Making the Right Choices in Life

Making the Right Choices in Life

By Apolinario Villalobos


The universe is balanced by two major forces, the positive and the negative, so is our planet earth which maintains its balance on its axis with the help of the north and south magnetic forces, aside from the one emanating from the sun. In a more specific situation, our life is also being influenced by two “forces”, the negative and the positive. But unlike the universe and the planet earth which need the equal amount of forces for the needed equilibrium, our life needs the positive more than the negative to give it serenity. Making the right choice makes a lot of difference to make our life worth living.


The forces that influence our lives, be they negative or positive come from many sources – from the people around us and our environment in general. Most often, the easiest option usually gives negative result. On the other hand, the one with positive result entails difficulties, hence, becomes the last option. That is why, we often hear remarks like, “you have to sweat that much to get it” or “it is not that easy to get what you want”, etc.


Nobody is free from the difficulty of making choices.  A freshman in college makes a difficult decision which among the long list of courses to take. A woman makes a crucial choice who among her suitors to give her nod. For the man, either to go for intelligent one or the beautiful. For the couple, how many offspring to have.  For a single guy, which investment – a car or house and lot. Still for the woman, career or being hitched to the loved one for life who is in a hurry to settle down. The decision for the right choice is often influenced by the family and friends, based on the prevailing situation, citing necessity as the reason.


It is the necessity of getting second opinions that makes the presence of consultants a must both in private and government entities, more so with professions. Even the highest official of the land has his own clique of consultants. The act of priests in confessing to their colleagues is a display of consultation which is necessary, and what Pope Francis did lately, confessing to a priest, caught his followers by surprise, though, it has a tinge of humility. Physicians are known to consult their colleagues for second opinions on difficult assessment of cases before they finally make the right verdict for their patients. Some lawyers are also known to do the same – consult colleagues for difficult cases. Teachers also consult co-teachers about their decision on problem students.


Finally, some friends swear to enlightenments they receive after consulting Him.



Life’s Charades

Life’s Charades

By Apolinario Villalobos


Playing roles in life takes a lot of courage and determination but to be convincing is another thing. Man can never be free from playing different characters. For the sake of survival, it is understandable. Some do it for fame, some for money, still some do it to save their face at all cost. It is said in the Bible that when people start pretending to be God or Jesus, the end of the world is at hand. But when people start to put on a mask of innocence despite glaring evidences for the crimes he committed, there ensues a question on the Lady Justice’s steadfastness.


Government officials and politicians are fond of denying inadequacy in what are expected of them. It is a great game of charade that they play, much to the consternation of their constituents. Agency officials vehemently deny their innocence of shenanigans that involve corruption committed by their employees or worse, deny to high heavens their own involvement even though all evidence point to them. The denial is never complete without a big smile or poker face. Non-government personalities who are likewise involved in the systematic corruption maintain a face of virtuousness with a hope that they will not be forced to admission when pushed to the corner.


Some people are very good at looking happy though deep inside them, they feel bad or sad. This is the expertise of show business people whose faces can assume expressions or mood regardless of situation. But there are people who, though not in such business, are very good at looking pious, at least until a religious service is over. Then, there are those who could look compassionate while distributing relief goods but as soon as they have left the evacuation center, grimaced while pouring alcohol on their hands. These are the government officials and politicians in immaculate white slacks and made up faces, who visit evacuation centers for photo opportunities.


In a TV show, a seasoned lady host was interviewing a purportedly “healing” priest who is being doubted after some of his followers found out his materialistic tendencies.  The interview was about mishandled funds of the religious foundation to which he belongs and is supposed to be supporting his advocacy. His face failed to project innocence and piety while the interview was going on. His facial expressions just did not match his defensive statements. While his lips are curled in a sarcastic smile, his eyes seemed to mock the host, in contrast to his imploring defensive statements. What pinned him down was his recorded remark which sparked the interview, such as, “why should I turnover the money to the religious foundation when it was given to me?” Investigations brought to light his lavish activities since the time he became famous for supposedly healing people.  I am wondering if that priest who claims to heal sick people is still wearing his priestly white habit.


Then, there are those “ministers” who gesticulate and shout at the top of their voice to emphasize their intention of guiding lost souls back to the right track.  The poor members who are threatened by the fires of hell could not contain their fear making them shed tears, not because God is calling them, but because the minister is pointing his finger at them, accusing them of committing grievous sin. It is a very effective charade of ferocious concern. I witnessed this kind of ministry which during that particular time, was capped by the minister’s reminding his “flock” to increase their “love offering”, because he need the money to buy a new refrigerator.

Appreciating the Bible and Other Books

Appreciating the Bible

And Other Books

By Apolinario Villalobos


The first religious book I had was given to me as a prize for beating the rest of the contestants who were my senior in an extemporaneous writing contest in English. I was in first year high school and the book was the freshly circulated “Imitations of Christ”, which today is one of the best sellers. I just kept it, forgetting even the name of the author.  A friend borrowed it and decided to keep it for good. Then, a lay minister whom we fondly called, “papa Joe” gave me a King James Version Bible which he fondly marked with a dedication. It occupies a space together with the Koran, two other versions of the Bible, Apokalipses of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a book about mankind’s search for God.


When a friend saw my collection, he asked what I will do with them. Despite the silliness of the question, I told him that I need to know what I am supposed to know. He used to be a staunch Roman Catholic but when he joined the Masonic Temple, he seemed to have drifted away and sounded different. I told him that for me, all books contain information that everyone must learn, especially, those “special” ones that discourse on religion, cult, God, church, Christian movement, Marian devotion, archaeology, astronomy,etc. I could have told him more, but noticed his irritation. So I closed my statement with the short, “knowledge is power” with a tone of jest. I just did not want to embarrass him with a remark that he is the only “Mason” I know who does not believe in God. I pitied him for his choice to be ignorant.


Had not my curiosity made me interested in religious books, I may not have known that:


-the eldest son of Abraham was Ismael, and whose mother was Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah;

-in the Old Testament, the Israelites were told to always have a trowel as a household

tool so that they can use it to dig the ground when they move their bowel;

-in the Old Testament, one of the Lord’s instruction was not for the wife to join in a fight in which her husband figured, and most especially, not for her to grab the testicles of her husband’s foe as her effort to help her husband;

-in the New Testament, it says how Jesus lost his temper and cursed a fig that did not bear fruits that he could have eaten that day;

-in the New Testament, it says that the chosen people of God were also partaking of dried fish as a staple food;

-the legend of the flood was universal, meaning, practically, every race has a knowledge about it, but with their own different version;

-the “Mother and Child” devotion is not limited among the Catholics but also prevalent in other religions and cults;

-there is also universality in the belief about end of the world.


Those are just a few of what I have gained from browsing the pages of the books which others abhor because doing so would mean that they already “believe” in God or rather, develop in them an attachment to a religion, a church or worse, God. I cannot understand such attitude, because, how can you hate something that you do not understand well enough?


Going through the pages of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, which is the basis of other religious books is like browsing through the pages of National Geographic. Its historicity interspersed with “legends” made it some sort of a mini-library. I have the same interest when browsing through the pages of other similar books. There is a popular allegation that getting seriously immersed in these books would result to confusion and eventually, alienation from God. It did not happen to me. In fact, it developed in me more respect for others who are so dedicated to their own kind of evangelism to the point of fanaticism. 


In the Philippines, despite the deeply- rooted Catholicism among the majority of the Filipinos, there is enough space left for ecumenism that is why, in every activity of the national government wherein there is a need for invocations, different religious sectors are represented. This atmosphere is a great consolation among Filipinos who have diversified culture, yet united in their view as a race about the universality of God.