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.
'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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Sampaloc Lake Park.
Lunch and entertainment at the nearby Spaghetti House.
Everyone's a tourist
Jac takes a breather from the discussion.
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.
Saturday, March 20, 2004
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
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
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.
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.
Monday, March 15, 2004
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
"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.
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.