So it’s 2017

 

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(Photo credits to owner)

 

 

Scientifically speaking, new years are nothing but moments when the Earth completes its orbit around the Sun. But I like how we find bright hope and new beginnings in this scientific fact. I love how, to many, it is more than just a phenomenon in science occurring outside our little planet, a new calendar to adjust to or having to scratch out 6 on our papers and change it to 7. I love how, to many, it means a fresh start and a burst of hope for the things we didn’t have the love and kindness to wish for ourselves a few days back.

So here’s to a year-long of chasing things larger than life and than ourselves; to all the unaccomplished resolutions from yesteryears and to the new ones we’ll make; to loving ourselves a little more; being a tad kinder than before; to a new set of blessings wrapped as challenges; to 365 sunsets and dawns and second chances.

 

Greetings! It’s been a while since I’ve posted here.  So much has been going on but I refuse to make that an excuse. I have to step up my multitasking and time management skills, I guess. I hope to publish more writing this year. If I ever have one big resolution, that is to eradicate my lazy bones and procrastination. A happy new year to all!

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Two Ladies and a Question

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I was wandering the streets, with companions, during ungodly hours and I saw this chick alone by the sidewalk. As for me, I was out for art, exploration, a starry night and a therapeutic walk. As for her, I don’t know. My Mama told me not to talk to strangers, so I didn’t ask. But here’s a thing I know: late night or daytime, alone or not, in skirts or skinny jeans, none of us are asking for it. And by it I hope you know what I mean.

I know, I knowww it is a lame ideal since attackers don’t care about that when they assault you. That is why rape (aka it) has its own degree of morbidness and wickedness. That is why it is actually a serious matter that needs to be addressed in an equally serious manner. Now, with that said, do you know what is really dangerous? Being flippant about it– especially in a vast public-reach.

It is bad enough that people are raped (this goes out to both genders. Hashtag equal rights). It is unimaginable how they have to deal with the nightmares afterward that never turn off. It is pathetic to see them cower as the blame finger is pointed at them (although we all need to act responsibly for the sake of our own safety, of course). But being lighthearted about rape is simply way below the line of both humor and morality. The impact of one frivolous statement could lead to a domino principle that results to more crimes committed, more victims tarnished and to creating a society with a calloused heart and a twisted sense of perception.

But you know what is deadly? Being a careless, flippant and an unapologetic public figure/servant. David Archuleta once said, “Fame brings with it the power to influence people.”As a public figure/servant, people look to you as an exemplar. Yes, you speak your mind without filter. Yes, freedom of expression and all that. Fine, fine. But remember, there’s a line between freedom of speech and harrassment. There has always been, so please stop making justifications for unexcusable behaviors. It is a public servant’s moral responsibility to be someone worth emulating by the society. You aren’t called a leader if people would not look to you as a beacon to follow.

So, never underestimate the power of words. Truly, words can harm a lot than a sword can. Our tongues are sharper than polished knives. Our country, the Philippines, should know its impact more than anyone. Remember how we gained liberty from our oppressors? Remember why we are know enjoying the freedom of expression (which we hopefully would not abuse)?

Now, back to the intensely-debated question of whether or not our choice of wardrobe and style determine if we are asking for it (reminder again for responsibe actions). Ask that lady in a short dress if she wants to be raped. Ask that nerdy, conservative teenage girl if she wants to be raped. No, just ask anyone, if they want to get raped. Then ask yourself if you want it to happen to you.

It is not a matter of whether or not a person is asking for it, but more about why it is happening and what could we do to address the problem.

Hopefully you will end up asking yourself why you’re even asking such a question. Hopefully you will end up asking yourself why you are not asking questions which answers will be key to saving someone’s life in a dark alley somewhere.

Mid-October Reverie

I greeted the October morning sun with the usual drowsy, unsuspecting attitude, not even trying to be clairvoyant about the day. Later on, I saw my friends being frantic and in such a haste to leave. It seemed like a pressing matter, so I asked with concern what was happening. Were they on the way to the hospital or something? They all stopped and looked at me dumbfounded. They were about to ask whether or not I was joking, but apparently the concern on my face firmly suggested anything but. Then they suddenly erupted into a chorus of laughter! They told me to calm my nerves because they were just heading over to celebrate Masskara. The Masskara? Oh. It’s already starting? I was told that it’s actually about to end already. Whoa, I was certain that the city was just buzzing with preparations just a few moments ago…..

I staggered in astonishment and tried to do a run-through of my existence. Am I a cavewoman? No. Am I from 1923? No. Where was I all along? I’m quite sure that I belong to the decade 2015, so why am I behind the news? It is reasonable, though, because probably the exam week had me so engrossed that it drowned the uproar of the city. But still….

To sum it up, I guess my astonishment was trying to say, “Whoa, so things carried on without me, huh?”

Now, furiously blinking amidst my dumbfounded state, an insight stands out to me in bold, italicized letters, saying “The world would stop for no one.” You may be caught up in a tornado, drown in the quiet suburbs of your unquiet mind or have a beloved die in your arms and feel like the world is crashing down in smithereens, but that wouldn’t shake the fact that the world won’t stop for you. Not for you, not for your heartbreak, not for the salvation of your sanity. So the next time you feel like the world is crumbling down, disregard that thought. It is a lie. Because for all you care, the world couldn’t be bothered so much to even take a pause and notice you in the corner.

The world will continue to revolve in its own axis. Ever so dutiful, ever so constant.

Constant.

Constantly detached, constantly aloof, constantly changing.

But on second thought, maybe that’s just because the world is such a giant. Perhaps it has so much at risk, that’s why it is afraid to gamble. I mean, will you play with fire if you’re bathed in gasoline? Perhaps the world might be so titanic as to be incapable of yielding to emotions, to vulnerability and to humanness but I, however, am not. I am not a giant. I am not a big shot. I am not calloused nor benumbed by the enormity of my ego, pride and vanity.

Another insight I gained in this mid-October reverie is that I am minuscule and irrelevant — just the speck in the galaxy.  I am human. Nevertheless, I will be brave enough to be vulnerable. I will be sensitive to the caress of the wind and to the beckoning of the earth to the sole of my feet. I will have the compassion to pause for a while to wipe the tears of those who grieve. What might seem like my weakness would be my greatest strength.

In the end, it wouldnt matter if the world won’t stop for me, you or for anyone. What would matter most is we have done something worth its perennial pirouette.

The farther I think from myself and more into others, the better. Because then, the world would continue turning in a better way.

By this realization, I am now willingly attuned and even in love with my century.

—Eventide

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Slam that book shut
not a chapter more
not a page further;
End that perennial letter of mixed emotions and uncertainty;
Cut the drama
your tears need cessation
it can’t rain forever, sweetheart
Enough is enough.

Don’t you fret, now
summon audacity for closure
let the dusk prove to you
that it will only be an end
not the end;
the dusk only ties things up, dear
for a new beginning.

We must know when to gloriously bask
in the splendor of dawn
and when to wrap things up
in a prayer
and bury them in the dim of eventide.

—Eventide 

A Deafening Silence – Je Suis Charlie

Gunshots, chaos, 12 people dead – a massacre dawned without even giving the first week of the year a chance to finish its course. Now there are already more corpses to mourn than days spent in 2015.

When we said we wanted to start 2015 “with a bang”, I believe I speak for the majority when I say that we definitely did NOT mean gunshots nor a terrorist attack.

(For those who are still unaware of the news, kindly refer to this link and for those who are unfamiliar with the victim, Charlie Hebdo, just click the name.)

Summarily, the bloodshed was triggered by a few drawings, Charlie Hebdo being a rather satirical printing press. Despite claiming to ‘attack everyone equally’ in their magazine, the cartoons they publish are often intentionally anti-Islam, some even sexist and homophobic.

But hey, doesn’t Freedom of Speech under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights render Charlie Hebdo a right to express what they want to say? Doesn’t that make them, technically, innocent? I think it does. But obviously the terrorists didn’t.

They didn’t like the song Charlie was playing and so they took the obligation to implement silence. But if silence was truly their motive, I dare say how great they failed to bring it forth. They only managed to change the song, but not turn off the music– and what a terrible song they replaced Charlie‘s shout; what a steep price Charlie payed for something that was, after all, supposedly free.

Defiantly defending those disrespectful and provoking cartoons (specifically the one featuring the Muslim’s Prophet Muhammad), Stephane Charbonnier or “Charb“, the editor of Charlie Hebdo, said, “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me,” he told the Associated Press in 2012, after the Hebdo’s offices had been fire-bombed. “I don’t blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don’t live under Koranic law.”

Similarly tragic, neither do the terrorists abide by the same law as Charb and the people of Charlie Hebdo do; nor is the Freedom of Speech sacred to them. So, there we have it. Returning fire, revenge– one horrid thing begets another. For what, to avenge? To dignify the offended?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think all we got are more corpses from both sides and a lot more contention adding to the heap of already existing ones.

If you ask me, I actually don’t like either of what I’m hearing. I don’t like the sound of anything sardonic, sexist and racist, nor do I like the sound of rageous gunshots and bloody cries of human misery answering back in retaliation. I’m not siding with the terrorists when I truthfully say that those cartoons are really vulgar and offensive, thus making the staff of Charlie deserving of their ill fate. Neither am I siding with Charlie when I say that a terrorist attack is simply abominable.

My thoughts and sentiments couldn’t agree more with Jacob Canfield of Hooded Utilitarian when he said, “The fact that twelve people are dead over cartoons is hateful, and I can only pray that their attackers are brought to justice. Free speech is an important part of our society, but, it should always go without saying, free speech does not mean freedom from criticism. Criticism IS speech – to honor “free speech martyrs” by shouting down any criticism of their work is both ironic and depressing.”

Let me repeat the words of George R.R. Martin and Alan Dershowitz with emphasis: (George) “When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar; you are only telling the world you fear what he has to say.” and (Alan) “Being offended by Freedom of Speech should never be regarded as a justification for violence.”

Nothing ever (and I mean EVER) justifies murder– much less a massacre.

I was raised not to be judgmental (or I at least try not to be vocal about it), but in my opinion (crossing my fingers I don’t get shot for it…) the journalists of Charlie Hebdo are braver than their attackers.

What makes me say this? Because at least they were brave enough to fiercely express their thoughts and stand up for their beliefs, no matter how twisted their ideals may seem to others. Unlike people who hide behind the ugliness of guns and weapons as ugly as such to face their opponents. Coward and immature enough to combat pens with guns. Weren’t they informed that pens are the ones used for writing, not guns? If only they knew, would they insist in writing their statement in blood?

I grieve for more than just corpses; I grieve for the courage and fighting spirits that were lost along those cold, pale, unresponsive bodies… And the uproar of my grief couldn’t be more distinct in this deafening silence.

(Disclaimer: photo not mine, credits to owner/s.)

(Disclaimer: photo not mine, credits to owner/s.)

“Men are threatened by the vastness of eternity. And so, we ask ourselves, ‘will our actions echo through eternity?'” the narrator of movie Troy wants to know. Now what want to know is. . . do we really have to ask ourselves that question? Must we be threatened by the vastness of eternity when we can salivate and be thrilled at the certainty of it instead?

I know one (not personally,though) who thought his name was a stone he was obliged to throw into the distance of a thousand years; someone who felt the need to be remembered and commemorated even after the last sense of existence has left his lifeless vessel; someone who wanted his name shouted even though he won’t be there to respond anymore: Achilles.

Does the name ring a bell? Even just a rusty one, folks? No? Well, to those that can’t hear the bell, the bell wants to inform you that Achilles was a huge puzzle piece to the Greek mythology both before and after he played a pivotal role in the Trojan War since every part of his body spelled ultimate i-n-v-i-n-c-i-b-i-l-i-t-y aside from his heel (if you’re still clueless at this point of time I suggest you restudy your Mythology notes or else I’ll 911 your teacher).

According to the story, Achilles allegedly joined the war against the Trojans only because he was told that, “This war will never be forgotten, nor will the heroes who fought in it”. And so, since he wasn’t a huge fan of anonymity, no further rhetoric was needed for him to spill some Trojan blood. Such was the time of gods, goddesses, altars, offerings, nymphs, naiads and Achilles. When men convinced themselves that there were honor, bravery, superiority and greatness in shedding another man’s blood.
It’s sad that one may think I’m only talking about a mythical era filled with far-fetched phenomenons and ideals when in fact, the act is also definitely real and alive (oxymoron moment alert) in the very mortal world you and I are in that its reality could pass as the predecessor of the mythical world’s ideals.
For all we know, we might be breathing the remains of the great King Arthur or perhaps Napoléon Bonaparte. . . .

Back to Achilles once more. It is ironic, as much as it is an epic failure, that despite all the brute effort, heroism and invincibility he displayed and planned to be celebrated for, majority of people’s attention are still turned to that one tiny thing that ended his immortality: his heel.

Now relating another movie, The Fault In Our Stars, here’s quoting a conversation between Hazel Grace talking to her cancer-stricken boyfriend,“You think that the only way to lead a meaningful life is for everyone to remember you, for everyone to love you. Guess what? This is your life. This is all you get. You get me, and you get your family, and you get this world, and that’s it. And if that’s not enough for you, then I’m sorry, but it’s not nothing. Because I love you, and I’m gonna remember you.”
There. It just goes to show that the desire similar to Achilles’ is a side-effect of discontent, insecurity and vanity. Why, do you think applause and flattery would somehow ascend (or descend) to wherever you go hereafter? Is it incredibly important for people you don’t even know and vice versa to praise you, talk about you and celebrate you or what you’ve done? I don’t suppose it is.

In my opinion, a simple and quiet life that touches and inspires others even after it ends weighs a lot more than a famous life celebrated for its flamboyance alone. Who would you want standing by your death-bed in your final moments? A set of thousands upon thousands of starstruck admirers who only like you for your good side? Or a select few of people, loved ones, who saw you through the good, bad and ugly yet remained firmly and loyally planted in your life? Which is more melodious to your ears? A tumultuous crowd wild over your presence or a soft, intimate whisper of your name then maybe followed by an “I love you” or a “Thank you”? Eternity of applause or a “little infinity” shared with your beloved? Take your pick.

In hopes of preventing you to feel obliged to fan away the haze of oblivion, i.e, chase fame and acclamation,  I have 3 words for you: Quality over quantity.

Fanning Away the Haze Of Oblivion

Our Faultless Stars

The Fault in Our Stars. Pardon me, but is this a movie or an onion?!
After watching the movie, for one moment I actually thought I turned into the lung cancer-inflicted Hazel Grace… I had a hard time breathing! And I felt as if I lost my will to do so… Better yet, despite the grudge and grievance that uncontrollably welled up inside me,I have come to conclusion that I love TFiOS. As the saying goes, “The more you hate, the more you love”, right? Right.
One of the many reasons why I love it is because it prodded me to take notice of and appreciate the things that I might have been taking frivolously, namely: my health, time, loved ones and my life. I don’t know why, but somehow along the way, we tend to take things for granted once they grow abundant. Maybe it’s innate in our subconscious or perhaps it is simply human nature? I am quite uncertain.
Also, it is surprising how it’s a film dedicated to people who are bound to close their eyes for the last time yet it’s incredibly eye-opening. (Hmm, I bet ‘irony’ is its middle name!)
TFiOS lectures that it’s not a requirement to have the best of everything or abundantly of something in order for us to get the best out of life and that we don’t have to live a hundred years for us to actually be able to live life. Because if two cancer patients can have the bliss of forever in merely a few days despite being deprived of the abundance of it,thus being the last people to likely do so, what bars us from grabbing hold of the very same opportunity?
“We are infinitely more than our limitations or our afflictions”, a quote by Jeffrey Holland. Please embed that in your heart and mind. Because we truly are; we were born that way. Every bit of limb,flesh,atoms and will that we’re made of are designed to overcome afflictions,insecurities, limitations and a lot more. We could be more, only if we allow ourselves.
As William Shakespeare said, “The fault is not in our stars but in ourselves” With that said,may we stop finding faults in our life, our fate and everything that they beget because they are found blameless! Do you think it’s right to just enter a room and suddenly complain about its design, structure and furniture? Because that’s the same thing about us and the world we’re in. We don’t get to chose what we’re rendered but what we do get to chose is what we do with it.

Busy yourself in finding the magnificence and beauty in the stars until you won’t have the time to waste finding the faults in them because those faults are fictitious.
Okay? Okay.