Birthday: Liao Kao To


The significance of the name Domingo, a variation of Dominic, in relation to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary has been growing in great interest for this child of Type Six who was born on her feast day.

I found another story to share that connects two members of the same family, separated by time, separated by a generation, separated by the materiality of the world, but nonetheless connected by divine coincidence- as kept in the memories and shared in the stories of many.

I am sending this postcard to heaven on what would have been your 98th birthday (May 21, 1918) here on earth.

Happy Birthday,

Pop Sunday



Senado Square.

As a teacher from Assumption once reminded me,

“Let the Spirits guide you.”

So, I did.

The story of St. Dominic sparked interest once again when Angkong came along to visit Igreja de S. Domingo / St. Dominic’s Church, located right in the heart of Senado Square. The Church was founded in 1587 by 3 Spanish Dominican priests who originally came from Acapulco, Mexico. It is also connected to the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.

The many faces of Domingo. St. Dominic’s Church, Senado Square, Macau.

A day before that, we caught a glimpse of him in the person of another. There we were, looking for a way to lead us to see the flamingos when Vati voiced out his observation of this one guy standing by his side.

Rosary Church, Kowloon.

In a few words, Angkong would have looked like him in person. Not by the similarities of their faces, but more on his stance, his height, his build. He seemed so much like him, exactly like how he looked in that photo in Senado Square.

This happened after we visited the Rosary Church, the oldest Catholic church in Kowloon (1905).

The connection between Dominic and the Holy Rosary, even  (or especially) in these modern times, still strive to kindle the fire within the hearts of the wavering faithful.

Thank you for letting me see that connection. Makes me want to believe that somewhere over the rainbow, where stars are shining brightly in the night, our hearts are in sync to the rhythm of the memories made into stories that restores the life that connects the roots to its branches. We’ve come full circle.


Here’s a short history on St. Dominic and Our Lady of the Holy Rosary:

The rosary probably began as a practice by the laity to imitate the monastic Divine Office. During the course of which, the monks prayed the 150 Psalms daily. The laity, many of whom could not read, substituted 50, or even 150, Ave Marias for the Psalms. This prayer seems to date from as early as the 2nd century, as ancient graffiti at Christian sites has suggested. Sometimes a cord with knots on it was used to keep an accurate count of the Aves.

The first clear historical reference to the rosary, however, is from the life of St. Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers or Dominicans. He preached a form of the rosary in France at the time that the Albigensian heresy was devastating the Faith there. Tradition has it that the Blessed Mother herself asked for the practice as an antidote for heresy and sin.

One of Dominic’s future disciples, Alain de Roche, began to establish Rosary Confraternities to promote the praying of the rosary. The form of the rosary we have today is believed to date from his time. Over the centuries the saints and popes have highly recommended the rosary, the greatest prayer in the Church after the Mass and Liturgy of the Hours. Not surprisingly, its most active promoters have been Dominicans. The roots of rosary history are hard to trace, but there is no doubt that it has become an important part of the Catholic tradition. St. Dominic de Guzman popularized the Marian Psalter in the form we have it today. So associated with the Rosary is St. Dominic that the Rosary is often called the “Dominican Rosary.”

Our Lady in her apparitions (those approved by the Church) has over and over again urged Christians to pray the Rosary. At Fatima, the Holy Virgin chose to identify herself to the children as the Lady of the Rosary.

(Source: Dominican Laity Third Order of Saint Dominic New England Region )


My Mom My Hero

These words are pieces to a puzzle I have collected over the years. This time, I picked out random pieces to create something for the Mother’s Day 2016 contest by Wooden Canvas.

Here it is:


The day after his mother’s death in October 1977, Roland Barthes began a diary of mourning. In one of his entries, he wrote:

“How maman is present in all I have written: in that there is everywhere a notion of the Sovereign God.”

He took notes on index cards, reflected on the ebb and flow of sadness; and the discourse of loss and recovery; on the slow pace of mourning, and modern society’s quick dismissal of it.

I only came upon this book last year when a good friend told me she found a book she thinks I would like to have. So, she had it reserved under my name and said that I should check it out and see if I liked it. I did, and I love it!

I started writing a few years ago, after my mom (Nanay) bloomed into heaven. I particularly became interested in the Jesuit concept of God in All Things and made a not so original choice of labelling my written entries as My God in All Things. It started with a collection of words from people of far away places, desperately giving significance to the events that filled each day. A need to fill something hollow, a need to see the light in the midst of darkness, a need to keep within grasp the thoughts spiralling out of control. As Stephen Colbert once said,

“The interesting thing about grief, I think, is that it is its own size. It is not the size of you. It is its own size. And grief comes to you. You know what I mean? I’ve always liked that phrase “He was visited by grief,” because that’s really what it is. Grief is its own thing. It’s not like it’s in me and I’m going to deal with it. It’s a thing, and you have to be okay with its presence. If you try to ignore it, it will be like a wolf at your door.”

I was always a stickler for privacy, but I also felt that I wanted to share these words I am writing for Nanay. My God in All Things is PRIMARILY A SERIES OF POSTCARDS SENT TO HEAVEN. I have come to realise that the words I have written down are words inspired by angels sent by Nanay, herself- to help me keep fighting the good fight (warrior of the light).

On what would have been her 49th birthday, I wrote these words as a message, I wanted her to tell me and/or I felt she would have said to me: “Keep writing, you have such lovely stories to tell. Time and again, in not so many words and in not so many ways, Nanay keeps telling me that.”

Simple words become prayers of faith, of perseverance, and of hope as snippets of My God in All Things are reduced into writing. It also becomes a medium of fulfilling the Daily Examen, in a continuing effort to live my own camino. But more than that, they are letters of love reminiscent of days filled with laughter and tears. So I hope to keep writing, because I know my mom will keep reading them. It brings to thought (now and then) of days filled with the melody of her laughter.

Mirroring the words of Roland Barthes, I could also say that Nanay is our inspiration as a family, she is our very own guardian angel. Inspiration being “In the Spirit of God,” as Sr. Mary Fidelis, r.a. would say. Guardian Angel, being our guiding light. With her, God in all things became all the more real to me. Through her, God’s presence became all the more real to me and I became all the more present in Him.

A few years ago I sent a postcard to heaven for one very special person, with these words at the back:

For the encompassing beauty of the bougainvillea mirrors your own;
And the stillness of the green that surrounds us resonates your continuing serenity. 
As the awakening of blue skies in the morning brings us hope for the new day, 
So is the thought of you in each and every day. 
And as the music of laughter floats through the night, 
I gladly hear yours bubble with delight. 
To hear Tatay laugh is to hear you laugh. 
To see my sisters smile is to see you smile. 
To hear my brothers talk is to hear you talk.
For when I see the beagles run around with glee, 
I feel your spirit dancing freely! 
Love always, Nanay!
Wooden Canvas
May 2016


I won!

Thank you, Wooden Canvas. Thanks for helping me make this Postcard to Heaven extra special this year. It helped keep the emotions in check. The heart grew a little bigger, this time filled with Goodness. Filling it with Goodness is a constant battle, especially when the mind overrides it with overwhelming thoughts and worry. Thank you, thank you.

Purpledot Wisdom

Purple wisdom on a Saturday.

Purpledot in photo: Sr. Amparo, RA


The universe heard the beating of a heart starting to wallow in grief. Classic Sr. Fids, I sent her a message saying “I miss you.” She went straight to the point and said, “I have free time, let’s meet up!” The heart didn’t get a chance to get mad at the world. The heart beat for a chance to be surrounded by goodness… in brilliant violet no less!

Yesterday, I was daydreaming about meeting up with her at Casa Santa and eventually getting invited to having lunch with them. Presumptuous, I know. But it did happen. And my heart sang the hills are alive, even though a bit out of tune.

I’ve been asked why I spend time with them. Well, why not? There’s reality and there’s spiritual reality. Our lives are composed of these two, though we may sometimes choose to deal with them separately. How we are as spiritual beings echo through our material existence and our treatment of those around us. I like spending time with them. It heals the soul. They are always a breath of fresh air from the realness of reality.

Ojo de Dios for Sr. Marge, RA

Oh, my heart didn’t just sing the hills are alive. It also did a bit of awkward dancing upon learning that Sr. Marge has been proudly showing off the Ojo I gave her! Well not really “showing it off.” Ahhhhhhh! They’re more like our second mothers, so many of them. I guess somehow each of them presents to us the many faces of Mutti. Thank you. Even by that simple fact, it makes me want to spend more saturday lunches with you.

These words from Sr. Rose Peter, uttered in a voice full of heart and saddened by years of on and off grief, gave voice to the heart of this child: My Dad passed away when I was nine. I miss him.


Santo Domingo Church, also known as Basco Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic church located in Basco. Because Batanes was named Provincia de la Concepcion in religious records at the time of its establishment, the first church was dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of Batanes Prelature. It is speculated that the image of the Immaculate Conception was brought to Batanes during the 1783 expedition. It bears the name of Santo Domingo de Guzman as the Patron Saint of Basco. (Wikipedia)

Santo Domingo de Basco Church was built in 1812 under the supervision of the Dominican friars. It is one of the first limestone buildings to be built under the Spanish regime. The convent beside the church was built in 1814. These buildings were built around 1795 with the help of imported masons, stone cutters, and carpenters from Cagayan.

The 10 Commandments in Ivatan.

The structure was first built from 1787 to 1796 by Father Baltazar Calderon, OP and Father Bartolome Artiquez, OP. The walls of the church were installed with massive pilasters from the foundation to top to protect it against typhoons and earthquakes.


In 1860, the church was damaged by a fire and rebuilt by Father Antonio Vicente, OP in 1863, and the roof was added by Father Mariano Gomez, OP in 1891. It survived the Filipino-American War (1899 to 1901) and the World War II (1941 to 1945). (Vigattin Tourism)

According to our guide, Mark, Basco Cathedral was nominated as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 2003. However, the San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte won that title.



Before the Spaniards came to Batanes, everyone lived peacefully and quietly in Naidi Hills. Naidi was then better known as “Idi” which means a town or a village.  When the Spaniards came, they forced the people in “Idi” to go to the plains as ordered by the Generals.

Under forced labor, the Ivatans built small schools, libraries, churches and houses for the Spaniards. After the buildings were finished, the Spaniards began to enhance knowledge of the Ivatans.  They taught the Ivatans how to read and write in Spanish.  The Spanish priests baptized the Ivatans and taught them how to pray and sing church hymns.

After the domination of the Spaniards, none of the Ivatans ever lived in “Idi” again. All of them resided on the plain which is now called Basco. (The Ivatan Untold Stories)

The Basco Lighthouse was built on Naidi Hills, at the site of the old telegraph facility used during the American era and was destroyed by the Japanese during World War II. (The Poor Traveler

The structure is a 6-story building with a gallery or viewing deck on the fifth floor. Located next to the 66 feet (20 m) tower is a dwelling of vernacular architecture. Traditional Ivatan houses are made with stone or rubble masonry. (Wikipedia)

The viewing deck is a perfect location to view the whole of Batan Island (the main island where Basco is located) from end to end, including Mount Iraya. One can also have a clear view of Sabtang Island in the south of Basco and Itbayat Island to the north. (Wikipedia)

A variety of souvenirs are sold inside, including: miniature Ivatan houses, refrigerator magnets of the stone houses made of recylced  glass, native fans, key chains of mini a Ivatan. You can also have your photo taken wearing the Vakul. Here is a picture of a not so native Ivatan in Vakul, holding the travelling Assumption Plaid Journal.  

Vakul is a headgear used to protect the Ivatans from rain, wind and sun. Vakuls are used by women while its counterpart Talugong are worn by Ivatan men.

Vakuls are made out of Philippine Date Palm or Voyavoy leaves. The palm leaves are being dried under the sun, shredded into thin parts and woven to make a Vakul. (WikiPilipinas)


Assumption Journal: VAYANG ROLLING HILLS

Vayang Rollings Hills is the point where you can see both the East and West side of Batan Island. 

In order to get this view, the car had to drive through one-way wide roads while ascending to the top. Phew.

After parking just a few meters from this spot, the humans had to walk on a path twelve inches wide atop a very very steep hill. Scary.

You can’t see it but this poker faced cattle is silently smirking as we (well, the human carrying me, took slow shaky steps on the very very thin path on top of a very very steep hill). 😑But just as this journey began without any expectations, the courage that beat out of our hearts had surprisingly led this pair of almost-frozen-feet to take each shaky step one at a time. The goal was to experience the beauty God made as seen on the edge of the hill.    


Valugan means “east” in the Ivatan language. The Valugan Boulder Beach is located in the eastern side of Batan island, which faces the great Pacific Ocean. The countless boulders lining on the shores were scoffed up by Mt. Iraya during its last eruption in the 1400’s.  

Listen to the waves whisper the song “On This Day” by Asgeir Trausti with this video of the Plaid Journal (and Assumption Tali) at the Valugan Boulder Beach.

Valugan Boulder Beach