(Note: "Barong" is pronounced "bah-RONG," and "sarong" is properly pronounced "SAH-rong" in Malaysia, where it is worn by both men and women.)
In the 1930s, President Quezon proclaimed the barong the National Dress for men. In the 1950s, President Magsaysay began wearing the barong at all official government functions. Today, many businessmen in the Philippines prefer wearing a barong rather than a suit to business and formal social functions.
Well, now it seems Malaysia is heading in the same direction as well. Although the sarong-and-batik shirt combination is often worn at social functions, parliamentarians still wear the coat and tie during the day. But not anymore, if the Ministry of Culture will have its way.
There are two bands whose music squeezes my heart and makes me want to cry from joy and longing and missing: Counting Crows (August and Everything After) and the Eraserheads (first four albums). Those five albums defined my high school and college years and every time I listen to the songs from those albums, I've overcome by wave after wave of emotion-laden memory.
Today, Mike and I bought a copy of ULTRAELECTROMAGNETIC JAM, a tribute album of sorts to the E-heads. Various artists--from Kitchie Nadal to Sugarfree (of course) to Rico J. Puno--sing (mostly) Eraserheads classics in their respective styles.
There really is just no way to describe how verklempt E-heads songs make me feel. The album notes say it best: "Para kina Buddy, Ely, Marcus at Raimund--Maraming salamat sa walang humpay na ligaya!!!" High school and college: those eight years were some of the best of our lives--when we laughed the most and cried the most--and the E-heads gave us the perfect soundtrack. Salamat mga 'tol!
(Tribute concert bukas, U.P. Theater, siyempre!)
Salamat din kay Mr. Miyagi ... for making all of us want to be karate kids! :)
Anj alerted me a few days ago that Bagets, the classic Pinoy teen movie of the 80s, was showing on cable TV. I caught half of it, and it was a hilarious trip down memory lane to watch it again. Hahahahaha!!!!
Then today Mike and I watched The Breakfast Club again. I found it funny that I still remembered particular lines from the film! (Though I have watched it at least twice in the last ten years.) Mike and I were saying that it's high time that the movie be remade!
My absolute favorite Brat Pack movie of the 80s is St. Elmo's Fire, though that was a college movie rather than a high school movie. Among the true teenybopper films of that era, Some Kind of Wonderful was the one that made me swoon, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off was the one that I could watch again and again because it was so much fun. The "I can be loved by you" scene in Happy Together made me verklempt. And Karate Kid 2 (not the other ones!) made me want to live in Japan and learn the tea ceremony. Finally, though I didn't think Pretty in Pink was particularly brilliant, I did enjoy it because I found Andrew McCarthy cute.
I don't watch movies for teens now, so I don't know what the current crop of teen movies are like. But what I really loved about the 80s teen movies was that they gave kids a sense that, "Hey, at least someone understands me!"
Meanwhile ... would you believe ... The Breakfast Club is 20 years old?
Mike and I were enumerating the stars of those teen movies who are still big stars today. We thought of Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Tom Cruise, and Demi Moore. Emilio Estevez to a certain degree. Matthew Broderick because of his theater career and because of his wife. I also thought of Sean Penn (one of my favorite actors since The Falcon and the Snowman; I always knew he'd win an Oscar someday). Can you guys think of any others from that bunch who are still big stars today?
I often find, belatedly, that a thought has been germinating in my head for a long time, without my noticing it. The thought springs out at me only after it has appeared and reappeared in different forms, each time becoming more and more developed, and then I suddenly realize that a question I didn't even know I had been asking has been answered.
The thought I am referring to right now is the idea of VIRTUES. Around three years ago I read an article about youth culture in the US; the author interviewed several typical American university students: driven, well-rounded, competent .... But one thing the author noted was how none of them had a strong sense of VIRTUE, neither a sense of what it was nor a commitment to the development of virtue in their lives.
About two years ago I bought a book about Gerard Manley Hopkins. One thing that struck me was how Hopkins, and most Christian writers before him, seemed to have been so single-mindedly concern, because of their love for Christ, with the development of their soul, with the constant struggle to becoming more loving, more faithful, more temperate, more prudent ....
A few months ago, I was sharing with a colleague of mine my love for the tradition of the Church. "It's a sea, so deep, so wide, that can embrace all of us, of different personalities and persuasions," is about as articulate as I got. I couldn't put a finger on it, exactly, but I did know that quite often, when I read a text from a Doctor of the Church, or lines from one of the mystical saints, I would be struck by an incredibly profundity that I often found absent in much of the pop Christian "inspirational" literature that is so popular today. I just could not identify what it was that made that difference.
A few weeks ago, a colleague of mine was explaining to me that, inspired by Joseph Pieper, he had structured his Philosophy of Religion class along the themes of the cardinal and theological virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude; faith, hope, and love.
Today I came across this post while blog-hopping. And that's when the Eureka moment hit.
That's it!!! Thomisticguy hit it right on the head!!! In much of contemporary pop inspirational literature, so little, it seems, is dedicated to the difficult, arduous task of exercising one's soul through the development of virtue.
And I know exactly it is that which I thought had been missing ....
One of the greatest gifts I've received from my formation in Ignatian Spirituality is knowing how to do the Consciousness Examen. St. Ignatius of Loyola's recommended noon and evening prayer was not a bunch of words strung together, but a patient examination of one's relationship to God. The Examen has five steps:
- First, the prayer of gratitude. I enumerate in my mind all the blessings I have received from God since my last Examen. - Second, the prayer for light. After thanking God for all these graces, I pray for one additional grace: the grace--the Holy Spirit--to see myself as God sees me. - Third, the review. In step-by-step, chronological order, I go through each moment, each hour I have experienced since my last Examen and examine whether I have been growing closer to or farther away from God. I try to examine the patterns of my behavior and disposition, including and especially the patterns which are sinful and which harm my relationship with the Lord. - Fourth, contrition. For these patterns of sinfulness, I sincerely and sorrowfully ask God for forgiveness. - Fifth, hopeful resolution. I pray for the grace that these sinful patterns may diminish, and I ask the Lord to help my soul grow into the soul he wishes it to be.
To be done twice a day everyday.
The Examen is a spiritual exercise unto itself, methinks. The exercise of (through the Spirit of course) growing in Christ, of stretching one's soul, expanding one's heart for Christ, out of love for Christ, out of a desire that nothing in me--none of my vices--shall separate myself from Christ.
The mystics and the Church Doctors, were constantly, constantly stretching their souls. And it floors me when I read their witness.
I've been brushing up on my knowledge of Thomas Aquinas in preparation for a unit I'll be teaching in the coming months.
And I have to say ... despite the fact that his writings have barely any poetry in them ... I really love Aquinas. I don't like reading him, but, wow, his thoughts!!! Everything just becomes so beautifully simple, so elegantly clear with Aquinas! Moreso when I see just how contemporary he actually is, just how relevant he is today!
I have to say, it was my first encounters with Aquinas back in high school, actually, that laid to rest any doubts I had about the Faith. Maybe, without my realizing it, it was actually the Dumb Ox himself who led me indirectly to Philosophy.
My favorite movie this year is Millions. It was showing at the last European film festival, but if you weren't able to watch it you can catch it on DVD.
It's about two brothers in Britain who find about 230,000 pounds, and have just a few days to decide what to do with it before the UK begins using the Euro as its currency and all British pounds become demonitized. The elder brother Anthony (who's about twelve) wants to either invest it or spend it all, but young Damian (he looks seven in the film, though in the book he's about nine or ten) wants to give it to the poor, just like his heroes, the saints, did.
The film is witty, it's touching, it's bittersweet, it's feel-good without being sappy, it's intelligent (I always LOVE intelligent children's movies; and I love the way that British films portray children--always intelligent, never condescending). I loved the film immensely, and I just bought the book from Powerbooks. Both the book and screenplay were written by 24-Hour Party People screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce (the book was his first novel). The film was directed by the director of Trainspotting, Danny Boyle.
Because I'm teaching Philosophy of Religion this semester, I found the opening paragraphs of this post particularly amusing:
Bishop N. T. Wright tells how, when he was chaplain at Worcester College in Oxford, students would often come up to him and say, “Don’t expect to see much of me this term. I don’t believe in God.” Bishop Wright had a stock reply: “Oh, that’s interesting; which god is it you don’t believe in?”
This would usually lead into a few moments of conversation in which the student would talk about God and religion, after which Bishop Wright would reply, “Well, I’m not surprised you don’t believe in that god. I don’t believe in that god either.”
Brownpau posted a link to this article about how technology seems to have enslaved rather than liberated us.
If he hasn't read it yet, I'd like to send (if I had the money) the author of that article a copy of Josef Pieper's Leisure, the Basis of Culture. The most enlightening part of the book for me was when Pieper discussed acedia, translated into English as one of the seven deadly sins (which, my grade school CLE teacher told me, are sinful dispositions and not sins per se), sloth.
"Sloth" today connotes laziness. But Pieper points out that in Aquinas' time, acedia did not mean laziness but rather (and what follows is my interpretation, years after last having read the book), the inability to see the rightful relationship between work and leisure. Laziness was not the only manifestation of acedia, then. Working too much and only for its own sake was considered acedia as well. The inability to silently come in touch with one's inner self--one's spirit--is acedia also. When seen rightfully, work and leisure are meant to be directed towards the divine, such that authentic leisure is the celebration of the divine.
The Jesuit Volunteers Philippines are accepting applications for Batch 27! Details here. You have to between 18 and 35 years old (inclusive), single, a college graduate by April 2006, and physically, psychologically, and emotionally healthy.
I don't know anything about the guy being interviewed here, but I stumbled upon this webpage and some of the things he said resonate with some of the things I've been thinking about so I'll post some quotes here:
Many people assume that spirituality is about becoming emotionally intimate with God.
That's a naïve view of spirituality. What we're talking about is the Christian life. It's following Jesus. Spirituality is no different from what we've been doing for two thousand years just by going to church and receiving the sacraments, being baptized, learning to pray, and reading Scriptures rightly. It's just ordinary stuff.
This promise of intimacy is both right and wrong. There is an intimacy with God, but it's like any other intimacy; it's part of the fabric of your life. In marriage you don't feel intimate most of the time. Nor with a friend. Intimacy isn't primarily a mystical emotion. It's a way of life, a life of openness, honesty, a certain transparency....
... The New Age stuff is old age. It's been around for a long time. It's a cheap shortcut to—I guess we have to use the word—spirituality. It avoids the ordinary, the everyday, the physical, the material. It's a form of Gnosticism, and it has a terrific appeal because it's a spirituality that doesn't have anything to do with doing the dishes or changing diapers or going to work. There's not much integration with work, people, sin, trouble, inconvenience....
When we advertise the gospel in terms of the world's values, we lie to people. We lie to them, because this is a new life. It involves following Jesus. It involves the Cross. It involves death, an acceptable sacrifice. We give up our lives.
The Gospel of Mark is so graphic this way. The first half of the Gospel is Jesus showing people how to live. He's healing everybody. Then right in the middle, he shifts. He starts showing people how to die: 'Now that you've got a life, I'm going to show you how to give it up.' That's the whole spiritual life. It's learning how to die. And as you learn how to die, you start losing all your illusions, and you start being capable now of true intimacy and love.
It involves a kind of learned passivity, so that our primary mode of relationship is receiving, submitting, instead of giving and getting and doing. We don't do that very well. We're trained to be assertive, to get, to apply, or to consume and to perform.
Related: (I don't agree with her politics but ...) here's a beautiful reflection from the anchoress:
But offering oneself to be of use to the Lord should never be done lightly, for it is a grave offer. If you make the offer - if you, in gratitude or thanksgiving, or simply in fervent love - say “Lord, I love you, and yes, I want to serve you however you will use me....” be prepared to be taken up on it, and to be used, and used fully. To be fully used up. Yahweh is no God-of-half-measures, and if through the inspiration of the Spirit one feels inclined to make such an offering of oneself, one needs to understand - the Spirit is not inspiring you to make the gift, “just for today,” or “for as long as it is fun, or easy.”
We see this all the time - I think in some ways John Paul the Great is the perfect example of one who pledged himself to God and found himself used so thoroughly that by the time he died, there was truly nothing left for him to give. Ditto Billy Graham. Ditto Mother Theresa, and Teresa of Lisieux, and Cardinal John O’ Connor and so many others who, like the very first Chrisitians and Apostles, completely submitted to the Lord and allowed themselves to be used until they were used up. God CONSUMED them, body and soul, in a sort of terrible beauty. A “reverse Holy Communion” so to speak, wherein rather than Christ being consumed by them, they were consumed by him.
The idea of the consumer being consumed is not really so startling. Faith itself is a gift. The burning need to serve is also a gift, one the Spirit gives to you - one you give back to God in return. St. Paul tells us that a gift, once given by God, is irrevocable; it is always there. But sometimes we frail humans lose touch with it, or forget that our “gift” or wish to give to God came first, via a gift of faith. I think there can be perhaps nothing so difficult as believing and yet being weary, being called and yet feeling unworthy or unfit for the job. We forget that ministry in Christ (both ordained or lay) is never about worthiness, for none of us are worthy: it is wholly about WILLINGNESS....
I wonder how many of us are really willing to endure it - the consumption of Christ?
God gives the gift of faith, some folks give it back in service. God tells us “take and consume,” some give their lives back in return, saying, “Lord, take and consume,” it is an endless give-and-take, and a very great mystery of love.
So today, one of the last few days of the sembreak, I read some old favorite blogs that I haven't looked at in months, looked at some new ones, and finally decided to write a blog post of my own again. I'll have been a blogger for four years this month, and a blog reader for longer than that (back when people were still debating whether "blog" was an accurate term for an "online journal.")
Well, I came across this post from lia bulaong and it got me reflecting about my own changing relationship with my blog and how it's changed from spilling everything to spilling very little to long silences that coincide, as a matter of fact, with those times in my life when a lot is happening in my private life.
Wala lang, interesting lang. (More reflections about it here.)
We are the first generation of web-loggers. Years ago we freaked out about the possibility of our parents or siblings reading our blogs. And with sites like this, won't it be interesting when our children or grandchildren come up to us and say, "Lola, nahanap ko yung blog mo noong teenager ka pa!"
Ang sarap talaga sembreak, at ng extra-long weekend na sinundan ng isa pang long weekend!
So I've been bumming around and doing stuff I haven't been able to do during the regular sem ... like stay up late and sleep all day and finish an X-box game and catch up on friends' blogs (and now, actually post on my own blog)! Then last week I went to CDO to visit Angie and we went to Camiguin with a bunch of friends and friends of friends and friends of friends of friends.
And these are what I learned or relearned this week:
- Ang ganda talaga ng Pilipinas. I always say it when I take an out-of-Manila trip, but I never tire of saying it. Ang ganda talaga ng Pilipinas.
- I love Cebu Pacific! The plane to CDO was a brand new Airbus with incredibly spacious leg room. Saraaaap. - The world is very, very tiny. - Finally, Mike and I were saying that if we had to live in another city, we'd definitely consider Cagayan de Oro!