Beach Life (1 and 2)

Beach Life. Part 1. Reason: Mom at 83.

Mommy is a frail 83 year-old lady who had pneumonia eleven years ago. This meant being very vigilant and extra careful regarding the present covid pandemic. What we did was retreat from our formerly crowded community and retreated to our rural home.

But, alas, the idyllic spot hid some camouflaging snakes of the worst kind (opportunistic humans who prey on the unwary). This, together with the distance from mom’s other family members, made her feel unsettled. It took a toll on her nerves and health. She was always worried about this and that.

So, at 82, mom once again gathered her strength to transfer the entire hosehold stuff accross the sea, to the house where she raised her children.

But, alas, the idyllic spot hid some camouflaging snakes of the worst kind (opportunistic humans who prey on the unwary). Mom named the snakes and in return she lost her good health. Her bones and muscles and heart ached, and she longed for the beach once again.

So, at 83, mom got to the beach that was the birthplace of her dear husband, my dad.

She is recuperating, and we hope to enjoy our new beach life. As God wills. Amen.

Beach Life. Part 2. Reality: Heaven Despite Poverty.

Because mom is still recuperating, then I can’t post her picture. Instead, I have here pictures of paradise.

The snakes in this paradise are harmless to us. We have personal immunity against them, so to say. We are free to go where we want in this little beach place, the thought of which is kind of next to heaven.

But don’t let the scenes mislead you. This is rural Philippines. The bottom line is poverty. Always always always. Don’t let the kids’ laughters and the adults’ smiles fool you. In the houses of families who have lived next to the beach for generations, many go by a one-day-one-eat existence. Eating twice a day is almost the norm. Many have lifetimes of debts, incurred for the family’s food’s sake. When torrential rains come, the earth-floors turn to stamping-earth-pads of bare little feet that can’t be stopped from romping around. Sweet innocent souls—muddied arms and feet and gleefully chattering like the noisy morning birds.

Don’t let the blissful looking beach trick you into believing that there can be no sadness in paradise, here on earth. Yet all who come to the water’s edge will say, “The sea breeze does wonders for the soul.” Mom and I will have lungfulls of this sea breeze and she’ll say, “It is best to let one’s mind ripple like water over the cares of this world.”

Alas, many will agree with her.

Growing Up

I fought through this long journey

with stacks of innocence.

I went through the road with nothing on me

but knowledge of others’ wisdom gleaned

through long years of monotonous rote

learning through reading and hearing

of possibilities happening to journeyers like me.

As I went through the road with

almost nothing on me, the gleaning along

pointed out to me in shock and in

envy, in fear and in worry, that

either I’m on the wrong road, or on the

wrong side of the road, or behind

the road, or on the road that

leads on and on.

As I am going through this road

with very little on me, I know

I have my own with me;

what precious very little I carry I earned,

paid with precious shattered innocence.

(15th July 2002)

Photo on top by Isaac Wendland on Unsplash

Photo by Keenan Barber on Unsplash

For John (a USMC veteran who became my student)

John,

You led me into quite an adventure!—wow! how I found out for myself such exotic stuff as warriors’ codes, such exclusive names as jarheads, gyrenes, leathernecks, devil dogs 🙂

It’s good to have met you. It will take one in a million more chances to meet another one like you. And you have asked for my help! Miracle!

You would smile when you’re embarrassed coming late to class—and even with real amusement, haha!—when I was lambasting some classmate of yours for not paying attention to the lecture, or when I would loudly lament the poor responses to the lessons that show as low marks in the tests.

I pray that God will always take care of you.

You said you’re not brave. I believed you. You said you’d just be doing your job if you’re called again to war. I believed you. I have no more illusions left when it comes to humans facing their “moments of truth.” For although I’ve had only a few of them myself, I have heard and read of and seen such circumstances happening. I was even private into the sentiments of the actors.

I was taking chances when I asked you directly: “Have you killed a human being?” And your body language when you answered me, directly, told all of the anguish which accompanied something you simply had to do and of how difficult it was to answer that question.

Take care. Do what you have to do. I know of a Being who is with you in whatever you do. Hasta la vista, mi amigo.

Ma’am Mona (Iloilo City, written 20 October 2002)

U.S. Marines with Black Sea Rotational Force 18.1 advance to their objective during a patrolling exercise (PEX) at U.S. Army base Nova Selo Forward Operating Site, Bulgaria, May 10, 2018. PEX enhances platoon readiness and increases the ability to conduct patrols at the squad level. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by LCpl. Angel D. Travis)—from the National Defense Magazine online.

The story behind the letter:

John, not his real name, was my student in College Algebra. I was drawn to his aura because he looked different from the rest. He was a “delinquent” algebra student, as half of the class was, haha!, simply because it was algebra, which is something I can perfectly understand and so have nothing against those who struggle in it. However, as a teacher of 40 students I was urging everyone to reach the minimum requirements of the course so that they could be done with it, and so be able to move on to their major courses. I especially felt for this group because many were trying to finish an agriculture degree.

Eventually John had to ask for my help, which I responded to. I wish all my other students who needed help did as he did—asked for help. In the States this is something normal. Even in ADMU (Ateneo de Manila University) where the kind-hearted President Fr. Ben Nebres was my teacher, this was also normal. But alas, not so among my many algebra students. Perhaps they did not have extra time for extra lessons. I’m sure there are other more valid reasons. The only avenue for urging students to do better, then, was in the classroom during class. Hence, class lectures were also sometimes emotional times for me. John would smile a bit whenever I sounded anxious for my students, and especially when the topic was a bit complicated.

John came to see me as a teacher-confidante for that semester. He would talk to me as a friend, not for long lengths, but enough for me to see that many things he was sharing with me were not free-for-all. On my part, I was basically at awe of talking to somebody who has been to a real war. John took part in the campaign in Bosnia-Herzegovina two decades ago or so.

Instead of badgering him for more information, I turned to books. There I was able to learn many things about the world of the USMC. What remained with me now is the clarity of the reason why the USMC fellows of the small groups are able to go through the horrors of an engagement: because they look out for each other, because they have to take care of each other, because they have each other’s backs, because they are in it together, dead or alive. In not so many words John was able to convey this fundamental truth to me. The person in the war is a non-abstract actor, this I came to see.

I hope John is now happily tilling his farmland somewhere and rearing up beautiful children. He deserves a good life.

Semper Fi.

Featured Image on top: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Isaiah Gomez/Released 190427-M-JQ384-1078.JPG
(June 20, 2019) A U.S. Marine rifle squad with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, pauses for a moment of silence during the Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day Ceremony at the Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Lejeune Memorial Gardens, Jacksonville, North Carolina, April 27, 2019. The ceremony honored the memory of those who died during the war and celebrated the accomplishments and perseverance of Vietnam-era veterans. (https://www.marines.mil/Photos/igphoto/2002147602/igcategory/Veterans/)

Running Like a Fox

“Man ran through his life like a fox, with the dogs baying at his heels. They would get him by the throat in the end, nothing was more certain than that. The chase must always end in the same way—death was the final disaster, the final lonely defeat which came to all of us. There was no way of winning, but one could at least lose with dignity, and dignity meant fighting all the way, until the breath was out of your body, and then turning on the hounds, snarling and snapping, before they finally tore you to pieces. Only one sin was unforgiveable. That was to give up the struggle, to acquiesce in the determination of the world to destroy you.

He picked the bottle of barbiturates out of his pocket and dropped it down a convenient drain. He cared no longer about winning. He knew nothing waited him except defeat, whatever happened in the case. But he must turn and fight—the hounds must pay the price for their quarry.”


From the book, Hall of Mirrors by John Rowan Wilson. Doubleday and Co., 1966. pp. 232-3.

Original engraving by The Rev. Wm. B. Daniel [London], published between 1801 and 1813.

The field of narcissism and narcissistic abuse is such an overwhelming field for those who have just come to discover it—because of a reason or another—and are determined to understand it. I have been engrossed in finding out about it these past few days. Psychologists are saying that it is a major disease of society. Narcissism could be compared to a sucking vacuum, or a hopeless black hole, which lets nothing escape it up to the point of its boundary of influence. Persons who are within its influence will flounder around, willy-nilly, until they get to their senses (by the grace of God!) and re-claim their humanity by simply refusing to acknowledge the deadly force holding them back from freedom.

When I dug out the above excerpt from a book I read decades ago, I realized that the person in the monologue has feelings similar to those of who are in the willy-nilly situation, not understanding the mechanics of their victimization, yet still having that innate resistance from senseless annihilation. Or perhaps it is the narcissist who is having similar feelings, when s/he feels desperate after the loss of a fuel-source. The introspection of the character in the excerpt plainly feels desperation, and so a last bid at clutching on to what would constitute a healthy life: CHOICE.

To See Clearly

Have you ever had an experience when you felt that you can see clearer, that scales have fallen off your eyes and you can see more detail in the world? I’ve had two such experiences before. I got the third one a couple of days ago.

The first one was when I was 17 years old. I was listening to a preacher who had come to talk to us kids at the university about his faith (I was by then already in my third year of my Liberal Arts undergrad majoring in mathematics, which means I was at the verge of getting ready to handle heavier faith-stuff relative to the usual). Because of the preacher’s message, this was impressed into me: the possibility and the rightness and the importance of being able to examine in my head, with rational tools, the essence and substance of my inherited system of faith-beliefs. That was emancipating. An awakening.

The second one was when I was already writing my doctoral dissertation in delightful Regensburg (nope, it wasn’t an ostentatious nor a well-traveled period at all, which is one of my regrets!). It was a usual cold winter morning, in my little student’s apartment. I was about to sit on the grandest seat of the house (guess where!), and, voila, I got it suddenly, an enlightenment I called it, and I even wrote a post about it in my old blog… that… there are no rules. THERE ARE NO RULES.

Before that day I was discovering zen buddhism for some time with whatever video or post I had the time to read or listen to. It’s a fascinating way of life, this consciously embracing zen, which is outside of the ‘rational.’ Nevertheless, something like a satori happened to me (oh, ah, uhuh, if you think I don’t know what I’m talking about, then I won’t be offended if you tell me).

Obviously there are rules, and I know this, and I have no problems with rules. But knowing that there are no rules [from the perspective of the ‘universe’] made sense to me. That happened as I was sitting on that grandest seat in my little apartment (haha!).

meditating on the grand seat


The third one was basically a couple of days ago but I got a delayed reaction — the feeling that scales have fallen off my eyes and I could see clearly — which did not happen until this morning as I was about to sit on …tada!… the grandest seat in the house (again! And to many people this is also where and when innovative thoughts suddenly dawn on them with clarity!).

This most recent ‘enlightenment’ is something personal, with several people involved, and so I cannot talk about it here just yet. Nevertheless, as I was sitting on the grandest seat this morning, I thought of having “leapt that quantum leap of realization, a fantastic escape from one understanding onto the next that wouldn’t have happened had I not insisted on pushing my perception to the extreme, and so confront the now glaring obvious… and the solutions to my recurring puzzles are finally laid bare, tantamount to being able to see the foundation of matter, the ‘strings,’ the basics of the stuff that are of Heisenberg’s uncertainty idea. The big puzzle of my life is now dissipated, puffed out, gone with the wind.”

It has liberated me, allowed me to move freely, think clearly, see better, and so act accordingly. With caution and with tentative steps. To newly found breathing space. It is envigorating.

I hope you understand what I’m saying here. It is good, these opening-of-the-eyes experiences in a non-esoteric sense. Something I can casually talk about with friends over cake and a cup of tea anytime.

Thanks for the read and the smile! Incidentally, I’m listening to traditional Japanese koto music as I write this post. Lovely music. The featured image at the top is the golden Kinkakuji Temple in Japan. Have a great day!

This GIF-art is by “Segawa 37” or “Thirty-Seven Segawa”; [Segawa Atsuki].

Fight and Live to Tell

This post is my tribute to choosing life and heeding the wisdom of one’s elders. The featured scene is from Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends (2014). I will only speak about Kenshin and his teacher here, and then no more, except what is relevant to this post.

Kenshin was the best assassin of the past government. He had since sworn to not kill anymore, carrying a sword that has the sharp egde at the wrong side.

The new government has asked for his help to kill a rampaging ex-assassin, who is threatening the safety of the land.

Aware of his weakness after a recent duel, Kenshin asks his teacher (also called “master”) to teach him the ultimate sword tehnique of their school so that he can defeat the enemy.

His teacher agrees. They fight-train —physically, mentally, emotionally— a holistic approach.

Teacher tosses a real sword to Kenshin. It is a real fight with real swords today.

He’s figured out that he’s afraid of neither his teacher nor of death.

But his teacher has warned him that if he cannot figure out what’s wrong with him, then he will not be able to defeat the villain. Moreover, he might even die in today’s training-duel, without having learned the final technique at all.

He resolves that he will not die just yet, and fights back. After some time, he eventually slashes at Teacher and scores a point!

His guilt has made his fighting resolve distorted. His guilt has numbed his positive purpose for fighting, which was why he was defeated recently — his sword broken, and was not able to rescue Kamiya Kaoru also.

His fierceness in fighting will not return if he continues to be weighed down by the guilt of having killed so many people before.

He has to embrace his guilt, forgive himself, and be positively fierce again in order to defeat his enemy, who is also the enemy of the people whom Kenshin is trying to protect.

(This has something to do with his failing to rescue Kaoru. She was shouting at him to look after himself, to fight fiercely but to stay alive, but he was distracted by his fear for her safety . So, Teacher seemed to be saying that being on the defensive position, on the side of the helpless people, has somehow weakened Kenshin’s fighting prowess).

(I wish I can understand Japanese!) Teacher seemed to be saying that Kenshin has denied his life-loving fighting self—his innate positive personality, and his life’s discipline and upbringing with his Teacher—ever since he resolved not to kill anymore. Indeed, his Teacher never trained him for the purpose of killing, but so that he can protect people. However, he made choices that led him astray and caused him to kill even defenseless people. The senselessness of his deeds caused him to gamble with his life many times—fighting fiercely without regard to his own life. So now, if he can resolve his guilt and embrace again the purpose of his life’s training, then he can fight the villain and live to tell about it.

Teacher’s important lesson: YOUR LIFE IS AS WORTH AS OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES.

Hitokiri Battousai the famous assassin passes away from existence, and in his place stands a very alive Kenshin, the life-loving defender of the weak.

Himura Kenshin and I learned something very valuable from Master today.

Domo arigato gozaimashita. (That’s a very respectful ‘thank you very much.’)

Finally, I Begin

Written in February 20, 2014.


beach (1)

Three years I surfed the pages,

arms extended, fingers outstretched,

the gray continental sky indifferent to my need for light;

beach (2)

Three years I paced the shore,

back and forth, tracing the break’s contour,

shifting, ephemeral, undulating;

beach (4)

On the beach on the sand that is my brain,

lets information, like water, in,

pass through, then away, soaked;

Three years the troughs and crests and I

kept holding hands and letting go.

beach (5)

The other day I traced the shore at the bus stop.

Concrete platform undulating like lapping waves.

Cigarette butts like flotsam lining the pavement.

beach (7)

I saw the sea foam in my mind.

I smelled the salty air.

I heard the rush and splash.

I felt the breeze in my hair.

beach (8)
A fisherman cleaning his net.

Three years came to pass and I arrived

at how it should have been all along. I have beached.



Today is July 15, 20021.

It was a tremendous relief when my Doktorvater, my dissertation supervisor, finally agreed with how I envisioned my research work to proceed. When I wrote the above meditation-verse, I was celebrating with the sound of the sea in my ears, the wide sky looking down on me and the extensive beach, and my feet getting ready to wade through the vast ocean of information ahead. I knew that I had a very long way to go.

Landing on the beach is also a picture of restfulness. I felt that I have reached a base after a long time of aimless wandering. That was a great happy time, just me and my beach in my head and the almost empty university bus-stop, newly constructed, in Regensburg, the concrete platform edges gently undulating before my downcast eyes as I gaze, in my usual fascination, at the cigarette butts strewn all over the pretty pebbles.

It was a dreary winter day but I felt spring light my spirit.

My Prayer (For Positivity)

By 2016 I’ve already had many cycles of deep despair and heedless hope pass by me. I have witnessed many episodes of miracles as well as devastating disappointments. I was also in the middle of an important life’s work, my [doctoral] dissertation. My brain cells have been bashed around and rejuvenated again and again.

Just before the New Year’s celebration, for the arrival of 2017, I paused and breathed in hope, and was encouraged anew to keep on with life.

I prayed:

I am calling on all of the efficacies of prayer,
on all the collective love of all sincere hearts that selflessly wish for only goodness to all of humanity and all living creatures,
big and small in the biosphere, in all parts known and unknown,
from the deepest of the ocean floors and caverns and cliffs
to the highest of the habitable atmospheric layers that can sustain metabolism…

I am calling on all pure intents for the support of life, love, freedom, respect, celebration, sustenance, generosity, humility, understanding, acceptance, goodwill, health, mutual dependence and mutual giving,
and thankfulness…

I am calling on all the powers of LIFE and the celebration of life
and acceptance of all peoples…
Let us bless the earth, let us bless one another,
let us pray for each others’ lives,
let us focus our wishes on each others’ wellbeing and inner happiness
and continuous hope
and never-ending supply of strength for the will to live and let live…

I call on all powers of life to curse the greed that is enslaving the systems of this earth…

I call on all greed to be found out and to be defeated and to be banished…

May it all happen. May it be so.

It will be so. It is.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Photo by Sam Kolder on Pexels.com

Chiaroscuro = light-and-dark

Meditate.
Live purely.
Be quiet.
Do your work with mastery.
Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds!
Shine.

(I have yet to make sure if this is really the Buddha’s)

The power of the above group of words, put together, is enhanced by its bareness.

It is so powerful that after reading it one is compelled to blessed quietness, and so rest.

My picture here is not of the moon, but of the yang, the active sun, searing and unforgiving.

Nevertheless, it cannot force its way all the same through kilometers upon kilometers of cumulonimbus thickness—however gossamer this body of suspended water is.

Such contrasts is what makes up our earth, and meditating on our inadequacies side by side these contrasts may help us chance upon the courage to break out of our own heavy and dark clouds.

The constant will to shine is what makes us alive.

( Update 14 July 2021. I have the same post put up in my sacadalang.com blog. I just discovered that search engines might label either or both of my two blogs as “sploggers.” I hope not! )

Thanks for visiting and have a great day, Everyone!