THE TALE OF TWO SIMONS — A REFLECTION ON THE FILM “SON OF GOD”

•April 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

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“Peter…leave catching fish and come with me, and become a Fisher of Men.” This was Jesus inviting Simon Peter to a life of apostolic revolution that would unfold into the story of Christ’s last days on earth.

I went to the cinema to watch the Lenten season film “Son of God”, not expecting too much. As it turns out, the reviews rating it as a 5 out of 10 kind of film, had some merit. Even so, the visuals were powerful, and some of the actors, quite good, including the actor who played Jesus. Regardless, I was moved by what I saw. Films on the passion of Jesus Christ always do it to me. It may be my Catholic childhood, my Evangelical adolescence or my occasional melancholia — this is the kind of film that digs deep into my insides, wreak havoc, and somehow changes my life in some aspect.

I thought about the two Simons in the story. The first — Simon Peter; who vowed to lay his life for the Teacher; who had denied Christ three times in the hours after Jesus’ capture; who built the church of Jesus and made it a great religion; who historically upon his execution, asked to be crucified upside down for he says he doesn’t deserve to die the same way his Teacher did. The second — Simon of Cyrene who was compelled by the centurions to help Jesus carry his cross the third time he fell on the rocky road to Golgotha; who took the cross all the way to top of the hill and fell alongside Jesus in sheer exhaustion; whose initial hesitation turned to sympathy, and then into faith as he helps to lessen Christ’s burden. Peter showed that he had humanly fear despite his deep devotion and love, and he spent the rest of his life showing this. Simon of Cyrene was thrown into a situation he did not wish for, and seeing he did not have a choice, just did as commanded. For me, he had the last and most important opportunity to share the burden of Jesus, literally — something I can deeply relate to. Indeed, the lives of the two Simons were changed by the Son of God in ways they hadn’t imagined, but ways that they ultimately suffered for, and for the truth that they eventually embraced. Although not in the extent and context the two men have demonstrated their faith, I believe we sometimes find ourselves in situations of fear and hesitation, held back by things we do not understand yet and the aversion to failure. And most of time, it’s not until we throw ourselves into the situation that we learn how it was important for us to be in there. Knowing, becoming stronger and better able to deal with things, realizing what is true and what is real, and breaking down what is illusion — this is what we find as the road bends. It’s after finishing that hard climb on the hill bearing the cross, and after losing most of our strength, that we come face to face with the shining reality — we did it for the Good, the good of others, and the good we owe ourselves.

“Son of God” has some riveting scenes, and ones that are hardly memorable. But I left the theater with both a heavy heart and a certain gladness for remembering what is truly important about living this life — taking up our cross, and dealing with it.

 

47 RONIN : A Viewer’s Review

•January 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

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Pageantry. Fantasy. Beauty. The film skims richly over each visual element, from its dazzling costumes from ancient feudal Japan, to CG effects that blend swirling drapery into macabre sorcery, to locations and environments of epic proportions, to sexy close-ups of beautiful actors — 47 Ronin is breath-taking cinematic poetry.

The film is based on the true story of 47 ronin (legendary samurai who have been stripped of their honor in defense of their fallen master), their journey from being forced out from their land by the evil Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) assisted by a cunning and sensual witch Rinko Kikuchi), and the painful travails of the troop’s leader Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada) and the novice samurai Kai (Keanu Reeves) leading to avenging the forced suicide of their Lord Asano (Min Tanaka). Amid the intense scenes of swordfights and scary black magic, the romance between Kai and Lord Kira’s princess daughter Mika (Kou Shibasaki) softens the storyline which is centered on the concept of honor and loyalty.

It doesn’t reach the epic stature of Lord of the Rings, but it conjures enough otherworldly elements and drama that can hold one’s interest for over an hour. There were more than enough sweeping shots of exotic palaces in harsh climates and stupendous wardrobe that screams “big budget”, which somehow distracts one from relating to any of the characters in a deeper way. The essential japanese sensibility of unconditional commitment to tradition and honor, even to a fault, provides a profound but disturbing conflict than runs through the entire screenplay.

Keanu Reeves, the actor with a penchant for heroic characters in eclectic worlds and adventurous story lines was expectedly appealing, carrying the scintillating mystery of the Half-Breed who senses witchcraft and seemingly impervious to deep pain and suffering. The lead ladies — Mika and the Witch — both exude compelling presence as well as disarming beauty that loves the lens, exemplifying pure good and pure evil respectively. Even the lesser role given to the handsome Jin Akanishi, a young singer/actor gets ample screen time.

There are differing perceptions from critics with regard to the film’s storyline, choreography and adherence to historical facts. To me however, 47 Ronin was visually riveting, amply engaging with its clever camerawork, and uncomplicated in its plot and story arc, leaving me a generally good feeling as the end credits roll.

POSTS FOR GOOD

•January 5, 2014 • 2 Comments

In september 2013, i decided to deactivate my Twitter account, to hopefully simplify my life. What part of my life exactly needed simplification?

I enjoy conversation, be it face-to-face or remotely (mobile or online). It’s how we experience and learn about different people in this world. If we stop it, a gap develops. I don’t really care about the gossip, the irrelevant and petty rantings, the promotional blah/blah…what i did miss are the brief and random pearls of good vibes and greetings thrown across the interface. When I come across funny quips and expressions of love and affection, they remind me of love notes in cards in flower bouquets, or fond reminders on refrigerator doors, or romantic song requests on paper napkins in music bars…..bits and pieces of conversation hoping to bloom into full expressions of humanity, beautiful and genuine.

That’s what Twitter meant to me. As well as my status shout outs on FB, and my IG posts — they’re my connections to my human world and the beauty of life we strive to achieve every single day. Sure, there are trolls, noise and all uneeded stuff on there, but you can ignore and block these and the good vibes go on. Social media is good if one uses it for The Good, and if one understands what it’s really for — connection.

And so, I’m back to twitter. And here to stay — connected.

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Dream upon a dream

•December 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Dream upon a dream.

9 dec 2013

I was at someone’s funeral and i remember delivering a tearful eulogy…i can’t remember for whom and what i said. Then i went home alone, to the house in Tondo where I grew up. It was dark and empty. On a hunch, i shouted “Mommy!!” Three to four seconds, and then, a faint response from upstairs. My heart raced, i climb up the stairs, and called out again, “mom!” Again, a reply that slightly louder,” here…sa bedroom ko!” In the dark I made my way to my parent’s room, half-scared and half-excited to see who has been responding to my shouting. Once inside, i meet a shadow — she had nice hair and my Mother’s height, dark and unidentifyable visually, but everything i sensed at that moment tells me that it’s my mother. On impulse, i moved closer to hug her and was strangely surprised that she, the shadow became a solid person. But i looked at her, and she is still a shadow without a face. She spoke — “David…” And i rushed to hug her tigher saying, ” oh, Mom, I miss you so much,” the sensation of tears gushing down my face almost woke me up from my dream. The scene changed — i was in Ali Mall, walking, and I was casually walking with my Mom, who is still a dark shadow. She told me not to respond to her like she’s really there because only i can see her, lest i be thought off as a street psychotic talking to myself. Her last sentence was…” Don’t worry…i will Always be with you.”

Then, i woke up with a smile. Thanks, mom, i needed that.

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GAME WITH NO WINNERS

•September 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment

 

 

 

(This is a small collection of early writings and musings I wrote while I was living in Singapore in the early 2000s. It’s such a profound gift to experience how you thought as a person a dozen years ago, and how you got here from there. Let this trove be a blessing, not a bane to judge me by, but rather a testament of a life of thought and reflection.)Image

Am I supposed to look away

While you look past me

And pretend that one’s eyes do not see

What they wish they could see

When I look in your eyes

I see nothing but defiance

A closed gate that’s painted brightly

Closed windows that invite voyeurs

And you dare to jest

Of how I am at your behest

While I move my world around you

You play me like a game

That you could drop when you get tired

That you come back to when you yearn again

And I need to plead

For you not to kill me as yet

For I am no goblin or orc

That you cannot look at

With kinder eyes

JUST OR JEST

•September 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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In my solace

i shout at the dark

angry at it for gnawing at my mind

while I fight to make sense

of the things i see….

 

I used to think

standing my ground

for what I believe and truly feel

will bring me to my fulfillment

 

While love changes all that

it keeps some things the same

…….that I am alone in this strife

…….that I alone in this life….

…….and no amount of shouting and fighting

will take me halfway

to where I want to be.

REGRET NOT

•September 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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In my mind

grew a tree of red autumn leaves

that swayed to the strains

of some brooding guitar

rooted in fond memories

that I come back to often

and I wake up smiling

at a life filled with love…

given, taken, refused, given back…

but love in all its forms

have made this tree grow

and now in the orchard

of my faint consciousness

I gaze up at it

with a strange

happiness.