September 30, 2012

Custom Cakes and Cupcakes

Sunday, September 30, 2012 Posted by Mary , , , , No comments
It was the birthday of one of my closest friends, Daphnie, the other day. I decided to order cupcakes for her (which Lyn also helped me pay) from another friend of ours, Bernice. Bernice makes custom cakes and cupcakes that look absolutely amazing! I've waited forever for an occasion where I could order from her, and I finally had the excuse!

September 19, 2012

A Pilgrimage to Simala

After being stagnant for months, I'm finally able to cross out another item on my bucket list: go on a religious pilgrimage.

The Monastery of the Holy Eucharist in sitio Lindogon, barangay Simala, in the town of Sibonga, Cebu was our destination. It is there that the Virgin Mary has been performing miracles since 1998. Over the years, the Birhen sa Simala (Virgin of Simala) has either shed blood or tears, with most of the miracles taking place during her birthday, September 8, which is also the feast day of Simala. Once, while her statue was on procession, the forehead hit an electric wire, which resulted to its bleeding. Because of these miracles, people have started going to Simala in droves, and what started as a small chapel run by the Marian Monks of the Eucharistic Adoration, has veritably become a castle that is starting to look like popular pilgrimage sites in Europe.

It was my first time to go to Simala. My mom and I went with the Diocesan Dumaguete Pilgrims, whom a number of family friends are members. The pilgrims of Dumaguete have been going to Simala for 12 years, and recently, the group has become a very important part of Mama Mary's birthday celebration. The group is now in-charge of feeding 500-1000 police personnel and security guards who maintain peace and order during the three days leading and up to September 8. It is a difficult task, but the group is able to do it through donations.

We were in Simala from September 6 to 9. We attended a lot of masses, a couple of them celebrated by Cardinal Jose Palma, Archbishop of Cebu, and Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, Archbishop emeritus. We were also able to witness a miracle. Yes, Mama Mary cried again during her birthday. It happened during the coronation mass in the afternoon of September 8. I was in front of the church, literally just a couple of feet from her statue when it took place. If you can see from this video I took, the monk has to keep on wiping her tears, and people were crying and sobbing in the background.

Simala has truly become a wondrous miracle site. The hills of Lindogon, once barren and desolate, is now lush and beautiful. Being there gives you a sense of serenity, and the presence of the Virgin Mary makes you feel that you are in heaven. Devotees go there to ask for favors, and of course to give thanksgiving, as evident in the seemingly thousands of testimonials sent by people.

On September 9, the Dumaguete pilgrims were given the chance to get close to the statue of the Virgin that shed tears the day before. Below is her picture. She was no longer crying openly then, but as you can see from the image, her eyes were watery. We were not allowed to touch her face because the monks were still waiting for a bishop to verify the recent miracle. It was a very humbling and touching experience.

Simala is approximately one and a half hours by bus from the city of Cebu, 
and a 20-minute ferry and 2-hour bus ride from the city of Dumaguete (via the port of Sibulan). 

September 4, 2012

One Year After the Whirlwind Civil Wedding

Tuesday, September 04, 2012 Posted by Mary , , , 2 comments
I can't believe it's been a year... but it really has been! One year ago today, my husband and I had our civil wedding ceremony--my original big day It was a whirlwind wedding, and it was going to be a proper church wedding, too. But we didn't want to take the risk.

Because of work, my husband can only be in the Philippines for 3 weeks at a time. And based on what people from the local civil registrar and the Catholic church told me, I realized that it was virtually impossible to come up with both government and church wedding requirements in that amount of time. So we decided on a civil wedding first, to be followed by a church wedding later, because the former, traditionally in the Philippines, always entails less effort and resources, and is much easier to do. (And there had to be a church wedding because... well, I live in the Philippines, and, I don't think I would have been happy without one--not to mention my parents!)

My husband arrived in the Philippines on August 21. I met him in Manila because his flight was delayed and he had to stay there overnight. We were scheduled for a seminar on the 23rd at the local civil registrar in Dumaguete, and an appearance at the Canadian consulate in Cebu to acquire his Legal capacity to marry on the 24th. We arrived in Dumaguete on the 22nd, and found out that the seminar was moved to the 24th! Thankfully, we were able to change our appointment at the consulate to the 23rd, so we immediately went to Cebu the next day, retrieved the needed document, and returned to Dumaguete for the seminar. Only after the seminar did we get all the needed requirements to apply for a marriage license, so apply we did on that day, and we were asked to wait 10 days for the mandatory listing of banns.

We finally got our marriage license on the 5th of September. We immediately went to the Hall of Justice in the city to find out if a judge could marry us on our desired wedding date, September 8. But we found out that there needed to be a "raffle" to choose the judge who would marry us, and that said raffle was only going to take place on the 8th. We didn't have time, because we were scheduled to leave for Hong Kong on the 9th on a honeymoon that we'd already planned beforehand.

The staff at the Hall of Justice told us to check the adjacent towns of Sibulan and Bacong and see if we could find a judge there, because no raffle was needed in their single sala courts. So we went to Sibulan, and found a judge... only he was busy the succeeding days, and said: "Why don't I just marry you now? I'll give you one hour to prepare."

So that's what we did! The dress that I was supposed to wear was still at the modiste, and my husband's wedding pants were still wet from the laundry because of Church from the day before... but we got married. I wore an old dress, and my husband wore blue jeans (like a true Albertan?), but we got hitched, with my parents, my husband's mom, a close friend, and the staff at the Sibulan Municipal Trial Court as witnesses. Three days later, on the date we originally wanted for our wedding, September 8, we had a reception with around 50 people in attendance. My husband and I were finally able to wear the wedding clothes we'd prepared.


Now, it's been a year... and although my husband and I are still not physically together (darn that visa that's taking so long to arrive), I'm extremely grateful to God for my husband and the beautiful year we've had together. I pray for more beautiful years to come.