Thursday, January 29, 2015


Movies have their own sequels so you can treat this post as part two of "Check the Selfie" which registered one of the highest views on this blog.

Sequels are a film producer's way of milking a franchise, like "Rambo," till it runs dry, or once movie goers start asking, "Who's Sylvester Stallone, anyway?"

Which suggests that an actor's glory days will eventually fade just like classic Levi's jeans---and that's in spite of all his nip, tuck and botox treatments. 

Skin and themes can only be stretched so much.  

Meanwhile, we can still milk the selfie for its amazing lessons. I don't think we've grilled it enough that it can shout back, "Enough already!" 

Selfie-ness is on the rise, that's for sure.  

One juicy selfie news: Kim Kardashian it seems has found it challenging to satisfy the tsismosos (gossipy) around us---I among them, mea culpa---because she's running short of selfie concepts to keep us glued to her site. Her baby, North, unwittingly fills the gap. Poor baby!  

We of course know the greatest selfie-ness purveyor.

You guessed right, Facebook! All of us are guilty of plastering FB with our faces. But as I point to you, my three other fingers are directed me-wise. So let's tackle this 21st century addiction with a candid and self-deprecating attitude.

Cross-examine ourselves now to rightly diagnose our selfie-addiction: 

  • How often am I tempted to take a selfie picture for the urge to show off... er... share something new about myself?

  • When I eat out, do I have this irresistible, unquenchable tendency---just when my companions are about to pounce on that crunchy crispy pata---to holler, "Hold it!" Camera clicks. Then the go-signal to "Dig in!" (In a few seconds, the crispy pata is up on FB cloud as the real deal sadly makes its way into its gut-wrenching destiny.)

  • When I travel, am I in the habit of letting the whole world know I'm in this or that airport or I'm bound for some place spectacular? 

  • And a lot more: New car. New mani-pedi. New pair of shoes. New bling.  

Overheard this comment? Wala nang itinago. (Everything exposed.)

This sobering comment (by an IT expert in last year's gathering of OMF writers) should give us pause: 

At the rate people share photos, personal information, whereabouts, feelings, etc., they're giving room for evil-intentioned people to steal their identities (and many have been reported in the US) or track their every move so that they can ransack homes or stalk them to satisfy their fetishism or obsession.   

The millennial demographic is prone to selfie-ness, claim the experts. Often referred to as the narcissistic generation, gen-Yers are said to be self-obsessed. 

They express their center-of-the-universe attitude using their smart phones and tablets---technologies which seem to have been born with them. 

Social media and the millennials are two peas in a pod---and just perfect for each other!
But oldies like myself and some middle-aged people I know---nandamay pa---genuflect in the altar of selfie-ness, too. 

Let's face it, we are all narcissists. 

Don't blame FB and Twitter. All they've really done is magnify our self-absorbed, self-seeking nature. Some of us are probably more coy about blatantly bragging. Nonetheless, it's in our nature to show-off:  

"I've accomplished this." "I'm capable of this." " I own this." "I know this." "I bought this."  "I've been there." 

1 John 2:16 reminds us: "For all that is in the world---the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions---is not from the Father but the world."

Solomon in Proverbs urges us to seek wisdom, for in so doing, we gain prudence, knowledge, discretion, guidance.  

Many social media posts are not about selfie-ness at all. You may have posted FB messages because you:

Want to share helpful information on keeping fit physically or spiritually; 

Make your friends laugh and smile, for example, with funny baby or pet posts;

Have asked for prayers or help, especially when a friend or a group of kababayans were in crisis;

Desire to boost your pals' morale as they face crises; 

Are after a sense of community and relating well with your friends and loved ones no matter the distance; and to assure them that you are doing just fine. 

No one's judging anyone, OK? But it's up to us to manage the selfie beast inside. 

Better yet, let's boast in Jesus alone.

Photo credits:

Thursday, January 22, 2015


A recent Time Magazine report hailed Japanese Kei Nishikori as the world's number 5 male tennis player. He ranked 17 just a year ago.

Why the phenomenal rise? The writer attributed it to his United States training which enabled him to "unlearn the hierarchical strictures of Japan," a culture steeped in a lot of literal and figurative bowing downrespect for elders, not saying one's mind, nixing cursing and a constant search for quiet and serenity.

Says Kei, "I had to learn to get angry and surpass these athletes in competition."

It must have been difficult for Kei to balance himself between two conflicting influences. Seems to me like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde battling for lordship within.

Don't most of us struggle with the same dilemma as we confront our everyday situations? 

At home and in church, we get to be reminded: "Respect your elders." "Obey the rules." "Do not be rude." "Be kind and patient and considerate." "Be mindful of others."

Yet when it comes to sportsand we're all encouraged to dabble in at least oneplayers are trained to be aggressive, trash-talking, harsh and disrespectful; all because they need to intimidate and cause their  opponents to capitulate or surrender even before the game is played.

Mass media magnify competitive behaviour. Observe how hyped up everyone becomesas if screaming bloody murderas Manny Pacquiao reduces his opponent to a pulp. Audiences roar in triumph or vengeance as football players clash with each other to either prevent or cause a ball to reach the goal. 

And oh, how nations rejoice and go wild when their teams win championships.

We glorify champions and boo the losers.

Competitiveness and aggressiveness indeed bring you far in the corporate world; no wonder everyone refers to the workplace as a dog-eat-dog world. I almost gave up under abusive and terroristic bossesbut for the grace of God.

But is it really all about trumping or beating someone, keeping score, enjoying adulation, wielding power, or being able to make others bow down in submission to you, especially if you're playing this game called life.

Listen to nine year old Robby Novak, subject of Jim Denison's article, "Kid President's Pep Talk Goes Viral":

"If life is a game, aren't we all on the same team? If we're all on the same team, let's start acting like it. We got work to do. We can cry about it or dance about it. I don't know everything. I'm just a kid. But I know this, it's everybody's duty to give the world a reason to dance. So get to it!"

Robby suffers from osteogenesis imperfectacharacterized by brittle bones. He has so far been through 13 surgeries and been fitted with steel rods in both legs.

Truly, Christ has revealed Himself to little children. If we heed Jesus, we would, more than anything, gain wisdom, not just to win competitions or succeed in our careers, but to use our gifts to make a difference, no matter our limitations.

In fact, Jesus is not keeping score. He's not pitting us against each other. He just needs our faith and obedience. Regarding our sins, He says: As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalms 103:12)

This should give us a fresh start, to use our talent for His glory. Then we can shine, for His name's sake, especially in this game called lifeno longer ruled by guilt or angst or the need to get even or bring someone to his knee.

So Kei, let your aggressiveness remain in the tennis court. 

Off court, let Christ direct your life. Life is too precious for us to cause others grief.

Take it from Robby: "Create something that will make the world awesome."

Photo credits:

Sunday, January 11, 2015


The balikbayan (overseas Filipino) box is utterly, incredibly Pinoy.

So ubiquitous, it's become iconic, declaring to all and sundry that a kababayan who has left the country and planted his feet on an overseas "land of milk and honey" has in fact finally "arrived" both literally and figuratively.

"Oy, ang yaman na ng arrive mo!" (Wow, you've become rich!)

"OFW (overseas Filipino worker) kasi!"

"Nag-migrate na kasi si Ate sa Tate (United States)!"

"Nagpadala nga ng balikbayan box."

And what's inside that balikbayan box? All nice-smelling katas-ng-Saudi ("fruit of working hard;" you must have seen these decals on jeepneys) or overseas  strivingbranded clothing, towels and beddings, canned goods and yummies in sachets, chocolates galore, even toiletries, soaps and detergents.

So regular was someone's balikbayan box padala (sendings) to Manila, a relative was heard to have carelessly remarked: "Naku, nakakasuka na!" (Makes me vomit!)  

Imagine that! Someone's blood, sweat and tears unappreciated by someone he probably cares for.
It takes quite some time and effort to fill one balikbayan box. A new purchase gets added with a bit of extra money; until it gets filled; then sealed; then picked up for weeks of journey to even the remotest barangay within these islands. 

So if you've recently received a balikbayan box, remember the long nights, overtime work, even the inhuman working conditions the sender may have been through to stuff that box for your sake.

This too is etched in that balikbayan box: Someone's dream to soar higher and be better than his former state. Couple that with the pain involved in deciding to leave family and relations to be productive even in an alien environment.

(I believe one should never leave his or her spouse and children to pursue a career overseas. But what if his situation has for a long time been dire or hopeless? Seeking God's Word therefore and His will is very important.) 

Because dreams cannot be boxed in.

It must have been painful for Abraham to leave his country for a place totally unknown. But because he heard from God, he was confident God would bless him.

Genesis 12:1-3Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

So don't despise or belittle that balikbayan box. More than anything, it is filled with the graciousness and the kindness of one so blessed that he is happy to also bless you.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

In just a few blinks, life can take you on a tail spin ride---from humdrum to convoluted, from luxurious to impoverished, from sane to nutty---or vice versa. 

All it takes is one incident---a fire, a life threatening ailment, an accident or a natural calamity taking a loved one or our possessions away. 

Any of these can upend what you think may be a cool-as-cucumber existence, enough to make you conclude that life here on earth is after all really just a breath, a meaningless, passing fancy. Pfft!

My recent health issues, though minor compared to what others may endure at my age, made me rethink my helplessness against aging. 

Who am I kidding? 

I've pinched the graphic and oh-so-real physiological dysfunctions now wreaking havoc on this once-youthful body: 

Pleated skin thus the need to slather tons of lotion from north to south. 

Gray and thinning hair---thank God for dyes and a slew of hair-thickening and styling aids. 

Achy breaky joints. No argument there. Just avoid uric acid-inducing stuff. Haaay, what would life be without nuts? 

Memory going catsupy especially during those times you need to recall something. 

At 63, I've entered the pre-departure area. I wonder when my flight will take off? 

But thank God I'm heaven bound, just in case the inevitable happens. So I win, no matter what. Jesus assured that.

It's good to take stock of your mortality and the fleetingness of life from time to time. And the start of the year may just be a good time to do it.
Consider what the bible says: 

It is all up to God. Psalm 36:9---For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see life. Why do I even insist that I am in control? I'm helpless apart from Him.

He alone determines our days. Job 14:5---A person's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. Job 12:10---In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. 

But Jesus has taken hold of our finite-ness, giving us the power and the strength to be fruitful in spite of our helplessness. 

He is Fountain of life. He is our Maker. He has a great plan for each of us. And His purpose is always for good!

I may have entered 2015 frail because of recent health issues. But with Jesus as the strength of my heart, I know I can dye some more, floss my teeth some more; but more importantly sing some more, dance some more, write some more, teach some more, even travel some more---and in the process make a difference in others' lives some more.

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). He will sustain me! 

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31).

Wow, my heavenly adrenaline just kicked up a notch!