LAST Sunday we celebrated the Feast of the Assumption. The Blessed Virgin Mary was taken up into heaven with body and soul. This is what the doctrine of the Church says. It has been even declared into a dogma. But more important than this dogma is the living experience of Christians regarding this event. There is no biblical account of this event, unlike the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead and after 40 days was taken up into heaven, or rather rose into heaven out of His own power.

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The Bible is very clear on this. But the early Christians in the Church had a strong belief in the assumption of the Blessed Virgin. For them, it was a living experience, in the same sense, I believe, the Filipinos have a strong belief in Mary as the Mother of God and therefore also as their heavenly mother.

There is no country in the world that has such a fervent devotion for the Blessed Virgin. Mary was even declared the patron saint of the Philippines.

For many years, December 8 has been a public holiday. I believe it should be restored as such.

Last Sunday, we had the funeral of my mother-in-law in Green Hills. On Saturday evening, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma has celebrated the funeral Mass for her. The funeral service of my mother-in-law the next morning turned out to be a joyous celebration because we had brought it in connection with the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. I reminded my sisters-in-law and the rest of the family of this feast day and I said that like the Blessed Virgin was taken up into heaven with body and soul, so also was the soul of their mother taken up into heaven together with the Blessed Virgin.

In one of my previous columns I have written about a new etymology of the name Philippines or rather Pilipinas. The root words here are: pili - ina, ang mga pinili ni Ina Maria. The Filipinos fondly call her Mama Mary. Only in thePhilippines she is called that way, Mama Mary.

I feel we should honor our history, our legacy. The Philippines belongs to Mama Mary. We should recapture again the Philippines out of the hands of our colonizers, the Spaniards and the Americans. The Philippines is called after King Philip. The new name for Philippines is Pilipinas. In my column I have made a plea for the return to this authentic name Pilipinas - the chosen children of Mama Mary.

Now is the era of President Noynoy Aquino, the era of people power. This is what the Church calls the 'sensus fidelium,' the sense of the faithful. Unique to the Philippines is this Edsa experience, the people power experience.

I hope that Noynoy will restore this new name for the Philippines - Pilipinas. But then, it is also up to us Filipinos to make this come true. We, the Filipino people, are the Filipino nation, the chosen people of Mama Mary. We are the boss, as Noynoy has said, it is up to us to build up again the Filipino nation from below through the truly Filipino values of pagtinabangay, pagbinuligay, the barangay spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation with our past, of justice and peace for all. (For your comment, email: arnvv@yahoo.com or call: # 851-9809)