Sunday, March 29, 2009

[repeat] Angels & Demons [Dan Brown]

Not as fantabuluous (a term i hear from my mom) as TDVC (read the previous post), but great nonetheless. A must-read, if you ask me. You will learn a lot (as you would have with TDVC).

By the way, Angels & Demons is a prequel to TDVC, so if you read TDVC after A&D, you'll see some references to A&D. But, that is just a miniscule matter to the real deal.

If there was one thing with A&D (and perhaps TDVC also) that made me do, it was to post on my blog!

I read A&D within a span of probably... under 24 hours. I started reading it around Saturday midnight, slept at 5am, did my usual Sunday thangs, got back at it at around 10pm, slept at around 3am, and finished the thing for about an hour before work (I got to the office early) and within lunch time. I just can't put it down. (I heard myself say that for TDVC also, which I also finished just as fast.)

In a way, the implications of the point-of-conflict in A&D was as huge as that in Day After Tomorrow (2004 motion picture), I almost cried... Imagine that.

Anyhow, there were a few things worth mentioning from A&D.

First, the simpler of the two: "Sometimes our minds see what the heart wishes to be true." (or something like that) That struck me like lightning.

Second, there was this person asking me a question that goes something like "If God was a truly good, kind, and loving God, why does he let wars, sufferings, and the like happen to us and to the world?" Dan Brown had an answer to that. And it was similar to my answer to that person. Unfortunately, Dan Brown published A&D in 2000 , if I'm not mistaken, and I thought of that just last year. My answer, very similar to Dan Brown's, is this: "If you had a child (a son or daughter), would you make him stay at home so that he won't risk getting hurt or making mistakes? I will let him go out into the real world to make mistakes, and to learn, and to grow."

Hmmmm... That thought just made me think. (A thought that makes you think?) I would let my kid out into the real world for all of that, because I want him to experience the same things I have experienced in my life. And to me, those experiences are wonderful experiences! Could that mean, by analogy, that God himself have (or at least know very well) these experiences? I always say, experience is always better than book-based knowledge. Before getting into one commitment, I used to think that it would be all this and that, all easy-enough to handle. When I got into one, I learned a lot, and most of those I learned during that experience disproved many things I learned from books, stories, and words-of-mouth.

Now imagine this, I wrote all this (and I could write more) because of Angels & Demons, and The Da Vinci Code. Read them. I recommend TDVC first (because it's more interesting from the beginning pa lang). Meanwhile, I am still a Catholic. God bless, everyone!

-- ronjie ;-)

[sub-labels: CPC books]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

[thoughts] true for one, not necessarily true for all

this is an unsent reply to a friend who posted an e-mail (below) about how difficult is her experience with a certain type of employer...

the koreans i've met (outside of the country) are all very nice. this is just opinion but i think many koreans, japanese, chinese, americans, british, etc. people who set up their businesses here are generally like how you have described them. their being far away from their hometowns and having to work, work, work and meet the expectations of their superiors and peers back at home (i.e. they need to "prove" and/or "provide") puts a lot of pressure on them (and perhaps meanwhile they do not need to meet any kind of expectations to us here) and sometimes what happens is they "share" the pressure with the pinoys who work for them here. but i think this happens more here in our country (try working abroad in their country and i believe it is not like that at all). i think this happens because most filipinos allow it. it happens i think because we all need jobs and there are more filipinos than jobs so the competition for jobs is quite fierce. so, many resort to "accepting" these "unacceptable" practices by foreign employers. some people, just to keep their jobs, would accept very low salaries which in turn creates a ripple effect in the employment market. "accept this low salary under these very harsh conditions or don't get a job at all" is what is happening.

actually it's not just these foreigners who resort to such "unacceptable" practices. because pinoy employees "accept" these practices here, even some pinoy employers do the same things also.

to some of them, foreign or pinoy employers alike, they "cannot afford" employees taking a vacation leave; i.e. employees who are to them give high production output compared to their salaries. if they will hire a new person to replace you, those new employees would be paid less but their production output would not yet be so high as that you were providing. or, maybe their business will just come to a halt if you do go on a holiday - but they can't afford to pay you or treat you better even if you really deserved it, just so you won't want to go on a holiday.

i think the right thing for pinoys to do is to stop working for these employers who practice such "unacceptable" practices. i think God does not want us to be miserable in our jobs. if we were in miserable jobs, it is because it is our choice to stay there.

likewise, God does not want employers to do such "unacceptable" employment practices. but we can't do anything about others - what we can just do is when we are in that position, when we are the boss or the employer, we should remember what is good and what is not good, and do only what is good. that is actually even more difficult, without prayer and faith and friends (i.e. a community) who shares the same faith and prays for you.

a friend of a friend became a city youth leader and so he automatically became a councilor of the city. he told himself he will not give in to the corrupt practices that many in the generation before us is considering as if it is normal and acceptable practice. after a year he told my friend that he can't do anything but give in and join the bandwagon of corruption.

i think in that situation, as well as in our situations, the key is faith. in this sense, this also means knowing what is good and what is not, and sticking to doing only the good.

although you may have just tried to resign instead, congratulations to you as you have taken the choice of not tolerating such "unacceptable" employment practices by choosing not to work for that company. it's not because they are koreans or whoever. for example, i've heard of some other non-filipinos (and non-koreans) who employ people for just P50 a day at a time when the minimum wage was P250 a day. why do these employers do that? because the employees accept that wage! it is everywhere, and not just with certain korean employers, and so on.

again, know what is good and what is not good in the eyes of God (i.e. what does God want for you?), and then make your choice. hopefully, you and every other filipino make the right choice. we'll include that in our prayers. :-)

--- original e-mail ---
do you by any chance know if there's an opening for elementary teachers or lifestyle writers? please let me know..

it's just that i feel so bad. i've requested a two week vacation leave from my office. they said yes but they are holding my salary. i don't think they'll take me back after two weeks. sorry to say this, but koreans s**k! (sorry for the language). they are very manipulative and they break, always break their promises..

anyway, il keep on searching..thanks! so if you want to work for koreans, DON"T even think about it.

take care!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

[repeat] The Da Vinci Code [Dan Brown]

Damn it! JUST READ IT!

Since I have my own rules and I follow them, I have set 5 as a maximum, so I rate this 5 out of 5. I could well rate it above 5. I had a midterm exam but after reading one chapter, I am lead to read the next. And here I am cramming. It's too good. I'll be reading another Dan Brown novel in the near future.

[sub-labels: CPC books]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

[repeat] One Saturday Afternoon

Here's another "thought" I wrote back in November 2, 2002:

a saturday afternoon. thank God, it was a holiday for me (and for most of us filipinos) the last two days, which was thursday, and friday; eve of all saints' day, and all saints' day. the idea was, that all souls' day, which is today, is usually a special holiday, but since it's on a saturday, and so that people will get their dose of their usual, yearly 2-day all saints'/all souls' holiday, they made the eve of all saints' day a holiday.

now, i'm thanking God because, if it were just an ordinary saturday afternoon, i wouldn't have known how saturday afternoons can become so... good. sunday afternoons certainly are great, but i never knew that saturday afternoons can be like this.

because in previous saturday afternoons, i usually have my breakfast, and work my way around the house, getting myself to "really" wake up. because on friday nights, i spend it, and i mean really spend the whole of friday night to holler at the world, "what a week!" it has always been like that.

and thank God, i had only a three-day work week. i had thursday and friday as my usual "weekend", and i have today, saturday to rest my mind.

and to think, i almost had to work on those two national holidays, but for some reason, uncomprehensible to me still, i was free.

as i usually do, i spent my thursday and friday "weekend," sleeping, and spent my usual "friday night" last wednesday, spilling my guts out to the world.

and here i am, i have enough of clearness of mind to write something down, and i feel great. but not without doing nothing.

i had to take my (un)usual dose of a cup of dissolved caffeine, had two sticks of West Ice, said my prayers, had a nice bath, that would have been nicer if we only had a bath tub, and, i did a very little amount of household chores, watched two movies on HBO. ahhh. if only my saturday afternoons were always like this.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

[reactions+reflections] [FWD] Fasting and Abstinence

May I add a few things to the forwarded message below.

1. This is something I got from a homily a priest gave in one mass I attended (I think this is at UP - Father Arre if I remember correctly). This may not be applicable to us here in Manila and in other major metropolises though:

There is one small island somewhere north of Cebu where the main source of livelihood is fishing and the main meat they eat the whole year round is fish. For them, abstinence from meat would mean abstinence from fish. Apparently, they may choose to eat beef, pork, or chicken but of course, they can just eat vegetables instead. They can also just apply the principle of substitution - except maybe the giving of alms to the poor; perhaps they can give alms to the 'poorer' instead.

2. Now I am thinking, what about vegetarians? To them they can only apply the principle of substitution. Maybe unless eating meat is a big sacrifice to them. I doubt though that they would even consider eating meat.

3. "I forgot to abstain or fast on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, or on one of the Fridays of Lent - can I fast or abstain on another day I decide on instead, like perhaps the day after?" If it is not obvious, I believe the answer is no; it would not be the same thing. While fasting and abstinence on other days is a good thing though it is not "required," it is not considered as a substitution for fasting and abstinence on the required days.

4. We Catholic Filipinos should consider that the "law" has already been relaxed for us - no need to do it on ALL Fridays of the year and on ALL days of Lent (approximately 86 days per year). So all the more we should do our best to follow these guidelines on the prescribed days (approximately 7 days per year).

5. We also ought to think of this as an activity, as a sacrifice by all of us as one big Catholic community, here in the Philippines and in the whole world. When we do fasting and abstinence, we are signifying our commitment to this community and to our common beliefs (summarized in the Apostle's and Nicene Creeds).

6. Lastly, these are "minimum requirements" - we can do more; over and above these minimum requirements, like we do fasting and abstinence as a sacrifice for the success of some of our activities in SFC, in our personal lives, or for others. But these are not substitutes for fasting and abstinence on the required days. This is similar to attending mass on Sundays and other holy days of obligation - we should not miss them at all (except when physically incapable) but we can try attending mass even on other days even when there is no "occassion."

--- Forwarded Message ---

The Law on Fasting and Abstinence for Filipinos

Hello friends,

I finally made some research and sourcing as to how we Filipinos ought to observe the Church's mandate to fast and abstain from meat. Let's be reminded that should we fail to observe this precept through our negligence, we are therefore committing mortal sin. That I believe is a more than sufficient reason to know how we should fast and abstain, since I've noticed that some priests and lay faithful are confused on what is the actual or the minimum requirement needed to meet the law. I suggest the reader to carefully read everything, since every part modifies the others when taken as a whole.

A. Now here is the Church's universal law, meaning this applies to all Catholics of the Western or Roman rite (vis-à-vis the Eastern and Greek Catholic Churches in union with Rome which has a different and stricter set of fasting rules).

Rules on Fasting (from the 1983 Code of Canon Law)

Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Can. 1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

B. Now this is from my sourcing of info, courtesy of a colleague who is an expert on Church discipline and liturgy.

According to the booklet "Canon Law" (publ. by Life Today Publications in 2000) of Fr. Javier Gonzalez OP (Dean of Canon Law in UST), the CBCP has issued norms that modify the law of abstinence in the Philippines, in accordance with Canon 1253. According to Fr. Gonzalez (p. 35), abstinence is no longer required in the Philippines even on Fridays of Lent. Instead, abstinence may be substituted with reading the Bible, going to Mass, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, praying the Holy Rosary, visiting the sick and prisoners, giving alms to the poor, or teaching catechism. In short, abstinence and fasting are mandatory for Filipinos only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Of course, the principle of substitution must be observed. The problem is a lot of people (most, I would guess) don't abstain from meat on Friday, but don't bother to do any of the abovementioned charitable or pious practices in place of abstinence. It is a sin to not abstain from meat without substituting any of the prescribed practices.

Again, the basis for this is the CBCP's modification - thus binding Filipinos to fast and abstain, OR apply the principle of substitution, other than that would be considered sinful. Yes, we can fast and abstain the entire year if we want, if our conscience demands; but the bare minimum should be observed. Hence, individual or personal preferences concerning mortifications e.g. fasting and abstinence should be founded on the CBCP's decree and the Church's Canon law.

Have a Holy Lenten Season.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

[thoughts] [who is ronjie?] FrancisM

FrancisM. adj. 1. being the Man from Manila. 2. short for Francis Magalona. 3. Father of Filipino Rap.

"Yo-yes-yes-yo! RIP to the Man from Manila." a friend "shouts" on his FaceBook status.  I replied "word! the news still hasn't really sunk in for me though. pero it seems there are a lot more people than i would've thought have been affected somewhat. funny, my brother and i were just trying to remember the lyrics of 'loving you' just days ago. hope his family'll do just fine."

The thing is, Francis Magalona, FrancisM, the Man from Manila, the Mouth, Father of Pinoy Rap, Jose Rizal idolizer, is one of my very first pop idols and one of my first Pinoy pop/music idols.  I wrote rap and soul songs too back when i was like 14 years old.  Well maybe not because of him at first but - he was Filipino rap back then.  And I am Filipino.  (But my songwriting back then sucked, by the way.  Ehehe.)

Now I'm thinking... He's already the second "idol" who passed away so early in his life. The first one was Kurt Cobain, vocalist, songwriter, and band leader of Nirvana. This happened back in ca. 1994.  Back then, I was still really so into Nirvana music. Being in the US when he put a shotgun hole thru his mouth, closer by a few thousand miles to where he was at - it was like... damn. I really felt the loss. It was cold back then. You sort of feel just a little bit of what Kurt Cobain was going through - that Seattle freezing, depressing cold which has pulled the trigger for many others up there.

Anyway, so it hasn't really sunk into me. But to me this guy was a pioneer. Of Filipino rap that is.

Unfortunately... We sort of had a brief "misunderstanding" at one point.  I did say "sort of."

I was a member of this online community back in '95 or '96 and he became a member too.  At that time, he released I think his third album, "Meron Akong Ano?," I think.  It was a rock-rap album.  He effectively became now the rap vocalist/leader of his own rock band.  Goodbye posses and homeys.  Back then - as you could imagine, rock was in, rap was out, at least here in the Philippines, thanks to the Eraserheads, etc.  In the international scene, there was the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, and there was the death of Nirvana because of Kurt Cobain's suicide.  It wasn't until Diddy and friends burst into the scene in '97 when rap had a comeback.

Being the Father of Filipino Rap, and yet here he was, he was giving in to what's in, converting from rap to rock.  To me, apparently he was doing it for money.  Of course, I was still a young kid back then (17/18?) and of course, he was a husband and father and he had to provide.  Heck, I was into rock also and wasn't a pure rap-fan anymore.  I lashed out at him in the chatrooms.  I was like a kid who got angry at his dad for something like, "why don't you give me this toy? you have money naman," not knowing that dad has a budget.

Anyway, January 1996 came when the Foo Fighters, Beastie Boys, and Sonic Youth went into town.  The Eraserheads was the front act.  Guess what - Francis M had a collaboration song with the E-heads.  People were throwing water bottles at him when he rapped for the E-heads' song "Super Proxy."  Those ignorant young fools.  To me, it was such a great night.  Foo Fighters - one of my top favorite bands of all time.  Beastie Boys - another favorite band, a rock-rap band actually.  Sonic Youth - one of the early pioneers of experimental rock music.  Eraserheads - another favorite band and one of the greatest Pinoy bands of all time.  and FrancisM.  Oh that rapper boy was still in me.

I forgot which band played first but there was a lot of head-banging and moshing back then.  In between bands, I saw FrancisM somewhere up in the next upper seats.  I climbed up the wall and popped up in front of him and his wife and someone else.  I introduced myself (as "Radyo" - my nickname at the online community; he was "Freeman" there, by the way) and he introduced me to his wife and that other person.  We had a little chat.  Man, have you had that - the feeling of being in front of your "idol," chatting with him and even with his wife, shaking hands with him, and stuff?  I can't believe it up to this day.

We also had these "eyeballs" (face-to-face parties) of our online community and he was there and well we had a chat once again.  He was rubbing elbows with the online community's owners of course.  Or it was the other way around.  It's all so surreal.

By the way, my grandma had a boyfriend once whose name was Francisco Magalonzo.  Ha ha - just trying to make myself smile. :-D

"Loving You" (duet with then girlfriend and now wife Pia Arroyo-Magalona)

It was just last night when we had a fight.
And I know I was wrong, and I knew you were right.
Now I'm back again, to make amends.
So darling, won't you like to dance?
Together we can take the night by storm,
Let's dance, let's stroll in the early morn'
Babe, please listen to my voice,
Because of you [forgot the lyrics]... I've got no choice.

Bad, bad boy, do you think I'm a toy?
Waiting hours [forgot the lyrics] did you enjoy?
[now I really forgot all the lyrics here]

Loving you, baby, is the right thing to do.
Loving you, baby, is all I wanna do.
Listen to the song here:

Here's my all time favorite Francis M song (song-wise; but it's not my song now. :-P ).  I even have my own version of this song (as in I sang the song and arranged the music), but we'll get to that later on. :-D
"Cold Summer Nights"

I keep on blaming myself
I should've eaten my pride
How can I convince you?
Is it a matter of time?
Many times I've hurt you
With your foolish ways, oh girl
Now I know I have to pay the price[?]

Is there a way for you to turn around?
Turn around and come back, baby?
Oooh, baby, can't you see?

It's been cold summer nights, since you drifted apart.
Cold summer nights, since you walked out that door.
Cold summer nights, ooooh, here on my own.
I miss you babe, but I need you here.

It's been cold summer nights girl, I really miss you
Rock my world, I wanna touch you and kiss you
It's my fault, I never called you at home,
I'm on the phone wishing you would call, "I'm all alone."
Is there a way for you to turn around and
come back to me?  I hope you'll understand.
That I'm your man and together we can
Kiss and make-up 'cause you know I can't stand...

Cold summer nights, since you drifted apart.
Cold summer nights, since you walked out that door.
Cold summer nights, ooooh, here on my own.
I miss you babe, but I need you here.
It is now summer here in Manila.  It's going to be a cold one.  We all miss you, Francis.  God bless your soul.  God bless your family and all your friends and loved ones and fans.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

[repeat] House (formerly House, MD)

Short but sweet. Watch House starring Hugh Laurie. Get the Season One DVD! And watch the first ep. You'll know it's a good show if you find yourself watching the Episode 22, even if I didn't tell you so! Search Google for House. They've got it all out there. Great websites for House-related bits and info: the official website,,

[sub-labels: CPC tv]