Have you gone to confession?

This week is a time for us to reflect on our spirituality. We visit churches, complete the Stations of the Cross, and make confession – which my Mom used to be quite strict about in our childhood years. Well, it was funny the other day, it was my wife who took my Mom’s role in making sure that I enter the confession box and come clean with all my sins. I told her that I can’t remember all my sins, and it seems to be the same every year. But, she didn’t let me off that easily. She waited until I entered the confession box. Thank God that they had the Act of Contrition posted for people to read. It felt good after. It was an annual tradition that we always did since we were small. I am glad that my wife has taken my Mom’s role, since my kids also had to do the Stations of the Cross.

It is important as a family that our spirituality is given equal attention as what we give our work. As Catholics, we are often criticized about our rituals and traditions. My wife’s family and most friends are Born Again Christians. I believe that our respective faiths, be it Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, etc., serves as our guide as human beings living on earth. It is like the schools or family, who serve as our mentors in education and values formation as well as in our spirituality. Whatever faith or Church we may have, our beliefs still serve the same purpose. If your Church guides you the wrong way, then you as a person may not be practicing the right values in your earthly life. These are the values important to enter His kingdom.

Being a Catholic and coming from a Catholic family, we have a number of traditions that others do not understand, like other groups would have their traditions. We respect everyone’s views. When the Catholics pray to the Blessed Mother, others find it wrong and would say that it is only Jesus whom we should pray to. As we have seen in every family, the mother plays a very important role. As the mother of Christ, she is part of what Jesus has become. Mama Mary is seen from history. There are apparitions all over the world and even the Philippines. Lately, there was an apparition in Tagaytay, which my mom has been witnessing. These are messages from a mother who reminds us of what we should do and to prepare ourselves. We have heard of the messages from Fatima, which were revealed in time. Sister Emma in the Batulao area have also witnessed these moments. Even more than fifty years ago, the history of Lipa in Batangas carried the apparition of Mother Mary through a cer tain Sister Teresita Castillo. These apparitions are reminders from a Mother who always cares for her children. She gives advice and warnings to her children so that they can prepare spiritually.

As we look at the Catholic tradition, it is good that it is kept sheltered from the modern life. Imagine going to mass through the internet or going to confession via Skype or Facebook. If you compare a visit to Europe and America, you will see that there is more history and tradition in Europe. The history in places we visit, especially the churches and religious places in Europe strengthens our faith in our religion.

This Holy Week, let us be reminded of the role that mothers have in keeping our families’ spirituality intact. They see to it that values are passed on from generation to generation. If that responsibility was left with us men, I guess many would be lost.

* * * * *

I was privileged to give a speech in the Commencement Exercises of Lyceum University-Batangas. Peter Laurel, who is a Go Negosyo awardee of Batangas and the President of the school, sent an invite for me to deliver the graduates a message. Close to a thousand graduates came from the Allied Medical Sciences and Computer Technology courses and many proud parents and relatives came to see their child graduate. I give my speeches extemporaneously so that it would come from the heart. I saw the joy and pride in many of the parents who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to see their children reach that point. Many of them sacrificed going abroad and not being there for many special occasions just to ensure that their children will have a better future than what they had. What else can you say?

The Laurel Family, who has about five Lyceums all over the country, is indeed a family of educator-entrepreneurs. They took over the school from their father, Sotero Laurel, who was the founder. I am always glad to see families ensuring that their founders’ visions are fulfilled. In the case of the Laurels, they continue to provide education that is affordable, giving our Filipino brothers equal opportunity to succeed in life.

As I mentioned to the graduates, not all of them will be able to have their own negosyo someday. What is most important is to have the negosyo attitude, which is to love our country, to contribute something to the society, to have an optimistic and entrepreneurial attitude, to be passionate with what you love doing, and to work hard. I also mentioned the importance of having a balanced life as a true definition of success. Success is not defined solely by material wealth but the degree of happiness one has with respect to relationships with family, friends and community, good health and more importantly, with respect to one’s relationship with God.

Have a Blessed and meditative Holy Week.

* * * * *

I would like to greet PGMA a belated happy birthday, as she celebrated her 62nd birthday. For someone at that age, she has the energy of a woman in her 40’s. At her age, she still has the energy to go diving in spite of her very hectic schedule and meetings.

Which reminds me – on diving, Mary De Leon, Ed Mijares, my sister Vina, with other friends are out there enjoying the Philippine seas. Their dive boat Oceana Maria is complete with the best of diving equipment. The big waves do not bother them and seasick is not in their dictionary. I can’t also wait to get back to our new project that should be launched next year – a high-end dive boat that will be catering to those who love to go diving and also see unique islands in the Philippines. Imagine the potential if most Filipinos with ancestral homes would open it into Bed and Breakfast establishments to tourists. I was told that Discovery Bay Misibis is now open – the second hotel to land in small luxury hotels of the world.

* * * * *