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This year’s lantern parade, in my opinion, was better than last year’s. Lanterns were generally more beautifully and interestingly-designed. Although it’s a bit disappointing that there was no fireworks show in the end which I was very much looking forward to watch. I heard that the money for the fireworks show will be put to better use to donations for the Yolanda typhoon victims which I think was a very good and noble cause.

The parade was already moving when we ran down from Vinzon’s Hall. Maybe just enough time to have a glimpse of the former Ms. Universe runner-up Venus Raj who was with the CSWCD.

We watched the parade in the amphitheater although the view was not that good. It would have been better if the people in the parade turned their lanterns around so that the majority of the audience from the back could see them more clearly.

I think this was the most beautiful float in the entire parade. The float was inspired from the legendary sarimanok of Maranao people. Just look at the intricate details!

Of course, the Fine Arts people had the best stuff. Their theme this year was Filipino folk legends, epics, traditions, etc. which was a very cool choice! I was not able to remember the names of the float but some familiar ones were bulol of the Ifugao, t’nalak dreamweaver of T’boli and wedding tradition of some ethnolinguistic group in Mindanao.

I hope I would still be able next year’s lantern parade.

We left the boarding house at around 6:20 AM. And we arrived here in the province at 11:20 AM. Five hours of travel! But at least we arrived safely. The bus ride during NLEX was something I’ve never experienced before in my 8 years of bus travelling. We were very cramped at the middle of the bus alleyway. The way I was standing is not sturdy enough to balance myself against the opposing forces whenever the bus accelerates and suddenly stops. So I have to grab hold to the luggage compartment above. Not to mention how hungry I was since I was not able to take my breakfast. My legs were also shaking from fatigue. But I just diverted my mind in other thoughts so I could endure the travel (like happy thoughts and offering the hardships to God). The NLEX part probably took more than an hour because of the snail pace of the vehicles. It’s Maundy Thursday anyway so everyone is rushing desperately, wanting to go home. Like us.

And as we entered our house, I was told that Sandy (one of our dogs) died. So Chocnat is now the only left from the trio and she is the least of my favorite. On a brighter side, we have a new puppy yet unnamed. She is not as charming as our other dogs who died but maybe that’s just my first expression.

Anyway, it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten a steaming rice and soup-based viand. We had “ginisang sinigang sa isda” for lunch and “espasol” for merienda and dessert.

It’s good to be home.

Lush green foliage are now beginning to grow among the seemingly dull branches of the narra trees. Meanwhile, flowers are beginning to blossom, especially among the huge mango and kaimito trees. The afternoon weather has also become warmer lately. Summer vacation is truly nearing fast.

I went home this long weekend. The last time I was home was before the first class of January. I haven’t been able to do it due to my Monday class and my sister’s Saturday class. But I’m glad that Lord gave me this chance to be with my family. I cancelled my other appointments without a second thought. The bus ride was longer than usual due to road constructions in Pampanga (as usual) and in Roman superhighway. It was also raining that time which only added to the coldness of the bus air conditoner, but I had a bowl of hot rice porridge with egg to warm me. Good thing also that I had my arm warmers (which I usually use as sun and insect protection in field works).

And as I arrived I didn’t notice any strange thing at all. I only found out later that our oldest dog, Poddy, just died yesterday. She will be missed. She has been in our household since we started to live in our new house, and that was probably be 8-9 years ago.

Oh yeah, my new laptop is currently under repair. It is a Sony VAIO K series, with a nice pink touch. And it was only purchased last November. It’s still a mystery how it broke down, I’m pretty sure that I am more careful in handling it than any of my previous laptops. But anyway, I’m a bit sad and disappointed that I was not able to back up my precious pictures. I would have to download them all again, for those which I have luckily uploaded in various sites.

Right now, I’m very happy to hear my DEPAPEPE songs over a good speaker. All this time, I’ve been wanting to plug the speakers in a laptop. The beauty and richness of the instruments are greatly enhanced, it is very pleasing to my ears. I love it so much!

Alright, back to studies.

Truly, it’s good to be home.

I haven’t been able to left Metro Manila since the start of the second semester. Field trips and appointments have taken all my weekend, though I also did enjoy these activities. And as soon as I was home, my grandmother and my mother commented how thin I have become. That was probably because I did not have enough money during the last weeks before vacation. And when I have eaten my first meal here, I felt so full. Now I am going to gain weight again.

I also have colds for almost a week and a half now. I hope I get well soon. But it’s also my fault because I was not eating well before I was sick, and I haven’t taken any medicine. It started with a sore throat the day just after our choral competition. It’s getting better now I think, but I am still not able to sing well. Just yesterday night, we had out caroling with my orgmates and still couldn’t sing in high notes. Sigh. But I believe I will get well soon. I just need to have more sleep and positive attitude.

This semester is also probably has the most liberating schedule I ever had in my college life. I have so many free time that I was even able to accept a position in one of my organizations and make plenty of fundraisers. Maybe God really willed it to be. I am going to cherish and treasure all these time to plan ahead for the next semesters.

And now I thank God for this very long Christmas break. I will try to finish all the work before our family getaway to Singapore.

 

It was the day Our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for the redemption of our sins. It was also the day  we became children of God. A wonderful mystery of unfathomable greatness of the Love of God for us. But of course, He is Love Himself. And we even got a bonus, because now we have the Mother of God as our Mother too: Mary, providing us with her omnipotent supplication.

But in the context of the Filipino culture, Good Friday was also the day of senakulo, penitensiya, prusisyon, and many more. Senakulo is the traditional reenactment of the Passion of Christ. It actually starts at Maundy Thursday, but many more events unfold during Good Friday. I watched a senakulo at Puerto Rivas. Their costume weren’t that great, but their acting was just too much especially during the carrying of the cross. The man who was acting as Jesus Christ was being dragged, beaten full-force, and thrown with rocks. That was too harsh, I think.

On the other hand, penitensya is scourging of the back with bamboo whips until it bled. Men usually join the penitensya for penance, personal intentions and for intention for others, etc. They are usually half-naked, with handkerchiefs on their faces so their visages will not be known. As I watched the line of men doing penitensiya, a mischievous man approached us near the gate where we were watching and showed his bloody-red back on us as he continually whipped himself. We frantically backed off! My mother told me that some men who join the penitensiya intoxicate themselves.

There were also people who carried a cross at their backs, or a big piece of wood tied at their arms and shoulders, with some people assisting them as they rest and stop. I heard some people scream when  a man was near exhaustion.

I also attended the second mass of the Paschal Triduum, where the Salutation of the Cross was held in the chapel of the monastery of poor Claire nuns. I was so happy  to see three holy relics of saints displayed there, as that chapel is far from the center of the city. The relics were from St. Claire of Assisi, St. Francis of Assisi, and Blessed John Paul II. Then I remembered how my mother named me after St. Claire. So I took this blessed opportunity to ask for their intercessions and to venerate their holy presence.

From left to right: holy relics of Blessed John Pail II, St. Clair of Assisi and St. Francis of Assisi.

Ah, the TV news programs have already started  the countdown for Christmas. The night is also beginning to be adorned with shimmering Christmas lights and colorful lanterns hanged along the streets and houses. Truly, I can already smell the sweet scent of anticipation for the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ. How I love Christmas, and surely everyone else does!

I plan to put a small Christmas decoration inside our room in the boarding house so that even when we study, we may never give up and lose hope. And perhaps, we might even forget that Christmas is already nearing due to our busyness to studying. Isn’t it beautiful when everyone’s heart is aching tenderly for the birth of our Savior? I also plan to download some Christmas songs to liven up the stiff mood of our room.

And now, here are my Christmas wish list:

1. YOUCAT book
2. Books by Saint Josemaria Escriva

  • Friends of God
  • The Way
  • The Forge
  • The Furrow

3. Catholicism of the Catholic Church
4. Any books (as long as it’s not SciFi)

  • Culture-related books
  • Alex Rider series

5 Comprehensive 2012 planner
6. DLSR Canon/Nikon Camera!
7. Geisha books

  • Geisha: A Living Tradition (Kyouko Aihara)
  • Women of the Pleasure Quarters (Lesley Downer)
  • A Geisha’s Journey (Komomo)
  • Geisha: A Unique World of Tradition, Elegance, and Art (John Gallagher)
  • Geisha: Beyond the Painted Smile (George Braziller)
  • Geisha: The Life, the Voices, the Art (Jodi Cobb)

8. Suikoden III Manga Volumes: 1, 5, 6, 8, 10
9. 100+ Crayola Set
10. Blouse/ornaments

We never really went to several cemeteries this time since my parents were busy preparing for Daddy’s departure tomorrow. I hope we can do it next year though.

The only cemetery we visited was in Salian, Abucay, Bataan. It was quite congested but of course it was understandable since it was All Soul’s Day after all. We went through the narrow paths until we arrived at the mausoleum of our ingkong, our great grandfather. Then our parents left us  there since they have to do a lot of buying, and they will also visit the other cemeteries in Puerto Rivas.

Our relatives were already there, some were familiar faces while others I just met. I made some candlewax stuff by pouring the melted/used wax in a plastic cup, just like candlemaking without a wick because I couldn’t seem to find anything to do. I also helped out putting candles too.

My younger brother was having fun burning used candlewax, and I have to scold him every time since he was also burning plastic.

It was already dark and almost everybody went home when our parents arrived to fetch us. I only managed to do three-fourths of a cup but it was okay I guess; a nice addition to my collection (middle).

Next year, I promise I will behave myself well. And maybe I should pray the rosary too.