Saturday, April 25, 2009

The perfect match

After months and months of preparation, the day has finally come. Between the flower arrangements, choosing the theme color and deciding on who will be in the entourage, the day has finally come. From the first encounter to the rehearsal dinner, the day has finally come. Today, we will get to hear two heartfelt, crystal clear “I do's”. Let’s celebrate and toast to the newlyweds!

No matter how often we’ve attended one, no matter how frequently it has shadowed our own dreams, and especially, it surely does not matter what our stand is on the subject -- whether we believe in the sacrament of marriage or rather despise the very idea of it -- there will always be something extraordinary, terrific, really breathe-taking about weddings. Undoubtedly, there are various types of celebrations: we have the couples who’d rather wish a quick fix like the ones they get in Las Vegas, others will prepare the wedding of the century and finally, some simply prefer to keep it low profile. Either way, all of them are wonderful since they all lead to that crucial point where the twosome pronounce their vows and lovingly accept themselves as husband and wife. At that precise instant, although it is perhaps cliche to think so, it is not only the sensitive souls who will get affected by such a poignant moment, even the strongest will have a few tears rolling down his/her cheek.

There are thousands of reasons to disagree with marriage. In fact, I can recall just how many people do not believe in it anymore. Instead, partnership has become very popular in the last couple of years, maybe because these couples are sure that it will be easier if (or when) they (eventually) separate. And who can blame them? It is a harsh reality that the percentage of divorces grows higher every year. It is not only the case with the fabulous couples in Hollywood, but it’s a predominant factor in all societies, even more so in countries such as Switzerland or Sweden. When we carefully think about it, marriage is a frightening idea and the idea of making a lifetime commitment to someone may even become repulsive. It does not help to witness other couples not reach the end of the road together, in particular when they are "ideal" couples whom we admire and we've also aspired to become them one of these days. It is a pessimistic observation, but it’s a hurtful truth.

This thought suddenly got me pondering on the importance of commitment and eventual marriage. All those couples who decide to (and will) get married know sincerely, in their hearts, that the person sleeping next to them is right for them, he/she is the one they want to discover this world with, together they will go through life. He/she is the perfect match, together they fit… On the six billion people on this planet, this man/woman has found his/her soul mate. It is beautiful, really. So why are there so many court hearings for divorce?

In the end. Who knows, really?

There is a formula for a perfect wedding – because despite the fact that during the ceremony, little mistakes can occur, the “I do’s” will always make up for it. On the other hand, there is no formula for a perfect marriage, neither is there an non-burnable paper (although the certificate of marriage says otherwise) that has that lifelong assurance. As mentioned above, we will perhaps always question why it comes to that final result. But on another note, we cannot put aside the other twosomes who have made it -- who have grown old together. It is hardly debatable not to name at least one. And if we get a closer look at them, we shall try to discover what's their secret.

Once again, we’ll get to understand that there is no such thing as a perfect marriage, but it is sincerely just two imperfect people who have formed a very strong – maybe even the perfect foundation based on their love. It is important to underline that this foundation is only about the love the couple has for each other, because the tricky thing is: there will always be hard times that life; society and also couple duties will throw at them. But the core -- the centre of the couple must stay rock hard. The periphery i.e. the other external aspects in life – namely issues that cause tiresome periods in the year – should have some sort of destabilizing influence, yet not manage to break the centre down. In other words, these difficult factors will leave holes, but not enough to destroy the love. To face bad times alone is hard enough already, but contrary to common knowledge, handling it with another person does not make it much easier. As a matter of fact, it is the opposite; we have a double dose of pressure since we think for two. Yet one of the great reasons to why a relationship works, and the only way we will want to fight for it when it gets rough is to learn how to handle the pressure and make the difficult times worth it. What we get in return -- a lifetime with our partner -- becomes indescribable: what love and marriage is all about. I honestly think that couples, even great ones, break up because their foundation was not strong enough to begin with as they let petty issues get to them: love is all that is needed as everything starts from there. Counting outside factors like job or money problems, maybe losing the house or difficulty with the children are excuses, not reasons to separate or divorce. Is there really such a thing as “irreconcilable differences”? Giving up on love is not at all similar to giving up because we cannot handle that (or those) bump(s) on the road.

So for all of us who are pessimistic, against all the odds, once we get to see two individuals looking into each other’s eyes and exchanging their “I do’s”, once we get to observe such a wonderful celebration of life: How can we not believe in everlasting love? The fear of commitment, intimacy, breaking up, eventual divorce… The fear of taking the next big step to saying those vows just flows out of the window, in a second. All we can do is wish the couple the very best: a beautiful, lifelong love story – with all the great and hard challenges in life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Karma ain't a bitch!

A review of one of my all time favorite films "Match Point" by Woody Allen. I wrote the following back in 2006, but how is it that thoughts on karma will never go out of style? I don't seem to get tired of it: in fact, I have written a lot of articles about karma, but this one might give you a slightly different viewpoint. Please continue reading when you have already seen the movie... And if you haven't, hurry up and get the DVD: IT'S AN ABSOLUTE MUST! You will think more than twice after it!

Doesn't the ending just want to make you scream your lungs out? It itches so much that you cannot handle it?

Yes indeed, we all admit that we have had enough of "happy endings" when it comes to films but this time, we actually want and need it badly! We are assured that our protagonist Chris Wilton will not only get caught for his lying, his infidelity, his games and especially for his mortal crime; but he will definitely get severely punished for all the reasons stated above. But the fact that he gets away with only a bad conscience just makes us want to shout "COME ON, THERE MUST BE JUSTICE IN THIS WORLD"!

"Match Point" has surely left me quite disoriented! After seeing this film, I questioned over and over again about the term KARMA. We perpetually say that we are going to pay for our crimes, that what we did wrong to others will come back to us one day or another (and it will definitely hurt when it strikes). But what if it's true that "awful" people like Chris Wilton are lucky and do get away with murder? They go to sleep at night and only have an insight of their misbehavior. Insomnia might hunt them but they do get to hop into a nice comfy bed. And I am sure that some are even worse than Chris Wilton: those whose thoughts don't even come close to the light of day! Some won't even realize how much damage they caused...

It suddenly got me to wonder: what if karma is just a concept that we long for so desperately simply to make ourselves feel "better"? Why are some searching for revenge and want the "other person" to feel an even greater pain than they do/did? Do we actually hope and wish for karma to happen? If that were the case: would we feel any bit relieved? Would we feel satisfaction?
First of all, I am one of those who can't wait for karma to strike really hard (and it should definitely hurt). I want people like Chris Wilton to suffer slowly and be utterly miserable! But wait, wait, wait a second...

Recently, the negative side of karma faded a tiny little bit in my head, and my way of seeing things became somewhat sober. Karma is the term we use as to finally having getting what we deserve and also learning something at a certain point in our lives; but what if we end up like Chris Wilton? Put yourself in his position: one who never learned and stays a total fool at the end of the day. One who knows consequences will eventually come but does nothing to deal with it. Isn't that more of a pity? I believe so. I reckon that it would be nobler to get karma, even wiser to be able to "create" our own karma; and that is by our means and not karma's (either way, it will hurt anyway); than to be patient and letting it happen one day or another, lingering on it. "Thank God!" that there's a minimum of justice in this world, but it is much better to finally go through karma immediately: once again, the results might bite us in the arse but karma got me convinced that it's a waste of time to wait for it! Why is karma a must to realize we've done wrong? Or why the wish for it to come into effect to one day have peace of mind? In other words, why can't we wake up on OUR OWN -- give karma a break so it can go on holiday -- instead of seeking for the "worst" to happen?

Indeed, it is greater to "provide" our own and shout: "yes, I deserve this shitty treatment!" We don't need the ultimate sign, we should be less of a coward: admit our mistakes, apologize and then try to make up for it! And we'll certainly be prouder of ourselves because we'd learn to be brave and responsible. And maybe karma wouldn't be such a bitch, it may only act that way because it gets impatient too.

Finally, what about wanting "the other person" to get his/her karma? It might be hard to grasp but this is what I've learned: I don't think we will feel more satisfied if "the other" will get punished. Hoping for his/her karma (and a karma that definitely hurts...) makes us even more immature than the one who committed the mistakes in the first place. Haven't we heard a dozen times that God taught us not to wish bad luck? The best thing to do is not to even think about karma, not even the slightest bit. And we won't even wish it, not even want it to happen. We're on top of that. If "the other" will get his karma or not, like we wished Chris Wilton would have in the course of the story, then it surely will not matter! What is relevant is how we sulk(ed) through our pain and the experience(s) we accumulated. And at the end, what will really matter is our OWN karma, not the ones of others. Just make sure yours doesn't bite you in the arse: be good, do good.


The world, after all, is our playground.

Aretha Franklin

What's a pretty face when that person has got good manners? Something close to... everything.

Take the trash out

What's a pretty face when that person with no good manners? Nothing close to... anything. 
Spring cleaning.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Desperate Housewives becoming desperate?

I wrote this article for my writing class in December 2007: there had been a lot of commotion after the season four premiere of Desperate Housewives. Filipinos around the world were offended by the discriminating remark made by one of the characters.

As the season four premiere of the American ABC television series “Desperate Housewives” aired on September 30th 2007, millions of fans across the U.S.A. were excited to finally discover what happened to their favorite heroines: Susan played by Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria as Gabrielle, Marcia Cross’ Bree, Felicity Huffman is Lynette and last but not least, actress Nicolette Sheridan as Edie. However, during the course of this first episode entitled “Now You Know,” a particular comment shocked and disappointed many people, namely Filipinos and Filipino Americans. Teri Hatcher’s character, Susan Meyer Delfino, sits with her new gynecologist. She questions the credibility of her doctor by saying, “Before we go any further, can I check those diplomas, because I would just like to make sure that they’re not from some med school in the Philippines.”

Following this incident, many Filipinos, not only in the USA but across the globe, expressed their displeasure at this derogatory and unfounded remark made against Philippine medical schools. In recent weeks, a petition has been circulating on the internet. Furthermore, the Philippines Ambassador to the U.S.A., Willy Gaa and the Philippines Consul Generals in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles individually wrote complaints to the President of ABC Television Network, Mr. Mark Pedowitz.
Although this line of dialogue might have seemed like a joke to certain people -- even the majority, others believe that it was unnecessary to zero-in on a particular country, in this case, the Philippines. This was also a very hurtful surprise acknowledging the fact that throughout the last decades, there has been an impressive rise of Filipinos in the medical field. These are doctors, nurses and medical technologists who graduated in the Philippines. This discriminating message, aired on national -- and soon international -- television, can only harm the reputation of these medical professionals, who have successfully fulfilled the requirements to practice in another country, such as the U.S.A.
After announcing their resentment towards the show and the television network’s lack of sensitivity, Filipinos worldwide requested a public apology to clear their name and reliability. There has already been a precedent of public excuses in the past. For instance, in July 2006, actor Mel Gibson made anti-Semitics comments when he was arrested by a Jewish officer for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) in California. Mel Gibson was promptly asked by the Jewish community to apologize for his behavior. Filipinos expect the same respect.
In conclusion, whether Filipinos will have their apology or not, it is important to know that prejudicial statements simply cause harm and they should never, in any circumstance, be tolerated.

Jag älskar Sverige

When I first heard that my mother was going to be assigned to Sweden back in 2003, I will honestly tell you that it was sort of a shock. Why? I had been in most parts of Europe but I realized that the northern part i.e. Scandinavia was a totally new territory to me, since the only thing I knew at that time about Sweden was not even IKEA, but Sweden equaled to the model Marcus Schenkenberg to me! Oh shame! It was also a surprise because I would have never thought to be going there one day, and even less to pack up my bags and move to Sweden. But as it always is, my excitement took over because discovering the new and unknown still remains my sweetest addiction.

Six years have passed since that first thought and I had the privilege to be in and out of that fantastic country from 2003 to 2007, with a lucky full year in 2004-2005. I had the chance to go from North to South, from East to West and also explore Stockholm to the fullest. Frankly, I do not even know where to begin with just how much I appreciate the "North". But September 17th 2006 might have been the best day to explain this certain admiration. It was election day in Sweden! And secondly, I was just extremely happy because I was able to walk out and go to church for the first time since my car accident in Portugal (which occurred early August 2006)! To be able to experience such wonders again after the crash, and why it had to be especially in Sweden on a very awaited election day: it is funny or… it just might be the reason why.

First of all, the system in Sweden, considered much as “capitalism tempered by a generous and interventionist welfare state”, is one of the prior things I admire about this country! I reckon it to be the "ideal" society, which all lands should look up to and follow. Yes, its people pay a whole lot of taxes -- as much as half of their salary goes into them; but is it not worth it knowing what the population gets in return? The health department is good, the welfare department is most generous, they have a great economy, they are admirable in advanced technology and arts. Furthermore, in my opinion, the best asset Sweden possesses is their educational system. Although students need to pay back their debt to society later on, not only do they not pay anything during their studies but in addition, students get allowance for actually going to school: not only those who have a scholarship, but anyone who wants to study can get the loan. How awesome can studying be? So even if the Social Democrats lost on that election day in 2006, I understand the system stayed as valuable as before.

Secondly, the capital city is simply sheer perfection: Stockholm has style and a unique aura. It is big enough to have the "full of life" characteristics of a metropolitan city, yet still small enough to have the calmness of a town as well. It is modern and chic! It’s royal and worth the Nobel Prizes! And of course, Stockholm is a catwalk for beautiful people! [Who ever said the most beautiful women (and men) are Swedish?] You see their simplicity yet elegant style in interior design; but it is their taste for fashion that makes Swedish people exceptional: their sense of fashion is unbelievably classy! The Swedes are definitely the best models/trendsetters in the world. People are approachable, friendly, open and everyone speaks English as if it were their mother tongue. And if you are fluent in German and English, then Swedish will be very easy to learn! On the downside, the capital city remains an expensive city, winter is ice cold, dark and you will probably hate the bouncers at the clubs when you get to Stockholm… But overall, the cultural scene and viking history, FIKA [stands for "get-together at the coffee shop"] with the Swedes, the long, long days in the summer and those incredible sunrises-sunsets (since there is almost no difference between the two) make up for it!

And last but not least, I love Sweden so very much because I know that in this lifetime, something will always draw me back there. Jag saknar dig, Sverige

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Everything starts with an idea..."

Knowing what you want is a good start. 
Being in too much of a hurry to get it, isn't.
This idea, this dream, this promise, that plan... 
Prepare well: details count.
You do not want to miss out on anything in the process 
because maybe, just maybe
more than anything;
"beauty is in the attempt."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

You got class!

When the spring semester comes to an end, students know it is the time of the year that they all dread during their studies: the final exams. The long, important, defining final exams… "Watch out for INTENSE STRESS AHEAD!" It is in those crucial last weeks that, besides the usual like the last lectures and seminars, reports and group work; everyone at university will fasten the pace by bringing their sleeping bags to the library and get drunk on caffeine: CLASSIC behavior! Bless them!
But, if it is any consolation and consider it also a reward, although I am one of those who fear exams like scary kittens fear big dogs, I will name EDUCATION as a NUMBER ONE PRIORITY in life, and this for two specific reasons!
First of all, education is -- scratch that: has always been and will forever be -- the BEST asset, gift and weapon we can ever possess. We can do anything and go anywhere with our degree in hand. The future lies in our hands. The young and the forever young are the fruits of this society and it is our job to make it better, to want more ... and as simple as it sounds, we only need to work very hard for it! Unfortunately, education is still unaccessible to many: not all students get the support they require and deserve. In addition, it has quite many flaws in its system. For one, it is horrible that the cost of education gets higher every year. This is not about money! And if it were, why is it so difficult to grasp that it is best for the government to put more funds in education -- and not pinning it on parents or working students? Furthermore, as the world evolves, the society we live in becomes more and more competitive. Going to university matters, but reality shows that its name and reputation count a little more. Having a bachelor degree matters, but a masters or a doctorate degree counts a little more. Preparing for the professional world appears to be quite frightening because companies no longer look at good or even great, they look at the very best, especially in times of (financial) crisis. Sadly, it is a scary ride and the safety net may not come along, but the only thing we can do is jump: hope and prepare for a better future.
Secondly, despite the bitterness I have for this stressful part of studying i.e. preparing for exams, education is still the most beautiful thing that exists because I simply love to study and live the University life! We are from different walks of life but we are here for the same thing: get new skills or improve them. Most importantly, one is never too old to learnLearning gives us wings: there is just so much to explore, so many things in our -- or even other interesting -- fields to cherish. Knowledge frees our mind, opens our heart, teaches us criticism, brings us independence, calls for responsibility and forges our person.
STUDYING is LIBERTY! Freedom of the soul!
And I am assured that studying and working hard always pay up! We may be doubtful about our course. It is hard. We may not understand at first, or even block fully at some point! But we can ALWAYS make it, which ever route we take and even how long we'll need to get to the finishing line! In addition, this is the time of our life: we should feed our spirit with as much as possible... especially with what we adore to do because it is now that we get to learn a whole lot in such a short span of time! Be hungry! Put effort in it! Look up! Aim higher!  We should be who we are meant to become! And evidently, we shouldn't forget that education brings us so many other, very attractive privileges along the way such as the the typical, very cheap coffee breaks, excellent encounters, crazy parties and holidays are only this long at this stage of our life. The truth is, I am a terrible student - has a habit of being too close to deadlines, (somehow) always late for classes, loves wednesday's outings a little too much, plays su-do-ku during lectures - but I guess we all find our own way through it because...
One thing only matters: go to class, every bit of the journey is worthwhile.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Leaving home with a heavy heart is more painful than a thousand pains. 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Record player

A couple of days ago, instead of taking the usual route, I decided to pass by a parallel street on my way to the library. The weird thing is that I’ve been living in Zurich for nearly eight months now; and I never walked that street although it is quite accessible. It must have been fate for I noticed a house-progressive-techno record store just around the corner. It’s the first one I’ve seen since my trip to Ibiza last summer, so I went in with a big smile on my face. And on a second note, I had been looking for a particular record so timing was perfect.
The moment I entered the store though, I instantly lost my smile and gave space for a shocked expression instead: this supposedly record store did not contain a lot of records at all. As a matter of fact, I think I even had more at home! It did not hurt to ask so I still inquired about the record I was searching for; and the salesman wished to know when it was released. I told him that it was not new: it must be two or three years old. He did not even try to look for the record because this shop was now only selling the “newest.” I didn’t want to show my disappointment since I believed that this was total rubbish, and not worthy for a record store that promotes electronic music (or any kind of music for that matter.) But then, with a troubled voice, he announced that they were actually closing down very soon because no one buys records anymore and DJ’s, instead of vinyl’s, are also gradually using the new technologies for their music. In the last month, they were liquidating everything… This news saddened me even though it was my first time to visit this store. So I decided to honor it and did what I love to do: spend a whole lot amount of time looking for music and then listen to them on the available player slot. Finally, I found some really good records and got them.
This incident suddenly got me into examining why record stores may soon become just another “phenomenon of the past.” And it is obvious that the reason that lies behind it is this clash between the past and the giant progress our society makes every year. Despite the fact that, today, we can all clearly see the difference between the sixties and the seventies, or the eighties and the nineties; I used to think that things wouldn’t really change in a space of a decade, not in my (young) time at least, and especially not while I’m still living in it. I started to analyze the difference between the nineties and the noughties and I realized just how many, many innovations there have been. It's absolutely crazy. And I cannot really place myself in whether I like it or dislike it.
Do not get me wrong: I have a MP3 player like everyone else and I adore my I-pod, but I still love to go to record stores [which, apparently, have become an endangered species.] I know my Walkman and my old CD player are lying somewhere in the closet as well, and I cherish my numerous tapes and compact discs. Additionally, I do recall the days when people did not steal music [and I’m proud to say that when I do download, I pay for it.] Furthermore, there’s no doubt that to be able to chat and use the webcam with friends and loved-ones, especially with those who live far away, is one of the greatest inventions; but I miss the days when we used to write and receive postcards and those long, long letters. I love digital cameras and de facto we can take a ridiculous number of pictures instead of the rolls of 24 or 36 shots, but I miss making time to get them printed and have albums like back in the days. Lastly, having a cell phone is crucial nowadays, but we did get along fine without it before (and at least we knew some numbers and our very own number by heart in case of emergency.)
I believe in evolution and progress, and am content about how easy things got for us. But I also care about old-fashioned values and reminisce about “the good ol’ days” pretty often. In fact, as one of my friends reminded me this week, I still live in the 1990’s sometimes. Consequently, I am assured I will become one of those parents who’ll say “You know, son, in my time…” Now I know where my parents come from... 

This clash between decades, between generations, becomes more understandable in time. It is simply crazy not to realize it later on in life, but while we are still enjoying and living in the current 00’s decade. I embrace new technologies like my favorite DJ’s, because it is more positive than negative most of the time; but I think it’s also great, like DJ’s who still play vinyl’s at times, to keep the habits of the past: there's nothing sweeter than writing and receiving letters and postcards, nothing is as fun as to develop photos and put memories in personalized albums; and never forget that, at the end of the day, “there is no school like old school.”

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Smooth waters

Having no reason to be happy may be even better than being happy for a reason.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

(April) fools

It doesn't mean that there is a flaw, that you should appreciate it less.