Archive for the ‘holiday’ Category

Groundhog Day and the Feast of Candlemas

February 2, 2009

Just as Pittsburg football fans celebrated the winning of the Steelers over the Arizona Cardinals in Superbowl XLIII, the residents of Punxsutawney, Pennsylavania saw the shadow of groundhog Phil on early Monday morning of February 2, 2009. The sight of the weather predicting furry badger supposedly indicated winter this year would extend to 6 weeks more.

Punxsutawney Phil came out to be seen by about 13,000 onlookers in a ritual of a small town in the county of Jefferson, PA, 84 miles northeast of Pittsburg.

According to German superstition, if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2 — the Christian holiday of Candlemas — winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, legend says, spring will come early..— AP (02/02/09)

Holiday of Candlemas

The holiday of Candlemas, a tradition of Christians like the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches, is commemorated in honor of the Jesus’ presentation in the temple on February 2. It is the day Simeon beheld Jesus as “the light.” The celebration occurs between the December solstice and the March equinox, about halfway prior to the onset of spring.

According to the gospel, Jesus for the first time was brought to the temple in Jerusalem as Mary completed the traditional 40 days of purification after delivery. Jesus as the “Light of the World,” is honored with the blessing of candles to be used through the year. The temple presentation is revered as the 4th mystery of the Catholic’s holy rosary tradition. (Photo Source & Credit: Presentation in the Temple by Ambrogio Lorenzetti PD) =0=

The Presentation of the Temple

by Ambrogio Lorenzetti (1344) Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy


More Holiday Photos of UP Ibalon & Friends

January 8, 2009

Dr. Fems Espinas-Paladin in Manila

UP Ibalon’s virologist extraordinaire Dr. Fems E. Paladin goes back to Manila from her cave in the World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland to take time with Ibalon pals Don A. Salvosa, Dr. Arnel V. Malaya, Sabu Sabularse and wife Mary. Sorely missed are all Ibalonians including Middle East-based Dr. Nestor RA Valenciano and Dr. Ramon Ray G. Rayel who is the United States.

AdeN-CSI HS’73 in Los Angeles, CA and Naga City

Photos of a merry get-together of spritely CSI HS’73 ladies Gene, Ellen, and Emee in some beautiful places in the West Coast. With them are their supportive spouses and children.

Back home in Naga City are the Golden Boys of Quiborak (GBQs)with Marive Roco (CSI HS’73)and Fr. Antonio de los Santos, a classmate and spiritual adviser, based in Calabanga, Camarines Sur.

In a rarely seen food grab—taking precious moments of unity, affection, and fun, bubbly CSI girls show pure happiness in being together.

Iggi Camacho in USA

GBQ Iggi Camacho breezes through California with fellow AdenHS’73 classmate Walter Mendez of Baao, Camarines Sur. Iggi comes to the Northeast to meet with other GBQs—Ely Mabeza, Tong and Chi Pilar of New Jersey and Totie Mesia of New York on January 13, 2008.


Dr. and Mrs. Lino & Josefa Mercurio

From Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Lino, and Jo send this exciting wintry holiday greeting and photo of their recent outdoor skiing trip with their children. Former residents of Buhi, Camarines Sur and Naga City, the UP Ibalon friends plan to attend the Bicol National Association convention slated in July 2009 in New York.

Dr. and Mrs. Renato & Megs Oracion

Happy holiday cheers from Rene and Megs in Odessa, Texas. Originally from Manila, the affable dermatologist and his Ilonga wife send their interesting photo taken during a much-needed vacation in Egypt.


Campaign against firecrackers and fireworks

December 31, 2008

A counter-move against the merry tradition of bidding a noisy ending of the year, young students in Manila staged rallies against firecrackers. In a gathering spearheaded by EcoWaste foundation, environment-conscious students in Malate, brought attention to the dangers and polluting effects of firecrackers during the holiday.

In Negros Occidental and Cadiz City, an estimated P300,000 and P100,000 worth of illegal pyrotechnic devices respectively were confiscated by authorities. Similar operations where conducted in various cities all over the country as the new year draws near.

Although the Department of Health (DOH) has made headway in discouraging the use of firecrackers with the use of explicit anti-firecracker ads, hospitals in the country are in “Code White Alert” in anticipation for more people who might need medical attention. More than a hundred injuries have been reported including at least three directly inflicted by gunfire.

The argument against the firecrackers and indiscriminate gunfire at this time is easy to understand, but annually, Filipinos needed to be reminded of the risks and perils. Students and concerned Filipinos standing against firecrackers are helpful in getting this message across. (Photo Credit: Malaya/ Philip Duquiatan) =0=


Firecrackers to rid us of bad luck of the past year

December 29, 2008

There is urgency in the young man who works fast at a deadline. He is one of the fire-cracker makers in one of the busy pyrotechnics hub in Bulacan from where many fireworks on the streets come from. Dirtied by gunpowder and grime, the man rushes firecracker production in his make-shift factory during the Christmas holiday, oblivious of the risks it poses on his life and on his neighbor.

Revelers this Christmas and new year seek to buy fireworks for their rowdy celebration. By our tradition, the bang and bright display are ways to mark the coming year —the Filipino merry-making which doubles as an occasion to ward off bad luck.

According to our folk beliefs detonating firecrackers is needed to invite life’s good forces on the first day of the year. Whether this is true or not, we are thrilled by the spark and sound of firecrackers. A fast buck can be gained by trading watusi, bawang, “belt of judas, and lolo when the demand is there.

Body injuries and burns are some of fireworks’ drawbacks. Eardrums have been ruptured by the loud blasts. Explosive debris have pierced the eyes. Houses have been gutted down and many mutilations and deaths have been reported. Last year, the Department of Health (DOH,) has listed about 750 fire-cracker injuries. Public hospitals are now on alert in anticipation for those who may be brought to the emergency rooms.

As of December 21, 2008, it was reported that of the 119 holiday-related injuries documented, 115 were from firecrackers and fireworks,, 3 were gunshot wounds and 1 from ingestion of watusi.

There is obviously a need to regulate the use of pyrotechnics for the protection of the public. Shoddy manufacture of firecrackers brings problems of safety, giving a boost to the sale of the ones imported abroad. There’s little implementation of laws—even gunfires and pistol shots are recklessly substituted for fireworks at the height of celebration. Though most of us know the dangers, the relentless campaign for the safe use of fireworks during holidays remains a job in progress.(Photo Credits: _gem_s; Reuters/ Ranoco, Romeo; Reuters/Ranoco, Romeo; persesverando)=0=


Christmas Day Thought: “Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus”—Virginia complained in 1897

December 24, 2008

Prodded by her father to write Francis Pharcellus Church, the editor of the New York Sun to ask about the hard question about Santa Claus, Virginia O’ Hanlon of New York City got the following response from the newspaperman more than a hundred years ago:

“We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the
communication below, expressing at the same time
our great gratification that its faithful author is
numbered among the friends of The Sun.”—Francis P. Church

Dear Editor,

I am eight years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in the Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

—Virginia O’Hanlon

The Editor’s Reply to Virginia About the Truth of Santa Claus


Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”—-Source: ( Photo Credits: David Wilcot; Reuters/ Prath Sanyal;; Rev_Bri; Tanya Mass; Stich)

RELATED BLOG: “Yes Virginia, there is Santa Claus!”—remembering Francis Church and the little child in Virginia O’Hanlon Posted by mesiamd at 12/25/2008


“Yes Virginia, there is Santa Claus!”—remembering Francis Church and the little child in Virginia O’Hanlon

December 24, 2008

For me, one of the best written lores about Christmas was the editorial written by Francis Pharcellus Church, which came out on September 21, 1897 edition of the New York Sun for the little 8-year old girl named Virginia O’Hanlon (1889-1971.)

A mature seasoned reporter and son of a Baptist minister who wrote for newspapers during the Civil War, Francis saw how people suffered because of the dearth of optimism and the usualness of alienation in society. The question he received from Virginia about Santa Claus by mail and his well-thought reply hugged the imagination of those who read them.

“Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia O’Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter: “Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn’t any Santa Claus, I was filled with doubts. I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.”

Born in Manhattan, Virginia was the daughter of an Upper Eastside assistant coroner. Her complete name was Laura Virginia O’Hanlon and she lived a life of the regular kid of her time at 115 West, 95th Street. She grew up to be an accomplished teacher with a BA (1910) and MA (1912) education from Hunter College and Columbia University respectively.

During her life, countless letters found their way in her mailbox asking about Santa Claus and her unexpected fame. To eager fans, she recounted how her story influenced her life in a wholesome way. Having briefly married with one child, she in old age lived in a nursing home after her retirement from decades of teaching. She passed away on May 17, 1971 at the age of 81 and was interred in a quiet rural burial ground in Chatham, New York. The newspaper New York Sun folded up in 1949. The original letter she sent the newspaper was pasted in a scrapbook which her relatives keep till this day.

I had some emotional reaction banging on my chest each time I read the immortal correspondence of Francis and Virginia. I had memories of how I regarded Christmas as a boy. The idea that the world would be so dreary if there was no Santa Claus because of skepticism made me panicky. The stockings I placed behind the yuletide tree at home for Santa was so real. There was the off-tune Christmas carol about Santa that I sang for our next-door neighbor. It earned me less than a dime, but nonetheless made me very happy. Attendance to the pre-Christmas midnight mass and watching the nativity scene were as gratifying as the long waits I did for the dawn break-ins of the mysterious bearded man with gifts for children from a magical sleigh.

Time was benevolent on Virginia. It transformed her 64 million dollar query and Francis’ answer into a masterpiece, perhaps the most endearing Christmas editorial ever written in America.

From her moving story came the beloved quip “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” All children of the world must have asked their fathers and mothers like Virginia before their fleeting periods of innocence pass by. More than a hundred years went and the whole world still struggles with cynicism, self-doubt, and materialism. People continue to dig what true Christmas really means for all of us. (Photo Credit: Andy_Atsaka;;; Karen Navarro/ AP; Andy_Atsaka; Manuel Silvestre/ AP ; Scott Feldstein) =0=


Simbang Gabi Sa Nueva York

December 19, 2008

Halina, Jesus, Halina!
Sa simula’y sinaloob mo
O Diyos, kaligtasan ng tao
Sa takdang panahon ay tinatawag mo
Isang bayang lingkod sa iyo.

On a frigid early evening of Saturday, December 6, 2008, Filipinos of New York came in droves to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and joined the celebration of Simbang Gabi sa Katedral, a traditional mass in celebration of the Christmas holiday. In the packed gothic church along Fifth Avenue, prayerful songs distinctly from the country filled air.

In spite of the chill, there was the warm glow of kababayans wishing each other the peace and love of the season. Among the merry attendees were some members of the Ateneo de Naga Northeast Alumni and Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Association (OLPDA.) The holy celebration was led by the Simbang Gabi Sa Katedral, Inc. under the guidance of Rev. Joseph G. Marabe, JCD. =0=


Who is Santa Claus?

December 18, 2008

It’s always good for us to pause
And think awhile of Santa Claus–
That jolly symbol we revere
When we approach the changing year.
Behind his beard so long and white,
In which our children take delight,
There beats a heart from color free
Which bids all children “come to me.”
—MARSHALL M. MORGAN, “The Spirit of Santa Claus”

Santa Claus is anyone who loves another
and seeks to make them happy; who gives
himself by thought or word or deed in every gift
that he bestows; who shares his joys with those
who are sad; whose hand is never closed against
the needy; whose arm is ever outstretched to aid
the weak; whose sympathy is quick and genuine
in time of trouble; who recognizes a comrade
and brother in every man he meets upon life’s
common road; who lives his life throughout
the entire year in the Christmas spirit.
—EDWIN OSGOOD GROVER, Vicki Howard’s The Book of Santa Claus

(Photo Credits: David Wilmot; Reuters/ Romeo Ranoco; AFP/ Yoshikazu Tsuno)


Religion as a myth, Mother Mary as a nude playboy pin-up girl & a pink Christmas celebration

December 14, 2008

A provocative placard was placed beside a nativity scene in Olympia, Washington USA which says that religion “hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” Coincident to this month’s feast honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mexican edition of Playboy magazine printed a nude cover girl with a white veil resembling the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Amsterdam, Netherlands, gays and lesbians slated a pink Christmas, the first this year, depicting the holy Mary and Joseph as homosexuals in a manger scene.

Mockery of religion has become rampant. Antipathy is more common as the holidays heat up. Disrespect and hostility towards Christian moral values are on the rise, especially among those who feel they aren’t “included” in the Christmas celebration.

Churches, religious groups, and the overwhelming majority of Christians are pitted against misguided seculars and atheists who believe religious faith has no place in society. In their alienation, non-believers seems to be having a foul after-taste of their desolation. It’s a far-cry from the the joy and hope true Christians feel at this time of the year.

The small minority of “Scrooges” in US society (fewer than 20% of the public,) wants to change the texture of culture and religion throughout the world. At Christmas time, extremists desiring to remove faith-based traditions are on the move. They have the backing of legal groups, warped government judges, and liberal supporters. This is ironic because the law guarantees the freedom in the exercise of religion (not from religion.) The government is mandated to protect people in their peaceful expressions of faith.

The controversial campaign by liberal radicals and atheists against God seem directed mostly against Jesus believers whose ethical tenet is to work for peace. With the rise of individualism, social alienation, materialism, and decline of ethical moral values, this isn’t surprising. However, the extreme seculars don’t have the balls to mock other religions like Islam. They can only tackle soft targets. For they know,like in the past, their disrespect can draw them into a real quarrel, hopefully, not a bloody one. (Photo Credits: Gadl; Freedom From Religion; Revista Playboy Mexico/ AP) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Godless world puts Christian identity in peril” Posted by mesiamd at 10/06/2008


Mga magandang himig ng pasko

December 8, 2008

I. Ang Pasko ay Sumapit

Ang pasko ay sumapit
Tayo ay mangagsiawit
Ng magagandang himig
Dahil sa ang Diyos ay pagibig.

Ng si Kristoy’y isilang
May tatlong haring nagsidalaw
At and bawat’t isa ay nagsipaghandog
Ng tanging alay.

Bagong taon ay mag-bagong buhay
Nang lumigaya ang ating bayan
Tayo’’y magsikap upang makamtan natin
Ang kasaganaan,

Tayo’y mangagsiawit
Habang ang mundo’y tahimik,
Ang araw ay sumapit
Ng sanggol na dulot ng langit..

Tayo ay mag mahalan;
Ating sundin and gintong aral
At magbuhat ngayon
Kahit hindi pasko ay magbigayan.

II. Kami’y Namamasko

Sa may bahay an gaming bati:
Merry Christmas na maluwalhati.
Ang pag-ibig pag siyang naghari
Araw araw ay magiging paskong lagi.

Ang sanhi ng pagparito
Hihingi po ng agilnaldo.
Kung sakalit kami’y perhwisyo;
Pasensiya na kayo’t kami’y namamasko.

III. Pasko na Naman

Pasko na naman, o kay tulin ng araw;
Paskong nagdaan tila ba kung kaylan lang.
Ngayon ay pakso tayo ay magbigayan;
Ngayon ay pasko tayo ay magmahalan.

Pasko, pasko, pasko na naming muli;
Tanging araw nating mpinakmimithi;
Pasko, pasko,pasko na naming muli,
Ang Pag-ibig ay naghahari.

IV. Pasko sa Nayon: Noche Buena

Kay sigla ng gabi ang lahat ay kay saya;
Nagluto ang ate ng manok na tinola;
Sa bahay tahanan may handing iba’t iba.

Tayo ng giliw magsalo na tayo;
Meron na tayong tinapay at keso;
Di ba notche Buena sa gabing ito
At bukas ay araw ng pasko?

Nagsabit ang parol sa bintana
May awitan habang ginagawa;
Ang pamasko nilang ihahanda
Ang bawa’t isa’y natutuwa.

(Photo Credits: Santa Barbara Catholic School; MKella55; Paula Brandao; Santa Barbara Catholic School)