Sunday, March 26, 2017

Graduation, sorry no more traditional marching band, and other stuffs...


There'll be no marching band in this year's graduation ceremonies.For the last seven years I have been with the school, and the decades before that, the school has employed the community band to play and provide  accompaniment to the marches. I guess this tradition  showcased the musical talents of the Taytayenos especially those of Maestro Serving De Leon who wrote and composed the school hymn and Mabuhay ang Taytay and Maestro Fred Villanueva who composed the Mabuhay Rizal, both were Taytayenos and according to TES former music teacher were disciples of Maestro Lucio San Pedro. It's not just tradition, it's  about culture.


________________________________________

The school year will end in two weeks. I am excited about the summer vacation for the much needed break from the daily grind of teaching, paper works, and keeping the classroom in order. I think most teachers will agree with me when I say that the most stressful part of teaching is classroom management.

The classroom is composed of around fifty pupils from different backgrounds and keeping this menagerie of children in order requires so much energy and most of that energy is channeled in keeping the teachers' temper in control. So, don't judge a teacher when he or she is caught slapping a learner. I am not defending the act, but there are times when the teacher have had so much and temper flare up.

We are now in preparing for the graduation ceremonies. I could feel my pupils' excitement but at the same time I could also sense separation anxieties especially among the girls who it seems to be more affected by the impending dissolution of the class. They have been promising never ending friendship and even making pacts that they'll stick together into high school and so on.

I was telling my pupils that in a few months in high school they'll overcome this sense of loss and move on. They'll create new friends and get into deeper relationships and that the classmates they teased during their elem could grow up to be beautiful ladies and the bullies could end up wooing them and vice versa. I told stories from my experiences but I was booed and told that such things would never happen.


Though this is my seventh year in teaching and have had hundreds of pupils passed through my classes, I still feel a sense of sentimentalism, call it that, every time a class graduates. Every class is unique, they develop a corporate identity. I would not say that the last one is better than the others who have moved on, each is different, each has its own identity. I remember last year's class was composed of active pupils who participated in almost every school activities from cooking to singing and dancing and they have won many certificates while last last year's class was made up of athletes, while the current graduating class seemed to be timid and like to keep to themselves.

Like what happen every year, I told my pupils that in a few weeks. I may not be able to remember their names, and in a few months I may not even remember their faces and though we feel so close today, even familial, this will change and there'l come a time that they would even avoid their elementary teachers. 

Life goes on.




Sunday, March 19, 2017

Guilt for the unsaved, Sunday meanderings


I have seen people cry because their relatives and close friends do not belong to the same denomination or religion they belong to. 

They feel guilty because they have genuine love for their loved ones and it's really unthinkable to live in paradise while your children, or spouse , or friends are in hell in eternal torture from burning and swimming in sulfuric lava.

There also those who are concerned about their accountability because in the end, when things have come to its realization, they could be held liable for not sharing or convincing people around them to convert to their religion. Of course, the guilt is based on the premise that the only true religion, the only true church is the one that they belong to. 

It's futile to argue about the validity of this claim to exclusivity because almost all of the religion have an exclusivity clause. I am not thinking about Christianity and its thousand of sub-denominations that have their own exclusivity clauses, I'm talking about religions in general. I respect Holy Books but to talk about things, argues, explore reality, within the confine of the pages of these Holy Books is very restrictive and problematic, for me.  There will be no conversation but a one way spoon feeding of doctrines and dogmas.

Think about circumstances, forget yourself for once and pretend that you're someone else who is born in another country, grew up in another culture and belongs to another religion. Let's pretend that you're an average Filipino citizen, born in a Christian culture. You go to church regularly, you work honestly, and you live an average life like an average Filipino. 


Then a Muslim missionary knocked at your door and offered you Islam as the way to your soul's salvation and that Christianity is a false religion, Satan's creation to challenge the real and true religion. (Islam is the fastest growing religion today.) He is offering you a new way of life of devotion to Allah. You may raise your eyebrow because you grew up in a Christian community and is a practicing Christian and your perspective of things is very Christian. 

Christianity (and the church you belong to) is the only true church or true path to salvation because that's what is inculcated in you by your culture, your community, your family, your government and by social genetics. Your whole being is immersed in Christianity and to think apart from this perspective is (almost) incomprehensible, even unthinkable.

And you may be surprised that there are Islamic missionaries because you think Muslims proselytize by the sword or violence.  Your first reaction is hostile. You're instinct is to run or to pray out loud to invoke the power of the Holy Spirit to repel these enemies of the church. But then common sense and education got the better of you and you declined politely.

Of course chances are you will not take  these Muslim missionaries seriously and may even look at the them with suspicion and disdain. But when these missionaries start to open up with their goods and aids, doors would open.

Anyway, this is hypothetical but these missionary thing happen all the time. i think it's only the Buddhist who give shelp without attaching their religion to their charitable works. 

Millions of people who are born in different country, in different cultural setting, in different religious traditions, and in different circumstances in life. To think that God revealed himself to a particular race and that this particular revelation is the only true revelation and is the only true way to salvation (whatever that may mean but I am not inclined to think that souls are meant to walk on gold pavements and sing praises to God in eternity), I think misses the goodness in other people. (the inclusive may say, "Hey we see truth in their beliefs, it's juts that their's is not good enough, they fall short!"

I was reminded of a scene from the novel "To kill a mocking bird" where a white american drunk bum beleived himself to superior to a hard working black american because of his skin color. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Jimi Hendrix Sketch Epic saga


After sketching trees which got positive comments from FB friends I had this idea that I think I'm good enough to do portrait sketching. I mean how difficult would it be to transitions from drawing imaginary trees to drawing portraits of people.  
                                                                                                              At its basic elements pencil drawings is all about shapes and shades. I mean this is not water color or painting which requires heavy, heady stuffs like color theory and color mixing.                                                                                                                               So, I thought about it. First was the subject. Hendrix was the obvious choice because the guys had a vast influence on rock and blues music. Secondly, he had a colorful life.                            

Thirdly, the face is  iconic and very recognizable, at least to rock and blues music enthusiasts like me. Since I'm beginner, I thought of the grid method. I put a crisscrossing lines on the picture of Hendrix face and then put coordinates on it so that I could focus on the little things and not get overwhelmed by the details and to make it easier still.                                                                                                                                           I covered the part which I am not drawing, again, the purpose was to isolate the area and not let my wonder get overwhelmed. How difficult could it be when all I had to do was draw this little shapes and shades on this little boxes.                                                                                                           I was doing well in the first part, the neck and the lips. At least the sketch resembled that part of the face. I was positive that I would be able to do this. I am not aiming to copy a picture, what I'm after was the image or the semblance of a Hendrix. 

As the little boxes moved up to Hendrix's nose, I was stumped. How could I make Hendrix's nose appear. When I used borderline on the nose, it appeared cartoonish and looked weird. The human face had no lines, I was reminded of an on line teacher's lesson, most of the features on the face, especially the nose are defined by shadows or tones and not by lines. OK.






 This is the result of my effort.

Jimi Hendrix v.1 lookeslike a Neanderthal man.

 Hendrix v.2 looks like another Neanderthal man.

I guess no one gets it the first or the second time but definitely I will not stop until I get even just a semblance of Hendrix in my drawings. At least, the results are humanoids. hahahah


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Pencil drawing and why engage I in it, enjoying the moment of the here and now

I started sketching about a month ago. At first it was a way for me to visualize my bonsai material but as I progressed I realized that I enjoyed the art and have even watched lessons on you tube which is very helpful especially the lessons on principles of sketching. 

How does it benefit me?

no need to beat yourself in the head
I have the tendency to overthink. I think about work, future, family, religion etc.I guess everyone thinks about these thing and more and only the insane are exempt form these anxieties. and when I doodle and draw ( or play the guitar) these negative thoughts are replaced by something else, relaxed concentration. 

Another thing is that my pupils seemed to be impressed by my drawings. Of course they are easy to impress and I'm not fooling myself into thinking that I'm going to be a professional artist or something but impressing the pupils is an asset when it come to teaching MAPEH. I gained more authority, another way to put it.


Now, whether I'm good at it or not, is a question I will not even entertain because once that thought entered my head the interest will be lost. I think the goal of an activity is to enjoy the moment and the journey, It should not to be about being good at it, or to be the best or not all, these thoughts are  joy killers and could be depressing if the expectations are not met. There are a lot of people who gave up what they are doing because they feel they are not good at it, or they loss enthusiasm because someone else is doing better than them, learning faster than them, or worse someone told them they are not good. But that should not be the case. It's all about enjoying the experience and cultivating the interest, nothing more.


I'm fascinated by trees
The best way to do it is to engage an activity with no expectations, nothing, tabula rasa, and from there discover from within if you're into it but don't give up just because you think you're not good at it. It's all about interest and your interest should not be frustrated by failed expectations.

How many times have we heard people say that the real race is against the self and not really against other people but to tell the truth, that is also bull. I mean, you don't have to have a race with anyone not even yourself, It's all about enjoying the moment.

I heard a music teacher say that the inner struggle of learning the classical guitar is the idea of not enjoying the here and the now of the moment. Joy is lost when the learner thinks that he/she should have been better now, should have improved but instead of thinking that way, why not enjoy the moment and the music.

So, don't punsih yourselves, do good and beautiful things because you enjoy and surely you'll be rewarded like I hope I would be, but then again, I set no expectations.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Meanderings on Religious Exclusivity


Put plainly, religious exclusivity is the belief that my religion is the only true religion and the others are bullshits. (Bullshit is a PC word compared to what preachers say about people who do not belong to their religions and the traditional nomenclatures they use ranges from infidels, condemned, pagan, unsaved, children of Satan, demons, witches, etc. :Bullshit" is way, way kinder than these terms and to think that some religions even behead people who do not subscribe to their beliefs. Definitely, bullshit is much better) . 

Another dogma of religious exclusivity is the conviction that only those who belong to my religion would go to paradise. Well, to tell the truth, not even all those who are in my religion would go to paradise because there's a selection process that the believers must go through like indoctrination, infant circumcision, prayers, pilgrimage, holy wars, etc. Even those who have participated and met these requisites do not automatically become saved, there is the other part, the inner conversion, the miraculous transformation of the believer, the spiritual thingy.

Now, if one sits down and give enough time and coffee  to think about it, it is obvious that religious exclusivity is one of the the roots of all evil. I would not even dare say it is religion because there are religions that would not even hurt an insect! 

Open your history books and you'll read that most of the man-made miseries in the world is caused by the idea of religious exclusivity. Even today, watching the current event in the Middles East I am inclined to think that this area of the world is in the dark age because the region is divided into religious factions each killing one another primarily because of the differences in the interpretation of their holy book and secondly because the schisms are being taken advantaged of by the Western primarily Christian part of the world to advance their interests. 

These fanatics that came from the same religious gene cannot coexist with one another because of the effing idea that heaven is reserved to the few. Pity the innocent and the decent people who simply want to live in peace but no, they must be converted.


The idea of exclusivity goes back to the primordial soup and the microbes. Microbes based their survival in one scientific principle of physics and that is "no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time". 

So, what the microbes do is multiply fast and produce enzyme or whatever you call these stuff they produce to displace another group of microbes. they congregate and those who are not within their congregation are displaced and then exterminated.

Exclusivity is a survival mechanism. It is built in to every living things' DNA from the microbes to Bill Gates. Animals form packs, herds, schools etc, to protect themselves from their predators and also these animal group protects themselves from their own kind in their struggle for food and territory. People are not that different, though we have evolved and transcended the animals' feral struggle for survival, yet exclusivity is still humanity's primary motivation for the struggle against each other though unlike the animals, people tend to cling to exclusivity more out of greed and not of need.

Socially, for us exclusivity is primarily genetics. We form group from families, to clans, to tribes, to nation from which sprung up belief system. Religion is nothing but an extension of the clan, the social family. 

One current proof of exclusivity  is what Trump is doing now.

It is understandable now why this idea is easily translatable into the beliefs or faiths. Religious exclusivity especially among the Abrahamic religion is primarily a survival mechanism which in the process of historical evolution has become the mechanism for oppression and control especially among its fundamentalist and fanatical adherents.



Monday, January 30, 2017

Rapture and why I'm not bothered by it / Missu

Our imaginings is correlated to our world view.
The thought of the elect being lifted up to heaven to be met by the heavenly host is a powerful image for the Christians. This is what the elect hope for; this is the eschaton, the final event in the drama, the climax, the be and all of the faith, to be judged and to be deemed deserving of Heaven and all its glory and reward. Immortality! To infinity and beyond!

I have been looking forward to the rapture since I was converted, but upon becoming an adult, the excitement fizzled. Since then I have not lost sleep over it. As a child who was bombarded by eschatology at a young age, like most church kids, I guess,  rapture became one of those things that may not come in my lifetime like the millions other Christians who have died in anticipation of the second coming from 33AD to the present, 2017 CE. 

I have come to the to the conclusion that when it happens, it will happen, no need to lose sleep over it. Relax and plant apples as Luther advised. It’s like an earthquake (the biblical analogy is thief but there are burglar alarms and CCTV now, so an earthquake is better) if it will occur, it will, nothing we can do about it, but we can prepare for it or if one is rich enough he/she can can go live in a space station where there's no earthquake, but better be prepared for radiations. 

But it is easier to prepare for the rapture than for an earthquake. There's a formula: have faith, pray the "prayer" with tears if possible, go to  church, be a model citizen, etc., the whole ethics thing. I'm talking about the method, as to the execution, I mean, from experience, waking up on Sundays to go to church is one hell of an ordeal. 

Anyway...


I mean, this is an alternate take on it.
Another things is the idea of exclusivity. If the Roman Catholics believed that they are the elect and it so happens that they are, doesn't bother me a bit if they all go levitating towards the heaven. I'll be happy for them, maybe I'd catch a Jimi Hendrix performance with 99% people condemned to hell.

I mean, there a lot of us who will be left behind like the Mohammedans, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, Baptists, Methodists, etc. It could go other ways, anyways, like maybe it's the INC, or the ADD, or the Baptists, the evangelicals which ever way. But exclusivity dictates that only a group will go to heaven and to meet the Creator in rapture. If the heavenly plan is to save the world but  only about.001% of the world's population responded to the call and the 99.99% condemned, doesn't bother me at all. What is bothering is to see children dying because of wars, poverty, catastrophes, terrorism, religious fanaticism or fundamentalism, global warming, etc. 

Anyway...

We are in the information and communication technology age
an update of the image of rapture would be in digital format.
My imagination runs wild whenever the idea of rapture is mentioned behind the pulpit. Would the elect be literally or physically lifted up to heavens in flesh and blood? How about those who are inside buildings, wouldn’t the roof prevent them from hovering up?  Their faces being squashed by the levitating force versus the solidity of the ceilings , etc.

Of course it could be that elect will become porous like Flash who has the ability to go through walls by vibrating his molecules at a certain frequency blah, blah, blah This could very well be, the atom of elect's physical bodies' vibrating through some mystical divine physics are able to pass through material obstacles, even lead lined ceilings like in nuclear missile control centers, there are elects there, surely.

Or the elect could be teleported a la Star Trek. Picture you are talking to friend, who is an elect (of course you already know that because he belongs to a certain church), and then the rapture occurred, suddenly he is disintegrating before your eyes as molecules and atoms in binary bits vaping into God knows where. I guess the heavenly host could use quantum entanglement principle in using this method.

I am not making fun of any doctrines here but these are the actual thought process that happens in my head during sermons. I try to turn it off but there’s no switch.

But has anybody theologized or theorized about the rapture methods? Naahhhh…I guess it’s useless to speculate about these things.

Of course to the reverends, these are childish stuffs because for them what the Bible says, is what the Bible say. I mean they are not enamored by the idea of splitting atoms and manipulating the time-space fabric. They are more into the adult and spiritually important matter like splicing the soul from the spirit.

By the way, I'm a Southern Baptist, I just like to make fun of these things. Hehehehee

 ___________________________________


Okay. Read the analyses and have even given my own take on the Q and A to add to the multitudes of armchair beauty experts, like me. I guess it’s easy and natural to analyse and give opinions about what happened in hindsight, it’s easy to fault Maxine, our Miss Universe bet. But after the initial moments of disappointment, when the smoke cleared up, she is still our Miss Universe and she did her best. If I were in her shoes, I would be still thinking about the last words of the question, my head still conjuring up thoughts and words to express them, I think I would have only said “Bonsai” before the timer rang.



What is the mark of the beast? Is it 666, or 777, or SSS? What numeric symbols will Satan use, Hindu-Arabic? Jewish? Greek? Chinese?

One thing that makes my head paused and then grind is when I hear a preacher talk about numbers. There’s the fear that the social security number, credit card number, the HUMID card, etc. are omens of the end of days and that these numbers are evil because it portends the arrival of the beast. In the preacher's belief, these numbers are the precursor to the mark of the beast, the dreaded 666.

The dreaded mark

Try as hard as I can to switch off my critical thinking head (or Satan’s voice) I cannot help but think.

Christianity has its own numerology, the belief that numbers have mystical relationship with the divine. 

There are a lot of numbers mentioned in the Bible and some of them are:



3 for resurrection, trinity
4 for the four corners of the earth
6 for imperfection
7 for the seven days of creation/perfection.
12 for the twelve tribes
40 for the forty days after Jesus rose from the dead
And so on.

These numbers have been studied, decoded and interpreted by laymen and scholars of all  ages and theological persuasions. Because these numbers have been granted mystical and spiritual meanings, not by the Scripture itself but by the interpreters and the mystics, it sprouted mysticism and superstitions. But I would leave it at that. If you’re interested about what these numbers mean and the mysteries behind them, try Wikipedia for a start. I will not dwell on the numerology, instead I will ask some basic linguistic questions especially about the mark of the beast, the dreaded 666.

First is it the number, the literal figure or the concept behind the number that really matters.

Numbers are symbols which in themselves are meaningless. Think of it as a currency or money that we use to exchange ideas instead of merchandise. Whatever the origins of these symbols are doesn’t really matter in the discussion, but the fact is that they exist and they are part of our language and for each symbols, through social agreement or laws, etc. are assigned values. So, like currencies, its value is limited to those who are participants in these agreement of value assignments and naturally, like currencies, these numerical symbols have no meaning to the people who does not recognize or assign value to these figures, they are not participant to the language game (Wittgenstein).

1. In what language was the Bible written?

The Old Testament is written in Hebrew. So, what are the numerical symbols in Hebrew?


Let us see the chart below:





Supposed Satan and his cohorts arrived and started stamping people with the figures resembling that of 777, which is really 666 in Hebrew, the language the OT was written, which on the other hand corresponds to the number of perfection in our modern numeric system as written in the English Bibles. How should the common non-Hebrew literate Christians respond? I mean, I hope they would not line up to be marked because they have been told that 7 is God’s number!

Of course, since the Bible is pretty old, these numeric symbols maybe different from the chart, it could be similar to number 4, who cares, but the idea is there. Is it about the actual number or is it the concept, the idea behind it?

Lets try the Greek, the language of the New Testament.




According to the Greek chart, the equivalent of the Hindu-Arabic 6 is similar to our “s”. So, when the beast and his cohorts arrives and started stamping people with SSS or what looks like it, what should be the response since it is really 666 but the Beast ,because he’s Satan and he's smart and found a way to get around the number rules, used the Greek numeric symbol to dupe Christians into being stamped because they have been brainwashed to fear the Hindu-Arabic  number 666.

The argument could go on using the same line of reasoning, should the Chinese watch out for 666 or Chinese characters corresponding to the number 666, the Japanese, Koreans, Thais, and other people that do not use the English alphabet and the Hindu-Arabi numeral system.

Of course, it could be argued that since the Hindu-Arabic is what is commonly used in the world especially in transactions, it is only logical that 666 would be used. But then this proves that it is not the literal symbol, number, that really counts, because the original number is written in Hebrew or Greek or Aramaic which is translated into the Hindu-Arabic characters, then it is all about the idea behind the number. I mean, I could go on…but do the math.

Of course there's a real, factual, historical explanation for the number 666. Well, you dont have to go to the library and take out a tome about it, just google it.

Now, am I the only who have asked these questions. I supposed not...But personally, whether it is 666, 777, 888, 999...doesn't matter personally to me. Evil is not as mysterious as some would have it, evil  does not have the need for mystery. It is out there in the glaring light of daylight and the dark of night, identifiable by the naked eye and by the blind, slavery, war, poverty, apathy, religious fanaticism, bigotry, etc.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Firecracker names and what they say...


The year 2016 is about to end and I'm thinking about something to blog about. It's been a long time since I have blogged about something (or nothing) and I don't how to start the ball rolling again.



Anyway, I have noticed that yearly the amount of firecrackers are decreasing. I remember about two decades ago when my friends and I would start the new year revelry early by firing off firecrackers as early as September but compared to now, it's only a few hours before new year's eve when the intermittent explosion could be heard. Of course, I'm talking about our neighborhood and the case may be the opposite with others. 

But on the other hand, the size and the power of today's firecrackers has evolved to the weapon's grade level, which according to some police officers, is comparable to improvised explosive devices (IED) used by terrorists. Legally,  firecrackers should not exceed the 0.2 grams gunpowder limit allowed by RA 7183 and firecrackers that exceed this limit is illegal and should be confiscated by the Police but judging from the size and power of the new generation of firecrackers, it's obvious that they contain more than the 1.3 tablespoon limit. 

Anyway, the branding of these super-firecrackers is something to think about. It's sick, funny kind of sick, really, because most of these brands are named after the hottest issues of the day from supertayhpoons, sports, to local and international politics. When Bin Laden was the most wanted man by the US, a firecracker was named after him, then there's Manny Pacquiao to pay tribute to the pambansang kamao; Yolanda after the supertyphoon, Napoles and now Goodbye Delima. There was even a "Crying Bading" which smacks of homophobia.


What do these brand say? (to justify the title of the post). Nothing. I guess the manufacturers of these firecrackers think that the best way to end the year is to blast these issues into smithereens, with the exception of Manny Pacquiao, of course. Or they think they are just being funny.

When I was teenager, I used to love firecrackers and the noise of new years eve. Heck, we used to fire my father's 5 inch GI pipe "kalburo" (smelled like rotten eggs) powered canon which used to knock out our neighbor's fluorescent lamp because of the vibrations it created. It also used to knock off the roosting chickens in our talisay trees. My friends and I loved that cannon and we used to fantasize that we were firing a 150 mm howitzer by putting cans and coconut on its nuzzles as projectiles, unfortunately it got rusted and I had it sold to the junk shop.

But now I'm older, I guess my eardrums got sensitive because of age hehehehe. God, how I wish that we celebrate the changing of the year in total silence, in reflection.