Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Work in the Home

Today, I spent the whole day at home. My day was quite different from my Saturdays for the past weeks. I did not go out with a friend. My appointments were cancelled. The only thing left for me to do was the household chores. I looked at the pile of laundry in my room and another pile near the bathroom. I was tempted to watch TV all day but I knew I had to wash our clothes. The sun was rising high and it would be a waste.

I dragged myself to do the laundry while listening to music and some audio seminars. While washing our clothes, I looked back to the days when I was younger. I did not like washing clothes. My older sister and my mother did it for me. When I was old enough to wash my own clothes, my parents purchased a washing machine. It’s almost like I worked with washing machine all my life. Hand wash? What is that? But today was different. I washed our clothes with my own bare hands. It has been like this since I came to Manila to find career opportunities. It would be impractical to purchase a washing machine because my brother and I move from one apartment to another. Besides, I couldn’t afford one yet, not now, maybe later. The cost of living in Manila is very much higher than in Baguio and the Mountain Province.

Our Improvised Window "Sampayan". We placed a bar on our window to serve as clothesline because we do not have a laundry area in our apartment.

I would bruise my hands once in a while when I do the laundry. I could say that I learned the hard way. But I do not like to complain. In fact, I learned to find joy in doing the laundry. I would be reminded of the words a friend once told me. “80% of the apostolate is done in the home.” I believe her. Making the home pleasant for the family is noble. I would like to think that Mary, the mother of Jesus, also did a lot of work in the home. Perhaps she also washed the clothes of Joseph and Jesus with her own hands. Perhaps, I am almost sure of it; she cooked for them and cleaned their humble home in Nazareth. Perhaps she even developed muscles for doing all the work in the home, not only for Jesus and Joseph, but also for her extended family like Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Perhaps, she even baked Jesus’ last supper. And she did all these with joy and simplicity. Of course all of these were not written in the bible but we know that Mama Mary worked silently, passing almost unnoticed because she wanted to stay hidden so that only Jesus will shine in the limelight.

Because of this, my perspective about work in the home changed. I salute all the housewives, especially my Mom, who dedicated their lives for the work in the home. And I have great respect for the maids who take care of the home, making the house pleasant for the family.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Taking a Peek at the Future

Have you ever thought about death?

Don’t get scared with my question.

It’s just that it is the surest thing about our future.

 It is so hard to take a peek at the future because we are so caught up in the present. We think that we will never get old. We think that we will always be as strong as we are now. Some even think that they will never die.

What does it feel when we are nearing our death? When we are nearing the age when our parents or grandparents died?

I invite you therefore to join me to take a peek at our future. What will we be 20 years from now? 30 years? Or  50 years from now? Will we be like the groovy lola Nanay Dionisia? Or like the vendors in the street of EDSA? Or like the elderly we visited in the Home for the aged in Pasay?

This morning, we were privileged to visit the elderly in the Little Sisters of the Poor San Lorenzo Ruiz Home in Pasay. I joined the outreach simply because I was curious about what brought the elderly in that place. I only wanted to be aware of what is happening in my society, and of course, I wanted to look at how my future can look like.

There were 44 abandoned elderly living there. Each of them has their own story. Each of them had different circumstances when they were younger but they ended up in one place. Some of them were abandoned and neglected. Some of them were picked up near the shores of Manila Bay living everywhere. Some lucky ones just chose to stay there because they had no family.
An elderly tending the plants in the Little Sisters of the Poor San Lorenzo Ruiz Home, Pasay.

An elderly proves that he can still sing and be entertaining

Groovy Grandpa sings Pitong Gatang

One particular elderly caught my attention. She was so quiet in her wheelchair. My friend Sonia said she doesn’t talk so much so I just approached her and sat beside her. I caressed her back. She looked at me, smiled and then she looked down again, like she was sleeping. So I just sat there beside her. Gosh, I even was not able to get her name. Let’s just call her Lola Patti. Then I engaged in a conversation with an elderly beside her. While we were talking, Lola Patti gave me a sign that she wanted to go to the restroom. When I tried to help her, it seemed she didn’t want to be helped. But then she kept on looking at me. So I pushed her wheelchair to the restroom. Surprisingly, she was receptive to the help. I pushed her inside the restroom. She could not carry herself so I carried her to the toilet bowl. At that point, I smelled something different. It was disgusting that I was tempted to go out of the room. But I came to my senses and got ashamed of myself. What was I thinking? When she finished her thing, I again helped her get back to her wheelchair. Then she looked up at me and smiled. It was the sweetest smile I have ever seen in my whole life. It was a smile of gratitude, a smile that showed how much she appreciated the affection and the love that I showed her. It was a smile that can melt one’s heart. I smiled back at her and pushed her back to the dining room.

While I type, I can still smell Lola Patti’s odor that lingered in my clothes and in my skin. But I am not disgusted anymore. In fact, I think that it is the sweetest smell ever. It is that smell that showed my future. Perhaps, when I am as old as Lola Patti, when I cannot take care of myself anymore, when I  cannot take a bath, when I cannot put lotion on my skin or put perfume on my clothes, I will smell like soil. Then, when that time comes, I would also appreciate anyone who would not show disgust to me, accept me despite my condition and love me unconditionally.

Is there any Lola Patti in your life right now? Show affection to them. Sure, it will make them happy. But I believe that it will make you even happier.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

One Face, Four Places: Our Lady of Lourdes

Since the World Youth Day, doing a Marian Pilgrimage became one of my favorite things. I couldn’t help but have a special devotion to Our Lady. In particular, I have a special devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. And because today is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11 is the first apparition of Our Lady to Saint Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year old peasant girl from Lourdes), it is good to talk about her. I will not elaborate on the story; rather, I want to show you the shrines I already visited which are dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes.

First, I want to show to you the most recent shrine I and four other friends recently visited. It is the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Baguio City. Before reaching the top, we had to climb 252 steps. While climbing up, we were reciting the Rosary. It was awkward for some of my friends. But it wasn’t for me. Perhaps I developed a thick skin on that matter because during the World Youth Day, we recited the Rosary anywhere, even while we were on the bus. I guess reciting the Rosary while traveling is the best way to spend the time. Of course, it should not be so loud so as not to attract attention.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Baguio

Doing a pilgrimage on a Marian Shrine can do many great things. Even if you consider it only as a tourist spot (like one of my friends said), something wonderful will happen inside of you, even if you may not know it. For me, I experience enormous peace whenever I do a pilgrimage. I also gained a lot of favors through the intercession of Our Lady. For some, the result could be healing. Let us listen to one of my friends who was with me in the pilgrimage in Baguio.

“ I joined the pilgrimage because I see it as a good opportunity to start the year right (though it's already late January). You also know that I'm having emotional problems that time so I consider going on a pilgrimage to lighten my burden. I don't know how it works, but it did. After the pilgrimage, I'm feeling better. Maybe because I knew that I did something good that day, or because I prayed, or maybe because while on a pilgrimage I am also relaxing. I forgot about the extra baggage  that's torturing my mind and focused on the rosary. In a way, it has healed me.”

I see it as a miracle. We don’t know how or why. We do not even know if we deserve it. But that is grace. It comes overflowing. It is a gift that we receive from God.

Next, I want to show you a shrine of Our Lady in one of the Churches in Tagaytay. We passed here when we were on our way to climb Mount Batulao in Batangas last May last year.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Tagaytay

Then, the  miniature of the original shrine located in Bulacan. It is almost like the original, only it is smaller.
Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Bulacan

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, Bulacan

And finally, the original Lourdes Grotto in France where Our Lady appeared to Saint Bernadette. I will say this again and again. It was a blessing that I was able to have a pilgrimage in the original Lourdes Grotto. It is truly a holy place. I recommend that if you have the opportunity to go there, grab it.

Our Lady of Lourdes Church, France

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, France

Today is the birthday of my Mom. You may include her in you prayers. Her name is Bernadette. Happy birthday Mama! I love you.

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