Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 5 May 2018


Yours truly attended the Mass celebrating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in the Philippines from Mexico. My husband Christian was born on her Feast Day, so we consider ourselves to have a close relationship with her (go figure).

The Mass was one of several events organized by the Augustinian Recollects—the others were a fluvial parade (re-enacting her arrival) preceding the Mass, and a procession back to the San Sebastian Church where she has been all this time.

The procession would stop at the Quiapo Church, home of the Black Nazarene, for a “dungaw” in which the Black Nazarene would bow to his Mother as she passes amid singing and dancing.  I wish I had joined these festivities, but the flesh was weak.

Amazing, the number of prelates that concelebrated the Mass in honor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Cardinal Orlando Quevedo was there, although Archbishop Romulo Valles was the main celebrant; bishops (Broderick Pabillo, Ted Bacani, et al.), priests and nuns from different religious orders, and the laity.  Cardinal Chito Tagle was supposed to be the main celebrant but was ordered by the Pope to go to New York to deliver a speech in his name.

The San Sebastian community of Augustinian Recollects (OAR) regard the image with love, informality and reverence.  When they see the Virgin, they chant “Viva la Virgen” to which the crowd yells “Guapa.” They chant “Guapa” again and again. At the third chant, the crowd yells “Guapissima!”  Very informal relationship.  Very heartwarming.  Like a rock star with a big fan club, or the mother of a very close family teasing her to make her blush.

I was seated beside Sister Rhiza Eltanal (an OAR  nun), who regaled me about the sisters Dionisia and Cecilia Talangpaz of Bulacan/Pampanga (of the Pamintuan family), co-foundresses of her order.  What struck me about her stories was the discrimination against Filipinos by the Spaniards (remember, Reader, I am talking about the 18th century).

Apparently, the two sisters tried to join the Third Order of the Augustinians in Bulacan, were rebuffed (only women with Spanish blood qualified), even if they came from the best of families. So they migrated to San Sebastian, where the Augustinian Recollects were, and got a warmer welcome.  It was in the shadows of San Sebastian Church where they founded their order.

But get this:  It was only on their deathbeds that they were allowed to take their final vows.  Apparently, the Augustinians were afraid of Indio blood.  Oh, well, they’ve made up for it by now.

It strikes me that after almost 500 years of Catholicism,  Filipinos have only two saints, both men.  Dionisia and Cecilia (died in 1732 and 1731, respectively) are still “Servants of God,” the lowest rung to sainthood.  They are lower than “Venerables” (Mother Ignacia of the Religious of the Virgin Mary is in this category), which in turn is lower than the “Blesseds” (there are four connected to the Philippines, all men), which is the step before sainthood. So, within my lifetime, there will be no Filipino female saints.  Get a move on, please, powers that be.  In the meantime, Viva la Virgen! (Guapa!).

And now, another heartwarmer—the Pulse Asia survey results .  It seems that in the nearly two-year period (July 2016-March 2018), support for Charter change has decreased across all regions and classes by an amount that is statistically significant, except for the Visayas and Class E. What is most noteworthy is that Mindanao, arguably the President’s bailiwick, shows the largest percentage decrease in support.

Since the survey shows that ignorance about the Constitution remains about the same in the two periods, one can argue that this phenomenon may be regarded as a repudiation of the House of Representatives (the biggest supporter of Cha-cha) and its speaker.

This opinion is supported by the Filipinos’ opposition to federalism, in which they show an even stronger resistance. Again, the survey shows that Filipinos don’t know much about it.   Anything the House of Representatives is so gung-ho about must be suspect.

Is it also a repudiation of Mr. Duterte?  I don’t think so.  His trust and satisfaction ratings are too high.

But the writing is definitely on the wall.