Category Archives: Philosophy

May love fall on you, may you fall in love

“Hindi maituturing na bulag ang pagmamahal dahil nakikita ng taong nag­mamahal ang halaga ng minamahal. Kaya hindi totoo ang kasabihang “Love is blind.” Sabi nga ni Blaise Pascal, “May sariling katwiran ang pagmamahal na hindi maunawaan ng mismong katwiran.”

This is what’s written in one of the EsP modules for grade 10. When I was discussing it, all the familiar adage came to as well as the personal aphorisms I have about love and reason.

I told my students that “when torn between the dictates of your heart and mind, always follow your mind. Because the head (mind/reason) was put on top of the heart (love) because the former is superior (or at least must be consulted first) than the latter.

We cannot also say that love is blind as purported above.

I say that “love is not blind. It sees, but it doesn’t mind.”

The lover sees the flaws and imperfections of the beloved. But because of love, one chooses not to see those flaws and imperfections. Thus, genuine and unconditional love.

After all, in the end, as Blaise Pascal said, “the heart has its reasons that reason will never understand.”

Let’s love… unconditionally and genuinely! May love fall on you and may you fall in love!

Advertisements

I am what I experience

My neice asked me to explain to her my understanding of “I am what I experience.” I don’t claim expertise of the subject but here is what I answered:

We have already heard the saying, “we are what we eat — because naturally, what we eat becomes part of our body.”

In a similar fashion, “we are what we experience” means that as we make meaningful experiences everyday, these experiences become part of ourselves — of our personalities, our belief systems, and pur humanity. Our learnings from our daily encounter with people and the society make us the people we are now. We act and do certain things, for example, because they are guided by our prior learnings from our previous experiences. 

For example, a person may be strong because of the hardships s/he has experienced in life. A person may be careful and cautious in choosing his/her friends, because maybe s/he has encountered false friends before. Our present self (or actions) are somehow guided by our past experiences.

Therefore, in sum, “I am what I experience” means that I am honed and molded into the person I am now by my daily life experiences.

RESPONSE-able FREEDOM

RESPONSIBILITY

Today, I am going to talk about three overarching principles: responsibility, freedom, and responsible freedom.

Let us begin with the first principle. Responsibility is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as the opportunity or ability to act independently and take decisions without authorization. To put that simply, this definition can be divided into two root-words: response and ability.

Making a coherent simple definition of the word, responsibility NOW will mean OUR ABILITY TO RESPOND. Responsibility lies in our ability and capacity to act. Responsibility is to do something without being told but simply because we can and because we are ABLE.

When confronted with confusion whether to ACT or NOT, we ask ourselves, “AM I RESPONSIBLE?” So whenever we ask ourselves this question of responsibility, let us remember the root words: RESPONSE+ABLE.

If until now you are asking, “Am I responsible for my parents?” or “Am I responsible for the poor in my community?” or “Am I responsible for my classmate with a failing grade?” My simple answer to that is: are you response-able? If you are, then you must be held responsible for them.

FREEDOM

Now let’s take my second point. You might be familiar with this: “The cry of Balintawak. And the echoes answered back – Freedom!”

From the earliest conception of the term, freedom has been a debatable topic. Nations cry for freedom from the tyranny of the oppressors. The people of the Philippines, for example, cried for freedom against its many colonizers in the past. And we won.

But freedom is not only winning our national liberty. There is more to freedom than the absence of foreign domination and enslavement. Freedom is also personal.

Freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants (Oxford Dictionaries Online). So to say, when one is not hindered to do as he wants, he is free.

When free folks want to go shopping, swimming, or hiking, they can do so. When someone wants to go to the church or any place of worship, he is free to go and exercise his religion. If someone wants to remain silent, he is free to do so – that is his right; such is his freedom. Moreover, when people want to express their opinions, they can gather together and let their voices be heard.

Following this line of thinking, one can even spread gossip and false information about his enemies. One can slap the person next to her if she gets irritated. Or steal someone’s belongings whenever he feels like doing it. Such is freedom, isn’t it? But oops! That seems to be erroneous and it brings me to my next point – the relativity and partiality of freedom.

RESPONSIBLE FREEDOM

Freedom is not absolute. As Herbert Spencer said, “every man has the freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man.” This is tantamount to saying that the limitation of our freedom is the equal freedom of our fellowmen. In a simple adage, it means that “our freedom ends when someone else’s freedom begins.”

This brings us to the realization that whenever we exercise our freedom, we always have to consider its implications to others. This relates to our responsibility as caretakers of our brethren.

Putting this into context, one is free to cheat in an examination, but is that responsible? All are free to defame others, but is that responsible? One is free to steal, to hastily judge, to kill, and to commit adultery – but none of those is responsible.

It is right, therefore, to conclude that responsible freedom is directed towards our welfare and the well-being of our fellow men. We are free to do anything good, and just, and beautiful for ourselves and for others.

Exercise your freedom by doing what is good and just. Do something good and beautiful not because you were forced to do so, but because you have the ability to do so. Help, not because it is your obligation but because you are free and able to reach out.

Respond because you are able. Respond because you are free!

My wish for you today is to become responsible for the freedom you all have. Thank you and good day!

Why we do what we do: Values in Action

Speech @ SPVA Flag Ceremony

Yesterday, a friend, Kenji, came to me and asked, “what are your core values?”

I answered, “integrity, authenticity, family, faith/religion, wisdom/learning, and influence.”

That time, his mind was cluttered, therefore he further inquired, “how do you know these are your values?”

My simple reply was, “values are the things important to us.”

My dear friends, what are the things important to you? There are your values. Values are the ball-bearings of our actions. Our decisions are grounded in our values and belief systems. To put it simply, the choices we take and the decisions we make are propelled by our values.

As an example, if my value is honesty, I will never cheat in the exams because my values say, cheating is dishonest. If I value my family, I will never do anything to disobey and disrespect my parents – because after all, they are important to me.

So I say, we do what we do because it is propelled by our values.

Kenji’s inquiry didn’t stop there. He wanted to know how he can form his own value system.

There’s the rub. Students and friends, I have a good news – that is, values can be learned. Here, I want to show the connection between habits, values, and virtues.

Habits are formed through repetition of a similar act. Then these habits that are formed through the repetition of a similar act would reveal a deeper meaning aside from the act itself. That deeper meaning is what we call values. When one no longer sees the act itself but the reason and purpose behind its performance, then one has already placed a value on the specific act.

So, again, I ask you, “what are important to you?” Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Therefore today, I direct you to a contemplation – to an examination of your values.

Is discipline your value? Then you must be behaving in the class. Is honesty your value? Then you must be honest in the exams. Is obedience your value? Then you must obey your teachers and parents alike.

And finally, is the Eucharist, or the Mass, valuable to you?

If so, there must be a multitude of SPVA Students flocking in the church every Sunday knowing that it is not only an obligation as Catholics to celebrate the Mass but rather an understanding that it is a deeper encounter with the Lord Jesus Himself.

My wish for you all is that you make the Eucharist and all heavenly things a value in your life.

Thank you and have a wonderful day!

THE PRAYING HANDS

Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen!

In order merely to keep food on the table for this big family, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighbourhood.

Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder’s children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by labouring in the mines.

They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg.

Praying Hands

This is Albert Durer’s Hands painted by his brother Albrecht Durer

Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht’s etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.

When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht’s triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honoured position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfil his ambition. His closing words were, “And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you.”

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, “No …no …no …no.”

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, “No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look … look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother … for me it is too late.”

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer’s hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver point sketches, water-colours, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer’s works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.

One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother’s abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply “Hands,” but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love “The Praying Hands.”

The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one – no one – – ever makes it alone!

Royal Noble Consort Suk of the Choi Clan

Just finished watching the final episode of Dong Yi [동이]..
What i learned about the life of the Royal Noble Consort Suk of the Choi clan [숙빈최씨] is that:

“a man will be bright/radiant, and successful when he has great intentions and great heart.”

A Student’s Prayer — St. Thomas Aquinas

Creator of all things,
true source of light and wisdom,
origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of your light penetrate
the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding,
a retentive memory, and
the ability to grasp things
correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent
of being exact in my explanations
and the ability to express myself
with thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.


Hark’s Original Quote on Writing

“Writing is a process and it’s never easy! It needs patience and it grows through the course of time.”

Our National Anthem, “Lupang Hinirang”

The Filipino people impatiently await the singing of the Philippine National Anthem whenever Manny Paquiao has a fight in the boxing arena. It seems that it has been a tradition of the National Historical Institute to censor every artist’s faults in singing the National Anthem on a modified version.  It was only recently that Charice Pempengco sang it correctly in two occasions; first at the 2010 Presidential Inauguration, and second, on the Paquiao-Mosley Fight.

Bringing this matter in light, we would try to answer the question: “How is the proper way of singing the Philippine National Anthem?”

Article XVI, Section 2 of the present Philippine Constitution specifies that “The Congress may, by law, adopt a new name for the country, a national anthem, or a national seal, which shall be truly reflective and symbolic of the ideals, history, and traditions of the people. Such law shall take effect only upon its ratification by the people in a national referendum.” At present, the 1998 Republic Act (R.A.) 8491 (the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines) regulates the usage of the Philippine national anthem. It also contains the complete lyrics of “Lupang Hinirang.”

R.A. 8491 specifies that Lupang Hinirang “shall be in accordance with the musical arrangement and composition of Julian Felipe.” However, when literally followed, this means that the national anthem should only be performed by a pianist or by a brass band, as these were the only versions that were produced by Julian Felipe.

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, it is difficult for singers to keep up with the music because the original version was composed in duple time (i.e. in a time signature of 2/4) as compared to the present quadruple time 4/4, making it uncertain if this will either slow down or even double the music’s speed. However, what I can’t understand is that, why do we equate seriousness and solemnity with slowness when it comes to singing of the National Anthem? It’s a march played during the proclamation of the Philippine Independence! Isn’t it supposed to be sung with fervor as it was originally composed?

This is our National Anthem – a symbol of our Nation and a witness to our independence. Give justice to it! Singers should have control as they sing it; without so much embellishments, renditions, and modifications! Artists and Choral Groups are totally in error when they modify the tone, put second voices, etc. on the National Anthem.

We felt so liberal in modifying our National Anthem to suit our musical taste. What we do not realize is that when we continuously stray from its original version and tempo, it somewhat lose its gravity and historicity too.

We should realize that when we sing the National Anthem, we do not perform on a show. Rather, in singing it, we should bear in mind that we should let everybody sing it and feel it to become proud of our country. As the Hymn goes, “Aming ligaya na ‘pag may mang-aapi, ang mamatay ng dahil sa Iyo. (‘Tis our joy, when there be oppressors, to die because of Thee.)”

Hark’s Original Quote on Flattery and Criticism

What good does it bring to have a thousand friend who flatters you with false words? I’d rather have a single enemy who criticize me with the truth!