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UNANG YUGTO - VIRUS Naranasan mo naba yung di ka makatulog, di ka makakain, di ka makapag-isip at maka kilos ng matino? wala ka nman sakit o karamdaman at hindi rin naman malaking problema yung bumabagabag sayo. pero bakit? ano ba to? at higit sa lahat bakit ganto ka ka-apektado? Hindi naman sa masama pero di ka sigurado kung mabuti din naman... pero bakit sa dami-dami pwede tamaan eh bakit ikaw pa? at ewan! tanga ka ba? bakit mo nman sinalo? bakit di ka umilag? Pag tinamaan ka ng "VIRUS" na ito wala ka pa nman na kawala! Pwera pa sa walang lunas na alam ang mga dalubhasa sa agham... eh hindi rin nman kaya ng katawan mo mag develop ng anti-bodies laban dito. Di din makukuha sa pahinga. kce pag lalo mo nilabanan mas lalo sya lumalakas pag di ka nman lumaban eh lalamunin ka na ng buo! ay dba GOOD LUCK TALAGA SAYO! At being the logical and very cerebral person that you are... sinubukan mo ipaliwanag at ipagtanto ang mga pangyayari. Kaso sa ginawa mong yan mas lalo ka pang na windang. Maraming rason pero ni-isa don hindi yun ang dahilan! So paano? Susuko ka nba? Mukhang kailangan mo na ng kumot dahil matindi-tinding balingoyngoy na yan! batobalani When I first witnessed the singing of the Gozos to the Señor Santo Niño at a novena mass many years ago, I did not completely understand yet what the Cebuano phrase 'batobalani sa gugma' meant. Immediately, the science magazine 'Batobalani' distributed for free in school came to mind; of course, both speak of two different kinds of magnets, but at least I knew the meaning of the word. So magnet plus gugma or love, equals magnet of love. I was so attracted and moved by the singing and the swaying, that I had to listen to the lyrics and try to understand more. Such is the story of the journey of faith, isn't it? From what we see, the tangibles, we are moved to believe and embrace that which we cannot. “Batobalani sa gugma, sa daang tawo palangga… Giludhan ka ug gisimba niadtong mga kaparian sa tanang mga katawhan sa mga ponoan nila: kay sa pagtan-aw kanimo Kristiyanos sila nahimo.” For me, this line from the song best describes the miracle of the Señor Santo Niño, that despite the many miracles that happen to those who believe in Him day in and day out, miracles big or small, He is a batobalani sa gugma, a magnet of love who's drawn millions upon millions of Cebuanos and Filipinos throughout the centuries to the faith; and has, since His arrival, been largely responsible for the conversion of our people to Christianity. I respect Christians who don't revere or venerate icons, what's important is they believe in God, but Catholic and nonCatholic Christians alike have much to thank the Señor Santo Niño for. As the image of the Holy Child Jesus, He has been a visual aid that's undoubtedly helped in the catechism of an entire people, now known as the only Christian nation in the entire continent. Because of His sacred image, we have become believers of Jesus Christ and His promise, His sacrifice, and His undying love. And any 'visual aid' that helps inspire, move, and save souls, and is passed down through the centuries must be treated with respect and love, revered for all the ages, like how we cherish family heirlooms or photos of loved ones long gone. What more the Niño, an impetus of faith, a turning point that's (re)defined our character as a people, that's triggered the Filipinos' unraveling destiny in the story of mankind's salvation. “Nangayo kami kanimo nga ang matahum mong larawan, sa sulud sa kalag namo makahimog puluyanan, kay sa tanang kinahanglan ikaw ang among dalangpan.” From what we see, the tangibles, we are moved to believe and embrace that which we cannot. And the ultimate miracle of the Señor Santo Niño, as the last stanza of the Gozo says, is a conversion that goes beyond being a Catholic Christian in name, a genuine conversion, in spite of and even because of our sinful and imperfect selves, with the Holy Child in our hearts, with a child-like love and devotion for Him as He lives in us. I look forward to the Gozos or Batobalani sa Gugma in each novena mass, my favorite part, and the magnificence of faith expressed, faith communal and personal, just makes my heart come alive. As much as it is a song of faith, Batobalani is also one that tells of Cebu's story. And in this time of division and crisis for our dear Cebu, we once again pray to the Señor Santo Niño like little children do: kanamo malooy ka unta nga kanimo nangilaba.Viva Pit Señor! Viva Señor Santo Niño de Cebu!***On another note:It's been one horror story involving our justice system after another, from the Larrañaga case, to one that's a lot closer to home (hectares of land that form part of our family's land holdings- smack in the middle of Cebu's emerging CBD, and now worth well over a billion-illegally and maliciously land-grabbed from us); and now two more, one that involves someone close to me, and another that strikes a debilitating blow on what it is to be Cebuano... and of course, Filipino. If even those who have are rendered helpless and hopeless and hapless, what with all the corruption and abuse, in times when 'a miscarriage of justice' is considered nothing out of the ordinary, what happens to those who have less or none at all? Has our judiciary - on which our entire justice system is hinged - morphed into the prime purveyor of injustice, in this, of all places, Asia's first and oldest democracy? The worst thing that can happen to a democracy like ours is when evil people are able to twist and mangle the entire process, with money or intimidation, so they can meet their own selfish and self-serving ends. Que horror! Still hoping against all hope, despite evidence to the contrary, that a true and genuine and sincere “Daang Matuwid” will prevail and endure… and that for the Philippines, for you and for me, the best is yet to co me.