Showing posts from January, 2008

The death of a dictator

President Suharto is dead . He was the former dictator of Indonesia who ushered in 32 years of tyrranic rule. Even in his death, he is vilified as one of the world’s most brutal leaders because hundreds of thousands of his political enemies were slain during his graft-ridden reign. The news reminds me of The Autumn of the Patriarch (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) , a well-told story of a dictator who lived a very, very long life. The dictator had killed numerous people—even those very near him—the army being at his disposal. He was filthy rich and powerful. But I could tell that he was never happy. Was Suharto ever like him? It must get very lonely at the top. Maybe I’m just ignorant, but I don’t know of any dictator whose memory is honored with the same kindness as that given to, say, Princess Diana or Mother Teresa. The dictators I know—Marcos, Hitler, Pol Pot (of the Khmer Rouge)—are almost always remembered with hate, pain, and blame. Worse, people choose not to remember them at all. Whi

At the crossroads

Sooner or later I will have to decide. I haven’t made up my mind yet. I’m in a clutter, and it’s hard to think. I’m too overwhelmed—choked, if you will—by the tide of circumstances that I can’t breathe enough wisdom into my brain. And so the choices remain unchosen on my table, like fluorescing buttons emitting a different glow—and each just as beautiful as the others. But which one do I press? Clearly I don’t have the answer right now. I wish I could say I know what I’m going to do with my life. There are a thousand possibilities for me, and each decision I make opens new doors but closes a whole lot more. This is one of them. I’m talking about which laboratory I’m going to be applying to. Where I study , undergraduate students need to affiliate with a particular lab. It’s where we’re supposed to spend a year’s worth of scientific work for our thesis—and perhaps, discover finally if we’re really cut out to be scientists that will, as a friend puts it, rock the world. Each lab has its

The truth will set you free

Now I know how it feels to hide something from your parents. You don’t really call it lying—you’re simply postponing the announcement until, well, a suitable time. But the longer you wait, the harder it gets. It’s as if the sense of need to tell the plain and simple truth fades away with time. For instance, my friend didn’t tell his parents he shifted courses. He had a sudden change of heart after his second year in UP. He wanted to do something different with his life. He feared his family might get disappointed with him the moment they knew. My advice was, “Tell them. I’m sure they’ll understand.” But he didn’t—until after two years. I’m glad everything went well for him. My dilemma was far less problematic—it was trivial, in a sense. I lost my camera, and I was waiting for the right time to tell my parents about it. Initially I asked my brother to call them up. In the middle of his law school updates, he could say something like, “Oh, by the way, Lance lost his camera the other day.

Let me get back to my books

Despite what you’d call a hectic schedule—16 academic units and another 16 units of extracurricular activities—I’ve started on my reading again. Twelve Ordinary Men is a Biblical survey of the lives of Jesus’ 12 disciples. John MacArthur, a respected and published Christian author, delves into the lives of the apostles, and argues that the outstanding characteristic of these men is not that they were smart, rich, or powerful, but that they were ordinary. MacArthur goes on to say that if God chose to use extraordinarily ordinary men, clearly, He can choose to use us for His purpose. The Weight of Glory is a collection of short works of CS Lewis, also author of Christian classics like Mere Christianity and the Chronicles of Narnia series. I’m still reading the book—during study breaks or during laboratory waiting time. The Weight of Glory was preached by Lewis on June 1941 at Oxford University Church, and appears as one of the essays in this collection. Here are a few outstanding lines:

Hapi bertday, Kuya Lito!

Ask me about humility, about self-effacing, God-glorifying service, and I can easily lead you to great examples in the Bible. But I will also have to tell you something about Kuya Lito Sto. Domingo, our youth pastor in High Rock, whose example has been an encouragement for me to live for God’s glory—and for nothing else but that. It’s his birthday today—some 37 years of life well-lived on earth, you may think, but he’s quick to say that it’s 37 years of God’s underserved, infinite mercy and grace.


I remember the time when Tatay asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I said, almost without thinking, “A digital camera.” I needed a moment to process what I had just said, and for a while, I truly wondered if I wanted to have one. I figured I might turn out to be a good photographer. I had seen a handful of photographs, even edited some for school projects, so I said why don’t I give it a try? I waited for my father’s expression. It was mysterious, like it has always been—the kind that made me think if he heard me right or if he was thinking about something else. But one day, while we were walking around the mall, he said yes. I was thrilled with the idea that I kept toying with visions of Lance, The Photographer, in my head. It took me a while to make up my mind on which model to buy, but I ended up with a Kodak C340—something I chose because I fell in love with it the moment I tried it. It was a thing of beauty. Image quality was up to 5 megapixels (which, during that time, was on


I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. It’s for people who are too lazy to change during, say, April or September. But people fuss over it anyhow, as if some waft of air in New Year’s Eve will help them finally limit their rice consumption to a cup or to go to class on time so they don’t miss the quizzes. But I believe in making resolutions. It’s a beautiful expression of a desire to change for the better, not because the calendar warrants it, but because the person finds in him the need to. To do what one has accomplished to do, he must realize, at the very onset, that he is unable. Yes, this is the irony—realize you are unable, and then you become able–because the strength ultimately comes from God. It is God who effects the change in us. Man can only do so much. By realizing his need, a person must come to the One who is able, ask for His grace, and, if He so wills it, He will provide the means for some form of change. We shouldn’t wait for another year to change our bad habits