Myosotidium

“What are your hobbies?”, the interviewer asked me.

“I write”, I told him with my signature smirk, “I watch movies and TV series, I play the piano, guitar, and drums. But I write most of the time”

“I would be happy to read some of your works one of these days”, he smiled as he continued to browse and read my curriculum vitae.

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Yes, I write. Or I used to. It has been months now since I last wrote a decent entry on this blog. I may have some articles written and saved on MS Word but most of them are unfinished and I can’t seem to my mojo to finish them.

Until one rainy afternoon, out of boredom, I grabbed my copy of Gerry Alanguilan’s critically-acclaimed graphic novel Elmer. Even though I have repeatedly read and finished that comic book, I still browse and admire its way of telling a story. Perhaps to get an inspiration from chickens.

And then it came to me. On one part of the story, Elmer Gallo wrote in his diary that one should write because it is important not to forget. That message inspired his son, Jake Gallo, to write a book about the story of his father and the story of how chickens fought for their rights and equality.

It is important not to forget. Back when I was still in School, I used to keep a journal. I wrote there my reflections, dreams, and even those one-paragraph ideas that would eventually be the basis of my full-length article, short story, and other things that are worth writing and publishing (for our school publication, at least).

I had ideas, great ideas, and to borrow Jake Gallo’s lines, “great ideas that would make great movies”, that were eventually lost just because I forgot it. Because I did not write it. Because I just let them slip past my consciousness.

Sayang naman.

I don’t want to make a promise to myself, or to this blog, or to you, whoever you are who stumbled upon this page, that I would start writing more regularly. I believe that is is a slow process of recovery, of getting used to it, of making it a habit.

But for now, write. Write even the smallest things. Write even the craziest one-liners. Write on any medium – on a piece of paper, at the back of the receipt, or at the calendar hanging on your wall.

Write as if no one will read your work. Write for yourself. Write for the universe. Screw your readers. You don’t owe them anything yet.

Write.

Because it is important not to forget.

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Kaleidoscope Memories

For twenty pesos, you can take a peek at a different world filled with colors, shapes, and patterns. Spin it, twirl it, shake it, and let the beautiful world unfold before your eyes.

It was the kaleidoscope. It was the twenty-peso kaleidoscope that my father gave me when I was about six years old. It was about six inches long whose tube has a green color with drops and sprays of other different colors that looks like the psychedelic variant of jawbreaker candies. Back in the days of my childhood, of simplicity, of actually exploring on real things, I considered my kaleidoscope as something of great value. I brought it to school, brag it among my friends, and played with it whenever I got bored with my action figures.

As I grew up, I shifted my focus on other things. From the small peephole of the kaleidoscope, I focused on other bright, moving, and colorful things of the real world. I got engrossed with other things that are “in” during my growing up years – action figures of Gundam robots, computer games, and mini 4WD race cars among others. I totally forgot about my kaleidoscope.

Sadly, I can no longer find that kaleidoscope that my father gave me when I was a little boy. Maybe it got lost in our old house. Or maybe my parents gave it away, together with my other childhood stuff, during the time when I was away for eight years, studying. Odd as it may sound, I felt that something was also taken from me with the loss of that kaleidoscope. You may argue that why whine on that cheap toy when I can always buy a new one. But there is something on that green, psychedelic-looking, six-inch tube. It has a sentimental value. It has good memories with it. It reminds me of the days of me being innocent and carefree. It reminds me of the good old days of my childhood.

Then, there is this anthem by Francis Magalona called Kaleidoscope World. It was a song included in his 1995 album Freeman and later included in the compilation album, Best of FrancisM. Though I admit that it was already a bit late when I discovered this song (I think I was already in High School or about six years after it was originally released), I immediately fell in love its subtlety, catchy chorus, poetry, and its message.

The chorus, with its utmost simplicity, speaks of the vibrant and colorful message. Who would not love the lines “Every color, every hue is represented by me and you. Take a slide in the slope. Take a look in the kaleidoscope. Spinnin’ round, make it twirl in this kaleidoscope world..” ?

We all have different interpretations of songs. My understanding may be different from you or the composer. I saw Kaleidoscope World as a song of harmony and unity. It is the perfect example of “unity in diversity”. We may be different by race, color, social status, age, gender, intelligence, and power but we all form the beautiful and colorful shapes and patterns in the kaleidoscope. Together, just like the pebbles, papers, and other stuff inside the kaleidoscope we can form a beautiful world, a harmonious dimension, and a colorful humanity.

Perhaps, this is Kiko’s legacy not only to the Filipino people but to the whole world. This song, if only its spirit is lived and understood by most people, can be an anthem of change. This song can be a catalyst to inspire more people to accept each other despite of our differences. By this song, together with other great songs that speaks of peace, unity, and harmony, the world will know peace.

I first met Francis when I was about four years old. My kuya, an artist, was busy then painting a portrait of Francis Magalona in a one-eighth illustration board at our old kubo. The face was familiar. He’s the man behind the infectious patriotic song Mga Kababayan Ko. And I have watched him on the movie Mama’s Boys with Ogie Alcasid, Michael V., and Anjo Yllana.

I saw Francis as a revolutionary young face that will achieve great heights. He challenged the conventional music style of his age. His music paved way for the unification of the then-opposing sides of Pinoy hip-hop and rock by experimenting on the merging of rap with rock music. After all, music is the language that should unite us, not divide us.

But more importantly, I saw Francis as a young man, whose heart is united with his beloved land. He redefined patriotism. He made it easier for the youth of this generation to appreciate and understand. And he showed us how great a race and nation we are.

Pride. Identity. Meaning. Perhaps, he saw that before we can shout to the world that we love our country, we must first know what it really means to be a Filipino.

I saw Mga Kababayan Ko then as an anthem which promotes Pinoy pride and identity along with the songs Ako’y Isang Pinoy by Florante and Tayo’y mga Pinoy by Heber Bartolome (and later recorded and reinvented by the Man from Manila himself). These three songs, together with our regular Monday school anthem Ako ay Pilipino, were my first inspirations to love my country, to appreciate my Pinoy identity, and to be proud of my ancestry. And this was long before Pinoy Ako by Orange and Lemons and Noypi by Bamboo.

He may have gone at a young age but what is more important is that he had lived his life with meaning. He has influenced a whole generation. He has inspired many with his music. And with that, he is already immortal.

For the past months, I have always been stuck in front of a clean paper, staring at it for hours, unable to write. Maybe it’s writer’s block or lack of creative juices. Or maybe I fear that my readers would not appreciate my work. That is the reason why this blog has been “dead” for a long period of time.

As I have mentioned above, it was only during High School when I discovered Kaleidoscope World. the funny thing is, during the time when this song was originally released, it was also the time when I have been so engrossed with my kaleidoscope. I came up with this article earlier this morning when I tweeted about kaleidoscope and whether the kids of today know what this is. It is inspired, of course, by Francis Magalona’s song. I asked myself, when was the last time when I actually held and peeked at a kaleidoscope? What happened to my old kaleidoscope?

And then it came to me. I suddenly remembered the happy memories associated with my kaleidoscope. I felt young again, energetic, and full of dreams. That nostalgia brought me inspiration. And I didn’t realize, I was already writing this piece.

Perhaps, all I need is a little push from Kiko. Or his song for an inspiration. And just like a kaleidoscope, all I have to do is to spin it round, make a twirl, to see different patterns, colors, and shape.

I now see things from a different perspective.

Mabuhay ka at maraming salamat Kiko! Maligayang kaarawan!

Kickass photo courtesy of scarypet.deviantart.com 

The Letter that Changed My Life

I have already shared this letter before but allow me to do it again for today’s occasion. I was a rejected writer way back in High School. My articles were literally crumpled and then thrown into the trash bin (I saw my teacher did that heart-breaking scenario inside the faculty room). My superior said that my articles were “not good” and “unreadable.”

I think most of us knew the feeling of failing and being rejected. I thought of myself as a failure. A total failure and an embarrassment. I almost gave up. I lost faith in my own skills.

But as in all tragedy, there is a hero, a redeemer, an inspiration. And I saw that person in my father. He wrote this open letter when I was in second year High School and have it posted on the Francois Corner – a bulletin board/literary board in the seminary for the written works of the seminarians (talk about “pambabraso”, I think that term is more appropriate).

 

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This letter changed my life. Since then, I have been writing articles after articles, stories after stories, essays after essays, taking into consideration his messages and advice written on this letter. This letter became a major turning point of my life. The Juan of today will never be the same had he not written this letter.

November 27, 2002

Sorry son, I beat you on the draw this time. Time and again I have always urged you to write something for the Francois Corner. I want you to express yourself, your views of life, of family, of human relations, of growing up, and whatever heaven-may-care concerns you think worthwhile. Write them as they are gestated on your mind. Don’t wait until you may only have to recall the precious moments, when life is already filled with misgivings for the things you’ve done and those you chose not to do, when you may already have to contend with the biases of your own reasoning, whan all things have their good excuses and alibis…the very way I do now.

You have read better books than I did and your vocabulary has improved considerably in your almost two years in the seminary. Nevermind if I tell you that the words as you define them have awkward meanings. As you go along life’s path, you’ll realize the words and gestures alike are interpreted in appropriate contexts, not just they are portrayed in the dictionary. The best poetry of literary piece is something that depicts noble intentions, of truth, of justice, of virtues, of writer’s characters. Avoid flashy and ostentatious adjectives, grandiose adverbs, and dangling modifiers..they often end up in lies.

You are so lucky son. you have found freedom within the confines of the walls of the seminary and I want you to write of this. Freedom is not just doing what you want. It is also getting rid of the things that would otherwise prevent you from doing what you want. Most of us outside are virtual prisoners of our own means, of both obsession and indifference, of curiosity and apathy. Put no envy or remorse for being sheltered from the world, just have it that many would have wanted to be in your place. Talk to your brother seminarians, your formators, and every people you meet and you may learn the reason. Whatever reason it is, take it with humility and reticence. Read a lot, keenly observe things and improve your sense of disrection. Seek wisdom in prayers and let faith be the pillar of judgement.

Write, son, write. Hearten others with the might of your pen. When I held your hand when I first thought you how to write, I had no further intent for you but to learn to inscribe your name. After a few summers, reams and reams of paper, and buckets of ink, I urge you to make a turn around.  Let not your name be prominent but God’s. In your own modest way, lead your readers to Him. Let those words be your hook and line as you brace yourself to be a fisher of men. With God’s grace and a few summers more, (And this, me and your mother pray for) you may already have been an adept articulator of his words. I hope that by then, you will remember this day that I encouraged you to write.

I hope that you will not fail me son. I expect to see your paper tucked in the corks of Francois Corner. We love you.

It has been almost a decade since my father wrote this letter but from time to time, I still look at it for inspiration, guidance, and something to look up to. I see this as an oasis of an honest words of advice from the man whom I consider a hero, a model, an idol.

 

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It has been ten years since he wrote this letter. Times and circumstances have changed.He may have not written a follow-up for this letter but from time to time, he talks to me, man to man, about life’s little tricks and lessons. Since we are open to each other, I think a letter is no longer necessary to give his message to me. But who knows? Maybe when the circumstances need it, he would give me a better and more dramatic father-to-son letter.

I know that I still have a lot to do in order to reach my dream to write and to inspire pople. But I am proud to say that I have taken the few little steps to reach that journey. Thank you to all who read my posts here in my little blog.

I have learned from my Psychology and Human Development classes that a good image of a father is vital to a child’s (especially a son’s) development. I thank my  Tatay Juan for being a good model, a friend, and a drinking buddy. And thank you for being my inspiration, for being my Maestro. I will always be grateful. I love you.

Happy Father’s Day po Tatay. Inuman tayo mamaya. Padayon!

Movies + Books

 

I was late for the 4:30 PM Sunday Mass yesterday at our Parish (because of the heavy traffic caused by the diaspora of new students/dormers – and theirkutsons – to the UPLB campus) so I decided to while away the time at the mall in front of the church and wait for the next, 6:00 PM mass.

 

I went to the bargain books shop (not Booksale) at the ground level and I came across these books. I was suppose to buy Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon only but since was placed in the ‘buy one, take one’ shelf, I grabbed William Shakespeare in the Movies as the other half of the purchase.

 

And believe it or not, I bought these two books for just ninety-nine (99) pesos:

 

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

 

I came across the idea six degrees of separation last year after watching the trailer of the movie, Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay. “Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of, ‘a friend of a friend’ statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer.” [source] (Though I am familiar with the game of connecting one people to another by means of relationship, I do not know that there is a term for that until last year.)

 

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a game based on the concept of the small world phenomenon and rests on the assumption that any individual involved in the Hollywood, California film industry can be linked through his or her roles to actor Kevin Bacon.

 

This is a trivia/game book that measures one’s BQ (or Bacon IQ). It contains 118 items that ranges from Hollywood’s greatest actors and actresses and television stars to the most obscure monsters and fictional characters. I have already browsed and read some of the items written and I was amazed at how the seemingly irrelevant names and things can be related to Kevin Bacon – in less than six steps. Kevin Bacon is indeed, ‘the center of Hollywood universe’.

 

Unfortunately, the book was published in 1996 during the height of the game’s popularity and Kevin Bacon has made more films since then. How about I update it personally? Not a bad idea but I think I should watch his previous movies first before doing such an ambitious dream.

 

Shakespeare in the Movies: From the Silent Era to Today

 

Honestly, I am not fond of reading the works of William Shakespeare (even though some of them were required readings during my Literature classes back in High School and College). But I am a big fan of the movie and theater adaptations of his works.

 

I first watched the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli movie adaptation of Romeo and Juliet starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey when I was in third year high school and it became one of my all-time favorites (well, probably because of Olivia Hussey’s big heart – if you know what I mean). During the course of my years as a student, I have watched the movie adaptations of some of his works (including the fictional Shakespeare in Love) and when I was a freshman in college, I had the chance to watch The Taming of the Shrew by Repertory Philippines.

 

“Shakespeare in the Movies is a comprehensive and entertaining study of the many memorable film versions of Shakespeare’s timeless plays. Arranged in the order the plays were written, this extremely readable guide allows readers to follow Shakespeare’s development as a playwright (and screenwriter), and to compare the filmed versions of the play side by side.” [source]

 

I love the movie adaptations of Shakespeare’s works so I thought this book will be a perfect companion to know him better. But after reading some of the book reviews online, I was disappointed to know that this book contains errors and there’s even a request that this book be pulled out of the bookshelves. Well, at least, I have a good place to start and it is up to me to find out what those errors are.

 

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Movies and books are two of my favorite past times and form of intellectual procrastination (Nuks!). I guess after reading these books, I have to dig at the archives (read: torrent files) of some of these classic, great movies.

 

Now if you may excuse me, I am saying goodbye to my social life for now. Because epistemologically speaking, books are necessary evil.

 

Au revoir!


Juan Twenty-Three

I grew up in the nineties. And just as what most of us knew, the number twenty-three (23) in that era is synonymous to one person– Michael Jordan. I may be wrong but I think most of the young boys during that time wanted to be like His Airness when they grow up – including me.  Most of my boy classmates in school are bragging their latest ‘Jordan shoes’ (the Nike Air Jordan series).  And I even had a Michael Jordan poster and jersey when I was about eight years old.

 

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Odd as it may sound, I have a huge respect for the number twenty-three when I was a kid (Well, until Lebron James used it. But that’s another story.). For me, it signifies greatness, excellence, and authority. I even had a notion that whenever a basketball player wears a jersey no. 23, whether it is on major leagues or the baranggay liga, heis the team’s captain. Unfortunately, I have to give up my basketball dreams. I have poor eyesight and I have discovered that I will not excel on that field.

I have given up my dream to be a basketball superstar but not my respect for the man. I may have forgotten the number of NBA cards that I have collected in the past but not his legacy. There is something in Michael Jordan that I have admired aside from his basketball skills – his perseverance and determination.

But what’s with the number twenty-three and Michael Jordan?

Today, I silently celebrated my twenty-third birthday. ‘Silently’ because I have disabled my birthday on Facebook on purpose and I did not flaunt it on Twitter (and resort to the desperate, fame whore-ish move ‘Let’s make #HappyBirthdayJuanRepublic trend’). I did that because I do not want to receive an ‘obligatory greeting’ just because they saw it on the web. And I made this day different from the other years by not throwing a celebration. Instead, I silently reflected on what I have become over the past year and how am I going to ‘improve’ it. I dealt upon my success and mistakes, achievements and failures, and thought of my goal and ‘back-up’ plan for the future.

This year has been tough for me. I thought that I would somehow make an ‘improvement’ from my past mistakes. But most of my plans and goals did not materialize. I thought of myself as a failure. Looking back to my teenager self, I saw myself as an ambitious, strong, young man full of potential. But I see myself now as an exact opposite. There were times, out of depression, that I thought of doing something crazy. This may come as a surprise but I had suicidal thoughts in the past. And I feel bad for myself for having those thoughts. I was wrong.

Today, I used those things that depress me to be my inspiration. I looked up for my old published articles, blog entries, and reflection papers. Instead of having a feeling of regret for not fulfilling the dreams of a younger me, I saw it as an inspiration – as a source of positive energy. I saw my younger self as an optimistic young man – so why change into a pessimist? I was bubbly, extrovert, and a positive young man. There was even an incident in the past when my boss said that she envies how easily I earn the trust of people (which is an important tool in our field of work). I have done it in the past – so why can’t I do it now? I want to and I have to.

Today, I also learned what hinders me to be successful. I am full of pride. I don’t want to commit mistakes. Or rather, I am afraid to commit mistakes. I am afraid to be a laughing stock. I have only worked within my comfort zone. I played safe. I was afraid to take risks. I was wrong.

Reflecting with Michael Jordan and the number twenty-three, I came across on one of his famous words: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

If Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player in the history of the NBA, was not afraid to commit mistakes, I do not see a reason to make ‘fear’ my excuse. If he became great by failing over and over again, so am I.

Aside from feeling bad for myself for being a ‘failure’, what hurts me more is to see my contemporaries (friends and former classmates) who are now successful in their field of work. Some are working for a good company/institution; some are sent by their company abroad; and some are, there, happily married (For the record, I do not envy them – yet.).

But how does one measure success? Good work? Fat salary? Happy marriage? Investments? Or getting all of them at a young age? I beg to differ. History has shown us people who succeeded long after they should have quit – during the later age of their lives. Alan Rickman got his first movie role at the age of 46. Peter Roget invented the Thesaurus at the age of 73. The author of the book Apocalypse Now, Jozef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski, was a sailor, drifter, and part-time criminal until the age of 37. An unemployed Nurse, Kathryn Joosten, became an Emmy award winning actress at 56. Colonel Sanders was 65 when he launched Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). And our very own Lilia Cuntapay got her first starring role in the movie Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay at the age of 76.

The above-mentioned people have inspired me not to give up. Don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. A proper time for one’s shining moment will come. As what they say, age is just a number. It is not the measure one’s worth and significance.

 

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This is probably quarter-life crisis. But I am still young. I am just twenty-three. I have a life ahead of me. It is not yet too late to restart again and carve my own story.

This journey of 23 years was both fun and painful. And I would like to start a new journey with hopes and dreams that this will also be a good one. Let’s aim for 90 years? Why not? If the Japanese can do it, why can’t I?

Thank you everyone for (wasting) spending your time reading this. I hope that you will also be part of my journey, Let’s walk together into the fullness of life.

May the Summum Bonum bless us all today, tomorrow. Padayon!

P.S. After nine (9) months of not having a haircut, I finally decided to have one yesterday. I said goodbye to my Beatle-turned-rugged hairstyle. I look younger and, er, cleaner with my new hair. Well, I think that’s a good start for my journey. And please, excuse my unflattering photo.

My Nanay and the Eraserheads

It’s the time of the year when we salute the women whose womb brought us and whose breasts, we nursed. We have different and unique yabang stories about how great, cool, and loving our mothers are. I have already shared this to my old readers last year but let me share this again to you, my ownyabang anecdote about my beloved Nanay:

The year was 2010. After months of being a bum after quitting my work as a researcher in UP Manila, I landed a job as an editor in a publishing company. And since I learned about the Eraserheads: The Head Set earlier that year (when rumors began to spread like wildfire on the internet), I made a vow to myself to allot a portion of my paycheck for the box set – no matter how expensive it would cost me.

The Box Set was released on September 9, 2010 – and I still haven’t received my paycheck. I was in panic. Since the box set is limited, I feared that I will not be able to buy myself a copy. I also feared that the box set will not be available here in the Southern Luzon area (you know, some music materials are just too Metro Manila-centered).

I received my paycheck by mid-September and the first thing that I did was to go to the nearest (and only) Greenwich here in Los Baños. I asked the crew if they have the Heads Set. And the rest was months of nostalgia, rockin’ with the Eraserheads.

As most of you who have the Heads Set, the box includes a coffee table book/ lyric sheet/ photo album (I don’t know how to exactly call it), complete albums, EPs, and a DVD, and the Heads Set Shirt.

Now, the Heads Shirt came in free-size-one-size-fits-all-that’s-a-fuckin’-fashion-discrimination!  And if you who know me personally, you know that that shirt will not fit me – and I rarely wear body fits (bakat ang man-boobs pare!). So I decided to just hang it in my room for art’s sake, for bragging, and for future self-centered consumption (I just love to use that word).

Months went by and the shirt still hangs in my room. One day, my Nanay entered the room and asked me: “Aanhin mo yan kung hindi mo isusuot? Sayang lang ang Pho 2, 500 mo.”

Jokingly, I replied “Kapag pumayat ako, maisusuot ko na yan”.

“Ipahiram mo na lang muna sa akin. Ako ang magsusuot.”, she replied.

At first, I was taken aback. My Nanay will wear an Eraserheads shirt? Is she trying to be bagets or what? I can accept it if my father wears this shirt (because he is jeprox and young at heart) but my conservative Nanay? She got to be kidding.

I asked her, “Seryoso kayo?”.

“Oo nga!”, she replied.

And she removed the shirt from the hanger, went to the other room, and wore my shirt. And it fits her perfectly. Panalo!

 

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This is the modern world where being fit and sexy is in and being fat with man-boobs is a big no. It’s just so unfair for us fatties. Come on self-proclaimed fashion experts! There are more of us who are not sexy, fit, and macho. The world is full of non-sexy and non-fit individuals. You should consider us whenever you make these shirts.

Okay, enough of the ranting. Alam ko namang olats ako diyan at kailangan ko na talagang magpapayat. Hindi na din kasi healthy.

I have cool parents. It’s good to see them having the same trip and vibes as ours. They borrow and listen to my CDs. They watch the same TV series as mine. And they both love the Eraserheads.

Nanay, you can wear that shirt forever if you want to. It’s all yours. I can buy you more Eraserheads shirt if you want to. Keep your cool. I love you po! :’)

__________

I don’t have a perfect mother – we all are. And sometimes, whenever I lose my temper or just under the weather, I treat my mother’s imperfections as a curse. It has always been my temptation (and I am struggling to fight it day after day) to look at my Nanay’s imperfection as something that the universe has conspired to punish me. And I hate myself for that.

But whenever I hear her story, I understand her. It’s inspiring to hear the stories of her youth. I almost cried when I heard that she has to stop going to school for a year because of her health conditions and how she struggled to be a working student and pay for her own school fees. I laugh whenever I hear her stories of youth, crazy office tales, and day-to-day experiences. Hearing her story made me understand my Nanay more. I guess I have to hear from her more in order for me to view her imperfections as a blessing. How about you? When was the last time that you had a heart-to-heart to your Nanay?

When I was young, I hated my mother for not letting me listen to the music of the Eraserheads. She always treat it as a noise and not a real music.

But now things have changed. She sings with me whenever I play Eraserheads (and Beatles) songs in the guitar and the piano. She even borrowed some of my CDs to listen in her computer in the office. And the last time I heard, she’s singing Super Bass, Bad Romance, and Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People. Yes, you have read that right.

I guess music, being the universal language, helped us to understand each other.

And the last time I checked, my Eraserheads shirt is still in her closet.

__________

Thank you, Nanay, for all the things that you have done for us. Thank you for being a good mother, a good wife, and a good friend. I am sorry for being a pain in the ass sometimes (or most of the time). that is how I show my tough love (Nuks!).

May the Good Lord bless you with good health and a happier life. Madaming rounds pa ng Scrabble ang lalaruin natin at madami pang bote ng alak ang patutumbahin natin.

 

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To the womb that bore me, and the breasts at which I nursed, I love you. Happy Mother’s Day po, Nanay!

Rakenrol!

Diyos Ko! Bakit Mo Ako Pinabayaan?

“Nang mag-aalas tres na ng hapon, sumigaw si Hesus, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachtani?’ na ang ibig sabihin ay, ‘Diyos ko, bakit mo ako pinabayaan?’ “ – Mateo 27: 46

 

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Marahil, karamihan sa atin ay nakapagtanong na minsan sa ating buhay ng mga katagang “Diyos ko? Diyos ko? Bakit mo ako pinabayaan?”

Sa mga puntong iyon ng ating buhay ay para bang nararamdaman nating wala ng Diyos o kung meron man, siya ay natutulog at nagpapabaya sa atin. O isang sadistang hinahayaan na lang ang kanyang mga nilikha na maghirap, magkagulo, at lamunin ng problema.

Totoo nga bang may Diyos? Totoo nga bang hindi natutulog ang diyos? Pero kung totoong nandiyan siya, bakit niya tayo pinababayaan?

Hindi kaila sa atin na sadyang mapagbiro ang tadhana. Dumadating ang mga pagkakataong para bang tayo na ang pinaka-abang tao sa mukha ng lupa. Na kahit ano mang bagay ang ating gawin para ito ay masolusyonan ay tila baga wala pa ring kahihinatnang malinaw na solusyon sa ating mga problema.

Dito pumapasok ang buhay at kaisipan ng kawalang pag-asa. Naiisip nating“Diyos nga ay walang pakialam sa akin at hindi ako tinutulungan, ako pa kayang hamak na tao ang makagawa?” Dito pumapasok ang buhay sa kadiliman. Ang buhay pagpapabaya. Ang buhay na malayo sa Diyos. Ilang beses na nating inakusahan ang diyos ng pagpapabaya sa atin? Kawawa naman si Lord, kahit walang sawang nagmamahal, lagi na lamang sinisisi sa mga hindi magagandang nangyayari sa buhay ng tao.

Ito ang isang klasikong halimbawa. May mga taong nasa banig ng karamdaman na halos isumpa na ang langit at lupa at ang Manlilikha. “Diyos ko! Bakit niyo naman ako binigyan ng ganitong sakit?”, marahil ang ilan sa mga linyang kanyang bibitawan. Ngunit naitanong na ba niya sa kanyang sarili, ano ang aking ginawa kaya ako nagkasakit? Ano ang aking naging lifestyle kaya ako nagkakaganito ngayon? May mga taong sinisisi ang Diyos sa lung cancer, chain smoker naman ng halos 40 taon; may mga sinisisi ang Diyos sa sakit sa puso, walang preno naman kung kumain at hindi nag-eehersisyo; sinisisi ang Diyos dahil sa karamdamang kung minsan – o madalas – bunga din naman ng sariling pagpapabaya.

Dahil sa mentalidad na “wala namang diyos” (kahit meron naman talaga) ay nabubuhay tayo sa isang buhay na walang direksyon at walang kaliwanagan. Sa pagtahak natin sa ganoong klase ng “trip” sa buhay, hindi maiiwasang may mga tao tayong isasama at hahatakin doon sa “kakaibang trip” na iyon. Imbes na maging tagapagdala ng liwanag at pag-asa, dahil nga tayo ay nabubuhay ng malayo sa Diyos, tayo ay nagiging instrumento pa upang mapariwara ng landas ng iba. Imbes na tayo lang ang nakakaramdam ng “pagpapabaya ng diyos” (kahit hindi naman talaga), ipinaparamdam pa natin ito sa iba. Ilang beses na ba tayong naging instrumento para ang ating kapwa ay “mabuhay sa kadiliman?”

Bakit nga ba kapag tayo ay malayo sa Diyos, tayo ay nabubuhay sa kadiliman? Ito ay sa kadahilanang Diyos ang siyang nagbibigay ng liwanag. Diyos ang talagang nagbibigay ng ilaw dahil ang Diyos ang ilaw, ang Diyos ang liwanag (1 Juan 1:5). Mas maliwanag pa ang diyos kumpara sa ilaw na ibinibigay ng Meralco. Mas Masaya, mas maganda, kapag may liwanag ang buhay. At ang liwanag ng buhay ay atin lamang makakamit sa diyos. Walang ibang nilalang ang makakapagbigay ng ganap na kaliwanagan bukod sa diyos (katunayan nga, ang Diyos ay hindi isang nilalang dahil wala naming lumalang sa kanya). Kung kaliwanagan ng buhay ang kailangan mo para sa madilim mong buhay, Diyos ang kailangan mo.

Sa katunayan, kapag dumadating ang mga “kadiliman” sa ating buhay, hindi naman ito talagang ganap na kadiliman. Sabihin na nating, isa lamang itong “kulimlim” ng buhay. Kung atin itong ikukumpara sa ating buhay at Diyos ang “araw”, hindi naman talaga nawawala o nagpapabaya ang Diyos, “nakakubli” lamang siya sa likod ng mga ulap ngunit hindi siya nawawala. Kung inaakala nating nawawala ang araw, o nawawala ang Diyos sa ating buhay, iyon ay isang pagkakamali. Tayo ang nawawala, hindi ang araw. Tayo ang lumalayo sa Diyos, hindi Diyos ang lumalayo sa atin.

 

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Hindi naman kaila sa atin na may mga taong hindi naniniwala sa Diyos. At may mga taong walang pakialam kung may Diyos ba o wala, basta’t mabubuhay sila ayon sa kanilang kagustuha at kaginhawahan.

Minsan ay naitanong ko sa isang kakilala kung bakit hindi siya naniniwala sa Diyos. Sinagot niya akong, kung may Diyos, bakit may paghihirap? Bakit may nagugutom? Bakit may sakit? Bakit may namamatay nang hindi ma lang nakatikim ng hustisya at kaginhawahan sa buhay.

Kasama sa pag-aaral ko sa Pilosopiya noong Kolehiyo ang pag-aaral tungkol sa katotohanang may Diyos at ang problema ng imperpeksyon at kasamaan sa mundo. Madali sa aking intindihin kung bakit nangyayari ang mga ganoong bagay. Hindi naman kasi kayang ‘kontrolin’ ng Diyos ang kalayaan ng tao. Binigyan niya tayo ng kalayaan – o free will – bilang mga nilalang. Malaya ang tao na gawin ang gusto niya. Ika nga, maituturing na free will ang ‘kahinaan’ ng Diyos.

Ang mga paghihirap, pagkakasakit, at mga trahedya ay hindi dahil ito ay ginusto ng Diyos. O dahil walang pakialam ang Diyos. O dahil wala naman talagang Diyos. Ito ay dahil tayo ay may kalayaan ang tao. Maaaaring ang paghihirap ng isang tao ay bunga na din ng kapabayaan at pagsasamantala ng kapwa niya tao.

 

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E bakit pa kinakailangang magkaroon ng mga “kulimlim” na parte ng ating buhay?

Ang buhay ng tao ay hindi palaging puno ng kasiyahan. Natural sa buhay ng tao na dumadating ang mga problema at pagsubok ng buhay. Ang mga pagsubok na ito ang nagdadagdag ng “kulay” at ganda ng buhay. Masyadong “patay” ang isang buhay kung pare-pareho na lamang ang kulay at lasa nito.

Paano nating masasabing masaya ang ating buhay kung wala tayong punto ng pagkukumparahan nito (point of comparison)? Nakakasawa ang isang buhay na punong-puno ng kasiyahan at walang halong kalungkutan. Perfection is boring. Masasabi kasi nating mas nagiging ganap ang kasiyahan ng buhay kung ang kasiyahang iyon ay ang pakiramdam ng tagumpay ng paglampas sa pagsubok ng buhay. Nakakaumay ang palaging matamis na buhay. Paminsan-minsan, kailangan din nating makatikim ng maalat, mapakla, at mapait na lasa ng buhay.

Ang buhay ay parang tiklada ng piano. Hindi lamang puro puting tiklada ang ating pinipindot, kinakailangan din nating daanan ang mga itim na tiklada. At alam ng mga musikero na ang kombinasyon ng mga itim at putting tiklada – na parang kombinasyon ng kaligayahan at kalungkutan ng buhay – ang siyang mas nakagagawa ng kaaya-aya at de kalidad na tunog.

Bukod sa pagbibigay ng lasa at kulay ng buhay, bakit kinakailangan pa nating maghirap? Bakit pa kinakailangang magbigay ni Lord ng mga pagsubok ng buhay?

Ang diyos ay diyos na kahit wala ang mga nilalang. Hindi dagdag o kabawasan sa pagiging Diyos niya ang mga nilalang. Kung tutuusin nga, hindi na niya kinakailangan pang lumikha dahil diyos na siya. Ngunit dahil sa kanyang pagmamahal ay nilikha niya tayo. Nilikha tayo ng Diyos dahil sa pagmamahal niya sa sanilibutan. Bilang mga nlalang, natural lamang na ibalik natin ang pagmamahal na iyon sa diyos na siyang unang nagmahal at lumikha sa atin.

May mga pagkakataon kasi na sa kadahilanang masyado na tayong nagiging makasarili bunga ng ating tagumpay, nakakalimutan na nating magpasalamat sa diyos. Paminsan-minsan, kinakailangan tayong “kalugin” ng diyos upang magising tayo sa katotohanang mayroong diyos na pinagmumulan ng lahat ng tagumpay at ganap na kaligayahan.

Gayundin naman, ang Diyos ay umaakto bilang mga “traffic signs” sa “highway ng paglalakbay natin sa buhay.” Huwag natin itong ituring bilang mga balakid sa paglalakbay sa buhay, bagkus, ituring natin ang diyos bilang isang gabay upang makarating tayo sa ating paroroonan ng ligtas. Dahil sa bandang huli, Diyos din naman ang patutunguhan nating lahat. Ang diyos ang simula at katapusan ng lahat ng mga bagay. Siya ang Alpha at Omega ng sanlibutan at ng ating mga buhay.

Ang plano ng diyos para sa kanyang mga nilalang ay palaging “happy ending.” Kung sa istorya ng buhay natin ay para bang gusto na nating sumuko dahil sa mga pagsubok at problema nating hinaharap, alalahanin na nating hindi pa iyon ang “happy ending” na itinakda ng Diyos para sa atin. Iyong mga iyon ay ituring nating “pampagana at pampaganda” ng istorya ng ating buhay.

Sa bandang huli, nais kong sabihing hindi naman talaga nagpapabaya ang Diyos. Kung sa tingin nating parang “nilalayasan” tayo ng diyos sa ating buhay, sana ay sumagi sa ating isipan na “nagtatago” lamang ang Diyos ngunit palagi pa rin siyang nagmamasid at gumagabay sa atin.

Nawa, ang ating isigaw sa buhay ay hindi ang “pagpapabaya ng diyos” kundi“DIYOS KO! DIYOS KO! SALAMAT AT HINDI MO AKO PINABAYAAN!”

Ano pa mang mga pagsubok ang dumating sa atin, kakayanin natin ito dahil alam nating may plano ang Diyos sa atin.

Pag-ibig, pagkakaisa, at pagmamahalan ang nawa’y sumaating lahat. Padayon!

This was originally written in 2009 but I tweaked it this year to tackle the issues of today. I decided to repost this one to reach wider audience. Have a blessed Good Friday everyone!