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Christmas Doesn’t Have To Be That Glittery

1.  big Chrsitmas tree      If I don’t feel like joining in the extravagance of the Christmas celebrations would I be betraying those who think that the glitters are essential?

I don’t feel like profusely thanking God that I’m forced to stay away from sweets, yet it’s something my folks would call a “blessing in disguise”. The reasons why I wouldn’t buy even a single chocolate yummy isn’t only emotional and mental but physical as well. It seems I now have a safety lock in my resolve to not do the usual things that I would be looking forward to for Christmas — that’s largely involving yummy yummy food and nice new things.

Then there’s also the decorations to be set up even when the Christmas tree is just a plastic imitation, there where I have lived all my life, and Santa with his thick clothes and reindeers in their sleigh are nothing more than just illustrative and illusions. The great majority of my folks have totally no idea what a real cold season means, and are not even aware of the great variety of conifers that exist or ever seen more than one kind.

Then we’d sing “Silent Night” along with “Winter Wonderland” without having the littlest idea of the theologies on Jesus of Nazareth, without the littlest idea of the hazards that snow and other solid forms of precipitation can bring. Would I be betraying those who feel that the extravagance of Christmas celebrations is essential when I say that, well, the great part of it is, uhm, a hoax? When one looks at the disparity between the real reason for Christmas and its popular image, globally, one can’t help but conclude that the bulk of it is irrelevant.

2.  Christmas tree decorsI did more than once heard it preached, by priests and pastors alike, that Christmas is supposed to be a daily celebration. But, man, how can that line of wisdom compete with the overwhelming sights, sounds and smells of the giddy frenzy of buying and cooking and eating and partying by only those who can? What about those who can’t afford to do so and at the same time have no idea that all these are, in fact, dispensable?

Oops, don’t read me wrongly. I do not mean disrespect. I value tradition and culture, in the way they bind communities and affirm living. I do like giving and receiving presents. I love to see my family gathered together in a special meal knowing that other families are gathered as well and that there’s general goodwill in the land and in the ones across oceans. I love the riot of colors and glitter that spring up everywhere many weeks before Advent. But where I have lived all my life electricity is expensive and so the Christmas lights is at the top of the list of things that make me cringe. “Fairy lights” are wonderful in the setting where they originated but transported into my tropical impoverished land they only make me think of unwanted heating and misplaced funds that should have gone to food and health.

3.  Santa in the airIt’ a blessing-in-disguise that I have no choice but to stay away from sweets, otherwise I would not be strong enough to resist perusing the arrays of enticing foodstuff inside an ordinary grocery store, here in the country where I find myself in now, which is one that employs nuclear energy and the best of technology; otherwise I would feel myself heroic in trying my best to be one with many of my suffering countrymen (over the recent hurricane and earthquake disasters). Dang, I really acquired a liking to those Turkish honeyed treats and now I can’t have them. Oh, well, half of my people can’t afford even a pint of ice-cream for years and years so why should I complain?

The issues involved are already much studied, such as poverty and wealth distribution. There’s an ocean of academics out there on these things. But man is man. Unless he chooses to pay attention then he cannot be coerced into engagement. And so life goes on. No one knows exactly where to. Would everything end up the way the movie A. I. (Artificial Intelligence) pictures it out to be, where the bios are no more and the world is run by software? As for now, for me here my comfort foodstuffs are just coconut, salted peanuts, and brewed coffee. With all the facts on poverty that I unearthed today my claim to these “comfort food” has become even a bit embarrassing.

I know I’m not alone in what I feel. I did find a newspaper article that I agree with in this, by a fellow countryman, and I’m glad that he and many like him think of things this way, too.
——————————————4.  tropical Christmas

 

from an article by Mr. Allan S. B. Batuhan (Batuhan: A stolen Christmas?)
(copied from:  http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/business/2013/12/21/batuhan-stolen-christmas-319946)

“Mostly for the simple reason that many people don’t feel like celebrating, in the midst of so much suffering. Yes, suffering. Ordinarily, we Filipinos are accustomed to seeing hardship all around us.

Our political institutions are corrupt, our politicians steal our money, and our people hardly have enough to make ends meet. Contestants join TV shows not for fun, but because they are the only means they have of raising funds for whatever pressing need they have in their lives. Wherever we turn, there are always those who are in need of something.

But the events of 2013 have made even what is commonplace and normal, extraordinary and abnormal. The sight of a beggar on the side of the street is something, but the horror of looking at pictures of devastated homes, and hundreds of dead bodies piled up beside the road is entirely another. Hearts not ordinarily moved by the endless parade of street urchins caroling beside one’s car while stopped at traffic, are wrenched and gutted by the grim footage flashing on the evening news.

So the usual Christmas extravagance goes out the window. And in its place come gestures of generosity hardly ever seen in a country already so jaded by suffering.

Which in the end, is probably just as well, because it reminds us all of what Christmas really ought to be—to share what we have with the least, and the last in life. And as long as we are in this spirit, Christmas will always be alive and well.

Dr. Seuss said it very well indeed: “Christmas Day will always be, just as long as we have we.”
—————————————–5.  Mandela on poverty

[SOME FACTS FROM THE NET:]

 

Number of hungry people in the world
(copied from: http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm)

 The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. Almost all the hungry people, 852 million, live in developing countries, representing 15 percent of the population of developing counties. There are 16 million people undernourished in developed countries (FAO 2012).

The number of undernourished people decreased nearly 30 percent in Asia and the Pacific, from 739 million to 563 million, largely due to socio-economic progress in many countries in the region. The prevalence of undernourishment in the region decreased from 23.7 percent to 13.9 percent.

Latin America and the Caribbean also made progress, falling from 65 million hungry in 1990-1992 to 49 million in 2010-2012, while the prevalence of undernourishment dipped from 14.6 percent to 8.3 percent. But the rate of progress has slowed recently.

6.  very hungryThe number of hungry grew in Africa over the period, from 175 million to 239 million, with nearly 20 million added  in the last few years. Nearly one in four are  hungry. And in sub-Saharan Africa, the modest progress achieved in recent years up to 2007 was reversed, with hunger rising 2 percent per year since then.

Developed regions also saw the number of hungry rise, from 13 million in 2004-2006 to 16 million in 2010-2012, reversing a steady decrease in previous years from 20 million in 1990-1992 (FAO 2012).

The above is based on the new estimates of world hunger by the FAO using revised  proceedures. It is worth noting that the new estimates give a different answer than the old estimates as the graph below shows (Lappe, 2013).
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(below, copied from: http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats)

 “According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”Source 4

Water problems affect half of humanity:

    Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.

    Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day.

7.  Mahatma Gandhi on poverty    More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day.

    Access to piped water into the household averages about 85% for the wealthiest 20% of the population, compared with 25% for the poorest 20%.

    1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometre, but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 litres per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses more than 50 litres of water a day flushing toilets (where average daily water usage is about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.)

    Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhoea.

    The loss of 443 million school days each year from water-related illness.

    Close to half of all people in developing countries suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits.

    Millions of women spending several hours a day collecting water.

To these human costs can be added the massive economic waste associated with the water and sanitation deficit.… The costs associated with health spending, productivity losses and labour diversions … are greatest in some of the poorest countries. Sub-Saharan Africa loses about 5% of GDP, or some $28.4 billion annually, a figure that exceeds total aid flows and debt relief to the region in 2003.”Source 10
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Regardless that things are always turned inside out and beaten willy-nilly I’d continue to affirm, by the grace of The Almighty, that life is good, and being alive is beautiful. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, wherever you are, whatever it means to you, even if you don’t celebrate it at all. Peace!

♥♥

Thank you to the owners of the pictures.   ♥♥

♥♥

Meditating, After Super Typhoon Yolanda

[This post was created on Sunday, November 10, 2013]

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Today my going to Church and taking communion had the special intention to be in solidarity with my countrymen the Filipinos in the wake of one of the worst land-hitting hurricanes in recorded history. Googling images using the terms Philippines, Haiyan, and Yolanda will be enough to get the whole picture… go ahead, please… because I hesitate to post some here…

Haiyan is the hurricane’s international name, Yolanda is its local name. The Y of Yolanda reflects the advent of this hurricane to us at the end of the year almost, since we name the typhoons alphabetically. Hurricane, typhoon, and tropical cyclone refer to the same thing, which is a type of storm.

I feel like picking up the entire sprawling archipelago and hug it tight, to comfort. The amazing thing is I know that somehow my mga kababayan (countrymen) will get over this because that’s how we are. Generally we’re simply naive that we can’t even think of berating God the way Job did. In Hiligaynon we’d all at once say in a resigned tone, “pag-buot sang Maka-ako”, with a bent head. The will of the Almighty.

The area worst hit by Yolanda had also suffered a magnitude 7 earthquake recently. Philippines is along the Pacific Ring of Fire as well as in the path of tropical cyclones. We are also affected by the El Niño. With these three things, at the least, it is easy to understand why our faith in God is a given thing. It doesn’t ask for philosophical considerations or systematic qualifications. Our faith in God comes as easy as breathing, a constant, so much so that even the worst of disasters is not strong enough to shake us off it. On the contrary, it is our lifeline and so the harsher the experience the tighter we cling to it. [ 13.Nov.13 Updates, below, links to 3 research websites, help elucidate what I’ve written in this post]

Earlier in our history there were those who called out to Bathala, a name that now has come to be heard throughout the archipelago by way of lessons in elementary school. Theologians will argue that this Bathala is not Yahweh or Elohim. This argument is irrelevant in this post, for a special purpose…

… Because I would like to translate Joey Ayala’s song Bathala into English as my way of being one with my people. I need to render Bathala as God in English, otherwise it won’t make much sense. I assume that when Mr. Ayala composed this piece he was referring simply to God, the One that the overwhelming millions of us go to church for on Sundays. I assume that when Mr. Ayala made this song he simply used Bathala to refer to the One whom I believe created everything, the Creator referred to in the Bible. Okay.

It can be argued that the globe is undergoing the cyclic ice ages and so humans have very little contribution to the warming. Okay. I don’t want to argue against that because I’m not an expert in that field. However, humans do so many things that result in the release of chemicals in the atmosphere, whose prevailing presence in turn blocks the escape of heat into outer space — the so-called greenhouse effect. Still, even if the cyclic ice ages is indeed the culprit of global warming it does not follow that we are free to do as we will with nature.

We do not have the freedom to unleash greed. Cutting of trees for profit. Mining for profit. Synthetic compounds for profit. Indiscriminate consumption for pleasure. The worship of ease and comfort. We are so submerged in greed that we cannot anymore tell between it and our skin. It cloaks us. Our souls are so soaked in it we feel like dying without it. We simply must consume frantically. We simply must have money in amounts beyond embarrassment.

The Homo sapiens sapiens is guilty of greed, from the poorest to the richest, from the most ignorant to those with multiple doctorates. So I appreciate it that Bathala is what Mr. Ayala used instead of Panginoon (Lord) or Poong Maykapal (God Almighty) or Diyos (God) because the song is like a confession of my people of the guilt to which we are part of. The mega-conglomerates of the global economy come to my mind as I meditate on this song yet I am reminded of Jesus’ words: forgive them for they do not know what they do.

butterflies The Mahatma Gandhi and Michael Jackson have said to the effect that if we want to change the world then we must start with our own self. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.” A little less greed goes a long way. It’s a butterfly effect, like the phenomenon with the storms: a reduction in the propensity to consume will create a chain of events of unimaginable scale. Who knows, it may even prevent more super hurricanes from occurring again. Hurricanes are the collective manifestations of teeny-weeny changes of atmospheric pressures here and there over time, of tiny butterfly-wing drafts so to speak.

In calamities such as Yolanda my mga kababayan are simply too occupied to engage in blame games — that’s far from our thoughts. In solidarity, therefore, with this post I celebrate today’s going-to-church spirit of my country and render into English what sounds to me as our collective confession and supplication. I rest my diwa (inner self) and refrain from pointing a finger. Mr. Joey Ayala, sir, in case you come across this, please tell me on the parts that I got wrong; and I hope it’s fine with you that I have your song here, shared with the rest of the world. Here goes:

Bathala (God)

Bathala

Likha Ninyo ang bawat bagay sa mundo

Lupang kayumanggi’t luntiang bukirin

Alat ng dagat at tamis ng hangin

Oh God,

You created everything,

the brown lands and verdant forests,

the saltiness of the seas and the sweetness of air.

 Ang bawat bagay na nagmula sa Inyong palad

Ay may tungkulin sa mundong kinagisnan

Sa pagtupad nito ang lahat ay tinitimbang

All things that came from Your hands

have their own purposes in nature, the home they were reared in —

— the fulfillment of which entails reckoning to the detail.

 Ang tao

Inyong hinugis at pinaahon sa lupa

Pinagkalooban ng  talino at diwa

Upang mundo’y ipagyaman

Mankind —

him You shaped, established on earth,

provided with intellect and soul,

in order to enrich the world.

 Talino

Naging ararong nagpaamo sa parang

Naging kumpit  na sumagupa sa karagatan

Naging apoy na nagpalayas sa karimlan

Intelligence

became the plow that tamed the land,

became the vessel that battled the ocean waves,

became the fire that banished darkness.

 Sagana

Sa kayamanan ang mundong Inyong likha

At may bahagi rito ang bawat nilalang

Kung susuyuin lang mula sa kalikasan

Abundant

in wealth this nature You have created

and all creatures can partake of it

were the acquisition of them be done mindfully.

 Subali’t

Buhay-dalisay ay ‘di sapat sa iilan

Sila’y nasilaw sa kinang ng kasakiman

Ganid na diyos ang sinamba

However,

simply-living for some is not enough,

they were blinded by greed’s glitter,

they worshipped a selfish god.

 Pinaghati-hatian po nila ang lupa

Karagatan at himpapawid ngayo’y may bakod na

Kapwa tao’t hayop ma’y inaagawan ng tahanan

Walang nakaliligtas sa kanilang karahasan

Kaunalaran at kabutihan daw ang kanilang sadya

Subali’t ang lumilitaw ay ‘sang panggagahasa

They partitioned the lands among themselves,

the high seas and the atmosphere now have fences;

his fellow man and even the animals are robbed of their homes.

None are safe from their cruelty.

They say that progress and well-being is their aim

but what has turned out is violence.

 Bathala

Ako’y hinugis Nyo’t pinaahon sa lupa

Ang aking buhay ay dito nagmula

At dito rin inaalay

Oh God,

You shaped me and placed me in this world,

 earth is my origin/my sustenance comes from it,

and my life is a gift to it.

 Bathala

Bigyan lakas itong inyong tanod-lupa

Upang umiral sa mapagsamantala

Panalangin ko’y Inyong dinggin

Harinawa, Bathala.

kalabaw _Filipino farmer plowing a rice paddyOh God,

give strength to this earth-ranger of Yours

so to prevail against the opportunists;

may You hear my prayer;

so be it, oh God.

maraming salamat po sa mga may-ari ng mga litrato (thank you very much to the owners of the photos)

13.Nov.13 Updates:

Bourne, Tarzan, et al as Chemical Compounds

The Berlin File _2013 Recently I watched the 2013 South Korean movie Berlin File because my favorite Han Suk Kyu is in it. I was very impressed with his Great King Sejong portrayal in Tree with Deep Roots and I wanted to see how he’d look like in a modern setting.

The Berlin File is about two North Korean agents who are a husband and wife stationed in Berlin and were set up for treason by a powerful father and son team taking advantage of the transition of governmental power in their country in order to protect their private agenda. So they worked on changing the personnel at their embassy in Berlin. The plot starts with an international deal involving the Mossad, Arabs, the CIA, and South Korea. There are bits of English, German, and Arabic in the dialogues, and the musical score as well as the action shots reminded me of the Bourne movies. But the flavor of the movie is over all akin to the South Korean films and dramas I have watched. I sort of felt at home with it, so to speak.

To compare-&-contrast and for old time’s sake I looked up on the Bourne films, initially just thinking of re-watching them at some time maybe, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith did a Bourne Identity in 1988, with a tiny part shot in Regensburg. I will take the time to watch that in full and check out how faithful it was to the Ludlum novel, as some accounts claim.
Bourne _1_ Identity 2002

The Bourne Legacy was the only sequel that I wasn’t able to watch (’til this week) despite having learned that part of it was shot in Manila, so I decided to watch it right away. I felt good when it got to the Manila part, which was nearing the end, because it was done true to the everyday street scenery. I heard Filipino distinctively being spoken, the laughter in the streets, the automobiles willy-nilly. One of my favorite actors, Lou Veloso, is there with just a tiny part and projecting a familiar Filipino aura without over-acting. It was as though what I felt while watching the Manila scenes is similar to Katsuhiko’s pleasure at seeing his face on the screen, in that very charming Japanese movie The Woodsman and the Rain. The Manila scenes reminded me of Bourne in Tangiers. So in order to compare them, especially that now it’s Cross and not Bourne in there, I decided to rewatch all the three prequels, stat. Legacy is in fact not a sequel but, in the timeline, it is at about the end of Ultimatum. There’s a short part in here shot in Seoul.

Ah, so desu ka. There’s always an exciting street chase in each film. Paris, Moscow, Goa, Tangiers, Manila, I forgot the rest. There’s always a pretty and competent female character, and Bourne/Cross consistently provides a way out for them, out of his personal business. Good for Bourne, and Cross, too. I have nothing to complain about them especially that their ruthlessness as assassins are not played up in the plots, and they never display aggression towards the non-enemy.
Bourne _2_ Supremacy

Yesterday Orabeoni Jung (older brother Jung) finished with his doctoral studies (that is, successfully did his Disputation, defended his dissertation) and in the course of the conversation, during the lively lunch celebration given by our Doktorvater, orabeoni’s Regensburger friend Mr. W. said he really likes action films. I had to keep quiet at that point because I didn’t want the attention to be directed to me. Slightly earlier I caught my thumb at the car door, immediately treated it with ice, and everyone had already given me sympathetic words and feelings.

Near the end of the drive home to the dormitories with Orabeoni and Mr. W. (in his car), Orabeoni was heartily thanking him for having been his “driver” the whole day to which Mr. W. jokingly responded as having been his “transporter”. Otoke? (what-to-do?) Whenever I can I have been babbling to my Korean friends about the Korean dramas and movies I’ve seen so far and so without thinking twice I blurted right away, “Orabeoni, Transporter is good, you must watch it.” (Earlier I had been recommending Berlin File to him at the lunch table since we were seated next to each other and it was easy for me to do so.) Mr. W. then added to my remark, “Yeah, and I have seen all of it.” But I couldn’t talk anymore because we were already getting out of the car. Belatedly I realized that he may also have meant the recent Transporter series on television, and not just the three films. I haven’t seen any of the ones on television because I had cut my television addiction about a year ago, and so I wouldn’t have anything to say about it after all.
Bourne _3_ Ultimatum

Since I couldn’t do much with my sore thumb, when I got to my room I simply decided to re-watch the remaining Bourne film I haven’t gotten around to do, and then continued on to the Transporter ones.

I’d say the current action films are not much different from those since of the 70’s… they’re on the masculine prowess, attraction to the feminine, human capacity spectrum physically and mentally… Berlin File, Transporter, Bourne stories, The Saint, Hitman, and a hundred others feature the male physique glorified in ancient Greece and Rome, and the female form glorified since the advent of the popularity of corsets and eventually of the runway-hanger body shape. They’re about the alpha male unbelievably overcoming aggression that are stationed at a perimeter of decreasing radius enclosing him. Precise movements, always. Like the way Dae Gil (Jang Hyuk of Chuno) could gracefully orchestrate his disciplined mucles. Frank Martin (of Transporter) reminded me of Lee Bang Ji, Ddol Bok’s Sonsaengnim (Teacher) in Tree with Deep Roots. Aaron Cross’ (of Bourne Legacy) instant improvisations reminded me of McGyver. Simon Templar/Vincent Ferrer (Val Kilmer in The Saint, 1997) is a mathematician and a painter. Tarzan is like all of them: handsome, smart, quick, strong, sleek, and wealthy. The alpha males of the jungles of trees and of concrete, and the Janes who are at the same time weak and strong though preferably ‘complicated’ like in the way the French Inspector Tarconi (of Transporter) would want them to be.
Bourne _4_ Legacy

Wahnsinn. Not Everyman can have the resilience of David Webb (a.k.a. Jason Bourne) and the accomplishments of sweet Dr. Emma Russell (physicist in The Saint, 1997). Not Everyman would stay sane after the behavior modifications experienced by Bourne and Cross. Not only that Bourne undergoes psychiatric crises, a memory yo-yo from brainwashing to amnesia to recovery, but Cross moreover undergoes a viral-induced evolution jump not dissimilar to what happened to the X-Men.

Although I could now chide myself at having loved all of these action films I could not help recalling that, in the academic discussions I’ve come across, this proliferation of adulation for the Tarzan-like prowess is integrated in the way the human psyche copes with the changing times. It’s an offshoot of the way the heads of families, especially in the West, perceived as emasculation, along with the rise of female independence, during the economic upheaval at about the advent of the industrial era. There’s got to be an image that the psyche can hold on to against the encroaching panic at the helplessness over the rise of the huge conglomerates and the societal havoc that result. Thus the popularity of Wild West heroes at first and then of the strong men in popular media. The way Frank Martin can leap and grab at things while falling remind me of Superman sans cape, not that it’s the cape that makes him fly.
Bourne Identity_1988

I like these films because, well, for one, they transport me back home to where my father’s copies of Robert Ludlum et cetera paperbacks are stacked together on the shelf, with the Encyclopedia Americana and the Reader’s Digest Comprehensive Dictionary that were our school-homework staples. Wilbur Smith. Frederick Forsyth. Peter Maas. Robert Ruark. I can’t remember the others and of course I didn’t get to read all of them because I had difficulty in sustaining my interest over plots that I couldn’t visualize, the works that make up the bulk of these novels like high-profile espionage and sophisticated weaponry plus tactical language. Even so then, I did finish the first novel that my father handed over to me to spend away time with while I was not feeling well. It was William D. Wittliff’s Raggedy Man and I was only ten years old so I didn’t understand all of it (it’s about a disfigured ex-soldier coming back to secretly look over his family, so there was lot of emotional undercurrents). But I will always remember that book.
Tarzan of the Apes

The familiarity of reading such paperbacks eventually led me to James Clavell, hence Eiji Yoshikawa’s Musashi, to one of Kobo Abe’s, one of Masuji Ibuse’s, and to several more of differing genre that included those of Edward Rutherford, Tolkien (who led me to take a peak at Irish folklore), C.S. Lewis, R. Tagore, K. Gibran, and Pearl S. Buck. Then maybe a couple each of Stephen King’s, Alice Walker’s and Maeve Binchy’s, one from Chaim Potok. Others I can’t recall anymore. Roots. On the U. S. Marines. About a tribe in prehistory Alaska, My Sister the Moon. Earlier than these there were Nancy Drew and Sweet Dreams, which led me to Agatha Christie and Mills & Boon — light ones that could be finished in a day. (I did plow through Jane Eyre, Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Anna Karenina, and attempted The Scarlet Letter. Wahnsinn. Of course I couldn’t understand them the way they should be understood because I had no idea of the pomp of Russian nobility, of the coldness of the prevalent weather there until Siberia, and of the sensibilities of the English gentry. I couldn’t appreciate their literary peculiarities. They were of worldviews at the other side of the globe.) Anyway, simply Wahnsinn. So many words eaten, not properly digested, I simply cannot remember the majority of them. They happened in another lifetime and I was a different person then. However they did teach me the love for the dictionary and hence erased my apprehension for the English language.

With which, all of them, led me to conclude later on that any other paperback fiction on action, fantasy, or love story out there will just be similar to what I’ve already come across. That cured me of fiction addiction and I wasn’t tempted to go back even after more wonderful authors came out. Of which, furthermore, I was not surprised in my conclusion that Bourne, Cross, Martin, Templar, and Tarzan are almost just the same guy. These kinds of films are made of the same stuff. I could say that there’s nothing really new in them. Seen one, seen all.
The Saint _1997

But still why do I like these films? Okay, so, I guess the sound tracks are very good. The Saint and Bourne led me to Moby, of which reading up on him made me better understand his song Extreme Ways (Bourne theme song). It’s one of my favorites and once while listening to it I got really serious. It came to my mind to ask who in the world could afford to say “I’ve seen so much in so many places… So many heartaches, so many faces… So many dirty things… You couldn’t even believe” — where are these people, what are they going through, and could I ever have a very good idea of what they’re talking about… like Jason Bourne who actually retraced his path and owned up to the killing of a girl’s parents, in Moscow, thereby freeing her of the sorrow of living with the thought that her mother shot her father and afterwards commits suicide.

There it is. It’s because these films sit on the boundary between what’s possible, and the dream zone. What’s possible is the caring for children and women, at which Simon, Aaron and Jason do a better job than Frank. Templar, Cross and Bourne can argue reasonably with women without grabbing at their wrists and dragging them forcibly. Except that in the 1988 Bourne film he and Marie (R. Chamberlain & J. Smith) behave the way Frank Martin and his girls do to each other, similar to Tarzan and Jane of the first book Tarzan of the Apes. Seemingly Tarzan’s attraction to Jane overpowers him, but actually it comes out that it’s always Tarzan who has the upper hand. The dream zone is right there: power over someone and something and everything that comes along. That’s the fantasy there: that the odds don’t count. That if one just acts decisively enough, fast, then whatever it is, it is possible. However, in real life reckoning the odds do count.
Transporter 1

More importantly on the other hand, it’s not just the odds against safely landing a car on top of a speeding train, but the odds against surviving a severe  drug dependency, like Aaron Cross. Like getting free from mind manipulation and struggling at forgiveness, like David Webb. Like leading a hopeful life after so much tragedy, like Simon Templar. Like producing almost costless energy source, like Emma Russell. For Frank Martin, well, although he just cares about the money, several times he’s shown to choose ethics that value the person…

…nah, they’re not really nasty guys… they do have soft spots… But how would all these ingredients wrap up in real life? Do such persons really exist, and how many are they? It would be nicer for the world if it were so, and it doesn’t hurt to hope that it were so. That’s the dream part of it. Though, not to be blinded by the nice part, consideration must also be given to the “backgrounds” of the fellows who are “bad” in these movies, the antagonists. If the movie was about that “bad” character then that person could be very well ethically defensible, too… right? … ah, but this is already a quagmire I wouldn’t know how to navigate over… I haven’t read Fletcher’s Situation Ethics. Ajik.

… however, for the simplicity of the plots, to be palatable to the viewer who must not be scared away from watching films in the future, who the good and the bad are among the guys must be simply put across so that there’s no ambivalence at the end of the show. Schluß. Weiter. The same formula with Wonder Woman and Star Trek. Things have to be neatly wrapped up in the end so that viewers will keep coming back for that good feeling they get after every show. If I continue with this ramble it will continue onto economics, and I’m not yet ready to explore that. Ajik.
Transporter 2

There’s nothing really new about films of the masculine-prowess genre. Remington Steele. A-Team. Knight Rider. Stingray. Misssion Impossible. McGyver. Airwolf. James Bond, of course. T J Hooker. Even of the procedural genre, like my favorite CSI: Miami reminds me of Hawaii Five-O in my childhood, and Grey’s Anatomy of Doogie Howser, M. D.  But I see, though, that their charms can be found in the tiny human issues incorporated within the plots, in the decision-making parts, in the outcomes of such decisions, in the coping of crises, and in the perception of the individual viewer. This is the facet that has endeared Star Trek: The Next Generation to me. There’s always freshness found in these parts. I’ve actually learned so much from Capt. Jean Luc Picard’s team.

I’d like to think of it as similar to the atoms, at least all the naturally occurring ones, basically known to science, and they’re all just the same everywhere whether be in stars or in the bloodstream, but these few atoms neatly named in the Periodic Table of Elements are able to form the countless number of compounds existing, making up the countless variety of objects around us, in solid, liquid, and gas forms. They’re all the same intrinsically — the same protons, electrons, neutrons, and binding forces — but they do come out differently depending on the combinations and permutations of such parts.

Or, viewing it from another direction also applies: the human dramas, or affairs/concerns, have basically been of the same stuff ever since — fear, doubt, redemption, revenge, bliss, rage, tranquility, want, need, naivety, security, passion, understanding, empathy, camaraderie, love, obsession … — and these basic ingredients are packaged in different ways and come out as the stories that are continually churned out. The action films, fiction paperbacks, and television series will never run out of customers.

Seriously, though, I don’t have a film genre that I would label as favorite. I don’t go gaga over action films as much as I don’t go gaga anymore over the Disney and Marvel ones. I treat them on the same level now. If a film can talk sensibly about the real human situation then it’s fine by me, and it could be fantasy even, either of the fairy kind or of the scientific kind, both of which I also like. However, they shouldn’t be made as lamp posts for morality and ethics because they are heavily influenced by the love for money.
Transporter 3

Stories in the mass media could serve as societal mirrors. But I’m not coming back to my paperback fiction and television addictions anymore. I’ll be content in re-watching, in case I miss them, the American-made movies I’ve already seen. Aeon Flux. Blade. The lot. Only when there’s really lots of extra time will I then indulge in the newer ones, at several years from now. Hopefully, and more importantly, I’ll have the chance to explore those that are popular in the countries immediately surrounding mine — Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the rest nearby. Definitely I’ll go back to R. Tagore and K. Gibran, then take the time to get to know Thomas Merton side by side with the Mahatma Gandhi…

But what I’ll do now, right now, is listen to Moby while I enjoy this marinated duck that Orabeoni gave me, a Korean recipe ready for the pan. I’ve learned from Dae Jang Geum that ducks are good for the health. Ducks are also a delicacy in the Philippines…

This post was especially written as a gift to Orabeoni, who’s going home soon and I’m not sure if I’ll ever see again. It’s a sort of a memory marker for his last day as Herr Student, which is the reason for some events of the day being mentioned here 🙂 Congratulations, Dr. Jung! I pray for God’s blessings to your plans. Stay healthy and live well! Ganbei! Banzai!

  (Thanks to the owners of the posters.)

Adam’s Song (Awit ng Mortal)

“Awit ng Mortal” is a Pilipino song, by Joey Ayala. Awit means song, and so the title can be translated as Song of the Mortal One, or Song of the Mortals. I render it as Adam’s Song because the story of Adam in Genesis is profoundly of one who came from dust and who is returning to dust. “Adam” is strictly not a proper name but is actually a generic term for “one [who is] from dust/ground/earth [= adamah]”. I thought of Adam since I felt that the title emphasizes mortality being a prominent description of humanity.

I especially like the song, both the melody and the lyrics. I want to try translate it into English so that I can share its thought to those who can’t understand our national language. Doing it word for word, or line for line, is rather difficult, awkward, so I kind of tried to get hold of my gut understanding of the statements. (Mr. Joey Ayala, sir, in case you come across this, I hope I did okay. Peace.) Here goes:

Ano ang sukat ng halaga ng isang buhay?
Kayamanan ba o di kaya ang pangalan?
Ano ang titimbang sa husto o kulang
Ng katuparan ng adhikain at paninindigan?
May gantimpala bang dapat pang asahan
Upang kumilos nang tama’t makatuwiran?

What dictates a person’s worth? Is it possessions? Is it reputation?

Against what should an endeavor be weighed? Against which should conviction be gauged? Must there be expected rewards for all good deeds?

Saglit lamang ang ating buhay,
Tilamsik sa dakilang apoy.
Ang bukas na nais mong makita
Ngayumpama’y simulan mo na.

Our lives are just ticks in time, flicks in that great flame; commence today the tomorrow that is your dream.

Ang bawa’t tibok ng iyong puso
Minsan lamang madarama.
Ito ang kumpas ng ating awit
Na sadyang may hangganan.

Each heartbeat happens only once. This beat is the rhythm of the song that is us; that which has an end to it.

May gantimpala bang dapat pang asahan
Upang kumilos nang tama’t makatuwiran?

Must there be expected rewards for all good deeds?

Kat’wan at isipa’y kukupas,
Sa lupa’y yayakap din.
Subali’t ang bunga ng iyong pamana’y
Higit pa sa pinagmulan.

We age, we falter, we’ll succumb to the earth; however, your legacy, in its fruition, will wax beyond you and where you have come from.

Saglit lamang ang ating buhay,
Tilamsik sa dakilang apoy.
Ang bukas na nais mong makita
Ngayumpama’y simulan mo na.

Our lives are just ticks in time, flicks in that great flame; commence today the tomorrow that is your dream.

hello there 🙂 Today is April 22, 2014 and I’m putting a link to this song’s melody that was uploaded by somebody on YouTube. The vocals is by Ms. Bayang Barrios, herself an accomplished music artist. Joey Ayala’s group that performed the song is called Joey Ayala at ang Bagong Lumad [“Joey Ayala and the new native”, for my lack of a better translation … or could also be “alter native”, which is a variant of “alter-native” and which speaks of the band’s genre, alternative music, and which also speaks of the band’s music’s message(s) to its audience. Moreover, I found a site of Ms. Bayang Barrios where you can read some interesting stuff about her:  http://www.bayangbarrios.com/bayang/bayang4.htm .

Here now is the meditative song of above …  Awit Ng Mortal.  Both links lead to the same page.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=mpOSZI-1ePI

or similarly:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpOSZI-1ePI

thanks again! ciao 🙂

 

na ka ka lo ka !

Anonymous says:

…my goodness guys, nakakaloka ang balita na to… please, dear journalists na may integrity, may puso para sa tao, sa mga ordinaryong mamamayan na tulad ko, now more than ever we all need the TRUTH .. the way I see it parang ganito: ayaw i-rock-the-boat ng gobyerno ang claim sa Sabah dahil sa economic ties with Malaysia (tama ba?) pero on the other hand pag ang claim sa Sabah ay maisaayos eh di pakinabang ang Pinas sa biyaya —- to claim or not to claim, economic ‘gain’ is assured, ‘ika nga — kung i-claim ang Sabah, no betrayal to kapwa Filipino happens, kung hindi i-claim ang Sabah, ay naku! Either the government works hard in convincing us that Sulu has no claim on Sabah, or it really has to stand up for what’s right!
Dear journalists na may integrity, please, can you help your sisters and brothers over this issue, where can we get access for info that’s more or less a bird’s eye-view over this entire complicated issue? At this time we don’t need journalism that’s beholden to money! Thanks!

—————-eto po ang nakakaloka———————-

http://betterphils.blogspot.de/2013/03/dfa-ninoy-aquino-betrayed-philippines.html?showComment=1363382422908#c6986329830693496477

we had no time to catch our breath

What are you proud of, kabayan?  Why do you say, “Be proud etc.”?  Is being able to speak in English something to be proud of?  Is being trendy? fashionable? artful? musically competent? able to dance? winning international beauty pageants? international sports? international whatever? something to be proud of?  In what way? In the sense that these achievements define you? us? Sacadas? In what do these achievements connect to being who we are? That we can compete with other nations? That we are acceptable in America? in Europe? are we? acceptable? and if so, what significance does it make?

So what if Rizal has a statue in Wilhelmsfeld?  What does it mean to us?  Why should we be proud of ourselves at all?  Do we really know what Nationalism is all about?  Do we really understand what it implies?  Why do we say, “Be nationalistic”? –WE DO NOT EVEN KNOW YET WHO WE ARE.  Did Rizal die for nothing? did Bonifacio? Mabini? and the millions of unknowns who did not even know how to speak Spanish? or English?

Wake up, Sacada.  Before the Spanish came, that’s what we were.  We are.  When the Spaniards came we became an unwilling host to her.  The Spanish went away, then the Americans came, then we had no time to look for our selves.  We had no chance to breathe.  We had no chance to catch our breath.  We had no chance to clean our house, and a new visitor came, and the visitor is now rearranging our house for us.  We eat her food.  We watch her shows.  We laugh at her jokes.  We copy her curses.  We speak her tongue.  We write in her grammar.  We argue and take down notes in her language.  We are so hospitable that we have been giving out our own selves.  Diin na dira ang kita?  Nasaan na diyan ang tayo?  Asa na diha ang ato?  Nawala na ba ang atin? ang tayo?  Have we lost our selves?  Who are we, really, kabayan?

Our psyche is confused, Sacada.  Our worldview is Asian, Australo-polynesian maybe, if we look at the roots of the many words in our many dialects — but we have made a Germanic language an official language.  How do we harmonize these two differing ways of thinking?  Are we really able to express what is inside of us? from our inner thoughts? from our livers? kidneys? bituka? atay? ang halin sa sulok-sulok? sa kaibuturan?

Wake up, Sacada, and heal your self.

Musings of a Sincere Fledgeling

Tayo ay nakasakay

sa Mundong naglalakbay…

Hello world.  It is wonderful to be aware that Earth is floating in space.

It is wonderful to be aware.  It is wonderful, this awareness, of this possibility that has come to pass, of this awareness that other possibilities could have come to pass and of other possibilities coming to pass that we have and would have no way of being aware of.

ang lahat ng bagay ay magkaugnay

Just to be is wonderful.  To be carried on by active-unseen-implied tendencies this way and that.  To be present in the movement, to be moved with eyes open, to be aware of the capability of seeing — this is a wonder.

I have been floating on something.  I lived on where I had been floating.  Some may have defined it as merely thriving, but no-one that we can define knows everything.  I may have had a full life, too.  Or perhaps fulness is merely accidental to being — because I am a sacada, and who would say that I have not lived?

I look back at my life, at our lives, at how we lived, at how we were helpless amidst the interconnected currents carrying us along — because I have become aware of new stirrings — and though I am new to this I am aware that my being legitimizes my presence…

… that is, sacada lang ako, but my story matters, my being cannot be denied.