Msgr. Fernando Ocariz

Not too many people know that I receive faith-instructions from the Prelature of the Holy Cross or in other words, Opus Dei.

 

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June 26 Mass for St. Josemaria

 

Recently, our bishop, Don Javier Echevarria left this world and returned to the Father. With his departure, an election was called and on January 23, 2017,  the women and men electors, elected Don Fernando as the third successor of St. Josemaria Escriva.

 

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 Monsignor Mariano Fazio (Vicar General) and Don Fernando 

 

Opus Dei is a small part of the Catholic Church. The majority of the members are married (supernumeraries) while the rest are celibate members called numeraries/associates and the rest like me are called “cooperators.”

Despite the difference, the vocation remains for everyone and that is to live our ordinary lives with an extraordinary faith and always at the service of others.

St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei saw a new reality that is rooted in deep Christian values where ordinary men and women can be saints even if they are not ordained or consecrated persons in the church.

To give you an insight into what Opus Dei is, a video is attached for your viewing. click here

 

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Of Churches, Chocolate Hills and Rivers…

We decided to have our tour on the day we checked out of the resort. Since our flight was at four in the afternoon, we have six hours to spare to see the sights around Bohol.

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honey icecream 

First on our agenda was a visit to the Bohol Bee Farm to buy treats for family back home. An uncle of ours believes that aside from sightseeing and taking in all the good scenery a place has to offer, we tourists have the obligation to help the local community by purchasing their products. My cousin Mark went on a shopping binge upon learning that Bohol Bee Farm employs and supports the community, and loaded our basket with muffins, honey butter, two tubs of honey, shirts, and those cute peanut kisses in fancy red plastic sachets. Word of advice, if visiting the farm, trust me when I say that their honey ice cream is the best I have ever tasted bar none. Not cloyingly sweet yet creamy and delicious, this to me is the nectar of the gods indeed!

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Bilar’s man-made forest 

Next stop is the famous Bilar man-made forest which is a dead ringer of the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Japan. Props to the community for developing this enclave both as a tourist destination and sanctuary that protects flora and fauna. On hindsight, Ms. Gina Lopez is right, there is money in responsible eco-tourism! and sadly, this reality is something alien to our elected officials on account that some of them are beholden to their benefactor. This kind of patronage should stop once and for all!

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Baclayon Church 

The 2013 Earthquake in Bohol destroyed several places of historic value, in particular, the churches of Loon, Loboc, Maribojoc and Clarin were leveled to the ground along with the houses in Loon, Tubigon and parts of the Chocolate Hills national park. Thankfully the church in Baclayon is still standing despite the heavily damaged facade and belfry. Today, the church is undergoing renovation and retrofitting.

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Holy Mary of Baclayon

Truth be told, I am really not sure how an edifice made of limestone can stand another strong earthquake? but I leave it to the experts who are trying to preserve not only places of faith but culture and heritage as well. Before leaving, I prayed to Holy Mary, asking her to protect not only this church of hers, but the Boholanos, kind and gentle people they are.

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Chocolate Hills 

Much as I want to write about the Tarsier conservation reserves, I declined since we were just there for a good fifteen minutes as it started to drizzle. Besides, I really do not want to add another constraint on the lovely tarsiers whose I am sure is so pissed with all the commotion in their area.

Instead, I marveled at the beauty that is the chocolate hills whose entire surface is lush green at that time – and I prefer the hills teeming with grass and plants than brown and denuded, matter of fact.

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Loboc River

In places like the Chocolate Hills or the Loboc River that are picturesque, a picture for posterity would be nice. But it will be more meaningful a visit if we live the present moment by absorbing all the good vibes these places has to give. So if anyone is reading this article and you find yourself in Bohol, I suggest that you put down that camera of yours and fold that annoying monopod.

For a moment enjoy this gift and let it replenish your tired body…

Breath in some fresh air and let it clean your lungs from all the accumulated carbon pollution from the city….

Clear your head of those deadlines and work related stuff that adds unnecessary pressure and stress and for a moment, feast your eyes on the tranquility before you and let your soul rest. 

For this is your “me time” and you need to enjoy it so as when you come back to the city, you are recharged. And when your overall wellness is renewed, you can hurdle anything that comes your way, and you can look forward to another furlough in the near future.

Live, people! live!

 

Bohol Beach Club

If there are two places I really like in the Philippines, then that would be Bohol and Ilocos.  The former because life on the island is simple and the beach is pristine. Unlike Boracay which is densely populated, Bohol is far from congestion. The latter? well, that will be another story.
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Panglao shores
Thanksgiving of 2016 together with my siblings, we flew Philippine Airlines from NAIA Terminal 2 to Tagbiliran Airport. The one hour, ten minutes flight was slightly turbulent but somewhere Bicol the flight became smooth and I was able to nap.
Okay, so here’s the thing. The hotel we stayed at is no way cheap. Really. There’s Eskada which charges eighteen thousand pesos (Php. 18,000) a night. Bohol Beach Club comes next and offers you a standard room at eight thousand pesos (Php.8,000) So for three nights and four days we stayed, that should rack up a good  twenty-nine thousand seven hundred pesos (Php. 29,7000 plus taxes)
But did I fork that amount?
Nope. This cheapskate of a traveler will always find a way to reduce my expenses and stretch every peso I have.  The answer was to frequent Agoda! and thanks to the website’s flash sale, I paid my reservation in full after a 40% discount which brought our bill down to seventeen thousand eight hundred twenty pesos (Php.17,820)
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Bohol is paradise on earth
However, there was a glitch. A looming storm was brewing that same afternoon we checked-in. Matter of fact, the weather bureau placed the islands of Cebu and Bohol under Signal #1. So you can just imagine my utter disappointment when the front desk officer handed me the weather notice from PAGASA.  But somehow, the stubborn me believes that this weather disturbance will not dampen my vacation and with that, I said a prayer, asking the Blessed Virgin to keep the storm away and spare the people in the Visayas. After a quick lunch of Bulalo and Liempo, we strolled the beach and went back to our room to catch some sleep.
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Panglao Beach

The next day, I woke up around three in the morning and fixed myself a cup of coffee. Afterwards, I  went down for a smoke. Winds were strong and howling but was it raining? Nah. By six in the morning, things changed and guess what? the sun was out!

So for the next couple of days, all I did was indulge on a well-deserved rest that included napping by the hammock, swimming, and snorkeling, listening to MP3’s, reading a chapter of a good book and spending quality time conversing with God by the beach (yes you can pray by the shore)  After seven years of working non-stop, this holiday was good for both body and soul.
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Also speaking of swimming, BBC prides itself on having a beach front that you can wade, swim and frolic at. True there are other nice seafront resorts in Panglao but the caveat is, most of these are not suitable for swimming due to corals and whatnot. In BBC it is the other way around and this makes one of their strong selling points.
Bohol Beach Club for all its worth may not be as fancy like Amanpulo but trust me when I say that despite its modest facilities, it is the people that make the place like home. The staff are courteous and will be at your beck and call without them invading your space. The same courtesy extends from their friendly smiles to making sure your cup is refilled with coffee during breakfast when they really don’t have to do it since it is a self-service buffet. One time during the customary turn down service, the staff came and I asked them not to proceed anymore since I am already done for the day. The staff left me some treats and a pre-printed message thanking us for staying at BBC. Before leaving he gave me his name and asked if there is “anything else I need?”  
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turn down service
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breakfast
There are too many adjectives I want to use to describe our stay but all in all it was good! In other words, the people at BBC goes the extra mile to make you feel welcomed, helped and appreciated and I encourage everyone to visit Bohol and give BBC a chance to be your home sweet home in the Visayas.

Why?

A lady once said that if we approach life and see it as a gift, despite the challenges. Then we shall be “opening presents every day.”

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Manila Bay at dawn.

But how do you say that to someone whose childhood was marred both physical and sexual abuse? by someone who was bullied by his own teacher during grade school? or by someone who grew up lying just so he can be accepted and validated because all his childhood, life was a cesspool of failures, left and right, top to bottom.

In retrospect, if life was indeed a gift, then the presents I received must be made of irony if not, something that added insult to injury.  And all I want to ask God what everyone is dying to ask… WHY?

What sins have I done as a child to merit the misfortunes of my elders?

Why me? when being born into this world was not of my own volition?

I could go ape shit and rant all I want. But I doubt if God will answer. After all, this God whom I believe in, is the god of silence and His language is revealed not in words but by the stock of everyday life: He reveals Himself in the kindness of a stranger who helps you when you need assistance. He delights in your success and even remains with you in a calming presence when the tough gets going…

In truth, the answers I am looking for may or may not be revealed. But this I know, from where I stand, I can look at my past from a safe distance and at the same time, remind myself not to be beholden to what transpired. Shit happens. Shit hits the fan and everything got soiled. But there is a thing called hope and this fuels me to emerge from the mire, learned and moving on.

And moving on entails me writing down my experience; raw and true to the best of my recollection. For all I want is to live in peace, work for my sustenance, travel the world and do no harm to anyone.