No Rest for the Quest. . .

Of Our Precious San Pascual Icon. . .


January 17, 2014. Today marks three years and seven months since our 110 years old San Pascual Baylon de Guinarona icon was lost in June 2010. Our case is akin to the murder of our parent, and we don’t know the murderer and justice is still a long way off. The murdered parent, meanwhile, is restless and haunts the place in the form of calamities galore.

For when you have been praying to an object for millions of times, the object is empowered to the point of making its presence felt in a million ways, much like the fetish in African traditional religions. Your prayers and intentions are energies–for everything is energy–and they take a life and power all their own. In the case of our San Pascual Baylon icon, the energies of our forebears are in it, so much so that it was bought with their blood, sweat and tears. And amid a pervading cholera epidemic at that.

The power that we have imbued our San Pascual icon is such that our prayers and wishes get answered; at the same time, any negative action towards the fetish comes back in the form of disasters and calamities. Such is the way of energies. Such is the way of karma.

Chronicling the instances where our San Pascual icon gets stolen, each time a payback ensues. In 1963, the icon also disappeared, after which a violent storm hit Leyte on May 16-17, coincidentally San Pascual’s feast day in Guinarona. In 1966, the icon was also briefly lost and a typhoon hit Leyte, also on May 16-17. Now, with the protracted absence of our icon, a typhoon to end all typhoons hit Leyte on November 8, 2013, with billions of dollars in damages, not to mention the monumental loss of life.

Harking back to the circumstances behind San Pascual’s latest disappearance, the following obtains:

The theft occurred at dawn of June 13, 2010.
That seconds after the caper, some inside group cleaned away the crime scene, such that all traces of evidence were forever lost.
That concurrent with the heist, the parish priest disappeared as well, surfacing in Guinarona only on the 6th day.
That with a gated church, and with locks at that, and the San Pascual glass enclosure on the altar being locked as well, it baffles that such brazenness could occur.

Is there such a thing as a perfect crime, especially if it involves a sacred object? The ways of man say yes, but in the universal law of cause and effect, a perfect crime does not exist. For sooner or later what you did will bite you in the butt.

Think (and Manifest) with the Heart

We don’t know what’s with the epoch that we live in, but wonders always crop up for our daily savoring.  For one thing, the dictum that the earth is but a school for us to learn the art of life before we graduate to another dimension, nay before we “go home”, is now more stark, thanks in no small part to the World Wide Web.  Now, more than ever, one can educate oneself outside of the four walls of a classroom, and the resources are there at the speed of a mouse’s click.

For instance. we have wondered how a lot of blind people ever achieved self-realization, in spite of being bereft of sight.  It could not be because of natural selection, because even blind dogs have this adaptive ability.  Then this eureka moment comes upon us, that it is the heart that does the wonder.  That the heart is autonomous and that it thinks independent of the brain.  Also, whereas the brain thinks in terms of duality (good versus bad), the heart, meanwhile, thinks unilaterally–meaning that its knowledge is absolute.  “When in doubt, just follow your heart” has a solid basis, after all.

In ancient Egypt, when a person died, the embalmers would discard the brain but keep the heart.  Even then, our ancestors knew the pantheon where the heart belongs.  Of recent vintage is the discovery by the Kirlian photography, that upon death, the brain stops functioning long before the heart does.Snapshot_1

Inasmuch as we are here on earth to learn. how do we think with our heart, thereby obtaining the correct wisdom (and correct decisions) and manifesting our desires? The pioneers in this school of thought suggest the following:

  • Blast some background music in the 528 Hz range.
  • Do some deep breathing exercise. Like so, inhale (count one to six), exhale (count one to six), and so on. . .
  • Stay still (and still doing the deep breathing) and go deep into your inner core, the deep void within.
  • Keep meditating for thirty minutes and do this daily. Your heart knows what you want, so there is no need to articulate that.

They are saying that what comes to your life in the course of doing the meditation will be automatic.

So there you go, a new technique at self-empowerment in the Internet age.

In Focus: The Lowly Camote

When we were in grade school, and whenever we botched up our lessons, our teacher would shout, “Go home and plant camote!” It was the low pits when we were thrown that hiss, because then, camote or sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) was a poor man’s diet. Never mind that camote is the best food for humans, as it has lots of vitamins and minerals and a low glycemic index compared to rice, for example. In the United States, camote is a commodity and is ubiquitous in groceries and supermarkets.007

008                             Camote on a grocery shelf, Brooklyn, New York.

In our quest for livelihood support for Guinaronanhons in the wake of the total damage wrought by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda),the production and utilization of camote for value-added products are too good to be ignored. For one thing, its culture demands less toil and inputs. And harvesting the camote tubers can be done continuously starting at three months. Another plus is the young camote stems, which is a perfect vegetable.

For this paper, we are going to focus on making wine and beer from the camote, with the spent mash going to feed our livestock. In effect, with this project, we are hitting two birds with one stone, as it were. For our purpose, we define camote wine as an aged, fermented drink of 14 percent alcohol content. Camote beer, meanwhile, is a fermented fizzy drink with 5 percent alcohol content. Camote shandy is a fizzy beer variant, of 5 percent alcohol content, and with natural fruit flavors thrown in.

As a whole, camote has the highest starch content among root crops, averaging 30 percent (Duvernay, William Hauser. Conversion of Industrial Sweet Potatoes for the Production of Ethanol. NCSU, 2008).

The basic assumption is thus:  30 grams of cooked mashed camote in 100 milliliters of water yields 12.1 ml of alcohol.  So that to make a wine of 14 percent alcohol, we increase the camote weight to 35 grams per 100 ml of water.  On the other hand, to make a beer/shandy of 5 percent alcohol, we decrease the cooked camote to  12.5 grams per 100 ml of water.  And to maximize alcohol conversion, we employ either glucoamylase or malt during mashing.

The basic steps to our camote wine/beer production are:

  1. Cooking and peeling and mashing of the camote;
  2. Hydrolyzing the mashed camote with the desired volume of water and mashing the mixture at 95 degrees Celsius;
  3. Mixing in of camote leaves (for tannin and flavor) and glucoamylase at the rate of 5 grams per 19 liters of mash;
  4. Cooling to 47 degrees Celsius and introducing a prepared lactobacillus blend and maintaining such temperature for three hours (too much acidity will result with prolonged mashing);
  5. Cooling to 35 degrees Celsius and introducing the yeast starter at the rate of 10 percent of total volume of mash;
  6. Fermenting the mash for two weeks or until the desired alcohol content is reached;
  7. Ageing and adding 1 tablespoon beaten egg whites per 19 liters of mash to facilitate settling and filtration;
  8. Racking, filtering and bottling.

For camote shandy production, we introduce the desired fruit juice at step 3.  To add fizz to the beer, we bottle the beer 3/4 of the fermenting time, allowing 1/3 for complete fermentation in the bottle (add a little sugar, if desired).

Ageing of the wine/beer should at least be three months before bottling and marketing.  As for the spent camote, we wash it first and recook it before feeding to livestock.