24 de junio de 1571: el nacimiento del Estado Filipino

Hoy, conmemoramos el nacimiento del Estado Filipino, el nacimiento de nuestro país, el nacimiento de nuestro ser nacional, el nacimiento del ser filipino.
Manila fue fundada como ciudad capital el 24 de junio de 1571 en el corazón de lo que ahora se conoce como la ciudad amurallada de Intramuros, «la Manila de nuestros amores». Sólo debe seguir que su declaración como ciudad capital hace 447 años implica que un estado, un país, aunque bajo un imperio mucho más grande, ya existía, se ha preparado, estaba en pleno apogeo.

Hace 447 años hoy, Miguel López de Legazpi estableció Manila como la capital de Filipinas en este sitio exacto. Legazpi se convirtió en su primer gobernador general, de hecho el primer líder nacional de nuestro país.

Filipinas no nació en 1872 ni en 1898. Filipinas ya existía desde hace más de 300 años. Si Manila sólo pudiera hablar, habría gritado este hecho histórico desde lo más alto de sus pulmones.

¡A Filipinas, la patria de mis amores, un gran saludo para su 447º aniversario de fundación!

BREVE RELATO DEL BROTE DEL FILIPINISMO
(Pepe Alas)

Rey. Fe. Aventuras.
Nao. Mar. Esmeraldas.
Luz. Flor. Bravas razas.
Cruz. Ser. Filipinas.

Derechos de reproducción © 2018
José Mario Alas
San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna
Todos los derechos reservados.

Para que conste que la conmemoración de esta fiesta como el aniversario de nuestro país todavía no es oficial. Sólo unas pocas personas con legítima conciencia filipina están conscientes de la importancia de esta conmemoración. Una vez dicho esto, repito mi cálido saludo: ¡un feliz 447° cumpleaños a mi patria adorada, Filipinas! Y que el espíritu de San Juan el Bautista cuya fiesta también se celebra en este día bautice el pueblo filipino para que experimenten un nuevo despertar.

Y sí, estoy de vuelta —por enésima vez— después de una interrupción de seis meses de enfermedad y tristeza. Estoy feliz de haber vuelto… porque El Filipinismo es alegría.

PEPE ALAS

Esta mañana en la antigua Iglesia de San Agustín en Intramuros, Manila después de la Misa de acción de gracias para conmemorar el 447º establecimiento de Manila como capital de la Capitanía General de Filipinas. Manila  En esta foto: La Familia Viajera y el gran filipinista de nuestros tiempos, el Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera.

PEPE ALAS

La tumba del Adelantado Miguel López de Legazpi al lado del altar de la Iglesia de San Agustín. Fue el quien fundó la ciudad de Manila, en nombre del Reino de España, como la capital de Filipinas hace 447º años hoy. Hacia el final de la Misa de acción de gracias para celebrar ese evento histórico, los concejales de Manila lo honraron con una oración y con una ofrenda floral. Y después de tomar esta foto, le di un respetuoso y cálido saludo para agradecerle con por sus sacrificios para nuestra patria filipina. Tenemos que reconocerlo como nuestro primer líder nacional, porque realmente lo era.

¡A Dios sea toda la gloria y la honra!

 

 

 

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¡Feliz Navidad!

 

EVANGELIO DE LA MISA
(Lectura del santo Evangelio según San Juan 1:1-18)

En el principio ya existía la Palabra, y la Palabra estaba junto a Dios, y la Palabra era Dios. La Palabra en el principio estaba junto a Dios. Por medio de la Palabra se hizo todo, y sin ella no se hizo nada de lo que se ha hecho. En la Palabra había vida, y la vida era la luz de los hombres. La luz brilla en la tiniebla, y la tiniebla no la recibió. Surgió un hombre enviado por Dios, que se llamaba Juan: éste venía como testigo, para dar testimonio de la luz, para que por él todos vinieran a la fe. No era él la luz, sino testigo de la luz. La Palabra era la luz verdadera, que alumbra a todo hombre. Al mundo vino, y en el mundo estaba; el mundo se hizo por medio de ella, y el mundo no la conoció. Vino a su casa, y los suyos no la recibieron. Pero a cuantos la recibieron, les da poder para ser hijos de Dios, si creen en su nombre. Éstos no han nacido de sangre, ni de amor carnal, ni de amor humano, sino de Dios. Y la Palabra se hizo carne y acampó entre nosotros, y hemos contemplado su gloria: gloria propia del Hijo único del Padre, lleno de gracia y de verdad. Juan da testimonio de él y grita diciendo: «Éste es de quien dije: “El que viene detrás de mí pasa delante de mí, porque existía antes que yo.”» Pues de su plenitud todos hemos recibido, gracia tras gracia. Porque la ley se dio por medio de Moisés, la gracia y la verdad vinieron por medio de Jesucristo. A Dios nadie lo ha visto jamás: Dios Hijo único, que está en el seno del Padre, es quien lo ha dado a conocer.

Cuarto domingo de Adviento (2017)

 

EVANGELIO DE LA MISA
(Lectura del santo Evangelio según San Lucas 1:26-38)

Al sexto mes fue enviado por Dios el ángel Gabriel a una ciudad de Galilea, llamada Nazaret, a una virgen desposada con un hombre llamado José, de la casa de David; el nombre de la virgen era María. Y entrando, le dijo: «Dios te salve María, llena eres de gracia, el Señor es contigo.» Ella se conturbó por estas palabras, y discurría qué significaría aquel saludo. El ángel le dijo: «No temas, María, porque has hallado gracia delante de Dios; vas a concebir en el seno y vas a dar a luz un hijo, a quien pondrás por nombre Jesús. El será grande y será llamado Hijo del Altísimo, y el Señor Dios le dará el trono de David, su padre; reinará sobre la casa de Jacob por los siglos y su reino no tendrá fin.» María respondió al ángel: «¿Cómo será esto, puesto que no conozco varón?» El ángel le respondió: «El Espíritu Santo vendrá sobre ti y el poder del Altísimo te cubrirá con su sombra; por eso el que ha de nacer será santo y será llamado Hijo de Dios. Mira, también Isabel, tu pariente, ha concebido un hijo en su vejez, y este es ya el sexto mes de aquella que llamaban estéril, porque ninguna cosa es imposible para Dios.» Dijo María: «He aquí la esclava del Señor; hágase en mí según tu palabra.» Y el ángel dejándola se fue.

 

 

 

 

Tercer domingo de Adviento (2017)

EVANGELIO DE LA MISA
(Lectura del santo Evangelio según San Juan 1:6-8, 19-28)

Hubo un hombre, enviado por Dios: se llamaba Juan. Este vino para un testimonio, para dar testimonio de la luz, para que todos creyeran por él. No era él la luz, sino quien debía dar testimonio de la luz. Y este fue el testimonio de Juan, cuando los judíos enviaron donde él desde Jerusalén sacerdotes y levitas a preguntarle: «¿Quién eres tú?» El confesó, y no negó; confesó: «Yo no soy el Cristo.» Y le preguntaron: «¿Qué, pues? ¿Eres tú Elías?» El dijo: «No lo soy.» – «¿Eres tú el profeta?» Respondió: «No.» Entonces le dijeron: «¿Quién eres, pues, para que demos respuesta a los que nos han enviado? ¿Qué dices de ti mismo?» Dijo él: «Yo soy voz del que clama en el desierto: Rectificad el camino del Señor, como dijo el profeta Isaías.» Los enviados eran fariseos. Y le preguntaron: «¿Por qué, pues, bautizas, si no eres tú el Cristo ni Elías ni el profeta?» Juan les respondió: «Yo bautizo con agua, pero en medio de vosotros está uno a quien no conocéis, que viene detrás de mí, a quien yo no soy digno de desatarle la correa de su sandalia.» Esto ocurrió en Betania, al otro lado del Jordán, donde estaba Juan bautizando.

 

Treaty of Paris (1898)

TODAY IN FILIPINO HISTORY

Today marks the 119th anniversary of the controversial Treaty of Paris of 1898. Controversial, because it involved the alleged “sale” of our country to the United States of América by Spain. Many Filipinos today, still bitter about our past which they do not fully understand, continue to blame Spain for treating us as a commodity when the former mother country “sold” us to the US for a paltry $20 million.

But this is far from the truth.

As a backgrounder, there had been several treaties that were made in Paris throughout history, most of which were peace treaties between warring nations, and how those wars had to be concluded. The first Treaty of Paris happened in 1229 which ended the Albigensian Crusade while the most recent happened just two years ago but was all about climate change.

Basically, the treaty that happened on 10 December 1898 followed the Spanish-American War in which Spain lost, thus forcing her to relinquish nearly all of her remaining territories to the US. These were Puerto Rico, Guam, and Filipinas (Cuba was never ceded to the US; she gained her independence four years later, but was still under the auspices of the future Imperialist). The cession of our country involved the abovementioned payment of $20 million from the United States to Spain.

But was this exchange of money considered as a sale? The answer is in the negative. The keyword to understanding this is the word “cession” which appears three times throughout the text of the treaty, while its transitive verb (cedes/ceded) appears twelve times. Cession is not synonymous to sale. Generally speaking, cession means the act of giving up something, usually land or territory, by the agreement in a formal treaty, and this action is done usually after a war wherein a losing country might make a cession of part of its land to the victor. But sale has all the intents and purposes of selling something at the very onset. The fact still remains that Spain never intended to sell Filipinas nor any of her overseas territories in the first place. She was only forced to do so because she lost a war. Being the losing country, logic dicates that she didn’t have much of a say in the treaty.

It should be noted that the Spanish delegates to the treaty tried the best that they could to retain at least parts of Filipinas. Initially, they had planned to cede only Mindanáo and the Sulú Archipielago. There were also suggestions to cede only Luzón. However, then US President William McKinley made it clear that the whole of Filipinas should be acquired.

…to accept merely Luzón, leaving the rest of the islands subject to Spanish rule, or to be the subject of future contention, cannot be justified on political, commercial, or humanitarian grounds. The cessation must be the whole archipelago or none. The latter is wholly inadmissible, and the former must therefore be required.

It is clear from the above that the US never intended to liberate us from Spain. It merely took over. But in the spirit of fairness (and perhaps as “consuelo de bobo“), the US paid Spain $20 million for the acquisition of Filipinas. Not to be a formal territory but as a mere colony.

This was not the first time that the US and Spain had such a treaty. In 1819, the Adams–Onís Treaty was signed by the two countries following a heated border dispute. That treaty involved the cession of Florida, a Spanish territory, to the US. Also, it should be remembered that China’s Qing dynasty ceded Hong Kong and Kowloon to the United Kingdom following her defeat in the Opium Wars (1839–1842; 1856–1860).

It is always obvious that losing countries do not profit from a war. The receipt of $20 million did not make Spain a superpower. But the acquisition of Filipinas by the United States marked Uncle Sam’s beginning as a world power.

Members of the the American Peace Commission. Left to right: Whitelaw Reid, Sen. George Gray, John Moore (Secretary), Judge William R. Day, Sen. William P. Frye, and Sen. Cushman K. Davis. (photo: Arnaldo Dumindín).

The Treaty of Peace Between the United States and Spain; December 10, 1898

The United States of America and Her Majesty the Queen Regent of Spain, in the name of her august son Don Alfonso XIII, desiring to end the state of war now existing between the two countries, have for that purpose appointed as plenipotentiaries:

The President of the United States, William R. Day, Cushman K. Davis, William P. Frye, George Gray, and Whitelaw Reid, citizens of the United States;

And Her Majesty the Queen Regent of Spain,

Don Eugenio Montero Rios, president of the senate, Don Buenaventura de Abarzuza, senator of the Kingdom and ex-minister of the Crown; Don Jose de Garnica, deputy of the Cortes and associate justice of the supreme court; Don Wenceslao Ramirez de Villa-Urrutia, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Brussels, and Don Rafael Cerero, general of division;

Who, having assembled in Paris, and having exchanged their full powers, which were found to be in due and proper form, have, after discussion of the matters before them, agreed upon the following articles:

Article I.

Spain relinquishes all claim of sovereignty over and title to Cuba.And as the island is, upon its evacuation by Spain, to be occupied by the United States, the United States will, so long as such occupation shall last, assume and discharge the obligations that may under international law result from the fact of its occupation, for the protection of life and property.

Article II.

Spain cedes to the United States the island of Porto Rico and other islands now under Spanish sovereignty in the West Indies, and the island of Guam in the Marianas or Ladrones.

Article III.

Spain cedes to the United States the archipelago known as the Philippine Islands, and comprehending the islands lying within the following line:

A line running from west to east along or near the twentieth parallel of north latitude, and through the middle of the navigable channel of Bachi, from the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) to the one hundred and twenty-seventh (127th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, thence along the one hundred and twenty seventh (127th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich to the parallel of four degrees and forty five minutes (4 [degree symbol] 45′]) north latitude, thence along the parallel of four degrees and forty five minutes (4 [degree symbol] 45′) north latitude to its intersection with the meridian of longitude one hundred and nineteen degrees and thirty five minutes (119 [degree symbol] 35′) east of Greenwich, thence along the meridian of longitude one hundred and nineteen degrees and thirty five minutes (119 [degree symbol] 35′) east of Greenwich to the parallel of latitude seven degrees and forty minutes (7 [degree symbol] 40′) north, thence along the parallel of latitude of seven degrees and forty minutes (7 [degree symbol] 40′) north to its intersection with the one hundred and sixteenth (116th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, thence by a direct line to the intersection of the tenth (10th) degree parallel of north latitude with the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, and thence along the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich to the point of beginning.The United States will pay to Spain the sum of twenty million dollars ($20,000,000) within three months after the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty.

Article IV.

The United States will, for the term of ten years from the date of the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty, admit Spanish ships and merchandise to the ports of the Philippine Islands on the same terms as ships and merchandise of the United States.

Article V.

The United States will, upon the signature of the present treaty, send back to Spain, at its own cost, the Spanish soldiers taken as prisoners of war on the capture of Manila by the American forces. The arms of the soldiers in question shall be restored to them.

Spain will, upon the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty, proceed to evacuate the Philippines, as well as the island of Guam, on terms similar to those agreed upon by the Commissioners appointed to arrange for the evacuation of Porto Rico and other islands in the West Indies, under the Protocol of August 12, 1898, which is to continue in force till its provisions are completely executed.

The time within which the evacuation of the Philippine Islands and Guam shall be completed shall be fixed by the two Governments. Stands of colors, uncaptured war vessels, small arms, guns of all calibres, with their carriages and accessories, powder, ammunition, livestock, and materials and supplies of all kinds, belonging to the land and naval forces of Spain in the Philippines and Guam, remain the property of Spain. Pieces of heavy ordnance, exclusive of field artillery, in the fortifications and coast defences, shall remain in their emplacements for the term of six months, to be reckoned from the exchange of ratifications of the treaty; and the United States may, in the meantime, purchase such material from Spain, if a satisfactory agreement between the two Governments on the subject shall be reached.

Article VI.

Spain will, upon the signature of the present treaty, release all prisoners of war, and all persons detained or imprisoned for political offences, in connection with the insurrections in Cuba and the Philippines and the war with the United States.

Reciprocally, the United States will release all persons made prisoners of war by the American forces, and will undertake to obtain the release of all Spanish prisoners in the hands of the insurgents in Cuba and the Philippines.

The Government of the United States will at its own cost return to Spain and the Government of Spain will at its own cost return to the United States, Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines, according to the situation of their respective homes, prisoners released or caused to be released by them, respectively, under this article.

Article VII.

The United States and Spain mutually relinquish all claims for indemnity, national and individual, of every kind, of either Government, or of its citizens or subjects, against the other Government, that may have arisen since the beginning of the late insurrection in Cuba and prior to the exchange of ratifications of the present treaty, including all claims for indemnity for the cost of the war.

The United States will adjudicate and settle the claims of its citizens against Spain relinquished in this article.

Article VIII.

In conformity with the provisions of Articles I, II, and III of this treaty, Spain relinquishes in Cuba, and cedes in Porto Rico and other islands in the West Indies, in the island of Guam, and in the Philippine Archipelago, all the buildings, wharves, barracks, forts, structures, public highways and other immovable property which, in conformity with law, belong to the public domain, and as such belong to the Crown of Spain.

And it is hereby declared that the relinquishment or cession, as the case may be, to which the preceding paragraph refers, can not in any respect impair the property or rights which by law belong to the peaceful possession of property of all kinds, of provinces, municipalities, public or private establishments, ecclesiastical or civic bodies, or any other associations having legal capacity to acquire and possess property in the aforesaid territories renounced or ceded, or of private individuals, of whatsoever nationality such individuals may be.

The aforesaid relinquishment or cession, as the case may be, includes all documents exclusively referring to the sovereignty relinquished or ceded that may exist in the archives of the Peninsula. Where any document in such archives only in part relates to said sovereignty, a copy of such part will be furnished whenever it shall be requested. Like rules shall be reciprocally observed in favor of Spain in respect of documents in the archives of the islands above referred to.

In the aforesaid relinquishment or cession, as the case may be, are also included such rights as the Crown of Spain and its authorities possess in respect of the official archives and records, executive as well as judicial, in the islands above referred to, which relate to said islands or the rights and property of their inhabitants. Such archives and records shall be carefully preserved, and private persons shall without distinction have the right to require, in accordance with law, authenticated copies of the contracts, wills and other instruments forming part of notorial protocols or files, or which may be contained in the executive or judicial archives, be the latter in Spain or in the islands aforesaid.

Article IX.

Spanish subjects, natives of the Peninsula, residing in the territory over which Spain by the present treaty relinquishes or cedes her sovereignty, may remain in such territory or may remove therefrom, retaining in either event all their rights of property, including the right to sell or dispose of such property or of its proceeds; and they shall also have the right to carry on their industry, commerce and professions, being subject in respect thereof to such laws as are applicable to other foreigners. In case they remain in the territory they may preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain by making, before a court of record, within a year from the date of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty, a declaration of their decision to preserve such allegiance; in default of which declaration they shall be held to have renounced it and to have adopted the nationality of the territory in which they may reside.

The civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants of the territories hereby ceded to the United States shall be determined by the Congress.

Article X.

The inhabitants of the territories over which Spain relinquishes or cedes her sovereignty shall be secured in the free exercise of their religion.

Article XI.

The Spaniards residing in the territories over which Spain by this treaty cedes or relinquishes her sovereignty shall be subject in matters civil as well as criminal to the jurisdiction of the courts of the country wherein they reside, pursuant to the ordinary laws governing the same; and they shall have the right to appear before such courts, and to pursue the same course as citizens of the country to which the courts belong.

Article XII.

Judicial proceedings pending at the time of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty in the territories over which Spain relinquishes or cedes her sovereignty shall be determined according to the following rules:

1. Judgments rendered either in civil suits between private individuals, or in criminal matters, before the date mentioned, and with respect to which there is no recourse or right of review under the Spanish law, shall be deemed to be final, and shall be executed in due form by competent authority in the territory within which such judgments should be carried out.

2. Civil suits between private individuals which may on the date mentioned be undetermined shall be prosecuted to judgment before the court in which they may then be pending or in the court that may be substituted therefor.

3. Criminal actions pending on the date mentioned before the Supreme Court of Spain against citizens of the territory which by this treaty ceases to be Spanish shall continue under its jurisdiction until final judgment; but, such judgment having been rendered, the execution thereof shall be committed to the competent authority of the place in which the case arose.

Article XIII.

The rights of property secured by copyrights and patents acquired by Spaniards in the Island of Cuba and in Porto Rico, the Philippines and other ceded territories, at the time of the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty, shall continue to be respected. Spanish scientific, literary and artistic works, not subversive of public order in the territories in question, shall continue to be admitted free of duty into such territories, for the period of ten years, to be reckoned from the date of the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty.

Article XIV.

Spain will have the power to establish consular officers in the ports and places of the territories, the sovereignty over which has been either relinquished or ceded by the present treaty.

Article XV.

The Government of each country will, for the term of ten years, accord to the merchant vessels of the other country the same treatment in respect of all port charges, including entrance and clearance dues, light dues, and tonnage duties, as it accords to its own merchant vessels, not engaged in the coastwise trade.

Article XVI.

It is understood that any obligations assumed in this treaty by the United States with respect to Cuba are limited to the time of its occupancy thereof; but it will upon termination of such occupancy, advise any Government established in the island to assume the same obligations.

Article XVII.

The present treaty shall be ratified by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate thereof, and by Her Majesty the Queen Regent of Spain; and the ratifications shall be exchanged at Washington within six months from the date hereof, or earlier if possible.

In faith whereof, we, the respective Plenipotentiaries, have signed this treaty and have hereunto affixed our seals.

Done in duplicate at Paris, the tenth day of December, in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight.

[Seal] William R. Day
[Seal] Cushman K. Davis
[Seal] William P. Frye
[Seal] Geo. Gray[Seal] Whitelaw Reid
[Seal] Eugenio Montero Rios
[Seal] B. de Abarzuza[Seal] J. de Garnica
[Seal] W. R. de Villa Urrutia
[Seal] Rafael Cerero

Segundo domingo de Adviento (2017)

EVANGELIO DE LA MISA
(Lectura del santo Evangelio según San Marcos 1:1-8)

Está escrito en el Profeta Isaías: Yo envío mi mensajero delante de ti para que te prepare el camino. Una voz grita en el desierto: Preparadle el camino al Señor, allanad sus senderos. Juan bautizaba en el desierto: predicaba que se convirtieran y se bautizaran, para que se les perdonasen los pecados. Acudía la gente de Judea y de Jerusalén, confesaban sus pecados y él los bautizaba en el Jordán. Juan iba vestido de piel de camello, con una correa de cuero a la cintura y se alimentaba de saltamontes y miel silvestre. Y proclamaba: —Detrás de mí viene el que puede más que yo, y yo no merezco agacharme para desatarle las sandalias. Yo os he bautizado con agua, pero él os bautizará con Espíritu Santo.

Concepción the dying kitten

The roads of San Pedro Tunasán were still wet from the previous night’s heavy rainfall when I arrived early in the morning from my night shift. In fact, I arrived an hour too early for the 9:30 AM Mass, and my stomach was already rumbling with hunger. I haven’t eaten anything since my shift, but I still had sixty pesos left. I was contemplating on whether or not I should spend it for “dinner” (night shifters’ equivalent for breakfast) or just pass away the time at the old town plaza fronting the church. I may have a thin frame, but my appetite is Asgardian. So imagine the struggle that I had to go through by attempting not to eat before Mass. I was thinking of imitating what our Filipino forefathers did during the Spanish times: they had to fast after midnight before taking the morning Eucharist. Afterwards was the only time they were able to eat.

I had another option left: continue reading William Pomeroy’s The Forest at the town plaza. However, I was drawn by the speaker phones coming from the church. Fr. Paul Búgay was officiating an early morning Mass for the students of Liceo de San Pedro in celebration of today’s feast day, the Immaculate Conception. I even saw my son Jefe among the young faithful.

But that Mass was far from over, in fact had just started. So I was compelled to wait somewhere else for the next Mass. At the second floor of the parish hall building was a Marian exhibit featuring images that represented some of the most famous titles of the Virgin Mary. I stayed there for a few minutes, then went out for a walk at the old town plaza which I have not visited for months.

Image result for san pedro laguna

A view of the old town plaza of San Pedro Tunasán taken from the belfry of San Pedro Apóstol Church many years ago (Photo: Filipino eScribbles).

Our city is currently holding its annual Paskuhan sa San Pedro, a nightly presentation of reverie in celebration of Christmas month. That’s why the town plaza looked festive. The thought that my first book was launched here a few months ago, albeit a simple ceremony, still dazes me up to now.

There was no place to read. All the benches were wet because of last night’s rain. So I turned my back from the stage and started to troop back to the church. But there on the wet concrete floor, between the plaza’s unappealing monolith and sampaguita bushes, lay a dead kitten, its black and white fur matted.

Or so I thought; I saw it shiver a bit.

Were my eyes playing tricks on me? I was feeling a bit weak and lightheaded due to lack of sleep and hunger, so I wasn’t really sure if it was dead or not. Only one way to make sure: just go check it out. But I had to fight off man’s natural disgust of being near a dead animal. And as I came nearer, I noticed no stench. And lo, the little furball shivered again!

I imitated a purr (I was quite good at it years ago) just to elicit some response from it, just to make sure that it was really alive. Its wobbly head responded, and it looked at me with very weak-looking and half-opened eyes.

It was still alive!

The poor thing surely bore the brunt of the previous night’s downpour. Now it was dying! I looked around me, looking for help as I was helpless in helping the poor kitten. There were a couple of street sweepers around cleaning up the plaza for tonight’s Paskuhan. One elderly sweeper brushed past near me. I pointed towards the kitten for him to see, hoping that he might take pity on it. But he muffled out something gibberish which translated to me as “just leave that li’l tomcat alone to die on its own”.

Bringing it home with me was not an option. There’s no spot in our small apartment unit for the kitten to stay, and my wife is not fond of keeping pets. Then I saw a girl, aged four or five. She looked like an indigent (there are many of them at the plaza). I talked to her and tried to goad her to take the poor kitten home, pleading to her heartstrings that the kitten will die if not attended to. The girl just stood there, gaping at the kitten. Then suddenly I remembered that I have something in my pant’s pocket: Junífera Clarita‘s folded tank top! I’ve been using it for the past few days in lieu of a hankie, just so that I had something to wipe off my sweat (I suffer from hyperhidrosis, thus an ordinary handkerchief is not enough).

Without hesitation, I covered the poor kitten with it, and it shivered all the more when I did so. Darn, I thought. The kitten was really suffering from cold! And it must be as hungry as I was too. I talked to the girl some more. “Why don’t you just take it home and make it your new pet? You will be able to save its life.”

Then she went near the kitten, lifted her small, right foot, and toyed on its head.

OK, that’s enough. Giving it to the indigent girl was not a good option after all. Besides, her mother arrived a few minutes later and I saw her scolding the girl while making unfriendly side glances at me. She probably thought I was some pedophile junkie. Can’t blame her. All moms, whether they be rich or poor, should never allow their little girls on their own out in the streets.

I thought of just leaving the kitten to die. It was dying, anyway. There’s no way I could save it. Besides, I already did my part. I’ve covered it with my baby daughter’s clothing. At least it would die in warmth.

I stood up and started to leave, then gave it one last look…

But I just couldn’t leave it to die! 😞

Suddenly, something came to mind. I do remember having seen a pet store near the back of the church past the road tunnel several times. I wasn’t sure if it was a veterinary clinic or some pet shop because each time I pass by the place I never gave it a hard look.

The kitten was shivering weakly. Time’s running out. I have to save the poor thing. But I didn’t have the heart to carry it. So I sprinted like mad from plaza to store which was several meters away, hoping against hope that somebody there would come with me to the plaza. I never minded the people who were looking at me as I ran. They were probably wondering why in the world was I running so fast. I thought about the 9:30 AM Mass as I was sprinting towards the pet shop. Today is a Holy Day of Obligation for us Catholics. I had to attend Mass instead of attending to a dying kitten. But I’m sure God in His infinite mercy will forgive me if I were just a few minutes late, I thought to my tired self. Besides, I’m doing this to save His forsaken kitten.

When I got to the shop, I was sweating all over. Through its huge mirror, I saw an attendant combing a small, white dog’s fur. And then I saw the shop’s big signage. Its name was like a humorous slap in the face: the shop was a pet parlor, not a veterinary clinic!

This freaking town has no veterinary clinic!

I felt like crying. I sprinted back, hoping against hope that the kitten was still there, that it was still alive, that the little indigent girl with her grumpy mother didn’t come back, that the street sweepers didn’t dispose of it. I took pity at the kitten’s fate. I cursed under my breath at both our fate, then cursed again because I cursed on a Holy Day.

I was almost out of breath when I got back to the plaza. The kitten was still there, but it was no longer shivering. I thought that it already died while I was away. But its weak eyes were still looking at me.

I looked up at the church, the voices of the young faithful blurting out from its thick, beige-painted walls. I covered the kitten much carefully and, after  conquering my hesitation, carried it towards the church. I felt the clothing, already wet in my hands. The kitten started to purr and move about weakly. I couldn’t tell if it was purring or crying. But it was obviously afraid. I saw the claws come out from the paws and took extra caution not to be scratched lest I get infected with potential rabies. I had to cross that part of the road between church and plaza where one is not supposed to cross. But I was desperately in a hurry. And where was I to bring the kitten? To the church. To whom should I bring it? I had no idea. Probably to Fr. Paul? But I have to wait for the Mass to end.

At the north transept, where the entry towards the sacristy was located, I saw a group of altar boys preparing for the 9:30 Mass. Fr. Paul was still officiating the first Mass which I noticed was about to end. I hurriedly went to the boys and, with dying kitten in hand, told them about my predicament. Actually, the kitten’s predicament which became mine as well. Somebody call an ambulance! Somebody call 911! Somebody call somebody! This kitten is in dire need of help! But even the sacristans were unsure of what to do. They looked at each other, murmuring, looking for options.

I softly placed the frightened and weak kitten, still covered with my daughter’s tank top, beside a wall where I deemed it was safe. I went to the parish hall to look for some adult help. I’m not sure who to speak to as I was afraid they might think me as some odd fellow. Because in this cruel world where we live in today, almost nobody cares for homeless animals. Has anyone ever thought of the birds and fireflies during a cruel night storm? How were they faring while you and your furry pets are warmly cozying up taking selfish selfies inside the comfort of your homes?

I was able to speak to some young women from Liceo de San Pedro. Students in shirts and jeans. I didn’t know what activities they were doing at the parish hall building, but what’s on my mind at that very moment was nothing more than to save the kitten before it was too late.

A newly arrived lass had a first aid kit in hand, but was taken aback when she learned that the patient was not human. I was about to suggest to them to feed it because it must certainly be hungry, but the kitten looked just like a few days old. It cannot be fed even bread. And it must already be looking for its mother’s milk. Then like a flash of light, it suddenly occurred to me to buy it some milk to drink.

So that’s why I was hesitant in spending all of my money for my own “dinner”! Thanks be to God!

I rushed to the nearest convenience store. All their milks in tetra packs were ice cold. There’s no way a shivering kitten would be able to drink it. So off I went to other stores. I found one from a 7-Eleven outlet fronting the city jail. After paying for it, I rushed out the store like a burglar pursued. I’m mighty glad that the policemen who were all over the place didn’t take me for a thief.

When I came back, a small crowd of high school kids from Liceo have already gathered with the sacristans who were looking at the kitten, and it gladdened my heart. More people, more chances of saving it. When they saw me with the tetra packed milk, they started looking for a bowl or anything to hold the milk. No bowl could be found. So one of them improvised: a plastic cup was cut down with a pair of scissors to make it look like a bowl.

The milk was poured into the bowl. A young lady from Liceo who was holding the poor kitten drew its mouth near the improvised bowl filled with milk. But the kitten was too weak to even stick out its tongue. And when we removed the kitten from Junífera Clarita’s tank top so that it could feed freely, it weakly crawled towards the cloth — it was still feeling terribly cold and was searching for warmth! So one of the girls took a much bigger and thicker cloth for the kitten. I didn’t know where she got them, but it looked like a yellow- and orange-colored flag.

We then tried to feed it some more, and at last it stuck out its tongue and took a small lap at the milk. It was shivering less and less. At least, it was a good sign that the kitten was recovering. I was able to chat with the kids too, telling them that if not one of them would be able to bring the poor thing home, then at least they could take turns of taking care of it within church premises. I even suggested that we give it a name: Concepción, because she was found and saved on the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. They all started mentioning the name when referring to the kitten.

But Concepción is a girl’s name. What if the kitten was male after all? Then I thought that it didn’t matter, because I suddenly remembered that even males can carry Concepción as their name. Yes, I was thinking of Ate Shawie‘s former lovey-dovey. 🤣

A few minutes later, Fr. Paul appeared from the sacristy and was joking around with the students and sacristans. And then he saw me, all wet with sweat and a total mess.

Buenos días, padre” I said, as I took his hand.

¡Oh, buenas, buenas! ¿Cómo está?” he said, while placing his right palm over my head. Then I told him all about the kitten. Fr. Paul said that it’s a common occurrence in church premises, that kittens are often abandoned by their mothers. He then directed the young teens to just bring the kitten to somebody who’s name I wasn’t able to hear anymore. At least, the kitten will be in safe hands. I hope.

I went back inside the church, the first batch of Mass goers already leaving. Wearily, I went to the historic Cross of Tunasán to say a prayer of thanks. And when the 9:30 AM Mass was about to start, I gaped by the stained glass window to look for the young lady carrying Concepción in her arms. They were gone. I prayed to Our Lady to have mercy on her namesake kitten.

“But what was the meaning of all this cat caper this morning?” I asked myself. Perhaps none. But that’s just me, trying to connect unusual occurrences and find meaning in them most of the time.

Mother cats are notoriously known for abandoning their litter. If you scare it away, it will be the first to run, leaving its kittens behind. Such phenomenon, if you may, has transferred to some human mothers. We are at a time and age when mothers no longer care for their children — just think of the growing number of abortion cases all over the world, or cases of child prostitution, or those who are left to fend for themselves as child laborers. But the Immaculate Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ never abandoned her only begotten Son, even if He was accused of so many things. And even up to His last moments on the cross, she was there.

May she never abandon her faithful children in Christ.

¡Feliz fiesta de Inmaculada Concepción, Santa Patrona de Filipinas!