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“Excellence is not optional”

Excellence is not optional. It is obligatory. Of all the homilies I’ve heard recently, these words left by a priest struck me the most. There is truth to it, isn’t there? As parents would want their infant children to grow up to be the best they can be, God created us expecting greatness from us. A song says “You raise me up to more than I can be.” It is therefore against God’s wishes or any parents’ that we remain complacent and be plagued with mediocrity.

At school, next to a diploma, it seems that it is all about excellence. Excellence is what students all endure sleepless nights and hard lessons for. However, some just simply remain a mere admirer and an aspirer whose words never go beyond “I wish.” Some settle for “that’s enough” and remain a dreamer.

Indeed, the pursuit of excellence is tough. We all know it so much so that sometimes we’re intimidated by it – scared even of failing to attain it.

But here is another thing I got from the homily. Excellence should not be looked at in the context of competition and outdoing one another. What then?

Just as it has been said that life is not measured in years but in deeds, it should not be a matter of who gets more medals of honor. It is simply striving to be the best we can be. We may never get to the point when we would become award winning musicians or Nobel Prize winners. But giving it all our best would surely make God smile. As we’ve surely all have heard, the journey is far more important than the destination.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

The indigent and their 15 seconds of fame

It is almost that time of the year when the next leaders of the country are to be seated at the throne. As we pass by dozens of streamers of electoral candidates, it is clear that the 2013 elections is looming. In the Philippines, it perhaps will not be surprising if we see another group of the country’s indigent citizens get their fifteen seconds of television exposure as part of the aspiring politicians’ campaign – they being the subject of the candidates’ platform.

Indeed, in a country where seeing more homeless people on the streets than working people with suits and brief cases, the approach at sympathy may possibly win the voters over as it becomes evident that there is a pressing need to help these people who compose a larger percentage of the country’s total population.

However, how ironic it is that these politicians have their advocacy lined up with helping the needy and yet spend millions on campaign advertisements for personal gain. The biggest spenders even make the headlines. Just 3 years ago, presidential candidate, Manny Villar was reported to have been among those who spent the most for their campaign.

While watching his TV advertisement, it can be seen that Villar is for the poor and projects an image of hope to them. The fact that he did not quite embody the pro poor image as he spent millions for a TV ad eludes the mind. I just wonder if he still continued his promise after not winning the highest seat in the government, which begs another question: is the election campaign all but a host of halfhearted advocacies?

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Movie review: The Impossible

It saddens me that I am compelled to write my first negative review about a movie I have just seen, even more so since research showed that it generally gained positive response from critics. It is the newly released movie of the  year next to Les Mis – The Impossible.

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Despite looking at this image cover of the home dvd we bought and being given a heads up about the film, it really nagged me later on what intrigued so much as to watch the movie. In fact, I could sum up the story in a sentence: An American family makes a mistake by going to Thailand as there should-have-been vacation turns into a nightmare by devastation brought about a tsunami, leaving them desperate in finding one another as they are separated in the midst of the calamity. And judging by the picture, it can be deduced that the family would end up finding each other at the end which accounts for the title -the impossible – since in such a devastating situation, it almost a miracle to be reunited with your love ones.

Now, it is understood that the movie could be forgiven for being predictable as it aims to make the viewer relate to the victims of a true tragedy. However, this flaw or disadvantage rather was aggravated if not helped by the slow pacing of the story. It was painful to watch – and I don’t mean that because of the characters’ plight. I was desperately waiting for something to happen – which didn’t come until after how many dragging minutes of close up shots of grief stricken expressions. Despite the attempt, I was more bored than close to tears. I finished the movie for the heck of it, although I was this close to ejecting the dvd after 15 minutes in the movie.

Maybe those who are interested of seeing real life moments captured would appreciate more than I who think that no matter how interesting or relevant the story is, it does not always guarantee that it will do for a movie.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect

After being blown away by the dramatic musical, Les Miserables, I was soon entertained by another yet comedic musical titled Pitch Perfect, starring Twilight’s Anna Kendrick (Jessica).

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Though it is somewhat reminiscent of other movies such as Sister Act 2 back in the 90s and Camp Rock, this movie offers a fresh take on the common plot of the aforementioned movies because of the astonishing musical numbers sung in a capella.

A Capella singing groups in a university eagerly set out to win the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella. Following formulaic tropes, there is an unbeatable champion whom a underdog group aims to dethrone. The unbeatable champion is The Trebblemakers, an all-male group, while those who aim to end The Trebblemakers’ winning streak is the all female group, The Bellas. The Bellas are criticized for doing the same, outdated repertoire over and over again. However, uptight group leader Aubrey ignores it and insists on keeping traditional songs alive. Things change when Beca (Kendrick) joins the group and later on manages to urge Aubrey to try something new.

The story is very predictable as it follows the same formula for most plots – the main characters start out with lame performances and in the end, gives a wow performance and takes home the trophy. However, its attempt at comedy is commendable despite a bit of crude humor; and the music is really something to hear.

It is a pleasure to hear voices blending and sound like they are accompanied when they are not. The fact that there is also dancing that does not take away the singers’ breaths is also a treat. I definitely think that all music lovers and perhaps those who aren’t will enjoy this film as much as I did.

Let me a share a video from our fellow choir from Pampanga, the Tarlac State University Chamber choir, singing a chorale version of Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” Enjoy

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Movie Review: Les Miserables

I was glad that my prior reluctance to watch the film, which was due to having heard that it was over two hours long and a musical set many years back, was not as strong as my curiosity: what is there in this story that has given birth to such wonderful and timeless songs as I Dreamed a Dream and On My Own?

It is a story of redemption and the lengths people will go through for love and duty against the backdrop of the French Revolution.

At the center of the story are two men – Jean and Javert – who have crossed paths on the way to moral discovery. It is definitely the most intriguing concept of the film. The rest seem to be the stuff of what most Filipino movies are made of – love, situations of maltreatment, prostitution, swindlers, and lots of tears and drama.

Jean Valjean suffered a 19 year imprisonment sentence for no less than stealing a loaf of bread to feed his nephew. The unjust gravity of the misery he was put through for such a dismal cause only made him a wretched soul with hatred. But after being shown generosity and compassion by a bishop who gave him shelter once he was freed and from whom he still stole pieces of silver, he vowed to no longer be branded a thief and start over as an honest man. Unlike him, prison guard, Javert (Russell Crowe) does not the past stay in the past, and seeks to lock Jean once more in keeping with his civil duties – still believing that those who had done wrong should not be pardoned. After a few narrow escapes from Javert years later, Jean is finally given the opportunity to kill the man after him, but as he has vowed, he reconsiders killing Javert and lets him go. Jean’s kindness makes Javert unable to decide between his civil and moral duties. He has been pardoned by a man who had more reason not to pardon him. He is thus driven to commit suicide.

I’d have to say this is the first foreign film I have watched with too much drama which I thought only Filipinos could really pull off. It was something new to see for a foreign film. All this time I thought only Filipino actors can cry real tears. But watching Anne Hathaway’s heartbreaking performance of “I Dreamed a Dream,” I ate my words. It is definitely my favorite moment of the film. Moreover, the fact that the lines are sung and the emotions anchored in the melody and lyrics makes the movie a heart-tugging drama.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

A child, a drunk and a lie

A friend of mine just happened to snap my mind out of its idleness sometime this day when he said – in a conversation within the four corners of our university’s student publication office – there are only 2 honest people in the world: children and those who are drunk.

Without so much as a complicated reason, there seems to be a certain truth to this theory with children. They – being untainted as they are sheltered mostly by parents, as if to preserve the inherent goodness of man – are usually inclined to tell the truth, greatly being won over by a certain Jiminy cricket (the fabled embodiment of one’s conscience).

The drunk, on the other hand, seem to lose their consciousness of their actions by the dazed spell casted upon them after a couple of swigs of sinful liquor. I guess one could not really be held accountable for their actions if they themselves have no idea what they just have done or said. It is as if in a drunken state, one is completely freed of the reigns by logical reasoning which begs another question which underlies the whole point of this essay: How does a child and one whom have grown out of the sheltered phase (ages could vary) perceive a lie?

It seems that a child tells the truth because he has been taught that to lie is not a good thing. But an adult or grown up person has learned that there is a good and logical lie.  I guess this is where the concept of white lie stems. Sometimes it can be helped that we are given a reason to alter the truth, if not completely deviate from it. But it is a lie nonetheless. Given this, should it just be that the question asked is when is a lie good than is it bad?

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

On Rh Bill: Have you made up your mind?

I was browsing the net, typing in whatever word I could think of and an article titled “Why Ateneo theology prof quit over Rh Bill” caught my attention. (Did the title give you an itch of curiosity?)

I read the article because its message struck me as absurd yet understandable. Given that people associated with the church – the leaders, that is – have expressed opposition for the Rh Bill all the way, it is no wonder why a professor who in a way exercises the preaching duties of a priest in a classroom also has mutual feelings about the bill.

The article stated that a  number of Ateneans were in support of the bill. The professor was quoted in the article as he explains:

“Because of these realities, I believe that my service to the Church and my service to ADMU no longer coincide, and I believe that I can no longer share the path that ADMU has taken. Therefore I hereby resign both my teaching position and my tenure at ADMU Theology.”

Makes sense doesn’t it?

This article is a manifestation of how those who are adamant in their negative opinion of the bill and are against its passage, really have their judgments founded on the religious context.

The Rh Bill has been the subject of many debates now, but I have never expressed my opinion of it. I am in no position to be in support of or opposed to the passage of the bill simply because I have no inkling of the entirety of its terms. I, however, support the idea of it being “pro poor.” It has been a common argument that the passage of the bill would somehow be an antidote to the prevailing problem of poverty due to many family members whom the head of the family can barely support and sustain financially. I agree.

My mother argues that those in the church who are bound by vows of chastity have no idea how bad the situation is. Given man’s animal nature, how can “uncontrollable” urges be stopped?

However, being pro life is another matter. Now I end this post with a question to which I haven’t yet an answer: While debates are going on, some people are already making use of these contraceptive methods. What difference would the passage of the bill make?

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2013 in Uncategorized