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July 30, 2010 Leave a comment

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Gibo,No Lame Duck

February 26, 2010 2 comments

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N O T I C E

October 9, 2009 Leave a comment

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Not now for wordpress

September 30, 2009 1 comment

I am leaving this blog temporarily. I don’t if this is the right thing to do after getting one good year of blogging in wordpress. This blog was conceived out of curiosity without definite plan what to write to or what should be the best format to use. Then I realized that wordpress is so limited unless you keep a semi-hosted site. WordPress is good in design (the free themes) but not really in applications such as accessibility in javascript, etc. So, I opted to explore other sites such as blogger.com which is friendly and can be easily manipulated. Bye for now. I will still be writing here for sure.

So please be directed to this site: www.totomel.blogspot.com.  I will be very happy to link all of you there.

Categories: philosophy

Ushering the Green Path

September 4, 2009 8 comments

The short repose from blogging was an utter blessing on my part to ponder on the things that needed much attention. My officemate told me that I should focus on something relevant rather than speculate on unnecessary subjects such as faith and politics which seem like rigmaroles to her ears. Somehow, I thought that she doesn’t understand my endeavor. But after reflecting on what she said, I was impelled by an idea of defining where I should immerse my self with.

In the vast arena of knowledge, I know I have to choose a subject to embrace, to live and to contribute to its growth.  And in this case I opted to pry on environmental studies which is I deem far alarming than Mar giving up his political aspiration to pave way for the Cory Magic.

Of course, I don’t want to be a member of a stringent environmental cult that would die for death of a fly slapped by President Obama but just a simple advocate that would help the environment in my own simple ways. I would still write about other things that interest me for sure. It is just that environmental problem is prevalent and the obligation to save it confronts us in many ways. And in a wider sense, I cannot really separate myself from the things around me.Celebrate the World

Looking back to a past decade, one would see the abject deterioration of the environment. In my personal experience, I once enjoyed sight of the dragon flies lingering in the field and catching the harmful pest feasting on the rice stalks. Then all of a sudden-Poof! These little creatures were nowhere to be found and most have been eradicated by pesticides. Even the crickets and cicadas were obliterated in rice fields. Just exactly as what Rachel Carlson had claimed, man is so desperate to re-engineer the scheme of nature all for the glory of monoculture and high harvest yields. She added that men have become self-centered that they forgot to acknowledge the biodiversity co-existing with them.

Meanwhile, climate change is starting to wreak havoc in our planet. Heat became unbearable and would likely to soar rapidly in the coming days if carbon emission is not curtailed. And if ever we became altruistic of these things, the effect would only be felt in the long future. Dr. Jessica Salas, an advocate against climate change, said the collective effort of people around the world to cut carbon produce can only be felt by 2040. By that time the aqua alta have already submerged some part of the Philippines including the City of Iloilo. So here is the point: Let’s save the planet, in whatever way we can, by not letting it reach 2040 when the rising sea level could possibly destroy most of our coastal communities.

Moreover, the population would never recede in time but would perpetually grow in years. This has a critical effect to the environment as the law of demand and supply ascends with it. Taking the example of water supply versus the water consumption per person, one could logically deduct that water will become scarce by 2015. You do the math based on population projection and you’ll get a horrible picture of the situation of our planet. And if you still need more proof, I urge you to check on the remaining watershed around the country and you will be shocked of its improbability to manage the demand of the booming population by 2020.

So with all these formidable insights, one can never shoo the condition of our environment today as done by pact scientists who claimed that global warming is absolutely hearsay. I know that this have been bugging us all along yet we continue to be unmindful to do something about it. We know that saving this planet lies not in the mercy of God but on the commitment of the people to rebuild it.

Lastly, we are the cause that this planet is dying and this is the right moment that we should also be the cause for its living. Saving this planet is everybody’s concern simply because we owe our lives to its graces.

Losing Letters

August 12, 2009 15 comments

loveletters2I have this undying fascination for reading old documented letters compiled in books especially when it speaks of human affinities that usually begins in courting. Elegant scribbles of blotters, which are mostly portrayed in sepia, create a portal of the past of how men addressed their inamoratas with clandestine penmanship and poetic embellishments. Their age was very different then when SMS was not yet available for use. They only had the paper, inkwell and the blotter to send messages to their beloved (disregarding the case of distance), which are in turn carried by messengers, usually friends or relatives, who most of the time were intrigued and tempted to sneak into the content of letters. I haven’t really been a good letter writer, but I have a vivid memory, and making some that paved well while also being nosy of their outcomes.

Back in highschool when I was much enamored to the classic writings like that of Shakespeare’s addressing a sonnet to a beautiful lady of May, I also took the chances of conversing them through love letters. However I was not writing for my sake but for the bully classmates that sought my assistance to furnish them a beautiful rendition to some lady they met on the street. Thinking of crushes is a part of teenage years where one’s face is invaded with zits only to add a more challenging world in courting. What can be more interesting is the fact that there is always a way to compensate for somebody’s shortcomings – and no other act can compete with writing a good letter; and the bully boys had figured that out well. It even made me more convinced of the power of words, how it can blur any imperfection and create an alluring persona to adore. Apparently, it is the words that transform man – too good to be a tool for inveigling.

Now, letter writing is becoming extinct as the Gen-X succumbed to practically new adventures that technology is offering. The age of text and twitter may all be good at one point creating an avenue for social networking yet miss the point of “sentimentality.” Its social cohesion shapes not just how the people behave but also fashions an easy way to start off with relationships. And unlike letters which are done laboriously and are mostly consulted before venturing into the receiver’s hand, this savvy age lost the very essence of proximity as perfect ingredients to pursue a long working relationship. The danger is even greater now that emotions are becoming unruly and are hardly validated like a water vapor that exists in reality but not tangible to human touch.

Although I have not been raised in the days of letters, I know then that the words they expressed, regardless of its authenticity, can all be validated by the receiver. After all letters are easily tracked back to where it comes from. I admit that it will never be gone for our age given the existence of cyber mails or emails (mostly are too formal or plain notifications), yet the question of content’s intention will all be at stake. I am not saying that this technology doesn’t work for relationships, what I am trying to point out is the danger that lurks behind. Can you imagine how many broken hymens SMS have caused by deceit? Those are all possible in texting. Yet, unlike text messages that easily forgotten once the SIM is blocked or the phone is lost, letters, which are fashioned delicately by human hands, may be kept under the pillow, lovingly regarded and truly felt by the lover. Alas, that day is fading.

Photo Credit: Sara Remington

Categories: education, letters, philosophy

Re-defining Our Fight

August 7, 2009 15 comments

The death of Cory Aquino spurred an emotion of solidarity among the Filipinos especially those who have witnessed the downfall of the Philippine Republic under the dictatorship of Marcos. The yellow flowers, ribbons and scattered confetti reminded us of the glorious day when the dictator was finally subjected to the undying thirst for justice, peace and clean governance, and we started to redefine our stand in more solid ground. Then we found ourselves looking at the bright aspect delineated to the changes in socio-political affair.  We have become a proud nation to achieve much in the global scene by crowding the streets armed with sentiments like that of the First Quarter Storm and the huge thirst quenching the EDSA revolution. We won the fight like eager mice trudging the dangerous path packed with hungry cats and successfully grabbed a piece of cheese that is worth our nation’s pride: exactly what Prometheus did among the sleeping gods.

Yes, we have won the fight. The question is what kind of fight? I do not claim to know more than anyone else about the ordeal of our country, but since the problem is apparent and could easily be pondered over a cup of coffee or a simple mind break in carenderia, it is my wish to say something  of what I percieve about it. After all, things are seen in various epistemological angles and one has the right to say what he thinks of the current situation in our country that escalates between the believers and the incredulous. Mind you, the danger may all be depending on what we believe. Sometimes, it takes more than courage and pure whim to unravel what should be done to re-define our common ground in order to prosper as a nation. And yes, we are constantly struggling to find our way to fight the foes that hurdle us to this redefinition of ourselves. Again – What kind of fight?

When you look back to our history, we could see that the Filipino people are fighting all their lives. First we showed our valor by toppling the Spanish colonizers only to realize it was just a coy for the entrance of Americans after we had been sold for more than a million dollars. After realizing that we are like turn-tables that have been passed from one hand to another, we plotted skirmishes to highlight our willingness to stand for what is right even if  it meant sacrificing lives against the super-power nation. It was a kind of fight where we repelled invasion just to preserve our natural identity as Filipinos. And after each success we tend to drown into oblivion the essence of such revolutions as an initial ladder to realizing our long-search for true identity.

The second phase of revolution has taken a different form. Unlike the first one which can be regarded as an external fight to defend our sovereignty, the latter is a kind of introspection: Our fight is not against external forces but individuals amongst us. Examples of this are the EDSA 1 and 2 Revolutions where we ousted individuals who have been traitors to their own kind. Because of our nescience on which ground to stand on, we allowed the budding evil to morph with us that in the end caught us off-guard. People have suffered more than they have during colonization because the adversary knew the nook and crook of how to play the devil’s game.  Thus, we have to fight harder to reverse the damage they brought.

Then the pattern continues. This time revolution moves deeper. How many times have we rallied in the street to shout that the government step out and leave their seats? How many times did we condemn cheating and malevolence in the administration because they have not been stealing from the national treasury? If you still consider this a good fight, then you are merely stranded in the second phase of revolution. What I am trying to say is that there are wicked individuals we see apart from ourselves. If you come to think of it, the worst enemy is ourselves which we are collectively unmindful of. We can all attest to this from the simple instance of throwing our garbage on the street to preserving corrupt officials by being loyal to them because of utang ng loob. We may laugh at this at times because this is so trivial to take into account, but when you look at its effect, there is no sheer difference between you and the one you are loathing. You cannot simply wipe out the dirt by dirt. Thus, by reflecting on it, it all boils to one ultimate premise: The Self. This self is not just the battle of some or of groups of political factions but of every Filipino who are tired of the maelstrom of history where a single mistake in the past is revived back to the concurrent political arena.

Hence, it is when we have waged war against ourselves that we become infectious and worthy in re-defining our ground. Just imagine how a good self can transform other lives like what Mother Teresa and of John Paul II did. If you replicate it a hundred times, then this country may already be a happy nation. Yet no matter how ideal this may sound, it could be achieved when we will it to happen. With what’s happening to our country, amidst turmoil, I guess, the greatest message of the death of Ninoy and Cory is just one: Beware, we are our greatest enemy. And by taking this message by heart, only then shall we authentically define the real fight for our nation.ninoy

Augustly August

August 3, 2009 9 comments

In Memory of the Yellow Bell

People huddle on the streets and the heaven weeps at your last breath. At least, you have rested back to the soil in this gloomy weather of August where our Creator welcomes you to His door. You know the time never ends when you leave an earthly branch to die, only to proceed to a more promising life. Thus you died peacefully amidst the prayers of your people. Your separation from the mortal life may signify a great pain especially for those who are left to behold your integrity to restore what is due to them, but your legacy will unite them in joy to continue what you have started. Yes, you have restored democracy back to where it should reside and made honesty your ladder to governance. And you know in your heart that these things are what people deserve. So in your last day, people remember you in your piety and honesty amidst the mundane world stained by immorality. And just like a yellow bell that falls naturally to the ground to die in beauty, you too shall be welcomed back by the soil which will unite us in a single element; just like a yellow bell that grows back when it marries the earth, so shall you live in our memories forever.

aquino

Let the Augusts stand August

Although I am forlorn because of the death of our great leader, my emotions were balanced on this day with my mom’s birthday. She is now 48 and made remarkable accomplishments in rearing us all. Up at 5:30 am, I knocked at her room and kissed her. But instead of usual greeting, I thanked her for all she has done for me and for my siblings. I know my gratefulness will never equal what she had done for us, but I know that she deserves a big “Thank You” rather than a greeting of “Happy Birthday.” Of course, I also greeted her a happy birthday. For what is happier than the day you know you are born – either to suffer or to rejoice depending on how one should take life. In her case, she loves her life and loves every life that emanates from her womb. And how I love her so much not because of normative functions but by how she taught us to love. How I wish that one day I could repay the life she nourished within me especially now that she is getting older and wizened. For i know, it is when you know you are reared in love that you will look back to serve in love.

***

St_Alphonsus_LiguoriToday is also the feast day of Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, Doctor of the Church. Had I not read the page of Dfish which reminded me of St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, I would have also forgotten St. Alphonsus, founder of Redemptorists Congregation.

Back in the seminary days, I and my batchmates (we were 24 in number but nobody made it to priesthood) merrily organized reach-out programs to badjaos, lepers, scavengers, pier laborers, and the people of Carbon, Pasil and Ermita, Cebu City. As our apostolate, we would talk, listen and even live with them every weekend to experience their lives and their way of surviving the world amidst marginalization and social injustices inflicted on them not just by the private sectors and the government but by their fellow individuals as well. By delving into their lives, I know that there are so many things that need to be changed in this world. These people need to be heard but don’t have the voice to use; these people need to be noticed but nobody pays heed to them. And when one chooses to take the yoke to fight for them, one has to be cleansed inside out. It doesn’t have to be a remarkable effort though. Instead, a simple change that starts within us will suffice – a change that would create a difference. Life, as Saint Alphonsus put it, is a life never lived unless it is changed for the glory of Jesus Christ. By that, he meant changing the lives of others as well. Only in that way, we bring salvation known to others. That is what it means to be a “Redemptorist.”

Although I did not proceed to become a priest, I still cling on to his teaching and serve the church in my own simple ways.

***

P.S. This is supposed to be posted on August 1. Unfortunately, Iloilo had 2-day blackout.

Traveling: My Mental Escapade

July 27, 2009 14 comments

drivingLiving 30 kms. outside the city of Iloilo, I have to get used to traveling everyday. That means if I want to be in the office at 8, I have to get ready before the sun rises to catch a transport bus to Tagbak Terminal at 6:30. Since it usually takes an hour of bus ride from our place to Tagbak Terminal, I usually disembark the bus at 7:30 and have to board a jeepney right away for the office. Sometimes it takes more than 30 minutes before I reach my destination depending on the speed of a jeepney. Presumptuously, my travel is far longer than the SONA that President Arroyo will be delivering this afternoon – for if you sum it all up, you will notice that I travel one and a half hours for just going to the office. Actually I really don’t mind because this seems to me a natural routine and I have been used to transporting myself to at least 76 kms (to the city and back) daily excluding the distance traveled during my field works. In short, I am a traveler by my own rights.

But the distance doesn’t matter to me.  As you might notice, I even enjoy it. The farthest my destination is, the better it becomes. Let alone the problem of fares for I have the way to abate it by showing my UP ID which will expire on 2012 pa (hehehe). Anyway, traveling is such a leisure for me despite trudging the same route everyday. Why? Because when I travel, my mind travels with me and I couldn’t help but to think deeply on some things that crosses my attention. Let me share some of the most apparent things that I noticed today:

UNO: While looking outside the bus, you could see that the election is steaming up. This might be the same with other places around the country where electric posts and school façades are awfully ornamented by smiles of the prospective presidentiables. In particular, have you noticed Villar’s visage is becoming ubiquitous? From congratulating the graduates to welcoming the freshmen, from greetings of Mother’s day to that of Father’s day, from simple punch lines of Sipag at Tiyaga to Murang Pabahay, from Iloilo, Banwa Ko to Villards-tulong sa pagsulong ng Philippine sports, you could see his smiling face  in every corner through tarpaulins and streamers. Quack! If you notice, he is actually standing for his motto Sipag at Tiyaga – that is why he is campaigning as early as now. But if you think deeply, it’s about Pera at Tiyaga. Remember that politics connotes a big-shot money game, and whoever has the biggest pocket coupled by publicity and Tiyaga will definitely triumph; and Villar knows that very well. Don’t be fooled brethren! I just hope when you look at his picture, you would also think of the price of his smile or what’s at stake behind his smile. It is only by that that we come to think of other prospects who possess characters like integrity, intelligence, managerial skills, etc; or try to turn our gaze to other candidates that doesn’t speak but has engraved remarkable accomplishments like Bayani and Gibo Teodoro. Just think wise.

DOS: Who cannot notice of garbage in our surroundings? It flies, it rolls, and it happily crosses the street when blown by the wind. Although it provides opportunities for the poor to make money out of it, it nevertheless remains an eyesore. Let’s accept it: there is no such thing as waste. When man creates something, I am sure he creates it out of necessity. Whatever man created surely has use and possesses potentiality for other uses. Take the example of a plastic bag: aside from using it as a basket, it could also serve several uses such as container for other things at home. What is more interesting about a plastic bag is the fact that it can be recycled. And this is not just about plastic: all non-living things especially non-biodegradable are all recyclable.  And when you come to think of it, cleaning our planet is always in our reach and all you have to do is to think that “there is no such thing as waste”. So, when necessity is the mother of all inventions, waste is the most foolish invention a man has ever had – and it is not created out of necessity but lavishness and lethargy.

TRES: From 2008-2009, Real Estate developments in Iloilo increased by more than 50%.  This is quite amazing in so far as real property tax is concerned but may endanger the agricultural production over the year. At about 30% of some agricultural lands are converted if not declared as idle lands for further residential developments. The result is the appearance of streamers and ads on “House for Sale” or “Lots for Sale” that competes with the face of Manny Villar. Because the market in Iloilo is big, streamers doubled up in a matter of just one month. Tsk tsk tsk….Oh, Lord what happened? You gave us the land for free but were subjected into the enterprising elements of some. First, the land was divided into continent (Fine). Then by country (still fine). Then by administrative areas (ok, still fine). But this was divided again into small pieces down to a basic square meter which costs more than an average annual income of the poor (very bad!). Please have pity, oh God.

CUATRO: From Tagbak Terminal to office, I had a funny time counting the many Purified Water and Refill stations. In a matter of 7 kms.interval between the bus terminal and my office, I counted 13 stations. The number is believed to be unlucky by popular culture. Of course, it is unlucky since it will be doubled in a year because the demand for mineral water is constantly increasing. And surely there will come a time that when you speak of water, it automatically entails money. It is just amusing that big cities as New York, calls for the residents to take underground water because it’s clean and free. But that’s not the case in the Philippines. Whew!

CINCO: Last but not the least: When you are riding a jeepney, who wouldn’t notice a sexy lady sitting in front of you? In my case, she wore a green spaghetti dress with a very short skirt that will make you wonder if there is a shortage of textile in global market.

You know, it’s a big irony that amidst the global warming, clothes are becoming shorter and skimpier when in fact they should be made to hide our skin against UV rays. I guess the trend had turned a total opposite now. Today, nakedness becomes a trend where minimal clothing will suffice (hahaha). However, it could also be seen in a different way. Since we are sweating like hell due to extreme heat, I guess the picture below has a very good point.

global-warming-underwear

Anyway, that’s all for my travel amusement. Got to watch GMA SONA pa…hope something good will come out of it.

***

P.S. 1. President’s SONA is done. Superb! If there is one thing that can attest to her accomplishments – it is the statistics. Numbers just dont lie.

2. How would you imagine our country being managed by Estrada and Villar, or by rhetorical Legarda and Escudero amidst the global crisis?  I just couldn’t imagine. What we definitely need is a managerial president who knows every nook and crook of governance and have strategies to keep it working. With all conviction, backed by my experience economic research and urban planning job, GMA has provided that well.

3. “Too much for  Cory’s matter. Let’s shift our attention to her hacienda,” says an uring anakpawis.

Payo’ng Kuya

July 24, 2009 10 comments

warning-sign-thumb4385840‘Cuz, after a very busy week in the office, I feel happy now to get back to my computer and write things that caught my attention during my entire field work. I have noticed that while traveling, my mind soars high to think why the sun has to be yellow or why water has to be wet. And as exactly what I had feared, I have now turned out to be very speculative. Grrrr!

By the way, forgive me if I have been damn serious about some things with the tendency of attaching peculiar thoughts on them. This blog has been colored by some as a philosophy page simply because I was thinking weird. Sorry, I cannot help it. If there is anything or somebody whom you could trace back as to why I have been behaving like this, please turn your gaze to my course and my teachers for inculcating oddly ideas in my hollow cranium. Even when I have been speaking with ideas, deep inside I hate philosophy that I was eager to unlearn everything to get myself back to the ground.  But much to my gusto to keep away from it, I know it is now too late. Once philosophy takes hold of your brain, you no longer have the power to pull it out.  It is like the HIV virus – once you get infected, you have to bear with it for a lifetime. It will flow in you like blood and will grow like budding Parkinson’s, too capable to distort your cognitive skills. Once philosophy lures you, be sure to stand on guard or else you’ll be washed away with delectable baits of intelligence which serves like narcotics to drown you in elation. And you will be the biggest fool if you succumb to it. Why?  Because, in the end, after having been subjected to thorough indoctrination, you’ll realize that the simplest principles in life are what we learned from the children, from the farmers, from the priest, from your friends, and not the airy ideas of Santayana, Marx, Wittgenstein; and other boring names such Kierkegaard, Sartre, Bergson, Jasper; not to mention of course the hard to stomach lines of Mills, Hobbes, Spinoza and Descartes.

You see, there is a terrible risk in taking philosophy. My advice is simple: do not drink it nor eat it.  It might send you to a pedestal where you will be transformed into an oracle of Plato or a mooter of Aristotle and would be very busy cogitating about fascinating topics all for the sake of discussion. But I assure you in the long run, you will be too pre-occupied with ideas and you will start to get forget to put on your slippers or bakya in ascending to the pedestal – the more you progress, the bigger the gap grows between your feet and the ground.  Anyway, I just hope that I made myself clear. The risk of philosophy is high and I suggest do not take it as your course in college. Aside from the danger of losing your ground, you will find it hard to earn money to feed your stomach; and not just that, if you ostentatiously prove your mind, you will be mistaken to be crazy. So save your best for something worthy and while you still have time, SHIFT! After all, there is so much beauty in natural sciences than liberal arts. But if you really want to know about philosophy, all you have to do is read. It doesn’t need 4 to 5 years of finishing the course, either AB or PhB, to know it by heart. A little brain will suffice.

***

P. S. Joke! Hehehe.

Will vs. Nature: My Aesopian Revival

July 10, 2009 11 comments

scorpion and frogThere was a scorpion who wanted to cross the river after the rain had waned. “How can I cross this torrent when I don’t even know how to swim,” the scorpion said to himself as if he had another self who would reply to his question. He stared at the deep water whose current had grown very violent because of the storm. He pitied himself for his incapability to conquer such problem, so he forlornly waited for the water to ebb.

Eventually, during the rainy season, frogs by their amphibic nature came leaping from the thick pickets of leaves and swam to the ponds down to the river. They were the creatures who hailed their vespers on rainy season better than on summer; they were the ones who received rain with earnest gratitude, for water sustained their lives: too perennial for the perpetuity of their kind. These joyful species danced and sung in chorus now that the rainy season had finally begun. However, from the large group of amphibians, a green frog got lost in the crowd and preferred to find a good shade to rest. Then he chose to rest on the bank where he could look at the water to calm his mind. When he reached the bank, he noticed the scorpion atop a dry dead bark looking sadly at the gushing river.

“What’s wrong brother scorpion?” he asked jovially. “I want to cross this river and be at home before night fall to avoid the danger of being eaten by rats and nocturnal birds,” answered the scorpion. “Should you have the heart to carry me on your back, I will be able to cross to the other end by mid-day.” The frog suddenly felt compassion for the scorpion but remained reluctant to carry him.  “How will I know, by the way, that you would not sting me when we get to the middle,” he asked the scorpion. “Because  that would be my own death as well, we will both drown,” replied the scorpion.  “What about when I get close to the bank? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!” stressed the frog as he began to look suspicious of what might be the outcome. ” Brother frog, I don’t really know how to swim. I could not dare do that,” said the scorpion. But the frog became incredulous over such matter and asked a wise question. “Brother, i know that the moment we successfully cross to other side, you could still kill me. How would I know then if I can still go back safe to the other side?”  “This is true brother, ” agreed the scorpion. “Yet, by that time, I will be filled with gratitude that I could no longer think of anything aside from thanking you.”

After giving a thought  and driven by so much compassion towards the scorpion,   the frog lowered his back and helped the scorpion up. They jumped into the water and started to cruise their way to the other side. Not far from the point of their departure, the frog felt the weight of the scorpion getting heavier. Then he felt a pang of pain and his body became numb – the scorpion stung him! And as they were drowning in the middle of the river, he furiously asked the scorpion. “Why did you do that, you fool?  Traitor!” The scorpion replied. “Brother frog, it is my nature to do that. You should have thought of it before agreeing with me. ”

***

P.S. 1. Let me  borrow the line of Giancarlo Livraghi in his essay, The Power of Stupidity:

The concept is applied in all sorts of ways to the analysis of history, or of recent events, on the “dark” side of human behavior.
There are countless variations. In a Lebanese version, the scorpion’s final words are «My dear, this is the Middle East». And, of course, this could apply to several other places.
There are infinite ways in which someone can be placed in the role of the scorpion – or the frog. In this irritating tale there is a disturbing truth: it really happens that people behave in incomprehensible manners with no excuse other than, “that is my nature”.
There is no aesopian “moral” of this fable. Its strongest meaning is that it can’t be explained. It’s the essence of stupidity (harming others at one’s own disadvantage) taken to its extreme consequences. A disease that lies deep in human nature. There are many examples, practically every day. We can laugh when they are just funny. But some are dismally tragic.

2. Are you acting out of your nature or by will?

We are All Weird

July 7, 2009 43 comments

weird_eyesWell, some things are normal; others are too bizarre by relative standards. Some things are good; others are evil. Yet, also, there are things that hit the point of normalcy. While others step towards the bi-polar (extreme), others are too comfortable to stay in the middle. Isn’t that weird? The varieties, the multitudes, and the differences of things are like jigsaw puzzles where a single amorphous slice is mustered with the rest to form a single picture.  So with much oddity, we claim this jigsaw puzzle as the world we live in.

You might  wonder what suddenly prompted me to write about this. Let me tell you what has dawned on me yesterday while doing my survey in the northern municipalities of Iloilo.  In the long range of the national highway, I saw a motorcycle running on its own towards us.  I wonder how a ghoul could hold such speed when his body is much lighter than a feather to possibly resist the strength of the wind and the law of momentum. Unless he had the power to turn himself as a solid bulwark, or he had been sent by God along with the city of angles, then that would be acceptable. When our marks  cross in paradoxical points of the Zeno principle, I was perplexed to see a man lying prostrate on the seat while driving his motorcycle. Wow, cool! Was this man practicing for a race or just mastering how to sleep comfortably while driving accordingly to aero-dynamic theory? Even our driver was greatly amused that he doubted whether what we saw was truly a man or an alien showcasing his valor.

Well, it is just strange how human behavior, by means of folly, can sometimes turn someone into a bozo.  All the while, I thought that there were people who are created to be like that and we often call them “the weirdos” simply because we do not know them personally. On the other hand, most of our acquaintances are considered normal, except for a few, since we have accepted their idiosyncrasies: their uniqueness has turned homogenous with our perception. What do I mean by that?

Imagine, a new employee could look horribly at first glance, only to realize that she isn’t that bad looking after a week of being with her. This is due to the changing of perception in time. The “uniqueness of man” is what makes him weird to others. But that would potentially fade when we get to know him better. Now if we try to cleanse our common perception and be a little keen over these things, we discover that all, including man, were created by means of oddity. And there is no way we could avoid such ordeals because, whether we like it or not, we meet them everyday in various forms and in various ways. For instance:  I remember how my fiancée danced awkwardly over Yoyo Ma’s Obrigado Brazil and  personally believed she was the best dancer in the world. Ngeek!  She even called me “weird” when I suggested to make her kimbot-kimbot a little graceful given that she was dancing in latin rhythm. What is weirder is when she repeatedly apologizes for her weirdness which I find hilarious at times. OMG, if she just realizes that she performs better by playing music than in interpretative dancing.

You and I and everybody we know are weird. On the contrary to the claim that weirdos are people we just noticed recently,  which might be true in some instances, and if we draw our perception deeper, even the persons we get accustomed to are weird in their own “unique” behaviors.  It is just that we couldn’t notice them because we have accepted all their crookedness .

Now with this conjecture, we inevitably start to ask: Is there someone we could find as perfectly normal? The answer may either be complex or too simple depending on our judgment: That someone is still we have yet to know and we still have yet to encounter.

***

P. S. 1. Sometimes, weirdness tacitly implies negativity which, in fact, is very wrong. On the contrary, it is this weirdness that colors this world beautifully.

Categories: philosophy Tags: ,

In the Land of Praying Mantis

July 4, 2009 18 comments

war_prayerThe first day of April begins. The once lush nara trees are stripped of its green canopies as the wind blows warm against the thick picket of the jungle. The new sprout will come out soon in a month where the praying mantises will be feeding on the soft saps of the trees that offer them a juicy delight after a long sleepless night of prayers. They remember that the past few days were like living hell where machines and humans with gritting teeth were hungry for living blood that it was such an honor to see their own kind fall to the ground as cadavers. All of these are happening just for the thirst of fulfilling their man’s belief. How terrible! In the tribe of the faithful, where prayer is the arche of existence, it is such a horrible sight, especially for the young, to continue praying with all this crackling and strafing in the jungle that result to mats of lifeless bodies and dissected guts, laid un-honored by men who blindly believe in the pragmatic sense of killing. Their machines, which a long time ago had never intruded the mantises in their night of prayers, have now morphed into indestructible and ferocious monsters that end all life that cross its way. Yes, all mantises witnessed these and how they loathed every sight of it. What is more horrible is to see men, who were once the herald of protection and the steward of nature have become the slaves of machines and as a result, killing his own kind without qualms. Such a blunder for human race to make machines and turn them into deities! Yet their belief has paved off well – to think of fighting to achieve a greater good in bid of a few lives that do not adhere by means of these machines. Not just that, even the young ones, the mothers, the elders, the natives, pay the price for all of these. Woe!

These mantises had been praying night and day asking nothing in vast cycles of life but a nourishment of soul where all creatures would live in harmony to praise heaven for its gifts. Yet no matter how they shout their lauds, nothing happens for it is impossible now for fools’ souls who have been devoured by the devil of warfare to change. Isn’t it an irony that amidst the cross constellation and the bright crescent moon, a herd of praying mantises are flinching to pray for peace yet given a raining bullet of destruction in return? Trapped in between two camps of fools, they feel abandoned, oppressed, and doomed. Such a pity that even yesterday, another young mantis was shut to death while reciting his morning matins…and how many more mantises will be knocked off in the coming days all for the sake of ideal peace? Woe!

***

P.S. South, what has become of you?

Categories: education, philosophy Tags: ,

Dreams

June 30, 2009 71 comments

Lost-in-DreamsLet the story proceed when the reader is hooked by its content, otherwise it would be a trite shamble of lines where one has to pick the best and muster the rest in a tedious way to decipher the idea of an author. So with all human affairs where platforms are laid for implementation once they gain approval from the beneficiaries. What about you? Aren’t you too deserved to continue once you woo the mind and buoy the heart of man so desperate to cross a different reality? But why are you elusive – too elusive even compared to human behavior? With how you feast on the futile mind of men, so others are foolish to easily believe in different realities molded by you. You are a selfish god that feeds the soul with flavors yet fails to quench its thirst; you are tricky devil that flaunts in men with so much delight; you are like a burner that singes the stove and suddenly gets bored and puts off your heat leaving the spices on top of you uncooked. Woe to you great magician who plays the mind with follies and keeps it form there with illusions!

Such a powerful dictator you have become. When ideas are slaves of the mind, you sneak like a burglar, so mischievous to leave a trace and escape like a bullet while paining other beings on your way out. Yet all of these happen in the same mind where the seat of ideas is controlled by human will. Are you really there or not? But even if you are there, you remain an enigma laughing on your tasks of creating characters in human sleep. If ideas are structured by the mind, you, on the other hand, work independently apart from it the way parasites feed on their host yet maintain a different identity of their own. But despite that, I exalt you for you alone are the biggest story maker, the best scene director, the most wicked script writer, and the admirable bohemian producer of all. Only you have the power to dominate the subconscious state – either to inspire and or lead it to its doom and insanity. You are a wicked genius. Has your intelligence prompted your creativity to toy my mind, let it be in exchange of a favor: do not leave me too soon.  Please, I just hate it when you do that because you will take a different form when you come back; and just for this moment, do not shut me out again. Not in the bookstore where between the piles of books, I see my heart’s desire: the beauty that has taunted me for years. And as I see her walking towards me, I beg you not to leave as darkness says goodbye at day-break.  Not in the bookstore where a blue floral skirt sways gracefully to capture my heart. After all, this is your creation…and I wish you continue it beyond the end of June.

Reading and Poverty: A Re-post

June 25, 2009 9 comments

SalvaRobertoBy Roberto S. Salva

I began to read prodigiously when I was around 17 years old. I was trying to make it on my own in the big city and found myself diving into abject poverty. If one of the priest-speechwriters of Jaime Cardinal Sin had not hired me as his research assistant, I would have been a janitor.

I applied as a janitor. I already had a plan. I would mop floors and clean rooms, and at the end of the day, I would come home, turn my lamp on and read. I could not have wished for a more comfortable arrangement.

I did research, instead, and read for work until late in the evening. But I still found time to come home and read for myself.

I had not probed into the reasons why I read and why reading seemed to iron out all the wrinkles at the end of my everyday life then. It is only now that I am able to ponder on reading after seeing the results of the Reading Surveys done by the Social Weather Stations in early 2003 and late 2007.

According to the surveys, around 91 percent of Filipinos in 2003 and 85 percent in 2007 read non-school books to gain knowledge and more information. As a statistician, I feel that something is amiss in the crafting of that category. Or, many of the readers may not have captured perfectly the reason why they read. (The next consistent reason given is “enjoyment.”)

It is hard to nail down the one reason why we read, much like falling in love. If we do give reasons, they do not give justice at all to the act. Yet, we continue to read, just as we continue to love.

The reasons given also seem inconsistent with the books read by most. The list is topped by the Bible (67 percent in 2007), followed by romance or love novels (33 percent), cookbooks (28 percent), comic books (26 percent), and religious or inspirational books (20 percent).

Except for cookbooks, the books on the list are not the best books to read if we want to gain knowledge or more information. We do attain certain knowledge and get information from these books but if we are reading toward these ends, we are being inefficient. Enjoyment as the primary objective for reading would have made more sense, given that list.

But it would have been awkward for the survey respondents to give more emphasis on “enjoyment” rather than the more ideal reason of gaining knowledge as the reason for reading. We are a predominantly Catholic country after all, and we abhor any trace of pleasure in our bones.

Given also our education and our country’s poverty, reading for pleasure seems to be an impractical reason. And this is not the time to be impractical.

readerPerhaps reading is really not practical, especially if we are living in poverty. When I was 17 and poor, I did not read for some pragmatic results that reading would have in my life. But with my every reading, I was able to struggle with the imagination, rationality and ideas of Dickens, Chesterton, Camus, Kafka, Buber, Augustine, Marcel, Levinas, Chaim Potok, Fr. Roque J. Ferriols—some of the authors on my reading list then. (And yes, I am bragging a little.)

I found compassion and camaraderie in these authors. My own imagination and my own ideas surfaced and they were strengthened by being rubbed against their works. I had no illusions whatsoever that I was in their league. (But that is another one good thing about reading books: we rub elbows with the authors, even the big ones.)

Reading made me acknowledge the existence of my own imagination, my own ideas, and my own visions. My own mind. These were strengthened with every reading.

If you are poor and marginalized, you need to have your own mind for important discourses are taking place with every step you take toward development—every single step.

Being poor and marginalized—as I have observed in myself, in the urban poor I worked with before and among the people I am working with now—is like being stuck as a teenager. You do not seem to have control over your life. You don’t have your own money. Nobody seems to understand you. You hear a lot of voices telling you that you do not belong, how you should be, how you should live your life, how far you can go and what your limits are. The loudest voices come from within.

It is easy to be defeated by these voices when you do not have your own mind. It is easy to accept that you are poor because you are supposed to be lazy. You are a criminal because you live in the squatters’ area. You deserve to be ridiculed and treated badly because you are deaf or poor. You do not have to go to college because higher education is only for those who are “normal.” You do not have a future because you were born to a hopeless situation. You do not read because reading is only for the educated and the well-placed.

Most of the development initiatives do not touch upon the discourses going on in the mind of the poor and the sidelined. There may be livelihood projects, but do you know that many urban poor are paralyzed when they are asked to fill up a bio-data form or to take a personality test? Gawad Kalinga may build you a house, the microfinance institute may give you access to credit, and your community organization may give you a voice, but what happens when you have your house, money or voice?

Read.

[From the Philippine Daily Inquirer]

***

P.S. 1. In regard to learning, poverty is seen as the tallest bulwark to conquer. But hey, this boy proved that wrong by falling in love with books.  You know, it always saddens me to realize that we have a novelist as a national hero and yet we lack the love for books – books that are piling in the libraries that mingle with the dust of disinterest.  If books could  walk and speak, surely they’ll come knocking at our doorstep and urge us to make use of them. Alas, that will never happen.

2. My special thanks again to Mira for sharing this. Still, nobody beats her better with books. Should you like to take a peek, here’s a link to her blog : ஐ Les Fleurs d’un Livre ஐ.

The Unseen Geniuses

June 10, 2009 18 comments

unseen genius

1. The Scavengers: Nobody knows how to make a living out of human waste more adeptly. Why shouldn’t we learn solid waste management by simply watching them?

2. The Children: Nobody in this world posts such unsolvable questions than children. Why shouldn’t we learn to be inquisitive from these little angels?

3. The Aetas: Nobody knows the importance of walking to conserve energy and reduce carbon emission better. Why should not we appreciate the beauty of walking  to  save our pockets and our natural resources from running dry?

4. The Insane: Nobody knows freedom in a more advantageous way. They are even  more cultivated than Sartre in knowing what freedom is. Why shouldn’t we learn that joy can be found even in the most trivial things?

***

P.S. Are not they part of this beautiful world, too?

Memory of May: The Case of Mary

June 8, 2009 20 comments

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It has been an annual tradition in the Parish of St. Antonio de Padua to celebrate Santa Cruzan and the culmination of Flores de Mayo on May 31. This was the time when the streets were lined by beautiful floral canopies to beautify the yearly procession for the Lady of Flowers. Reyna Helena (some calls her Elena) led the procession along with pretty muses and adorable tykes that acted as little angels in the jam packed street of Barotac Nuevo. Despite the drizzle and the strong wind that occasionally blew the skirts of these charming ladies, the procession proceeded with solemnity. And as parcaticed, people obligingly gathered around to either take a glimpse of the passing beautiful ladies or say their intercessions to the Blessed Virgin. This religious activity was very relevant to the faithful especially the devotees of various Marian organizations. This was the time when Mary was adorned and venerated by Barotacnons. Yet, regardless how this created impact to the followers, the question of faith was always present. This was one of the particular times when our belief for Blessed Mother was most vulnerable to various attacks from other denominations.  And yes, this was also the time that being catholic, you were confronted to defend your faith much more the practices that supported it.

I chose to take shelter in a small carinderia instead of following the pacts of faithful. I was taken aback when a lady sitting near the window spat outside and uttered a ribald remark on certain catholic practices. I faced to look at her furiously but calmed down instantly as I was taught to respect other beliefs. Yet her cursing grew violent making her remarks very annoying. I confronted the lady amiably and asked what was wrong with this practice. The lady mockingly replied that it was such a blunder to believe in the “virginity of Mary.”  She challenged me to explain, with biblical text supports as assumed, the virginity of Mary. Honestly, I am not adept in Bible as our brothers and sisters of different faith are very particular to. What I am after is the meaning of the scriptures that have impact in my life.  So I ignored her for the last time and focused back to the fading procession.

All the while, I was sure that Catholics were not crazy to come up with such dogma regarding Mary as Virgin. It was after all about honoring the Mother of God. Will Jesus get angry if we love His mother?  Or will He feel jealous when we venerate His mother? I guess not. If you ponder on how a human father wants a best house or even a best job for his son how much more our Father in Heaven wants His only Son to be reared by the purest of human race. I guess doubting Blessed Virgin Mary is like believing that Jesus married Magdalene. But whoever was right, the respect to one’s faith stood as the most important thing. Hence, I chose to remain silent.

***

P. S. 1. I am aware that some of our brothers and sisters really hate Mama Mary to the point of smashing and breaking her innocuous images and statues. I am just curious what would Jesus feel to see His mother being ridiculed and humiliated all for the sake of one’s belief.

2. I believe that faith is private. It means that something might have meaning to me but might appear completely ridiculous to you. The best way to settle it is to have respect for the variety of faiths. And if there is way of correcting the mistakes, it should be done by peaceful confrontation.

Rejoicing in Despair

May 19, 2009 22 comments

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I am always fascinated in the way  physics shows how things function in various paradoxes. With string theories rounding up the fluctuation in the motion of particles in the universe and the theory of relativity shedding a new dimension on the wrinkle in time, I believe that science gradually moves up to another vicious cycle recurring what have been missed out by former minds and developing a more definite explanation of the universe. Physical science is always an interesting subject as it scopes everything within the reach of our knowledge. Yet what really impresses me is what I came across about Newton’s discussion on human affair and how it functions along with universal laws. It is true that human emotion is very puzzling that it constantly escapes human knowledge, but with regards to how someone behaves in time, it could easily be predicted as easy as an apple is expected to fall  to the ground. Negative is usually followed by positive or the other way around. When you are crying right now, you will eventually laugh in the coming days; when you are alone, you will definitely find company; and when there is sunrise, it will be followed by sunset. Why? In life we are following a path and whether we try to diverge from it, universal laws will always keep us back to the track… just like what Newton said, for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.

So why despair when you know you will be happy?

***

P.S. In every law there is an exemption and this young lady is one. Mikaela Irene Fudolig started to be very brilliant and will always be brilliant all throughout. 🙂 I wonder if studying physics makes us trancend its laws. Correct me if I’m wrong. 🙂

Mr. A Outwits Devil Genie

May 11, 2009 15 comments
the defeated genie

the defeated genie

The genie ascended from the lamp in form of thick smoke and filled the room with terror, and his overwhelming presence shook the earth. Aladdin held his ground while gripping the lamp and sweating from the horror that the evil might overpower him. The fear he experienced was like nothing he ever felt during the thousands of war-stricken Arabian nights in the desert, where men were cut with hatred and left as carcasses for vultures to feed on. And yes he was afraid, more afraid than a man whose perished soul awaits the eternal damnation in hell. He thought this would be the last of his life where the only person that mattered in his life would be taken away from him forever.  The genie was very fierce in his stance that any violation in the contract would mean an endless plague to his tribe. So he prayed hard that his last wish would be right as the smoke enveloped his torso spiralling up to his head and wringing every single nerve of his body. He never felt heat like it before, not even when the desert sun’s heat was duplicated ten times, thus draining his energy. Yet Aladdin never gave out for he knew he had to finish the last wish. “Allah,” he said in silence, “let the coolness of your embrace protect me and blow your breath on my face to refresh my drooping spirit to overcome my bravado”. He knew his last wish was crucial as this would be the very end of his dream. The pact had been agreed – Aladdin would have his wish granted in exchange for Jasmine. He turned his gaze to the smoke that filled with various souls from the underworld. How horrifying the sight was for a man who wished nothing but the happiness for his people.  First, he had wished for the abundance of the crop in the sand; secondly, for the effacement of poverty along the street; and now, the end had come…a single mistake would mean an onerous consequence for him and his people. He closed his eyes and fervently prayed as the resounding voice thundered in the dark room calling his name: “Aladdin, utter your last wish that I may have my taste of your lover’s blood.” Aladdin with all his courage trudged the darkness and raised his head. “I have nothing left in this world but legacy – legacy that would create a harmonious world where people share the blessings of Allah and partake in eternal jubilation in his name. There is no nobler wish than to see people walking hand in hand in peace  and transcending the differences in the world. And you can never take that dream from me for my heart does not succumbed to human greed as you expected. Therefore, I wish that I will have a million more wishes to be granted, lest my village’s death be served. That alone devil, is my wish and never will it violate the agreement.”

***

P. S. My youngest sister, Trisha, always asks me to tell her stories… did I invent an acceptable one?

Question and Answer Portion

May 7, 2009 13 comments

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When I was a child I kept asking my folks  about many things even though I had not grasped all of it.  That was because my fetal mind had not yet evolved into a digital processor which digests  and rationalizes information and transforms them into knowledge. My brain was a mere bucket that catches all the data including nonsensical remarks and different versions of truth from the older people even though they themselves were convinced of their fictitious contents; the worst, they would just shoo me by telling that my time would eventually come to understand these things. Thus, I hanged like a monkey deprived of one more step in the vast room of natural selection and shunned into developing confidence to search for answers. As a child, confusion was a question unresolved. I did believe in that.

Not anymore. Even now that I am past twenty and answers are available in all corners in the world, you tend to lose the inquisitive nature of a child in you. The childlike characters simmered down to oblivion as answers can be achieved in just a mere click of a keyboard. Just press the enter key and charan! All answers are yours. Yet, with this wide array of theories and laws, I still couldn’t convince myself of a single truth. The shambles of thoughts have created confusion in the current learning process and in turn reduced everything to ambiguity. Which is; which isn’t?  This is the best latte!  No I think it isn’t because this hip is better. And how in the world will one know that we definitely evolved from monkeys well in fact my family looks more of a wildcats? Oh yes! Wildcats are lovers of coffee compared to monkeys and therefore Starbucks lovers ascended from wildcats. Meoww you! This might be ridiculous in one sense but it  bears some point. As what I have learned in elementary science, we all come from a unicellular creature evolved to adapt to the changing world; mitosis moved in rapid pace along with the rotation of our mother earth resulting to diversions between a monkey and wildcats.  Even the neo-Darwinist discovered that humans have 120,000 similar genes with rodents. Hail you scientists! But can’t you see we all evolved in amoeba and it is not a remarkable discovery after all.  It is not surprising that our behavior may resemble like rodents populating the street and not minding the dreams and hopes of our progeny in confine with global economic recession.  Do you think Adam then was an amoeba formed into a rat? Maybe yes, maybe no. We never know.

I am not to speculate about things here. What I am trying to derive is:  in this world, there is a great danger in confusion. And this is really bad as the A(H1N1) that is highly contagious. It will drive you away from truth and cunningly enough to lead you to no certainty. Hence, cease walking my friend and start to examine life. Look at knowledge with contempt by probing it. Question it, I say.  However, I do not claim to know life nor claim as notable intellectual who roams the greatest café of Paris drinking and indulging in talks concerning the  existent paradoxes for I am just a lowly man, plain and trivial. I just want you to know that it is better to be childlike than to be lost as intellectual. In life, sometimes questions are far essential than answers.

***

P.S. Questions are ubiquitous and sometimes very irritating, but only through responding to these questions shall we leave our imprints, either good or evil.

I have nothing against my nature coming from wildcats, as long as my soul emanated from God.

Categories: philosophy Tags: , ,

Remembering Nietzsche

April 27, 2009 10 comments

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Light the world, I say, Zarathustra and tell them what human innards mean? Is it a mass made of human linings, soaked by mortal blood and run by the breath of the land? Or is it the inner condition, nourished by the physical world to go out like a voice that constantly trenches even when forced to keep silent? Draw near to the crowd, madman, and preach that one has to get insane to refresh his soul in the fountain of conversion. Tell them that one has to struggle for ascent, not just by the external body but by innards as well, hence one has to get insane. Yes insane, not by losing one’s mind but by courageously breaking away from the crowd. But both have to move across the beauty of inanity like a beast patiently waiting for the coming of spring, dreaming and preempting the great rapture of feasting with prey again. Preach to them that it is through that that the man breathes like the freest creature on earth. And tell them, madman that you are that beast peeling your skin then cloth yourself like a king among the crowd with innards blooms like flowers that move out of your throat and grow towards the sun. Oh please speak Zarathustra!

Light your lamp once again, so the crowd may see you like a flash of lighting, so subtle but fierce enough to break the ground. Explain to them, that God is really dead! but not the way they understood. When human mind fussed with traditional values and it no longer think apart from these, remind your people to break away like a married couple escaping the domain of their parents to burrow their own nest. And it isn’t your word that brought distraction but the shallow conception of their brain. Yes God is dead in ephemeral ways, but he is there beyond human concepts. When the church and religion formed deities, either out of pragmatism or representation, does God lives within their confines? Frame God and he is dead, explain God and he is dead! Tell them madman, that deep in your heart you want them to believe that He is there all along, ever existent, yet constantly escapes human logic.

So light your lamp even brighter, like the moon illumines the night, and usher the truthful way with valor. Let the world remember that the madman, who was judged and stoned to death, remained constant in his preaching: “break away from the crowd, make a difference and follow the path to overman.”

Zarathustra, through your death, your mind becomes the pillar; your tears becomes the calming ground; and your body the solid foundation of the progress of philosophy that neither me nor others can be worthy of thanking of…and even your breath ceased to reverberate, your text shall be remembered throughout the ages.

When the Wind Blows

April 21, 2009 16 comments
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When the wind blows and the world feels its invisible energy, the spirit dances in rhythm like an infant who takes his first step, occasionally losing his balance yet remains persistent to go on. When the wind blows and the dry leaves say goodbye to the branches, the child is mesmerized by such wonder despite his unawareness of the laws of the universe. When the wind blows, the child heart is singed with delight the way a new born rejoices to the taste of his mother’s breast. When the wind blows and the heat is swept aside, filling the thirst for coolness of physical countenance, the wizened and gaunt body leaps for joy like the mother who awaits her child’s arrival filling her heart with youthful gladness. And when the wind blows and his thin hair magically sways in its whistle, the inner sensation of a child glides along its tune – how beautiful! Oh, how wonderful is the child to dream big embodied by his wriggling kite in the clear blue sky, when the wind blows.

When the wind blows, and the sunlight burst to illuminate her milieu, how she likes to hold him in her arms and claim him hers forever. When the wind blows, she dances like a butterfly that has been liberated from the darkness of its cocoon; and how she wishes that she would constantly enjoy the moment forever. When the wind blows and her skirt frenetically flies, how she longs for freedom with her child in her bosom to take the ride of life. Oh, how eager for an Eve to pray for her child to grow upright, when the wind blows.

When the wind blows, no matter how poverty takes reign, the mother and the child feel like they own the world. When the wind blows, they experience the world is being fair to all hungry souls who either long for the fruit of nature or thirst for nourishment of the spirit. When the wind blows and the water ripples like mighty laces that animate the sea, how their hearts find consolation in hope for paradise. When the wind blows, and the leaves chatter like huddling prophets, how they both know that God never leaves them desperate. So when the wind blows and the leaves speak, the mother and child are reminded of the wide gate that awaits to welcome them to heaven. And oh, how Jesus regains its pallet and paints the world anew, when the wind blows.

***

P.S. I hope it’s not too late to greet everyone: Happy Easter!

Categories: philosophy Tags:

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.

Categories: philosophy 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: , ,

Stability in Gray

February 27, 2009 7 comments

"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love" - Anonymous
“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love” – Anonymous

Looking at the blossoming nara trees and watching the passing clouds beyond it, one could only wistfully accept that these passing beauties would be off in a few days. The flowers would drift from the branches and the clouds would grow darker to obliterate the royal azure of heaven. Nothing would be the same again in this world. Heraclitus said you cannot step on the same river twice; even man is confined with free will to stay as he is, other things in this world will move him eventually. The fact that we are all connected in one single universe, a mere flip of a butterfly’s wing can create a great impact in global disposition. This was what I thought of looking through the bus casement as I passed the length of the Barotac Nuevo highway that had been beautified by local officials with mesmerizing nara trees.

Sitting beside me was a couple who must have been in their late 70’s. The woman tugged the man’s sleeve and laid her head on his shoulder. She must have been exhausted during the trip and wanted to rest her heavy head on the man’s arm. The man obligingly drew her closer to him and lovingly kissed her on the forehead, assuring her of his protection. All the while I thought that the most beautiful thing of the day could be seen through the lovely yellow flowers of nara, but after spotting the old couple affectionately comforting each other, nothing can really contest the true beauty of our own kind. A long time ago, I used to like the sight of young lovers walking aimlessly at the street while clasping hands because their images made me think of passion, of romantic love, of the blossoming emotions so natural and innocent… but I now realize that authentic love requires “stability” which these young lovers missed out. That stability can only be experienced in God and our family and not to the trial-and-error affinity of the young blood. Even though the moment was brief I could sense that the old couple’s love for each other was steadfast and had that stability. It was simply fascinating!

In this secular world, it is quite comforting that even when the trends are rapidly morphing in seasons, love never loses it sfumato. It constantly moves us together, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, and in sorrows and in happiness. By this, I think that that there are exceptions in general rule. The notion that there is no stability in this world may seem a bad generalization after all. Reflecting on this beautiful sight of a wonderful couple, I am sure that there is in fact one indispensable argument to counter this gross generalization – love binds. This alone is constant because love by nature never separates nor destroys but instead unifies and solidifies.

When we disembarked the bus, I asked the couple where they would be going. The old woman replied, “We will be visiting our dying brother in the hospital. I and my brother are the only family he has.” I expressed my hope for their brother as I helped them settled in the jeepney. They smiled at me in return and said, “God bless you noy.”

God Bless you too, Lolo and Lola.

***

P.S. To neutralize the tone of this blog, please turn to the picture and tell me what you see.

Categories: philosophy Tags: , , ,

The Worm Chronicle

February 18, 2009 11 comments
lemo-the-worm
lemo-the-worm

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Whether man dies and new species are born, the thread of earth will still remain a fertile breast to nourish the life that feeds on it. The worm, which is deemed gross by lovely ladies, filthy and disgusting by aristocrats has the profoundest wisdom to claim earth as the most wonderful habitat that sustains life even when other environmental cycles stop. This is the very claim of Lemo the worm, who thinks that even in death the food web under the earth continues like an endless feast of ambrosia for his own kind. The cadavers that are buried under it give them the wisdom that even humans are not capable of grasping. If birth and development belongs to the human mind, death and decomposition belong to the abysmal worms that either make use of the flesh to satisfy their carnal drive or to perpetuate their own role to nourish the earth. They alone tasted all sexes; they alone slept with heroes and traitors alike; they alone savoured the difference of a saint and a sinner or a billionaire and the lowliest man  that they have become human themselves by morphing with their lifeless bodies. And when humans hold them in their arms, they assume that these creatures are nothing but mere fish baits and they use them to feed themselves. Yet even nature functions in a samsaric scheme, that when human thinks profoundly, he and the worms are never different. They both belong to the earth and their bodies share the same compounds. So when human eats water creatures, is he not also savoring a part of the death eaters?

***

Afterthought: 1. It always feels good to think that we all share the same compound with the rest of the nature, thus we should never think that we have far dominion over anybody.

2. Philippines, what is your place in nature? Isn’t it ironical that your ground has been emptied by your people in thinking that life in other lands is far better than yours, yet foreign people come to crown you a laureate for beauty? Better are worms then for they continue to nourish the land without being demanded.

Categories: being pinoy, philosophy Tags:

The Ascent of Mind, the Perfection of Man

February 16, 2009 6 comments
synthesis
synthesis

“Is this possible?” asked my friend.

If you look back in time, man was nothing but a small speck in the world, and made his way through water and progressed through the land. The world rotates and man changes along with it. Human mind is also progressing, not just through the stimulus that cause behavioral reaction but also through learning by looking back to the past. Since then man becomes one with nature as he sees himself part of the grander scheme of the universe. There was no logic then. Only acceptance existed.

The world experienced clashes of meteors and asteroids along with galactic debris hitting the earth’s surface and changing the course of time;  and the apparent phenomenon of animals killing each other for survival, and plants struggling to keep its production stable has imprinted a new consciousness among humans. The impact created a new dimension of understanding things, and man with its capability for adaptation saw that the world moved in conflict and that the need for a supreme unifier was summoned. Ideas and images started to surface in the consciousness of man that eventually gave birth to cultural systems such as religion, language and art.  This was also the time that speculation started and eventually gave birth to human logic. Yet the thought remained very simple as the communal belief rested on one matrix: “In conflict there is harmony as there will be birth in every death.” But no matter how they called on their deities, conflict remained and unity left like a tide.

Darwin speculated on this change after roaming the world to prove his theory that man will always find its way through conflict and will eventually adapt through evolution. There was a clamor however of whether man was designed to exist naturally without the intervention of a super-natural being as supreme architect. However scientifically validated, the idea of the holy can never be disputed as far as logic is used by religious utilitarians;  thus leaving the Theory of Natural Selection  a smidgen of science and not a law for universal acceptance. If the body belongs to science, human faith on the other limb, which is attributed by a compound of human emotions and self projections, belongs to religion. The two human aspects (physical substance or body and spirit or the soul) can be hardly reconciled and will always be in constant enmity as there will always be boundary between Thomas Aquinas and Rene Descartes.

The notion “Faith seeking understanding” may be acceptable momentarily as far as human logic is concerned, but logic is not science for it always settles in relative position as tool for justification. Science is different from logic yet science cannot exist apart from it. This is also true with religion as the justification of it needs the aid of logic.

“But how can you say that there will be a complete synthesis of these bi-polar notions? Can there be such faith seeking science or science seeking faith?” he continued asking.

If humanity moves in history, it surely progresses in time.

In a Hegelian philosophy, man progresses through the scheme of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. This scheme moves along in time as number increases when you add 1 to the previous prime, and so on… ad infinitum. This may sound very abstract but when you look back to history you will see the great changes humans have undergone in years. Long time ago there was no computer and man used to do things manually, but since it is the tendency of mind to move forward, computers were created and that  gave great significance in human progress. However the inevitability of deviants like Hitler and the inhumane system of the communist government will always hinder the progress.  Deviants like them will always discredit this claim; but, I dare say that it is the system – along with its underlying principles, beliefs, and philosophy – that determines destruction and not the natural tendency of the mind to transcend any system. Remember that Hitler and the communist ideologues are nothing but a product of the existing grotesque system, a concocted belief to perfection; and so with their receptacles, all of them were gradually destroyed by a greater mind, that holds nothing but the authentic harmony in society. You must take note then that it is a natural course that the mind will seek harmony and so, sooner or later, any system that creates chaos will be naturally eradicated someday. One mind may hinder progress, the other will efface it to clear the way.

Things move in a dialectic process and it’s always like that. It is always between good and evil. Yet, we have no choice but to progress in history because that is how human mind is devised – to move ahead and to choose harmony among other things.

If this is possible, can it also be possible that human beings will in time see faith in science and vice-versa?

We all started as brutes but through history we have become sophisticated beings to roam this world. This simple premise makes me believe that human perfection will be achieved in time. We are progressing, not regressing, as far as human mind is assessed; and with all hope, humans will achieve this undoubtedly. It may happen in the next gazillion years…but eventually it will. By that time man will acknowledge that with the mind, perfection  is possible and only the mind can eliminate conflicts . Acceptance will come back in. Only harmony will exist.

“What will happen then if humans achieved its perfection?”

Well, we definitely can confront God and challenge his army. However I don’t want to talk about it. Maybe our future children can give us the answer.

******

P.S.

1. (Just a thought.) Can there also be a perfect evil? That’s the biggest problem.

Categories: philosophy Tags: , , ,

The Life’s Paradox

January 10, 2009 12 comments

93fantasy-3d-03-m343He took the pen with bright hope that life, with its complexities, moves the self to progress and urges the mind to desire for improvement. He wrote his first amendment then pondered on it. Yet no matter how he configures his life, along with the things that should be done correctly, would eventually revolve back to the axis of its past ; and he could never escape the angst of breaching his new promises, that,  with its tendencies, may lead to his doom – a state of despondency and self expatriation. But still, he thought life must go on, not for attaining perfection, but for denying the mistakes of the past by creating resolutions to believe that the phantom of the past can be resolved by the angel of the present who eradicates the scars of  mortal heart and bathes life anew. And while looking at what he wrote, his body shivered in terror and he shed the tears of bitterness in believing in ideas that betray the genuine concept of human agony along with the cognizance of the ego that perpetually stirs in the pit of human composition; and to which with all ambiguity, constantly reminds him that sooner or later, life with its new temporal form, by principle or by common consciousness, would be revived back again to its evil arche. Realizing that he could no longer go on writing, he gathered what he wrote, crumpled the paper in his hand, wringing the pain which he felt in his palm. The text he started to scribble were just mere ink dots now, staining the clean paper sheet and proving no less than a sheer shadow of false hope that everyone deemed to salvage life from wickedness to sainthood. He broke down with regrets for living another year because it means another year of anguish: that his life is another step closer to the end. And yes, did he think how his life was infested with malaise as parasites enjoy the glory of eternal elixir of blood. He felt suffocated by his abject mind that drowns him stupor, yet he fought back and clutched to his senses as he stood up laughing with no other sensible reason but oblivion from any hope. Then his breathing was no longer that that sustains life but that the gasping of desperation for death. Even when his heart told him to go on to find the brightness of the day, his brain on the other limb, simulated an impact to paint his logic a tinge of darkness thus proving there is no sense of finding the sun for the world revolves in perfect bi-polarity; anything that has light would coherently succumb to the emerging darkness. So he stepped down to the abyss of his room, now clutching the devil’s blade; and with no clear vision of his steps, alas, he told himself as he continuously descended down to the darkness: “We are all going to die anyway.”

Categories: philosophy Tags: ,