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Msgr. Ancajas reveals his hidden treasures

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A woman sighs in helplessness, another slumps in guilt, and a high-pitched verbal exchange ensues. Someone enters the room, a small woman, and tries to tower over the volume of the cross-fire happening in the small space. Behind their turmoil are several plastic chairs and a table, but these things are unnecessary. The three women, with their distinct intonations, their tensed wild gestures, their calculated movements, their apt facial expressions, have brought life to the limited geography they are given. Their stage throbbed with reality. In a packed gathering at Ayala Center Cebu, the three actors successfully performed the characters of Linda, Corina, and Leah in Lukas 10:41, a one-act play by Msgr. Agustin “Ting” V. Ancajas. This is just one of the many plays that he wrote in the course of 25 years of being engaged and committed to theater. He made an impalpable impact in this field, which he considers as “a potent medium for the strengthening of the Catholic faith through deepened…

#readPhilippines: Faith, Love, Time, and Dr. Lazaro by Gregorio C. Brillantes

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Faith, Love, Time, and Dr. Lazaro by Gregorio C. Brillantes is the second short story I have read that is written by the author. Its elements indeed contain faith, love, and time, subjects that the main character, Dr. Lazaro, in his advanced age, always deal with in his quiet corners made for introspection. He is a small town doctor whom the villagers rely on to treat their physical miseries, including babies dying bluish with tetanus. The story is set in the old Philippines at a time when medicines and vaccines are difficult to acquire, especially in the rural areas. Surrounding Lazaro, the systematic and skilled doctor, is an undeveloped landscape where residents turn to religion first before medicine to comfort anyone at the start to the peak of his illness. When the doctor is called in to treat a sick person, he is sometimes called too late and, consequently, he sometimes fails to diagnose and treat him on time. This frustrates Lazaro but he is powerless to fight the strong religio…

Churches and their spectacular ceiling paintings

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Entering an old Catholic church can be a heady experience, intoxicating first one’s vision of his environment and sending a wave of surrealism from one’s head to his toe. Church pillars may be intricately carved, enough to send one to marvel at man’s ability to create beauty within his environment. Walls may have fissures borne from the force of winds and rains banging on their solid strength for years. And when one looks up, the ceiling may be lit with colors on heavenly figures, as is often the case, with hues and shadows that make the heavenward canopy of the church appear as a spectacular tableau of luminaries who are enjoying their place in God’s dwelling place, beyond the first and second heaven. These ceilings of churches in the Philippines, its marked history and curious evolution for hundreds of years, was the topic during the firstCasa Gorordo Museum (CGM) talk on February 22, as part of the museum’s efforts to make heritage accessible to the public, nurture the Cebuano ident…

#readPhilippines: A Love Story by Gilda Cordero-Fernando

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A Love Story, a short story by Filipino writer Gilda Cordero-Fernando, is one of the tales in her collection of stories titled The Butcher, The Baker and The Candlestick Maker (1962). It is the first short fiction I have read this year that shows a strand of Filipino life in America. In A Love Story, a boy and a girl, both young adults and both often misunderstood by their families, meet in a small town museum, their safe haven, the container of their dreams. They share a special relationship. As children of Filipino parents who grew up in America, they wonder what their native country is like and how life in the Philippines would be different from their present way of living. Cooped up in a museum of taxidermy and insects that does not boast of many visitors, more so during bad weather, they converse about their realities and their plans for the future. It is a bittersweet story, for me. Comforted by each other’s company, they learn to be content in their chosen refuge. Still, their c…

#readPhilippines: Trip to Hesperides by T.D. Agcaoili

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Trip to Hesperides, a tragic short story by Filipino writer T.D. Agcaoili included in his first volume of collected stories, tells the story of a homeless man with a quick and almost senseless grudge against people. This grudge is borne from anger toward his dead father and deep-seated hunger in his stomach. Without food fueling his common sense, he treats a passing woman with disrespect, a Chinese merchant with arrogance, and a cop on duty with prejudice. Without food fueling his five senses and only anger at the world feeding them, he ultimately places his life in danger. The suspenseful short story reflects the nature of Agcaoili’s work, which often tackles social problems like poverty and consequently hunger. Little information can be found about Agcaoili online. What can be found shows how notable his works are such that he is among the remarkable literary figures recognized in the 1950s along with Nick Joaquin, Amador Daguio, Maximo Ramos, and Florentino Valeros. What is also inte…