Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Giant Killers

It's March Madness once again!

March 1997. The Kentucky WildCats were up against the Arizona WildCats for the NCAA Championship. Entering the game, Kentucky was ranked 1st in their division and Arizona was only ranked 4th in theirs.

Arizona kept pulling upsets until they reached the finals. Personally, I didn't think they'd go as far as the conference finals. Guess I was wrong; they went as far as winning the championship that year.

The game ended with the score of 84-79 in overtime. (FYI for NBA Fanatics, Kentucky had Ron Mercer, Scott Padgett, and Jamaal Magloire while Arizona had Mike Bibby, Jason Terry, and Miles Simon). Kentucky lost... The better team lost... My favorite team lost...

***

Growing up as an avid PBA fan, I watched top-ranked teams win championships year-in and year-out. First, it was Shell with Benjie Paras and Ronnie Magsanoc. Then came Alaska with Jojo Lastimosa, Johnny Abbarientos, and Bong Hawkins. Alaska's dominance was later challenged by a Sunkist team led by Vergel Meneses, Nelson Asaytono, Kenneth Duremdes, and upstart Boybits Victoria. The fan favorite during that time was, of course, San Miguel or Ginebra (later changed to Gordon's and back to Ginebra not long after). The crowd continued to cheer for them though they never really got to dominate the league.

Behind all these teams, there was one team that never won a championship and was seldom cheered for by the crowd. The team was then called Pepsi (now the Talk 'N Text franchise). At the end of every conference, a fan would not be surprised to see Pepsi at the bottom of the team standings. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if people can't remember them anymore! They'd probably say there's nothing special about this team... but I say otherwise.

By some weird coincidence, when we were in Manila and were able to watch the games live, we would always end up watching Pepsi's games. FYI, Pepsi was a team led by Elmer Cabahug and Al Solis, both were known three-point specialists. Other than these two old-timers, no one else was a "superstar" athlete in the team. Surprisingly though, they always won when we watched, and they won against the Shells and the Alaskas and the Sunkists. On paper, they were called the "Giant Killers." They always beat the best teams but never their fellow cellar-dwellers.

In the few games that I watched them during my formative years as a budding child, the team easily captured my imagination of what heart, team work, and love of the game is all about. They would always enter the court as underdogs, as sure losers if you will. But they will always enter the court with humility and, certainly, the passion and the will to win as well. Every game for them was a hard-fought battle, every point was well-earned. To Philippine Basketball, they became David and every foe, Goliath.

One time, behind by 20 points in the 4th quarter, they rallied with 3-point bombs to beat a championship bound team. Rightfully so, with every shot going in, people cheered... Louder and louder, they cheered. Pepsi simply showed them what heart was all about.

***

In life, you may either be the underdog or the championship-bound team. By I guess what I really want to point out is this: Just love the game dudes. Be in-love with life. Life is like a basketball game. Play every game with the will to win and the courage to try. Face every foe with utmost humility and respect for they make you who you are. Learn and improve from every shot taken and missed. Learn to play defense, life isn't all about scoring and offense. Take time-outs once in a while, especially when you need it to plan your next move or just to rest. Celebrate the simple joys of making a shot, you've earned it. And everytime, show heart in everything you do.

Underdog or not, it doesn't matter... Just take the shot and enjoy the game.

Monday, February 20, 2006

My Personality Profile

Got this test from Ariel's blog (lonelyowrld.tk). May katotohanan nga ang mga sinasabi dito... Hmmm...

Your Personality Profile

You are dependable, popular, and observant.
Deep and thoughtful, you are prone to moodiness.
In fact, your emotions tend to influence everything you do.

You are unique, creative, and expressive.
You don't mind waving your freak flag every once and a while.
And lucky for you, most people find your weird ways charming!
The World's Shortest Personality Test

You Are a Prophet Soul

You are a gentle soul, with good intentions toward everyone.
Selfless and kind, you have great faith in people.
Sometimes this faith can lead to disappoinment in the long run.
No matter what, you deal with everything in a calm and balanced way.

You are a good interpreter, very sensitive, intuitive, caring, and gentle.
Concerned about the world, you are good at predicting people's feelings.
A seeker of wisdom, you are a life long learner looking for purpose and meaning.
You are a great thinker and communicator, but not necessarily a doer.

Souls you are most compatible with: Bright Star Soul and Dreaming Soul


You Were a Whale

You see the unseen and connect on the deepest level.
You help others find their soul's song.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Letter From the Past

Life Just Isn't

Life isn't about keeping score. It's not about who/how many people call you. It's not about who you've dated, are dating, or haven't dated at all. It isn't about who you've kissed, what sports you play, or which guy or girl loves you. It's not about your shoes, your hair or the color of your skin, or where you live or what school you go to. In fact, it's not about how accepted or unaccepted you are. Life just isn't about that.

But life is about who you love and who you hurt. It's about how you feel about yourself. It's about trust, happiness and compassion. It's about sticking up to your friends and replacing inner hurt with love. Life is about avoiding jealousy, overcoming ignorance and building confidence. It's about what you say and what you mean. It's about seeing people for what they are and not what they have. Life is about these things.


From a letter given by someone whom I loved dearly during my high school years.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Boy Who Lost His Way

There is a story about a father and a son. The father loved his son very much that he would do anything for him. One night, while they were asleep, a fire broke out somewhere in the 2nd floor of their house where the bedrooms were. The father looked desperately for his son amidst the blazing furnace. But alas, he was forced to go down and out the house, hoping and praying that his son was already outside waiting for him.

The son, in his panic, climbed to the rooftop thinking the fire would not follow him there. But how wrong he was! The boy could not see a thing for the smoke was rising and blocking his sight. From the ground, however, the father could see his son up on the rooftop. Upon seeing this, he quickly assembled a cushion for his son to land on if he jumps.

He cried out to his son. "Son, jump! I have a cushion set for you. I will catch you!"

"Father?! Where are you?" asked the child, "I cannot see you... I am afraid."

He replied, "You need not fear. Everything is ready for you. Jump and all shall be well."

"But I am afraid. I tremble, I fear. If I jump, I might die!" cried the boy.

The loving father said in reply, "Do not be afraid. I am with you. I love you and you are mine."

***

My story ends with a question: "If you were the child, would you jump?" Without hesitation, most of us will probably answer a resounding "yes". But it's a totally different thing - saying and doing.

Oftentimes, when confusion and panic enter our lives, we tend to move away from God. It is a sad fact, but it is still a fact. In our panic, we try desperately to hide and run away from all our troubles hoping that it will not follow us. As a consequence, we hide and run from God as well. But try as we may to move away from Him, He will zealously look for us - amidst our darkest hours - simply because he loves us.

And it is really hard sometimes to understand how and what love is. But for me, love is this:
"Love is so simple, it's difficult. Love discovers rather than seeks. Love reasons what the mind cannot. Love is the most natural thing in the world." So maybe that's why we love. Maybe that's why we are loved.

But we must also understand that, though He loves us dearly, God helps those who help themselves. Like the father and the boy in the story, He encourages us to jump! Let not our fears and being blind disable us from living. Rather, let it strengthen us in faith and love.
"Love that we may be touched. Embrace that we may be made whole. Face our fears and anxieties that we may conquer them. Take the leap and live."

A fellow JVP e-mailed an encouraging message to us the other week that says:
"stop saying I feel...and fear. Say I know I can do it!" How very edifying. I remember the boy crying, "If I jump, I might die" and realize that we are living a life not worth living at all if we let our fears, anxieties, and problems haunt us everyday. That's not the way to live. It is by doing and facing everything with God that we can live a life of reassurance, joy, peace, and salvation. Just like what the father said in the story: "Jump... and all shall be well."

St. Peter Claver, S.J. was right when he said, "seek God in all things and we shall find God by our side."

Do not be afraid I am with you
I have called you each by name
Come and follow Me
I will bring you home
I love you and you are Mine.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Barubad

Palanca Elementary School/Classroom (Photos courtesy of Jason Endaya)

"Barubad" is a Maguindanaon term for what is commonly called suman in Tagalog.

I once asked our household help what makes the suman gray or green. I don't know if its true, but she told me that the color depends on the leaf used to wrap the treat. If a coconut palm is used, then the delicacy turns gray. If a banana leaf is used, then the suman turns green.

***

Barubad is one of the first Maguindanaon words I learned. Other words include eg (water), b'tung (coconut juice), and the phrase "antay ngaran ka" (what's your name?). But my favorite is still the Barubad. I just love saying the word! It made the people of Palanca, Maguindanao laugh as well for some reason. Maybe it's just funny the way I say it. I dunno.

Oh wait, have I mentioned that we went to Maguindanao?

We went there last Sunday on an invitation by Ma'am Agnes of Synergeia Foundation. What should have been a 4-hour drive from Marbel turned into a 3-hour circus ride thanks to our driver, Kuya Aying, and his Nissan BigHorn-turned-racecar. After which, we rode a jeepney which took us only half-way up the mountains 'coz the tires got stuck on the rough road (and when I say "rough road", I do mean the meanest, baddest, roughest road I've ever been on!). After a few attempts of nudging the jeepney to no avail, we were forced to ride a horse to get to Palanca. But shit! The last time I remember riding a horse was ages ago! And back then, it was a rocking-horse thingy in Jollibee with the freakin' springs attached to the bottom and all. (Hehe, yes, the good old days!). Anyway, that horse-ride left my butt aching and throbbing for an hour. That's 'coz good old Kuya Alex (the horse driver) forgot to bring the friggin' saddle. Woohoo! Fun, fun!

On our way up the mountains, the old Muslim ladies who were with us started telling stories about the town. At some point, we came across a small sitio with many abandoned homes. The story goes that the houses were burned because of Rido. The word "Rido" literally means "family feud." Cousins would kill each other because of problems with land ownership or because of other petty disputes. They say the houses would have foxholes underneath for crossfire purpose - I guess to hide and protect the women and children. But there were no women or children to be seen. We were crossing a ghost sitio.

Finally, we arrived at our destination - Sitio Palanca. We didn't get to see much of the sitio, though i don't think there was much to see at all anyway. Our first and only stop was at an elementary school that only has one classroom. Surprisingly, that single classroom is used by more than 600 students and pupils on weekdays. That's how poor, nay, deprived the place is.

It was the first time I've ever been in a Muslim community and everything was totally different for me. It was like starting my JVP year all over again. Of course, with more differences like the dialect, the religion, the culture, the way they dress, and just the feel of the place.

Or maybe it was just the 40 armed men who were also with us that day!

I mean, you see them on TV. You see them making headlines on the news. But somehow, you can never really see them until you "see" them. We were coming face-to-face with MILFs and it was a different experience altogether. That was really something else. But I digress.

Ma'am Agnes consulting the community for Synergeia Foundation

Anyway, we were there to offer help with their school. And as we were having our consultation with the whole community (wherein more than 200 parents attended), they presented their grievances and contempt for the government. They didn't even had to say it; their eyes alone reflected their disappointment in the local government. After that day, I couldn't say I blame them.

On our way home, we saw the house of a powerful politician in the area. The wide compound he owns is protected by high, orange-colored walls with a big gate festooned by armed security men. His "house" is probably bigger than a shopping center! Imagine that! And it even has its own colorful mosque inside! Everything else that surrounds his compound are just small shanties... Miles and miles of small shacks and shanties where poor, thin, and sickly people (his constituents!) live. Now there's already something wrong right there. And you can't help but begin to wonder, "where's social justice in this picture?"

As we passed by his orange colored palace, a Hummer came out of the gate. It was the first time I've ever seen one! I tell you, the last place I thought I would ever see a Hum-V would be in Mindanao. Kuya Aying later told us that this certain politician had two more Hummers inside his huge garage.

Then, remembering that just a few hours ago we were with M.I.s, I went home relieved that nothing else uneventful happened that day aside from my ass throbbing and aching due to a saddle-less horse.

***

We are all the same. We may differ with our religious beliefs, our culture, our hopes and dreams, and the way we live, but we are all the same. We are all human after all. We shed blood and heal. It is blood that flows through each and everyone one of us. It is that which makes us human. It is that which symbolizes our fragile nature. And it is that which also aids healing to symbolize renewal and learning.

We all feel love and hurt. It is love that flows through each and everyone of us. It is that which makes us weak and strong at the same time. It is that which gives us purpose and direction. It is that which connects us with one another. And it is that with which we are all made (and are being made) from. We are all loved by God.

If only people can see that we are like the simple Barubad. What surrounds us may be different and what wraps us may be that of another nature, but we are all still the same inside. We may come out differently because of the way we were made (or raised), but we are all made by God and wrapped by his comforting love. That's just simply how it is being human.

Together with school officials and community leaders

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Poor Who?!

We went to Maguindanao today... spent the whole day there... saw some really poor people...

Then I went home, took a bath, surfed the net, and found this story on today's issue of PDI.

It's from Father Jerry Orbos, SVD. This excerpt was a fitting way to end my day. It left me reflecting. Hope this blog's readers will like it as much as I did.

***

There is a story about a rich father who takes his son on a trip to the countryside to show how poor some people are. The child is quiet through the whole trip. On their way home, the father asks his son what he learned from the trip, to which the son responds: "Dad, I saw that we have one dog, and they have four. We have a nice swimming pool, but they have a nice creek. We have fancy lights and lanterns, but they have countless stars at night. We have high walls for protection, but they have friends. Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are." Poor indeed are those who do not let go of their comfort zones and let God into their lives.

***

I have so many stories and reflections that I want to write about.. just don't seem have that "writer's inspiration" lately. I have a lot of things on my mind this past couple of days. Or maybe.. I'm just tired from the Maguindanao trip. As to why, I'll save that story for another day. Right now, I need my rest.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Kapit-Bisig

Gyobs' Version of the JVP Cross

*Sigh*... I miss my batchmates today...

ChangMaengKrisbPauSolDivineShaneJayjayBethRhey
Ginger
JamesBenjie
JackieKrishTootsieSabsTinColeen
Zambie
GyobsAynPeterJeanieAlbertVonJay
Benjoe