Monday, January 26, 2015

Tacloban and Pope Francis: A dream come true

I have raved on my social networks how 2014 was a good year for me and I kind of had the impression that 2015 would not be that giving, Mrs. Good Karma has to make her rounds, right? But I don't know what kind of good I did in my lifetime to have the universe in my favor because two items in my bucket list are officially crossed out, and the first month of the year haven't even ended yet! How awesome is that? 

Bucket list #1: Tacloban 

I am not a public servant or a dedicated humanitarian but when I saw the catastrophe Typhoon Haiyan caused, the human side of me immediately wanted to go there and help but I was too sick then. All I could do was donate whatever I can, take part of benefit concerts, and pray for the people affected. On January 7 this year, my mom asked if I want to be a part of their medical team for a Tacloban mission for a week and will be leaving on January 12. My doctor haven't given me the slightest approval yet to go under any strenuous activities and my schedule was already packed the said week of departure but I said yes without any hesitations. It was like the rightest thing to do.

Tanauan public market

St. Scholastica's third floor, completely detsroyed by typhoon Haiyan

A house washed out by the storm surge

UP Tacloban's mini stage's roof destroyed by the strong winds of Typhoon Haiyan

I was not able to roam around the city because I was not comfortable going out without my mom. But on January 14, we went to Brgy. Cogon, Tanauan, Leyte for an overnight community service with a group of missionary nuns so I took pictures of the surroundings inside the van. The immersion was indeed a life changing experience. It was in that activity where I was able to grasp the plight of the survivors and how it changed their lives drastically. I am going to talk about it on my next blog and why it made a 360 degree turn in my life as well. Tacloban hasn't fully recovered yet. You can still see the awful things that Typhoon Haiyan caused to the people. It was overwhelming to see the place. It made me ask myself: Where is the 12.3 billion dollars donated by the world? But that's another story and another blog. 

Bucketlist #2: Pope Francis 

My fascination for Pope Francis started when I learned all about his non-traditional act of kindness as a pope especially when I learned that he doesn't condemn the LGBT community and mothers out of wedlock.

We arrived at the meeting place on the 12th of January at 4:30 am. First thing I saw was my college school bus and it gave me my first feeling of elation on this trip, the bus meant comfortable land travel and I was right. Second thing I saw was the tarpaulin in front of the bus that said "Papal Visit 2015". I could remember my heart skipping a beat. I immediately looked for my mom inside the bus and asked her if we were going to see the Pope and Holy Mother of Christ, she said YES.

I was so happy that I could barely contain my excitement but there were already nuns and volunteers inside the bus. I didn't want to embarrass my mom so all I did was jump up and down, scream inside my head and thank the universe for being so good to me.

my pilgrim ID

It was on January 17 when I was finally able to see the Pope. That day will be forever engraved in my heart because it was definitely not a walk in the park. Since vehicles were forbidden to roam around the perimeters of downtown Tacloban, we had to start walking at 2am from where we were staying to the airport where the mass with the Pope took place. We arrived at the airport at exactly 4am.

There were already thousands of pilgrims who spent the night in their respective quadrants. When we reached our quadrant, we were delighted to find out that ours (#5) is only a hundred meters away from the altar

The original schedule for the mass was 10am but the Pope learned about the on-going storm in Tacloban where people were waiting for him under a heavy rain. He asked for an earlier flight so it only took us 5 hours to wait for him instead of 6 (This information was announced over the mic to the delight of the pilgrims). We took advantage of the 5 hour wait and took selfies after the 5am rosary. Seriously, there was no better way to enjoy that wait under a pouring rain and strong winds than taking selfies, we had to entertain ourselves than focus on the bad.

The altar

with my mom and co-medical team volunteers

Bevs my official bestfriend in this trip haha!

another selfie!

Me, all soaking wet but all excited to meet the Pope!


Pope Francis' plane arrived at 9am as promised. People went ballistic when we saw the plane up on the sky while preparing its landing. We were shouting and screaming. It was overwhelming! The crowd were filled with catharsis. Who wouldn't? It was THE Pope. The Pope, who in my opinion, is truly living and following the teachings of Christ.

Pope Francis' plane 

The crowd went wild when we finally saw Pope Francis in person while he was on his way to the altar. My favorite moment was when he put on the same yellow raincoat that the crowd were wearing (given for free). I think it was his way of showing solidarity with the people. I had goosebumps all over! I was not able to take pictures during the mass because I was so into it which was surprising. To be honest at the risk of being jduged, I am not a religious Catholic, I could barely stand a one hour mass. But I was able to withstand that 2 hour mass, sang all the songs played and listened to every word the Pope has to say in his homily.

The Pope made his rounds after the mass on his famous Pope mobile. I think he did it to give chance to other pilgrims to see him up-close whose quadrants were far from the altar. When I realized that our quadrant was near the road where the Pope's police escort were preparing, I told my mom that it must be the starting point road for the Pope's parade to the city. We immediately went there and we were lucky enough to be in a position where we can clearly see the Pope. The policemen were nice too! They let us get near the road without following the barricade.

The starting point road

The super nice policeman who let us get near the road

the police escort, taking pictures of the excited crowd

We waited for another 15-20 minutes before I saw the Pope's mobile gracing the road. Here's the video of the Pope waving at us. Please excuse me as I gush like a kid.

Here's a photo of him waving at us. He was only 2 meters away from where we were. It only took 13 seconds for him to pass by us, but it was one of the best 13 seconds of my life. 

When we couldn't see the Pope mobile anymore, we then started to walk for another 2 hours back to where we were staying. I couldn't feel my feet, my hips were hurting by this time and I could barely walk because of the pain. We were halfway down the road when we heard the police sirens again and it was the pope's caravan, exiting Tacloban downtown on it's way to Palo. I was able to see him again and this time, I only took mental pictures and video exclusive for my memory. That moment gave me enough strength to walk another kilometers.

It was already 1:30 pm when we reached Cawacsi training center (where we were staying). I took a long bath to get rid of the mud on my body. I didn't even bother to eat lunch because I was already excited to lie down and rest. I was so exhausted but it was a good exhausted. It was the best experience E-VER! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Dingdong-Marian #DM123014: The wedding that launched a thousand hypocrites

What do you know, my first blog after 5 months of being inactive, blogging wise and my first ever blog for 2015 talks about a couple that I don't even like.

Dingdong is okay. He's handsome alright, and he was one of the matinee idols back in my high school days but I have always disliked Marian. I don't hate her but I have never developed a fascination for her beauty or fashion style to say the least. I don't like her acting, I don't like how she speaks and I don't like her big teeth. Insecure much? Not really. I only get insecure with women who have beauty and brains. No offense Marians, when I say brains, think about Maya Angelou, Oprah, Hillary Clinton and Miriam Defensor or Resci Rizada (a Davao local beauty queen who graduated college with honors and who just graduated law with honors).

(c) Grey's Anatomy

Those are the type of people that irk the hell out of my entirety for not being born like them, but when I saw Marian in her wedding dress, I was stunned. She IS beautiful. In fact, I believe I spent 80% of my December 30, 2014 liking posts about their wedding. The bride was stunning, the groom was unsurprisingly handsome and the people invited were all beautiful of course.

(c) Marian Rivera's Offcial facebook account 

My Facebook newsfeed was filled with the wedding details. I was not surprised at all since they are both major television stars but then again, we all have different reactions towards the event. One Facebook friend who lives in the states who couldn't care less about the couple got so annoyed over the flood posts that she opted to sleep rather than dwell on the annoyance of seeing deets that she doesn't need on her newsfeed. I actually feel sorry for her; she's not the type to rant. There's also one faFacebookriend who blustered about the couple's choice of a very public wedding. She claimed that if they have class, they should've chosen an intimate wedding. While it got me raising my eyebrows, I found myself respecting her opinion. After all, Mr. and Mrs. Smith chose to have a very simple and intimate wedding.

(c) Marian Rivera's official Facebook account

The wedding gained a lot of negative reaction and to be honest, it annoyed me more than the flood posts about the wedding details on my Facebook newsfeed and Twitter. Someone wrote an article bashing the couple about the 8 bishops and 7 priests who wed them, there was even an article dedicated to discussing about the 7 million peso cake, there was also this article about the couple's violation towards the Philippine's civil code against "thoughtless extravagance". All of these posts made me sad but nothing made me fuming mad than this post.

Where does this someone, who posts an article from a satirical website who had to use his wife's loaned money for the expenses, get the guts to compare his wedding to another couple's important day who worked hard for years to have the wedding that they want? Are we supposed to praise someone who let his wife spend for the wedding just because it was simple and they were the "happiest"? Well newsflash, marriage doesn't work that way.

I couldn't help myself, I got mad that I had to write a blog about people that I don't like. That's how twisted this world is. People have the heart to write negative things about a celebration of love and marriage.

I am sorry for the long post. Here's a heart shaped potato with two eggs and a knife to nourish your frozen hearts.

(c) Jake Duck's Instagram