Christmas Wishes

25 12 2009

Well, another Christmas is passing us by yet there are so many people who are worried and are so disappointed with how some people don’t really look at the real message of the occasion. Well to review it all, there’s the whole virtue of kindness, love, giving, and peace among everyone. And of course for Christians, there’s the birth of Jesus Christ, which the Bible proclaims as the Saviour and Redeemer of the World. If some people are overdoing it, not doing it at all, or doing something else that would harm someone’s life, then that’s not a good thing.

Thinking of my past entries on Christmas, I always say something long and it would contain my thoughts, my experiences and my stories. And I’m hoping to give something on this occasion things that I believe deserve to be written in this entry. By the way, I have disclosed my faith back in my past posts on Christmas and if this is your first time in my humble abode, I would like to let you know that I was baptized a Catholic.

I’ve become very motivated lately to learn more about my faith. One of the reasons is because lately, a friend of mine was asking me a number of questions about who Jesus Christ is for me, who is Mother Mary for me and why is it that Catholics cannot just pray straight to God and Jesus Christ for all their intentions. My friend started out to be a Catholic who converted later into a certain denomination of Christianity (which I will not disclose here for his privacy) after marrying his wife who is a Christian non-Catholic.

He was telling me that there is a conflict of beliefs between his faith and mine. And he even insisted that a Catholic is different from a Christian… I couldn’t pause in front of him but my head was filled with the “What did you just utter?” line. I do believe that I’m a Christian but because of all the schisms, splits and off-shoots that have sprouted in the last two thousand years, the divisions forced people to form their own congregations and fight for what they believe is truthful and faithful contrary to the other denominations of Christianity and most especially to the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

The most difficult part is that this friend of mine told me that his wife and I would have a good conversation about this. I didn’t memorize the Bible to prepare myself for a fruitful discussion about the beliefs and traditions of Catholicism. I know that these people memorize the Bible cover-to-cover which they would definitely do that since they believe the Bible to be source of the truth and that there are no other sources that will reveal truth and faith except for solely the Bible. Catholics do go beyond the Bible in learning more about God and true salvation comes from faith and good deeds rather than merely faith alone.

In the end, before we parted, we gave each other Christmas Wishes.

This gave me the message that God is calling me to learn more about my faith, my religion and my spirituality through reading the Bible and learning about the lives of saints and especially the life of the Blessed Mother Mary. It’s a hard task considering that before, I detested my faith in God because of how it distracts and ruins my focus in life. In the end, we do need to prioritize our faith in God before everything else and that’s what I’m carrying everyday of my life from this point onwards.

My Christmas message to all of you this year is to Learn more about your faith and seek the truth for yourself and don’t just take your baptism as a Christian/Protestant/Anglican/Jehovah’s Witness/7th Day Adventist/Catholic for granted. God definitely has a reason why you are so.

Wishing everyone A Holy and Blessed Christmas!

Take Care of each other and May God Bless each and every household everywhere.





Sports Blog

20 12 2009

Well, as you can see, I took off all the sports entries in my blog, this is because I want this site to focus more on the arts – films, literature, music, philosophy, etc. So if any of you guys were thinking about my thoughts on some of the latest sports events, I will be creating a sports blogsite very soon. For now, enjoy reading off this blog and my two others which I have been committing my time with lately:

http://firmresolve.typepad.com

http://spiritboost.wordpress.com





Firm Resolve!

19 11 2009

I would like to share my new blogsite: http://spiritboost.wordpress.com

I wanted to create a separate blogsite where I can chunk together all my ideas, philosophies and thoughts about life and several issues that we face everyday. I felt that it’s getting too crowded here in my Indie Citizen page. Still I’m going to use this site to share my thoughts and reactions on films, books and sports.

Cheers!





Towards Moving On

18 10 2009

Been a while since my last post. Thought I could make it possible to write one today which is a day that’s special for me personally. Today is my graduation day! It’s when I get that piece of paper to freedom a.k.a. the degree. A lot of things do come to mind at this point from aspirations to worries to just plain thoughts about how to move on in life. Maybe I should share a few things about them.

First of all, my aspirations are still unclear. I’ve been updating my resumé hoping that I am able to show everything that relates to my character, personality and experience in work and education. There are thoughts of going to another country for work and there are also thoughts of deciding between living with the family and caring for them, and experiencing an adventurous life where I would learn to become a lot more independent. But of course now that school’s done, I have to make sure that my journey does not stop or end. Which is why a firm decision is what I need at this point.

If there are any worries that I have, it’s losing all the wisdom and knowledge that I attained in school. I studied Japanese and Spanish and those languages are dear to me and keeping up with them through reading books & magazines and listening to podcasts from TBS954 Radio, J-wave, & RNE are things I needed to do to practice the language in terms of recognizing the languages but it should be a great chance for me to go to those countries and be able to make friends and become inspired and motivated by the scenery of their cultures.

There are values which I think should have become part of my life as I go on my journey. Faith in God, faith in action, these are very important in my life and it’s where I realize that my own effort is not enough. In spite of knowing the results of every action that I take or of every decision that I make, nothing is impossible. There will be a time when things don’t go our own way or maybe the reasonable way.

Humility is also a very important value for me and I need it to show that my family and friends are as important as my aspirations in life. I guess as a human being who knows that he is like a speck of dust in this vast universe, the top of the world may be a goal everyone aspires, but it’s not as significant when we suddenly find out that there’s something even larger than this world (confusing thought? tell me about it hehehe).

But to move on for me is to become the person who is shaped by this quote: “Do your best, and God will do the rest.”





“The Traveler” by John Twelve Hawks

10 09 2009

John Twelve Hawks - The Traveller

“The Traveler”
(Book 1 of The Fourth Realm)
by John Twelve Hawks
(USA)

“The Traveler” begins with the life of Maya who grew up in London to become a Harlequin whose role is to protect Travelers – people who have the ability to cross over different realms with their spirit. Trained to fight against the Tabula – which has the mission of killing all Travelers – and to hide from The Grid – which is the system to which people have given up their freedom (installed CCTV everywhere, government’s ability to track information, etc.) for an illusion they believe as safety and security – Maya was given the mission to find two Travelers living in Los Angeles and protect them.

One very particular thing I can talk about this book is that it has the ability to be adapted into a film or a TV series. The author, JXIIH (Shortening of John Twelve Hawks), presents a very dynamic visualization of the different scenes and showed that every character in the book can never be forgotten as they would contribute later on in the story. At first, the story seem to focus a lot with the life of Maya from her childhood when she was being trained by her father Thorn to become a cold blooded warrior who did not care about anything but protecting a few people who were not only special for their abilities but were also threatened by the Tabula. But it shows a lot more about the world these characters are living in where everyone is thought to be in this so-called Grid which is being compared to Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon – the world became a prison where people think that they are being observed even though they are not being observed which is a really smart way to create a setting.

The idea of fate was dealt with in this novel. Maya, Lawrence Takawa, Sophia and the Corrigan brothers had situations where they were presented their roles in a world where everyone believed that Travelers, Harlequins, Pathfinders and the Tabula do not exist anymore. Maya did accept her fate eventually in this story which is rather different from what she believed she wanted which is having a normal life working in a company. She did protect a Buddhist monk before and her life was being threatened the moment she met up with her father for the last time in Eastern Europe who gave her the mission of finding the Corrigan brothers in the US.

Fate is a hard thing to accept especially it deals with something that we as human beings do not have control over. Fate would be a given with regards to our gender and race – although that is changing these days. But association with a religion, culture, political setting, status, or work/profession is something that we can change as we live in this world and Maya proved that considering her situation. Be an ordinary citizen, be a Harlequin, the novel gave that indication when she became lonely because of her so-called fate – she should have just kept a low profile and not bother with what the crazy Harlequins are up to.

I like those moments when Maya (and in certain parts, together with other characters) try to escape from the Tabula who has more access to the Grid which provides information about every individual not just their identification, name, age, gender, birthdate, etc… but the Grid is also able to monitor people through thousands of CCTVs installed in every country and track everyone’s credit card number and chequing information. The key to their escape is always change: movement from one place to another, disguising themselves, using fake IDs and false information; all of this for the sake of hiding from the real enemies, the Tabula, who has the ability to hack through the Grid’s computer systems to hunt down Travelers, their Pathfinders – people who will determine whether a Traveler is real or not – and the Harlequins.

It gave the idea that life probably won’t become static unless we move on by escaping from it through change, through adventure and through accumulating experience.

Overall, it was a good read, probably the first time I finished a 400-page book – the story was enjoying and it looked short but the flipping was what made me turned off which resulted to me finishing the whole book in around 1 month which I don’t usually do with a 250-page book which has larger page dimensions from this one which is a mass-bound paperback that I could finish in 2-4 days. Setting trivial things aside, probably when I have read the second book of “The Fourth Realm”, I will probably talk about what crossing over different worlds would mean – “The Traveler” only gave us the whole deal with spirits crossing over different realms.





Ori Ume

31 08 2009

Oriume - Japan

“Ori Ume”
Japanese Title: 「折り梅」
Director: Hisako Matsui
(Japan, 2002)

Based on a true story, the film starts when an elderly woman named Masako was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Her suffering affected her son Yuzo’s family who decided to take care of her. The most affected of the family is Tomoe, Yuzo’s wife. Tomoe had to do something protect her mother-in-law who at first couldn’t accept the fact that she has Alzheimer’s. For every violent act that Masako has done, it felt sad that in the end, she just forget know what happened; Masako even reached to a point when she physically hurt Tomoe who had to endure it because of her awareness of the disease that her mother-in-law had. She would complain to Yuzo about Masako every night and she also had to face humiliation in front of other people because of her mother-in-law.

Tomoe had to do something to preserve her family and at the same time tame her mother-in-law and accept her condition.

What I learned from this film is the idea of understanding other people’s condition or feelings and not hesitating to ask them what we can do for them so that we can bring peace to everyone. I personally liked Masako’s story of the apricot tree which is the tree of the mothers and it brings her back to her childhood memories of being with her mother near the beach. When you learn about people through listening to their stories and words of wisdom, you can find a way to connect with them and empathize with them. And you do end up caring for them. Sometimes, we have to be in someone else’s world so that we can give them the best treatment that they think they deserve. And this was the case with Tomoe who struggled to make peace with Masako.

As clear as the film could be in terms of plot, it did have tearjerking moments. And once again, a Japanese film was able to silence its audience on the most important parts. This film was shown in the Japan Foundation weeks ago and usually, we do meet people and talk at the end of the film. I was able to speak with a gentleman who told me exactly, “I lived that movie!”, because he did have a loved one who has Alzheimers and his family had to struggle in taking care of her until they figured out that those with mental disabilities like the ones with Alzheimer’s have a world of their own and have an understanding that they carry throughout their lives as they attain the disease. And the responsibility of the loved ones is to make sure that they don’t mess with the world that the people with Alzheimer’s created and show love all the time even in small gestures.





“Departures”

8 07 2009

Departures - Japan

“Departures”
Japanese Title: 「おくりびと」
Director: Yôjirô Takita
(Japan, 2008)

SPOILER ALERT

It’s been a while since the last time I went to the movies. I was able to watch this film for free cause I was volunteering for a Japanese cultural institution here in Toronto. I got free tickets for two and I invited over my brother, who’s also a big Japanese culture fan like me.

If you still haven’t heard, Departures won the Oscars for best Foreign Language Film. And I was able to watch it in a very traditional way – in the theatre of course where you can see how people react to the film and how the atmosphere is really created as the story goes on in the life of a musician who ended up to work on grooming the dead and putting them in their coffin.

One of the well-known aspects of Japanese film – and still unfailing to move us – is on how they address the issue of “death”. Departures showed three things that made me aware of what the death of a person is all about: it pleads your respect, it asks you to think about or maybe imagine their lives and through your emotions, the dead is loved and honoured. I was so shocked to see a very attentive audience, they’re all silent at the right moment of the film, at the most emotional part, I feel great pain for the families that lost their loved ones in the film. With respect, we become concerned and we open our hearts and minds for the dead and give them the love and honour that we should give them.

But the roles of Daigo and his boss even intensifies this. As I showed sadness for the dead, the two suddenly makes the dead alive as if they called their souls back to present themselves to their loved ones one last time before they are gone for good.

The other issue I found about this film is quite simple with regards to Daigo who suddenly finds himself going back to his homeland just to find a better way to earn money. When someone is at a desperate situation, they will even sacrifice their dignity and be ridiculed by society just to keep surviving. This is quite predictable. But of course, I don’t think the job of grooming dead people are being glorified here cause it was never about Daigo or Sasaki, his boss. It was all about those who have died – in the end, they deserve to be remembered for all the great things that they’ve done while living here on earth. And this too became a challenge for Daigo as he faces the truth about his father who left him and his mother at a young age.

Overall, I really love the camera works and the colours that bring life to every scene of the film. The actors definitely did a great job. Although the story is predictable, the little scenes become more important than the entire story which is way magical in my mind.