Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Archive for September, 2017


Staying alive 0

Posted on September 17, 2017 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 17, 2017 -12:00AM

If you are one of the increasing number of citizens of this country who feel almost daily that you are not just losing respect, confidence and trust in the government but are actually threatened by its values and actions, I do not blame you.

We live in a time of madness, an age of incongruence, illogic and total insanity.

Everything has been thrown out the window. The things we used to deem as moral and sacred are now despised and disdained. Human life, rights, fairness, truth, delicadeza, transparency, decency, civility, peace and all the values that fall within a democratic civil framework have been all but abandoned, condemned, or discarded without much thought or soul searching.

The new values are about extreme unquestioning loyalty, cronyism, money, raw naked power, cruelty, disrespect for those who disagree, incivility, crudeness, crassness, indifference, denial of logic, rationality, truth and reality, populism, violence, etc. The pervading political culture is about death and fear.

Sure, we have always had these negative values at work in every administration. But no government has been so barefaced and brazen in condemning the enduring values and things we espouse, stand and aspire for as a nation. Instead, we now condone murder, disrespect for human rights, and breaking the law. Cruelty and killing the helpless are encouraged. Mere suspicion is a death sentence. Heck, there are even people now who blame the children tortured and murdered by the police for being out in their neighborhoods. There is no accountability for murders as long as you accuse the victims of doing drugs.

I am sorry for starting my article with so much pessimism. I don’t want to get too heavy and serious here. This is a Sunday column. You deserve lighter reading. In these trying times, there must be ways to keep sane, happy and unperturbed. Here are suggestions I came up with on how best to stay alive and keep our sanity. These are the new survival skills we need in this upside-down world.

1) Take to drinking. Consume a lot of alcohol. But don’t do drugs. You could get killed. Alcohol will have the same effect. You can escape from everything that bothers you. You will forget your situation, and your feelings will numb and deaden but at least you are half alive. That’s a good thing. Then you won’t have to listen to that pesky conscience that keeps telling you to be outraged. You don’t have to get angry when your moral or ethical boundaries are violated. Just be happy and drink. It will ease so much of the pain. I promise you.

2) Block all your friends who express their political sentiments or moral outrage on Facebook and other social media. Facebook can be entertaining without all that bad news. There are enough cat memes, animal videos and articles to lull you into a feeling of lightness. Besides, will it change things if you get angry? So just post nothing but jokes, articles about sex, or chain letters.

3) Stop talking to anyone about politics. No matter what is happening, just avoid all references indirectly or directly that may lead you to a discussion on EJK, morality, decency, the Church, religion, or CHR. There are infinitely more topics to talk about other than politics.

4) Have topics ready to change the conversation if needed. During parties or socials, do anything to keep things light so no one gets slighted when political views are expressed. Always be updated on gossip, flippant and shallow news about, oh… whatever. Beauty queens, actors and actresses, scandals, jokes will always save the situation.

5) Force yourself to like Duterte, Dick Gordon, Secretary Aguirre, and Congressman Alvarez. Imagine them to be cute, cuddly, furry, huggable and endearing dolls. Imagine the Elmo doll. Now try to imagine a “Tickle Me Rody” one. Laugh as he laughs. Now, doesn’t that make you feel better already?

6) Allow yourself to be amused when the President says cuss words. After all, which other leader in the world does that? He is unique. He is so amazingly funny. Like what is there to like, and suppress the reasons why you don’t like him. It is hard but if you’ve taken enough drinks, it is manageable. Avoid judging him. It will only awaken your conscience again and make you miserable.

7) Read nothing but Philippine News Agency bulletins. You will always be well informed about how well the government is doing. You will also realize that those know-it-all, holier-than-thou people on Facebook who want facts are subversives. Those who support the President are the sources of truth. They have deep thoughts and use “symbolism,” which unfortunately is misunderstood by many as “fake news.”

Anyone who fights such truth tellers is ignorant and malicious, and deserves a “Putang ina” from the President.

8) Join organizations like VACC that fight criminals and “truly care” for the victims of violent crimes. In fact, I just saw their leader Jimenez crying on TV for poor children who have been killed. Never mind if he had no real tears. He cried just like PNP’s Bato and PAO’s Perfidy Acosta. I can detect sincerity. It affected me so much I was catatonic the rest of the day.

And lastly:

9) Make an altar at home. Put the image of the President in the center. Look at it every day. Know him. Pray to him. Love him deeply. Surrender your will. He knows everything. He is God-sent.

* * *

I hope this article made you feel better, although deep in my heart, I doubt it did. Sometimes I forget my readers are way smarter than I give them credit for.

Ignore everything I said then. But here’s one real piece of advice that has worked for you and me so far.

Keep avoiding the Kool Aid! You know what I mean. You are already okay and are on the right path. Be like Teflon. Don’t let the insanity stick to you. Trust your conscience. You will come out of this craziness not only alive, but with your soul and sanity intact!

The sound of one hand clapping 1

Posted on September 10, 2017 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 10, 2017 – 12:00am

When I was in early high school I had a dream that I remember to this day. I dreamed I was seated at a table with an old fortuneteller playing with a deck of panggingge cards. These cards, also called Pan cards, were popular in the 19th century and are known to be of Filipino origin. This woman was reading my fortune. She asked me to pick four random cards from the deck. I chose the highest card of every suit. She looked at the cards I picked, laughed very hard and brought her face near mine. She then whispered to me that I would experience every good thing in life — and its opposite.

I think about this from time to time. Yes, I have had a lot of the so-called “good things” in life like fame, modest wealth, good friends, love, happiness, personal success, good health. In many ways, I am still experiencing them and I am thankful.

At the same time, I was also once an unknown, a nobody when I started my career. I was a hungry artist trying to get people to listen to me. Those were hard times. But looking back, I can’t really describe that stage in my life as being bad. Actually, I am even grateful I went through certain hardships.

When I started in life, I had little money, and even after I had some successes, there were still times when I suffered through financial difficulties. But even when times were hard, my wife Lydia would always remind me that God always provides. So far she has been right. I hope that she will always be right about this.

I have been lucky in health. Although I was a hypochondriac when I was a teenager, I have always been quite healthy. I may have had sicknesses from time to time and even had a few operations but my physical constitution easily bounces back to a healthy default. My last health examination showed all my vital numbers to be normal. I have no restrictions imposed on me by my doctor, thank God.

As for fame, as much as I have been praised in the past for what I have said and done, I have also been pilloried lately on social media for my outspokenness against the President and the government. I can say that I have experienced both fame and so-called “infamy” right there! I have been adored and I have been hated.

Who knows what other “opposites” I will experience. I don’t know, and I do not wish to speculate nor anticipate it. Life keeps on going and it will always bring good and bad surprises. That’s how life has always been, is and will be.

Sometimes, in the middle of a positive and spectacular experience I am going through, I remind myself that while I am enjoying it thoroughly, the moment, too, shall pass. It is the same thing I do when things are not going well for me. As I suffer, I remind myself of the temporal character of suffering. The thought consoles me.

Ken Wilber, one of my favorite writers, likes to describe anything and everything that happens in the world as “waves of form.” It affects us in various ways and unconsciously; we decide how we want to feel about what happens. Very seldom are we in total awareness of see what is really happening.

Whatever the wave of form is at any moment, whether good or bad, it will not be permanent. It has a duration. Sometimes it is long and sometimes it is short. But it will eventually go away and new ones will always take their place.

There is an old Zen koan that asks, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” To many people, it appears to be a silly question and every time I ask the question, people react by trying to literally clap with one hand and end up laughing. I can’t blame them. On the surface, it is indeed a ridiculous question.

But wait! There is something far deeper to ponder here. Koans are not yes or no exercises. The answers are never cut and dried, nor even definitive, dogmatic. There are no official interpretations or answers.

Koans speak volumes about life. The way I intuit the meaning of this koan is something like this: people spend their lives trying to shield themselves from pain, discomfort, from bad things that cause unpleasantness. But can we really avoid them when they are inevitable occurrences in life? All attempts at sanitizing our lives from pain are futile and ridiculous. Yes! It is as crazy as trying to clap with one hand!

The sound produced when two hands clap happens because opposite forces meet. Isn’t life all about living with both the pleasant and unpleasant, the good and the bad, pleasure and pain? What is abundance without scarcity? What is white without black? What is joy without sorrow?

That dream I had was a prophetic one. The fortuneteller was right. We will live through the best and the worst. Life was not meant to be lived ridiculously or unrealistically, like trying to produce sound with one hand clapping.


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