Jaro

I attended the 5am, Hiligaynon Mass at Jaro Cathedral (the beautiful venue of the Beup couple’s wedding) last Sunday, June 2 for the Feast of Corpus Christi.

I would like to thank my Visayan lineage for helping me understand the local dialect.

The priest gave a powerful message about the importance of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in worshipping and receiving God’s grace.

Jaro Cathedral

The Jaro Cathedral is the first and only cathedral in Panay built in 1864. Patriot and orator, Graciano Lopez Jaena was here in December 20, 1856. A high point in the history of the cathedral was the visit of Blessed Pope John Paul II, who conducted a mass on February 21, 1981. He set a crown upon the Lady of the Candles, and declared it the Patroness of the Western Visayas.

As a sacrament, it is that Jesus himself acting through the Eucharist, and supplies all the graces we derive from it.

It is a celebration of this sacrifice. It is the active participation of all that come together in the place of worship. We do not come to Mass simply to receive something passively or to watch a show; we come as participants embracing the grace Christ pours out for us shed by his own blood on the cross.

The Holy Mass is about God’s love for us.

He is the God who loved the world so much he became one of us—and then loved us so much that he stays with us in this small white host during communion, this slender shadow of who he really is.

He is not here for the rich and the powerful, the mighty and the famous.

He is here for the small and defenseless, the overlooked and forgotten. He is here for all who are broken, all who feel defeated, all who need healing and hope.

He appears so small.

But in that smallness is greatness beyond measure.

Because only a great God like ours could become bread to feed our souls and nourish our hearts and give us the grace to go on.

Mark Segador from Panay Island blog shared that one of Iloilo City’s cherished icons was the the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral, which was also the center of faith in the region for centuries. Now restored and preserved, this architectural beauty defined the landscape of Metro Iloilo with its unique triangular facade, and its campanile located across the street. The church’s Romanesque revival-inspired design is seen in its intricate design and the red-roofed dome.

A distinct feature of the church is the all-male santos on its columns – an answer to Molo Church’s feminist theme. Though the church is the home of the Our Lady of Candles, it is dedicated to St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

Because of its importance to Iloilo’s religious and cultural heritage, the Jaro Cathedral was proclaimed by the National Historical Institute as a historical landmark in 1976. The cathedral was named as the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles (Nuestra Señora De La Candelaria) for being the center of Marian devotion in the Visayas.

The present cathedral was inaugurated on 1874 during the annual celebration of the Feast of the Candelaria. It is the first cathedral in the island of Panay.

Housed inside the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral complex is the stone image of Our Lady of Candles. The origin of the image itself had been said to be miraculous. Folk stories say that the image found in the shores of Iloilo River by a fisherman was about only a foot tall. It was so heavy that nobody can carry it; only when the people decided to bring the image to Jaro Church was one person able to successfully lift it.

Strange happenings surround the image and many believe that the Señora is miraculous.
In the olden days, people say that she has a habit of disappearing early in the morning and was spotted as a beautiful lady with long flowing hair bathing her son in a well found in the middle of the plaza. At the same time, a mist would cover her niche in the cathedral.

Another well known story is that before the Pacific War, the Señora’s place in the cathedral was engulfed in total darkness for days. When it dissipated, the image had miraculously grown larger.

Today, the image is already about 5 feet tall (almost larger than its previous niche) and many believe that it’s still growing. If faith can move mountains, can it make statues grow?

On February 1981, Pope John Paul II personally canonically crowned the image of Nuestra Señora de La Candelaria – the only Marian image in the country bestowed with such honor by the Holy Father.

Held every 2nd day of February, the Fiesta de la Candelaria (Feast of Our Lady of Candles) is one of Iloilo’s most important religious events.

It is celebrated with blessings of candles, Masses, processions, and other less holy events such as feasts, grand balls in which a festival queen, usually a beauty from a prominent Jaroleño family is crowned, and grand cockfights attended by aficionados from all over the country.

Beup

The highlight of my Iloilo journey happened today. I hosted the beautiful wedding of our fellow servants Bro. Mark & Sis. Rebecca’s reception ceremonies.

The overflowing love and support from their friends, familes and relatives were a witnessing experience of God’s love.

Beup Wedding

Dear God, thank you for this joyous day. Thank you for Your Light that has entered Bride and Groom’s life. Thank you for all the miracles and blessings. Please bless this union. Help Bride and Groom find the perfect place in this world for their love to flourish. Let the radiant light of their love shine on all those around them. May all their future creations be blessed. God, bless them with the inner gifts of trust, compassion, forgiveness and truth that they may live and grow together in love and peace. Amen.

During the homily, Msgr. Joemarie Delgado highlighted the importance of having God as the center of the newly wed couple’s relationship.

It’s a love triangle for life.

Bride, groom and God.

To our newly wed couple, my wife and I offer this prayer:

Father, we pray that you nourish and encourage Mark and Rebecca’s marriage.

We pray that their marriage to be filled with friendship, joy, and love. May their life together embody warmth and affection, with the deepest love and intimacy between them.

Falling in love is not a choice, but being in love is. It is a choice that requires renewal day after day, year after year, lifetime after lifetime.

Love, deep love, is simple. It is a simple choice between kindness and generosity, or blame and criticism, moment to moment.

Our choices become our habits. When we make kindness and generosity our choice, our vision becomes clear — we see with clear eyes, the good intent behind actions, the pain behind harsh words, and the fear behind untruthful speech.

Father, we pray you help them make this choice day after day.

Father, we pray for a marriage that makes both Mark and Rebecca feel cherished, understood, and validated. To feel love, your love.

A marriage where they may argue, but they will never fight.

May they show one another only kindness, generosity, and patience, and in light of their own human frailties, offer the same heart towards themselves.

And in this spirit, may their joys know no decline, may they inspire confidence in one another, and may the beatitude they experience continue forever and ever, world without end.

May their love be like Juliet’s love, as boundless as the sea,
“My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.”

A marriage does not exist alone. It is a marriage of families, friends, teachers, and communities.

Father, we pray that we will uphold our duty to Mark and Rebecca’s marriage.

May they be there for one another when the going gets rough — and be there to celebrate with one another when things go right — sharing joy in the day to day vicissitudes of life.

Children will come, careers will take up time, in-laws will take up patience, and petty grievances, left to fester, will tear lovers apart.

The highs of marriage will wear off, but may they always remember their love for each other. May their marriage endure in a spirit of kindness and generosity.

Falling in love is not our choice, but being in love is. It is a choice that requires renewal day after day, year after year, lifetime after lifetime.

Father, we pray you will guide them, and with us, their family, friends, and community, help them make this choice and renew it day after day.

In good times and in bad, for better or for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.

In Jesus name.

Amen.

Iloilo

The city of love will become a living witness of our dear friends’ wedding.

A love story made in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and will be blessed at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles in Jaro, Iloilo City.

Special shout out to Bro. Mark Beup and Sis. Rebecca Alegre together with their families, thank you so much for being our gracious host. We are looking forward for the special day. Our warmest congratulations in advance!

We tasted some of the all-time satisfying food trips that are truly Ilonggo and will make you say ‘namit’!

 

Iloilo

A sumptuous feast of Ilonggo cuisine welcomed the CFC family from Middle East.

According ExploreIloilo.com, here are some of the best things to do and tourist spots in Iloilo.

1. Enjoy a City Tour of Iloilo
Iloilo City is a tourist hub where the best restaurants, museums, hotels, shopping districts, and nightlife in the province await. It is most known for the annual Dinagyang Festival, exquisite heritage sites, deliciously fresh seafood, and signature Ilonggo dishes. The city is also home to many Spanish-colonial churches, grand vintage houses, and old commercial and institutional buildings dating back to its heyday as the “Queen City of the South.”

2. Savor a Food Tour
Food is undoubtedly Iloilo’s biggest year-round attraction. Most true-blooded locals will, without fail, offer to take you to eat at local restaurants or prepare a home-cooked Ilonggo meal if they find out that you’re a first-time visitor. Don’t miss out on savoring fresh seafood and Iloilo’s native cuisine, especially its signature dishes like La Paz Batchoy and Pancit Molo.

3. Join a Festival
Not to be missed in January, the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival is one of the Philippines’ biggest religious and cultural festivals that transforms Iloilo City into one big venue for spectacle and merry making. Watch thousands of Dinagyang Ati performers fill the city streets as they dance in sync to fast-paced thundering drum beats.

4. Visit Iloilo’s Heritage Sites
In between food trips, visit treasured historical sights scattered over different districts in the city. Walk the streets of Iloilo City Proper to find recently restored heritage buildings along Calle Real, the city’s old central business district, and other corners of the downtown area like Plaza Libertad, and the Iloilo Provincial Capitol grounds. Head over to the districts of Jaro and Molo to visit centuries-old churches and the city’s grandest ancestral houses that have survived the test of time. To start, take a tour of the Jaro Cathedral, Lizares Mansion, Casa Mariquit, Molo Church, and Bahay Camiña nga Bato.

5. Walk along the Iloilo River Esplanade
Peaceful riverside views can be found along the Iloilo River Esplanade, a testament of the city’s desire to provide breathing spaces on its path to rapid urban development. The best time to start your leisurely walk along this landscaped promenade is during late afternoons to catch the beautiful sunset view.

6. Go Church Hopping
The towns of Iloilo are home to many centuries-old Spanish-colonial Churches of great historical and heritage value. The most famous and best preserved in the province is Miagao Church, which is included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. A 20-minute drive down the coast will take you to the militaristic-inspired San Joaquin Church. Also worth visiting are the old churches and church ruins in Guimbal, Tigbauan, Tubungan, Pavia, Santa Barbara, Cabatuan, Leon, Alimodian, Dingle, Dueñas, Passi City, and Barotac Nuevo.

Jardin

Do you need a hassle-free venue for a wedding reception in Tagaytay?

Check out Jardin De Padre Pio, which is conveniently located at the compound of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.

The event place offers room accommodation, a beautiful verdant garden reception area and an indoor hall perfectly suited for your simply made perfect moment.

They are one of the most competitive venue rates in the area.

My wife and I was introduced to Bro. Allan Samson, a Capuchin brother who was in-charged of the venue back 2013. He was very cordial and very accommodating.

Jardin de Padre Pio

The beautiful Jardin de Padre Pio in Tagaytay.

Kuya Willie Gatpandan, the ever-reliable wedding supplier in upland Cavite introduced him to us.

The venue is suitable for wedding, baptism, birthday celebrations and small conferences.

After five (5) years of having our wedding reception in the venue, I had a chance to visit the place and I was amazed on the improvements and it looks more amazing as ever.

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If only the trees could speak and share the beautiful occassions held in the place. I would be glad to hear it and share my wonderful memories as well.

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Fifth

“I have tomorrow to look forward to, for God has given me you.”

I will always look forward to your smile as my strength to fight all our battles.

I will always remember what you said: “I know nothing about having a perfect marriage or at least a good one, but if God comes first before ourselves then we got nothing to worry about. So whatever comes our way – by prayer, love and petition we will overcome in victory! We are one of God’s miracle & living testimony. Cheers to more years of faith, love and healing.”

More years of serving & loving the Lord!

Thank you Lord for all the graces.

See you soon my blessed half.

I Love You 😘 Happy five years of serving and loving the Lord misis ko! ❤❤❤

Fifth

Five things that my wife and I love doing together: eat, eat, eat, eat & eat plus a little travel. 😁

More years to come! #healed #loved #grateful

Joy

On the eve of our 5th church wedding anniversary, Sis. Jude and I would like to thank you for your love and prayers in our journey.

Amidst difficulties, hiccups and challenges; there were so many blessings.

Bishop Camilo Balin once said that adversities and trials means becoming more closer to God.

Take courage!

Indeed, courage it is!

My wife is in Riyadh now, I would like to ask for your prayers for the security and protection of everyone in KSA.

Grief

A selfie on the location of my new mission area in the coming days. The beautiful Our Lady of Remedies Church in Malate. In today’s Gospel, Jesus too was preparing His disciples for an awesome phenomenon they were about to witness – the Ascension. He knew that when He ascended to heaven, life as they knew it with Him in their presence would all of a sudden go dark with no apparent explanation. He reassured them: “You will grieve, but your grief will become joy” (Jn 16:20). The Son was hidden for a time, but the darkness gave way to light.

I had a chance to visit today Our Lady of Remedies in Malate, Manila for a thanksgiving mass and also to meet Bro. Edward Centeno for our weekly Light Group (LG) meeting.

Adorned in pristine white orchids, the church was a sight to behold- there was a wedding before the 6pm mass. The priest reminded the couple to have a heart of gratitude. Marriage life is a marathon and never a sprint. Enjoy the journey!

Fr. Michael Martin shared this meaningful verse:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” John 16:20

Grief, mourning and even weeping is a part of life. Children will often weep at the slightest difficulty, but all of us face grief and sorrow throughout life.

In this passage above, Jesus informs His Apostles that sorrow and grief will be a part of their lives. This is a very sober but realistic statement on the part of our Lord. It’s an act of love, on His part, to be up front with His Apostles about the coming hardships they will face.

The good news is that Jesus follows this statement with the hopeful news that their “grief will become joy.” This is the most important part of what Jesus says.

The same is true in our lives. Jesus does not promise us that our lives will be free from hardship and pain. He does not tell us that following Him means that all will be easy in life. Instead, He wants us to know that we will follow in His footsteps if we choose to follow Him.

He suffered, was mistreated and ultimately killed. And this would be tragic if He did not ultimately rise from the dead, ascend into Heaven and transform all prior grief and pain into the very means of the salvation of the world.

If we follow in His footsteps, we need to see every bit of grief in our lives as potentially a means of grace for many.

If we can face the hardships of life with faith and hope, nothing will ultimately keep us down and everything will be able to be used for God’s glory and will result in great joy.

This verse spoke to me a lot. Do not despair when suffering is placed before you. Surrender all things to our Lord and let Him transform it into the joy that He promises in the end.

Lord, I surrender to You all suffering in my life. My grief, hardships, sorrow and confusion I place in Your hands. I trust that You are all-powerful and desire to transform all things into a means of Your glory. Give me hope in times of despair and trust when life is hard. Jesus, I trust in You.

23

You give me hope in my times of trial, joy in my saddest hours and love in all I do.

Happy 23rd day of the month to the most loving and caring woman – my greater half Jude Borja! #blessed #grateful

Distance never separates two hearts that really care, for our memories span the miles and in seconds we are there.

But whenever I start feeling sad, because I miss you, I remind myself how lucky I am to have someone so special to miss. I love you!

#ldr #tighthugs #mwahmwahtsuptsup

23

You are a special gift from the heavens. Your smile warms my heart and your presence makes me whole. I love you today and forever! You make me complete. Your perfection I adore. There is no distance I cannot go to see you smile each day. I love you! You make my love melt at you, when your eyes gaze at me I become addicted at you my sweet heart. I love you so much my dear! You changed my world from the day you entered into my life. The change is not simple and subtle, it’s a change brought color to my life and made a meaning for the same. Words cannot describe how much you mean and important to me! You are my angel and I would like to see your smile always to boost up my day. I cannot imagine a day without you and without your smile. I like to be in the shadow of your love and affection forever. Thank you so much for being my wonderful wife. ❤