When a grown-up reads The Little Prince

11749875_10153346225557906_1700189197_oMy ex-room mate once told me: As you grow old, reading The Little Prince becomes more profound. So I pick up my 10-year old copy of The Little Prince and read all over again. When you gain more life experiences, you can find yourself in one of The Little Prince’s characters and in the book’s philosophies. I appreciate the book now, in my mid twenties. I guess when you’re a little older, you strangely get insights from the innocence of a child which The Little Prince symbolizes. Here are some of the things that The Little Prince remind me of:

We love numbers but numbers are just numbers

Our world is governed by numbers. For instance, we measure the country’s progress by GNP or GDP but it does not reflect the quality of life of most people. Money, school grades, salary, check, number of likes in Facebook are just numbers. Numbers cannot tell how happy you are.

We have to dig deeper to know its value

One of the most popular quote: “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” “ And another quote from the books says: “What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well” It’s easy to measure someone’s worth based on face value.  Often we pattern our lives with what society expects, what advertising sells.  Always choose substance over form. What holds value to you does not necessarily hold value to to most people.

Facts are just “good-to-know”. Life is not about facts but a collection of experiences.

I always thought that by reading more books, by studying, by listening to experts and scholars is enough to make me more knowledgeable. But experience is always irreplaceable. Thanks to technology, knowledge is accessible. It’s good to know the world through web pages but it’s just a small portion of our reality.

The obsession of power, status and accumulation are all meaningless. 

I have a similar blog post related to this. The Little Prince  cannot understand the obsession of  the king to rule, the fascination of the businessman to buy more stars. We do resemble some of the characters  he met in different planets. We may be the geographer who does not travel the places he records, and the lamplighter who is too useful but has no time to rest.

We choose the people we want to be part of our lives

We keep looking for the best set of people to be our friends. They are not unique people just like the rose of The Little Prince. He has a sad realization that his rose in his planet is just like the other roses on earth.  But when we “establish ties”, the way The Little Prince tamed the fox, we make them special. This reminds me of random question I shared with my friend: Do you think you marry the best guy in your life or the right person?

“There is no shop where you can buy friendship”

Period.   the littlpr Relationships are important

Relationships add zeal and meaning in our lives as explained by the fox to The Little Prince.

“My life is very monotonous,” the fox said. “I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…”

We love the difficult people

The rose of The Little Prince has an attitude problem. She always complains and she is pretty demanding. Not to mention, she is fragile and vulnerable but The Little Prince has been devoted to her.

People have different values and priorities

We choose what gives meaning to our lives. Yes, we can choose what drives us everyday to work, what makes our lives worth living for, what inspires us, what motives us, what makes us happy

“All men have stars,” [the prince said.] “but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You—you alone—will have the stars as no one else has them—” “What are you trying to say?” “In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night… You—only you—will have stars that can laugh!” (26.18-20)

Looking forward to watch The Little Prince movie

Dear Men

I am writing this for my hypothetical son so that when he grows up, and someone asks him, “Are you man enough?”, he can get over it. He does not have to answer on “what it takes to be a man.” There is no effort to be a man. There is no effort to be a woman. It should always be effortless to be who you are.

Dear Men,

You must have heard this for most of your life. “Man up”, “Are you man enough?” Courage by all means has no gender and everyone has the capacity to be vulnerable. Yes, vulnerability is a capacity. If you take away the person’s need to express fear, sorrow or dismay, you are taking away what is innate in human.

Many women complain that most of their sufferings have to do with men. menstruation, menopause, or “men oppose” but believe me you are our comrades.

It doesn’t not matter if you were created first nor how you were created. Whether you are products of evolution or family planning, it does not increase or decrease your value in this world. It does not matter if you are made of steel, bronze or metal. It does matter if you come from the ground or from left over of star dust. You are too intricate, and too complicated, to determine which elements you are made of. I will simply describe you in the way that it is written in Genesis, in the likeness of His image.

If you think you are authorized, entitled, I’d simply say: You have the power. There are many kinds of power but not all kinds of power are meant to lead or control. Choose your power wisely.

Most of our lives, we imprison ourselves with brand names but brand names do not indicate our purpose in life. Let us refrain from using our gender as an excuse or privilege. “Because I am a man” and “because I am woman” cannot explain the talents we have, the principles we keep, and the sacrifices we make.

In this lifetime, it doesn’t matter who wins and loses. It doesn’t matter who leads or submits. It doesn’t matter who has more or who has less. It doesn’t matter who is stronger or who is weaker. Love is the greatest equalizer. For when we love, we based our actions not on our roles, on our strengths, but for the welfare of others.

Keep this in mind that you are not limited or defined by your testosterone.

And let’s face it. You are not complete without women. Your genetic makeup speaks so much about it. For your XY chromosome, you owe it to your mother. The mere fact that all men have X chromosome is a tribute to women. Hence treat every woman as your sister, daughter and mother. No son would want to see his mom objectified. No father would want to see his daughter get hurt.

Your role is not to save a damsel in distress. Your role is to save the world from bondage, to save it from greed and oppression. Be an agent of change. Your role in the lives of women is to uplift them. Let it be known that they do not need heroes. They are heroes too.

Read more about women, but not on how to date a woman, or how to take her out. Read on their contributions in history, culture, literature, revolution and others. We need to hear more of them because for the longest time, we left women out of the pages of our books. Let us dream together for a better place to live. And maybe someday there will be no history, herstory but only “our story.”

Summer Fling

“There’s something that always sends us hurtling head over heels. Travel. Regardless of whether you’re married, dating, heartbroken or happily single, if you’re traveling, you can have that beautiful feeling of falling in love all over again, again and again.” – Revati Victor

He was able to articulate what I wanted to say, “Traveling is the closest to the feeling of falling in love. It is the feeling that you do not want to end.” If you are someone who likes romance but not so much on relationships, traveling is your best companion. Every place you go is like a summer fling. You get so excited at first and heartbroken once it leaves you too swift. But right now, I want an endless summer fling. I want to keep my feet moving until I reach a new destination. 2014614105143Traveling is ephemeral.  The value of fleeting moments becomes more apparent in traveling. Nothing lasts forever. Every moment is fleeting. Everyone is leaving. Everything is depleting. We don’t know the extinction of every bird, and every plant. We don’t how long we can swim the seawater.

Traveling is ephemeral. So take a camera with you

Traveling is ephemeral. So take a camera with you

I just realize how wonderful God made the world and I realized I have not seen half of it. I want to do stargazing in the woods, and write in my journal Pablo’s Neruda’s famous lines “Tonight I can write the saddest lines.” 11013561_10153072428592906_111947654101653172_n I can never measure the words infinity, abundance, grandeur, borderless, and unlimited but when I travel, it is the only time that these words have real meaning. When I walk near the sea, I see infinity. When I reach the mountain tops, I stand in awe. When I reach a foreign land, there is just too much to absorb. When I get to know people and culture, there is just too much to learn. You will always use the word “too much.” 2014614104943 10703802_10152650144587906_8935474558117179334_n I also want to see the works of people all over the world including handicrafts, paintings, and old and modern architecture.

Singapore

Singapore

Chatuchak Market

Chatuchak Market

We appreciate history. We appreciate stories if we see their remnants in monuments, in artifacts, in museums, in tradition, and in places. While books can tell you when and why, traveling reaffirms what we know about the world and makes us discover what we haven’t known for a long time.

Cavite

Cavite

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Corregidor

When life is just too dry, I dream of cherry-blossoms, maple trees, and long bridges. I want to touch snow, see Taj Mahal, climb Mt Pulag, and maybe get a tattoo from Kalinga. I want to ride a bike with basket of flowers and pretend I’m in a Korean film. Traveling makes life look like movies. I want to travel as often as I can, partly because I want to escape the truth that some things have to be permanent. As what most people say “walang forever” (there is no forever). But there is always a feeling of forever, maybe in small infinities or in bigger infinities.

I only have two dreams: To go as many places as I can and to eat many kinds of food. The rest is negotiable.

Batangas

Batangas

To my hypothetical daughter

IMG_20150407_125805To my hypothetical daughter,

I have loved you even before you were born.

I want you to know that you are perfectly made, and whatever you will gain in life  will just be an add-on to who you are and what you have. Whether you will have an eyeliner, a jewel, a sash or a medal,  they do not set the price of who you are.

While it is my duty to protect you, it is also my responsibility to introduce you to the real world. I will let you chase butterflies even if they leave you with cuts and bruises. If you need to get dirty to feel the earth, you will always have my permission. Don’t worry if you trip or fall. Mama had always been clumsy and she survived.

I will not force you to read books but every night I will read stories to you. Maybe I might read some fairy tales to you but I don’t want you to dream of a knight and shining armor. I want you to be a queen in your own kingdom. I want you to lead the universe without a crown and scepter. And if you want romance, you can always avail it. You can find romance in sappy movies, in strings and verses, in sunset and sunrise. You don’t need to kiss a frog to find it.

I want you to know that the popular girl in campus is not your competitor. She is your sister. And the girl begging for a piece of bread is also your sister. I want you to know that sisterhood is beyond blood ties, spaces, and races. Understand that every girl struggles with life the way you do. Never see someone’s achievement as a threat to you. Sisters rejoice in each other’s victories and lift those who are falling. If you are starting to feel worthless, convert envy into batteries of inspiration. People value you not based on who you defeat and which place you conquer but how you treat others. Kill your enemies with kindness.

I don’t want you to be obsessed with magazine covers. I will probably buy you some to let you know that the front cover is a product of art and creativity. Do not think of your body parts as mere objects but as  extension of your innate abilities. I don’t want you to dream of becoming a cover girl because your mama cannot assure you that you will win the genetic lottery. Instead, dream of legs that can take you to faraway lands, dream of eyes that can see the future, dream of breasts that can feed, dream of lips that can convey power, and dream of a body that can work for God’s glory.

One day, you will spot blood stain in your skirt. As you will earn pimples, you will be more familiar with the sound of catcalls. Mama will not stop you from meeting boys, the way your grandma hasn’t. But I’ll tell you there are much more interesting things in this world than boys such as travel, culture, trekking, spirits, fashion, martial arts, and a lot more.

As you grow old, some things will be more expensive such as confidence, love, and pride but do not be deceived by what  the TV tells you. Do not save your money for these things. You cannot buy confidence with toothpaste. You cannot buy love with a box of chocolates.

If you make mistakes, do not think of yourself less. No one can break you. You are a rubber band. You will bounce back, no matter how hard life will stretch you. Mama will always remind you that “Everything will be fine. And it’s okay not to be okay.”

I want you to work hard, not for me, but for yourself and for what you believe in.

If one day, you decide to get married, my first question would be, “Are you serious?”

I will not ask for a grandchild. If you are happy in what you do, you fulfill your mama’s dream.

If you want to be a teacher, a pastry chef, an engineer, a farmer, a soldier, a cosplayer, a mother or whatever fictional character you can think of, I will help you become one.

I will give you wings when you want to fly. I will give you a microphone whenever you think your voice is too small.

Your life begins with me but it does not have to end with me. I want to share you with the world so that they can see how wonderful God made you.

Remember, you are a happiness machine.

You will be what you want to be.

And even before you realize what you can be, you are already enough.

“ Dahil ang totoong nagmamahal ay mapagpalaya”

Love and light,

Your hypothetical mother

If “True Love” is True

Disney Maleficent Movie

Disney Maleficent Movie

My professor in one of my MA classes asked us, ” What do you think about romantic love?” I said, “I think romantic love is overrated.”

I was bitter but I was able to validate my opinion when Nicholas Sparks just filed a divorce. It was the worst heartbreak ever. If swallowing more personal heartaches could save his marriage, I would just to keep that fantasy.

If I am going to use my feminist lens, I think romantic love is used to oppress women. In fact the romantic love we know characterized by euphoric feelings is too modern. This true love is that kind of love that is pushed by Victorian era. The bourgeois ensured their bloodline by picking one woman for one man. It makes women long for male validation. It makes the ideal kind of love unattainable, inaccessible. It makes love an achievement when it should be free. As stated by Janis Ian, love was meant for beauty queens.

My academic reading reflects real life drama

My academic reading reflects real life drama

I don’t want people to think negatively about love but I am selling the principle of love in its basic and universal form. There are principles that are worth fighting for but the principle of love encompasses all principles that is good for humanity.

But what is love? My idea of love is theological and philosophical. They say love is a social construct. It means many things to many people. We are living in a world where we like to deconstruct ideas. But when someone tells you “I love you,” it’s one truth that you wish is absolute.

heart

found this on my way to school

I look back at the book of 1st Corinthians 13 and other passages in the Bible that show love to figure out if I am loving. I have heard this many times. When I was a kid, I whispered, “Oh that’s no-brainer! Isn’t it natural for a human being to love?” But growing old, watching people come and go, gaining experiences, losing trust, I just come to a conclusion love is expensive. I discover that only a few people can love me that includes my mom and dad and that my capacity to love others is also limited. And I have no problem with that. Knowing that only a few people can truly love me sets the bar on how I love people.

What I’d like to highlight in 1st Corinthians 13:  “It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” “Self-seeking” means that we should not try to seek what we will gain or benefit from people. We love for the purpose of loving alone. If you are counting the rewards and perks of gaining people to love, that is not true love.

Love does not keep records of wrongs. Love does not have quota for how many mistakes the other makes. You just love and forgive those who make. We love not to prove that we are better, more righteous, smarter than the other. We choose love not to please ourselves but to please others.

Nothing is written in the book that love is mutual. As what Shakespeare said, “Love is not love that bends with the remover.”

The most beautiful and most difficult in the biblical view of love is the principle of sacrifice. Love calls for a sacrifice. When soldiers put their lives at risk, that is love.

Photo from Michael V  instagram

Photo from Michael V instagram

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. “ – John 15: 13

The way Christ demonstrates love……

Photo from: heiscomingblog.wordpress.com

Photo from: heiscomingblog.wordpress.com

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we laid down our lives for our brothers and sisters. “-1 John 3: 16

Love is expensive. Love is not as shallow as giving extra food, extra cash, extra time. Love is not giving what we have in excess. Because when it is just an extra of what we have, there is no sacrifice. In Mark 12: 41- 44,  between the rich people who gave large amounts of money and a poor widow who only gave two small coins as offering, the poor widow has put more treasury than all others.

In the course of love, we make ourselves vulnerable. Christ made himself vulnerable. He became human and died for our sins. We love the unlovable. We love even our oppressors. We love the ugliest. We love the people who exploit us. I  have to agree if people say that Christianity is a religion of death and martyrdom.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?– Matthew 5: 43- 48

It does not matter who we love but how we love matters.

When Jean Valjean was dying , he and Cosette in Les Miserables, sang : “To love another person is to see face of God” There are many religious people who are vigilant in criticizing others but they forget how to love.

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. “-1 John 4: 8

So….Are you just a clanging cymbal?

Photo from Versifylife.com

Photo from Versifylife.com

Most of the time, I am.

Postcard from Thailand

If I meet you in Thailand

one that got away

Wat Pho Photo by Rima Granali

I will make your feet sore
You will receive many smiles.
But One will be the brightest

Maybe from a Thai, maybe from a farang

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Wat Pho

We will take motor rides
in highways
in alleys
There is danger
But there is liberation

We will ride a tutuk
It will take us to many places
including a jewelry shop
And if they know you have no money
Just tell them I’m here
to find an engagement ring
Then I’ll pretend and say
“I change my mind”
Trust me,
It’s a scam

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Grand Palace Photo by Rima Granali

If you want to have a sign from heaven,
ask for a bird to come near you
I will take you to the nearest park
and call a flock of pigeons to gather around you
Then..

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I will ask you, Have you heard about the movie The King and I?
There’s a line, “Will you be my new romance?”
And I will point you to Grand Palace.

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Grand Palace Photo by Rima Granali

We will travel along Chao Phraya River
we will survey the Old Bangkok
and notice it is a city of rainbow
where red, orange, yellow are alive
where the person next to you is pale
and your driver is made of bronze

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We will visit Jim Thompson’s house
If you ask me if I want to live there
“No, I don’t want to live in the past.”

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Jim Thompson’s House

If you want to cry but you just can’t
I will let you eat the spiciest food
If looking into the elephants’ eyes hurts you
Just look at me
and you will laugh

jack by rima3

We will climb the highest temple

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Wat Arun

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We will climb all the temples of Ayutthaya

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Photo by Rima Granali

We will never stop climbing

photo by ted dy

Photo by Ted Dy

until I hear you catching breath

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Wat Phra Mahathat

There, we will wait for the sun to sink
for the ruins to be at peace
like scratches of pain healed

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Wat Phra Mahathat

We will see ruins and say they make a beautiful disaster

jack by rima4

Wat Phra Si Sanphet Photo by Rima Granali

We will smile at the camera without thinking that this sight
is a place where many have rebelled and died
we will not think at all
We will not be weary
even if our feet will tell us
even if our stomach will grumble
We will just be happy

jack by rima5

Wat Yai Chai Mongkol Photo by Rima Granali

If you ask me, Why Thailand?

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Wat Phra Si Sanphet Photo by Rima Granali

My reply: “I just want you to be enlightened”

jack1 by rima

Photo by Rima Granali

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