Tell it to Sun.Star: Of faith and the talking Niño

By Crischellyn Abayon

IT WAS a normal Monday for me and as I tuned in to Balitang Bisdak, a particular news item caught my attention: A Sto. Niño talked to three kids in Lapu-Lapu City. As Vic Serna was reporting and giving the viewers a walk-through of the situation in Sitio Saac II in Barangay Mactan, I could not help but be amused by the devotion of the people lining up just to get a glimpse, wipe their hankies and kiss the image. At first glance, it is easy to be swoon by such a sight but as Bobby Nalzaro put it: Do not believe such claims right away.

This news story has received ample air time in a span of days. There are claims of miracles, of being healed, of simply expressing their faith and of hopes that their prayers would be answered too. But just after a few days, the media released the interview of Sto. Niño Parish Priest, Fr. Benjamin Balsamo, saying that the kids may have lied about their claims that the image talked to them. Did that change the situation in the neighborhood?

The lines of devotees still sprawl from the tiny chapel to the main road and asked if they felt discouraged about the kids “lying,” the answer of most is still a resounding “No.”

For a nation composed mostly of Catholic church-goers and a background of 300 years of Spanish colonization, such fervent devotion is expected. Filipinos are a faithful people albeit calamities and crises test it.

The story of the talking Sto. Niño image broke just a few days after the annual Sinulog festival. The closeness of the events may have been interpreted by some as a miracle in itself. Some may even theorize that the Sto. Niño has a message for the Cebuanos and the world. But could it be that God has a message to tell that He allowed the image to talk to children ages 6, 4 and 3? Do we need such an occurrence to pause and intently listen?

As a people, the Filipino also loves oddity. It is when the rarest things or the toughest times happen that we often remember a Supreme Being trying to intervene or at the very least, we believe that we are in no way in control of all things that happen to us. We then kneel and submit ourselves to the will of God, hoping for the best and accepting the worst. But how often do we have to hear news stories of a dancing sun, healing dead or talking image? What would it take to believe and still be logical?

Does healing always have to involve flocking to far places to hold an image or wipe a piece of cloth in it? Will it do the sick good if they are brought to these places under harsh weather conditions? Is it not that the true measure of faith is extending a hand to those who need? Of listening to those who are never heard? Of being a good person?

It is a matter of belief, many people would say. Perhaps, no one can really fathom the depth of one’s faith and belief. No one can question either.

As for an observer and a believer, the talking image should not be the measure of our faith. It is not church attendance or the amount we drop on those baskets being passed around mass that measures how much we believe in God. It is not lining for hours under the scorching heat either. Faith is shown best when, amidst of the storms of life, we manage to utter words of thanks that we get to see another day. Healing happens when we learn to accept that even with a health woe or a broken heart, we are allowed to experience life and feel the love of those that surround us.

I believe that if God has something to tell us, it would be to love each other more. Love does heal and in love we can share our faith and let His church flourish.




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Devastation reaching far beyond the Philippines (A plea from MacArthur, Leyte)

By Ernesto Regis Jr.

Photo contributed by "Aid for Typhoon Haiyan Victims"

Photo contributed by “Aid for Typhoon Haiyan Victims”

MOST us have a routine. We get up, make coffee, have breakfast, get ready for work and off we go. We, all of us, take it for granted that there will be a tomorrow where we will have a roof over our heads, food to eat and a family to hug. Now see yourself in another country like the Philippines, say a small town called MacArthur, Leyte. MacArthur is but one of many towns where life changed forever last Friday, November 8, 2013, and that change came in the form of a monster typhoon. Instead of coffee, hugs and a normal day, the people of MacArthur were ravaged by winds of almost 200 mph and storm surges nearing 20 feet in some areas. For these people, life will never be the same. No food. No water. No roof. And for many, the losses were so much greater, with an estimated 10,000 presumed dead.

Leyte is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Located in the central region of Visayas, it had pristine beaches, beautiful villages and perhaps, one of the friendliest groups of people you will ever meet. Leyte is also known for its part in the history in WWII. General Douglas MacArthur landed and waded into the town of Palo. He used Leyte as a strategic move to stop the invasion of the Japanese militia, thus coining the famous quote “I Shall Return.”

Little did anyone know when Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Yolanda, approached the Philippines that this storm would become a historical event. Meteorologists around the world may find this to be the strongest typhoon ever recorded. A typhoon is the same as a hurricane in North America. It was recorded as a type 5 super-typhoon. This category 5 typhoon made landfall in the province of Leyte and hit heaviest in Tacloban, Palo, MacArthur, and down to Abuyog at the sustained speed of 195 mph. In comparison, Hurricane Katrina was a category 3 when it made landfall at a sustained speed of 126 mph.

A friend of mine from MacArthur, who is now staying with relatives in another province, described the storm like being in a “washing machine” for 4 hours waiting for it to move away.

Homes have been destroyed, many of the survivors are injured and all are starving. Emergency aid arrives first in larger populated areas, like Tacloban City. However smaller towns like MacArthur and even smaller hamlets within the municipality becomes less important because of access and population.

“Aid for Typhoon Haiyan Victims” (MacArthur, Leyte), is an initiative campaign to recognize the needs for of the smaller towns and villages who may wait endlessly for help to reach them. Our mission is to raise funds that will go directly into these places and help the people. A Facebook page campaign has been launched to reach out to people all over the world. We are hoping that you go and visit our page, Like and Share it so that it will be seen by other Facebook users.

To donate money and help our cause, please visit “Aid for Typhoon Haiyan Victims” Facebook page and click on the “gofundme” link or in the information tab.

After you hug your family and stop at Tim Horton’s on the way to work, please think about your sharing your good fortune with those whose lives have been devastated in places like MacArthur, Leyte. What would you do if your entire life was thrown into a washing machine?

So this holiday season, please remember also the ones that are struggling to get back on their feet. We need your help and the only way we can bring our aid is by donating to “Aid for Typhoon Haiyan Victims.” All proceeds go towards the delivery and handling of the donations. Thank you for your support, and Happy Holidays.

Stagnant water at Roga Subdivision

I’m sending you a video clip of the present problem here at Roga Subdivision, Kasambagan in Mabolo District. I already relayed our concerns with George Chang – councilor-elect of Barangay Kasambagan. He promised to help us. (That is what he said 5 years ago and until now nothing has been done about it. If you look at the video clip, you will see that stagnant water is beginning to pile up. This was just a small pool of water 5 years ago. But it looks to me like a lake now. With the rainy season coming by, we will get flooded for sure and the access road will not be passable. Taxis bring some residents home will have difficulty getting a ride if they know they are driving the resident to Kasambagan village. Other taxi drivers are willing to drive provided the passenger adds more fare. Please let me know who to send my email to a reporter that can report the progress or non action of our road and future health problem in Kasambagan. Stagnant water is sure breeding ground for mosquito carrying dengue virus. My fellow residents have asked me to send our SOS and with Sun.Star help, maybe some action can finally be done. I told them election is over and I hope that something positive will come out of our concerns. By the way, the access road wasn’t this bad. The residents have shelled our P30,000 from the Association dues just to smoothen the road. But because of big dump trucks passing there, it has deteriorated the road. This giant Filinvest is to blame, because they are building some condo units in the area. We are no match to these corporate giants, our barangay official seem to be turning a blind eye to our problem. So I am just airing this to the media to see if you can help us.

Your reporter can get in touch with me.

Stephen Jayme
A3 Roga Subdivision. Kasambagan
Mabolo, Cebu City
Cell 0917-834-6507
Globe Duo (032)360-3616