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Saturday, July 9, 2011

In the Name of Love

I recently watched the Filipino film, “In the Name of Love” – a story of a man and woman in love and were separated by unfortunate events of life. After some years, they reunited, found out they were still in love with each other – but at a time when the woman was already engaged to another man. To make the long story short, they tried to fight for their love with the two men getting shot in the end. My heart was racing watching the man (who the woman was in love with) trying to save the woman’s life and getting shot as a result. My heart ached thinking it might be the end of their love story. I was about to enter into a cathartic moment as tears started to well up in my eyes, when shortly, I took a sigh of relief after seeing that the man was alive.

My tears turned into joy as I watched the two lovers riding off to happily ever after to the tune of a nice love song. Shortly after, though, I realized the film had not been careful at leading my emotions. It was a tragedy from the very beginning – but a fairytale in the end. After building up heavy drama in my heart, it would tell it to not shed a tear. Then I realized I wanted the movie to stop at the death scene. It didn't, so I found myself searching for a sense of resolution - one the movie had not given me and this is where the real tragedy happens.

I like happy endings – please don’t get me wrong. I even watch Disney films and like the 3D animated parody of Romeo and Juliet (Gnomeo and Juliet) which changed the tragic ending to a happy one.

But “In the Name of Love” should have been faithful to its theme. In the name of love, people would risk dying and hurting and letting go of something precious. That was my time to cry – but the movie didn’t let me. It soothed the pain of my heart in a bad way. I didn’t need a happy ending – I needed to cry.

What’s wrong with a tragic movie? If it had been so till the end though, Aga and Angel fanatics would have hated it.

I wonder when Filipinos would be ready for a catharsis – when we will outgrow our fantasies, our happily ever after’s.

We always find reasons to hope and celebrate – but sometimes, the best way to do so is first to face tragedy as it is – grieve over it and to look at it in the face instead of sugarcoating everything with laughter because laughter is not always the best medicine. 

Coming Home

When you relocate, your life will never be the same. Your surroundings and the people you associate with will mold you. And you will be a person characteristic of your new location. This is especially true if you stay there for many years.

At 19, I relocated to Manila and stayed there for 7 years. Now I’m back in my hometown to stay here for quite some time. I have a job here and I am staying with my family.

Coming back home is a special experience. It’s a rediscovery of many things. First, I rediscovered some distinct characteristics of local townsfolk. Here, you are still quite normal if you ask a stranger on some public transport where he or she lives, if he or she is married, and what his or her last name is. People will consider it being friendly – not prying. Even if you complain about certain politicians or some specific religion, people won’t frown at your babbling and will be all ears out, will smile at or laugh with you. Everyone knows almost everyone so if you look unfamiliar, they will familiarize themselves with you - not for anything else; they’re just being friendly. To me though, this is quite uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I am trying my best to have a positive attitude about it.
When you look at the people who never relocated and you look at yourself – you realize how different places molded you, how certain cultures changed you. When you come back home, you realize how much you have changed, what you could live with and not live without. The act of coming back home itself is a brave thing to do. It is going back to the past, to your childhood and teenage years. You remember the memories – good and bad. You remember the people – good and bad. It is risking meeting those you would rather forget or discovering you would never meet again those you’ve always missed. It is being open again to the unsatisfying and the inconvenient, the fun and the joyous as well. It is applying “good” principles from where you relocated to where you were born. To do such is a great risk. Who knows how people will react and if they will accept or not. To come back home is not to ask the local people to understand how you have become; it is first accepting them or reaccepting them.

You realize you don’t try to change people for your convenience; you help them become the person they ought to be and you allow them to help you change as well. I am trying my best to do this in spite that there are times I miss the old place and my friends there. Every time I miss the city life, I try to enjoy again what I had missed for many years – the simplicity of life, trees and flowers everywhere, the beach and the hills and the absence of pollution and heavy traffic. I marvelled at skyscrapers and posh malls but deep in my heart, I still love the provincial life. Wherever I go, all will be well with my soul, first, because I have a God who sees me through the seasons and second, because I easily delight in the little things of life. I sometimes complain, but I am willing to change, discover and rediscover.

To be the person you ought to be, you don’t just go places, sometimes you have to come home. Come home to yourself, to the place that sculpted much of your being, to the very root of who you are.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

No One is Ready

No one is ever ready for any storm in life. When we were kids, there was no life manual neatly given to us as to what will be expected in life. For those of us who later realized this, almost everything came as a surprise. Being deprived of the "things due you" by this world is one of the painful realities of life. 

Most of the time, we never get to choose our circumstances, especially when we were helpless, clueless, unguarded, confused.. We long for certain things and yet we sometimes wonder why we do. We wanted to change and become "better" but our environment and the people around us were seemingly against it.

It bothers us but we never asked why it feels like we are always going against the tide, swimming against the current, punching a wall or chasing after the wind.

No one is ever ready enough for any tribulation; no one, ever too young to experience heartaches; no one, too old to be depressed.

I listen to a teenager who tells me she is made to choose between her mom and dad. If she chooses one, she will lose the other. I stare at her tears as I feel mine welling up. One of the strongest human instincts is to help, but sometimes, or most of the time, we are not in control of things. I wanted to be superwoman and take away her pain, feeling injustice by how young she is to experience such, but all I could do was listen and cry with her. 

I cry at my helplessness, her pain, the truth that some people do not love well. I listen to her and I hear my very self. 

At that moment, I felt the frailty of being human and identified myself with her. I've been through pain myself but I know now I need not carry it alone. 

I looked at her and though, I could not do anything, I believed there is hope for her.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

The Lord Has Heard

The Lord has heard my unspoken bitterness,
has made me look at His face
and behold everlasting love and favor..

His glorious face, glowing
is before my eyes heavy with unshed tears..

He now envelopes me in His arms and
my heart is so near His,
I can hear our hearts talking..

My heart is tongue-tied..
My tears are finally shed,
tears of sorrow, but now with joy
as I rest in His arms..

The Lord has lifted up my bowed head,
has listened to my silence,
has given words to my quiet yells of complaints...

We now stare at each other,
and only because He gave His life for me
I am made worthy to do so with Him...

He has heard my sighs I hid from everyone
He has seen my frown and tears behind my laughters
In my silence, He has watched intently

Our hearts have spoken
and that's more than enough..

His presence has been a surprise..
a lover at a doorstep..

He has proven His love
and has given His blessings...

This time, Not by the things He gave but
by those He didn't..

Not by those He made me keep
but those He withheld..

-JCR (07/06/2011)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Yellow Flowers

On a rocky road going there, I choose to look at yellow flowers along the way

In a classroom I am yet to clean and decorate, I choose to see children wide-eyed of hunger for knowledge and inspiration

Through the dusty window panes, I choose to see the horizon that seems endless

Overlooking the sea past mountains that block internet signals, I choose to marvel at its vastness and grandeur

Despite what I get in return, I choose to do my best

The Lord has freely given, I should freely give..

I was born into this world with nothing that I truly own, I shall be satisfied with anything

My circumstances don’t make me – I make the most out of them..

'Tis a rocky road home but long rides make me contemplate and the yellow flowers sure are charming..

On the Clouds

It is one of those days when everything has conspired together to make me arrive at an insight - one that will change my life forever. 

"God's plans for me are beyond my highest hopes, my highest dreams and aspirations. They are beyond the works of my hands, the fruit of my labor, even my desires and expectations."

The thesis statement is discovered and the sountrack is played - 'You Have Made Me Glad' by Hillsong. 

Things start to make sense. I have stepped on a stone I know will hold my weight above the water. My head is finally above it. A day like this is often the fruit of a time of waiting and a seed for something good. God, in His infinite goodness always makes all things work together for the good of His children but sometimes we are not able to experience it because we have given up in the process - we have grown tired of waiting. It's like waiting for our favorite movie to get downloaded and halfway, we give up and we lose the chance of watching it. 

Life is full of waiting. For a time, nothing seems to be taking place. I was on a plane once and I looked out the window watching the clouds that looked the same for a long time, as if the plane had stopped in mid air. Feeling stagnant can be scary - you wonder what's wrong. But the truth is - we were really moving. It did not seem so but I simply had to believe it. We landed and so we had been moving. 

Sometimes, events and people just pass before our eyes and we wonder what our place in the world is. To find one's niche in life is pulling ourselves together - taking a deep breath and going for it - believing that there is more to the clouds, the same old clouds.

-JCR (04/14/2011)