Friday, December 31, 2010

Year-End Interfaith Session with Bohol Goodwill Volunteers Cooperation Circle Leaders and the Bohol Lodge of the Theosophical Society

It wasn't exactly the year-end party that I wanted to happen, but it did the job anyway.

I kind of had an upbeat celebration in mind where there would be dancing and people would be eating and standing up for most of the time, but that's just not how things went.  I was very busy with my own life's happenings for the last how many weeks that I didn't have the time to organize a plenary session for a party--let alone have the party itself materialize.  It's not like I could just announce to the world and my interfaith community that a party is happening and that they're all invited and that they should abandon prior commitments.  That's just wrong!

Anyhow, I figured something out.  Since all but one of the leaders of the Bohol Goodwill Volunteers CC are members of the TS, I just did the convenient thing and turned the year's final TS Thursday meeting into an interfaith celebration as well.  I invited Adrienne, who was already a TS enthusiast anyway, to join and everyone was happy.  There was food, which I wasn't able to take photos of; there was laughter; and best of all, there was a harmonious conversation between people of different faiths.  They all learned something new from me last night.  We were few, so we occupied the usual conference table.  It served us well.  Everyone spoke and everyone listen to whomever was speaking.

I, however, declare that last night's session would be the last joined session.  The Theosophical Society, being a secret/esoteric society, does have its secrets and not everyone's ears may be readily open to receiving them.  Willingness to join both sessions held on separate days of the week is an option offered every Goodwill Volunteer starting 2011.

Check these out, anyway:

Mark opening the session

Salve Regina (in white) and I (in green V-neck)

Candles are relaxing, aren't they?


Manong Gil and Mark

Ate Cora, Adrienne, and Marjorie

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sleep and Shower and Inu and Children and Babies and Christmas

Well, right now it's 2:42AM and I don't feel like sleeping yet.  [LOL]  I chose to doze off after my previous post when the apparent right thing to do was take a quick hot steamy shower, grab a grande of (home-maid-made) cappuccino and attend my meeting at Gerry's.  Of course, I knew the moment I dove into the rumpled sheets of my bed that none of that had a chance of happening anymore.  Three hours isn't even realistic!  Not even for just 15 hours or awake time.  I'm a real sucker for sleep.  Believe me!

I woke up at 10:00PM!  Go figure!  [More LOL]  I, in turn, woke the maid up for some dinner and a bottle of frozen chocolate milk.  I took the entire thing up here afterwards.  It's seriously addictive!  Not a problem, though, 'cause there's plenty more in the fridge to go around.

Anyway, I just finished writing a page-long letter to distribute to the captains of every single Barangay in the vicinity of Loay Interior Highway all the way though Candelaria, Dagohoy.

Check this out!

We've mass produced this and we're going to start distributing copies all over the north tomorrow.

Anyway, so much about those sad things.  You may be wondering why my title says what it says.  Well, the reason why is this:  I decided to scan blogs on Blogger by clicking the next blog button on the heads up section of the page.  The first two pages I got to were of a couple and their children.  I was, like, "okay, coincidence, maybe."  I moved on by clicking on next again.  I wanted to land on a food blog or something like that, but no matter how many times I clicked, I would always land on something about children and babies and how happy a certain Christian family is with their Christmas celebration.

What ever gave the idea that I wanted to read about an American family's holiday celebration?  Well, I kind of actually read them anyway--enjoyably at that--so Blogger probably tapped into my subconscious.  It was way different from how my family celebrated Christmas, but very similar in emotional aspects.  Of course, the American families didn't have fire rituals on the night of the Winter Solstice, but they had good food on Christmas eve just like we did.  They had their Christmas ham while we had our Christmas roast pig. They had presents and we had ours to.  The most poignant part of my readings was sharing the family's joy even in this small way.  It was like I transported myself back in time and I joined their celebration like I was a member of the family myself.

Anyway, I need to end this here.  I've got loads to do.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

EMI, Not A Single Minute of Sleep and Mom's Lost Puppy

No, not those tiny little matches that easily ignite.  I mean Electro-magnetic Interference.  It turns out the extra monitor I have for my notebook is one.  It's such a bummer.  Its presence, whether functional or otherwise, causes my notebook's wi-fi signal reception to crawl from four bars to a staggering two.  Gahd!  The killer part is it's gonna slow me down even if it's not turned on.  Its mere presence hinders my ability to connect to the world.  Isn't that such a bummer?  Sure, it enables me to see more of my work, but it comes at a great cost.

Okay, you're probably thinking right now, "Can this guy get any stupider?"  Of course I can.  Like duh!  I yelled around Facebook last night about this in, like, two sentences and I told the world I'd head straight to the hardware store to get an Ethernet cable right when I wake up.  Well, I didn't exactly violate that 'cause I never actually got any sleep.  Yes, you got that.  Literally, not a single minute of sleep since getting up at 1:00PM yesterday afternoon.

Hmmm...  I wonder why.  Maybe it's because of that black peppermint Americano coffee I had last night at Bo's.  Do you think so, too?  Well, of course.  No other explanation.  I burned my tongue with that heat last night and it still stings up to now.  My taste buds aren't functioning very well, so I didn't enjoy my lunch.

I'm supposed to take a quick shower after writing this entry and head straight to Gerry's Grill for a meeting, but it's raining and I feel like taking a nap.  Rain, oh, rain, why do you torment me so?

Hey, we've strayed so far from Ethernet cables now.  So, anyway, I'm going to get a couple of yards of that thick wire so I can get going.  I cannot wait for the carpenter to nail this thing in place!  I'll just grab my tacker and let it crawl like a wild vine until I'm successfully able to get the other end where I need it to be--my room. What am I saying?  My grandmother's going to murder me if I ever do anything like that!

Of course, I'm not serious!  Duh!

Oh my!  I just noticed me causing myself annoyance.  Wow!  Am I amazing or what?

Oh, yeah, Inu, my mom's Akita Inu, disappeared.  I won't tell you how and why because people are going to get hurt.  All I'm going to say about it is the fact that it wasn't my fault at all.  I was in Cebu when it happened.  Mom already ran a radio broadcast message all over the province of Bohol and now we're printing flyers.  Go figure!  I'm going to have a specialized collar made for Janggo so he won't get ever lost.

My world is spinning!  Should I gulp down another grande of concentrated Americano and force myself to stay up or should I be an opportunist and gamble on three hours of sleep?  I don't know.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

An Open Letter to Dot Dot Dot

Hello •,

You should seriously not say things like that. Yes, I mean my album.

Your subtlety is not welcome anywhere other people would notice it. It's not an ethical thing to do to publicly taunt your friends with remarks that are deeply undesirable to them (or their families). My maternal family (of which many members are in the same photo album) has no idea who you are and if they ask me, I'd be compelled to tell them the truth. I'd be bound to tell them that you're a friend who's doing something to me that I don't really like. Mind you, they DO NOT LIKE the idea that someone is taunting me undesirably. We're both already very good friends and I don't intend on introducing myself to you again the next time we meet. You know what I mean. I've been through it. It's weird.

I have no problem, whatsoever, with you teasing me in private. I have high tolerance for those things and I understand you. Just remember that I'm the one you need to direct your messages to. They're not for the visual consumption or intellectual scrutiny of anyone else. I need you to know that a LINE does exist. This line I'm talking about is not very hard to cross. I am also not God-like. I am not eternally lenient and forgiving. I have emotional limitations, too.

Please do not take this negatively. My attitude towards you will not change after clicking send. This is something that we'd both giggle about later if you adhere and understand. We will always be good friends who laugh and pinch each other and talk on the phone and text and what not.

I know I'm being too idealistically positive about my infatuation towards Δ. You may say I'm dreaming the impossible dream, but I don't care. I'm not expecting anything in return. It's just that this feeling exists for me and me alone. I don't mind if it isn't reciprocated by Δ. I'll just make it linger until it burns out. It's not harming me, anyway. It's not affecting my life in any relevant way. My ability to function isn't hampered. I'm not obsessed with Δ. This whole thing does NOT involve lust in any sort of way. I'm not being a vulture; I'm not casting spells; I'm not making elaborate photo collages; and I'm not trying to get Δ's attention. In fact, I'm even doing the complete inverse. I'm avoiding Δ because I'm aware that I'm never going to achieve what I desire. I'm just allowing the emotion to fly free. It's just a feeling. It's been just an infatuation since the beginning. NOTHING MORE! I wish it'd go away, but there's no use trying to force it to die. It's hard to combat ◊ years of admiration, you know--especially if it has this kind of logical and rational backing. I'm just letting it be.

I believe you can resonate with me.

You can go on with your teasing all you like. Just direct them to me--NOT publicly and not uncouthly. Please! I don't like losing friends. I don't like losing YOU as a friend.

Sincerely and with much love,

Monday, December 27, 2010

Co Jordan with Mamalol, Daddy Butch & Mommy Cris

This was an impromptu trip for me. Mamalol wanted to go to Cebu and she tagged me along. Cool, huh?

We hung out with Daddy Butch and Mommy Cris.  I already knew she's very good at pampering, but I didn't know she'd shower her mother-in-law that lavishly.  Another beautiful new bag and pair of shoes for grandma.

The only thing I think I wasn't crazy about regarding that trip was the condition of their house.  It was undergoing renovation, so the roof wasn't very good yet.  It rained, so my suitcase got wet.  No problemo, though.  I meant just externally.  Everything else was awesome!  It was such a cool trip.  That was a nice alternative set of Cebu memories--on top of the vice-filled once I normally associate the island with.

Before we left, they took us to a place called Co Jordan in Consolacion, the same municipality where they reside. It was an establishment on water where oysters and milk fish were farmed. It was such an awesomely spontaneous experience bonding with them.

Son and Mom

Son, Mom, and Grandson

Son, Mom, Daughter-in-Law, and Grandson

All Smiles

Mangrove Patch

Strollin' around...

Mama Lol and I

Fish pens



Mommy Cris

Grandmother and Grandson

We took the 6:00PM Oceanjet trip home, but it left at 6:45 without prior notice of delay.  In addition to that brouhaha, one of the engines failed and the cooling system got busted!  And more so, I met a European guy on-board claiming to be a member of the Dutch Legionnaire Army and the next King of Belgium.   Darn Oceanjet!  See?  See?  Stuff like that are the reasons why I always choose NOT TO CHOOSE Ocjeanjet.  If it were up to me, I'd have chosen Weesam or Supercat!  I had a meeting with my writers' organization scheduled at 8, which I was able to get to only at 9:26.  Imagine that!

Nonetheless, today's impromptu Cebu trip was awesome!  It was the getting back here trip that totally wasn't!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

My First Christmas Blog

It's Christmas!  HAPPY, HAPPY DAY!  It's zero-sarcasm day, so you won't find a trace of it here.  Well, go figure!

Today is probably the happiest day for Christians all over the world--and even for those who aren't.  It's been said that the Christ Jesus of Nazareth was born on this day, 2010 years ago.  Awesome, isn't it?  And although this is a Christian celebration, a lot of my friends who aren't Christians also celebrate it.  They can't help it!  There's just too much love in the air to deny themselves a festive mood.  Be it the year-end sale of the holidays, the exchange of presents, the log burning in a fireplace that people rub their hands over, or simply just the image of Santa Claus on his sled--a smile is inevitable for the bearer of a heart that knows how to love.

I celebrated Christmas with my maternal family.  We kicked the day off at the Bohol District Jail for some gun firing exercises.  It's not something I'm particularly proud of having tried, but I did it anyway.  I wanted to know what it feels like to hold a gun, not to learn how to kill.  No way!

Why did I include that in my entry?  Well, even though I'm not proud of it, it was still a FIRST, so I consider it significant.

The celebration really started at dinner time when Mama Bimbim and her family came over for dinner.  Even though there were so many missing (Daddy Butch's and Uncle Czar's families), we still, somehow, felt complete and comfortable with the number.  The exchange of presents came shortly afterwards.

Alen giving a present to Alek

Alec giving one to Aileen

Jepoy and Mommy Joyce.  Mother and Son...

Alen Jairus Migriño Caseñas

From Auntie Emmie

For Mama Lol
(Once again... Yes, the hair is real!)

Who's it for, Mama Bimbim?

Joel, Mama Lol's chauffeur!  Of course he got presents, too!

Bilu, Alika, and Jes


Mommy Joyce got another one!

And I later found out that Alec (behind me) told Janggo to bite my chin... just in time for Jepoy to click on the shutter!  Crazy witch!

Me, Janggo and Mother

Those were specifically the moments of the year that made me wish growing up was a choice.  

I went with the rest of my Roman Catholic family to hear the Misa de Gallo to greet the strike of 12 at the Roman Catholic house of worship.  I went not for tradition's sake, but because I really did want to go.  I didn't mind being there at all.  I believe anyone can pray anywhere as long as mind, heart, and spirit are offered the right way.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

National Youth Congress On Good Citizenship - Day 2
(December 17, 2010 - Yesterday)

Okay, yell at me.  I was tardy for yesterday's session.  The whole thing was scheduled to begin at 8:30AM, but at that time I just finished singing the last line of Being Alive after turning the shower flow off.  You can't blame me completely, though.  I had a late night dinner meeting the other night and I came home pretty late.  Oh, well... That's life for me... At least for now, I guess.

Kristine decided to tag along today to represent TULAY Cooperation Circle.  Plus, she made a commitment to Sr. Sandra that she'd show up.  Her last academic exam finished at 8:30AM, so she was all set by 9:00AM.  It was at that sharp hour that we arranged ourselves to meet at the office, but I didn't conform.  Sad.  I left the house at 9:45; passed by the office to pick my lady cousin up; stopped over at Adrienne's  to pick her up, too; and headed straight for the retreat house.

When we got there, I was disappointed--again!  I thought John had already finished his talk.  It turned out he didn't show up at all.  He sent a proxy to deliver an excruciatingly long palaver of a presentation.  My goodness!  Over a quarter of the people in attendance were literally asleep.  And it wasn't their fault.  I totally hold each one of them free of any blame.  I mean, who, in his/her right mind, would give a group of young people a two-hour-long Powerpoint Show of bureaucratic natter detailing the achievements of a certain section of the local government unit?  I have nothing against bureaucracy and pride and foreign investment, but come on!  That was a bit too much.  No, that was way too much, actually!  Didn't Day One's incident drill a hole into the organizers' heads?  I understand that in order to get the seed, one must learn to climb the tree and consume the fruit, but that principle got a bit too abused.  She just went on and on and on and on saying, "we did this; we did that; we're doing this; we're doing that; this is nice; that is nice; it's all nice; we're so nice!"  Plus, to top it off SHE DIDN'T HAVE ANY PICTURES!  Hello!  Pictures are always necessary!  Goodness gracious!  She wasn't soporific; she wasn't even bad at what she was doing.  It was what she was doing that was bad for our mood.

Engr. Liveta's hypnotic chant the other day should have made the behind-the-scenes people realize what a gargantuan mistake it was not to have oriented the speakers of time limitations and *ahem* the need for actual useful content.

Thankfully enough, she finished.  Not the same sarcastic applause was awarded to her, though.  Most of the kids were to weak to put on that kind of theatrical performance.

Next up was a guy named Rex.  I never really heard of him before, but he happens to be an exemplary young citizen and a very good youth leader.  One could define him in an activist context as a mover seeking a difference of true sustainable development.  He and his organization were honored as one of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations of 2010 by none other than President Noynoy himself.  He founded PYAP (Pag-asa Youth Association of the Philippines) as an avenue for out-of-school youths to be able to utilize their home-grown talents and skills to benefit the society instead of resorting to drugs and what not and becoming part of the statistics of social menaces.  I especially liked how he started the partnership culture among the members of his organization and the people they work with.  Instead of calling them beneficiaries, they're referred to as partners.  It does make people feel better about themselves, doesn't it?  The way I see it, his activities empower the under-privileged by making them aware that they are capable of making big differences, too, and that they need not be casted away from the scene of general society.  In more ways than that, his organization is something that many such NGOs should emulate.

Rex shared many success stories--both personal and organizational--but there was one in particular that I liked very much.  He shared of how he enacted an engineer friend's idea of creating a concealed dike-like drainage system using buried hollow blocks to slurp away the nasty Cebu floods.  It's something I'm particularly interested in learning how to do.  They employed the hands of a couple of tambay boys to help them excavate a sizable width of land down to the level where sand could be felt.  After which, they...  Wait, why am I talking about this in detail?  Now, I'm the one making a palaver.  To cut it short:  After digging, they installed hollow blocks in a certain sloping position so the water would seep into the sand through the holes, and then they returned the soil.  Of course, they didn't cover the holes, too.  Duh!  That would have killed the purpose.

It was not that they gave a facade of a plain need for manpower to complete the activity; the whole thing was something that the tambay boys, who would have otherwise been spending more moments as ne'er-do-wells, felt they were part of.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with a sense of pride for doing something good.  Such activities encourage people to do more good if laid down the right way.

So, yeah.  I don't even know if I got that whole process right.  That's just my recollection.  If you want to learn, go ask him yourself.

After that, we had lunch, and then we had June.  June is a guy from Bayawan City.  He's 19-years-old and and has already achieved a considerable heap of accolades.  They're a lot and they're all very impressive!  I'm sure of that because I found myself oohing and wowing.  I just simply couldn't recall the specific names of the awards, though, so go ahead and sue me.  I'm certain they're well-deserved.  He probably worked his a** off early on and got very little sleep in ratio to the number of years he's been serving his city.  Why do I infer so?  Well, consider this:  He didn't look like he was 19 anymore.  That's just my opinion so don't diss me for it!  I'm sure many of you will have something to say about my being outspoken, but a man is entitled to his own opinion.

For the record, June was excellent.  His talk had a tinge of bureaucratic weehoo in it, too, but he knew how to keep us all alive.  He had such an imposing presence that one couldn't help but cooperate.  For about an hour and a half, he gave us a fruitful, action-filled, justifiably proud presentation about the growth of Bayawan as a city.  Every once in a while, he would ask us all to stand up and yell and clap and do crazy stuff.  We gladly did.  We allowed ourselves to loosen and there was nothing wrong with it!  We all didn't mind.  Adding to his innately humorous way of presenting himself, he would often blurt out Bisaya terms code-switched with Tagalog which he was obviously struggling to be able to speak straight.  That gave us more reason to stay awake.  Not that we would have chosen otherwise, though.

The best of the lot, in my opinion, was Sr. Sandra.  Good old Sister Sandra!  She's still, to me, the best, most liberal, most rational, most utterly cool religious sister in the world.

She kicked her time off with an unconventional environmental awareness exercise by sending us out in the open lawn and letting us scour the space directly in front of us for the different life forms we could identify.  After that, we did interpersonal examination where she made us stare a partner in the eyes so we could both look deeper into each other's souls.  She moved on to making us hold hands to feel the spiritual connection.  A number of us couldn't help but shed a few tears upon empathizing with the emotional burdens they discovered their partners were carrying.

As a conclusion to the lawn activity, we all did a Japanese martial art-inspired wordless environmental movement prayer.  Of course, most of us enjoyed it.  It's something Kristine and I are quite familiar with since Sister made us do this during November's Regional Meeting--not to mention the Beyond Differences concert where everyone in the audience did it.  It's just sad to note that a number of people didn't take it very seriously.  I don't know if they had any issues with the bone structure of their spines or if they were just plainly uninterested.  I suspect the latter, though.

What followed was Sister's talk.  She kicked off by relating to us how she came to make the decisions she made as a beautiful and sought-after young woman--of how she left her boyfriends in favor of the religious life in a structured convent.  She then proceeded to a structural dissection of how youth movements are initiated and how they are sustained.  From her, I learned the importance of making each one a key person instead of maintaining just a single entity who delivers the orders and methodologies of how they are to be carried out.  It's from that lecture that I learned specifically the value of inculcating in each member the idea that each one is as much a leader as he/she is a grass root.  It's interesting how she employed the story of Genesis to convey her messages and share her ideas.

I was really impressed with the way Sister very firmly but subtly introduced the principles of the United Religions Initiative in a context that some would regard as secular and irreligious.  The best way to do it, indeed, is to live it and show it and be proud of it.  How many nuns and members of religious mission orders would recognize Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Witches and accept the existence of each culturally-influenced faith tradition as a river flowing towards a single ocean?

I love the way she said, "Whether you use the name God, Allah, Yahweh, Elohim, or whatever name, it's the same God we're all referring to, because we all have just one--one God with many names."  The eyes of those who used a term other than conventionally "God" were lit up with brightness.  Their inquisitive expressions quickly turned into smiles of amazement and reassurance that they were accepted and regarded the same way as everyone else by no less than a woman who devotes herself to the service of the Roman Catholic Church.

Sister was just one person and we were over a hundred.  There was no way she could, at a single instance, give us the hug that she wanted to give.  She then added something to the effect of the common URI statement saying that each religion is a different way of communicating to a single Absolute Being.  Also, one could never forget, "I am your sister; you are my brothers; you are my sisters."  That was enough for all of us. It was a hug in the form of loving words.  It's really not something you hear everyday.  Indeed, it was the perfect fundamental foundation to her statement of youth empowerment--that each one be made to feel that he/she is brother/sister to every other.

Enough said, Sr. Sandra was awesome!

Following Sister was Adrienne's departure.  Yes, she had to leave early to attend a Christmas party of some other organization.  The funny thing was she messaged me less than half-an-hour later expressing how her yearning grew for her new found...  For her new found...  Geez, I don't even know what term to use.  Well, I'll just say she was yearning for her new found Doodle-Hoozle.  [LOL]

Kristine and I stayed and ate dinner there.  So-so food, as usual.  Then a cultural presentation by BISU (Bohol Island State University) was arranged for us as a treat.  There was a cool medley of Philippine folk dances where the dancers would leave the scene after a number and return after the next one dressed in a different outfit.  It was really good.  Then of course, there were modern and ballroom dance forms which I didn't pay much attention to.  Don't ask why.  A man has the right to be busy with normal concerns at 8:00 in the evening.

The part of the show that displeased me quite significantly was the vocal flaunting.  Much of the musicality was stripped off the songs in favor of rising an octave higher to show the audience that they could do it.  Of course, the performers aren't to blame and neither are the audience members.  They are non-musicians (or if they are, they don't know singing in its real sense) raised with the collective social mentality that belting means good singing.  I don't know why that is.  They think living dangerously is something to be praised and encouraged.  Of course, for the likes of Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Regine Velasquez, Jennifer Holliday, Idina Menzel, Eden Espinosa, Joanna Ampil, Lea Salonga and who they be up there, it's quite obvious that they know what they're doing since they've been trained properly.  However, I know, for a fact, that belting, no matter how easily it comes for a non-seasoned singer, is very dangerous.  Two belt-filled numbers in a day is enough, but to raisin the performer into doing more than that is quite murderous--even for a fat grape.

Anyway, enough about that show.  We had one last speaker--Bro. Hermie.  I think he was interesting.  Yes, I believe he was quite fruitful, but I was just too darn drowsy to pay attention.  The lights were killed in favor of the LCD projector.  The slideshow served as a night light with an ever-changing spectrum of colors as more than half of us dozed off to Wonderland.  We were awakened when we were asked to sing Power of Your Love--a faith-neutral praise song.  Why did I say "faith-neutral"?  I said so because it doesn't use the word "Jesus" or "Christ," meaning a few other faiths could sing it, too.  I initially didn't sing properly, but the song got into me somehow and I found myself really singing after a while.

To conclude our day and our congress as a whole, we all sang One Little Candle together, holding a candle each, while making our way to the concrete ground where bonfire fuel wood was piled ready for ignition.  We lit it and began what seemed like a Wiccan birthday blessing--minus the sacred oil and the ornaments and the food offerings and the incense and the spells and what not.  A lot shared words of wisdom, emotion, and encouragement.  We all sang Let There Be Peace on Earth as we each received a certificate.  It was a remembrance for being there--a constant reminder of the cause.

Finally, to conclude the evening, we all joined arms and sang If We Hold On Together as we watched the fire flicker, rise and fall--symbolizing how we'd support each other and our country even as the times go weak.

Okay, I'm done being romantic!  That congress had a lot of HUGE points for improvement, but it was very good, nonetheless.  I had no regrets whatsoever that Bohol Goodwill Volunteers, Inc. provided sponsorship for it.  It was indubitably something that we will forever be proud of being a part of.  It was an amazing way to start a trend for future activities like such.  I'm sure the mistakes will be learned from and next year's congress will be a lot, lot better.

'Till then!