Spiritual day: Christianity, Angels and Demons

 

Thursday. It has been years since I’ve been so spiritual and what makes it more odd is that it happened during a job application. No, it’s not because I prayed that I’d get hired – though I always do for every job application. But it’s because the fields and questions in the application form contained the most unlikely and unanticipated items. Other than the usual infos being required by most employers, this one has such things as: Who is Jesus Christ? How often do you pray? What do you think of the poor? Yes, you read it right. And No, I’m not applying to be a priest – do I hear sighs of relief?

I was at TSPI Development Corporation’s head office somewhere in Makati with its size that isn’t even half of my previous company’s canteen. In short, it’s small. But what lacks in size, it makes up with its mission. TSPI which stands for Tulay Sa Pag-unlad (Bridge to Development), Incorporated which is a non-profit, non-government organization (NGO) and a Christian value-oriented group and caters to helping the poor by integrating micro financing and individual transformation. This company has several offices all over Luzon and is now expanding to the rest of the country (they’re currently building a multi-story office just across their current humble location).

The first time I learned about TSPI was when I was with my family vacationing in Bolinao and while I was expecting SMS notices from companies that might have taken interest on my posted online resume. At first I thought that the text from TSPI was just a mistake because after I asked for its address, it didn’t reply back, well, not until two weeks after – last Tuesday. This time a contact person is indicated along with its address. That got me curious enough. In fact, that night I researched again but however I re-do the typing and clicking on the Internet Explorer’s search field, the results are all the same – it all lead me to TSPI.org’s website. It became apparent that it’s neither a semiconductor nor a call center company.

Although I find it weird after confirming it’s an NGO, it didn’t deter me from leaving home before six in the morning just to be at their office by 8 am as advised. I arrived 30 minutes earlier and soon after I was in one corner of their office along seated on a monobloc chair beside other applicants who try to answer the exam while at an ear shot from the ongoing office routines, employee discussions and what seems to be a staff meeting held in one of the low-walled cubicles. And while I sort of worry about the supervisor inquest exams I kept worrying more if I answered the previous religion-related essays. I wonder if not answering the field, “Do you have a life verse?” would have a significant impact.

Just like the last call center application, I got interviewed. But unlike it, the interview this time was more casual and also during this time I felt I got it in the bag. Unfortunately, the HR personnel said I will be assigned to the CALABARZON areas rather than in Makati which in the first place is the reason why I got interested in pursuing my application since it’s just a few minutes away from Ateneo Rockwell. So once again, my studies got in the way. Another opportunity cost (and loss?) for me to deal with. I was close but still no cigar.

***

The TSPI HR personnel was good enough to grant my request to adjust my application exam day to Thursday instead of the texted Wednesday. I requested it so I can make one trip to Makati to also meet my Managerial Accounting classmates for a group activity meeting in the afternoon.

I was out of TSPI before lunch time and that gave me so much gap until the planned 6 pm group meeting. And so despite the guilt that I’m killing time in the Power Plant mall while my wife and kid are probably bored to death inside our home in Cavite, I can’t help but give in to the call of the cinemas. I picked the movie Angels and Demons over Terminator Salvation.

Angels and Demons is one of the few movies which I’ve read the book before it became a film and this by far I have to say is the nearest to its paperback counterpart. Ron Howard did a very good job directing this movie almost by the book (pun intended). I find it so eerily close to how I imagined it during the time when I’m reading page after page of this great Dan Brown fiction (or not?). It was like my own imagination of the story has materialized to my own liking. I love how the CERN lab scenes (esp. the formation of the anti-matter), Camerlengo character depiction, Ambigrams, Rome statues and artifacts, conclave rituals and almost every thing written by the famous Da Vinci Code author came to life.

The main casts of this another controversial film were of course key to its success. As usual Tom Hanks is just perfect for his role as Robert Langdon and Ewan McGregor although appearing so unrealistically young did portray the role of the Camerlengo so well. Even the supporting actors, especially the Illuminati hit man, get my thumbs up. I just wished though that the movie could have shown more of the CERN scenes according to the book as it is where Ayelet Zurer (who played Vittoria Vetra) could have displayed more of her acting skills.

Of course the movie has some flaws like lousy special action force moves and Vatican crowd acting but then again these are very very minor and easily forgiven and forgotten especially when one gets so engrossed to the whole plot that’s filled with deception, mystery and fast-paced action. It’s like as if one is just about to say, “hey, that’s wrong…” and then the appearance of the branded ambigrams erases all criticism (behind tightly bitten lips) and gets one back on track thinking almost ahead of Langdon and wondering what might come next.

Now, I can’t wait to see if Ron Howard can do justice to Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress novel. I have a strong feeling though that he will.

 

 

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (cold and rainy outside)

 

The story of the feather pillow

 

I have been longing to tell this story that I heard from the previous parish priest in Manggahan, Cavite. And now is just the perfect time.

There once was woman who approached a priest and said, “Father, I need to confess about having spread gossips about my friend. What should I do?” The priest then said, “Go grab a feather pillow, climb up to the belfry’s peak, tear the pillow and spread all of its content and go right back here.” 

The woman surprised about the priest’s weird instruction, still proceeded anxiously and went to grab a feather pillow and followed just as told by the priest. After a short while, panting heavily after running up and right back down, she happily told the priest, “Father, it’s all done, just like you have said. Now what?”

Smiling, the priest then said, “Go out of the church and gather every feather that came out of the pillow.” The woman’s eyes widened in disbelief and blurted, “But father, that is just impossible, some of the feathers were blown by the wind so far from the belfry and so far away from the church’s ground. I just can’t collect every feather even if I wanted to.”

Miss, that’s exactly the same thing you did when you spread the gossips about your friend. No matter how you try getting everything back, you just can’t do enough to recall what has been said”, the priest simply replied back. The woman shook and bowed her head in regret.

I can very well relate to this story especially during the time when I was one of the board members of our village. As much as I’d like to unify the eering officers, I just cannot. So much have been said already, unfortunately, not to the concerned person but to other people in the village. This made one issue which may have been resolved if timely discussed among the people involved. Unfortunately, it became one that cannot be fixed anymore as each of those who have heard about it re-told the story to others as well but this time most likely with a twist; it’s either more or less of the original story thus complicating everything in the process.

Getting hopeless and fed up, I finally decided to quit. But sadly, it didn’t stop there. Until now I am affected. I hate to think about it, but most likely, I’m also a victim of loose tongues and idle minds. Bad. Very bad. I don’t know now, what I’ll do next, but we’ll soon see. 

***

This story is also applicable to the current hot topic in Philippine media – the Hayden Kho/Katrina Halili sex video scandal. It’s a pity, but the video has spread rapidly, thanks to the producers of these pirated copies. This is one hopeless case. Even if our law enforcement agencies, the OMB (Optical Media Board) and our beloved Congress gets to round up every bit of copies and stop its further proliferation, some of it will likely remain inside hidden in private hard drives or even in the innocent looking minute flash drives. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

 

 Mood: 4/10 Honks!

Learning spirituality from a boxer

 

One thing is certain today and until a few more days ahead – everyone will be talking about the recently concluded Pacquiao versus Hatton match in Las Vegas. Of course, the Brits will be cursing, while we Filipinos will be full of pride and praises for the Pacman who overpowered and humbled the Hitman just before the second round was finished, leaving all doubts that the last Pacman versus Golden Boy match last year was won just because the latter wasn’t at its peak performance anymore.

However, while almost everyone was getting ready with this fateful match, I on the other hand felt something when I saw Manny Pacquiao enter the ring and perform his routine in one corner by kneeling and bowing his head in prayer at least for several seconds despite the excitement of everyone around and inside the ring. I’ve watched almost all of Manny’s match wherein he got victorious over his opponents; and every time the camera captures him in prayer, I question the sincerity of his action. I always wonder if this is just for the show to get sympathy and support from his fans or if he does pray fervently for divine intervention during all of his boxing matches.

Well, my realization about Manny’s display and declaration of his faith in God was somehow confirmed today just like how he confirmed his superiority over other boxers he’s been paired with. The doubts I had about his faith were erased today. I realized that if there’s one good example of how the saying “Do your best and God will do the rest” applies to real life, then it is very well exemplified by the best pound-for-pound boxer.

The Pacman’s discipline to endure months of rigorous training in preparation for a boxing match and his willingness to trust his coach – Freddie Roach – and taking every opportunity to hone his skills are proof that on top of being faithful and submitting to the will of God, he still makes it a point to do whatever he can on his end and probably letting God fill in the voids that he may have missed. That to me is active spirituality, and I really hope that this aspect of the Pacman will inspire everyone to follow suit.

I am a boxing fan of Pacman, I’m now a believer of his spirituality as well. And while I know that it is highly unlikely for this to personally reach him, I’d still say my own, “congratulations Pacman! Once again you made us proud!”

 

Mood: 2/10 Honks!

 

 

Be a pro-earth Christian this Holy Week

I don’t know how to react exactly to last night’s news. The TV patrol reporter introduced the news, “…dagdag pasanin na naman sa mga deboto (additional burden again to the devoutees)…”; at that point I was expecting to hear something really bad. To my surprise, the well-emphasized “pasanin”was just about a Php 20 (less than USD 0.5) fee being asked by the DENR at the foot of Mt. Banahaw for those visiting it this Holy Week. The fee they say is for the maintenance of the environment.

 

I can’t help but shake my head in dismay for such news exaggeration. I also feel pity for those people who were interviewed and answered as if they are being individually extorted of thousands of pesos. Hey, if you reached Banahaw, donating Php 20 I know isn’t something that will deprive you of anything at all.

 

The DENR has all the rights to collect such fee. It is already a fact that even those with good intentions to take their religious panata (vow) have intentionally or unintentionally left their garbages up in the mountains. It is sad that others aren’t aware that whatever they have brought along with them should be properly disposed of. I’ve been in Mt. Makiling once and I saw that there are indeed people who patrol the area just to remind everyone that trashes shouldn’t be thrown anywhere. I also heard from some of my friends who are into mountaineering that it is a protocol to pack and bring every trash and have it disposed properly once they went back down the mountain.

 

So instead of feeling paranoid about where the donations go, let’s give DENR the benefit of the doubt. Besides, it’s Holy Week isn’t it? It’s un-Christian to think bad about other people just as it is un-Christian to leave those garbages behind after you have prayed all day. And do you still remember one of your grade school’s classroom poster, “cleanliness is next to godliness”? Well, I just hope so.

 

 

***

Wed want to have our kids see trees when they grow up, dont we?

We'd want to have our kids see trees when they grow up, don't we?

Here’s a timely tip coming from Greenpeace – green vacation tips:

  1. Unplug appliances at home: Save energy by switching off and unplugging all electrical appliances you before you leave your home.

  2. Reduce waste: bring your own bag when you go out, say no to plastic – straws, bags and sachets.
  3. Bottle your own water. Bring your own refillable container instead of buying plastic bottles that will go straight to a landfill when you’re finished.
  4. No natural souvenirs: Do not disturb the natural ecosystem by bringing home sand, rocks or shells for decoration.
  5. Be green even if the hotel isn’t – Turn off lights and air conditioning when you leave the room.

***

Have a green and Holy Week everyone! (quit that smile, there’s no pun intended).

 

 

Mood: 2/10 Honks!

 

Bloody Bisaya

 

I have forgotten all about this issue that has created another stir among “majority” of the Filipinos led supposedly by our nationalistic and caring brethren here and abroad. But just as I was about stretching my yet sleepy self out of bed I heard it from the news again.

This is about the discrimination issue being raised when a comedy show somewhere in Europe featured a maid being made to perform an indecent act in front of his British master. This short scene once again made it to our national news; both print and broadcast. Everyone jumped in the bandwagon like ants smelling an open sugar container. Everyone called foul. And once again everyone called for an apology from the British.

This news is not new though. The recent one I can recall was when actress Teri Hatcher’s character made a remark questioning the credentials of Filipino doctors during one of the Desperate Housewife episodes. This one too angered “all” Filipinos. Some even rallied behind to have the show and Teri Hatcher banned here in the Philippines. Of course, do I need to mention that an apology was demanded from Teri Hatcher?

News such as this is like an irritating itch to me. I hate it but I’m amused with it as well. Why? Because most of us are quick to point out discrimination coming from foreigners but have totally forgotten that it has been actually happening here in our country. We’ve stereotyped people coming from the provinces and treated some with less respect.

If someone speaks with thick Visayan accent, most will call them Dong. I learned from a friend that this is an insult especially if used in Cebu – also a Visayan province. And not only that, most shows portray their household drivers, maids or sidekicks as Bisaya. We enjoy seeing them being slapped in both comedy and the dreaded telenovela shows. To everyone, having a thick Visayan accent is synonymous to being illiterate or ignorant. How rude.

So what are we going to do with it? I’m from Bacolod where most will immediately call one coming from there as Bisaya. Should I demand then an apology from the rest of the fair skinned, fluent Tagalog-speaking Filipino? Should I waste my time and effort to get my message across? Unfortunately, I just did. To tell you frankly, I don’t give a damn. Hence, unless we get our acts together here in treating the rest of our countrymen fairly, let’s not be surprised and stop feeling discriminated if foreign shows brand us as cooks, janitors, gasoline attendants, dog-eaters, fake doctors, fake nurses and illiterate sexy maids. Live with it.

 What do you think? Please vote.

 

(This is my first poll in my blog. Another cool wordpress feature.)

***

Here’s what I read from yesterday’s Francis J. Kong article that made me relate it to my subject matter:

From the Albany Journal, 1890 comes this material…A true Christian never looks down on anybody, and yet this habit of looking down on the less fortunate acquaintances is common enough to make the following advice given by the Albany Journal to its young readers, very timely:

“Don’t look down on a boy because he wears shabby clothes; when Edison, the inventor first entered Boston, he wore a pair of yellow breeches in the depth of winter.

“Don’t look down on a boy because his home is plain and unpretending; Abraham Lincoln’s early home was a log cabin.

“Don’t look down on a boy because of the ignorance of his parents; Shakespeare, the world’s poet, was the son of a man who was unable to write his own name.

“Don’t look down on anyone; not just because some day they may outstrip you in the race of life, but because it is neither kind, nor right, nor Christian.”

***

Did you know that?

Recently I discovered some fascinating facts:

*There’s a book in the bible called Job. (from my mother who sent me a personal message for my Playing With God blog)

*A man named Expeditus did exist. And guess what, he is the now the saint for people with urgent cases. (seen among the statues inside the humid Dasmarinas church)

Playing With God

I was born with a very pious mother and I can very well remember how much we’ve been taught about religion. And as I’ve mentioned before, I was in a catholic school from elementary grade to high school. Praying had been a part and a way of life for us. So from my mother at home to the nuns and brothers at school, the reminder “Thou shall not use God’s name in vain” echoed.

It may sound blasphemous to most devote catholic but I think that always considering God as a very serious god could sometimes ruin our relationship with him. How many times have we heard and seen people (including our self) get so upset with what has happened and immediately points the blame to God. Most get so uptight in situations– no matter how minor – wherein we feel that God is testing us if we can maintain a resolute faith despite facing a trial at some point of our lives.

But have we really ever wondered if God tried playing with us? Yes, just like having a known strict parent who for no reason at all grabs one of your toys and just try to be really playful with you. Well, I do really wonder right now.

It all started yesterday; when by the afternoon I decided to wash our car when I saw that chances of having rain is already nil. I did the washing in a very diligent manner and I wiped the car dry just short of getting it polished and shined. I was tired and sweaty when I finished the whole thing and was so proud of what I have just accomplished. Unknown to me, just an hour after, rain poured hard like a bad joke coming from the heavens.

After a couple of seconds of being offended, I ended smiling. Why? Because I had this funny imagination that God must have been staring down at me and was observing me the whole time I was washing the car. I feel like he was trying to have some light moments with me to break the series of serious yet silent “discussions” with him for the past several days already.

That short and witty moment got me thinking until I went to sleep late that night. It added another “What if God….” questions in my mind. It opened a new perspective of how God can communicate to us. I think that sometimes it may help a lot if we view God in a different aspect from what we’ve been taught about him. Sometimes to make his presence known to us, he sets aside (maybe) being serious. And sometimes we need to consider that he may be trying to reach out to us in a lighter way. This way, it lightens the burden we experiences and through this, we communicate to him more candidly and it creates a more effective way of discussion – in the form of prayer, of course.

The questions now linger. What if God wants to play with us? How do we deal with it? Will our short temper flare? What if a divine clean joke may be what we need to improve our relationship with the one we’ve always known as God? Are you game?

 

***

I got a forwarded email from one friend today and required me to forward it to 10 persons. Guess what it is? If you answered spam, give yourself a pat at the back. It reminded me of my Chain Game blog.

 

***

The frequently used words for me lately are God, jobs, baby, food, money and yes, also “words”. So I’m once again amused to find out when I saw that Monday’s AWAD (A.Word.A.Day) had this:

epeolatry – noun: (ep-i-OL-uh-tree) The worship of words.

I’m imagining someone kneeling in front of the word, WORD. Now that’s just weird. But weirder is Tuesday’s AWAD entry:

univocalic – noun: (yoo-niv-uh-KAL-ik) A piece of writing that uses only one of the vowels.
adjective: Using only one vowel.

And also included in that daily mail is this: “CONTEST: Imagine you are a headline writer for a newspaper back in the days when metal type was used. You have run out of all but one of the vowels in the large type size that is used for the headline. What univocalic can you come up with? Email your univocalic news headlines (real or made-up) to (words at wordsmith.org).
Selected entries will be featured in the weekly compilation AWADmail and the best entry will win an autographed copy of my latest book DORD. Deadline is Friday Oct 17

I was so eager to try my hands on this contest and I was surprised how easy it can get. Here are some of my own headline creations for each vowel:

A.

Man And Angst = War.

E.

Sheep Herd Entered Cells. Press’ News Went Berserk.

I.

City Inn Hid Tiny Mic. Irks Indy Kid.

O.

Moon Got Odd. Only Old Owls Hoot.

U.

Gypsy’s Hut Shuts. Urn Put Up.

Oh, before I forget. I sent one of the made-up headlines above. I want that DORD book. So please make your own headline in case you want it too. Do not copy.