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.

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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.”





Hiatus Ends Today

15 06 2009

After 3 months of strike at the university where I was studying at and about 4 months of grueling pains caused by the shortened school year, I found myself finishing university life at last! There are so many things to talk about but my brain definitely has to go on rest mode after so much garbage went into it. Which is why I would probably consider spending time not blogging or writing too much in the next couple of weeks.

Our brains definitely know when to stop thinking but there should be times as well when our brains decide not to think at all for a certain period of time. When the momentum is up again, I’m pretty sure that I can create some really good input here on my blog and I will definitely make sure that I can write with valuable knowledge and wisdom backing me up.

Laterz!





Inspiring Holiday Moments

26 12 2008

On the way back home to Toronto from Muskoka, I was listening to David Foster’s “Movie Montage” from his album “Rechordings” on my iPod when things broke out of my mind and I thought that it would be a great idea for me to share it here.

I spent Christmas (2008) with my family out of town to Muskoka where a family friend of ours – a retired couple (a Filipina married to a Canadian) who is very welcoming and have been kind to us in the last 6-7 years – owns a cottage that is really close to nature; it’s essentially a perfect place for them who are already retired for a long while now. After a couple of interactions with a couple of people there – one-on-one chats in particular – and especially the revelations that I realised as we went back home, I found that this Christmas became something that I would cherish for the rest of my life.

This occasion was particularly special to me because it was the time when I found myself coming back from the deep hole I’ve been digging in the last couple of months now – that is when I took advantage of the strike at my university by treating it as my hiatus where I did nothing but sleep, work and play games as opposed to actually hitting the books and finishing this final lap of my school life; it’s when I totally lost interest to studying and acquiring any kind of knowledge related to Linguistics, Japanese and Spanish; I lost inspiration to talk with my Peruvian co-worker in Spanish who just left our workplace; I even justified what colourgenics was telling about me; I had that voracity for peace and rest for a long time in order to tell myself what a stupid person I have become and that I should be thinking of ways to solve my problems.

This is what my colourgenics analysis said 3 days ago:

You feel worn out, physically and mentally. Recently the going has been tough and it looks as if there is still a considerable way for you to go before you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. If only you could put a protecting wall around yourself and cut yourself off from the rest of the world – be it even for only a little while – how wonderful it would be, but you can’t – so you need to bear with it. Just when everything will seem at its lowest ebb you will find that there is a turnabout and your problems will seem to find a way of resolving themselves.

You are in need of rest, some peace and quiet. You feel the need to be close to that someone special, that someone who can give you that special consideration and unquestioning affection that you seek. If you don’t find that ’special someone’ and resolve your problems very soon, you are liable to become extremely introverted and cut yourself off from society.

Your confidence has been shattered. There are so many things that you would like to do with your life, so many dreams to be fulfilled – and you know that your hopes and dreams are not just figments of your imagination, they are real and you are looking for reassurance from someone. Basically your fears are such that you may be prevented in attaining your hopes and dreams. Even now you would like to broaden your fields of endeavour but in order to develop your ‘inner- self’ you need peace and solace. You are distressed by the fear that you may be prevented from attaining your goals. What you really need at this particular moment in time is quiet reassurance from someone close to you to restore your confidence.

You are experiencing considerable stress which is essentially the result of on going rejection and hostility. You are in the unpleasant position where offers of trust, affection and understanding are being withheld and you are being treaded with a degrading lack of consideration. You feel that you are being denied the appreciation that you deserve, which is essential to your well-being and self-esteem, but you have to face up to the situation because as matters stand at this time there is little that you can do about it – you feel that you are getting nowhere and the continuous struggle is a lonely one: all difficulties and no encouragement. Whatever you try to say or do is met with continuous hostility and no matter how much you protest you are consistently misunderstood. You need to escape from the situation but you are so perplexed that you cannot find the strength of mind to make the necessary decision.

You wish to safeguard yourself against criticism or conflict and to embed yourself in a protected situation. You are a difficult person to relate to and very difficult to please.

I believed in this analysis and I was planning to lock my doors from my parents from this point onwards. But things really got a lot more interesting when we spent Christmas in Muskoka.

~

First off, I guess the Canadian husband was the first one to make me ponder about life through what he was saying as he went all tipsy after having a couple of drinks.

At first he was ranting about what’s happening in Canadian politics these past couple of weeks telling me that although he didn’t vote in the last election, he still has the right to complain because he’s paying taxes which I respect… He was also talking about the news of the recession and the bail out issue with the big 3 car companies: GM, Dodge and Chrysler.

Then he came into an addling idea about transience. Being an intellectual, an academic, an activist and as someone who struggles to make sure our generation will pass on great things to our descendants through being progressive and changing our world constantly, I was hit hard when he told me that the past generations never thought about our present generation ergo he doesn’t believe in the conservation of the environment which we focused a lot with. He thought that if Canada’s oil will help our economy get back in shape, then we have to drill it tough luck to the animals and trees that will be destroyed because of it.

I was reflecting on this particular idea for a long while even when I was lying down on bed Christmas morning (4am).

I thought that nature and humans definitely are relative. Humans need trees and plants to breathe… Lives will be affected heavily when someone builds a nuclear plant or a factory that will emit toxic substances and either spill them on the rivers or smoke them up in the air destroying the health of ordinary human lives. Why wouldn’t anyone care about what these buildings do when they know it damages not just people who would be considered “collateral damage” but also destroys communities who only wanted to live peacefully?

I guess this is where I find a certain understanding with the original argument. As we realize what the last generation have done to do a lot of damage in this world, our generation have come into this world where we have to live with the vestiges of the past which makes our time particularly an intense one – it’s dangerous to go to certain countries which historians and many hopefuls believe are so rich in history, culture and values; people struggle to achieve peace by first killing people and their cultures in the name of their ideals, their faith, their lands, their survival, their very existence, their political power, their social power, their self-serving interests, their money making businesses, their ideal economic system.

We suddenly start to ask ourselves, why do we have to sweep the mess that the past generations have made? This I guess is where my strong beliefs on “uncertainty” comes in from the idea of accepting “transience”. As the world change, our ancestors could only speculate about what will happen in the future but how do we know it? They were only speaking using their own cultural knowledge which might have expanded by a thousand fold today. Whatever achievements or mistakes they made in the past are something that we can blame at but cannot condemn or even praise directly.

Whatever it is, my Canadian family friend is a nice person who likes to joke a lot. I only caught him in his most cynical moments. Where else would you find a person like that rather than when he drank almost half a bottle of red wine.

~

The second person who woke up my senses was the daughter of a family friend of ours who also stayed in the cottage for the holidays. She should be in her 8th grade and I’m pretty sure high school life is about to enter her life and change her completely.

I was talking to her about the types of music that I listen to and when I said jazz, she thought that it’s music for old people. I told her that jazz has plenty of types and I particularly like Portico Quartet which isn’t merely a saxophone led band but which is fascinating for its introduction of the hang drum to its listeners.

I told her that I also like rock and laid out the various types of rock that I listen to from alternatives to new wave to pop to some metal and even mentioned sub-genres.

She laughed telling me that I had to go through all that just to tell her my favourite music. It made me quite exhilarated to tell her about what she might have to know once she grows up. I told her that at that time, she will also try to pick the type of music that she would treat as her most favourite and most cherished of all time. I guess this one taught me essentially of individuality based on what you like.

What struck me is the realisation that I probably have experienced the same thing as a child and that I should be proud of what I have become to the point that I could actually share it with this little girl who could only sneer at me for being so academic about music.

~

The third person who shook my emotions was the wife of the Canadian who is Filipina. I was trying to search the net about what happened to the Philippines in 1968 when the world was on a transition through activism, school protests, assassinations, changes in the communist system (yes I’m talking about Czechoslovakia), and lunar discoveries. She’s an open-minded person which I really like because I believe that she can have answers to some of my questions.

I first asked her about what happened in the Phils in 1968. She talked suddenly about the martial law under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and how she was so scared to learn that the streets are empty like a ghost town and the bank where she worked stopped its operations with its vaults safely locked fearing the government’s troops who already confiscated the guns that security guards possessed in order to do their jobs.

Then she talked about an experience in the late-60s when the police went to the bank asking her to open the account of a certain person who made it in the news. She adamantly refused and despite having an issue order, she was able to convince the police that only the client can open his/her personal account.

I was quite inspired by these stories, then she started talking about living in the United States when Benigno Aquino was assassinated at what is now the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. She thought that although New York City was a great place back then where there’s entertainment everywhere, it was difficult to live in because of the crimes being committed everyday. That actually made her move to Toronto and stayed there for good with the impression that Canada is a lot better than the US with its peaceful environment and until now, it still is one of the safest and most peaceful countries in the world.

Then I told her about my aspirations to become a writer and a journalist. I told her that I’m starting to read RD (Reader’s Digest) and showed her Granta and Brick which are two amazing literary magazines that I already started collecting for the last 2-3 years already. I even told her about how inspired I am with CBC Radio shows and how I looked up on writers and philosophers that led me to this kind of passion that hopefully doesn’t become a hindrance towards my pursuits in getting my Linguistics degree on 2009.

She told me that I should keep holding on my ideals; she also told me about the potentials that I already have and asked me to use it. She believed in my abilities and I felt so inspired after hearing that. I now have someone who supports me in my pursuits in life and I should thank her for it.

~

No one would inspire me the most but a priest. Having a one-on-one chat with a parish priest was one of the greatest things that I ever experienced on Christmas Day. This priest is from the Philippines who is assigned to the Church at Bracebridge. He have been serving here in Canada for 20 years now and I just couldn’t believe that I was making a lot of dialogue with him.

I thought we started talking about what he does in the Philippines during his one month vacation every year and he starts to talk about helping communities. He started talking about how the creativity of people can bring them forward. He talked of farmers and pig raisers who used to become passive – this meant that they were only hoping for their government to help them survive – but some of them are a lot more successful in producing for their own living. I’m glad the priest knows what makes a successful life and that is through making people think for themselves, taking risks, having a sense of community and living a happy life without any conflict.

I asked some of the tough questions to the priest as to how he brings the community together considering trust in every member that embodies it and what happens to those who become successful.

Then we came into the deeper aspects of ideas such as contradictions between what we believe as Christians and ideas that we see can work well in life and our surroundings. The priest didn’t oblige himself too much about preaching about God but he said that we need to think about other ideas sometimes as long as we know what is right and what can teach the people to act and care for each other.

I thought I went too deep when I was talking about the heavy struggle of the artist in front of religious faiths. I talked about Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verse” and Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code” which are both controversial books but the former led to the burning of bookstores and death threats to the author Rushdie by Iran’s “fatwa”. I’m so glad to know that he rooted for ecumenism or understanding common grounds yet making ourselves clear about what the truth is all about. This I think is a very important ideal that university students take into their consideration when they have discussions and debates. Educating about the truth is a lot more respectable rather than burning books and killing.

My mom kept on asking the priest to pray for my brother and I that either one of us would one day become a priest. I really wanted to snap in front of my mom but the priest was present at the time. :D But I guess my mom is always like that, hoping that there would be someone who would be a blessing for the family. I definitely don’t want to challenge her but I sure don’t want to become a priest.

~

After the intellectual discussions and mind-boggling ideas that I got on Christmas Day, I think the best thing that happened was when I told my parents that my aspiration in life is to become an intellectual, an academic.

My parents told me as we were on our way home that the priest thought that my knowledge is something that is good and that he will pray for my success. It’s a statement that I won’t forget. At first, I thought my parents – most especially my mom – would really force themselves to pray that either my brother or I or both of us would become priests.

I think don’t deserve to be a priest because after 7 years, I have become tolerant of the multicultural setting of Toronto and the priest told me exactly that respect towards other cultures, faiths and races is really the most important thing – you will find that someone will always try to mess things up and destroy relationships.

To me personally, I don’t want to be just a leader of the followers of Christianity or Catholicism. I want to lead more people into better lives, into a better point of view when it comes to life and our surroundings, and most of all a better understanding of our own faiths, our own identities and our own beliefs rather than just being submissive.

Considering what my parents told me about what the priest told them, I thought suddenly that my parents have shown me a sign that they are showing their support as well. It may be the case that the priest induced them to think as such but I think I’m so blessed to have encountered these things on Christmas day. I’m motivated once again to live and fight for ideas, for respect, for equality, for life that is so precious, for relationships, for understanding and for a better tomorrow for all of us.

~

Well, as we close the year, I would like to send out this message to everyone… Please do me a favour and listen to a story by a friend, a family member, a leader, a book, a movie… anywhere… find a story and reflect upon it.

What are the things you have learned? What have the story changed in your life? What are the ideas that the story drew you into? How will you use those ideas in your everyday life?





Snowstorm and the Wonders of Winter

19 12 2008

2008-12-19-snowstorm

This probably is one of the biggest snowstorms so far this season. Currently, the temperature should be around ten degrees below (-10ºC). The most frustrating thing about this event after 5 winters has to be shoveling the snow in front of our driveway (we lived in an apartment for a year so essentially the shoveling was already done for us that time).

Shoveling our driveway should take more or less than an hour if I work it alone and if I can handle the depth of the snow. From the photo above, I’m quite lucky that I have my brother with me so that we can get the job done quickly. The snow was about 20cm deep and we worked it in only about 30 minutes.

I always hoped that Canada will continue to enjoy the 4 seasons since it brings me personally into a reflective mood where my insular thoughts would always be shucked off and collaborate with the things that surround me leading to a different enlightened state and for sure open-mindedness which is essentially what people would end up with after a certain activity or experience that they might find significant in their lives. But of course I do recognize that the wonders of nature is not just self-serving to human beings throughout its existence.

Winter has a sense irony for me. It brings such radiance that lights our path everyday of our lives through its white colour yet the winter season is always thought to be sad and lonely not merely because of the fact that people couldn’t just go out of their houses to chill somewhere especially on a harsh weather that we just had today. But more to that is the idea that winter is almost like a harbinger of death – people and some species of animals and plants I suppose don’t experience death because of our various defensive mechanisms that living things have to become steadfast in extreme weather or climate conditions; and for people especially, we do have shelters where we can heat up ourselves and even sleep without thinking about getting hypothermia or producing blisters all over our bodies.

But what makes winter a harbinger of death is its destructive capabilities towards the nature beyond our control that we are amazed at during spring whether the beautiful flowers that bring colour around us or the pretty dandelions that in essence destroys the healthy grass surrounding it – they are weeds after all. From what we find during springtime, we enjoy nature as well during the summer which shows life at its peak with everything either continuing to grow or have grown enough to enjoy the grace of the good old and generous Sun. We also become daunted at nature during fall with the changing colour of the leaves.

When I would think about hell, from the viewpoint of a person living in the tropics, I bet too much heat would be considered hell. But the other extreme happen to be the same way as well. I don’t really mind about winter coming every year but I always hope that we don’t experience too many days with debilitating temperatures from -30ºC to -40ºC where I believe is too extreme and is just dangerous literally if you just step outside naked for 15 seconds – you’d be counting your last few 15 seconds if you do that hehehe.

But anyways, winter is one of those wonders of nature that definitely deserve to be documented by all of our writers and artists who never fail to always celebrate life and commemorate death in their every work.





Thoughts on the Holiday Season

16 12 2008

It’s really odd that I don’t feel too much of that Christmas spirit in the last couple of weeks. It did reach to the point where I thought this Christmas would be the most boring of all. But after a reflecting a lot about it, I found out that the happenings around the world is what makes this holiday season a bit insignificant on everyone’s minds. And I made a couple of thoughts to what I think we have to do during this really difficult time when we really need some kind of consolation.

~~

First of all, THE RECESSION! This world became fearful of what came out eventually as the downturn of the world economy and probably some would be feeling less worked out about which gifts to buy, what stuff to prepare, or how much to spend on Christmas Eve.

For me – after learning about who the true Santa Claus is (if you’re a kid reading this, ask me who Santa is when you reach 6th grade or something) – Christmas has never been the same for me. But the thing is… essentially Christmas isn’t all about giving or receiving gifts – a very common cliché especially among Christians and those who are spiritually inclined. The Christmas spirit has to be seen in all angles of life aside from just making people happy through something as worldly as gifts.

Companionship, Respect, Patience, Kindness, Honesty, Politeness… getting along with people is one of the ways to celebrate the season. It’s basically celebrating life through meeting people, refreshing ties, and relearning about each other are some of the ideas which we kind of leave behind all because we become a lot more passionate about what we want personally and what we selfishly think is the right thing to do for the season that can make us complacent and content.

~~

Striving has been a really significant thing in my life and it’s something that I think is important to realize at this point in time. We have become quite selfish through just getting something to serve our own wants. We want answers to questions that is keeping on bugging our minds for hours, days, weeks, months, even years. We just want something done! Do you know what we keep on forgetting? You guessed it!… Striving or working hard for it.

Why do we have to work hard? It’s not magic that we get our degree in the arts, sciences, law or business… We attain knowledge that we can use towards our careers; and essentially, our knowledge is something that doesn’t come out innately from every individual. If we don’t have access to our environment and learn things, we won’t be able to understand life and neither could we become creative.

I took driving lessons in the last quarter of this year and I have to say, one doesn’t just become a professional driver instantly. I had to realize that besides from just knowing how to start and run the car and applying my knowledge about the rules on the road, I had to develop a lot of non-driving related things into my driving.

I had to be self-confident. Going from point A to B on the road meant that you have to go where you want to go; and it works for me. Not only do I get from one point of the road to the other, but I do avoid any hazards on the road.

Being observant. With my limited vision inside the car, I had to be aware about what’s happening around me 360º. I look ahead for traffic, pedestrians, signs and hazards, I look at the mirrors and my blind spots to the side when changing lanes, I check my speed metre to make sure that I’m driving at the right speed. It’s an experience that changed my life.

Despite how my driving instructor snaps when I make mistakes, I don’t think that making it through the lesson and through the day is the right mentality. One good reason is because I know that my instructor is a nice person who just asserts to me that business means business – he’s liable for everything when the car gets smashed into pieces caused by a serious mistake that one of his students might do on the road. I’m sure that from the beginning, I didn’t want to mess with my instructor’s profession.

Aside from showing some empathy to my instructor, another really good reason why making it through the day without learning is not the right mentality is because it’s a waste of time and effort on both the instructor and the student. I correct my mistakes and just like DDR, from getting angry, my instructor do acknowledge and praise the things I do well on.

We won’t be able to reflect on all of these experiences which we cherish if we didn’t strive to understand during those times what it was to be a driving student, a university student, a student of life and what life has become after we come out of our student life.

~~

Through friends, esperiences and self-reflections, we can refresh our lives and make sure that we can improve our lives or face the future with more enthusiasm especially if we find ourselves on the road towards a new start or a new change – I bet some people who have been watching American politics in the last couple of months got fed up with that “C” word hehehe.

And most importantly, these things that I talked about would hopefully make the holidays a lot more special since I have to admit, it’s not something that we do because partly our main excuse is our hectic schedules and for some, laziness.

~~

But since we are about 9 days left, I would like to end this by wishing everyone a Joyful and Blessed Christmas and by reminding that this occasion was created because of the birth of Jesus Christ who came on this world to redeem God’s beloved people back to Him (I’m pretty sure it’s not too odd that I’m talking for or against my faith from time to time but my faith has always been good to me which is no doubt is something that I can never deny throughout my life), I hope everyone will have the chance to remember their friends, and recall their experiences, and I hope to get in touch with everyone on Christmas Day.