Post(s) tagged with "life"

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!

The Things I Learned this Academic Year

A new academic year, new subjects to be taught, new colleagues, new students, different experience. Here are the things that I have learned for the past 10 months or so:

  1. This is a confession. I admit that when I was at school, when I was the age of my students, I used to despise some of my teachers – especially those who do not teach well. And now that I am a teacher for one-and-a-half years, I see my old self with some of my students. And I find it amusing, entertaining, and inspiring. I think that is the secret on understanding our students – by putting ourselves in their shoes. Empathy, if you may call it. Or metaphysical and psycho-emotional transcendence. I love students who challenge their teachers, who are not afraid to speak up and ask questions. And I am thankful that this school year, I already found some and they are also the reasons why I won’t leave this institution after this school year. I love challenges. And I love to speak with intelligent and brave students.

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  2. Fight for what you think is right, not for yourself, but for the future generation and the younger ones who look up to you. Last August 26, together with thousand other concerned taxpayers, I joined the so-called Million People March in Luneta, a protest against the pork barrel issue. It was a memorable experience for me as a concerned Filipino and as an educator of high school students. I used that experience to teach my students, especially in my Religion classes, the virtues of justice and honesty and the sense of social awareness. Before I became a teacher, I have this blog called Juan Republic and I used to contribute for different websites about my opinion and stand on different socio-political issues. And I have to say that my articles on the internet gained popularity and influence among young professionals and teenagers who follow my blog. And I told myself that I should use that influence to inspire the still-malleable high school students. Because I believe that these lessons will be carried by my students as they grow up, that they will remember life’s practical lessons more compared to Algebra, the different elements in Chemistry, and the memorized things inside the classroom.
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  3. Rest, if you must, but don’t quit. This academic year has been more tiring and burnout-inducing compared to last year because I hold 4 subjects on 8 sections. And I have less vacant periods this time (just one hour per day, usually the first period reserved for Class Advisers). I admit I almost gave up and ask for a relieve because doing 8 classes per day is exhausting and draining; I cannot do other responsibilities (doing lesson plans, checking test papers, and stuff) and I am always knocked out at the end of a day. But then I thought of my students, I thought of the young ones who are looking up to me as their teacher and their inspiration. So I decided to carry on. I think the secret of this craft is to use our time wisely (which, I am glad my 8-year stint in the Seminary has taught me), to balance work and other stuff, and to look at the students as an inspiration on everything that we do. At the end of the day, all things will zero in to our students. I vowed to teach them, to be an inspiration, to share my knowledge, talents and skills, to be of service. And that is one hell of a big responsibility. Who am I to give up and leave the future of the Patria Adorada hanging in mid-air?

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  4. Pursue your passion.  When the Priests asked me to undergo the regency program, I told myself that I will continue to do the thing that I always like – to write, to talk, and to inspire young people. This profession, or shall I say, this vocation is not financially rewarding. I may not get rich by teaching but this dictum has been my mantra for some time now: Choose the job that you want and you don’t have to work for the rest of your life. If I work just for the money, I have long abandoned this institution. But life is all about happiness, and as long as I am happy with what I am doing, I will still stay on the same ship.

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  5. Thank God for everything. This school year has been a blessing for me in all aspects. And I thank the Lord for giving me an opportunity to stay on the institution and to continue to be of service to the young generation.

This academic year has been a fun ride. I thank my students, colleagues, superiors, and friends who in one way or another, has accompanied me on this journey.

 I’ll see you soon. And by that time, we will start writing again another chapter of this fun-filled journey called life.  Au revoir!

Note: This article is originally my year-end report for this academic year. I have decided to share this in my blog to give the readers a view of my life as a teacher - and the lessons that I learned from it. Some parts have been tweaked for brevity and clarity but more or less, this is the original report.

#AshTag Wednesday

"It’s Ash Wednesday. Let us spread the #ashtag"

Today, the Catholic Church celebrates Ash Wednesday. This day marks the beginning of the Lenten season, or the 40-day period of fasting to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection (Paschal Mystery). It is the season where we are reminded to repent from our sins, to fast and abstain, and to do charity works for the poor and needy.

It is an open secret here on Tumblr and in my blog that I am a former seminarian (or more appropriately, a seminarian on regency or break, if ever I decide to return and continue my formation). I studied in the Seminary for eight years - from high school to college, and I have been writing reflections about Lent and being of service to the poor and the needy since I was twelve (I entered the seminary at a young age, so there goes the explanation).

But there is something that I have to confess to you. Something that whenever I remember those events, I have a mix feelings of being ashamed and laughing at it. During my first years in the high school seminary, I look at Ash Wednesday as a punishment. You see, even the required age for fasting and abstinence is 14, there are no exemptions in the Seminary (for obvious reasons, of course). I treat Ash Wednesday then as a ‘hunger strike day’ for we are only served one full meal during the day without merienda. And if you personally know my eating capacity, you will know why I despise a meal-less day.

As I grow up and as I learn more in the Seminary, my perspective has changed. And I should, because Seminary is a place of formation - spiritually, academically, socially, and formation as a mature, young man with the direction to the Priesthood. And even after I left (or shall I say, after being advise to leave) the institution last March 2009 after graduating in Philosophy, even now that I am living in the real world away from the comforts of her confines, I continuously live (and share) most, if not all, the things that I have learned inside. There are no clear indications yet if I would return and pursue my Theological studies but the important thing is, I should and I must strive not to forget those good things. 

It has been a busy week for me. Yesterday, I had an epic Los Baños-Santo Tomas-Lipa City-San Jose-Batangas City-Taal-Los Baños to coordinate with different Churches for our school’s annual Lenten Pilgrimage. And today, I sited as a Room Examiner in the National Achievement Test (NAT) at Los Baños National High School. And I have yet to attend an Ash Wednesday Mass and have a cross placed on my forehead.

And to make things worse, I am not feeling were right now (perhaps) due to stress and over-fatigue brought by the activities of the past days and sleepless nights brought by making the examinations and grades of my students. And I am not sure if I can make it to the Church for the 6:00 PM Mass or not.

Looking for something that would inspire me in the beginning of the Lenten season, in case that this bad feeling leads into a knockout, I searched the internet for the homily of Cardinal Tagle and digged the archive of my blog for an Ash Wednesday homily that inspires me even up to this day.

It was the homily of Fr. Thor Villacarlos, former Parish Priest of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish inside UPLB.

He started his homily sharing a stuff that he found on the internet. He said that a particular Christian denomination put up in their website that a mixture of ash and water burns the skin. As most of us know, the ashes being placed on our foreheads is a mixture of ashes (from the palms used on the previous year’s Palm Sunday) and (Holy) water. He consulted the Chemistry Professors of the University and they told him that yes, it is possible to burn one’s skin by a mixture of ash and water (he told us the name of the chemical compound but I forgot it) but the ashes used on Ash Wednesday have a very minimal effect to cause burning. So are they bluffing? Or scaring the faithful? We don’t know.

Why put ashes on our forehead? It is a reminder for us that we came from dust/earth and we would return to it after our death. Faher Thor told us that the mixture of ashes and water is very symbolic since ashes represents a lifeless man and water, the breath of God that created us (if you read the book of Genesis, this will be quite familiar to you). When God breathed to the earth, there was life.

So what is the challenge for us? Father Thor told us that when the Priest (or the Minister) put ashes on our foreheads, this is a invitation for us to ‘return to the earth’. It is an invitation for us to be stoop down from our level, be ‘dirty’, and to be humble. After all, humility came from the Latin word humus which means earth or soil.

But how could we do that in these modern times where everything is fast and everyone is busy? That is where fasting and abstinence would enter. Fasting and abstinence is not just eating less and abstaining from meat. It is also doing less the things that we find addictive - television, alcohol, cigarettes, internet, and everything considered as ‘excess’ and not an essential. And when we have a free time after abstaining (and fasting) from these, then it would be the time to go back to the earth and be dirty.

And after all of these, during the celebration of the Easter Vigil (or the end of the 40-day preparation) and the blessing of fire and water, it is there when we would burn ourselves and walk to God, our savior. So basically, those who posted that a mixture of ashes and water will burn us, is in a way, correct.

Seminarians are known to Priests as omniscient creatures (it is a inside joke actually). I am guilty of this when I was in college since there are Priests and speakers who give us something that we already know and I (together with most of my brothers) would just fake our attention, pretending to be listening. Evn until now that I am already a High School teacher, I sometimes fake my attention to boring speakers thinking that I already know what he/she is delivering. I know, it is a sign of being proud and not being humble.

But I have learned my lesson. Though I cannot say that I am totally doing it, I chose to listen and digest what Father has given us. I have learned that yes, we know things and sometimes, it is our expertise, but we should always be reminded. And we should see things from other people’s perspective.

The Season of Lent is about preparing ourselves. It is the period to give up something and be of service to the needy. Actually, as I have mentioned above, some of the things that we have saved during this season should go to helping the poor and the needy. Some would say that this is hypocrisy on our part, but should it be? I think doing something good at least during a particular period of a year is better than having done nothing at all. And as long as you know what you believe in, as long as you are steadfast on your faith, no hecklers, trolls, haters, and non-believers can shake you.

This is a period of giving up our excess. What would you give up? for me, I think it wold be extra rice. Aside from helping me lose wight, it will help those who are in need by giving them what I should have eaten for my excess consumption. (Lent, as they say, is the best way to lose weight and be of shape.)

In these modern times, is the celebration of Ash Wednesday still relevant? Yes. We need it more during these times when we seem to just think of ourselves and our personal gains.

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Let me share with you a beautiful anecdote that happened last year, Ash Wednesday. I accompanied our graduating students to the Retreat House. During the Mass, since the Priest has no one to assist him, I volunteered to render my services as a sacristan. I have avoided in purpose to do services in the Mass after my ‘eviction’ from the Seminary since I want to see things ‘from the opposite side’ and ‘from a different perspective’.The last time I rendered service at the Holy Mass was on April 22, 2009, as a Lector, during my cousin’s wedding. It was also the last time I wore my cassock. It feels good to be back at the Sanctuary, serving the Lord in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Coincidentally, I was also mistaken as a Priest by some of the Augustinian Nuns at the retreat house. I politely said ‘No I’m not’ to the Nuns and told them that I am one of the students’ teachers. I was surprised to hear their next words. They told me that I have an ‘aura’ (or a ‘vibe’) of a Priest. I just stood there, speechless, and thanked them afterwards when they promised to pray for me and my return in the Seminary.

Even until now, in our school, gradeschoolers (and some high school students) would approach me, grab my hand, and ask for my “blessing” (the traditional “pagmamano”) as if I am a Priest. And who am I to refuse them? 

For years, I have turned away from the possibility of returning to the Seminary to continue my Theological studies. Maybe because I am ‘enjoying’ my life outside the Seminary’s confines. But what if these events are God’s way of waking me up from a deep sleep of denial? Of hardheartedness? Of not answering his call - again?

Personally, this Lenten Season is a challenge for me to pray hard(er) and to discern what path to choose in my life. But for now, I will try my best to live and share the message of the Lenten Season to my family, friends, and students. I will strive to give up my ‘excess loads’ - sin, self-centeredness, pride - and to burn myself with love, passion, and dedication to share God’s words and message.

How about you? What would you give up and burn this Lenten season?

Today is the beginning of the Lenten Season. Let us spread the #AshTag. Vaya con Dios!

Photo Above: Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle marks foreheads with ashes to start the 40-day period of Lent. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler

Elsewhere:

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

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.

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. 

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!

#AshTag Wednesday

"It’s Ash Wednesday. Let us spread the #ashtag"

Today, the Catholic Church celebrates Ash Wednesday. This day marks the beginning of the Lenten season, or the 40-day period of fasting to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection (Paschal Mystery). It is the season where we are reminded to repent from our sins, to fast and abstain, and to do charity works for the poor and needy.

It is an open secret here on Tumblr and in my blog that I am a former seminarian (or more appropriately, a seminarian on regency or break). I studied in the Seminary for eight years - from high school to college, and I have been writing reflections about Lent and being of service to the poor and the needy since I was twelve (I entered the seminary at a young age, so there goes the explanation).

But there is something that I have to confess to you. Something that whenever I remember those events, I have a mix feelings of being ashamed and laughing at it. During my first years in the high school seminary, I look at Ash Wednesday as a punishment. You see, even the required age for fasting and abstinence is 14, there are no exemptions in the Seminary (for obvious reasons, of course). I treat Ash Wednesday then as a ‘hunger strike day’ for we are only served one full meal during the day without merienda. And if you personally know my eating capacity, you will know why I despise a meal-less day.

As I grow up and as I learn more in the Seminary, my perspective has changed. And I should, because Seminary is a place of formation - spiritually, academically, socially, and formation as a mature, young man with the direction to the Priesthood. And even after I left (or shall I say, after being advise to leave) the institution last March 2009 after graduating in Philosophy, even now that I am living in the real world away from the comforts of her confines, I continuously live (and share) most, if not all, the things that I have learned inside. There are no clear indications yet if I would return and pursue my Theological studies but the important thing is, I should and I must strive not to forget those good things. 

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Last night, I planned to attend the Ash Wednesday Mass at the School. But since I have to leave early for Tagaytay City with the parents of some of our fourth year high school students on retreat, I just decided to hear my Ash Wednesday Mass at the retreat house since it would be the  retreat’s culminating activity.

The Holy Mass went as usual and, God forgive me, I wasn’t able to hear something ‘new’ from the Priest who presided the Mass. Maybe because I have repeatedly taught the message of Ash Wednesday and Lenten season to my students and the Priest earlier said the same. Coming home from Tagaytay, I decided to open my blog’s archives and look for last year’s Ash Wednesday homily that moved me.

It was the homily of Fr. Thor Villacarlos, former Parish Priest of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish inside UPLB.

He started his homily sharing a stuff that he found on the internet. He said that a particular Christian denomination put up in their website that a mixture of ash and water burns the skin. As most of us know, the ashes being placed on our foreheads is a mixture of ashes (from the palms used on the previous year’s Palm Sunday) and (Holy) water. He consulted the Chemistry Professors of the University and they told him that yes, it is possible to burn one’s skin by a mixture of ash and water (he told us the name of the chemical compound but I forgot it) but the ashes used on Ash Wednesday have a very minimal effect to cause burning. So are they bluffing? Or scaring the faithful? We don’t know.

Why put ashes on our forehead? It is a reminder for us that we came from dust/earth and we would return to it after our death. Faher Thor told us that the mixture of ashes and water is very symbolic since ashes represents a lifeless man and water, the breath of God that created us (if you read the book of Genesis, this will be quite familiar to you). When God breathed to the earth, there was life.

So what is the challenge for us? Father Thor told us that when the Priest (or the Minister) put ashes on our foreheads, this is a invitation for us to ‘return to the earth’. It is an invitation for us to be stoop down from our level, be ‘dirty’, and to be humble. After all, humility came from the Latin word humus which means earth or soil.

But how could we do that in these modern times where everything is fast and everyone is busy? That is where fasting and abstinence would enter. Fasting and abstinence is not just eating less and abstaining from meat. It is also doing less the things that we find addictive - television, alcohol, cigarettes, internet, and everything considered as ‘excess’ and not an essential. And when we have a free time after abstaining (and fasting) from these, then it would be the time to go back to the earth and be dirty.

And after all of these, during the celebration of the Easter Vigil (or the end of the 40-day preparation) and the blessing of fire and water, it is there when we would burn ourselves and walk to God, our savior. So basically, those who posted that a mixture of ashes and water will burn us, is in a way, correct.

Seminarians are known to Priests as omniscient creatures (it is a inside joke actually). I am guilty of this when I was in college since there are Priests and speakers who give us something that we already know and I (together with most of my brothers) would just fake our attention, pretending to be listening. I know, it is a sign of being proud and not being humble.

But I have learned my lesson. Though I cannot say that I am totally doing it, I chose to listen and digest what Father has given us. I have learned that yes, we know things and sometimes, it is our expertise, but we should always be reminded. And we should see things from other people’s perspective.

The Season of Lent is about preparing ourselves. It is the period to give up something and be of service to the needy. Actually, as I have mentioned above, some of the things that we have saved during this season should go to helping the poor and the needy. Some would say that this is hypocrisy on our part, but should it be? I think doing something good at least during a particular period of a year is better than having done nothing at all. And as long as you know what you believe in, as long as you are steadfast on your faith, no hecklers, trolls, haters, and non-believers can shake you.

This is a period of giving up our excess. What would you give up? for me, I think it wold be extra rice. Aside from helping me lose wight, it will help those who are in need by giving them what I should have eaten for my excess consumption. (Lent, as they say, is the best way to lose weight and be of shape.)

In these modern times, is the celebration of Ash Wednesday still relevant? Yes. We need it more during these times when we seem to just think of ourselves and our personal gains.

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Earlier at the Ash Wednesday Mass at the retreat house, since the Priest has no one to assist him, I volunteered to render my services as a sacristan. I have avoided in purpose to do services in the Mass after my ‘eviction’ from the Seminary since I want to see things ‘from the opposite side’ and ‘from a different perspective’.The last time I rendered service at the Holy Mass was on April 22, 2009, as a Lector, during my cousin’s wedding. It was also the last time I wore my cassock. It feels good to be back at the Sanctuary, serving the Lord in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Coincidentally, I was also mistaken as a Priest by some of the Augustinian Nuns at the retreat house. I politely said ‘No I’m not’ to the Nuns and told them that I am one of the students’ teachers. I was surprised to hear their next words. They told me that I have an ‘aura’ (or a ‘vibe’) of a Priest. I just stood there, speechless, and thanked them afterwards when they promised to pray for me and my return in the Seminary.

For years, I have turned away from the possibility of returning to the Seminary to continue my Theological studies. Maybe because I am ‘enjoying’ my life outside the Seminary’s confines. But what if these events are God’s way of waking me up from a deep sleep of denial? Of hardheartedness? Of not answering his call - again?

Personally, this Lenten Season is a challenge for me to pray hard(er) and to discern what path to choose in my life. But for now, I will try my best to live and share the message of the Lenten Season to my family, friends, and students. I will strive to give up my ‘excess loads’ - sin, self-centeredness, pride - and to burn myself with love, passion, and dedication to share God’s words and message.

How about you? What would you give up and burn this Lenten season?

Today is the beginning of the Lenten Season. Let us spread the #AshTag. Vaya con Dios!

Photo Above: Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle celebrates Mass on Ash Wednesday at the Arzobispado de Manila Chapel in Intramuros, Manila on February 13, 2013. (Photo courtesy of Noli Yamsuan/Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila)

Elsewhere:

Source: juanrepublic

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).

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.

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!

Source: juanrepublic

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.

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.

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. 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.

Source: juanrepublic

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

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.

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. 

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!

#AshTag Wednesday

"It’s Ash Wednesday. Let us spread the #ashtag"

Today, the Catholic Church celebrates Ash Wednesday. This day marks the beginning of the Lenten season, or the 40-day period of fasting to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection (Paschal Mystery). It is the season where we are reminded to repent from our sins, to fast and abstain, and to do charity works for the poor and needy.

It is an open secret here on Tumblr and in my blog that I am a former seminarian (or more appropriately, a seminarian on regency or break). I studied in the Seminary for eight years - from high school to college, and I have been writing reflections about Lent and being of service to the poor and the needy since I was twelve (I entered the seminary at a young age, so there goes the explanation).

But there is something that I have to confess to you. Something that whenever I remember those events, I have a mix feelings of being ashamed and laughing at it. During my first years in the high school seminary, I look at Ash Wednesday as a punishment. You see, even the required age for fasting and abstinence is 14, there are no exemptions in the Seminary (for obvious reasons, of course). I treat Ash Wednesday then as a ‘hunger strike day’ for we are only served one full meal during the day without merienda. And if you personally know my eating capacity, you will know why I despise a meal-less day.

As I grow up and as I learn more in the Seminary, my perspective has changed. And I should, because Seminary is a place of formation - spiritually, academically, socially, and formation as a mature, young man with the direction to the Priesthood. And even after I left the institution last March 2009 after graduating in Philosophy, even now that I am living in the real world away from the comforts of her confines, I continuously live (and share) most, if not all, the things that I have learned inside. There are no clear indications yet if I would return and pursue my Theological studies but the important thing is, I should and I must strive not to forget those good things. 

Last night, I planned to attend the Ash Wednesday Mass at our Parish (outside the UPLB Campus). But when my mother told me that there will be a mass in their office (which is inside the campus), I decided to go there since it would be more convenient for me.

The Mass celebrant is Father Thor (Yes, Thor. He may not look like Chris Hemsworth but he is one of the nicest, and funniest priests that I know), the Parish Priest of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Parish (the church inside UPLB). And I did not regret attending his mass. His homily moved me.

He started his homily sharing a stuff that he found on the internet. He said that a particular Christian denomination put up in their website that a mixture of ash and water burns the skin. As most of us know, the ashes being placed on our foreheads is a mixture of ashes (from the palms used on the previous year’s Palm Sunday) and (Holy) water. He consulted the Chemistry Professors of the University and they told him that yes, it is possible to burn one’s skin by a mixture of ash and water (he told us the name of the chemical compound but I forgot it) but the ashes used on Ash Wednesday have a very minimal effect to cause burning. So are they bluffing? Or scaring the faithful? We don’t know.

Why put ashes on our forehead? It is a reminder for us that we came from dust/earth and we would return to it after our death. Faher Thor told us that the mixture of ashes and water is very symbolic since ashes represents a lifeless man and water, the breath of God that created us (if you read the book of Genesis, this will be quite familiar to you). When God breathed to the earth, there was life.

So what is the challenge for us? Father told us that when the Priest (or the Minister) put ashes on our foreheads, this is a invitation for us to ‘return to the earth’. It is an invitation for us to be stoop down from our level, be ‘dirty’, and to be humble. After all, humility came from the Latin word humus which means earth or soil.

But how could we do that in these modern times where everything is fast and everyone is busy? That is where fasting and abstinence would enter. Fasting and abstinence is not just eating less and abstaining from meat. It is also doing less the things that we find addictive - television, alcohol, cigarettes, internet, and everything considered as ‘excess’ and not an essential. And when we have a free time after abstaining (and fasting) from these, then it would be the time to go back to the earth and be dirty.

And after all of these, during the celebration of the Easter Vigil (or the end of the 40-day preparation) and the blessing of fire and water, it is there when we would burn ourselves and walk to God, our savior. So basically, those who posted that a mixture of ashes and water will burn us, is in a way, correct.

Seminarians are known to Priests as omniscient creatures (it is a inside joke actually). I am guilty of this when I was in college since there are Priests and speakers who give us something that we already know and I (together with most of my brothers) would just fake our attention, pretending to be listening. I know, it is a sign of being proud and not being humble.

But I have learned my lesson today. Though I cannot say that I am totally doing it, I chose to listen and digest what Father has given us. I have learned that yes, we know things and sometimes, it is our expertise, but we should always be reminded. And we should see things from other people’s perspective.

The Season of Lent is about preparing ourselves. It is the period to give up something and be of service to the needy. Actually, as I have mentioned above, some of the things that we have saved during this season should go to helping the poor and the needy. Some would say that this is hypocrisy on our part, but should it be? I think doing something good at least during a particular period of a year is better than having done nothing at all. And as long as you know what you believe in, as long as you are steadfast on your faith, no hecklers, trolls, haters, and non-believers can shake you.

This is a period of giving up our excess. What would you give up? for me, I think it wold be extra rice. Aside from helping me lose wight, it will help those who are in need by giving them what I should have eaten for my excess consumption. (Lent, as they say, is the best way to lose weight and be of shape.)

In these modern times, is the celebration of Ash Wednesday still relevant? Yes. We need it more during these times when we seem to just think of ourselves and our personal gains.

Today is the beginning of the Lenten Season. Let us spread the #AshTag. Vaya con Dios!

Photo Above: A nun uses ash to mark a cross on the forehead of a believer outside the Baclaran church in Paranaque on the occasion of Ash Wednesday. The occasion marks the beginning of the season of Lent in the largely Roman Catholic country. (via ABS-CBNnews.com)

Elsewhere:

  • The Word Exposed: Ashes - Manila Archbishop Chito Tagle’s catechism and reflection about Ash Wednesday. This is very informative.

Source: juanrepublic

The Letter that Changed My Life

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 was a failure. A total failure and an embarrassment.

And then my Father 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”. Wink!).

This letter changed my life. Since then, I have been writing articles after articles, 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.

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.

And thank you to my Tatay Juan who inspired me, who acted as my Maestro. I will always be grateful. I love you.

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

Source: juanrepublic

Twenty-Two

It has been a tradition in the seminary to do a “mini-sermon” or sharing of reflection during the Holy Mass whenever one is celebrating his birthday. I never had my chance to deliver one since my birthday always fall on the day when seminarians are still on their summer vacation.

So here am I, writing and sharing to you what I am suppose to deliver in front of the congregation. Join me in my reflection and thanksgiving as I celebrate my 22nd birthday.

It’s an open secret to the people whom I met in the internet that I am a Seminarian, a Prayle-wannabe. And only a few handfuls knew my whole story.

It has been more than 2 years since I left the Seminary to undergo an advised regency – or break – to fix myself in the real world. And supposedly, this year will be my return to pursue my 5-year theological studies before being ordained a deacon, and eventually, a Prayle (or a Damaso, depending on how you view my comrades).

I chose not to return this year for personal reasons. And I still don’t know if I would still return in the seminary to pursue my vocation and dream of being a Priest. Let me share with you some of my reasons.

First, my two (2) years have been wasted. I have no permanent job much more an “alternative career” to weigh down my options if I am really for the Priesthood or not. I only have had contractual jobs, sidelines, and rakets. My last job as an editor was home-based so I had no notion of office, officemates, workplace, etc. Currently, I am still looking for a company to work at and who will give me experience and lessons needed for my growth. (Yes, I am not after for the salary and compensations.)

Second, since I wasted my two years, I still lack the experience which will measure my growth into maturity and balance between Priesthood and a life of an ordinary bachelor. When I graduated last 2009, I promised myself that I will travel, meet new people and do things that I have been deprived of during my eight (8) years in the Seminary.  I want to do”a million other things”.

Third, during the past 2 years, I have done things which are not appropriate for a Prayle-wannabe like me. I hurt people. And I still haven’t fixed those broken relationships yet. I don’t want to return to the seminary with a heavy heart and a feeling of guilt.

Fourth, I am still undecided with my vocation. Following the principle in ethics “in doubt, do not act”; I do not want to enter the seminary with a disposition of doubt. I think it will be unfair to God, to the Church, and to her people if I leave the Priesthood just because I pursue my theological studies without being sure of myself (Manangs and those who are forcing me to return immediately to the Seminary, I hope you can read this).

Those are the four major reasons why I opted not to return to the Seminary this year.

But as in all journey, life must go on. Today, I am celebrating my twenty second birthday. Some would say that I look older than my actual age. Some, especially bus conductors and jeepney barkers, would call me “Totoy”.

But if you would ask me, I still feel that I am the same 19-year old young man who graduated in the Seminary more than two years ago. I’m just 37.4 pounds heavier (and yes, I know that it is not healthy).

My life today is not much different from where I left. I am currently a Sunday School teacher in our Parish. Teaching catechism to children ages 12 and below gives me a sense of fulfillment. It is a noble apostolate. I also call it as a “defense Against the Dark Arts” post since teaching those kids prayers and Jesus Christ, his teachings of light and truth, is the best defense against the evil one.

Beat that Severus Snape! 

Despite all the bitterness, drama and tragedy, I am still thankful for the 2 years outside that the Prayles gave me to explore the real world. Though lack in experience and incomplete, I have learned to see life in a different perspective. I have learned to see the reality in the eyes of ordinary people - away from the comfort zones of the seminary. My life in the seminary is quite spoon fed. I have learned here in the real world to stand and to do things on my own.

I am thankful to the people who became part of my journey for this past 2 years outside the Seminary. The nurses and staff of ASEAN RISK, Lipid Research Unit of Philippine General Hospital where I first worked. Technically. My comrades, my brother seminarians, my support group who continue to guide their prodigal brother. My Titas, Ates, and Kuyas in Sunday School who continue to inspire me to return to the seminary. To my former boss in the publishing company, thank you for the opportunity Sir Eugene. To the people whom I met here in David Karp’s cyber empire, most especially to the eLBikada - thank you for the laughters, tears, booze, smoke, and love.

I would also like to thank the people who became part of my journey for 22 years.My parents, my family, and the Prayles (where I spent more than half of my life living with them).

I would also like to ask for forgiveness to the people whom I hurt - consciously and unconsciously. I hope we can start a new beginning.

This journey of 22 years has been fun. 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 God bless us all today, tomorrow, and forever. Padayon!

Source: juanrepublic

Guess Who’s Wearing my Eraserheads Shirt?

This Mother’s Day, let me share you this beautiful anecdote/ experience with my Nanay. I know that all of us have different and unique yabang stories about how great, cool, and loving our mothers are. Let me share you this one:

Last September, I got my first paycheck from the Publishing Company where I work as an editor. And since I learned about the Eraserheads: The Head Set last March (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 - and I still haven’t received my paycheck. I was in panic. Since the 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!


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! :’)

Happy Mother’s Day Nanay!

Source: juanrepublic

Driven by The Force

I have a confession to make. I am a Star Wars fan. Call me a geek but seriously, I am a die-hard fan of the universe created by George Lucas. I am also a Harry Potter fan but my obsession with Star Wars started when I was young long before I discovered the magical world of Harry Potter.

But I am not into the story of a dramatic young lady who is obsessed with a sparkling vampire but I will just leave it there.

I blame my obsession with Star Wars to my father. Back when I was still a little kid, he introduced me to the saga of Master Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, and Darth Vader. I can still remember how he brought home cutouts and scanned pages from the magazine about Star Wars. He even gave me printout of all the characters - from the whole Jedi council to the Ewoks - pasted in an illustration board and covered with a plastic cover.

That’s how my obsession for Star Wars started. I have a cool father (sometimes I think he is a Jedi in disguise, seriously) and I am thankful.

And today, May 4, as what most of the Star Wars fan knew, is Star Wars Day

Star Wars Day (also sometimes known as Luke Skywalker Day) because of the popularity of a common pun spoken on this day. Since the phrase "May the Force be with you" is a famous quote often spoken in the Star Wars films, fans commonly say “May the fourth be with you” (May 4th) on this day.

Last night (or earlier during the wee hours of the morning), I wrote about my obsession with covers and front pages of magazines and broadsheets. I decided to check the TIME Magazine cover archive and found this interesting covers on Star Wars and Science Fiction. What caught my attention was this favorite cover of mine which was released on 2002, when I was still in High School:

This was released prior to the showing of the second part (chronologically fifth) of the Star Wars saga. This issue contains a complete guide to the Attack of the Clones from characters to space ships and other vehicles.

And I have another confession to make.

I nenok-ed this issue in our library and cut the pages dedicated to Star Wars. I think The Force forced me to do so (insert evil grin here).

So much for my confession.

This particular installment came as a surprise for the fans of Master Yoda - myself included - when he, for the first time, used his light saber to battle Count Dooku. and I tell you, that was one of the most memorable sword fights in the history of movies.

Browsing the archives of Time Magazine’s website and the web for Star Wars-related stuff brings back good memories of my childhood as a little Star Wars fan, sharing the story with my father. And I think this will last until I grow old, and probably, when I have children of my own.

I am still waiting George Lucas to create a 7th installment of this epic saga.

And just so you know, young ladies who know Order 66 have an edge to me. Shall we talk about Star Wars over a cup of coffee?

Happy Star Wars Day everyone! May The Force be with you!

Source: juanrepublic


This is a personal blog where rants, raves, and everything in between is written and posted.

About the Blogger: His name is Juan, a frustrated writer who hails from a sauna town at the foot of Mount Makiling. He spends his being an overworked and underpaid High School teacher and being a self-proclaimed superhero who is dreaming and trying to make a difference, one post at a time.

For correspondence, please email me at juanrepublica@gmail.com

You can also find me at these websites:



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