Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Thought Leader

Fingers stained Perle' Noire
With hints of Eclat De Saphir
Evidence of a writer's passion
On the hands that make words appear
Upon warped pages of traveled diaries
Now in its beat up better days
Full of the notes of multiple stories
In a lone man's mind space
There exists the seeds of a song,
A book, a plan, a revolution
Waiting for its coming ascendance
As it matures to fruition
Welcome dear child of thought and time
In embrace or rejection be brave
Believe the roots of another's hope
Will grow beyond your grave

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Brothers Bonifacio: Joseph's Baby, Joshua's Wedding, and David's Girlfriend

It seems that the years are flying past faster than ever.

When I was young, I couldn't wait for the years to pass so that I could drive, or watch certain movies, or live on my own. I don't particularly like driving in Manila traffic and I can't seem to stay awake in movies, so among the three things I mentioned, only living alone has turned out to be better than I imagined.

That is not to say that living in my parents' home was terrible. On the contrary, in my biased estimation, it was the best place to grow up. An intense yet affectionate dad who couldn't understand why a whiteboard and a pie chart couldn't take the place of a bed time story, and a sweet, artsy, incredibly comforting mom who grew claws when it came to people threatening her babies. Threats of course included the ladies I went out with. She told me that I placed too much importance on looks, to which I replied, "Do you want ugly grandkids?" 

She responded, "No David. But I want you to marry someone wise and moral."

"Did you marry Pop because he was wise and moral?"

To this my dad interrupted, "Of course not. She married me for my looks."

And we all laughed.

More on my girlfriend later. I always put the good stuff mixed into the end of my posts that way people don't leave my long-winding writing. I worked on this. I want you to enjoy it.


Joseph's Baby (and Carla's Too)

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba
Sithi uhm ingonyama
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba
Sithi uhhmm ingonyama
Ingonyam
Siyo Nqoba
Ingonyama
Ingonyama nengw' enamabala 

(Ok if you're wondering where these lyric like weird words are from, they're actually the chant from The Circle of Life. Just so that I don't mislead you, I did not draw that from a reservoir of African knowledge but from google.)

The first is always a special occasion, and in Brothers Bonifacio lore, we're about to have our first offspring. For my parents it is their first grandchild, officially earning them the titles of Lolo and Lola (grandfather and grandmother). My mom has said that she wants to be called Nana (like we called her mother, our grandmother) and my dad wants to be called Obi Wan (yes, from Star Wars, which was his laser tag code name as well). Joseph of course wants to be called dad, Josh has decided on "heart break kid" instead of uncle, and I've warmed to "fearless leader".

This is also the first kid from us brothers. This is understandable of course as we are just following the natural chronology of events. Joe's born first so gets married first so has a baby first. I was born next so I...

...Screw chronology.

During one of our conversations, it came out that Joe and Carla wanted to name their baby Olivia, which I told them is the same name I want to give my daughter, to which they replied, "You don't even have a girlfriend." I had no idea you needed a girlfriend to reserve a baby's name. I've always liked that name because I really like olives. To prevent them from getting this name I have come up with some amazing names for our upcoming little prince.

If it's a girl, I was thinking Kate Middleton Bonifacio if they want to go for something more royal and is much more behaved than Kate Upton Bonifacio.

If it's a guy, I was thinking of pulling from Joe's roots. Many people don't know that before all this "Pastor Joe" stuff, Joseph wanted to become a GENERAL. Which made the guy do hundreds of pushups and sit-ups every day as a boy because he read somewhere soldiers did that, and that's why along with World War 2 books, an Encyclopedia of modern warfare's weapons, tactics, vehicles, and equipment, he wanted to collect guns and knives. So my name suggestion is Jose "Ghurka" Bonifacio III because my dad's Jose, my grandfather is Jose, and Joseph is related to the name Jose. So I guess that would make him the IV? Yikes. I personally think having Roman Numerals in your name is passe. I never liked them in school either. But Ghurka, now that's something legendary. If you don't know what a Ghurka is, do what I did with The Circle of Life, google it.

Other ideas were Jose Hannibal Bonifacio or Jose Mossad Bonifacio or even Jose Jack Ryan Bonifacio, his nickname could even be Rainbow Six but might be hard to be a six year old boy growing up with the name Rainbow. I was also thinking of Jose Wellington Bonifacio but may not match because we're not Chinese.

I'm quite confident Joseph and Carla will look upon my name suggestions favorably.

I'll continue this later. My cleaners are here and I want to go for a quick swim.

______________________________________________________________

Ok. Where was I?

Names. 

So my brothers have their own names for me, names of females they think I may be interested in. Obviously, none of these candidates have ever materialized into anything significant or I wouldn't be writing this. I wouldn't be doing a lot of things if there was a female bothering me on a regular basis. I'd be getting text messages like "Where are you?" or "What are you doing?" or "Do you want to shop with me?" or the hardest of all "Do you think I'm fat?" I haven't figured out how to answer that last one so I now answer with "Oh no. I'm not falling for that one. Go pick a fight with someone else." 

Then I pretend to take a phone call.

Usually when Joshua tells me to go out with a girl he phrases it this way, "David, you should go out with  'blank'. She's hot." My mom or dad will say, "Who's 'blank'?" and Josh will say, "'blank' is hot." then Joseph will say, "No, Carla and I have someone we think you'll like. We met her on this trip..." and he'll outline a list of credentials including having some degree or further education (yawn). So I have to explain to my well-meaning family that I don't need a rocket scientist but what's more appealing is waking up to a fresh fruit and greens protein shake, an incredibly clean and nice smelling home, and someone to handle all the domestic issues of a home - all of which I can achieve with "Alfred" my dream butler - at a fraction of the price of promising my whole life. 

Of course they remind me that there's one thing he can't do for me, which is, "David, it's time for bed. I'm waiting."

Ok. They got me there.

But progress has been made in this area which I will tell you more about later.


Joshua's Wedding
What possesses a man to promise his life and love to an irrational other?

Love. 

True love on display is an amazing thing to behold because it's so beautiful, and these days, it's so rare. It's especially nice to see true love happen with the people you care about. I've seen how beautiful it's been for Joseph, not without its difficulties and challenges, but beautiful nonetheless. I know it will be the same for Joshua as he embarks on this new chapter with Kristie. These two have been together for more than 8 years. That's longer than all my relationships - combined!!! 

I can boast of my own long relationship.

If you have to know her name, it's Issho. 

Her last name is Genki.

Shameless plug.

Anyway, so Joshua, proposed to Kristie earlier this year by dancing Zumba for her (she's an instructor), and you know it's love when bad dancing is sweet to someone. What is it about females that makes them so giggly when a guy makes a fool of himself for her? I remember watching Knight's Tale with my parents and I couldn't understand the part when the girl he liked asked him to lose the joust. I was so confused. I asked my dad, "Why would she want him to lose if she likes him?" My dad just said, "Girls", to which my mom responded, "What's that supposed to mean?" and my dad replied, "It's true." but then in the movie, the princess would change her mind and send a message to him to win the joust. This got me even more confused and I looked at my dad. My dad just looked back at me and said, "Girls".

Yet despite his comments, my dad's been the ultimate promoter of marriage. I once asked him, "Pop, if you were Josh and you had Kristie would you get married?" Without a hesitation he replied, "If I was Josh I would marry her tomorrow." 

NOW you know where romantic Joe gets it.

I really like Kristie for Josh. My family does too. She's an amazing addition to us. Beautiful, smart, with a kind and generous heart, she's able to make life work with Josh in ways no other person can. And just so you don't think this is a problem-free fairytale as many simple minds tend to do, what makes their love amazing is durability despite the circumstances. This is the inspiration to a song I'm writing for them that has the lines:

Beautiful girl
You light my life
Every time I see you
I don't want to go
We're in a moment
A moment in time
We must move forward
Or say goodbye
I can't be without you
Please say I do

I'll post it when it's finished. The whole idea was to capture how their relationship lasted and how they've hit a point of having to either firm up their commitment or stop. I'm happy they're taking this step. Marriage will be good for them. Marriage is good NOT because it puts us in a perfect situation. It is good because, like I said in an article about Joe's wedding, it brings two imperfect people together to be perfected by love.

Joshua reminded me that I have a plus 1 for his wedding and that I have to find a date. He told me this months ago but I never took it seriously, now there's two months to go, and the chances of me running into someone who is incredibly beautiful, sweet, easy-to-be-with, fun, forgiving (because I must admit I need a lot of that), as well as not think I like her appears to be impossible. My friends have told me, "You can't take a girl to your brother's wedding and expect her not to think she's special." I asked them, "Why not? Why does it have to be so impossible?"

They resignedly say, "You're impossible!"

More on that later. I'm going to workout.

______________________________________________________________

I woke up a little before 5am today which is not rare for me. It's not rare for me to wake before my alarm clock, to rise before the sun, and to get moving before I want to. The reality is, like pretty much everyone else, my body would like nothing more than to stay rested.

But these days, every day feels like Christmas time for me as a boy. Back then, I would wake up earlier than everyone to check what new gifts were added to the tree, and while there were lean years where the gifts were noticeably less and smaller, being a child, the excitement and belief that this Christmas would have amazing things in store. 

That's how I feel. 

But now that I'm older, I've come to realize that the only reason why Christmas was always worry-free for me was because my parents did the worrying for me. I never thought about how much everything would cost, or the traffic, or the details that make occasions special. I simply showed up and engage. I showed up and believed that everything was going to be perfect - even if behind the scenes my dad was worrying about the money or my mom was worrying about the home. 

I didn't worry, I wasn't afraid, because deep down inside  me, beyond cerebral definitions, I knew Papa Joey and Mama Marie loved me and would take care of everything.

(So that I don't mislead you again and paint a picture of perfect parents, they weren't. They'll tell you themselves. We have our own heartaches and challenges. But that's why there's forgiveness as my dad likes to point out. Forgiveness restores.)

Through the years, my own challenges would grow and outgrow my parents' ability to secure me, and with that my childlike trust go. It's not a bad thing when our parents can't do things for their kid. Let me repeat. It's not a bad thing when parents can't do things for their kids. The problem with our culture is we baby people, particularly people we think are vulnerable. I think we should stop raising kids and start raising men and women. We have 30 yr. old men with sharp clothes and fancy cars but still live with their folks. And we have women who are impressed by that. We have men and women who spend their parents money, and this is true among the rich and poor, without any thought to what it costs their folks, much like how I was when I was 6 years old. 

And we have parents who are pressured to give iPhones and laptops and Air Jordans and college degrees, and piano lessons, cars, vacations, and Sunday school, thinking that if I don't provide these I'm a bad parent. Now these are all nice, but I know a lot of people who had all of these but are not particularly useful for meaningful work. 

What does all of this have to do with Joe's Baby, Josh's Wedding, and your girlfriend that doesn't seem like she's ever going to show up?

Everything. Because here's the first point of this long post: Time goes by and the future is upon us before we know it. Many of my childhood memories seem like it was just yesterday but reality is that season is gone and we're now in a new one, a new season that requires us to stand on our own as our own men - not our parents' sons. Our wives are going to need us, not their in-laws, to be strong for them. (Ok ok. Their wives.) )ur kids are going to need us to be mature, to be examples, to provide, to protect, not lolo and lola. Our people, the men and women who rely on our leadership, will need a grown-up Joseph, David, and Joshua NOT the children of my Brothers Bonifacio stories. 

It's just the reality of things.

And we will mess up. We may even mess up big time. But we can wake to each day excited, like I did as a boy on Christmas morning, like I did this morning and intend to do for the rest of my life, knowing that someone is going to make things special, that God Himself promised, that despite my disqualification, He has a hope and a future for me, and all I have to do is show up and engage. 


David's Girlfriend
Last Sunday, I was on the rowing machine in my parents' bedroom and I noticed a framed message on their wall that said something like "I love waking up next to you every morning." and under it the names "Joey and Marie". Obviously my mom put that up there. Can't imagine my dad doing that. Like he says, "Your mother makes everything prettier." It reminded me of another thing my dad told me when I was younger, "Marry a woman whose face you'll want to see every morning."

I think I understand that a bit better now.

When we were in Australia, my dad talked about my mom, and how she brings him delight. He explained that men will never understand women because they're a mystery (in Tagalog our word for that is malabo. Just kidding.) He said that he has learned to stop resenting the mystery and start embracing the beauty of it, that there's always something new, something unexpected, that there's always something to discover. He likes to say that he's the luckiest man alive to be able to wake up to next to her every day, to wake up next to beauty, to something new, something unexpected, and something waiting to be discovered.

The funny thing is I wake up to the same thing every day as well. It's true. A relationship with Christ can be heart-wrenching like any relationship, but as I learn to walk with Him, I realize more and more that He makes everything beautiful in its time, that His mercies are new every morning, that no eye has seen or heard nor mind has conceived what He has in store, that He can open my blind eyes to see new things and to see old things in a new way, that's what discovery is. This is why I wake up early every day, to check His messages to me.

That is the second and final point of this post: It is the relationships in our lives that make life beautiful. I wake up to the most beautiful. And you could too.

What happened to your girlfriend?

I'll tell you about her some other time. This post is too long already.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Believe

Waiting for my flight at the Sydney airport. Wrote a short poem inspired by my friends in Hope UC Central Coast, Australia. Thought about the words after seeing a photo of the word "believe" on the church's wall. 

Somewhere the sun is rising
Somewhere is a growing seed
Somewhere a journey's starting  
Believe

Somewhere someone's overcoming
Somewhere someone's finding home
Somewhere the answer's arriving
Believe

Here in our hearts, our hearts
Where Love resides, we recognize
That when we pray, heaven parts
And fear departs, for us
For us who believe

Here in our hearts, our hearts
Where Love resides, we recognize
That when we kneel, grace imparts
An eternity that starts, for us
For us who believe

Somewhere a child is forming
Somewhere the future begins
Somewhere is hope unfailing
Believe

Saturday, September 7, 2013

God Made It So

I thought I'd hammer something out before hitting the gym.

It's been an interesting week for my father and I as we shot scenes for The LEGO Principle app at The Grove Studios tucked somewhere in the Central Coast of Australia. Every day has been full and I've had to follow this up with my own responsibilities. God is so gracious to us to involve us in His great work of ongoing creation and recreation. Despite our limitations, our evil inclinations, and the shame of our past, God, who sees all, chooses to give us another day, another opportunity to enjoy the life He has given us according to His original design.

I use the words "us" and "our" deliberately to emphasize my strong belief that EVERYONE is called to an amazing life. Many times we miss this because we're looking at the wrong places and the wrong things. Sadly, this is because we've been taught to look at and admire the wrong things. 

That's why there's this small group of "elite" human beings, the rich ones, the smart ones, the beautiful ones, the glamorous ones, the talented ones, the connected ones, the powerful ones, the winners, the sexier ones - the great ones. The religious world has their own version: the wise ones, the behaved ones, the active ones. These are the people we clap for and award. These are the ideals that we honor and teach our children to honor. The majority of people are either fighting to join them, wishing to join them, worshipping them, or saddened they're not one of them.

What about those who are neither of these? Is my value dependent on how close I get to these ideals? Is the value of a person dependent on how close he is to these?

The problem with these ideals is that they automatically draw lines that separate people. Don't you see that the greatest bigotry in society is not even racial or gender but between us  and our selfish ideas and selfish ideals? If someone is not rich, then he is poor. If someone is not smart, then he is dumb. If someone is not beautiful that he is ugly. If someone is glamours than he is unglamorous. If someone is untalented then he is ordinary. If someone is not connected then he is isolated. If someone is not powerful then he is weak. If someone is not sexy then he is unhealthy. If someone is not great then he is a mediocre. If someone is not religious then he is sinful. If someone is not wise then he is foolish. If someone does not behave as we want then he is misbehaving. If someone is not active in church then he is an inactive human being. All these statements are generalized fallacies. 

This is why the Bible has become so beautiful to me. Because Jesus turns the tables on these ideals. 

You'll never understand this if you seek greatness in the way the world understands it. I know people always say that "You can be great!" and they go on to tell you how the same way the world does which is "You can be great IF you reach these ideals. If you become rich because you prayed and saved and worked hard. If you become popular by showcasing your talents. If this. If that."

Everyone can be great because God made it so. Life is designed, His design at least, is that everyone has equal opportunity to have the best of life. Let me explain.

God made it so that everyone could be great because everyone can serve.
He says, "If you want to be great, great in my eyes, you must be the servant of all." And everyone, from youngest child, to the oldest, man or woman, smart, dumb, handicapped, healthy, weak, talented, whatever, can serve. 

God also made it so that the best way to please Him is simply to have faith. And everyone can have faith. The inferior audiences of the world need us to prostitute ourselves. The superior audience of one, God, needs us only to trust in Him. To trust Him for what? To trust Him to save us. Even when He asks of us, He asks of us to be expectant of the good He has planned.

God made it so that the most fulfilling thing in life is to love and be loved. The Biblical view shows this as:

To find someone so beautiful that you lay your life down for them and to be found so beautiful that someone lays their life down for you.

Everyone can love. You don't have to be special to love your neighbor. You only need to lay your life for them in living as excellently possible with the benefit of others in mind. You don't need to be a "great person" to serve your parents, you only need to be available, accepting, affirming, and affectionate (as my dad likes to teach). 

God made it so that everyone can love and so enjoy the most fulfilling thing.

And everyone is loved by God, so that is fulfilled.  God found you so beautiful that He laid His life down for you. 

I write this because I get really bothered when I get emails and messages about how "lucky I am" or how "cool my life is". There are many things you don't know about me - and about every single person you admire. They're more like you than you think. They're probably uglier inside than you. Don't worship man.

Instead, YOU be great by being the servant of all. YOU have faith and so please the universe's greatest Audience. YOU go love and YOU go enjoy God's love daily in daily prayer and worship because that's where fulfilment lies.

Everyone can be great because God made it so.