Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Concert For A Cause: A Fundraiser for the Scholarship Project of Ex Libris Philippines

                                       (Please click on poster to enlarge)

Our NGO, Ex Libris Philippines, a SEC-certified, nonstock, nonprofit organization of book enthusiasts, is raising funds in order to help send deserving but financially challenged UP students to school. Our last two fundraising projects held March 2007 and April 2008 have funded the education of seven deserving students at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. 

We are now holding our third fundraising project for our NGO's Scholarship Project. This year's fundraising project is a Concert for a Cause, with performances by faculty, students and alumni of the UP College of Music. All funds to be raised will go to the Scholarship Project. The concert will be on May 21, 2010, Friday, 6 p.m. at the UP College of Music, Nicanor Abelardo Hall.


Treat yourself to a night of music and magic, and help out in a good cause, too! You'll be helping send students to school.  Please also help spread the word to your friends and family, and invite them to come as well! 

 Tickets are at Php 300.00 each. For tickets, please contact Tata Francisco at 0920-947-08-61, or Gabi Francisco at 0920-947-08-35. You can also email us at teachertata@gmail.com, or gabitwin@gmail.com.

By simply forwarding this email to your friends, you'll be helping us A LOT already. Please help us spread the word about this Concert For A Cause! Thank you so much.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Repost of Fr. James Reuter's Article on the Philippine Star (March 2009): "Graduation"

The graduations begin, now. Some students get medals: bronze, silver, gold.

Some students do not get any medals. . . . Some are not allowed to march. . . . Some are not allowed to graduate.

It is really a time of joy and sorrow, a time of laughter and tears, an emotional time.

Education is the complete and harmonious development of all the physical, mental, and moral faculties of man. The end product, at graduation, is not the medal, or even the diploma. It is the boy, standing on his own two feet. it is the girl, coming down the aisle with her diploma, to kiss her daddy.

Every teacher who has ever gone into a classroom knows that the best boy in the class, the best girl, is not necessarily the one who gets the gold medal for academics.

There might be a girl in the class who has many friends. She loves everybody, and everyone loves her. When they need something, they come to her, because they know that she will give. . . . There is no mark for that.

There might be a girl who is selfish as sin, who has no friends. No one comes to her, when they are in need, because they know that she will not help anyone. . . . there is no mark for that.

There might be a boy who is a natural leader. He has a sense of humor, and courage; he likes his family; he likes the school; he is at peace with God, with his friends, with himself. . . . there is no mark for that.

Another boy might be all mixed up. He hates his father. He hates the teachers. He is planning to kill himself, tonight. . . . There is no mark for that.

We give the marks for mathematics, for English, for history, for physics, for chemistry, for biology — but there are other sides to a boy, and to a girl.

At this graduation, the end product is not the medal. It is not even the diploma. It is your son. It is your daughter.

If he has learned to be a man, if she has learned to be a woman, that’s enough.

That’s a superlative, already.

What teachers make

This beautiful story came to me from the son of my staff through the internet.

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with the education. He argued, “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?”

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” To stress his point he said to another guest, “You’re a teacher, Bonnie, be honest. What do you make?”

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, “You want to know what I make?”

“Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor. I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for 5 without an iPod, Game Cube or movie rental. . . . .

You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.

I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn’t everything. I make them read, read, read.

I make them show all their work in math. They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator.

I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know English while preserving their unique cultural identity.

I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.

Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.

Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn’t everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant. . . . You want to know what I make?

I make a difference. What do you make Mr. CEO?”

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Repost from the UP Alyansa Web Page

Speech Delivered at the LSG Candle Lighting and Indignation March against Midnight Appointments

Speech delivered by Simoun Salinas, USC Councilor-Elect and ALYANSA Vice Chairperson for Education, Research, and Training, at the Law Student Government (LSG) Candle Lighting and Indignation March against midnight appointments by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on March 19, 2010.

As law students, we all know that repetition is the key to memorizing and understanding statutes or provisions of the law. Read the provision. Understand it. Read it again. Repeat ad nauseum.

We also know that it has been a while since the members of the Supreme Court have relished the law school experience. Apparently, it has been a while since the members of the Supreme Court, especially the 9 assenting justices in De Castro vs. JBC, have taken the time to realize the necessity of precision of language in our Constitution.

Therefore, in the hope that, as we repeat this simple provision in the Constitution, maybe they will hear our collective pleas for reason and our collective indignation. To the Supreme Court, we say: “Article 7, Section 15 of the Philippine Constitution states that “Two months before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, the President…shall not make appointments….

Again, we repeat: “To the Supreme Court, we say: “Article 7, Section 15 of the Philippine Constitution states that “Two months before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, the President…shall not make appointments….

Then again, maybe repetition will not be enough. Maybe now, it’s time to unleash our weapon of unified indignation and communicate our anger to the erring interpretation of the Bench.

Thus, this outrage against the bastardization of our Constitution must not only be heard; it must be felt, realized and concretized. This outrage against the bastardization of our Constitution knows no limit or boundary. This outrage knows no party lines, no affiliations, no organizational biases or ideologies.

Therefore, I encourage everyone present here, and the entire nation to continue to express their outrage and the indignation in any way possible. Express this outrage with as many fellow students, workers, lawyers or Filipinos as you possibly can. Take this outrage to the street. Take it online. Take it to the family, at the dinner table. Maybe then, if we keep on saying it, repetition and collective action can make a difference.

With that, once again, we said it before, and we will never tire of repeating it ourselves, in the interest of understanding, in the hope that they will understand: 

No to the midnight appointment of the Chief Justice by GMA!

No to the bastardization of our Constitution!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Seven Storey Mountain

   I first heard of this spiritual classic when I read "The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage" by Paul Elie (which deserves a longer entry all its own). The latter book was a 500+ page biography of four great Catholic authors: Flannery O'Connor, Dorothy Day, Walker Percy and Thomas Merton. They wrote to change lives, seeking to draw others to the Christian faith the same way that these four converts were led to salvation through literature.

   After reading "The Life You Save...," I was filled with immense curiosity about these four amazing people, whose lives demonstrated immense grappling with faith in post-war America. The lives of Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day, in particular, captured my imagination, and I immediately sought books by these authors.

   The Ateneo library had several well-thumbed copies of Thomas Merton's "Seven Storey Mountain," and for good reason. I imagine that many young men in generations past have read the very book I'm now holding, so that they may learn of the kind of contemplative life one might expect when joining a religious order. 

   Merton was born to a family of artists in France. Baptized an Anglican, he was brought up with a cosmopolitan education, living in various European countries and soaking in everything that the modern world had to offer. He gorged himself on movies, jazz clubs, women, wine and song. He studied in Cambridge but moved to Columbia University in New York after fathering a child in England. His life pretty much fits the stereotype of the brilliant aesthete. Immersing himself in Kafka, Marx and Joyce at first, he eventually moved on to Hopkins, Blake and Eliot, and eventually Augustine and Kierkegaard. He speaks of his love for Blake as "having something in it of God's grace."

    I am in awe of how Merton was able to capture the emotional drama of a lost soul seeking God. I felt his pain, his anguish as if it were my own... I rejoiced when he finally converted and was filled with curious longing at his descriptions of life as a Trappist monk in the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky. It is no wonder to me that this book is said to have sent thousands of young men to monasteries.

     Here are some quotes from Merton's autobiography:

    "...This is the pattern and prototype of all sin: the deliberate and formal will to reject disinterested love for us for the purely arbitrary reason that we simply do not want it... Perhaps the inner motive is that the fact of being loved disinterestedly reminds us that we all need love from others, and depend upon the charity of others to carry on our own lives..."

   "The devil is no fool. He can get people feeling about heaven the way they ought to feel about hell. He can make them fear the means of grace the way they do not fear sin. And he does so, not by light but by obscurity, not by realities but by shadows; not by clarity and substance, but by dreams and the creatures of psychosis. And men are so poor in intellect that a few cold chills down their spine will be enough to keep them from ever finding out the truth about anything."

   "It is that Sacrament (the Eucharist), and that alone, the Christ living in our midst, and sacrificed by us, and for us and with us, in the clean and perpetual Sacrifice, it is He alone Who holds our world together, and keeps us all from being poured headlong and immediately into the pit of our eternal destruction. And I tell you there is a power that goes forth from that Sacrament, a power of light and truth, even into the hearts of those who have heard nothing of Him and seem to be incapable of belief."

   "Corruptio optimi pessima...The greatest evil is found where the highest good has been corrupted."

      "If the impulse to worship God and to adore Him in truth by the goodness and order of our own lives is nothing more than a transitory and emotional thing, that is our own fault. It is so only because we make it so, and because we take what is substantially a deep and powerful and lasting moral impetus, supernatural in its origin and in its direction, and reduce it to the level of our own weak and unstable and futile fancies and desires."

   "Souls are like athletes, that need opponents worthy of them, if they are to be tried and extended and pushed to the full use of their powers, and rewarded according to their capacity."

   "I (used to) believe in the beautiful myth about having a good time so long as it does not hurt anybody else. You cannot live for your own pleasure and your own convenience without inevitably hurting and injuring the feelings and interests of practically everybody you meet."

   "I had enough sense to know that it would be madness to look for a group of people, a society, a religion, a church from which all mediocrity would absolutely be excluded... but God loves them, and He will not withhold His light from good people anywhere."

   "Consider how in spite of centuries of sin and greed and lust and cruelty and hatred and avarice and oppression and injustice, spawned and bred by the free wills of men, the human race can still recover each time, and can still produce men and women who overcome evil with good, hatred with love, greed with charity, lust and cruelty with sanctity. How could all this be possible without the merciful love of God, pouring out His grace upon us? ... The quietness and hiddenness and placidity of the truly good people in the world all proclaim the glory of God."

   "No idea of ours, let alone any image, could adequately represent God... but also, we should not allow ourselves to be satisfied with any such knowledge of Him."

   "All our salvation begins on the level of common and natural and ordinary things. Books and ideas and poems and stories, pictures and music, buildings, cities, places, philosophies were to be the materials on which grace would work."

   "Virtues are precisely the powers by which we can come to acquire happiness: without them, there can be no joy, because they are the habits which coordinate and canalize our natural energies and direct them to the harmony and perfection and balance, the unity of our nature with itself and with God, which must, in the end, constitute our everlasting peace."

   "There are ways that seem to men to be good, the end whereof is in the depths of hell. The only answer to the problem is grace, grace, docility to grace."

   "Why should anyone be shattered by the thought of hell? It is not compulsory for anyone to go there. Those who do, do so by their own choice, and against the will of God, and they can only get into hell by defying and resisting all the work of Providence and grace. It is their own will that takes them there, not God's. In damning them He is only ratifying their own decision -- a decision which He has left entirely to their own choice. Nor will He ever hold our weakness alone responsible for our damnation."

   "There is nothing wrong in being a writer or a poet... but the harm lies in wanting to be one for the gratification of one's own ambitions, and merely in order to bring oneself up to the level demanded by his own internal self-idolatry."

   "The logic of wordly success rests on a fallacy: the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other men!"

   "That contact (with God) is something which we all need: and one of the ways in which it has been decreed that we should arrive at it, is by hearing one another talk about God."

    "He is much more anxious to take care of us, and capable of doing so, than we could ourselves. It is only when we refuse His help, resist His will, that we have conflict, trouble, disorder, unhappiness, ruin."

   "The beginning of love is truth, and before He will give us His love, God must cleanse our souls of the lies that are in them."

    And there is a lot more. This book is a spiritual treasure trove! I wish it were available in our bookstores.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
      The academic year is almost up, and with Summer comes more free time... something which I have little of, and I have to seize precious moments for reading and contemplation. It annoys me that the busier my external life, the emptier my inner life becomes... but it is the one that truly matters. I look forward to reading more Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day this summer!

    There is a movie about her already, entitled "Entertaining Angels." I understand that her cause for canonization is open to the Catholic Church. :)   I want to watch this!


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