We met St. John XXIII

- Lydia Castillo (The Philippine Star) - May 11, 2014 - 12:00am

It was in the late 1950’s when I was a junior reporter for a national daily. Because my editor was indisposed, I was sent to join the press group on a trip to Europe, via KLM. Rome was one of our stops, which included Germany (specifically, then West Berlin).

In Rome, one would always wish to go to the tiny enclave that is the Vatican. Luckily one day, which is now one of my most memorable days, the group was brought there. Fear gripped me, because it felt like we were there for the Last Judgement, like we were meeting our Creator. But it was awesome in the waiting hall. It was totally quiet. We sat in total silence while the stiff-necked Swiss guards, in their colorful medieval red and blue uniforms, stood on alert.

Then we were ushered in to the private library of the pope, then Pope John XXIII. We were lucky that this was a private audience and not the public one at St. Peter’s Square, because with us was a former first lady, Mrs. Trinidad Roxas. There were less than 10 of us, newspaper women and men.

Soon, we were in his presence, Pope John XXIII! The Good Pope, as he has been referred to. Even then, I personally thought he was saintly – he spoke in a low voice, he had a chubby face that made him look like Santa Claus, but most of all he had a very welcoming, fatherly smile.

The audience was brief, but in the course, he blessed us individually. Before leaving us, he said, “Journalists will always seek the truth.” That remained in my mind, in the practice of my profession to this day.  How many among us really stick to the truth? It is regretful that in the course of the years that have passed, I have lost a most treasured photograph of the group with the newly canonized saint. 

Now to more mundane activities. The Rustan’s chain of supermarkets, specifically that in Makati and Shopwise in Alabang, are under renovation. When we entered the Makati store from the back parking area, we actually got lost, what with all the boards announcing the renovation project.

We noted, however, that Lartizan has a stall, among those that carry a selection of pastas, and a wide variety of cheeses. As we were waiting for time to go to lunch, we took a drink (fresh orange juice) and a blueberry cupcake, both for P125. The cupcake was soft and had bits of berries. For fear of getting lost in the maze we did not tarry in the sales area. 

Moving on to Alabang, Shopwise, also in the course of renovation, was having their big sale. Big discounts on most items were proclaimed, so that shoppers, of all genders and ages – there must have been hundreds of them – were rummaging through pots and pans, t-shirts and blouses, etc. We needed to “retire” our malfunctioning oven toaster and turbo oven, so we decided to look into their supplies. Lots of them are made in China and new, like the Matrix Toaster Oven which was tagged at P2,200 plus. The Nikon brand turbo was offered at a lower cost, P1,599. We do think we had two good buys. Those purchases were actually part of our spring cleaning, early this year. Have you done yours?

The beef supplier of our friend in Quezon City, from whom we get good, tender sirloin, has upped their price by P10. Fair enough, it is now tagged at P290 – far, far less than those in supermarket outlets, where we have been disappointed lately. The best way to serve this meat is to marinate it in soy sauce (preferably the light variety), calamansi juice and ground black pepper. Be sure you do not overcook the meat as it will become tough.

Makati is a maze of one way streets. We were looking for a specific restaurant last week and we had to go around Salcedo Village to reach our destination. Not good for gas consumption.

Now we feel like Meralco is playing around with us, their customers. They did announce sometime ago that their rates have been lowered. We were delighted for only a few days, when came another notice that they were increasing their rates again! What gives, Meralco?

At Mercury Drug store in the South Supermarket building in Alabang, a young man named Joven suggested that we phone him every time we need to buy medicine, so they can prepare our requirements in advance, thus we avoid waiting. Call him at 771-2250 or 771-2251. This gesture makes a customer really pleased.

Have a pleasant Sunday!


E-mail me at lydiadolores34@gmail.com.

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