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Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

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A night with friends and their mentor 0

Posted on March 03, 2019 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – March 3, 2019 – 12:00am

It was a Viber message from out of the blue. Totally unexpected, an old friend Eric Ingles contacted people he shared a stage with in high school for a cast reunion of Doon Po Sa Amin, a play by Onofre Pagsanjan. It was a theater presentation of the very first batch of Dulaang Sibol, Ateneo de Manila’s well-known high school drama group. Eric wanted to organize a reunion.

The play, a “transplantation” of American playwright Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, was our first real experience with performance and acting. It ran for many shows and it was reviewed quite well. It had been 50 years since we performed it in high school.

This play was special to us. We were just teenagers then. Writer, director and mentor Onofre Pagsanjan opened our eyes to things we did not know we were capable of doing. It was as if he made us discover the creative powers that were inside us. He taught us how to express ourselves beyond our shyness and angst that we suffered from as teens.

Mr. Pagsi, as almost every Atenean fondly calls him, was a big influence on the lives of many, including our own. To us, he was an inspirational teacher, a role model of what a good adult should be. He knew how to listen and he understood where we were coming from. He was kind and patient, but firm. He made learning a fascinating, exciting endeavor. He believed in us and drew from us the best we could do. He made us believe in ourselves.

Many great things happened because of Doon Po Sa Amin that affected how we, the members of the cast, all turned out as adults. Six members of the cast actually met there and married each other, and are very happy to this day. From the cast came some members of the original Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society, and we know how that turned out. Life-long friendships were also formed and are being nurtured to this day.

So when we got Eric’s Viber message calling for a reunion, we were all excited. One by one, cast members responded to the invitation, using their characters’ names in the play. Some took awhile to respond because we had lost contact with them. But thanks to social media, a majority were found. Except for those who had passed on and some who were living in the US, we were almost complete.

Mr. Pagsi and his wife Florin were there early. He was 41 years old when he mentored us. Now he is 91. I sat with him and he told me how much he enjoyed watching the Eto Na! MusicalnAPO presentation at Maybank Theater. He was proud of us. With a twinkle in his eye, he said he was amazed at how many songs we had written for APO, which, in his opinion, had defined OPM in a big way. I felt proud.

Soon after dinner, I started playing the guitar and everyone started to sing the songs we used to sing in the play. We went through many ’70s songs and even older ones. We sang with glee and with full hearts. With every song, Pagsi and his wife sang with us. Sometimes he had his eyes closed as he reminisced on the memories that must have flooded over him. When we sang the song, I Believe, I saw him close his eyes, move his hands and sing with such great feeling that all of us noticed it. He was lost in the moment. It was something we will remember forever.

Amid the singing he was expressing to me how he was “drunk with song” and how happy he was to be with us. Eric asked him what their theme song was. It was the song, I’ll Be Loving You. We sang it while they held hands. Actually, they were holding hands all night.

To see old friends and people you spent some of your formative years with was quite special. Here we were, 50 years later, away from our early teens, enjoying like we were young again. We had built careers, had partners, families and lived our own individual lives. Alben Bartolome who played the role of the storyteller in the play brought a copy of the old script. Instantly, we were back in high school reciting lines from the play and reliving memories. I swear, 50 years seemed to have passed by in a blink.

After more than three hours of singing, laughing, joking around and just having a great time, Gus Cosio stood up and thanked Pagsi for not only teaching us a lot of things but also raising us with the values we live by today. He spoke for all of us. Pagsi expressed gratitude for the dinner, the great camaraderie and the music. He hugged each one of us.

We went home happy and nostalgic but mostly thankful that we all had shared a brief moment 50 years ago that affected our lives positively to this day.

It was great to see our old teacher, director and mentor again. He had affected our lives in very positive ways, more than he will ever know. As I said goodbye, I hugged him and said a quiet prayer. I tried to imagine what life would have been like if we did not audition for Doon Po Sa Amin 50 years ago.

Unimaginable! I can only say thank you to God for the breaks he gave me early on.

Present that evening were Lito De Joya, Chito and Dianne Kintanar, Sonny and Ruthie Santiago, Gus Cosio, Alben Bartolome, Gigi Escalante, Boboy and Bong Garrovillo, Tato and Edna Garcia, Claudine Zialcita, Butch and Betta Dans, Eric and Doga Ingles, Aton Atilano, Tito and Sabrina Panlilio, Greg and Paulette Cancio, Junjun and Cecil Dayrit, Lory Paredes Tangonan, Lydia and myself.

* * *

P.S.: On March 9, Class ‘69 of Ateneo de Manila High School will have a Golden Jubilee grand reunion at the Mariano Singson Hall at the Grade School. Days before that, each classroom will have their own get-togethers. There will also be an out-of-town excursion planned for everyone who can come.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2019/03/03/1898082/night-friends-and-their-mentor#KrXJg78pL8SvSwJX.99

Coffee with the enemy 0

Posted on February 24, 2019 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – February 24, 2019 – 12:00am
I posted something on Twitter and FB last Thursday that got a lot of attention.

“A serious offer. Would anyone on the opposite side of the political fence want to have coffee? No, we will not talk politics. Let’s talk about things that make us see each other’s humanity. Jokes, personal stories, dreams, ideals, songs and books we like, etc. Let me know.”

Many people liked, commented and forwarded the message. But there were also reactions that were mixed. Some were intrigued, baffled. Two expressed that it was a waste of time. One questioned my motives. Many thought it was a cool idea. What was clear was many people read it, thought about it and somehow resonated with the idea.

It seems practically every Filipino anywhere in the world has had the sad experience of losing friends and not talking to family members because of disagreements about politics. The polarization has become too much. For many, the line has been drawn. It has become a “them versus us” situation.

Rational discussions on politics are now so hard to come by. Real facts have been drowned by so much fake news that people have lost their trust in the usual credible sources. Reason is under attack. Things have become too emotional so that people seek validation not from facts but from kindred spirits who share their opinions and feelings whether fact-based or not.

No wonder a post like the one above generated excitement among my followers.

Many people want their old lives back where they could just hang around with friends and family and talk about anything and everything. That has become quite difficult now. But it is still possible, under certain conditions. I know of some Viber groups that have rules discouraging discussions about politics and religion. Basically, one can talk and express anything as long as you don’t touch on these two topics.

In my ADMU Class Viber group, it has become the norm. Religion is okay, but politics is not. In fact, we had to make another Viber group for those who want to discuss politics just to make sure the conversation is not forced on anyone and no one gets turned off and leaves the group.

I am planning the first coffee meeting that I suggested above. It should be soon. It will be in a public place. People can simply show up. No need to identify themselves based on political beliefs or affiliation. That limits the person in the eyes of others. He becomes just that to some, even if we are really much bigger than that. The idea is to be able to appreciate everyone as individual, fellow human beings.

Everyone has dreams, ideals, wants, desires and goals. There are also a million things to talk about that do not have to necessarily arouse people and make them defensive, offensive, or toxic.

The world is filled with wonderful things to appreciate and talk about. There are so many topics to chat about, and experiences we can individually share that can inspire and enrich others intellectually, emotionally and even spiritually.

The aim is not to convert anyone to any cause but to see people in as many contexts as possible. More than being just labeled as Dilawan or DDS, let’s look at everyone as who they are. They could be parents, students, etc. who have something to share. They are people like us who also worry about the future. They love others and are loved back. We are certainly more than just political statistics. As humans we are multi-faceted, multi-talented, and open-ended. When we open ourselves to others and vice versa, we begin to look at them with greater understanding, empathy and perhaps even with respect.

But many tough questions can arise within us that can stop us in our tracks. One of them is: Can you actually make peace with someone who is truly despicable?

I have sat and listened and talked with killers, plunderers, some evil people. Some of them are well known public figures. Let me tell you, I had to stretch myself to try and understand where they were coming from. Some are difficult to understand. They aroused no empathy in me.

One of them actually espoused values like respect for human rights, anti-corruption, anti-violence even if he has a private army and has had people killed. But some of them were actually quite charming and even charismatic. You may even get to like them in some ways.

What I learned from those meetings and chats is that you can have greater understanding of people without losing your own values. In many ways, being exposed to them can solidify your own values and beliefs more, even as you take pity on them. If anything, I’ve learned that human nature is not simple. It demands a great openness to try to even understand it.

Psychologist Carl Jung said that when two people meet, a chemical reaction happens that leaves both of them changed. For sure, many of us have met people with bad intentions that have left us fearful, and even forced us to be quiet. But some of us have also met strangers who have inspired us to have more trust and faith in humanity.

Invite fellow Filipinos who do not agree with you out for coffee. Even if you exclude politics in the discussion, there are still many things to talk about. It would not hurt to reach out to the “enemy” and do the extra effort of listening and interacting with them. Who knows, maybe both “them” and “us” can become more human in each other’s eyes.

Tell jokes. Share life stories. Discuss what you are passionate about, etc. Maybe even do karaoke. Those can be steps (however small) towards healing.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2019/02/24/1896140/coffee-enemy#E4DUGB7CBX0oeGQw.99

The night the audience laughed… and cried 0

Posted on February 17, 2019 by jimparedes

The night the audience laughed… and cried

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – February 17, 2019 – 12:00am

It was a night that around 500 people will remember for a long time. I’m talking about the night of Feb. 10 at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater at BGC.

Boboy Garrovillo, Sonny Santiago, Tato Garcia, Gus Cosio, Lito de Joya, Chito Kintanar and I — all original APO members in college — got together and bought a night of performance of Eto Na! MusikalnAPO, the hit musical. We did this to raise funds for fellow APO member Butch Dans who is sick with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). He was a heavy smoker for decades.

We planned this three months ago in 2018. I was told by Santi Santamaria, head honcho of 9Works (which produced the musical), that it would have a rerun in February 2019. We immediately reserved a night.

We went all-out and called friends, friends of friends, relatives, classmates, fans; we put out the message on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Soon enough, we sold the bulk of the tickets pretty fast. Everyone was supportive of the cause.

To be sure, the musical was not a hard sell. It was already on its second run. During the first run last August, it mostly ran full house and got a standing ovation every show. It was no surprise, then, that when we started selling, people responded positively.

We wanted the night to be different from all the other showings. We had cocktails. We served delicious canapés and Bay of Gold tuna and salmon on crackers. We also had wine.

We decided early on that we wanted to offer some kind of a surprise to the audience. We planned on getting the original APO members to sing two songs in the lobby during intermission. It got us all excited.

A few days before the show, we met to practice the numbers we used to sing as a big group then. All in all, 12 people have come and gone from APO over the years, some for just a short time. Two songs we often sang then were There is a Meeting, by Joe and Eddie, and In the Still of the Night by the Four Tops.

During rehearsals, memories of high school and college came flooding in. All of a sudden, it seemed we were not in our 60s, age-wise, but back in our teenage years. We were young, full of energy and noisy. We were teasing each other, as we used to then. We were smiling, even giggling during practice as we recalled stories of gigs, and crazy times in high school and early college. As the cliché line goes, it seemed like only yesterday.

With older, somewhat untrained voices now, we mostly could not sing the songs in their original key. They were too high. Boboy and I were the guitarists and we had to make adjustments by lowering the key from A to G. It was still high, but it was more manageable.

image: http://media.philstar.com/images/the-philippine-star/lifestyle/sunday-life/20190216/SL4-Lydia-Paredes.jpg

Lydia Paredes (right) and the crowd react.
We practiced on and off for about a two hours, in between laughter and stories.

A day before the show, my daughter Ala arrived from Sydney to watch. On the day of the show, we came in early and ran through the songs two more times. The audience showed up early to enjoy the cocktails. There were video screens in the room showing a collage of early APO photos.

On the spur of the moment, we decided to sing then and there, instead of waiting for intermission, since the people were already gathered in one place. Butch Dans, who was not confirmed to show up, was suddenly there. We plugged in the mics and guitars and started singing. Right from the start, the people gathered and sang with us. They shouted out comments, laughed at our jokes, and relished a few stories that we narrated.

The gig went quite well despite the technical difficulties with mics and guitars. We were ecstatic. The people who watched were all smiles. Many were remembering their own youthful days. Some were watching us for the first time and were quite moved by the love we had for Butch and for the warm camaraderie we all shared.

Soon after, we entered the theater with the rest of the crowd to watch the show.

Everyone was unbelievably high. The members of the cast were so hyped up because the original APO members were present in the audience. They knew they were portraying our story, however loosely, and singing songs we had made. They wanted to give 150 percent effort.

And they sure did.

It was my 14th time to watch the musical. Let me tell you, the cast was at their best. Everything went well. No hitches. The young performers were sharp as knives. Every joke was delivered well, every note played and sung beautifully with much feeling. The audience laughed their hearts out, and cried, too. Eto Na! MusicalnAPO has that effect on people.

Ala was in tears throughout. She was so glad she came home. The songs in the musical had been part of her entire life. She heard many of them being composed at home, and played as records, sung on TV and at countless concerts.

The love and the good feeling was everywhere. The more the audience showed appreciation, the more the cast showed its energy and talent. It was symbiotic. Everyone was soaking in a feeling of pure joy. Surely, Marie Kondo would find nothing to throw away that night.

The cast got a standing ovation amid lusty applause. During curtain call, they pulled us up to the stage to take our bows with them. After bowing, Boboy and I thanked everyone for their support.

The joy spilled out into the lobby as the audience took selfies with the cast and the original APOs. People stayed to share their reactions, to connect, and to just feel the good vibes.

We went home high, joyful, ecstatic, thankful that the Universe had smiled upon everyone who was there. Truly, an unforgettable night for everyone.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2019/02/17/1894209/night-audience-laughed-and-cried#7t0LOgpMQkbDU4tY.99

The thrill of singing world hits in Filipino 0

Posted on February 10, 2019 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – February 10, 2019 – 12:00am
Do you love to sing? Do you enjoy Karaoke? Many Filipinos do. And why not? Who doesn’t love singing?

And I am sure everyone has their favorite songs that they sing over and over again. But have you ever had the chance to sing them in Tagalog?

I saw Pete Lacaba, eminent poet, writer, teacher, journalist and friend at the Ateneo de Manila University a few days ago and I suddenly remembered one of the most unique and enjoyable gigs I’ve ever done. In fact, I would not mind doing it again. Pete invited me to do a show gig at Conspiracy Bar about six years ago and sing some of his works.


Pete Lacaba has done a lot of writing over the years, which has earned him great reviews, awards and accolades. But one of his most unique works unknown to the general public is a compilation of some of the greatest songs in English that he translated into Filipino. The compilation is called Salinawit ni Pete Lacaba. You can find popular songs from the ’40s, a Beatles song, and even recent songs up to the ’90s. The edition I have has more than 170 songs.

Singing songs I have always loved, but now translated into the vernacular, is such a wonderfully new way to appreciate them. To be sure, each language has its own nuances. Pete did not translate these songs literally. What he did was more of a “transplanting” of the songs into Filipino. Some things changed and some elements were added. But the songs mostly took root and flowered in the local language.

Take the song That’s All, which was popularized by Frank Sinatra, and lately by Michael Buble. It becomes like this in Salinawit:


(Sa himig ng “That’s All,” Salinawit: Pete Lacaba)

Tunay na pagmamahal sa habang- buhay,

’Yan lamang ang aking maiaalay,

At ang tanging puso ko,

Nakalaan sa ’yo. Yun lang, yun lang.

Alay ko sa ’yo’y pamamasyal sa araw

At kamay na kakapitan sa ulan

At mainit na dibdib

Sa gabi ng taglamig,

Yun lang, yun lang.


Ang iba ay maraming pangakò,

At handang ibigay ang mundo.

Matamis na halik at pagsuyò —

’Yan lang ang maihahandog ko.

Kung pangarap ko ay ibig mong malaman,

Ang isasagot ko’y simple lang naman —

Basta’t sabihin mong ako,

Ako lang ang mahal mo.

Yun lang, yun lang.

When translated into Filipino, somehow the words become more intimate. The images in my mind are transformed into a local setting. And the thrill of the song has a different kilig.

* * *

Here’s the next song.


(Sa himig ng “As Time Goes By,” Salinawit: Pete Lacaba)

Alalahanin mo,

Halik na totoo

Ay di nagbabago—

Kapag dalisay at wagas, Walang kupas.

At sa sinisinta,

Sinasambit tuwina’y “Iniibig kita.”

Kapag tapat ang pagbigkas, Walang kupas.

Rosas at awit Na di naluluma,

Lambing at galit At selos at tuwa,

Isang dibdib, Dalawang nilikha —

Pag-ibig ay ganyan.

Paulit-ulit lamang

Ang ating kasaysayan

Ngayon at kaylanman.

Walang wakas itong pag-ibig,

Walang kupas.

Brilliant, isn’t it? It was like it was originally written in Filipino.

* * *

Here is a famous song by the Beatles.


(Sa himig ng “Yesterday,” Salinawit: Pete Lacaba)

Kahapon lang

Ay wala akong dinaramdam.

Ngayo’y pasan ko ang mundo at sugatan ang puso ko.


Ang pag-ibig ay naging bula,

Kay dilim nitong aking daan.

Kahapon lang ay nasaan?

Ang inibig ko nang lubos

Ay wala na.

Di na babalik

Kaylanman Ang pagsinta…

Kahapon lang,

Ang pag-ibig ay parang laro.

Saan ako ngayon magtatago?

At nasaan ang kahapon lang?

In many countries, translating works is not uncommon. American musicals are translated into the local language. Miss Saigon was translated into German. Les Misérables was a hit in Japanese. We should be doing the same thing with books and music. It would be wonderful if Filipinos could read the world’s classics or famous books in the vernacular. Or watch the great Broadway musicals translated into our local languages.

* * *

Here’s a Carlos Jobim song I love to sing.


(Sa himig ng “The Girl from Ipanema” Salinawit: Pete Lacaba)

Kayumanggi, balingkinitan Itong dilag sa dalampasigan,

At pagdaan niya,

Nasasambit mo lang ay: “Wow!”

Sumasayaw siya sa buhangin, Hinahaplos-haplos ng hangin,

At pagsayaw niya,

Nasasambit mo lang ay: “Wow!”

A! Pa’no mo sasabihin

Ang kinikimkim na damdamin

At ang tapat mong hangarin? Kahit na ano ang ’yong gawin, Ikaw ay hindi mapansin.

Kayumanggi, balingkinitan Itong dilag sa dalampasigan, At ang ngiti mo,

Aay! hindi niya pansin.

(Ay! hindi niya pansin. Ikaw ay hindi niya pansin.)

Wow. Iba na ang dating! We may we feel we fully understand the English language. Intellectually, perhaps, we do. Viscerally, our natural expressions of feelings are still said best in our native tongue. From my own experience, I know that my Tagalog compositions are much more popular than my English ones. And no matter how proficient you are in English, to a Filipino an “aray” is still more instinctive and natural than crying “ouch.”

One thing I know is that a culture can often be enriched when it not only adapts something foreign but especially when it integrates it to the point that it has blended seamlessly and has become “local.”

Pete Lacaba is on the right track. He is expanding our repertoire of songs in the vernacular.

I asked Pete where I could get copies of his book for my friends. He had many copies made before which he gave away. Unfortunately, all he has now is a PDF file. Luckily I still have the one he gave me.

If you are interested and wish to have a PDF copy of Salinawit, try the internet. I found my copy there. Or please write to me and I may send it to you through email.

Pepe Smith: A legend on steroids 0

Posted on February 03, 2019 by jimparedes

A few of Joey “Pepe” Smith’s favorite things: A jacket, boots, a guitar and a model airplane box

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – February 3, 2019 – 12:00am

Joey “Pepe” Smith was a legend, an icon, a rock symbol, etc. I am not using these words lightly here. Pepe Smith is really all that. On steroids.

I first came across him as a singer of The Downbeats, a band that front-acted for The Beatles in 1965 at Rizal Sports Stadium in Manila. He had an immediate impact on the audience. At that time, he was a Mick Jagger wannabe doing the song Satisfaction, complete with the Jagger shuffle.

The next time I saw him was in UP around 1971. I was in a room with other artists and Pepe dominated the scene with his bigger-than-life presence. He was tall, lanky, with very long hair, a loud voice, a dramatic style and an overwhelming charisma. He had that star quality that was different from every artist at that time. He was a rebellious, wild, outrageous, loud, confident person who at the same time possessed charm. To some, he was very likable. To others, he seemed menacing. Either way, he had a personality that riveted everyone’s attention towards him.

I also saw him perform one of the leads in the musical Hair, which may have been the first theatrical production in the Philippines that showed some onstage nudity.

Once you met or saw Pepe Smith, he was impossible to forget. He made an indelible impression on you, for better or for worse.

Early in his career, he sang with different bands until he joined Juan de la Cruz, the first real original Pinoy rock band. The group was not just amazing. It was revolutionary. I remember half-laughing and shaking my head in admiration when I first heard the song Rock & Roll Sa Ulan with Pepe reciting the lyrics. It had a mocking irreverence and cheeky defiance to it. It was so free it even challenged what everyone thought rock at that time should be. And soon after, on and on came the hits. Titser’s Enemi No. 1, Balong Malalim, Beep Beep, Himig Natin, No Touch, Langit, etc. flooded the airwaves. It is an understatement to say that they hit it really big.

Beebop, Sanya, Daisy and Delta

A vivid memory I have of Pepe Smith and the Juan de la Cruz Band was a concert at St Mary’s College in the early ’70s. I remember singing our versions of foreign hits and our own compositions in English. We actually got a pretty good reaction from the audience. But the reaction we got was nothing like what Pepe and the JDLC Band got. The audience actually went wild, loudly sang along and had a great time. It was a turning point for us as we watched from backstage. No, we were not going to turn into a rock band. We realized that the way to go was to write and sing songs in Pilipino. It sounded more authentic and real. It definitely changed the direction of APO’s career. And we thank Pepe and Juan de la Cruz Band for it.

I went to the wake last Wednesday night to pay my respects to Pepe Smith and to hear stories about him. I realized I knew so little about this legendary figure who was my OPM contemporary. Pepe was the son of an American pilot named Edgar Smith and a Filipina. Pepe’s daughter Daisy said he hardly talked about his dad because they did not get along. He has other sibs from both parents. He was 71 when he passed on.

I talked with Rose Cruz, the mother of three of his five children, and his companion at the time he died. She narrated the moment of his death. Pepe had put some of his many guitars on their bed and was changing the strings of his new favorite Washburn acoustic guitar. He was in a light mood. Suddenly, he told Rose that he was not feeling good. Rose asked him if he wanted to go to the hospital. He declined. Soon after, he had a stroke (his third) and died quietly in her arms.

I met four of his five children at the wake, too. The youngest and only boy is BeeBop who was named after the Gene Vincent song Beebop-A-Lula. He is tall and also is a dead ringer for his father. The youngest girl Delta was named after Delta Force, a type of airplane that Pepe liked. I also learned that Pepe actually wanted to be a pilot like his father. He was into model airplanes. Daisy was named after the poem “Desiderata.” Sanya, a daughter by a different mother was named after the word “Sannyasin,” a Sanskrit term for spiritual seekers who have managed to renounce all materialism. The oldest is Queenie, also by a different mom. Unfortunately, she was not there when I visited and I was unable to speak with her.

The four sibs described their father as a happy person who could change their moods when they were having a rough time. They all smile when they remember him. He was playful and mischievous. He was ridiculously funny. And he was a loving dad. They told jokes and anecdotes about Pepe with fondness. Daisy, who resides in Australia, said he was planning on visiting her in Queensland but tragedy struck too soon.

His hat, a bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon from Australia and a tiny flashlight Pepe liked bringing along.

There were stories of his wild and reckless behavior, too. Pepe spent two years in a Quezon City jail until he was acquitted of drug charges. Rose also narrated how Pepe, during one of his stays in the hospital as a patient, was walking around the corridor with a dextrose feed connected to one hand and a Jim Beam bottle held in the other. He was outrageous. She laughed when she remembered this. There was never a dull moment with him. When I mentioned the word “controversial” to describe Pepe to his family, they all laughed. I laughed too, because the word is too mild to describe him.

Pepe’s mantra, philosophy and religion, to be very simple about it, was “Rock ‘n’ Roll.” He led the rock star lifestyle with all its attendant highs and lows. He lived a life of excess. In the public eye, he was party town personified.

Pepe will be remembered by all of us as an OPM giant whose songs will stay with us for the next generations. Pepe in his own way was a mover and shaker. He and the Juan de la Cruz personified Pinoy Rock and made a real music genre locally. He dared to live his life without any reservations or compromises.

He will be missed by his family and friends who knew him better than we, the public, will ever know.

Goodbye, Pepe Smith. ’Til we meet again. And we all will. Meanwhile, enjoy jamming with Jimi Hendrix and the rock greats in Rock and Roll Heaven.

Daydreaming 0

Posted on January 27, 2019 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – January 27, 2019 – 12:00am
What if you could gather 10 Filipinos (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be? What if you could be witness to 10 events in world history, what would they be?
Ok. I am making it easy for myself. I will not write about one central theme today. I want to do some daydreaming instead. I want to imagine “what if” situations and answer two of them in my mind.

Admittedly, what I am doing is similar to a slam book activity where teenagers ask friends to list down their favorite colors, actors, movie, flower, song, quotes etc. in a special book.

In this article I will try to engage you dear readers by posing two really interesting what-if questions. I will answer them too. Maybe you can mentally answer the questions on your own if you wish.

Here goes question number 1.

What if you could gather 10 Filipinos (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be? My list would include:

1. Jose Rizal — I would like to know his take on how Philippine history has played out since his time and the modern world today. Rizal was a renaissance man. He was also a futurist. I am sure he would have a lot to say.

2. Lapu-lapu — I have always been curious about how he and his people reacted to the first white men who landed on their shores and what it was like to engage them in battle. I would like to hear his account first hand.

3. Enrique de Malaca — He was Magellan’s slave who in all likelihood came from southern Philippines and is the first Malay to circumnavigate the world). He may have the most interesting stories to tell especially about how he got to Europe and learned the ways of his masters. His account of the voyage from Spain to Las Islas Filipinas, the first encounter between the two peoples, the first mass, the Battle of Mactan, the slaughter of the Spanish officers by Humabon, etc. should be riveting.

4. Nick Joaquin — I remember meeting Quijano de Manila and being interviewed by this very inebriated genius. He was brilliant, funny and quite outrageous at the same time. After answering his questions, he would sometimes retort back and say “I don’t believe you.” Perhaps he was trying to provoke some kind of reaction from me. He was playing games. I considered it hilarious. Through the years I have read a lot of his works. I will make sure I serve beer, of course.

5. Ninoy Aquino — People say that Ninoy was a great conversationalist. He had a sharp mind. It would be an absolute delight to watch him interact with Rizal and the others as they talk about politics and life.

6. Juan Luna — I would like him to talk about not just his art but about the unfortunate incident where he shot his wife and mother-in-law in a fit of jealousy.

7. Rodrigo Duterte — It would be interesting to see how he reacts to the other guests. He would have no spokesman or apologist, nor an encouraging laughing audience to save him. Let’s see what happens. I will make sure he is seated beside the next guest.

8. General Luna — As portrayed in the movie, he is not one to tolerate bullshit and calls out traitors without fear. I would love to see him have a discussion with Duterte about the latter’s policies and attitudes towards China and the West Philippine Sea. Let us see if violence erupts or at least, who walks out first.

9. Emilio Aguinaldo — I would like to discuss with him his controversial legacy. My sister Tictac when she was a young student in the 50s, was part of a class excursion at Aguinaldo’s house. A classmate asked Aguinaldo straight if he indeed killed Bonifacio. The general, taken aback replied that history will be the judge of that. It seems history has sent feelers and it does not look good. What do you think, General?

10. Maria Ressa — I would like her to come as a journalist and engage my invited guests with probing questions and write about the entire event for the world to read.

My next question: What if you could be witness to 10 events in world history, what would they be?

1. The landing of Magellan in the Philippines. How did the people on our islands react? What were their thoughts? It must have been close to encountering aliens from another world. This encounter changed the Philippines and geopolitics forever.

2. The Last Supper — I would like to see Jesus with his closest friends on the night before He died. I want to partake of what they ate and drank. I would pay attention to Judas when Jesus says that one of them would betray Him. What would it have been like to have witnessed the first mass ever consecrated?

3. Buddha’s moment of enlightenment under the Bodhi tree — Two thousand five hundred years ago. On the 40th day of his meditation, it is said that Siddartha Gautama had become enlightened. He had penetrated the true nature of life and grasped it. This was a great moment in the spiritual history of mankind. I would probably not engage him in conversation since the deepest wisdom and understanding cannot be expressed in words. But I would surely see everything radiate from his being.

4. The concert on May 29, 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées when Igor Stravinski played his composition for ballet entitled Rite of Spring for the very first time. It was not just controversial, it sparked very strong reactions. People booed and walked out. The ballet dancers could not hear the cues well because people were arguing so loudly. It actually caused a riot in Paris. Listen to it. It still sounds contemporary today.

5. Martin Luther King’s Selma to Montgomery march. This historic march forced President Lyndon Johnson to file a voting act in congress to make it easier for people of color to exercise their right to vote. It changed America forever.

6. The planning of the assassination of Ninoy Aquino. No one knows when or where it happened. Surely it was secretly planned by evil men and women. Up to this day, no one really knows who ordered the murder, and what actually happened in the tarmac. It may well be lost in history.

7. The battle of Normandy —This brought a final and decisive end to World War 2. Hundreds of thousands died. The divisions in the world as we know it now was largely caused and shaped by this event.

8. The first concert of the Beatles in Liverpool at the Cavern on Feb 9, 1961. Geniuses in the bud. I would like to have seen them perform there before the entire world discovered them.

9. The day the earth was hit by a huge comet that caused the death of the dinosaurs. Scientists believe the impact of the comet caused a major dust pollution to cover the sun for years. As a result, it killed almost all plant life which caused dinosaurs to starve and go extinct. No man has seen such a cataclysmic event such as this.

10. The crowning of King Tut in 1334 BC — Tutankhamun was the youngest and most famous Pharaoh. It must have been a magnificent sight for those who were there at his coronation. I would also would have liked to be present during the burial since it would have been quite a spectacle of epic opulence.

That’s it for my daydreaming today. My answers would probably change next time I indulge myself with the same questions. Enjoy yours this lazy Sunday. Share them with me.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2019/01/27/1888361/daydreaming#3LZhX0TXQA5jOMdC.99

Musings on millennials 0

Posted on January 20, 2019 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – January 20, 2019 – 12:00am

It seems today’s kids are suffering from so many things. There’s a plethora of dysfunctions that experts have diagnosed to explain youth behavior in the past 25 or so years. ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, autism, addiction, self-esteem issues, bullying, stress, being a “special” child — these are some of them.

When we were in school, these issues were non-existent, or never brought up. At least I don’t remember if they ever were except for bullying perhaps. In truth, during our days bullying was not a burning issue although it should have been. Rarely reported were wild behaviors like drunkenness and possession of porn material. I surmise that low self-esteem was probably explained as mere shyness then.

When I think about it now, it is possible that many of us who were in school in the ’50s to the ’70s were suffering from the conditions above, but no one knew what they were called then. We were undiagnosed or misdiagnosed and lived with it.

But then, it could be that a lot of these are entirely new problems that have just recently been uncovered. Are they conditions that have sprung up just recently?

I don’t know. I must research more about this. But something tells me that these are mostly new psychological troubles of a new era. Kids are growing up in an environment and time that is unprecedented. I am not even sure parents know how to raise them properly in this new setup. There is no rear view mirror to look at to navigate the future.

Last weekend, I was talking with a few friends about how differently the kids are being raised today. My friends’ ages are from 40s to 60s. They pointed out how easy everything is for millennials. Where we had to go to the library and research, they have the internet. Where we had to use a typewriter to write down our thesis, they use word processors on laptops. So many conveniences at their fingertips. Doing schoolwork has become a lot easier.

From the point of view of those who never had these when they were in school, the students never had it so good.

And yet, as a teacher, I feel many of the kids in ADMU (and I suppose in other universities as well) are actually at a disadvantage compared to students of the last century. To me, I feel we were emotionally stronger and could cope with hardship better. We also had a greater capacity to concentrate and focus.

In terms of general knowledge, I notice many of the kids now are largely uninformed about things that happened in the world past 40 years ago. They are not knowledgeable or that interested in history. They like watching videos but are not too fond of reading. They hardly know the classics. But they are savvy in social media.

As a teacher I realize that going to a classroom and simply teaching the lesson is not enough. There are many students these days who are looking for more things to learn from a teacher aside from academic stuff. In terms of presentation, a teacher must be more creative and must engage them in more ways. Aside from the lesson, I also know they are looking for adult modeling. When I pay attention to my students, I am amazed at the connection we easily establish. Often I get a feeling that I may be one of very few adults in their lives who take them seriously. Could it be that their own parents are unequipped or too busy working and have no time to talk to them?

My friends were saying that during their time, they did not have teachers who actually cared about what students were going through as young people. In the old days, I did not know of any teacher who encountered students suffering from depression. If they did, it was not their problem. There was the school counselor. Depression was just “the blues” or perhaps an emotional problem not needing any special attention. They pretty much just taught the lessons. If you did not ask questions, or did not submit your homework, then sorry for you. As a student, you just had to tough it out.

The classroom has changed now. Kids are encouraged to ask many questions, have more sources when researching. Teachers are also more aware of students who are undergoing depression. I have had a few depressed students tell me that they are going through it. Each department can corroborate this.

In my own family, my eldest daughter Erica has undergone bouts of depression. We have been very supportive as a family. Luckily, she can hold things together and get over it.

Recently, I heard of a young musician who jumped off a building. I was so troubled to hear about it. So young. A huge loss. As it turns out, he was somehow a friend of my two daughters. This made him more real to me. It really made me think how important it is to keep communications open with young people these days. Too many suicides happening now. During our time, suicides were unheard of in the Philippines. At a time when so much is available to young people that can help them learn and reach their potential, there is also so much angst that troubles them now.

In a way, it is not surprising. Sometimes, too many choices actually leads to unhappiness. Instead of enjoying the power to choose, we suffer over the loss of options. When that happens, commitment becomes so hard to do. Without committing, how can one have any direction or purpose in life?

There was something about growing up decades ago that actually toughened earlier generations. We had little money, possessions. We had no cellphones. We had television. No social media. We had real, flesh and blood friends we could physically be with. No online life. We could be “grooving” somewhere or chilling out without half of the world wondering where we were or what we were doing. Our parents also made it clear that they wanted us to finish school, get a job and support ourselves. We knew what the rules and templates were. Some of us broke them and created our own lives. Some followed the common and expected paths.

These days, I am not sure if parents and kids even know what to do. Everything is in flux. Things are changing too rapidly. Where before we looked at our parents as a different generation, someone in college today may look at their kid brother in grade school (or even in high school) as belonging to another one. There seems to be nothing you can be sure of. These are confusing times.

Just the same, today’s young people will have to make sense of everything and come into their own somehow. Our parents probably felt the same way about my generation during those wild hippie days of the ’70s. They often must have felt we had gone over the deep end.

I would like to believe that, in the end, I will discover that I am only reacting as my parents did. I wish today’s young people all the best.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2019/01/20/1886434/musings-millennials#dUgJgpRdDBooVUZa.99

Paradise regained? 0

Posted on January 13, 2019 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – January 13, 2019 – 12:00am
We had planned to go to Boracay months ago. The President had promised that Boracay would be reopened in six months. We were sure that by January of 2019, the resort we had booked would already be opened for guests. Sometime in October, we called the resort to check if they had their permit to open. They still did not have it. We hurriedly looked for an alternative and ended up booking three rooms at the modest but comfortable Shoretime Hotel, a resort we had stayed in twice before.

My daughter Ala, her husband John and their toddler Zadie arrived in Manila from Sydney on the eve of Christmas. We left for Boracay last Jan. 1 on a morning flight.

We had heard so much about the changes the government had done to clean up this magical place. We were excited but at the same time apprehensive. We wondered if the government had turned Boracay into something better than what it was. Or was it now a cleaner place but with so much regulation that it would not be the same fun place anymore? We would soon find out.

We arrived at Caticlan airport around 11 a.m. From there, we rode a car for 15 minutes, got off and went to a welcome tent to register as guests with proper vouchers from the hotel where we had registered. As a tourist, you can’t get into Boracay now unless you have a voucher from an accredited resort. Accreditation means these hotels have followed the required installations and repairs to deal with their sewage systems. It also means they have fixed any encroachment issues they had (if they did) and have abided by other regulations.

From the tent, where we got hand-stamped, we entered a building before going to the boats waiting by the docks to take us to the island. We had to purchase tickets, go through x-ray inspections, wait in a waiting area, then proceed through ticket counters and walk to assigned ferries. It was a 20-minute boat ride to a dock in Boracay. The last leg was a 30-minute land ride to Shoretime Hotel at Station One.

It is pretty challenging to go through all this without help from the hotel that you are staying in. You can’t go to Boracay and then find a place once you get there. You need to have a booking prior to going.

The most beautiful sunset Photo by Lyd ia Paredes
After checking in, we strolled by the beach and took a swim. The water was cool but pleasant. Noticeably, there was no green algae. It looked beautiful and pristine. When I shared this observation with the natives, they explained that during December, the beach is really algae-free. They said the green stuff appears during summer. They added that it has been about six months since the island was closed and cleaned. It is only natural that the scene had a fresh look to it.

The tourists have not come back in droves. Sometimes, the beach is hardly populated. In the late afternoons, people come out to take photos and enjoy the sunset. At this time, the beach is alive and busy but not anywhere close to what it was before. For a tourist like me, I saw that as a good thing. By 6:30 p.m., at least at the front of Obama Grill, there were just a few people out on the beach.

Lots of the resorts and restaurants along the strip are still closed. I saw only one bar operating 500 meters to the right of the beach when I took an evening walk around 9 p.m. There were hardly any people — unlike its heyday. The first evening we were there, the stars were out. I could see the Milky Way with my naked eye.

When you ride around the city, you will see open spaces where lots of buildings stood before but now have been torn down. They had violated easement boundaries and had to go. I heard from the locals that more will be destroyed. Some roads have a fresh coat of cement but their open sewers have not been finished. The holes, pipes and exposed metal bars are ugly eyesores. They look quite intimidating and dangerous. People or vehicles could fall into them.

The roads on Station One have been dug up and excavated but still have to be cemented. A local said that the government ran out of funds but promised that they would fix it this year. Until it is fixed, prepare yourself for the roughest ride of your life over potholes. I actually bumped my head a few times while riding tricycles going back and forth to and from our hotel. When it rains, the potholes can look like mini lakes. Watch out to avoid being splashed by muddy water from passing vehicles.

Like before, Boracay still has its gustatory attractions. We had a great time eating out everywhere. Thai Basil at D’Mall, Sunny Side at Station One, Real Coffee, Pig Out all served delicious meals, desserts and coffee. I talked randomly to foreigners who said that they were enjoying themselves and would definitely come back.

If you’ve been to Boracay many times before, what you will miss these days are the Poi fire dancers at the beach during night time, the sandcastles, massages offered by natives under coconut trees, dining al fresco nearer the water, music by the beach from establishments, concerts by the beach, big crowds, and vendors. It has ceased to be a party town in this sense.

Boracay’s charms are just too enticing to ignore.
There are still a few vendors who sell sunnies, souvenirs along the strip but not too many now. Notably, I also am quite bothered by the presence of military security wearing T-shirts with “SWAT” written on them patrolling the beaches.

Also notable, despite the reported massive cleanup, is the absence of trashcans along the beach.

Natives say that a lot of things for Boracay’s future will depend on this coming summer. Will the algae be back? Have they really solved the sewage problem that has been dirtying the ocean for decades? Have they rid the waters of the e-coli that thrived on green algae? Will the roads be finally finished? Will the resorts earn enough to keep going considering that there is now a cap on the tourist population?

Many people lost their jobs. Even if some of them are back, they still feel the loss of so many months without income. The procedure going to work in Boracay from the mainland and going back home has become expensive and cumbersome. Too many rules. One worker said it was like martial law because of the military presence. Where before their families could easily visit them on the island, now they have to go through certain checks before entering.

Would I recommend that my readers go to Boracay? The jury is still out concerning the changes that have been introduced. It will take time to see the results. I share the natives’ skepticism and caution.

But I must say that, in the end, Boracay’s charms are just too enticing to ignore. The scenery is still achingly beautiful. The fine sand is the best in the world. And the sparkling blue-green waters, the refreshing wind, and the sunset are too magnificent to resist. The red tape and regulations are a small price to pay to get to Paradise.

I would return again.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2019/01/13/1884478/paradise-regained#xTLuukj7GT1sHWBZ.99

My crystal ball into 2019 0

Posted on December 30, 2018 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – December 30, 2018 – 12:00am
It has become a duty. I have been doing this for years now. I must not take the easy way out and stop. No. That would be a big betrayal, or dereliction of duty.

Yes, I have been given the gift of seeing the future. I must share what I see no matter how disturbing it is. I owe it to mankind so people can prepare.

How did I discover this gift, you may ask? I once looked at the day and date on a calendar. I noticed I could predict with 100 percent accuracy what the next day and date would be in the next 24 hours.

I have been given this mission. I have also been given sedatives by a doctor. He diagnosed me once and said I was a psychic. Or was it psycho? I can’t remember now. Who cares. I also believe in mood rings. And between a choice of two things, I decide by doing the “Eenie-meenie-minie-mo” test. I am an avid believer that man has not landed on the moon yet. I also belong to the Flat Earth Society.

There. I have given full disclosure. Believe at your own risk. I will be specific and tell you what lies ahead. If I turn out to be accurate, please send me money. If not, please send some anyway so I can improve my skills. Here are my predictions for 2019.

1) First of all, you can be sure there will be a 2019.

2) Persida Acosta and Noli De Castro will build medical centers specializing in dengue cases. They will make their own anti dengue vaccine which will be immediately exposed as being exactly the same as the Dengvaxia vaccine which they condemned.

3) Panelo will write a very serious 24-page foreword to a book which Duterte will publish in 2019. It will be a joke book.

4) On June 12, 2019, we will see Filipino troops marching differently during the Independence Day parade. Upon passing the Luneta Grandstand, they will seamlessly switch to a precision lava walk ending in a slo-mo “Catriona” turn.

5) Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will become the finance chief. All other departments will also report directly to her. The military will also be under her command. We will see her every day in the news. Duterte, though, will still remain President of Philippines, while GMA will carry the title of Supreme Leader next only to Xi Jin Pooh.

6) Some good news. Fewer Philippine provinces will be hit by typhoons and weather disturbances. The bad news: it is because many of them will already be owned by China.

7) The Mars Exploration Rover (MER) will encounter a structure on Mars that will shake the scientific world and cause a stir everywhere. It will be in the news for the next few months. It will be very controversial.

The MER will send a photo to Earth of its mind-blowing discovery, which will turn out to be a very large Bong Go billboard.

8) The DDS will be up in arms about the Chinese Calendar. They will insist that 2019 is not the year of the Pig. To them it will be the year of the Dragon, or Monkey, or Rabbit. They will settle for any animal except the Pig. Why? It is not so much because the Year of the Pig will be bringing fortune and good luck, but because the luckiest color of the year will be YELLOW.

The DDS will bring this all the way to the Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, they will win! The Supreme Court will decide that 2019 shall be deemed the year of the Hippopotamus!

9) All Jollibee mascots will be banned from public view for fear that the food company will be charged with subversion. But newly ordered life-sized “Tickle Me Pulong” dolls and Bong Go “Man in a Barrel” wood statues from Baguio will flood the market.

10) A group of religious fanatics will again proclaim a date in 2019 as the end of the world. As in previous years, they will also disappear from the face of the Earth not later than the first day of 2020.

11) After decades of silence, Beelzebub will vehemently deny he ever said that he “has a devil set aside for me” or for anyone else.

12) The plot against the Philippines government dubbed by PNP and the military as “Red October” which was moved to December 2018, will be rescheduled again for sometime in 2019. But it will again be postponed indefinitely.

13) Samsung and Apple will come out with new phones that can pass on the smell of the user via WiFi and 5G. As a result, the sale of deodorants, perfumes, mouthwash will pick up dramatically. Use of phones inside toilets will stop.

14) To stop bullying in schools, the DOH will be taking decisive action. It will require all parents to give their children Cherifer (a medical supplement that promotes height) so that most if not all children will grow tall and confident.

15) The earth will continue to turn. All living people will consume water, yawn a few times, produce waste and breathe, swallow, blink. And everyone will definitely age.

There. The kittens are out of the bag.

I am sure you are wondering why I did not include the 2019 elections, the health of the President, federalism, the state of what the nation will be in 2019. I am sorry. I do not waste my clairvoyance on matters that are trivial and inconsequential. That is for amateurs.

Before another vision of the future comes to me, I wish to greet you all a Happy New Year everyone!

Wait. More visions are coming in but my editor says they can’t hold the presses…

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2018/12/30/1880747/my-crystal-ball-2019#ztjtsZ0ExlT1gf69.99

Don’t look for Christmas. It is right here 0

Posted on December 23, 2018 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – December 23, 2018 – 12:00am
It is almost Christmas Eve as you read this. There is a rush everywhere. Shoppers are desperate to finish buying the things on their lists. Lines are long, especially in shopping malls, ATMs, trains, buses and jeeps. Traffic exceeds all expectations. People are caught rushing home to be with their families in the city or in the provinces. Or maybe even abroad.

People are attending the last Simbanggabi tonight before Christmas Eve Mass tomorrow. Noche Buena everywhere is being planned meticulously. Some of the food is already being prepared. Some gifts are still being wrapped while some are ready to be opened. Everyone is excited to make sure Christmas Eve will go perfectly for them and their loved ones. We all want it to be the most wonderful night of the year.

Everywhere there is this universal wish for good tidings, merriment, peace, hope and love.

Sadly, these wonderful Christmas wishes are made against the backdrop of a bleak, tragic world that is in ruins, as we speak. Amidst the racism, misogyny, hate, angry political divisions, fake news, threats of war, terrorism and famine plaguing many places in the world, people can only sigh and sincerely hope for peace on earth. I know this. I am one of those people.

Is it madness that makes us wish against all odds that the world will somehow be better? The cynical will cheer loudly in agreement. How can the world be better when there are more bad people than good in this world, they like to say. When will the Pollyannas of the world wake up to the truth? The world is an evil, dangerous place. Wasn’t realizing that there was no real Santa one of the painful lessons we learned early in life? Life is about getting butt-kicked out of Eden and realizing how horrible it can be.

It is so easy to be persuaded by the mob and lose all hope in everything. And there seem to be endless arguments that the naysayers can present to prove they are right.

Yet, despite all the setbacks, a big portion of humanity stubbornly rejects them and continues to believe that things can get better. Why? It has always been like this as far back as I can remember. Yes, there is something crazy about it. Strangely enough, the world likes to pin its hopes on something as fragile and unsure as a baby boy of humble origins to make things better for everyone every Christmas season.

Is it madness? If I were asked this question in my youth, I would easily come to that conclusion.

But as an older man, a lot of my opinions have changed through the years. I have seen many things that have happened that no one could have predicted. Many things I used to think were crazy have begun to make sense.

I remember how my mother loved praying the rosary. During the 1950s until the ’80s, it was common for people of her generation to pray for the fall of communism and the conversion of the USSR, among other intentions. For many decades, I dismissed her prayers as naive and unrealistic until, to my great shock, the USSR did collapse in the ’80s! I asked myself how that could have happened. Was it mere coincidence? How could the prayers of old women cause a world upheaval? I am not sure. But after the fall of communism, I was much more open to the force and power of prayers. There must be silent but powerful forces in the world that keep it from falling completely apart.

In this world where almost everyone seems weary and weak in spirit, people are frantically searching for any “thrill of hope,” waiting to rejoice a “new and glorious morn.” Maybe this is a time when everyone should be looking for the ray of hope not in the usual settings. Perhaps we should try looking at places we mostly always ignore. We can search for that hope right here within our midst. We need not look far or wide. Truth is, it has always been around us but we never noticed it. That’s because we were always searching for something dramatic or different.

I often think that God amuses himself by challenging us to find Him in the ordinary, in the boring and sometimes even in the annoying. He likes us to see Him in everyone we meet. After all, if there is God, “the Father, Son and Holy Ghost,” there must be God the security guard, the tricycle driver, the beggar in the street, the neighbor, etc.

God can be found not in churches and temples alone. God also lives outside the designated holy places we visit. He can be found everywhere. And because he can be found anywhere, God is telling us that every place is sacred and holy like a church, and that every person reflects the face of God.

The message here is that life is always rich and blessed. And hoping for a better world unleashes the good in all of us.

When we awaken to this, the “crazy” becomes the norm. We defy the cynics. Every moment becomes Christmas. And Jesus is every person. Then we can happily shout, “Peace on earth and goodwill to all men!”

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2018/12/23/1879122/dont-look-christmas-it-right-here#47Sw6LcXCqBfjpfY.99

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