Sunday, November 6, 2011
For the first time, I am blogging about a movie. Not because I have anything to do with it, but because I think it’s truly entertaining, educational and at the same time, very inspiring!
Thanks to the persistence of my mom, I found myself watching an advanced screening of THERE BE DRAGONS last October 1 at the Mall of Asia sponsored by Educhild.
The title sounded a bit weird to me having been told earlier that the movie revolves around the life of a saint. His name is St. Josemaria Escriva, who was named by Blessed John Paul II as "the saint of the ordinary." As I have mentioned in passing in a previous blog, I have some sort of devotion to him since I strongly agree with his mantra: that we don’t have to do ‘great’ things in order to become saints but rather we must find God in the simplest and most ordinary events in our lives.
I found out later that the title was given to unknown lands in the olden times that were yet unexplored and where dragons may be found, figuratively speaking. The movie revolves around the life of Josemaria and his childhood friend, a fictional character named Manolo. In the movie, you will see Josemaria persistently trying to fulfill his mission in the midst of a violent and dangerous Spanish civil war during the 1930s.
I do not intend to give away the story in this blog. You may get a synopsis of it and watch the trailer at dragons.ph. I invite you to watch the movie yourself and experience what I felt watching it for the first time.
Honestly, I thought the movie would be quite dragging as lives of saints are usually portrayed as very pious, where it is easy to guess what comes next. Apparently, there were a lot of twists and turns in the story. The cinematography was excellent as well and I enjoyed the war scenes too!
One of my favorite scenes was when Josemaria’s friends surprised him with a birthday cake and entertained themselves with his worn-out shoes. It’s very touching how people can be genuinely happy with such simple pleasures in life despite being poor.
VALUES FROM THE MOVIE
VALUES FROM THE MOVIE
Here are some of the values that can be seen and reflected upon from the film.
Timelessness of friendship. Josemaria exemplified what could be the highest form of friendship -- that of giving without expecting anything in return, only wanting the best for your friend: God. Josemaria and Manolo started to take completely different paths after their seminary days where they were shown exchanging punches. Josemaria became a priest and Manolo a spy. But in spite of Manolo's animosity, Josemaria tried his best to keep their friendship. He would write him at least once a year until his death, although Manolo never replied. When Manolo's father died, Josemaria came to console him. Although Manolo gave him a cold shoulder, he kept his hope by giving him a Rosary. Watch out what happens with that Rosary!
Spirit of poverty. Both Josemaria and Manolo had rich families. But the business of Josemaria's dad went bankrupt. Because of that, Manolo's dad told him to keep away from Josemaria. The apparent poverty in the Escriva family only made Josemaria get closer to his dad, while Manolo's dad did not seem to find time for him. Josemaria's parents taught him not to base his happiness on material things but to place his heart on God, who is the source of true happiness. He brought this spirit with him when he founded Opus Dei and taught those who followed him the joy of being poor with his example. The short scene showing Josemaria looking for a pair of shoes while an old woman was eyeing a hat was particularly moving and telling of this spirit.
Strength of faith in God to pursue a mission. It was rather striking how an agnostic like Roland Joffe captured the faith of Josemaria. He said that he actually turned down the offer to do this movie until he chanced upon a DVD showing the real Josemaria talking to a young Jewish lady wanting to convert to Christianity. He advised her to be obedient to her parents and confessed to her that his first love is a Jew, Jesus, and his second is a Jewess, Mary. The open-minded, charitable and amiable character of Josemaria, which was rather different from the way he was being portrayed by some people, captured him and perhaps we could say, changed him. He began to research more about his life and wrote the script himself. He did a great job of capturing the faith of Josemaria which the saint himself described to be so thick that you can cut it with a knife. Josemaria believed that faith is a gift from God, and that could have given him all the strength he needed to pursue his mission in spite of the war, and the apparent opposition from "good people" who thought he was crazy founding Opus Dei.
Miracle of forgiveness. It is amusing how forgiving another person can be truly liberating. Try to follow how this "miracle of forgiveness" ensued between the lives of Manolo and his son, Roberto.
Towards the end of the film, I noticed that some of the people around me were moved to tears. Obviously, they were touched be the scenes in the movie. I felt inspired too, that’s why I decided to write about the movie in this blog.
Hopefully you guys can catch it too! Best if you can bring your friends and family. If your intention is to watch something entertaining and educational, I think this is a perfect movie to watch. At the same time, it can be your apostolate work to bring a friend to watch and hopefully be ‘inspired’ or ‘converted’. You don’t have to be all preachy. Let the movie do the talking.
WHEN AND WHERE TO WATCH
It will be showing in six cinemas in Metro Manila from November 9 to 15: Trinoma, SM North, SM Megamall, Greenbelt 4, SM South Mall and South Festival Mall. Try liking their Facebook fan page here to be updated on its provincial release.
See you at the cinemas!
Monday, October 3, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
We are very grateful and lucky to have Coach Rajko. There is no question that the new 'system' he has introduced to Philippine basketball has been effective both offensively and defensively, and it suits the international game. Of course, nobody is perfect but Coach Rajko is an extremely clever guy. Respected national coaches from other teams would go up to me and tell me how lucky we are to have Rajko as our coach. And more than the X and O's that he has taught us, for me, his biggest contribution is the non-negotiable values that he instills upon the team. "Work as hard and as HONEST as you can!" Those are his famous words. Even if he seldom smiles, I suppose this is the reason why he is so loved by the Filipino fans. It's tough to be a coach, there are many other 'experts' especially when you lose a game. But I cannot forget what he told us, "Even if I will be digging my own grave, I will continue to do what I believe is the right thing to do!" That's why we players have utmost respect for the guy.
What got me more emotional after the Korea game was when Coach started saying goodbye to the team and to the Philippines in the locker room. I remember in our first team building session 2 years ago, we played a game where each team member has to give one chip to just one person he trusts the most in the team. Many of us gave our chips to Coach Rajko. Coach Rajko gave me his chip. I cannot forget that. And now I feel like I've let him down.
For bringing Philippine basketball to another level, we must give utmost appreciation to Coach Rajko. And we have to admit, sometimes he is even 'more Filipino' than some of us through his sacrifice and dedication towards the improvement of Philippine basketball. At this moment, his status is uncertain but he already has bigger offers internationally and he will not have problems finding another job. That's for sure. Wherever he goes next, I wish him well. I think what he needs to do is to rest and take care of his health first and foremost.
ALL IN GOD'S PLAN
Throughout the tournament, I prayed the rosary every night. I've been reading a book of homilies (I'll talk about it in another entry). I spoke to God more than I usually do because I have more idle time when I'm abroad, which should not be the case though. We should make an effort to pray and talk to God as much as we can despite our busy schedules. After the loss, again I prayed for answers.
I remember what Jimmy (Alapag) told me after the game when I was feeling bad, "Making it to the final 4 is a huge step already. We cannot just expect to win the Gold overnight. It's a step by step process."
Then I thought about they way we lost to Korea, it was an unreal game! Like a divine hand had something to do with it. God is telling us something. Despite being unlucky in the last two games, He showed us throughout the tournament that we are very competitive with all the teams who participated, including the top teams that finished ahead of us. I believe it is His way of telling us that "you are a good team, but it is not your time yet. You must first fine tune and resolve all your divisions and differences! " God is a good God and He has a purpose for everything. It just wasn't meant to be yet.
I'm very very thankful to be given this rare opportunity to represent the country for the past 2+ years! It's truly a big big honor! It's both fun and painful but all worth it!
I'd also like to honor my teammates who have sacrificed tremendously for the country and poured their hearts out during the games, whether or not there's a lot at stake. It's been so much fun playing with some of the best players in the country, not to mention great guys as well. It's sad that we will have to part ways after years of practicing, traveling & competing in tough games together but I know they will make wonders for their respective teams in the PBA and I wish them all the best!
I believe in destiny, but for now, making it to the London Olympics wasn't meant to be. Sooner or later, I strongly believe that the Philippines will regain its top spot in Asian basketball. We saw how close we are. We just got to keep working towards that goal, together! I hope I will still be actively playing when that happens. But for now, life must go on and we have to keep getting better. 2013 is not so far away.
Once again, a super big THANK YOU to all of you for your unwavering love and support for the team!! You certainly keep us inspired! GO PILIPINAS! :)
P.S. After the heartbreaking loss to Korea, I bumped into Coach Baldwin of Jordan in the hotel lobby. He gave me a big hug and he said such simple yet wonderful words that hit the spot and I'd like to share it to you guys because it can be applied to all. He said "This is just the first of many more tougher games you will experience in life. Just remember to be the best player that you can be. More importantly, be the best person that you can be. Hold on to those two things and you will be fine."
It's so ironic how I wrote about 'grabbing opportunities that come your way' in one of my recent posts. We just missed an opportunity of a lifetime for Philippine basketball. Our recent 4th place finish in the FIBA Asia, which was held in Wuhan China, drew mixed emotions. On one hand, it was a great success because the team was able to make it to the Final 4 quite convincingly after a series of victories against UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Japan and Syria in the elimination round and against Chinese Taipei in the Quarterfinals. Basketball experts say the top 4 finish hasn't been done in 20 something years and probably the best finish since the emergence of the middle eastern nations. But after the quarterfinals, horror began!
I talked about painful losses, but the wounds of this one will take a lifetime to heal. I thought I'd somehow get used to dealing with lost games/tournaments but this one is just the most painful and most difficult.
The loss against Jordan in the semifinals was tough and painful, but nothing compared to the one against Korea. Jordan is a tall, experienced and skilled team, not to mention they have Coach Baldwin whom I truly respect not only because of his ingenuity and professionalism inside the hardcourt but also his kind, humble and friendly personality off the court. Those who closely followed the FIBA Asia would know that Iran (ranked #1 in the QF) was the clear favorite to make it to the finals, and we knew that if we can get pass Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals, that we would have to face a huge road block , which is Iran. Having included Kazemi in their lineup, Iran has never fielded a stronger team. But guess what, they were upset by Jordan in the quarterfinals. When we heard this, we suddenly saw a crack in the door leading up to the Olympics. This was because we knew we would match up better with Jordan than Iran and that we've defeated them several times in prior games including that in the elims.
Unfortunately, the Jordanians were very focused and they did their scouting homework excellently , causing us to lose our offensive fluidity, as a result of their switching man-zone defenses. I will not expound on the details anymore. Basically, they deserved to win that game.
In the game against Korea for the bronze medal, it was pretty much a won game for us until the dying minutes of the 4th quarter where Korea got their shooting confidence. One layup or a pair of free throws would have put our lead up to 12 or 14 points coming into the last 5 minutes of the game and that would have been enough to put the Koreans away. But no, instead, they brought the lead down to single digits and it gave them hope until they finally found their shooting stroke and ended up winning by 2 points! That shocking game for us will be recorded as one of the greatest comebacks in the Korean history books.
What makes it more painful, was that we had everything going our way. From the body language of both teams at the beginning of the game, our players were more energetic, motivated and clearly wanted the win more. Korea had an 8pm game the night before and they look very tired. Our defense made them miss a lot of shots throughout the game, but they also missed 3 or 4 point blank layups in the 1st quarter. Some of their key players were even injured. Everything was going right for us until the unexpected happened! We were stunned!
MISSED A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY
One of the main reasons why I felt some regret is because we missed a golden chance to place ourselves in the history books by at least bringing home a medal for the country. That hasn't been done in decades, not even by some of our basketball idols. We had it in the palm of our hands but somehow it slipped away.
I have to admit that the Pinoy fans have been extremely supportive and appreciative of the result but still there's that feeling of disappointment that we could have made them even more proud, knowing that the Philippines is still a basketball-crazy nation! It was so close. We've been receiving very supportive and appreciative messages on twitter, and since we got back, right when we stepped off the plane or wherever I go, people would go up to me and congratulate me for a job well done but there's always that expression of 'Sayang!' whether explicitly said or not. You can see it through their faces.
TO BELIEVE AND TO INSPIRE
But more than all that, the main reason why I felt disappointed not winning the Gold or any medal at that is because I wanted the Gilas team to prove something to the nation. Something that can truly inspire us to dream beyond our imagination. From the very beginning, only a handful of people believed in the program. Many people laughed when we said we were aiming for the Olympics. Some said that the Philippines should forget about basketball and focus on other sports since basketball is a big man's game and we Filipinos obviously don't have the height. But this gave us motivation, the reason why we wanted to succeed so badly is not for any personal glory but because we wanted to inspire the millions of Filipinos that tasks like this that seem impossible can be achieved despite the odds. We, Pinoys are often underdogs. We live in deep poverty, but if we first BELIEVE, then through extreme hard work, cooperation, sacrifice and dedication, nothing is impossible!
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
It's been more than a month since the NBA superstars gave the Filipino basketball fans an experience of a lifetime. Until today, random people would go up to me asking how it felt to play against Kobe, D-Rose, Durant, CP3 and the rest of the gang. They were super excited to hear what it was like guarding Kobe and them so I promised to blog about it. As a matter of fact, the sports editors of a major daily were too excited and mistakenly placed my name as an author of a reflection wrote by my brother, Charles, about the Smart-NBA experience that was published after the game. I think they forgot that he is a member of our coaching staff that's why he wrote his experience using the first person point of view. Anyway, my memory of that day is still very vivid and I'm sure the same goes for those who caught the game. Hope this blog isn't too late.