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The One with the Choice

As I write this article, I am on my fourth and final day of straight vacation leave. It’s a physical vacation from work but I didn’t get anywhere as far more exciting than staying at home with my family. I simply limited my thoughts from work-related to being an all-around dad. Parents like me would readily know, without explanation; that this means 24/7 house chores and limited personal space. Yet I somehow managed to reach out to some friends through Facebook, during the first two days by alternately doing my home duties and in-between FB breaks. Then last weekend, I disconnected from the net. My in-between breaks would then be watching movies instead. You see, I can’t normally watch movies, and in being able to do so, I somehow felt the chill that I’m on vacation (for some of you this might just be a normal weekend routine).

I’m not asking nor expecting anyone to have pity on me of some sort. We all have different experiences in life. I just wanted to share with you a few bits of mine. So anyway, last Sunday, I watched a 2008 movie produced by Star Cinema, “Caregiver”. After watching the movie, I realized a lot about life and was inspired on another level.

 Well, here’s the full trailer for your convenience:

Throughout life, plans have been made for us – at first by our parents; then by ourselves, by loved ones or by our superiors. It’s having a goal and reaching it. But of course, our plans may change over time depending on many personal and environmental factors. Some things also happen beyond our control. For now, I’d steer clear from biblical terms. I’ll just say things based on my personal observation. While it’s true that we plot our career and family life, there are factors which may or may not help us achieve our goals. Health may fail, accidents may happen, good things and luck may come without any intervention, inequality happens. Unfortunately, some people might actually pull us down. But let us not forget that we are responsible for whatever is happening in our own lives. We should not blame others or our past, for that matter.

Therefore, if we choose to motivate ourselves and pursue our goals, despite the hindrances, we could possibly do it. It’s a matter of perspective. And as the saying goes, change is constant. It’s about being responsible for yourself. If you think that the powerful pulls you down, then release yourself from their power and let better options come in. That way you have good control on your desired path.

And so, this part of the movie, “Caregiver”, as taken from its actual script, provided me an insanely profound wisdom. It’s where the caregiver’s patient wrote her a letter prior to the latter’s death:

You’ve always said that everything you do is for your husband and your son. They are lucky men indeed to have you as wife and mother. And I am lucky for having you as a carer. But I want you never to forget…that you are a person too. And it is vital that you live your own life. And do things that make you feel alive. If I have one wish..it is that you grow old happy and without regrets.

Would you make your life and other people’s lives miserable or would you make positive thoughts and actions to improve yourself and others? Would you pull other people down or would you help them in their growth? Would you use others so you can easily achieve your goals or would you play fair and see who the best really is?

You can make a choice… right now. In the end, I hope we all grow old happy and without regrets. Cheers!

p.s. and oh, prayers would help 🙂

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Categories: Happiness, Life, Movies, ZenPinoy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The One with Our “Pagpag” Experience

Araneta Center

Yesterday, we went to Araneta Center in Cubao, as a last-minute shopping in preparation for today’s school opening. Our group consisted of my wife, our two sons, two of their cousins and me. We badly needed companions because we can’t handle everything all by ourselves. We bought school bags, pairs of shoes, under garments and other school necessities. We spent several hours hopping from one mall to another just to find the most affordable, yet usable items. We didn’t know that two of my brother-in-laws and their kids also went in the same place separately.

National Bookstore (the red building)

So like destiny, we headed and all unexpectedly gathered in the same place, the last destination for the day – National Bookstore (its largest branch infront of Araneta Coliseum). It was full-packed, like Holiday rush!

We were so tired. Our group was about to leave for home when my eldest brother-in-law, Andy, invited us for dinner first (it was almost 6pm then). There were 7 kids and all of them wanted to eat at a nearby Jollibee. But Andy refused. He told us there’s a place inside Farmer’s Market (yes, the Market and not the Plaza) called “Dampa” (like a large food court) where we should eat.

Dampa

So off we went, ordered a variety of meals. It was like a feast, nevertheless. Being a food lover, I ate a lot and had a really full stomach. Perhaps because of their curiosity, my kids played with some large shrimps like those were toys. I helped them debone one shrimp, took some of its meat with a fork and offered them to eat it. But they didn’t want to. They just played with it. Basically, there were some leftovers. Beside me is a half-full bowl of steamed rice which we can no longer consume.

We were about to go when a young man perhaps in his late twenties, approached us, and asked if he could have our leftovers. I handed him the bowl of excess rice beside me. He took it. Suddenly, without any word, he took every leftover that’s on our table, even the chicken bones, shrimp shells, the ones toyed by my kids – literally everything! He placed them on that bowl of rice. I thought he’ll use it to feed pigs (kanin-baboy) or dogs. But to our amazement, he went to a nearby table and took a seat. He was with his wife who was holding their BABY. He gave our leftover chicken bones to his baby and the child grabbed it like it was the first bone she ever saw and munched in her entire life! The man ate without any sign of shame. His wife just stared. She didn’t eat. Well, her husband didn’t seem to offer her but still, maybe she felt uneasy. I can tell that their baby was so hungry that she was eating our leftovers. I was so shocked, and so as the rest of our family. We all saw what happened. I felt so sorry for the baby! We were heartbroken.

A face of poverty..

We didn’t speak a word for a few minutes. Then I burst into tears that I was forcing to keep inside myself. I told my wife, “Ma, do you have any money? Maybe we can give them any amount so they can buy decent food for themselves, especially for the baby.” She nodded and approached them.

With all of our belongings, we followed my wife. Everyone in Dampa (there were quite a few customers at that time) were looking, but didn’t want to involve themselves. She gave the woman an amount I won’t mention. The woman expressed her thanks. She also told us that her husband had money earlier in the day but spent it on gambling! Imagine that! My wife showed dismay and told the husband to find a decent job and buy something for his family to eat, especially for the baby.

A child in need.

We left them with heavy burdens in our hearts. We knew that it was not enough. It was only a temporary solution. But most importantly, we were very concerned about the baby. She was too exposed in the cruelty of the world. She is a victim – just like many other babies who live in extreme poverty. How many of them exist in our society? What have we done to help them, even reach out to them?

As a moral lesson, I told the kids we were so blessed that we didn’t have to eat leftovers (“Pagpag”) and that we should never waste food. We should consume and share what God has provided us, because many families live in poverty that they will eat anything, even those they find in the garbage. Maybe, God wanted us to learn, that’s why He didn’t allow us to eat at Jollibee. He wanted to show us how serious poverty really is.

Hapag ng pag-asa

Despite the burden, we also felt blessed. Sometimes we think that God has forsaken us. Sometimes we think that we are all alone — financially, physically and emotionally laden. We complain too much. But if we just try to understand and recognize the blessings around us, we will realize that God has in fact been good to us all the time. He never left us.

May God bless all families in the world, most especially the ones who are fighting against hunger.

Kevin Carter took this photograph -- a staving toddler trying to reach a feeding center when a vulture landed nearby. Carter later claimed that after waiting twenty minutes in the hope that the vulture would spread its wings, he took a picture and then chased off the vulture.

___________

Note: All pictures were from various sources. I don’t take ownership of the pictures as I had no camera with me yesterday.

The Baby and the Vulture

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Carter

Categories: Happiness, Life, ZenPinoy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The One with My Thoughts About Pope John Paul II

Last night, I was watching ABS-CBN’s “Banal” which featured the life and legacy of Pope John Paul II especially for us, Filipinos, whom he showed so much love and respect. It reminded me of World Youth Day 1995. I was then 3rd year in high school (go count again folks!) and was active in Church-related activities. Part of that service is being a catechist (a teacher of the principles of Christianity) in a public elementary school. I forgot which particular grade I am assigned to but it was a fruitful experience for me. Oh, I remember playing the guitar also, for masses officiated by our then parish priest, Fr. Pol Lezada. The following year, I had to transfer to another school as a rule from my relatives, who pay for my schooling. Sadly after that, I was never active in the Church anymore.

It has been roughly 16 years ago. Pope John Paul II joined his Creator in April 2, 2005. I would always watch the news and I cried when I learned that he died. It reminded me of the pain I felt when I lost my father in December 1996. Nevertheless, Pope John Paul II is a father figure for us. Maybe he is someone we desired of our own fathers to be. He loved us, as much as we love him, maybe even more! He brought love and unity to all religions. That’s why he is loved by everyone, even the Muslims. He has forgiven even those who tried to take his life.

John Paul II devoted much effort to improving Jewish-Catholic relations and established formal diplomatic relations with Israel during his 26-year papacy.

This stamp is the first time that a non-Jewish religious leader has appeared on an Israeli stamp, according to New Jersey philatelist Dr. Leonard Cohen, an authority on Israeli stamps. “Israel putting the pope on a stamp will have tremendous historical significance,” he said.



Needless to say, I am one of those who pray that he becomes a Saint at any point in time. It only takes one more miracle to be verified before this becomes a reality though.

Through “Banal”, I have learned many things, some of which unknown yet to many, about John Paul II. However, there’s one part that I didn’t like. It was a short interview from a former UST student (way back World Youth Day 1995) who said, referring to John Paul II — “Christ himself!”

Oh no, guys! Pope John Paul II is not Christ himself. He is not God. For many reasons, I personally believe that he should be a Saint. But no matter how good he was in his lifetime, he can never be Christ himself. But that interview was part of history. Maybe now, that UST student has realized the difference between Christ and the rest of us.

Although we can pray directly to God or to Christ, some of the faithfuls like me, would pray through the intercession of Saints or through Mother Mary. But as much as I would like to fully express my faith, I just cannot allow myself to treat their images (idols) as gods (making punas or kissing, and even literally make samba to those idols). I’m sorry but I totally disagree with those people who stampede and treat idols such as Quiapo Church’s Black Nazarene like it’s God Himself. That’s Catholicism the way Spaniards taught Filipinos for 333 years. I know, it’s not easy to teach people especially when it comes to religion.

It’s rude to talk about religion. You never know who you’re gonna offend. ~ Senior Ed Bloom (from the movie, “Big Fish”)

So these are just some of my thoughts about Pope John Paul II.

Oh, and before I forget, as I write this article, it’s May 23, 2011 in the Philippines. Doomsday fail for Harold Camping and Family Radio, huh! Otherwise, I’m not here writing and you’re not there reading now (it’s not wise to believe these false prophets, really).

Peace!

Categories: Happiness, Life, Remembering, ZenPinoy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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