Tuesday, April 7, 2009, 4:26 PM

If you know Avril Lavigne's song, Complicated, that'll explain how this post will run. Do not bother remembering the lyrics, just stick to the title. Now you've been warned.
"All religions are the same: religion is basically guilt, with different holidays."
~Cathy Ladman
Dear God,

My parents got married in this small church. I was baptized in that church. My two brothers got baptized in that same church. I grew up attending masses there but I was wondering why my father rarely sit with us during the ceremony. With two young boys in white polo shirt and black slack pants backing him up, he was always in front of the altar reading Latin words for everyone. I was clueless why he was regarded as the reverend. There was another man with a daughter same as my age. I was curious if she was also thinking why people also call her daddy like that. And I wondered where my friends were. They were supposed to attend mass just like what our teacher always told us.

As I age things became more vague. My answer to my teacher's question "what is your religion?" has given rise to one question my classmates have always asked me: "Ano yun?" And I always had to be ready for a long explanation I wasn't sure about. I learned from my friends that priests weren't supposed to have a family; that they live in the church. And they said they are Roman Catholics. I don't remember calling myself or any other person in our church like that. They said they celebrate your birth on the 25th of December and we celebrate it every 15th. I had no idea about the things that they were saying. Their prayers, the names of those nicely sculpted holy figures of patrons and stuff in their church. I knew we have two in our church, one small at the right wing of the church and one large figure at the altar. That was your cute little baby.

One night when I was still in grade school my father and I had a serious talk explaining to me the things I had to know about our religion. Just the right time when I was very confused. Then I learned that our religion was different. Our beliefs were quite different. We have similarities with Catholic's beliefs but we also have differences. I remember him saying that there's no hell with sea of fire. He said hell is a condition when a family doesn't have foods to eat, water to drink, and a house to live in. That conversation answered most of my questions and relieved my curiosity.

But not for long...

The church seats used to be full every mass. As years passed by the population diminished and more seats were getting vacated. The place was always dominated by the elderly. Some people appear only when there's a celebration, our Christmas at 12.15 for example. Those people who I rarely see in our church attend mass in the Catholic Church, that's what I learned. But why? Did that mean I could go with my friends when they ask me to attend Simbang Gabi (Misa de Gallo) with them? I've always wanted to do that but my father wouldn't allow me. Apparently we don't do that tradition. And we won't attend mass in the Catholic Church like what those in our religion do. I don't know. I think my faith is now lacking.

But don't worry 'cause above all these issues I still believe you exist. I lack faith in our church but not in you. Our rituals are not the same as RC's but I am sure we share the same God. I still believe it's your will why I still have a life to live. All these things I have I owe them to you. I'm no perfect at all. I have my own share to the sins of the world. I won't ever forget the things you had to face just to pay for the wrong things others have done. I salute you for that. I admire you for that. I am sorry. I haven't been that nice to you but you still chose to love me. I have a great family. I'm studying at a nice school in Manila. I can see a great future for me. I have wonderful parents. I have the toughest and most generous mother on earth who's been working so hard to provide the needs of her family. I have the bravest and strongest father on earth who's been unbelievably kicking his disease's ass for over 5 years now. I have younger brothers who remain cute and sweet despite of their bullheadedness. I have true friends who always stick to me when I'm up or down. I am happy. My family is happy. I may have problems but I know you won't give me what I can't overcome. All of these I thank you.

I love you.

With love,

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Tin San Diego is a registered nurse who appreciates serene places, good melodies, and kind people.


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