September 30, 2009

Huwag Kang Mangamba

I'm at a loss for words for our countrymen suffering from the devastation brought by tropical storm Ondoy. I can only offer the words of this song...

Based on Isaiah 43
Lyrics by Onofre Pagsanghan
Music by Manoling Francisco, SJ
Featuring Himig Heswita

September 25, 2009

Why the yellow ribbon

Maybe I'm just being sentimental, impractical and naive. 

But there's a tiny yellow ribbon tied to my everyday handbag and a bigger one tied to the antenna of our car. The ribbons have been there since Cory passed away in early August. Initially it was a sign of affection and respect for a truly great woman who made us proud to be Filipino. But even before Noynoy decided to seek higher office to continue Ninoy and Cory's legacy, I already made the decision to keep those yellow ribbons until next year's elections, if only to show that I wanted change. But more importantly, to show that I wanted a return to what I call "the yellow values." What are these "yellow values"? 

A genuine love for our country. He cast aside fear for his life, gave up a comfortable life in Boston, and returned to uncertainty -- and as it turned out, to certain death -- so he could help lead the country back to the path of democracy. She likewise cast aside whatever fears she might have had after her husband's tragic death, gave up her much-cherished privacy (and we would have understood if she had chosen to keep it as the grieving widow of a martyr), and led her countrymen in the fight for freedom against the dictator. 

The courage of one's convictions, integrity, an abiding faith in the Almighty, and the ability to live by values that are in consonance with such faith. He refused to bow to the will of the dictator during the dark days of the regime, choosing to suffer the hardships of imprisonment, and in the process rediscovering his faith, than compromise his principles. She had a deep faith, governed without being tainted by corruption, readily relinquished power and ensured a smooth transition, then continued to speak up and fight whenever our democracy was under threat, even if it meant going against the ruling power. 

Seemingly simple values. But a tall order given the society we have, and the times we live in. What are the times we live in? A simple illustration: an honest and hardworking public official who has not enriched himself in office is thought of as a fool! 

It will be an uphill climb because as a people, our values have been damaged, corrupted, by decades of greed, apathy and cynicism. On a personal level, many of us have been able to develop a remarkable ability to compartmentalize our lives and rationalize every kind of behaviour, that the bad becomes commonplace and acceptable. 

We cannot pin all our hopes for our country's salvation on the shoulders of one man. Our redemption as a people will have to come from our own will and determination to recover what we know in our hearts to be true: we are a people capable of greatness. Ninoy, Cory and many others have shown this to be so. 

But, we need to embrace one important truth -- any change for the better has to come from deep within each one of us. We need to be the change we want. We have to look within ourselves and realize that the reason things are the way they are in our country is that not enough of us who love it, were willing to do something even just a little bit more than what we've always done. 

Some of us will be more capable and have more resources to do bigger things. Some of us will not. But we can all do something in our own little way. It's up to each one of us to find out what that might be.

For me, it begins with tying a yellow ribbon.

September 19, 2009

I hope you dance!

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
...and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance!

Sung by Ronan Keating
Written by Tia Sillers and Mark Sanders in September 1999.

The song was written during a particularly difficult time for Sillers, when she was in the midst of divorce proceedings.

"For ‘I Hope You Dance,’ I had written the opening line, 'I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,’" recalled Sillers. "I had just broken up with someone, going through a brutal divorce. I needed to get away, so I went to a beach on the Florida Gulf Coast. Sitting on the beach and reflecting about the break-up, I felt so small and inconsequential. But out of this difficult time came the inspiration to write ‘I Hope You Dance.’ As I was leaving the beach, I remember thinking that things weren’t really so bad, that I would get through it. That’s when I came up with the line, ‘I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.’"


An Aha moment years ago and I'm still on the ferris wheel

I keep telling myself I'd get off the ferris wheel of busyness to make time for the things that matter. What am I doing here still going around in circles..?


Around the corner I have a friend
In this great city that has no end
Yet the days go by, and weeks rush on
And before I know it a year has gone.

And I never see my old friend's face
For life is a swift and terrible race.
He knows I like him just as well
As in the days when I rang his bell
And he rang mine. If, we were younger then,
And now we are busy, tired men.
Tired of playing a foolish game
Tired of trying to make a name.

Tomorrow, I say, I will call on Jim
Just to show I am thinking of him.
But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes,
And the distance between us grows and grows.
Around the corner! - yet miles away,
Here's a telegram sir, Jim died today.

And that's what we get and deserve in the end.
Around the corner, a vanished friend.

By Henson Towne

Someone told me that a friend of hers had died suddenly from a stroke. She was feeling very regretful that they had not seen each other for nearly two years, although they had managed to keep touch during birthdays and Christmases by phone. Now her friend was gone and she was sorry for the times that could have been.

Her sad news had me feeling nostalgic again for friendships I have not been able to nurture these past many years. That's why this little poem "Around the Corner" strikes such a strong chord in my heart - it's the poem that nudges me from the complacency that friends whom I haven't seen in ages will always just be there around the corner. I always seem to think that I can call and resurrect them anytime.

I realize that all these years I've lumped "reconnecting with friends and family" along with the other activities that I will pursue when I finally have the time. It's there -- along with "paint the sunset; experience Florence; garden; write a book; learn to tango like J-Lo..."

You see, I've always been the type who likes to "save the best for last." I think: Well, there's still a million things I need to do, I'll just do the pleasant stuff afterwards when I'm through with the million things.

But guess what? Maybe the million things will never really get done because every time I finish one, another just comes in to take its place.

And maybe the tomorrows I was reserving the wonderful things for will never come.

Friendships and family are two of God's most precious gifts. And I want to enjoy them as He intended me to. So I guess this is truly an instance when I shouldn't save the best for last.

Instead, the best should be first -- so that they will last...