Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sticks and Stones and feet :) Posted by Hello

Arve riverbank Posted by Hello

Day out Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 27, 2005


Happy Easter Everyone!


In all my Catholic life, I have never seen such a solemn celebration of Holy Week as I did in my parish here in Geneva. The Triduum (Three Days) commemorating the death and resurrection of our Lord was marked with great reverence. The Last Supper on Holy Thursday saw the symbolic re-enactment of the washing of the feet. The priest washes the feet of 12 congregants to impress the commandment of God to serve others. On Good (God) Friday, Jesus' death was retold in the Liturgy (Latin, leitourgos, meaning public service) of the Word. There is no Mass on Good Friday but only a Communion service. On Black Saturday, we mourn and as the day passes, we prepare for the Easter Vigil to await the resurrection of Christ. We sing Alleluia and proclaim His glory in the Gloria.

Although, the tradition is the same in most countries, the meaning is different. For most Filipinos who are born Catholic, the act becomes redundant and without meaning. We go to Church and we listen to the Word, more as a matter of habit rather than of devotion and communion. So, we must not forget what Easter is all about. "For God so loved the world, He gave us His only Son." (John 3:16) It was the greatest sacrifice of God for us.

Today is Easter Sunday! We proclaim the resurrection. It is the corner stone of the Christian faith. For if Jesus hadn't risen, there wouldn't be Christianity.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

let your mind feel and let you heart think

this is what my friend, buboy-liit, wrote in one of our chat exchanges...

we have been conditioned by morality dictated by man and the church that sometimes we forget that God gave us a natural compass, the heart. it will always feel heavy when we feel something is wrong even if it seems right in the human eye.

oftentimes, our mind thinks for us which sometimes lead to pitfalls because the human mind cannot comprehend what the heart can possibly know. we accuse ourselves of being over-emotional when we let our heart talk but when should it speak, when the mind tells it to?

our mind is formed in our daily dealings, it learns to read and write in school. it learns to be practical, it learns to cushion from hurt when our hearts first gets broken. but the heart is only too keen to love again, to learn about life without thinking of the mind's dictates.

we learn the norms that society impresses on us. we follow the laws yet our hearts scream in defiance. our heart will always know what the truth is.

pontius pilate asked that of himself, "what is the truth?" as he was about to hand over Jesus. if he had followed his heart without considering the law of caesar, Jesus wouldn't have died on a cross. although everything had been planned by the Father for this to happen, pilate had a choice.

today is Black Saturday. Jesus died on the cross on friday. the people shouted, "crucify him." his alleged crime - blasphemer by saying he was the Son of God. the people shouted, "give us barabbas" when pilate asked if Jesus or the notorious brigand should be released. if each citizen at that time examined their hearts, would they have crucified Jesus? although it is written in the Scriptures, His death and resurrection and the manner of His death, there was a call to examine the conscience, the heart.

so, how should we teach the heart to think without being stifled by the unemotional confines of the mind? how does the mind feel? it is in the harmony of the two that we find a balance. we should think with our hearts and let our minds experience the joy that is feeling. what is rational is not always in conjunction with the heart.

we have to unlearn so many things so the heart can flourish to rule our thoughts and our minds learn to love.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

free will vs. God's purpose

“Wait,” Eddie said, pulling back. “Just tell me one thing. Did I save the little girl? At the pier. Did I save her?”

The Blue Man did not answer. Eddie slumped. “Then my death was a waste, just like my life.”

“No life is a waste,” the Blue Man said. “The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.” (Taken from Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” p. 50)


The last few days I’ve exchanged some very thought-provoking emails with a friend. We discussed about God-given free will and God’s purpose. For those Purpose-Driven-Life fanatics, I’m not sure if I’m threading your paths. But rest assured, I’ve never read the book.

What is our purpose in life? Some people believe nothing happens by accident. Nothing is ever random. I’m one of those people. But I don’t believe that God willed everything to happen that way. We have and had a choice.

We were given a life. For me, our purpose is to love God, love others and in every aspect of our life, glorify His name. I am not one to wait for things to happen and put all my faith in prayer alone. I make sure to do all that I can then I lift it up to Him.

With our life, we were given freedom. Freedom comes with responsibility. This is where the random-ness of our lives is eliminated. We are all connected in some way. We all affect each other’s lives. There is a nexus in each one’s life. You may not know it, but there is. So, with each action, there is a reaction. And we bear the consequences of our action, negative and positive alike. In that, we are not alone.

I found a nice piece on the Internet that sums up what I believe in.

(taken from the friendster profile of mai)

life is a series of choice,
every waking moment of it,
every person is called to make a choice,
in fact everything we do or say is a choice,
every choice we make
has a positive or negative consequence.
a wrong choice
can bring us a lifetime
of grief & suffering.
a right choice can give us
lifelong fulfillment & gladness.
there is no escaping the consequence
that will surely follow ur choice.
every choice we make counts.
it is important then that we exercise
wisdom & prudence in our every choice.

I think that God gave us that freedom to decide what to do with our lives and in doing so, we must remember that we affect others in everything that we do. I guess it serves as a reminder to our conscience, to always bear in mind what our actions may bring.

And if we are at the receiving end, we must think of how we will react. “Life is what we make of it,” goes one saying. I wrote once, "When life deals us with an effin' sh***y card, who's to say we should stay in the pile of crap? let's take a shower!!!" Sorry for the graphic description.

Back to God’s will and our purpose…My friend and I discussed extensively about deaths, accidental deaths in particular. What about them? They did not choose to die. IT is in this event that a person is rendered choice-less because the choice to live has been taken from them by the aggressor/murderer/etc. This starts a chain of reactions and consequences – an orphaned child, a widow, a widower. But we always have a choice to react. One could take revenge, others leave it to the justice system.

What about those children with cancer? What did they do to deserve such a terrible affliction? If the cancer is caused by contaminated water near the family’s home, isn’t it the polluter’s fault? But it’s not just all finger-pointing. And before we point our blame to God, let's look at what we've done.

What about those stillborn babies? Whose fault is that? This is a hard one to call because sometimes, the human mind cannot possible comprehend all the trappings of life. At this point, God steps in. We then turn to faith. There must have been a reason. Maybe God knows it but we don’t. Not yet anyway. In the book “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” the Blue Man says, “in death, we make sense of our life.”

Monday, March 21, 2005


people tend to look at the bad side of life too long that they forget to see the good side. i heard a priest say this in a talk last sunday. he said people wear long faces because they think life is bad and that it has dealt them too many blows.

i think the many blogs that spew angst, anger, hate, all negative emotions bear witness to such a painful life. but sometimes, life is not too bad. and for such an occasion, i think i will make this blog entry less depressing for some. :)

today, i got on the bus. it was an ordinary day - sunny and bright. the bus was full. i stood near the driver and an old man about 60 years old got up from his seat and offered it to me. i gently refused because my hips and legs are still very much functional and i know he needed the seat more. he insisted and i gave in to his kindness. it's this kind of experience that makes me renew the faith i have in people. people are all born to be good. sometimes, we just lose our way. but it's always nice to be at the receiving end of something good.

spring has officially arrived in geneva and it promises new life. outside my office window, i hear the birds chirping every morning. the winter months with its sometimes gloomy mornings have faded into the blue skies of spring. people smile more and the lakeshore is lined with human toasts, some mildly tanned, others more so. i can finally wear light clothes. i think i've built my shoulder muscles with the sheer weight of my winter coat.

it's nice to be amidst such a bustling of life. families are seen in the parks, dogs meet as their owners chat, children play as if tomorrow will never come. the squirrel in my park has been so active that it tried to cross the street by jumping from tree to tree. the naked branches revealed his adventure but he was a bit too excited when he realized that there was no tree on the other side of the street. he halted abruptly. it was funny to watch though.

just the other day, i took a walk around geneva with a friend. since our bus passes double as boat passes too, we decided to take a ride across the lake. we went to the arve riverbanks. my friend has a very keen sense of adventure. we climbed over the railings and mind you she was wearing a skirt. it involved a 15-feet descent on an iron ladder bolted to the concrete wall. we made it safely and the river was so peaceful. the sun struck the surface of the water and it hit our eyes with a bright white light and the water was like a silk sheet flowing inviting our feet to dance on its waters.

sometimes...life is not too bad.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Reel Pinoy!

There’s something about Filipino films that draw as well as repel Pinoys to the silver screen. For the escapist fan, a love story of Judy Ann magnitude with complete kilig (titillating) story line is enough to drown every day woes of the Filipino life. But the same film can be predicted when the credits starts rolling. Boy meets girl, girl plays coy, boy tries his best to win girl’s heart with sometimes the cheesiest lines and cheesiest moves, girl gives in and after the movie house has been flooded by both the actress’ tears and the audience’s, they all live happily ever after. For some Pinoys, especially the non-masa (mass) type, it’s enough to reach for the vomit bag.

But there is also something so unique that draws each one to the cinema to watch the latest Pinoy teen flick or love story may it be from Star Cinema or Viva or whatever or the action-packed movie of reformed “Bad Boy” Robin Padilla. Movie-going is in most of our blood and is often on our schedule from Monday to Sunday, if the budget allows. For premieres, where the actors and actresses, actually attend, twice as many moviegoers will buy the expensive tickets. This is complete with after-show screams of “Ang ganda ganda! Ang gwapo ni Piolo! (It’s so nice. Piolo is so handsome!” as they are interviewed for their comments.

I relived that today. Piolo’s latest film, Dreamboy, was showing at Geneva’s Balexert’s cinema. It ran for two nights to raise funds for the Gawad Kalinga (To Give Care) Housing Project in the Philippines. Hollywood Video Store, a Filipino-owned movie rental shop, and ABS-CBN (The Filipino Channel) organized the event.

It came complete with a GK audio-visual presentation featuring Gary Granada’s song “Bahay” (House) to move the people to donate for the project. It was followed by a live presentation of the members of the Kids and Youth for Christ complete with a song and theatre number. It never ceases to amaze me how much talent these kids have.

But the best part of the whole Reel Pinoy! experience is perhaps the National Anthem being played before the movie started. Every time I hear the Lupang Hinirang (Esteemed Land), I am moved to tears. I might be a bit too patriotic at times but being outside of the country most of the time, I really miss it.

Before I get into my nationalistic mode as most of you know, I can just go on and on about the Philippines, I’d like to relate Dreamboy’s strong points. It wasn’t your typical love story that left no guess-work to the fans.

The lead character, Cyd, has dreamt and wished for her true love. She refuses to date the guys that her friend sets her up with. She said she believes her soul mate will come when the time is right. Orphaned early in her youth, she never made it to college. She had to work in a wholesale grocery to provide for her and her grandmother.

But one day, she meets Philip, a stunning young man who happens to own the grocery that she works at. He sweeps her off her feet but she does not belong to his socio-economic class or so his aunt warns her. She runs off and cries her eyes out. After a few weeks, she meets Eboy as he rescues her purse from a speeding thief. He is the spitting image of Philip but more athletic, care-free, and doesn’t hesitate to show her that he’s fallen for her instantly. But Eboy has a fiancée and Cyd’s heart was to be broken again. After a few more weeks, Jaime enters her life as a restaurant supervisor, also bearing the face of Philip and Eboy sans Philip’s rich and well-groomed look and Eboy’s scruffy masculinity. Jaime was your typical boy-next-door.

Jaime takes her to his mother’s house in the Quezon Province after a seminar they were both headed to was cancelled. Call it serendipity, but not!

All three characters try to win her heart and make her say the magic words – I LOVE YOU!

Cyd had to rush back to Manila after hearing news of her grandmother’s worried state after she had not communicated in light of the cancelled seminar. She rushes back to her work only to be scolded by her manager.

The story unfolds as Jaime in his love-struck frenzy runs after Cyd. He takes her by the hand and in full view of the other workers, professes his love for her. And in her angry and bitter tone, she says, “Let’s get this over with, you want to hear the magic words, here you go – I LOVE YOU!” And just as she says it, cameramen and TV crew springs out of nowhere and bright lights puts her on the spot. Not until a close friend told her a few days before, she didn’t know she had been the lead character in the latest reality TV show, Mr. Dreamboy. To her utter horror, she bursts into tears. Jaime, who is actually the real person of the Philip-Eboy-Jaime character, tries to explain that he had not counted on really falling in love with her. That many times, he tried to back out of the deal but he couldn’t because he hadn’t counted on falling for her and that he needed the money because his father’s land was confiscated by the bank after his father died and left the loans unpaid.

And after all the drama and deceit, they reunite and end in a blissful kiss.

I have to give credit to this film because it wasn’t as predictable as many of the Filipino films I’ve seen. Of course, from the mere title you could tell this was some fairytale story but how was the fairytale going to be played out?

This is quite original and kudos to Star Cinema for trying to break out of the mold of the teeny-boppy formula film that leaves most viewers disappointed and wanting their money back.

I hope we can make better movies that just don’t drain our pockets but also makes movie-going a treat - as it should be.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

What Kind of Soul are You?

I found this while blog-hopping and got curious, so took the test. :)

You Are a Visionary Soul

You are a curious person, always in a state of awareness.
Connected to all things spiritual, you are very connected to your soul. You are wise and bright: able to reason and be reasonable. Occasionally, you get quite depressed and have dark feelings.

You have great vision and can be very insightful. In fact, you are often profound in a way that surprises yourself. Visionary souls like you can be the best type of friend. You are intuitive, understanding, sympathetic, and a good healer.

Souls you are most compatible with: Old Soul and Peacemaker Soul

Monday, March 07, 2005

Journey of faith…on the way to Rome

I was in Luzern, Switzerland yesterday to attend the CFC Pre-Conference (for CFC Switzerland) for the preparation of the Mega-Conference in Rome this coming July. CFC Europe will be celebrating its 10th year anniversary.

I have been to many CFC events but I’m not really part of it. All my family here is part of the “community” and I just tag along because I want to see new places and because all my family is going. I was never forced into going but I came any way.

They have invited me many times to join but I was not ready to join. I had been part of the Youth for Christ, one of the many ministries of the CFC, in my college days but was disillusioned because it served to be a social clique rather than a spiritual group. The other ministries are Kids for Christ, Singles for Christ, Handmaids of the Lord (for women aged 42 and up, without husbands or widowed), Servants of the Lord (for men aged 42 and up, without wives or widowers), and Couples for Christ (for married couples).

All CFC ministries are designed to involve the whole family in prayer and worship. It is believed that a “family that prays together, stays together.” It is a Catholic group that seeks to evangelize and spread God’s love through community worship and volunteerism.

I had been putting off joining SFC because I wasn’t convinced that it would do anything for me and I’d just be part of the hypocrisy that was the YFC in college. But seeing the work the CFC has done here in Switzerland and in the Philippines, I am considering changing my mind.

A CFC gathering is usually composed of a praise fest which kicks off the gathering and closes it, and a talk in the middle. There can be many talks depending on the time allotted.

One of the most interesting talks I have ever encountered in the CFC was the talk given by Bro. Ansel yesterday. He used to be what he described as a “screaming faggot” but has made a commitment to change his ways and is now married with two children. It is always inspiring to hear talks like this because it takes a lot of faith and strength. He seems to be happy with his decision and has often cited God’s calling to him. That giving up the homosexual life is not as hard as humility.

I was particularly struck by his recounting a parable of the Cross. A man asked God, “How can I enter the kingdom of God?” He said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” And suddenly, a big wooden cross appeared before him. It was heavy. He then took up his cross and treaded the path towards God’s kingdom. As he walked and walked, the cross got heavier. He decided to chop off parts of it so that it can become lighter. He continued to walk and just as he thought the Lord wasn’t looking, he chopped off some more until he reached a deep ravine. Across it was God’s kingdom. He wondered and was puzzled how he could go to the other side. He asked God, “God, how do I get across?” God said, “Use the cross. It was perfectly measured to be put as a bridge to the other side. It is even balanced, that’s why there’s a horizontal bar.” The man was aghast, holding his horizontal bar, all that was left of his cross.

Bro. Ansel said, “We often short-change God because we want our burdens to be lighter.”

I guess, even if we don’t know it, God really knows better. Suffering is part of human life, but all suffering gains meaning if we look to Him. There is a reason for everything.

There is always the handy saying, “What doesn’t kill us will only make us stronger.” But I guess, we only get stronger because we have faith in Him. There is a passage in the letters of Paul, “Do not boast unless you boast of Him.”

Bro. Ansel concluded by saying, “We cannot really claim to own anything, except for our sins. For sin cannot come from God.”

As Easter Sunday approaches, I hope we can reflect on the Cross and the Passion of Jesus Christ, who died innocently to save us from our sins.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Couples for Christ Pre-Conference in Küssnacht, Luzern, Switzerland (Mama, Chris, Me, & Gorby)  Posted by Hello