As Basic as Eating

It was just recently when I began to seriously wonder about why Jesus Christ decided to have something as ordinary as eating as the core part of a Sacrament.

Yes, I do know and believe that the Mass is one sacred activity, but if I were someone looking forward to more explosive sounds and blinding lights in our quest for divine salvation and eternal life, I think I would also end up questioning the worth of gathering in one place, listening to readings, and then eating.

Yes, eating. After that and everything else that came before it, we go back to our regular life programs. There’s the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ during the Mass, yeah, but it can be easy to take for granted, especially since there’s none of those flashy and spectacular sensory effects accompanying the Consecration…well, unless you count the sacristan’s bell-ringing as flashy and spectacular, but that would probably be considered negligible by the popular lover of bright sparkles and booming shockwaves.

So yeah, during my continued endeavors at praying the Rosary daily (which is tough, even if I haven’t exactly broken my current streak, mostly because I waste my time on things like hanging around with questionable people and material online for the sake of pride and such), I had those thoughts about the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Not like I felt disappointment, though, as I actually realized more about the true level of difficulty that we need to face to truly get to Heaven when I had those thoughts.

Think about it: Eating is pretty much the most basic form of nourishment, and we people have to eat three balanced meals a day. And then there’s Jesus, instituting the Holy Eucharist as one of the essentials in Catholic life, the core of it all being a mealtime with His Body and Blood as the main course. And sure, Sunday Masses are the required Eucharistic attendance, but don’t you think there’s something to be said about something as basic as eating being that important a task?

And hey, don’t we easily take the basics for granted? I can remember how easy it has been for me to have an eating routine that goes from not eating much to eating too much like a seesaw. I don’t eat much when I want to focus on my studies and my Tobby stuff without a lot of disturbance, and I eat too much when I come to eat after those periods. There’s also my choices of food, which has a load of carbs, oil, and sugar lately, tipping the scales out of balance. And then there’s socialization during mealtimes, which I haven’t been appreciating as much as I should, considering things like my annoyance at my family complaining – even if they’re mostly through jokes – about diet struggles and such.

Now, my dad’s talks about less fortunate people come to mind again, with them eating the scraps they can get, and then there’s me, putting myself in a cycle of fattening up and then lazing around.

Yeah, the Eucharist got me thinking more about properly appreciating the basics, alright. Oh, and in the Eucharist, we eat, and we eat something that doesn’t seem much. It’s easy to question it, to call it a cheap lie, but in that, we can see the everyday challenge that God presents us. It reminds me of John 20:29, which is Jesus’ response to the once doubting Thomas after He appeared to him and the rest of His disciples: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Indeed, it makes me think more about how there really is beauty in the ordinary.

So yeah, God Almighty help us some more. 🙂

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Dining Table Tales

The importance of the dining table, particularly in terms of mealtimes with the family, was something that I easily took for granted at first. It’s something to be expected, I guess, with taking the learning of eating at face value during childhood.

Then, years later, came those commercials by a certain locally notable noodle brand which also advocated mealtimes with the family. Said commericals often presented lonely scenes of kids and their parents underneath dim and shadowy lighting plus stiff and feeble (or worse, shouting and distancing – like, there was one commercial where the kid’s side of the table stretched back farther and farther every time his parents shouted with rage) exchanges of words in the midst of clinking and clanking of utensils on food and on the table. Following those scenes would be some advising text or a celebrity endorser reminding about family mealtimes at the dining table being an important part of family life, and they worked well, indeed, even to the point of convincing my parents, as far as I remember.

And although we’re not that consistent in terms of having at least one mealtime together as a family daily, especially since there are factors like us university students tending to spend more time outside the family lately, I think all of us have a significant amount of understanding regarding the value of eating meals with other people. Mom and Dad often call us to eat together when the opportunity is there, and they would even have one of us kids call the rest of the family (and yes, that also includes the extended family and even – back when we had such – the househelp) if there are members who still need to be called. Along with eating second helpings or being reminded to leave over some for those who haven’t eaten yet, we would do things like talking about our recent activities, teasing and reminding each other about our physical fitness, and reminiscing about our younger years.

The value of all those things become more noticeable to me when I eat alone, especially in open places, the silence feeling like a more deafening thing there.

I can remember how my throat easily went dry from all the rapid-fire respiration whenever I hung out with my friends, who would joke and/or ask about who would the “manlilibre” be for our munchtimes if the host’s parents weren’t the ones preparing the food. I can also remember smiling, laughing, and leaning back more and more whenever I discovered and rediscovered memories like how much of a tough and competitive girl my mother was during her younger years, the funny situations my parents found themselves in when they met certain former classmates again after so many years, and all the attention-grabbing stuff that we kids did back when we were more under the care of adults.

Indeed, I have overlooked something so beautifully ordinary. No wonder Pope Francis encourages having good mealtimes with the family as well.

And yeah, I do know that I’ll have to strike out on my own eventually…so I guess I need to work harder and better in terms of making friends and all that while living life outside the family. Mealtimes with trustworthy people contains more delicious eating, after all.

To be honest, though, the struggle I have with trying to make friends outside my family’s house is pretty much the fear of seeing other people’s dark sides, I think. I don’t think that the problem is how the dining table is also a stress relief venue, though. I’ve learned of heavy tales from my family while at the dinner table, and we’ve dealt with that a lot of times without too much trouble, our voices leveled and our faces focused as we try to understand and respond to the situation to the best of our ability, so why can’t I do that as well with people outside my family?

Hm, perhaps it is because I have a hard time forgiving myself whenever I find that I’m unable to form a proper response in delivery and content to people I’m not used to. Burying myself so much in the shame, I begin wishing that people would just stop talking with me or avoid talking near my earshot.

Perhaps it is also because I don’t want to try understanding the other person, especially when they hold beliefs that I don’t like. I put more effort into avoiding their presence rather than seeing how much I can lead them towards better dialogue, lying to myself about how I know everything about what I can really do.

And perhaps there’s my control freak issues messing with me again, going narrow-minded about the people I want to hang out with. I sit down and wait for them to do this and that, but I don’t bother diving into understanding how they work their lives out, making me sink lower and lower into misconceptions and lack of breath because of my weight which increases because of my gloomy laziness.

In other words: Perhaps it’s pride again.

Hmm…perhaps I should go offer some hot chocolate to a housemate in the boarding house sometime?

Well, anyway, God Almighty keep on helping us all. 🙂

With an acoustic arrange, Tobby tried to sing “Eine Kleine”

After a bunch of song covers in English, I’m back with a Japanese one, yo!

So yeah, this is one heartrending song I want to sing, and Bikkuri’s acoustic arrange isn’t bad, too! Had to kick up the key to get better output from my voice, though.

Also, I have hard time thinking up what to say for these blog posts about stuff like this lately…and I think that says something about how I do my stuff as Tobby. Perhaps I should lessen my posting every two weeks or so…well, that, and/or just let the song and my singing do all the talking, along with me responding to worthwhile comments.

Anyway, here’s the mp3 of this cover! Also, honest constructive feedback is highly encouraged and will be highly appreciated!

VOISes of Fiction: Qrow Branwen

With how Vic Mignogna sounds when he voice acts as Qrow Branwen, Metal Gear references become parts of the stuff that I expect from the guy.

And yeah, it’s been two years since the previous entry in this series. You can thank Uri and her Strange Men Series games (particularly The Hanged Man) as well for the continuation of this.

Anyway, here’s the transcript:

You know, I should have a comedy show starring me, ’cause I’m sure everyone would love to watch the misadventures of the unluckiest guy on Remnant. It helps that I’m a pretty handsome guy, and I hear that having a midlife crisis adds to the appeal. I’m not forty yet, though, but I do have two nieces, and they call me a cool uncle. Still, as the Textbook of Darkedge dictates, I am bound to keep my distance from my loved ones if I would like them to not be in too much danger. Now where’s my booze…? Aw, crap, it’s out…

Honest constructive feedback is highly encouraged and will be highly appreciated.

Pride is a Gun I Point to My Temple

Pride is a gun I point to my temple
Or maybe metal that’s reforged through the ages.
It’s a forgery of desire with the Devil
Who can make it seem like the greatest aegis.
On its true master, it’s turned
And on its servants, it burns.
It makes humility seem like nothingness
By suicide that denies its existence.
It adds a “y” to the end of “craft”
And the Devil makes it lie fat,
Giving God a bad name
To the masses who give and take back.

Crossing Out

Among the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, the Fourth has captured a significant amount of my interest lately.

In particular, what got me trying to think deeper was my memories of the Stations of the Cross which involved that event: Jesus falling thrice while carrying the cross, Jesus meeting His Blessed Mother, Simon of Cyrene being taken by the executioners to help Jesus in carrying the cross, a woman named Veronica wiping Jesus’ blood-and-sweat-stained face along the way, and Jesus consoling the crying women of Jerusalem. Along with all those, there was that declaration of His in Luke 9:23, which went “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Likening carrying one’s cross to living a good ordinary life while thinking about all that, I also start to think that Jesus really understands how hard that would be for us. We’ll fall repeatedly. We’ll need help from others at times. Our families would have a hard time witnessing us taking in the reality of the struggle that is trying to live a good ordinary life. And even with all that, we’ll still need to prioritize the good of others over our own, all while we’re striving to properly finish the jobs we need to fulfill.

Following the Carrying of the Cross in the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary is Jesus’ Crucifixion, and it should be noted that crucifixion was the most humiliating form of capital punishment in Jesus’ time.

And so, thinking about how a good ordinary life would be that humilating in the eyes of the world, I think I can guess how that would go.

To be honest, I still have moments when I feel alienation while interacting with other people, and even with my own family as well. I tend to feel out of place among the youths I interact with, whether online or offline, because I like to think about properly dealing with things we often grumble about, such as chores, homework, work, societal issues, and all that. I even have a growing disdain for all their loud complaining about those things, even though they do present problems that need to be thought about and dealt with. And speaking of which, there’s the popular confrontational and sniping attitudes which we, whether or not we’re well-intentioned or ill-intentioned, like to take into our moral battles.

Yes, I feel scared about saying that I don’t want to have those attitudes anymore. And I guess that’s also pride trying to get in the way again, trying to get me to turn this into me showing off. Yeah, I value confidence, but I have a feeling that I’m still struggling with keeping my own in the thin line between underconfidence and overconfidence, considering things like some stuff I’ve posted online. There’s also me wanting to call out certain people and paint them as hypocritical and foolish and all, but my growing dislike for things like sarcasm despite having grown some habits with that has been making feel like I’m off-balance whenever I realize that they’re in action.

Yeah, I guess that’s why wanting to become more flashy has become more tempting lately…I struggle with the crazy desire to put down fellow sinners like I’m slamming a giant iron hammer on them, all while being scared to admit that I wish for them to rot in place after putting them down…

Humility and forgiveness…they’re such hard concepts to grasp, no?

But nothing good would come out of staying down after falling. I’ve already experienced true goodness in my life before, too, and that’s already enough reason for me to keep going…to keep struggling.

Yeah, God’s road is a road to humiliation, I know…and it hurts to admit it by trying to practice what I preach.

And now, I guess I should stop with this level of dramatic tone. I get the feeling that I’ll be defeating the purpose of this weekly reflection series if I keep going with this moping…

So yeah, God Almighty keep on helping us all.

Tobby’s Freestyle Rap Practice Compilation 2

And here are some more cuts of me trying to sharpen my freestyling, all of them recorded with my phone again one early school day morning and then edited and compiled during the following days. It also features a Kingdom Hearts reference.

As for the next compilation, I shall try to do it with video recordings as well.

And again, honest constructive feedback is highly encouraged and will be highly appreciated. 🙂

Secrets of the Rebound Queen and the Blonde Bastard

Secrets of the Rebound Queen and the Blonde Bastard

a RWBY fanfiction by The Overlord Bear

Summary: During another one of her more frequent visits to the Xiao Long-Rose residence some years after defeating Salem, Blake Belladonna sneaks a peek on the contents of another diary which was once owned by her Beacon team leader’s mother. Her curiosity gets her discovering a little too much information, though…


Continue reading

Our Dirty Bread

A bunch of times, I joined a feast
That was popular among my fellow citizens.
It became something I didn’t want to miss
Because I hated having very few friends.
Their arms were on each other’s shoulders,
Behind their necks as they made a circle.
I joined in, thinking it was more productive
Than being on a pew and facing some pulpit.
The feast I was in was also like that
But it was more fun than those Masses…or so I thought then.
There were stories, and I could relate
For they were of youths who had been delayed.
There were songs, and I could sing
For we were fellows of the Bad Lock King.
There were dances too, and we were wild
For we thought being wilder meant being civilized.
And then there was the food, which was bread we seasoned
By throwing it at our enemies ’til they gained confusion.
When I ate them up, it was very sweet
Even though it was cold, grainy, and steeped.
All that had me coming back
And all that seemed like the best
But now, I feel like I want to vomit
As I try to leave this church of madness.

The Gold that is Humble Silence

To be honest, I’m not quite a supporter of the dominant – or, at least, very noticeable – vocal attitude that a significant amount of my schoolmates makes our university (in)famous for. My dad tells me that the exploited poor are more easily convinced by that sort of people, though, people who would stand up and shout out with spines straightened and chests puffed out as they say “There is a problem, and you need to stop causing it!” to people who are clearly doing something wrong or “You know you have been hurt and stolen from, so fight back and take back what is rightfully yours!” to people who are clearly being wronged. My late paternal grandpa was that sort of vocal person too, and he once dreamed of getting into the university I’m studying in now, but he never did, though he did maintain that gruff and tough attitude of his. Still, with the help of his dear wife and their hard work which included overseas work in the US, he managed to raise his nine kids well enough to get them graduated from college and striking out well on their own, with almost all of them married and with their own kids, and some of them even living out in the US and in Canada.

Despite all that, I’m not really a fan of that brand of vocal attitude he held on to, even if I do believe that the late 60s to the mid-80s was one of the worst, if not the worst, points of Philippine history.

It’s not that I don’t like following the style of held on to by people like those classmates of mine or my paternal grandpa simply because I just took the gossip about that activist stereotype surrounding my university at face value, though. Deep down, I felt like more of a wreck whenever I tried to be as hard as those people, even though I knew that there was something wrong and someone needed to take responsibility for it.

For example, back when that grandpa of mine was alive, my elementary schooler self told him during a visit that I had issues with bullies at school. In hindsight, I think he understood that I had issues with bullying, but when it came to his advice regarding how to deal with them…well, I cried, Mom had to take me back to the car, and I remember she and Dad telling me some time later that Grandpa was somewhat under the influence at that time.

But what advice did my grandpa give back then?

Well, I don’t remember his exact words, but they were along the lines of “Go fight back and beat them up!” and he delivered them with his rough and hoarse voice, colored with a tone that has also painted my memories of having to listen to my schoolmates and my professors doing name-calling and satirical shots against understandably problematic people who should be doing their jobs right.

Yeah, I guess that’s why I struggle with class discussions. That’s why, instead of posting a rant willy-nilly on the Net or shouting out during class, I would rant about my dismay to my parents and to other people whom I trust very much after classes and in private. I’d send them walls of text, or I’d be spitting with tones just like those schoolmates’, something I also found hard to do because I would feel like I would be a hypocrite whenever I tried to go deeper with thinking about how violent I would be if I did that. But still, I learned that it had to go out, and that there are people who would be patient and forgiving enough to help me get it out better. Better that way than to have my mouth be trigger-happy in more public spaces, after all.

Still, it’s a problem, and I struggle with it, especially since the temptation to be a sarcastic nut is something I now consider more dangerous than I think. I’ve been realizing that it would be doing a certain thing that I and those schoolmates of mine detest so much: dehumanizing other people. In other words: looking at others as if they had no faces of their own, calling others hopeless cases that should rot and die in prison, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

Talk about hypocritical, no?

Though even with my awareness of all that, I feel as if I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place when I have to listen to such prideful offenders and keep quiet in humility. The struggle now reminds me of a certain aunt’s reminders of how the sin called pride is tied to our baseness, and, of course, it isn’t easy to deal with.

And now, I think I’m understanding my struggle there even better.

You see, in a prayer community gathering I recently attended, a guest speaker told us the story of Fr. Steven Scheier, who would have been dead and in Hell if Mama Mary didn’t intercede for him. It was a story the guest speaker presented as a part of an advocating presentation of the Devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and although I honestly have doubts about going for those Devotions right now, something about Fr. Steven’s story struck me.

To be more specific, I think I felt particularly struck when it came to the part where Fr. Steven talked about the excuses he once considered delivering but could never deliver in the face of Jesus the Judge. That, and perhaps the fact that he faced Judgment with a capital ‘J,’ almost ended up in Hell, and miraculously lived to tell the tale was something striking in itself. I was quiet on my seat in the prayer community meeting venue, but my eyes felt kinda watery back then, and I felt like a lot of glass barriers were shattered by a spear that was thrust into my heart multiple times as well.

But the one thing that came out of it, one thing I want to share in more detail with you today, is a set of memories of my younger years.

Those memories, well…they were my memories of my crybaby self…memories of me crying loud and hard that you were likely to want me kicked out both figuratively and literally.

I guess we can say that an ordinary day for me back during those years, especially my elementary years, included an offended me crying very hard. I was easy pickings back then, you know? I didn’t like violently reacting, but I didn’t like ignoring the bullies and letting them run over me with their jeers about me being a weird fat boy, about me being a teacher’s pet who tried to force his classmates into speaking English more, and, inevitably, about me being a noisy crybaby. And even though I improved as I grew up, I had to face the struggle with pride I’m still facing, pride that had me thinking as if I’m a scapegoat as I held grudges and self-hatred in my heart for having to witness other people nearby being improper – especially when it involved them targeting my friends – and being unable to do anything right in the face of those things. A bunch of times, I lashed out, resulting in meetings with school authorities, and in hindsight, I was the one who gave the them the biggest part of those troubles, because they had to spend so much time staying with me and trying to convince me to calm down and think straighter, while the kids I was angry at went on with school activities more easily…and they also got more ammunition to shoot at me and my friends for the next bullying session…all because I acted more immature than the bullies.

Perhaps silence is more golden than I thought. Well, to be more specific, humble silence is golden, now that I think about it some more. Being silent because I don’t want to admit that there’s a problem and that I’m always right is a bad thing, and I think that sort of silence was something I indulged in a lot during my younger years, years in which I thought being an edgy and anti-social smartass was the pinnacle of coolness, a foolish belief which was further strengthened by certain anime and video game characters I easily fell for back then.

But being silent in humility…humble silence…I think I know what is now. Humble silence is keeping silent while more militant classmates and professors spit their insults out, not because critically thinking about the issues they discuss is a bad thing, but because it would be a bad idea to join in if all that can be gathered and given out in response during the moment are only barbs that are just as bad or even worse than the barbs that have been spat out already. Humble silence is still doing still worthwhile homework after classes and going back to still worthwhile classes when the time is supposed to be for such, all while being polite and even forgiving despite being in opposition to the displeasing delivery styles of those prideful yet potential-filled classmates and professors. Humble silence is also reporting a clearly directly attacking bully to the proper authorities and with proper processing but without gloating about it to the reported bully afterwards!

And hey, humble silence can even be crying quietly and privately over things that the tear glands can’t handle, all while still going on with life and trying to keep up with God’s assigned schedule for me instead of trying to nose around and hijacking others’ lives like I’m worthy enough to be the driver for them.

I still don’t think that I’d be able to get along with the barbed vocal attitude of a bunch of my schoolmates, but I think I can endure it better now.

Still, God Almighty help us all.