Understanding Death

Understanding Death
By Apolinario Villalobos

For some groups, death is a passage to another life. Others aver that it is a state of just being asleep. The rest, maintains that it is nothing but just the “return of the body to dust”. Rather than be confused as to what it really is,as I might be branded as a heretic, I would rather dwell on its effects.

Death checks the population explosion. Can you imagine if nothing on earth dies? Can you imagine if predators will not prey on animals belonging to the lower strata of wild life? Can you imagine if trees in the forests are left to creep towards all directions? Can you imagine if people of different races do not die of hunger, disease or war? Death, aside from natural calamities is an important segment of a cycle that regulates the “balance” of life on earth.

Death creates heroes. One has to die to become a hero. If Jesus had not died on the cross, would he be considered a hero and redeemer among Christians? Even the early Jews were divided as to how to treat him. The messiah expected by some of them was a warrior who will deliver them from the hands of their oppressors, and not a preacher. He was not even popular in his birthplace, so he decided to go to other places to be able to preach. But, it’s a good thing that he had his disciples who later spread his teachings. Just like Jesus, Muhammad, the founder of Islamic faith faced great odds before his teachings were accepted. His tribe even rejected him, forcing him to go Madinah (known as Yathrib, later, Medina), after 13 years of persecution. It was after he died that his teachings were appreciated. Both died not only as heroes but spiritual leaders whose acts are sincerely emulated by their adherents.

If Ninoy Aquino is living today, would he be considered a hero by Filipinos? Among those that his detractors used against him when he was alive was his being a staunch supporter of Communism in the Philippines. Then, there’s the Hacienda Luisita that haunted even his wife, Cory, up to her deathbed. With the kind of politics that the Philippines has, Ninoy Aquino could have become just like any other politicians trying to survive the squabble in the political arena and thrashes of opponents, in his case, the issues on his ideology and Hacienda Luisita. His death was caused by a “persecution”, because just like Jesus, he was a threat to the one in power. And, because of that, he became a hero among Filipinos who got tired of dictatorship.

Some Filipinos today who are traumatized by the scandals in the government, are wishing for the “resurrection” of Marcos whose administration is now being compared to those who assumed the presidency after his death. They say, though, with a tinge of joke, that during the time of Marcos, corruption was “regulated”, unlike today that those in the government, down to the drivers and messengers, can freely dip their hand in the coffer of the government, even for a flimsy excuse. Some groups are in fact, considering Marcos a hero, because, without him, there would have been no cultural center complex, the Philippine General Hospital would still be the same dilapidated and cramped building that survived WWII, there would have been no kidney, lung and heart centers, etc., etc. etc.

There are still living political icons with significant accomplishments, but they are relegated on the sidelines. They have authored books, pages of which are regularly flipped by students, professionals, and government officials for important information. There are many Filipinos who excel in the fields of literary, arts, science, sports , architecture and technology. Some of them are referred to as “living heroes”, but the reference is with quotation marks which only death can erase.

Death unites families and friends. Members of families whose homes have been broken by misunderstandings that only they know, come together when one of them dies, usually during the wake. Classmates who for decades have no idea how to get in touch with each other suddenly find themselves having a reunion at the wake of a classmate who passed away. Long lost friends and relatives surface during a wake. A morbid joke about the need for a loved one to die before another reunion can be had, oftentimes draws laughs during this occasion.

A death in the family is hard to accept. That is the traditional fact. Sorrow should permeate the air while wake is being held. Those who come are expected to shed a tear. But today, there are bereaved families who even rent a videoke unit to lend a festive air to the occasion. Reason given is that, it is the last wish of the departed.

For some, death is not easy to accept , especially, by those who have amassed wealth. They cannot just take the idea of leaving behind the fruit of their labor. On the other hand, death means financial opportunity for some people – those who work conscientiously long hours in funeral parlors.

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Why?….(haiku)

Haiku

 

Why?….

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Must life be sacrificed

To let others see what is right…?

Can’t others open their eyes –

To see hunger in the faces

With tearless cries?

From Birth to his Death, Money Reigns Supreme in the Life of Man

From Birth to His Death, Money Reigns Supreme

In the Life of Man

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Since the time he was born and while cruising the avenue of life, up to the time he is buried in the ground, man is either gripped by financial pressure or wallowing in riches. Man did not choose to be born. He is the result of copulating couples as they vent out their lust in the name of love or maniacal desire. Man has no choice when he begins his journey on Earth, making do with what may be on hand – either the cold sidewalk to sleep on while writhing with pangs of hunger if he belongs to a homeless poor family…or the sweet luxurious life if he is born to a filthy rich family!

 

If somebody will tell me that money is not everything in this world, I challenge him to go out without a single coin in his pocket and sleep on sidewalks for several nights without dinner. And, it is not right also to say that money is the root of all evils. It is the abusive exploitation resulting to the deprivation of others that makes money viewed as evil.  If there is only fairness in this world, there will be no problem on the issue of wage and the constant soaring of prices of basic commodities, as everything would be affordably fair.

 

Civilization brought about pollution, so that there is a need for money to counter its effect – medicines, protective clothing, hospitals, healthy food, even the simple surgical mask to somehow block the dirty air from entering our body in vast quantity as we breathe. Civilization created many desires and wants for man. While there was no need for flavor enhancers before, today, for food to taste savory, it must be enhanced with chemicals. While there was no need to travel somewhere before, today, it has become a necessity to satisfy the curiosity about a certain white beach, for instance. While there was no need for frivolous trappings, as simple cotton garments were enough before, today, man has developed a conceited desire to look better than the rest, in his expensive wardrobe and glittering jewelries.

 

In high-tech first-world countries, governments slap their citizens with sky-high taxes and almost nothing is left with them when they receive their wage, but in exchange for such, there are hospitalization benefit, medical care, etc. , although, controlled by the system. While working hard for the money, the citizens of these nations cannot enjoy its benefit on his free will. In some countries, big savings are questioned and if you are found to be carrying around big amounts, you become suspect of illegal activities. Citizens are forced to use “plastic money” for their “convenience” – the credit cards. In these countries, working parents deposit their children in Day Care centers while they work for the money, a big slice of which goes to the government.

 

Civilization brought havoc to the once docile life of man. Its onset created competition for food that affected even the so-called “uncivilized” humans living in the vastness of African deserts. Animals that they used to hunt occasionally for food have become scarce and brought to the brink of extinction due to drought that resulted from the destruction of the ozone layer…all because of unabated pollution. Animals hunted for food have become targets for “game hunting” and left to rot after they are felled by bullets from high-powered long-arms intended for such purpose. Big preys have become targets of bounty hunters for medicine and amulets. Those are just a few of the acts of exploitation committed by the moneyed for which the exploited poor persevere.

 

In the Philippines, there is a custom that calls for the throwing of coins on the path of the mourners as they bring the remains of the departed to the cemetery. Some archaeological diggings brought to light mummified remains with gold coins that cover their eyes. The practice of “changing money” has its roots from the brisk business of the shrewd money changers at the gate of the temples during the Biblical time. These money changers converted various foreign coins into the local tender that could be used as temple offering. Jesus died on the cross because of betrayal by Judas in exchange of several pieces of silver coins.

 

Money cannot be done away with even by all churches. How can edifices for worship be built without money? How can the evangelists preach on empty stomach? How can they go on shepherding their flocks if they get sick and got no money for medicine? How can a Mass be held early in the morning or evening if the lights are out because of unpaid electric bill?…etc.

 

There is nothing wrong with money for as long as it is respected and not abused. Most importantly, it should be acknowledged as payment for earthly necessities. Hypocrisy should be done away with in the treatment of money, because it is clearly the fair payment to the priest, for instance, who blessed the remains of the dead person or when he did other acts as required by his vocation, and again…nothing is wrong with that. My unsolicited advice in this regard is…RESPECT MONEY BY USING IT THE PROPER WAY. MOST IMPORTANTLY, DO NOT BE SELFISH BY GRABBING FROM OTHERS WHAT ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THEIRS!

Emma (tula para kay Emma P. Jamorabon)

EMMA

(para kay Emma P. Jamorabon)

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Sa mga mata niyang animo ay nangungusap

Walang katapat na kasiyahan ang mababanaag

At sa matinis niyang boses, ang kausap na nagagalit

Huhupa, sa damdami’y nag-uumapaw na pagngangalit.

 

Mapagmahal na kabiyak, inang walang katulad

Sa mga kaibigan ay mapagbigay, kahit siya’y kapos

At handang magsakripisyo sa abot ng makakaya niya

Kapalit na pagtitiis ay buong puso niyang hindi alintana.

 

Mga huling yugto ng kanyang buhay na nauupos

Inalay sa mapagmahal na Inang Mariang sinandalan

Kaya kahit sa pagkaratay, hirap man siya sa paghinga

Katiwasayan ay maaaninag sa mala-birhen niyang mukha. 

 

Sa kanyang maaliwalas na pamamaalam sa mundo

Ipinahiwatig niyang sa Diyos tayo ay dapat magtiwala

Dahil sa buhay nati’y Siya lang ang nakakaalam ng lahat

Lalo na ang mitsa nito’t sinding may taning ….

Kung hanggang kaylan lamang sapat.

 

(Alay ng nagmamahal na pamilya, mga kaibigan at naging estudyante, lalo na ang NDTC Boys’ High School Batch ’70.)

 

 

Respect for Time, Discipline, and Death

Respect for Time, Discipline and Death

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Practically, everybody is familiar with the adage, “we cannot turn back the hands of time”. But still, many do not have a full understanding of what it means and its effect to our life. They may also appreciate such adage that serves as a reminder, but they are not serious about it.

 

Time is the most important factor that can affect life as the world is at its mercy. Regretting for the lost time is like crying over spilled milk or precious water. We may cry our eyes dry and punch our chest with clinched fist while uttering hundreds of mea culpa, but what have been spilled can no longer be recovered. We cry over lost opportunities because we were late for appointments. We lost a prospective job because we were late for the interview. We missed our flight because we did not wake up early, etc.

 

Anything that is not respected is disregarded or taken for granted, and that is what many people do to time most often. Many forgot that time is used to reckon our physical and mental development, how we fare as we trudge along the road of life, and in giving us a chance to change for the better. We always say, “…give me time” which simply means, “…give me a chance”.

 

Time is so much a part of our life that many people become uneasy if they do not glance at a watch every hour of the day. Everything that we do is controlled by time, from waking up until we go back to bed. Time controls our job, our meals, even our use of the toilet. We even use it to warn others about their misdoings by telling them, “how many times did I tell you….”. Even our pulse and heartbeat are timed to check if we are physically fit.

 

If time controls us, discipline compels us to abide by its ticking, such that husbands must be home before midnight, employees must be at their post at certain designated time, minors must be home not later than ten in the evening, meals should be taken at certain times of the day till evening, medicines should be taken at certain times, etc. Respect for time and utmost discipline cannot be separated as without the other, our life and the world will be in a topsy-turvy state.

 

We should also be thankful to the guy who discovered time and those who invented gadgets that we need to measure the extent of our life in this world. Time tells us when we should “depart” from this world, unless it is cut short by unexpected events resulting to what we call as as “untimely” death.

 

 

Farewell…Eboy (for Eboy Jovida)

Farewell…Eboy

(for Eboy Jovida)

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

In this world you’ve ceased to live

But in our heart and mind

You shall linger with a smile –

And, it shall never fade in time.

 

You’ve tried to be the best you could –

Husband, father… friend

In songs you have crooned

Even the calm you well feigned.

 

Farewell…to the best father, farewell!

Friend, you’re a delight

Ride on the glory of our love

As you journey towards that Light!

Eboy Jovida

 

 

 

On Life, Love, Faith, and Death

On Life, Love, Faith, and Death

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Nobody chose to be born. The new life developed in the womb of the woman is the result of her copulation with a man, done either with love or just plain lust. That is why there are so-called “bundle of love or joy” of married couple some of whom sign divorce papers after five years or a little more of companionship, or “unwanted child” of a rape victim. When the fetus is delivered into the world as an infant, its innocence and fragility make it helpless in the hands of the people who take care of it. Lucky are those who are born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouth, but, woe to those born of impoverished mother whose dry and wrinkled breast cannot provide even a single drop of milk.

 

There is a very popular counsel from the religious conscience groups which says, “…thank the Lord for the life He gave, and that He alone can also take back…” which implies that He is responsible for all the life on earth. They add that man should do the rest to survive as God also gave him intelligence. If this is so, can man be blamed if he decides to do the easiest-to-do crimes?  If a criminal committed rape and murder resulting to the distress of the victim’s loved ones, why can’t he be penalized justly, instead of being “rehabilitated”  which the God-fearing human rights groups are insisting, when there is no guarantee that he will not repeat such vicious acts and eventually claim more victims? As the choice to commit crimes is man’s decision, God has nothing to do with it, hence, His will is not being violated, so that whatever corporal penalty imposed on the criminal is just appropriate. On the other hand, if man is pre-destined, why work hard, if everybody is destined for his or her place in this world as willed by God?

 

I have heard stories of people struggling for a better life and even witnessed some of them doing all the best they can to provide decent meals to their families three times a day. The desperate are pushed by circumstances to commit crime. The weak who cannot bear the suffering commit suicide. Along this line, many valedictorians and summa cum laudes are beaten to better and best opportunities by those who have barely earned passing grades in college…proof that “being at the right place, at the right time” really works and not the “God-given intelligence”. In other words, shall we go back again to the presumption that God willed man to live according to His plan?

 

On the other hand, many disease-ridden patients who are suffering for long are not given the choice to “rest” for good. It is against the law of the land, governments would say. It is against God’s will, the religious groups would say. In the first place, if it is not the choice of man to be born, why not give him the option to end his life if he finds that the world is not for him or if he feels that he is already exhausted or burned out…having done everything even for the sake of others? Most especially, why burden for instance, the family of a dying man with mounting hospital and drug bills just because choosing to die translates to committing a sin? Why wait until the hopelessly sick man has become comatose before a doctor may give consent to the family to unplug the machine that makes his heart beat, as he is already brain-dead?

 

I would like to make it clear that I am thankful for my life, though I did not choose to be born, and this dissertation is not meant to influence others to leave their religious communities. I know that so many humans have the same confusing questions that I have stated earlier. I am just being loud about them, while they may have chosen to be quiet. What I ask is of them at this juncture, is to do what is universally accepted as good, based especially, on the simple Golden Rule…be they, are atheist or religiously zealot human beings who believe every word uttered by their preacher. Just do good and nothing shall definitely go awry…