If the Nativity Happened in Today’s Philippines

If the Nativity Happened in Today’s Philippines

a Christmas reflection by The Overlord Bear/Jem De Ocampo

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.

John would have prevented him, saying ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’

But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented” (Matthew 3:13-15).


Continue reading “If the Nativity Happened in Today’s Philippines”

12 Days of Christmas Anime, Day 4: Gintama

Merry Christmas, fellow filthy animals. Now, here’s something to help us clean up some more.

Beneath the Tangles

Seasons greetings to our dear readers!  Gintama ranges four seasons and 367 episodes at the present time and includes quite a few Christmas episodes.  I have already written about the Christmas story told in episode 200.  The present post concerns an earlier Christmas episode from season one.  Gintama might be described as a science-fiction, samurai parody, but it covers a wide range of genres and styles within its four seasons.  With episode 37 (Titled “People who Say that Santa Doesn’t Exist, Actually Want to Believe in him”), you might dub the first half Old Comedy, i.e. the sort of gut-busting low humor one sees in Aristophanes’ plays.  The first half contains nothing especially edifying, but it gives the viewer a good time.

On the other hand, the second part relies less on silliness than on character flaws.  Much of the comedy drives off the contrast between the way different…

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Christmas Reflection (2018)

Jesus’ birth on earth is quite a Mystery (capitalization intended), so much that most people would probably consider everyone involved crazy and questionable.

But funnily enough, that’s just one of many ways God Almighty shows that He loves us. And for one to love, there’s gotta be understanding, right? So there, we have a God who understands how crazy and questionable we can be, to the point that He would even risk receiving ridicule and harm even from the very start. I mean, really, He could’ve just left Adam and Eve to rot away after kicking them out of Eden, but He still stuck around for them and all their descendants. Isn’t that quite something, then?

Compare that to when Jesus was born. God Almighty the Son comes into this crappy earth with parents forced to stay in a cave and Himself placed in a feed holder. He’s wriggling and crying around in it like every other human baby, and He’s not shooting laser beams or shock waves out of His body. Also, He and His family on earth went to the land of His foster father’s ancestors, all because the ruling Roman Empire wanted to make a count and evaluation of the whole population and property within their conquered lands. Along with that, lights and angels ended up scaring shepherds who were near the place where Jesus was born, and what they got wasn’t “FEAR ME, YOUR SINFUL WORLD IS DOOMED FOR DAMNATION” but…

“Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:10-12

And they still said that and praised God Almighty even after they gave them poor foolish shepherds a scare. The shepherds did pay the Holy Family a visit afterwards and even gave praise and thanks to God because of that, but trying to look at it from their shoes back when the angels told them about Jesus, I probably would’ve been scared and confused as well. I mean, it’s God Almighty, that great mysterious being with so much power, so much that just a bit of it can crush us dust particles into even smaller particles! I’d definitely be expecting something big first, especially with His promises to save a nation or a race or a freaking big bunch of people from a bigger and more evil force! And if He shows up, He’s definitely gonna do it in a way so amazing that we’d end up scared and confused!

And then Jesus Christ was born the lowest of the low on earth. And the angels were still glorifying God Almighty, even with that. They even gave some directions to where He was at.

My pridefully self-deprecating personality would definitely be offended by that, because man, why is God Almighty trying to outdo my ass in self-deprecation? He ain’t even poor! He’s Perfection! Ultimate Perfection! Stop trying to one-up me, God!

But really, thinking about it another way, I can see that God does love us. He let Himself be born on earth so helpless as an infant, it’s as if He’s really risking receiving ridicule and harm even from the very start of His life here…and speaking of the very start, He was already risking it even during His stay in Mama Mary’s womb, which would’ve caused bigtime chaos from their society on earth if they ever found out about it, considering things like how that happened right before she and her betrothed Saint Joseph actually got married. I even feel like saying “He understands us” alone wouldn’t be enough to show the depths of His love for us! Try taking some time to understand how He managed to relate to us through just His conception and birth, then, and remember that that’s just a part of all the many great things that God Almighty has done for us.

And you know what? Even with all those lowly conditions of His birth on earth, Jesus didn’t even hide the fact that He is God Almighty. He didn’t pretend to be human, but He lived as the great and mysterious being that He has been, still is, and will forever be, one both full God and full human in a way beyond our human sense of mathematics and science and all that. He had angels announce His arrival, and He didn’t lord His power over us the way we twisted humans tend to do. Instead, He asked us not to be afraid. He also asked us to find Him, and He even gave us directions.

And at the same time, He was even risking getting found and attacked by enemies. Light is not supposed to be hidden, after all, and Lucifer would certainly be at work already, trying to find a way to pervert the light of God to his liking, but still, God’s light and His exposure of it never means giving up or losing, for how can the Ultimate Perfection lose?

So who was He letting Himself be in danger for, then? Really, even a believer like me has times when I doubt His actions for us. After all, He is the Ultimate Perfection. What point does He think He can make by stooping to our lowly level? That He understands? Doesn’t He already understand? He knows everything, right? Why doesn’t He do anything to make us better already, to do as we want?

And then I look again at the other parts of the life of Christ. I find Him telling me and the rest of imperfect humanity off, and it makes me feel like I should’ve stumbled upon His manger and crushed Him or something, but even in His suffering, I feel like I will always lose and He will always win.

Why, then?

Why would He go so low for us? For someone like me? For all this crap the Father’s Creation turned itself into? Can He even understand this self-hatred we imperfect humans all have?

And then I remember again: He lowered Himself to our level. Somehow, He never sins, but He lowered Himself to our level. He could have left us alone to rot, could have treated us like how we usually like to treat criminals, but He didn’t. And if we asked for Him to leave us alone, He would…for a while. But even then, He wouldn’t force us to follow Him. He would let us stumble around, let us be fools, let us choose to be with Him or not, all while He still calls us and gives us directions and all that. He even leaves Himself open to any attacks from us!

A prideful personality would never be able to comprehend that. A prideful personality would have a hard time accepting the great and perfect complexity that is God Almighty. A prideful personality would think itself more beautifully complex than God Almighty. Help would be seen as self-serving. Smiles would be seen as masks. Emptiness would be seen as peace. The self is all that matters.

Heh, with how we make and share all them jokes and memes and quotes in which we summarize humanity while claiming that we are more complex than that, we might as well just stop and just bow down to God. Really, who else made us beautifully complex and even more beautifully complex? And why do others matter to us as much as our selves do? Why do we still fight on and strive for improvement and progress?

And so, I would like to give thanks and praise to God. I could list down all the things that are making my life so crappy right now, but counting nothing is too easy, so yeah, let’s up the difficulty and get humbled harder than when I listen to Kendrick Lamar.

First off, I would like to thank God for giving me another year of life. I’m fumbling, still, but nice things still happen to me, even when I feel like I don’t deserve them ’cause I’m a giant idiot. I guess taking the love God gives me can be called self-love as well, then? Like, I think love for self, love for others, and love for God are things that happen together, see. It’s not one before the other, but all three happening together…kinda like the Holy Trinity. All powered by God, of course.

And then I would like to thank God for giving me and my girlfriend strength to get to a year with our relationship. Really, I’m starting to understand why them Catholic mentors value the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony so much…and yes, we’re considering that even now. We wanna be serious about this, y’know? So yeah, more God-centeredness so that we can endure and strengthen each other better. How my girl and I can stand each other for so long, how my parents can stand each other for so long, how all those great couples I look up can stand each other for so long…Yup, definitely powered by God Almighty.

Now, I would like to thank God Almighty very much for giving me friends IRL and online, from high school friends and university religious orgmates to Discord server buddies and fellow crazy fans. I wouldn’t say that they’re the best people in the world, but I also wouldn’t say that they’re not important to me. They help me figure myself out and be myself, both through their challenging flaws and their supportive strengths. And even though there are a bunch who have beliefs that are crazily different from mine, I can see the face of Jesus in them all. And hey, if I’m managing to improve even with such crazy peeps as my friends, then I think that’s more God Almighty at work.

And then I would like to thank God Almighty for my education. Not every Filipino can go as far as the University of the Philippines, let alone reach Graduating status there, and even though I have my complaints about it, it would be self-destruction if I never acknowledge how it has helped me be who I am now. And hey, even my failures in school are things I would like to thank God for, for they got me slowing down to see how I can improve as well. Maybe I’ll be delayed for longer again, or maybe I won’t, but whatever happens, I know I can’t learn the best I can learn without God’s power, so yeah. Also, it’s definitely God Almighty at work if I can live well enough past all them teachers and classmates with beliefs that get me stressed a lot.

I would like to thank God Almighty for all these talents and skills too, as I would never feel like somebody without them and their development. The chance to show my talents and skills off is already something to be grateful for, too, and so is the chance to get feedback on them, even though they can be difficult stuff. All these talents and skills and their development are certainly things from God, indeed. Oh, and so are the inspirations for them. A bunch of them aren’t great believers in God, but there’s no good reason to be cynical, especially with all them bits of goodness that are like precious metals and minerals to be mined from the dirt and crafted into more worthwhile pieces. Thank God Almighty very much, indeed.

And now I would like to thank God Almighty for my family. They’re not that poor in materials, and they’re not poor in character as well! They go all the way for me, even risking getting failure, mockery, harm, and all that as they help me grow and be myself. They have their flaws, and they wish that I would understand them better, but I can see that they are trying to understand me better, too! They let me go for Creative Writing in college, they gave me a boarding house unit more expensive but more convenient, they try to understand my interests, and they are honest and constructive when they don’t like something about me. They help me get closer to God, and they help me fit into the community better. And man, thinking about how family has been helping me, there’s so much more, so much more that it makes me think that I still have a lot I can thank God for in all the previous aspects I covered in all these thanksgivings. I think I can see more of how the family is the basic unit of society again, too! I wouldn’t have been able to work up all the things before without them, and of course, the family is nothing without God Almighty!

And yeah, I would like to praise and thank God Almighty very much again for all the faith, hope, and love, and all that good stuff He gives. Considering the story of Jesus’ conception and birth, He certainly knows how we struggle to maintain good relationships, how we struggle to build a good family, how we struggle to make a good living, how we struggle to fight against oppression, and so much more…so much that I even feel like I don’t need to be ashamed of being Filipino as well. Thank God Almighty very much again and again and again, indeed!

So yeah, that’s a lot of gifts I got this Christmas, no? Really, it’s quite surprising in both quality and quantity…and I don’t think I’ve counted everything yet!

Well, I guess I’ll have to ask God for directions and follow Him, then. I already got good stuff, so why not go for better? And hey, why don’t we share all this good stuff we got with each other?

With that, I greet you all a Merry Christmas! Praise and thanks be to God Almighty very much! \(^o^)/

Things I Realized This Christmas (2017)

After a recent period of time, a period of time which also includes reflecting on the birth of Jesus Christ multiple times in the Rosary, I have come to a bunch of realizations about this season where those Joyful Mysteries should get more focused on by our spiritual magnifying glasses and such:

About Santa Claus:
I owe a lot to those grumpy nuts who like to claim that Santa Claus isn’t real, because Santa Claus isn’t the center of this religious holiday, this holiday which a lot of us these days don’t like to call religious…and heh, we also claim to fight for religious freedom with that sort of attitude!

About dreaming of a “White Christmas”:
And since Christmas isn’t about that magically sledding psychic old man and his buff reindeer and skittering elves and pocket-dimensioned gift boxes going down snow-battling chimneys, this Filipino doesn’t need to worry about not having snow in his tropical archipelago of a country! The seasonal cold breezes are still likable, though… ^_^

About holiday decorating:
I should remember to keep my future Christmas decorating simple and religious, alright…I can sense incoming headaches and explosions from all those balls and stars and spikes…Wait, maybe I should maintain the parol habit for some Filipino flavor…and maybe I should make something more fun out of it for better Filipino flavor…

About gifts:
My presence made someone’s Christmas and year-end so much, so much that I don’t feel much of the need to worry about buying presents beyond proper spending power. Giving seasonal presents still can work as nice supplements to personality development, alright…and sure, I’ll still take all the money you’d like to give me, my dear family and relatives. And, uh, to my ninongs and ninangs? Please don’t forget your main and spiritual job. Don’t worry, I know you can do it! I know one priestly ninong of mine who’s been doing a great job, see! 🙂

About romance:
My love life (yes, I’m talking about romance, but do remember that that’s not the only form of love) may have gone through some very interesting developments this season, but it’s not the main trigger of me feeling happy this season. Humbling myself for the sake of a healthy romantic relationship, though? Well, that’s a main trigger, alright~ 😀

About family, feasts, and vacation:
To chomp or not to chomp? That is the question. I’m in danger of chomping off all of this archipelago’s tables, which is obviously beyond my human carpenter capabilities. And resting is my current occupation, not for as long as I like, but for as long as I need. And hey, Jesus was raised by family here on earth, so I better not consider my own family insignificant, even when it’s not Christmas! But, uh…that’s easier said than done…Welp, shattering these glass barriers of mine will involve me feeling pain, alright…God Almighty help us some more…

About Christmas Specials in entertainment and all them commercial stuff:
I do enjoy Twice’s “Heart Shaker,” but if I were to make some Christmas Special sort of artwork and business, then I think it would be better for my soul to get you to reflect on your own soul and how it’s doing and all that. Higher chance of lower profit? Uh, we’re talking about spirituality here…and haven’t we been yelling about how we should become better people online and offline? That’s, like, better than profit, to the point that it’s essential. I know it’s hard to actually do it, fellow fool, so don’t worry, I got your back, and I’ll help you out there to the best of my abilities! \(^o^)

So yeah, aside from the usual request for honest constructive feedback, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, peeps! God Almighty keep on helping us all, too! \(^o^)/

Christmas Reflection (2016)

Hours ago, I went to Mass with my family. It was a Christmas Eve Mass, and yet again, I felt more at peace at the church. On one hand, it was a strange feeling, as I was born and am living in imperfection. On the other hand, it was a welcome feeling, as a lot of stuff had gotten me believing in God more lately.

And hey, perhaps it’s weird to be a believer in God these days. Why believe in some being that a bunch of people fantasize about, right? Well, speaking of fantasizing, I’ve been thinking about that recently. I’ve been thinking about what makes true faith in God different from blind belief, and now, I think that the difference between the two is that the former focuses on balance, while the latter focuses on extremes.

See, I’ve been observing others and myself when it comes to spreading what we believe in. I see a lot of zeal, something that’s encouraged a lot these days when it comes to living life, I think. Zeal’s good, yes, though sometimes, we go overboard with it, and going out of control isn’t a good thing. And hey, in today’s society, where pluralism and postmodernism are prevalent, zeal is very high on all sides, and people’s hearts blaze for their respective beliefs. I like living zealously, too, and I don’t want to live lazily. Still, I found it strange that the zeal I wanted to have led to unnecessary conflict, and with that, I ended up thinking that living lazily feels much better, though I tended to think of it as something along the lines of “toning it down” most of the time.

I guess I can say that I need to learn a lot more about self-control. I’ve seen my overzealous self and my lazy self in a bunch of people, and in being like those people, I found myself out of my depth. My confidence would crash, and when it goes up, it tends to come with me thinking that self-deprecation is something that can grant me true happiness. My self-deprecation mixes with my overzealousness, and then what follows is a crazier spiral of chaos within me, who’s teetering back and forth, very much unbalanced.

Really, I think I’ve been living my life with the thought that extremes held the key to true happiness. I wanted the true ultimate happiness quickly, and in my rushing, I failed to notice the things I should be watching out for. Then, with that same overzealousness, failure hit me very hard, and then I attempted chilling out to the extreme, leading me towards more stupidity. A cycle of abuse happens again and again, and I fall into further sin the more I hold on to that rushing.

Even now, I wish that this struggle which I found myself stuck in would end quickly. Still, I’ve been realizing that extremes would do me no good. I need to keep myself balanced, looking at things critically and from different perspectives. I need to push down the desire to rush and kick out the desire to laze, because they’ve been hurting me more than I thought. I need other people, but I don’t need to force them, nor do I need to just let them be selfish. My senses aren’t as great as the senses of God, who helped me so many times in my life, and I can’t say that I know everything, nor can I say that I know nothing.

I’m an imperfect human, yes, but I can learn, and I am learning. Fantasizing, which I now consider wishing for extremes, isn’t as impressive as it used to be to me, and now, I want to live in reality, trying to find true happiness within it.

And today, I think I’m really having a merry Christmas. As usual, this world still has conflict, yes, and my future will come with a rocky road, but still, I can see the light…the light of God.

So yeah…Happy Birthday, Jesus. I pray that you continue to show me where the right path is.

And hey, Merry Christmas and more strength to you all as well, dear readers. 🙂

Share Happiness, Friendship, and Virtues This Christmas, Tobby!

Today, after a Biology class, while I signed on the attendance sheet, I also had to write what I wanted for Christmas. Without hesitation, as I needed to talk with my groupmates in class and also because there were other people waiting for the attendance sheet, I wrote this on the “What do you want for Christmas?” part:

a copy of Mekaku City Records (Regular Edition)

And then I went on talking with my groupmates. But when I got out of the building where I had my Biology class, this thought suddenly dawned on me:

I think I’m focusing too much on getting material gifts for Christmas again.

When I went to Mass last Sunday, I was reminded that Christmas these days is getting too commercialized. When it’s Christmas, more people buy from stores because of Christmas sales, children expect really great gifts from their families or from Santa Claus, everyone’s decorating their homes to fit the season, people are preparing for Christmas parties where there’s lots of eating and gift-giving and socializing and blah blah blah…

You know what, people, maybe we’re forgetting the true spirit of Christmas. Well, for us Roman Catholics, Christmas is the time when Jesus Christ was born, and it’s a time for us to practice and spread happiness, friendship, and virtues. But it seems like some Roman Catholics are forgetting that, too. It seems like I’m forgetting it, too.

I see and hear of poor people, and it’s saddening that some people forget, or worse, don’t even care about them. Well, being sad about them and blaming others isn’t going to help. I should do my part to help them. We should do our part to help them. That copy of Mekaku City Records that I wanted…at least for my birthday…that can wait. Those gaming consoles, computers, video games, and all those other luxuries that we want to have…they can wait. There are better ways to be happy, there are a lot of reasons to be happy, and we can find these ways and reasons if we choose to have some willpower and look for them. What’s amazing is that we can find true happiness close by, too! Once we find that, we should spread it. There are people who are suffering out there. Let’s show them happiness, friendship, and virtues, people! Even if you’re not a Roman Catholic…even if you don’t celebrate Christmas in your religion…whoever you are…let’s spread happiness and friendship! Even if we’re different from each other, respect can connect us. We can decorate our houses, we can give gifts to people we care for, we can buy what we want, we can prepare parties, but whatever the season, even if it isn’t Christmas, let’s not forget to practice and spread happiness, friendship, respect, charity, humility, and all the other virtues! Christmas is supposed to remind us that even more, you know!

Well, if you don’t want to believe or if you don’t agree with what I’m saying, then I can’t change you. You have free will. We have free will. I can only influence you. You can only influence me. Still, I hope that you would find the light, and if you do, I hope that you would spread it to illuminate the great darkness out there. I believe that there’s always at least a glimmer of light in a sea of darkness, you know.

Now, time to remind myself again:

Share happiness, friendship, and virtues this Christmas, Tobby!

Also, keep on sharing happiness, friendship, and virtues, no matter what the season, too!

Keep calm, look at the bright side, and friendship for the win, people!