Sunday, July 29, 2007

He ni zai yi qi

Yesterday morning, I was just bombing around, sitting in front of the tv and constantly changing channels since I woke up at 3 am, I got to see the beginning of what seemed to be an interesting Chinese film. Interesting turns out to be an understatement. To my surprise, I got to finish the entire film without falling asleep.

It is about a peasant father who took his son, who he believes is a genius for having won a lot of violin competitions since the age of five, to Beijing, the heart of China. What follows is a complicated web of plots within the plot. I found the ending heartwarming as the boy gives up his international competition stint to look for his father at the train station, together with the people that really mattered to his life, his friend Lily, his violin teacher and, his dad whose sacrifices were truly altruistic just so he can make something of himself. Teary-eyed, he gave his best performance at the train station as his competition, a young girl protege, took over his stint at the theater.

Ah, I don't think I've given the movie justice with my ineptitude to give a review. But I caught it at Star Movies and the title is Together. Now, there are two Chinese movies that I really like. This one and Not One Less, the story of a young substitute teacher who went through all the pain and the trouble looking for a stray student who braved the city.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Is there a God?

When was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror. I don't mean the
fix-yourself-comb-your-hair look but a real eye-probing-look-that-would-last-a-minute kind. I have done that as a young boy and, maybe I'm weird, but it seems that I begin to feel myself detach from within and see myself as somebody else. It's a little scary, actually. However, it is during these times of neurosis, if that is what it is, that I begin to ponder who and what I am, why am I here, and what will I going to be in the future. These questions always lead me to the ultimate question, "Is there a God?"

An objective, rational answer to the question of God's existence has always eluded man. Many have offered an explanation but always, their answer fall short to the skeptics. This is because as man, we are limited to our senses and our logic.
As a result to our inadequacy to find the "true" answer to God's identity lead us to confusion thus ending in a struggle on who is right. Lately, the cotroversy of teaching intelligent design versus Darwin's theory of evolution has resurfaced in the States. There are people who would not accept that life on earth happened because of a Divine intervention. Ironically, even believers of God's existence do not see eye to eye. History is replete with stories of religions waging war on another with a different belief. The struggle between the Christians and the protestants during come to mind. Believers of Islam are continuously trying to find their place in a world dominated by Christian thought. Somewhere in your barangay, debates in barber shops or whereever people congregate sometimes become heated to the point of fisticuffs, if cooler heads could not prevail.

In my times of profound thinking, which happens very seldomly I might add, I have learned to view religion as something very personal. That what is important to me is what I think and what I believe in. Never mind what others think. I shall respect their thoughts as long as they respect mine. I have come to this conclusion a long time ago only to find out that this is not original. I now refer you to a Danish philosopher,Soren Kierkegaard.

Kierkegaard is an existentialist who believed that finding the "Truth" is not important but that finding what is true to the individual's life is more substantial. Hence, "what is true for me" should be the question asked. In Jostein Gaardner's Sophie's World, the main character, Alberto Knox, teaching the fourteen year old Sophie about Kierkegaard's philosophy said:

...we must therefore distinguish between the philosophical question of whether God exists and the individual's relationship to the same question, a situation in which each and every person is utterly alone. Fundamental questions such as these can only be approached through faith. Things we can know through reason, or knowledge, are totally important

Hey, what do you know? I have been thinking along the lines of a famous philosopher!

Now, let me see if I got this right. This so called leap of faith"leap of faith", according to Kierkegaard is to happen only if somewhere in your mind, there is "doubt" in the existence of God. He says that this is different from saying categorically that you are seeing and touching a table. There is no "leap of faith" that a table is present for it cannot be denied that there is one. This also reminded me of the apostle Doubting Thomas. He could not believe that Jesus has resurrected from the dead unless he has seen and touched Jesus. There is no leap of faith there. This led Jesus to say, "you believe because you see, lucky are those who do not see, and yet they believe."

Since I am already at it, I would like to say that I also believe in Kant's "practical postulates". It is essential for morality to presuppose that man has an immortal soul, that God exists and that man has free will

I should believe this for otherwise, I cannot find meaning to my existence.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The little girl is now a lady!

There shall be two posts for today. I have been busy with a lot of things not related to work since last Saturday, the highlight of which is my youngest daughter's 18th birthday.

When my eldest had hers, she opted to have a party for her friends. It is not that we can afford such luxury but once in a while, we want our children get something big out of life. And so, since a debut is a one time thing, we gave her what she wanted and contacted a hotel for her birthday bash. And since I have former students who play professionally in a band, I also got their services to provide reggae music during the occasion. Well, it turned out cool and we all enjoyed the night away.

Now comes my youngest daughter. She does not want a party like her Ate's. She wants a trip to any part of the world. Guess what. She's in luck! We do have some spare cash. So, we decided she and her "Ate" can go sometime in December,probably. Now, that would have gotten that settled. However,
my wife figured it would be too lonely if she did not even gave her friends a treat on her birthday. So, we gave her (with her Ate in-charge of the preparations) some dough for a quiet celebration.

One thing I love about my children is that they are very close. Sure they have some "tampuhan" once in a while but that rarely happens, especially with the two sisters who are very very close.

Come MOnday, Ate Kraiganne got very busy, in spite of her busy schedule at work, preparing for the birthday bash. She was in cahoots with one of my daughter's friends, who in turn, passed on the word that they will be celebrating Kim's birthday. You should've seen how her Ate slept late in the night, preparing a
personalized invitaion. Soon, her Kuya MIckey joined in and helped with the design.

Saturday night, my wife gave Kraiganne the dough, let the four siblings go on their own to a place in Greenbelt where they were to meet with her friends. Since these guys studied in the same school, everybody practicall knew everyone. After the simple dinner and the friends had all bade goodbye,

Kraiganne thought they still had some cash and took them to a bar where they danced the night away. Me and my wife were at home all this time to give the sibling some bonding on their own. They came home in a cab at around 1 am as we instructed. Not bad!

The following day, her real birth date, the wife and I handed her our gift. Then, we invited a few relatives into the house for a little lunch and merienda. Then, we all went to Serendra last night for a simple family dinner. Now, who can complain after that, eh? Life is good!

At any rate, I would like to greet my lovely daughter a happy 18th birthday.

Of cars and mechanics

Last Saturday, I decided to have my problem with my car's wheel alignment fixed. This had been a problem which had been going for years as having it fixed would be expensive for I knew there's something wrong with the steering system.

So, since I did not have any schedule for lab tests that day (thank God - a respite from lab test!) I geared up very early in the morning and went to the mechanic. After the initial check-up, it turns out there are a lot that needed fixing. BAll joints, tie-rod ends, bearings, etc. etc... And all because I wanted to have my front wheels aligned! (Is there any kind soul out there who is willing to donate a
brand new van to this poor being?) The piece that took the toll was the steering shaft! I was told that a brand new one would cost me Php44 K big ones! Now, where will I get that much cash, right? So, I told them to look for a surplus and they did which cost about Php13K. Still stiff but what can I do?

So, finally, after a long wait for the piece, the final tally, as shown in y receipt, is as follows:

Steering bushing

Ball Joint

Tie rod end

Rack end

Petrogrease MP 3 (0.5 kilo)

Oil seal

Gear oil SAE 90 (18L)

Steering rack assembly

Replace steering

Replace ball joint

Replace tie rod end

Replace rack end

Replace oil seal

and finally, what I really wanted:

Wheel alignment (Toe In/Toe out)

Camber adjustment

Isn't life ironic?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I could not consider myself a movie buff. Sure, I watch the movies but that would probably be one in three months at best. I would have to be swayed by friends to see a film before I go to a movie theater. I'd rather watch a play or a concert but since these shows do not come cheap, I hardly ever go, too. And yet, during the previous summers after last, my friend, Rolly Valmonte, one time Vice Principal in our school, during the height of his career, and I, would frequent the movie theaters practically every afternoon, after lunch. We do not have to report for work during summers, you see, but we do come to do some chores nevertheless. So, that gave us a lot of time to enjoy the summer and at the same time, work on a few odds and ends. And so we have ample time going to the movies. What is even odder was that we did not care whether the movie was good or not. Why? We only wanted to escape the summer heat. So, you'd see us snoring away at the middle of the show.

Too bad, my friend has already retired and I was all alone last summer. I would not dare go to the movie theater alone. What if a thug sits beside me and gets my wallet? So, those summer fiascos are over for good.

Anyway, talking about movies. Because I seldom see one, I only have about a nandful that I can say I really like. And yet, some of these films I either got to see on DVD and/or on cable tv. Now, if there's anything that can best describe myself, it would be that I am a couch potato! But I digress. What is odd about me is that no matter how I like a film, I grow tired of the lull moments and just wait for my favorite parts. Hence, you can just imagine how many tv remote controls I have broken because of abuse changing the channels to and fro. I already mentioned I have ADD in one post, didn't I? :-)

I just chanced upon one of these movies at the HBO yesterday. I'm talking about Hearts and Souls starring Robert Downey, Jr., Tom Sizemore, Charles Grodin, Alfre Woodard and Kyra Sedgwick. It is about four people who suddenly died when the bus they were riding tumbled, which was simultaneous with the birth of Downey's character. The four became imaginary friends of the child who is the only person who can only see them. After several years, the four decided to sever their relationship with the child as people are beginning to doubt the boy's sanity. They stayed with him, alright albeit him not being able to see them anymore. Thirty years later, the four guys were picked up by no less than the driver that caused their untimely death. It was by this time that they realized their purpose for staying on earth that long was to do their unfinished business with the help of the boy, their conduit to the material world.

Now, since I know all these and have seen it more than once already, I change channels everytime (I have chanced upon it several times already) and time it to the part that I really like. I am talking about the cameo role played by blues guitarist BB King! One of the dead people's, (I don't have his name, sorry. I told you I'm not a movie buff) unfinished business is to sing onstage. The matter was resolved in a BB King concert where he took over Downey's body and sang, what else, "The Star Spangled Banner". At the middle of the song, BB King heard him singing and decided to jam. The first shriek of the guitar just blows my mind... everytime, without fail! I don't know why but that scene always gives me goose pimples. I can feel angst, pleasure and whatever the blues is all about in that one note! Well, I may not be a movie buff but I am always a sucker for the blues!

The end!

Monday, July 09, 2007

My indiscriminate, carefree ways during my teens are now taking their toll on my body. I can tell. I am not as healthy as I was and I feel so fragile that everything in my body seem to hurt at the first sign of irritation or discomfort. Stand up for a long time and my leg will want to give in.

For several months now, my Saturdays have always been trips to the clinic for lab tests to monitor my sugar. When I got back from Thailand, my sugar level shot up which caused my doctor to increase the dosage of my meds and add some more. Thank God it has normalized already. I got the scare of my life when my creatinine and microalbumin yielded a high level. This meant my kidneys are starting to lose protein and my doctor told me if this does not improve, I might have to undergo dialysis if my kidney fails.

I was forbidden to eat red meat anymore. No pork or beef which has always been my staple eversince I was born. I followed and guess what, last Saturday's result was very promising. All my tests yielded normal. FBS, 2HPPBS, creatinine, uric acid etc. - Normal!

The bad news is that I am down with the flu! I cannot go to work today since I have not been feeling well since Saturday night. How can I keep this old body of mine work as if I am only 18?