IFI Woman Priests Launched Its 20th Ordination Anniversary

Women from various faith traditons: Christians, Muslims, Indigenous Peoples among others had gathered together at Ambassador Hall, Manila Grand Opera Hotel on October 5-6, 2016. They were celebrating, uniting and affirming to continue the struggle for women’s rights, human dignity, equality,  emancipation and just peace. It was one-of-a-kind-interfaith celebration of  about two hundred women around the Philippines.

One of the highlights of Women Celebration for Life and Faith was the launching of the 20th Women Ordination Anniversary of the woman priests of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. Some of them who attended took a pose below.  T0 date, the ordination of women and inclusion into the  Sacred Ministry is the IFI contribution to the women’s struggles in the whole world.

ifi-woman-priests

On RH Bill now RH Law, a celebrated issue: Roman Catholic Church (Phils) vs the Government?

This is a forwarded message and a late upload. But this is a reality in the Philippines.  Now that RH is a Law, many Roman Catholic members  who personally support and agree Reproductive Health Law  still coy of exposing their true stance publicly.  Many are still hesitant to admit publicly for fear to be deported especially those non-Filipino sisters here in the Philippines. Though this was printed many years ago, still the Roman Catholic Church remains strong of their anti RH stance.

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Hi all,

The bishops are getting on my nerves, so I sent this letter to the Inquirer. Ambot lang if they will publish it. (I wonder if the Inquirer will publish it.)

Arnold

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Arnold Vandenbroeck
Date: Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 8:54 PM
Subject: Churches/Religions and contraceptives
To: feedback@inquirer.com.ph

Dear Editor,

The Catholic bishops claim that the RH bill is immoral and some bishops even consider it “terroristic”. Can they please stop playing the self-appointed guardians of our morality? All the more since practically all other churches and religions accept artificial family planning as a moral choice.

The United Methodist Church values “family planning programs that improve health care, empower women and protect the global environment and that enable individuals and couples to decide about the number of their children free from violence, coercion and discrimination.” While Catholic bishops in the Philippines tend to be dismissive of the problem of present population growth, the UMC even says that “people have the duty to consider the impact on the total world community of their decision regarding child bearing and should have access to information and appropriate means to limit their fertility, including voluntary sterilization.” Clearly the UMC seems to have a fuller appreciation of what is the greater and common good.

Many Christian churches have standpoints similar to that of the UMC. Moreover, family planning (including contraception) is embraced by religions across the spectrum as a moral good, a responsible choice and a basic human right. Religious support for contraception and family planning is consistent with faith principles that give primacy to well being, including the health of children, families and the community at large. In fact, many religions believe that family planning is a moral duty, a stance echoed by well-known leaders. Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Planned parenthood is an obligation of those who are Christians. Our church thinks we should use scientific methods that assist in family planning.” The Dalai Lama said, “Family planning is crucial, especially in the developing world.”

The Episcopal Church first approved of contraception for the purpose of family planning in 1930. In a 1994 resolution, it directed its dioceses and agencies to provide information to all men and women on the full range of affordable, acceptable, safe, and non coercive contraceptive and reproductive health care services.

In 1954, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America stated that a married couple should plan and govern their sexual relations so that any child born to their union will be desired both for itself and in relation to the time of its birth. How to do that is up to the couple.

The Presbyterian Church supports full and equal access to contraceptive methods. In a recent resolution endorsing insurance coverage for contraceptives, the church even affirmed that contraceptive services are part of basic health care and cautioned that unintended pregnancies lead to higher rates of infant mortality, low birth weight, and maternal morbidity, and threaten the economic viability of families.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the USA, supports the use of birth control that prevents conception from taking place.

Unitarian Universalists already in 1987 opposed any move to deny or restrict the distribution of government funds as a means of restricting access to contraception in the U.S. or abroad.

Jewish traditions have a long history of support for family planning, dating to the 1929 Reform resolution noting that birth control contributes to social stability. Already in a pioneering 1935 resolution, Women of Reform Judaism expressed support for lifting bans on the dissemination of information about birth control.

For Muslims, the Quran does not make any explicit statements about the morality of contraception. Early Sunni Muslim literature discusses various contraceptive methods, and a recent study concluded that any method that did not produce sterility was acceptable.

Sikhs have no objection to birth control. Whether or not Sikhs use contraception, and the form of contraception used, is a matter for the couple concerned.
The same applies to Hindoes, the same to Buddhists.

The Roman Catholic Church is the only major faith institution to forbid the use of contraception. However, in actual practice most Catholics disagree with the prohibition or don’t pay any attention to it. Not much of a moral problem. For one, they are in the good company of practically all other major religions of the world.

Arnold Vandenbroeck

(same text also in attachment)


Arnold Vandenbroeck
Third St. cor Trinidad Ave.
Trinidad Greenhills Subd., Ma-a,
Davao City, Philippines
Telefax: +63-82-2440090
Mobile: +63-918-5156245
Mail address: P.O.Box 81937
8000 Davao City, Philippines

Have Mercy To Thy People

(This is an edited version from the original reflection/article written 2 years ago.)

It is funny to think that Jesus was a Palestinian: he grew in Palestine, he lived in Palestine, he walked and crossed the valleys and hills of Palestine and even died in Palestine in the hands of the Jews and the Romans. Christians must know that Jesus was never a Christian. And the Jews do not believe Jesus is God.

Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Jericho are located in Palestine and not in Israel or the Modern Israeli State. The Patriarch Abraham’s Tomb is located in the ghost town of Hebron, after it was depopulated less than a decade ago.  You can check the original maps but not the modern maps because you cannot find Palestine.  There is no Map of Palestine today sold in the open market of Jerusalem.  But I was able to have one after searching a small bookstore owned by a Palestinian in Salahedin Street across Herod’s Gate.  Those areas/places in the Map of Israel are the Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories of Palestine!

Take for instance Yatta in South Hebron Hills is populated with 120,000 people but you cannot find it in the Map of Israel. Instead you have Carmel and Susiya (part of the depopulated places) which are now fast growing Israeli Settlements.  Susiya now is within Yatta Municipality under Hebron Governorate, West Bank.  Our placement house is located in Yatta.  We lived there for three-long months but as far as the Israeli State is concerned, Yatta does not exist.  How come? In place of Yatta in the Map of Israel I bought in Jerusalem, I found a picture of a tamed gazelle instead.

The Original Susiya, now part of an Israeli tourist destination was once a thriving Palestinian community, a big village with their ancient heritage traced back to the historical Palestine which was part of the Canaanite civilization as mentioned in the Old Testament.  The original inhabitants, the Susiyans were uprooted through demolition and forced evacuation to give way to land development, tourist spot and settlements. The new Susiya (new place) is  located two kilometers away or less from the original Susiya. For the past years, the relocated Susiya Village was slowly invaded by the settlers as the Susiya Settlement increased. Therefore it needs more land for expansion.  Just two years ago, before my team left in our placement area, Susiya was in danger of total demolition.  Now threats of Susiya Village to completely disappear continue to attract international supports.  Just recently, President Obama of the USA warned Netanyahu Regime to spare Susiya from demolition.

To date, with our biblico-historical data, Palestine is the Promised Land.  It is the land of abundance mentioned in the Old Testament. To quote Exodus 3:7-8, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV):

7 Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

In other words, Palestine is the biblical Israel which was the land promised by Yahweh to the Israelites who were enslaved in Egypt.  Yahweh’s desire to liberate the people from the bondage of slavery and oppression sent Moses to bring the people out from Egypt. The Promised Land is clearly the Palestine.  A country established in 1948, Israel  could  never be the one.

What is happening now in Palestine under the military occupation of Israeli State is similar to the experiences of their ancestors, the Israelites under the hand of the Egyptian Pharaoh.  It really makes one crazy to think about that we are taught and made to believe that Israel is the biblical Israel.  Many people are becoming irrational, ignorant and naive in believing that it is okay for Israeli especially those with guns, military forces and settlers to shoot and kill Palestinians in broad delight. Many of us were praying that God would save Israel from the hands of enemies during Israeli’s war of aggression in Gaza. How could it be when Israeli bombed Gaza and killed thousands especially children?

We need to be objective in reading the situation, the signs of the times, the historical facts, and learning from experiences of the people as well as from those who witnessed the inhuman treatment of the Israelis in the many checkpoints around Palestine controlled areas or the so-called Area C.  Why people of the world especially Christians are made to believe that God bless Israeli’s killing Palestinian Arabs? Not only today but since Israeli invaded Palestinian territories with the aid of internationals like UK and other European countries, Israeli had been slaughtering Palestinian people, occupying more lands, putting them in refugee camps and driven thousand Palestinians out of their homeland scattered in many countries.

No words to describe, how the Palestinians live under the Israeli military occupation. God of heavens and earth and the known and the unknown, HAVE MERCY TO THY PEOPLE! My respect to some genuine Jews in heart who stood firm advocating an end to the occupation, those Jews who sided with the Palestinians who bravely and openly resist their own government. They are the Jews who recognized their roots, they are the Palestinian Jews like Jesus.

August 24, 2016/ 2:36 AM

Wish to see you smile Nanay Moret

Moreta Alegre had already spent five  years in Correctional Institute for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City, Manila, Philippines.  Before coming to CIW, she spent five 5 years in provincial jail In Negros Occidental.  She languished in jail for ten years of no clNay Moret 2012ear crime done.  Moreta Alegre who turned 70 on August 20, 2016 is one of the women imprisoned because they fight for their rights. She, together with her husband, Jesus Alegre who is in the National Bilibid Prison and son Salem Alegre fought to protect their land, fifteen hectares claimed by a landlord in their hometown Sagay, Negros Occidental.  They fought against the landgrabber who was wanting to get a title for their land.  The landlord is influential that even there was no clear case against the Alegre’s, he was able to put them in jail. A retaliation to the Alegre’s.

For years women organization especially the Gabriela Women’s Party lobbied the Aquino Government to release Moreta Alegre for humanitarian reason but requests and appeals were  all in vain.  Now she hopes for her release when President Duterte promised to release all political prisoners. But as of late, only twenty-two consultants of the National Democratic Front (NDF) were released by bail. She is still part of the more than five hundred political prisoners languishing in jails around the country.

Nanay Moret, as she is fondly called always shed tears everytime she remembers her grandchildren.  She used to wisher me, “I really missed my grandchildren and wish to see my family sharing food together in a table as we used to do.” Last April, she told me, “I wish before my birthday, I am already released!”  Hearing Nanay Moret’s wishes made me feel sad because I could not do it.  But she has an already answer to her wishes, “I know, I know it is very difficult but I thank you and your husband visiting me. I am fine with that.” The I could see a faint smile on his lips.

BUT I WANT TO SEE HER SMILE! I just to see Nanay Moret to really smile with teeth exposed.  I made a promise to myself to really make available to visit her on her birthday.  But alas, we were not able to see her because her birthday falls on Saturday and with the CIW prison policy only relatives can visit. We negotiated to only see Nanay Moret and gave our birthday presence only to be told, NO, it is the policy.  I let a lady guard to bring our birthday gift and this birthday card (I printed from my computer before leaving the house). I hope I made her smile. My husband and I decided to be back on the day for friends’ visit. I plan to bring a cake for her with candle on it.  We love you Nanay Moret, very sorry we can not enter but we will comeback! See you the soonest. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

nay moret 3 jpg

IFI Is Ready for A Woman Bishop

When the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) or the Philippine Independent Church opens its door for women ordination to Sacred Ministry: diaconal and preysbeter or priesthood in the 1990’s, varying responses coming from the pews. Either a member was  for or not was no longer an issue to debate.  The IFI through the Supreme Council of Bishop (SCB) had already made a mark, women were welcome to the Ordained Ministry.   Though there were a fraction of the IFI membership who refused to recognize that women have an equal place in the altar same with the men, elevating and blessing the host as representative of Christ who is a male.

In May 2004 during its regular meeting, the Supreme Council of Bishop (SCB) approved woman episcopacy. It was  an overwhelming decision which proves IFI’s readiness in identifying women’s equality to the third order of Sacred Ministry.  No doubt the Indiginous Filipino Catholic Church demonstrated a clearer understanding and acceptance of women ministry in the church both of the lay and the ordained. The gift of ordination is no longer the domain for men. The woman priests on the other hand were jubilant and prayed that out tribe may increase.  So with the SCB’s  decision for woman episcopacy, we the IFI woman priests began to look forward that someday we will have a woman striding in the church aisle with a fuchsia vestment.

It is not a question of either IFI is ready or not ready for a woman bishop. My contention is, the Church has already been READY. From 2004 up to the present, the National Search Committe (NSC) is open for women nominees to episcopacy. In our Diocese of Greater Manila (DGM) I was one of the four priests who received the blessing from our fellow clergy to become diocesan nominees to the National Seach Committee (NSC) with the endorsement of the Diocesan Bishop.  However, I still have not done all the requirements to be submitted to the NSC.  But The Reverend Emelyn Dacuycoy processed the requirements, accepted the challenge and braved herself to the many diocesan conventions.  Congratulations to my batchmate SATS (St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary) ’89 who had been elected twice as Diocesan Bishop during the Diocesan Convention in Batac and Dumaguete.  Her being elected twice  ascertain the readiness of the Church to have a woman bishop.  However, the last stop, which is the SCB has the final voting power.  The membership of the SCB changes, decreases and increases as well. My  ardent hope and prayers that opportune decision may not be any longer. In God’s time,  difficult and heavy loads will be made all possible and bearable. This is very promising and put our trust on it.

Let us not stop praying, let us not stop dreaming and let us not stop believing.  The IFI has already walked a hundred miles ahead and it will continue to walk embracing us all. To my fellow strong-spirited woman priests, we are already partakers, participants and partners of this lifelong journey of our faith and commitment to God’s service. Pro Deo et Patria my dearest sisters, keep the  fiery love to serve in our hearts bursting. God bless us all continually.

 

Denied childhood

Child detention is for real in Palestinian occupied territories by Israel State

If I am to re-write the Gospel today

FOODSunday 09 November 2014
Gospel Reading: Matthew 25.1-13 “The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids”

Since my childhood days till today, the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, is always almost if not similarly delivered. Before I just listened and accepted what the preachers would like to convey to the hearers. Never I questioned nor argued what the priests, bishops, pastors and theologians shared. But of course I feel happy and inspired when the sermon seems less likely to focus and put some blame on the “five fools bridesmaids” who failed to bring extra oil for their lamps compared to the “five smart bridesmaids” who brought extra oil with them.

The focus of the gospel is about preparation for the second coming of our Lord, the fulfillment of God’s promise, aka: God’s Reign. Our response and our attitude to the invitation to participate in the salvation-process for the whole humanity may vary because no one knows when the time comes and we differ in our responses depending on our understanding of the needs. I had no question in this line of thought. The parable using numbers of how many fools or smart bridesmaids had responded to the invitation, waiting for the bridegroom is reflective, I would say, to our individual capacity to respond the call, to live out the service or in doing theological reflection. Much has been shared on this parable anyway.

As a priest, giving a sermon more than three times on this parable in the course of my almost five year church assignment is never fun. Should you have a very observant congregation in the parish who always listens to your sermons, records it and with a very sharp memory, who might be telling you, “Reverend, your sermon is always recycled” or to that effect, then the more it will never be fun to live with.

Last time, I had the same Gospel reading, I gave more focus on the preparation aspect of the invitation to participate in the salvation-process as individual, family, community, church and as a nation. The used of numbers like five foolish bridesmaids and five smart bridesmaids is symbolical to the numbers of Christians being called and who have differing responses; the use of women symbolizes the church as the Lord’s bridesmaid. Thus challenging the church to be fully awake because no one knows when the time will come where everybody will be accounted for as stated in the Bible: “Truly I tell you I do not know you. Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

The element of preparing ourselves while waiting for the coming of our Lord for the fulfillment of God’s promise continues to challenge the churches to be an active participant to the invitation for the realization of God’s reign. Meaning, we are asked, we are reminded and we are challenged by the gospel message that we are all invited as co-participants/partners in establishing the promised God’s reign to its realization here on earth. That our participation is necessary and therefore we have no other reasons not to participate. By virtue of our baptism we are already registered or “IN” and we do not need any passport or any kind of permit.

However, in participating the salvation-process as our response to the invitation requires us more to be prepared. Meaning, we have to know what are the needed materials or things to take. Unlike the five foolish bridesmaids who missed to bring extra oil for their lamps, the five smart bridesmaids were really prepared to wait the coming of the bridegroom brought with them extra oil as projection for longer period of waiting because no one knew when the time or hour comes. In short, they failed to come with the bridegroom into the gate of the banquet hall because they were looking where to buy extra oil for their lamps. The parable accounts sided with the smart ones. Precisely, who wants to be identified with the five foolish ones.

Reflecting again the parable accounts, I begin to feel uncomfortable and a little bit confused. Why this particular parable needs to describe foolish and smart, comparing them and taking them separately? I see here comparison and competition. The five foolish and the five smart bridesmaids were pitied from each other. In effect, the hearers will hundred percent identified themselves with the five smart ones. Who will choose the five foolish bridesmaids then?

Re-reading the gospel accounts brings me to ask, “What was really in the mind of the writer in describing and comparing the foolish and the smart ones. What if those foolish fives could not really afford to buy more oil for their lamps but honestly and willingly they responded the invitation. That they really wanted to wait, meet and go with the bridegroom to the banquet hall which explains of their presence. If the promised reign of God is just, loving, giving and happy place to live; where there is no hunger and poverty but equality and mutual respect and abundance then there is something confusing with the parable accounts.

Thinking it loud, if I am to re-write or re-tell the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids I will say that instead of letting the five foolish go to buy some oil, the five smart ones would say: “Come, here are our oils, let us share them with you so that we can go together with the bridegroom, anyway, we were here together waiting for him to arrive. You do not need to leave and look outside for it is still dark. Save the little oil left in your lamps. Surely, our oils will be sufficient enough what matters most we will go together with the bridegroom”. And the ten bridesmaids went together with the bridegroom into the banquet hall. They went inside with more lights and they were all happy because they shared what they have and they valued their being together.

The act of sharing and caring are embedded, lived, experienced already even before the realization of God’s reign. With this in mind, it is nearer to the original intention of the gospel message responding to the invitation for the salvation-process, proactive. If this is how the parable accounts being presented, then the understanding of giving, sharing, and caring one’s needs will be very clear in the church ministry. There will be no more comparison, no more competition and no more difference but a sense of unity, collective support and fellowship. I do believe with this kind of mind-set, understanding, preparing and participating the salvation-process is more inclusive, shared and open to all. In other words, everyone will take care the needs of others and by so doing, the issue of hunger and poverty will be seen as a collective effort in addressing to its roots and working together to find a solution, an end to this widespread, worldwide phenomenon: hunger and poverty amidst abundance and extravagance.

When I was still a seminarian, Rev. Dr. Zabala reminded us that to be a priest is not only a “Bible person” as a common understanding of becoming a priest/pastor/minister or whatever we are called.  I remember him saying that to be effective in your ministry, you have to carry the Bible in your right hand and the newspaper in your left hand. This really makes sense especially in today’s context. The Church always invites each one of us to partake in the Banquet of the Lord. Very good! But the invitation must be understood as participatory, in partnership, in mutual cooperation not just a simple invite where people have to queue and wait the priest/minister to put the bread/host into one’s tongue. No offense meant for those practicing this way. My understanding of the gospel message is reflective on how we acted on it. That is why when I am to write the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaid, there are no longer foolish nor smart ones because the five of them shared what they had to those five who were lacking. Meaning no one would be left behind but together they went inside the banquet hall; no one would be left out denied entry nor be rejected because they were extending help for those in need.  The notion of helping, giving and caring for others is manifested in the parable, because the invitation to participate becomes inclusive. Therefore, there will be no more segregation for those who are willing, but allowed no entry because of their lacking, limitation or deficiency like the poor, the oppressed, the disabled, those looked down for their gender preference, the women, and all those not-acceptable in a society of non-equals,  FOR THEY ARE ALL ALLOWED, ALL OF THEM TO ENTER. I want to believe that this is what the intention of the original text message. This is closer to the invitation song, sung during the mass, “Come let’s share in the bounty of the Lord, in the Blessed sacrament”.

The image of a banquet reflects that in God’s Reign. There will be no one child sleeps with an empty stomach, for food is abundance being shared together. Everybody is happy, filled and satisfied. There is love, joy and fellowship, and all is living in harmony, order and abundance. This is Shalom, God’s Reign.

Come, let us partake the banquet of the Lord,. Together we enter into the hall bringing with us our imperfections, limitation and deficiency with full trust in the Lord because God see us, all are equals. We will use our lamps together in order there will be more lights and the bridegroom will clearly see us, as we walk together with the Lord. No more foolish nor smart bridesmaids for we are one walking with the bridegroom, TOGETHER!.

And he said, “Truly, I tell you, I do know you.” Because you keep awake, therefore, you know the day or the hour (Re-writing Matthew 25:13).

God bless us all. Amen.

WAYS TO COMMUNICATE

In any relationship, courtship, marriage, friendship, partnership to name among others, communication is very important. One asks me, “How is it?”  Communication makes the world moves, either the moves bring positive or not, still communication must continue. That is why communication is of utmost importance.

When we mean communication there are two ways: verbal and nonverbal communication.  If those who cannot speak are able to communicate through sign language how much more those who can speak, sing, etc. In the advance of technology, the deaf and mute are helped to speak and communicate well. Mobile phones can be used for texting/sending messages, call, etc… facebook, twitter to name a few where communication can be relayed, reached whatever as long the communication line is open. But when modern facilities are in and still communication stops, then there is really something problematic in the line.

How to communicate is not a problem if all involved are open. When we say BEING OPEN, we mean SPEAK, ACT and REACH OUT.  If he or she talks (confrontation or not) to you, then do not ignore! If he/she says something, then reply! JUST DO NOT REMAIN SILENT and IGNORE the one communicating to you because YOU ARE CLOSING THE COMMUNICATION LINE. When you do this, the very message you give to the other one is LET US STOP TALKING, when this happens communication becomes closed. 

Why one stops to communicate or react or reply? There are some reasons to consider:

1, He/she does not like you or who never cares?.

2, She/he does have other things or focus, so busy to give time for you.

3. He/she has something hidden from you, communicating may reveals something.

4. He/she declares you are no longer related, so better be distant.

So many reasons one may think but if communication stops between two in any relationship, when one of the two prefers to be distant, silent and no longer communicating, then do not expect to have a better relationship. That is the reason why couples, married people especially living in distant, STOPS COMMUNICATING. Then do not expect that things are better for your relationship especially when one has done wrong or betrayed,  That instead you sit down and talk, discuss things together on how you confront the problems your relationship is facing, when your marriage is in crisis  and instead to sort out things one is sulking and  one is not trusting then, really COMMUNICATION IS A MUST! Whatever happens, whatever ups and down in your relationship, DO NOT STOP COMMUNICATING. Even you are quarreling, arguing, fighting, they are still communication. So just do not stop! You will reach something in the end, just continue to have your communication open.

However, even when one tried to reach out, to communicate, to express one’s feelings and thoughts when the other remain silent, distant and stops communicating plus the fact you are living apart from  each other then it should be a MUST to the both of you to reach out the other. But if things do not change, then the best tip one can offer: First, WAKE UP! You don’t deserved to be ignored and be treated that way. It is always difficult to deal with adult who only grew physically and intellectually but not emotionally and psychologically. Second, STAND UP! Communicate the world, the door is open and wide. Reach out others who are willing to communicate. Continue to grow and learn beyond texting, phoning, facebook, twitter, etc… Open a blog of your own and communicate more, find more friends. Third, PRAY and MEDITATE to make you stay sane and focus in life. Fourth, HAVE CONFIDENCE with yourself that things positive are possible to come to you. Fifth, CONTINUE TO DREAM for the future are far and beyond and fulfill the many wonders of life into reality. Last, ALWAYS LOVE YOURSELF and never stops communicating inwardly, outwardly and reach out others who long to have someone to communicate.

That is the value and essence of communication: verbal and non-verbal. go and do not stop communicating and never be the reason communication closes. 🙂  Remember there are persons who refuses to talk when they are guilty, when they are shy, when they are aware they bring pain to someone, when they are too arrogant to confess their wrong, when they realized they have not matured, when they have deep wounds hidden, when there are too many unfinished business in their life or when they are not sure how and what they feel for themselves and toward you. DO NOT FORGET: it is not you! Try to help and continue to reach out but never put too much expectation. Time never gets back when it passes. It is very difficult to make the days past come back. Life must go on and continue to communicate by living your life positively.

Grandmother Fatme

Sixty-six year old Fatme, the mother of Wartha Najur, was busy herself in a makeshift cooking area, without roof but looks like a small cave which is an extension of a tent room when we came to their “house tent”.  I approached and greeted her, “marhava” – hello and “saba elker” – good morning and she responded me with her broad smile and weltent cooking areacoming nod. I looked into the big cauldron and smiled at her as she took a sip of the broth.  She began to talk to me with sign language, but alas I could not understand. Then she pointed out to me what she was cooking and took some meat, showed to me and then pointed out to the tent-house of the sheep.  I realized then she was cooking the meat of the sheep.  Ola… I smiled to myself, surely thissheep meat would be our lunch.  When she stood up, I asked here (with my hands doing the sign language if I could take a picture of her.  She nodded and stood straight facing to me. I was mesmerized looking at Fatme taking a pose for me with the landscape of the hills and valleys as her background.  I felt goosebumps looking at her with her genuine smile. I did not know but on that instant I pictured her on my mind as Ana, mother of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  How I got the thought at that instant I never knew. Before I entered the tent-house, I asked her to have a pose with.  She gladly nod her head as I heard we are called to enter the tent-house.

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Fatme as I observed, is a very strong woman as I saw her carrying a big pail of water on her head coming from a distance under the heat of the sun. But non the less, she survived all the demolitions, harassment from the settlers and the Israeli soldiers and the difficulties of their lives confronted as Palestinians.  She withstand all her sixty-six years of existence with a ready smile and faith that there will be time for peace and abundance. What I can never forget was her smile and happy disposition throughout the time we were with the Najur Family.

Entering the house-tent, a one big room house, we are greeted by her daughter Wartha, son-in-law Khaled, the shepherd and a guest, half lying on a mattress (a typical Palestinian setting of a living room).  As we set down on a mattress, we were offered a tea and a snack: fried sheep’s liver with sliced tomatoes and some peppers and a tabon bread (like a thick pizza crust).  What a snack, really! Well, it was just past 10:30 in the morning, Hannes and me were already hungry from the morning shepherding. Yes, we were not shy so we ate.  food liver

Past 11 am, I saw Fatme busy preparing something.  With my curiosity I started asking, of course it was not easy one because all the the family members around could not speak English and neither we can speak Arabic.  However, I got the answer, Fatme was preparing a cheese soup for our lunch. Looking at her hands so confidently but relax with what she was doing and from time to time smiled at me, I gestured if I could again take her a picture. She nodded. 

After the cheese soup was Untitledready, we were served the very typical special Palestinian meal: curried rice with lamb-mutton stew. That was my first time to taste as well as the soup (but really sorry Ama/Mother Fatma I could not) and I ate other one offered.  After the past 1pm lunch, we were served grapes, cactus fruits and figs.  

Whoaaa.. real helamb thingavy meal that sustained us for the afternoon shepherding.  What a bliss sharing meal with the family, however, I always observed that women do not eat with men together.  Only men ate with us but the women ate on the other side or at the kitchen. 

After everything cleared, Fatme spent her afternoon rest with the visiting granddaughters with their sons, happily exchanging jokes and heard their laughter as we were preparing to start the afternoon shepherding. I will always remember Fatme, as I feel missing my grandmother Servillana. God bless Fatme!

fatme smile 

Farewell OM TAM

OM TAM 10th

His Eminence The Most Reverend Tomas A. Millamena
Obis[o Maximo 10th
Iglesia Filipina Independiente

He joined our Creator God on June 1, 2014 Sunday in Iloilo Mission Hospital. His body was brought to the Diocese of Antique after days lying in Iloilo, at IFI La Paz. In June 11, his body was brought to the National Cathedral at Taft Avenue, Manila.

He was brought for his final resting place alongside with his grandson TJ at Angelus Eternal Garden at Bacoor, Cavite on June 13, 2014 after the Burial Service, a Holy Mass at the National Cathedral in Manila. The service was con-celebrated by bishops from all over the country with the General Secretary His Grace The Right Reverend Joselito Cross as the Main Celebrant.

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