Sunday, September 30, 2007

Heroes, Season Two

I hated Heroes when I first saw it. I eventually outgrew all my prejudices and began to like it.

My brother, who’s a huge fan of the show, laughed at me when he learned I was hooked. “I told you,” he said, grinning. “It’s still terribly un-scientific, though,” I told him.

“What do you expect?” he said. “Science taken all by itself is boring. One has to fictionalize it.”

Last Tuesday afternoon, I watched the first episode of the second season. New characters have emerged. There are many more coming, I think. I’m glad my favorite Matt Parkman is still on the show. Many questions are left hanging, too. Is Peter Petrelli going to come back? Who’s the next big villain after Sylar? And, of course: When will Nathan shave again?


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Silent afternoon

College of Science Library

College of Science Library, University of the Philippines, Diliman.


Why we dream

I awoke in the middle of the night. The restroom was four rooms away from mine. A long walk, yes, especially if you want to sleep some more. But my bladder was going to burst big time. Besides, I was too old to pee in bed.

Relieved, I set out to sleep the moment I got back. I attempted to continue the dream that was interrupted. Sadly, the virtual movies that play in our minds while we're asleep have a way of evaporating, unnoticed, into the land of the forgotten. This was no exception.

I twisted and turned, waiting for sleep to come. It wasn't a severe case of insomnia, but it was enough to give me a headache.

Of course I tried counting sheep, but they looked so unfamiliar and detached as they hopped from one side of the fence to the other, floating in mid-air fashion, that I just had to stop. I resorted to thinking happy thoughts instead, imagining I was in some place in the Pacific, lying on a hammock, drinking from a coconut with a long, colorful straw. The picture was way out of reality and downright impossible that it kept me from thinking further.

But aren't dreams supposed to be like that?

In a graded impromptu speech I made in class, I was asked which I would prefer: to eat or to sleep. I chose the latter. It's a form of escape, I reasoned. Escape from reality, from the problems and stresses of life. Sleep gives way to dreaming, I added, and it is in dreams where we rediscover what we want and who we truly are. I ended my talk by saying that, no matter how we may choose to sleep forever, we have to wake up because we cannot really detach ourselves from reality, can we?

Maybe the reason why people get crazy is that they want some form of escape, and they want it permanent.

Maybe the same goes for suicide. Sadly, death does not offer an escape, it leads to a dead end.

But why? Why do people choose to kill themselves, like Rey's childhood friend who ended his life some two days ago? At the edge of my bed, in what seemed to be a sleepless night, I grappled for answers. And I could only find one. These people don't know God enough to trust Him. God always lifts the veil of darkness and sorrow, He always leads us to greener pastures of comfort and delight, He always provides and is always in control, no matter what the situation is. And if God does not immediately provide the solution to our cares, He always gives some form of temporary escape.

That's why we dream.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Glow from an extension wire plug

This picture taken just before I slept one night reminded me of how a tiny spark of light of God's truth can serve as a beacon for the salvation of many. Regina Jansen, Dutch missionary to the Manobo in Mindanao and the urban poor in Manila, spoke in YCF last night. I was reminded to ask God for opportunities to share the gospel, and be a salt and light to this darkened world.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Seeing and Savoring Christ

I've just finished reading John Piper's Seeing and Savoring Christ. If you haven't read it yet, I suggest you do. The book can be downloaded for free at

Piper has faithfully created a Biblical sketch of the Person of Christ, from his birth, crucifixion, resurrection, up to his second coming. The book has 13 very short chapters, each ending in a prayer.

Piper argues that since "the deepest longing of the human heart is to know and enjoy the glory of God," one must know Christ to satisfy that longing. Christ, after all, is the image of the invisible God.

The author also talks about Christ's humility. Our Lord left the thrones of heaven to assume the despicable frame of man. He endured mockery, rejection, and hypocrisy, and the most painful suffering imaginable: death on the cross. He came to save us because He loved the Father, He loved His glory, and He loved us.

Piper expounds on Jesus' power, wisdom, and mercy, explains why Jesus had to die to disarm Satan rather than kill the deceiver in an instant, and highlights the mercy of God.

Chapter 7 (The Glorious Poverty of a Bad Reputation: The Desecration of Jesus Christ) is, to me, the most moving of all. While reading, I had to repeatedly pause to let my eyes and my throat recover.

I highly recommend the book for meditation. Chew on it, savor it, and process every idea presented. This sketch of Christ, although inferior compared to Scriptures, will help you a great deal.

If you can't download it, drop a comment here, and I'll gladly send you the file.


Saturday, September 15, 2007


Yakal Residence Hall pathway.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Herman is in town

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Herman Padernal, classmate from grade to high school, is in town for a field trip. Shean and I met with him at the SM Mall of Asia. We had had a great time relishing the good ol' high school days.

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Herman will always be remembered for his nose where most of his pimple took residency, and for his tongue that's as long as a dog's. Really.

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Who in the Philippines doesn't know anything about SM? So there we went, for lack of any places to go to.

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Most of the time we walked. The photo shows SM Mall of Asia during lazy Sunday afternoons. Makes me wonder why these people seem to have all the time in the world strolling around.

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After three hours or so of talking, laughing, reminiscing, and updating (who's involved with whom? whatever happened to this and that classmate?), Herman eventually went back to his hotel and bid us goodbye. We'll miss you, man.

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Cris Mendez

It was just before my anthropology class when I learned Cris Mendez was dead. I didn't recognize the name at first. But my hands got moist and cold when, upon reading a newsletter, I saw his picture, smiling, his hair combed like Jose Rizal's, and his aura so alive no one would imagine that he was but a cold corpse.

"I know him. I know Cris," I told my seatmate in a hushed voice. "We were classmates in Geog 1." That was three years ago. We were both wide-eyed freshmen then, curious of what UP would be like. He was good in class. Always present, hardly ever late. And who'd forget the field trip we had in Corregidor? Great times, great laughs.

Now I'm wishing I had the power to turn back time to tell Cris, "Don't bother joining that frat. You'll simply get yourself killed." I know he'd listen because he always did. But I can't, can I, because one cannot travel through time, let alone bring the dead back to life.

It pains me to imagine Cris being harassed, tortured, and maimed by the people he wanted to call brothers. Blindfolded, he must've screamed every time a hard piece of wood smashed his buttocks, broken his bones, injuring his ribs. Did he cry foul when he felt it was going beyond the limits? Did his so-called brods-to-be even hear him out when he did?

Cris was my age when he died. At 20, he could've graduated from Public Administration, enrolled in a good law school and defended the oppressed. Or, he could've married a great girl and have kids. Or run as the next Philippine president, for all we know.

Death through this kind of violence is senseless. Does physical torture really forge a brotherhood that would last a lifetime?

But it's too late for Cris now, isn't it?

We mourn for his death but we fight for justice. We fight for the abolishment of hazing. Quixotic, yes, but not impossible. In the end, justice will be served.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Hot momma

"Joe, what if you suddenly feel like peeing while delivering the baby?" I ask.

My friend smirks at me, amused. "I don't know. What's important is that I let the baby out."

"They say having kids softens even the hardest hearts," I say.

"I guess so. I don't feel that excited now. But I'm curious as to how he'll look like."

"What will you name him?"

"Aleph Yakov, but my family wants Stephen Andre instead," she says, her face replete with confusion. Names matter, after all. Give your child a name like Maria Pigsa and people will laugh at her face.

A frightened yet indignant scream jolts the hospital ward. The feeling is terrible. She feels as if she's going to be ripped apart, inside and out. "He's about to come out," she whispers to herself in between bouts of recurring pain.

She looks at the large, bulging area in her stomach and gradually strokes it. "Relax, Baby. Everything will go on fine," she says, as if it's helping to ease the torture.

Was the delivery normal, or did they do a C-section? Did the baby cry out, "Hello world!" the moment it got out of Joe's womb?

There's no news yet, but we're hoping for the best.

"Having this baby... you've matured overnight, haven't you?" I ask her.

Teary eyed, she smiles at me. I could tell she has grown up.

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It's a baby boy. "Cute," Joe tells me. "Everytime I hear him, it makes me cry." And the name's Joseph.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Three deaths

How will my life end?

Will it be like
the inglorious white-hair fuzz
of a balding dandelion fluff,
scattered into the wind by
the soft, steady puffs of old age
with the memories of years long-gone?--
Jef Sala

Three deaths in two weeks.

First was of Ermin Soloren who died chasing the Abu Sayyaf. Second was of Cyrus, someone I met in a debut party my family attended during the Christmas break of 2006, who died of cardiac arrest. Third was of Cris Mendez, a classmate in Geography 1 four years ago, who died in the process of joining a fraternity. Whoever said hazing has completely vanished?

Three deaths in two weeks. Reminds me of an article I wrote in fourth grade, “Nothing lasts forever. Life, like everything else, is fleeting.”



Humbling. The process is hard, yes, but the result is a broken spirit and a contrite heart. When we ask God to humble us, He willingly does so in ways we can hardly imagine.
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Photo: Banga, South Cotabato, Summer Vacation, May 2007.