Thursday, September 13, 2007

An Interview with the Filipinos' very own Mystic--Sister Tere Castillo

* Yesterday, I was part of a coverage team that went to Lipa City, Batangas for the 3rd national day of Prayer, Consecration and Reconciliation. I had a brief interview with Sister Teresing Castillo, the one and only Filipino nun (based on historical records) who allegedly saw and spoke to none other than the Mother of Christ during several instances in the year 1948. If you recall, the Carmel convent, now called the Lipa Shrine--was also the setting of the famous "shower of roses" that occurred also in 1948. I have no data whether these miraculous events have been confirmed by the Vatican and I intend to research more on this--but one thing's for sure, Sister Tere IS a blessing. Read on...

Sister nung 1948, nagpakita daw po sa inyo si Mother Mary, pwedeng pakidescribe po kung paano nangyari? What were you doing when she appeared?

The first time, I was going to my room…cell in Carmel (convent) when she appeared. Before reaching my room, I smelled the fragrance of lilies, wala naman kaming lilies around.

The first time I met her, she was as she is, in white--as you see her in the statue now. And then she said, as you go to a certain place here (in the convent vicinity) she will be giving me messages there. It turned out she was talking about the vine. We have a small vine (in the garden) the only one that we had-- bandera espaniola. One day, I saw it move suddenly (on its own). The first moment I thought it was only a lizard and I went on saying my rosary. The 2nd time it was a little stronger. The 3rd time, it was so strong, my attention was caught.

Ang then in the beginning, there was just a voice not to be afraid, and then there were some messages not to go there for 7 days, at 5 pm in the afternoon, so I told those messages, I told our prioress at the time, my mother superior. Of course, they did not believe me. And then later, the Bishop. Ang sakin, ok lang basta I told them what I have seen. Ok lang sa akin at sa conscience ko.

Eventually they paid heed to the several times that she appeared to our cell. Bishop Abviar our chaplain during that time said: “Go ahead and see what she wants.”

And so I spoke with her. In the beginning she talked about (the importance of being) priests and nuns and (of) telling the family rosary daily, for the conversion of sinners and the whole world.

Sister how old were you during the apparitions?

How many times did she appear to you?
I would calculate around 18 times but very short moments.

Did you have any doubts about what you were seeing during that time or were you so convinced that she was the mother of God?
In the beginning she was in my room and I didn’t know who she was. Later, I was told by my prioress to ask her directly who are you? So I asked her and she said: “I am your mother.” And then she expressed herself as “Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace,” her specific name. She was a beautiful lady. She doesn’t look like a human being but you can see her eyes. She was full of radiance, so it’s not really exactly a human being. However, you can see the figure although, not human but something heavenly-- because she is full of light and very bright.

Did you ever have somebody with you at any time during the apparitions?
No, I was alone because at that time, we had prayers at 5 pm in the afternoon.

Did you ever ask her why she chose you?
I did. I asked her, “Why me?” and she said “God has different ways of choosing” or something to that effect. I can’t quote verbatim because it was (way back in) 1948 but that was the idea that was given to me.

Were there any major changes in your life after the apparitions?
I thought then perhaps that her messages were not only for me but for the whole world.
I was just an instrument. And of course I kept asking myself, why me, I was just new here (as a novice, in the Carmel Convent)?

Sister, in what language did you converse with Mother Mary?

Were there secrets revealed to you that she told you were not to mention until a specific date?
A few.

How many of those secrets have you revealed so far?
Almost all, except for a few, perhaps I could call secrets.

Are you seeing signs of those things she told you to keep secret?
Not exactly, but the way things are now, I think it’s leading to those revelations.

Were you also here in Lipa when it rained rose petals?
Yes, also in 1948. Before the apparitions occurred as far as my memory is concerned.

At this age, do you still have the chance to see the Blessed Mother, does she appear to you in your dreams?
Not anymore. After 1948, I forgot the year already but I just heard her voice once. She was so concerned about the family. She had many messages for the family.

What is your message for the Filipino family?
To say the family rosary as often as possible. And go to the Holy Eucharist as often as possible for the world’s conversion, and for priests and nuns also.

How old are you now sister?
80 years old

Did the Blessed Mother give any warnings to mankind?
Not exactly warnings because she gave her messages in a motherly way. She said if we will not say the rosary regularly, it means that people do not pay heed to her words. There might be persecution and there would be some troubles within the church. Finally she said, my message here is the same as that of Fatima.

Sister, what is your message to the whole Filipino nation?
As I often said during interviews, the message is only one-- salvation, conversion for sinners and for the Filipinos to frequent the sacraments and to pray the daily family rosary.

For our leaders?
She mentioned something about the leaders of our countries, not exactly ours, if the decision is not right or proper for the nation or for the country, there should be an awareness of God, the existence of God and that also to God may we avail of Mary or vice versa.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

GMA 7: Please Stop Acting Second-Rate

I have the greatest respect for GMA 7. During my law studies, I've taken mental note of the fact that they must really treat their employees well because they have the least number of labor cases filed against them compared to the other TV networks. There is also the absence of "horror stories" from my colleagues in the media who became "slaves" during their brief stint in the other network because they either had to put up with impossibly rude and unreasonable bosses and/or never received their salary.

When GMA 7 finally overcame ABS CBN after so many years being the first runner up, I was quite happy. They deserved it. The teleseryes-- although the actors may not always be as excellent as those in the other channel--were so creative, they managed to get a hold on you. The plots were eventful and unpredictable, the costumes and set designs were amazing, the dialogues simple yet moving. Then Bakekang came and was I blown away by this superb actress named Sunshine Dizon. Personally, I think she is peerless, unparalleled! Her range, thespic abilities have no limits. Her honest-to-goodness portrayal of a homely-looking but ambitious woman from the slums who dared to dream and followed it through by her guts, grace and grit--was just so perfect. I had no words for it. And then of course, there's also Iza Calzado who I hope will really succeed in Hollywood soon not merely because she's Filipina, but simply because I know SHE CAN. And the quite underrated Dingdong Dantes who's excellent in every part he plays and any kind of character he portrays, may it be a half-man-half-fish warrior or a dashing heredero of-sorts.

Anyway, I'm just so disappointed at how GMA 7 has handled the sudden- transfer-of-Angel-Locsin-fiasco. How they managed to inform the whole world how bitter they've become when they had their war chest full of so many other promising actresses--is beyond me. Much to my consternation, instead of dying out after a week or a month, the issue ballooned further and eventually involved two otherwise innocent actresses who had the simple misfortune of sharing the same manager with the infamous actress. It may or may not be true that Jennylyn Mercado and Eunice Lagunsad were deprived of projects because of this issue--but the impression that they were victims will stay in the public's mind for quite sometime. And the public too has realized how GMA 7 can turn on their own stars anytime without any discretion or remorse.

The situation showed the network's lack of class (mawalang-galang na po GMA). Which I think, has been the edge of the other channel ever since it was first re-organized way back in 1986. The same way that this other network has refrained from making any side comments or glib references to the flaws of their number one competitor--the Kapuso network on the other hand, seems to have made it some kind of a sport. Not a day passes by without a host or a comedian in the Kapuso network making some smart comment on the "kapalpakans" of dos in their shows. It may be amusing to listen to for a while but when it becomes an almost daily habit--it is so annoying and definitely no longer funny. Actually, it only serves to betray GMA 7's seemingly-perpetual "Kapamilya insecurity." Ultimately, when your viewers see you as insecure, they also become insecure about you.

I'm not really keen on the entertainment business but this particular issue interested me because if I remember right, the downfall of ABS CBN in the ratings began with the Hero Angeles issue. I liked Hero from the very beginning when I saw his very first audition videos in Star Circle quest. I was one of the thousands who reveled in his victory. The story of his family and how his talent has saved them, embodied the dreams of so many Filipino youth. His short-lived career of course, was also mourned by his admirers, not to mention loyal fans. The typical observer does not have the complete details of his fall from grace but there is one thing he will always remember--the very network that built up (and discovered) Hero was also responsible for tearing him to shreds. How then can one patronize a media institution like that?

Let's just hope that GMA 7 will not go down the same path.

Movies Again: On Anacondas and the Bell Witch Haunting

I just spent a lazy weekend harnessing my ever-late blooming driving skills. Anyway the nights were spent watching a couple of two-year old movies. I rented AN AMERICAN HAUNTING because I wanted to see how a spirit could actually cause the death of a person--as promised in its plot.

What I saw however was very different. It was about a spirit, specifically a poltergeist of a traumatized 12- year-old girl who resisted every attempt of her child-molester father (ironically played by the very lovable and grandfather-looking Donald Sutherland) to the extent that every night, her own poltergeist would rather "attack" herself. Or at least, that was how I saw it. Other user reviews in the IMDB said it was Lucy Bell's (the mother, played by a very docile and harmless-looking Sissy Spacek) poltergeist that did the attacks (making the movie all the more confusing).

Anyway, I enjoyed the movie until the first half when all the hauntings were still quite scary and realistic, and the actors' portrayals were sincere. During the denouement however, everything began to fall apart. The movie wasn't really about America's famous Bell witch at all but about incest--which took me overnight to figure out. What was that scene where Betsy Bell, immobilized in the bed with blood in her crotch and her father, wearing a long black overcoat standing above her--all about? After all the emphasis on the "evil entity" causing all the hauntings, suddenly the story segued to child molestation--it was all so confusing.

All in all, I still liked the movie. The actors, although some of them miscast in their role, notwithstanding. I especially liked James D'Arcy the best. The LAMDA graduate who is still one of Hollywood's most underrated but brilliant actors. Will wait for his star to shine.

As to Anacondas--I liked the plot and the two leads who did a great job but I liked Kong, the monkey best. This animal can ACT! Yeah, this movie had its share of bad acting and pa-cute effect from some of its actors but I had a great time watching. But then again, maybe it was the boredom...maybe not.


Just recently attended a press conference sponsored by Greenpeace etc. as part of their continuing campaign against the ratification of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement. The meaty part of the discussion pertained to the unresponsiveness of Japan regarding the toxic waste provision.

It seems that in order to enjoy the supposedly gazillion economic benefits out of this agreement, RP merely has to contend with the "inconvenience" of being Japan's toxic waste dumping ground. And Japan remains firm over this issue--for them, it's either take it or leave it. Seems RP is left with no choice and no bargaining power at all.

Well, for now it's up to the Senate to decide. Let's just hope they won't see this mainly as a political issue because the main concern here is the health of our people and the safety of the Philippine environment. Let not our sovereignty be violated by another country's unwanted and hazardous garbage! Can't we have the economic package sans the toxic wastes? Let's see if our esteemed public leaders could work this out...