Boom! Bang!! Have a blast!!









Thanks to China, Australia, Russia and the UK for these wonders! Congratulations to Australia for winning in the World Pyrotechnics Olympics in Manila!!

May we all see life more beautifully after the smoke clears!

Happy New NOW!!!

Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year

—Seasons of Love, from Rent!

Time is once again slipping in grand fashion as we mark another end of a year. It seems so long, a whole year. Yet, when we tally the hours—one third of a year spent sleeping, another third working, the rest spent in front of the TV or just whiling away the time—it doesn’t seem long at all.

And think of the state of mind we have while spending the hours. There are happy, loving moments—fun times, quality bonding times with loved ones. Some of us spend it complaining about this and that, some of us seething in anger, frustration, regret, hate, worrying about health, finances, politics and other negative concerns. When we look at it this way, it’s hard to believe that a year is short.

Time is the one thing that constantly reminds us that we are earthbound. It tells us that there is a time to be green and young, ripe and mature and crumpled as we begin to age. To live in the world of time is to be subject to birth and death, to be mortal.

And yet, even as we are mere mortals, we are capable of timeless experiences. It is the way God wired us to be. When we can jettison the inertia and pains of the past and come into the now while totally present with all faculties and total being, we live under the grace of the eternal. And it is eternal as long as we wish it so.

What about the past, the future? Don’t we have to worry about them? Sure. There are things to take care off in the future. And there are errors that must be corrected in the past. But we don’t have to live there in place of the moment. Spending our time in past regrets or in anticipative worrying about the future will surely make us totally unhappy, and missing out on the gifts of the moment. The present we live in is not the present at all but the continuation of the past, or worse nothing more than just its sum total.

But if we constantly choose to focus on the ever renewing present, we learn soon enough that we are actually always capable of coming into a freshly independent and creative ‘now’ free from past and future. Yes, seriously. That’s how miraculous life turn-arounds happen. Jesus puts it so well, ’Go and sin no more.’ Finished. The past is erased. That was yesterday. This is now. It’s a new day.

Problems originate in the past or future. Think about it. What is there to worry about NOW? If you can find one, it’s probably linked to some past or future concern that you are projecting to the moment. NOW is free, spotless, spacious and eternal! It is always a good starting moment. That’s why it is so redemptive!, spotless, spacious and redemptive.

When I give workshops, I notice that people readily share intimate secrets with strangers. Why? Because they are people they have just met. No past shared. No future projected. No room for judgments of any kind. Just acceptance. Forgiveness of oneself and others cannot happen by dwelling on the past. It only happens when we decide to live in the present.

The past and the future are part of time. But we can live them as parts of a series of now points, if we choose to be present. And every moment spent in now is eternal. The present, when not contaminated by the past and future is all there is. This is as good as it gets. Think of what it’s like when you are totally, wonderfully spontaneous. Isn’t that a magical moment—a moment without worry or fear? It’s a moment when we forget the past and catch ourselves marveling at our own natural greatness, at who we REALLY are. And it happens only because we are free of time a.k.a past and future. That’s why great performances, or moments when we are real to ourselves, and others are indeed timeless ones. We defy the inertia of being mortal. We forget our being earthbound. We are creatures of eternity basking in our original nature. I’m not talking here of some pie-in-the-sky pollyanna escape to life’s problems. Living in the moment can be a vital part of spiritual practice.

a timeless moment..

A year doesn’t actually have to start on the 1st day of January and end on the last day of December. It starts when we decide that we will begin to live, really live—in the present! In place of greeting you the usual Happy New Year, I wish you a Happy New Now! may you have a good moment RIGHT NOW and may you live in it eternally!


beyond ‘feeling’ christmas

I used to be so enchanted by the poem’ “T’was the night before Christmas’ by Clement C. Moore. As a young boy, I had actually memorized it. I especially liked the line ‘while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.’ Christmas was a magical, wonderful time. It was filled with mystery and delight beyond imagination. And the chilly weather, the long nights, and the entire adult world seemed to conspire to make it so for children like me.

I remember eagerly making a lot of ‘sacrifices’ as a kid–not eating, not fighting, doing chores, etc.. since every one of them entitled me to put a piece of hay on our belen to make baby Jesus’ bed softer by Christmas.

But as I gradually got older, Christmas became less and less enchanted. Santa had turned out to be adults I knew. Furthermore, I could feel the stress of Christmas descend on the people who used to seem to effortlessly stage the whole production every year. In place of gifts, the ‘Santas’ would just give money for lack of time to buy stuff, and as I got older, some of them even stopped giving me gifts. It was then when I realized that Christmas was for the smaller kids.

As a young dad, Christmas became magical once more as I played Santa or at least joined in the conspiracy to create the same enchantment for my own kids during the season. I was even able to pass on the sacrifice-for-hay-in-the belen tradition to my kids when they were still tiny.It was good for awhile (for them and me) until they started to grow up.

I must admit that Christmas during the past few years has been quite a drag. And it seems so for many other people I know as well. To be sure, I see no magic in the materialistic frenzy that seems to come over everyone everywhere. And to make matters worse, traffic is awful, the malls are too full, there’s the ‘obligatory’ gifts to buy, there’s food everywhere that is left untouched and uneaten, and expenses are sky high. Throw in the endless parties. In truth, I wish sometimes that I could disappear, skip Christmas and rejoin the rest of the world after New Year’s Eve. It seems more peaceful that way.

This year, I have not bought a single gift and probably will not. Instead of complaining about the absence of the Christmas ‘feeling’, I have decided on a new coping strategy. For this year and for every year after, I will not worry or complain about whether I am feeling the Christmas spirit or not. Let’s face it. I am in my 50’s and I am no longer easily moved by the sensory and tactile thrills of the season. I have decided to free myself from deciding whether Christmas is good or not depending on how I feel or am moved by the spirit. Nor should I rely on how much funds I recieve or give away to make it a good Christmas. In place of trying to get the mood/feeling/ spirit going, I have decided instead to try to BE the embodiment of the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas embodies the characteristics of generosity, joy, childlikeness, compassion, love, friendliness and caring. I shall this Christmas and hence after, try and BE all that! The original Christmas story tells of the Son who embraces being human and gifts the world with peace and salvation. If Christmas is to mean something every year instead of the usual fruitcakes, ham, new gizmos, perhaps going back to the original intent of it is the answer.

So to all, I send towards your direction my joyful, happy and loving wishes and intentions coming from the depth of who I am. May you be gifted with the grace of seeing every day in a new way, free from past hurts, pains. Everyday is a good day, a fresh start.

Maligayang PASKO. May your Christmas be filled with giving and recieving, and may your life be showered with peace and happiness. I promise to go beyond just sending wishes but also quantifying this commitment with my time, effort, friendship, empathy, and goodwill to everyone I meet. Let this be my New Year’s resolution as well.

PS. Last year, it was Quezon on our minds. This year, if you want to make Christmas a special one for the suffering people of flood-stricken Calapan, Mindoro, send stuff (money, clothes, food and even your time in packing the donations) to Eliazo hall at the Ateneo De Manila. I guarrantee you it will make a difference! All good thoughts and actions, big or small, actually do.

Desert Stories!

Desert sunset

Before leaving for Doha, Qatar, I had asked a few OFWs lined up in the embassy who were getting their visas what Qatar was like. The few I talked to said there were no theme parks, no cheap shopping and that it was a boring place compared to Dubai or even Bahrain. With that impression in mind, we landed in Doha.

While it was true that there was no ‘Disneyland’, everything else was underrated. Doha, though a bit laid back has everything. And it is a country in a state of frenzied construction since they will be hosting the Asiad Games next year. They are sparing no expense to spruce up the city and to build the biggest sports complex in the world. There are builders, workers, big machines everywhere working 24 hours a day to make sure this is all finished on time. Qatar is, to be sure, a country on the make.

And this is where APO’s producers had a problem. They could not find a sizeable venue to accommodate our kababayans who wanted to watch. All venues that were big enough to house thousands were in a state of repair. We ended up in a nice but tiny movie theater called the Doha Cinema and because of its small size, tickets were priced way too expensive—far beyond the reach of the regular OFWs. The ticket price was easily a quarter of their take-home pay. And even though we performed for a meager crowd, it was an extremely enthusiastic one. They wanted to make sure that they would enjoy every moment—and did.

Our producer Saeed Al Ghanim, who is one of the friendliest people I have ever met has promised that next time we come back, he will have a venue big enough so regular working Pinoys can watch. We are really looking forward to that.

As a visitor to Qatar, the most charming element I loved was its ‘Arabness’. I don’t think I have ever visited the Middle East and did NOT have a good time. The Arabs are a loud, warm, wonderful people who love good food and are quite conscientious about how they show their hospitality. And this combination of Arab and Filipino alaga which our producers showered on us was just great. We were housed in villas with a Filipino cook, Elmer, who made sure we were fed sumptuously. And almost every single wish we dared express was always granted. Thus, we were able to go to the desert and see sand dunes, ride a camel, experience an Arab feast, and dress up Arab style for pictures. We also had a chance to shop in their very modern malls and also their centuries old ‘souqs’ or markets where the no. 1 merchandise people trade is still gold. Next is precious stones.

I brought Lydia along. I thought it would be timely since she would probably never go there on her own anyway. It was her first experience in the Middle East and she sure took it all in, including the food (lamb, kebabs, humus, and other delicacies I can’t remember the names), the sweets (chocolates with almonds, pistachios, and Baclava pastries etc.). Then there was the shopping. She went crazy at the souq where she bought ‘old world’ stuff which included antique bells and bangles to wear and some pieces of gold jewelry which had me sweating for awhile–what with the Ilocano that I am. Ha ha! But what we enjoyed most together were the uniquely Arab experiences which were the excursions to the desert, the food and meeting Qataris who are very friendly.

‘I’ve been to the desert on a camel with no name..’ ha ha!

‘Lydia, queen of the dunes!’

One of these days, I will take the rest of my family to visit the Gulf so they can experince another type of culture that may seem alien especuially to us who have been way too westernized. I relish looking forward to enjoying another desert sojourn but this time, I want to meet Bedouins (desert tribes) who still live in tents and drink camel’s milk. I would like to stay overnight and watch the wind and sand reconfigure the dunes into ever new landscapes.

Bedouin heaven!

I don’t know how many readers of this blog can relate to the wonderfully foreign experience of driving though streets lined with date trees, and the sound of the call to prayers from minarets everywhere at different times of the day. Throw in the awe of looking at a centuries old people who are making the big leap into the 21st century with their satellite dishes, modern buildings, new cars, computers, and modern hospitals while still wearing their traditional clothes and adhering close to their traditional mores. I find all of it wondrous and exotic. Unlike Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states are quite open and tolerant of foreigners. In fact, they are often quick to embrace foreign ways but without losing their own culture. It’s the charm of the old world blending in with the new in a way only Arabs can do.

Can you tell the Pinoys from the Arabs?

A beautiful Qatari woman. A stolen shot since they do not like their pictures taken. I know I should not but I could not resist!

It’s good to discover that Filipinos are generally liked and respected in Qatar. Our resourcefulness, probably honed because of years of deprivation and our ability to make do with so little, is regarded highly. With the Filipinos running their transport system, supervising their constructions, starting up their small businesses, processing their oil, etc., the Arabs as a people will become less and less alien to us. A great many Pinoys now eat shawarmma, and have become acclimatized living there for so long. Someday soon, Kahlil, Mubarak, Saeed, Mohammad will have become names as common to us as Boyet, Jon-jon, Kimberly and Arnel. Who knows, in exchange they could be singing ‘Pumapatak ang Ulan‘? Ha ha!

‘Sheik Jaime Mustafa Ibrahim Paredes!!’

In Awe

It surpassed all of my expectations.

For one thing, I had never before seen any of my digital shots printed on photo paper, or even on any ordinary paper. I always only looked at them in my laptop. Last week when I finally saw them printed on 20 x 30s and 16 x 24s metallic paper by Studio 58, I was stunned. I couldn’t help but stare at them for a long time and smile. I found them so beautiful and artistic. It was probably the first time I actually felt that I could be a real, serious photographer.

Behn, BenCab, me and Willie

The night before the exhibit, The Renaissance Gallery had drawn curtains covering its display glass walls since we were still hanging the pictures for exhibition. There were people passing by–people who came from Araceli Dans’ opening night a few steps away. The white curtain mostly kept them away except for a few people. One woman took a peek inside, liked what she saw and on the spot reserved the Baguio Sunflowers photograph. I was of course delighted. It was definitely a good sign. A few minutes later, BenCab, the renowned painter from Baguio came in with his friend Annie and Willie Nepomuceno, Behn Cervantes and surveyed the few photos hanging on the walls. He pointed out what he liked while we chatted about Baguio. He then took out his camera and had Annie take shots of the group. It was great being visited by artists I admire.

Eddieboy, myself and Lydia and Maruja, my sis-in-law at the back.

On December 8 the next day, even before we had cut the ribbons to formally open the exhibit, people started coming in and 5 pictures were immediately bought. By 6:30, my guest of honor Eddieboy Escudero, a close friend and wedding photographer whom I learned a lot from finally arrived. There were lots of people milling around already. We promptly cut the ribbon and soon after, throngs of more people filled the Renaissance gallery. As the exhibitor, I was of course the second center of attraction next to the photographs, thank God! (If it were the other way around, I would have been devastated). Everyone seemed to want to talk to me, to comment on how much they liked certain pictures (or ALL of them!), to congratulate me or to ask me particulars about the photos. I was floating on air.

It was a great night of being with friends, relatives, patrons, some old students as they had cocktails, food, and engaged in some art talk. John Santos, Lucy and Richard Gomez, fellow APO’s Danny and Boboy, Agot and Manu Sandejas, ace songwriter Trina Belamide and her folks were there. Soon, the crews of GMA 7 and RPN 9 arrived to interview me for their respective channels’ news. As for me, it was a wonderful night of just basking in the glory of being congratulated for pictures that apparently touched the visitors. It touched them so much they bought 21 photos before the end of the evening.

I was glad I trusted my instincts. I wanted this exhibit and I wanted it in a gallery. But even while I was already committed to exhibiting weeks before, I caught myself easily swinging from being sure one moment, and being so scared to even think of how I was going to do it. One day I would be so confident of my pictures, the next I would be struggling with myself on why I was so ‘deluded’ into doing something like this. How dare me! It was definitely my blocks showing up and pulling me back to my comfort zone and preventing me from growing. “Just do it”, I kept telling myself. If I could not believe in my own work, how could I convince anyone else? It was my moment of truth. And I am so glad I did it

I have the gallery till the 15th. Do drop by. I will be posting more pics as I get them from friends. You see, I was not able to bring my camera since I understably did not feel like shooting! heh heh.

This may be my last post for about a week unless I have internet access in Doha, Qatar. APO is off again to another exotic place for a three night gig with Bituin Escalante, and Kyla and our wonderful live band.

Unless you really have to go, you may want to think it over before applying for a visa. Believe it or not, their new regulations are quite stringent and even bizarre. To get the visa we needed, we all had to undergo a complete medical check up which included submitting stool, urine samples and going through ECG, x-ray, blood test, physical exams, eye check and even a dental look over.

But watch out Doha! We will be there to rock you!

I will be back with great stories to tell!

batang pinas’ at ang ‘exhibitionista’

Here’s an idea I’ve been wanting to write about. Another theory one can neither prove nor disprove. Am not sure I make sense but it is nevertheless intriguing. Here goes.

Carl Jung says that everyone harbors within himself certain ‘archetypes’—or primal characters, simply put that have existed throughout the history of mankind. And he claims that these are embedded now in every human being’s collective consciousness. As examples, we carry within us the archetypes of ‘prostitute’ (which takes over every time we negotiate money), ‘saboteur’ (the one who warns us against our own plans–our caution mechanism), ‘hero’,’ teacher’, ‘child’, etc.. There are millions of archetypes actually, and each one of us is a jumble of archetypes-in-line waiting to express themselves though our personalities and actions. This is a really fascinating concept which a lot of other writers have explored. Among them is Ms. Caroline Myss who has written a lot about this in Sacred Contracts.

One of the things that intrigues me is this: Is it possible that countries, nations, peoples can also be dominated and thus carry and act out the patterns attributable to certain archetypes at different times in their history? During WW2, wasn’t Germany for example the strict, obsessive-compulsive disciplinarian who was obsessed with ‘order’ and wanted to rid the world of ‘imperfection’ (Jews) and establish the perfect race (the aryan race)? The Germans went along with it since Hitler promised and delivered. He got the trains running on time and there was law and order. He appealed to the Germanic obsessive penchant for efficiency.

What about America? Isn’t Hollywood’s projection of America that of a vibrant, rugged individual nation with lots of spunk, recklessness, youthful chutzpah, a know-it-all with no long memory to temper itself? Isn’t America the source of rock’n’roll, James Dean, the atom bomb and the Vietnam and Iraq? Look at japan. Didn’t Japan on the other hand seem to come on as a warrior-samurai complete with hara-kiri and kamikaze suicide bombing?

I sometimes ask myself, what about the Philippines? What archetype dominates or rules us today? What can we observe from the way we as a people behave? Don’t we always say that we are still a young country to explain why we are in the mess that we are in? Hmm. I’d say that from all indications, we seem to be ruled by the ‘child’ archetype. Consider the following:

-We love partying—fiestas, salo-salo, the longest Christmas season in the world, etc..

-We have very short memories. We are not great fans of history and we never seem to learn from it.And even when we act out great historical events like the 2 EDSAs, it’s a PARTY!

-We have an even shorter attention span. We never hear of any institution, (government included) that looks twenty years ahead. And even when other nations plan for 50 to 100 years ahead, we never go beyond the ‘5-year plan’. We seem to like everything ad hoc. Bahala na si Batman.

-We seem to just go merrily along unconcerned about our serious problems. In every survey the past few years, we have always seen ourselves as ‘the happiest people in Asia.’

-Our favorite religious icon is the Santo Nino–the depiction of Jesus as a child. We like a lovable, cute God—a ‘wonder child’, combination of someone like a cute child star (with His curly locks and white skin) and the Promil baby who is also a ‘gifted child’, can perform miracles and who at a young age could preach at the temple.

–We love entertainment, Little Miss Philippines, telenovelas about young love, fantaseryes, etc. that are mostly about the young..

But then, even when we do see the child archetype kicking in us, a question to ask is, what are the characteristics of this child? Is the archetype that characterizes us ’the golden child’?, The ’meek and quiet child’? The ‘spoiled brat’? Are there other child archetypes to choose from?

Consider the following:

-A lot of Pinoy children grow up these days with just one parent because many of their dads or moms are working outside the country. In one class I spoke to a few years ago, 47% of the entire class had only one parent at home.

Could we be the ‘orphan child’?

-We seem to show quite often through mass media children in ‘adult’ roles or situations. Our telenovelas like to depict children who cry a lot because they are saddled with the problems of the family and the world. In singing contests, it is not unusual to hear kids sing My Way, or The Greatest Performance Of My Life or She Bangs’. Or what about the phenomenon of very ‘child-like’ dancers, the Sex Bombs, and the like who project an overt sexuality fit for adults?

Could we be the ‘precocious child’?

Our politicians, familiar with our child-like ways give us entertainment in place of substance. And as if to exploit the ‘orphan’ in us like to project themselves as ‘Ama ng bayan’ (Erap and Marcos), Ina ng bayan (Imelda).

My own interpretation in archetypal terms of Erap’s fall and GMA’s ascension to power can be seen as something like this;

Nagwala si tatay. Napasama sa masamang barkada at bisyo kaya si Ate ang naatasan mag-alaga sa atin.

Where’s Nanay? In the Middle East, or London, or America making money as an OFW, of course! GMA is too young looking to be an ‘Ina’, di ba?

I am an exhibitionist

OK, I’ll desist for the meantime with the psycho-sociologist musings.

I am putting on this blog the media release concerning my exhibit. Pardon the ‘shameless’ plug.

‘To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower
To hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.’

-By William Blake

That pretty much sums up Jim Paredes’ guiding philosophy and describes his acute awareness and state of mind when taking pictures. Everything in sight is potentially fascinating and/or inspiring and can be captured as such. The world is an infinite place of wonder and awe.

Jim of APO Hiking Society fame, started getting into photography about 12 years ago and turned professional in 1997 when he did his first photo cover for Metro Magazine. In the following years, he shot for many other publications, and did commercial work which included brochures, calendars, albums and billboards. Jim has had two solo exhibits in 2003 and 2004 at the EPSON Gallery. He has also had the honor and pleasure of sharing photo space with his idols Jun De Leon and Raymond Isaac for a mini-exhibit at Cinderella’s store..

Many people have seen glimpses of Jim’s works in magazines which featured mostly semi-nude, portraits or fashion themes. For this collection, he has decided to present something different. Jim immersed himself in what initially seemed to be very random subjects but when summed up, actually presented themselves under the themes of AIR (clouds, mist, fog, horizons), WATER (boats, beaches, water itself) and EARTH (landscapes, hills, leaves, flowers, sand, and some of the other Ten Thousand Things that comprise it). “ I was not aware at first that an inner direction was guiding me’, says Jim. ‘But after a while, I really caught on and began to really see and focus on the beauty of everything I pointed my camera on’. Thus, the title JIM PAREDES in A.W.E. A Photographic Exhibit is only fitting!

“I’ve been on a creative streak for some years now’, explains Jim who surprised himself by getting into teaching at the Ateneo University, giving lectures and creativity workshops, writing books –doing all these during the past 6 years and excelling even as he continues to tour abroad with APO. “I just jumped into the pool and learned how to swim, so to speak. Photography, apart from music and writing is one of those activities where I am a natural and feel I can express myself eloquently’, says the renaissance man.

Jim Paredes invites you to view his pictures and be in awe. It is his hope that his photos will awaken your dormant connection to the world and will make you in awe of things around you.

FROM DEC. 8 TO 15, 2005
Renaissance Gallery
4th Floor, Building A
Megamall, MM

Politically incorrect thoughts..

Here’s something crazy I wrote for the INQUIRER years ago. I found it while going through some old documents. Allow me some irreverence. OK, it’s not as well argued as The Da Vinci Code but here are some things to rather, to joke about!

Joseph Campbell, the great mythologist contends that every race considers itself as the chosen people. Just watch National Geographic and Discovery Channel documentaries and you can’t help but agree. From Mayan, Egyptian, Japanese, Chinese, Aborigine, and African, and Western cultures, it is clear that ethnocentricity, or the belief that one’s culture is best, is a common worldview. Bible history also tells us that the Jews believed (and still do) that they are the chosen ones. And more recently, George W. has been acting like there are no other people in the world more important than Americans.

Father and son?

If you are one of those Filipinos who, even for a second had considered the possibility that we could be ‘the chosen race’, or that Jose Rizal could have fathered Hitler–a speculation that some people, admittedly under the influence of beer may have discussed ‘seriously’ because of our hero’s height, hairstyle, his pabling ways and his brief stay in Austria– then YOU are the reader I am addressing! You probably love conspiracy theories, don’t you?

HE was one of us!

Okay, so almost every race has assumed a special “chosen” status at one time in their histories. For us Pinoys, I wish to make a claim notches higher than just being ‘chosen’. And what I claim for the Filipino race is this: Jesus was probably Filipino!! Think about it! How could He NOT have been considering the following:

–Jesus had a barkada, also known as the apostles and spent a great deal of time just hanging out with them. How much more Pinoy can one get!

–Jesus was, from all indications, not gainfully employed like a great many of us. At best, He did carpentry part-time. (Being a Messiah is a good thing but not a REAL job like plumbing or being a farmer. You get what I mean?).

–He liked banquets and celebrations, the wedding at Cana and the Last Supper being two memorable occasions. Like a real Pinoy, He was always seeing to it that everyone was fed. One could almost imagine Him calling to people, “Kain tayo!”, and meaning it. Like a true Filipino, he knew food was central to gatherings. And He resorted to extraordinary means like miracles when there wasn’t enough, as in the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.

–Like many Filipinos, Jesus spent a big chunk of His life (from His late teen years to His early thirties) in different parts in the Middle East. And like some of our kababayans there, He got into trouble with the law because of His preaching!

–Jesus was closer to His mother than to His earthly father. (Isn’t every Boyet, Juan or Pedro like that?)

–While we Filipinos walk through water during the rainy season, Jesus did His own walking on water. It’s great to be God!

–He had ninongs in the Three Kings– the only people who gave Him birthday presents. And like many Filipino kids, HE NEVER SAW HIS NINONGS AGAIN after that first visit!

–And last but not least, like the Filipino race whose collective memory is notoriously short, Jesus doesn’t keep a logbook of past offenses. He was/is always forgiving!

Convinced? If you aren’t yet, consider this: according to my brother Jesse, the cryptic letters ‘INRI’ nailed above Jesus Christ on the cross stood for Ilocos Norte Region I! Sanamagan! He could have been Ilokano. After all, no one doubts that He has been saving all these years!

How to become good Filipinos!

I’ve often wondered why it is that when we Filipinos are abroad, we generally behave decently as good citizens strictly obeying rules and regulations. And yet, back here we can be so incorrigibly remiss in following the simplest traffic rules, the anti-littering law, and even the bigger ones like paying taxes.

The challenge before us is how to become model citizens right here at home. How to do this? Simple: Let’s proclaim the entire Philippines a “foreign country”–just like Sweden, or Germany. This simple proclamation should automatically make all of us natives ‘foreigners’ in this country we’ve always trashed! Once we realize we are “abroad”, we might just adjust to the laws and follow the rules of our “host country” like we do everywhere.

Think about it, Filipinos en masse becoming law-abiding citizens! No more throwing of garbage indiscriminately. No more spitting on the sidewalks. No more urinating in public. A lot less crime and corruption!

Furthermore, declaring the Philippines a foreign country will be a big step in solving our budget deficit as Filipinos line up annually to pay fees to the foreign government to renew our “brown cards”! And we would never have to leave home to go abroad since WE ARE ALREADY THERE!!

Ronald forgives you

With less and less young people entering the priesthood, I sometimes wonder how the Church will be able to service the spiritual needs of the large Catholic multitude.

Perhaps the Church could learn a few things from fast food companies like Jollibee and MacDonald’s. What if confessions were handled like a drive-thru service? A penitant could literally drive through and after hearing the “Good morning sir/ma’am can I help you” greeting on the intercom, start reading his sins from a menu on the board, as in, “I committed 5 large lies, 3 small thefts, 3 double sexual indiscretions, etc.” He then gets directed to the window to collect his penance, recite the contrition prayer and get absolution.

Cut the bull. Let’s really party!

I was watching a documentary about the bull runs in Pamplona, Spain where thousands of locals and tourists risk life and limb for the thrill of running with charging bulls through the narrow crowded streets of the town. Talk about doing something mindless, not to say reckless. And yet no amount of blood and gore will stop people from attending this yearly event. In fact, the risk of being bloodied may be its big come-on.

Given this walk-the-edge side of tourism, the DOT guys might take a cue from Pamplona and plan similar, if not more exciting alternatives for adventurous tourists in Manila! Think about it! Put two thousand tourists in, say, a narrow street in the Malate area. At a given signal, they are told to run like hell while we release upon them dozens of bag and cell phone snatchers and thugs itching to rob or mug them senseless!

In comparison, the Pamplona Bull Run will be about as exciting as knitting in a rocking chair!

Boo Hoo

As a postscript to my previous blog about missing Sir Paul’s concert, my sister wrote to say he sang 35 songs, and that it was such a great concert. And yes, all she could do for me was get me the proverbial souvenir t-shirt!