Today, more than any other days, I wish I am back home.
People close to me will tell you that I am not a religious person. I am not a prayerful person. I am not a devout catholic. I am not pious in any way. But — I have faith, and I am a believer.
Growing up, I was taught Christian values that I sincerely adhere to. Educated in institutions that stressed the basic tenets of ethics and morals, I have become the person that I am today — certainly not a saint — but someone who respects and cares for every individual, no matter who they are or what they are. I look up to saints who inspire me, and I remember them and their teachings every step of my way.
Nuestra Senora de Candelaria is one of those saints who guided me as I traversed the winding ways of life. The light from the candle in her hand has helped me conquer the fears of darkness and steer myself clear of any wrongdoing. Visiting her abode in Silang, built in 1595, located adjacent to where I studied high school, is always the highlight of my trips back home. I cannot count the number of times I wept in silence inside the church, asking for her guidance. I cannot describe the wide grin I had when I married the man of my dreams, in the very same church. And I cannot contain my happiness when I presented my daughter to her, in thanksgiving.
As a young child, Silang fiesta meant attending the mass and going around the plaza to frolic on the wide array of toys on display. I can never forget the bright red horse, made of paper-mache, my mom bought me in one of those trips. As a teenager, the fiesta meant going out with friends to the perya, a local version of a carnival. The last time I had the privilege of attending the fiesta was more than 18 years ago, and I am hoping to be there again and join the celebrations soon.
The color and festivities of the season is an added attraction to the beautiful celebration of her feast day today, but simply seeing her regal image and feeling the warmth of her blessings is more than enough reason to want to be there right at this moment.
Viva Nuestra Senora de Candelaria!