A Family Dinner.

I was the only one who remembered the oath taking. I was thinking of what dress to wear. I decided on wearing my Mommy’s clothes. She wanted very much for Tish to become a full pledged physician. Melancholic and mushy, I talked to her, that somehow, she would feel the joy of the occasion, each excited beat of the heart transmitted to heaven.

Whoaaah. I asked Jean what she was wearing. and came a clueless answer: for what? The oath taking, I said. A moment of silence. Then the disbelief. That is on Saturday? Aha, I said. And she blasted: Oh no, Ma, I have a talk in the morning, in Pasig, up to eleven, what time is the oath taking? Twelve, call time. Oh no, you go ahead and I will take the Uber.

That was Tuesday.
Then came Wednesday. I received a text.

Ma, it’s oath taking on Saturday, I forgot. Please fetch me Friday night.

Then Friday night came.

What am I to wear?
There are two beige gowns. You can try those.

Saturday morning. The rain dropped heavy in the early morning. Blessings, I prayed.

And sure enough, Tish and I waited at Jazz, where Jean resides, and together, we went to the Philippine International Convention Center.

The Plenary Hall was filled to a capacity. The oath taking was brief, the beeline to the ID and certificate was longer. The event was much a family groupie. I prodded Jean to take pictures of me. What else can we do?

When Tish came, feet blistered, we snapped a few souvenir shots.

Then drove all the way to Bonifacio Global City, away from the buzz, for a quiet dinner.

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The Oath Taking

Saturday, the 21st of October, was a day to remember. Tish took an oath, the Physician’s Hippocratic Oath.

The oath was sacred. It binds the physician to a duty to save lives. Duty first, before all else. That means no Christmas celebration, no social life. No holidays.

Tish has realized early on that that exactly would be her life. Once, the family went to Cebu, for a wedding. She was the only one left behind because she had a test.

And her music, that has to be sacrificed also. Although the piano and singing has rendered her the most joy, life would be trifling if there is no service to one’s fellow man.

Now, there’s the unbreakable oath. Praying to God Almighty that Tish sustains the strength of mind and body when duty calls.

Chris McCandless Into the Wild

I have not been touched by a movie lately as that of the true life story of a young man called Chris McCandless. The movie was based on a novel, I think, by his younger sister. Anyway, except for the images I checked on google, I didn’t want to read any criticism about the life story, else my perception might be affected. There was, I think a proposition not to talk about Chris any longer.

But why not?

I was able to relate with Chris.

Chris was a man in search of his self, his being. He yearned to feel joy and happiness that couldn’t be gratified by the existence he was in.

Chris comes from a rich family. He went to college and graduated. He was an adorable lad, someone you would like for a son, someone you would like for a brother, someone you would like for a boyfriend.

Somewhere in his childhood though, he realized that he has two warring parents. Somewhere in his adolescence, he discovered he has an older brother whom his father never acknowledged as his son by another woman.

Chris breezed through life the protective brother, the ideal student, the traveler. He loved going on adventures.

Right after graduation from college, he did just that. He turned down the gift of a new car, gave his law school money to charity, and disappeared into the highways and byways by a different name: Alexander Supertrump.

Destination: Alaska. A rover wandering in search of a meaning.

Along the way, Chris met a few people. He was the congenial, most likely a gregarious company one would love to spend hours working with or just have a conversation with, or just keep quiet with.

He enjoyed the experiences as if he was born to be free, not trapped in a rich family, business or politics. Those things he resent, without offending anyone.

And when he reached Alaska, the wild area, he found a rusty bus that he turned into his shelter, his abode. And he discovered his happiness. He was overjoyed by the view of the majestic scenes on the horizon, overwhelmed by his becoming a hunter. It was the hermit existence. And he loved it. He was born for it.

And one thing with Chris, he reads and writes.

He loved Leo Tolstoi and Jack London. Perhaps that was the reason. He felt his self fed up with society’s hypocrisy. He felt his self invited into the wild. None most satisfying. To be free.

Did it occur to him that solitary existence could be fatal? Yes. But it was a life’s adventure to take that risk.

In the end, Chris died of starvation, because he couldn’t cross back the river, and he couldn’t hunt for food. Even the berries that he ate turned out poisonous.

A tragic story of a brave soul. Given the strength and vivaciousness, I would probably device my own adventure. For what could be more compelling to know that one could be attuned with the great creation, in the brightest of days, the darkest and coldest of nights,to admire the beauty of snow caps, smell the freshness of the trees, hear the music of the wilds, the sound of silence, and inhale the marvelous scents and exhales into the greatness of the earth and the heavens.

If Chris survived, he could have put into words a story of love. But it was not meant to be. Chris story is a lesson for us, to be true with our selves, to find beauty and joy and happiness. It was his regret, because albeit he felt happiness, it would have been real if he had shared it.

Find your peace, Chris, you already have shared your happiness. My turn to say Thank you, you are worth knowing.

What we truly celebrate on the first of January.

For our 2017 New Year’s Mass, we trooped to the Shrine of the Divine Word. As blessed as I felt, thankful enough for being in the company of my daughters this New Year’s Day, I did receive a most wondrous of homilies from a missionary priest.

He said that there was a common factor among the Archbishops of New York, Archbishop of Chicago, and Archbishop of Los Angeles, they all in agreement that the Filipino is the new chosen people set to bring our faith into the corners of the world. Why? Because the Filipino fill the churches come Mass time.

Once, when this same priest was studying French, he was summoned by his teacher who resided on the third floor of a building. He was made to witness an empty promenade, vacant for many decades, until the Filipino set foot in France, and filled the cobblestones with devotees wanting to hear Mass.

Yes, the faith of the Filipino is formidable as a rock. Sent on a diaspora to many corners of the world, the Filipino, specifically the Filipino mothers, or the women who worked, initially as domestic helps and caregivers, nurses or entertainers, artists, etcetera, when faced with hardship and trouble, turn to faith and cling to that hope, that God will ease the difficulties that beset their situations. Thus, the churches filled with black-haired Filipinos.

Further, what is most unusual in the Filipino is their utmost devotion to the Blessed Mother. How the Filipino pay Her with most high regard, calling Her Mama Mary, like She is their very own Mother.

Yes, the Filipino is a chosen race, chosen to bring to the world the love of family, the devotion to mother, and the deep faith that transcends trials.

Then the missionary priest asked us to kneel, to give honor to that Mother called Mary and Her Child Jesus, with Joseph by Their side, because They set the example of FAMILY, that which binds the Filipino, that which the Filipino lives for.

The missionary priest said that after the Mass, he would have to make his own journey home, because his own mother makes a head count, and the priest is always late, for her Mano Po, Inay blessing.

That is what we celebrate today, the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.

Of course, this blog is a short summation of that doctrinal homily, I just hope that we know why we celebrate today.

For my own Mommy, I miss you. And Lola Naty and Lola Oda, too.

Fill in the gaps.

Do I like Star Wars?

Well, like Harrison Ford. you can omit me from the discussion. Enough of the force and Darth Vader for me, especially so when the rise to evil of Anakin disillusioned many a fan that evil could be so fascinating.

Yet, with my daughters, I found myself in sync with the millennials watching the sequel hoping to know whatever happened to Luke Skywalker. Who would not want to know. After all, there is a Jedi in all of us.

The demise of Hans Solo was the last straw. Every one was talking about Ford wanting an end to his character, and I wondered if only I had seen it was a cinematic technique from Oedipus Rex, that the son will slay the father in a place where three roads meet. With Hans, it was on a bridge that hanged over a pit.

Suffice it to say that bringing back the Star Wars characters of my youth fascinated me, even if the new characters are totally millennial in action and disposition. Oh well.

Surprises of surprises, my daughter brought me yesterday to a movie treat called Rogue One. I asked right outside the theater at Century Mall if the movie was starring Baymax? My daughters sighed in disgust. They filled me in that this was a side story in Star Wars.

And I found myself enjoying a rebel group led by a lady, offering their lives, with only courage and resolve, to secure a document from Darth Vader’s Imperial Globe, a document that shows a loophole, or a fault, or the Death Star’s Achilles Heels, that which makes the sinister headquarters vulnerable.

The lady heroine is known as Star Dust, a romantic name given by her parents to a child whose life’s story is as contrary to her poetic alias. She was brought up by a questionable creature after her mother was killed and her father taken. Yet, her child’s longing for father remained, as a star dust does in the vast multitude in the galaxy.

So I found myself loving Star Wars again. And if may mention, to spoil you further, that the force is strong, with the Jedi perhaps descendants of ancient arts born from the cold Himalayas, I don’t know really.

No way to end this piece but to say that “I am one with the force and the force is with me.”

Hope is gone.

I couldn’t get over this desperate message of a teacher. He is bidding the world good-bye. As of this writing, he may be dead, his corpse among the pile celebrated upon by the murdering lust of terminators. A body count? Not needed.

Hope is gone.

That is a statement from a father who wracked his mind how to save his loved ones from the impending massacre for the longest time. Now, there is nowhere to go, no place to hide.

Hope is gone.

I call upon the Powers for help. God in His enormous mercy, spares those who ask for help. So dear God, I pray, and humbly I beg, have mercy. Send your Powers to help these people.

A brief moment to get together and party.

BUSY. These days, there ain’t no time for making memories. There is too much work to attend to. My daughters, being young professionals, are caught in that whirlwind of a world. Jean said that when she comes home to our humble abode in the outskirts of the metro, it is like relaxing in the province, where the sound of silence is distracted only by the ┬áchirping of the birds and the barking of our doggies. And Tish, how she sprawls on the bed and catch up on the much-needed sleep.

Rush Rush has been my daughters ways of life for a long time now. And we believe we have become anti-socials, declining invitations, simply because of time conflicting with hospital duty and disaster planning conferences.

Oh well, this Sunday was different, for we actually made is to a nostalgic party, my friend’s mother celebrated her 95th birthday. Splendid shindig. Befitted a lovely lady who gracefully raised her ten children. Wow.

And so, I prodded the waiter to snap a picture of my daughters and me. For the memories of a brief moment together.

My Daughter’s Take on Human Rights

We are in perilous times once again. The world is in the winter of discontent. Just when we’ve thought globalization and mobilization, almost all citizens of the world connected through a five inch cellular phone, then we realize we are caught off guard by the seeming rise to power of despicable forces that threaten whatever peace we have enjoyed so far.

Sadly, many a collateral damage couldn’t be undone. And the inevitable war against evil is upon us. That is reality. And all is written in our history books. My mistake, I did believe that somehow, after the little contribution I participated in for my country, I would be spared of the harshness of brutal deaths and inhuman disregard to life that sporadically terrorized the world.

Yesterday, I was surprised by an article written by my own daughter, about human rights. I hope the write-up reaches the United Nations, the New York Times, the European tabloids, the Middle East, our own Asia especially China and Indonesia. because this is a youth’s perception of why we are fighting. We have allowed the bullies to tramp on us. And we need sanity, understanding, information and logic. So please read and pass. For our children.

http://opinion.inquirer.net/96413/in-my-burgis-opinion

I am very proud of you, Jean.

What to write in my own Bucket List…

Some people I know have crossed out items in their Bucket Lists, and are down to just a few items more, and yet I have to write mine.

I have learned about the Bucket List sometime ago, when I noticed a friend on facebook forever adding places to visit in her own Bucket List. And it seemed to me her list will have no ending, for there is as much more exciting place some corner of this earth that will be good to visit.

Anyway, after a few attempts to watch the Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman starred movie entitled The Bucket List, I finally got to finish the movie today. And what a heart opening movie it is.

The story revolves around two  completely different strangers who went to see the world, instead of lying down in the hospital for treatments of their terminal illnesses. in the process of living out the adventures of their lifetime, they get to fulfill their simple but very meaningful wishes in the Bucket List.

The Bucket List is actually a list of things one desires to fulfill while one awaits death.

But why wait when one is ill or old? We can make our Bucket Lists early on, and see if we could cross out some of the items we have done.

Mine is difficult to make, because I still have to search my heart about my dearest desires. But here’s a start. (for editing later, pending more wishes) Not necessarily in the order of importance.

  1. Watch people sip coffee while reading books in my own library.
  2. Sign an autograph on any of my blogs.
  3. Ride a jet. (Far flung)
  4. Adopt a child.
  5. See the Northern Lights.
  6. Walk the slopes of Ireland and dance in a tavern.
  7. Take care of my own grandchildren.
  8. Read the Bible cover to cover, one more time.
  9. Find a best friend.
  10. Embrace my family who lives in Los Angeles.

Spotlight on.

Tomorrow signals the beginning of Semana Santa, when we wave our palms to welcome the Lord as He enters Jerusalem.

Yet today, I feel it is already a Black Saturday.

My daughter Tish and I meant to be attuned with the Lenten Season, as we try to do so every year. Today, we were early for a recollection at our parish church, St. Paul of the Cross. One morning, we thought, to refresh in our hearts the Passion of our Jesus, a necessary restrengthening after a long year of busyness. I have no problem with the faith, fortitude is a blessing. My upbringing in the Catholic Church was a formidable one. Still, a renewal of sorts comes in useful, to wave off temptations. More importantly, Tish is hungry for a credible theological study, an infallible standpoint or viewpoint why the church we love, the Catholic Church, is the one true church. The public schools which Tish attended fell short of defining in an intellectual or academic presentation, our being and our relationship with God. In other words, even the teachers have not read the entirety of the Bible, otherwise, they could have inculcated in their students the faith in a very satisfactory level. Anyway, that was why we were punctual, because we want to know.

Fr. Alex Balatbat of the Archdiocese of Antipolo shocked the laity, most of whom were white-haired servers from different ministries, when he opened with a statement that we would be talking about the enemy, or the devil. It was a tactical strategy, he said, because in warfare, if you do not know the enemy, you will lose.

He proceeded narrating the battle of a second lieutenant Archangel Michael, the very one who defeated the five star general of a seraphim called Lucifer, the bearer of light, and cast this evil one not into hell, but right here on earth.

That is why, he proposed, to look beside you or right behind you, the devil might be there, in the form of a good person, waiting for an opportunity to tempt you. Beware, he said, because the devil can imitate even the voice of God.

Which brings me to why I am feeling a Black Saturday today. Do not get me wrong, because Fr. Alex wrapped up the Recollection with the hope in the Eucharist and an overwhelming Mercy that was instituted and bequeathed to us in the Last Supper, after one of the apostles betrayed our Lord for thirty pieces of silver that first Maundy Thursday. Fr. Alex said he had succumbed to many temptations, too, as many priests,did. Like all of us. No such thing as a perfect human being.

And I had the sad luck of picking SPOTLIGHT, Oscar’s best picture, a film highly recommended by a friend, Denis Andrenson, that movie that revealed the atrocities of the clergy, towards poor, innocent, impressionable and lonely children. I did remember those who called themselves men of God, and they dressed in robes, and yet somehow, I know, they have abused their priesthood.

No, the molestation did not happen only in Boston, nor was it a single incident. At the tail end, I saw Manila. It was a global psychiatric phenomenon that affected the Vatican. The tally of priest molesters still has to be divulged. The more depressing thing, many of the molested did not survive. Those who did kept away from the faith.

You and I will have a long week, and perhaps you could include in your quiet moments watching Spotlight, and make an effort to pray for our erring priests. Lucifer was a seraph. Our church had been infiltrated. We are called to arms.

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