Thursday, January 29, 2009

revisiting Tolkien

For, like, the gazillionth time.

I do have new books, but one -- Not A Tame Lion, by, um, I forgot -- bored me to sleep. (It's an okay book, actually, but the frequent references to Aslan as the Lion of Judah kind of annoys me. Lewis already said that Aslan is not strictly Jesus reverse-personified and that Narnia wasn't meant to be an allegory, as allegory is scholarly defined. Any Lewis scholar ought to know that and respect that and not use the book for their own purposes.) The other -- a compilation of C. S Lewis' letters -- is too heavy to carry around.

So. I brought The Fellowship of the Ring to work.

Tolkien's foreword always makes me laugh. He wrote, "Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible, and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works..."

People do have different tastes. If I had my way, I would make everyone see why I love Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia so much until they start loving them too. But then I would have to explain and explain and end up writing something like Not A Tame Lion. And even then, I'm quite certain that I still wouldn't accomplish my goal.

People's likes and dislikes are governed to a great extent by the experiences they have been through, by the type of intellect they have (let me stress, "type," not level), and by the stage of life that they are in. C. S. Lewis once dedicated a Narnia book -- I think LWW -- to a girl named Lucy, for when she would be old enough to appreciate fairy tales again. (That must mean I am either very young or very old!)

Liking a particular author would depend, too, on whether one appreciates the range of the author's imagination and style. For example, I used to really like John Grisham's books, but I eventually felt that his cynical, world-weary storytelling was getting old. Dan Brown's books are truly exciting, but once you've read a couple, you don't need to be Nancy Drew to figure out that the least likely character to be a villain is the villain. On the flip side of the coin, Dick Francis' understated, very British manner of writing, of which I approve, would surely be found boring by many.

To each his own literary preference, then, and may the world never run out of our kind of storytellers.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

a window opens

Last Tuesday, I was set to travel to Dumaguete to fill in for two weeks for a friend who was working as a company physician there. I had looked forward to being in Dumaguete again, gaining some clinical experience, and earning a bit on the side, so it was a disappointment when the plan didn't fall through. There had been abrupt changes made in the arrangements that were just unacceptable, but it still felt like a loss.

However, the incident went on to prove a few cliches. After what happened in the week since then, I have had to agree -- if I hadn't before -- that, indeed, "God works in mysterious ways" and "when God closes a door, he opens a window."

First, on that same day, we received an unexpected visit from my sister. Lani dropped by Cebu on her way from Siargao to pick up her certificate of exemption from the Civil Service Exam but didn't tell us beforehand so that her visit would be a surprise. If I had gone to Dumaguete as scheduled, I wouldn't have been able to spend rare quality time with my sister.

Second, also that same Tuesday, I got a call from IWS. Jovil told me I could pick up my separation pay at the office and even chided me for not following it up, as if I wasn't interested. Oh, I was! It wasn't much, as I'd worked there for less than three months, but it was rather unexpected and very welcome (as it would go a long way to preventing my arrest for estafa, hahaha!)

Finally, last Thursday, I was invited to Intellicare for an interview, and I got accepted as a medical evaluator. Okay, so it isn't exactly an earth-shattering job, and my monthly income won't even approach that of, say, JoAnne, or Chofi, or even Brian or Tonet. But it's 8 hours only per day, and it's a non-toxic job, so I can brush up on my med books and the latest journals. (Naks! WHEN I WANT TO.) I get to live at home, which means less expenses, getting to spend lots of time with my parents, being here for Aivan (who is taking the ME boards this April), and my sick relatives can hit me up during evenings for a free consult. We've got WiFi at the office (which explains why I am able to write this post at 1o in the morning). Most of all, I get asked to fill in for the clinics, and I manage to gain a bit of experience that way.

Truly, "all things work for good..." (Romans 8:28)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Did you know...

... that Prince William's full style and title is "His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, Royal Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter" but that his callsign in the RAF was "Billy the Fish"?

(Wala lang! Learn something new every day.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

goat attempts to steal car

Once upon in a time in Nigeria (actually, just recently), two people attempted to steal a car. The police arrived just in time to prevent the theft. They gave chase to the two suspects, and one of them reportedly turned into a goat just before he was apprehended. (Read the full story.) The incident made the Nigerian papers, and from there it caught the attention of the rest of the world. (Photo by bugdog.)
My first instinct was to say, "What will they think of next?"

Three crucial points, however:

1. The Nigerian police actually managed to prevent the crime.
2. The Nigerian police actually got their man (or goat -- that is, if he really had turned into a goat, which is not impossible, this being a crazy world).
3. Who/whatever the Nigerian police may have actually apprehended, they held on to him/it.

Which -- may I remind those who roll their eyes at such "foolishness" -- is more than we can say for the law enforcement and justice systems here in the Philippines.

Case in point: One of my uncles was once arrested for selling drugs. He posted bail, and, just before he left the police precinct, he was given back the drugs they had confiscated, so he can sell it and thereby "bawi" his bail money. A few years later, they planted a stash of drugs in his house and arrested him. We know it was planted because the police "found" it outside his house in a location that just did not make sense. The judge eventually agreed and dismissed the case after my uncle had served a couple of years in prison. Hey, my uncle got his due, but what happens to all those corrupt policemen, not to mention the policemen (and I do know some) who actually sell the drugs themselves?

And let's not even get started on all the things that happen during elections.


Goats are suddenly starting to sound better, aren't they?

Ignorance may be reproachable, but corruption is just plain despicable.

* * * * * * *
Food for thought: if all the corrupt people in this country got turned into goats, how many people would actually be left to govern us?

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Imagine what it would be like if you had no arms and legs. Life would pretty much be pointless, wouldn't it? You can't brush your teeth, you can't hold someone's hand, you can't run along the beach...heck, getting up from bed would be a challenge, physically and emotionally. And when you get frustrated with your crappy life, you don't even have a wrist to slash. (Not that I'm encouraging it, but you know what I mean.)

Well, there are people who are born without limbs. And while we may think they're hopeless, some of them actually describe themselves as "happy." Watch three inspiring videos by clicking on the links below, and you'll realize that God has a plan for everyone, and that we don't necessarily need arms or legs to carry out His purpose. ('s really nice having them. Hehe! Whatever else I may lack, thank God it's not that. Again, this puts all our problems in perspective. It could so totally be worse.)

Nick Vujicic
Well Done Awards Part 1
Well Done Awards Part 2

* * *

By the way, one could also actually lose one's arms and legs. After a Pseudomonas urinary tract infection evolved to septicemia, a finalist in Brazil's Miss World pageant had to have her hands and feet cut off. There but for the grace of God go I. (And now she's left us. Sorry.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

onboard the MV Doulos...possibly for the last time

The MV Doulos is "the biggest floating library in the world" and is said to be "the world's oldest active ocean-faring passenger ship" (Doulos FAQ's HERE, Wikipedia article HERE). Whenever the ship docks in Cebu, I always look forward to browsing their shelves. The books on board range from fiction to inspirational books, stories for kids to do-it-yourself manuals, cookbooks and Bibles. Aside from books, Doulos (which is Greek for servant) also sells DVD's, CD's, bags and Doulos collectibles such as pens, mugs and wristbands.
MV Doulos is currently docked at Pier 2 (Cebu City). The ship is open to the public from 10 AM to 10 PM on Tuesdays to Saturdays, and from 2 PM to 10 PM on Sundays and Mondays. They charge a minimal entrance fee of P10, but children under age 16 can come in for free.
Here are some of the shots I took onboard:The ship is also a good place for enjoying the breeze in your face and looking out to the sea.From the deck, you can also observe port life as it happens below.I've had some great Doulos buys (Christian fiction for young adults, Narnia picture books and science booklets for kids) over the years, but my latest acquisition practically jumped off the shelves at me.
Doulos has an international crew, including a few Filipinos, who man the information booth, the cash registers and the snack bar. And run the ship, of course. All of them are volunteers, including the captain. And speaking of the snack bar, they sell enormous, tasty cookies at P18 each (a real bargain, considering those paper-thin cookies at coffee shops that cost P40 or more), a cup of ice cream is also P18, and you can have a raspberry or lemon juice at P12 per cup.
(Sorry. No food shots. I wolfed it down too fast.)
Wikipedia reports that this is Doulos' last world tour, and that she will be de-commissioned in 2010. I hope it isn't true, that she'll come back to Cebu for several more times before she gets pensioned off. But whatever happens, it's been a ship-life well lived.

Monday, January 19, 2009

the other faces of Sinulog

The Sinulog mardi gras is about pretty floats...
...and nonstop street dancing in the most shockingly colorful costumes.
But the dancers also get tired...
...and hungry.Speaking of hunger, those brown foam crabs look meaty......but the boys who carry them...
...are practically skin and bones.A dancer gets a retouch to stay pretty......but the everyday faces of these rugby boys aren't that much cleaner than they are now.There...I've bummed everyone out. :-)But with friends like these...not for long!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sinulog Saturday

When we arrived at the procession route, the sight of different vendors plying their wares immediately greeted us.
Shops along the route set up altars to the Sto. Nino -- the child Jesus.Most of the people who had gathered in crowds in P. del Rosario St. were eagerly awaiting the procession coming from the Basilica del Sto. Nino.Some weren't.We looked for the perfect spot to wait for the procession.And we learned a few random lessons along the way.
We finally found a good vantage point at the corner between the University of San Carlos and the Sto. Rosario Parish Church.We people-watched while waiting.There were a lot of people to watch.Aivan even found himself a few friends.Finally, the appearance of acolytes and knights heralded the coming of the procession.By the way, is it just me?Or do they somehow remind you of Antarctica? Probably just me.Although it was a cloudy and windy day, people made sure they protected themselves from the heat. Umbrellas, fans, hats...Fans-slash-hats...But some heads, you know... It would just be a shame if they were covered up.People carried their kids during the procession.Some carried Ninos.
In fact, there were so many kids and Ninos, some of them inevitably had identity crises.
The diversity of people present...
...was almost on the same level as the diversity of Nino costumes.A multitude of people passed us by, and I mean a multitude. Crowds this thick paraded on for more than an hour.However, the people on our part of the route -- including the professional photographers with all their intimidating gear -- were waiting for only one thing.And finally it came.
The Sto. Nino relic was flanked by priests, police and Army...and devotees, of course.It was time to join the procession. Devotees sang "Bato Balani sa Gugma" while walking and waved their arms during the chorus.Tired?But there's still the Sinulog Mardi Gras tomorrow! :-) Pit Senor everyone!