Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ordinary day

Nothing special today. Or so it seemed. Things and people looked familiar. Just like yesterday. Or the day before. Except perhaps for the short burst of rain this afternoon when I left the office.

I had to go to one of our branches to install the operating system and other software applications for the newly bought personal computer. That's part of my job. I am a programmer, a computer hardware technician, and an IT manager all rolled into one. That's what I do for a living.

Along the way, I met all kinds of people. Or perhaps should I say different kinds of people. Well, that's to be expected. What else was there? People of course with exactly the same story just like you and me. Be surprised if it were otherwise!

While waiting for the train to arrive, I looked at the tall buildings in the horizon. Somehow the scenario gave me a bit of awe. Just a fleeting sense of wonderment. And that's good because it was a respite to the ordinariness of the day. I should be grateful I experienced it.

Unfortunately, I was not able to finish my work at the branch because I ran out of time. It was already five thirty. Time to go home. I had to be in a hurry because it might rain again. I didn't want to be stranded because of the flood.

I told the manager of the branch that I would be back either tomorrow or this Friday. I thanked him for the coffee and a burger that he bought for me for my afternoon snack. It was so generous of him. Perhaps I should consider his act of generosity as something that is not ordinary. Because it again gave me a respite for the sameness of things.

Just before I left the branch, I received a text message from my wife asking me to buy a cough syrup for her. I replied and said "ok". However before I boarded a passenger jeep, I dropped by a nearby donut and coffee kiosk for a quick cup of coffee and a donut.

The surroundings looked very familiar. After all, the vicinity is called university belt. It was here where I spent four years of my college life. I could see myself in the young men coming in and going out of the school campus. And then I did the math. It was thirty two long years ago.

To make a long story short, I arrived home with the cough syrup. We had our dinner. Watched the news. I did the ten minutes "ha" breathing meditation. The usual.

And finally, wrote this short ordinary article that you are now reading.

Somehow... a thing or two have been accomplished. Even if it's just an ordinary day.

And it felt good.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Never Said I Didn't Love You . . .

Many times in our lives we have encountered different kinds of problems. Problems that are too much for us to bear and sometimes almost crush as to the ground.

There is the young husband who has lost his job while his wife is in the hospital for an operation. There is this innocent daughter weeping in disbelief because she has just found out that her best-father-in-the-world has another family or is having an affair with another woman.

There is the shocking news about the tragic death of your only child. Or your teacher in mathematics might have told you this morning that you failed all your exams despite the fact that you have studied hard and have done your best.

And still you become bitter and resentful because your girlfriend has just told you that she doesn't love you anymore, wondering if death could really take the pain away.

Sometimes we wonder why God didn't hear our prayer. We begin to question the truth of Jesus' promise, "Whatever you ask in my name, it shall be given you". Not only do we begin to doubt His love but we also even begin to put all the blame on Him. We cry in complaint. We even hate Him. We could not seem to open our hands, to let go of what we hold so firmly, and to to give it into His hands.

Why do we lose our faith so easily? Why is it easy for us to complain and blame Him? Why are we so afraid to loosen the grip and let it go? These are very difficult questions to answer because they touch the very core of our illusion - the illusion of immortality.

We thought everything would never end. Even in small things. When our best friend becomes indifferent today we get hurt and we wonder because yesterday he was very loving. You feel rejected because the priest who has been very attentive to you the first time you met him, is no longer interested in what you are telling him. You are offended because someone criticized your first-prize song.

Just a little rejection, a little refusal, and an offensive remark - all these are enough to upset us. No wonder there is jealousy, hatred, and competition even in the most of intimate of relationship.

But amidst all of these hardships, pains, and problems in life be they of our own making or of others, let us not forget what Jesus is saying us today - "I never said I didn't love you".

EVT: I wrote this article while I was in fourth year college as a member of the vocation club in Sta. Cruz church, Manila, aspiring to become a priest. While looking for something in my "memorabilia", I stumbled upon this article which was published in March 1981 in the Handuhay newsletter. I am "republishing" it here because it brings back good-old-days memories.

G: Did I say those words - I never said I didn't love you? Do you believe it?

EVT: Of course.

G: You better be.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The "Magic Wand" That My Wife And I Used To Have

There was a time when movie houses were always filled to the brim especially when the movie being shown was a box-office hit. You really had to squeeze yourself to get inside.

You could see people standing while others had to sit on the floor either in the center isle or the sides near the wall.

At that time, tickets were even categorized as either balcony (upper seats) or orchestra (lower seats). Of course, the balcony was more expensive that the orchestra. But now it doesn't matter anymore where you take your sit because the price is the same.

Obviously, the reason why theaters then got congested to overflowing was because the phrase "single screening" was unheard of. You can watch the movie as many times as you want until you are blue in the face.

It was during this occasion that my wife and I got to use our "magic" as we used to call it. We were just sweethearts then and we were doing it just for fun. Our intention was to quickly find an available seat.

So before getting inside the theater we would tell ourselves "let's use our magic". Once inside, we would thus position ourselves in such a way that getting an available seat would be that easy. And lo and behold! Right there and then, a couple would suddenly get up to leave and the seats would be ours.

Coincidence or not, we enjoyed doing it (even after we got married) because it happened not only once but many times until we forgot about it already because theaters became less and less crowded like they used to.

I wonder now what happened to our "magic". Could it still be there? It's been such a long time already and maybe it's time to "revisit" it and use it once again in another setting.

Who knows?

"Allowing myself to become a little nutty and irrational did open up to certain mystical experiences." - D. Patrick Miller, Founder of Fearless Books.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Minor Altercation Inside A Jeep On Our Way Home From Divisoria

I should have posted this article yesterday but I wasn't able because I was too tired to do it. My wife and I went to Divisoria yesterday to buy items for their (my wife and her two sisters) sari-sari store. I usually accompany my wife to help her carry the bought items. These items are not really that many, usually they fit inside a medium size backpack while the others are hand carried in a plastic bag. We do this almost every Saturday.

On the way back home, we encountered a quarrel inside a passenger jeep between the driver and a middle-aged woman passenger. They were arguing about the fare that the woman had paid to the driver who was in his sixties already, quite old and frail. The driver even looked skinny because he was only wearing a sando with a towel on it at the back.

The point of their contention was this: the woman was asking the driver to return her money (eight pesos) because she made a mistake in riding the jeep. She thought she was going to her correct destination when she realized the jeep's route was going to Munoz, Quezon City.

The driver, however, didn't want to give back the money. He was suspicious that what the woman was doing is only a strategy to avoid paying the fare. In fact, his words were "lumang style na 'yan" (it's an old trick). But the woman was insistent because she said she had just taken the ride a few seconds ago and the jeep was not yet even too far away from where she took the ride.

We even heard a male passenger sitting beside the driver confirming what the woman was saying. But the driver just ignored him. Or perhaps the driver didn't actually hear him. I even joked to my wife that "the guy was lucky that the driver didn't hit him in the head".

Finally, sensing that the driver was adamant, the woman helplessly got off the jeep, carrying her belongings and saying in a not-so-loud voice "matanda ka na, ganyan ka pa rin." (you're already too old and you still haven't changed".

If I am not mistaken she must have come from Divisoria too. What I admire about the woman was that she did not really say any dirty words just to put down the man. Or perhaps she refrained from doing so because somehow she still had that respect for an old man. Because somehow if you saw the driver yourself, you would have felt some pity on him because he was still driving, doing the hard labor when he should be retired already somewhere, enjoying life in old age.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Singing In The Rain

"I'm singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feelin'
I'm happy again" 
- Gene Kelly

It was raining hard when I left the office this afternoon at five-thirty. Knowing for sure that I would be traversing flooded streets, I had to use my reserved plastic shoes for protection.

Not aware that I was using a pair of plastic shoes, one of my office mates even dared me if my shoes could make it through the rain and puddles of water. With a little bit of haughtiness, I told her "no problem, it would be a breeze".

Of course I told her the truth (pointing at my shoes) when I stepped out of the door, opening my umbrella at the same time.

While I was walking, I remembered the story of one survivor named Yossi Ghinsberg who got lost alone in the jungle of Bolivian Amazon in South America for about three weeks without food. One of the things that he learned from that harrowing experience is the appreciation of nature particularly the rain.

By fully accepting the downpour of rain drenching his body instead of cursing it, he experienced a sense of wonder. Of course, obviously he had no choice because of his situation. But the point is that in spite of the circumstances surrounding him, he was still able to look at the good side of things instead of the bad.

According to him, this was also the experience of the natives who found and rescued him. It just seemed so natural to them. Grateful and appreciative. Not whining and making the rain a big deal.

His experience of fighting for survival changed his life forever that it inspired him to write two books called "Jungle" and "Laws of the Jungle".

Now back to the city for a more ferocious jungle perhaps. My usual reaction when I get wet from the rain of course is a tad different. Perhaps you know what I mean because maybe you experience it yourself too. On one occasion, a male passenger of a tricycle I was riding in kept complaining and mouthing cuss words because of the rain that was making him crazy (and wet all over) compounded by the heavy traffic.

It made me wonder what could possibly happen when he finally arrived home hungry, angry and irritable and then finding that there was no ready food to eat at the table.

So I said to myself after remembering the story of these two men, "how about if I try to make it a little bit different this time just for fun". I mean not just brave the rain but feel it and "enjoy" it without making a fuss.

And that's what I did. I let the rain, the commotion of people in a hurry, the deafening noise of cars blowing their horns, the feeling of total discomfort - practically everything - just be as they are without creating a drama out of it.

And then the "magic" happened. Thankfully, I arrived homed safely and calmly as if nothing happened.

All I did was suspend my thought, my judgement of whatever was happening around me. I just observed, becoming a silent spectator of event without attaching any story to it. And that made a big difference.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Three "Only" Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence, and Imagination

There is this book that I am currently reading entitled "The Three "Only" Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence, and Imagination" by Richard Moss.

On the topic of coincidence, the author says that we should always be aware of what  is happening around us and as such make an observation. He says that we should take note of what is right before our eyes because we are being given clues to solutions to our problems.

These are actually messages that will help us along the way in our life. Sometimes these messages are subtle or don't seem to have an impact in us that we have the tendency to just ignore them. This is perhaps the reason why sometimes we wonder why we couldn't seem to solve a problem or find answers to  some of our questions. When in fact we have already been given answers had we only been attentive to these messages.

Of course at first glance, it is easy to pass them up as just ordinary happenings that have no real meaning or value. In fact, we encounter a lot of them everyday that there doesn't seem to be anything extraordinary about them. Besides, if we attach meaning to everything that we see around  us our friends might  begin to suspect that we are already losing our mind.

However, if we are very attentive we can readily and easily make connections to these events or messages especially if there's something bugging you or you're itching to look for some answers to some nagging questions. Or whatever it is in your life right now that needs help.

It doesn't have to be dramatic or earthshaking. And it doesn't have to be so obvious. Just a simple recognition that a message is being given to you will do. And if you are willing to receive these messages the more obvious they will be to you.

Here's an example...

Just a while ago after lunch while going back to the office, I met a pretty young woman wearing a t-shirt with these words on it "Keep calm and play guitar". At first glance, it didn't register anything to me. But then suddenly, I smiled to myself and thought "yes, that's right I should keep calm and play my guitar".

So where is the coincidence you may ask.

Well just last night just before I do my forex trading, I felt somewhat anxious and apprehensive. So what I did to calm myself was to get my guitar and play it. It took only about fifteen minutes of playing and I felt so relax.

And then today I was again kind of feeling a little bit anxious about something when out of nowhere I met this woman reminding me to keep calm and play guitar.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


"Said, woman, take it slow
It'll work itself out fine
All we need is just a little patience"
- Guns N' Roses

"Dear God, give me patience and I want it right now" so goes the ironic prayer.

Honestly, I probably must have prayed the same prayer too myself without my knowing it.

It's really easy to get impatient when things don't go our way right away.

Patience as many perhaps will agree is a trait that is difficult to cultivate. Many of us want instant gratification.

It fells so frustrating when things happen so slowly.

However, for these past three weeks, my patience is being tested. I have been an impatient person almost my entire life that's why this experience lately is definitely something new to me.

It just dawned on me that it really pays to be patient especially when you start to see that your efforts at something are now beginning to bear fruits.

And because of that I'm now beginning to feel good. This may not seem much to you but not to me.

When I come to think of it, those very things that I want so desperately to happen to me ASAP don't happen instead because of my impatience.

The more I crave for them, the more they seem to be out of reach. They more they become illusive.

And the more I get impatient.

And so the cycle goes on.

But this has to stop. By being patient with myself, with others, and with what I do. Right now!

So who needs patience?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Manila's Gates Of Hell

About a month or so ago, when the new book by Dan Brown entitled Inferno was released here in the Philippines, there seemed to be a buzz about Manila being mentioned by the author as the gates of hell. It became an instant news naturally and varied reactions were seen on TV and even in the print media.

One of those who took offense was the MMDA chairman Tolentino who even wrote a letter to Mr. Brown for clarification. It is understandable of course why the chairman did it because "the gate of hell" would not look good in the eyes of the tourists.

Others reacted differently though. It's only a fiction they say and people will understand. Nothing to worry about.

And there were those who said that somehow the description of Manila in the novel as such is only a reflection of what is actually happening in the city. A good reminder to those responsible in keeping Manila a good place to stay or visit.

Fiction or not, however, we can always learn a thing or two from it. And that I think is the most important thing.

I know this "controversy" is already over and perhaps it's already even moot and academic so to speak. And for that my apologies for resurrecting an already dead issue.

It just so happened that while I was taking a few minutes break from forex trading I picked up the book "Angels and Demons" right beside my laptop and continued reading it.

After reading a few pages, I was so mesmerized that I told my self "no wonder Dan Brown's Inferno has created such a stir in 'Manila' because he is such a good writer".

Hence, this blog post. I just thought that perhaps saying a few words about it will not do any harm.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'm so excited!

"I'm so excited
And I just can't hide it
I'm about to lose control and I think I like it
I'm so excited
And I just can't hide it"
- The Pointer Sisters

That's how I describe what I'm feeling right now, now that my blog is already online.

You wanted to post. You wanted to put anything right away just so there will be something to read, something to see.

Well, I guess that's how most of us behave when there's something new happening in our lives. Whether it's a new dress, a new book, a new house, a new car..... you name it.

Am I right?

But I notice also that as time goes by, the excitement wanes and begins to lose its sparkle.

Why is that so?

Ah! Let me forget that for now. I don't want to answer that question today. I could come back to that thought perhaps in another post later but right now I would like to enjoy this moment of joy and excitement.