Bili na kayo ng Church

“The institution is human, it is the identity that is divine”

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Iba rin talaga ang nagagawa ng kawalan ng internet connection, much more cellphone signal. I recently attended a Pastors’ and Workers’ Retreat and I can attest to a very significant effect of internet connectivity (or the lack thereof) on human interactions. Mas authentic and tawanan, mas totoo ang kwentuhan, mas buhay ang hagalpakan. In this world digital connectivity, we need to establish more often the significance of genuine relational connections.

Bili na Kayo ng Church

Isa pa sa major feat na naranasan ko while on that retreat ay nakatapos ako ng isang libro in one seating. Dahil wala akong cellphone na need constantly i-check during break periods, I really felt like I am one with nature that time, at parang kausap ko lang in person ang mga characters ni Kuya Rei Lemuel Crizaldo, ang author ng Bili na Kayo ng Church. Ang unusual ng title ano? Pero sa title pa lang, magkakaroon ka kaagad ng idea what the book is about – the emerging commercialization of the church.

What’s interesting about this book is that it is presented in a “he said, she said” format. Para kang nakikinig ng usapan ng magkaibigang sina Sef and Nivz habang nagbabatuhan sila ng mga arguments about the church – answering our questions that we dare not ask sa mga church leaders natin. Sabi nga sa blurb ng libro, “ang pagpili ba ng church ay parang pagsha-shopping lang para sa bagong gadget? Sa dami ng nagsusulputang churches, alin kaya ang dapat mong puntahan? Kung lahat sila ay mag-iinvite sa iyo, anong gimik kaya nila ang makakahatak sa iyo?”

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Sef and Nivz presented our view of the church in opposing spectrums: one, that it must uphold and maintain its traditions despite the changing times and two, that it has to adapt to the cultural and preferential shifts of the churchgoers. Sa dalawang panig na pinakikinggan ko (err, binababasa), sa totoo lang nalito ako kung saan nga ba ang bias ko: I can identify with Sef and his frustrations with the institutionalized church, na hindi na tayo kinakikitaan ng mga pag-uugali na unang ipinakita ng early church fathers natin – pag-ibig, pagkakaisa, Christlikeness. I do also agree with Nivz, lalo na sa encouragement niya na huwag tayong mawalan ng pag-asa sa church dahil lang sa dungis ng mga taong bumubuo nito. If Jesus died for the church, why should we give up on her?

Nagpatikim din si Kuya Rei ng interesting facts about the church history in this book. Maging yung iba’t ibang mukha ng iglesia natin ngayon ay ipinakita rin niya: cell churches, house churches, community churches, traditional churches, mega churches, digital churches. May pros and cons. Ngunit kung ang tanong mo ay “should I stay or should I go?” at “if I stay, where do I stay?” ikaw na ang bahalang sumagot niyan based on your convictions. Ang masasabi ko lang, I appreciate how God sometimes lead us to questions unanswerable by either yes or no so we’ll learn to listen to Him intently, even in matters such as leaving or staying in a specific church family.

Before I end this post, I’d love to share this statement from Sef. Pertaining to church, he says “the institution is human, it is the identity that is divine”.

Actually habang binabasa ko ang libro, it’s as if my questions were being articulated and presented to me. Hindi lang pala ako ang may mga frustrations sa institutionalized church in general. Hindi lang pala ako ang nagtatanong, “why does it hurt to be in church?”. Pero through the years that I’ve stayed and served in the church, I began to love it not because of its flaws but in spite of it.

Grab a copy on Bili na Kayo ng Church available in all OMF and Philippine Christian Bookstores.

Bakit Parang Kulang?

Ruminations from recently screened Pinoy movies

Have you ever thought why sometimes, in spite of all the efforts you have put into things, at the end of the day you still feel like you’re either short changed, or worse you feel like a loser? Naalala ko yung isang TV ad tungkol sa isang bata na nag-try outs para makapasok sa basketball team pero he ended up one notch behind sa mga napili. Pero sa TV ad na yun, kahit hindi siya napili sa try outs, may noodles naman na nag-pacify sa kanya. Samantalang tayo, kahit sangkatutak na noodles pa ang kainin natin, mahirap burahin sa sarili na “sayang talaga!”

bakit parang kulang-Sa loob ng ilang linggong hiatus ko sa pagsusulat, medyo nawili akong manood ng movie na mag-isa. It actually started as an idea to cross out an item sa imaginary bucket list ko, but I found out na OK rin pala manood mag-isa. Pero ayokong masanay syempre. Iba pa rin na may kadamay ka sa pagtawa, pagtatanong at pag-iyak kung minsan.

Balik ako sa issue ko kanina. Sometimes I actually get hard on myself whenever I don’t live up to my own expectations. Minsan kasi ang taas ng standards na hinulma mo pero hindi mo nakuha yung output na inaasahan mo. Pero in reality, in life it doesn’t always depend on us. Maraming factors to consider, maraming elements ang gumagana why we end up achieving, or not achieving our desired results. What are these factors? Huhugot lang ako ng kaunti sa aking mga napanood.

Factor 1: Minsan sarili nating mga desisyon

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If you have watched 100 Tula Para kay Stella, alam kong kagaya ko, maiinis ka rin how the main characters, Fidel and Stella, decides for themselves. Siguro kung mababatukan lang natin ang mga karakter nila, nagawa na natin. “Dapat ganito, dapat ginawa mo yan, dapat kasi sinabi mo na agad!”. If the movie is about people who mess up with their decisions in life, the movie conveys that message very well. Lumabas ako ng sinehan that time na sobrang naiinis kasi they could have grasped what they really wanted in life but yet because of their irrational decisions, ayun, “nganga”. Pinaiyak lang tayong mga manonood. Ang sakit sa puso.

Pero hindi naman tayo naiiba sa kanila. We also end up making the wrong decisions. Kung sana hindi na natin pinagtagal ang isang bagay, kung sana ginawa na natin agad ang isang project, kung sana kinausap na natin agad ang isang tao… the list goes on. Minsan talaga we end up failing behind our goals kasi we choose the wrong decisions. However, these decisions must not impede us to grow. May these shortcomings serve as our launch pad to success, a pit stop to recharge and keep on fighting. Kaya laban lang mga Fidel!

Factor 2: Minsan mga bagay na wala tayong kontrol

LYSB_Poster_1Sa trailer pa lang ng Love You to the Stars and Back, nag-expect ako na iiyak ako e. Gusto ko talaga sa pelikula yung pinupukaw ang damdamin ko. Hindi ako nahihiyang aminin na mababaw ang luha ko, at gustong-gusto ko talaga kapag nalilinis ang mga mata ko. Haha! Pero honestly, medyo nabitin lang ako ng kaunti kasi di natrigger masyado nila Caloy at Mika ang tear ducts ko.  Pero their story about accepting tragedies in their life, sprinkled with their adventurous search for aliens and teenage antics is interesting enough to keep you focused. Nakakatuwa kasi medyo nakita ko yung sarili ko na parang ang tanda ko na pala, kasi I question the plot like, “Isang araw pa lang na road trip, may yakapan na? May malagkit na eye-to-eye contact na agad? Ang bilis ng emotional bond!” Wala lang, pakiramdam ko unti-unti nang nagma-manifest ang pagiging “tito” ko. Nevertheless, I love the story, siguro kasi may mga bagay na personally naka-identify ako, kagaya ng “bundok natin ito” and the setting is in Batangas. Haha!

Like Caloy and Mika, may mga bagay na hindi natin magawa kahit anong gusto pa natin kasi hindi natin kontrolado, hindi natin hawak ang sitwasyon. Kagaya ng sakit ni Caloy, yung pag-deny sa kanya ng kanyang ama, at ang pagkamatay ng ina ni Mika. Mga bagay na kahit ano pa ang gawin natin, hindi na natin kayang saklawan. We set standards, we set goals, we aim for something, then we end up feeling frustrated, hindi dahil nagkulang tayo, kundi dahil hindi lang talaga para sa atin. I remember the most intense scene sa LYSB ay yung sa bridge kung saan gusto nang magpakamay ni Caloy at nagtatanong siya sa Diyos kung bakit siya may cancer. He didn’t receive an audible answer but in the end, *spoiler* he was cured, and was given an opportunity with Mika. Kahit hindi natin kontrolado ang lahat, kailangan mo lang maniwala.

Factor 3: Minsan kinakain tayo ng sistema

Birdshot PosterI am not talking about oppa and Kdrama. I am talking about Birdshot, an Oscar-worthy movie, sobra. Hindi siya horror, pero kakabahan ka at matatakot. Ma-aappreciate mo ang cinematography at ang picturesque scenery ng isang nameless na rural area, pero gayundin manghihilakbot ka dahil kahit sa kasimplehan ng pamayanang pinakita, laganap pa rin ang korapsyon at police brutality, at kabuktutan sa sistema ng pamamahala. Ito ang pelikula na kahit tapos na ang palabas, nakaupo pa rin ako sa kinauupuan ko, nakatulala at nag-iisip, “anong nangyari?”. Pinukaw masyado ang damdamin ko. Lalo na yung huling eksena, nag-iwan ng marka sa isip ko.

Nakakalungkot na pinakita sa pelikula na ang ating mga ideolohiya, kahit gaano katayog at kaganda, ay kayang patumbahin ng bulok na sistema. Si Domingo, isang batang pulis na may puso upang maglingkod, ay unti-unting nagbago at nakiisa sa sistemang kanyang unang kinasuklaman. Dahil sa takot, dahil sa udyok ng nakararami, dahil pakiramdam niya wala siyang magawa, nagpatianod na lang siya sa agos ng karahasan at karumihan. Pinatay ng kanyang hepe at kanyang “partner” ang kanyang magandang ideolohiya.

Bakit hindi natin minsan naaabot ang inaasam natin? Dahil nagpapatianod na lang din tayo sa takbo ng mundo. Para tayong mga isda na sumasabay sa agos, ngunit sa kaibuturan ng ating puso at isipan, alam nating tanging mga patay na isda lang ang sumasabay sa agos.

Kagaya rin natin, minsan kahit hindi natin gusto ang isang bagay, ginagawa na rin natin kasi inuudyukan tayo ng iba. Ang maling sistema na hindi natin ginugusto ay nagiging bahagi na rin ng ating pagkatao. Bakit hindi natin minsan naaabot ang inaasam natin? Dahil nagpapatianod na lang din tayo sa takbo ng mundo. Para tayong mga isda na sumasabay sa agos, ngunit sa kaibuturan ng ating puso at isipan, alam nating tanging mga patay na isda lang ang sumasabay sa agos. Sabi nga sa Matthew 7:13, “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”. Wag tayong magpakain sa sistema.

Sidenote: Birdshot is Philippines’ official entry to the Best Foreign Language Film Category at Oscars. Kudos!

Sa tatlong factors na ito, san ka mas nakaka-identify kung bakit minsan parang kinakapos ka sa iyong goals? Pag-usapan natin yan.

Becoming #SuperEpic in a Challenging World

Ikaw, ready ka na bang maging #SuperEpic? Ako ready na!

I usually read articles and comic book reviews about my favorite superhero movies. Di ako masyadong comic buff when I was younger but I became so fascinated with comic book heroes when superhero movies became a fad. Pakiramdam ko bumalik ako sa kabataan ko. Sabi nga sa mga comment sections ng mga Marvel and DC related videos na pinapanood ko sa YouTube, for superhero geeks, “it is a great time to be alive!”

Heroes are born out of a need. When change is needed, heroes step up to address the mess. Tayong mga kabataan, wala man tayong super powers o striking costumes, we have the same potential that can impact the lives of those around us – parang isang superhero!

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May Powers ka to be #SuperEpic, a book by Mighty Rasing, is both empowering and engaging. It appeals to the youth like me who are driven by the desire to make lasting impact sa mundong ating ginagalawan. It leads us to a point na bukod sa mga astig na powers at costumes ng mga comic book heroes na alam naman nating kathang-isip lang, we are full of potentials din to make a difference. Ang maganda pa, makakarelate ka talaga sa mga practical tips na binibigay ni Kuya Mighty.

Isa sa pinakagusto kong part ng #SuperEpic ay yung tungkol sa vision. Parang si Cyclops ng X-Men na kapag nagfocus siya sa isang bagay, his Optic Blast will leave much impact – matatalo ang kalaban, masisira ang anumang harang, magiging malaking tulong sa kanyang mga kakampi. Like us, if we focus our eyes on the vision God has given us, #SuperEpic ang maaari nating maiambag sa mundo. Imagine, hindi lang ito about powers, it will be about God’s purposes.

Ikaw, ready ka na bang maging #SuperEpic? Ako ready na!

Mga Batang Superbook Unite!

If you remember these cartoon characters, then your childhood is awesome!

Nowadays, it is not only the parents and the teachers who influence and teach virtues to the children. The media has also become an active participant in leading a child to proper values education. I am grateful for having parents who taught me how should I behave as a kid then – that I should respect the elderly, to be obedient, to be polite and to be God-fearing, among others.

I remember one of our bonding moments when I was a kid is by watching educational TV shows together. Among my favorites then were Batibot, Sesame Street, the educational programs of ABS-CBN and Superbook. Actually I can claim that I learned some of my foundational lessons in front of the television. (Note: guided TV watching, I may say).

When I learned that Superbook will be re-aired and rehashed – the Superbook Reimagined, I felt a bit excited. Its as if my childhood memories with the series is to be reborn, in a digitally-improved animation! I’m going to see Chris, Joy and Gizmo and their biblical time travel experience once again! If you remember these cartoon characters, then your childhood is awesome!

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As I mature, I learned that Superbook is more than just a cartoon with positive message. It is more than just story telling. What Superbook does is more like gospel sharing in a language that children can easily understand. It appeals to the children’s eyes with its visuals, to their emotions with its lessons, and most importantly to their hearts with its message – the message of the gospel. Moreover, the ministry of Superbook touches not just the children but extends to their families as well.

What Superbook does is more like gospel sharing in a language that children can easily understand. It appeals to the children’s eyes with its visuals, to their emotions with its lessons, and most importantly to their hearts with its message – the message of the gospel.

The desire of CBN Asia Inc., the organization behind the animated series, is to continue to expand the ministry of Superbook. “Since the first airing of Superbook on Philippine TV, it has reached millions of families, with over 80 million viewers the past year alone,” says John Tan, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of CBN Asia Inc. “That is an amazing number of people watching the Gospel every week and our hope is that we will be able to continue doing that,” Tan continued.

That is why Chris, Joy and Gizmo is calling us to partner with them in bringing the good news of the gospel by allowing them to continue their airtime. CBN Asia Inc. has officially launched the Superbook SuperGifts website where fans can join in and partner in bringing God’s love to Filipino kids any time, wherever in the world they are.

The SuperGifts website will not only enable people to donate to Superbook and help continue its airing, mall tours and outreaches, but will also provide Christian materials for children to enjoy. For every donation given through the website, children and their families can enjoy DVD episodes of the animated series, discussion guides, and new limited edition character figurines. “We hope to provide great Christian materials so they can use it for their families, churches, and schools,” he added.
“I hope that they will continue to partner with us because the task is great,” Tan concluded. However, at present time, SuperGifts can only be shipped to a physical Philippine address.

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The Superbook crew welcomes us to become their partner in accomplishing the task of spreading God’s love and giving hope to children. “God has a great plan for them. He loves them, cares for them and He will be there–now that they are children until they grow old and have their own families. The assurance of God’s love is what we are trying to convey. By partnering with us using the SuperGifts website and donating to the cause, you will really help us in pursuing God’s call to CBN Asia.”

You may visit the Superbook SuperGifts website (www.batangsuperbook.com/supergifts) to be a part of sharing God’s great love to Filipino children!

© All photos are property of CBN Asia Inc.