The “Sulyap Sa Quiapo” Lecture Series

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Ian Lucero, Leo Emmanuel Castro and Prof Teresita Obusan

Few days ago, I was really grateful to be invited by Mr Axl Guinto to attend the recently held “Sulyap Sa Quiapo” lecture series. The event is actually part of the Q-Festival in celebration of San Sebastian Church’s 125th founding anniversary. The lecture event was held in Casa Consulado where four speakers were invited for a back to back lecture series that was aimed to introduce Baybayin (ancient Philippine script) and its deeper meaning. Each speaker has different topic to discuss but all of them are very much relevant to each other. It was supposed to be a two-day event but due to bad weather condition, all the talks were merged into an all-day event. We were warmly welcomed by Mr Paul Iturralde (one of the descendants of Iturralde family)
“Simula Ng Maharlika Life” (The Beginning Of Maharlika Life)20160814_101118_Richtone(HDR)t
The first talk was led by a very young man Mr Ian Lucero that despite of his young age, his passion towards preserving our culture and the use of Baybayin in particular is really overwhelming. Mr Lucero is the creative mind behind Maharlika Life, an independently owned organization, a movement that aims to ignite our cultural renaissance. The group aims to honor our nation’s heritage through various methods especially through visual arts. The concept is very much identical to more established groups like Bayani Art and Gerilya. Maharlika Life is relatively new and we were told that the group was just established last July and they are currently promoting the group through exhibits and creative merchandises.
The works of Maharlika Life marry traditional motifs in art, literature, history with timeless aesthetic. Baybayin in particular is often used as their motif and we were able to see some of their awesome Baybayin Project on display during the event. As you can see, even though it involves Baybayin scriptures, the prints were done in more like an abstract and very creative manner. According to him, his arts were merely inspired from Kanji of Japan. His previous work abroad has become an eye-opener to him that made him realized not to waste his talent for other country and utilized it to promote our very own instead.IMG_0515tt
Lucero also emphasized things that an individual can do to ignite cultural renaissance. We can do so by championing our very own culture, appreciating the works of our people (Filipino has this “pinoy pride” mentality where we only appreciate someone talents if they only gained popularity abroad) and also the preservation of Identity. He also made reference to the so-called “Bover Codex” that proves that Filipino are already civilized even before the Spanish Arrives.
“Pamamaraang David : Daang KKB” (The Way of David : The KKB Method)20160814_111141_Richtone(HDR)t
The second talk was led by Professor Teresita “Tess” Obusan, Phd. It is so nice to note that she came all the way to Daet Camarines Norte just to share her wonderful knowledge to us. Her topic is about the so-called “Pamamaraang David (the way of David), a method she and the rest of her Kapitbahayan Sa Kalye Bautista group used to promote and to educate those people in the lowest hierarchy of our society the importance or value of our very own culture and heritage. Professor Teresita Obusan which they frequently addressed as Tita Tess is the author behind books like “Roots of Filipino Spirituality”, “Mystic or Mistake:Exploring Filipino Mysticism in Quiapo”, and also a renowned scholar on Philippine Indigenous Culture and Baybayin.
Prior to her talk, a brief prayer was conducted accompanied by music (played via Nose flute by Mr Leo Castro. Professor Obusan shared her experiences and the challenges that she faced to promote her advocacy. She shared us her story and how much they struggle to bring Bahay Nakpil (another heritage site in Quiapo) back to its former glory and also the same challenge and effort that they offer to establish the KKB (Kapitbahayan sa Kalye Bautista). Her topic , however will emphasize more on how a small group of people and how small things can make huge difference in our society especially in resolving our nation’s problem.IMG_0528t
According to her, there are many small things in this country that can really make huge difference in our society yet they are often being ignored but  with combined efforts of the community, they can make something more triumphant much like what happened to our National Hero Jose Rizal and how he successfully published his book. I just learned that Rizal was able to publish his book with the financial support by his friends. The Kapitbahayan Sa Kalye Bautista (KKB) is a group that aims to promote cultural heritage to simple community. It may sound simple but it is actually challenging for them to encourage those people in lowest hierarchy of our society to have an interest with our culture. There was a time that they encouraged people to visit the National Museum but only few of them showed up and what makes it worse is that these people were restricted to enter because they do not wear proper attire. This is also the reason why she is commending National Musuem for letting people from all walks of life to enter the facility for free , an action that should have been done a long time ago.IMG_0559t
Stephen John Agbayani Pamorada , one of the event facilitators summing up Professor Obusan’s lecture.

“Ang AUI (Aral, Unlad at Iral) Ng Malikhaing Paggawa” (The Study, Innovation and Propagation of Creative Works)IMG_0555t
The third talk was led by Mr Leo Emmanuel Castro of Sanghabi (One Weave) group. Sanghabi is an organization that aims to strengthen Filipino identity by drawing from our very rich heritage. The organization is promoting our culture by conducting various workshops on indigenous music and dance, instrument making and ancient Filipino syllabary. Mr Castro and his works has been featured many times on tv and documentaries of local and international media and we were all grateful that he shared us his knowledge to us that day. His topic will emphasize more on the concept of the so-called “AUI” ng Malikhaing Paggawa (Creative works). AUI basically stands for A –Aral (Study), U –Unlad (Innovate) and I –Iral (Propagate). It is also interesting to note that A, U and I are the three vowels of Baybayin too!
So what is this concept all about? Mr Castro set out some examples of different creative works from different fields such Music, fashion, education, writing and more and how this concept is being applied (or should be applied) to each field. In creative writing for an instance, he told us that an aspiring writer should not really aim first on making a perfect novel or piece. You cannot just write a perfect masterpiece in an instant and this is where the concept of AUI comes in. It should all start first by studying. It is not necessary to come up with your own style. You can utilize all the resources that are readily available. You conduct research, adopt the style and learn from it. Once you learned enough, this is the time that you must take your skills to another level by innovating it. From there, you can now share and propagate your skills to others in many different ways! Ian Lucero’s Art is a perfect example of the effective application of this concept. He studied Baybayin, innovated his skill by creating his own style and propagating it with his Maharlika Life group.IMG_0557tt
Mr Casto also expressed his disappointment with our music industry because instead of promoting our very own musical instruments our OPM industry are greatly influenced by the Western culture. Have you ever heard a music artists singing a song using our native instrument? You might have heard a few but none of them ever made it through the mainstream of Pinoy Music. This made me realized that maybe it is really our fault that our own culture is slowly dying, that our heritage is slowly being forgotten! It’s because we let ourselves to be influenced by other countries and we tend to ignore our own heritage. We tend to ignore the richness of our culture.
The lectures were followed by a quick lunch and then the Baybayin workshop led by Prof Reimon Cosare of Sanghabi which I will be posting on my next entry

Feel Free to check these Pages too!

Maharlika Life
Maharlika Life Facebook Page
Kapitbahayan Sa Kalye Bautista (KKB)
Kapitbahayan Sa Kalye Bautista FB
Casa Consulado Museum And Library
Hibla Sanghabi Castro FB

FORMED.org, The Netflix Of Catholic Media #FORMED

For someone like me who belong to this so-called millennial generation, I am so glad that I am given the opportunity to embrace all this modern technology which made everything a lot easier. All the information we need can be accessed over the internet; communications are being done faster because of the gadgets and smart phones that we can bring anywhere we go! The impact of these modern technologies in our society is really overwhelming. The game app “Pokemon Go” for an instance, is a perfect example on how much a modern gaming application can affect people and how much it can change someone else’s lifestyle. Imagine how much time people spent to play this game compare to their usual routine prior to the release of this application? I am not against this game (I am in fact, a big fan of Pokemon) but don’t you think this game greatly affects the user’s productivity?
I am not going to discuss about this game but the current status of our churches, the challenge they are facing today, the way they adapt with this modern changes and the new ways and tools they are using to evangelize. I recently came across an article before regarding with the greatest challenges that our churches are facing today. One of the challenges is how can a parish invite and encourage millennials to attend a mass and if ever this group of people attended a mass, how can they effectively improve their spiritual condition. Most youngsters today are more engage with their gadgets and they often forgot to offer their time to God. Most of them do not even know how to offer a prayer. In this kind of situation, what do you think a parish should do? Do they need to step up or to leverage their teaching? Is it really necessary to change? Is it really the right time for the parishes to embrace the modern technology as an effective tool to approach the millenials?IMG_0747t
Few weeks ago, someone introduced me this website, FORMED.org. It is basically a website that is mainly designed for Parish and parish leaders, a page where they can gather all the resources they need for church evangelization and faith formation. I recently learned that FORMED is a program launched by Lighthouse Catholic Media in partnership with Ignatius Press and others. It is a fee-based site which means, a user should subscribe in order to get the full access. Once an access is granted, you will now have the opportunity to view all the resources they provide from movies, audios and books and even online programs. The site is geared towards parishes. Once a parish is subscribed, the Parish leader can provide access to every person in the parish. A Parish leader can provide the given Code to everyone who wants to access it whether you are non-Catholic or non practicing catholic. Parish monthly price is less than my monthly TV bill while Individual price is just like a Netflix monthly subscription, thus they called it as the Catholic Netflix!
So What’s in the Site (FORMED.org)
I am grateful enough to get an access to its demo version and I can clearly see how beneficial this website could be not just for a Parish but also for individuals like me who seeks for spiritual enlightenment. As soon as you enter the site, you are free to navigate but you will find four main tabs such us Programs, Movies, Audio and Books.
Programs include different study materials for faith formation and church evangelization. It includes session videos from Augustine Institute’s Symbolon, bible study materials, Sacramental preparation, discipleship group discussions, Youth discipleship, and more.
Movies will feature huge collection of full-length catholic movies while Audios features recorded inspirational talks from various well known theological speakers discussing various topics from Prayer of Spirituality, Catechism, conversion stories and more. The Book session on the other hand, provides an overwhelming amount of eBooks brought by Ignatius Press.
It is also interesting to note that they also feature “Webinars” where a subscriber can register and join the discussion. The content of the site will be updated on a regular basis as well. As you can see, it is more like a one stop shop not just for parishes but also for individuals. Here’s what it looks like from mobile!

I was actually planning to interview our Parish priest and also a missionary but I was not able to do so because of their conflicting schedules so I might have a part two of this post to share their own reactions regarding with this new platform of Catholic media. I’m going to post the questions here anyway but the answers will come from my own point of view.
How Challenging It is for a church to adapt in this digital age and what kind of approach does a parish provide to encourage millenials to do their duties as a Christian?
Let’s look at the kind of impact made by the Pokemon Go, this is actually a proof on how much a simple app can influence the society. For me, it is really a challenge for our churches to catch the attention of many as they are often engage in so many things especially on the web. We got many social media networks that will keep our focus away. If attending a mass for example, you will notice people who keep themselves busy with their phones rather than listening to a homily. You see, even people are attending mass in a regular basis, their spiritual condition are not being improved. I’m not really sure about the kind of approach that our churches are doing today or if there is any, but I guess modernization and leveraging their teachings could be a great help. Our Parish priest for example is making his homily visually engaging by showing pictures and even videos during his talks which drag the attention of the youngsters and made them absorb what the homily is all about.
What do you think about this new digital platform? Do you think our church is ready enough to embrace this kind of technology? Do you think this could be an effective tool for a parish to evangelize?
I personally think that this platform is very beneficial not just for a parish but for individuals who want to learn more and who are seeking for spiritual enlightenment. This platform will broadened the ability of a church to spread the word of God. Everyone can access it no matter where they are. I believe that our churches are ready enough to embrace this kind of technology. Lighthouse Catholic Media has tested it in different parts of the world and the program worked effectively for the parishes so why not here in the Philippines right? Filipinos are known to be religious on the first place and I think it will not be hard for us to adapt in such kind of method.
As far as the effectiveness is concern, I would like to apply this quote “No matter how many resources you have, if you do not know how to use them, it will never be enough”. The resources that you can get from this site are just visual and auditory guides but it is still up to you on how you will absorb everything you can learn from them. I personally think that FORMED.Org is a great site and is applicable whether you are Catholic or not. It is very useful for your very own spiritual enlightenment. You’ll find great topics that tackles about marriage and how to strengthen its foundation, topics about wide range of Youth problems, depressions and more!
Oh and please take note that this is not a sponsored post! Everything here Is based on my own opinion and I really encourage you guys to check on this site and see everything it has to offer!

Archdiocesan Shrine Of The Divine Mercy

Here’s to conclude our Manila Pilgrimage tour. After the Santuario Del Santo Cristo Parish in San Juan Manila, we headed to our last destination, the last Jubilee Church of Mercy, the Archdiocesan Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Mandaluyong City.20160724_143805_Richtone(HDR)tUnlike the rest of the churches that are included in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Archdiocesan Shrine of the Divine Mercy is relatively new. It is established in 1995 and was dedicated as Archdiocesan Shrine just a year after. (June 12, 1996). It serves as the center of devotion to the Divine Mercy in the Archdiocese of Manila.
20160724_145403_Richtone(HDR)tThe first thing you will notice about this church is the very interesting facade. It offers a very simple yet definitely not the usual one. The main church is actually on the upper floor while the ground floor served as their adoration chapel and Columbarium. 20160724_145150_Richtone(HDR)tYou’ll find these two angel statues on both sides of the church’s main entrance.
20160724_144425_Richtone(HDR)ttThe church’s nave! Interestingly, the church houses a 10 ft high original painting of Jesus the Divine Mercy. It is a reproduction of an Adolf Hyla painting and has been recreated by Polish painter Leslaw Ojack.20160724_144440_Richtone(HDR)tThe main altar.20160724_144747_Richtone(HDR)t20160724_144636_Richtone(HDR)tLocated on the left side of the church lies a bone relic from Saint Faustina Kowalska who we all know played a pivotal role in spreading the Divine Mercy message.20160724_144658_Richtone(HDR)tThe relic of Santa Faustina20160724_144359tThe stained glass depicting image of Divine Mercy that can be found outside the church.20160724_145008_Richtone(HDR)tYou can also offer votive candles on this small fountain outside the church.

Activities for Pilgrims:

Activities for pilgrims might include praying of the chaplet of the divine mercy (copies will be provided to the pilgrim), proceeding to the reliquary of Santa Faustina and pray for the salvation of sinners, praying for souls at their columbaria and more.

How to Get here

If you are coming from the North or South: You may take a Bus or MRT-3, then alight off at Boni Station. From there, look for Jeepneys bound to Stop and Shop or Gabby’s. Ask the driver to drop you off at Mandaluyong City Hall/Maysilo Circle, there you will find the Archdiocesan Shrine of the Divine Mercy.

Feel free to check the rest of the Jubilee Churches in Mercy here.

Santuario Del Santo Cristo Parish In San Juan Manila

Going back to our Manila Pilgrimage tour, after visiting the Manila Cathedral and also after taking our lunch, we headed to our fourth destination which is in San Juan Manila. The Santuario Del Santo Cristo or the San Juan Del Monte Church is another old church in Manila that holds a Holy Door. Actually, this church made our trip a lot more  meaningful as one of their representatives somehow oriented us and taught us the real meaning of this pilgrimage.IMG_0214tThe facade of Santuario Del Santo Cristo Parish.  It is very interesting to note that the church also act as a shrine and also houses a convent for Dominican priests. The first church was established in 1602 but much like other old churches, this building went through a lot of restoration and renovation as well.  It was utterly destroyed during the Chinese  insurrection in 1639, destroyed again during the British invasion in 1763 and also during the reign of the Spanish empire.
20160724_140609_Richtone(HDR)tThe church has a very huge historical significance! It once served as a shelter by Katipuneros during the 1898 Philippine Revolution. The image of Santo Cristo was brought here in 1641 and it came from the monestery of Intramuros and was venerated in Binondo Church. The shrine started to gain popularity and devotions started to spread in nearby communities after numerous miracles were reported and this is also the reason why they earned the name “Santuario del Santo Cristo”. Again, this parish started out as a shrine but was elevated in a Parish status and was canonically erected on May 3, 1942.20160724_131007_Richtone(HDR)tThe church was recognized as a Historic Structure by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), with a cast-iron plaque that was issued and placed in 1937.20160724_131124_Richtone(HDR)tOne of the Twin belltowers of the parish. In 1977, out of many proposals, the concept made by  Architect Lorenzo del Castillo was chosen. The concept retained the appearance of the old facade.   Both towers were linked by two arches, surmounted by a shrine containing a cross. Interestingly, some of the stones from the old church were used to build the facade as well.20160724_135029_Richtone(HDR)tI recently learned that this portion of the church is called “Narthex20160724_131139_Richtone(HDR)tThere are several niches in the facade that features concrete statues from different Dominican Saints.20160724_131158_Richtone(HDR)tThe Church’s nave. You’ll find 16 stained glass windows on the side depicting the fourteen Stations of the Cross, Our Lady of the Rosary and the Dominican saints Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great and Vincent Ferrer.20160724_134015_Richtone(HDR)tThe ceiling was intricately designed too! They said that they are made from Narra.20160724_131237_Richtone(HDR)t
The semi-dome on top of the main altar (they called it exedra) depicts the image of the Resurrected Christ20160724_133957_Richtone(HDR)ytThe main altar enshrines the image of Santo Cristo but it is not clear whether it is the original image brought from Binondo. 20160724_134645_Richtone(HDR)tThe Convent20160724_134742_Richtone(HDR)tThe thick buttresses. This is also the way to their Adoration Chapel and Columbarium and Conventual cemetery.

Activities for Pilgrims.
For Activities, you may refer to your Pilgrim’s Passport. This might include prayer for the departed souls,Confessions and prayer for the devotion of Santo Cristo.