In a community where poverty lurks, where ignorance prevails, where government neglect is apparent, there are three symbols which people tend to look up to. There is crime, there is religion and there is ideology.
Ideology proclaims justice and competence. Religion promotes faith and perseverance. Crime on the other hand, while exceedingly outside the loop of what is basically a collective norm for purposes of order, promises food on the table. Ideology and religion are perceptibly matters within the purview of dream-like luxury while crime is the only option for survival. In a dirt poor community, one does not expect philosophy or sainthood but rather some form of hooliganism, bordering on terror. For those whose life is on the edge, there is no other remedy except to get what one wants “no matter what.” That mode exists only where gangsterism reigns. No other law, canon or otherwise, can serve to obstruct what is a must as far as living through is concerned.
Crime however is not a phenomenon existing in drainage. There are more of those low lifes who succeeded in ending up on the ladder of material surfeit and surplus. It is everywhere. It has even permeated the ranks of those espousing genuine ideology and has penetrated the positions in the hierarchy of the religious. It is so endemic, so common that one is even tempted to call it within the curve of normalcy.
When ideology ignores democratic space and would insist on its parochial application, it becomes a crime. When religion is conducted through bigotry and exploitation, it likewise is transformed into a crime. I have as yet to see crime becoming an ideology or religion. It is almost a pure science from whence all other fields fall under or would fall on.
It is therefore not surprising to note that in prison, where mostly guilty offenders are lumped, the attraction of ideological principles and religious rituals are almost automatic and understood. An ideologue need not bask and indulge in firebranding, a spiritual guru need not feign miraculous incidents, offenders are just too trusting to imbibe everything shown them. After all, these ideologues and religious personalities derive their comeuppance from those in the thick of crime.
Worst, ideology and religion serve as cover for crime. If crime means the creative and bold way of producing something through every means foul and fair. After all, there was crime even during the first evolution of mankind succeeded to birth the complicated generations that followed. It is religion and eventually ideology that defined the refinements and crudeness of civililization. It was however crime which served as their predicate.
Man’s quest for advancement has never been smooth and petrifying had their creative impulses not seen and even penalized as crimes.
Socrates, the father of philosophy, was sentenced to die, in his time, as an unrepentant criminal. And so are those who are now declared as heroes. Once before, Jesus Christ, Mohandas Gandhi, Jose Rizal, Karl Marx, Mao Zedong, St. Augustine, St. John, Ninoy Aquino…..and more were confirmed criminals. From their minds rose religion and ideology.
When a Catholic falls down the stairs, he picks himself up and says, “May nagawa akong masama siguro kaya sinapit ko yun.”
When a Moslem falls down the stairs, he picks himself up and says, “Karanasan ito, ano ba ang matutunan ko sa nangyari?”
When an Aglipayan falls down the stairs, he picks himself up and says, “Hindi maiwasan. Mabuti hindi ako napilay.”
When a born-again falls down the stairs, he picks himself up and says, “Sino sa inyo na nasa likuran ko ang tumulak?!”
It was about a month ago when a man from Compostela Valley felt that he needed to confess, so he went to his priest:
“Padre, patawarin na sana ako dahil nagkasala ako. Noong Matial Law may itinago akong tao sa aming kisame.”
“Bueno,” answered the priest, “hindi yan kasalanan.”
“Pero pinagbabayad ko siya buwan-buwan sa kada buwan ng pagtatago niya. Marami siyang pera at alahas na dala kasi.”
“Sabagay, hindi nga maganda yan, pero ginawa mo naman yun dahil gusto mo siyang iligtas.”
“Salamat po Padre, gumaan ang pakiramdam ko. Isa na lang po na katanungan.”
“Ano yun anak?”
“Sabihan ko po ba siya na tapos na ang Martial Law?”
A man sobering up from the night before is sitting through the Sunday Mass, finding it long and boring. Still feeling hung over and tired, he finally nods off.
The preacher has been watching him all along, noticing his apparent hangover and is disgusted. At the end of the sermon, the priest decides to make an example of him.
He exclaimed to his congregation, “Ang lahat na may gustong pumunta sa Kalangitan ay tumayo nga lang!”
The whole room stands up except, of course, the sleeping man. Thereafter, they all sat down.
Then the priest says even more loudly, “Yun naman gusto sa impierno, tumayo nga!”
The weary man catching only the last part, groggily stands up, only to find that he’s the only one standing among the faithful.
Confused and embarrassed he says, “Hindi ko po alam kung ano ang binoboto natin dito Padre, pero sa tingin ko tayong dalawa lang ang nakatayo dito!”
The Pastor just had all of his remaining teeth pulled and new dentures were being made.
The first Sunday, he only preached 10 minutes.
The second Sunday, he preached only 20 minutes.
But, on the third Sunday, he preached 1 hour and 30 minutes.
When asked about this by some of the congregation, he responded this way.
“Yung unang lingo, masakit ang gilagid ko kaya mahirap magsalita. Yung ikalawang linggo naman, masakit ang pustiso ko,” the Pastor explained.
“Pero,” the Pastor continued, “nung ikatlong linggo na, nagkamali ako ng dampot, yung pustiso ng asawa ko naisuot ko, kaya ayun, halos hindi na ako mahinto sa pagsasalita!”
An aging priest was dying. He sent a message for his accountant and his lawyer, both church members, to come to his home.
When they arrived, they were ushered up to his bedroom. As they entered the room, the religious man held out his hands and motioned for them to sit on each side of the bed.
The dying preacher grasped their hands, sighed contentedly, smiled and stared at the ceiling. For a time, no one said anything.
Both the accountant and the lawyer were touched and flattered that the man of the cloth would ask them to be with him during his final moments. But they were also puzzled; the priest had never given them any indication that he particularly liked either of them. As a matter of fact, they both remembered his many unsavory and uncomfortable sermons about greed, covetousness and avaricious conduct that made them squirm in their seats.
Finally, the accountant said, “Padre, bakit po ninyo kami pinatawag?”
The dying priest mustered up his strength and then said with a weak voice, “Gusto ko kasi mangyari ang katulad sa Panginoon—namatay sa gitna ng dalawang magnanakaw.”
As Lito was approaching mid-60s, physically he was a mess. Not only was he going bald, but years of office work had given him a large pot belly. The last straw came when he asked a woman co-worker out on a date, she merely laughed at him. That does it, he decided. He started a whole new regimen. He attended aerobics classes, worked on weights and changed his diet. To top it all, he got an expensive hair transplant. In six months, he was a different man. As proof, he asked his female co-worker for a date, and this time she accepted.
There he was, all dressed up for the date, looking better than he ever was. He stood poised waiting for the arrival of his date, when a bolt of lightning struck him and knocked him off his feet. As he lay there almost consumed, he turned his eyes toward the heavens and asked, “Bakit po Panginoon? Sa dami ng pinagdanasan kong hirap para ayusin itsura ko, ganito pa nangyari sa akin?”
From above, there came a holy and reluctant voice, “Naku pasensiya na, hindi kita nakilala kasi.”
A man walking on the beach of Davao City was deep in prayer. Then God spoke to him saying that because he had always been faithful, one wish would be granted to him.
The man said he wanted a bridge to Singapore so he could drive there. God said his materialistic wish was too difficult and it takes too many natural resources and a lot of political compromises to undertake and that he should think of another wish.
The man thought for a time, then said he wished that he could understand his wife, know her feelings, what she wants and why she gives him the silent treatment and says nothing is wrong.
The Lord thought, then replied, “Ilang lanes ang gusto mo sa tulay, dalawahan o apatan?”
A kindergarten teacher gave her class a “show and tell” assignment of bringing something to represent their religion.
The first boy got in front of the class and said. “Ako ay si Ramon at isang Muslim and ito naman po ang urdu (small carpet used in praying.)”
The second boy got in front of the class and said, “Ako po si Buboy. Ako ay Katoliko at ito naman po ang krus.”
The third boy got in front of the class and said, “Ako naman po si Lito, isang Born Again. Ito naman po ang Donation Box.”
A well worn out one hundred peso bill and a badly battered twenty-five cent arrived at the Central Bank minting plant to be retired. As they moved along the conveyor belt to be burned and melted, they struck up a conversation.
The one-hundred peso bill reminisced about its travels all over the country. “Masarap din ang naging buhay ko. Nakarating ako kung saan-saan, sa Malls, sa Beach Resorts, sa mga ibat-ibang tourist spots at kilalang restaurants sa Manila, Cebu at Davao!”
“Wow!” said 25 cent. “Talagang napakasarap ng karanasan mo pala!”
“Ikaw naman brod,” says the hundred-peso bill, “saan ka naman nakarating sa buong buhay mo?”
25 cent replies, “Ah…ako naman ay naging matahimik ang buhay ko, kasi pa-ikot-ikot lang ako sa lahat ng simbahan sa buong pilipinas!”
One balmy day in the Visayas, a navy ship espied smoke coming from one of three huts in a small and uncharted island.
Upon arriving at the shore, they were met by a shipwreck survivor. He said, “Hayyy salamat at dumating kayo! Andito ako sa islang ito sa loob ng limang taon na!”
The captain replied., “Kung nag-iisa ka dito sa isla bakit meron ditong tatlong kubo?”
The survivor said, “Ah, eh, dun sa isa ako nakatira. Dung sa isa naman ako nagsisimba.”
“Eh, yung isang kubo na yun at na nasusunog pa?” asked the captain.
“Yung ang dati kong simbahan!”
Once I attended a church service and took note of what the parish priest intoned that day. He proclaimed: “Ang ating simbahan ay nalulungkot sa linggong ito matapos mabalitaan ang pagpanaw ng isa sa ating pinaka pipitagang kasamahan, si KAHIT SINO.”
The religious leader continued, “Ang pagkamatay ni KAHIT ay nagbigay ng isang patlang na mahirap punuan. Maraming taon siyang naglingkod sa atin at higit pa ang kanyang nagawa para sa lahat. Siya ay naroon kapag may dapat tapusin, sa pagtuturo, sa mga pulong, lagi siyang binabanggit. Kapag kinakailangan ang liderato siya ang palagiang sinasambit. Siya ang tinitingala bilang inspirasyon sa lahat ng magandang kaganapan.”
“Hindi na natin maririnig ang palagiang samo ng bawat isa na, “Si KAHIT SINO ang may kaya niyan.” “KAHIT SINO ang makakatapos at makakagawa niyan.”
“Wala na si KAHIT SINO. Wala na rin tayo maasahan pa.”
“Si KAHIT SINO ang lahat sa atin, ngunit siya ay wala na sa piling natin.”
“Kaya tandaan ninyo ito maigi mga kaibigan sa ating pamayanan, tayo na ang gaganap sa lahat na ng bagay at suliraning darating, dahil wala na tayong ibang makukuha pa na katulad ng KAHIT SINO!”
The new prison chaplain in a penal colony spent the first week making personal visits to each of the prison dormitories inviting them to come to his service.
The following Sunday the chapel was all but empty. Accordingly, the priest placed a notice in the bulletin board stating that, because the chapel was dead, it was everyone’s duty to give it a decent burial. The funeral would be held the following Sunday afternoon, the notice said.
Morbidly curious, the entire prison population turned out for the “funeral.” In front of the pulpit, they saw closed coffin, smothered in flowers. After the religious leader delivered the eulogy, he opened the coffin and invited his congregation to come forward and pay their final respects for their dead church.
Filled with curiosity as to what would represent the corpse of a “dead church” all the people eagerly lined up to look in the coffin. Each “mourner” peeped into the coffin then quickly turned away with a guilty, sheepish look.
In the coffin, titled at the correct angle, was a large mirror.
Three pastors in Bulacan were having lunch in a high end restaurant at Mall of Asia.
One said, “Alam ninyo, mag iisang taon na pero hindi ko mabugaw ang pagdagsa ng paniki sa kisame ng simbahan ko. Ginawa ko na lahat—ingay, spray, pati pagdala ng pusa sa pugad nila—andun pa rin sila!”
Another said, “Hayyyy naku, Ganyan din sa amin. Daan-daan ang nakatira na sa kampanaryo at sa gilid ng aming kumbento. Pina-usukan ko na rin pero andun pa rin sila!”
The third said, “Ang ginawa ko naman ay ganito. Bininyagan ko silang lahat at ginawa kong membro ng simbahan. Mula noon hindi na sila bumalik!”
One day in the Garden of Eden, Eve calls out to God, “Panginoon ko, meron po akong problema!”
“Ano problema mo Eva?”
“Panginoon, alam ko na ako ay ginawa mo at binigyan ng magandang hardin and lahat nitong nag gagandahang mga hayop lalo na yung nakakatuwang ahas, pero hindi ako masaya.”
“Bakit naman Eva?” came the reply from above.
“Lagi po kasi akong nalulungkot.”
“Bueno Eva, meron akong solusyon diyan. Gagawa ako ng lalaki na makakasama mo.”
“Ano po yung lalaki Panginoon?”
“Ang lalaki ay isang nilalang na may diperensiya, na may masasamang ugali. Nagsisinungaling, nandaraya at mayabang. Bibigyan ka ng sakit ng ulo palagi. Pero siya naman ay mas malakas at mas mabilis sa iyo at hilig niyan ang gumala at manghuli ng kung ano-anong bagay na kakalibangan mo. Mukhang aanga-anga kung aangal ka. Pero gagawin ko siya para makontento ang pangangailangan mo sa ….ah katawan. Hindi yan pala-isip, puro away at laro lang yan. Hindi siya matalino kaya kakailanganin ka para makapag isip ng mabuti.”
“Mukhang okay po Panginoon, hehehe,” says Eve, with an ironically raised eyebrow. “Pero Panginoon, ano po ang kahinatnan niyan bandang huli?”
“Ah, gagawin ko siya para sa iyo sa isang kundisyon.”
“Ano po iyon Panginoon?”
“Gaya nga ng nasabi ko na siya ay mayabang at maka-sarili, kaya hayaan mo na lang na paniwalaan niya na siya ang una kong ginawa….tandaan mo yan, sikreto natin yan….babae sa babae!”
An atheist was spending a quiet day fishing in the shoreline of Matina, Davao City when suddenly he was attacked by a big crocodile. In one easy flip of the tail, the beast tossed him a hundred feet into the air. The monster then opened its mouth while waiting below to swallow the man.
As the man fell head over heels and started to glide down towards the open jaws of the ferocious beast, he cried out, “Diyos ko po! Tulungan ninyo ako!”
Suddenly, the scene froze in place. As the atheist hung in midair, a booming voice came out of the clouds and said, “Akala ko ba hindi ka naniniwala sa akin?!!!”
“Panginoon ko, kayo naman, pagbigyan ninyo na ako!” the man pleaded, “akala ko din po walang buwaya din dito.”
“Bueno,” said the Lord, “ngayon at naniniwala ka na, dapat maunawaan mo na hindi ako nagbibigay ng milagro para iiwas ka sa tiyak na kamatayan sa bunganga ng buwaya pero kaya ko naman baguhin ang puso at damdamin ng lahat ng nilalang. Ano ang gusto mong gawin ko?”
The atheist thinks for a minute and then says, “Panginoon, gawin po ninyo ang buwaya na maniwala din sa inyo po.”
The Lord replies, “Okay.”
The scene starts in motion again with the atheist falling towards the ravenous jaws of the ferocious beast. Then the giant crocodile folds his claws together and bent its big body as it knelt and prayed: “ Bless us oh Lord in this thy gift which we are about to receive from your bounty……”
Four Catholic ladies are having coffee together, discussing how important their children are. The first one tells her friends, “Ang anak ko ay isang pari. Kaya kung siya ay padating, ang lahat tinatawag siyang “Padre!”
The second Catholic woman chirps, “Ang anak ko ay Arsobispo kaya kapag siya dumadating ang mga tao ay bumabati ng “You Grace!”
The third Catholic woman says smugly, “Ayoko naman kayo pasikatan pero ang anak ko ay Kardinal kaya ang mga tao bumabati sa kanya na “Your Eminence!”
The fourth Catholic woman sips her coffee in silence. The first three women give her this sublte, “Eh ikaw naman mare…?”
“Ang anak ko ay kalalaya pa lang sa kulungan at tatad ng tatooo sa katawan at mukha, kaya pagdating niya ang mga tao ay napapasigaw ng “Oh my God!”
A lady approaches her priest and says, “Padre, meron po akong problema. May dalawa akong nagsasalitang parrots na parehong babae kaya lang isa lang ang sinasabi nila na paulit-ulit.”
“Ano yung sinasabi nila?” the priest inquires.
“Ang alam lang nilang sabihin ay, “Hi, kami ay pokpok, gusto ninyo kasiyahan?”
“Grabe naman, may kabastusan!” the priest exclaims, “pero may tugon ako sa ganyang suliranin. Dalhin ninyo yung parrots sa kumbento at doon isasama ko sila sa dalawang parrots ko na lalaki na tinuruan kong magdasal at magbasa ng Banal na Kasulatan. Ang parrots ko tyak na pahihintuin ang mga sinasabi niyan at sila ay matututong magdasal at sumamba.”
“Maraming salamat po Padre, hayyy, sa wakas.” The woman responds.
The next day, the woman brings her female parrots to the priest’s house. His two male parrots are holding rosary beads and praying in their cage. The lady puts her two female parrots in with the male parrots, and the female parrots say, “Hi, kami ay pokpok, gusto ninyo kasiyahan?”
One male parrot looks at the other male parrot and exclaims, “Itabi mo na ang ating Rosario. Dininig na ang ating dasal!
Two friends agreed to attend their respective church services. One was a Catholic, another a Moslem. They entered the Catholic church first.
Moslem: Pare, hindi ba natin iiwan ang sandals dito sa labas ng simbahan?
Catholic: Hindi na pare, delikado, baka mawala pa yan, isuot mo na lang.
The next day, they went to attend the services in the mosque. The Moslem took off his sandals and about to enter the place when the Catholic guy whispered to his friend.
Catholic: Hindi kaya mawala ang sapatos ko dito sa labas pare?
Moslem: Huwag kang mag-alala pare, wala ditong Katoliko!
A very religious man lived right next door to an atheist. The religious man prayed every single day and night, spending much time at church, while the atheist never even thought of such acts.
However, the atheist’s had a good life. An excellent, well-payed job, and a beautiful wife, lovely, healthy, children, whereas the religious man’s job was stressful and his wages were low, his wife was getting fatter every day ,and his kids were obnoxious, and non loving.
So one day, while deep into his regular prayer, he looked towards heaven and asked, “Panginoon ko, araw-araw pinupuri Kita, humihingi ako palagian ng gabay sa Iyo sa aking mga suliranin at kinukumpisal ko sa Iyo ang lahat ng aking pagkukulang at kasalanan. Ngunit ang kapitbahay ko ay nabibiyayaan, samantalang hindi ito naniniwala sa Iyo at hindi rin nagdarasal. Ang masakit nito ako pa ang naghihirap at naghihikahos. Bakit po ganun?”
A great voice bellowed out from above, “ KASI HINDI NIYA AKO INAABALA SA LAHAT NG PANAHON!”
There was some trouble in the computation of pledges in a village church that the parish deacon decided to to ask his pastoral leaders on basic math. There was a housewife, an accountant and lawyer. They were asked by the priest, “Ilan ang 2 + 2?
The housewife replies: “Apat po.”
The accountant, thinking that it was a trick, says: “Babalansehen ko po muna.”
The lawyer, stood up, went near the priest and whispered: “Ilan po ang gusto ninyo.”
General Fabian C. Ver was compelled to organize an intel division in his office but he must have to decide and pick a good soldier to be at his side. He required all commanders of his units to send in the best representatives that could be found. Three soldiers stood admirably out of hundreds of recommendees.
General Ver knew that the three soldiers performed well in a complicated exam and passed through the gauntlet of difficult exercises. He therefore decided to ask them a simple question instead.
Inside the grand office, General Ver sat on a chair in front of an oval tea table beside his desk. There was a vacant chair on which the applicant will use. This was for the General to observe the demeanor of his future aide de camp, his prospective confidante. The first soldier was ushered in.
General Ver: “Anak, ilan ang 1 plus 1?
First soldier: “Dalawa po Sir!”
General Ver, stood up to meet the next soldier and asked the same question.
Second soldier: “Bale po Sir, one for you and one for me.”
General Ver smiled and was silently impressed.
General Ver, personally accosted the third and on the way to the tea table asked the same question.
Third soldier: “Sir, ano po yan TWO, all for you Sir , bahala na po Sir kayo sa akin.”
General Ver shouted: SA WAKAS! IKAW ANG AKING HINAHANAP TALAGA!
Mandy is a 30-year old bachelor, unkempt, almost deprived of sanity, outwardly a homosexual, a beggar and a neighborhood nuisance. He stands taller than the regular guy in town, erect in his posture and walks with confidence except for the swaying hips. His being unkempt is almost expected since he evades his mother and escapes her attention by skipping meals and maternal care. His hair is already gray defying his youthful age. And he constantly moves around as if it is a sworn task.
One notices his stark departure from reality with his manners and routine. He would knock aggressively in one house after another while singing a song at the top of his voice. The homeowners accept his presence and would dole out a wrapped leftover food and he would be off to another house. It would be a customary part of the neighborhood to see and hear him. As a matter of fact, his voice could be arraigned along with the cock’s crow at dawn and the early morning pass over of the aerial spray plane. And for all the households in the area, there is always the usual small pack of provisions for Mandy to reduce the annoying sound he emits.
For newcomers, Mandy’s figure cuts a pathetic sight and his poise is fearsome once he trains his wailing vocal cords. The songs are the same—a birthday song and it is rendered in several decibels. His crackling version could be heard several meters, almost a kilometer away. That strong. It could even overcome the blasting sound of a firearm.
He lives in a shanty somewhere tucked in the plantation area. He may have been one of the children relocated sometime ago from one of the calamity struck areas of the province. From there he must have suffered a debilitating ailment that made his brain impossible to work normally. Although at close range, he speaks clearly. He pronounces his words, as in his songs, with patent clarity. Those completely psychotic would merely utter incomprehensible clatter. In his case, except for the loud and skewed delivery, the consonants are properly resonated. His case is not a hopeless one but his condition is.
For me such character is not unworthy of probing. They are a part of humanity after all. They may be dismissed as an unproductive sector, a burden even, a bothersome outline, without a numerical value, a useless component, a symbol signifying nothing. Yet, they can be found in street corners, along pedestrian lanes, marketplaces; they dot the urban and rural landscape. As a matter of fact, there are several Mandy’s everywhere. A philosopher once opined “God must have loved crazy people. He made a lot of them!” They come in different in styles. They are also described in so many ways. Some would label them “taong grasa”, “may tama”, “sira-ulo”, “baliw”, “tino-toyo”, etc. The vernacular is rich in names to be attributed to this special class of people.
Understandably, they are products of a cruel world. And since everyone is part of it, I for one, then we must bear in conscience the makings of these persons into what they have become.
There should be a religion to take care of them.
She was a blazing star, luminescent and full of life. She was born in one sunny afternoon of September 11, 1955, a Sunday, at St. Jude Hospital in Sampaloc, Manila and as soon as she began to walk, a couple of summers later, she was already reading and writing. As soon as she could define colors and numbers, she was into honing up on her reasoning. She was my younger and my only sister, Doris, already showing her genius at an early age. She was never ordinary despite her effort to remain one. She was always outstanding in every way she would turn herself. She was the center whenever challenge had been determined. She was almost a goddess, not only for us, members of her family, but in every organization where she would get involved with.
I remembered when we were in our teens and I was considering seriously entering a bicycle race. She took our bike and gave all the boys in the neighborhood a scary challenge. All of us were using a racing medium and there she was in a simple tool and at the end of the tour, she was almost in the lead. She complained to me later that her legs felt like it was as big as my torso already! We had a good laugh at that time but her girlish ways evolved into a fine lady of the academe. She never relished any activity where she would witness her brother to lose. But age caught up and we were separated not only in school but also in persuasion.
My sister wanted to study, to read books and show her mettle in the classroom. On the other hand, I would get into street corner bantering, read behavior and show my mettle in violence. She never had any occasion to see the streets. She was more at home in the library, accustomed in front of her class, confident in research and used to serious discussions. She was more familiar in theoretical analysis and quite poor in judging reality. She literally grew up appreciating concepts than ascertaining that which goes around her environment.
She accepted that which was always offered to her, she was a bit vulnerable and gullible at times, because everything to her was presumed as honestly and truthfully presented. She had no doubting bones, neither would she exhibit distrust. Every suggestion, every proposition she would deduce as something reliable and worth her faith. It was our mother who would caution her always; to thread the safe side. And worst, it would always fall on my lap when things would go haywire for her. For us, we would always give my sister that wide latitude of advantage and understanding because she was our front runner. She was in charge of winning for us and in school; she was literally always on top. That was indication that she was our leader and as such would demand a lot of support and assistance from us.
Her capability to focus was exemplary. The trouble however was that she would care little about herself whenever her mind was concentrated on something. She had difficulties in determining immediate reality and would always engage in intellectual examination. Everything for her must have to pass through a formula or else she would just ignore. Scholars had that attribute of snobbery and my sister was never an exception. As a matter of fact, she would diplomatically accept something but would rather do what would please her mind.
She was more prepared to live in the academe, preferring mind games and all the boring subjects stacked from one row to another. That was where her excitement manifested, to review, to assess and mentally apply theories. Going home or staying in her room was never in her itinerary. She hated the prospects of holidays and anything that disrupted school routine. She would consider her family and school as one and would interchange her concern and commitment as if there was no difference at all.
She inherited every gene from father, himself a true-blue academician. She loved her school so much that she had redesigned everything about her according to the standards of her organization.
Nothing can unsettle her except one occasion. This was when her school was proposed to be transferred to another country. She was a division head of Colombo Plan Staff College, a UN sponsored school for technician education. The planned relocation would necessitate her dislocation and those of her staff and worst, would send everyone in her organization scouring for employment. Nonetheless, she accepted the inevitable development and would prepare for the succeeding event. She encouraged her staff to take higher education, to complete graduate studies so that they all could have a second wind in another educational institution. My sister enrolled in a doctorate class and was too serious to get across and complete it in due time. Even at the height of her medication after undergoing a series of radiation exposure due to a debilitating ailment, she would listlessly burn the midnight oil so to speak.
She was about to publish all her notes, that which she used as transcript of her lectureships around the world. She was about to wind up her rendezvous with technician education and commence a new field in criminal justice administration when her time was up.
My sister, an extraordinary lady, capped an outstanding career in technology education, a brilliant student, a loving mother, a true friend and a great sibling. Her departure to another dimension had conferred on us a certain degree of prestige in Heaven and in History.
“Armageddon (from Ancient Greek: Ἁρμαγεδών Harmagedōn, Late Latin: Armagedōn) is, according to the Bible, the site of a battle during the end times, variously interpreted as either a literal or symbolic location. The term is also used in a generic sense to refer to any end of the world scenario.” (Reference: Wikipedia)
2012 in the Mayan (The Mayan civilization, it has been said is older than the Egyptian culture and was distinguished further as one civilization which has achieved a higher level of consciousness, much higher than the succeeding generation. It persihed and was wiped out however under conditions which still remained mysterious and unknown under present time) calendar spelled out the end of the world in no uncertain term. Clearly, Mayan astrologers, those priestly leaders and scientists, were convinced in their astrological equation that a year in the future will witness the convergence of different planetary allignment and climate changes that would wreck havoc on earth which would cause cataclismic violence destroying all forms of life and even the destruction of the planet itself. Eons ago, the Mayan projected with their calculations that the year 2012 will be “it.” (A movie was made inspired by this Mayan belief and it became a blockbuster for a time).
Months before 2012 augured, the world in the estimation of some people were miserably anticipating, nervously awaiting, praying, hoping, predicting for this unfortunate projection to fizzle out. 2012 came and it unfolded quite a sad storyline for some.
On a personal note and in my own timeline, 2012 indeed was an end in itself. For a close friend and ally, Romy Chavez, it was the termination of a long career in holding on as my loyal follower. He perished in a vehicular accident which he could have avoided. Then a few weeks later, I was informed that a school mate Atty. Ed Garcia, one who frequents my place, who would always consult me on some conflicts would succumbed to an ailment. Thereafter, I would hear that a childhood playmate,Sonny Miranda, one who would accompany me for years in street gallivanting, who would excite my dreary days with our regular exchanges of amusing antics, would also be claimed quite treacherously by a debilitating heart disease. All of them very important personalities in my lifetime adventure. They lent color, excitement, drama in all the significant episodes in my career, not to mention their influence on the greater environment where they choose to immerse. They were all good characters that do not deserve yet an exit in the drama of life. They chose the simple path of living along the fringes without excess or abuse.
The year 2012 however was no different from previous years as a matter of fact. Just like the periodic stretch that passed, it was also greeted by accidents and deaths. Calamities and mayhem. War and conflicts. Pain and suffering. Successes and failures. There would be no difference if one would use the standard yardstick of determining the rate of incidents in the trial balance of the universe. It was still a regular intrepid period for being born and passing away. Everything pulsated according to the usual paradigm of nature in the entire the galaxy of existence. Until something happens outside of providence.
It did not take long when the year would finally fold up when out of the blue I would receive a message that my only sister crossed over. It was never an accident. She was sick but all those who knew her believed that she would recover. She was a woman of substance, a lady with distinction, careful about everything she would offer to the world. She cared about humanity, she loved her family, she prayed fervently. More so, she was young and at the prime of her life. She was still expected to contribute more to the fullness of humanity. She had more grand plans and she loved every minute sharing what she had accumulated. She was a woman of her times. She will never fade, at least for a time, and she will not perish in an unlikely manner. She should and ought to be around. But for her (and those who love her), the Mayan prediction proved true.
It’s weird that we have to observe annually a day specific for the remembrance of our dearly departed—that is, every November 1. Some with entrepreneurial orientation would even cash in on said day by introducing masks of zombies, rubberized skeletal remains, plastic voodoo instruments and “fearful” props not in honor of the dead though but more on mocking their influence as they are recalled in their imagined state of deterioration.
The day is a mixture of deference and ridicule, on respect and travesty, on reverence and disregard. It is a day for reunion of those left behind, at times made as an occasion for some celebratory gathering. The atmosphere is festive to a certain extent. The point is to recall the presence of a loved one, recollect those deeds and significant influence, a reminiscence of accomplishment, an attempt to establish a kind of legacy which could never be forgotten.
Children were made up to look funny and amusing. The day has been commercialized. It has evolved into a circus where admiration of the person who crossed over has been relegated if not totally ignored in favor of mindless merriment. If at all there remains a memorial for their worthy presence sometime in the past to be recalled at present, it has virtually been erased and commemoration blithely discounted. As the saying goes, “let the dead bury the dead.” For the living, it is business as usual whatever is the date.
I have no argument for this development; neither would I express rancor nor sadness. I would rather throw myself in one corner, in an area where reclusiveness may be expressed, to remember my loved ones—they who made life an exciting journey not only for me but also for those whom they have offered much concern and attention. And it is not on a particular day but on any day their image may be recalled. A song may be played on the radio and I would be reminded on a particular person. My mother when she was still around would always sing a Timi Yuro hit. My father would rejoice whenever he played on our stereo some marching hymns. For every melody, I am reminded of a loved one, a number of close friends, relatives, even acquaintances.
When the Beatles’ songs are played, an array of memories would flow in continuous stream, evoking memoirs of those who have gone to life hereafter. There are also tunes coming from BeeGees, Elvis Presley, Motown hits and even those sang by the Big three Sullivan and Eddie Peregrina. Not to mention those wonderful music rendered by the Hotdogs, VST, Rico Puno, Freddie Aguilar, Ogie Alcasid to name a few. I am still checking whether there are memories hidden whenever the airwaves would play the song of Lady Gaga or the Oppa Gangnam Style!
For me it is not the day but the music that revives, that resurrects my dearly departed back to life. I dare say that it is also everyone’s silent repertoire whenever we wish to be with our loved ones—not missing nor gone to some places unknown but rather are actually residing in our hearts and minds.
Nakamura Sang (or Mister Nakamura) was a gentleman of the old school. He was trained as a stone mason and became eventually a school teacher in Nagoya,Japan. His life would take certain twists and turn until he would encounter a problem he never dreamt of occurring. And it happened in another country where he chose to reside. His romantic view of life would be shattered by treachery and distrust. But that is getting ahead of the story.
A flourishing business
Nakamura was a friend of a fellow Jap whom sometime ago I saved from embarrassment. He was brought to me for consultation. Accordingly, he was duped by his adopted assistant, whom he sent to school and designated as right hand in his marble business.
Earlier on, he was part of a company package tour to visit the Philippines and he was instantly impressed. The people were hospitable, the girls are beautiful and economic activity slow but rather inviting. He was estranged from his family and he needed a place where he could reinvent himself. Months later, he would visit the country once again, this time convinced that he would stay for good. He applied for the status of migrant and tried to be a regular guy on the block. He started out hanging with Jap mainstays and would eventually explore some commercial undertaking by himself. It was a very rewarding experience. He got more involved in industries especially in construction.
It was a successful enterprise since he was able to bag a contract supplying the granite tiles for Ninoy Aquino Airport Terminal 3. The business was flourishing and he could not ask for more. He eventually married a beautiful lass and had two wonderful children. He could not ask for more blessings. He was always feeling on top of the world. He was a fledging school master in Japan but in the Philippines, he was already an accomplished industrialist.
One day, while checking on the receipts, his usual tact to complete his day, he noticed something odd. His receipts have automatic carbon trace at the back so that if one reflects the amount on the covering sheet, a duplicate is made without the usual carbon paper. There on the duplicate sheet were scribbles. The handwriting was very familiar. A letter was written atop the receipt and it marked on the secondary sheet. It was not an ordinary correspondence—it was a love letter! And the handwriting was that of his wife. It was intended for his adopted and trusted aide. Nakamura felt the heavens dropped from above.
He checked the vault and it was empty. His wife was nowhere and so was his staff. He was downtrodden and almost at a loss. Worst, every important document, land titles, contracts, notes and related business permits were all gone. He felt he was burned down literally. He never knew where to start except to call for a friend. If he could not contact anyone, for him that was enough reason to end everything. But his kids were still around and he was doing everything for them. For him, life must go on if only for his children. More so, he loved his wife so much that he wanted to find her so that their children would still continue to lead a normal life. His adopted staff must therefore be punished to the fullest. That was his promise to himself.
My friend’s friend
His alarmed colleague immediately arrived and he took note of what happened. He suggested to his friend that he report what happened to him to the police but Nakamura had a different plan. He wanted to talk to someone who can pull the trigger to rub off the treacherous fellow who duped him. His friend called me up. I was at that time always being interviewed on television as government functionary in charge in the execution of convicts pursuant to death penalty. I was a veritable icon in the world of law enforcement.
Days later, the two foreigners would appear on my door step. There were two expressions I would meet. One was full of excitement, another was gloomy. I was surprised at their visit since it was just the break of dawn, still very early for any transaction.
My friend opened up, “My dear boss, how are you?! It has been a long time since we had that pizza pie in Ermita.” I replied, “Yes, it was a thousand years ago, as a matter of fact. “ I continued, “What brought you here at this very early time? If you think you are trying to be an early bird out to catch a worm, you are in the wrong place. You are now inside a cage!” My friend had a hearty laughter, well, except for his buddy whose face turned from gloom to murkiness.
“What’s up?!!!” I inquired, while ushering them into the living room of my humble officer’s quarters. I was always alone in that place. “Please sit down, and if you care to have coffee, a thermos for hot water and a sachet of coffee is just on top of my dining table. You can help yourself.”
“Thank you dear friend. We had enough coffee the entire night and we just waited for the break of day to see you and consult on certain matters. You see, my friend here was cheated. It’s sordid. His wife was kidnapped by his staff and all his savings and important papers were taken away, including his money.”
“That’s very unfortunate. Why not report this to the police? I can do it for you if you think it deserves proper law enforcement action. Or, better report this to your embassy. It will merit instant response.”
“You see my friend, my colleague here is confused. Even if he wanted to tell authorities on what happened, he had a different approach which he wanted to propose to you.”
“Okay then let me hear it.” I pulled a cigarette stick and lighted it to project a figure of toughness.
The victim started with a hoarse voice but his language was understandable anyway. “Sir, I want to punish the guy who run away with my wife….”
“Wait a minute, I thought that your wife was kidnapped?…”
“Well…sort of…my wife was nowhere and my staff was not in his usual place. Both should be there at home as it has always been that way for more than a year. I saw a letter written by my wife addressed to my staff and they planned to elope.”
“Okay then. So there was no kidnapping. There was mutual agreement to abandon you. So what do you intend to do, what is your proposal then?”
“Well, sir, I am thinking if it is possible to take down my staff for disloyalty and treachery.”
“Let us include your wife because they both committed the same offense to you.”
“But sir, I love my wife …..very much and I wanted her to return……. to me, for our….. kids. Without the bastard fellow she may eventually go back……. to me. I wanted the guy…… taken down! ” He sobbed in between each phrase.
“You see, I have men who take orders from me. But we are different from the rest of equalizers. We study the case first and if in our judgment, there is basis for the imposition of extreme penalty, then we suggest it. If the incident happened because you started it, then I am sorry. We will just sympathize with what happened to you as a consequence.”
“But I am willing to pay. You see, I have a lot of collectibles, except that most of my papers were displaced but I can have it reproduced later.”
“No, don’t get me wrong. I am not after your money. Well it is material but not for me. I would assign someone to take on the case and your money will be used by my agent to settle down away from the heat generated by the revenge. But before he hits, he gets his blessings first from me. I must hear his report on the case before any action is to commence. If in my analysis, extreme penalty is not just, then everything is terminated. I will just inform you that there is no basis for any action. By the way, why not forgive your transgressors. That way you save so much and you get an instant peace of mind. Let the heavens punish your offenders, some kind of karmic justice. Take another leaf and begin a new life, this time wiser and shrewder than before. It’s a lesson on maturity and strength of resolve.”
“I want the fellow dead my dear sir.”
“I can introduce you to my agent and you get instant answer based on what you want. The problem there is that once the money you gave is gone and he expects for more from you, chances are you will forever be giving him so much on threat that he might implicate you in all his song numbers.”
“I prefer to negotiate with you only sir.”
“Then live with my standards or you can look for any other fellow. There is a lot of unemployed looking for hit jobs; you will never find any difficulty at all.”
“Okay Sir, how do you deal with my problem first? I have here 35k only but later I could give you more. How much do you think I should pay your agent?”
“35k is enough. My agent will be too happy to slap the face of your errand boy!”
“35k is just a down payment sir. How much would it cost for the hit job?”
“The cost is somewhere between the value of that which was lost to you. If I were you, I will never even entertain the thought of losing so much. Begin anew. Start once again. There is a saying that life is better the second time around. Brace yourself for more challenges and yes, more pain ahead that is how life is. Of course, there is always a silver lining in every cloud. Take it as a lesson. You are strengthened every time you pass through a problem. Believe me. Revenge is never a sign of happiness. It is a prelude to a lonely life.”
Nakamura was splayed and speechless for a minute. He could not decide on what to do. He could not respond anymore. He looked confused but a bit refreshed. He conferred with his buddy and they had some arguments as they stood up to take coffee.
I observed how the two argued in their language. Nipongo was spoken with inflection and done in shrieking baritone even if what were spoken were mere friendly and conversational dialogues. I could just imagine when a Jap is praying. From a distance it would look as if they are scolding the deity on the altar. Now, I understand why Japan has no religion at all.
Then my early morning visitors stretched out and bided me goodbye. They promised to be back. I said, “Call me up first so that I would set a time for our meeting.” They bowed in a Jap way, nodded and slowly walked away.
That was the last time I heard of my Jap friends.