>A Death Threat for My Comrade

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You have read that right.

I am scheduled to give a talk tomorrow to a public school with him. A lenten recollection to the graduating students to be exact.

But this morning, he texted me:

Kapatid, baka hindi ako makababa at makapunta diyan. May death threat na naman ako. Tatambangan daw ako kung sa daan ko pauwi. Ipagdasal mo ako.

He is a religious missionary in the mountainous region of Sierra Madre, part of Bulacan. And he has been of service to the Dumagats and other poor and uneducated people up there. He builds a community, a cooperative, and a school for our poor and uneducated countrymen.

And now, a local politician and his cohorts are angry.

Why? Here’s a nerve-wracking story according to my Missionary friend:

Ang mga Dumagat ay may subsidy na isanlibong piso mula sa lokal na gobyerno. Ngunit dahil sila nga ay hindi mga edukado, inuuto sila ng gobyerno. Pinapapirma sila sa voucher na nakasulat ay isanlibong piso, ngunit isandaang piso lamang ang ibibigay sa kanila. Nakakagalit ng laman ano?

At kinuwestyon iyon ng kaibigan ko. Sinugod niya ang opisina ng nasa posisyon na iyon. Nabuksan ang katotoihanan.

At simula noon, nakakatanggap na siya ng mga death threats. Binabato ang kumbento at ang kanyang kuwarto. At nakakatanggap ng sulat na “Nakatulog ka na ba sa gitna ng kalsada habang nasusunog ang kuwarto mo” at “Huwag kang maglalakad ng mag-isa sa kalsada at baka ma-hit and run ka.”

That is a sad reality. That is a nerve-wracking story of my friend. akala ko sa pelikula lang nangyayari, meron din pala sa tunay na buhay.

I admire his courage to stay there in the service of the people. He could have just give up and live a normal and peaceful life. But no, he chose to stay.

The last time I saw him was last week, before he came back to the mountains. He told me that he is ready to die and his death would not be in vain since he is fighting for the truth, since he is fighting for of our Lord.

What I have there in front of me was a martyr-in-process.

Sometimes, I ask myself, can i die for our Lord? Can I die for my faith? I think, I do not have that enough courage and strength to be a martyr. I just don’t know yet.

How about you? Can you die for your faith? Can you stand and fight for the truth until the end?

I will leave this as a challenge for each and everyone of us.

And please, pray for my comrade. His name is Christian.

Better Than Thou?

I am not really into this exaggerated, overrated, and too-much-to-become-a-national-issue Philippine showbiz scene. I just tune in to the boob tube to watch the educational, recreational, and substantial news and programs. I am neither a Kapuso nor a Kapamilya. I just tune in to their shows that I find worth watching.

But sometimes, I cannot but react to their way of giving us viewers the [quality] entertainment that we deserve.

The Kapamilya Network gave us this “Melason” craze – Melai Cantiveros and Jason Francisco – a tandem of two ordinary Filipinos whose love story was followed inside the Big Brother house. Yes, they may be “too masa and ordinary looking” and they may not have the “artista look” which is accepted by the society but there is this factor that gave them the stardom that both of them are now enjoying.

They are too natural. Their chemistry is based on their true feelings for each other and not on the stereotypical and “forced” notion of love team here in the Philippines. Hindi puwersahang ipinares sa isa’t-isa. They just did their part and the viewers loved and accepted them for that.

The Kapuso Network gave us this Marian Rivera-Dingdong Dantes tandem. At first, the Filipinos gave them a warm response when they first teamed up in “Marimar.” And then they were paired again. And again. And again. (Please repeat while fading). Gee! I’ve had enough!

You see, due to overexposure, their love team gets too consumed by our senses thus, it already became so sickening for us. Nakakaumay na ang tambalang Dingdong Dantes at Marian Rivera. I may not have the enough knowledge with regards to the entertainment and television industry, but in my opinion, what they did (or what the network and management did)was a career suicide. Matalino ang mga Pinoy. Mabilis makalimot. Mabilis magsawa. (And I don’t want to discuss here the issue that Marian Rivera was the alleged reason for the Dingdong-Karylle breakup. I’ll leave it to your favorite showbiz talkshow hosts and reporters. At lumang issue na yun.)

Some of you Marian-Dingdong fans may bash me and ask the question “How dare you compare Marian and Dingdong with Melason? Their miles apart!”

I do not compare them as they are. I do not compare them as though they are running for the same electoral position. Both of them have their own fanbase and spheres to cover and I don’t give a cent about that.

My point here is the way they reach their stardom, their influence to us boob tube suckers, and the quality entertainment that we Filipinos deserve. Kung minsan kasi, nakakasawa na at wala na tayong natututunan sa telebisyon kundi ang maglampungan at mag-sampalan, maniwala sa mga telefansiya at superhero, at ang tumunganga sa harap ng drama.

I challenge you students who are future creators of television programs, please, give the masa a quality and educational program. They cannot afford cable television that caters for our “intellectual needs”.

I don’t care if you are Team Melason or Team Marian-Dingdong. I don’t care if you are a Team Kapamilya or a Team Kapuso. I don’t care if you watch the free channels or if you prefer the cable channels.

This is just me, expressing my thoughts and opinion. I respect your freedom and choice just as I hope that you respect mine.

>ULTRAELECTROMAGNETIC FAILURE!

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No dear. This is not about the Eraserheads. I love them and I don’t think na failure ang pag-disband nila.They had their awesome contribution to our culture and the industry and let us just leave it there.

This is about me. And the EPIC FAILURE that happended on this day.

You see, I was asked to give a recollection in a public school here in Los Baños. Three (3) weeks pa lang before the date ay sinabihan na nila ako. Good enough. Para naman makapaghanda ako.

And then I prepared. Even to the point of sacrificing my time to take care and to be with my beloved Lolo Antonio who is very sick and dying.

But merciful comos! It all turned into a crap.

I went to the school kahit umuulan at maputik – all for my love for sevice to the students (Hindi ko naman alam kung may honorarium o wala. Hindi ko naman hinahabol yun.).

And I waited.

And I waited for some more.

Hangang sa nabagot na ako at sinubukang tawagan ang office ng Simbahan. And it turned out na kinansela pala kahapon, Thursday, ang recolletion.

At hindi nila ako ini-inform gayung ako ang facilitator.

Pang-asar lang ano?

And so umuwi na ako at nagpasyang dumaan sa office ng Parish para itanong kung bakit hindi ako in-inform ng coordinator-catechist. Kaso sarado pa siya kaya andito ako ngayon sa computer shop sa Robinson’s Town Mall Los Baños na katapat lang ng Simbahan at isinusulat ang arikulong ito.

Here’s the thing: Isa sa pinakamagandang paraan ng pag-respeto sa kapwa ay ang pag-respeto ng kanyang oras.

Limited ang oras ng tao. tumatakbo ang oras. Maraming nasasayang. At sa mga oras na nasasayang, marami pa sanang makabuluhang bagay napuwedeng gawin.

Respeto lang kaibigan. Iyong simpleng hindi pagiging late sa tagpuan ay malaking bagay na at nagpapakita ng repeto. Ano pa kaya yung mismong pagsipot sa itinakdang appointment?

Respeto. Paggalang. Basic na mga bagay lang yan kaibigan.

Sa bandang huli, ayokong mgalit at masira ang buong maghapon ko dahil sa isang bagay na puwede namang palampasin. Smile pa rin. Relax pa rin. Optimistic pa rin.

Sabi nga ng dakilang si John Maxwell, “Do not let the situations mean more than the relationship.”

Magpapatuloy ang buhay. Pag-ibig at kapayapaan para sa lahat. Padayon!

>Better than Paramore

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Since the buzz circulated in the blogosphere and the airwaves, I have prepared since November of last year to watch my favorite band Paramore. All for the love of my crush Hayley Williams. I have long laid my plans on going in that much-awaited concert of the year.

But there are those things that unexpectedly happen in our lives, compromising our well-prepared plans. As one of the famous dictum says, “Buti pa ang biglaang lakad, natutuloy. Ang planado, hindi.”

And they “interfered” with my date with Hayley Williams and the rest of the band.

You see, my Lolo Antonio suffered from stroke and is very sick. So I have to go to their place and take turns with my relatives to take care of him. All for the love of a grandson to his beloved grandfather.

And I believe that being with my grandfather is far better than singing, rocking, moshing and head banging with thousand of Paramore fans.

Also, I have to prepare for my series of talks.

I was invited to give a recollection to the graduating grade 6 students in public schools here in Los Baños. They want me to teach a thing or two to the students before they enter High School.

I love to give recollections to students because even though I am the facilitator, I also learn from them. And the mere fact that I have the responsibility to “influence” these youngsters is such a blessing.

I was also invited to give a talk to a group of rape victims somewhere here in Laguna.

Yes. You have read that right. RAPE VICTIMS. Women who were abused. Women who are suffering from emotional stress. Women who will forever have a mark of disgrace.

But moreso, women who are trying to stand up and face a new life.

And I will be so happy and blessed to be a part of their journey to healing and reconcillation.

I have sacrificed my date with Hayley Williams because i learned one thing.

Prioritize.

To prioritize is to put first things first.

There may be some other time for me to rock out with Hayley Williams and the rest of Paramore. This is not just the proper time for me.

But I cannot miss this opportunity to be with my grandfather and to be with those people who need my help, guidance, support, and message.

Learn to prioritize. Put first things first. Learn to weigh things. Learn to differentiate wants from needs. Learn to make sacrifices.

For those who will go to the Paramore concert tomorrow, please say my love to Hayley Williams.

Enjoy and stay safe everyone. Good times. God bless!