Named after the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal, Sentro Rizal (Rizal Centre) was established by Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 to promote Philippine arts, culture and language around the world.
(Editor’s note: Since our April 1-15 edition is coming out on Easter Sunday, Canadian Filipino Net wishes to greet our readers A Happy Easter with an article about the observance of Holy Week by one of the most active Catholic parishes in British Columbia with a significant number of Filipino parishioners.)
December 16 is the official start of the religious celebration of Christmas in the Philippines. It begins with a nine-day novena of Masses in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, called Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo in Spanish, meaning Roosters’ Mass. It is so called because church bells start ringing with the crowing of the roosters to awaken parishioners to go to the predawn Masses. It culminates on Christmas eve with the midnight Mass.
“Lord, as years go by, I fear the yoke of sickness and pain and I worry how my life will end. And so I humbly ask you, Lord, that when my time comes to leave this life, do not call me by sudden death, Not by accident that tears the body apart, Not by illness that leaves the mind confused, Or the senses impaired; Not at the mercy of evil forces; Not with a heart full of hate or a body racked with pain; Not abandoned, lonely, without love or care; Not by my own hand in a moment of despair. My dear Lord Jesus, let death come as a gentle friend to sit and linger with me until you call my name.”
My father died when I was only 10 so I spent many an All Saints Day at the old Manila North Cemetery where he was buried. This was in the 1950s before memorial parks became popular. For days before November 1, my siblings and I would clean up the grave site, repaint the tombstone white, arrange flowering pots around the grave and polish the marble epitaph.
Once there was Baybayin, the Philippine’s pre-colonial syllabary - a set of written symbols that represent syllables that make up words. It thrived not just among the affluent but in all levels of society. Characterized by its wave-like script, Baybayin surprised curious Spaniards in its wide use as the prevalent reading and writing communication mode at that time.