Why Forty?

The significance of the number 40 in Biblical literature is actually obvious in the Old and the New Testament.

For 40 years, Moses and the Israelites journeyed to the Promised Land.

The Babylonian exile lasted for about 40 years.

Jesus was tempted for 40 days in the desert.

But this actually makes me wonder, is this literally 40? 40 years ba gyod ni siya?

We should note that the Bible should be read contextually, not at all time literally. Maglibog ra mo.

Now the purpose of making that point is that we never actually know how many days the Lord was actually led by the Spirit to the desert to be tempted by the devil. The number 40 is a symbolic number; meaning, it connotes a long time. Taas-taas gyod ni nga panahon.

Since today is the First Sunday of Lent, and since we read today in our Gospel about the temptation of Jesus, we will try to connect this one to our celebration of Lent.

How are the forty days of Lent counted?

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, the date of which is also dependent on the date of Easter Sunday.

The forty days of Lent are actually the weekdays from Ash Wednesday up until Holy Saturday. The Sundays of Lent are not counted as Sundays are always considered mini-Easters. A weekday in the Church also counts Saturdays.

Now try counting the number of days from February 22 up to April 7, the last day of Lent. Exclude the Sundays in the counting.

This Lent, like Jesus Christ, we are faced with a lot of things. Attachments, temptations, everything this world offers.

My confessor told me today that while this may sound contradictory, we may have to be proud–proud of God, and at the same time, be cowards–cowards toward the things of the world which are often presented as lovely and blissful.

True bliss, happiness and joy will only be felt if we actually defeat the temptations with the help of God. One just has to note though that being tempted is not the sin; rather, what is not good is when we succumb to it. However weak we may be, we are always strengthened in the hope that we will be able to fight temptation. Jesus today gives us an example of how it is to defeat those things: by reforming our lives and believing in the Gospel (Mk. 1:15).
Mail me: alanluigiflores@gmail.com



Learning from the Scars of Ignorance

It’s Sunday, and it’s 2:00 p.m.

Ate Lovely (not her real name), the psalmist, gets ready for Mass by practicing her part. While getting ready, she could be seen obviously enjoying the company of her friends and some of the seminarians inside the sacristy of a seminary chapel in Talisay City.

She and her friends from the lectors’ guild just exchange the funniest (and sometimes, corniest) of jokes while waiting for the mass to begin.

After the mass, she then continues to share stories with her co-lectors. When there might be obviously no more jokes to crack, she then joins other youth for Frisbee-throwing. As she catches the blue disc, one could sense the energy she exerts and the warm smile that comes from her face.

However, no one would notice that with her warm disposition and outgoing personality, Ate Lovely would bear the scars of a dark past. It would seem that her tall build is not enough to protect her from sustaining those wounds that have become scars.


Born to a family of eight in Daanbantayan,Cebu, she grew up with the feeling that her father loved her so much.

However, when she was eight, the feeling of love began to subside when she began to feel something strange with the way her father treated her.

“Nalain ko kang Tatang gud na nako ikaw kuno ba, kon ikaw naa sa akong lugar, unsay bation nimo,” she would then throw the question back.

She then recalls her father mussing her hair, and as she started puberty, she would then notice him advancing in his degree of sexual abuse, particularly toward her private parts.

Her youth however did not prevent her from telling her mother, but the latter would not just budge, saying that she must be crazy.

The cycle continued as she advanced through high school. During this time, she tried to escape from her father’s abuses by staying inside the parish convent, where she also serves as the youth choir director. However, she just could not be successful because her parents know where she is, and her parents always force her back home.

For a time, she decided instead to live in her classmate’s house to confuse her parents. However, she did not stay there for long because her parents found her there and forced her back home once more.

At one point, Ate Lovely decided to keep with her a cutter for self-defense should the abuses happen. It just did not abate. There was even one night where she found out her father was already on top of her.

Seeing that she was already in despair, she even attempted suicide thrice.

When she finished high school, she decided to move to the city to avoid her father’s sexual advances. She had no one to turn to, but herself. Though she was staying with her aunts, she had to think of ways to fend for her own needs.

Being young and appealing, she had already a lot of suitors. However, they all got rejected. She muses,“Da, di pud ko padala ato nila uy. Ako ra man gani tong ingnon nga ‘maayo ra mo sa hambog, atik ra nang inyoha.’” Most suitors would find her a wasted opportunity, but not for this man named Max.

“Nagpangita baya ko og love sa papa. Mao tong gipakaslan nako siya,” she tells, in a sober tone.

Max was persistent in his courtship, and in less than a month’s time, Ate Lovely already said yes to the marriage proposal. She says that at only 17, she got married in Muslim rites inMindanaowithout her knowing it.

Ate Lovely recalls with a laugh: “Ignorante pa kaayo ko ato. Kani bitawng wa koy buot.”

Her new family had to move to Lanao del Norte, the birthplace of Max, after finishing college in BogoCity. In a matter of four years, she managed to keep secret her pregnancies to her three children. Her youngest son, JR, who is turning eight this year, butts in from the background, saying “babaye ug lalaki,” referring to his elder brother and elder sister, who are 11 and nine, respectively.

Life though was not kind to Ate Lovely in her stay there. She would recall how she perceived her husband to be committing acts of infidelity, only to realize that Muslims may have as many as four wives, provided they could give them support.

Again, she says, “Ignorante pa kaayo ko ato. Kani bitawng wa koy buot.”

She thought trauma brought about by the abuses done by Tatang would end with her marriage to Max. But then the husband’s family had a dispute over parcels of land, and their dispute ended up with her husband’s cousin beaten up half-dead.

Owing to the pride of the family and the absence of Ate Lovely’s relatives, the family decided to make her pay for the crime she never even thought of committing.  She was assured that she will get away with it once they settle the issue amicably. However, she refused.

“Madaot pa lang gani akong record. Unsaon na lang nako inig pangita nako og trabaho unya puhon?”

With no money in her pockets, she tried to escape, but her husband confiscated her mobile phone. Luckily, she was able to get it back and, using it, contacted her parents to send her money in Lanao.

When she got the money, she then made her escape with the help of a few friends who were also habal-habal drivers in the area.

She remembers luckily meeting another lady-friend along the way who said that there are policemen actually waiting for her because the family already knew of the escape with the children.

“Nakuyawan na ko kay akong nabalitaan gani nga giatngan na ko sa Tubod (Lanao del Norte). Mao to nangalyas na lang ko.”

“Maayo gani nakaabot pa ko og Ozamiz ato,” she later recounts.

She reveals she has used up all her strength and she fainted inside the ship. No matter how her co-passengers tried to make her eat, she would not take any bite of it because her body has been worn down by stress and fatigue.

Ate Lovely admits that she has had her shortcomings before God especially since leaving the choir in her parish in Daanbantayan. She felt the strong urge to return to God especially in her moment of distress. She then made a pact with God while still in the ship back home forCebu.


“Mi-promise gyod ko kang God nga mobalik na ko og serbisyo niya, nga inig balik nako sa Cebu, magbag-o na ko, ug unya di na ko mobalik didto sa Mindanao.”

Ate Lovely mustered her courage to return home and to face the possibility of being abused by Tatang once more.

Alas, nothing still changed.

“Gibalik na pud niya og buhat.” With all her might, she forced herself out of the room. She just could not sleep. That was for her the most unimaginable thing that would happen to her in her entire life.

Her determination to seek retribution for the wrong done by her father moved her to confront him regarding the issue. But Tatang would deny it, saying “Maayo gani wa ta mo ka****.”

This triggered her sisters to narrate the same ordeal they had gone through at the hands of their father, to the dismay and anger of Ate Lovely.

Without any hesitation, without looking back, she left, determined to change her life.

Since she could never detach from her church work, she decided to stay there and ask for the help of the new parish priest in the area. Luckily for her, there was Papa, the dad of the parish priest, who also became her stronghold.

Papa became her everything her tatang was not for her. Ate Lovely found a new lease on life, peace of mind and body, comfort, warmth, shelter.

After Papa knew that her parents were trying to persuade her to come home, she asked that they leave her place in Daanbantayan.

They had to make do with a rented house in Tabunok,TalisayCityuntil Papa’s son-priest knew about the arrangements. The priest even thought they were living together.

Papa’s son-priest then decided to let Ate Lovely and her family stay in the house that his family commissioned. Ate Lovely and her children now stay there in the house originally meant to be rented out.

She quickly recalls one remark done by the rector of the seminary where she is serving as psalmist: “Alam mo, Ate Lovely, kung di yan nangyari sa’yo, di ka mapupunta dito.”

It has been two years now since she found comfort in her friends in the seminary, and the guidance of priests who give her time for counseling and confession.

However, not all is done yet, as she faces the possibility that Papa will leave this world soon. Ate Lovely shares her plans, her expectations for the future.

As for her father, she remarks “Ako na siyang gipasaylo. Apan ang Ginoo na lang ang bahala kaniya.”

“Lahi ra gyod kon ang ginikanan mao gyoy moatiman sa anak. Mao nang gi-try gyod nako akong best nga mahatag nako sa akong mga anak ang tanan.”

Despite those scars, she has found her peace.

Opportunities (part 3)

Allow me to share with you how I got into Aboitiz. I was not able to share this one in class because I either forgot about it, or perhaps forgotten about it (did I just say it again?)

Ilijah Hermogenes happened to ask me during the summer break about whom to approach about the OJT program of Aboitiz Equity Ventures. It so happened that CAS Dean Teoddie Dumam-ag actually told Ilijah’s group about that opportunity. I would not have known of those plans had it not been for her. Therefore, thank you, Jang.

The next thing I knew was that I found myself making my resume. At that time I NEVER had plans of applying for Aboitiz (though I was a delegate of the 5th Aboitiz Future Leaders Business Summit, and that those who are part of the summit are given first priority in training, and hopefully, employment, within the group) because I was fixated about having a job in the media.

Call it God’s blessing for me because I planned to apply for a local newspaper as correspondent (and if not, as intern), but I wonder why I did not succeed in the first place. Whatever it is, I am thankful to God for allowing it to happen. It might be a manifestation of some other things.

I just applied. After talking with my contact there inside AEV, I confirmed that it was indeed Ms Carol who told Dean Teoddie about the opening for OJT for Corporate Communication. Then, I submitted my resume, and the rest is history.

I kept on waiting for weeks until I got the confirmation because I had to keep on calling them because I would also want to know ahead if I got it or not. Remember I am graduating this semester and I have to be ahead of the race all the time.

More of plans and sharing them in the next post.

Mail me: luigi.flores@cas.usjr.edu.ph

These are trying times

These are trying times.

Aside from the many requirements hounding me for the final period of the term, there are also a lot of bad habits to break.

These are trying times.

Instead of living a life full of rest and relaxation, I am living the life of a zombie. I am awake in the wee hours of the morning, and I am still awake late into the afternoon (of course I need to be awake because of my academic obligations).

These are trying times.

Aside from a dwindling spiritual life, I am also dealing with some personal crises. Perhaps these crises may be the result of a lax and lazy spiritual life.

Note, if my confessor gets to read this, he’ll be surprised. Why? On the outside, I may seem to be very active in some ministry of the Church, and here comes my sinful self becoming so overzealous; at times, lethargic.

These are trying times.

I feel that I am losing whatever God has given me. Talents, intelligence–they all seem to wither and dwindle. Perhaps this must be a thought on thanking the Lord for whatever He has given me, and the thought of using these gifts to the best of my abilities.

These are trying times.

When I have this difficulty of choosing one thing over the other,  it may be because of certain attachments that seem to be unnecessary in the long run.

Again, these are trying times.

When the temptation to give up becomes so imminent that the eminent and the powerful come up to you because they want something from you, and you give up on your principles because of the powers within, am I not supposed to say to that mountain “Be lifted up and thrown into the sea”?

Again, these are trying times.

But, God tells me, “You are my friend. That’s how I treat my friends”.

Stay or Leave?

December 17, 2010

The thought of my desired career always strikes my mind every time I think about leaving the portals of the university in about a year’s time.

I have always basked in the thought of hearing myself on radio or seeing my name in the byline of every story I write.

For now, those two things are running on my mind.

While I have been basking on these thoughts for the past six or more years, I have thought of other things as well.

The thought of entering the priesthood attracted me so much. So much that I really entered the seminary, only to realize that I would not last even a year of detachment from the outside world.

I have always thought that the priesthood would be easy for me as I was attached to my service in church, to the point of learning Latin in order to know more of the liturgical rites being held in the official language of the Church.

Now that I am just months away (nine months, that is) from attaining my Mass Communication degree, I have always wanted to see if I could use my abilities in media at the same time be of service to God and His Church.

I was even thinking that I would be a priest and a media practitioner at the same time. I was thinking about those priests having their weekly programs some years back, at dyAB where I am working as an intern.

Right now, I am thinking about the recommendations I get from people in some sectors of media to work with them, and perhaps these opportunities might veer me from one of my plans: to eventually return to the seminary after some years in the media industry.

If the plan of staying in the media for long materializes, my fear is that I may not be able to enter the seminary anymore. In fact, one of my priest-friends tells our group of lectors: “Actually, kahit di lahat ay magpapari, one could still preach the Good News.” This priest pointed out to me as an example. Knowing that I was a seminarian, he told the rest of our group: “Luigi can still bring the Good News, at gagamitin niya ang kanyang boses sa media to be able to spread the word of God.”

Those thoughts bring a tall order to me every time I think of my career. Now, the question still lies: Should I continue to aim for serving God as His priest or as a religious, or should I stay on with the media bahala’g gamay og sweldo or leave my ambition to be with the media and aim for something more financially rewarding?

The only thing I ask from you, dear reader, is to pray for me. I promise you my prayers as well.


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