Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thinking Out of the Box, Or Totally Without It


When I’m not thinking about anything in particular, that’s’ when I can easily come up with some entertaining ideas and stories. It happens when I’m outside of my usual seriousness. I mean, it’s always. Well not really. It could be about the origin of things or an explanation of how things work. Or why some things are named as such. And all of them are just made up stories which don’t have any basis at all but sound like they have. It is like gossips. That could be one reason that makes these stories interesting.

A couple of years ago, I had this office mate who ate a lot but was not gaining much weight. Even up to now, she’s still as lean as she was. And during lunch, I observed that she’s taking longer to eat her meals compared to the rest of us. She was always the last to finish. I tried to come up with an explanation to this. It could be that she’s taking longer time to chew her food because her digestive process is almost in a complete cycle by doing that. She chews her food so much that what she swallows are just the nutrients.  And that could also be the reason why her body’s not growing.

Another explanation I came up with was about another office mate who never eats beef but came from a province where cows are abundant. The story is that when she was young, she had a pet cow. She loved it so much that she even gave a name to her. It’s “Rosette” (it’s a rip off from the “Nobody’s Boy” story, I know). Then during her 7th birthday, her mom prepared lots of food for her party.  She was having a good time. There’s one food that she liked most and while enjoying this particular viand, she saw something familiar on her plate. An ear ring. She remembered suddenly whom she gave that ear ring to. Then she rose quickly to check on her pet cow outside their house. She didn’t find her. Her chest was pounded by strong heart beats.  Then suddenly, another guy officemate showed up in the story. He was wearing a bloodied apron and holding on a sharp knife.  ALAS, reality bit her. Rosette was gone. And she even ate her. She enjoyed the taste and it added to her guilt. With all of that, she promised herself that it would be the last time she’ll be eating beef in her entire life.  


Kasama si Joli Coeur


And these stories I made stuck. My officemates were not offended either and we actually have a good laugh every time someone mentions about it whenever we guys meet. On these occasions, I noticed that I was able to come up with a creative story in an instant. I was relaxed and in a very light mood. I had no fear of rejections on blurting out those ideas even if they're out of this world. Though as crazy as they might sound like, still, it entertained my friends even those who are the subjects of these stories.

Creativity seems more plentiful when we think without the boundaries and the fear of rejection. It’s when we see everything is possible. It’s that moment when we can think what’s truly outside the box. Or better yet, thinking as if the box does not exist. And then create a whole new reason of why the box is there. Then continues to describe how big that box is that it contains a lot but yet it can’t take a hold on what’s outside of it. Though I wonder who put those stuffs inside it and why he did leave those other things outside.  


This is creativity.


There are a lot of stories about people who succeeded by not listening to the negative advise of others saying that their ideas are ridiculous, stupid, impossible and too late. SM Malls, Honda, Google, Facebook, Apple and a lot of other major brands we know in and out of the country wouldn’t have existed if their creators listened to their critics. Beatles would have been just a bug. And Eminem would just be a chocolate treat.  All of them, they throw the fear of rejection away and just did what they had to do.  And they all did their best and became the world’s best.

Some couple of weeks ago, I was chatting online with a friend about the movie Breaking Dawn 2. It was the last installment of the Twilight saga. In case you’re hiding in some place not reached by civilization, Twilight story started with the love triangle scenario between a vampire, a werewolf and a human. Then an idea came up. If I would make another story on its genre, I will use the “Plants vs Zombies” game template. There will also be a love triangle between a lady human, a plant and a zombie.  The Sunflower and the Zombie will fight for the girl’s attention.  Then the girl got very sick and is nearing her death.  Then she has to choose. First option is to be buried once she dies and later on rise from her tomb and be one with the zombie. Or, she can opt to just decompose there to fertilize the soil so she’ll be absorbed by the sunflower and be with him forever. A hurting dilemma for the lady. And a very romantic one, isn’t it?

Plants and Zombies fighting to win your heart.


Right now, I’m working on a story and it’s a serious one.  It’s supposed to be a novel. But it might just be a short story. It depends. I don’t know yet but I already have the plot. I will try to finish it. I will. And I hope you will read it. Of course you will. Thanks in advance.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Why I Am Crazy About Beginnings


Giving talks to new joiners in my previous company was one of the things I loved doing.  I spoke about technical matters and processes. But I liked it more when I discussed about the company’s core values especially those two which I strongly believed in, stewardship and integrity.  Most of my attendees then were fresh graduates. You could see their eyes glowed with hope and excitement.  At that point, anything was possible for them. They had a clean slate. It was a start of something new for them. A beginning.        
       
A beginning is when we usually plan our directions. And this is also when the reasons of what we’re about to do are clear and fresh. Our objectives are in fine print. We know our agenda by heart before we start to walk towards our destination.


It’s not just in our jobs. It also applies in other things. Like going to school. I can still remember my first day at kindergarten.  I was very excited to wear my uniform, bring my bag with all the new stuff in it.  I wanted to meet new friends. And most of all, I was looking forward to learn from my teacher. And after 16 years of studying, I can’t say that I never got sidetracked nor distracted by all those things happening around me. Temptations were part of a student’s life. Partying, vices, material stuff, worldly pleasures, etc.  Stories about people who got lured and succumbed to these things are a dime a dozen. Fortunately I survived schooling without forgetting my main objective and priority of why I was there. I went to school to gain knowledge to prepare me for my future. And that's the thought that I held on to.


Keep your eye on the target

Like a birth of an infant, the beginning is when the energy is overflowing. The baby's parents are full of optimism. They see limitless possibilities for their child. They feel like doing everything and giving anything for their beloved. But a lot of times, the “doing everything” is what bewilders them that they lose focus on their reason. I hope I won’t be a victim of that circumstance. By writing this down, maybe I would be reminded later on as a father.


Beginnings are there for a purpose. It can serve as a refresher when we get distracted away from our target. Like how a troubled couple can go back to the memories of their budding romance when they were younger. It rarely fails to light up the fire. For it reminds them of how happy they were by just being together. And it retells why they are beside each other at the present. It makes them remember their promises at the start that they will love each other until the end no matter what.


Going back to start isn't always that bad.


Just like whenever I gave orientations to new joiners, I found myself feeling that familiar enthusiasm I had when I started with my job.  I had to exude that aura. I ensured that the audience felt that. That enthusiasm made me stay there for seven years. I had a goal when I began my job there.  Then I left.  A bigger beginning was imminent at that time and that decision was a more suitable option and my angry-self was concerned about me and asked me to make a healthier choice. For every new target, there’s always a bigger one behind it and our focus must lie there. Our aim on the big prize should not be distracted by the other goals that come our ways. Our purpose and priority must always be what is fundamental in our being and on what is necessary.  And in case of aversion from our targets, keep in mind that every moment can be a point where you can create a new beginning, or go back to do the right thing.





Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Day of Miracles for My Strong Wife and Son


Cel felt painful and frequenting contractions as early as around 2:30 am. I was awake at that time because I got paged for work. After completing my task, my wife woke up and informed me about how she was feeling. So we monitored the frequency of her contractions for almost 2 hours. Our bags were ready weeks earlier so I picked them up and put them in the car. Then I also woke up my mother in law who was staying with us at that time in preparation for that momentous event. I also texted my mom about our situation at around 6am.

Cel was an image of strength. I can’t imagine how painful it was for her but she kept her cool and composure that we were all very relaxed with the situation. She even walked for a bit in front of our house like how she was instructed by her OB. Then we heard mass on TV and it was Fr. Suarez, the healing priest, who was celebrating the mass. We prayed for her and our son’s safe and healthy delivery. Though not so sure if it was indeed the “DAY”, we decided to drive to the hospital. When we arrived there, the ER doctor contacted her OB Gyne. She then told the ER doctor to do a cervical dilation checking and was surprised to know that my wife’s already at 6cm yet she’s still very composed. Though pain can be read on her face every time she had contractions. Then finally, she was escorted to the delivery room.

 

That's his right foot on the upper left part.

 

Last May 1, 2011 while watching Blessed John Paul II's beatification rites on tv with my wife, I quietly asked for his intercession that our marriage be blessed by the Lord with a child. I promised him that if our child is a boy, I'll have his name taken from his real name which was "KAROL". And just after less than a month, my wife tested positive for pregnancy. 

Came October, we had our baby’s gender tested thru 4D ultrasound and we knew finally that he’s a boy. Several days after that, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary last October 16, 2011 at the Gateway mall where there was an exhibit of Bl. John Paul II's relics and photos. And that was when we also learned that his papacy began at the same date of our wedding some years ago, October 16, 1978.

Aerial View of WYD 95 audience (Photo from: http://catholicdefender2000.blogspot.com)


So we looked for names where the letters K-A-R-O-L would be included and at the same time would bear mine and my wife’s initials which is M and R. I have one name in mind which sounds good and which also has a great meaning. MIKHAIL is the Russian version of Michael which is the name of one of God’s main archangel that also means “Who is like God?”, a rhetorical question that gets a negative answer meaning no one is like God. It was the war-cry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against the enemy and his followers. Then we searched for a name which bears the letters “ROL” and which would compliment his first name Mikhail. Then we found ROLAN, which is a Russian variant of Roland that means a famous land or renowned in the land.

St. Michael the Archangel (Photo from Wikipedia)

Mik’s birthday coincided with Sr. Sto. NiƱo’s festival that year.  The first time I saw Mik at the nursery, I noticed those two dark stripes on his right cheek. My wife’s OB Gyne said that it could be a “hemangioma” or “balat” in tagalog but we still had to observe it for a few days to determine what it really was. I also thought that he could have got it from his struggle as initially, he’s expected to be delivered normal by my wife. But after almost an hour inside the delivery room and without him going out, the doctors monitored and found out that his heartbeat was slowing down in every contractions my wife had. So they decided to rather conduct a CS operation after informing and consulting me about the situation. During the procedure, they found out that the cord was coiled twice on his neck which stifled him and gave him a hard time breathing every time my wife had contractions that caused variations to his heartbeat. Great job for my wife’s doctors to act quickly and carefully especially to Dr. Cynthia Tan who took great care of my wife and son since the beginning of their journey. 

Finally, our son’s birthdate is January 15, 2012 which happened to be the 17th anniversary of Bl. John Paul II's last day of stay here in our country. It happened during the World Youth Day '95 in Manila (January 10 -15, 1995), the largest papal crowd ever in history which I had proudly took part with. Thanks to my aunt who brought me there with her friends. I was just in sixth grade then but I can still clearly remember the happenings and how it felt just being there.


WYD 95 Manila Logo





So what happened to those two stripes on his face? They faded after 2 weeks. Well, we just thought of it as a “naki-ati-atihan” symbol for Mik and a sign of Sto. Nino’s blessings during the delivery. Ati-atihan is a festival done in Aklan where people painted their faces black to celebrate the triumph of Christianity over the formerly pagan practice of the natives on their place. Paganism faded just like what happened to the dark stripes on his face.

 


Check on his right cheek.

Then after several hours from the procedure, Cel was finally brought to our hospital room. She seemed weak but also looked happy. She was advised not to talk at first. But I could see her smile a lot. After hours of labor and then being knifed on the abdominal part, the delivery was a success and they were both safe. Mik was still at the nursery then. She told me that she saw him already but was still very dizzy at that time. I told her that I also had checked on him and he’s a big and handsome fellow. And he looks just like her. And I told her that I was very happy and thankful that they're both fine. I also told here that she did a great job. A job she carried on carefully and proudly for the past 9 months.

Thank you Bl. John Paul II for your intercession. And thanks to all of you who prayed and are continuously praying for my family. To God be all the glory. 

Our first ever family pic

Happy 1st Birthday, Mik. Mom and I love you very much!




Saturday, January 5, 2013

Rizal's Mother, The Moth Story and You



I’ve been very weak throughout these years.  Emotionally, mentally and physically.  There are times even spiritually. I get tempted easily. I also cry and breakdown a lot. I easily get hurt.  And I try to seek revenge on those who hurt me or my loved ones. I’m trying to change. But we all have our kryptonite. No matter how strong we think we are, there are still those things that instantly trigger our weaknesses.  Some are guilty pleasures. Those that we try to avoid but we seem can’t.  We may be successful at times and when we think we’re durable enough to face them, they return to us hard and pushing us down to our knees while feeling helpless.


We were taught at school about the moth story that Teodora Alonzo told to the then young Jose Rizal, her son. According to well-known historian Dr. Ambeth Ocampo, when Lolay couldn't get Pepe to focus reading a Spanish book entitled "El Amigo de Los Ninos", she shifted in telling him a story. Then she succeeded taking Pepe's attention. 

Burning oil lamp
 




It's initially understood as a story of disobedience between a young lad and his elder. You probably are familiar with what happened to the young moth in the story. It got too attracted to the burning light of the oil lamp despite warnings from the older moth not to get too close to the fire. So its wings caught fire, burned and it died. While hearing the story from his mother, Rizal was actually watching the moths flying around their table lamp. And it indeed got too close to the fire and shared the fate of the young moth in the story.






Another angle that historians thought that could have affected Rizal's thinking was how daring the moth became to go beyond the limits. To search for further knowledge outside the norms and trying to go beyond its comfort zone while risking danger that goes with all of it. Which is actually what happened to Rizal for knowing too much and saying too much that he gained the ire of the nation's colonial government then which eventually put him to death.


There's definitely a lot of wisdom you can get from that simple moth story  and I think I can see another one. I can relate this to the usual overestimation of our own self-control. We always think that we are above our urges. We supposedly are. Though being around the trigger is never a good thing to test it. Just like how the moth enthralled by the beauty of the burning light, we will all get sucked into the fire if we continuously play with it.


It is like a temptation for a wrong relationship. Though fully aware of it being wrong, we hear people saying they are just trying to be friendly. Ignoring the risk of getting deeper into it thinking that they are in control, they continue with it.  And then got burned later as expected.



It's cool if you're burning like this.


Then there are youth starting out with vices thinking that it's just part of their "growing up years".  Pressured by peers, they tried it while thinking they can easily get out after the first try. They think they are strong and different. Because nothing happened at the first time, they tried again. And again.  And again. And they got burned.


Then there's someone who gets a business proposal. An illegal one. Just a one-time big-time thing as he's told. It will earn big bucks and very low risk of being caught at all. Salivating by the idea of huge amounts of money, he jumped in. And it happened as promised.  They earned big and didn't get caught. After a while, he was asked for another shot. It was good at first so the wall of hesitation slowly crumbled. Then it became a part of his system. He's gaining big and not getting caught.  Until he got burned.



Are you the young or the older moth?


The burning light is beautiful, tempting, attractive but always dangerous. We think that we are in control then we try to play around the fire until it becomes a habit too hard to break. It is always too late to notice that families get broken, people get addicted to vices and illegal doers get caught, arrested or get killed. It's always too late to realize that our wings are already burning.


I’m still trying to work around the kryptonites of my life.  I guess I’ll simply accept that I’m weak. If I’ll be more aware that I am too weak to face them or even just to get near them, then I might just go avoiding them at all. At the onset, I’ll be staying away. Because I am weak.  And by being conscious of my weaknesses, it will now become a part of my strength.









By the way, you can be the “older moth” and warn the others about the dangers of the fire by sharing this blog post. Thanks.

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