This is super-backlogged - from about 8 months ago when I was in the Philippines.

There's no common word in Chinese for "I will ." To say something like "Tomorrow I will go to the church, " you literally say "Tomorrow I want to go to the church." It's assumed that you'd better well want to go to the church because... well, you're going, and vice versa.

if you want to go but can't, you have to explicitly say "Tomorrow I want to go to the church, but I have a meeting," or something like that. If you don't want to go but you're going anyway, you say "Tomorrow I don't want to go to the church, but I am required to go to the church," which has the inference that you'd better well go to church anyway because... well, you're supposed to. It's an awkward sentence construction for my used-to-thinking-in-English brain.

Tomorrow I don't want to go to the church, but I am required to go to the church. The majority of my grumbling on this matter can be traced to the latest Mass tomorrow being at 7am, meaning my wake-up call is 5 (and that I have to get up earlier than that to have any hope of getting work done).

It's All Saints Day, though. So we're making the trip out to visit the round of dead folks (mostly my Angkong, my paternal grandfather), burning incense in the Buddhist tradition, receiving the Eucharist in the Catholic one. The sermons at our church - predominantly Chinese - are all halo-halo (mix-mix) with English and Wikibooks: Tagalog and Mandarin and Hokkien, sometimes in the same sentence. I've learned enough of the four languages now to be able to tell which one the priest is speaking at any given time, but I still have no clue what he's saying.

Not that I usually do. When I'm visiting my parents in Chicago and go to church with them, the distance to the pulpit (no lipreading without binoculars) and the echoes from the sound system render sermons in English incomprehensible as well. At least last week I was able to get the vague idea that GOD WILL ANSWER OUR PRAYERS! because the priest had the congregation do this call-response thing.

Priest: When ,
(Repeat 10x.)

Oh. The Philippines is incredibly Catholic. I think it was 85% at last count - much higher around the Manila area (there's also a decent count of Muslims, but they mostly live in the south). Once when I was walking through the shopping mall, I heard muzak being piped through the overhead speakers... but also a man's voice saying "...mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death amen hail Mary full of grace the Lord is..." I ran to my aunt. "Rosary! Praying on speakers! In mall!" I whispered to her in disbelief. "Oh yes," she said. "They always do that here during the lunch break. The owner is very pious."

I've since gotten used to seeing banners advertising Mass in the shopping malls. Mass is actually held in the shopping malls - they clear a corridor or a sitting area, the priest comes, everything. And then you're in a convenient retail location afterwards, so it's good for both your soul and their revenue stream. I've also gotten used to seeing huge, multi-story billboards advertising religious retreats - bigger than some of the billboards that advertise drag queens and pop stars and provocative pants (sometimes right next to the religious retreat signs).

Random street corners are crammed with grottos of the Virgin Mary; pictures of saints crowd the walls (sometimes next to a little altar with porcelain statues of Chinese gods - hedge your bets, I guess). Angels and the bleeding hearts of Mary and Jesus gush airbrushed blood on the sides of public transport. Even in the slums, you'll see little tables outside topped with the remnants of umbrellas that have seen better days, the words TENDER JUICY HOT DOG! or RC COLA MASARAP NAMAN DI BA? (RC Cola is delicious really isn't it?) shielding the rosaries, garlands of flowers, and statues of beatifically smiling people in long robes. It's even a swear. Sort of. "Jesmaryosep!" (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph - and I definitely spelled that wrong) isn't really an expletive, but an exclamation of surprised incredulity Filipinos say where Americans might yell "Holy shit!"

Strangely enough, I've found that my views of how active my personal Catholicism-o-meter is are often in direct proportion to the inverse of the surrounding Catholicness of my environment. If I'm surrounded by uberpious Roman Catholics urging me to participate in church, I'll go through the motions but get overwhelmed and flighty with all the perceived pressure and not really want to be there. If I'm surrounded by very low-key Catholics or people of other faiths, I'm more liable (and able) to think about it on my own time, get curious, read things, eventually sometimes even get myself to a service.

I just know that my parents will read this and my father will (again) suggest that I become a missionary nun.