Monthly Archives: October 2013

What’s Your Funeral Playlist?

Have you ever imagined your own funeral? It’s a weird and tough question that a lot of people don’t want to talk about primarily because of the concept of death. However, I’ve always been curious about death and what will happen to the people around me when I die. It’s not that I want to die at any second now, but I’m just curious what will happen after.

On my comedic side, I want my funeral to be like in the movie First Knight when King Arthur died. His body was placed on a raft to be let out into the sea while an archer shoots a flaming arrow in order for it to burn ala Game of Thrones type too. That would be silly and funny if I went out like that.

My question today is what is/are the song/s would you like to play on your funeral? Think of it as sort of a “death playlist.” Don’t think of any morbid or sad ideas but merely focus on the beauty and power of songs. They can be your favorite songs or just songs that talk about the after life. It’s like you’re going out music or your last message to your family and friends.

1.    Rainbow Connection – Kermit the Frog / Jim Henson (from “The Muppet Movie)

What’s so amazing that keeps us star gazing
and what do we think we might see?
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection. The lovers, the dreamers and me.

2.    Asleep – The Smiths

Sing me to sleep…

Don’t feel bad for me
I want you to know
Deep in the cell of my heart
I will feel so glad to go

3.    (Good Riddance) Time of Your Life – Greenday

It’s something unpredictable
But in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life

4.    Blowin’ In The Wind – Bob Dylan

How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?

5.    Beautiful Ride – Dewy Cox (from “Walk Hard: The Dewy Cox story”)

And then in the end
It’s family and friends
Loving yourself
But not only yourself
It’s about the good walk
And the hard walk
And the young girls you’ve made cry
It’s about make a little music everyday ‘til you di-ie

6.    Angel – Sarah Mclachlan

You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You’re in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here

7.    Amazing Grace – John Newton

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

8.    For Now – from the Broadway musical “Avenue Q”

Only for now!
(For now there’s life!)
Only for now!
(For now there’s love!)
Only for now!
(For now there’s work!)
For now there’s happiness!
But only for now!
(For now discomfort!)
Only for now!
(For now there’s friendship!)
Only for now (For now!)
Only for now!

9.    Defying Gravity – from the Broadway Musical “Wicked”

I’m through accepting limits
’cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I’ll never know!

I’d soon try
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I’m defying gravity

10.     Somewhere Over The Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole version

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me

11.          Pure Imagination – Willy Wonka (from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”)

Come with me and you’ll be

In a world of pure imagination

Take a look and you’ll see

Into your Imagination

12.         Go Ateneo (Just because. Sort of a final cheer? Haha)

 

I guess the lyrics speak for themselves. Though I didn’t put down the entire song, somehow each of the chosen lyrics portray a certain emotion. Plus together with melody and the rest of the song, they will all be so beautiful. There’s no particular order in which the songs have to be played, my family or friends just have to play them no matter what. In death there is sadness, regret, acceptance, grief, joy, and peace. Hopefully through these songs, I may be able to share this with the people closest to me.

Have You Ever Wondered If You Were Adopted?

“What if you found out you were adopted? “ I asked this question to my officemate a couple of months back. I can’t remember what exactly we were talking about  but I was the one who asked this randomly and funny, I was the one who answered it also. I said, “Okay lang. Wala na eh, pinaaral na ako at pinakain kaya parang bale wala na kung malaman ko ngayon. Haha.” I mean, it wouldn’t matter now would it?

I’ll play around with this thought however. What if I was adopted and I had a different set of parents and siblings at the other side of the world.

Before I give out the different scenarios, let me give you a little background of the situation I was born into. I was born on August 8, 1988. That’s 8/8/88. Pretty cool right? Till this day, people still say I have a cute and unique birthday. From all of my friends or just random people, they would still be amazed. To Filipinos it will be just that: unique and cute. However, when you talk to Chinese people, it would be a whole different thing. To them, this particular birthday with these set of numbers is incredibly lucky. I think it’s the Chinese belief of the number 8 and having your birthday with four 8’s is something awesome. It is believed that this person will have a very lucky life. I have yet to confirm this with my own life, in fact, I think there have been more misfortunes. Maybe it’s because I have this birthday and not an authentic Chinese, who knows.

 On the day of my birth at the hospital, my dad was surrounded by a lot of Chinese dads. You can imagine, eve of August 7, 1988 and every Chinese man is hoping that there son or daughter gets born on August 8. When the nurse would come out of a room she would go “Congratulations Mr. Lee!” or “Congratulations Mr. Yu!” You know, a lot of Chinese people’s names. As I’ve set up this background, let’s take a look at my crazy theories:

 Crazy Theory 1: What if somehow I got exchanged with another baby during that time at the hospital? What if my father really wanted to have his kid have the special birthday so he made sure that he’d get one. Maybe my dad has a certain set of Chinese belief system so he got a baby from another Chinese family so that he’d have a boy with a special birthday. I know this sounds really stupid and silly but it would be amazingly ridiculous if this happened.

 Crazy Theory 2: What if I did came from a real Chinese family but then asked my parents to take care of me because of some complication? Maybe they had twins and they couldn’t support another child and now I have an unknown twin sister somewhere out there. Maybe my biological Chinese family has a strict one child rule (because they’re old school Chinese like that) and the only way to save me was to have me be adopted by a Filipino family.

Well, those are just two of my crazy ideas and I’m not going to share more of what’s going on in my weird head. I relayed the possibilities of having a Chinese family because I really look like one! Among all my immediate family members, I am the one who has the chinkiest eyes. My family’s eyes are a bit chinky but they could still pass as a Filipino. Another thing is my skin. If you’ve met me, I might be one of the whitest people you’ll ever meet who’s a “Filipino.” Don’t include if you have Chinese friends or other foreigners but only who you know that are Filipinos that have a whiter complexion.

In order to further explain my point, here are exhibits A and B: (Sorry for the quality of pictures, I have no digital files of them and our scanner is down so here’s the best of what I got)

Exhibit A:

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Look at that little guy over there. I’m the one on the left, the small cute one. My eyes were so tiny even back then.

Exhibit B:

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Now you might say everyone is cute or has tiny eyes when they are babies. So here’s a more grown up version of me. I’m obviously the one in the middle, the lost Chinese kid.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been asking my parents if there’s Chinese blood in our family and surprisingly they don’t have a clue. Maybe they’re hiding something from me. Maybe that’s why we’re a bit well off and able to send me to good school because of an old Chinese fortune. Okay, just kidding. But seriously though, my mom’s family comes from Pampanga and my dad is from Negros. So that plus that equals me? I don’t think I’ll ever understand that. For what it’s worth, it’s nice to think about crazy ideas if I was adopted. Maybe I have different world out there just waiting for me to look for them. My life can be a Pinoy teleserye wherein my parents will finally admit I was adopted or a Chinese woman suddenly knocks on our door.

Adopted or not, lucky or not, this is still my life to choose. Here’s one more picture of little old me. Foreshadowing of the future? Hehe

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What Makes A Good Conversation?

Last Sunday, I had a good, long, and honest conversation with my longtime friend Jo Ann. We’ve known each other probably for the last seven or eight years. We met at our Church, Word Community Church, and we’ve gotten pretty close over the last couple of years. Whenever we get the chance, we get into these deep and honest conversations about each other lives.

This particular conversation was different than most that I had recently because of the person. Jo Ann and I basically grew up in Church. You could say that we were molded in our most important years as teenagers and up until now as we take on the real world in the confines of being in a Born Again / Protestant Church. I’m not going into the nitty gritty of Christianity but we believe that there ought to be a responsibility and a call as Christians. People used to ask me what’s the difference between a Catholic and Born Again Christian and I’m not getting into that right now. What I’m basically trying to say is that my friend and I are trying to live a certain way as being Christians.

To be honest being a Christian has been put on the back burner for the 3 to 4 years of my life. I remember back in college when I was so fired up about Christ and even after college I got baptized and just tried to reach out to people. I’m not sure what happened in the last couple of years but I sadly changed. I let the struggles of life get to me and I regretfully didn’t impact people the way I should had. So meeting a friend who has known me and has seen me grow as a person was awesome. We had a splendid time sharing each other’s lives and I thought a lot about what made the conversation so uniquely powerful and meaningful.

 

1.    Honesty

I used to think honesty was so easy to use with my life or with the lives of others then I realized that because of the many things that people go through, it’s hard to be totally honest with the people around you. You can have close friends or even a close family but we don’t share everything to them.

I’m not saying that in order to have a good conversation you have to completely let out all your secrets. What I’m saying is that it’s important to have someone you can be completely honest with. Whatever you’re going through, you’re not getting passed it if you keep it yourself. I learned that the hard way, trust me.

 Our conversation was all about honesty. We talked about our faults, regrets if there are any, the things that can hurt us, and the like. When you can talk to someone so freely and openly about anything the burden you’re carrying is just lifted off. At the same time it puts concern on another person other than yourself. When you have you have a problem all you can think about is you and only you but when you talk to other people who’s going through something also, your heart just softens up and lets you care for someone other than yourself.

In most people, their initial problem or the problem on the surface might not be the real problem at all. I remember my Counseling class back in college when our teacher taught us to break the walls that people put up and go for the root of the problem and not the one on the surface. Giving advice may be helpful but sometimes you might merely be treating the external scenario and not the one underneath. Hopefully through honesty you can save the trouble of having your friend go through your walls and just tell them how you feel straight out if you can.

 

2.    No Judging

I don’t know about you but sometimes when I talk to other people I usually leave one part out. There’s always this fear that when I tell what I’m really feeling, the other person might judge me. It’s linked to the concept of honesty that I mentioned earlier. We might not tell the “real” problem in the fear that another person might judge us.

On the flipside, I also am capable of judging others. I don’t know if it’s my psychology background but I can probably break down most people. I’m not talking about psychoanalyzing a person in detail but just to categorize them in what kind of person they are. It’s funny how I remember my old officemates asking me to analyze them after they learned I graduated with a degree in psychology. I didn’t really think I could psychoanalyze anyone but I did the best I could and probably 3 out of 5 times I’d be right about someone. What I did was probably wrong most of the time because it’s not nice to categorize someone. In this day and age where people want to get ahead, it’s really wrong to look down on someone.

So you can be judged by others at the same time you can judge others. It takes a great deal of friendship to not go beyond the line but still give advice and still listen as a friend.

 

3.    Trust

It’s always hard to find a person you can trust. I know this is true for me. I always feel that when I open up, I let my guard down and have that person have that edge on me. It’s like I have a secret identity that I have to keep putting up and you have to find someone who won’t let out your secret.

Trusting someone isn’t just about being open or honest about someone but I believe it’s about having that other person accept you no matter what. It doesn’t matter if this is a big secret or a troubled hurt or whatever circumstance; you can trust this person and still be yourself. I mean, you can be honest to someone and not be judged, but it’s a whole other level to know that you can have someone you can trust. We all want to be secure with who we are as a person so having another individual who trusts and loves us gives us that type of security.

 

It was really awesome to really reconnect with Jo Ann. Don’t get me wrong, even though Jo and I consider ourselves Christians, we are also sinners and are capable of trial just like everybody else. I guess that’s what makes this conversation different; as we both go through this life we try to be as righteous as we can be. Also in the end, it’s nice to know someone is praying for you. There’ this assurance or confidence that someones is praying to the God of the universe on your behalf.

 

So what makes a good conversation? I wrote these qualities not just because I’m looking for these in conversations in other people but also I want to be a person who has these when I share my life with others. I want to be an honest and trustworthy person who doesn’t judge others.

What’s The Difference Between a Sane Man and a Crazy Man?

One bad day.

 Would you believe that all it takes for a normal person to go insane is just one bad day? There’s fine line between morality, truth, love, hope, and all that other stuff versus just going completely crazy and not caring for a thing in the world. Let’s say you lose your wife or girlfriend, or your husband cheats, or say you lose your job and all the money you thought you had, or even a close relative dies. Will your sense of morality and hope be still the same? Or maybe they’re just the same: being normal and becoming crazy. All it takes is one stroke of luck or one crappy day and everything you know goes out the window.

 Maybe this battle of different philosophies can be easier to understand through the world of comics.

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In the Killing Joke, author Allan Moore and artist Brian Bolland creates a riveting tale about Joker and Batman and how their unconventional relationship brings about the concepts of morality and being sane. This goes beyond pop culture’s belief of good versus evil and talks about how a singular event can change a course of person’s life forever. It deals with the idea that in the face of an earthshaking and heartbreaking event, what would you do?

In the Joker’s case, he was a perfectly common man trying to make a living and raise a family. I love how the graphic novel portrays Joker in the beginning (before he became the Joker) as a normal human being that can feel compassion, loss, grief, hope, and love. But he threw away all these emotions because of that one fateful day. His pregnant wife dies and then gets caught up with the wrong crowd and nearly gets himself killed on a crime scene. The result is a man with no purpose, reason, or morality: The Joker.

On the other hand, the same can also be said regarding the Batman. He became the caped crusader all because of that day when he saw his parents die right before his eyes. You could also say he’s just as crazy as the Joker, though a different sense of crazy of course. His never-ending battle of crime might look admirable to some people, but his darkness and his demons still haunt him as he fights for justice.

As I’ve read the Killing Joke for the nth time, it still strikes me how Joker’s intentions seemed “logical” even though they were completely wrong. Joker shoots Barbara, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, at the spine then strips her naked and photographs it all. To top it all of, after he kidnaps the Commissioner, he shows the photographs of the humiliated Barbara to the Commissioner! Sick, real sick. Why did he do all that? To prove a point. If he could take everything away from Gordon and make him desperate enough to realize he has nothing else to live, then Gordon would go crazy just like he went crazy. He says on one panel, “I’ve demonstrated there’s no difference between me and everyone else! All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.”

In the end Batman saves the day of course. Amazingly, the Commissioner didn’t go insane when he had all the reason to. He didn’t want to kill the Joker but instead wills himself to merely put him in prison.

Looking at my own life, I see this struggle more than ever. It’s amazing how one day you seem to have everything figured out but then suddenly you’re just the same as everyone else trying to make ends meet. There are always two choices when pressed with a difficult situation: you accept it and move on or you go crazy and let evil take over. Going crazy and not care anymore seems to be easier decision because you don’t need to care and push yourself. It’s so easy and also logical. It’s so easy and that’s why it’s tempting. Likewise, it’s also not difficult just to mince words and say everything will be all right. You know, talk about dreams, hope, and all that stuff, but in the end, you can’t undo the things of the past. When all the cards are on the table and you don’t have an ace up your sleeve, you simply fold. Go crazy and let evil take over.

I’ve always admired Batman, but technically he is still kind of crazy when you really look at it. It seems that he’s got everything put together with a sense of mission saving the world and all that, but deep down he’s cold hearted, no emotions, and no sense of living. So with the options set before me, will I go crazy or not? Maybe I won’t go far as being the Joker and totally lose it, maybe just become Batman: a man who fights the never-ending battle against the evil in the world and against the demons in his own dark soul.

Who Will Save Your Soul?

Who will save your soul and love me here?

I recently asked my friends what I could write about and I got of different answers. I’ll write about all of them but one of the first few people who answered me was my good friend Meg. She asked me my interpretation of Jamie Cullum’s Save your soul.

If you don’t know this song I suggest you listen to it. Nay, not suggest, but strongly suggest you do. It’s such a beautifully written song and Jamie Cullum just nails it. The lyrics, the melody, and the passion are just all powerful. Video can be found here –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dB4IAlVo6eI

Honestly, I was curious and hesitant to try to dissect an artist’s work. In most cases, I believe that when an artist creates something whether it be a poem, song, or whatever, he or she is entitled to whatever it means. People’s natural tendency is to try to understand it and there can be an inspiration or a hindrance to what the author is actually trying to say. Take for example JD Sallinger, the author of the acclaimed yet infamous novel Catcher in the Rye. A lot of people tried to break the novel down piece by piece because it was so different and unexplainably good. Sallinger got fed up with all the critics and didn’t try to explain his work.

On the other hand, we as fans try to understand artist’s work because of appreciation. I want to start by saying I don’t really know what Jamie Cullum’s song really means and this is solely my interpretation. But here goes:

Know this, it’s a universal truth
People let you down
So reach out for the things that you can use
Buried in the ground

I think I’ve been misunderstood
Not all my choices have been good
In the fading light
So we should put this one to bed
Before it bursts out of my head
Ready for the fight

Overall, I think Cullum is talking about loving someone despite everything that the other person has gone through. Everyone has baggage and we all need someone who will carry that for us and say everything we’ll be alright. In the first two verses, he starts out by explaining that everyone gets hurt including himself. He too has is own insecurities and he is telling the one he loves that he also isn’t perfect but he’s willing to take the chance. I love the lines I think I’ve been misunderstood not all my choices have been good because it shows vulnerability and honesty.

Inside of another tiny life
Full of big ideas
It strikes me with the baggage left behind
I could dry those tears

All of my secrets they are free
Now watch them tumble out of me
Into better days
So save those homiletic tones
And conjure singing from the moans
And you’ll hear me say

I’ll skip the chorus first and move on to the next two verses. Despite his lover’s baggage he is willing to dry those tears away.

He goes on by telling he to has secrets but is willing to share them with her. All of my secrets they are free now watch them tumble out of me into better days. So now since both of them have their own fears, insecurities, and inhibitions, he’s saying let’s face them together.

So when it gets too late
And I find my place
Who will save your soul and love me here
So when it gets too far
Well let down your guard
Who will save your soul and love me here

I really love the chorus and how it’s sung. He’s telling her that whenever it gets difficult or too much too bare, he’ll be there no matter what. The girl might have gone through a horrendous experience that damages her inner self. Through the power of love, any soul can be saved. Cullum is saying here that he’ll be the one to save her soul and that she’ll love him.

So step away from castle walls
Those voices calling in the halls
They are moving on
So I’ll keep my side of the street
Cleaner than where our pounding feet
Ever walked upon

He continues in the bridge of the song to let her own walls crumble. I think it goes hand in hand with the line in the chorus So when it gets too far well let down your guard. Everyone has his or her own walls and we just need someone to break us open so that love can enter. I don’t really understand the next couple of lines honestly. I think when he says I’ll keep my side of the street he’s saying he’ll just wait until the girl is ready to be loved.

I was actually tempted to research online the meaning of this song but I first took the time to listen to it again and again plus read the lyrics. I deduced it was about love but I also thought Cullum might be talking about something entirely different. Luckily, I found a video online wherein Cullum explains the song before he sang. Simply put, he says “this song is about loving someone.” Well then, at least I got the love part right.

Again, I don’t try to be an expert in interpreting anything but I really love this song (I even tried singing this out loud when no one is looking at home). The beauty of songs is that even though sometimes we can’t fully understand the meaning, they can be subjective to what we want it to become. Personally, I stick with my interpretation in that we’re all finding that someone who will save our soul by letting someone love us. Like I said earlier, we all have secrets, baggage, and things we simply don’t want to share to others. It might be from a previous broken relationship, family trouble, a darkened past, or whatever, but there’s always someone who’ll love for us for who we are despite who we were. When you do find someone who can and will save your soul plus accept who you are as a person, you have to love that person with all your heart and never let go.

When it gets too late and I find my place who will save you soul and love me here?

What Was It Like Visiting My Old Office?

Everyone wants to move forward. On to the next thing all the time. Looking at my own life, I guess that’s what I’m doing now: moving forward. I’m not exactly what sure what path I should take but I know that I have to get there. One of the first step of moving forward for me this year was to resign from my work. About a month has passed and I used to wonder not if it was the right decision, but was it really moving forward?

 Last October 10, I visited my former office in Pasong Tamo, Magallanes to get my back pay. I had mixed emotions going back for a lot of reasons. I was happy visiting to see how my old officemates were doing. They’ve grown more than merely officemates to me and I actually became friends with most of them. Though there was a sense of excitement, somehow I felt anxious and worried. I was worried how things have changed since I left. Were there new people? Do they still see me as the same? I left the office about a month or so ago with a purpose, a dream, and for sure they’re going to ask me how my journey was trying to achieve that dream.

 Going to the office, it was kind of reminiscing how I took that same route over and over again for the past 2 and a half years and now I’m going there for a different reason. All the while, I was feeling stuck in that routine of taking the same way going to work, getting there before 9, turning on my computer, doing my job, etc.

 True enough when I got there, it was really nice seeing familiar faces. As I’ve said earlier staying in the same place for almost three years is something. From the security guards and utility people, it was comforting to see them and ask them how they were.

 My area, office 3, is located at the far end of our office. You would literally pass all the other departments before you get to office 3. It was a perfect chance to go through each of the people there and just say hi. My first stop was of course our HR department. My main reason for going back was the money the company still owed me. I have to be honest, seeing the papers indicating how much money I’d get was uplifting. I don’t consider myself a shallow person who’s just concerned with money, but it was sure fun seeing that amount.

 My type of work in the marketing department had to utilize a lot of people from all the different types of departments from the company. From the warehouse, customer service, retail, store planning, corporate and sales, creatives, and the marketing, there was a feeling of unity, well at least for me. We all had the goal of making profit and each one was needed in fulfilling that goal. It was also in my personality to be curious about other people. In my stay there, I got involved in people’s lives knowing who they were and what there dreams were. There are also a lot of older people there and it was interesting for me to see how they were working not just for themselves but also for their families and loved ones. I have to admit most of the time there was selfishness on my part thinking solely about my income and my career and yet I see other people waking up everyday to make ends meet for their families. So going back to my type of job that deals working with a lot of people, I got really involved with them and that’s why I’ve gotten to know them personally.

 It was really nice seeing friends faces again. To be honest, the group of people in the office is the closest group I had since I left college. I had a lot of group of friends back in college but after? Not really. This was only my second job and even though many have come and go in the office, I still consider them close. Maybe it was the nature of all of our work wherein we can get so busy and stressed that you can’t help to group together and be close. I remember during my first two years that we had a very disciplined boss. It was like martial law. Looking back she was a terrific person who was very knowledgeable about marketing but she sure was strict as your worst teacher. Given that boss, my team and I had no option but to ban together and work as a team. Through time and experiences, we worked as one and efficient as you can possibly dream of. When our old boss resigned and no immediate replacement, the team and I were able to keep our brand afloat. Though there a bit bumps and bruises along the way, we stood our grand and did the best we could. We knew the ins and outs of the business and of our office so we were more than capable of working as a unit.  I miss my teammates and I wish them all the best especially know since it’s the Christmas season and work is just overflowing. More than my immediate teammates, there were also those who I got to know. Some of them I worked for a project or two while some I was just fortunate to have known. I also miss them.

There was also a fun and yet semi-embarrassing moment to alleviate all this cheesy talk when a friend, Joey and I saw each other. Fun because it was nice seeing her again and a bit embarrassing because everyone in the office knew she had a crush on me. It was a playful reunion and got a few teases from the others. We’re good friends actually before and even after everyone knew.

 Talking to all of them and telling them how I was gave me peace. As I’ve said earlier, I had a goal and mission when I left them and my visit was a reminder I have to complete it. I’ve never been a fan of merely resigning or quitting on something without a purpose. I left my work because I had to follow a dream as cheesy as it sounds. And talking to my friends about my dream gave me inspiration to pursue it. Every now and then, everyone needs a few words of encouragement right? It was like a small nudge to keep going on this path. To be honest there were days during the past month when I felt stuck and depressed, but seeing them the other day gave me hope.

 When I was about to leave that night, it actually rained so hard. It must have been the typhoon or something but I was fortunate enough to ride with a couple of my friends out of the office. Well, fortunate enough until we found out it was flooded on both sides of the road and we were stuck in traffic because there was no one else to go. Some of them actually jokingly blamed me for the storm. We tried going into San Lorenzo Village without a sticker knowing that it was only our chance to get going. Luckily, one of us, Guia, knew someone from the village so we got in. We had to wait for Guia’s friend to come get us because we might not get out at the other exit gate. So we were stuck inside the village for a couple of minutes. It was pouring outside the car and all five of us inside with only a bottle of coke and a pack of cornick. Not exactly the kind of night I hoped for when I thought visiting my old office right? In the end, we were finally able to get to a restaurant and finally eat and drink. My friend Errol and I decided that we deserved a Macallan and so we did. Nothing beats a man’s drink. Later on that night I also had a good and long conversation with Lyza. We never got to work together since she was from a different department but I’m glad we got to know each other this year. It was one of those deep conversations after a long night of drinking. It was fun, refreshing, and a perfect way to cap off the night.

 When I left the office back in late August, I had a dream but a clouded one. I’m sure of what I was going to do and sure that staying in the office was not the right path to me. At the same time however, I was clouded because I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. Just like any other man at my age, no one really knows what they are supposed to do and here I was trying to take on that challenge. After a night at my old office and seeing my friends, I know I made the right decision. In a world where everyone is struggling to find their place and trying to know what future lies ahead of them, I learned to look back and embrace my past knowing this could be the way to achieve my dream. So in the end, it might not just be moving forward, but also remembering where I came from.

 

Why Are There Unhappy or Failed Marriages? (Part 2)

In part 1, I described a couple of reasons why there are difficulties in some marriages using my own opinions and intuitions. As an unmarried man, I have yet to experience all those. Even now as I begin to explain it in a biblical context, I hope I give an accurate description of marriages because there is more gravity to it than using my own opinions.

Marriage is not the end goal nor is it the purpose of your life

Since most people believe that marriage is sacred and a tradition of faith in Christianity, then the marriage should be about God and ironically not about the marriage itself.

There’s a possibility that people can be too focused about the marriage and not the other way around wherein the marriage is focused about pleasing God.

There’s a passage in the Bible that I want to focus on and it’s on 1 Corinthians 7 starting from verse 29. Not a lot of Christians use this passage to describe marriage. In fact, some people believe it’s anti marriage as the apostile Paul focuses on being single, but I believe he is trying to say something more.

“But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage. Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.”

 The whole chapter 7 of first Corinthians basically talks about marriage: fulfilling each other’s sexual needs, a husband must not leave his wife and vice versa, what to do if you marry a non-Christian or an unbeliever, and more. But throughout the chapter, Paul actually is making a case for being single. He gives a lot of commands from the Lord about how marriage should go about but he also stresses to be single if you can. He even says in an earlier verse “I wish everyone were single, just as I am. But God gives to some the gift of marriage, and to others the gift of singleness.”

But what I like about verse 29 onwards is that it puts our lives and marriages into perspective. He starts by saying that time is short. We all know this, but honestly, do we live like it? Life moves too fast for anyone. No matter how much a person tries to savor every moment of his or her life, it could all end at any day. We could be awake today and then gone tomorrow just like that. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how healthy you think you are, nothing’s going to last forever. The apostle Paul writes that whatever you’re into right now, don’t get caught up too much, including marriage. The bible explains it also that people do not stay married when they get to heaven. Marriage is an earthly thing and it will stay that way on earth. To some couples, this can be really sad. This goes against everything we see on movies wherein a woman dies and the husband goes “We’ll be together in heaven.” I guess when they say “Till death do us part,” it really means death is death.

I don’t really care if someone is a Christian or not, but I believe that everyone will one day face God. Whatever view of God in your mind right now, it’s not big enough. We have to understand that one day, when it’s all said and done, we’re going to meet Him and He’ll either say “Well done” about our lives or He won’t. It’s that simple. In light of that, what else matters? Paul is saying with the possibility of facing God at any moment, you should be focused on that and not on anything else, including marriage. Paul continues:

“I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please Him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband.”

Paul is saying that if you’re single, all your focus and attention will be towards God unlike a married person who is too preoccupied in keeping the marriage and other responsibilities.

I’ve heard people say that “I’m going to fix our relationship first before I do this…” or “I believe that God wants me to do something with my life but first I have to keep my kids on the right path.” Instead of using marriage and family as means to do God’s will, people can use it as an excuse not to do it. It may be even a form of idolatry, as we can put our relationships first before God.

Instead of thinking “What does she want?” or “What does he want?” we ought to be thinking, “What does God want?” It’s not about her needs or his needs anymore. I guess there’s a lot of friction between husbands and wives because they’re not sure of God’s love for each of them individually. If they understand His love and His mission for them, they wouldn’t fight so much.

Looking at my own life, seeing that I’ve only spent a couple of years on this earth, I don’t know the plan of God for me. Maybe He wants me to have the gift of singleness just like Paul or maybe not. But married or unmarried, I should seek him first. God is telling all of us to seek His Kingdom first and everything else will follow. It’s easier said than done of course but I know I have to try. This goes for career, family, marriage, and my salvation when I go to Heaven.

In the end, I don’t know everything that is to know about marriages, but I do know that there’s a big picture. We all have a mission here on this earth given to us by God and we have to focus on that no matter what.

Why Are There Unhappy or Failed Marriages? (Part 1)

Right off the bat, I want to stress that I don’t know everything that is to know about marriages. In fact, I’m single and the longest relationship I ever had was about two years. I’ve never experienced living in with someone and totally support another person through thick and thin. What I know is that marriages are supposed to be sacred, at least supposedly through God’s eyes. In my little time here on earth I’ve known happy couples who have been together for a long time and had happy children and all that, but I also know the reality of divorce and the possibility of marrying the wrong person or at the wrong time.

 I’ve grown an interest in writing about marriages because I’ve realized now the value of loving someone but more than that, I’ve learned that there is a purpose of a marriage that two people must pursue. Maybe also that the reality of marriage and children are slowly coming into play as I see my friends tying the knot and settling down. Maybe we’re in that age but there are more and more people getting married nowadays. Looking at my own life, it made me wonder how marriages last and what is the whole point of getting married in the first place.

 As an unmarried man, and I believe some people see this as well, we see the joy and the beauty of marriages. We have grown up in a society wherein we see through our relatives, family friends, and even in our own parents that marriage is supposed to be a good thing. However, there is also the sad reality of seeing unhappy couples and even some parents that just go through the daily grind of life and living as though marriage wasn’t for the better. I thought of a couple of reasons why unhappy or failed marriages exist.

 

1.    He or She is not the “One”

 To be honest, I’m not sure I even believe in this. Primarily because two people decide to get married because the other person is willing to grow old with the other person. It’s not a quick and simple decision that you just make. By the time you actually decide to get married, you must be sure that the person is really the person you want to be with the rest of your life. In another perspective, it’s not so much as you’re a hundred percent sure that he or she is the one, but maybe you yourself are sure that you are able to love that person no matter what. If you don’t believe in yourself to love, maybe that’s the problem in the first place.

 

2.    You got married for the wrong reasons

The most obvious reason why people get married is the fact that they’ve been together long enough and the only logical next step is marriage. All our lives we’ve been told to go to school, get a degree, find a job, get married, have kids, and then happily ever after. I mean, if you’ve been with someone for X number of years, the only next step is marriage right? I even remember my Theology teacher back in college. He’s a priest and he has this “5 year rule.” He says that when two people have been together for 5 years, they should either get married already or call it quits. He believes that 5 years is the optimum time to determine marriage and going beyond that number is already wasting time to be married. But is time really a significant factor? Is marriage really the next logical step?

 Another side to this is the reality of having children first before marriage. Young couples are somewhat forced to marry because of a birth of a child. Though I know this isn’t true across the board as I’ve seen friends have a kid first, marry, but also love each other, but I also know there are those who simply get married because there’s no choice.

 

3.    Life

 Life always gets in the way of almost everything. By life I mean just the load of work, family, time, and just basically the costs and pressures of living daily. Couples can get worn out with a routine of doing the same things over again and this is true for a lot of people who’ve been married for a long time. This is not just about losing the spark or getting bored with each other. Two people might still be in love when they get older but the harsh realities of life make it difficult to make things work all the time. Of course this is just my theory and it will be unfortunate if I experience this when I get older.

 

These are just three possible reasons why there are unhappy or failed marriages. In part 2 of this, I will try to explain in a more biblical context.

What Happened When I Decided to Shut Off My Phone for a Day?

About a week ago, I did an experiment on myself in what would happen to me if I neglect my phone for a day. I wasn’t sure what prompt me but before I decided to do this experiment, I’ve grown weary of everything going around in the world. Whether it’s the news, sports, even in my social media spheres, I just didn’t want any of it.

 Maybe it was the fact that I always relied on my phone for the last couple of years. The nature of my work before required me to constantly talk to other people and some even bothered me at the middle of the night or during the weekends. You could say that left me a bit traumatized every time I get a new message or a call from an unknown number. Up until now I don’t answer someone I don’t know. There was also the use of social media on my phone. Technology has given us a way through Facebook, Twitter, or any other online app to communicate with our friends anywhere. I didn’t really upload much on anything, but I looked and checked out on my contacts. Also a while back, I had a relationship, and of course, talking to her almost every moment was like breathing air.

Since I am now single and unemployed, generally people have no reason to contact me. Well, this is excluding my close friends who have a viber group who send messages every now and then. But I thought, what the heck, if it’s only for a day, who would notice? I thought this was the perfect opportunity to really relax, think about my future, or even get in touch with God again or of course, I can just watch TV series all day. Either way, there would be no distractions.

 I didn’t make any rules to this but the whole idea is to not look at my phone for a day. That included no charging or anything else. I chose an opportune time to do this experiment. I thought of scenarios wherein my parents or siblings wouldn’t need to text me. I would be alone in our home so everything is cleared.

 There were many choices on what should I do. I could read a book a whole day, go on a movie marathon, look for a job, research grad schools, paint, learn karate, fly a kite, bake cookies, heck I don’t know. After a day without my phone, I tested myself further and I didn’t even touch my phone for two straight days. If I did this six months ago, this would be ludicrous. I won’t get into details on what I did but here a couple of things I’ve learned about my experience and about myself.

 Realization #1 – Depression

 The premise of shutting down my phone because there would be no one who would need me is a bit depressing I have to admit. Of course there is always family and friends who are there for you but in the world that we live in today where communication is constant with every text, direct message, mention, notification, and whatnot, it is disturbing that there was a feeling of no one caring for a day. When I did charge and turn on my phone after two days, I did get a couple of messages here and there which also included a message telling me to pay the bill. Maybe that tipped off the depression.

 Realization #2 – Liberation

 I lost my cellphone twice in the past two years. During those times, I had trouble going through work because I couldn’t reach anybody plus, I worried the hell out my girlfriend. But also in those times, there was a sense of relief that no one was bothering me. I’m thinking solely about my work of course. Even for a brief moment there was a slither of peace from bosses, business people, and a whole lot more.

 So in this particular scenario (without losing my phone) I was able to achieve that sense of peace even though there was a hint of depression.

Realization #3

 The third realization is that there might not need a realization in the first place. It was just two days of my life and not a whole lot has change in my situation. You could say I’ve grown a bit spiritually by not communicating with anyone but I also know this doesn’t prove anything yet. During those two days, there was a lot of writing, playing video games, praying, reading, and eating. Or just a sad reality what a bum would do on a daily basis.

Conclusion

 Back in highschool, I attended a silent retreat. Student leaders (for a time I was part of the Athletics Council of the school) were sent to a seminar type of retreat where no one was allowed to talk. We were supposed to you know, meditate and stuff. Memories of this retreat surfaced during my experiment of not using my phone. Just like back in highschool, it’s good to take a break every now and then from the constant blabber of the world. It’s like somebody pressed the fast forward button and we need to pause and hold on to something. But eventually, everyone has to go back to reality and face the everyday grind. I guess we’re all just looking for that peace, even it just means shutting down your phone for a day.