On being a struggling Catholic

​On being a struggling Catholic and the Catholic Church as an authority/ an institution. Also, why I have a penchant to be more critical of Diocesan Priests. (Personal) Spirituality being a separate aspect of this reflection. 
Despite having been brought up a Catholic attending Catholic school, the Church that was presented to me as a child became the opposite when the age of adolescence arrived. True, I was somewhat an apathetic Catholic, going through the motions of Catholic practices as if doing daily chores. But having witnessed the carelessness of Diocesan priests in dealing with the Church’s internal and external affairs, in effect staining their vow to uphold faithfulness to God and what is Good, I eventually lost heart- for the Church, for the Home that I was brought into as a child full of hope
It was when my brothers were already attending school in Santa Maria that my heart beat once more for the Church of the God of all things. I once read in the Inquirer of how one Filipino artist, who struggled as a Catholic, found God in a parish church in New York of all places. He said something like this: you have to find a parish, a home, where you feel most comfortable, where you feel closest to God. It helps, knowing that you are welcome, that the Lord welcomes you, like the prodigal son who was welcomed by his father with open arms and a loving smile. 
I was resigned to think that I did not need to attend mass to have a relationship with God. Being comfortable with the spiritual guidance of the Assumption Sisters, I felt I did not need a priest telling me to do things that he himself have or might have failed to follow through. But these thoughts were brushed aside by the words shared by Pater, SJ in his homily one ordinary afternoon. Why we need to attend mass- we are a community of the faithful and as a community we share God in all things. We share the experiences we have with and of Him, to help and inspire others to return to His embrace. 
I understand it now, if we had to rely solely on ourselves in our spiritual growth, then we might not survive the challenges of reality. Without a community WHERE GOD IS PRESENT, we might not be able to garner new experiences to inspire the constant rebirth of our faith in God and in the Goodness that he provides us with. These two aspects of spirituality- spirituality as an individual and spirituality as part of the faithful community, should go hand in hand. It also helps that the community, especially the clergy, are able to welcome the downtrodden with words that do not instill fear, exclusion, or admonition. What we need, in this age of technology and easy distraction, is to have a Church that encourages the young to feel welcome, to feel relevant.
If there are Catholics who can say that they are confident in their faith, I do not envy them. Being a Catholic does not mean we do not struggle, we should not struggle. On the contrary, it may also mean that in struggling we have accepted that we are human and can only do so much. Corollary to that is the ability to persevere in our faith, which makes our journey all the more fulfilling. Being Catholic means to relish in the beauty of our journey as faithful followers of Christ. 
Attending Mass- as we may have failed to realize- is not only a way for us to give back to the Lord or give Him thanks, it is also a way for us to Receive His Grace, to be blessed. Because our God is a generous God. Always.

Dearest Fr. Edwin Castillo, SJ 

(aka Pater, SJ)

With God’s grace, you helped restore my faith in the Catholic Church. 

Thank you for encouraging the young to feel welcome, to feel relevant, to be humbly proud of our Catholic faith, to have HOPE for and with the Church. 

The honesty by which you convey in your homilies, may it be about Hope in the Good or may it be about the Sadness of Reality, made it all the more REAL- reachable, attainable to me as a struggling Catholic. 
Today, in these trying times, we need it, we desperately need it; society needs it, society desperately needs it. 

I wish there were more priests like you, I wish there were more Jesuits like you. 

PS I know how you hate being put under the spotlight. But I could not not share something that gives light to God in all things, YOU. Your humility is inspiring. It is always humbling to see the sincerity by which you carry yourself and how you treat your contemporaries regardless of the differences.

​Assumption Journal: Kanami guid sang adlaw nga ini.

Ang istorya nga ini natabo sang isa ka aga na nagkadto ako sa Assumption-Iloilo para idulong ang mga bayo- AC Tee- na ibaligya sa bookstore…

Pag abot ko, hambal ni Manang Mylene, “Miss dali na lang maubos ang mga bayo.” 

“Ay Manang, maayo lang nag abot ako subong kag may dala ako na mga bayo.” 

“Mayo guid, damo gapangita sang blue,” sabat ni Manang Mylene. 

Sang gina isip-isip namon ang mga bayo… nag abot ang duwa pa guid ka mga Manang- sila Manang Lisa kag Manang An. 

Namangkot sila Manang An kag Manang Lisa kung may ara na size nila. Hambal ko, “huo Manang may ara na.” Mabakal na kuno sila tani sang grey na lang, biskan mas gusto nila tani ang blue. Nagsabat man ako, “huo Manang ako man gani nanamian man ako sang blue.”


Sang pagkatapos sang bulan sang Agosto nagdulong man ako sang mga bayo- AC Tee- kay Manang Mylene. Gin pamangkot ko siya ano iya size. Kay hatagan ko man siya tani sang iya AC Tee. Gin sugid ya man sa akon iya size, pero naka istorya siya na naka bakal na siya sang iya bayo- AC Tee- kuno. 


Ay kanami guid ang pamatyag na hindi lang bala mga estudyante, subong man o sang una, ang ga suporta sa amon gina handom sa Assumption Journal… Kung hindi, pati sila Manang kag Manong, proud guid na upod man sila sa mga naga gabulig sa isa ka bagay na ga handom mag dala ka maayo sa tanan. 

Salamat guid. Ang pagpalangga sang Diyos magaupod guid sa inyo sa adlaw adlaw.

Basi sa sunod ko nga pagbisita may picture nako nila na naka AC Tee sila tanan. 😃

Year II- St. Catherine

​I once asked some teachers from Assumption Iloilo, and even some #purpledots, how they came up with the names of sections in high school. Didn’t really get a concrete answer. But the one that Mrs. S shared actually made sense. 

I am one of three girls lucky enough to have been handed down with one of the greatest versions of a hand me down- Assumption Formation. As the youngest of three, there was a high probability that I would end up in any of the section’s either or both my sisters were previously assigned to. 
Here’s a probable answer as to how and why one of the class sections in sophomore year is St. Catherine- 

On April 30, 1839, the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, SME and MTE met in a small apartment in rue Férou, a tiny lane near Saint Sulpice. It is appropriate that the came together on such a day, for Catherine had been someone who had combined an active life in and for the Church with the deepest contemplation. Now, in the evening, as the great bells of Saint Sulpice joined all the other bells of the capital to ring in the month of Mary, they realized that the day was equally appropriate for a congregation dedicated to the Assumption. Year after year, SME would celebrate that anniversary be recounting once more the amazing deeds of God. 

Marie Eugenie Milleret, A woman’s spiritual search in 19th century France by Sr. Hélène-Marie Bories, RA

I was a Catherine in sophomore year.


On “Adoration”

But what’s really the purpose of Adoration, Sr. ?

To be united. 

To strengthen our own faith. 

To be able to do the work. 

Why is it called Adoration? 

Because we adore the Blessed Sacrament (as exposed).

It’s the same when you go to the house of the king, the palace of the king. What is your purpose to go there? You talk to the king. You listen. To receive the strength to do the work. 

That’s adoration? 

To adore. Adore. 

You don’t really look for answers. You are there to adore.

To adore, 

You have praise,

You have thanksgiving. 

Whatever He wants, you are open. So He can send us the Holy Spirit. Through Him He can send us the grace. 

Lord, here am I! 

Fill me with Your grace. 

Fill me with Your self. 

To be able to do. 

To bring others to You. 

Sometimes you don’t say anything. You don’t know what to say. You just stay there. 

That’s okay? 

Okay. Very okay.  It’s a prayer in reality. Because we are open to whatever He wants. 

So it’s okay if you don’t know what to say? What to pray? 

It’s okay. It’s okay. 

Sometimes you get lost. 

Sometimes you can fall asleep. Probably the best prayer. Because you are not forcing yourself to pray. (Laughs) 


There’s nothing wrong.  Just be there. 

You can just say, 

I love you Lord. That’s prayer. 

Thank you Lord. That’s prayer. 

But of course you want your own prayer. 

Lord … because I want to ask you this this this. That’s not prayer. 

That’s making demands? 

(Laughingly nods) 

Lord, thank you.  Thank you for the grace. 

A Letter to a Prospective Law Student.

(And I rarely whine about this lol)

Dear you,

Are you sure?

If you’ve lived through life knowing you’ve wanted to, then maybe you are. Sure, that is.
But if you’ve lived through life seeming to know that you’ll end up doing something else, and belatedly realise that, maybe you’ve got a shot at this. This referring to “law school” and eventually becoming a “lawyer.”

It does matter. It doesn’t matter.

See, in both cases you’ll probably encounter distractions, detractors, and a whole lot of other things and people filling your head with doubt. Maybe not the exact same situations, but you know.

In the words of Boromir, one does not simply enter law school. I am not for glorifying the perks and challenges that come with it. Because, I admit, we have a clear tendency of doing that. But I would like to simply write some facts as a warning and somehow as a form of encouragement… to persevere.

You will have challenges.
And, no, you will not be able to deal with them at one go.
Moreover, as you go along, these challenges will vary and become numerous.
So by the time you figure out how to deal with one, two may come along right smack on your face.

If you have decided to do it. Do it. Know that in making this decision, you will not only make it once but many times, every time you doubt yourself, every time someone makes you doubt yourself. It will happen every semester beginning from freshman year until. You will probably be not so sure unless you have graduated and passed the bar. Because by then, everything will have paid off upon gaining the four-letter prefix to your name.

The greatest challenge may be is not about learning the law, but making people around you understand- Why you do not have time to do things. Why flying in and flying out in a day is suicidal. Why you would rather spend your Sunday sleeping. Why you choose not to go to the beach over the weekend. Why. You cannot assume that by repeatedly explaining WHY, they will probably get it. They won’t. Some maybe, yes. This is where sincerity comes in. A person sincere enough to know the things that are important to you, despite of, will try to understand. A person who inherently lives in fear of you gaining more ground than them, will probably not.

So, yes, I’ll give you free reign to get fucking irritated if you want, when someone asks you “why not.” Not in reference to law school and everything that goes with it. But in reference to everything outside of it.

A warning though, be prepared to be selfish and be called selfish. Well, aren’t we all? In this case, anybody can take your place in a party, but will someone be able (even if not willingly done) to take your place in class, stand before your prof, your ego being beaten to death for yet another day and say, It is all in a day’s work. I was told, I am not experiencing much of what really reality is inside the classroom, inside law school. But you see, I am able to view a different side of reality inside the classroom, inside law school and even beyond it.

Be prepared to say, NO. Distractions come in many forms, others maybe good and some maybe bad. It will be easy to say no to the bad. But for what seems to be good, it will be a struggle. The latter making you doubt because it will make you look selfish and it will plague you like the sound of crickets in the night.

Similarly, Detractors are like wolves in a sheep’s clothing. At first, they doubt you. Then, they’ll sing you praises. In this journey, a person’s character will be tested. Not only yours, but also those close to you and those not close to you.

In doubt, BE PROUD OF YOUR SELF. This is not something that your parents could have easily handed down to you, like some start-up capital for some new business venture. Though, yes, they pay for your tuition fees and other perks that come with it when depressing thoughts start to linger. Think, nobody else could face a beating to the ego everyday. Sometimes, you will wish to borrow someone else’s ego for the day, cause yours is beaten down to the path all gory and bruised. If we seem too tough, then because somehow we’ve had it tough too. If we seem too quiet, maybe too many questions were thrown our way for a day, a week, for the same prof, for diff prof’s of murderous degree.

But when I do get fucking irritated, when people downplay what we go through, I would say: “Why don’t you go to law school?” My cruel heart echoing these thoughts, “Let’s see how long you can survive.” I’m giving you this excuse too if you want. But, as you go along, you will have to learn to not listen to those kinds of people, to those kinds of thoughts. You will learn to discard the unnecessaries- thoughts, people, things.

In all these things, Kid, Know yourself first. Know your strengths, know your weaknesses. In knowing your strengths, know further that they do not entirely come from yourself. They are there because God wills it. Everything is by His grace. In knowing your weaknesses, you must learn how to deal with them. Turn them around and make them work to your advantage.

More importantly, let the spirits surrounding you, guide you. Open your heart to the possibilities that they work, though silently, for your goodness.



A Law Student
Every day
Every week
Every month
Every semester
Every year

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.