Saturday, December 31, 2011


Yes, I know. 

Compared to the 34 Books I've Read in 2010, this year is just heartbreaking for my digital library. I can still hear the echoes of their cries for attention reverberating in my head. I'm sorry I've failed you, beloved books. I promise to love you better in the coming year. This time I'll be sweeter, our love will run deeper. Have faith, in me...

(In Obsessive-Compulsive Chronological Order of Completion)

  1. Pretties - Scot Westerfeld
  2. The Girl & the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
  3. Something Borrowed - Emily Griffin
  4. Something Blue - Emily Griffin
  5. City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
  6. City of Ashes - Cassandra Clare
  7. City of Glass - Cassandra Clare
  8. Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare
  9. City of Fallen Angels - Cassandra Clare
  10. If I Stay - Gayle Forman
  11. Where She Went - Gayle Forman
  12. Before I Go To Sleep - S.J. Watson
  13. Specials - Scott Westerfeld
  14. Can You Keep A Secret - Sophie Kinsella
  15. Crescendo - Becca Fitzpatrick
  16. Veronika Decides to Die - Paulo Coelho
  17. Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins
  18. Room - Emma Donoghue

And because of such a short list, I don't think I can do my "annual" book awards with this kind of line-up. I mean, half the books mentioned is written by the same author, not to mention that 90% of the novels are under the YA category. This has been a terrible year for literary variety. What have I done with my life?? *bangs head to the wall* I blame mobile Internet!

Anyway, there is always next year. With my new iBooks app and its dazzling interface, hopefully, I can work my way to a respectable number before the world ends. ;)

Anyone who know me or have read at least a couple of posts in this blog know that I am not a big fan of religion. I'm a big believer of God but not necessarily any established faith available in the country (or the world for that matter). This fact, however, does not make me immune from being dragged to church almost every Sunday, Christmas Day was not an exemption. 

I want to make it clear that I have nothing against going to church. It's just that I can't find any meaning to these rituals, especially if the homily is, yet again, about some mindless ramble about the importance of the church, the duties of Catholics to their church, how one should go to church more often, be more active in church activities, give more money to the painting/restoration of the church et. al. I mean, I understand that a religious institution, even as big as The Catholic Church, needs support from their flock, but lately, I've been finding these kinds of lectures bothersome. 

For a massive powerful force that offers salvation and hope to millions of people, all I've been hearing recently are these kinds of needy litanies about being a "True Catholic / True Christian". If that is not the case, then lectures about the pathophysiology of the Holy Trinity and dissection of *enter vague religious term here* dominates most homilies I've had unpleasure of hearing. My spider sense could sense the crowd's simultaneous mental snores.

However, the Christmas Mass we went to last Sunday was different. It completely stood out from all the homilies I've heard since I started scrutinizing the words that come out of a priest's mouth. We attended the 6PM Eucharistic Celebration at the EDSA Shrine, December 25, 2011. I didn't catch Father's name, but you just have to to take my word for it, he was awesome.

And because it was Christmas, I expected a story about Jesus in the manger with the animals and itchy hay. I was ready to sneak in a quick nap while standing up (just got off from work before heading out to go to mass) when my subconscious told me that this priest was doing one hell of a job in that pulpit. With an American accent and a voice that could replace the smoothest DJ in Philippine radio, he rambled on with this unexplained magnetic charisma. He first talked about the thousands of street kids in the metro. On how one would eat inside a fast food beside the glass wall and have at least 2 kids staring at you while you much down on your Big Mac, then if you give one a treat, a stampede of other street kids will follow and surround you before you can even plan your nearest escape route. 

Point 1 for father. Good thing to know that at least one of the Catholic clergy acknowledges the existence of street children in the country. With their arguments against the RH Bill, I would have believed that they are blind to these conditions.

Second, he talked about the story of a an older brother sharing to his sibling half of the food he got from a donation drive. Just when the world seems so hopeless with the sight of never ending poverty and suffering kids with bleak future, he said that that image gave him hope. And this was the time he said the words that I never would have expected someone in the clergy would say.

He said that we, Catholics, Christians, have been so convinced, so assured, by our culture and even by our own church that God is always there for us. We have been so complacent and compelled that whatever hardship or suffering happens, God will help us, will not forsake us and thus will make everything better. All we needed to do is pray and have faith. Although this is true, what is lacking in these belief system is that, we have also in us the power to help ourselves.

In the bible, when Mary was in labor with Jesus, it was people who helped her and Joseph find a suitable place to give birth. It was the Three Kings who gave additional assistance to the holy family. Christmas is all about empowerment, he said. It is about us knowing and believing that we could make things happen for ourselves, our lives, and that we can help this country change for the better. 

In the hundreds of hours I've spent inside the church, I have never heard a priest acknowledge the power and the potency of human capability. Normally, sacred lectures like these concentrate on the power of God, our dependence on him, how everything should be offered and lifted up to him, how we are nothing without his saving grace etc. But his speech was different. Although there is God, looking after us, WE, ourselves, have the power to reach for our dreams and change the world entire. We are not as powerless as we thought we were.

People were already singing the Apostle's Creed while my mind was still reeling from aftershock. This is exactly what I wanted to hear from the church. For them to acknowledge that not all things can be achieved through sole prayer and veneration. At the end of the day, it is OURSELVES that we should believe in, that we have the power within us to achieve our greatest desires and change the world entire.

Come communion time, I can hear people still talking about the homily. I can tell that for people who regularly attend masses, this was a breath of fresh air for them too. It got me thinking, as long as there are young visionaries like father who sees reality as it is and steers away from ancient and impractical beliefs, there is hope for The Great (but slowly crumbling) Catholic Church after all.

Merry Christmas everyone!

**Photos from Google Images

Tuesday, December 6, 2011




Sunday, December 4, 2011

Well, not really. But please, allow me just this once to be perfectly incoherent.

The news that my entry "Blood Stains, the Smell of Disinfectant and the RH Bill" has won the 2011 Philippine Blog Awards for Best Single Post has left me stunned for hours now and has rendered me with the vocabulary of a 6-year-old, mostly comprised of the words "wow" and "thank you". 

I was not even aware that it was a finalist. Imagine my shock when I woke up in the middle of the day and read tweets congratulating me for the said achievement while still half-asleep. After 2 seconds of staring disbelievingly at the screen, I checked my email and, 'lo and behold, there it was, an invitation for the awards ceremony at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater, RCBC Plaza on December 3, 2011 6PM, read 2 days late. 

The sad thing about it is that, this year, I vowed that I would attend the event if ever I make it again to the finals. Last year, when an entry of mine was nominated for Top 3 Posts for 2010, I camped in my room and watched the ceremony live via Ustream. The article lost but the event looked so much fun I promised that the following year, I would drag anyone who's willing and attend the ceremony just for experience sake. 

But then, life happened. A crazy graveyard shift schedule, coupled by lack of sleep, absolute confusion on what day it is and my inability to check my email accounts regularly even if my life depended on it made me miss what could have been one of the most memorable nights of my Writer Life. *enter melodramatic sigh here*

Lamentations aside, I'd like to offer my sincerest gratitude to the organizers and judges of the 2011 Philippine Blog Awards. I know none of the members of the committee personally and have extremely limited blogger friends so it was really a huge surprise to find out that the post won, especially against finalists of such high caliber, including those who have won multiple times in the past.

I still cannot believe that a prestigious award giving body has noticed my humble little brain child. It is such a privilege to be a part of your honor roll. A small part of me is even relieved that I wasn't able to accept the award personally and deliver my 2 minute speech because this blogger is still at a loss for words.

Again, THANK YOU Philippine Blog Awards for this awesome day that has yet to start. Please do continue spreading inspiration and distinction to an art form and advocacy many have yet to acknowledge. Blogging has really come a long way, but the road continues on and is filled with infinite possibilities. I hope to meet you guys along the way. 

Winners of the 2011 Philippine Blog Awards (Photo taken from here.)

Now, if only I could manage to watch a full recording of the awards ceremony, get my wooden carabao trophy and Photoshop myself to this picture, my blogging existence will be complete. ;)



Finalists, Best Single Post Category

Winners of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS 2011

Blog Widget by LinkWithin