Wednesday, August 30, 2006


For June F., whose father passed away today. While for him, it has been a case of "when the time will come," losing a dear one, especially in this place where one can do nothing for them or their other grieving loved ones, can never be easy.

To Our Father in Heaven, I pray for a safe flight for June and a heavenly journey for his father.

To my father (whom I also hope is in Heaven), I still miss you too.

(George Canseco, sung by Basil Valdez)

Mahal naming Ama nasasalangit Ka
Sa ngalan Mo nawa lahat ay sumamba
Mapasaamin ang Iyong kaharian
Sa lupa'y masunod Iyong kalooban
Katulad ng sa kalangitan.

Bigyan N'yo po sana ngayon ng pagkain
Pang-araw-araw na ikabubuhay namin
At sa aming sama at 'di tamang gawa
Ama kami nawa ay patawarin
Habang kami sa iba ay nagpapatawad din.

Akayin Mo kaming umiwas sa tukso
Iligtas sa samang laganap sa mundo
Dahil nasa sa Iyo tanging kaharian
Kapangyarihan at kaluwalhatian
Hanggang walang hanggan . . .

Akayin Mo kaming umiwas sa tukso
Iligtas sa samang laganap sa mundo
Dahil nasa sa Iyo tanging kaharian
Kapangyarihan at kaluwalhatian
Hanggang walang hanggan . . .

Siya nawa, Siya nawa.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I'm Gay! I'm Gay! I'm (gurgling sound..) ulk!

Don We Now Our Gay Apparel

This is late, but I guess something has to be said. I won’t rehash any of the other arguments made by some people, I’ll just mention my own.

You’ve got to hand it to this guy, he’s a retired member of the Philippine Supreme Court and by that same token, has just fouled the intellectual atmosphere with one of the biggest brain farts ever. Phe-yew! The whole thing about this article stinks.

The real sad thing about is, the underlife in his article is pretty solid. The erosion of Philippine public values is a deplorable thing. But he points us in the wrong direction – really, what does gayness have to do with the dumbing-down and increased vulgarity of TV?

Who decides what is put on TV? The supposedly-dapper gentlemen who run the businesses! Who keeps on supporting TV programs regardless of their dumbed-down content? The macho men of the food and beverage industry, the manufacturers, the telecom firms, the consumer products guys . . . aw come on! Let’s dispense with the hypocrisy and say it simply --- you stop the pipeline from being fed, the flood of stupidity will run dry.

Don’t blame the media. It’s the Corporate World that really pays the bills.

Yes, you have gay men running the shows in creative agency boardrooms, in film studios, on network TV, and what-have-you. It wasn’t a problem when you have National Artists Behn Cervantes, Ishmael Bernal, Rolando Tinio, Bibot Amador and Lino Brocka et al running the show. They are all gay, right? Does that make their work suffer?

Hey, it’s not the gayness that affects sensibility. It’s plain and simple vulgarity, or if you opt to indulge in name-calling, it’s stupidity, lack of culture, lack of good taste, period. And that, quite naturally, can happen to anyone. No one is exempt.

Not even strait-laced macho former members of the Supreme Court.

“The permissive belief now is that homosexuals belong to a separate third sex with equal rights as male and female persons instead of just an illicit in-between gender that is neither here nor there.” I don’t know if the good Justice was reading up his science, but homophilia is a natural occurrence in several species. It’s a function of environment. At times, it’s a function of survival.

Homosexuality was so rife in Victorian England it was conveniently ignored but politely tolerated. And considering what kind of advances were made in the “humanist” cause throughout that segment of the 19th century, I would not infer one or the other as the influencing factor.

What we have are emerging voices, emerging thoughts, where acceptance, not boundaries, is the norm. Maybe the good Justice should go back to the Ages where there was no electricity and infant mortality could not be held in check. Those were the times when men were “macho” and no ambiguity could be brooked.

That didn’t mean there weren’t homosexuals then. They just didn’t receive good press.

A part of me agrees with the good Justice that it would be nice if the world were a simpler place where black is black, white is white, and the good guys were better-looking and more refined. Nowadays, even the blackguards claim impressive pedigrees and doctorates, earn international recognition, make loads of money, and claim to be part of the New Future of the Philippines.

What does gayness have to do with the erosion of respect in the rule of law? In the decay of social institutions? In the onset of moral turpitude in public life? Or on the other hand, what does one’s sexual orientation have to do with simple decency and delicadeza? With professionalism and hard work? With creative vision and business acumen?


The vulgarity we so easily accuse, of course, is a symptom of the greater malaise that is affecting our society – in how our traditional mores, in their own way, have failed to proactively counter the raised banners of consumerism, materialism, and most of all, moral relativity.

Sure, when it comes to screaming faggots and their public display of cheap thrills, there is the do-right” side of me that says “ugh!” On the other hand, there is also this perverse side of me that can’t help but keep on looking. But that, dear people, is just a function of taste. But on the matters of our greater cancers… guess who’s to blame for all of these? Who’s responsible for corporal punishment? For hazing in fraternity rites? For incestual rapes? For multiple marriages? Your macho men, of course! Your culture of machismo is old, primeval, and at many times benighted.

Huwag kang maghanap ng masisisi, at baka manuno ka. The fingers of blame would all point back to you.

I can say this with confidence because several times I have been accused of, or secretly thought of, as gay. But here in Saudi Arabia, everyday, the prospect of homosexuality is so palpable that regardless of the blatant homophobia of many of our so-called “macho” men, many men, good men, men with beautiful wives, men with families anyone could be proud to call their own, find themselves facing the question, “To Brokeback or not to Brokeback?” and then failing the machismo litmus test.

I can also say this confidently because many Filipinos here, if not thought of as sly, underhanded, fisticuff-ready troublemakers, are branded as gay. While I have no illusions about the potency of my “mangina,” my tendencies are fully heterosexual. So it’s tough when some Arab or Pakistani tries to grope you or ogles you, or grabs his crotch, or shows his penis at you. It makes you laugh, but it also makes you think.

These are macho men living in a repressed world. And that’s the world to which the good Justice would like us to go back?

Uh-uh, keep that world, good sir. Keep that world of guns, of wanton violence, of pissing contests, of wars over turf, of rendering females into objects, of the conflict of this world, all for the sake of “machismo.”

I don’t believe in a gay party list, either, for practical and ideological reasons, because there are no such things as “gay issues,” only economic or political ones. But that’s a story for another day. But conveniently labelling gays and lesbians as the culprits for our societal degradation is a really long stretch of the imagination.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Erase! Erase!

Willing Exile: Weekend Blues

Did I just write this? Did I just have one big brain fart?

Search me, I was probably over-worried about something else. That's not the dynamic I'm about these days.

Brrrr! Let me shake off the heebie-jeebies. * Reads post again *

Uh-huh, that's so wrong.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Weekend Blues

As my friend Robert would fire off in his own way, it’s not that I am really depressed or anything. But the question keeps on begging to be answered: Am I worried about not finding someone?

Let me think. Hmmm....… Hell, yeah!

I had an interesting conversation with my friend and colleague over the “weekend” while both of us were busy at work. In Saudi Arabia, it’s really great that you have a lot of free time to do “bachelor” things. Sadly, our “bachelor” thing is doing more work.

I was listening to him intently and I could sense his frustration over the fact that he has no girlfriend (not even the remote sign of one). I could really empathize given the fact that finding an eligible young woman here in KSA who would score five stars is just as remote as figuring out the last digit of pi. There are, of course, shortcuts, or the random hook-up, or else, one could just play the field and see which girl gets pregnant first.

Actually, what really defines our “loser”-hood to a T is that we are not even properly equipped to play the field! Well, at least until we finally get our own cars. Finances willing, I should get one soon.

Still, it’s easier said than done. An item change does not a lifestyle change make. I did, in what seems like another life, try to fit my “squarish”-ness into the round hole of conformity and it didn’t work. In fact, later in my teens, I threw the sink at conformity and said, “what the heck. It’s a lot tougher to try to belong than to be myself.” Not that being myself is any more wholesome. But hey, I'm not making an excuse for my life. It just feels that way.

Still, it got me to thinking of the so-called “aberration” in my life and what strikes me is that there are so many eligible young women out there who would, after a few beers (she of course, would be doing the drinking), probably condescend to go out with me. Problem is, I live out here in the desert, and they… well, let’s just say I wish they were like Kathleen Kelley and are primed to fall in love with what I can write and express. Verbal ability in men, by the way, is overrated, but don’t jump to conclusions until you’ve met the exception to the rule… who else but me? *ducks*

Am I worried? Of course! Mainly it’s the validation, partly hormonal, partly intellectual, that the things I have done still make me out to be “successful.” But for now, mostly, I think it’s because many of my friends are getting married, and while I hardly consider a wife a toy or an erector set (hmmm…let me think, scratch the “or an…”), it would be nice to have the kind of relationships that they have.

So what now? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll bump into someone, or whatever. This feeling hasn't reached depression-level yet....if it did, I would lose the ability to laugh about it, but it can get tiresome, as I'm sure you know by now. Meantime, I took this test and guess what my results were…

total geek

Maybe it’s not as bad as I think. After all, some chicks like Nadia in "American Pie" dig geeks. If only if it were that simple.

*Long sigh* Yup, it could be worse. I could be demoted to “subhuman” status like what the astronomers did to Pluto, but still, yeah, the sign says it all.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Pag-Ibig Kailanman (Apat na Sulok ng Pag-Ibig)

Lahat tayo'y naglalakbay sa mundo
Naghahanap ng sulok na aangkinin
Naghahangad, nangangarap
Minsa'y nalilimot na ang ating damdamin.
Mapaparisan ba ng liwanag ng buwan
Ang ilaw ng iyong puso?
Mailalapat mo ba ang sukat ng iyong nais
Sa kabilugan ng mundo?

Ang tugon sa ating dasal
Daliri ng Maykapal
Nananatili sa mga nagmamahal

Kung ayaw mong tumangis
Huwag mangarap kailanman
Kalimutan ang pag-ibig
Kung ayaw mong masaktan
Ngunit kahit ilang ulit mo siya'y talikuran
Siya lamang nagbibigay sa buhay ng kabuluhan
Magunaw man ang buong sansinukuban
Mabubuhay ang pag-ibig sa gitna ng kawalan.

Kung dala ng paghamon ay pangangamba
Manalig at huwag mabahala't wala itong lunas
Magsikap at magpunyagi pag-ibig ang manatili
Sa araw-araw na landas.
Makakaya mo bang itatwa sa 'yong buhay
Ang sikdo ng iyong puso?
May kabuluhan pa ba ang 'yong tadhana
'Pag tuyo na'ng damdamin mo?

Kapag ika'y nagmamahal
Sa hirap may maisasakdal
Ang luha mo ang siyang nagpapabanal

Ang hinahangad mong katuparan
Sa lahat ng iyong inaasam
Nasa piling mo't kumakanlong sa iyo.
Pawiin mo ang piring sa mata mo.

Kung ayaw mong tumangis
Huwag mangarap kailanman
Kalimutan ang pag-ibig
Kung ayaw mong masaktan
Ngunit kahit ilang ulit mo siya'y talikuran
Siya lamang nagbibigay sa buhay ng kabuluhan
Magunaw man ang buong sansinukuban
Mabubuhay ang pag-ibig sa gitna ng kawalan

Sunday, August 13, 2006

That Stalker Song

The more you ignore me the closer I get
You're wasting your time
The more you ignore me the closer I get
You're wasting your time

I will be in the bar
With my head on the bar
I am now a central part
Of your mind's landscape
Whether you care or do not
Yeah, I've made up your mind

The more you ignore me the closer I get
You're wasting your time
The more you ignore me the closer I get
You're wasting your time

Beware! I bear more grudges
Than lonely high court judges
When you sleep I will creep into your thoughts
Like a bad debt that you can't pay
Take the easy way and give in
Yeah, and let me in

Oh, let me in
Oh let me ...
Oh, let me in


Oh, let me in
Ah, the closer I get
Ah, you're asking for it
Ah, the closer I get

* * * * *

We were somewhere in Bicutan, Robert and I, driving around to look for a place that a girl mentioned was her home. I didn't tell her I was going there. I was curious about her, she did send me a JPEG through e-mail. But it wasn't enough. I had to know more about her. I had to see her, even from afar.

We met through a chatroom that year; I was teaching college in Pampanga and had experimented with the use of the Internet as part of my job duties. For about two weeks we had freebies with the service provider. I was introduced to the world of mIRC and it was mind-boggling. I probably made more virtual friends in a day than I did over the previous three years. Not that I had that many friends to begin with, anyhow.

My favorite chatroom was focused on trivia, and apart from a few (fellow) mutants, I had the bragging rights to that room. I wasn’t a frequent visitor then, but I routinely killed at the questions provided by the ‘bot (question generator). It wasn’t too long that I gained notice among the denizens of the place. I’m not sure if there were real geeks (like me) out there (there probably were) but it soon dawned on me that the people who came to the chatroom were simply bored and joined the contests out of sheer boredom.

On the other hand, I had wanted in the games for the games themselves. I loved winning. It showed, eventually, and in the beginning though I spent so little time I became popular with some of the regulars (their handles in italics) --- Holly/holly (a young mother based somewhere in Kentucky), Genevie/genevie (a dentistry student based in Manila), Ria/starplace (she was based in Alabang, that’s all I knew --- she never did let me on what she was doing, I never saw her at any of the EB sessions, but she did have a great voice when she called me once), and a host of others. It’s the girls I remember best, as always. The few dudes who did manage to present a challenge would likely as not ignore me (I guess they hated losing), and the ones who were friendly were practically logged on 24/7 they didn’t have to try to win the games – they’ve practically memorized the questions!

I had three handles --- the first one was althor, based on Robert Jordan’s Rand Al’Thor in his “Wheel of Time” series. With this nick, I quickly became popular, and I identified with it so much I practically used it as my e-mail nick for all of my paid Internet subscriptions --- no matter how many times I switched, I kept the name. It had its variants – I used supporting character names like cauthon and aybara (everyone thought I was a girl, and when I went incognito I used this nick a lot). Then there was, of course, the times when I went by dragon_reborn.

After I became popular and some people didn’t want to play against me, I switched to hardin, based on Salvor Hardin, a prominent character in Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series. It was one of my shibboleths, because if someone would comment on my nick with the right kind of familiarity, I knew I was chatting with a kindred soul. In the end, most Filipinos thought of it as “garden,” while most everybody else thought it was sexual in nature (a story for another day). I had the most fun going by this name, for reasons which I’m sure are obvious.

The final one, which was my personal fave when I felt like an “assassin” during the games, was jason_bourne, after Robert Ludlum’s famed hitman and the subject of his own eponymous trilogy. Take note that this was before the travesty of the Matt Damon movies came out and only serious thriller enthusiasts knew of this nick. Almost every Filipino who came into contact with me thought I was a Fil-Am, and with the way I wrote (I could do 65 wpm and I wasn’t into the Internet abbreviations, which I thought were atrocities against the Queen’s English), I guess I pulled it off. One of the younger dudes who sort of idolized me even used one of Bourne’s lines as his tagline for his identity. Yeah, I was a cool dude, in that way.

So it was one of those early mornings (about 2:30am or thereabouts) I met spicee’gurl. At first we acknowledged each other with a bit of aloof respect --- she was also a keen gamer, and a really intelligent person too, though I found that out much later. However, I was a bit put off by her nick, which I suspected had an airhead personality behind it. People hid behind their own masks with their nicks, and it wasn’t ironic but pretty much du jour that the most interesting people came up with the most interesting nicks. The interesting part is finding out how so way off-base the name was in relation to the real person. Up to now, in the blogosphere, almost every dude wants to be some rockin’-sockin’ sunnavabich or other and almost every dudette, well, wants to be the Biatch that either makes the rockin’-sockin’ sunnsabiches drool or more likely than not, torches them and eats them for breakfast.

The ‘Net was populated with all sorts, freaks or no, and in cyberspace one has to take a few precautions because there were so many risks. For every You’ve Got Mail story there could also be The Net, or worse, Black Widow, Fatal Attraction or some variant of Risky Business (without the happy ending). My own policy was to be honest about everything as to my personhood but never about my own details. Why the hell not? If people didn’t believe you or mocked you behind your back, that’s their own business. It’s not as if I made them part of my life (but inevitably I did, and ah! That’s the essence of this entire story.)

Spicee’gurl? Umm-hmm. Pretty suspicious right there --- as for me, depending on how you interpreted my nick, of course, you could come up with your own conclusions. But she intrigued me --- face it, the prospect of meeting a woman always intrigues me --- eventually after bumping into her a few times I summoned enough courage, or stupidity, or both, to PM her and go for a short chat. I wasn’t sure how exactly I went about it, but she found my job at that time cool. She herself was one of the minor movers and shakers in the entertainment industry, on radio, and on one of my favorite stations at that. To cut through to the chase, we exchanged numbers and I promised to call her as soon as I got back to Manila.

So I did. In an age of pre-text mania, exchanging numbers and calling over the landline still does the trick. Yes I’m old, but I’m not THAT old.

She had the smoky, husky voice which would drive a lot of men crazy. As to the rest of possible reactions, I’ll leave it to your imagination. I had run up a considerable record in terms of telephone conversations, and actually it was rather my M.O. since I also did well whenever I talk with a girl on the phone. Something about my vocal register and how I sound on the phone creates the impression that I am one hunky-dunky fellow. As to the after the phone conversations… well, closing the deal is a whole new ballgame in itself.

It wasn’t long that I wanted to know who she really was --- one could tell a lot of things not only from the things they say on the phone but more importantly, how they said it and what they didn’t say. I could tell that she was a generous, giving, loving person on one hand; on the other I knew she had very special and particular needs.

After a few conversations and several talk-a-thons and sleepless nights (sidebar: I missed some work because of her, but then again, if it weren’t her as the reason, I would have missed work anyway --- I was that bad), I was hooked. Tell you what, we were both hooked, I guess, but if there is a degree to such things, I had it worse. Or better, if you prefer to look at it another way.

In the beginning, it was so intense that I had to say “time out” even to myself, something she didn’t like when she felt I was taking her for granted. It was hard going back and forth to Manila (eventually, she was the one who called me in Pampanga). What added to the tension was that up to a few months (two, three, I no longer recall) we hadn’t even MET. I recall this time when my buddy Des and I were outside our dormitory having a smoke (those were the days when we were nicotine addicts), and the phone rang. No one else was in the house. I ran into the house, and before I knew it, slipped on a floor mat (image: Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern in “Home Alone”) and landed on my phat ass, just in time for Des to see what had happened to me. The phone stopped ringing right after that, of course.

Still we hadn’t met, even though we always had promised that we would, eventually. I couldn’t say that I was in love with her. I wish I could have, really. Something about the way she arranged things where we couldn’t meet was fishy indeed, and it drew a cloud over me.

So it was, finally, that it came to me that I should try to see where she lived. I knew where she worked; although I hadn’t gone to the station myself I knew its general location. In fact, my buddy Robert also had a friend who worked at the same station and said a few things (good and bad) which made me at the very least, all the more curious.

Eventually I twisted Robert’s arm (I had a pathetic set of wheels, and I didn’t trust myself behind the wheel) and got him to drive me to her place.

What did we do? Basically we waited around for a few minutes. All through the trip Robert was going on about how I was such a stalker. He was right. I didn’t even have the guts to tell her I would visit. The thought of me acting at that time makes me cringe right now as I write these words. I was such a wuss.

Later on, I played the innocent when I introduced to her my friend Miggy and his girlfriend at that time because she was one of the talent scouts for a new softdrink commercial. It was actually a legitimate excuse for us to meet, and as I had expected in the back of my mind, no sparks flew.

Can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed, but I was.

Things promptly went downhill after we met; maybe it’s because we had too different expectations to really make it work. I was 25 and in the flush of my youth; I had been grasping for a direction the past few years before that time and a relationship would have been great but the most inappropriate thing for me right then. Especially with her, who was moving into another phase of her life and she had a whole lot of expectations I wasn’t prepared to meet. I stopped calling and gave work (the lack or surfeit of it) as my reason. It didn’t surprise me when I found out, that she had hooked up with someone else just a few weeks later.

It was more fun, in its own twisted and perverse way, when I was daydreaming about her.

Ugh, I’m such a stalker! Can’t say I’m not proud of it, hahahahaha!

* * * * * * * *

And oh, this post is also dedicated to Ferdinand “Ferdie the Birdie”-“Don Johnson”-“God’s gift to women (feeling)”-“nakapagtatakang pinapatulan pa ng various hot chicks” Tarlengco, who once came up, quite triumphantly, with this statement:

Alam ninyo, ang babae, kapag mailap o ‘di kaya’y naiilang sa akin, tiyak, may gusto siya sa akin!

(roughly translates to: “You know, if a girl tries to avoid me or even perhaps if she is uneasy around me, I’m certain that she has a crush on me!”)

The buddies of course laughed with an uproar when we heard that. You’ve got to love the guy for you to swallow it down. Good times all around, of course. But I never did doubt that his belief, which we fittingly named the Tarlengco Theory, worked for him. Even though his luck with the ladies seemed a bit uneven (he always managed to attract the hard-luck ones or the crazies before the “decent” ones, but THAT’s another story in itself), finally he struck gold with God’s grace (yes, he really needed it) and settled down late last year. Here’s to your firstborn, buddy, sana magmana sa ina! (hahahahaha!)

The Tarlengco Theory was one of the high-water marks of our bachelorhood --- we were coming into our own, we were chock-full of great ideas (like the equally-absurd “Santos syndrome,” the “ISK” fraternity and the Tree that Gerard Fertilized With His Piss, “The Vow,” the “I’ll F*ck You- You F*ck Me” concepts of leadership, and all-night driving sprees --- again, stories for another day), and most of all, we loved the ladies and if we were lucky enough, one or two of them would love us back.

Let’s all sing “It’s All Behind Us Now” by Patti Austin (we did, one time, in my house, believe you me, each one taking his turn at the karaoke machine) in fond memory…

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Anniversary, Once Again


"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
---- George Bernard Shaw

On Tuesday, the 15th of August, it will be the 24th anniversary of the Service for Human And Religious Experience organization. It pains me that our members have moved on. Scenes like this will take a long time in repeating:

Leron Leron at Lipa 1997

I loved SHARE. I still do. More importantly, I love all the people, even those I failed to understand or became at odds with --- those good times have come and gone. For many of us who remain "unreasonable," I'm certain we are change agents wherever we are.

I would like just one more chance to at least gather people together and celebrate the glorious things we once did, when we once flew like eagles and cavorted in the warmth of the sun.

May that light keep on dispelling the onset of Shadow in our lives and be a source of inspiration, strength, and joy.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Moon Over Khobar

The Moon Over Khobar, originally uploaded by Spocker.

“Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness.”
~ Allen Ginsberg, American poet

11:30pm, August 6.

I cannot see the moon outside and in any case I wouldn't want to step outside to look --- the humidity is so high it is almost suffocating. But I'd like to think that the moon, as it shines over Khobar, watches me while I let those thoughts meander over and over.

The night welcomes me like a wedding host welcomes me to his banquet. The moon is like a welcome blanket that wraps around me and makes me fully aware of the Divine. When I sleep, I empty myself and re-fill my being with the wonderment of this life and the gift that God has made possible for me to enjoy.

So I sit before the table and await His feast, for my Heavenly Father has invited me to partake of His spirit, and to be one with Him. In the silence, I remember that He is around me, He is beside me, and He permeates the world.


For the last time in the day, I am caught within my own thoughts. I commune with them as they were brethren, I bid them to sit down beside and formally close this day.

I try to recall the many things that made this special, the small things and kindnesses other people have shared with me. I try to recall the experiences of the day and how I could have made it better.

I am living precisely for this time. It has been many days before I have freed myself to listen to my own breathing. Over the past two years (and a half, come September), I have journeyed in this foreign place and have revealed and been revealed to myself; I have discovered that the world, in sometimes perverse and unfathomable ways, is more beautiful than I had ever imagined. At times I tried to be the rebel, the maverick; at others I had no wish more intense than the one of belonging.

Is this the home that I had yearned for, or just a temporary resting place where He may again launch me forth into where I am intended to be?

I have no illusions that this journey is now about to end, but for now, in the night, in the quiet, I offer this little prayer to the Lord that He may strengthen my faith and be content that He continues to accompany me on this grand journey of my life.

I have often been told – though still find an ideal so difficult to apply – that my life is only as good as I make it. The gift has already been granted; it is up to me to tame hold of this life and perforce let it take shape. I made my stands long ago. Now that this day would end, my thoughts turn to the morrow.

I was fortunate to have received a whole wealth of experience that my education can offer me; inasmuch that I did not take much of it seriously, I have not forgotten what has transpired in each of the halls and classrooms that I have passed through in this life. After all, education is not so much what you try to learn in school but how much that learning will prepare you for the task of living your entire life. In the sums of everything, my knowing what quarks are may enrich my conversation or my interior life but it wouldn't help me finish my Gantt chart of deliverables that I have left pending for the past few days.

Still, it is hardly easy to divorce what value we give to book learning over the practical senses of the heart. It took hardship, frustration, defeat, and failure for me to learn otherwise.

The life that stands before me is often threatened by the burden of regret. It is all-too convenient for me to feel this way. This night, as I picture the moon over the sprawl of Khobar, I pray that my life will be burdened by the gift of love.

Everywhere the winds of conflict tear people apart. It is ironic that when we enter this world we start with a clean slate and our faces are pretty much the same --- what things we perpetrate upon ourselves to make ourselves feel different from others --- what thoughts we plant in our hearts that make us hate!

I once wrote, inspired by the poet Gibran: Your tears are no more signs of weakness than the sacrifice God made of His Son for us to be redeemed. When you cry, you open your soul to Him so that He may renew you. The tears you shed are purer than the laughter of him who seeks to forget and sweeter than the mockery of those who sneer. These tears cleanse the heart of hatred, and teach us to share the pain of the brokenhearted. They are the tears of Jesus Christ.

My own bitter medicine is that it is not enough to parrot the words and the deeds of peace. For peace and compassion to take root in my heart, I must meet bitterness of this world with faith and hope. When I admit my weakness, and surrender my soul, I may truly shed my tears and grieve for the wounds we have inflicted upon our world. Yet these tears may someday cleanse me with understanding; it may awake my spirit one day so that my love will remain eternally pure and beautiful.

When I struggle inspite of the darkness, I begin to learn fortitude.

I have much to learn of giving. In the beginning, I gave for the reason that I may be recognized for who I am. That was false giving, and in the end (much too late), my own impulses rendered my gifts unwholesome. The true giving is that of giving without asking for reward. Such generosity is of the bounty of the universe.

I have yet still to learn the final crucible of giving --- that of giving inspite of pain. Sometimes I wonder how those who do manage. I see their faces, and the joy that is in their eyes transforms sthem into saints.

All this one day shall be gone from me --- so it is but time for me to give NOW, for all will be aught when I die, as I must.

I have tried --- and failed --- to hear Mass in this place. It has become more valuable in its absence, just like the saying goes. I try, however, in my own way, to live my life in the covenant as best as I could. I try to give my time to others as best as I can. I know fully well that the fruits of my labor are no longer mine to call my own. I hope to share as much of my life and love and being. Time runs its own course, and money --- well, it's just money.

I pray that I would have the gift to drive away the hunger of the spirit, just as so many others have done. It is not my aim to be remembered, but only that my life has achieved its own apex.

I have survived because of what others have made possible, for the many small deaths and sacrifices others have made for my sake. So, then, must I learn to die to myself and thus live forever.

In this light of the moon, I slip back into my own being and hope that what I have realized becomes a truth in action tomorrow.

The light and the glare of everyday life often drowns out in its din the silence of self-knowing. Will my hands allow me to be a gift in another person's life?

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

This is how God showed His love among us : He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice our sins. Since God has so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in him. We love because God first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God", yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, who he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. Christ has given us this command : Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

I John 3:7-12, 16b, 19-21

With thanks to Gerry Lumitao, who took this picture (I did some enhancements).

n.b. I actually wrote this last night but just posted it today.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Some Last Firsts...

in(s)ane ramblings: Last Firsts...

With thanks to Nikki.

1. What was the last new song you discovered? I haven't been listening to Western or even Filipino music lately, and Polish MTV is only my best source for new stuff (and they love techno over there). The remix of "Mais Que Nada" is almost sacrilegious but still very catchy. Fort Minor's "Where'd You Go" is the newest one (and very relevant) for me.

2. What was the last new dish you tasted? The last time I ate something "new" was eating some fried rice mix that was either Indian or Arabic in inspiration. It tasted strongly of curry and lamb. I'd like to go back and have some more of it, if only I could control my going to the toilet after I eat some.

3. Where was the last place you visited for the first time?Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte (this summer was the first time for me to visit). Foreign country: Shenzhen, China (2005).

4. Who was the last new person you met? Newly-arrived: my new Indian colleague. Last "new" met - an engineer whose exit interview I conducted.

5. What was the last new toy you played with? Yes, it's a toy - my new video camera. Still getting some fun shooting almost everything in sight.