Saturday, November 30, 2013

Huggybear's September Diaries (Part 4)

November 30 to December 6 Edition

Jonathan Aquino's Journals

September 14, 2013
Cebu City

The girl was sprawled face down in the middle of the street.

She was dead.

The jeep I was riding this morning on the way downtown passed by so close I could have touched her. It seemed she had been jogging and got hit. Her right leg was crossed over the other. One of her sneakers lay about two meters from her body.

Just when I had moved on from my own emotional traumas and now had begun a new life, I get a numbing reminder of just how fragile life really is.

"Every man's death diminishes me," goes the poem by John Donne that leapt into my head. "Therefore, ask not for whom the bells tolls. It tolls for thee."

September 15, 2013

Today my article "The Art of Solving Problems" got published in Manila Bulletin, I read Paulo Coehlo's Aleph and I did the Smashwords interview for my eBooks.

My first eBook novel, Jukebox, went live last Thursday. Also on that day, I posted the new and improved Huggybear Tab on my blog, which is my photos and personal videos "Greatest Hits" collection.

Because of that, I saw my entire life flash before my eyes, kinda like a near-death experience, a subject that's really meaningful to me. I had an article about NDEs, published in Philippine Star in 2009. Here's an excerpt from the original cover letter:

Death is a rite of passage, a normal part of life like puberty. It is the beginning of something new. This special feature, What Happens At the Hour of Our Death? is an in-depth study of the phenomena of near-death experiences. It presents NDEs in the most rational and objective perspective. It is also meant to serve as a source of comfort for the bereaved that is life in the hereafter.

I now focus only on things that matters to me, avoiding the superficial. Having a diary is like a mystical experience: my senses are heightened so I'm living more in the Moment, yet  I am detached.

"Place your feelings outside yourself," says Yao, the aikido master in Aleph, explaining the meaning of the Tao Te Ching, "and you will be renewed."

September 28, 2013
9:37 p.m., Saturday

Our character and experiences make us who we are. It's been quite radical for the past couple of weeks. I got the blues because I forgot to achieve detachment. I've also taken my own achievements for granted, and I've also let myself get sidetracked from what matters most in my life.

I never expect more than I can give. Friendship is sacred to me. I would have taken a bullet for a friend, like the line from a movie. N and J, two of my closest friends, have given me the same counsel: I shouldn't expect others to be like me. I don't. It's just that I can't understand why some people don't even care about doing what is only right and fair.

I'm getting my groove again. I had let go of the mirages. I need to drill into my thick skull that my journey will end in its own time. The things that are meant to be will happen. Time will reveal if the beautiful thing that came into my life will still be here through the years. There is a Higher Power that is taking me to where I'm meant to be. I've almost forgotten about that too.

"Safe and sound," I texted to my buddy Nick when I got home last night from a team-building party with some of our office colleagues in a bar in Cebu's Mango Avenue. "Angels brought me here." Angels are on my mind. They're all around me too. If my soul needs to learn a lesson for my enlightenment, they will be there to give me wisdom and strength. Always.

No harm will come to me. Ever.

"Let me be empty, oh and weightless and maybe I'll find some peace tonight..."

Sarah McLachlan
[Theme from City of Angels]

"You are pulled from the wreckage
of your silent reverie;
you're in the arms of the angel,
may you find some comfort here..."

September 29, 2013
Robinson's Fuente
Cebu City

I made my way to the package counter to get a go-signal to bring my knapsack inside the supermarket. On the other side, I saw a former work colleague, whom I'll call Dexter to protect his privacy, getting seven large grocery bags. He was with a woman I haven't met, and I guessed correctly it was his wife who, according to him, is extremely violent. Dexter had claimed to be a battered husband.

"Dexter!" I said cheerfully, sliding up behind them and leaning on the shiny stainless steel railings that separates the check-out lanes.

Dexter paled.

The sight of his face was priceless. He literally froze. We haven't seen each other since last April, when he disappeared with my digital camera.

The wife was the first to recover. She spoke to him in Visaya, asking if I'm the owner of the camera. I was enjoying that scene on many levels. I'm happy that my emotions are under my complete control, proving to myself that my act of forgiving him has been genuine.

The wife told me that they had sold my camera but they spent the money. She promised they'll pay on Dexter's next salary, asking if it's alright if they can pay it in two installments. Me, I'm just playing along, not believing a word. Their reason was that Dexter's phone got lost so they weren't able to contact me. But I was able to talk to him on that same number even after that. Still, we went through the motions of exchanging numbers and them promising to get in touch.

"It's not about the money, it's about trust," I told them, knowing they'll nod their heads but not expecting them to understand its significance. He began to explain, you know, this and that, he doesn't have any money to pay me, blah blah. My only emotion is amusement. I don't even care about the money. I know he won't pay. Sure as watermelons are round, he'll find a reason not to, with the firm conviction that it's justified. Of course he made a promise, and of course he would: they all do.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bruce Springsteen Tribute

November 23-29 Edition

Bruce Springsteen
Soul Realization
Get Smart
127 Hours

My story, "Immortal Dictums From Rock Legends" appeared in July 21, 2013 in Philippine Panorama, the weekend magazine of The Manila Bulletin. This is the cover letter to the editor:

Bruce Springsteen says his Born To Run album is his "most intense experience" and "nothing ever come close." That was from a 1975 interview for Q magazine and part of the In Their Own Words series, both published by Omnibus Press.

My love for music and collection of vintage Omnibus publications inspired my new timeless story, "Immortal Dictums From Rock Legends," a treasure house of insightful and entertaining stories on Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.

I find some parallels in writing my story and how Springsteen made that album. "It really dealt with faith and searching for answers," as he says in 1980. "I laid out a set of values. A set of ideas, intangibles like faith and hope, belief in friendship and in a better way."

Springsteen's Born To Run is now a classic and a musical landmark, and I crafted my story to achieve that heightened state of quality and timelessness. "It's not actually a concept type thing," he says in 1975, "but it's like you get a jigsaw puzzle and you put it down on the floor and it slowly comes together."

"Soul realization is nothing more than the incarnated soul realizing that it is not the body and it is one with the higher soul," says Master Choa Kuk Sui. "This is the meaning of yoga or illumination." I learned so much from his Meditations For Soul Realization. I read it on the second week of June 2013 at the Cebu public library, and it is an important part of my spiritual journey.

I love the story about the Dharma Master Fo Yin. The notorious poet Su Dong Po (1037-1101) called him "shit." Apparently even the ancient Chinese used that word. "For a person who has experienced his Buddha nature, he sees the Buddha in everyone," serenely replied the Master. "For a person full of shit, he only sees a pile of shit."

We are jivatma because we've torn ourselves away from paramatma. But "Through sincere repentance, trying to become a better person and asking for divine blessings and forgiveness, it is possible for a lost soul to spiritually reconnect with the Higher Soul."

"Aum" is the sound of Creation. I don't normally chant, but I now see it in a new light. I now also know that I should focus on the silences in between. Touching your tongue to your palate puts you in a higher spiritual frequency, but I forgot exactly how. I need to purify myself before I do the Meditation On Twin Hearts, as much I want to bless the earth with a blue golden flame of loving kindness through my heart and crown chakras. But I now focus on the pillar of light descending at the top of my head.

The meditations on this book generate so much power that you have to release excess energy by blessing specific people, for self-healing and for sweeping up your auric field. Then exercises after meditating will get rid of the rest. Here's something new: Inhale for 6 counts on one nostril, holding your breath for 3 counts, then exhale on the other for 6 counts. I do Grounding but now I see it's more critical than I first thought.

I now do invocation at the start of my meditation. Something like this: "To the Supreme God, my Higher Self, all spiritual guides and teachers, to the Holy Angels and all the great ones, we humbly invoke for divine purification, divine guidance, divine love, divine illumination, divine oneness, divine bliss, divine help and divine protection. We thank you in full faith. So be it."

"Let the entire earth be blessed with peace, joy, happiness, goodwill, understanding , harmony, abundance prosperity and enlightenment" I now affirm my connection to the earth. "Let Mother earth be blessed with divine light, love and power, revitalized, healed, rejuvenated. Blessed be."

(See also my earlier story on Master Choa Kuk Sui)

I wrote the next two stories in 2012. I saw Get Smart on DVD when I was in Moonwalk Village in Las Village City, and I saw 127 Hours on cable in one of the call center companies in the campus-like Northgate Cyberzone in Alabang, Muntinlupa

Maxwell Smart (Steve Carrell) is an analyst at a secret U.S. intelligence agency called, unimaginatively, Control. One fine morning, with Abba's Take A Chance On Me on earphones, he goes to the office through a secret elevator in a phone booth. In the underground steel corridor, a page from a report he is carrying gets stuck in one of the automatic steel doors.

"You kill me!" he laughs at one of the jokes of the Agent 23 (The Rock), an assassin, who mirthfully replies:

"I could if I want to!"

Control is tracking down the enemy group Chaos, who are planning to steal nuclear material. Max is explaining the significance of a conversation of two men in a cafe. One didn't order decaf and they both ate muffins, which are "comfort foods and much more fattening than most people realize!" Which begs the question:

"Why would two hardened Chaos risk the carbs?" This, he says, "is powerful stuff!"

Chief (Alan Arkin) tells him to get to the point.

"All I'm saying, Chief," explains Max, "is that until we understand that our enemies are also human beings, we will never be able to defeat them!"

The next day, Max comes to work to find that their headquarters have been attacked and was in, well, chaos.

"Freeze!" said a female voice behind him.

Unperturbed, he says, "You freeze!"

She's about to speak again but he cuts her off:

"Freeze times infinity!"

She turns out to be Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway).

"I'm a great fan!" gushed Max.

They heard somebody coming and Max hit him with a fire extinguisher. Then they realized it was Chief.

Control agents all over the world are being killed, they found out. The new Chaos boss (Terrence Stamp) is a Bosnian whose name Chief can't pronounce.

"Kris-stick," Max tells him. "Kris kringle, fish stick?"

Max finally got his wish of being promoted field agent. Excusing himself from the table to use the Cone of Silence, a soundproofed forcefield, he shouts: "I'M SO HAPPY, THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!" But it wasn't working and everybody heard him, embarassed.

Get Smart

Max, in true secret agent style, gets a cool gadget: a Swiss knife with a blowtorch and a crossbow. So in the plane restroom, where he's supposed to get a parachute, one of the arrows hit the eject button, opening a trapdoor under him where he fell through without a parachute. Agent 99 enters, takes her chute and jumps.

The assassin following them takes the chute Max left and goes after them.

I look forward to weekends as early as Monday. It's what keeps me going. I care enough about my work to give them perfect attendance but it is not my life.

Maybe I'm too much of a freespirit, or maybe I don't really give a hoot about things I'm not passionate about.

At any rate, I can relate so much to Aaron Ralston (James Franco), the engineer slash mountaineer in Danny Boyle's 127 Hours. As soon as the weekend rolls in, we're both out, up and away. Aaron even takes pictures and videos of himself; wow, that's so Huggybear!

For me, the absolute worst thing in the world is to be trapped, metaphorically and otherwise. In Aaron's case, he got stuck in a mountain crack when a large rock pinned his arm.

I don't know what I'll do if that happens to me. He was there for 5 days, which I can't even imagine.

Before that, he met two girls, Kristi and Megan, also trekking in the Blue John Canyon, named after the cook of Butch Cassidy. He roguishly charmed them into being their guide.

Butch Cassidy was a famous outlaw. His life was brought to the screen in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. The screenplay is written by William Goldman, whose novel, Temple of Gold, is one of my favorite books of all time. The film features Paul Newman and Robert Redford (whose Havana is one of my favorite movies of all time) and the timeless Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head. (Yes, that's also one of my favorite songs of all time)

While squiggling through a steep crevice, Kristi (or was it Megan?) is worrying that the mountains might suddenly move and squish them. They've been here for millions of years, says Megan (or was it Kristi?), so why should it?

Oh, Aaron says, "Things are moving all the time!"

127 Hours

Unexpectedly, he let go and vanished. The girls freaked out. Soon, they found out that beneath them is a clear blue underground lake. They all took the plunge, over and over again. It was an exhilarating experience of a lifetime

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Huggybear's September 2013 Diaries (Part 3)

November 16-22 Edition

Jonathan Aquino's Journals

September 8, 2013

I have a phobia about expecting anything from people.

"It's just that I recall," just like in the song, "back when I was small, someone promised that they'd catch me, and then they let me fall..."

Robert Klein

I came to a point where I only hope that a person is fair. That's it. I don't ask for loyalty because I would eventually be gone anyway. I don't ask for special treatment because there's a price I can never pay.

"I don't want to be tied to anyone's strings," just like in that New Wave ballad. "I'm carefully trying to steer clear of those things..."

Depeche Mode

We all want love, of course. I believe the best way to receive love is to give love, showing that you deserve it. When I was a kid, I thought everybody loves each other, and you don't hurt the people you love.

"I don't care what they, I won't stay in a world without love," just like in that old classic.

World Without Love
Peter & Gordon

"Please lock me away
and don't allow the day
here inside
where I hide
with my loneliness..."

I try to understand why some people insist that you have to be always with them to show that you love them. If a relationship is special, then it will transcend time and space. I think that if you really love someone, you should never take away his freedom. You won't want him to come to the point where he has to choose.

"I wanna be free," goes the song I might have written myself. If we're meant to be, then we'll be together again someday.

I Wanna Be Free
The Monkees

"I wanna be free,
like the bluebirds flying by me
like the waves out on the blue sea.
if your love has to tie me,
don't try me, say good-bye..."

My story, "What Philosophy Can Teach Us," got published today in the Panorama Sunday magazine of The Manila Bulletin. I got some books from National Bookstore in Ayala Mall near noon. All the books I've read for the past weeks will be part of my magazine articles. I want everything in my life to be in perfect sync.

"What makes the lion special is the combination of his genuine power with an image and related behavior that effectively communicates that power to the world," says Harrison Monarth in Executive Presence: The Art of Commanding Respect Like A CEO. The point is not to be the king of the corporate jungle but to learn how to radiate that commanding presence. The lion is not the smartest nor the biggest animal, but the others have this perception based on reputation and track record. His actions speak for themselves and he doesn't need a publicist. But she doesn't toil in obscurity either.

"Eliminate, don't prioritize," is my favorite take-home insight from Rich Real Radical: 40 Lessons From A Magna Cum Laude and A College Dropout by entrepreneurs and motivational speakers Jan McKingley Hilado and Hanz Florentino who are also from Cebu. It's a cool book. I might have been a heck of a lot richer now if I haven't been so disdainful about the ways of the world and the games that normal people play. For me, the proverbial Joneses aren't even relevant to my life. I'm genuinely happy for people who achieve their dreams, like Jan and Hanz, and more power to them.

But after reading so much about material victories and financial achievements, I needed to ground myself so I won't lose focus about my real purpose in this lifetime. I searched for the slim "glorious bestseller" that made me who I am, that showed me who I really am. My true nature lives, "as perfect as an unwritten number, everywhere at once across space and time," in the words of the wise Chiang in Richard's Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the story that changed my life.

"It works!" says Jonathan.

"Well of course it works Jon," says Chiang. "It works, when you know what you're doing"

"I'm a man who has found peace," says the young telepath Elijah in Paulo Coehlo's The Fifth Mountain, the third book I got today. "I can live in the desert, provide for myself, and contemplate the endless beauty of God's creation. I have discovered that there resides in me a soul better than I ever thought."

"Every man has the right to doubt his task, and to forsake it from time to time," says the Angel to Elijah in one of my favorite scenes. "But what he must not do is to forget it."

Here's my mental movie version:

Paulo Coehlo's "The Fifth Mountain"

Elijah: Huggybear
The Widow: Glenn Close
The Shepherd: Donald Sutherland
The Governor: Hugo Weaving
The High Priest: Brian Cox
The Levite: Michael Sheen
The Israelite Soldier: Russell Crowe
The Commander: Brad Pitt
The Assyrian Soldier: Ron Perlman
The Assyrian General: Henry Cavill
The Angel of The Lord: Chris Hemsworth

"I'm in the desert, as before I was in a carpentry shop, because my soul told me that a man must go through various stages before he can fulfill his destiny," goes my favorite line, spoken by Elijah in one of his Jedi talks with the crow beside the brook of Cherith on the road to Akbar.

September 10, 2013

"I see dead people." I said that in class today, just one of the many times when I'm too open for my own good.

I couldn't possibly write down everything that happened. Well, I can if I want to. But I don't. Still, some stand out. One of my newest buddies, Jeric, also comes from Manila. I find it heartwarming that he and his brothers and their dad are so close they even drink together. I never had a father nor siblings, and I would have loved to experience that.

"I have a friend whose father got disappointed when he first came home drunk," I told him. "His dad was hoping his first drink would be with him." I want my son's first beer to be with me too.

Our classmates are from London, Malaysia, Singapore, the United States and all around the Philippines. They form an eclectic cross section of the professional field: from managerial to fashion design, from events organizing to dirt biking. One is a psychiatrist, Fatima.

"You mean being neurotic is normal?" I asked.

She was explaining the difference between psychosis and neurosis. The latter, she said, is something that all people have in different degrees. Being obssessive compulsive, apparently, is also a form of neurosis.

"That's good to hear," I said.

Psychosis, on the other hand, is when a person cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy anymore. Some of them can be quite dangerous, she said, having worked in a mental asylum before. But she said, in answer to one of my questions, that mental health disorders are not contagious like the flu.

"Do you interpret dreams?" I asked.

"No," she laughed. "I can't tell your future."

"But what I have seen are mostly from the past," I told her. It just came out: my question about dream interpretation was meant to be a joke. "I see dead people," I went on. "There were times when I was floating above my body, very vivid." I didn't tell them about those scary creatures floating after me.

"It's called an out-of-body experience," said Yssa,an executive from an international business outsourcing company.
It's gratifying to talk to people who can discuss these sorts of things without saying they're the works of Satan. There are those who'll pull out a Bible verse like a mugger would whip out a gun.

"That's parapsychology," said Fatima.

I'm glad she didn't say schizophrenia. I think it's a positive sign that mainstream doctors are now seeing parapsychology as a legitimate field of science, not like how they treat feng shui, alchemy and astrology. I wonder, though, how they would've reacted if I said I hear voices?

The facilitator, Jang, said she loves watching horror movies, reading horror novels and exchanging horror stories. But, she said, she still hasn't come across a movie that had kept her awake.

"Have you seen Insidious?" I asked. That film gave me the creeps. I was especially spooked because I tend to wander around when I'm asleep. I saw the film on DVD when I stayed with Greg, my best friend from high school, in their house in Moonwalk, Las PiƱas around the middle of 2012. I wrote about it in our September 29, 2012 edition.

"Yes, I've seen it," she replied, "and I love the movie."

The music playing in the scene where the father goes to find his son in the Further, she says, even became her ringtone. That's so cool. The Further is one of the lower regions of the astral plane.

"Why do you like horror stories?" asked Shi, a regional director for a multinational pharmaceutical firm and a women's and children's rights advocate. She's also a wedding singer, and she has her own band, she told me, when I asked her if she brings a videoke machine to the church.

"I find it cathartic," said Jang. When you see all these terrifying things happening to the characters, she said, it makes you feel grateful that they're not happening to you. She has a point: try to imagine demons in your kitchen.

I love that word: cathartic. I never thought of it that way. I think that's a very refreshing insight. Thank God I've never been trapped in the Further.

"Not much to tell, really," I said when it was my turn to introduce myself. I told them I came from Manila just so they'd know I can't speak the native dialect fluently, though I understand what people are saying. Mostly.

"Why did you come to Cebu?" someone asked.

"Heartbreak," I said, getting a reaction. It's true, but it's not the only reason. "You know how it is when it seems that the powers of the universe are conspiring to bring you somewhere else?" I said. "It was time to move on." I promoted my upcoming eBook and told them about the YouTube video I made before somebody stole my video camera. I didn't tell them that the guy who did it got into a car accident and spent months in the hospital.

Cebu: City of Angels
(A Short Film By Jonathan Aquino)

"I believe in angels," I continued. "I have always felt that there's a Higher Power guiding me. Even during those times when I really needed help, somebody would always come along." Then I drove it home: "And angels brought me here!

Angels Brought Me Here
Guy Sebastian

"It's been a long and winding journey
but I'm finally here tonight,
picking up the pieces
and walking back into the light..."

Saturday, November 09, 2013

How "Hilot" Works

November 9-15 Edition

Lift Up Your Hands
Saint Peter
Saint Anthony of Padua
Men In Black 3

I heard Basil Valdez's Lift Up Your Hands on a Sunday morning on August 18, 2013, and I suddenly realized how I've changed.

 I still like the song but now when I hear it, my mind goes to the almost-countless religious people I've come across.

They talk of doctrines but stab others in the back. They play gospel music but don't care if it's too loud.

 And they all call themselves Christians. 

That song playing now is coming from a neighbor's loud radio on the street below. I'm in my second-floor apartment in Lahug, the one with a balcony and a French-style window. The racket was blaring up along with the wafting smell of fried pork chorizo.

I used to have a friend, whom I'll call Long-Hair to protect his privacy. He's not my friend anymore because he broke my trust. But his son is my godson and always will be.

Long-Hair stole the salaries in a construction site in Montalban, Rizal where he was working as the timekeeper. He abandoned his family. The money eventually ran out. His brother-in-law saw him picking food from the garbage and living in the streets.

They took pity on him instead of killing him, which is more Christian than telling people that tragedy is "God's will." His wife had been forced to sell their house in Montalban to pay the victims. She rented a room in San Andres in Manila and found work as a coconut juice street vendor.

The last time I saw Long-Hair was in 1999, in San Andres, after he was found and taken in again. They had invited me for dinner. Later, we went outside, drinking Pepsi. I was smoking and he wasn't, and he told me that he had quit when became a Christian. He was thanking me for taking care of his family while he was gone, and promised he would reform.

There was a videoke outside the compound gate. He inserted a coin, took the mike and began to sing. It was Lift Up Your Hands.

A few days later, his wife told me the news: Long-Hair went away again, this time taking the money from the sale of their house.

One super intriguing phenomenon that I personally witnessed is "usog," a Filipino term which means when one can literally make another person sick by his mere presence.

Traditionally, if you brought usog to someone, you have to wipe your saliva to a part of his body, usually his navel or sole.

Hilot healer Efren Guazon, guest at the December 19, 2012 episode of Inner Mind, revealed the mystery: usog is essentially the loss of the chi, or life energy.

The saliva from the person who caused it helps restore the life energy.

 A practitioner of hilot, the ancient art of healing indigenous to the Bondoc and other northern tribes in the Philippines, has to develop his consciousness to move up the seven levels of training: from chiropractic-like massage therapy to being able to heal victims of witchcraft. 

The seven levels of training corresponds to the seven lundayan ng kusog (channels of energy). Hilot integrates the body's mulangkap (elements): fire, water, earth, air and the alangaan (etheric).

Efren is the president of the Alyansa ng Mga Manghihilot at Albularyo, a nation-wide organization of hilot healers. Inner Mind host Jimmy Licauco tells about the story of American musician Jeff Cohen, whose brother was in a car accident and Western doctors cannot help him. Efren knows him and also the healer in the mountains of Bondoc, Apo Pakukad, the only person in the world who brought back his brother to full recovery

(See the Huggybear stories on Jaime Licauco and Inner Mind in the November 4, 2010, February 2, 2012 and the November 17, 2012 episodes of 2Rivers)

I'll share two stories of saints: Peter and Anthony. I always illustrate the ideas in my magazine articles with anecdotes.

But some of the characters I featured on my story on Harry Emerson Fosdick for Manila Bulletin, like the psychics Eileen Garett and Ingo Swann, just might be too scandalous for a conservative publication.

Not to mention, of course, the Dutch sculptor Harry Stone, who channed Ra Ho Tep from the Fourth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, around 270 BCE. 

So that's why I tried to include stories of saints to give it a wholesome sheen. But there's no space anymore, so here they are.

Saint Peter faced Simon Magus, a Samarian magician and a key figure in ancient Masonic lore.

Simon summoned black hounds and Peter made the dogs go away with "holy bread," goes one legend.

In the famous version, Simon flew up and Peter defeated him by praying for him to fall.

"God, please kill him," he probably said.

Saint Anthony of Padua was preaching in Limoges in 1226.

Suddenly, he remembered that he has to be at another service miles away. He paused, knelt and put on his hood.

At that moment, he appeared before the congregation on the other church, read his appointed passage then vanished.

He then got up and continued his sermon.

I'm fascinated by Griffin, the character in Men In Black 3 who looks like James Taylor.

He's a clairvoyant alien, able to see all the possible futures. He says what could (not will) eventually happen depends on what is actually happening now, which, in turn, is the result of many factors, mostly random and incidental.

But they're all happening simultaneously.

It jibes exactly with a what I really believe to be true.

One of Griffin's vision is Kay dying in Cape Canaveral during the historic 1969 moon launch with Neil Armstrong, one of the greatest moments in the history of the human race. Jay (Will Smith) has traveled back in time to save Kay. He found his partner's younger version really different.

"What happened to you?" he asked, bemused and pleasantly surprised.

"What happened hasn't happened yet," replies Kay.

My favorite scene is about the pie: When things go wrong, just have some old-fashioned pie and let it work through you. It will give you the answers

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Huggybear's September 2013 Diaries (Part 2)

November 2-8 Edition

Jonathan Aquino's Journals

September 4, 2013

I had a telepathic time-traveling dream again. I keep talking to voices when I couldn't see anyone, jumping from one scene to another like a pingpong ball.

I was walking in the woods, giant trees all around me. It's like an enchanted forest from a Brothers Grimm story. At the end of the clearing, I saw the mansion in Antipolo in Rizal province in the Philippines where I grew up. I saw my aunt Mama Bai, who died in 1989.

She was standing in front of the outdoor kitchen sink that's full of water, her hands submerged, washing something but I couldn't see what it was. We were talking and laughing. I was asking for something that's strapped to her waist but she wouldn't give it to me because it's dangerous.

I jumped to another place but I couldn't see anything except a sort of endless void, colored like coffee with cream. A voice was telling me that a certain temple in Jerusalem used to be a church "before they put the crescent moon over it."

In an instant, I saw a group of Moors with a large metal pole with a crescent moon symbol. With ropes, they were hauling it to the roof.

I jumped to a different scene. Across the street was a small Catholic chapel. Instead of a wall, there was a gate with metal bars from floor to ceiling. Inside was a priest and some nuns and altar boys, all dressed in white. They were looking at a man outside dressed in blue Arab clothes. He was kneeling, his forehead to the ground in the traditional Muslim worship, but facing the altar.

On my right, next to the chapel, is a Chinese temple with its doors open, the Buddhist monks inside lighting incense.

"This would be a great picture," I remember thinking, "a symbol of religious harmony!"

I  ran to get my camera. I found myself at the back of the house of my aunt and godmother Tita Fe, which is on the next street from our house. I was wearing only white briefs, and my feet hurt from running barefoot. Then I'm at the front of the house. I saw Tita Fe, looking so young and happy, going out the door. She's still alive as I write this but the years have taken their toll. We smiled and I kissed her on the head. She's leaving but promised to bring me a chicken fillet from Wendy's.

I entered her house. I was alone, mentally talking to someone who sounds like the voice of Optimus Prime in the Transformers cartoon even when the TV was off. We were making a bet but I don't remember what about. He also wanted to show me something. What's vivid is that I went inside because I wanted to watch the cartoon.

In a flash, I saw myself in a white bathroom, washing my feet under a faucet. I jumped again. I was in the Lahug public market in Cebu, asking how much is the tapsilog, a local dish of dried beef, egg and fried rice. When I heard the price, I cursed them for their "pathetic greed."


"Just got home, idiot me left phone in the house," I replied to a friend's text message at 4:53 in the afternoon. "I got my NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] clearance and borrower's card from the library but they're asking for a 'guarantor' who's a city hall employee or barangay official in Cebu City."

The idea is to assign someone who will pay because they think people borrow books to steal them. I don't know anybody in the local officialdom, but as much as I find it disgusting to deal with government bureaucrats, starting with getting a library card, I guess I'll have to find another one.

I found treasure as I scouted the entire library: the out-of-print literary gems by the great German mystic Herman Hesse. I finished two of his novels today.

When I was a kid, I've felt an inexplicable kinship with Siddharta, the Brahmin who renounced the world's illusions in his timeless classic, which I wrote about in our August 10, 2013 edition.

I am on a similar journey of discovery and enlightenment, like Siddharta, like Hesse himself.

Herman Hesse belonged to the League, a secret society of men in pursuit of wisdom that transcends the material world.

"Our Journey to the East and our League, the basis of our community, has been the most important thing, indeed, the only important thing my life," he writes in The Journey To The East."My tales becomes even more difficult because we not only wandered through space, but also through Time. We moved towards the East, but we also traveled in the Middle Ages and the Golden Age. We roamed through Italy to Switzerland, but at times we also spent the night in the 10th century and dwelt with the fairies."

My favorite character is the pilgrim Leo, beneath whose placid calm lies unfathomable power. I fully intend to achieve Leo's serenity and sense of oneness with the animal kingdom. I love dogs and cats and horses, and they are drawn to me: that's a start. Leo talks about the Biblical King David, and he says that the happiest time in David's life was when he was just a simple shepherd boy: a lovely youth who plays music to sooth the ragged soul of King Saul.

"That," says Leo, "is just what life is when it is beautiful and happy - a game."

How can two young men born centuries apart and on the opposite sides of the globe be so much alike? I felt a weird feeling of dislocation when I came across Hermann Heilner, the rebellious poet and Hesse's alter ego in Beneath The Wheel, his "spiritual autobiography."

"What an odd fellow! Han's worries and desires simply did not exist for him," writes Hesse. Hermann Heilner "had thoughts and words of his own, he lived a richer and freer life" and "seemed to despise everything around him. He understood the beauty of the ancient columns and walls. And he practiced the mysterious and unusual art of mirroring his soul in verse and constructing a semblance of life for himself out of his imagination. He was quick and untamable and had more fun in a day than Hans in an entire year. He was melancholy and seemed to relish his own sadness like an unusual condition, alien and delicious."

Hermann defied the stupid rules in their seminary boarding school. He was even forbidden to walk in the garden with his best friend Hans because of his reputation as someone who doesn't conform. Heilner has nothing but contempt for narrow-minded hypocrites.

"The authorities demanded that he throw himself on their mercy," writes Hesse. "He refused in front of the teacher tribunal and was neither intimidated nor subservient."

Herman Hesse's "Beneath The Wheel"

Hermann Heilner: Huggybear
Hans Giebenrath: Robert Pattinson
Emma: Emma Watson
Flaig: Anthony Hopkins
Father: David Strathairn
August: Bob Hoskins
Principal: F. Murray Abraham
Pastor: Ewan McGregor
Aunt: Glenn Close
Livy Professor: Kevin Klein
Journeyman: Christopher Plummer

Herman Hesse's "The Journey To The East"

HH: Huggybear
Leo: Dustin Hoffman
Speaker: Christopher Lee
Deserter: Collin Farrell
Longus: Julian Sands
Lukas: John Malkovich

September 5, 2013
Cebu City

I attended the first of a two-day seminar in the business district across the Mandarin. Naturally I gravitated towards the big boys who sit at the back and smoke during breaks. I already have lunch buddies: Nick and Mart who both speak Tagalog; I'm getting to know the rest. It's fun: I had a great time, met a lot of interesting people from different cultures and made wisecracks where everybody laughed.

"Hi, I'm Johnny!" I said. Short and sweet. I didn't tell them I'm a writer. I also didn't tell them I'm a sex machine.

One of my Filipino classmates is from General Santos, a major city in Mindanao famous for its tuna industry and Manny Pacquiao. I find it really fascinating that he's one of the survivors of the infamous Valentine's Day bombing in 2005 by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist scums. The bomb went off just a couple of yards where he was. The stranger between him and the blast died, deflecting the explosion.

"It's still not your time," I told him, knowing how cliche it sounds. But when you come down to it, is there any other way to explain why he's still alive after what happened? Or for that matter, for anyone who survived a tragedy where a lot of people didn't? I could go on and on but that's it.

"Life is like a rosary," goes a slumbook motto I remember from elementary school. Why? "Because it's full of mystery!" I can't think of anything more corny. I can't think of anything more true.

I'm reminded of the one story that blows my mind no end. Once upon a time, a young man is walking in the marketplace in Baghdad. He is shocked when he sees Death. So he runs to the Caliph and pleads for the fastest horse so he could flee to Samarra. The Caliph grants the request then goes to confront Death.

 "Your Majesty, I didn't mean to frighten the boy," explains Death. "I was just surprised that he's here. You see, I'm supposed to take him at midnight in Samarra."

September 6,  2013

I got up at dawn with a couple of Six Sigma ideas which I'll do this weekend as a personal project, none of which will rake in money but the satisfaction is priceless and will last a lifetime.

"Is it really horny?" I asked.

"Very detailed," she assured me.

I was talking to one of my female classmates yesterday about Fifty Shades of Gray by E. L. James. I haven't read it yet but I have this idea that it's about sadomasochism. That's really intriguing. We were at the pantry having some coffee before going home with The Hunger Games on cable. She gave me a tip: follow this certain group in Instagram who buys eBooks then shares it to everybody.

Also yesterday: Another classmate, the girl in front of me, had her headphones on while we're waiting for the teacher. I tried to guess what song. I came up with images of Edward and Bella getting married.

"What are you listening to?" I poked her.

"I Love The Way You Lie," she smiled. "Rihanna."

"Oh," I said, crestfallen. "It's not A Thousand Years?" I know it's a stupid question but I was getting desperate: That was my guess.

"No." She has a nice smile.

"Well," I said, groping. "Who's next?"

"Christina Perri."

A Thousand Years
Christina Perri
[Theme from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I]

"I have died everyday waiting for you,
darling don't be afraid I have loved you
for a thousand years.
I'll love you for a thousand more..."

It's normal to want to do something you haven't done yet. It's natural to want to have something you don't have yet. I find it a bit spooky that events seem to be fitting perfectly into the things I want for my life. I need to do just a couple of things, simple things, so my life will be even simpler. Streamlined. Lean and mean with meaning.

"If you're building a house, the most important thing is the foundation," I said to a friend as we chilled in Bo's Coffee after dinner. I like that installation art in the little stage when they do Mass on weekends.

"Yeah," he agreed, understanding the metaphor. He has plans, I have plans. Good things are coming our way, and there's so much to look forward to.

Rain began to fall softly as I was about to go home as my companion left. It's 9 at night as I stepped out of the mall.

I went back inside and straight into National Bookstore. I got just the book that mirrors everything tumbling happily in my head.

"ThoughtStyle," is a "highly developed sense of accountability, audacity, passion and responsibility," says Jerry Porras in Success Built To Last. There are 3 essential elements of success: Meaning, Thought and Action. They should be in harmony. Desire and plans without action are useless, and getting busy without meaning is a waste of time. "ActionStyle" is the critical factor.

Utlimately, success is about taking action. So just "get on moving and get on doing what you really care about doing."

September 7, 2013
Banilad Cebu

I have a phobia from expecting too much from people. I now only hope for just one thing: Fairness. I don't ask for loyalty because I would soon be gone anyway. I'm content if people would always respect the dignity of his fellowmen while I'm still here, making my way in this patch of earth under the infinite sky.

"Hanggang sa dulo ng walang hanggan, hanggang matapos ang kailanpaman..." I was in a small alley when I heard the old familiar strain.

The music takes me to a hillside in Batanes where I see the ocean reaching out into infinity. Then I'm back to the present, with my senses heightened and everything around me more vivid as if I'm seeing them for the first time.

"Until the farthest place of eternity, until forever ends," is what the lines mean.

I found a small eatery in one of the many interior neighborhoods I passed through. The radio was in a house behind me with a dog chained beside the open door, wagging its tail. This song is special to me. I like all those sung by Basil Valdez but this is different. It's been played on the screen but when I hear it, the first person to enter my mind is me.

It is a part of my life. This is a song I call my own.

Hanggang Sa Dulo Ng Walang Hanggan
Basil Valdez

"Giliw kung sadya siya lang ang 'yong mahal,
asahan mong ako'y 'di hahadlang;
habang ikaw ay maligaya, ako'y maghihintay,
maging hanggang sa dulo ng walang hanggan..."