Saturday, February 26, 2005

English millionaire, Dylan Wilk, promoting the Gawad Kalinga (To Give Care) housing project at the International Labour Organization in Geneva. This 30-something Briton from Leeds works as a full-time volunteer for the Gawad Kalinga based in the Philippines. Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 19, 2005

wanderer in thought Posted by Hello

Friday, February 18, 2005

Dead Sea Scrolls on exhibit in Geneva

Last night, I was privileged enough to attend a lecture on the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) by Dr. Donald Parry of the Brigham Young University in Utah, U.S.A. Replicas of the scrolls are on display at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Geneva. Aside from being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Dr. Parry is a university professor of Hebrew at BYU.

Among the audience were a handful of diplomats, religious leaders including former Geneva Rabbi-Chief Raphael Geudj of the University of Geneva, Latter-Day Saints believers, and many more.

The DSS is suggested to be dated from 100 B.C. It contains most of the Books of the Old Testament excluding that of Esther, because it never once mentioned the name of God (Elohim or Jehovah in Hebrew). The text is hand-written in calligraphy on leather made from bovine, sheep or deer skin with some measuring 26 feet in length and six inches in width.

It was discovered in some caves in 1947 by two shepherd boys in the area of Qumran, Palestine along the Dead Sea. One boy accidentally threw a rock into one of the caves that housed the scrolls and broke an ancient jar. It made an eerie sound which prompted one of the boys to tell someone. They had thought it was a jinn, the Arabic term for “devil” or “evil spirits.”

As they opened the jars, it was heavily sealed with wax and only contained the scrolls and not the gold treasures they were hoping to find. The two boys took some of the scrolls and sold it to an antiquities dealer for $20. The scrolls are now housed in the Shrine of Books in Israel. It is heavily guarded because the Old Testament is used in two major faiths: Judaism and Christianity. And the translation of the DSS is highly considered in modern day bibles. The DSS also provides great insight on the ancient Hebrew and the early Aramaic used in the bible.

Over 1000 books and 5000 articles have been written on the DSS but due to time constraints, Dr. Parry gave only a 25-minute presentation on the various questions that his scholarly work has answered. One of his findings is that the DSS were used by Essin Jews. It was hypothesized that may be Jesus Christ himself learned from these Jews but Dr. Parry doesn’t think so. It’s more likely that John the Baptist lived and learned with this group of Jews.

The Essin Jews are rumored to have been celibate Jews because when the area where they lived was dug up, only six females were there as compared to the 200 men buried in the cemetery.

He also elaborated on many of the texts found in the DSS but is not found in current bibles. An interesting insight is on Psalm 145 which is according to him an alphabetically versed song which has the missing Hebrew letter “N” or “noon.” The DSS supplies this missing text.

The age of the scrolls are in question because there are at least five ways to date them, i.e. carbon dating, paleography, geographical leveling, among others.

Dr. Parry after his short presentation took the audience to the exhibit and gave us a 15-minute tour of the major scroll findings, i.e. the Book of Job, Habakkuk and a book that contained the rules of daily living for Jews.

A diorama showed the layout of the Qumran caves where the Essin Jews displayed marvelous engineering skills by keeping rainwater for a whole year. Certain “wells” were created to catch the rainfall and it would last the whole year.

Dr. Parry has written various amount of books on the DSS and have worked with Emmanuel Tov, the editor-in-chief for the Translation of the DSS. Dr. Parry lived in Jerusalem at the time he worked with Tov.

Me, Dr. Parry and Mom  Posted by Hello

Dr. Donald Parry in front of the Book of Job (Dead Sea Scroll) Posted by Hello

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

YOU ARE WORTH IT (circa 1999) by Ray Nichols (Raenante Rojas)

Do not undermine your worth
By comparing yourself with others
It is because we are different
That each of us is special

Do not set your goals
By what other people deem important
Only you know
What is best for you

Do not take for granted
The things closest to your heart
Cling to them as you would your life
For without them,
Life is meaningless

Do not let your life
Slip through your fingers
By living in the past
Nor for the future
By living your life one day at a time
You live all the days of your life

Do not give up
When you still have something to give
Nothing is really over
Until the moment you stop trying
It is a fragile thread
That binds us to each other

Do not be afraid to encounter risks
It is by taking chances
That we learn how to be brave

Do not shut love out of your life
By saying it is impossible to find

The quickest way to receive love
Is to give love
The fastest way to lose love is to hold it tightly

Do not dismiss your dreams
To be without dreams
Is to be without hope
To be without hope
Is to be without purpose

Do not run through life
So fast that you forget
Not only where you have been
But also were you are going

Life is not a race
But a journey
To be savored
Each step of the way


[Ray, 24, is a close friend of mine and we grew up together in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. We spent but only a few years building our friendship there but it was in the 10 years that we kept in touch that our friendship really blossomed. His writing has inspired me through the years. He wrote this poem for himself at the age of 19 before the new millennium. He gave the original copy to me when we met in Manila (1999) after six years of separation. I gave him his own laminated copy but he lost it again. So, I am putting a copy here for the world to see…how wonderful a writer he really is and how much he is an inspiration to so many people. Ray is a senior airman with the U.S. Air Force stationed in Travis Air Fore Base in California.]

Monday, February 07, 2005

“People Power I” Revisited…

In a few days, the Filipinos will be celebrating the 9th anniversary of the first People Power in the country. It was a benchmark in Asia that was replicated in many countries in the region, including Indonesia and the unsuccessful attempt in Tiananmen Square in China. It was a hallmark of democracy and for some, the true representation of rule by the people, for the people and of the people. IT MEANT THE END OF DICTATORSHIP, the beginning of democracy again and the peaceful resolution to an otherwise potentially violent end of the Marcos reign.

It was sparked by the anger, dismay and disappointment over the many injustices committed during the Marcos Era and the human rights violations flagrant during Martial Law. The writ of habeas corpus was suspended and most opposition leaders were imprisoned for their contrasting political stand. Many politicians, journalists, and oppositionists who questioned Marcos mysteriously disappeared, were tortured and some were forever silenced. The people had had enough.

With the defection of then Marcos’ loyalists, Juan Ponce Enrile (who later became Senator) and Fidel V. Ramos (who later became the President of the Republic), began the outpouring of support for the newly proclaimed administration of Pres. Corazon Aquino. It was 1986…and the wife of the assassinated opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Sr. was sworn in as president of the Republic. The people had taken to the streets to proclaim this. They had risen from fear and nuns, clergymen and common citizens put roses in the mouths of the tank with their barrels aimed at the people. They hung sampaguitas on the soldiers and acted as human barricade. The army at the behest of Marcos was to stop the people. But the people had come out in full support of Aquino and there could only be peace. The People Power Revolution passed with no bloodshed.

And almost ten years on…have we learned from our new democracy? People Power has been replicated in 2001 to oust yet another president, Joseph Estrada. But have we truly learned?

In our presidential elections, have we chosen the right candidate and was not blinded by the bribery of money? Have we diverted from corrupt officials and avoided being the “grease” in under-the-table deals? We were offered a new beginning in People Power I. But it seems to have lain in waste…

Our economy is slowly picking up now with new presidential initiatives but we still lose about $20 billion in corruption. Officials still funnel public funds into their private pockets. And we elect these officials…and we tolerate them. The lifestyle check was instituted by Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but it seems to have lost steam and many anomalies are left unchecked.

Where is the Philippines going to? How long will it take for Filipinos to wake up and to actually devote time and money to rebuilding the Philippines? We are sometimes called “ningas cogon” meaning “good at the start, but never finishing.”

We are constantly plagued by problems that can be solved with a slight, or that maybe too kind, a MAJOR attitude change! Eighty million Filipinos survive each day, making a living out of nothing. And there are those that make a living by taking from others. What’s wrong with the picture? Of course, everyone should work for success, and everyone deserves their reward. But let’s not be greedy!

The Philippines was the first democracy in Asia. Have we lived up to that privilege? Have we learned from democracy’s rebirth in 1986? How many People Powers must occur? Wasn’t one enough? Let’s try to learn from our mistakes and try to make the best of what we’re given. Put selfishness aside---put love of God, country and fellowman at heart!

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Sacrament Of Waiting (by Fr. James Donelan, S.J.)

The English poet John Milton wrote that those who serve also stand and wait. I think I would go further and say that those who wait render the highest form of service. Waiting requires more discipline, more self-control and emotional maturity, more unshakable faith in our cause, more unwavering hope in the future, more sustaining love in our hearts that all the greatest deeds of deering-do go by the name of action.

Waiting is a mystery - a natural sacrament of life - there is a meaning hidden in all the times we have to wait. It must be an important mystery because there is so much waiting in our lives.

Everyday is filled with those little moments of waiting (testing our patience and our nerves, schooling us in self-control.) We wait for meals to be served, for a letter to arrive, for a friend to call or show up for a date. We wait in line at cinemas and theaters, concerts and circuses. Our airline terminals, railway stations and bus depots are great temples of waiting filled with men and women who wait in joy for the arrival of a loved one - or wait in sadness to say goodbye and give the last wave of hand. We wait for springs to come - or autumn - for the rains to begin and stop.

And we wait for ourselves to grow from childhood to maturity. We wait for those inner voices that tell us when we are ready for the next stop.

We wait for graduation, for our first job, our first promotion. We wait for success and recognition. We wait to grow up - to reach the stage where we make our own decisions. We cannot remove this waiting from our lives. It is a part of the tapestry of living - the fabric in which the threads are woven to tell the story of our lives.

Yet current philosophies would have us forget the need to wait "grab all the gusto you can get." So reads one of America's greatest beer ads - get it now! Instant pleasure, instant transcendence. Do not wait for anything. Life is short - eat, drink and be merry because tomorrow you will die.

And so they rationalize us into accepting unlicensed and irresponsible freedom - pre-marital sex and extra-marital affairs - they warn against attachments and commitments - against expecting anything of anybody, or allowing them to expect anything of us - against dropping any anchors in the currents of our life that will cause us to hold and wait.

This may be the correct prescription for pleasure - but even that is fleeting and doubtful - what was it Shakespeare said about the mad pursuit of pleasure - "Past reason hunted, and once had, past reason hated." Not if we wish to be real human beings, spirit as well as flesh, soul as well as heart, we have to learn to wait. For if we never learn to wait, we will never learn to love someone other than ourselves.

For most of all waiting means waiting for someone else. It is a mystery, brushing by our face everyday like a stray wind of leaf falling from a tree. Anyone who has loved knows how much waiting goes into it - how much waiting is important for love to grow, to flourish through a lifetime.

Why is this? Why can we not have it right now what we so desperately want and need? Why must we wait - two years, three years - and seemingly waste so much time? You might as well ask why a tree should take so long to bear fruit - the seed to flower - carbon to change to diamond.

There is no simple answer - no more than there is to life's other demands - having to say goodbye to someone you love because either you or they have made other commitments; or because they have to grow and find the meaning of their own lives - having yourself to leave home and loved ones to find your own path - goodbyes, like waiting, are also sacraments of our lives.

All we know is that growth - the budding, the flowering of love needs patient waiting. We have to give each other a time to grow. There is no way we can make someone else truly love us or we them, except through time.

So we give each other that mysterious gift of waiting - of being present without asking demands and rewards. There is nothing harder to do than this. It truly tests the depth and sincerity of our love. But there is life in the gift we give.

So lovers wait for each other - until they can see things the same way - or let each other freely see things in quite different ways. There are times when lovers hurt each other and cannot regain the balance of intimacy of the way they were. They have to wait - in silence - but still present to each other - until the pain subsides to an ache and then only a memory and the threads of the tapestry can be woven together again in a single love story.

What do we lose when we refuse to wait; when we try to find shortcuts through life -when we try to incubate love and rush blindly and foolishly into a commitment we are neither mature nor responsible enough to assume?

We lose the hope of truly loving or of being loved. Think of all the great love stories of history and literature - isn't it of their very essence that they are filled with this strange but common mystery - that waiting is part of the substance - the basic fabric against which the story of that true love is written.

How can we ever find either life or true love if we are too impatient to wait for it?

Waiting is a good thing only if something is worth waiting for.

How will you know if it's worth it? Gut feel.

What if you don't trust your gut? Pray. You will be enlightened. Trust me.

Is it wrong to expect while waiting? It's not wrong, but it will increase your chances of heartbreak and disappointment if things don't work out in the end.

Is it good to expect while waiting? It is better to HOPE.

What's the difference between hoping and expecting? HOPING means you're open to either side of the coin landing though you're more inclined to believe that things will turn out well. EXPECTING means you're thinking single-track...which won't do you much good at all.

What's the difference between waiting and expecting? EXPECTING is waiting for something TO DEFINITELY HAPPEN. WAITING is staying where you are, but not necessarily expecting something to happen definitely.

Do you need assurance from someone you're waiting for while you're waiting? Ideally, yes. But realistically, do you really want assurance from this person? It's so easy to just point at something and make that the reason why you're waiting ("Because she said..." "Because he told me that...").

With WAITING, all you really can rely on are 3 things: your gut feel, your heart and mind. Just YOURSELF, not anyone else.

So should you wait? What does your gut say? How does your heart feel? What does your mind think? If they're saying different things, keep asking yourself these 3 questions (and pray!) until you get a solid answer.

THEN you'll know if he or she is worth waiting for.