Archive | August 2012

Clothed in humanity for humanity

I have always known Jesus Christ as the “Son of God” who died for us to save us from our sins. In the context of Filipino tradition, I always started my prayers with the words “Dear Papa Jesus…” and wait for His birthday eagerly during Christmas. In every Ash Wednesday, I am reminded of Jesus’ sacrifices, and more importantly, the significance of his death on the cross during Holy Week Celebration. I also attended an exclusive Catholic school for girls, and learned more about Him through the biblical stories discussed in our Christian Living classes. At that time, the most striking thing that I learned is about seeing how He helped the last, the lost, and the least while forgiving and embracing those men and women who suffered from public persecution.

 

I learned more about Jesus Christ when I attended a youth camp when I was eleven years old. The second session was “Who is Jesus Christ to me?” I came to understand basic historical facts about Him. It was interesting on how He became the most controversial, most revered, and the most respected man who ever lived. After more than 2000 years, His story remains and He is remembered greatly for all the things that He claimed to be: He is pre-existent with  God (John 1:1-3), He has the power of Heaven and Earth (Matthew 28:18), He forgives sins (Luke 5:24), and d) He performs miracles (walking on water, commands the storms, raises the dead, among others). More importantly in that camp, I learned that He is a personal God, because He also felt human experiences: tiredness (John 4:6), thirst (John 19:8), grief (John 11:35), loneliness (Matthew 26:40), misunderstanding (John 8:27), shame (Matthew 12:47), stress (Matthew 14:13), betrayal (Mark 14:10), denial (Luke 22:6), and calling names (Matthew 12:24). Even the mysteries of His hidden life teach us about simplicity, growing and upholding cultural and religious traditions, and obedience to parents–characteristics that each of us should aspire. In His poverty, He lived to enrich our lives on what it truly meant to belong to God. All of these human experiences made me feel closer to Him because I felt that He came to earth not just to save us many years ago but to build a Church (of His followers) that will span in the years to come. He lived amongst us to teach us about faith, hope, and love that our life on earth is just a pit stop to an eternal life with Him.

 

I thought that knowing these things will be enough reasons to say that I know a lot about Him. However, it was only about 10 years later that I begin to appreciate these things when slowly I understand what becomes of the person like me after knowing Jesus Christ. I realize that encountering Jesus is transcending beyond the facts and stories, but in living His ways and sharing Him to others. Thus, to grasp His greatness in terms of my human capacity is about meeting, living, and sharing Him in the best way that I can be. Though it might be easy to enumerate my knowledge about him in three aspects, it is not easy to actually sustain and be consistent, but I aspire to be a mirror of Him. It is a daily struggle to live out faith and translating it into actions.

 

If I have lived during His time and He asked me the way He asked His disciples the question “But who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29), I would probably say what Peter said, about Him being the Christ, or the Anointed One. But I realize that Jesus is asking me more than what I felt about Him being the Son of God. Maybe His disciples could see him, without really perceiving who He was, hear Him without listening to what He was saying, and be with Him without getting to know Him. Even in the present times, I have rejected Him many times despite the blessings, the messages, and the graces He has given to me. Thus, it is about my personal response to Him that will matter who He really is in my life, and I will find it in my heart the answers why living with Him is always the best life. I can probably mention hundreds of personal accounts of how He has saved and blessed me and my loved ones, but the point is, it is when I placed my complete faith in Him that He has shown me how He can move mountains in my life to a plan that is really for my welfare  (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

 

Jesus Christ could have stayed in the Heavens with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. But out of His love for you and me, the Word became flesh. He came to give us new life, and not just any other kind of life but an abundant one — a life in all its fullness despite our sins (John 10:10, 1 Timothy 1:14-15). He came because He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6-9) for in Him we will  find salvation (Acts 4:12). Putting it in the words of St. Iraneus, “What we have lost in Adam (being the image and likeness of God), we might recover in Christ.” Jesus Christ do more than recovers us, but restores back our relationship with the Father — perfect, whole, and complete.

 

You and I were made for Him (Colossians 1:16). His baptism at the River Jordan is a manifestation of His identity and calling, as it also recalls the first revelation of the Holy Trinity. He came not only to save us but to invite us in having a deeper and more meaningful relationship inside the circle of love of the Holy Trinity. He wanted us to experience the perfect and ultimate love that the Holy Trinity can give. He does so simply because of His mission to pursue us relentlessly and forever (John 13:1), and nothing can separate us from that great and amazing love (Romans 8:38-39). A God, who cannot die, decides to live amongst us knowing that He will eventually have to die for our sake.

 

Indeed, He is a God clothed in humanity for humanity.

 

Since that fateful camp event held on November 7-9, 2003, I never stopped serving our Catholic community especially because I began to understand and appreciate who Jesus is in my life. It is amazing how right before my eyes, the lives of the many youth who took a stand and believed in Him fills my heart with utmost joy. My transformation into a life in complete trust in Him was made better by the people that God used as my inspiration. With God’s grace, He used me as an instrument of His love, and I could not imagine myself to be anywhere other than in this business of loving people.

 

There were pains along the way, but then God’s plan in my life is full of realizations that I simply could not say no. It was not easy but at the end of the day, it is a constant beautiful struggle. Like Him, there were crosses that I had to take when I said “Yes” to that call. There were sacrifices that have to be made along the way. These things have to happen in order to free myself from all unnecessary burdens that will hinder me from doing His mission. But part of this kind of life is the crosses that we cannot unburden but live with. The cross of my personal life reminds me constantly that if God brings me to it, He will bring me through it. These trials will only make me fall in love with Him even more, and thereby putting Him in absolute control of my life. This is actually difficult and humbling at the same time, for humans like to take in control. But why not? It is God who will take control, and such power is beyond what only humans can.

 

The cross of my calling is a challenge to live a 100 percent life in integrity–no if’s nor but’s in between. Just like the parable of the wedding banquet, “…for many are called but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14), it is truly a privileged to serve the youth and help them bring closer to God, just as I get closer to Him. Even after all of these many years, each moment blessed to me is totally different. All the more that I allow Him to take over my life, all the more that I am amazed how His beautiful plan is unfolding. Events may not be always pleasant, but I realize this must happen because God is creating me to be even more beautiful with such calling.

 

I am living the dream of others, and thereby my calling to give as much as I can in sharing this dream in the cross of selflessness. In the Lasallian prayer, “I will continue oh my God to do my actions for the love of you,” all of these works are for Your glory, not mine. It is never about me, but about You. I am happy to carry these crosses, as this is the way to show love back to the Lord, though as not as great as how much He has shown Himself in my life. By imitating Simon of Cyrene, I will have to give up my pride, take up my cross, and walk with Jesus. I might have been in unjustly forced by circumstances into doing things that I would rather not do, but these crosses I will carry them with a hopeful and loving heart.

 

Allow me to end this post with the lyrics from one of my favorite songs I learned from our community. This song titled “Lead Me Back To You” is a great worship song I always love to sing in remembering the fact that  “There is simply no other way but in Christ”. 

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Right Minus Wrong: Joe Cool, Aplikante (Play)

Joe Cool: Aplikante, written by Joshua Lim So, is the second play presented during the Right Minus Wrong production of Dulaang Laksambayanan, Inc, after Ang Huling Lektyur ni Misis Reyes.  The short play revolves around two characters, Joe Cool (Aaron Ching), the job applicant barely out of college, and Miss Lyka Agurela (Leah Tarynne Abella-Johnson), the receptionist and administrative assistant of Dohesta Corporation.

All Joe wanted was a job that would earn him a living, but when he went to Dohesta to submit his application, Miss Lyka does not make it any easier for him. For several times, she refuses to entertain him—from not confirming that this is Dohesta Corp., to citing reasons that they do not need someone who does not follow the “system” that they strictly implement or that they do not even have an opening at all. She even tells him wrong directions to keep him at bay.

Joe still not gives up as he tries to keep his cool (and his matching “swag” attitude and looks) by calling her cute nicknames and rides along with her grammatical and pronunciation errors (“Are you applicating?”, “Where is your resumi?”, and “Do you want to eat me?”) just to see at least one of his multiple resume submissions processed. Even if Joe tries to correct her with her poor command of English, she still acts like a know-it-all.

As the story progress, things get more absurd when Joe realizes that there are no other employees at the floor except for Miss Lyka. Seeing that he had no other choice, Joe began to answer the interview-turned-interrogation. But it began to become ugly when she exposes him to be fabricating his personal information from his name down to his credentials. As if this was not enough, she tortures him with a shock gun, and asking him why he wanted the job in the first place. After all, the job is valid only for less than six months, with low pay and no benefits.

He also wonders how come Miss Lyka becomes deathly afraid of Dohesta’s CEO, Ernesto Karera, when this boss seems to never step out of his office? Is there someone inside the CEO’s office? She often tries to appear busy and confident, but when her boss calls her, she acts like a prey about to be consumed any minute by an unknown predator.

Joe then accuses Miss Lyka of sexual harassment, forcing her to breakdown in tears. She then starts her monologue—in straight Filipino than using her grammar-prone English—about how she also dreamt to be a famous actress and become rich before, and not in a deadwood and menial job in this place right now. Joe seized this opportunity to try to enter the CEO’s door, and the cat-and-mouse chase ended with Joe successfully entering the CEO’s office and Miss Lyka walking out of the company premises. The play wraps up when Joe takes the place of Miss Lyka and is about to entertain a new applicant for the company.

Joshua Lim So’s play Joe Cool: Aplikante provokes the audience to reflect on how the society is run by a certain “system.” Who runs the system? Is it the government, the businessmen or both? How come this “system” can make people be certain and uncertain of their actions at the same time? The mere title of “CEO” connotes power, and even if one cannot be sure if this Ernesto Karera persona actually exists, both Miss Lyka and Joe allowed themselves to be swallowed into the “system” out of their need for jobs.

Looking at the two main characters, the play teaches us how one work around his way into Dohesta Corp.’s “system.” Miss Lyka obediently (albeit blindly) follows the rules of this “system”, she still has dreams that she hope to achieve some day, only that she is stuck in this job that has no growth and meager pay. She cannot even improve her English, but still speaks in a know-it-all twang that pisses Joe off several times.

Joe, an outsider of Dohesta, applied to enter such “system” because he was desperate to have money to help cover his  family’s expenses. Throughout the interview-turned-interrogation, Miss Lyka questioned his motives of applying into this job, asking him repeated “Why?” for each answer. The classified ad that Joe refers to is not specific as to what position he is applying for, but shows off he has enough experience to work it out. It was later revealed that the job is actually a replacement of Miss Lyka; hence, the mention of the six-month contract, little pay, and her extraordinarily rude behavior. Perhaps, if she tortures him hard enough, he will lose his interest of the company and she will secure this job.

Beyond the issue of contractualization of jobs, the play transcends to delve also on the theme of how one loses the idea of oneself when he or she allows to be subjected into the system. Miss Lyka is a dispensable person to the “system”, and she wanted to remain important by imposing her authority in her territory for the outsiders (for as long as Joe does not get too near the CEO’s office). But her fears and untoward behavior only magnify the curiosity of Joe in Dohesta. When he finally replaced Miss Lyka, he also loses his “cool” identity as he identifies himself to be an employee of Dohesta already. But the company treats its contractual employees like objects that are easily disposable once their contract expires.

The sexual innuendos and mild profanity in the dialogue between Miss Lyka and Joe Cool keeps the play in a somewhat lighthearted mood. It is noteworthy that the name of Miss Lyka Agurela is a loose joke of the phrase “like a gorilla”, which explains her behavior. Joshua Lim So’s portrayal of Joe’s character ponders on our personal dreams and sacrifices when it comes to necessity and family matters. There is always an answer and a purpose to our life’s repeating questions of “Why…?” If we do not know what we are doing and where we are  going, chances are we are submitting ourselves in the predatory system that  is hard to get out, unless it kicks us out.

Right Minus Wrong: Ang Huling Lektyur ni Misis Reyes (Play)

Last weekend, I had the chance to watch “Right Minus Wrong”, a twin bill production of Dulaang Laksambayanan, Inc. presenting two plays Ang Huling Lektyur ni Misis Reyes and Joe Cool: Aplikante.

The first play titled Ang Huling Lektyur ni Misis Reyes, written by Tim Dacanay, is a story of a resigning teacher delivering her last lecture for the school year. Instead of saying personal farewells and thank yous to her students, Mrs. Reyes (Lotlot Bustamante) dared to discuss a sensitive topic you cannot expect a Music teacher would discuss: sex and sexuality.

While Mrs. Reyes often amuses the crowd with her quick wit and contagious laughter, her final lesson was filled with stories of her life. She saw how students nowadays become victims of social ridicule and deprived of education because they became pregnant or they have engaged in homosexual acts. Mrs. Reyes opened the discussion that it is okay to discuss human sexuality in class by relating it with the musical concept of “dissonance.” She felt the urgency of questioning the system and the society in making better life decisions, and she does so with a group of people that became closest to her hearts–her students.

Certainly, Mrs. Reyes’ last lecture would not have been appropriate for a Music teacher’s lesson plan. The sister-principal disapproved her well-researched coverage of topics many months in advance before her last day in school. The principal even questioned her capability to teach such lesson, and even demeaning Mrs. Reyes’ passion for yoga. But Mrs. Reyes is not the ordinary teacher; she is also an idealist who believes she can help reduce the rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases with proper education of the youth.

In between her lessons, she injects in snapshots of her life’s issues on relationship troubles with her husband, her son’s addiction to computer games, and her misunderstanding with her sister, and her sister’s gay son. Despite her not-so-perfect past and present, she sets an example that you can still do responsible actions for a brighter future. She wished that her students will not give up their hopes and pursue with their education, because life will always have its struggles but these should not stop us from becoming better persons.

The style of Mrs. Reyes’ lecture is reminds me of Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. She felt that her last day will also be her last chance to teach them. Her students may not remember a year’s worth of Music lessons, but she hopes that they will remember her as a teacher of life and of hope.

If we were Mrs. Reyes and today is your last lecture day, what wisdom would you impart on your students?

Light Bulb Jokes of the Economists

I’m trying to inject some humor over aspiring economists here. 🙂 I was surfing a lot of jokes about economists but probably these set of light bulb jokes are among the funniest. Enjoy! 😀

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Q: How many Chicago School economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None. If the light bulb needed changing the market would have already done it.

Q: How many mainstream economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A1: Two. One to assume the existence of ladder and one to change the bulb.

A2: Two. One to assume the existence of latter and one to change the bulb.

Q: How many neo-classical economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: It depends on the wage rate.

Q: How many conservative economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A1: None. The darkness will cause the light bulb to change by itself.

A2: None. If it really needed changing, market forces would have caused it to happen.

A3: None. If the government would just leave it alone, it would screw itself in.

A4. None. “There is no need to change the light bulb. All the conditions for illumination are in place.

A5. None, because, look! It’s getting brighter! It’s definitely getting brighter !!!

A5. None; they’re all waiting for the unseen hand of the market to correct the lighting disequilibrium.

Q: How many Keynesian economists does it takes to change a light bulb?

A:All. Because then you will generate employment, more consumption, dislocating the AD (agg. demand) to the right…

Q: How many central bank economists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Just one — he holds the light bulb and the whole earth revolves around him.

Q: How many Marxists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: None – the bulb contains within it the seeds of its own revolution.

Q: How many environmental economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Eight – one to turn the light bulb and seven to do the environmental impact study.

Q: How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Seven, plus/minus ten.

Q:  How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Irrelevant – the light bulb’s preferences are to be taken as given.

Q: How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Eight. One to screw it in and seven to hold everything else constant.

And lastly…

Given 1000 economists, there will be 10 theoretical economists with different theories on how to change the light bulb and 990 empirical economists laboring to determine which theory is the *correct* one, and everyone will still be in the dark.

Sourced from: http://www.ahajokes.com/econ002.html

A Rumpelstiltskin By Name

 [Disclaimer: This is a revised essay for my online class. The essays are part of the assessment and the basic requirement is the length to be between 270-320 words. I assume you have already have a background of the story, and I am simply trying to enrich the discussion. :)]

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The tale of Rumpelstiltskin gives us views on gender discrimination, greed, and deception. The characters are classic: a show-off father, a greedy king, and a wise goblin (Rumpelstiltskin)—all exploiting the daughter. The father jeopardizes his daughter’s future and she became helpless because of her inability to spin straw into gold. Thus, the king wanted her for the probability of multiplying his riches. The woman is seen as an object: a gold-producing machine. Otherwise, for what other reason would the king marry a miller’s daughter? It seemed a profitable deal with the king.

Rumpelstiltskin used his magic intelligently; for he knows that taking the firstborn child would be useful by either in gaining more power or as a ransom in the future. But why was his identity a secret? Mystical creatures opt not to reveal themselves fully to mankind—especially to women, as they are perceived to be unworthy of trust. He also challenged the queen that she cannot guess his name, a further insult to a woman’s intelligence regardless of her position in the society. When she got his name right, Rumpelstiltskin can no longer claim her child and the woman triumphs over someone who is not human. The story ends with a defeated and outwitted Rumpelstiltskin tearing himself into two out of anger.

Grimms’ Tales are not like Aesop’s Fables in directly telling the moral of the story, but it challenges the readers to learn it by unlayering the characters. The father wanted power by lying on his daughter’s reputation while the king wanted to get richer. The protagonist daughter is not perfect, yet she becomes victorious over trials. Rumpelstiltskin can even be seen as a compassionate antagonist by giving the daughter a chance to redeem her child. He thought creatures like him cannot be outwitted, but he was proven wrong. Don’t we, at some point in our lives, identify ourselves as the daughter, the miller, the king, and Rumpelstiltskin?

Keep Expecting The Best

Keep Expecting The Best

Expect the best. Accept what comes. Make the most of it. Repeat.

It’s always best to expect the very best of yourself, of others, and of life. Yet those expectations can take time to manifest.

Surely and eventually your persistent positive expectations will bear fruit. So give them the opportunity to do their best work by diligently doing your best work.

Embrace each moment as it comes. You cannot change what has already been handed to you but you can absolutely find a positive course of action.

Keep expecting the very best, and working toward it, especially when circumstances tell you otherwise. Keep expecting the very best, no matter what, and you’ll make it happen.

— Ralph Marston