The Parable of the Covenant

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

I still think this needs a LOT of editing, but I’ll probably make a 2.0 in the future. (I might make a 2.0 series, actually. There’s so much I still want to edit HAHA).


 

I

 

You set the world into motion

And rocked my heart from its stillness

You were the murmur

That called me from the lull of the dust

 

You promised me a future like the stars

And it put lights in my eyes

I left my mother and father to join You

And begin our Story together

 

I was the least of my brothers

But in my weakness, You are strong

You delivered bounty in time of meagerness

Until man’s heart worked me for gluttony

 

Then You put a sea between me and those who owned me

And gave me freedom in claiming me as Yours

You wrote Your love for me

To abide in in a home of milk and honey

 

I celebrated and studied Your enchanting world

I rejoiced in the richness of the earth

And the possibilities of wealth and new things

But in relishing it, You faded into the background

 

I replaced You with Your gifts

Forgetting past and future, my side of our vow

I struck out, wanting what was already ours

So my vanities consumed me but did not satisfy

 

I threw my voice into the cacophony around me

And grew deaf to You

You offered Your hand and Your mercies

But I’d slid out of reach and numbed to tenderness

 

All the while staying Your disappointment,

You sent messengers, until You had to send soldiers

I was snatched away,

And my pride was broken, apart from You

 

In my suffering, I glimpsed who You are

And realized who I was in You

And I dreamt of You, of home

And persevered with what I had left of You

 

You championed my release from my own trap,

And we rebuilt our house

I knew now that I wanted none other than You

And I would make sure our children knew the same

 

II

 

I meted out Your words

And measured my neighbor by them

I sterilized my habits and refused to reconsider

I nitpicked the complexities of Your desires

 

I became haughty and self-assured of Your favor

I obsessed over the power of being Yours

I colored the light of Your heart with my black desires

And the old me snuck under the sheepskin of restoration

 

I misunderstood You

So You became like me so that I could know You

Your servants recognized you and rejoiced

But Your lover never noticed

 

Yet You told stories anyway

And touched my sores and opened my eyes

Your presence filled the loneliness

In the gaps between me and You

 

You were unafraid of upturning tables

So that disparities could be levelled

You did not hesitate to disturb my tranquility

To give me true peace

 

You clothe the lily and feed the birds,

Quench my thirst in this desert,

And sustain me through Your word,

Just like five thousand others

 

But I kept seeing You for something else –

I insisted on what I thought I knew about You

The self You were showing me

Was unlike anything I’d known before

 

Your words were mysteries – but Your voice, truth;

Though I hardly realized it

Through patience, despite hurt and anger

You pulled me from paralysis to stand beside You

 

But I left You

I ran away when they came for You

I denied You

As many times as You would ask if I loved You

 

I laughed while they hoisted You up in suffering

I went back to business when You let go

And my hopeful fervor went with You

“Appears there’s nothing more there.”

 

And then you proved me wrong.

You did the impossible –

You came back to me

Despite all that was done to You

 

Your truth struck down to my rawness,

Your love clarified my murky sight,

Your will surpassed my expectation,

And Your embrace liberated me

 

Now You break the dawn and

Cast me blazing into the shadows,

Running over them in bounding leaps,

And shaking off their hold on me

 

My voice will carry melodies for You,

And my heart will carry crosses.

My shoulders will carry leaders,

And my arms will carry the broken.

 

My mind will sanctify in truth,

And my feet will crush injustices.

My hands will plant seeds,

And my legs will cross earths.

 

Every part of me is Yours –

And even if the Spirit of You holds me,

Past the faltering and stumbling,

The whole of me aches for the final day

 

The day Your vow will be completed –

And I will be completed in my purpose,

Completed in love unbound by flesh and blood,

Completed in You.

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The Child Who Made Me A Video

I went to Headway School for Giftedness, my alma mater, to do some fieldwork for thesis back in February, just a few days before my 20th birthday. It was a very exciting day – words cannot describe what thesis has put me, Iya and Steff through. But I’m happy about it. Something about everything just went in full circle. Did I mention I met a fellow Atenean there? And the last time I visited, they had invited me to be a resident psychologist there once I got licensed. I might take them up on it.

Below is an excerpt from an email exchange I had between a child I had randomly met at Headway.


Hey Luis!
This is Ate Kim, from yesterday. Attached is the awesome film that you made me. I just want to say that I really appreciate it, and it spoke to me on a deep level. At first I didn’t understand what you were doing, but the finished product told a stronger story to me than you probably understand. You see, I went to Headway too when I was your age. I spent prep until grade 6 there, and it defined my childhood, in a way. The sentimentality of the music and videos you had chosen reminded me of the flow of time, my roots, hope for the future, and the people we share this life with. Just like my laptop sticker says, growing up is painful, but what I meant was that it’s a process that burns you the way gold is refined by fire. With your own quiet technique, I felt like you were able to tie it all together in film.
I was so moved that I even showed my best friend the video, and since she understood how much that film must have meant to me, she was almost moved to tears in our school cafeteria, of all places (I myself almost cried in the library yesterday). She has a friend studying film in Saint Benilde who she wants to show your video to. Could I send her the file? 🙂
Thank you so much!
God bless you! You’re a very talented boy, and I pray that you will continue to nurture that talent and use it to keep telling powerful stories. 🙂
Sincerely,
Ate Kim Andaya

Millennial Mental Health

Okay so, this is an idea that’s been on my mind lately.
The mental health advocacy has been gaining a lot of traction lately (Ateneo’s Mental Health Awareness Week just ended yesterday, in fact). A good thing, definitely, but I’ve also always felt that it was symptomatic of something. I’m a psychology student, so maybe that explains why a number of friends and acquaintances have confided their depressive and neurotic tendencies – but I also know that it’s been a hot topic online and I also see how it’s become a central concern of this generation.
So I decided to run some queries, just check out what information is already readily available online.
And then I found this video (which my dad asked me to watch before but never got around to HAHAH sorry dad). I’ve known some of the information here for quite some time, but it gives you interesting insight when you put it all together (the beauty of knowledge ❤ ). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hER0Qp6QJNU
It’s a lot of things causing the rising mental health issues of this generation. The middle class parenting that got popular when we were younger. The instant gratification and immediate “connection” of technology. Capitalist, consumerist, materialistic society (it kinda stuck on my mind how professors [and students too] saw Holy Week as “a break so that they have the time they need to get work done). Success is driving us dry: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwRIoM-fOXx_VG1jdGNYaXlwSlk/view?usp=sharing
So how do you address this? Idk. Practice balance – not neutrality or passivity or numbness, but excellence (woot Aristotelian Virtues). Learn patience and inner silence and how to laugh at awkward and clumsy. See people as ends in themselves (yay Kant). Yes, these are just ideas, but they’re ideas that need to be talked about more.

Nation’s Due

Wrote this in 20 minutes. Sorry for typos and bad structure. Rushing to go to school.


So I read in the news (double checked, found the same story in Rappler and Philippine Star, because I just couldn’t believe it anymore) that Duterte is going to postpone the barangay elections. And you know what else he’s going to do? Fill up the vacant positions left by officials on holdover capacity himself. So he takes people out of commissions in the senate, in congress, and now even shifts power to his people down to local government units. Red flags everywhere. This is not how a democracy is run.

You know, I have this theory that Duterte is just one humongous distraction. There’s always drama going on, and it’s hard to keep up with any storyline – at this point, everything’s lumped up into one ugly mess, with Duterte smack dab at the centre of it all. Duterte’s name pops up on the news literally everyday – something he said, or something PresComm said, or something the opposition said about him. Doesn’t matter. The media eats it up, along with the captive audience that are the Filipinos (at least for those that actually bother with politics).

So, the media has its hairs split chasing the daily headaches Duterte’s administration has caused. No administration as a whole has ever acted with such lack of decorum, with such lack of consideration for the least of its citizens, with such pomp, with such a blatant disregard for the consequences of its actions, without any effort at all in at least appearing democratic and lawful (except when it’s convenient, i.e. I am never going to let go of his secret bank account or the Marcos burial. Of course. Classic). I’d like to argue that he’s messier than Marcos. After all, 3,240 people were killed during the time of Martial Law. And today? Close to 8,000. Marcos was in power for 20 years. This guy hasn’t even reached his anniversary. Don’t get me started on the falling economy and the tense foreign relations (even with China, who Duterte has been trying to suck up to, turned coat and is trying to set up house in Scarborough: http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2017/03/22/Scarborough-China-construction-DFA.html). There is literally no stability in this nation right now.

So what exactly are they trying to do, here? What is up with this blatant “I’ll just do what I want, the rest of you can go to hell” attitude? Is there some insidious master plan? Are we supposed to get mad? Will impeachment and revolution trigger us all into falling into their trap? Or was this paralysing paranoia the point – was this a ploy to shut us up lest we cause more trouble than good? What a way to abuse the enduring, pacifist Filipino attitudes. It can drive any rational person into madness.

I am reminded of a recent video I saw of the Trump administration. Apparently, while the media was gobbling up all his drama, bills were being filed in the senate – bills about removing their department of education, bills about Planned Parenthood, etc. Would it be possible to have a highly controversial bill passed without getting much attention from the media? Would the US be distracted from opposing something that directly affects the people? Could the same thing apply to us?

And isn’t just downright funny (in the absolute saddest sense of the word) that all of this is happening right now? The world has been thrown into chaos lately, 2016 events proved that. It almost makes you wonder if it was coordinated somehow, or if at least some of it was. What do these all have in common anyway?

Well. Us. The people. We grew afraid – the global economy recently fell and jobs have been a problem for a while now. Migrant labor competition only increases racism. Viral media only feeds impulses, and multiplies them across borders. Corruption cultivated what was planted in ignorance. We grew desperate, and someone stepped up to say all the pretty words we wanted to hear. Why or how didn’t matter. Nothing matters when all we think about is self-preservation.

What if at the end of it, this is the story we deserved? For not educating our fellowman, for not protecting the least of us, for being a cog in the machinery instead of an active agent? It’s so tempting to be overwhelmed and to turn away from trouble – to just focus on “doing your job.” Idk, maybe the worst of it would blow over, right? And then we’d be okay.

You’re incredibly numb for thinking you’re okay when the people around you aren’t.

No. Let yourself be hurt. And do something about it. Get creative. Get connected. Use your voice, mediate conflict, tell others. We should use that ability of ours while we still have it – far be it that it be taken from us… but it may.

I’m not pointing fingers anymore. I am a Filipino and I am responsible for my nation. Di ako aasa sa strong man na Presidente, di ako iiyak sa gilid. I have my own hand in letting this happen, and I have my own hand in fixing it. I know the responsibility isn’t mine alone, but I’m not going to wait anymore.

Ever since, my growth and ideals have been dedicated to you, my mother land. But as the days pass, I get more reasons to push myself in preparation to serve you. I deem it my moral responsibility, far deeper than quaint sentiment. Di ko ‘to ginagawa because I owe my life to you – I owe that to God and my parents. But you are undeniably part of who I am, and my heart aches even when you’ve grown numb. And my heart aches because it hopes. What gives hope to this heart is the joy of one day seeing you, knowing I had a hand in it somehow, liberated, to the glory of God.

Snippet Series #11:Tinikling

Tinikling is a Filipino dance that involves criss-crossing rhythmically over and between shifting, opening and closing bamboo shoots. I hope that gives the image justice.


 

Pakiramdam ko’y nagtitinikling ako

Isang yapak palapit sa’yo,

Isang pagbawing galit sa’yo

Pabalik-balik, paulit-ulit.

 

Mabuti pa ang sayaw

Na ang manunuod ay nagsisipagpalakpakan,

Na ang pagbukas ay laro,

At pagsarado’y katuwaan,

at masaya’t kaibig-ibig,

Kaysa lumuksong mag-isa

Papasok sa inaasam

Para lang sikmatan palabas

Sa pagkasiphayo’t pananabik

 

Ngunit ako pa rin ang mananayaw;

Hindi ako yoyo na hinahatak at tinatapon.

Nakakalulong ang iyong tikas,

Ngunit maaaring hindi magpadala.

Nakakapagindak ang tinig mo,

Ngunit maaaring magtindig.

Nakakaalok ang kasimplehan ng iyong pagtingin,

Ngunit maaaring magtiis.

Sinong nagsabing ang pagtigil ng musika

Ang siyang wakas ng sayaw?

Ang sayaw ay nagwawakas

Di sa paghinto kundi sa pagganap.

 

Snippet Series #10: In Another Life

Yesterday I saw you in white, in a polo, in black pants. It reminded me of last year, of how we met before your thesis defense, so that I could see you dressed up. I remembered wanting to fold your sleeves and button your polo. I wanted to pull your collar and dust your shoulders. I felt that then and yesterday.

I thought of doing that for you in the morning, the way my mother had to my father, before he went off to work. I imagined what it would be like to help you with your tie, and to tuck a hanky into your pocket. Now, I’m thinking of helping you match socks, and bickering about colors, and laughing about styles. I’m thinking of the two of us fussing over your hair. I’m thinking of walking you out the door and you kissing me goodbye. I’m thinking of waving at you while you look over your shoulder, and the two of us reminding each other of groceries and bills to pay.

I wonder what it would be like to come home to you after I finish with my field work. I wonder what it would be like to wash dishes side by side – please tell me there’ll be stories and bubble fights. I wonder what it would be like to call my home your home. I wonder what it would be like to get angry about the news together. I wonder what it would be like to have you cook for me. I wonder what it would be like for the two of us to be tired, and then agree to just “leave the chores for the morning.”

I wonder what our newspaper and magazine subscriptions would be. I wonder what colors we’d paint our living room. I wonder what we’d sit like: would I be on the floor, by the couch, by your feet? Would I be laying on the couch with my feet propped up, with your head just within reach for me to stroke?

I remember that you like balconies. I love balconies too. Let’s have milk and tea and shawls and stars there.


Whenever I’m somewhere beautiful, I think of you, and I wonder, “What would he say if he were here?” I want you to breathe in this air. Partake of this fruit. Collapse into this chair. Glaze your eyes over this view. Dip your feet in this stream. Surround yourself with the sound of these birds. I want to feel you relax. I want to feel you let go and take all this beauty in.

When I go, I want to be buried in a place like this. I want an old Filipino house by the foot of a hill, and a mango tree, or some other fruit-bearing tree that I’ll let you liken to me, to be planted by my gravestone. And then over the years, I want flowers planted around my grave. Visit me, and surround me with sunflowers and berries and dandelions and butterflies. Robe me in gold, blue, purple, red, pink and majestic green. Let the children take the flowers and the fruit, and let them plant their own seeds and water their own shoots.

When I go, the funeral doesn’t have to be extravagant. Let me stay in Manila for two days, and then bring me to the province I’ve adopted, whatever that might be in the future. Let my family and my scholars bury me. Throw sunflowers (or their petals, since I know they’re expensive) in my grave. If they want to give white flowers, make them lilies or baby’s breath, not roses. Invite everyone, even those who you think might have hated me. Be kind to them and treat them like family if they arrive. I want to go with all efforts of peace.

When I go, don’t be too sad. Cry, but remember me in laughter. Grieve, but love one another. If there is pain, let it make you raw again. Death is a powerful thing, with lots of powerful emotions. I suppose it’s because it’s the grand culmination of a life full of passions and stories. Don’t be afraid to feel all of that all over again – at the time of my death, and even after.

Snippet Series #9: Walang Utang sa Panliligaw

Another piece that mirrors frustration. At the end of the day, every man is his own, an Infinite Other.


“But I gave her everything,” he mourned, weeping.

“Darling, she never asked.”


I think the most painful thing about this that I have to remember is this: wala kang utang sa’kin.

I have no rights over you. I do not own you. I do not control you. I cannot make you think what I think or feel what I feel. I cannot make you want what I want or dream what I dream or find joy in the things that I find joy in.

You and I are irrevocably different. I am day and you are night. I am sky and you are ocean. I am steely reason and you are virile passion. And yet as the sun chases after the moon so do I chase after you. And as the sun never catches her, so I never will.

You are elusive, like sand. A contradictory truth, like a paradox. Proud, and stubborn, like me.

At first glance, it would appear that I should have the upper hand. I’m smarter, wiser, kinder, classier, better looking, funnier, more charming, more skilled, more popular, more influential, wealthier. And yet, you remain, frustratingly, one step ahead of me.

I will not deny it, I have tried all my tricks. I have practically courted you with words and acts and show. I have listened and swallowed my pride and wagered my time and expanded my understanding. I have been kind and forgiving and considerate and generous. I have allowed you into the bounty of what I own and into the bounty of my soul. Regardless. I cannot make you bend.

It would have been better if you tried to win me as well. If you had insisted, if you had taken up arms and made demands. I know you would not have been able to make me bend. But that’s not how it worked. You had no such desire. And now you have all hold over me.

I give. And yet you owe me nothing because you never asked. And you never asked because you never cared.

And so you forever remain outside of my reach. Unconquerable.

And it makes me feel powerless. It makes me wonder if everything is chance. I hardly try, and everything is given to me. The one thing I have invested everything in earns me nothing.

And you don’t even realize it. And it doesn’t even matter. It is one thing to fail, and another never to even be recognized.