Posts Tagged ‘God’

St. John the Baptist

June 23, 2013

Cavite City, Philippines

MMy cousin, Cory, invited us to celebrate the Feast of St. John the Baptist in her home town of Cavite City (22 miles southwest of Manila).  It has been a while since I have seen her, so her invitation was very timely.  St. John the Baptist is the patron saint of the city of Cavite, aside from Manila and San Juan cities, but in Cavite they celebrate it differently.

In Cavite City, they parade the statue of St. John in the streets (locally known as “karakul”) and residents would come out to meet the statue.  Water is very much part of the ritual.  The streets are lined up with kids (and adults) with pales and buckets of water to throw at vehicles and passers-by.    Everybody is wet and having a good time.

St John the Baptist

Waiting to splash cars and people

It reminded me of my childhood and the simplicity of life in the provinces.  Not to be out done, my cousin has barrels of water you can get from, a hose and water guns aimed at people, vehicles, and stray dogs.  We did not have any change of clothes, so I was firing away from the safety of a fence.  Splash…splash…squirt…squirt, and hide.  Like a kid I was having fun courtesy of St. John.  As you can see, rituals and traditions are very much part of everyday life in the Philippines.  Religion, especially Catholicism, is very much ingrained here.  Like going on pilgrimages.

A Pilgrimage to Kamay ni Hesus (Hand of Jesus)

June 24, 2013

Lucban, Quezon, Philippines

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the blessings and opportunities that I receive.  One such moment is our unscheduled trip to Lucban, Quezon (72 miles southeast of Manila), where the shrine of Kamay ni Jesus is located.  The place was founded by Fr. Joey Faller, a healing priest, in 2005 and since then many Catholics have made their way to the shrine to seek out the healing powers of Fr. Faller.

I know back in the US we have faith healers, but here in the Philippines—where every other sentence spoken would include some reference to God and His blessings—you are immersed in religion.  Jesus, God, Saints, Virgin Mary, etc. is represented everywhere from names of town, streets, taxis, etc., to home altars, rosaries dangling in cars, bracelet rosaries, and curse words.  You would think that Jesus (and Judas) were Filipinos.

Filipinos have come to put all their faith in God. This implicit trust in God would at times extend to as basic as praying for food and good fortune.  God will provide, all you have to do is pray.  So people would pray (like my mom), go to church everyday (like my mom), and pray more (and yes…like my mom).

My faith in God is always tested here in the Philippines.  I should be more closer to God for He has brought me back from the brink of death.  I should do many other things to pay homage to God like those devotees here.  In my own way I am.  I may not have self-inflicted whipping scars in my back to show penitence but I am very thankful to have reached this far in my fight with cancer.  I am here in Manila to visit family and it is because of Him.  I no longer question what is given to me; I just say thank you.  Thus, when the Lucban trip presented itself, I just went not knowing what to expect.

In Lucban, pilgrims come to find healing, peace, and if your faith is strong enough: miracles.  My private miracle was being blessed by Fr. Faller himself.  I expect very little from this unplanned visit, instead we ended up having a private audience with Fr. Faller himself.  My wife asked the receptionist if we can see Fr. Faller since we have come very far just to be touched by his healing power.  My wife’s faith is so strong she would do anything to get rid of my cancer.  Her prayers were answered.  Fr. Faller came out and led us (my wife, sister-in-law Queenie, and I) to his private chapel.

With his hand on my head, he prayed for my healing.  I felt his sincerity in the purging prayers he said.  Is just my imagination but I felt a surge of energy go through my body.  There was warmth and prickly needle sensation where his hand meets my head, like an electric current.  He orders my cancer to go back to where they came from and leave my scared body.  He claimed that I am free of my disease in confident tones; after which, he left us in peace with our thoughts in the chapel.  Peace.  Serenity.  Balance.

Like a lost soul I didn’t know how to feel.  I am glad I went to the shrine but I tempered my expectation if I am deserving of a miracle.  Many pilgrims have come to this place in search of relief, peace, and healing.  I am no different from the rest.  What comes next is the same uncertain feeling i get: Have I done enough or worthy of a miracle cure?.  For now, thy will be done.

Fr Faller with Irish and Bo

Fr. Faller, wife Irish, and me


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‘Twas the night before Christmas

December 24, 2009

….when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

It was also seven days after the December 17 ‘massacre’ when lots of cancer cells died from Dr. B’s chemoembolization raid on my liver.  Fellow cancer cells mourn for the loss of their fighting comrades.

“Tsk…tsk.” But there was no bugle tap for the dead cancer cells for they were  not welcomed.  True to their habits, they did not go down without a fight.  They called in their ‘demon’ allies, who stalked me night and day.  I called them my demons, and for Christmas they called their special ally—The Grinch.

The Grinch has been bothering me since the massacre.  First, he induced me to vomit at the hospital.  He almost derailed my homecoming plans with vomit spells but I put a stop to that with Zofran.  Haha…  Then comes the chills, low-grade fever, sleepless nights, and constant stabbing pain in my abdomen.  He even threw in a couple of hiccup spells all intended to lower my résistance and be a pest.

Dr. B’s scientific explanation is that my liver is releasing toxins, therefore all the side-effects of chemo are coming out.  It is a clear indication that the cancer cells are dying.  He adds:

“I gave you a heavy dose of chemo. I knew your body could take it.” I just have this effect on people who express too much love for me 😮

“You will be in pain and feel lousy for a couple of days but we are sending you home with codeine for pain, zofran for nausea, and other medications.  If you have high fever call us or me personally.”

It has been a while since I experienced the nasty side-effects of chemo, and when it came it I was weakened.  I did not deal with abdominal pain before but the chills, vomits, and hiccups brought me back to reality and sleepless nights.  With the incessant pain, I try to strike a balance on when I should take codeine.  Too much of that stuff makes you constipated, so you counter it with stool softner and fiber.

At the hospital, I did not feel the pain because they know how to manage it.  I was even hooked up to my favorite gadget, personal control analgesic (PCA).  I just press a button and it discharges, Delodid (more potent than morphine), a drug addict’s delight.  It resets after a couple of minutes and I can press the button again.  Ah, heaven.  Then, in between I can request for Toradol, another pain killer.  They also gave me Decadrol, steroids to help my immunity.

But at home, I have to find the right balance with codeine, stool softner, ant-nausea pills, and Metamucil.  This puts a dirty smile on the Grinch.

“I wouldn’t smile, Grinch.  Lots of your friends are dead or are dying from the punishment given by Sheriff B.  And soon you will be gone as well.  Pain is temporary.” Besides, Santa is almost here.  The cavalry is arriving led by Rudolph.

It is Christmas eve.  Yes, the house is quite.  The promise of white Christmas is here.  The outside air is even calm.  Maggie, the beagle, is snoring in her bed.  My wife is asleep besides me radiating with all the warmth and care I needed to get me through the night.  Perfect.

Just you and me, Grinch.  You are not going to steal my Christmas.  I am here breathing and in child-like anticipation of receiving the blessings of life.  I am awake not because of you but for the simple pleasure of greeting everybody out there, Merry Christmas.

Come on, my demon-friend, let’s go get some Ensure and cookies.  Ho…Ho…Ho!


Woohoo...white christmas!

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