April 2005 Edition Vol. 5 Issue 2
An Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.
The wonder of age
We all must have heard people saying that like wine, we humans mellow with age. Indeed it’s true that age does wonder for many of us. With the passing of the years, we grow over petty things, and our rave, rancor or raw anger is subdued. We no longer hesitate to look down the road, see and accept the ugly reality of our own mortality, start making peace with God, and make the most of what time we’ve still got left. Depending on what we’ve been through, some of us would come to understand that life was not what it seemed to be – but life nonetheless was what we made it, what we gave to it, and what we salvaged from its shocks and offerings.
In order to keep their sense of well-being, some people would try to hold on tight to the remnant of their youth by starvation and surgery, by botox injection and steroids ingestion, or by expensive cosmetics and herbal preparations. They would struggle with defiance and denial of the reality that the beauty and the bosom of youth have now been replaced with the bulges and the wrinkles of age. But such defiance and denial can never change the deform shape of their inevitable fate to alter the course of their life.
Age has a way of changing the equation especially of a marriage relationship. It has done an amazing change to my wife at least the past 10 years. She no longer minds my own damn business, just as I never mind her. She no longer fusses at me if I can’t go to church with her. I used to tell her every time I didn’t feel like going to church and she would fuss at me, to just save her own soul and not to worry about mine, reminding her every now and then that our souls are not parts of the bargain in the marriage vow we took – “for better or for worse till death do us part.” She must have finally understood because she no longer wakes me up on early Sunday morning to go to church.
Don’t get me wrong. I just want to reward myself every now and then with a good long sleep without the necessity of having to wake up at a certain time. After all, God rested on the seventh day. Didn’t He? It’s not hard to imagine that after all the six days of hard work, God didn’t want to be disturbed and He must have been sleeping like a baby.
A thought on religion
Although I never like to wander off into issues of religious faith because it’s a touchy subject and it could attract unwanted reactions, but I think that it might be better if I express my thought on faith in God. I just don’t want my occasional offhand religion or God-related remarks, jokes and humor to be misunderstood and considered as insensitive or inconsiderate. Certainly, I have no desire to get entangled in a religious argument or conflict that all too often has no hope for a resolution because faith is something that one’s conviction comes from within. Faith is a belief without the evidence and therefore can easily attract disagreements that would be terribly hard if not impossible to settle. Indeed religion is a very sensitive subject that should only be touched with such gentleness that appeals to reason without provoking hot emotions. Hopefully, my two-cent worth of thought possesses a little bit of that gentleness, just enough to massage the mind and keep the wits, and not disturb the balance of the human psyche.
To me, religious faith or faith in God is a very personal matter. However we approach God is all up to us. Each of us sees and experiences God in a way that is somehow unique to us. No two people see things exactly alike. Each of us understands God in a way no one else does. But most if not all of us believe that there is a place in God’s love for each of us. If so, then we can follow our own spiritual path and not worry whether we’re on the right one, because every path leads to God. Would God let us lose our way? I don’t think so, because we will know if a correction is needed if we allow our conscience to guide us and our heart to show us the way, and God will lead us to that path.
But in order to understand and truly believe in God’s love, we must first let go of the idea that God is judgmental and punishing because it doesn’t make sense to believe that He is also forgiving at the same time. Being forgiving just doesn’t connect with being punishing. Does it? It is because of the belief that God judges us and would one day unleash His power to punish the disobedient among us that many of us grew up with the idea that God is to be feared. These threat and fear of God’s judgment and potential punishment have been utilized by men for centuries as tools to control and make every one obey and worship God. Indeed worship means faith, love and reverence, not fear, for it is hard if not impossible to truly love, revere and even have faith in someone you’re afraid of. Is it not? And if you love someone and you want that someone to love you, you don’t want him or her to be afraid of you, do you? Now let’s think about it for a moment. If we are afraid of God because we believe that He is punishing and unforgiving, how can He help us? Why would He even want to?
Since the beginning of time, humans’ approach to God has almost always been negative. They have to worship God because they are afraid of Him. They are afraid of Him and so they have to love Him. But love and fear are two incompatible emotions. To profess love that is driven by fear is contradictory. It’s like a shotgun marriage. If you love someone and yet you’re afraid of him or her, it’s not love because it’s not free, honest and sincere, for your positive feeling of love is under duress by a stronger negative feeling of fear. Whatever feeling you have is not love but a jumble of mixed incompatible emotions struggling against each other for dominance to control your spiritual obedience. Nevertheless love is compatible with faith, and vice versa. Isn’t it? Both are strong positive emotions. Erich Fromm said: “Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love.” It’s through our faith that we learn to understand and experience love - we learn to trust, to be honest, tolerant and accepting.
Every one of us who believes in God knows or at least agrees that God loves us unconditionally, and so His love for us is not contingent on the degree to which we please or displease Him, or, for that matter, on any set of standard. God alone is capable of perfectly unconditional love, and it is in that direction that I believe God wants us to strive for progress – to be willing to accept our fellow beings as they are, for it is only then that we can love them as they are, without any personal motives, like brothers and sisters particularly if we believe that we are all children of God. Thus it is through loving others unconditionally that we love God. It essentially means that we should at least try to be loving, thoughtful and caring especially toward our families and friends regardless of their behaviors, attitudes, or opinions. Thomas Merton said: “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
The human ways
Sad to say, most of our relationships are often fueled by competitiveness, antagonism, and self-seeking and self-serving motives – rather than by sincerity and kindness. Instead of being motivated by caring and thoughtfulness in establishing bonds that are mutually enriching, deep and lasting, knowing in our hearts that these kinds of relationships are the only ones worth having, we establish relationships with others based mainly on what we could get out of them. But I guess it’s probably due to the cultural environment and society we grew up with. Through what we were shown and even taught as we were growing up, we learned to pass judgment out of doubts, prejudices, suspicions and assumptions rather than out of open-mindedness, understanding and respect. We listen and make judgment based on gossips, for example. Because such judgment is all too often negative, we developed an attitude that we would rather take advantage than being taken advantage of. In other words, we developed an attitude in a way that our relationship is determined not by what we could put into it, but by what we could take from it, for instead of trust, suspicion often dominates our minds.
In any event, if we cannot let go of the idea that God is to be feared, we’d likely become vulnerable to either becoming self-righteous and judgmental believing that God is favoring us especially if we regularly worship God the way we are taught and believed, or to harboring guilt and fear if we frequently missed worshiping God. We’d be constantly keeping our eyes on the enchanting afterlife prize that we’d lose sight of the true essence of human relationship and the true value of life of the here and now, keeping us from achieving peace of mind, happiness and fulfillment in life. In other words, we’d lose sight of what is good and right, and what constitute a worthy life. Jonathan Swift once said: "We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another."
We’ve got to believe that God is loving and caring in order to have the firm conviction that God wants us to be happy, joyous and free. Why has God given us free will, and blessed us with choices and capabilities if He doesn’t want us to be free, joyous and happy? Suffice it to say, because of free will, the universal goal of the human species is happiness, if not peace of mind and fulfillment in life. You might ask - what about the nuns or priests who are making sacrifices and spending their life praying, or the monks who are spending their life meditating? But do you seriously think they are not happy with what they are doing, or with the profession they chose? Realize that happiness is subjective. What makes one person happy doesn’t necessarily make another person happy. It’s like one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But happiness and what we do and become are determined by our choices. Bad choices create bad consequences, and bad consequences create unhappiness. If the monk is unhappy being a monk, it’s not because his goal is not happiness, peace of mind, or fulfillment in life. It is because he made a bad choice.
A thought on ethics
Unlike many parents like my late parents who imposed or at least tried to impose their religious belief on their children and even on their grandchildren all the way to their adulthood utilizing the threat and fear of God’s judgment, power and punishments as the tools for its imposition, I had never imposed my own religious belief on my children, let alone manipulate or force them to come to church with me. They have to make up their own mind what their belief would be. Somehow ever since I was a kid, something seems to always tell me that most humanity problems were rooted in centuries of misguided and often contradictory moral teachings. For a person to rise above the tangle of right and wrong, he has to learn to think on his own. And to learn to think on our own, I believe, is the reason why God has given us the gift of intelligence.
To me, the best way to express our gratitude and appreciation of God’s blessings is to use the gift of intelligence fully the way we think, not the way others think it should be used, but with love, respect, compassion and consideration of others. It’s the most important choice we are blessed with – to use the gift toward becoming a better person – more respectful, more honest, more thoughtful, more responsible and more caring. If we look back, we’d realize that it is the misuse of this gift and the obliviousness to our choices that most of our problems and unhappiness resulted from. We are oblivious to the fact that we can choose not to be grudging, hateful and resentful just as we can choose to be loving, forgiving, kind and compassionate. Notice that our grudges and resentment distort our judgment and the intensity of our emotional involvements weaken our power to reason. But it’s mainly our overriding self-centeredness that keeps us from thinking honestly, judging fairly, and reasoning clearly. Self-centeredness has a way of disabling our objectivity and befuddling our ability to live up to moral standard and principle.
Notice that many high-profile individuals like political leaders, CEOs, etc. who had chosen to use the God-given gift of intelligence for selfish reason or solely for personal gain without regards of others had their lives roiled by troubles and turbulence, and they ended up in miserable and humiliating situations. The late President Marcos in the Philippines for example, his gift was extraordinary. No one would dispute that he was blessed with a brilliant mind. But he chose to use his gift solely for personal gain and advantage – to accumulate money and solidify power without regards of the people he was supposed to serve. He was less concerned of how many Filipinos were starving, dead and dying than how much fortune he had accumulated in his Swiss Bank accounts. In the end, his personal power was toppled by people’s power; he was left with no better choice than to go on exile in humiliation for the whole world to see.
One might wonder whether people like Ferdinand Marcos, Joseph Estrada, and even Bin Laden ever suffer from a guilty conscience. I don’t think they do. Otherwise they would not allow their evil deeds to go on and on. But do these kinds of people have a conscience to begin with? Of course they have, but they delude it with self-serving rationalizations. You’d never hear them admit their evil deeds and if they do admit them, they rationalize or justify them. Their minds are practically slam shut to other perspectives, and rather than admitting their guilt, they would defend their deeds with furious arguments and rationalizations as if the intensity of their convictions makes their evil deeds morally valid. As a result, they cripple their God-given gift of intelligence with self-delusion and self-righteousness. One of Marcos’ rationalizations is probably that Philippines would have been worst off with someone else as the President other than him. And it’s probably the same rationalization that Joseph Estrada was deluding his less-sophisticated mind with. Maybe both of them were right. But that doesn’t make their evil deeds good or morally justified. Evil is not a matter of degree; it’s a matter of moral principle. It’s always wrong to think or rationalize that since other people steal something big, then it is okay for you to steal something smaller.
Further, the use of God’s gift solely for self-indulgence often results in having bad relationship with others especially with family and friends. And bad family relationship in particular is a surefire source of anguish and heartaches. No matter where you are, how rich you are, and how happy you think you are with whatever you are personally indulging with, bad family relationship especially with your own children almost always has a way of disturbing your peace. To quote the song: “You can run, but you can’t hide.”
So we’ve got to be aware of our choices because we are all blessed with the will power or the capability of making a better choice to become a better person. There are many things in life that we can’t control and that we can no longer choose – our looks like whether we are handsome, pretty, or brilliant; whether our parents were bad or good to us; whether we grew up in a family where anger, fear, threats and guilt dominated, or where love, faith and kindness prevailed; etc. But it’s definitely within our complete control to be as good as we can be. Being good is the best way to feel good. Indeed we can choose to plan a charted course to live a life in such a way that if we died tomorrow, we can be proud of the way we lived and the choices we made, and become what we wanted our children, family and friends in particular to think we were. In other words, our plan is in such a way that all the things we do and say from now on will take us to where we want to be at the end. A wise farmer advised: “Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.” Indeed, this way, life is livelier the second time around.
The hormonal change
For those of us who got married at our younger age, at least a little bit of suspiciousness and jealousy with our spouses were all too common. As we grew older, these suspiciousness and jealousy seemed to fade and disappear as the hormones in our body began to diminish and dry up. Hormones have some aggressive effect on both men and women. They tend to magnify strong emotions – the urge especially to dominate and control is magnified by their surge. Dominating and controlling attitude toward a spouse especially if it comes from jealousy or suspiciousness that persists beyond middle age, however, is not attributable to the hormones anymore. It could be a part of personality disorder or a case of psychological instability.
As my wife and I age, whatever suspicion my wife used to have with me went away like a jilted lover and never came back, at least not yet, and hopefully not anymore. With the hormones drying up, everything has slowed down. Her attitude has changed from something like this – “Where the hell were you? What time is it now?” with a peculiar tone of not just suspicion but accusation – to something like this – “Don’t forget to put the food in the fridge after you’re done. I’m going to sleep.” Or, from something like this – “What the hell were you doing last night? I called the hospital and the nurses told me you were not there. They said you were not on call. Don’t you ever bring an HIV virus to this house!” Scary, isn’t it? (Probably because of her suspicion, she did not read my note on the fridge that I went to see a late night movie.) – to something like this – “You make the coffee. I’ll make the omelet for our breakfast. Let’s go to church in Richmond and have some Dim Sum there for lunch.” Amazing, isn’t it?
That’s the kind of behavior that is nurturing, not neutering; compromising, not castrating; that makes you keep your libido, not lose it. It demonstrates trust and respect, not doubt and suspicion. And it treats you as equal like a good friend with care and understanding, not runs you over like a shit head to be controlled and dominated, for it offers or suggests a choice rather than imposes a demand, and thus it inspires cooperation, not incites rebellion.
An offer you can refuse
Well, I’m going for grocery. Anybody wants something? Chicken? Fish? Macaroni and cheese? Bananas? Fruits? How about drinks? Come on. It’s on me. The apples, oranges and grapes are great this time of the year – all kinds of apples including the one that Adam and Eve took turns biting, and also the one that conked the head of Newton. My friend in Camotes insisted that it was not an apple that caused Adam and Eve to fall from grace, but a guava. Still, we have guavas in our grocery. No taker?
Nooo!…. not a box of tampons again, Girls! One time, my daughters asked me to pick up a box of tampons for them in the grocery store because they were busy studying and none of them could come with me. My wife had to attend a meeting. While there in the grocery, I went through turning one box of tampons after another to see if they are different from each other. They looked the same and so I decided to open one box and see what’s inside when a voice of a teenage girl right behind me asked if she could help me. Although I was really uncomfortable caught opening the box, I did not want to look startled, let alone wanted her to have an idea that I may be a pervert or some kind of a freak. So I turned around slowly looking ignorant and innocent as I could, showed her the open box and asked: “Do these things come in different sizes?” I was relieved when she gave me a smile with a little giggle in it like she was amused, emphatically listened to my predicament and understood my embarrassment and helped me. At least I had learned something. (To be Continued )
This news is taken from Lazaro Mag-uyon, M.D. of the CIM Class 1977 who wrote it as an entry in our ASOCIMAI web site's Guests Page.
CIM did it again!
Two Cebuanos made it to the top 10 in the Medical Board Exam given in Manila and Cebu earlier this month. One is Mia Isadora Lucero Loyola Fronteras, a granddaughter of The FREEMAN columnist Samson Lucero, got a score of 83.17 percent and placed on the fifth. The other Cebuano is Arthur Anthony Lacanienta Cavan who placed 7th with a score of 82.75 percent. Fronteras and Cavan are both graduates of the Cebu Institute of Medicine.
Three other Cebuanos made it among the top 20 placers. They are: William Michael Plaza Mellana Jr. at 14th place with 81.75 percent, Dexter Capagngan Lara at 16th place with 81.33, and Nello Bayani IV Jr., and Rodas Roa at 18th with 81.17.
A total of 1,084 passed the exam out of 1,990 examinees. Fronteras, 26, is a daughter of Salvador and Alma Loyola. Alma is a daughter of Professor Lucero, who writes the daily Today in the Past column in The Freeman, and the late Dr. Clara Lucero. Salvador is a former assistant city administrator of Cebu City. Fronteras is married to John Paul, an occupational therapist. During Fronteras’ first year in Medicine at Velez, she got the prestigious Excellence in the Study of Anatomy Award, and then got the gold medal in Preventive and Social Medicine in her graduation.
Fronteras finished her secondary studies at the Cebu City National Science High School as one of the ten most outstanding students, and concluded her Biology degree at the Ateneo de Manila University as department awardee. Born in a family of educators, Fronteras chose Medicine saying it was her dream since graduating from high school. Financial concerns made her hesitant at first to enter medical school but, with the help of her parents, she was able to avail of a scholarship from a group of pulmonologists named BAGA, Inc. (Breath Always Good Air, Incorporated ). “If not for BAGA Inc., and my parents, I won’t be able to enter medical school,” she said, adding that the inspiration of her life is her parents who gave their all-out support despite financial problems. “Do your best and God will do the rest,” Fronteras outlined her philosophy in life adding that her secret path to the top is only made of prayers and perseverance.
“Everything you do is meaningless without prayers. The only secret is spiritual foundation and diligence. I give testament to prayers because it is our best weapon and ally in life,” Fronteras said. At this time, she hopes to practice her profession in one of the hospitals in Cebu as an internist, focusing on adult medicine. When asked if she has plans to venture abroad, she said: “There are good strong reasons to stay but there are also good strong reasons to go abroad.”
A man had been seeing a psychiatrist for three years in an attempt to cure his fear that there were monsters lurking under his bed. But all the psychiatrist‘s efforts were in vain ad the man was no nearer to being cured. Eventually the man decided that further sessions were a waste of time and money.
A few weeks later, the psychiatrist bumped into the man in a bar. The man was looking much happier.
“You look well,” remarked the psychiatrist.
“Yes,” beamed the man. “That’s because I’m cured. After all this time, I can finally go to sleep at night and not worry that there are monsters lurking under my bed.”
The psychiatrist was puzzled. “How have you managed to get cured?” Nothing I tried with you seemed to work.”
“I went to see a different doctor,” explained the man. “He is a behaviorist and he cured me in one session.”
“In one session!” exclaimed the psychiatrist. “How?”
“It was simple,” said the man. “He told me to saw the legs off my bed.”
A teenage girl was forced to stay at a friend’s house overnight and called her mother first thing in the morning to let her know she was safe. The words came out in a breathless torrent. “Mum, it’s Caroline. I’m fine. I knew you’d be worried, but I didn’t get a chance to call you last night. My car broke down and I had to stay at Moira’s house, and by that time I got there it was gone midnight, so I knew you’d be asleep. Please don’t be mad with me.”
By now, the woman on the other end of the phone realized that the caller had got the wrong number. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I don’t have a daughter named Caroline.”
“Gee, Mum, I didn’t think you’d be this mad!”
Three guys – a Jew, an Italian and a Pole – signed up for police academy. The Jew went in first and the captain said: Before we admit you to the academy, we have to ask you ne question: Who killed Jesus?”
“The Romans,” answered the Jew.
“That’s correct. You can enter the academy.”
Next it was the Italian’s turn. “Who killed Jesus? asked the captain.
“The Romans,” replied the Italian.
“That’s correct. You can enter the academy.”
Finally it was the Pole’s turn. “Who killed Jesus?” asked the captain.
“I’m not sure,” said the Pole.
“Well,” said the captain, “why don’t you go home and think about it?”
The Pole went home and said to his wife: ”You won’t believe this! My first day in the job and they give me a murder case to solve!”
A lawyer cabled his client overseas: “Your mother-in-law passed away in her sleep. Shall we order burial, embalming or cremation?”
The reply came back:” Take no chances – order all three.”
NOTE:The inspiring story below was sent to me through e-mail by a good friend and it's a great story that I decided to share it here with you all. This is written by Cynthia Kersey. Cynthia is an author and speaker. You can visit her website at: www.unstoppable.net
With the recent passing of Ray Charles and the release of a compelling film about his life, called RAY, I thought I would share a few insights regarding Ray's persevering spirit with you.
There is an old adage that says, "The arrow that hits the bull's eye is the result of a hundred misses." And that is so reassuring to those of us who are pursuing a dream and along the way things don't go as fast or exactly as we'd hoped.
Ray Charles was a testament to the power of never quitting. When he was six years of age, he lost his eyesight. His mother told him, "Ray you've lost your sight, but you haven't lost your mind. You can still create a productive life for yourself." To a young, poor, blind child from the south, the possibilities didn't seem too bright. But as Ray thought about what he really wanted to do with his life, he dreamed of becoming a recording star. His dream wasn't just to produce an album, but becoming a star. So as a child, he would practice playing the piano and singing each day. A teacher heard Ray practicing at school and told him, "Ray, you can't play the piano, and God knows you can't sing. You'd better learn how to weave chairs so you can support yourself."
This type of comment would stop most people, but it didn't stop Ray. He deeply wanted to become a star and remained focused on his goal. Many times after auditions, people would tell him that he should just quit, that he couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. But Ray continued.
Ultimately, Ray's perseverance paid off. He received countless awards for his music including winning 12 Grammies and he was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He performed before millions of people including presidents and heads of state. And his unique musical style has made a lasting imprint on all forms of popular music in the past 50 years. All because he didn't listen to the negative influences in his life and refused to quit.
The next time someone tells you to forget your dream, remember Ray Charles, and if your dream is something that you REALLY want, don't let anything stop you until you achieve it!