Friday, December 31, 2010

Year-Ender IV: Musings on the 31st


As the year draws to a close, let us be reminded of our triumphs and failures in the past year. And let us carry the lessons that ensued from them.

Resolutions are good in so far as they serve us a plateful of optimism at the start of every year. But I urge each one of us to carry them to reality. We may have different views of resolutions, but I believe that they have a common trait. And that is the character of change.

It may still be debatable whether life is indeed cyclical or not. But one thing cannot be denied in life: that we ought to make our lives better. The coming of the new year gives us a perfect excuse for declaring resolutions. We might as well make use of this opportunity.

As I always say every January First: let us face the new year with brave hearts!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Year-Ender III: The Lab 6th Edition (Seoul, South Korea)

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This is a follow up for the listing of several work achievements this year. This is to a large extent special as this is the first time that my (literary) work got published abroad. The publication is sponsored by a group called CATS from Seoul, South Korea. I felt very happy having this connection of sort from new friends up north. A bonus is a short message from one of the editors Michelle Kim.

In every moment like this (that is, having a work published), I always treat it as a springboard for better things. Among my life’s activities, it is only in writing that I get to be staunchly optimistic.

To The Lab and CATS, more power!

(You can download a copy of The Lab 6th Edition here.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Year-Ender II: Downs


I have always said to an intimate that problems or challenges that a person faces are like spices of life. It would be a dull existence if all was just joy and happiness. Of course, this is an exaggeration (or if not, an understatement). But problems – struggles as I like to call them – transformed me into a stronger individual. Much like an athlete preparing for his or her Big Day. The preparations may be tiring and wearisome but they have definitely some concrete ends to meet. Life’s struggles may be irreconcilable for some people’s idea of life, but for me, they are an integral part of my being.

For I believe they are natural offshoots of our actions and we only need to get around and solve them for ourselves.

The landscape of my 2010 has been composed primarily of struggles. There came those times when my writing was questioned by people within the family circles. As if writing is something foreign, something reserved for the rich and not for those who need to earn money to survive.

Then there were domestic ones, concerning principally schedules and budgeting. It was hard enough to transport one’s self between two houses. It created another chunk of headache when a third house was considered. Home-related plans were made to earn convenience, but with all the constraints and ‘politics’ (as I love to call them), no good was achieved, only headaches and busted pockets.

A plan for a business enterprise, which in theory was very good, did not materialize due to severe budget and logistics limitations. A job is good but one has to have a working trade where money can be generated. That was the philosophy. That was the mission. But it is yet to be fulfilled.

Finally, at the close of the year, it comes clearer to me that as we journey through the rough roads of life, one could not help but etch troubles along the way. I realized that it is high time (a few more days are left for the year anyway) to make a pit stop and walk back to some of the blazed trails and patch up those things that need some patching up.

It seems that it is quite easy to say it in words. But I know that it is going to bloody, definitely bloody. I intend to live a more mature phase of life anyway, so better make amends on some of the past’s pock marks (forgive the play with words).

[It’s good to realize that this entry ends on a positive note.]

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Year-Ender I: Ups


Christmas has just passed. But it always seems to me that no days separate Christmas and the New Year celebration. In the blink of an eye, we will have 2011 right before us. And so, as I have said before, I personally would not want to be swept by the activities of the last days of December. Instead I desire to look back to the months that comprised this year. And from that I hope to extract morsels of lessons which I could carry on for the coming of the new year.

But in looking back, it would be practical to recall successes. I can still remember what my thesis adviser told me: that there are in essence two kinds of successes – external and internal. External successes are those things that other people can identify and relate to. These are the society-conceived successes. Internal successes, on the other hand, are those which you yourself can tell as successes. The world may see those things as trivial, but for you they are your accomplishments. These two stuck to me. Internal successes are for me personal truths.

And I can say that my writing life is one example of internal (or personal) success. Finishing a thesis manuscript, getting some works published, and winning writing contests are indeed fuels for me to pursue this writing path. I would admit that I still have a lot of grounds to cover – a lot of theories to learn, a lot of literary works to read and learn from, a lot of drafts to write. I am a self-confessed novice, to say the least.

But knowing that almost everything (in my personal life at least) revolves around writing, I dare not drop it out of my system. Writing is breathing. Writing defines a large portion of my character. Whether or not I would make it as a top-rate writer (wow, the ever ambitious Francis!), no one knows. But for 2010, writing is the highlight of my everyday activities. I am personally excited with some plans. No harm there. At least I have some programs to follow instead of just scribbling around.

But to say that it was only writing that I did for the whole 2010 would be tantamount to lying. There are certainly many other things that happened within the year which I consider successes. But it would be better to keep them as personal recollections. I have come to realize that I cannot blog every single parcel of my life and activities.

Anyway, in this existence of duality, a thing always has its opposite. For every up, there will always be a down. I wish to discuss some of that ‘downs’ in the next entry.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Yule Talk 4: Drummer Boy



A silent night pierced by the simple rhythm of a drum. No one could possibly understand how a drum could sound like a symphony. No one except this young boy and God, who may have closed his eyes and listened. The world would be forever shaken by the intrusion of Grace.

No one could possibly understand how the cry of a baby could like a symphony. No one except God and the world who so desperately needed a Saviour.

This boy knew.

A silent night pierced by the simple rhythm of a drum. No one could possibly understand how a drum could sound like a symphony...

From “Jars of Clay | Dummer Boy” © 1995 Essential/Brentwood

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yule Talk 3: A View of the Lunar Eclipse


It would have been more memorable if I was able to take a picture of the moon. But no, nothing can buy experience. And so I can only go as far as describing it.


The lunar feat rising in the east just beside Mount San Cristobal. The reddish glow. The bright light that seem to emanate from it. The view of Sampaloc Lake adding an atmosphere of awe of the eclipse. The surprisingly dark surroundings (except for the evening lights of the houses around the lake). Indeed, it felt so food to lose awareness of time and space (space indeed, as I positioned myself on a terrace overlooking a cliff) even for just a few minutes.

In moments like this, I cannot help but imagine what it was like hundreds of years ago. When there was still no light pollution. When the night was always darkness. And when the only thing to be marveled at was the sky. No wonder they look up to the heavens as if the gods reside there. The phenomenon I saw last night was marvelous.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yule Talk 2: Reformation through ‘A Christmas Carol’


Rummaging through a book sale about a month ago, I came across a paperback copy of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I purchased it right away, thinking that it would come in handy for the coming Christmas season. I have just read it again, and put down the book with a reformed view of Christmas.


But, I am still, and will always be critical of its origins (plus some of the traditions that have become associated with it). People brand the celebration as religious yet a determined researcher can trace it back to the unreligious. Anyway, it is my conviction and I am sharing this entry not to persuade anyone to share my belief.

Despite being characterized as a potboiler*, it seems that the novella still possesses the force that moved many people during the time of its release and up to the present. The story of the central character (an unswerving killjoy who later changed his ways) proved to be memorable, especially as it was placed within the context of Christmas.

And although having been written during the Victorian era, some of the lines in the story still ring true today. Said Scrooge’s nephew about Christmas:

“…the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

Although it seems that Scrooge found his own reformation in seeing his future (a dull death, a dull grave), the good thing about it was that he actually found the heart to change from within him. It was the things of his past and of his present that comprised the ingredients of his reformation. He saw that he could step outside his self-centered realm, make others happy, and even share happiness with them.

That was exactly my own point of reformation. I may disprove of the way they anchor Christmas celebrations with the birth of an alleged savior, but the spirit of the celebration itself cannot be discounted. Those staunch killjoys (am I still included here?) can freely shed their shells and take part at least in giving a breather for those who find life stifling and tiring.

The Philippines is in toil the whole year round, and Christmas can be one of days of the year when it can make merriment. In realizing these things, I do not want to spoil the celebration, at least within my family circles.

---

(Quote taken from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, A Watermill Classic)


* potboiler – a literary composition of poor quality that was written quickly to make money (to boil the pot)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yule Talk 1: A Friendly Reminder


It would be hard to deny the festive atmosphere around. And perhaps for this reason the National Telecommunications Commission or NTC has put out a reminder for all the busy buyers and shoppers of the Christmas season.

Received this message recently from a sender named NTC:

BABALA: HUWAG MANINIWALA SA MGA TEKS NA HUMIHINGI NG LOAD, PERA, BANK ACCOUNTS, ATBP. IPAGBIGAY ALAM KAAGAD SA NTC-OSPAC: 9213251, 92667722.

The text message looks genuine enough for me.

Anyway, I have been thinking over if I would proceed with my usual Christmas blog series (see the Navidad Talk series here; and the Season’s Talk Series here) for I think I have already said what I had to say about Christmas. I am still critical of its origins and yet I was able to find some fine reasons to join in the festivities upon rereading some books. It was at that point that I was convinced that I can proceed, after all, with a series. Which I have named now as Yule Talk.

Up next: a discussion of ‘A Christmas Carol’.