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

Notes to my ever-changing self

happy jack

Photo taken in Isdaan, Laguna

I hear many voices in my head as I move forward from quarter life crisis.  These voices come from social pressure, unachievable ideals, and  unsolicited advice. To keep myself calm, I come up notes on how I should improve myself.

  1. If you’re not ready, then don’t
  2. Buy happiness if you can
  3. Gain survival skills
  4. Follow your heart (Yes, it works!)
  5. Forget others’ and your expectations
  6. Focus on improving yourself which means find fulfillment
  7. Include others in your journey
  8. Be useful
  9. Lend a hand
  10. Give your time to others
  11. Learn from others
  12. Build connections
  13. Share your dreams
  14. Avoid negative vibes
  15. Watch cartoons
  16. Listen to good music
  17. Focus on your strengths
  18. Count your blessings
  19. Instill faith and hope in others
  20. Never deny feelings
  21. Be vulnerable
  22. Be flexible
  23. Be open
  24. Never limit
  25. Never regret
  26. Keep values
  27. Enjoy liberty
  28. Pray
  29. Satisfy your inner being

Wide Awake

One morning, I woke up and decided I wanted to pursue women’s studies. On that same morning, I browsed through the university’s website and grabbed the phone for inquiry. I was not expecting the college would still welcome my application for graduate studies. It was already on the mid of April, the deadline for application and evaluation of most colleges. Coincidentally UP changed its academic calendar which led to postponing the department’s deadline.I took it as a sign from heaven that it was meant for me.

Yes, it was impulsive. It did not take me days to decide whether I should spend four years of my life in grad school. A conversation with my cousin last Christmas just popped on my head. He gave me the idea: “Why not study about women?”

I don’t know how it began. I grew up in a loving household. My childhood was not memorable but it wasn’t traumatic as well. I have had a pretty normal life but I have always been interested on women issues. I bleed everytime I hear stories of women who are undervalued and mistreated in their social context. I  get inspired when I hear powerful message for women.  Sometimes my blog talks lightly about women empowerment. I have written essays online about women. I am much pleased that I echo sentiments of other women.IMG_20131008_191427 Even before I knew the word feminism, I have always had feminist inclination. When I was a young girl, I asked men why they did not allow their wives to work or continue their studies . I felt uncomfortable when people around me discussed how a woman’s clothing could invite disrespect and rape. I had been gender-sensitive. I could not enjoy my lunch while having a conversation filled with sexist remarks and victim-blaming mentality. IMG_20140430_182418 When I started studying women and development, I was able to validate my feelings and convictions towards the stereotype given to women. Sadly, at this day of age, gender ideology to be exact, breeds oppression. My professor said: ” There’s nothing wrong with gender ideology. It is our reality. But if you are going to use it to alienate, to discriminate,to eliminate, it becomes a problem.” Gender inequality is not a small problem but it is a global problem. It affects labor force, economy, commerce, health, and personal relationships. It affects the entire human race. We are losing a lot of human potential by excluding women in the marketplace, in policymaking, and in services.

As I continue with the course, I have read a lot of negative impressions about feminism. It seems that the western world has painted an unfavorable image of feminism. But closely examining theoretical frameworks and development approaches, feminism works best not only for women but also for men; not only for individuals but for the society as whole. It posts questions that our government, our society should have answered ages ago. There is discomfort in finding answers to these questions. People who are pessimistic about feminism fail to see that those who need this movement most are the marginalized women from the lower class and from the third world countries. Watch Emma Watson’s speech I am now on my second semester. I am not sure where my studies will take me but I must say, I am enjoying the process. I study primarily to feed my brain which my routinary lifestyle cannot provide. And I study to find a place where my ideals are met or challenged. I just want an egalitarian world where we can all use our talents and make choices for ourselves. Free~2

Unforgettable Quotes of my 2014

My 2014 is a roller-coaster of emotions, from sleeping to awakening, from enlightenment to confusion, from breaking to forming pieces, from giving up to giving in. But this is probably the time I seek advice from others. I do not rely on my own judgment as I used to. I seek, listen, contemplate, read, and study to find answers. I take note when people share some words of wisdom and I brag that I have people in my life who have wise words. Here are memorable quotes from my 2014 experience.

“Don’t wear the shoes that don’t fit you” –  Lina Bernardo

Photo Source: Disney

My aunt shared these words of comfort after I gave up on what I thought was perfect. I used to buy shoes that did not fit me. Even if I knew they were too small or too big, I bought them because they were pretty. My officemate, Karen, and I have a word for that. We called it ‘beauty endurance’. I could wear 4 inch stiletto maybe for 30 minutes but I could not wear them all night. For sure, high heels will make me look good on the camera but behind the lens, they hurt.

“There is no fear in love”-  Telly Belo

In a phone conversation, my mom said, “There is no fear in love.” She got it from 1 John 4: 18. From this principle, I come up my own statement of love: “If love is governed by terms and agreement, rules and regulations, it is not ‘love’. It is called business transaction. There is no politics in love, only liberty.”

“What’s the purpose of our being if we are not open for changes?” – Ronn Angeles

I was having dinner with my friend, Ronn. I told him there was something I was contemplating on. He replied, “What’s new? You are always contemplating.” I asked one of the most stupid questions, “”Are you open for change?” And he gave me this answer.

“Knowledge is not permanent” – Dean Inday

These were some of the last words my teacher said  during the last day of our MA classes. We can never be sure of what we know. Hence, we should never stop learning. Always be open-minded.

“Everything we do with the wrong intention is sinful” – Brod. Ed Larrobis

I spend a lot of time talking with our preacher. Even if I can think on my own and have some sense of what it is right and proper, I rethink of the choices and actions I make. I’d just like to stress that good deeds with the wrong motives are invalid

“Players gonna play. Haters gonna hate. Heart-breakers gonna break. Fakers gonna fake. I’m just gonna shake”- Taylor Swift

I’ve been addictive to Taylor’s Swift 1989 album, primarily because I find her songs relevant in the phases of my life. What Taylor’s Swift‘s song is saying: You can’t please everyone. I wrote this last year: “ Prioritize your happiness.”

“Candles have their own logic”  – 16 Wishes

I was watching a teen movie with my nieces, 16 Wishes. In the movie, the girl had a wish list for her birthday. It turned out that her wishes came true but not in the way she wanted. Morale of the story: “Be careful what you wish for”

“No amount of human reason can make you numb.” – Jacklyn

I will not end my blog post without my facebook-status quote. Here’s what I realize from my experiences, from others’ experiences, from reading problems of society, from understanding social justice: “No amount of human reason can make you numb” The Script wrote in their popular song Breakeven: “No wise words can stop the bleeding.” Maroon 5 wrote in Beautiful Goodbye: “Clever words can’t help me now” No one is exempted from suffering. We can blame structures, government, organizations, people for how we feel. We can over analyze life’s little injustices in scientific, logical, or biblical way but that does not stop you from feeling what you are supposed to feel. You cannot intellectualize pain nor can’t you intellectualize simple joy.

jacklyn pic

Happy New Year!
I want to make my new year’s resolutions simple. One of them is to update my blog as much as possible.

To my 14-year-old Self

muni muni

To my 14-year-old self:

One day you will realize the things you believe important and attractive are trivial and superficial. Hence, take it easy. Forgive yourself when you can’t rewind, replace, redo. We are all unfinished products.

Find your own happiness. Your happiness should be independent from what your parents, your friends, or others think. It should be free from what society expects. Our capitalist culture has a way of reshaping our beliefs on happiness. Listen to your inner voice. It may not give you the best answers but it will give you the honest answers.

Fulfilling a childhood dream or a bucket list is more of an ego fulfillment than a calling. Ego fulfillment is all about yourself. It is a personal sense of accomplishment or sense of worth. Calling is not all about yourself. Calling is not unrequited love. It shouldn’t be I-love-music-but-music-hates-me. It means you want something that wants you back.

You will like to hear a lot of inspiring quotes about life like these: “If you work hard, you will succeed. If you are persistent, you will get it. If you can conceive it, you can achieve it. If you are very passionate, you will excel. If you are nice to people, they will not do harm to you.” Sorry to burst your bubble, life has no formula. We keep on finding ways to make it perfect but no one writes his own life like an equation. It is a result of many drafts. We can only plan life to a certain extent but there will always be a hand of God pointing you to where you should be.

Here are four top life events you have to go through.

From the lyrics of  Fix You- Coldplay

  1. When you try your best but don’t succeed
  2. When you get what you want but not what you need
  3. When you lose something you can’t replace
  4. When you love someone but goes to waste

Thus, when things don’t work out in favor of you, you learn to reinvent yourself.

If you make a mistake, do it with dignity. Be a professional actor. Don’t let other people know your weakness unless you can no longer keep it to yourself. Hide the things that haunt you. Be a swan, struggling underneath but graceful on the surface. It takes time to master this craft.

Savor every feeling whether it’s good or bad. If someone cuts you, let it bleed. Laugh if it tickles. Be amused even if you are the only one who can appreciate it. If someone tricks you, good for you. You just witness magic. If you hate something, punch the wind.

Fight for what you love, even if you are not sure it is worth fighting for. The only time you know it’s not worth fighting for when you lose the battle. Hence, you don’t know if you don’t try. We call this 1st level bravery. The second level of bravery is when you give up the things you used to dream and love after fighting a hard battle. Warriors do not mention the word “surrender”. But there is victory in surrender. It is something both heroes and losers shared.

Lastly, don’t be in a hurry to grow up.

Yours truly,

The Aging Self

Don’t Go Crying to Your Mama

Ain’t it fun livin’ in the real world
Ain’t it good bein’ all alone

Ain’t it good to be on your own?
Ain’t it fun you can’t count on no one?
Ain’t it good to be on your own?
Ain’t it fun you can’t count on no one?

-Paramore, Ain’t It Fun

Idea note_20140705_151947_01-1
I felt like I was listening to the soundtrack of my life as I played Paramore’s latest song, Ain’t It Fun. I’ve been living all alone for a long time. I have had room mates, board mates, dorm mates but basically I take charge in everything I do, spend, and buy.

When I first told my office mates that I was on my own, they were surprised and curious how I managed to survive. I did not find my life unique or challenging as it appeared to them. When I was in college, I lived in a dormitory where most of us came from different provinces. The surprised look I got from my office mates reflects how much we Filipinos like to cling to our families.  Hence, we have a lot of extended families. Unlike other countries where young professionals would want to have a house or rent a space away from their parents, we, Filipinos, most of the time prefer to be with our families. I do miss the comfort of home and if I have a choice, I want to live with my family but there is such fulfillment on being able to have independence. It opens opportunity for growth and strengthens character (chos! :D). Hence, if you are twenty-something, you might try to spread your wings and fly.

You learn to meet your needs and wants.
When you want something so bad, you will find a way to achieve it.

You learn to solve your own problems.

So what are you gonna do when the world don’t orbit around you? (Paramore)
This is the kind of questions you try to answer
No one will think for you.

You learn to nurse yourself
I used to cry a lot over a lot of things when I was a kid. As I grow old, I cry less or choose the things I cry for. I have gone through many heartaches and the only thing I had is a phone. It’s hard to have problems when you’re on your own. For one reason, you have more time for yourself. Hence, you have more room to entertain depression. As what Paramore said in their song: “It’s so easy to ignore trouble when you are living in a bubble.”

You appreciate solitude
You have a lot of personal space for you to reflect and evaluate the choices and events that take place in your life.

You learn to carry your things
If I am living with my family, I will let my brother carry my water jug, or laundry. Because most of the time I am all by myself and I don’t want to be a burden to anybody, I have no choice to carry my stuff which are too heavy for my size. One of the most tiresome things I did in college was transferring my stuff from dormitory to boarding house. I did not know how I managed to transfer balikbayan boxes on my own. I am no longer using it as excuse that I’m small and I’m a girl. Morale of the story for lazy girls like me: You are stronger than you think.

You value health
My brother told me the advantage of living with relatives is that someone takes care of you when you’re sick. This is true. The reason why I am healthy so far and why I want to be healthy is because I am on my own. Nobody is going to take care of me when I am sick. Hence, you should try living by yourself because it will improve you immune system. #truestory

You learn to take care of yourself
When you value health, you are obligated to take care of yourself. I buy my own medicine and food when I am sick. I bring a whistle and a pepper spray when I’m all alone.

You learn to reach out
When you don’t have a support group such as family, you find the need to have friends. I do feel homesick when I see families going to church on Sunday. Hence I make it a point to spend time with friends for comfort and sanity.

You learn to ask help 
I love my mom. When I am having a hard time to figure out how to get this and that, my mom helps me with everything. Our parents are our first Wikipedia. Now that I am on my own, I am forced to seek help from people who know better than me. I learn to be less shy. I learn to ask and make short chats. Don’t rely on yourself too much. You can’t survive without others.

You spend money wisely
You don’t really have much freedom when you are living by yourself in the sense that no one shoulders expenses for you. You learn to budget and save.

You learn to make decisions
Decision making is harder for people who are living on their own than those who are living with their families. Again, you don’t really have much freedom as you think you should. You can’t change careers or change address, change life plans as easy as a person who is still financially dependent.

Just how the song ends..

(Note to Self:)
Don’t go crying to your mama, coz you’re on your own in the real world.

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