa pwesto sa kabila ng panawagang bumaba na sila dahil wala namang alam sa pagpapatakbo ng ahensiya, o mga kongresista na sipsip sa pangulo dahil sa maya’t mayang bonus, at mga senador na nagdudunung-dungan:
1. Toilet paper, upang maidampi sila kung saan sila nararapat.
2. Diaper, upang maitapal sila doon sa singawan ng sama ng loob.
3. Arenola o ihian, upang malunod sila sa katas ng sama ng loob.
4. Upuan – sofa, stool, at bangko, upang madanasan nilang suminghap sa hirap.
5. Basahan, dahil pareho lang sila nito na sa kalaunang gamit ay nanlilimahid.
6. Pingpong racket set, upang mapagpasa-pasahan ang nararamdamang ngitngit.
7. Sangkalan o chopping board, upang matadtad sila kahit papaano.
8. Dart board, upang mapuntirya nang tuluyan ang may sala.
9. Tsinelas at sapatos, upang maikaskas sa lupa ang kanilang mukha (mas okey kung may alipunga ang magsusuot!)
10. Sapin o cover ng kabayo sa plantsa, upang maipadama sa kanila ang init ng impyerno.
11. Kainan ng aso, swak sila ni Bantay, kasi mahilig din lang silang humimod ng amo.
12. Punasan ng paa para sa pinto o door mat, karapat-dapat lang…no questions asked.
13. Gomang proteksiyon na apakan sa banyo, upang malunod sila sa tubig na may libag.
14. Malalaking kandila, upang matuwa ang tao sa unti-unti nilang pagka-agnas.
15. Mga balat na gwantes o gloves ng baseball o softball, pati na bat o pamalo, dahil…yon na nga – dapat lang silang ihagis at paluin!
16. Mag wheels ng kotse, upang masagasaan man lang nang paulit-ulit.
17. Brief at panty, upang mailagay sila sa dapat kalagyan – mga sipsip!
18. Basketball ball at volleyball ball, upang pagsawaan silang mai-untog sa sahig na semento at mapalo ng nagngangalit na kamao.
19. Palanggana, upang malunod sa malibag na pinaglabhang tubig.
20. Lagayan ng basura o basurahan….kung saan sila angkop na angkop dahil sa baho nila!
PAHABOL: HINDI KO NILALAHAT ANG MGA SENADOR AT KONGRESISTA, PATI NA MGA OPISYAL NG PAMAHALAAN, DAHIL MAYROON PA RIN NAMANG MATITINO…YON NGA LANG, MANGILAN-NGILAN LANG.
Truth Cannot be Forced on Others
By Apolinario Villalobos
Yes, truth cannot be forced on others. What is true for one guy is not necessarily true for the other who does not think the same way as the former. And, this is how trouble develops among the peoples of the world who precisely do not think in the same way. When one firmly holds on to his principles and beliefs, differences are developed, and they create gaps in the relationship with others who think otherwise.
One sensitive area that easily breeds differences is religion. In this arena of differing beliefs, some groups even go to the extent of killing to assert their religion. One particular group, the Islamic, even makes use of a traditional belief, such as jihad, to purportedly save souls. In the past, those who constitute the leadership of the Catholic Church even resort to torture to force the truth into the minds of the supposedly unbelievers.
Another area is ideology in which the major players are communists and adherents of democracy. Pages of history in many countries that became victim to this struggle show gruesome results of the efforts exerted by both parties. This struggle continues until today, although got mellowed by co-operation for the sake of progress hinged on interdependent economies of the world.
Truth can only become what it should be if the targeted recipient will open his mind as a gesture of acceptance. Unfortunately, it does not always happen. While others can go to the extent of killing to force the truth he believes in, the latter on the other hand, would rather die than have his own truth be overruled by the one being forced into him.
The world practically floats on all kinds of “truths” as each earthling believes he is right. HOWEVER, this general belief does not give the “true and righteous” result, as shown by pockets of war that pockmark the earth. At the end, I can then say, that TRUTH IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT!…that’s as far as I am concerned.
A Philanthropist at Quinta Market of Quiapo
…Baby “Bicol” Dionisio
By Apolinario Villalobos
If I am around the Quiapo area and want to partake of my favorite eggplant torte, I would just go to my favorite carinderia (makeshift restaurant) at the Quinta market. The stall is beside the fish section. For more than nine years now, I did not know that the single mom, Baby “Bicol” Dionisio, who is tending the said eatery has been silently enduring trials that have befallen her, as under her care is a hydrocephalic granddaughter. Both sleep in the cramped area behind the counter, among their worldly possessions, and the worst time is during the flood season during which the overflowing murky water from the Pasig River which is a few meters away would flood the whole market for days, reaching up to her ankle, and during some seasons, up to her thigh. In addition to such nuisance is the several decades-old roof that drips rainwater.
I learned about her hydrocephalic granddaughter one morning when I dropped by for my favorite dish, before proceeding to the Hospicio de San Jose beside the Ayala Bridge, and which is just a few hundred meters away. During our animated conversation, she inadvertently mentioned about the child in her care. It came as a surprise. I did not know about her ward as every time I drop by, she was always cheerful. I did not know that in the crib is a handicapped child.
What touches me every time I drop by for my cheap breakfast is her very positive outlook despite her strangling financial needs for the health maintenance of the child. That morning, she told me that she has learned to leave her fate to the Lord, but added that she has never failed to exert much effort in earning for their daily survival by waking up as early as four in the morning to do her purchases and cooking, and since theirs is a public area, staying awake as late as ten in the evening. She also cheerfully mentioned that the child has learned to knock at her crib post to wake her up consistently every morning.
Baby’s daughter, the mother of the child, still has two children in her care and she is also doubling her effort to support them by doing odd jobs. She and her family live in a shanty by the Pasig River with her two other small children. Her husband drives a traysikad or pedaled tricycle. I was even more surprised when Baby pointed at an old man who was sleeping that morning on an old reclining chair in front of her stall. She said, the old man who is past his seventy years, and suffering from the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease is also under her care. As soon as she is free from attending to her customers, she checks the old man. She has no idea about her additional ward’s family. I had no courage to ask her how her caring for the old man started. I find it unethical. For me, what’s important is what is being done at the moment of need.
I did not mention to Baby about the Hospicio as I was not sure if the said institution could take care of semi-invalids such as her old ward. I am resolved, however, to at least try my best in helping her locate the family of the man for his own sake. Most often, victims of Alzheimer’s disease who could not find their way back home are painstakingly searched for by their families.
Baby’s friends in the market would sometimes extend their assistance, although, not regularly, to help lessen her financial burden. Despite her situation that could break the bearing of the weak in body and spirit, she would just smile while attending to her customers, with not a bit of complaint. Due to her very amiable personality, she exudes a warm aura that gives her face some kind of a radiance that veils her real age, making her look like fortyish despite her age of past sixty years. When I asked if it is okey to take her photo with her granddaughter beside the old man, she vehemently refused, but she did not hesitate to give me her real name. I only knew it after more than nine years, during which I would just call her “nene”.
As always, people like “nene” or Baby keeps me going…
The Two Jungles : Jungle of Nature (marine and terrestrial),
and the Jungle of Civilized Man
By Apolinario Villalobos
In a jungle, the rule is survival of the fittest, based on the two main players – the predator and the prey. The strong is the predator and the weak is the prey. While in the marine and terrestrial jungles, the relationships are multi-layered depending literally on the size of the creatures, in the jungle of the civilized man, there are just two layers – the strong and the weak.
In a way, the aforementioned relationship checks overpopulation of both jungles. This is aside from the death caused by occurrence of diseases and natural disasters. Without deaths, the world should have been overpopulated long time ago yet, bursting to the seam, as they say.
Unlike the marine and terrestrial jungles where inhabitants have no choice, in the jungle of civilized man, there is a choice for the furtherance or extension of existence, by man himself, despite the mentioned occurrence of natural disasters, thanks to the wonder drugs and medical technology.
In the jungle of the civilized man, war ensues when the strong tries to overrun the weak who somehow tries to fight back. Some unfortunately, are devastated by natural calamities such as drought, flood, typhoon, and earthquake. And worst, is when man chooses to self-annihilate himself by his unscrupulous throwing of refuse to the oceans and rivers, as well as, ruthlessly cutting down of trees and digging down in search of minerals and oil.
In the jungle of the civilized man, those with unsatiated desire for enrichment, just go on with their business, thinking that for as long as they have the money amassed by all means –exploitation, graft, corruption, drug deals, plain robbery, etc., they can live on as they want. Those with less of the monetary potency coupled with a damned attitude, leave everything to God as regard to what the days to come will give them. But those who are conscious of their limited stay on earth, be they moneyed or not, exert effort in preparing themselves – this is when the wise choice is put to the fore.
Tanggapin Kung Ano Limitasyon ng Kakayahan….
At huwag ikahiya ang kahirapan pati pagka-senyor
Ni Apolinario Villalobos
Maraming mga kabataan ang napapariwara dahil hindi naibigay sa kanila ng kanilang magulang ang lahat ng hinihingi nila. Ang iba ay hindi lang napariwara kundi naging suwail din dahil natutong magalit o mainis sa mga magulang na hindi sila napagbigyan sa kanilang mga luho. Tahasang masasabi na sa lahat ng mga nabanggit, mga magulang ang may pagkakamali dahil habang sa murang gulang pa lamang ang kanilang anak ay hindi nila ipinakita at ipinaliwanag kung hanggang saan lang ang kaya nilang ibigay. Ang akala ng mga magulang na may ganitong pagkukulang ay pagpapakita ng pagmamahal ang pagbibigay sa lahat na hingin ng anak. Hindi nila alam ay unti-unting nahuhubog ang isip ng anak nila sa maling paniniwala.
May mga nababasang kuwento at nari-report sa TV at radyo tungkol sa mga batang prosti o nagbebenta ng aliw, at ang iba naman ay nakakausap ko mismo. Marami nito sa mga lungsod ng bansa, hindi lang sa Maynila. Ang nagtulak sa iba ay kahirapan, subalit mayroon din namang naghabol ng kikitaan upang maipantustos sa mga luho ng katawan na sa murang gulang ay kanilang natutunan. May mga nakausap ako na nagsabing gusto lang daw kumita upang may pambili ng bagong cellphone na mamahalin, magagandang damit, alahas, at iba pa. Ang simpleng luho ay lumaki hanggang madagdagan ng bisyo tulad ng alak, sigarilyo at illegal na gamot. Dahil madaling kumita ng pera gamit ang mura nilang katawan, hindi na nila naisipan pang bumalik pa sa kanilang mga magulang.
May mga magulang kasi na ayaw tumanggap ng kahirapan sa buhay. Ikinahihiya din nila ito kaya pilit na pinagtatakpan ng mga perang inutang. Kadalasan ito rin ang dahilan ng away ng mag-asawa. Meron pang mga magulang na nagtuturo sa mga anak na magkunwaring anak-mayaman. Marami akong mga kaibigan na ganito ang ugali, kaya naaawa ako sa mga anak nila na lumalaki sa pagkukunwari. Dahil ang ikinabubuhay ay halos puro sa utang galing, hindi rin nawawalan ng kumakatok sa kanilang pinto araw-araw upang maningil ng pautang. Ang isang kaibigang pinayuhan ko na magbago na ay nagalit pa sa akin, kaya sa inis ko rin, hindi ko na pinautang uli. Hinayaan ko na lang na hindi niya ako bayaran sa huling inutang niya sa akin na nalaman kong ibinili pala ng bagong cellphone para sa anak, ganoong ang dahilan sa akin ay pandagdag daw sa ibabayad sa tuition.
Ang isang nakakatuwa ay ang ayaw pagtanggap ng iba ng kanilang pagkasenyor na dapat ay itinuturing na biyaya dahil umabot sa ganoong edad. May isa akong kaibigan na nagdaos ng kanyang bertdey subalit hindi pinabatid ang kanyang gulang. May isa siyang kumareng maurirat at nagtanong, na sinagot naman ng may bertdey ng “57 years old”. Narinig ito ng anak at sinabihan ang kanyang nanay na, “ mama talaga, ilang beses ka na bang nag-fifty seven?”. Bilang parusa, isang linggo yatang hindi binigyan ng allowance ang bata, kaya nagkasya ito sa pamasahe lang, at pagbaon ng kanin at kung anong ulam meron. Ang edad ng nanay na kaibigan ko ay 64.
Sa dyip namang nasakyan ko, may isang ale na nakisuyo sa aking mag-abot ng kanyang pamasahe na minimum. Napansin kong ang halaga ay pang-senyor citizen. Nang matanggap ng drayber nagtanong kung bakit kulang, mas mababa kasi kaysa regular na minimum fare. Ang ale naman, bagong kulay yata ang buhok kaya nagmukhang bata, hindi tuloy mukhang senyor, subalit ibinulong lang sa aking senyor daw siya. Sinabi ko naman sa drayber na “senyor daw” subalit may kalakasan, at narinig ng ibang pasahero kaya tumingin sa ale at sa akin. Nagalit sa akin ang ale, tiningnan ako ng masakit, at pabulong na sinabing, “nilakasan pa!”…sabay ismid. Ipinikit ko na lang ang mga mata ko at nakinig sa stereo ng jeep na ang tugtog ay, “The Falling Leaves”.