Melissa Luz Lopez
Issa, Mel, Ice, Baby, Magic Shorts.
Journ senior. Iska.
An aspiring writer and an enthusiastic learner. Hopes to be a piano major in the future.
Cheerfulness is my disease, and I intend to start an outbreak.
Text and photos by Beata Carolino, Tinig ng Plaridel
There has, so far, been no study which correlates the attendance in the Jan. 9 Feast of the Black Nazarene to the actual living conditions in the country.
An estimated three million people were present during the overnight vigil and procession at Quirino Grandstand and Quiapo Church – around three percent of the country’s population.
The Black Nazarene is over 200 years old. A statue given as a gift by the Spaniards in 1606, it is said to have been brought by a Mexican priest aboard a ship which caught fire. The statue turned dark, but otherwise remained in good condition. People since believed that the Black Nazarene performs miracles to those who are able to touch it, thus it has been revered by many since 1787.
The scene from below was this: families lined up, most of them sleeping on the grounds of Quirino Grandstand in Manila. A few had tents and blankets, a lot had food to sell, and many others built shrines to house Black Nazarene replicas which they brought from their homes. Children ran along the narrow spaces between rows of sleeping bags and banigs at 12 midnight until dawn.
Some hundred meters away stood the stage where a program was ongoing. Priests were reciting homilies about the importance of prayer and faith, which were welcomed by only a few ears.
White and green fences divided this rather “peaceful” section of the attendees to the ones in front. There were entrances at both sides of the stage to host the line of people who patiently and unshakingly waited for their turn to have a glimpse of the Poon – a line which extended to Roxas Boulevard until Luneta Park.
Devotees also flocked around the many Black Nazarene replicas near the stage, throwing towels at the children who wiped them — a practice done for more luck, said one devotee. In this section, as well, were many of the so-called “legitimate” devotees of the Black Nazarene. They were only a few hundred, and were clad in uniforms per group and were barefoot. They called themselves the Hijos del Nazareno – “frontliners” who did the actual salubong – the protectors of the Black Nazarene.
Onstage, people rejoiced at the thought of finally approaching the Poon. The elderly who were too weak to line up talked to some members of the Hijos to allow them to touch the relic. There were infants—some looked like they were born just the day before—as well. There were children. There were students still clad in their high school uniforms.
And finally: the Black Nazarene’s cross and foot, which everyone anticipated to touch. After hours and kilometres of lining up, they were allowed only a few seconds to spend with the Poon.
There were at least two protectors that regulated the crowd which swarmed Jesus’ image. Children were carried to kiss the foot. Some carried tens of towels to wipe by the Poon’s foot, which they will bring to their families at home. Some wheelchairs users were even carried just so they could touch the image.
Many of them cried right after and refused to leave, which caused a commotion.
“Bilisan po natin, marami pa pong gustong humawak sa Poon. Wala sa tagal iyan—nasa dasal! (Let’s make it fast; other people also want to touch the Poon. It’s not about the length of time (you touch), it’s in your prayers!),” yelled one of the protectors.
The view from atop the grandstand was spectacular. To the right was Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle celebrating the holy mass, prior to which he made the devotees promise that they would finish it, to which they replied to him a resounding “Viva! Viva!”
To the left were many of the uniformed devotees fueled by their burning intent to come closer to thePoon. But the line which led to the foot of the cross was cut short to make way for the mass, which angered the group. They reeled at the three rows of protectors who guarded the fences with their lives, alongside policemen and military.
In a few moments, their will won over the strength of the barriers as they stormed their way into the stage. Archbishop Tagle began singing The Lord’s Prayer and the Nazareno’s hymn to try to calm the mob, but to no avail. The crowd surged towards the Poon, ignoring the archbishop’s plea.
How could they calm down? It was that moment for them: that moment where they were all together, strong enough and willing enough in trying to catch a glimpse of the spectacle. After all, it meant only a touch, long hours of suffocation and a few kilometres of endurance to feel the spark of even a little prosperity, to have a chance to cure a disease, or to be protected from disasters.
They were willing to go through even the sharp criticisms of those who weren’t there, those who say that their devotion is a false one because the devotees couldn’t even finish the mass or listen to the bishop’s words, all for the sake of touching the image of Jesus in his sorrow, in his darkest. For in that way, they thought, they might have even a little hope closer to the light.
Year 2021 marks the 500th year of Catholicism in the country. The prayers during the time of the Spaniards stands the same today: calling for salvation from the present, the end of oppression, and the triumph of the weak.
The heavens has been hearing the same desperate cries for centuries. Given the years that have passed, it’s a wonder why the very same picture of oppression remains.
Today is Christmas, a very religious holiday at which capitalism now thrives. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy receiving gifts as much as I like giving them. The excitement of opening a nicely-wrapped package (bonus point for a written card!) is not lost on my 19-year-old self. It’s nice to think that someone actually thought of me and of what present I might like, especially if that person got the right item to suit my taste.
As a kid, I would not think twice about hailing Christmas as my favorite day of the year. But right now, I’m not so sure. Somewhere along the way, little Issa grew up (figuratively) into a less-immature Mel with grander wishes — those that are not found in shopping malls and souvenir shops.
What a happy heart wants is a departure from the material world, the mundane. It seeks fulfillment that is intangible yet solid. My experiences taught me well enough not to put as much worth to the physical than to the spiritual — to thoughts, values and relationships. While these take long to establish, these are much more precious than what money or luck can get. The Intangible — let’s call it that — requires effort, but is definitely worth it.
A five-course Noche Buena is nothing without a united and loving family.
New toys and gadgets are useless if you have no one to play them with.
Ribbon-wrapped presents are momentary. Cherish the Intangible, because these are not easily taken away from us.
Accept bags and trinkets, but treasure thoughtfulness and generosity. Thank the giver for his/her kind act, but do not forget to thank Jesus as well, the root of all kindness and love. After all, today is His day which we celebrate. He is the Intangible who went to Earth and made us feel whole, loved and welcomed. Thank Him and embrace all of His goodness.
Happy birthday, Jesus!
Matagal na akong hindi naniniwala sa love at first sight.
Magkaibang konsepto ang pag-ibig at pagkaakit. Wala akong ganoong magandang masasabi tungkol sa mga taong madaling mabihag sa panlabas na anyo. Aaminin ko, may mga pagkakataong ako mismo’y nabibiktima nito, ngunit kung gaano kadali ko itong naramdaman ay ganoon din ang bilis ng paglipas.
Habang nagmumuni-muni ako kanina (o sa madaling-salita, napilitang manahimik dahil kinailangan kong mapag-isa), napansin kong mas mahalaga sa akin ang aking mga naririnig mula sa isang tao o bagay. Sa pakikinig, mas maraming matutuklasan. Mas madali ang pagkilala, at ang pagpasya kung karapat-dapat ba o hindi dapat pagtuunan ng pansin iyon.
Napatunayan ko ito sa mga kantang laman ng aking telepono ngayon. Alam ko na kung ano ang taste ko: ang unang measure ng bawat kanta ay ang pinakamagandang tono. Hindi ko alam kung bakit, ngunit ito ang lagi kong hinahanap — ang simulang mga nota. Parang leadng balita, ika nga naming mga peryodista. HAHAHA.
Umiibig ako hindi sa unang tingin, ngunit sa unang dinig. Tinitimbang ko ang unang mensahe.
By Arianne Christian Tapao and Mikhaela Dimpas, Tinig ng Plaridel
Last Wednesday afternoon, Political Science professor Dr. Perlita Frago-Marasigan was reportedly attacked and robbed at the Palma Hall (AS) parking lot. Initial reports said she was handcuffed and driven around the campus by still unidentified men before taking her possessions and leaving her in broad daylight.
Though she managed to report the incident to the police, this security lapse has raised more questions on safety around the campus, especially when similar incidents have recently taken place inside the national university.
I am too energetic — or so, my mother says.
Thanks to my fast metabolism, I burn away the food I eat once I get them. While it may sound lucky, it’s actually not because I get hungry more often, which is a problem when I’m anywhere but home. I pity my wallet for this.
So this semester, I decided to invest some of my “extra” energy into something new. I enlisted in a Streetdance class for my last (credited) PE. I wasn’t so sure I would get a slot, for it was among the popular PE choices, but my graduating status got me in.
Come first day, I didn’t quite know how to fit in — I didn’t know anyone in the class, and I didn’t have the same freshie camaraderie skills to pull me through. Luckily, I spotted a familiar face during the second meeting, and he, along with a newfound friend, became my buddies for the rest of the semester.
PE was very exciting. While Coach Von, our instructor, gave the class a chill, laidback feel, some of the choreography were challenging. I liked the class very much that it even came to a point when PE was the best part of my Tuesday-Thursday schedule.
This PE took me to Ateneo on a Sunday night, got me a picture with rapper Abra, had us scouting for denim vests and yellow v-necks, lost in Marikina on a rainy Saturday night — yet all these hassles were worth it.
Taking this PE was refreshing, and it took me into the world of hiphop and street. It was a great opportunity to take a break from all the journalism work in class and in Tinig ng Plaridel, yet not too boring for me to lose interest in. While I can’t completely say I am confident with how I move, at least I knew how much I can (and should) improve.
Now, I look forward to taking Advanced Street on my last semester in UP, simply for the fun of it — I hope my grade and CRS permit.
Anyhow, here’s the video of our two-minute Dancing in September performance, courtesy of a classmate. It took at least a month for the class to put it together. You be the judge — all I know is we all had fun grooving to our track. ;)
The craziness has come to this: awkward poses in the middle of UP’s (too) soft and breezy fields at a time of thesis proposal, paper deadlines, legwork, and org duties.
Barely a month left. Still four weeks to go. Bye-bye, sleep. We shall reunite come mid-October.
Forgive the vanity. Help me cope.
Wala, baliw na ‘yan.
Hello there, 19-year-old Mel.
I know you think you’ve been through a lot this year, and you think your shorter-than-short hair is a manifestation of the more mature you. You’re slowly getting used to the idea of being the senior — sometimes dubbed the expert, even. Well, you’re not. Always remember that.
Don’t just abandon writing just because you’ve miraculously found yourself in a position of authority. Don’t ever think that your writing skills are A+, or that you’ve had enough journalism experience to last a lifetime. You may be good enough, but don’t settle for that! The Mel I know despises mediocrity. Are you still the same person? I really hope so.
So this is me, an omniscient Other, writing a wake-up letter to shake your nerves awake. Writing is the focus, everything else are but mere excuses. Don’t let your pen slip through your fingers. This is your passion — never forget that. For if you stop being passionate, can you still say you lived for anything?
Come on, girl. Just shut up and write. Promise ourselves that.