September 2013 Diaries Part I

October 19-25 Edition

Jonathan Aquino's Journals

September 1, 2013
Ayala Mall, Cebu City

The glass doors slid open as I walked out to the mall terrace at the third level. A gentle afternoon breeze caressed me as I gazed across the classy landscape and the people below. I leaned across the railing, absorbed in the present while in deep contemplation. I looked at the tree in front of me, admiring its elegance, communing with its soul.

I'm happy for the kind of person I've become, and I'm filled with gratitude about the way my life has turned out.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it,” says the King of Salem in Paulo Coehlo's The Alchemist, which I just finished reading in the bookstore.

I'm a traveler. I feel the same spirit that gave strength to the shepherd boy Santiago to cross the sea and the desert. I came on the verge of tears many times throughout his mystical adventures: the teachings of Melchizedek and the Alchemist are the very same lessons I learned in my own spiritual journey, long before the book found me.

"If you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get," writes Paulo, "then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here."

I felt my mind open up to encompass everything. I can't turn lead into gold, but I know now that the true purpose is to purify the one who does. I can't transform into a wind, but I know there is life in all the elements of nature. I used to scoff at omens, but I now know I should listen to what the universe is telling me.

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”

I've been on the desert, in another time, in another life. I have climbed her mountains of sand and crossed her oceans of sand. I have endured the merciless heat of her days and the deathly iciness of her nights. Under the shrould of her terrifying silence, she has told me her secrets.

Paulo Coehlo's "The Alchemist"

Santiago: Huggybear
Melchizedek: Anthony Hopkins
The Alchemist: Robert Pickup
Fatima: Kristen Stewart
The Englishman: Orlando Bloom
Crystal Merchant: Morgan Freeman
Camel Driver: Michael Sheen
Sheik: Christopher Plummer
Seer: Ian McKellen
Gypsy: Brenda Fricker
Caravan Leader: Rey Stevenson
Wise King: Sean Connery
Boy: Hailey Joel Osment
Refugee: Viggo Mortensen
Monk: William Marquez
Baker: Tomas Milan
Baker's daughter: Selena Gomez
Father: Robert Redford
Angel: Elijah Wood
Santiago's Father: Spanky Manikan

September 2, 2013
Cebu City

Cute, I thought, looking at the puppies for sale under the footbridge across Robinson's Fuente mall. I walked past and stood at the corner of Mango Avenue. I saw an archive photo of it on the front page of the Cebu Daily News. Mango Avenue during the 1940s was an idyllic road lined with luscious mango trees on both sides. Now it's the center of the night life with bars and videoke joints. Everything changes. We often tend to forget how ephemeral the world is.

I spend my week days at the American-style public library on Jones Avenue. I would arrive before lunch, leaving when they close at five. The first book I finished today is The Time Traveler's Wife. I'm impressed by the originality. I love the story.

"Clare swings a leg over me so she's sitting exactly on top of my cock," says the time traveler. "It concentrates my attention wonderfully." That's one of my favorite passages.

The hero, Henry, can travel in time. He's 24 when he takes his 5-year old self to the museum. He's 27 when he teaches his 9-year old self how to pickpocket. When he's 15, he hangs around with his 15-year old self.

"I'm in my bedroom with my self," he narrates. "He's here from next March. We are doing what we often do when we have a little privacy, when it's cold out, when both of us are past puberty and haven't quiet gotten around to actual girls yet."

Audrey Niffeneger's "The Time Traveler's Wife"

Henry DeTamble: Huggybear
Clare Abshire: Winona Ryder
David Kendrick: Leonardo Di Caprio
Ben Matteson: James McAvoy
Gomez Gomolinsky: Owen Wilson
Richard DeTamble: Robert De Niro
Lucille: Glenn Close
Philip: Kevin Costner
Ingrid: Uma Thurman
Charisse Bonavant: Giselle Toengi
Helen: Britney Spears
Celia Attley: Rihanna
Sharon: Lindsey Lohan
Alice: Dakota Fanning
Mark: Mark Wahlberg
Jason Everleigh: Chris O'Donnell
Lizardface: Shia LaBeouf
Etta Milbauer: Rosemary Harris
Nell: Whoopi Goldberg
Roberto Calle: Al Pacino
Elizabeth Meagram: Maggie Smith
Aunt Dulcie: Judi Dench
Madame Simeon: Helen Mirren

I'm really back in time. I was still a kid when I first read The Greatest Miracle In The World. I was too young to understand the idea of dying while still living. I've known a lot about human nature since then. I have seen it, and it's not a pretty picture. But whatever happens, I'll never forget Simon Potter.

"You see Mister Og, most of us build prisons for ourselves," he says. "As soon as that belief takes hold of us, we abandon hope of ever doing more with our lives and of giving our dreams a chance to be fulfilled."

Og Mandino's "The Greatest Miracle In The World"

Og Mandino: Huggybear
Simon Potter: Sean Connery
Pat Smith: Helena Bonham Carter
Johnson: Queen Latifah
Janitor: Delroy Lindo
Sargeant: Colin Farell

I love Og Mandino. I'm one of the countless millions he has touched and uplifted. More than any other person, he has shown me that even writers can make the world a better place. Og Mandino is a part of my life.

"Today I begin a new life," goes The Scroll Marked I. "Today I shed my old skin, which hath, too long, suffered the bruises of failure and the words of mediocrity." That's from The Greatest Success In The World, which also contains The 10 Scrolls of Success from The Greatest Salesman In The World, the touching story of the camel boy Hafid and the message of the star over Bethlehem.

"How regretful it is that man becomes such a slave to his occupation or his career that he forgets he was created to enjoy this beautiful world and he quickly becomes blind to the miracles of nature that takes place before his eyes, everyday!" says Zaccheus Ben Joshua, the selfless merchant in The Greatest Success In The World, the third Og Mandino book I read today at the library.

There's a scene where he climbs a sycamore to see a young miracle worker from Galleli named Jesus. When Jesus saw him, He asked him to come down so they could stay at his house.

"I am now convinced," says Zaccheus towards the end of his life, "that life is just a game, here on earth, a game where no one need be a loser, no matter his plight or circumstances."

Og Mandino's "The Greatest Success In The World"

Joseph: Huggybear
Zaccheus: Warwick Davis
Pontius Pilate: Ralph Fiennes
Ben-Hadad: Ian McKellen
Marcus Crispus: Ryan Philippe
Jesus Christ: Kenny Loggins

Kenny Loggins as Jesus? Watch this:

Convictions of the Heart
Kenny Loggins

(See also Huggybear's Favorite Songs from Kenny Loggins)

"One with the earth, with the sky,
one with everything in life..."

September 3, 2013
Cebu City

The girl at the counter was there but she wasn't. I was at a bakeshop at the corner of Gorordo and Archbishop Reyes, morning, kinda a bit lost. Again. I asked where to get a ride to Fuente park. She seemed unsure. So I asked about Robinson's and for a fleeting moment she looked alive, then gestured vaguely at the passing jeeps. I bought a bottle of 7-Up, asking for a really cold one. She ignored me, getting a bottle like a zombie. I said forget about the straw but she mechanically put one. She gave me my change without any signs of life.

I sat in one of the outdoor tables, took away the straw and drank my 7-Up like a beer in a bar. I asked the guard at the pawnshop next door for directions. He said he didn't know. I walked in the opposite direction, passing a vacant lot full of trees, invigorated by the contact with nature. When I saw Harrold's Hotel in the distance, I got my bearings. I'm glad I didn't listen to the zombie.

In Escario in front of the big bikers' Balamban lechon restaurant, I got a ride to the library, where I finished two Og Mandinos and a half Hesse.

"I'm going to stop this silly rat race I've managed to get myself into, count the blessings I already have, and let the rest of you keep running in your non-stop marathon to the rainbow," declares Mark Christopher, the hero of the The Choice.

Mark has left his job to pursue his greatest passion, writing, and to be with the most important people in life: his family. He suffered financially but his pride is intact and his soul is at peace. After the numbing agony of so many rejections, his inspirational book becomes a publishing phenomenon. Mark has touched the lives of millions.

"I'm afraid that you have only touched most of your readers for perhaps a day or a week or a month," says Alexander Anthony, the reclusive literary legend. "They write to us at the elation while our powerfully written ideas are still fresh on their minds. Momentarily, you have convinced them that they can be better than they are. But their renewed hope rarely survives their next failure, and they soon come to realize that they are not equipped to become champion race horses but must spend their days, instead, straining at plowshares in order to survive."

People "give up on themselves," he continues. "They quit trying. And why should we expect more from the vast majority of mankind? After all, the greatest instruction book of all has been with us, in one form or another, for thousands of years, and we still act more like animals than angels."

Mark gets hundreds of fan mails. Somebody named A.B. Salom sent him a note, written with great elegance, that freaked him out:

"Drink freely from the cup of joy
No man is more deserving than you
But prepare yourself mentally
Your moment of choice approaches swiftly"

Og Mandino's "The Choice"

Mark Christopher: Kevin Costner
Louise: Michelle Pfeiffer
Alexander Anthony: Sean Connery
Todd: Macaulay Culkin
Glenn: Hailey Joel Osment
Croydon: Maggie Smith
David Coronet: Anthony Hopkins
Charles Bergen: Timothy Hutton
Bob Boynton: Dan Akroyd
Donna Templeton: Renee Zellwegger
John Christy: Paul Giamatti
Steve McPherson: Gary Sinise
J. Melton Hadley: Max Von Sydow
Roger Meyer: Huggybear

A stranger walked up to Og Mandino in a barbershop. He said he was a dentist and they were talking about Mark's book in The Choice, titled A Better Way To Live. The conversation gave Og a brilliant idea: that would be the title of his next book! He knew, and I fully agree, that his chat with a dentist in the barber's wasn't a coincidence.
I believe in a Higher Power that guides us, though we're often too dense to hear, much less understand. After too many "coincidences" in my life, all my doubts have vanished like the morning mists of summer. 


Anonymous said…
It is not words of mediocity.
It is wounds of mediocity.

Also same problem in your panorama article on Oct. 20, 2013. In addition, it is bruises of failure not just bruises.
"We need to internalize this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent."

Barack Obama
My quest for enlightenment is the heart and soul of my "Personal Legend," to use Paulo Coehlo's words to describe one's highest purpose on earth. I now live near Mabolo in Cebu City. When I read the Alchemist, I was then in Lahug, near I.T. Park. On Sundays I would be in the mall to find refuge from the demonic climate. I found it in National Bookstore in Ayala Mall in Cebu in 2013.

I put the book back on the shelf with a reverence for its insights and gratitude for showing me I'm on the right direction.

My article on Paulo Coehlo got published in Philippine Panorama on October 2013. I published an excerpt on the April 5, 2014 of my weekly blog 2Rivers.

"I feel the same spirit that gave strength to the shepherd boy Santiago to cross the sea and the desert," as I write on my October 19, 2013 blog post. "I came on the verge of tears many times throughout his mystical adventures: the teachings of Melchizedek and the Alchemist are the very same lessons I learned in my own spiritual journey, long before the book found me."
One of my happiest times in Cebu was when I would be at the public library everyday for weeks around the middle of 2013, a couple of weeks after my arrival in the island and my self-imposed exile in a small town in the south beside the sea. That's when I re-read the books of Og Mandino which inspired my article "Og Mandino's Messages of Hope."

My tribute to the man whose short novels has uplifted the lives of millions was published in Philippine Panorama on October 20, 2013, and is now part of my first non-fiction anthology eBook Huggybear's Corner: The Amazing Articles of Jonathan Aquino

See my blog story about Og Mandino here on 2Rivers
"I'm going to stop this silly rat race I've managed to get myself into, count the blessings I already have," declares Mark Christopher, the hero of Og Mandino's The Choice, "and let the rest of you keep running in your non-stop marathon to the rainbow."
Huggybear said…

“Cute, I thought, looking at the puppies..."