It had been a few months since I last heard Sunday mass in the little chapel of our subdivision. Back then, we have decided to go downtown for church because from there, we would be much closer to my father’s place, whenever we visited him over the weekend.
So last Sunday, when we finally said we would pay it a visit, I didn’t give it much thought, as I walked from our home to our little chapel to attend mass. However, the first scene that greeted me at the entrance, a line of flower stalls and people selling varieties of rice cakes or “kakanin,” felt a bit like a replay of similar scenes from younger days.
True, while these mobile vendors have likewise become permanent fixtures near big churches in the city, they can likewise be found near all places of worship all over the country.In our quiet suburban chapel however, their presence, for me, always exuded a distinct kind of flair that rendered the whole scene with an attractive provincial setting. I am at once reminded of the Sundays of my childhood, vacationing in my grandmother’s hometown in Bataan, being treated to an after-mass snack of kutchinta, puto, and of course, sorbetes. Or eating sapin-sapin, biko and puto bungbung after early morning misa de gallo in Quiapo during my singing days in Manila. And eating suman and sipping hot choco after mass in some barrio during my researcher days. These memories of much-revered old times, instantly encapsulated in a single frame, flashed as I entered for last Sunday’s morning mass.
As with anything else, nothing much had changed. I guess that is just the way it is with other isolated places or oases, simple and provincial. No regrets however, I love it. In life’s seemingly endless travelogue, the solace provided by any serene spot, after a long series of urban noise and clutter, is always reward enough, at least for me.
One thing though, associating food stalls and kakanin with church-going seem like a donkey and carrot affair. Feeling a bit guilty and childish, am I there for the faith or the rice-cake reward? I’m reminded of a memè I once read, “Lead me not into temptation, I can get there by myself.”