Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour - our small part

Today we were part of Earth Hour. It almost didn’t push through for us. At first I had thought that we had to turn off all the lights and all the electrical appliances in the house. I have been thinking for the past few days on what to do in terms of keeping cool during that one hour. It’s officially summer season and even at 8pm, going without an electric fan can get quite unbearable. I could probably bear it but the kids and the hubby would definitely be agitated. Jojo had said that he wasn’t goin to be a part of Earth Hour, but when I told him that we can keep the air-con on, then he was more cooperative. My mom asked if we had to do it. Well, I said that I signed up for it and I thought to myself, I guess it was really just my commitment and not theirs, so I didn’t have the right to force them. But they did do their share (though unwillingly at first), and we as a family turned off the lights for that symbolic hour.

At around 8pm, we turned off the TV and the lights (we actually leave at least 4 lights on throughout the whole house during the night). We lit a candle at our altar in our bedroom and we prayed the rosary, our usual routine before bedtime. The kids were still active after praying. We looked outside the window. We could still see our neighbors had their lights on and even our street light wasn’t turned off, which gave some light through the blinds. The hour went by pretty fast with some question and answer games, and the kids trying to play around the room in the semi-darkness. Benjo asked at least twice why we had the lights off, "bakit brown-out?", I tried to explain to him that it wasn’t a brown-out and that we were part of a move to conserve energy. He probably didn’t understand but hopefully he will in the future.

At 9pm, we turned on the lights. It was a good feeling to have been part of Earth Hour. If we can do this for an hour, why not for two or more?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Giwang Giwang

I've been trying to do a search on the internet on "gewang gewang" and came up with someone by the name of Ge Wang :) Then I found a wowphilippines events page that had "giwang giwang" and then I realized that I had mispelled the phrase. I saw many people with their cameras during the Good Friday event in Binangonan and I was hoping at least 1 of them would post it on youtube or flickr or the like. I found one picture on flickr but no video. Unfortunately I only got to take one shot of the event this year and not a very good one at that.

You can see Jojo on the lower-right corner of this picture (he's the bald one between the two big men :) It's been his panata since 2002 (I think he did it too before going to the States). It's the 2nd part of the Good Friday procession where the sepulkro (the life-sized image of the crucified Jesus lying down) is carried by men through the streets. It is similar to the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo but with lesser devotees and narrower streets...

It's one, if not the biggest, event of the year in Binangonan. Many people come home to be part of or to witness the event. Though it's Good Friday and the mood is supposed to be somber, the awaiting of the procession and especially the giwang-giwang has a sort of festive atmosphere. It was my mom's first time to see the event and though Benjo has seen it a couple of times, he is now old enough to kind of understand. At first we were worried that Benjo would want to join in, but he realized that it was only for men. "Ang tagal ni daddy", ("Daddy's taking so long"), he said while waiting for the giwang-giwang. It was probably around an hour 'til they did come and it was already around 10pm. Benjo fell asleep while sitting on his Ate Annie's lap while looking over the balcony to the street below.

So when the sweaty and tired men carrying the glass container carrying Jesus came, I tried waking Benjo. It was what he was waiting for - even counting down the days - and I didn't want him to miss it. He opened his eyes groggily and then fell asleep again. After several attempts I decided to lay him down. He then opened his eyes at the sound of the men shouting outside. I told him it was the giwang-giwang and asked if he wanted to go out. At that, he jumped up and went out to look at the commotion below.

They call it giwang-giwang, because the sepulkro is swayed (not intentionally I think) going back and forth and side-by-side. The men are squeezed really tightly and others try to push their way towards the sepulkro. It can be a scary sight thinking that someone is sure to get hurt in the crowd. There have been cases in the past where people have actually died. This year, thank God, no one did. Joselyn, who saw her daddy in the group of men, actually cried and was scared for her daddy.

My personal thoughts on the giwang-giwang... for some it may be a spiritual experience, to touch and help hold up the sepulkro. It may seem obsessive, fanatical or even idolatrous to others. I appreciate it for it's traditional worth. Binangonan is rich in tradition and this is one that is unique to them and one they are proud of. I do love viewing the images of the Saints and the different stages of Jesus' way to the cross during the procession. This helps me visualize the actual biblical events. I also admire how some would go to pains in being part of the procession and the giwang-giwang. But in itself, the giwang-giwang and some of the related activities have not helped me spiritually and quite honestly, I would rather spend a quiet day in prayer and meditation.

But as a family, we follow my husband's lead and hold on to this tradition. He says though that when the time comes when he feels that he isn't as strong as he is now, he'll just be part of the crowd walking behind, instead of being part of the crowd of men pushing and shoving to carry the sepulkro.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Holy Thursday - Bisita Iglesia

We did a Bisita Iglesia (Church visits), visiting 7 churches last Holy Thursday. This has become a yearly tradition for the past 3 years. Before I would forget the names of the churches we visited, but this year I took a picture of the churches so I could remember. Here are the churches we visited in order, with their corresponding pictures below:

- Our Lady of Hope (near North SM Edsa)
- Hearts of Jesus and Mary (near Time St.)
- Saint Paul the Apostle (Timog)
- Sacred Heart of Jesus
- Shrine of the Divine Word (E. Rodriguez)
- Our Lady of Mount Carmel (New Manila)
- St Martin de Porres (San Juan - not sure about the name of this will check later)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Meralco at 105

Meralco (Manila Electric Company), celebrated its 105th Anniversary yesterday at the Meralco main office in Ortigas, Pasig City. My husband’s cousin Ate Emma who has worked at Meralco as a company nurse for many years invited us to be part of their celebration. Many of the employees brought their family, relatives and friends to the event, enjoying an outdoor picnic (some were ready for the whole-day event - bringing mats, a tent and even a picnic table set complete with a cooler full of food), tiangges, food booths and a photo and film exhibit. We didn’t wait for the night’s scheduled events (mass at 6pm, with street dancing and appearances from different actors and actresses) since we drove to Binangonan afterwards.

We walked the grounds to the front of the main building where they still kept the copper structure displays from last Christmas. We didnt’ get to see these displays close-up during Christmas (though we passed by the displays often on our way home from Binangonan), so I’m glad that Meralco decided to leave some of the structures for the public to view. It’s a marvel to see the work that was put into these structures that were made from recycled copper material.

The photo exhibit also showed the early years of Meralco. One picture of the main office shows how the building was the only structure in the area, which at present times is surrounded by high-end subdivisions and other commercial buildings. How great it would have been to commute back then (but then again, they had slower modes of transportations in the early years)! [Right photo above grabbed from ]

Congratulations to Meralco on its 105th Anniversary! May it continue to light our paths and our homes for many more years to come...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Earth Hour - Sali tayo!

Forwarded message from chap_families yahoogroup:

Dear all,I hope we will take time to join this global movement, in our individual homes. Let's help stop global warming!

On 29 March 2008 the Philippines will join countries around the world as we literally "turn the lights out" for Earth Hour - an event that will fuel awareness on climate change and prove that when the people of the world work together, they can make a difference in the fight against global warming.Earth Hour will take place throughout the Philippines from 8 to 9 in the evening on Saturday night, 29 March 2008. WWF invites you to participate by shutting off lights for 60 minutes, organizing your own "lights-out" event or by forwarding this mail to your friends, workmates and family.

More info at: Earth hour website...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In the Presence of a Saint

We encountered Saint Therese of the Child Jesus last Sunday. We visited her relics at Manila Cathedral. There weren't a lot of people at the time, maybe because there was an ongoing mass and she herself would have wanted the attention to be focused on Jesus rather than on herself.

Upon entering the chapel at the side of the church, I had to quiet down the children. People were sitting, praying, meditating, some lining up to touch the glass that surrounded the miniature structure that housed her relics. We touched the glass, asked Saint Therese to pray for us and I had Joselyn smell the white roses next to her relics, and we moved on as the next person came to venerate the relics.

Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect and even afterwards researched on what "relics of Saints" actually meant. But her presence was undeniable. And even up to now I believe that she has helped us get our faith "back on track" as we near Holy Week.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Drilling and Digging

Right now they're digging in front of our house. Yesterday the workers worked 'til past midnight to finish the other side of the street. Now they're on our side of the street. We had planned on going out maybe to the QC Circle to go biking and walking, but we may not be able to take the car out since the road is blocked.

I took the clothes that was hanging on the line inside since it was getting dusty from all the drilling. Joselyn is scared of the drilling noise and tries to cover her ears. It's a scorching day and I feel for these men who have to work under the afternoon sun.

You Don't Eat the Skin of the Kaimito

The above title is more of a personal reminder :) The kaimito or star apple is a fruit grown in warmer climates. I rarely ate this fruit when I was young. And so when I came back to the Philippines from the US and was handed the fruit, I thought that it was eaten like an apple. No one around me at the time bothered to tell me that you don't eat the skin. They watched me take a big bite from the soft, green fruit thinking that was the way I ate it. When I bit into it, I knew instantly that it wasn't the right thing to do. I took out the kaimito from my mouth and those around me started laughing. Now, it's become one of those stories that you tell others whenever you see the kaimito.

This one is purple in color and quite sweet. Now I know to cut it up first and just eat the juicy part inside. So for those innocents (or ignorants :) like me, you now know not to eat the skin of a kaimito!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Overnight Birthday Celebration

The trip to Binangonan was a good break. I had it in my mind to spend the night there, which we rarely do – only twice a year. It was good timing since my mom was also out of town on a pilgrimage. She doesn’t like to be left home alone. It was when Benjo said "tulog tayo sa Binangonan" (let’s sleep in Binangonan) that we decided just that.

It was a good break, though I wouldn’t say a good rest since I only got about 4 hours of sleep. Benjo and Joselyn got to spend more time with relatives. We had an informal party – no formal invitations or party games, and no clowns, (which Benjo asked about in the morning, not because he wanted a clown but because he’s still scared of clowns and would not attend a party if there was one – even if it was his party!). Kainan lang – with time for talking while helping prepare the ginataang bola-bola, pancit and BBQ.

The kids danced a little, played a lot and ate outdoors. Benjo and Joselyn fought over blowing the candle on the cake. Pancit and cake was brought to the homes of some nearby relatives. (They don’t come to the food, the food comes to them:)

Funny thing this is that when everyone was finished eating and we shared some food with neighbors and relatives, we didn’t have anything left. Some relatives arrived late and I had to go scavanging in the fridge to find something for them to eat. Good thing that Jojo had reserved some brazo de mercedes (for him I think) and there was a bottle of Sprite. So with apologies and explanations, I served them what I could. Lesson learned: "don’t give away all your food!"