Wednesday, March 31, 2004

This one's one of the fastest work I've ever done and though it does include another opportunity for friends to be included in the last panel, I had to forgo with the idea because of time constraints. Plus, during the time I was drawing this I didn't any reference for the palaspas or decorated palm fronds held by the people when celebrating Palm Sunday (which in this case will be this coming Sunday). So I had to make do with my memory bank for that. I also wish I could have portrayed the infinite variety of palaspas available outside the church parishes today.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.
Three men already confessed to their crimes after watching "The Passion of the Christ"
'Passion of Christ' moves man to confess killing 'suicide' victim
RICHMOND -- Detectives say the death of a 19-year-old woman originally ruled a suicide has turned into a murder case after a repentant man who'd watched The Passion of the Christ confessed to killing her because she was carrying his child.

Fort Bend County Sheriff's Detective Mike Kubricht said today that investigators thought Ashley Nicole Wilson had hanged herself in January. Earlier this month, however, 21-year-old Dan R. Leach of Rosenberg turned himself in after watching Mel Gibson's controversial movie about the last hours of Christ's life and Leach decided to seek redemption, Kubricht said. (Continued...)

* * *

Neo-Nazi bomber confesses after seeing 'Passion'
A FORMER neo-Nazi who admitted to twice bombing a youth group's headquarters in the 1990s said he was inspired to confess after watching the controversial film "The Passion of the Christ."

Johnny Olsen, 41, was ordered held for two weeks by Oslo district court Monday pending an investigation. Olsen turned himself in to police over the weekend and said he was behind two bombings of a left-wing youth group's headquarters in downtown Oslo in 1994 and 1995. No one was injured in the separate attacks on the Blitz House in downtown Oslo.

Olsen, who served 12 years in prison for murder when he was a teenager in a separate crime, said he was moved to confess by Mel Gibson's film.

"Jesus lives" Olsen told reporters in a choked voice, as he entered the courtroom for his detention hearing Monday. "I distance myself from my past and neo-Nazism." (Continued...)

* * *

Man Confesses After Seeing 'The Passion'
A 20-year-old man confessed to a half dozen burglaries, saying he felt guilty after seeing the movie "The Passion of the Christ."

When police responded to a burglar alarm at a wireless phone store around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, Turner Lee Bingham walked up and confessed to taking $80 from the register, police said. He also said he was responsible for five or six other burglaries.

"He had made some mention that after watching the Mel Gibson movie ... that was his motive for turning himself in," said Mesa police detective Ruben Quesada. (Continued...)

Wow. I'm left speechless with the results of the film. Who knows how many more lives were changed by the story of the movie?

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

There was one interesting snatch of conversation I heard from my friends when I was in their office earlier today. They were talking about a common fear of being a living excess baggage at the age of 90-onwards. They'd rather go to the great beyond a great deal of years before that, 60+ being the ideal number. Old people are not useless. In a society that places a premium on families taking care of its aging citizens I think that kind of thinking is a little bit off-track. Of course, unless there are parents who are already inculcating such nonsense on the noggins of their kids. But wouldn't that be a form of societal suicide?

On the misconception that reaching retirement age is something to be feared because one could be deemed useless, I present a short list of senior citizens whose generous contributions to society changed the world in more ways than one:
Michelangelo Buonarroti designed St. Peter's Cupola when he was 83 and remained active until he was 89.*
Leonardo Da Vinci was well into his twilight years and he still continued working.
Benjamin Franklin was past 80 when he helped draft the constitution.
• Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was in his 80's when he wrote some of his classic legal opinions and he served well into his 90's.*
• Artist Pablo Picasso as well as cellist Pablo Casals were active into their 90's.*
Grandma Moses began her art career in her late 70's.*
Thomas Edison still continued on with various inventions before stopping at the age of 83 due to failing health (he has racked up 1,093rd patents).
• French painter, sculptor, and lithographer, Henri Matisse was also in his 80s when he turned to a new artform using brilliant paper cutouts and stencils that was as celebrated as his paintings.
Moses liberated the Israelites from the Egyptians at the age of 80.
Abraham was no pushover in his retirement age managing hundreds of workers in his care and becoming a first time father at the age of 100.
• Celebrated British statesman, author, military leader and strategist, painter, Knight of the British Crown, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Winston Churchill was almost 80 at the time but was still elected as Prime Minister.
* Source: Success in Old Age by Dr. Stanley Watson.

Who's to say one should stop doing what one enjoys at this age? Of course it's natural to feel inadequate after stopping all those years of bringing up kids and building a business, but those fears are unfounded. These people in the list were just ordinary citizens cited by their peers including those younger than them because they still believed that they can. I say continue on with serving your fellow man and if the Lord deems it time to call you home then at least you and the people you'll be leaving behind will be celebrating a life well spent.

Remember: "A comfortable old age is the reward of a well-spent youth. Instead of its bringing sad and melancholy prospects of decay, it would give us hopes of eternal youth in a better world." ~Maurice Chevalier
I went to OMF Bookstore yesterday looking for two books (Jesus On Trial and The Murder of Jesus) that would make a nice souvenir for my friends Jorge and Sheila after watching the premiere of The Passion of the Christ last Sunday. While going around the bookstore I chanced upon this lone ring-bound illustrated Stories from the Bible lying on a stack of books. It was the same Bible I got when I was a kid way, way back when we were still living in our old house in Guadalupe, Makati City. If I'm not mistaken I was around 4-5 years old at the time when there was a birthday party for my eldest brother. Everybody was busy preparing for the party, when I chanced upon the arrival of my Aunt and other relatives at the gate. She handed the Bible to me and I never let it go fascinated as I was with the painted scenes. The only difference was I don't remember it being written in Tagalog. But ever since that day whenever the incident comes to mind, I think that the Bible was intended as a gift for my brother.

Queen Esther approaching King Xerxes for a favor

But those illustrations were part of the foundation that started me on my career as an artist (the other being the original mecha anime wave of the 1970s). I was so much taken with the colors, the drama, the vivid expressions on the faces of the characters, and the folds on the clothes that I started copying them before moving on to copying the paintings of saints I see in stampitas and encyclopedias in my elementary years. Eventually the appeal of the subject themselves were slowly eclipsed by the challenge of copying as realistically as possible the complicated folds on their cloaks (more on that later). So you can imagine the excitement I felt when I discovered a lost treasure from my past, which I thought would only exist in my imagination.

You might be thinking right now where did I go wrong and turned from copying serious artworks to doing cartoon characters and comic strips. Was all that an exercise in futility? Nah! I realized that it now made its way to how I pay close attention to details and coloring.

Monday, March 29, 2004

I'm here right now renting a PC in an internet café in Megamall. Our net server went kapoot! yesterday without so much as an explanation (calling their helpline is next to impossible if you're attention deficient). I tried two different places before this because I have to send my comic strip over to the publisher via e-mail and I can't afford not to miss a deadline. Anyway, have to go now. Mission's accomplished and the people in this place are getting ready to close up for the night.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

I can't talk much about the film me and my friends watched just now. Painful experience that is, I was a helpless witness to murder. I wanted to shout: "Wala namang ginagawa yung tao ba't n'yo siya ginaganyan?! (He hasn't done anything wrong why are you hurting him?!)" I was really crying all throughout the film, understanding that that He took the blows, the humiliation, and the excruciating pain for me.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Today's the first day of the annual Comics Seminar with David Campiti. My good friend Az let me sneak in for a preview. While inside he whispered to me the presence of "The One Tablet": Wacom! It's been almost a decade since I last wielded the legendary powers of the sacred tablet. So when asked me to follow him, sit on the chair, and hold the pen, I couldn't, nay, dare not say no. As I fixed my eyes on its majestic figure, the pen seemed to shimmer and glow with an unearthly light, calling out to take its rightful place in my hand... Psyche! Hehe, who am I kidding? I couldn't pull this "fantastical" writing off without snickering. Here's what I came up with:

No, I'm not taking Prozac.

I look real happy there. Hmmm... Both the Wacom and Corel Painter took some getting used to at the beginning. But after trying it out, I'm now desperately craving for a set. Not too desperate though, but the craving's still there.

The results of our new activities. Yehey!

I never expected to see our semi-weekly Artists' Den meeting to be as fun as last night's was. Those in attendance were Az, Jonas (who dropped by for a little while), Lyndon, Jon, Syeri, RG, and Stanley. The activity went something like this: one artist starts the ball rolling by drawing one panel and the next artist gets to expand the idea by putting a twist to it, so on and so forth. The idea for the activity wasn't really original but it was the first time for most of us. We also agreed to limit the panels to 6, forcing the last artist to come up with something that would tie everything together.

Friday, March 26, 2004

I don't take myself seriously so some of these are true and some have been blown out of proportion. Or maybe not. Which is which is for me to know and for you to find out.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Click to view entire strip.

I like doing crowd scenes! While I do struggle with creating details that differentiate one person from the other, it's still a perfect excuse for me to put in some friends and myself inside the strip without making it appear out of the ordinary. For this strip though, I just included one friend while the rest were copied from those I observed while waiting for Az and Edgar inside the MiniStop last Sunday. The scene in this strip is also in anticipation of the showing of The Passion of The Christ next week.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

This was a classic from two Sundays ago. If you're interested, you could read the artist's interview with Plain Truth Magazine regarding his convictions. It's also interesting to note that like Mel Gibson, he recently came under fire for being an "anti-Semitist" because of an Easter Day strip. But some Jews, like Benyamin L. Jolkovsky, a rabbinical school alumnus and publisher of the Jewish World Review, quickly came to his defense.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

I've just started reading Rick Warren's book Purpose Driven Life in preparation for my upcoming talk about "Christians in the Field of Art" this coming Sunday in a friend's sister's church. I now understand what made it a big hit even among non-believers. I don't think it's preachy and the ideas are easy to catch. What's interesting about it also is that though the book is interspersed with biblical verses, the author did away with those reference chapters and verses enclosed in parenthesis making the flow of ideas running smooth. But the most important thing about this is that author doesn't espouse a life full of religion but rather encourages a reciprocal relationship with our Creator who desires it better than we do (which is a spiritual matter and very different from the former). Here's an excerpt:
That desire—to have complete control—is the cause of so much stress in our lives. Life is a struggle, but what most people don’t realize is that our struggle, like Jacob's, is really a struggle with God! We want to be God, and there’s no way we are going to win that struggle.

A.W. Tozer said, "The reason why so many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven't yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us."

We aren't God and never will be. We are humans. We accept our humanity intellectually, but not emotionally. When faced with our own limitations, we react with irritation, anger, and resentment. We want to be taller (or shorter), smarter, stronger, more talented, more beautiful, and wealthier. We want to have it all and do it all, and we become upset when it doesn't happen. Then when we notice that God gave others characteristics we don't have, we respond with envy, jealousy, and self-pity. (p. 79; Chap. 10 - The Heart of Worship)

Hasta ahora tan excelente!

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

This was from Sunday's Liberty Meadows (click the strip to enlarge). I think Mr. Cho's seamless integration of Dik Brown's and Hal Foster's comic characters was really clever. By the way, cartoon crossovers are usually celebrated on May 5 (National Cartoonists' Day in America) where they exchange and do another's work for one day.

* References: National Cartoonists Society and Web Comics Awareness 2003

Visit the site if you like this one.

Monday, March 22, 2004

There are some pretty interesting discussions going on right now at my favorite radio station, 103.5 K-lite. The DJ on board, Ron South, had already set a topic "Do you give up easily?" for his callers to discuss on the air when the movie The Passion was mentioned in passing. A regular female guest of his was also in the booth and he asked her if she believed in God. She said she did but she didn't believe in Jesus. So Ron probed further and started asking why and that's when things started to get uncomfortable with her. People started texting messages expressing shock, dismay, and anger at the revelation she made. And though the main topic encompasses the discussion, it was pretty much forgotten with callers putting in their own 2 cents. For a self-confessed non-practicing born-again Christian, Ron presents a good case against people ignoring the main message of the Gospel. Some were disappointed at him for bringing up a controversial subject but he readily defends himself saying that everything that has been discussed in the show since the beginning were controversial, he was just surprised by the negative reactions (reminds me a lot of the O'Reilly Factor in the middle of "The Passion" brouhaha). I myself am against religious fanaticism and I understand Ron's call for sobriety in the middle of this debate. While one can't lightly dismiss Christ's message and identity, and sooner or later they would have to decide if they're for or against Him, you just can't throw rocks at people who disagree with your views. That's just plain wrong!
I updated my d'ART page with photographs I took earlier today.

The top three photos were taken in the vicinity of Antipolo and Marikina City, while the rest were taken down south in Tagaytay City where I was sent to pay land taxes. Seeing nature up close makes me think that the description good in the book of Genesis is an understatement.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

I finally got to attend the Komikero group's art session in Laguna today! Me, Az, and Edgar Tadeo met up at the MiniStop in Robinson's Galleria earlier this morning before catching a bus to San Pablo. Upon going down the bus we took another ride to a park beside Sampaloc Lake where the group was waiting. Of course, Gerry Alanguilan was there along with Jac and Jonas (who brought along his son). I'm not that good with remembering names of people I meet for the first time but I have no problem with faces. The members of the Komikero group along with those I have mentioned are Jepoy, Johnny, Ric, Raipo, Henry, Glenn, Geoff, and Rod. There's also Lynette who's a first timer like us.

Sampaloc Lake Park.

Lunch and entertainment at the nearby Spaghetti House.

Everyone's a tourist

Jac takes a breather from the discussion.

Mug shot

Floating salad bar. Haha!

Ed Tadeo struts his stuff.

The Komikero Group.

We concluded the meeting around 5:30 p.m. Everyone was great even though I never got to talk much (I really have to get over this silent business). We had a lot of laughs, I listened to them swap stories and anecdotes, I also watched them compete for the farthest thrown stone using one of the fish pens as their hoop, and then some. We all had fun today, so much so I can't wait to join them again next month.

* More pictures available in Az's newly constructed photo album. Thanks to Gerry for that last pic.
I had a rare, weird but wonderful dream last night. I dreamed that Matt Groening did a great big movie musical about the Jewish holiday Hannuka (seems like he beat Mel Gibson to the draw). There was one part where the protagonists were singing about the origin of the holiday to the tune of a traditional Christmas song "What Child Is This?" It was so big a hit that later while walking inside a mall we espied a novelty shop selling Disney-esque character figurines along with those from the movie that I practically drooled over it like a kid.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Lyndon, Az, and me attended the wake for the dad of our friend and fellow Denner, Lico, last night. Lico sent me a text yesterday morning informing us where the wake will be so there we went after initially meeting in our houses. The casket was closed but Lico opened it a bit for a short viewing before we sat down and caught up with each other's activities. Lico was doing well and he even updated us on his plans for a new comic strip. Then he brought out his small sketchbook and showed us some of his characters. What started out as a suggestion for the premise of his comic turned out to be a discussion peppered with stifled laughs about coming up with ridiculous X-Files type of names for a parallel universe populated by creepy-crawlies. There were even some ideas for spoofing the titles of horror movies and the what-if's of a weird scandal involving Michael Jackson and Astroboy.

Every once in a while some relatives would gather near the front and take each other's pictures. It probably was the first time in a long while since they all saw each other hence the cameras. Az also brought his digicam and took some candid shots. And there I was regretting my decision not to bring a camera when I should have (I'm half serious here). We went home past 11 p.m. just before they started mass. It's been a long time since we went out and I'm gonna ask for a night out again if ever there won't be an Artists' Den meeting next week.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Last night me and some friends were treated to two different discussions about love and relationship from women coming from opposing backgrounds. The first discussion was done over dinner at a small Japanese resto in Megamall. With me were my good friends Az and, a churchmate of mine, Jo. Over bento meals and ice tea we talked about the realities of married life and what we should be expecting once we find our prospective wives and decide to settle down (Jo's married for almost a year now). We exchanged views about singlehood, waiting for the right mate, the sacrifices that come with it, setting new priorities, we even openly discussed some fears common to those outside looking in, and other serious matters related to the topic on hand. We all left the resto well-rounded, a bit more educated, and also encouraged.

Later that night, with a different group in a different place, women also led the discussion of relationships with a completely different reason in mind: sex. They were the friends of a former high school batchmate of mine and one of them was already tipsy when the talks started. This discussion was the complete opposite of what I was treated to earlier. It would be a weakness for some other mortals, construing it as an invitation to do something forbidden (predictably emasculated by these kinds of talks). By and by, their banal talk was starting to annoy me and one of them was already crossing set boundaries. She started badgering me with me personal questions and teasing me with blatant innuendoes. Not wanting to offend my friends I still stayed where I am but in looking back I should have walked out of that place. Though I already spelled out my convictions regarding matters of fornication and showed my displeasure at her intrusive questions she still went on and on. Now why would women treat themselves as mere objects of pleasure? What do they think they would get out of one fleeting moment? The possibility of hooking up a serious relationship from there?

She was very quiet and probably sobered up by the reactions she got when we left. I didn't say goodbye to her nor did I feel like I have to. I'm not angry at her but I'm angry at what she did. I'm all for respecting women and I would even defend them if they're threatened but I won't be party to their tawdry actions that go against what I believe in. In the first place they wouldn't be talking trash like that if they respect themselves. But if they don't, then expect the same from me.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Funny how The Passion movie sparked another movement towards a kinder, gentler America. NBC's Today Show featured a segment about the media's influence over society, dictating its lifestyle and choices. It's no secret that celebrities haven't been the best role models as far as recent events are concerned. Add to that the panderings of the Media Elite who use bully tactics to dictate what or who should or shouldn't be patronized.

Well, Mel Gibson's new movie has succeeded in lifting the wool off the eyes of complacent folks. The ensuing controversy over the supposed anti-Semitism and senseless violence in the film woke the people up to the power of choice available to them. They finally realized that no longer are they helpless to do anything about the trash that the media is serving them. The same consumers who turned over to them the power of choice are now taking it back! Seems like the conservatives, as of now, are winning the cultural war against the liberals.

Speaking of Mr. Gibson, he's now eyeing the Maccabean Revolt as the subject of his next movie. It's the story of a Jewish father leading his five sons and their followers in mounting a revolt against a foreign king who desecrated their Temple. It's something like out of his previous movie The Patriot but much more ambitious, I think. You can also read his interview with Sean Hannity where he speaks his mind about the Bible being an 'R-rated book' among others. It's quite interesting I assure you.

* Visit Faith Mouse for more editorial cartoon series.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

I've always wanted to do character driven strips. Situational humor is fine and dandy when one's just starting out in their career as a cartoonist and for fleshing out the characters. But after a while it gets harder and harder to come up with good ideas, that's why it's necessary for cartoonists to establish their comic characters as soon as possible. I've played around with a couple of storylines some years back, personally I think they're good but they were also sporadic. That will be corrected soon enough.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.
I uploaded some new stuff in my d'ART account. They were just lying around the hard disk and it would be a real pity if I just left them in the dark. The latest pen-and-ink drawing was done the other day while watching Bill O'Reilly on FOX News. Nothing like watching good the 'ole "No Spin Zone Meister" slam nuisance issues and personalities to get me creative juices flowing. Not that that particular illustration has anything to do with the news but it did help somewhat, since this was the first time in months that I was able to drawdle something with no deadline in mind.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

This is a more recent strip published I think 1998 or maybe 1999 in GLITTER Magazine. Though Wilfred gets the shorter end of the deal everytime, it's actually more of a privilege for him to hang out with the most popular gang in school and he uses this fact to inflate his ego even more.
I should be checking my e-mail accounts a lot more regularly. That way I avoid embarrassing myself by answering outdated mails in my inbox. I should be reading the date in the e-mails too. Oy Vey!

Monday, March 15, 2004

I have a funny feeling that online I come off as someone intimidating. I don't know exactly if that's the truth but I'm sort of mixed up on this particular issue. On one hand the miniscule sadistic side of me enjoys this illusory sense of power. I imagine myself standing high and mighty on a tower disdainfully whizgigging* at all the paltry, piddling humans cringing outside my impenetrable fortress. "Bow down or face my wrath you slithering insignificant worms!" I announce above the majestic roar of thunder and lightning. On the other hand I see myself alone onstage, the spotlight trained directly on me, wondering if there are people watching. "Is there anyone out there?" I would call out while squinting my eyes, trying to discern even a silhouette sitting in the chairs. The sounds of crickets going "Kreek-kreek! Kreek-kreek!" answer back. Bizzare.

Maybe I come off as someone too serious. Or maybe an oddity. Go figure.

* I like the way the syllables zip and thump around my throat when reading the word out loud. Try it: Whizgigging! Whizgigging! Whizgigging!

Sunday, March 14, 2004

I finally finished Roaring Lambs! I've been putting off my reading for quite some time it feels like a shame really. But anyway, this book is one of a series of books I'm studying right now with regards to the needed participation of believers everywhere in popular culture (this started with a discussion between me and some friends some years back, resulting in the establishment of an artists' support group and a serious study of the role of arts in evangelism).

Bob Briner was right on track with this book where he demolishes the idea that only those Christians who go into full-time ministry are the only ones worthy of support:
What a shame that so many of us feel sort of in a fog between our faith and our careers. I am convinced that most Christians have no idea about the possibilities of being lambs that roar—of being followers of God who know how to fully integrate their commitment to Christ into their daily lives ... I was taught how to be a lamb, but I was never taught to roar.

I'm writing this book because I think that it's time for more lambs to roar. It's time for believers to confidently carry their faith with them in the marketplace so that our very culture feels the difference. I'm writing to parents and ministry professionals with the prayerful hope that they will begin more intensely and systematically to teach and model the reality that every one of us is called to be a minister in our own corner of the world. I am writing with the hope that the dichotomy between professional Christians and Christians in the professions will be greatly lessened. I'm writing with the hope that every reader will better understand how to carry out the scriptural admonition to be a salt in a world that so desperately needs a preservative. I am writing with the hope that Christian young people will choose careers and professions that will place them in the "culture shaping" venues of our world.

But before everything else he gives out a warning that we shouldn't go through this alone without getting a clear answer from our Lord and Master. He admonishes all would-be world changers to first "immerse our wills and desires so completely in the mind of Christ that we become extensions of His ministry to mankind," and there's no better way to do this than to start our journey on our knees or else "our ambitions will get in the way."

Then he lays down the premise of a society that's so estranged from Biblical ideals that it either cringes from the mere mention of Jesus, stares dumbfounded at you if you ask them about "salvation by grace" or gets furious at you for religious bias when sharing the Gospel with them. When we get these common reactions we either thumb our noses at them, deny it's happening, or we don't even try to share anything at all. But whether we like it our not the Culture War is real and it is happening right now. Society in general is sinking ever increasingly and traditional ethics, as dictated by the media, is going down the drain. People are being fed with pornography, increasing violence, the joys of drug abuse, and other stuff which we wouldn't think 10 years ago as something normal. The Church has abandoned her role as light and salt to the world as was commissioned by Jesus 2,000 years ago. People don't usually listen to us Christians because all we ever do is be critical of everything we see. Least of all, we don't offer any alternatives to fill the vacuum.
Remember, our job as Christians is not primarily to protest, but to proclaim. To be roaring lambs for God. Paul said to the Colossians: "Naturally, we proclaim Christ. We warn everyone we meet, teach everyone we can, all that we know about Him so that we may present everyone at his full maturity in Christ" (1:28 Phillips).

Imagine the million possibilities that could happen if we launch our best writers, actors, poets, directors, producers, painters, musicians, and the lot into the secular field with the blessings of the Church, imagine how much good they could do. Imagine them turning the world upside-down with radical ideas and experimentations into new artforms inspired by our Creator (we often underestimate the influential power of the media). As it is, the world is in desperate need of the preserving influence of believers everywhere, the Church shouldn't hinder the members of their congregation who want to venture out in the mission fields of the culturati.
The primary reason that there is so much error and so few Christian alternatives being considered in the ongoing flow of public policy discourse, is that basically evangelical Christians have abdicated. We have left the field. It is almost as if we are afraid to venture out into the world of ideas—to have our beliefs go head to head with those of other beliefs. We say we believe that God's Word relates to all life and has the answers to all of life's questions. Yet we primarily spend our time and energies talking only to each other, writing only for each other, performing only for each other. This abdication has made it possible, even necessary, for evangelical Christians and their beliefs to be interpreted to the world primarily by non-Christians. The fact that almost always get it wrong is our fault, not theirs.

If we're serious about fulfilling the Great Commission, if we are to effectively disseminate the message to this modern world then by all means start planning strategies on how to target the very heart of culture. Nurture those members of your Church that are called to work in the professional fields, and then launch them with prayers and full pledged support as you would full-time Missionaries.
A clear presentation of the Gospel that shows the relevance of Christ to life in today's world will always meet resistance. Many will scoff but, if it is our best work, some will be convinced, some will believe, some will be won. This is what a roaring lamb is all about. It is not about an easy path. It is not about always winning. It is about being there, being where the battle is, where the salt is needed.

A last word to believers who feel they're called to minister in the secular world: Earn the right to be heard! Train yourself to be the best at what you do. If you're called to do so, aspire for greater heights like what pioneer roaring lambs like John Grisham, C.S. Lewis, Charles Schultz, Lifehouse, Sixpence None the Richer, Moonstar88, Barbie's Cradle, numerous Hollywood actors, and professional athletes, like Alvin Patrimonio among others, did. Make a big difference in your chosen field and raise the banner! Just remember, the right to be heard is not confined within the boundaries of fame and recognition but rather with the character that those closest to us see daily.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

While searching for an answer to today's trivia question at Nikki Alfar's blog I came across this interesting site called Biro-Web. A humorous art site for doodles by an, as yet, unnamed artist. The drawings remind me a lot of those done by Pablo Picasso and some Henri Matisse here and there. I strongly suggest that you leave no stone unturned when you're exploring the pages in this site. Its irreverent humor also reminds me a lot of Hai Ibardolaza's Guarding Princess comic strip.

Another wonderful discovery I've made today is the news that Starbucks will be adding something trendy in their stores soon: personalized audio CDs to go! In a deal they've worked out with Hewlett Packard they'll be installing a listening station with a selection of 250,000 songs (is this is a per table thing?), submit a list of songs you want to include in your CD, they burn it, pay up and pick it up on your way out. Yowza! Can't wait till they bring it here! Also, Strange Haven has opened its doors for new orders for the shipment at the end of May. I sent a wanted list consisting of a book, a DVD, and a comic book compilation. I'll wait for the total amount first before making the final decision.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Gerry Alanguilan's original art for San Dig 1944 and the corresponding page in the book.

What was originally thought to be a lost cause turned out to be not lost after all. I was informed last weekend that the original Siglo artworks that were thought to be missing were already found. So earlier today I dropped by the marketing foundation's office to pick up the two pieces I won in the auction.

Elbert Or's original art for Chinatown 1957 and the corresponding page in the book.
The act of asking something from God and getting it is both a daunting and comforting prospect. Daunting because although He cares about the smallest details in your life and He wants you to think out of the box in asking from Him, there's no stopping Him from using those opportunities to test your heart's resolve. He wants you to really think it through and be specific with what you're asking. Why? Because He wants us to weigh our options carefully and to be aware of the instance He answers it. Beware of the times when our requests are dictated by our present emotional state. Allowing it makes us think smaller than what we usually do. Emotion narrows down our perspective resulting in tunnel vision of the future. If by His sovereignity and grace, He so chooses to answer in the positive and gave us what we asked, maintain a genuine attitude of thanks throughout the whole affair. Our intentions may or may not be good at the time but it is his prerogative in how He chooses to answer them. It is also a comforting process because despite of our shortcomings, our narrow mindedness, our shallowness, or no matter how many mistakes we make there's always a safety net waiting down there below us. We only have to humble ourselves even more to see it.

For example, I asked that my friend be blessed financially and that he would love his wife even more. This was in accordance to His revealed will but the problem was it was a selfish request because it only had a lot of "me" written behind it. Because I was absorbed with the perceived benefits of what I asked for, I missed His answer and thought there was a conspiracy. I felt like I blew something again and I don't know what it was. Like that scene in the movie Labyrinth (which is a wonderful allegory for Spiritual Warfare) where the main character was being bogged down by things from her past in a deliberate attempt to make her forget her mission, so was I being held down by thoughts of betrayal, assumption and other junk. One morning I was cornered by one simple thought: "Do you honestly think that God conspired with your friend to betray you?" As much as possible I avoided blaming God for my troubles. He's good. He came through to me everytime in the past and I know it isn't his nature to do such things. Right? But whether I liked it or not, I became like Jonah. I broke down, answered yes and, in between sobs, said I was sorry. Now if this were a Hollywood movie, a Divine spotlight would shine on me accompanied by a heavenly choir and God would speak in a big booming voice like James Earl Jones, speaking words of affirmation and fixing everything in a snap. Nothing that dramatic happened in reality. What happened next was a period of quiet rest before I was able to get up from the stupor I was in. Soon after that "desert experience,"* I also figured out that in answering my petition weeks ago He also tested my maturity in handling the situation. I'm very happy I passed the test.

* No matter what the outcome, God uses that process to remind us that we're still human and to show us what kind of foundation our professed faith stands on.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

It's so beautiful, it looks surreal.

Just got home from another meeting with my high school friends at the Rockwell Center. We didn't get to down to business much since we didn't have enough to go on with the others being absent and all. We're hoping that next week we'll be able to cover more ground regarding our anniversary reunion. To while away the time, we discussed political issues, the perks and downsides of our jobs, the pricey condotels being built around the area and, oh yeah, Gonuts Donuts.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

This is the final strip for the current storyline. I'm not satisfied with the dialogue but I have no idea to repair it though. I'll try to tighten it in the future. Also, this confrontation between Jay and Jason has long been overdue. I remember me and my brother were talking about the potential humor in the conflicts between the two right after the first few strips were published last 2002. Here's a backgrounder: Jason was and is still is the current Campus Crush for many years. So the appearance of this Fil-Am who got some girls going ga-ga over him poses a threat to his status. That unwanted incident with Joan, who he's been pursuing ever since elementary school, served as a spark igniting a blaze between the two. The war over their turf will continue next schoolyear along with the appearance of other characters from CLASS.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.
I got to go see my friends Jorge and Sheila in Makati today after a very long absence. I also brought them a gift especially since Sheila put down spiritual books as her favored reading materials in her Friendster profile. So hey, why not? What I also didn't know was that Jorge had an interest in the subject too. That's so cool! Maybe someday we could sit down and discuss these subjects. I also asked them if they're interested in watching an advance screening of The Passion of the Christ sometime next week and they said yes. I offered to pay the tickets myself but they insisted in treating me this time. I'll be calling the ticket office later to reserve some, these will probably be selling like hotcakes so I do hope I'm not too late. Deep inside I was all thankful to God for setting things in motion in to answer my petitions. I do plan to continue storming heaven with prayers and petitions until they get saved along with his and her family too. There will be some lashbacks and further attacks but if it's in response to their eventual salvation then by all means I'm willing to march to the center of Mordor and accomplish what I'm called to do.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

These two shots were taken inside the compound of the historical San Lazaro Hospital in Manila City. I accompanied my mom earlier today for her doctor's appointment. Not much unusual could be seen inside the building except for some signs of neglect.
My brother asked me to take pictures of the nightlife scene here in Manila for a newspaper feature in the U.S. I only had two places in mind that would qualify for a story about the highbrow night life. I was too tired to go to the Eastwood City Walk so I chose to go to my favorite weekend daytime haunt - Greenbelt 3. These are some of those I've taken last night and sent to him:

Of course, I didn't send these last two shots.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Here's an old strip about the identity of Wilfred's Bosing! in last week's installment of West Side. This was also published in GLITTER Magazine in the mid-90s.

Martha Stewart, I presume?

The movie Something's Gotta Give is my second favorite Jack Nicholson movie since As Good As It Gets (there are others but they quickly disappear in the background in light of these two movies). There's a very good chemistry between the two mature leads, something you rarely see in the new lead actors and actresses these days. The story opens with successful record studio producer, Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson), giving us a low-down on women and his accomplishments with them. He's then seen driving with a young and gorgeous Marin (Amanda Peet) by his side on their way to a secluded beach house in the Hamptons. Enter Marin's mom Erica Barry (Diane Keaton), a divorced successful playwright, who discovers a complete stranger scavenging their fridge in his underwear. After a round of quick explanations and apologies they finally agreed to share the house that weekend along with Erica's sister Zoe (Frances McDormand). Things started to turn a tad interesting after Harry suffers a mild coronary prior to his intended dalliance with Marin. He was brought to the hospital where a young doctor named Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves) meets and falls for the much older Erica. He also advises Harry to either stay put in the hospital or stay somewhere near while he's put observation. During his forced stay at the Barry beach house, he discovers that Erica is not as uptight as she first made herself to be and Erica gets over his garish, immature ways and sees a sensitive, solicitous side to him. In between these discoveries, Julian tries his best to woo his dear playwright with smooth talks and lavish praises.

Eventually they fall in love for the first time in many years (she after 20 years and the first time for him). The delighted Marin breaks up with him to give way to her mother. Harry warns her though that there is a chance of him returning to his old ways after this affair, Erica nods in affirmation but hopes against hope that she has changed his mind and would consider monogamy. After Harry was well enough to travel back to the city and to his work, Erica was also called by her devastated daughter to the city to meet her ex-husband Dave's (Paul Michael Glaser) fiancée. In that meeting at the restaurant, she also discovers by accident Harry and his new young date. Devastated she confronts Harry, pours out her broken heart to him and retires back to the Hamptons to finish her play. After a series of attacks he slowed down and thought about his ways before deciding to set things right and go for what really matters the most in life.

This is one of the best romantic comedies I've ever watched. In some ways I can relate to all the characters' common dilemma: their insecurity with being in love. Diane Keaton's character's dressed all in white, hides in a white house, and surrounds herself with most things white before she fell for Harry. She covered most of her body prompting Harry to ask her, "What's with the turtlenecks? It's the middle of summer!" This obviously translates to her uptightness. She's an ice queen that's why she's wearing white. She covers her body with turtleneck sweaters, long skirts, and jackets because she feels that nobody's attracted to her. While Harry covers his insecurities with his inimitable charm, by drowning himself with work, endless parties, fast-paced lifestyle, and seducing young women. He feels that he has to always prove himself to feel a hint of worth. Marin has been burned by the divorce of her parents so she thinks that if she commits she will be hurt again and Julian looks up to older people for the maturity he thinks people his age lack.

Erica's advice to her daughter rings true, part of it asks something like, "What are you waiting for? Don't be afraid to love." The words rang with wisdom and courage coming from someone whose heart was broken more badly by someone she met recently than by her divorce to a man she spent decades with. It may also be a timely advice to a lot of us, especially me. What am I waiting for? The right person of course. I'm also heartened by the idea that long after one gives up on the idea of ever finding that special someone, you will eventually find true love in the unlikeliest persons, in the unlikeliest of places, and in the unlikeliest of times.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Adult men rarely talk about friendships. If we do the topic would often revolve around the things we accomplished together rather than what our friendships mean to our personal growth as an individual. Well there is nothing wrong with it per se because we're wired that way. The bad thing about it is the denial and constant avoidance of discussing dashed expectations and those things that come with it. In doing so we decide that it's easier to swallow one's pride and allow these things to eat us up inside until it destroys us. Is it any surprise that the few books about the ins-and-outs of friendships are too wishy-washy and general at the most? What if there's a science to our friendships? Would it help a great deal if there were some way to recognize the signs of building a lasting bond with our peers?

That's why it came to me as a surprise when I saw the book Bonds of Iron: Forging Lasting Male Relationships sitting on the shelf. Gathering dust. Alone. With no one to talk to. No one was interested. Christian men talk about brotherhood and accountability but no one really bothers to learn about it, that's why this book was really a great deal for me. Here are some excerpts from one chapter explaining the "science" behind male bonding (this also goes to the fair lassies who want to understand how friendships evolve on our side):
Friendship Starts with a Promise. What is a promise? A promise is a declaration that you will or won't do something; you declare your intentions. Professor Lewis Smedes states that when we promise, we obligate ourselves; we bind ourselves to the promises and to those with whom we promise. If I make a promise with you I've obligated myself and you at the same time with certain conditions. Smedes says that the promise is future oriented. With the promise we reach into the future and bring certainty into an uncertain and chaotic world.

It's obvious that the tricky part of informal, unspoken promises is that most expectations remain unsaid. But these promises are no less binding upon us, obligating us to fulfill certain expectations. It's just that you and I, as friends, may have different definitions and expectations of friendship. For instance, you may view it as casual, get-together-every-now-and-then relationship. Meanwhile, I see it as a profound obligation to be there with you through thick and thin.

Unfortunately, most friendships are of this informal, unspoken promise variety. We make friends with each other never spelling out our expectations and obligations. Our differing expectations lead us down different paths, and we end up disappointing each other when our hopes are not met.

Our society reflects the deteriorating respect for promises. People constantly complain that obligations are not met in business, in church service, in marriage. In friendship, we must remember that we are bound to one another, that at the base of our relationship to one another is a promise.

Friendship Requires Faithfulness. Faithfulness goes hand-in-hand with promises. For the degree to which you keep your promises determines how faithful you are. You make a promise to me, and you keep that promise. If you keep all your promises, you show yourself to be a faithful person. When we're faithful to our promises, we can be trusted because we are dependable.

Friendship Involves Loyalty. Some would say that loyalty is a primitive artifact, a dangerous encumberance. Certainly loyalty to the wrong person or cause can be harmful. But in a genuine friendship to someone you trust, loyalty stands alongside of promising and faithfulness. The promise holds the relationship together. The faithful person keeps his promises, and as a result is loyal to the person with whom he has promised. Loyalty is critical to friendship, because as I draw closer to you I am able to more open and vulnerable with you. I feel safe because I know that your are loyal and trustworthy. However, the more open I am with you, the more I risk being hurt by you; thus I need to know even more that you will be loyal to our friendship.

But as I get closer to you, as I am able to be open and vulnerable with you, the fear of ridicule and rejection begins to rise within me. Then there's the tense of deficiency: "Am I enough?" At this point, many of us want to withdraw from the other person, to run and hide, to reestablish distance and feeling of safety. How do we overcome this fear? By having a friend who continues, in an increasing fashion, to show himself loyal and trustworthy. This allows us to draw closer to our friend and to increase our vulnerability.

Friendship Is Reciprocal. To be reciprocal means the relationship has give and take to it, each person from time to time being in a position to give, and at other times being in a position to receive. Yet many relationships I see aren't true friendships, for the relationships are unbalanced, with all the giving coming from one person.

Reciprocity not only involves the give and take around each other's needs, it also involves initiating the action. Have you ever had a "friend" who never called, never invited you to do anything, never initiated your involvement in his life? If you wanted to do something with that friend, you had to initiate the action. I sincerely question this to be a friendship, for friends find that on occasion one initiates doing things, then at other times the other friend is the initiator. There will be balance.

Friendship Means Becoming Vulnerable. A key element to friendships is being vulnerable. Most men however, are afraid to draw near to others and be vulnerable. Ironically, we don't realize our fears nor our distance. Our communication is shallow; all the while we believe that it is deep and meaningful. We go through the motions with other people. We repeat our stock answers:
"How are you?"
"Not bad. How 'bout yourself?"
"That's great. Anything new?"
Psychologist Joel Block questioned hundreds of men about friendships and discovered that men are frightened of one another. We fear most the harsh judgments of our brothers. Being competent has been drilled into us. As a result, it is extremely difficult for us to reach out to one another, to be vulnerable, to ask for help. And yet, the true friend is one with whom you can be vulnerable.

We are vulnerable to the degree that we feel safe. And we feel safe to the degree to which people through the years have kept their promises with us. Those who have been severely abused as children or who have had trusts betrayed in the past will find it very difficult to be vulnerable. Yet all men have some fear of being vulnerable. Finding safety in a relationship is essential for friendship.

Friendship Encourages the Other's Growth. As you may have surmised, each element of friendship builds on the other. Each point is important to be in place so that the next one will follow. I must begin in friendship with a promise (and I and my friend must be promise-keepers). When I have a promise in place, I can begin to trust. I make a promise, and I am faithful and loyal to the promises that I have made. Our friendship is a reciprocal relationship where we can give and take with each other, and find ourselves on an equal footing. Because of all these things I can be vulnerable with you and open myself up to you more and more. And as a result of this, I can grow as a person.

I'm not sure if the exact same process occurs with women or if they have a version all their own. I've learned a lot from that book, it has this table detailing the cycles of friendship between guys from childhood till old age, funny how we start from it, ignore it and then return to it in our twilight years. I just wish I had the time to finish it.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

I've been thinking about a lot things these past few days. Every night I would go out to the mall to reflect on a lot of things. I have already made peace with a lot of ghosts from the past. I realized that there are no accidents in this world and all things happen for a reason. Hurray if it's good but no matter how bad it is, something good always, always comes out of it. With regret gone resentment has taken its place, constantly gnawing holes in the walls of my thoughts.

Resentment assumes things. It builds up on the "what-ifs" of the past. You got unanswered questions on situations due to non-closure? Resentment feeds on them. Pride prevents you from getting out the door by drudging the muck and filling your thoughts with fear, upping the ante everytime and raising the pressure, leaving you paralyzed and helpless to do something about it until you erupt in smoldering anger. In an effort to stymie the thoughts and make sense of these assumptions, I go to the malls and eat out. I would always bring a book to read while I eat, browse new titles in the nearby bookstore, or see what's new in the art galleries upstairs. Then I would go home, watch TV, lie down on the bed, and think some more. There will be some times when I do get some relief over these assumptions. I think that during those times God come through and remind me what could have happened at the time of these unclosed episodes. In His grace he would come and whisper words of comfort in my ear. I imagine Him sitting down beside me, putting his arms around my shoulder and even without speaking a word would remind me that He's always there no matter what happens. I imagine Him rocking me in His arms and humming songs to quiet my troubled heart. Except for one person whom I open up to over the net, there's no one here I know would be able to relate to what's been happening to me. I've learned to sift whom I want to talk to and whom I'd like to be distracted with. Oftentimes the line between the two would be blurred and discussing philosophy and what-nots would offer temporary relief enough to get me through the day. But strangely still I would not open the door to them.

There would be a spattering of morning reflections and most often before sleeping I would think again. There were times I would silently cry out for relief behind closed doors. I would hold on to the promises that have been revealed to me and He would remind me of the things I was asking at the start of the year. He would urge me to stand my ground and defend my turf. "You are at war and even though I'll surely give what you ask of me, you still have to fight it out till that time," He would remind me again and again. For every stumble that I make he would offer His hand to raise me to my feet. It is His battle, not mine. It is His victory and his victory is my success. He never gave up every step of the way so why should I chicken out at this time?
Cling not to the things you've had
Reminders of a time so sad
So rise above the mire and silt
And free yourself of fear and guilt
Question not the things unknown
Just please accept the love you're shown
Trust in things you can not see

Well finally earlier today I'm happy to report that the dawn has finally come. Resentment's back has finally been broken!

* It's Alright, author unknown.
A three-headed frog with six legs have been found hopping in the backyard of a nursery school in the UK earlier today. It had been found first by the kids who put it in a bucket and showed it to their teachers. "At first we just thought it was three few frogs piled on top of each other but then it leapt up at us as one thing. The skin of the three heads all seemed to be one piece of skin," Ms Twinn said. "The children were all excited. They are all under four, so I suppose they were too young to be scared. I suppose they thought it was a bit of Harry Potter come to the Green Umbrella."

"He got away quite shortly after we captured him. One of the children went to look at him and he jumped out. We've had Sky News, the local television people and the children trying to find him all afternoon. They've been looking all over the garden and in the pond but with no success."

Upon seeing the pictures taken before its escape, John Wilkinson, a frog ecologist at the Open University, also thought it appeared to be two male frogs clinging very tightly to a female, "They get very randy, as we all do, and will not let go. We are in the breeding season." Wildlife experts believe that a probable damage to the embryo may have been caused, in part, by pollution.

Friday, March 05, 2004

This one's another oldie. The format was inspired by Robert L. Ripley's work and was one of a series that was published also in GLITTER Magazine during the late 90s.
The meeting last night with my high school batchmates regarding our 15th anniversary reunion this coming May tuned into a more interesting topic towards the end: male vanity. Well granted that the conversation was driven to that direction because our guest Tonette (a professional model) started asking what our daily facial regimen was, I never would have thought that these people would be that open to discussing the topic of grooming preferences. These were the same people, who back in high school, wouldn't be caught dead with a comb (I'm exaggerating a bit but you get the idea). Their lives revolved around basketball and women and here they were discussing the need for spas, and salons exclusively for guys. Amazing. Other topics that we discussed excluding our plans for the reunion ranged from the recent accident resulting in death for a starlet, our bachelorhood vs. the marriage status of our other friends, rates of models coming out in commercials, what other favorable hangouts are there for people our age, etc.

Sometime during the tail end of our discussion our batch rep, Robin called the attention of this caucasian looking guy walking past our table. They talked for a while before introducing us to his friend from college who was the former drummer of The Breed & Razorback and current drummer of Blue Rats, Miguel Ortigas. I was surprised to find out that for someone who belongs to one of the two oldest and richest family in the country he's a really nice, amiable, and casual guy. Very accomodating and has none of those airs other rich people have. I later remarked to my friend that he also looked like a younger version of Repertory Philippines' Miguel Faustmann. Before he left he extended an invitation for us to watch their gig sometime. We left the place a little before 1 a.m.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

This will be the second to the last installment for this storyline. I'm already stretching all possibilities to its limit and I don't think it can hold on much more longer. I've decided to move the introduction of the other characters next schoolyear. There are also plans for storylines for the other regular characters of the strip. I've only got an allowance of ten or maybe eight consecutive strips for that storyline. That is if I don't decide to poke fun on the upcoming elections.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

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