Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Our body

I'm staying up late tonight to prepare for our reporting tomorrow in Human Anatomy class. This will be our last chance to do a decent reporting before the semester ends. Our first reporting was a total disaster.

The human body really fascinates me. I mean, the human anatomy and its functions is truly marvelous. We are really a marvelous piece of machinery. We are truly walking miracles. Even the smallest or most minute part of our body, the cell, work in such a complex way. And cells work together to make our organs function properly, and organs in turn work together to make us function in a normal way. We are literally made up of countless microscopic organs that work really hard to allow us to function to the most optimum level.

That's why I don't understand why some people find it so easy to abuse their body, by smoking or indulging in alcohol or worse taking drugs. I mean, if they only knew how amazingly complex their body works and how fragile it is, they'd probably think twice before taking in any toxic substance.

I'm so fortunate that early on I never gave in to peer pressure with regards to drinking and smoking. I don't smoke. I drink though, but only on extremely rare occasions, and usually for the sake of pakikisama. I never abuse it. I've learned my lesson early on -- I've seen the great damage those substances has caused to many people, particularly to those close to me.

Now, back to work...

The political forum in UP

I went to UP last Friday to attend the forum on "Gloriagate", which was entitled "Breaking Out From the Crisis: Immediate and Strategic Options". Actually, I only went there to see Manuel Quezon III in person. Hehe..

MLQ3 wrote about the forum in his column last Monday in PDI.

The guy is intelligent and very eloquent. He has a good sense of humor, too: he shared with us the few Bisaya words he knew, which were all cuss words...

I also got to see Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales of Akbayan.

The other speakers were Professor Victoria Avena of the Counsel For the Defense of Liberties, and Dr. Fernando Aldaba, who is the chairperson of the Department of Economics of Ateneo de Manila.

They all talked about the present crisis and the political and economic situation of the country. They also proposed several options people can take to get the country out of the rut it's in. Anyway, just read MLQ3's column for the summary.

I also sat next to a couple whom I later learned was Max Limpag and his wife Marlen. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Finally, a school-related post

Tomorrow is our semi-final exam in Health Care 1, and you know what? I still haven't studied a thing. I still haven't began to open my notes.

The Fundamentals of Nursing tome of a book and my notebooks are all staring at me from across the room, and they seem to be saying, "Hey genius, when are you going to pick us up?"

I'm very skilled in the art of procrastination.

Which explains my so far-mediocre hinging on below-average grades. But I'm expecting good grades in my Philosophy of Man (Our teacher asked us what grade we want to have. He said the highest we can ask for is flat 1, so I boldly -- arrogantly? -- said that's what I want, explaining that I feel -- such arrogrance, indeed! -- I've understood and can explain all the topics we have discussed.) and Health Ethics class, which is pretty ironic, right? Because they're minors. Hehehe...

Another treasure, found

A treasure of a site, that is:

The Catholic Encyclopedia

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Catechism of the Catholic Church and virtues

I found out recently that the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church is actually available online here.

Looks like a very interesting read. :) It's sort of like a complete guide to the Catholic faith... :) I think every Catholic, or even those who simply want to know more about Catholicism, should read this. I believe it can help us gain a deeper understanding of our religion, and guide us in living out our faith.

I think this section on virtues is truly beautiful:

1803 "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."[62]

A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.

The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.[63]


1804 Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.

The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.

Virtues are truly beautiful. We, as human beings, are naturally attracted to it. In fact, we are all called as Christians to seek perfection, to seek purity, to be more like Christ. But, as we all know, virtues are fruits attained only through difficulties, trials, hardships, problems. The road that leads to it is narrow and crooked, riddled with obstacles, with pain and suffering. That is why so few reach it. But it is something that we are capable of attaining and is worthy of all our efforts and energies.

Every day we are presented with opportunities to grow. When we are faced with difficult circumstances, we always have the power to choose our response -- either to respond positively, or in a way that leads to growth in character, or negatively, in a way that leads to harm or destruction for others and ourselves. We always have the power to choose. We have free will. We are free:

"Between stimulus and response, there is space.
In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and happiness."

(Quoted by Stephen Covey in Living the 7 Habits: The Courage to Change)

But often times, we choose the easier way out -- we react to situations. (I am especially guilty of this!) That is, we act without weighing the consequences, or more importantly, the wisdom and morality, of our actions properly. In short, we act without thinking. We let our instincts and usually our habits control us. What we need, therefore, is patience. And patience is developed through practice, through the deliberate act of choosing to wait and to consider one's options properly before one acts. And we acquire all the other virtues in the same way -- through habits. What can best destroy bad habits than good habits? :)

There's also this wonderful website on virtues you might want to check out: The Virtues Project. From its About page:

Love. Kindness. Justice. Service. The virtues are the very meaning and purpose of our lives. They are universally valued by people of all faiths and cultures. We seek ways to renew and deepen our connection with the values that give direction to our lives. We strive to mentor our children and to build safe and caring schools and communities.

The mission of The Virtues Project is to provide empowering strategies that inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life.

The site also offers a list of the virtues and their definitions: What are the virtues? Another nice reading! :)

One exemplary person of virtue is Haydee Yorac who recently passed away. I really know very little about her (darn!), except for the fact that she was a strong crusader against Marcos during the Martial Law years, and a firm defender of justice who fought to recover Marcos' ill-gotten wealth and hounded his crony Danding Cojuanco and sought to win back (with great, albeit partial, success) the millions of coco levy funds Danding used to keep his shares in the San Miguel Corporation. She was a fighter to the very end. She is indeed someone we all can look up to and emulate.

Three tributes to her:

  • Telling the truth and getting away with it by Sheila Coronel

  • The ultimate test of Haydee's glare by Pablito Sanidad

  • Her passion for truth and justice by Teodoro Bacani, Jr.

  • I wonder, has Condrado de Quiros written about her already?


    If you have EWTN in your cable TV, you should try to check out The Virtues: Seven Habits of Champions, a series by Catholic author and speaker Marcellino D'Ambrosio. He discusses each of the cardinal and theological virtues each week. There's really a lot to learn from this show. The program airs every Wednesdays, 10:30pm. (I don't know if there are other schedules besides that one).

    EWTN also airs reruns of the series by Fr. John Corapi on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is an excellent program on the CCC. Fr. Corapi is a very powerful speaker. You should listen to him talk. He's very down-to-earth, unpretentious, and to-the-point with his messages. He had a very dark and troubled past before he became a priest, and his story of conversion and transformation is truly amazing. (Program runs every Friday, 11:00pm).

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    Me and my Pangga

    I picked up my Pangga last Saturday from the airport. She was in Manila since Monday for a training/ exposure work. She's working for the European Chamber of Commerce as a Trades Fair Officer. She just got hired only last month. I'm really so proud of her... =)

    I'm really glad that she's home, because I was beginning to show signs of depression, and it was affecting my schooling. Hehehe...

    Here are a couple of pics we took of ourselves when we traveled to Davao (her home city) last year:

    On board a bus to the grueling six and a half hour trip to Davao City from Cagayan de Oro. Posted by Picasa

    On board a Superferry back to Cebu. Posted by Picasa

    Tonight's a lovely night

    The wind is so strong outside our house tonight, and it's raining. It's cold, too. I just love nights like this. It's very relaxing. The sound of the wind as it blows through the leaves of the trees sounds exactly like waves crashing softly to the sands of a beach...

    I will be going to church later. I'd have to bring our car since it's hard to commute when it's raining.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    More on books

    I went to national Bookstore this afternoon to finally buy The Examined Life. It only sold for PHP 75 because it had a 50% discount. What a bargain!

    I'm also planning on buying the rest of 'The Road Less Traveled trilogy': Further Along the Road Less Traveled and The Road Less Traveled And Beyond. I've read the first book of the trilogy a year or so ago and I really liked it. The book is full of insights and wisdom. M. Scott Peck is actually a psychiatrist, and it's amazing how he blends his knowledge in psychology and psychiatry with spirituality. It's absolutely insightful!

    I remember one night while my Pangga and I were in Dumaguete, I was helping her with her reports, it was very late and we still had loads of job to do, I was rambling to her about The Road Less Traveled, the insights I've gathered from it, and I was talking on and on and on... I felt like I was actually at the height of enlightenment, like I was the Buddha himself, sharing wisdom... I felt like I understood the relationship and significance of everything -- philosophy, sociology, religion, political science, art, etc., things I've always been interested in... I felt like I could explain it all... I asked her to ask me any question about life and existence and told her I could probably answer it... The meaning of life? Well, it's like this... The purpose of existence? Well, this is how it is... I felt like I could answer any question about human life... Things, or life, made sense to me... LOL... Was it merely the effect of lack of sleep? =)

    Anyway, the book is a must-read for anyone interested in spiritual growth.

    Another book of Mr. Peck is Glimpses of the Devil : A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption. Very intriguing stuff, eh? I think in this book he is trying to prove the existence of devils or demons. You might dismiss it as simply nonsense. You might say, how can a psychiatrist talk about demonic possessions!? You might dismiss it the same way most thinking, rational people might dismiss, for example, new age stuff. Actually, Mr. Peck was once a skeptic. He did not believe in devils or angels or any supernatural beings. He converted to Christianity only later in his practice as a psychiatrist, led by his reason and by his continuous search for the truth. He was not yet a Christian when he wrote The Road Less Traveled. I think his succeeding works then attempt to show the relationship between psychology and spirituality.

    I personally believe in devils, not simply as abstracts or symbols, but as real beings... I've always wanted to reconcile my faith with my want to be rational. I believe my faith can be supported by reason. :) Thus, I'm always trying to educate myself on spiritual or theological stuff. We as Christians all have an obligation to understand our faith more deeply. We all need to study theology. :)

    On my way out of the book store I saw copies of Angels and Demons in a shelf. I picked it up and read the first page... It was actually a page-turner. I got excited. How I wished I could bring it home and read it. Why do books have to be so expensive?

    I remember several months ago my Pangga and I were attending this lecture on Da Vinci's Code at Cebu Normal University. The guest speaker was a theologian from the States. In his presentation he attempted to refute the claims Dan Brown made in his novel. He presented archaeological and historical facts to point out the errors in Brown's story. It was a great talk, one which I learned a lot from. That's why I so want to read the novel, to consider for myself the claims, and to read the books that attempt to debunk them. I just want to hear both sides of the debate, that's all. There's nothing to worry about naman di ba if you're interested in the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Hehe. Anyway, the theologian-speaker's wife was there, and I overheard her asking a girl from the audience: "Have you read Da Vinci's Code?" The girl: "No". The theologian-speaker's wife: "That's good. You don't want to distort your mind with that." (Or words to that effect). And I was thinking, isn't there something wrong with that idea? I mean, to close your mind to a book just because the ideas there are "dangerous"? Like I said, if you're after the truth, or are confident that you are in Truth's side, what's there to be afraid of?

    Another book that got my interest is St. Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises. Wouldn't it be nice if one could practice those exercises in one's life, to deepen one's spirituality? (I've learned there are actually many versions of the exercises).

    I also dropped by Kyregma at the J.Y. Square Mall. I saw an illustrated version of Thomas a Kempis' The Imitation of Christ. It costs a fortune! But it's hardbound. I also saw an "updated" version of it (The original was written, I think, in the 15th century, and remains the second-most translated piece of literature next to the Bible. Did I get that right? :)). I want to compare the updated and the "non-updated" version and decide which one is better to buy. (Update! The good news is, you can actually read the text [modern English translation] online! Isn't that amazing? Here: The Imitation of Christ)

    Sigh. Too many books. Too little money. I guess that's one of the reasons why we are not a country of readers. Books are just too expensive. But aren't books necessities of life also, in the same way food, clothing, and shelter are? Food nourish our body, books nourish our mind. Clothing and shelter protect us from the harmful elements of the environment, books protect us from the harmful forces of ignorance and irrationality. Food enable us to grow physically and function properly in our daily activities, books allow us to grow in knowledge and wisdom and function wisely in our daily affairs with other men. :) So, books should really be our priority also, if we want to maintain a healthy life. Of course, we also need to develop a personal relationship with the Lord, for us to grow spiritually. :)

    Sunday, September 11, 2005

    Books I'm reading, books I want to buy

    I've begun reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbudy last week and I'm almost done with it. It's a very enjoyable book. Quite funny... :)

    But the message of the book, though, is serious. It talks about a future wherein books are outlawed, or the act of reading it is considered a crime (Books are burned because they are considered dangerous and unimportant). It talks about a future wherein people are too consumed by entertainment and comfort that they can't anymore think for themselves. People are glued to watching "plays" or "dramas" in their "televisors". Isn't that strikingly similar to our present time? (The book was published sometime in the 50s) Most of us today are addicted to the TV, to soap operas or telenovelas and noon-time entertainment shows...

    I've also begun to read this interesting book called Spirituality in Nursing which I've borrowed from our school library. It's authored by Mary Elizabeth O'Brien. It talks about nursing being a "sacred" profession, as it involves the caring of the sick and afflicted. It talks about "the Holy ground" that the nurse stands on whenever he or she is in the presence of a sick person. God, the book points out, is present in these people. I like that way of looking at the nursing profession, because it emphasizes its noble character.

    There are many books out there that I want to buy. They belong to the spirituality/ philosophy genre. I'm very interested in these types of books these days. Here's some of them:

  • The Examined Life by Dennis Helming

  • The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A. Kempis

  • The Case For A Creator by Lee Stroebel (I already read his The Case For Christ and The Case For Faith)

  • If only I have the money! =)

    There's also this very interesting book that I saw over at National Bookstore: My Descent Into Death by Howard Storm. It's an account of the author's "near-death experience". A very fascinating book. However, it's quite expensive (over PHP700), but I could tell it's worth it. I'll be going back to NB to read it for free... Hehehe...

    I'm also planning on reading the controversial and much-talked about Da Vinci's Code, and follow it with Breaking the Da Vinci Code by Darrell Bock and other books that seek to refute Brown's claims in his novel.

    Friday, September 09, 2005

    I miss PS

    I miss my work as a call center agent in People Support. I worked there last year for a few months. I enjoyed the job for a while (partly because it was my first employment -- so I enjoyed earning my own money -- and partly because of the experiences I've shared with many interesting people). It was also there that I met my GF, the love of my life. :)

    I actually kind of regret my decision to quit, although at that time I was pretty sure I couldn't handle the job anymore. It was a beautiful and comfortable life (I know, I sound too materialistic). I was earning 5 figures every month. I had a car for my "service". I could afford to eat at any restaurant in the city I like. I could afford to buy lots of things....

    I actually am saddened by my change of lifestyle. Now I'm back to being a student, and a nursing student at that, a course that many people look condescendingly at. I'm back to wearing uniforms, subjecting myself to the authority of teachers, experiencing anxieties and insecurities about my subjects, and dealing with some people (class mates) I often cannot understand. I am back to being limited by my dependence upon my parents for allowance! And I'm already almost 24!

    A lot has changed in my life. I look back at my previous life and I actually envy the life I led before. I had many wonderful memories, many beautiful experiences. I didn't think life can actually progress through time and not necessarily improve for the better. I mean, I didn't think life can actually not get better.

    I don't exactly yet know why I enrolled in nursing. Perhaps I, like many others in my generation, want to work abroad. Maybe that was my original motivation. But now the thought doesn't encourage me at all. The only thing that inspires me a little is the idea that I can work as a nurse in Davao or Dumaguete in the future. (I really love those places. I wanted to study nursing in Davao because it was a new place for me, which means a new beginning in my life, a tabula rasa). Sadly, I was bound by circumstances to enroll here instead. Cebu, I lived here all my life. I'm trapped in the old patterns and habits and memories that I've built around it over the years. The feeling is sometimes suffocating.

    I miss it all... The music of Norah Jones as I drive along empty roads in the dead hour of the night, and at dawn, when I drive by McDonald's to order my breakfast. I miss the feeling of being secure, the feeling that you're on top of most people (a shocking revelation!).

    I pray I'll finally get over this someday. I hope I'll have a better life in the future.

    Sunday, September 04, 2005

    "How to be a good blogger"

    I found this very interesting and informative article on blogging by Teacher Sol, a US-based special education teacher:

    "How to be a good blogger"

    Another good article is Top 10 Weblog Ethics and Etiquette Tips by Sheila Ann Manuel Coggins which Teacher Sol referred to in her article.

    Yet another one is the PCIJ blog's Blogger's Code of Ethics.

    On an unrelated note, I really wish I can replace the template I'm currently using with something else. I mean, I like this template. It actually looks nice. But it's quite common. The templates in Blogger are quite common. I want something more unique. I wonder where I can find good templates that are free to download... Hehehe.

    Bisaya songs

    It's Sunday once again. I always look forward to this day of the week because it's the day when I get to hear Bisaya songs over the radio. My week is not complete without it (Most people would consider Sunday to be the first day of the week. For me, it's the other way around. Sunday to me feels like the last day of the week.)

    I really love Bisaya songs. To me, they really capture the spirit or the soul of the Cebuano or the Bisaya. When I listen to "Usahay" and "Matud Nila" for example, two of my most favorite Bisaya songs, I always think about our beaches and our islands. I always think about rice fields and nipa houses (or payag). I always imagine the singer of the song in a simple farmer's clothing, resting underneath a tree with a guitar in his arms. In other words, I think about the idyllic country life. It might sound funny, but those are the images that come to my mind as I listen to Bisaya songs.

    Bisaya songs also have a very romantic and sentimental quality. Many of the songs speak of unrequitted love, brokenheartedness, and hopes and dreams of the lover/s. They are often very passionate and sincere.


    Usahay nagadamgo aco,
    Nga ikaw ug aco nagcahigugmaay.
    Nganong damguhon ko ikaw?
    Damguhun sa kanunay sa acong camingau.
    Usahay nagamahay aco,
    Nganong nabuhi pa ning calibutan.
    Kay nganong gui tiau-tiauan ang gugma co canimo?
    Canimo da...

    Matud Nila

    Matud nila ako dili angay
    Nga mangmanggad sa imong gugma
    Matud nila ikaw dili malipay
    Kay ‘wa ako’y bahandi
    Nga kanimo igasa.

    Gungmang putli mao day pasalig
    Maoy bahanding labaw sa bulawan
    Matud nila kaanugon lamang
    Sa imong gugma ug paraig.


    Dili molubad kining pagbati
    Bisan sa unsa nga katarungan
    Kay unsa pay bili ning kinabuhi
    Kon sa gugma mo hinikawan.

    Ingna ko nga dili ka matuo
    Sa manga pagtamay kong naangkon
    Ingna ko nga dili mo kawangon
    Damgo ug pasalig sa gugma mo.


    Damgo ug pasalig sa gugma mo.

    How many of our songs today are like that? Perhaps none.

    When I listen to Bisaya music there's always a feeling of joy that wells up inside me. It's a kind of joy that one feels when one is attuned to one's ethnic identity.

    In addition to classics like "Usahay" and "Matud Nila", I also love "Ihilak", "Rosas Pandan", "Ikaduhang Bathala", "Dolor", "Lagkaw", "Balud", "Kamingaw Sa Payag", "Mibalik Ako". I don't like very much the songs of Yoyoy Villame, although they're funny sometimes.

    I really am fascinated by how our lolos and lolas before were able to come up with such deep and meaningful songs. I think that is the reason why until today they are being listened to, because of their quality. I hope more and more of us will learn to appreciate them. After all, they're our own music.

    Thursday, September 01, 2005

    Oration piece

    I didn't qualify as an orator. They were looking for someone who has tried at least once to deliver an oration in public.

    Anyway, this would've been my piece:

    What is education for?

    Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.

    I am here in front of you today to deliver a brief speech about education.

    Education, as we all know, is an overused topic. We all talk about it in school, at home, with friends, in society in general, and in the media. But how do we really understand education? Or, how do we view education?

    Well, most of us view education as a means or as a tool to attain certain, usually material, goals. We go to school to earn a diploma, or earn a degree so that we can find a good job or land on a good career someday, and then marry and build a good family. Some of us go to school to become lawyers, physicians and nurses, and engineers. These professions ensure a certain degree of material success. Nursing, for example, is taken by many as a career path because it is one of the "easier" ways by which one can work outside the country. In fact, more and more doctors today are studying nursing because they want to be able to work abroad.

    These goals are all very well and good. However, there's another view of education that I would like to encourage everyone to adopt, and that is the idealistic view of education. The idealistic view of education sees education as an end in itself. It sees learning as its own reward. It sees knowledge and wisdom as the ultimate prize for the battleground that is school.

    If we apply this view to our own life as students in this university, it means taking charge of our own education. It means controlling our own learning and intellectual growth, and not relying solely on our teachers and the school. It means measuring our own progress in education according to our own honest standards, and not merely the school's. For example, we may not get very satisfactory grades in a particular subject, but we make sure that we know everything there is to know about that subject. In other words, we are confident that we have mastered the subject, even though our grades may not reflect it.

    Now, we all know that college life is a struggle. There are many challenges and disappointments, many trials and difficulties, failures and discouragements. But these things are a part of our learning. If we face these challenges head on, rise from our difficulties and learn from our failures, we will grow in wisdom and build our character.

    If we look at our society today, we see crimes, we see corruption, we see incompetence in every level of public office. We see moral degeneration. We see poverty, and we see the exploitation of our environment. Therefore, society direly needs individuals who are sensitive and responsive to its (society's) needs. It needs independent and critical thinkers and persons of strong character and principle.

    By taking charge of our own education, by facing the challenges in school, and by going beyond the confines of our classrooms to enlarge the scope of our learning, we build character and we grow in knowledge and wisdom. We equip ourselves with these valuable tools so that when we go to the larger world outside college, which is the real world, we are ready and are able to respond to the needs of society.

    So, we must all ask ourselves: "What are we here in college for? What are our intentions, our aims, and our goals? Are we here merely to pass the exams, pass the requirements of our subjects, and meet the expectations of teachers and parents? In other words, are we here merely to survive college, so that we can have a diploma to show employers in order simply to get a decent job later on? Or are we here to take charge of our own education; to grow and mature as a person by growing in knowledge, wisdom, and character; to value learning for its own sake and learn to love it as a lifelong passion; and eventually use what knowledge and skills we have acquired with our respective fields to effect positive changes in society in our own way?"

    The choice is entirely up to us. Thank you.
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