Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Homeless


I don't know if you're fond of dogs. 

I am.

I pray for every street dog I see, especially when it's crossing the street.
"Lord, take care of that dog. Oh please, protect it from getting hit by a vehicle."
My eyes then follow the dog until it safely gets on to the other side of the road. I do that, as if staring helps.

My heart breaks for them, you see. I believe that dogs are good by nature. It's how they are created - loyal, loving and even sweet, sometimes. And I think they are adorable no matter how messy they look. They do not deserve the dirt and cruelty of the street.

But they're homeless.

And I hate that somebody deprived them of the warmth of home, of a family. 

One midday, I was looking out from the jeepney I was riding. I saw a street dog, and said a prayer for it like I always did. The jeep continued to run as it should, but as it did, I saw a street child. My eyes fell on the muck in his cheek, the tattered clothes, bare legs and tanned, dirty skin. I reckoned, he was about three or four years old.

I don't know if you're fond of children.

I am.

But I don't always pray for every street child I see in the street.

You see, I am a preschool teacher. I teach kids how to read and write. I love it when we fall during ring-around-the-rosie. I greet them with a hug, assist them when they change clothes after gym, and fix the girls' hair when tousled. Children are pure, good and happy by nature.

I don't know why it's always blame that comes to my mind first.
"This happened to him because his parents are lazy and indifferent!"
But I realized, it doesn't change the fact that this street child is not one of the kids I teach in school, that he's not learning how to read and write, and that he doesn't play ring-around-the-rosie safely. 

I don't know how many hugs he receives each day, or if somebody assists him nicely when changing clothes, or when somebody even bothers to comb his hair.

I thought, this street child does not deserve the dank, angry road.

But look.

He's homeless.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Forgotten Present


I am sorry, Present.
You're a gift I've been taking for granted.
I keep thinking about Past and Future,
When all I ever have for sure...is you.
So at this moment, allow me to remember
Who you are.

You are sacred
For you are the space in time where God and I meet,
Where God's words are spoken the loudest,
Where His presence is the warmest,
And where God is just being Himself.

You are the reality
For you're the world where there is real breeze,
Real heat and real coldness,
Real sunrise and real sunset,
Real skin and real breath.

You are beautiful.
You are the detail I always miss,
The splendor of heaven 
Revealed in tiny things.
You are both God and man's triumph.

You are mine.
Past has already died.
Future has never been born.
But you, Present,
You live.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Ghosts in My Closet


Tonight, 
I opened my oldest, dustiest closet.
And liberated myself.
I pulled it open and ghosts flew out of the door.
I realized, I had a collection of rotten things.
Old colorful arts and crafts.
Heaps of old and long letters.
Tattered notebooks messed up to the last page.
And lots of photos.
Everything looked well-preserved,
but smelled of rat's pee.
I grabbed all those that came from him,
and reluctantly remembered.
I ripped every memory - 
teared every word,
every face, every drawing,
 until it felt good.
I then pushed the pieces 
down the plastic bag with my foot,
pushed them until it almost burst,
then tied it with a rope twice.
There.
It's ready for the garbage truck.
No more ghosts.
No more rotten things.
No more traces of him.
And there's now space
for something new
and way better.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

While You're Single, Set Direction in Your Heart

I know you want to be loved. In a romantic way.

Perhaps, you sometimes imagine yourself ambling along the sea shore. While you cherish the sea breeze grazing your faces, you and your lover leave a trail of your footsteps in the sand. Your hands lace together. Sweet.

How about this. One morning, you wake up at the sound of your cellphone's alarm but it didn't annoy you. Instead, you touched the envelope on your screen, revealing your sweetheart's message:

Good morning. I'll see you later. :) 

You smiled and immediately, prepared for later - taking a bath, brushing your teeth, wearing your best clothes. In your heart, you know that whatever the day has for you, it'll be beautiful because you'll spend time with your sweetheart.

I may not know what other scenes you have in your imagination, but I get it. I know why you want to be loved in a romantic way. Either you've been there or not, you're quite sure it'll give you something to smile about, something to look forward to, or perhaps, a reason for waking up in the morning. You may not feel ecstatic about it every day or in the following years, but the love itself will certainly give inspiration. Romantic love is so beautiful. But you see, there's a potential that your life will revolve around it.

Now, I believe that while you (and I) are not there yet isn't the pressing question. Whenever I'm in the waiting process, I always remember that I am still being transformed in the desert. God sees something about me that should be improved, added, or nourished - things that will make me ready for that thing. And being ready means being at my best state of heart, best frame of mind, or best situation fitting for that thing. Probably, every single day we don't have what we want yet, God saves us from disaster.

Here's one way to prepare: develop singleness of heart. I've read about this from Fr. Green's Opening to God. He said that humans have conflicting desires. He suggested a way not to align them or make them accorded, but to be free from them. He said, "We can have many loves in our lives, but only one center, one sun around which all our other loves are satellites." So yes, there may be other loves but those are just (and must be) means to love more that one in the center. If the other loves conflict with loving the center, it isn't true love.

I know some people who, for some reason, cannot fuse the love of God and love of boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse. I tried to explain it in my mind, asked them if they feel like they're doing something wrong or if they have beliefs different from their lover which make them confused, things like that. There is an apparent reason for a "yes" answer, you see. Otherwise, it could either be because they don't know yet who or what their Sun is or they don't truly love the Sun yet. It is a process, anyway. A slow, painstaking process.

I think it doesn't just apply to loving a person. I, for example, have fondness for many things - teaching, arts, writing, spirituality, music etc., and sometimes, I love them deeply that it preoccupies me that I suddenly get snapped from reverie wondering why again do I desire it that much. There's always a question of "Why am I doing this again?" Always going back to the reason, to the core.

The question for everyone is this: Who is that One center, that One sun of your life?
We decide. I want it to be God. I bet you want it to be God too. You see, it is also about vocations.
Fr. Green also said: "Rosemary Haughton said...the married person comes to the love of God through the love of a spouse, while the celibate comes to the love of people through the love of God."

So while we're waiting for romantic love, for realized dreams, for purpose (for whatever that is) to arrive, I guess it's better that we set direction in our hearts. Have that singleness of heart, and let everything we do be for the love of our Sun, our Center - God.

I hope that made sense.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Importance of Truth in Writing

In a Place of Truth


I watched this movie entitled Midnight in Paris.

The story's about a writer/novelist who went to Paris with his fiance. One night, he strolled the cobbled streets on his own, and was hailed in a vintage car by revelers - two of them introduced themselves as Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre.

So yeah, the fortunate man was brought back to the old days where the famous writers and artists walked like typical people. One of the remarkable lines uttered by the movie's Ernest Hemingway was this:

"No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure."


Truth. How important is truth in writing?

Audie Gemora, a renowned thespian, said that though acting is called "acting," it's one thing actors/actresses shouldn't do. They have to see it, feel it, experience it - make it exist right in front of them! Otherwise, the act won't look real. It'll only look like acting.

It's the same thing with writing. You see, the best pieces are written in a place of truth. If writers want to make the readers fully experience what's happening in the book, they themselves have to be in the experience - they have to know its truth. How does it feel to be here? What would one think when he/she is in this kind of situation? How would this kind of person react in this situation? Otherwise, the story might look dull and superficial.

Note: They say, people learn best from experience. Let your readers have it through your book.

What is Memoir?


I believe, this makes most memoirs genuine, vivid and beautiful. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is a memoir. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is a memoir too, I think. One of the best I've read is the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul. These books are famous for touching millions of lives.

When I typed memoir on Google, it defined it this way:

A historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or special sources. 


That's the beauty of memoir. The plot is already written by Life for you, and you only have to live the experiences again and write. The memoir's reader then walks into the mind of the author and sees things as the author remembers. I agree that fiction writers have the wildest imagination because they have to distort realities - they themselves plan the plot, build the characters, and everything else in the story - and present their truth in that form.

Your truth is worth telling.


I thought mine was, and it has now reached hundreds of people. If you're aspiring to write a book, why not write about your truth? I believe you have a story worth telling. It could be just a portion of your childhood, your love life or a journey you once ventured. Share your experience generously. Begin with recalling each thought, each tear, each smile. And once you know you're in a place of truth, write.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

My List of Inspirational Movies

I can't find words for an article lately.

I'm not that okay, honestly. It's my first time to see myself this unmotivated - parched for maybe months - to write anything. Bad days, they call it. Others say it's a transition, which is way better.

So I prayed and searched for, perhaps, muse in other things like 1) painting and sketching,
2) playing the piano, 3) buying my own ukulele and playing it, and 4) watching movies. And yes, these things inspired me, but not to write. Because I got into doing solely these in my free time instead! I couldn't imagine myself abandoning what I sharpened for (I hope) almost 10,000 hours, so I figured I should write about my newly-found hobbies to break the boulder.

Alright, so I start here and get you straight to the point. Among the old and not-too-old movies I've watched recently, here are the five which I found most inspirational:

1. Silence


I put this on number 1 because I've been wanting to share about this since Lent. So yes, I've seen this a long time ago but I'm still putting it here because it's unforgettable. It's about two Jesuit priests (where one was Andrew Garfield, the Spiderman) who went to Japan to find their missing priest/mentor, and found God's silence in Christian persecution instead. If you want to try it, prepare your heart and mind because you'll go swimming in its spiritual depth. And oh, it has a book.

2. The Encounter


I'm putting this on number 2 because I was surprised that a movie called The Encounter was inspirational and not horror. This one's a feel-good movie with an aching twist. Imagine a night with rain pouring angrily, and you found yourself trapped in a remote roadside resto called the Last Chance Diner with four other strangers and - my goodness - a waiter/resto owner named Jesus. The movie was simple yet meaningful. I also think Bruce Marchiano was perfect for the role.

3. The Shack



Spoiler Alert: In the first three movies listed here, the name Jesus will be mentioned.

If you're into inspirational/spiritual movies, I'm sure you have watched The Shack. I read the book years before I saw my imagined scenes on the screen - my laptop's screen. I was delighted to see Mack and Missy come alive. For me, the casting was superb because the characters looked almost the same as I imagined them! This story answers why God allowed our loved ones to die, and many other things that a father would ask when he meets God in the shack where his youngest daughter was murdered. Get tissue rolls.

4. Collateral Beauty




Movies on 4 and 5 won't talk too much about spiritual stuff. This one talks about the collateral beauty one can find in loss.

Everybody knows Will Smith's awesomeness. But look at that, there's also Kate Winslet, Keira Knightly and Helen Mirren in it plus other skilled actors and actresses! OK, it's not just about the casting, but the concept of the story is unique enough to catch attention. This is about a successful and enthusiastic man (Will Smith) whose world crumbled when he lost his only child, and went snail-mailing his rants to Love, Time and Death. Now, it's Love, Time and Death's turn to answer him and defend themselves. Or not. How I wish this also has a book!

5. Into the Wild



This movie's last but not the least.

I put this on 5 because it was the last old movie I watched, and I want you to remember it. Into the Wild is based on a true story, a biography written by Jon Krakauer. It's about Christopher Johnson McCandless (a.k.a Alexander Supertramp) who, after graduating from Emory University, abandoned everything and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wild. I actually do not know what to feel about the whole story. Chris might be arrogant, foolish, and whatever, but his detachment to the things of the world and his brave search for real happiness struck me as inspiring. I love the words in this movie too. Aaand I'm reading the book now.

Soooo, there it is! I just wrote an article! I cracked the writer's block, but more than that, I hope this list helped you in anyway. Happy watching!

P.S: I wrote this book entitled Finding You, and perhaps you can grab a copy and read it once you've watched all (or some) of this and feel more like reading. It's inspirational too, by the way! ;)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Why Do I Write Again?

I had forgotten why.

I ignored the muse many times this month because I could not find time for writing. It was painful. I let my pen and paper be squeezed at the bottom of my workload, and it took me some pulling out, whittling down and sickness before I got to them again. To my surprise, when I finally got hold of them, I felt like I no longer know how to write.

My writing skills seemed to have deteriorated. Every day I would be in a room full of space, and have a desk waiting. There, I would sit and write. But not write at all. Not a single word appealed to me and whenever any did, it won't be of beauty. It was a huge writer's block. In those barren days, I saw my writing skills molting before me. And it was because I neglected it, left it in a corner, and forgot about it for a long time.

Or perhaps, it wasn't really about my writing skills.

The black ink resembled my mood. Empty papers felt familiar. And the drear blinks of the cursor resounded the rhythm of my week. Man, it was me all along. I wanted words, but they weren't coming because I was pulling them out from a void or an empty cavern. I was the one deteriorating, the one molting, the one who was empty.

Why do I write again? was the question.

I turned to God for answers. Then I talked to people. Then I rested. Then read books. And read books. And read more books. Then finally, I remembered what I have forgotten.

I forgot the joy of expressing myself with art, of creating a world and bringing my readers in it, of listening to people and immortalizing their stories in paper.

I forgot love.