December 25, 2005 · Posted in: General

Christmas at the kitchen of divine mercy

A FEW days after Christmas last year, I visited the soup kitchen at the Quiapo Church. I braced myself for a trip down the depths of human misery and hopelessness. I skipped breakfast, feeling guilty about having to interview the hungry on a full stomach, especially after days of holiday binging. I expected the worst. After all, happy people do not go to Quiapo.  The candle sellers outside the church know this: they have a candle for every possible cause of human anxiety — love, money, health, career. Quiapo is a place for supplicants, for those who think their woes are beyond the pale of human intervention and are desperately seeking divine mercy.

Of course, I found despair in Quiapo. I found hunger and misery. But I also found among the hundreds of hungry queuing for steaming cups of lugaw that day an eagerness to be heard. The moment I took out my notebook, I was surrounded. I was bombarded with stories of fall and redemption, and if not that, at least  a stubborn determination to survive. I found those eager to tell their tales funny and gritty, some with a capacity for self-reflection I find only rarely among the "important" people it is my job to interview. Their stories were compelling but not pretty. I could say they were tributes to the endurance of the human spirit. But that is too trite, almost too trivial.

I found hunger and misery in Quiapo. But I also found a flicker of hope. It is a fragile flame but it is alive. This Christmas, I know that flame flickers still.

Merry Christmas to all!

Read "At the Kitchen of Divine Mercy" here.

12 Responses to Christmas at the kitchen of divine mercy



December 26th, 2005 at 11:06 am

Depends though if said “hope” can be clearly SUBSTANTIATED by something. A raging bonfire fuelled by nothing more substantial than rolls of newspapers quickly burns itself out. As stated, whatever “hope” lfet in the Philippines is nothing more than a “fragile” “flicker” of a “flame”.

Compare that to the raging bonfire of “hope” several decades back when we as a people backed a pompous proclamation that we would rather be “run like hell by Filipinos” than be “run like heaven by the Americans”.

Or back in 1986 when everyone had “high hopes” but never really understood what COMMITMENTS and DISCIPLINES were required to keep this hope burning.

Pinoy nga naman talaga…

Merry Christmas serr… (sabay saludo). 😀



December 26th, 2005 at 5:37 pm

On a September 6 memo to BSP, GMA ordered the central bank to give the US government 45 % share of our gold trade, the other 45 percent to the Philippine government, and the 10 percent remaining to the gold trader. Ask any gold trader why they stopped trading, baka murahin ka lang sa galit. Sira daw kasi ang ulo ng gold trader na magte-trade pa ng gold sa Pilipinas.
GMA did that to ensure protection from the US government, to make sure that she will remain president for as long as she wants. Kaya lalo lang kawawa yung pinay na nirape ng mga kano sa subic, kaya bawat pag-aalsa, walang nangyayari.
GMA and her minions know that the best way to stop a revolution is at the begining, not the end. And she’s doing everything to prevent that beginning, kahit pa magmukha na syang puta!
Buti pa nga yung puta eh, compared kay GMA, yung puta binabayaran, si GMA, sya pa ang nagbabayad!



December 26th, 2005 at 5:38 pm

the fragile flame flickers, flickers and slowly will die and we can only hope instead it will lit up into a raging fire.
individual heroism is greatly appreciated, but usually it is a stop gap measure that doesn’t cure the symptoms. this is where the government, thru its agency – the dswd and related agencies go into action. is it possible? yes it is. if they are not busy doing nothing. solutions? that’s what they are paid for. these are the people who have the expertise and RESOURSES to deal with these issues on long term basis. prod them-push them and if they are doing their job kick them out. about time to do it the hard way…



December 26th, 2005 at 5:47 pm

you don’t kick somebody for doing his job, my apology. too much beers watching shaq beat kobi. happy boxing day everyone…



December 26th, 2005 at 10:48 pm – Capt. Faeldon’s website for the fight of the Filipino for Pride & Dignity. The flicker of hope is alive!



December 27th, 2005 at 2:03 pm

am i allowed to say i-love-gma here?



December 28th, 2005 at 6:10 am

for several years now i’ve been making regular monthly donations to a philippine charity organization. if you provide me the address of this guy freddie i probably can send him my humble donation. part of my new year’s resolution is to quit smoking and if my sacrifice can feed hundreds of filipinos ill be more motivated to quit this habit.



December 28th, 2005 at 6:56 am

hope. such a fragile thing indeed— yet it springs eternal. its stories like this that remind us… how jaded we’ve become sometimes… like laughter has gone from the world. hope is an eternal spring and we’ve got to find that in each of our hearts, in our own way and it shall reflect in how we cope with the realities of the world. after all is it not with tragedies, temptation and trials that we grow? the glass is half-full and always has been for Filipinos. i just wish we get that more. good story sheila— it gives us perspective.

merry christmas everyone and here’s to 2006!



December 28th, 2005 at 1:25 pm

Given this sight that exhibits the true predicament of the Philippines as a nation enslaved by paupery and moral bankruptcy, i may dare conclude that it will remain, i don’t exactly know how long, an inferior nation that rich nations will always take advantage of. How come the existing government envision to produce more globally competetive citizens in the 21st century when in its premises it is found grossly incompetent enough to survive the tough demands of day to day living?

It never ceases to amaze my disillusioned soul why are there such miseraqble folks living out in the perilous streets of metro, hardly trying to overcome the pangs of hunger, 24/7. It’s not that I’m catapulting criticisms to a religious foundation that aims nothing more than to extend assistance to our poor brethren, thanks for the merciful soul of mr. Freddie Frillarte, but the point is, the Divine Mercy,being an active ingredient of the ever-wealthy Catholic Institution could have done more or could have given more.

I wonder why would Diding and her male assistants have to cook sticky rice and turn it to a boiled porridge by practical kitchen magic and constantly feed those gluttoning folks with this meal routinely.Diding might just be following an order from above.Why not give them something different since the Quiapo Church’s fund can largely accomodate feeding even five thousand hungry people.

The Church premisess is cozy enough to harbor those pathetic families who twists and turn under the cold december skies.Those poor souls are one of them; ask them what their religion is they’ll tell you that their Catholic since birth.The Parishioner of that so called church of theirs affords to sleep in comfy pillows and mattress while some of his flocks are out there among the wolves left as a helpless prey behind the curtains of the night as they rest their wandering selves on a kariton in city sidewalks. And when the sun’s finger finally soothes the grey cheeks of these lonely people treated as the filth of the society, policemen acting as the watchdog of the city government, also a genuine member of Catholic Church, appears to be so sheerly audacious by forcefully waking and shooing away the drowsy family or individuals who taciturnly dozed themselves off to a sweet slumber.In to sleeping and in to dreaming are the only resorts of these pitiful folks to freedom and peace.They sleep their disillusionment away,they dream their hungers away in the hope that the new day will bring them unbounded grace from the Lord of hosts though its grievous to say that it is their fellow Catholic brethren who denies them of their only privilege in this cruel life.

There’s nothing more confusing,embarassing and rotten than the Catholic Faith whose spiritually deprave pastors and morally bereft members self professingly claims that they are Christians.

You have woven a heart rending story from the tapestries of real life,Shiela.In the heart of your very writing,may these wandering and struggling people find themselves a home.

Quiapo is a haven of paradox where one can cast a complete stare to the sorrowful Filipino life.Filipino life is a tragedy ——- a tragedy that is enacted daily.


Sheila Coronel

January 4th, 2006 at 6:42 pm

Jonathan, sorry this took a while. I talked to Freddie Frillarte today, and his address, for donation purposes is:

Divine Mercy Apostolate of the Philippines
100 Gil Puyat cor. Washington St.
Makati, Philippines.
Tel. 7194860

Congratulations on your New Year’s resolution and may you have a productive 2006 (despite quitting smoking).



January 12th, 2006 at 5:09 pm

Isang maalab at makabuluhang pagbati po Melinda ” Mei” Magsino – Lubis

Ibilang po ninyo ako sa labis na humanga sa inyo pagkabasa ko ngayon ang nasa PDI sa inyong kalagayan.

Maaring isipin ninyo na “umaarte” lang ako pero napaluha po ako maaring sa galit sa mga namiminuno diyan sa Batangas at awa po sa inyo habang binabasa ko po ang inyong krusada (internet cafe dito sa Jeddah, Saudi Arabia). Ma’am, mag-ingat po kayo.

May pag-asa pa po ang bansa natin kung madadagdagan ang mga taong tulad ninyo.

Sa hanay po nang PDI, sana po ay mabigyan si Ma’am nang kaukulan seguridad.

Hindi ko po alam kung paano kahit sa isang maliit na pamamaraan ay makakatulong sa inyo. Ang tanging magagawa ko lang po sa ngayon ay ipamahagi ang lathalaing ito sa mga kaibigan.




February 5th, 2006 at 4:11 pm

Hi Shirley. I’ve watched the recent feature of Probe Team on the soup kitchen of Quiapo ran by the Divine Mercy Apostolate. Though not exactly devotees, we have attributed a lot of the good things that happened in our lives to the blessings and grace of the Divine Mercy. In fact our daughter’s name is Faustine.

Can you tell us how to get in touch with the organizer of the soup kitchen? Though we are not rich but struggling, we really want to do our part even in a small way via donation. We would really appreciate your assistance on this matter. You can get in touch with me at……..Genevieve M.

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