14 days

random rumination number 14 - faith and spirituality
i am a pastor's kid. which me makes me less proud of and doubly embarrassed by the fact that i have not gone to church in more than 10 years. the last time i actually attended a service was when i was in singapore in 1997. my freshman year in UP was a period of transition for my life as a christian. i have long had issues with religion and the church, but only found the opportunity to express my doubts when i had sunday affairs with ROTC, rather than with sunday school. but my parents noticed that i skipped church altogether even during summer. in the beginning, my mom or my dad would speak to me about my non-appearance at church, and i often just ignored them on the subject, until i engaged them in debate. they slowly grew tired of reminding me about my religious duties.

on my senior year at CAL, i took an autobiographical narrative writing class, and there, i managed to express my concerns and conflicting thoughts on my religion, and the fact that i was the son of a pastor. i submitted an essay called "the PK syndrome". in that very personal autobiographical narrative, i displayed laundry in public. i spoke in very severe terms about my embitterment over my father's chosen avocation. about my confusion why despite his avowed service to God, our life looked as if it were one abandoned by God. i scoffed at how my dad interpreted our plight as God-given trials. i was trying to make sense of the poverty and the sorry fate that had befallen a family that was guided by His teachings. i wouldn't say the essay was a testament to my skills as a writer, but it, along with another essay called "choices i make, and don't" (which i submitted in a separate creative writing class), showed the bitter honesty and stubborn sincerity that i had difficulty in expressing. surprisingly, my older brother found a copy of that essay and had it published in the church newsletter. i only found out when my mother and father told me about it. surprisingly, they didn't chide me for my thoughts. in fact, they felt the essay was something worth celebrating.

despite not having gone to church for this length of time, i still consider myself as a very spiritual person. i talk to God, on occasion. i prayed hardest while i was taking the bar. i pray each time i climb mountains, and the hardest of all when i thought i was lost on the summit of bulusan. i am not religious, but i have not lost faith. i am not an atheist, or an agnostic. i don't believe in whatever label one tends to attach to persons with certain convictions. yes, i am cynical about many things, including religion and how men have interpreted it.

i actually look forward to renewing my christian faith. when that would happen, i am not certain. i still have qualms about going to church to listen to a sermon and to singing songs of praise. i find it awkward and even a little silly, after the lapse of all these years. i feel that if going to church is such a chore or a burden, then i attend with some hesitation, so i am not completely there. i hope it becomes something that i'd actually look forward to, something that inspires excitement in my heart. i want my life to feel the touch of God's hand.

random rumination number 15 - family
no family is perfect, and mine is far, probably a few light years, from being ideal. my dad, like i've said, is a pastor. my mom is a housewife who is a magician around the kitchen and, despite her talents, has nearly no acumen for business. my eldest brother is a medical representative. he's married, and has an adopted son. my other older brother is an architect. he's getting married before this year ends. i have a younger sister, who works in a call center.

my dad is always a little over-reactive. his responses to ordinary things are often off-the-chart. sometimes i think he pretends that his hearing is failing, because he says he can't hear us when we're talking to him, but finds the television too loud even when the volume is down. he is, however, an amazing gardener; he as a very big and very green thumb, and can make anything grow. he was born in a farm. my mom, on the other hand, can cook anything. when reviewing for the bar depressed me and drove me to the edges of my sanity, she soothed my emotional bruises with dishes prepared with so much love. "i can't study for you anak," i remember her sharing. "other than praying, this is the only thing i can do."

my eldest brother used to be very bossy, and he wielded his order in the hierarchy with an irrationally heavy and authoritative hand. when i was younger, i really really hated him for that, because he had no logic at all: i'm right because i am the oldest. the essay "choices i make, and don't", was written after we had a fight. he's changed now. my other brother's dream is to become a comic book illustrator. he taught himself the art. he was always good at it, but his craft is so far improved now than many years ago. he's a visionary of an architect: forward-looking and imaginative, and was awarded a best thesis commendation for his proposal on setting up special effects studios in the philippines. i edited his report, and the page was bleeding with my corrections. i've been asked once if we lived in the same house, because he doesn't talk or sound like me. my sister works in a call center. she studied in UP but never finished. she started out as a hotel and restaurant administration student, but bombed out after failing math 17, not once, not twice, not three times. she failed a few other subjects too. she squandered her academic opportunities because she was lured very early into a barkada that didn't place too great a value on studies. and for that reason, our relationship isn't the same anymore. we used to fight a lot about her grades, partly because i paid for her tuition, and partly because i knew she was failing not because of any intellectual incompetence on her part, but only because she wasn't attending classes. when i lectured her about the value of a degree, she retorted: "bill gates never finished school." i was shocked. she's certainly not bill gates, or steve jobs. the logic fails me. eventually, her poor grades prevented her from enrolling, and she ended up quitting school (or getting kicked out, actually), earning by teaching visiting koreans english. i think she made quite a lot from that. but, since her english is just as good as mine, she eventually found her calling in a BPO.

when i was still a kid, i looked forward to the things we did together: going to luneta, riding bikes at the QC circle, going to cubao, eating out at jollibee, going to church, going to the beach, spending a day at wildlife, visiting the zoo. now that i am older, we've seldom done things as one whole unit. the last family picture was taken when i was maybe 10 or 11. i occasionally take my mom out to the grocery or to the mall. but i've never had meaningful conversations with anyone in my family recently. our eldest brother is the one who insists we do things together now. i think he's realized how important these things are.

my family may be far from perfect, but that doesn't mean i shouldn't do something to making it less imperfect.

random rumination number 16 - roots
each time i meet new people, the questions i find hardest to answer are those relating to where i am from. my dad is from davao. my mom is originally from pangasinan, although she's ilocano. her family relocated to dadiangas (now general santos) after the war. she and my dad met in zamboanga city while attending bible school. i was born there. but i grew up in quezon city. i can't say i'm from manila, because no one is. i can't say i'm either from davao, or zamboanga, or gensan, because i spent a negligible amount of time in those places to even know much about them. and even in manila, we've moved so many times, i really can't point to a specific community where i can truly say i am from. a former professor of mine may have captured it correctly when she said that she had no roots in the soil. in a way, so am i. i'm an orchid.
i sympathize with you. since we are christians, you as a christian or what we catholics call protestants and i as a catholic, we do worship in an organized church. we go through the rituals and the customs of our religion. and sometimes we dont agree in their stand regarding certain issues. eg i do not agree on the catholic church's stand on homosexuality and contraceptives. but through the years, i have managed to separate my personal faith with that of organized religion. i choose what to accept and what not to accept. it has made my faith in God stronger and more personal.

and that is why i agree that priests should be celibate. at least they can practice their vow of poverty without any children blaming them for being poor! LOL!