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The Cry of Lemo-Ulan Batur

March 18, 2009 7 comments

Every race and every age gives God its own mask. But behind all masks...is always the same never-changing God - Nikos Kazantzakis

Every race and every age gives God its own mask. But behind all masks...is always the same never-changing God - Nikos Kazantzakis

Holding the staff in his hand, he sat on the ground and palmed the sand, feeling its smoothness wringing gently on his hand down to his wrist. The grains were like living creatures that struggled to escape the frame of human bars the way water spontaneously evades the bedrocks that block its way; that is because everything in this world is free yet moves accordingly to universal norms. The sand will always have its way in the ground as the smoke always tends to ascend in the sky. And in this blackness of the night, no matter how apparent the contrast among things, the intensity of darkness engulfed all colors and the only thing that illuminated the world was the terrestrial flicker way above its sphere. He knelt on the sand and ardently prayed that life for humanity would progress in perfection in the multitude of human civilizations. Feeling the pricks of the sand and the sweetness of the night he knew that in the desert would man find the greatest harmony in the world. It is the only place where heaven copulates with earth like intimate lovers that constantly desire each others beauty. This desert with its enormous space provided is an ineffable source of heavenly wisdom that transforms the self into a prophet of peace. Yet, even when he tried to convince himself of the peaceful atmosphere, his mind asserted that what he had witnessed signified that violence originated in this very sand. How ironical that the world ‘s greatest moralist was reared and nourished in this place yet unable to make any changes to abate human conflict.  It had even gone worse in consequent years. Yes! He knew that it all started with the Word; and things were all beautiful that God called it his greatest masterpiece. But the Word became  a sword; and the only difference between them is the letter “s”. Its “S” for Satan or for serpent which creeps on the sand tempting Christ to denounce his obedience and sneaking its way to human weaknesses and atrocities. What happened to the world was nothing but mere transgression of human desires that consequently distorted man. And this grotesque serpent seemed to enjoy his legacy- the wars and the dying of million lives. The sword as opposed to the Word  blinded man of its own place; and that even God’s writ has been interpreted in various ways which proved onerous to the hope of unity.

In this vast desert, its not human cry that can be heard but also the lamentation of the land which has been soaked not with water but with human blood that either torments its spirit or curtail its hope; and how sad that it began with the idea of God whose name resulted to horrific wars in the world tinted by what we deemed religion.  This is totally reciprocal to what the Red Crescent speaks, or the blood-laden Cross preaches, or the Magein David symbolizes. This is a fiasco of human follies and hidebounds in comprehending the universal essence of peace.  With this terrible angst that overwhelmed him, he turned his gaze up to the sky and searched for immanent constellations that have been witness to the rise and fall of religion and the devil behind it.  He beat his breast and shouted his song: “Lord, when will this world see your face that lurks behind the cross or the crescent or the mark of David; when will your people know that unity can only be achieved in embracing the differences in this world.” He then stood up to his feet removed his black robe and shouted, “I am a priest in Muslim faith, and I am Muslim with a Christian God, and I am a Jew living in both ways. Will this meager soul quench its thirst when I embrace You, Oh God, unbounded by human constructs and ephemeral symbols? Tell me Lord, when will your kingdom come? Or shall we fight the serpent on our own? Help us God for the sand has now turned red.”

***

P.S. Sr. Rose, you take care always in Israel.

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Categories: philosophy Tags: ,

Marching in March

March 16, 2009 6 comments

happy ako nagayon

happy ako ngayon

I wished to think, the moment I woke up this morning, that the world is changing for the better. The heavy rain last night was a good indicator that the summer may not be a long drought but that it will also experience sporadic rain showers. This is unusual for the month of March especially since it is considered as the peak of the summer season where  a hundred percent sun visibility can haul the earth on 30 degrees and more on regular days – a temperature that can trigger a Filipino’s inanity for a cold country.

March is extremely a hostile month. Its name, which derives from Mars (God of War), connotes difficulty or a struggle especially to the people whose lives are greatly entwined with crops. For the farmers, drought is the most feared phenomenon which usually starts on the month of March and lasts on who-knows-what-month. Since its name connotes war, it also presupposes death – not just for impotent crops but also the death of hopes when despair take hold of the lives of the people. Ten years ago, El Niño hit Philippines and left a devastating mark on agricultural productions and shortage on water supply. Malnutrition and heat-borne diseases shot up by half above the annual record. This lasted more than a year and farmers could hardly compensate for their loss. But tonight, up to  this morning, the rain poured heavily like a terrestrial blessing that delighted not just the farmers but also the people who hated mercury rising. This might be because of the prayer of the farmers; maybe, the story about St. Heribert, patron of rain, was true whose feast day is celebrated today (March 16).

War is always associated with March not because most cadet trainings are conducted in this month but because this month signifies another worldwide struggle. This month, the International Women’s Month is celebrated by Eves all over the world by highlighting the significance of womens’ roles and asserting their rights in the global arena. In the Philippines, the Gender and Development or GAD has taken significance on the grass-root understanding of the Filipina rights against abuse and violence. Last week the GAD team of Iloilo in coordination with UP Ugsad held a forum on Pasidungog sa Kababaihan. The forum was conducted to empower women rights in the present society.

On exactly the same date, the Philippines was known to the world because of Magallanes whose landing has been very controversial among pact of historians. However, may it in Butuan, Mactan or Leyte, the important thing is “it happened” and paved way to the Christianitization of Filipinos. Although I despise the way it was implemented in the Philippines, I am still thankful that I knew Jesus Christ the moment I developed a consciousness on religion because of them. Surely, religion has its good and bad sides.

But with all of these, I find March as the most beautiful and wonderful month in my life. Not because of St. Urhos” celebration in Finland today or of  the commemoration of  the famous political philosopher, James Madison who became the 4th president of US, but because I feel more loved on this month far better than hearts day in February. I feel that the world is more cheerful than before with all the greetings and the texts that I received from my family and friends. Yes! It’s my birthday! And I thank those who remembers this boy from the parochial world in Visayas especially:

1. My Family – my mother, my sister and my brother; my aunts, uncles and cousins; my loved ones; my friends; my office mates – thank you very much. You are well treasured in my heart.

2. My most beloved teacher, Sr. Rose Amacanin, whose influence has made me enter the seminary even though I didn’t stay long. To you sister: Thank you for the greetings despite the expensive call rate in Israel. I continuously use the rosary you gave me.

I hope I could avail of a scholarship in the University you are working in  at Betlehem. Don’t worry, I promise to ace all of my grades. Hehehe. I love you so much.

3. The girl who stayed late prowling on the clock at exactly 12 midnight just to be the first to greet me. hehehe

4. My sister Danica. Thank you for being there for me always. UP would have been very trite without you.

5. Eva – one of the fairest faces in the UP campus. Thanks for the advance greetings!

6. I thank myself for greeting myself. Happy birthday to me!

***

P.S. If we are doomed to this world to suffer, why do we celebrate our birthdays?

Categories: Ilong-Ilonganon Tags:

Tidbits on Language

March 11, 2009 4 comments

fuzzy_conversation

A sudden silence in the middle of a conversation suddenly brings us back to essentials: it reveals how dearly we must pay for the invention of speech.
Emile M. Cioran

Is it my right brain or the left brain that’s functioning within my skull? I don’t know exactly because I must admit that my mind is not as sharp as others’ for I still have an inadequacy of mastering any language. So much more with my style, simply because I am not adept in constructing right phrases or choosing appropriate words for my sentences; and with all of these errors and poor English usage, I usually get a bad remark from my girlfriend. Naks!

In the current situation, it is a formidable fact that one is adjudged by the predilection of correct sentence constructions. With vicissitudes and inconsistencies, one may flunk from the standard of languages and be scorned publicly regardless of one’s effort to muster his thought into writing; all the more with the English language. And now that call centers and English schools are sprouting and populating like rodents, the English language is given more emphasis than anything in this world. Sure to say that one thing that Filipinos should be proud of is their eloquent English skills. But lo! Speaking is far different from writing and most of the time writing skills become a ground for criticisms. Your tongue may perfect all the tongue twisters but your hand will always tremble to hold your pen right. Take note that the most dangerous thing is to write because it doesn’t hide your flaws rather highlight your mediocrity in language. I am not exempted!

Three years ago, I was working on my research paper and came across a research from one of the UP publications. The research was about the aptitude test on the English efficiency of the students in UP Cebu. The result: UP freshmen were all above average in terms of verbal skills but flunked below average in writing. It was a sad realization especially that Filipinos are expected to be a prime exemplary of the English Language in both fields. The worst thing about it was how I coincidentally read that publication while taking a subject in one of the most charismatic speakers/professors in UP Iloilo yet deemed to be one of the lousiest writers among the academe. That was long ago, and how I regret labeling him on that.

But! To all the lousy like me, don’t despair for there are still ways to prove our worth. It is not the language alone that serves as the measure of intelligence. In market paradigm, Filipinos with a knack for the English language are in demand and we have to face it because that’s the reality. Yet don’t forget that your skills in mathematics, your keenness in science, your prowess in visual arts are all very important. It is only through your excellence in a certain field that makes you a true model. As what the Japanese proverb states, “It is better to master in one art than mediocre in a hundred.” So let alone if they pin you down because you are an awful English speaker; never mind them if they think that English is the gauge of Intelligence for that is already mere ignorance in their part. Yet, regardless of their demeaning remarks, strive to improve your skill and harness your capability by reading and writing. It is only through this that you will imbibe the language even to the point of owning it. And at a given point in time, you will have the best of both worlds…then, like me, you will not give a fuss of which side of the brain is functioning within you.

***

A man’s feet should be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.
George Santayana

Conrado de Quiros once retold a story of Rizal boarding a ship to Europe. He was boarding on upper deck because he could afford to be with the mestizos and the leche colored Spanish (hidalgos and intellectuals). In one moment, the Spanish approached him and they conversed articulately in Spanish. Then a French joined them in their in their conversation, and Rizal occasionally spoke to him in French. The French was very impressed for how could a young brown man of small stature be a word-class polyglot. Then the German joined them in their coterie and Rizal greeted him in German. Impressive! The German was very delighted by this small man for he not only spoke Spanish, but French and German as well which he couldn’t even do himself. So Rizal made an impact on all of them: that Filipinos had all the fair share of intelligence in the world.

But! Rizal went to the lower deck, where the stench of poverty could be smelled. Most of the Filipinos were there and all of them seemed to be pressed in a floating coffin. Then Rizal, with his love for his race, never minded this and went to sit with them. He asked the old woman squatting on her piles in Tagalog where she came from. The old woman not sensing any word from Rizal’s mouth answered him in native Cebuano language that Rizal didn’t understand. So she asked the man in ragged clothes the same question, and the man answered him in plain Hiligaynon and Rizal didn’t understand. Still, our National Hero didn’t stop and approached a lady standing in a corner and asked her the same question. The lady answered him in Bolo-anon and Rizal gave up hope and went back to the upper deck.

I don’t know how the story ended but surely Rizal must have wept to understand the world yet failed to comprehend his own feet on the ground.

***

Short words are words of might

Gellet Burgess

When thesaurus is the sole long word….

Let me ring a bell to you: that when you speak, speak with one straight word. Do not make it hard for some to know the sense of your thoughts. Please be clear with your point. It is through clear words, not blurred by fog of blahs, that you are well grasped. So stay with one word… but not till the time you need it most that you start to look at THESAURUS for long ones.

***

P.S. I admit, it’s very hard to maintain a 1 syllable word all through out…hehehe

Categories: philosophy

The Artist and the World in Time

March 3, 2009 8 comments
"Without poets, without artists, men would soon weary of nature's monotony. The sublime idea men have of the universe would collapse with dizzying speed. The order which we find in nature, and which is only an effect of art, would at once vanish. Everything would break up in chaos. There would be no seasons, no civilization, no thought, no humanity; even life would give way, and the impotent void would reign everywhere."   --  Guillaume Apollinaire

"Without poets, without artists, men would soon weary of nature's monotony. The sublime idea men have of the universe would collapse with dizzying speed. The order which we find in nature, and which is only an effect of art, would at once vanish. Everything would break up in chaos. There would be no seasons, no civilization, no thought, no humanity; even life would give way, and the impotent void would reign everywhere." -- Guillaume Apollinaire

What makes an artist? Some claim that the artist is a product of an external-objective inspiration; others say that it is wrought by a Freudian projection of ego that needs to be channeled through brush strokes or the inkblots in poetry. Although these might be valid answers, I still hold one single notion of a true artist: the one formed by pain – either caused by obscurity, or by the complexity of political systems that either oppress or prevent one from realizing herself – but reciprocally finds beauty in it. Remember that an artist life is deeply wedded with pain yet exalts it with jubilation. It is through this pain that an artist has able to understand the world better.

To add more, an artist speaks with experience and understands the way of life. She is like a saint in the middle of the street stressing her isolation from the crowd; yet, despite being ridiculed and misunderstood, never departs from what is real and continues to nourish life with joy and holiness amidst the majority. She knows the way of the world yet humbly abides in the will of God. Yes, God, because she knows that life is temporary and that our mortal being is nothing but a mere manifestation of a higher being. Although she finds overwhelming wonders in this world, she perpetually seeks the permanence of beauty in a higher degree that can only be achieved by relating herself to the higher being. So she makes use of her life as instrument to make others realize of the passing world; and, despite the relative notions of practicality of having faith, she perpetually believes on a heavenly covenant that awaits man. In this unstable world, a flower may bloom for days but will never stay forever, for soon the wind will blow and fill the heavenly basin with torrent, then will clear out the view for a grandiose sun and the flower will die wilted under its heat. But unlike a flower, an artist will remain constant in her endeavor despite the changing winds and the hurdles of time. She knows her place in the plurality of the world, like a heart is deemed to be for one purpose – love. She is forever steadfast in her faith no matter how tempting the tides are, and even grows stronger with it the way sand solidifies into rock  in time. Her goal is one: to recreate the soul to bring it back to where it really belong by means of literature, of music, and of encompassing colors of love.

But an artist lives like a normal man does. What distinguishes her from the rest of the pact is her demeanor in dealing with the world. She loves the world bound in time but better loves the world that awaits permanence for all of us. An ordinary man will cling to time for direction while an artist try to ride with time with great control of herself. Thus, an artist always keeps her ground in order to read the signs of time and transposes her knowledge through her art.

When some become slaves of time, an artist, on the contrary, struggles to transcend it. By transcending it, she understands the world better and the mechanisms that cause man to act. But transcending it is already an explicable “pain embraced” because time, by its illusive nature, creates perdition that draws man away from the truth (from self and from the world). Yet, through this pain, an artist is wrought and that her soul is fulfilled. With how the world transpires now, the complexity of life increases and human systems are but pell-mell hindrances to the true realization of one’s self. It is then the role of an artist to stand out from this demeaning ordeal and to be saints in all accord. After all, an artist is known to be a re-creator of beauty, a true philosopher, and a herald of change.; and that an artist, against all odds, has be a Miracle to humanity, that even when her limbs become lifeless, her lips will never cease to praise: Ah! What a Wonderful World!

***

P.S. 1. Thoughts for two great artists in my bloglist: Mira and Gabi. If time is eternal, so the hope of an artist prevail because her aspirations transcends it…when others look at the world at a pace length, an artist eyes looks at the way beyond.

2. When science scuttles for development and understanding, art beautifies and exalts everything.

Categories: arts, philosophy Tags: , ,