Finding meaning in uncertainty

2000 years ago something life-changing happened to a young couple. It was news of a child. It was news unexpected. It wasn’t something they prepared for.

Yet it was welcomed with meaning in the midst of uncertainty. It was looked upon as a blessing from the Divine: a child born of a virgin. Little did they know that this child was the embodiment of God’s gracious condescension to actualize love in tangible terms as, Immanuel, among the presence peasants, foreigners, an unmarried couple and a flock of livestock all outcasts under the shadow of the Empire.

In the obscure little town of Bethlehem, everything came to a halt as heaven and nature sang a joyful chorus to celebrate the arrival of new life.

The Christmas story reminds us that our response to the anxiety of the present, finds cosmic meaning when we look at the unexpected, as a gift that invite us into a journey of encounter with the divine. It challenges us to not be distracted from the unnecessary pageantries that come with the season and calls us to relinquish control and to trust that all things work out for good.

Maybe the banner was meant for them?

I start this blog with a heavy heart knowing that friends in Greenpeace might be offended with opinions that will be stated here. Also I do not have any internal information as to how the recent Greenpeace action that happened in Peru, came about, so what I say here is based on what I see as an outsider to the organization who has been exposed to the public materials made available in the media and through official Greenpeace communication about the incident.

I have worked for the organization close to a decade and I left because I wanted to pursue a different direction as an activist, but also because it no longer felt like the family of equals that I came to know when I joined in 2005. It became more certification driven, in fact it makes me wonder that if ever I have been an applicant to the role I had when I entered Greenpeace now, I wouldn’t probably get accepted for the role if they were to look at my professional credentials.

Nevertheless, as someone who has also been a part of Greenpeace, the Nazca Lines fiasco comes as no surprise: My theory is that the organization’s thrust in recent years to professionalize1 itself requires it to open up the organization to many professionals who for better or worse are professional in their field of expertise but have lacked the vision and heart to see their work as a vocation. Professionals who will likely spend less only 6-10 months at a given office detached and uninterested with the work, the kind that's present on meetings but never on activities (action or otherwise); professionalism that doesn't go beyond office hours or on weekends;  has an expertise in skills but lacks heart or interest in the issues Greenpeace works in; present stirring up structural changes backed with data on how we can supposedly increase our effectivity in terms of media coverage and online-to-offline conversion rates.

GOO: In Goo We Trust

Around the start of 2014 I started skateboarding again.

What made it worthwhile for me aside from the immediate benefit of getting physical release from work related stress and the work out that comes along with that activity, is that skating provided me again to listen to music from the context of albums which has been mostly downplayed by our fascination with mp3s and playlists.

One constant staple in my skating soundtrack is Goo’s long-awaited album, in Goo We Trust, which I got from their album launch last December 22, 2013 at Chrome Box, in Marikina City.

The record comes as a classic example of what a proper punk rock record sounds like, thanks to the recording and production prowess of Ian Cuevas, who has finely and respectfully captured the singular intensity of passion and sound that flows from the instrumentation of the individual band members in the recording.

The Skeleton Years: Between Lunacy & You

It was a little more than a year ago when I had the privilege of watching them on their first gig and I was immediately hooked with the fascinating blend that somehow combines the post-punk sensibilities of Joy Division and the melodic melancholia punk rock of Alkaline Trio.

Thankfully a few months later they decided to release their debut EP Between Lunacy and You in an event, which also launched the music video of their song in an event which I sadly missed because I spent most of my time last year living on a suitcase traveling because of my work.

It wasn’t until November that I was finally able to secure a copy of the CD when my band Death To Puberty again had the chance to be in the same line up with The Skeleton Years, at IDB.

Upon opening I was floored by the quality of the packaging , design and liner notes that also included the lyrics, and acknowledgement to which Death To Puberty was included by the band in the list of artists that they are thanking ( a gesture for which I am thankful to the band as well).

Musically I enjoyed all the tracks, and the record itself is presently my skateboarding soundtrack. Songs that personally standout are Through, Dead Night and Fade particularly because of their catchy hooks and the brilliantly written lyrics of Darwin, not to mention the genre bending guitar exchange courtesy of Ebong and Sharen.

This record stands as one of the shining moments that restored my faith in the creativity and musical potential of the underground punk scene in the Philippines.

May the light shine

This was not at all a perfect year for many of us. The world and its troubles had gotten the best of us and brought us pain, anxiety, disappointment and the seeming helplessness that comes once we are apprehended in the apparent darkness of our circumstances.

This feeling is not unique to our time.

This was also the prevalent disposition of many throughout history, including that of first century Judea, which lost its independence to the Romans in the 1st century BCE, by becoming first a tributary kingdom, then a province, of the Roman Empire.

It was during this time under the shadow of Empire that a young couple found themselves at a cosmic crossroads in history unsure about the entire essence of their predicament, ushered in a child unto a world that is wrought in uncertainty.

In the obscure town of Bethlehem a child gasps for air breathing for the first time and opening its eyes to the world that would eventually lead him to fulfill his destiny to be its long awaited Savior.

In the darkness of the manger rays of light pierced the gloom with the promise of new life that is everlasting and is still making all things new even today.

May the light of Christmas shine ever more brightly as we remember Christ’s birth.


The cold air that whiffs of isopropyl alcohol, in hospitals function as salient reminders that we are heirs to humanity’s perpetual struggle to ponder the metaphysical. It is the place where time stands still in deafening silence reminding us of our frail mortality that is rendered to meet its terminus in a veiled yet appointed deadline that we will only know once we are there.

This was the thought that he had in mind as he reclined from the bench and felt the cold steel of the bench’s armrest rub against his dry skin in this ungodly hour at the hospital where nothing but the symphony of pulsating instruments fail to lull him into slumber.

It was dark and the atmosphere was despondent due to the fact that earlier he had heard a song from the Norwegian band, Fra Lippo Lippi, to which the line: "Life it seems, sleeps away just like any dream," resonates, unceasingly like a siren who's screeching sound seems untouched by the doppler effect.

It was hours of dragging and eager anticipation in the dark, cold and desolate aisles of the hospital when suddenly beams of light pierce and make its presence felt in the darkness of the room where he lay confined with uncertainty.

It was there after long hours of restless waiting that he heard what could have been music in the words of the doctor who uttered: "you are fine, all will be well its time to ask your companion to process the discharge papers, you’re going home."

digital metamorphosis (a short story)

Makati City. 8:15 AM

The train stops and the door slides open.

Suddenly the empty MRT station bursts into a sea of people rushing amidst the morning rush hour in Ayala Avenue.

The sight has been the norm for Simon, whose brisk walk suddenly turns into strides as he hurries off to his 8:30 meeting.

Ironically, the chorus: "I’ve been working for the rat race…♫" echoes in the background as Simon, listens to The Specials’ discography in his IPhone, which was fresh-off his Torrent library.

After half a kilometer and 5 flights of stairs, barely catching his breath, he arrives to find his office complex, completely shut down.

All Things New

"...behold I make all things new..." Rev. 21:5
In an age of unfathomable pain and suffering; at a time of inconceivable disparity between rich and poor; amidst wars and rampant environmental destruction; does the promise of Jesus’ Easter, resurrection still make sense today?

...behold I make all things new...

This is the promise of the ultimate consummation of all things to glory in Christ, whose resurrection assures us that indeed the world can and will change because the one whom God brought upon this earth has dared to challenge its sinful status quo to the point of costing his life has triumph over the greatest potency of sin –death.

...behold I make all things new...

The empty grave of Jesus, tells us that indeed all things are becoming new and that death doesn’t have the final say in the struggle for a better world. It tells us that Christ’s resurrection has turned the tide against the power of sin and death.

last day: re-orienting our loyalties

Today ends the retreat with a personal question: “What does Greenpeace Southeast Asia mean to you?”

To me Greenpeace Southeast Asia is everyone who has made a commitment to act upon the invitations we’ve offered them to act upon the issues that we’re working on. They are our volunteers, donors, supporters, partner organizations. Communities, Facebook fans, Twitter followers and email subscribers. They are the ones who are not here, but have done so much more (to the point of risking life, limb and liberty) than those of us who have become privileged with the opportunity of becoming a paid staff of the organization.

As the session ended I went public in committing myself to everyone there that I would do my best to stay true in being on the side of those who’ve given more than many of us has ever done in our professional engagement with Greenpeace.

Here’s to the many who are not paid.

Integration: embracing the complexity of ‘why’

Emotionally storytelling invites one to feel empathy, that is to situate ourselves in the shoes of another person. We cannot feel for another if we do not know where the other is coming from.

This is perhaps one of the most important challenges that integration faces if we are dead serious on struggling to become part of the movement to change the world, by challenging the stories that we have been led to believe by the status quo, that benefits from the present state of things.

That is why I guess activists should likewise invest in their beliefs once again, because it is in investing in the core of what drives us that we begin to realize the need to organize not only our movement but more importantly to organize a movement of leaders.