Wednesday, February 09, 2005

on being christian and catholic

today is not your ordinary wednesday.

today, as if the universe conspired the philippines is celebrating:

the islam amon jadid
the chinese new year
and the christian's ash wednesday.

i do not know if ash wednesday is truly a celebration. it has always been weird how catholic's come to celebrate. we always say that we celebrate the mass, yet it is almost a full hour of monologues. you have a priest who gives you a sermon. and if too tired or too affected by it, it is always easy to dose off. you have a choir who sings yet sometimes the whole congregation watches and listens, awed by the way they sing.

and the meal, yes the meal, consists of one circular waffer bread, with no "pantulak." good for the priest and the ministers they have the wine to at least dip their tongues into. and finally, the songs, sad and mellow songs made of drama and pain.

and we are supposed to do it every sunday.

i was thinking exactly the same thing, as i stood at the back of the holy rosary church in cotabato city. i am at the seat of the armm (though, the city itself is not part of it... weird really). i arrived around 4pm only to find out that there would be no bus to take me out. so i settled at azaleas for the night and make the trip to kabacan tomorrow.

i was tired, my face felt it was burned by the matanog sun. i have just been through communities of maranao peoples. i have smelt the burning husks from the coconut driers, ate halal food, rode a motorcycle from the highway towards the ocean, talked with people about their problems. listened to their pains, trying to make sense of all of these.

my bag felt heavy, my shoulders heavy from all of this. and i have not even started with what i was supposed to be doing with these people.

and at the back of the holy rosary church in cotabato city. i asked myself, what it really means to be a christian and catholic at this time.

no one answered me.

and i feel that inquiry would never be answered.

silently, as the people milled out after the final song. i took comfort in the thought that even though the wooden figure on a cross at the front is not moving, all it represents, somehow has a connection to why i am doing all of this.

i think i can sleep with that

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