Saturday, December 14, 2019

My First Return to the Old Hometown

Though it had transpired in the early 60’s of the last century, significant memories of it are so deeply etched in my mind that recall would be quite easy.  No sweat.

But the first question to be asked rightly would be why the need to leave which necessitated a return.  Well, it was like this.

Completion of high school for me was in the summer of 1958, followed right away by my first year of college in the same school, Xavier University.  High school ended on a rocky note for me, after a year or two of listlessness and aimlessness.  Had lost much interest in school, and was simply going through the motion in cadence with the rest of the people who were in school with me.  Unbeknownst to me my mother had been burdened by this development, maybe even unable to find in her mind the solution on how to deal with me.  So in a moment’s notice, I was told I would be sent to Manila to live with my father there.  Obediently, did her bidding and wasn’t really too grieved by the prospects, for after all it would be my chance to see and live in the big city, for the first time.  So there I was shipped to Manila in a slow boat, where I would be spending the next 3 years.  The time allowed me to finish an undergraduate course.  And in a real way, allowed me the opportunity to examine my life’s priorities and direction and set a course somewhat, though still quite a sea and confused.  For one thing, after that undergraduate course, I still did not find myself prepared enough to pursue any meaningful path in terms of career or whatever.  Did not find myself sufficiently mature to enter adult life, since I still kind of thought of myself as an adolescent.

Anyway, there I was again with one brother, and my father and his entire family, in a tub of a boat on our slow voyage back to Cagayan de Oro.

The slow trip allowed for some time of introspection and simply of idle thoughts.  What would the city be like after the long absence?  What about the people whom I knew, where would they be now?  Never had the opportunity to return for a visit the entire 3 years.

Before long all this would be addressed and resolved.  As is typical or usual, the boat docked in the early morning, and before long I and my brother were driven to my mother’s house which was less than 2 kilometers away, passing by the old provincial capitol grounds.

Immediately I was hit with the revelation that because the streets in Manila were wider and better paved, that our own streets were quite narrow, and indeed looked rural, with acacia trees flopping in the wind and tossing its branches above the asphalted streets.  That experience stayed with me for quite a while.

It made me realize and exclaim that before Manila, I had really lived a rural kind of life in very rustic surroundings.  How different the local color and ambiance were.  In a way, how pitiable, especially taking into account the better-looking houses and buildings in Manila.  No wonder travelers before had swooned of the manifold wonders of Manila after their own memorable trips to the capital city.

Over time, I would always harbor the thought that living in any small hometown was life lived in small and simple ways.  Thriving among uncomplicated people and circumstances.  Of life, easy to deal with and none the worse for tear and wear.

Thus, in the succeeding years, I would be engaged in sojourns of leaving the old hometown and coming back after long absences.  And the self-same feelings would still engulf me upon each return.  Like an older man going back to his youth, and reliving the perceived glories that were then present and enjoyed.  And enjoying being cradled by such familiarity and simplicity.

Today as I turn 3 scores and 18, idling thoughts still turn to the same remembrances and somehow they bring some comfort and relief.   And maybe the final thought that this last return to the old homeland would be the last.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Proposed XU Comprehensive Development.

An integral part of this expansive development would be the outright sale of a good chunk of the XU main campus in the Divisoria area, and another sale of another area in the Manresa area. 

It is both unfair and unwise to treat this loaded issue as simply black or white, meaning that you have the stakeholders on one side wanting to sell, versus some of the other stakeholders but mostly non-owners opposing the sale.

Why “some of the other owners”, because a reading of those who oppose the sale will reveal the names of the current archbishop and several past XU presidents/officials, who are all also members of the same Society.

In reality, the issue is rather involved and complicated.

The proposed sale to a third-party developer would involve demolition of many extant and in-use buildings in the old campus and the erection of a few high-rise structures along what is now Hayes St.  Similarly, some existing structures in Manresa would also be demolished.  In other words, not much different from completed or ongoing mixed-use developments around the city.

The only easily discernible difference is that most if not all of those developments are owned and/or undertaken by commercial entities with personal profits as their overriding motivation – like the Ayala, SM, Gaisano, etc.  Not so with the proposed XU development.  It is owned by a revered religious institution deeply rooted in the service of humanity, especially those under-privileged.   It is then assumed that whatever it does, the overarching motivation will always defer to its long-standing motto, “to be men for others”.

My reading is that It is precisely in this one particular and critical regard that those opposed have latched on their movement, albeit indeed they are not owners of the property.

What is being asked is for a more open and comprehensive discussion of the many facets to the issue, for as much time as needed for this very involved process.  In other words, expand the previously noted discernment process which was revealed as having only involved a segment of the community.

I daresay that the NO TO SALE side has neither broadly defined its opposition to any sale of any property nor is such stance one written in stone, but rather that thorough exploration of all options or possibilities is exposed to light of day and assessed.  After all, wasn’t Xavier Estates once part of the vast landholdings of Xavier U?

So let us take a breather and while away some time.  Remember we have future generations to think about.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

El Camino De Santiago

El Camino De Santiago

That is the temporal road, that straddles between at least two countries in Europe.  But the spiritual road is Christ.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

And without him, there is no going.  No knowing. And no living.

And he is not limited by any boundaries.

During the time of Christ, the main transport of travel was walking.  And indeed Christ did a lot of walking in the countryside of the Holy Land and beyond.   These exhausting physical exertions in rugged places we are told had made the human Christ an envious picture of sturdiness, hardiness, and physical strength.  Not the effeminate figure with dainty hands we see in current-day images.

Constant trekking from place to place was the one physical exercise that aided men of that milieu in transcending the physical realm into the mystical or spiritual. Like extreme athletes of our times, people then attain natural “highs” or altered states doing the normal routines of their living – walking to get to work, walking to search for their food, walking to learn of things, etc., routines that transformed them into a hardy people.

Today we consider our recreational running and jogging as our camino to better our bodies and minds and or to make ourselves fit for the rigors of our daily living.  But soldiers and armies then went through incessant “forced marches” to prepare for battle.

In all this, walking had the goal of achieving temporal goals for the partakers. For that is what walking does. A draining of physical energy and vigor to lighten the spirits and make them soar to heights.  And that is what is intended.

However, many participants of the Camino de Santiago consider it as a means to attain many temporal goals – like a way to finding themselves, as the possible portal that could lead to finding a worthy mate for life, a saintly venue to meet people who inspire or are agreeable to us, a way to practice a bit of the contemplative life, a way to find help in our individual lives’ many challenges, etc.

But I do believe this temporal way is intended for a greater purpose, and this is to meet and imitate the spiritual or mystical Way, Christ.  And in the singularity of the eye of our intention, no temporal baggage ought to be added to burden that knowledge and following.  We do it for the singular purpose of following Christ because He demands it from his trusty and loyal sojourners.

And taking this route one cannot go wrong, remembering that temporal goals however commendable are fleeting and do not last long.

And is the Camino then the only path that leads to our spiritual enlightenment and guidance?

One doubts that, especially because not all people can possibly have the time or means to travel to that distant place, so one can walk over 800 kilometers.

There are enough kilometers where our own individual lives are, without necessitating any distant travel.

As a species humans are quite unique, as one city week-end runner in the US once remarked:  We drive in our cars for 10 miles so we can get to a park and run around it for 2 miles.

We can define our own camino in the comfort and ease of our own work-a-day lives wherever we find ourselves, and it would be just as effective, rigorous, and acceptable.

I have been routinely jogging and walking for almost 30 years, already covering thousands of miles and wearing away countless sneakers.  At times the journey had been pained and difficult, at other times light-hearted and joyous. I had jogged on sunny days, in the cover of early night, or under pouring rain.   Under a temperate climate or under the blistering sun of the tropics. The journey and route running the entire gamut of human living.

I like to believe that my search for the Camino of Life has led me to a better place than when I started.  Not the ideal place, but a better place.  After all that is all and how much this earthly life promises to each one of us.

Monday, November 04, 2019

God Works In Mysterious Ways

Every time some things happen in an unexpected way that stump our thinking, we justify by saying that God works in mysterious ways.

This is also true when unexpected things are done by people that we thought could never accomplish such things or amount to anything commendable.  Still, we say that God works in mysterious ways and saves the day.  A passable enough justification to provide logic or reason for such occurrences.

But there are instances when our own preconceived biases prevent us from seeing it that way, and instead dismiss the doer as nothing more than a charlatan or a faker.  Our usual prescription for understanding such unusual events fails to apply, and instead we turn to the other default.  The doer has to be evil, even if the expected results of his actions are exemplary.  Good cannot be eked out from such an inherently evil person.

Very early in his life, Trump had been like the many other billionaires in the world, who are never satisfied with their first million, or their first billion.  They have to have more.  Their coffers are big enough to accommodate almost all wealth in the world.  Their unmitigated craving for worldly successes and the power and influence that go with it, appear to have no limits.  The thirst just gets bigger and bigger.  Think Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc.

But something happened to Trump when he turned his sights to becoming president.  He metamorphosed into something completely different. A completely changed person.  And he must have been sufficiently prescient to realize that becoming president would make him abandon his old ways of wanting more money, or continuing to pursue his hedonistic and wayward ways, or to show complete disregard for his troubled country.  It is conventional knowledge to accede that those who enter politics would actually lose part of their wealth.  Instead he embraced the wholesome changes with will and vigor, even going some steps beyond like actually choosing not to receive his salary as president, which is no chump change.  He could be a millionaire with just his salary.  Not very much, but still a millionaire

Thus, for all discernible intents and purposes, Trump the candidate was a completely different person to the core than Trump the president.  Of course, the innate accidents of his being as a person are still there – he is still irreverent and coarse in speech, he never allows any daylight on negative comments directed at him without a scathing riposte, etc.

And his winning the election could be said to be more than surreal, though short of being mystical.  No single pollster thought he could win.  All the pundits laughed at loud at his chances of winning.  Those of his party included.  In hindsight even the now infamous and sinister-looking Peter Strzok was very bold to write that the foregone election would be 100m to zero in favor of Hillary.

And his win did not come because a greater number of voters picked him, though there are pesky questions as to how many exactly of those votes cast came from legitimate voters.  His win came from a selected number of voters who were in strategic states to give Trump the winning electoral votes, which he topped by a very comfortable margin.  Thus, no legitimate question or challenge could be asked about the win.  Simply, another “miracle” attributed to Trump from the founders via the Electoral College.

But this short of miraculous win came with a deadly price, Trump did not spare himself from the rage, anger, and mortified wrath that a committed cadre of disgruntled detractors which had not allowed him to have a moment of peace, or allowed him sufficient time to rule.   They have tried to batter him from pillar to post, unable to hold their mystified rage and rancor, from the first moments of his administration.

And this is where the US is right now.

Being on the right side of history does not assure one tremendous and overwhelming popular support from all sectors of the polity.  Many times one has to stand alone, solitary and lonely with only the godly assurance that what you are doing is righteous and thus one must soldier on, and somehow still yearn to be victorious.

And in this heady milieu of Trumpism, how can one escape the uncanny parallelism between him and another historic figure?  Granted many personal facets from both figures are almost diametrically opposite or different, but still a number of  pivotal details in their rule do jibe and can stand as healthy juxtaposition.

That historic figure was also reviled by all learned men of his time, men who occupied high social status and/or sat in the fearsome hierarchy of the ruling classes and the self-anointed ones who were pre-ordained to dispense with the knowledge and wisdom to impart to the governed.  They mocked and derided him for his unworldly claims and plebian ways.  Even his own people turned their backs on him.

His muted claim as the progenitor of their salvation and renaissance was rudely chastised and derided. And he had also inferred that following him would allow the benighted people of Israel to return to their roots in faith and become great again.  Sounds familiar?

And we continue with the self-same hope that God will continue to work in mysterious ways.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Wisdom blooming late, or simply a late awakening?

As we truly advance in years, certain attitudes and behavior take on understanding and clarity that we feel will tide us over till we die.  It is quite easy to say that the accumulated years of experience have taught us the incalculable lessons we feel we have been vested with.  But still if we scratch deeper we could also claim that there are other things at play that may have triggered their genesis.

Anyway, through our mellowed years many of us find that we have become more tolerant and accepting not only of others’ faults but of the uncertainties and at times cruelties of life.  We find ourselves not only less impatient, but actually more understanding, as to how and why a lot of people we have put trust in have fallen way short of our expectations, however realistic those expectations may be.

We have learned to not expect too much about the temporal desires of life from actually happening, unlike before when our expectations were iron-clad and steadfast.  Now we learn to take things in stride, diminishing the gravity and passion of our desires, and expectations.  We have learned to “make do” with whatever results life may have dealt with us.  With the least of regrets, and more of contentment if not consignment.

And I do not believe that all this is attributed to old age which has dulled or slowed down most things we do or think.  And needless to state, we assume that practically everything we do or perceive has slowed to a walk or worse, as we are in our twilight years, not just the physical pace, but including the mental acuities we have acquired during the growing years.

So why are we as almost default more tolerant, less impatient, and more accepting of the realities which in our younger years, we used to resent with gusto when they do not go our way?

I do believe that the real reason for this world of change is because we ourselves have looked inward and found that in the things we have been doing and planning we have constantly failed not only ourselves, but also the people around.  And this in spite of our darn honest to goodness attempts to try to do better. And this frank realization is easily arrived at if only we are quite honest with ourselves.

We find that failure is our constant companion in this life, our sojourn buddy who has kept with us, unshakable and unwavering.  Neither could we shake it off or leave it behind. Failures not in the things of the spirit, but failures in all the temporal or earthy things that we have hitched our futures on.

Only our spiritual quests will find fruition and realization.  And this we will ultimately realize not in this life, but after we have shaken off our mortal coil.

How do we know?  We simply will have to latch on to our Faith and to what it promises.

And because old age typically does not last long, the waiting may be sooner than we think.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Recalling and Retelling a Long-forgotten Apostolic Work

The careening new technologies disrupting our once rustic life somehow bring us back to the bygone days of youth when things were a lot simpler and coarser.  When life somehow was easier to understand and live.  Now with dizzying speeds we are hard-pressed even at keeping pace with the consumer technologies available out there.

Noticing beyond just the physical characteristics our gadgets and their almost limitless capabilities to connect us virtually with a world well beyond our physical reach, we begin to realize and wonder about them juxtaposed with the simpler things we had then.

Yesterday, I woke up to the realization that with the smartphones I possess. Yes, I have several yet not one of them is equipped to connect me telephonically with the rest of the world.  Said differently, none has a local SIM card or with load purchase to allow access to other cellphones.

All details aside, this thought brought me back longingly to the time when I was still a college student at XU-Ateneo de Cagayan, which would be in the mid-60’s.  I faintly recall being approached by somebody, am not sure if it was Jesuit priest or a layman, to continue with the practice of broadcasting the 7am Sunday Mass at the XU chapel via the reaches of the local premier AM station, DXCC.  A sweet and serious offer that an avowed Atenean could not refuse.  It was made known to me that the one initially assigned to do it would not be available anymore, so the need to find another.  Okay, I said, and so what is next?

I was handed a brown folder with a few worn pages of script inside.   It was essentially a summary of the typical Mass, from beginning to end, from Entrance Hymn to Final Blessing.  The job was simply to provide audio when the celebrant would remain silent going through the different phases of the Mass.

It was then my responsibility to assess if the documentation was sufficient for my purposes, and more importantly, to present myself to the DXCC technician, who would be responsible for setting up the system to allow the regular broadcast.

Had to rewrite the whole script and armed myself with good reading materials to fill out radio silence during the services.  Met with the DXCC technician who fortunately was already familiar with me, a few minutes before the start of my first broadcast.

So dutifully every Sunday before 7am we both met up at the left side of the XU chapel.  He laid all the wirings and the mikes to be used for the broadcast, while I located myself on the same side close to the altar, holding on to my folder with the script, and the few prayer books I brought along.

This we did with almost no fail for at least a year and maybe closer to more, going to the air at the appointed time and place and reaching to all who tuned in to the radio during that time.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and its message of redemption propagated far and wide to the devotees unable to be physically present.

And all that time, we never received any feedback to apprize us of the work we were doing.  Not an iota of comment or emoticon to a Facebook page or other social media.  Complete radio silence.

And just as hazily, this work stopped, and everybody concerned went about their separate ways.  And I am just left to wonder, how crude and limited methods were then to disseminate data and events to the people at large.  Worlds apart from the ways we now handle such things.

That same smartphone that most people, from all strata of society, now possess in their hands, is now capable to do what we once did with great attention and labor, and a lot more, simply with a few clicks, tender taps of the fingers over the screen, etc.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Taking a Fast Boat to Hong Kong

 First we heard of the yellow vests protests in France, a populist movement from the working middle class who took to the streets to vent their frustrations on economic issues.  Now we have the black shirts protests in Hong Kong, going now more than 13 weeks.  Again, another populist movement coming from the middle class ranks.  It kinds of remind one of  a third  populist movement -  in the US during the last election cycle, except that in their instance, instead of bullets, the protagonists used the ballot.

One outstanding thing is how the HK movement has been able to galvanize the citizenry to gather in very large numbers even with a very loose organization whose leaders are not even clearly known.  It gathered at one point 1.7 million people on very short notice, almost a fourth of the total population of the island of about 7 million people.  Tech-savvy residents have created their own networks for communications and dissemination.  Thus we hear buzz words like mesh networks or Telegram, etc.

How could anyone ignore the numbers?  And more importantly how could one not realize the stakes involved?

Among them are:

In the world of finance, HK is the third most important global financial hub,   behind only London and the US.  It cannot afford to be destabilized for long, without deleterious repercussions worldwide.  The tense rumblings are definitely undermining this pivotal role in this Asian locale where English is a primary language.

It is an inevitability that in 2047, HK will truly be molded as part of Mainland China, as per agreement reached in 1997, and it will be ruled by the Communist government like any other part of China.  Once done, HK will lose its financial prominence because the major Western powers will never allow itself to trust in China.  But why should HK be any different from any Chinese city?

But first a little trivia.  Before the ascendency of China as a looming world power, the Communist government had eyed HK with great avarice because HK’s economy or GDP then was comparatively huge compared to that of China. But in the meantime China’s many big cities blossomed and became modernized and prosperous amidst a riotous economy that was burgeoning to the point that now, HK’s GDP contribution would not mean that much, maybe representing only 10 or 15% of China’s total.

But the bigger problem is HK itself.  HK became unique HK because of the uncanny combination of the Chinese people’s intrepid nature and their entrepreneurship genius mixed with the vaunted British Common Law.   That inimitable combination produced HK, and we know this would become untenable once HK becomes part of the Communist regime of China.  Rule of law as known in the West will be alien then, and the HK generations weaned on this cannot survive.

Even with just this, one can easily grasp the mammoth dilemma that HK truly finds itself.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Elusive Peace

Peace be with you.  Peace I leave with you.  Peace I give unto you. Go in peace.
We talk peace.  We shout peace.  We think peace. We all want peace.

But what exactly does each one expect of peace?  For this, we individually have our own ideas.

But by deductive process, we find that the temporal peace we all crave for fall into each and/or every one of the following things.

Our elemental concept of peace first and foremost assumes that we are in possession of financial or economic security.  The kind that allows us to sufficiently take care of ourselves, our families and  loved ones, with just enough efforts and difficulties as to allow us to enjoy it in due time and measure.  This extends to our capabilities to provide the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter, and overall health and safety of those we are responsible for.

Beyond this, we would find peace if we can continue to find ample opportunities for our  robust cravings  for continual activity, so our lives are not desolate and dreary, or bereft of the pleasant activities that are of value to us and that enrich our memories..

We also have peace when we feel that we have developed satisfying and considerable human friendships and bonds that bring smiles and pleasant memories.

Because our very nature hankers for it, we feel peaceful and serene, when we are blest by praise and admiration from our fellow human beings and peers.

With these we feel our lives as fulfilled and in contentment, and therefore at salutary peace with ourselves and the world.

But Christ’s concept of peace for us is quite simple and straightforward.  He demands straight thinking in following His will unselfishly.  Said differently, it means taking up His Cross and following Him

Can we reconcile the temporal with the spiritual?  That is the overriding question that ought to provoke us each day.

To bear the cross and to love it
To chastise the body to subjection
To fly honors and suffer reproaches
To despise oneself and wish others do
To bear all adversities and losses
And finally to desire no prosperity.

God knows all are not part of man’s natural inclination.  Still we are asked to go against them for doing so leads to the only path to inner peace and tranquility.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The March To The Future For Xavier U-Cagayan de Oro

Looking at the futuristic rendering of prospective structures, open spaces, and roads in the perspectives publicly shown, it is plain to see why the awed viewers would be easily taken in to agree that such would be a commendable and acceptable metamorphosis of the current campus.  And truly, it would look good and would do right for Xavier University.  A total and integrated remodeling of an old and minimally-planned campus; and what’s more, creating additional precious finances for the school to undertake its other more ambitious project, the Manresa property.

But how would the entire city be affected by the new development, a city already burdened with many growing problems?  If one of the current problems inherent to the place is congestion, how would the additional buildings for commerce planned not only address but mitigate that problem?  And remember that issue spills over to traffic congestion also.  And more to add.  What about increased volume of drainage, additional energy requirements, H2O requirements, etc.?  Would we envision a complex development with back-up generators (like what we have in the other developments) running during brown-outs, turning this part of the poblacion into one loud noise-polluted amphitheater?

How would the new development address the pertinent issue of “livability” in this part of the city?  Rather than commercialize it even more, why not instead devote areas not set aside for preservation for conservation purposes – like for more greenery and trees, or simply as open airy spaces?  A comprehensive cost-benefit analysis ought to be undertaken, by both XU admin and the city, a city which has been judged by many as not keen enough to address such issues.

It is devoutly wished that such serious considerations and more are earnestly pursued and not just glossed over, keen to the observation that it is easy to be blinded by the sight of grand and tall buildings as glaring signs of “development” progress.  But thinking of our other over-sized cities that observation appears to hit the mark.  We can point to a number of them already beset with burgeoning problems of basic public services.

If confirmed as I suspected that the campus is about 8 hectares, then that equals to 0.08 square kilometers, of a smallish poblacion.  Would the proposed development create its own ecosystem that could adversely skew the city’s own?  Like traffic flow. How immediate surroundings with a lot of old houses would be upgraded or remodeled as to not degrade the supposed gains made by the new development.  All this and more really point to the urgent need for the city to have enforceable zoning laws.

Or are we consigned to accepting that our older cities as they march to the future, will be nothing more than a hodge-podge or patchwork of isolated development sewn together to keep from bursting at the seams?  Or maybe just waiting for the seams to indeed burst.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Non-Fictionalized Fiction: Virtue Personified (Superiority in Every Sense)

By most standards Xenophon, the Greek philosopher, would be held in the same regard as Plato, and Aristotle, or Socrates.  But most of us have not even heard of him.  Even his name, the first 2 syllables in Greek means, foreign or alien.

Anyway, in one of his works, he personified Virtue and Evil as 2 women.  How kindly to use female, rather than the traditionally dominant, male.

Traditionally, the exemplar of strength, power, and virtue has largely been portrayed as male.  Most of our superheroes have been male.  The gods of old and mythology have dominantly been male.  It is almost like an accommodation or afterthought that females have been used to share the honor and adulation.

First it had been Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, before we had Supergirl, Batgirl, Mary Marvel, and of course, Wonder Woman.  Even fatherland, before motherland?

It is typically my own personal experiences that get highlighted in my blog entries, real and factual narratives culled from the ether of my memory.  Memory that threatens to dissipate as age catches up with me.  So with committed hands I lend words to the truant slivers of memories before they fade away.  Using as much color and substance as I can muster I cobble tales with appropriate words that many times grudgingly escape my attention, and at times I admit invariably flamboyance is allowed to make appearances in my narratives.  So imploring pardon for the shortcomings

Anyway, so my blog initiated more than 15 years ago, is inhabited with stories that are recalled and recorded to posterity.  But there is a part of one’s consciousness that is not grounded in reality, but in the ethereal world of fantasy.  Though for many of us just as relevant as the other, it is congested with the many escapist fantasies that litter consciousness and yes, even in reverie.  Depicting the kind of person that we have always longed for and prayed to be in every respect, however surreal one could get

Narratives existing only in a kind of preternatural sphere and not subject to the constricting world of realities.  And thus in this border-less world we allow our minds to bolt to distant places beyond the strictures of our mundane world.  But which by many is considered just as vivid and impactful as the stories of childhood and beyond.

I wonder if it is a story one wants to unravel and disclose.  Like a third-person pseudo-autobiography given life and told like non-fiction.

Throwing caution to the winds, I will shamelessly attempt to piece together the many details and events that to this day have slyly remained in the dark labyrinths of my psyche.

Following then will be  the evolving serialized story of an  ambivalent alter-ego, a series while so real to me is equally fanciful and interwoven with unbelievable details.


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan: Development Plans

Amid all the bright smiles and implied nods we see, we participate here not only as a small voice, but also as a vestige of a past long gone and maybe forgotten.  We like to add  puny whispers to the thunderous ones that we have heard from avowed stalwarts of the community.  Weighty voices coming from leaders whose reputation and renown have preceded them, giving them more sway and weight to validate their oral judgments. From the beaming captains of local businesses and industries, to the esteemed leaders of local government, to the revered spokespersons of our educational, religious, and social institutions.

 And we see that to a large extent there has been unanimity in thought regarding the very ambitious and drastic development plans the university has deigned to follow.  But we aim to tease and coax from them information about the time and efforts expended by their honored selves in arriving at their conclusions.  Because our small voice only has questions to be asked, rather than more grandiose suggestions to add to the plans so elaborately laid out.

Given the warm reception given the development plans, we are confident that these leaders believe that the city is not only in good hands but in a good place and thus fit and ready to accommodate more developments of the sort we already witness locally.  More tall buildings and malls for mixed uses and by consequence, more traffic.  And we are confident further that these leaders are of this mind because of the results of their actions in their respective fields in this regard.  If this be so, we then proceed with our obviously loaded questions.

Do all this and the results they will necessarily engender address the many factors of the “livability” index that a city or community ought to pay deference to?  Let us count the ways, and begin with the general.

How does all this affect the overall livelihood of the community, especially those already less privileged and in penury?  To business/industry leaders and local government, what has been done in the meantime to address and mitigate the poverty levels under your own specific purview?  Many believe the city has been remiss because of the increasing levels of privation we witness around the city. And many have observed not only here locally but most everywhere else that where developments of this sort are initiated, that one unintended consequence has been that they are exclusionary and thus discriminatory to the less privileged, with regard to where they live and work, and their corresponding access to the new opportunities to be opened.

Has the chaotic traffic and parking situation improved enough to accommodate more?  What about flooding?  Is the general situation getting any better so that we can say that more can be safely added?

What about plans or implementation of zoning of different sectors of the community?  Is local government paying attention to how in general development is moving along?  How to spread development to take advantage of the big size of the city.  The city has the size of almost 450 sq.kms and development is centered on a very small area. A question was once asked if there was a master zoning plan of the city. Is there one and is it being implemented?

Are all these even relevant to a modern age where traditional normalcy has been upended?  Maybe, disregard for all these concerns is the new normal?

Anyway, only the future is the final arbiter of whatever decisions are made in the present.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Call of Prayer

Being physically alone does not necessarily equal to loneliness.

Many people are at their busiest when alone, attending to a myriad of overlapping chores that run the gamut from physical to mental.

One would even venture to declare that it is when people are constrained to choose to be alone when they are in the thickest of crowds, leaving them little time for their own personal struggles.

In the same way that one could be in the middle of a thicket of people and things when one feels so solitary and loneliest.

Because as the holy books say, you are where your mind is and not necessarily where your physical being finds itself at the moment.

While the hustle and bustle of urban living makes difficult the urge to concentrate on one specific thing, it is by no means inevitable or insurmountable.  It requires focus and practice. And the recourse to a methodical approach to arrive at a calm solitude in the midst of overwhelming distractions we daily find ourselves.

The method or process goes by many names, but it resides in our very nature and will respond to all when called upon.  Many of us call it the pre-destined call of prayer, the lifting up of our hearts and mind to eternity, amidst the tumult of this world.

A method once familiarized and standardized can be reliably called upon to bring calm and focus however seemingly formidable the unavoidable vicissitudes of life may buffet and unnerve us.


Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Resiliency and Adaptability

I admit I have never seen the flooding problem of the city under the lens of the two concepts above.  This now appears to be the main focus of the efforts of local government and its cadre of private and governmental agencies, gathered together to address this irritatingly  perennial problem.

We learn in the bio-sciences that humanity though fragile and comparatively weak has been the undisputed champion of adaptability to its overall environment.  That is why it has survived all these years.

Thus, rather than taming Nature, let us instead allow Nature to tame us, or at least tame us half-way, or on a partial basis.  That appears to be the prevailing mantra in this age. Said in a different way, let us liken ourselves to a fragile balloon being threatened to obliteration by a greater and stronger force.  To survive, the balloon either side-steps or changes its shape and location to blunt the stronger force in the collision.

On the other hand, humanity has survived and prospered largely because it has used its skills and intelligence to “tame” Nature.  Thus we have skyscrapers, fast planes and cars, technologies, etc.

Thus in a real way resiliency which is synonymous somewhat with adaptability is an acknowledgment and resignation to the forces of Nature. Though in resiliency the goal is to try to seamlessly get back to a previous state, adaptability goes a step beyond since it allows and aims to change our ways to adjust to the vagaries of Nature.

How do we attain or strike a balance between the two forces, one side is man with his intelligence and skills and on the other, the all-powerful Nature?

We certainly cannot be defeatist in attitude and thus just nod our heads to what Nature dictates.  We always try to find ways to harness for our own good and uses the forces and inevitabilities of Nature.

I suppose that is where the problem lies.

Affluent communities can harness and marshal tremendous resources to mitigate their situation.  What about a developing country like the Philippines, how far can it go to challenge Nature?

Monday, July 08, 2019

The Case For Same-Sex Marriage

In June of 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, with a 5-4 decision, essentially delineating that gay marriage enjoys equal status with traditional marriage between man and woman.

This issue is so loaded with heavy paradoxes, one wonders how it continues to float.

Many supporters of the ruling were beaming with almost unexplained bliss and pride, like heaven had been opened to them. No problem there. Man is known to welcome temporal bounty like there Is no tomorrow, or like it is the be-all and end-all of existence.

Yet the cause of happiness can be explained in such a manner as to show the resultant over-celebration as undeserved because the decision was far from convincing, though still historic. Far from being unanimous, a 9-man court of the US all appointed for life by the US president, religiously divided into 6 Catholics and 3 Jews, voted 5-4 to grant equal status to gay marriages with traditional marriages the latter strongly espoused and supported by all major religions, like Catholicism and Judaism. And if I may add, equal only with regard to enjoyment of benefits dispensed by the Federal bureaucracy. They could not have ruled about its cultural, religious, and yes, even biological ramifications, because after all that would be obviously beyond the purview of that court.

Anyway, the hairline decision came because 2 Catholic court members decided to break away from traditional teaching of their religion. Kennedy many say was simply being true to form, taking sides away from traditional or classical truths espoused by the citizenry. The other, Sotomayor, most likely because she is most liberal having been appointed by the Obama administration, to represent two minorities, women and Hispanic.

The more impactful thing here is that because of the role of the US in the world, this will open the floodgates for the rest of the world with regard to this issue. A paradox indeed, germinated by an unconvincing decision riddled with dissension not only from the court’s own members, but also the citizenry. Although the recent trends as reflected by survey polls now show majorities of people around the world favoring gay marriages, not only in the US but in other parts of the world.

As a species we continue to be an enigma.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

In The World Of Comic Books

                                 Who Is Superman
(Please click on the link above) 

These modern self-proclaimed experts and pundits of comic books characters are confusing and in a way shooing us comic book lovers aside by making complicated and convoluted the characters and personalities of our funny pages iconic heroes.

Comic books were and should still be intended for kids and those who are children at heart at times.  Allow them free rein in their fantasy and escapist world. We regard and honor these heroes as they were originally introduced to us during their nascent times.  Invested with the kind of unequivocal clarity and cut-and-dried qualities that kids understood and adhered to.  Truth, Justice, and Honor.  Law and order.  And yes, they  are all American ways.

But these usurping writers and artists have co-opted these characters and their qualities and fleshed them out with details that depict these heroes as possessing dark and sinister persona, gravely conflicted and agonized, and at times even misguided in the superhuman pursuit of their noblest aims.

Please leave them as they were.  But yes, do keep improving the artwork, artwork that glorifies the beauty and goodness of their characters and again the beauty and perfection of their physical beings.   With dark and foreboding artwork we now find in pages of their works, one may be prompted to assume that many readers/viewers are harboring ideas that our heroes are now villains because of how they are drawn.

Comic books are works of fiction.  Leave dark facts and unseemly realities to works of non-fiction.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

In Pursuit of Justice and Civility

In an amazing display of concerted denunciation and unity, it feels like the entire city has been instantaneously and spontaneously marshaled into a singular groundswell of empathy and support for one of the city’s elder statesmen. He is shown in a truncated video to have been verbally and publicly abused by a lesser-known city alderman, known by a good number for his at times abusive behavior in his exercise of duly-constituted power and for sometimes having a virulent tongue.

Almost quite out of character,  local social media exploded with news about the public abuse heaped against our elderly statesman, who is already in his 90’s and who is also bound to a wheelchair.  Being a good measure of the local public pulse, social media gave us an undisputed collective response, when many posts from various sources were unanimous in their condemnation and their drive to expel the alleged abuser from his positions in both public and private sectors.

Even the public apology delivered in impassioned and bombastic tone typical with many local politicians did not sit well especially with those who had expressed negative sentiments and were adamant in the move for his expulsion.  The apology delivered in front of a gathered city council came dressed with a little bit of sobbing, and stray mention of some fragile medical condition.  The entire package delivered with apparent intent to appeal to the emotions of those within earshot, especially the one of forgiveness.

This all made for good theatre, histrionics and all, but there is a larger issue here that hopefully society in general could recognize and piggyback on, for the greater good.

The unfortunate incident does have its grave ramifications on the social fabric of this society but there are other important and deadlier issues that have to be dealt with by a collective and motivated citizenry.  One just hopes that this cohesive unity of force and influence will continue to be harnessed and directed into addressing those more critical issues besetting the entire city.  Issues like rampant corruption in public governance, alleged misuse of public funds, widespread flooding, apathetic public officials, widespread disregard of the rule of law, etc.

Causes near and dear to the subject elder statesman.  Thus needless to say, he would be mighty glad if something good and lasting ensued from this.  And it would be our greatest show of homage to him and his life.

A politically active and engaged citizenry is a good start.   This unexpected mishap has galvanized the citizenry to unity and action.  It is best to feed that momentum for greater advocacies all relating to the ideals of local governance.

The sacrificial lamb in the person of a low-level political huckster has ushered in a new possible dawning – of an organized force ready to pursue greater causes.

We can all do it!

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Imitation of Christ (Thomas a’ Kempis): Still Relevant?

For the last 5 centuries, the work of Thomas a’ Kempis, specifically his book, Imitation of Christ, had enjoyed tremendous notice and following, running a close second to Holy Scriptures.

But I suspect the very soothing ease and fancy trappings in modern living have pushed it aside.  Modern man preferring devotional materials more in consonance and congruence with civilized and comfortable living

Indeed critics of Imitation of Christ have said that its core teachings are too ascetic and austere, and too isolationist, and thus maybe too well beyond the reach of most or least liked by most.   That it is too critical about modern life and its myriad of enjoyable pleasures.  That it is too focused on staying clear from those activities that cater to the temporal needs and wants of man.

While the old centered the living of life on sacrifices and deprivation, the modern wants a more tolerant outlook of hedonistic modern life and its allures, exorcised   maybe with some moderation and control.  As a way of deflecting any sense of guilt?

This change in outlook, or call it compromise, now has widespread currency in the world, even among those of strong religious fervor and faith.

In a real sense, a’ Kempis and his beliefs may have lost relevance and applicability to our ever-changing world.

One last hurrah for my personal depiction of the world that might have come from the pens of a’ Kempis and the writers of the old books:

It appears as ever that man is destined to suffer in this world, regardless of how differently everybody else thinks.  That no amount of good intentions and noble actions can stem the surging tide that is pushing man to the path of perdition and misery.  As we read in the classical good books, man is bound to suffer and that is his lot.  That there is no escaping that.  So might as well prepare for that, designing plans and attitudes with that in mind.

Thus many of us have resigned to the reality that life is not intended to be enjoyed, but suffered through.  We have been destined not to gather peace and happiness but to go through tribulations and crosses.  

Perish the thoughts then that because life is short, we ought to pursue whatever little fleeting enjoyment we can derive from it.  Like, plan for those dearly-craved-for vacations and fancy trips to witness grand sights and interesting people never before experienced.  Gather as much pleasant memories while the candle of life still burns.  For when life is no more, everything is gone.

But if once life is gone and everything else is gone, why bother?  Isn’t there wisdom then in the Biblical saying that we should not gather material treasures that fade with time, but instead gather those that will last for eternity?

For indeed what has happened to the enjoyments and the pleasant experiences of the last happy trip? The momentous once-in-a-lifetime vacation taken with special friends and family?  The historic meeting with cherished acquaintances separated by so many decades?  Even the thrills and smiles of yesterday?  They probably have lost their novelty and before long will be consigned to the unattended corners of our mind and life.

 At most, we ought to seek only for contentment or some degree of satisfaction that we have tried hard to live a good life. A simple and uncluttered life.  A life of constant challenges and countless occasions of begin-again moments.

 The real measure being in the dogged determination and passion of the attempts, rather than the grandiosity of the results.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019


It is conventional wisdom to believe that sleep best approximates the state of being dead – to the world, at least.  In sleep, we suspend our wakeful consciousness from the world around us and from our real selves.  But in careful introspection that latter is not so, since we know that when we slumber our reveries inhabit that consciousness.  And our dreams are as commonplace as the involuntary act of breathing.  Except we do not have much control over them, and they are wont to regularly deviate from the cold realities that we are subject to in our wakefulness.  Thus, in dreams we can fly, not die, though at times we are unable to do acts that in reality are easily done like running away from danger, etc.

And because of their very random occurrences dreams have been subjected to so much and so many scholarly studies, not only dissecting their whys and wherefores, but also and at times importantly, what their significance are to the person’s real life.  And thus, hopefully can be used as tools or aids to healthy and more purposeful living. But in spite of the tons of researches spent on the subject, it is still largely the case of the jury still being out when we try to explore their connections and relations with the dreamer’s real life.  A life so typically frothed with stressful and traumatic situations.  It would be easy to suggest that the resultant mental traumas of such worrisome situations could easily spill over beyond one’s consciousness, and into the person’s world of dreams.

But regardless of the clear absence of iron-clad verdicts on what dreams mean or suggest, I took the liberty of listing the recurring dreams that I have experienced in my life, those I could easily and randomly remember because they keep coming back unsolicited it seems.  They appear to be of some significant consequences for me.  The myriad other dreams are too diverse to tackle and categorize as to merit precious attention.  Thus, they have been summarily relegated to the dustbin of forgetfulness.

Anyway, here is a listing of the dreams and some explanation or possible significance.  And what are the possible common threads in all or most of them?  This I do know, that when they unfold I feel uncomfortable, apprehensive, and fearful as if something bad would happen or something sinister would be uncovered.   

1.        That I have not really left my last long-term employment in San Francisco so that I find myself still reporting for my duties though not many appear to know that I still do.  And the workmate that I worked with is nowhere to be found to confront or confirm with.  I just keep reporting for work with no ID time card and not really verifying if I am getting paid still.  I go out without swiping any card.  Etc.  And I am always fearful that somebody would notice me coming in and going out.  But I soldier on, eager for the hoped-for pay that I assume I will continue to get.

2.        The other recurring dream is that I find myself still going to school and taking some subjects, though I absent a lot and do not review for exams, and I appear to know little of the subject matter.  But I am still enrolled and still looking for where the classes are being held.  Have not even read the books assigned.  I constantly am anxious because of my absences, my not studying the lessons, or reading the books assigned. Still going to school but quite clueless about the subjects being taken, and bereft of any commitment to passing the subjects.  Like I am only present in body but my mind is somewhere else.

3.        The 3rd one which have not occurred recently is about flying, where I am always attempting to fly by dropping off high mountains and gliding to the ground.  I always appeared to fly somewhat though with difficulty and at times with great effort, but I never crash or get hurt.  And when somebody is chasing me, I usually encounter difficulties and thus not easily able to escape the pursuer.  But I end up still safe.

4.        4th recurring dream has been that of taking international flights where anxieties abound – like whether I have my ticket and passport, the luggage I am taking with me, etc.  I always appear that I have not prepared well enough for the trip so I am in constant apprehension about the above things.  Also like missing my flight, the places In Bukidnon or Camiguin where the flights are coming from.  Etc.

5.        5th recurring dream has been that of repeatedly traveling toward Gingoog on a not so reliable vehicle, passing through bad detour roads somewhere in Balingasag, roads in constant repairs and detours, sometimes going through off-roads, and staying overnight in places like Medina or Gingoog.  And always feeling anxious and apprehensive, like reliving trying times maybe during my two assignments to the place.  So these dreams are possibly a reliving of those very trying times that may have left permanent scars in my memories.

 The question for me has always been what the significance or meaning of those dreams in my real life.  It appears that I have not been able to put closure to my work in my last employment, thus the reason why I keep thinking I am still employed there.  That maybe because of the particular way I ended my employment there, I am still not convinced that I have really separated from it.  That the decision lacked finality and determination.  Thus, I am constantly reliving that employment, like the separation was just in my mind.  Though not personally meeting with him, I am also constantly thinking of my last workmate and his whereabouts in the hotel.  He appears to still work in the same department and he appears not to mind my working my graveyard hours while he does the days.  The 3rd member of our team has not figured in those dreams.

Regarding the continued schooling sessions, it is probably because again I have not put closure to my studies which were stopped before I completed them, thus I continue to aspire for their completion.  And I do admit that I continue to want to take up my studies again if time permits. 

So for both dreams, these two things must really mean a lot for me way deep down inside so they would resurface involuntarily in my dreams, asking for attention.

Regarding the flying, I believe it is because I do a lot of daydreaming and fantasizing during wakeful hours that again somehow this flying symbolizes the fantasies I am quite fond of thinking.  Yes, I can understand why I would dream of flying because on many occasions I imagine myself being able to do these above-human stuff and impressing all of humanity especially the womenfolk.  Not just flying, but practically all other stuff legends are made off, including physical attributes that would court admiration and desire from the rest. I still have to learn to fly the drone I have.  And my dreams of owning a gyrocopter are still quite strong.  After all, I spent much time learning about such flying crafts and how to pilot them.  Even planned to enroll in actual flying lessons.

Are these clear signs of insecurity or immaturity, or just plain inability to deal with realities as they are?  Insecurity because I am not comfortable with the results or outcome of my employment and the many flaws that I exhibited? I exposed myself to many perils during that employment.  Things that could have merited censure or termination, or maybe possibly some legal challenges. But I took risks anyway, feeling like I could have not lived with myself if I did not pursue them. Or because forgoing with them  was not an option to me at the moment,  And I was always ill at ease in that environment, always fearful and timid about what to do in the discharge of my duties.   And as much as I could avoided contact with the higher-ups.  In short, I was not at ease, though I did not feel like an inferior.  I was just timid and fearful.