Sunday, April 12, 2009

Come Alive!

Bruce Lee started it all. Yes, as I have told you once, my eldest find the “Enter the Dragon” lead star cool not because he is into Jet Kune Do but because Lee Shiu Loong’s (Bruce’s Chinese name) simple but practical ideas and thoughts fascinate my kid like no other. At an early age he already managed to memorize and recite one of his idol’s lengthy poem and here’s a tiny slice: “…Life battles don’t always go to/The stronger or faster man/But sooner or later the man/Who wins is the man/Who thinks he can..”

This became,- I suppose as I see him grow before my very eyes, his personal credo. But my kid seldom skipped Al Bernstein’s show on TV. He is used to shadow boxing and lifting dumbbells every morning. Actually I taught him why and when he has to defend himself or fight back in times of need.

He was second year highschool when he KOed (via lethal flicker jab a la Tommy Hearns) a rascal classmate who had been bullying him for years. “Napuno na po ako.” (I got enough of him), he told me between sobs. I was later informed that the fight ensued right at the corridor. At her office, I apologized to the school principal for my son’s misbehavior. And she reminded me of things that I’ve already read centuries back in their handbook. But her reply shocked me like hell : “Kung sa labas ng kampus sana niya sinuntok, okey lang. Hindi na kita ipatatawag.” (If this happened outside of the campus its just okay). She and her faculty members have also lost their patience to that spoiled brat. I told you, I taught my boy why and when to defend himself and fight back but overlooked the “where” thing. Thanks God, incident of sort happened only once!

Back to Bruce Lee. The book I gave him as a birthday gift when he was ten is an anthology of Lee’s correspondence with families and fans written from 1958 to 1973 edited by John Little. This made my boy truly appreciate the Dragon’s philosophy and life more than his martial arts and movie antics. For him, Bruce Lee was a philosopher more than anything else. True enough, for Bruce Lee was once a Philosophy student at the University of Washington from 1961 to 1963. It started with this question : “..’Tay, saan ba ‘ko pwedeng mag-aral ng Philosophy sa College?” (Where can I study Philosophy in college?), he asked me sometime after he unleashed his “Fist of Fury” to that bully. And this time I exactly know “where”. (Not in the corridor, mind you!)

Think I’ve already told you that the Saint Joseph College Seminary (SJCS) in Occidental Mindoro will be celebrating its Silver Jubilee come June this year and the whole local Church is presently celebrating Year of the Vocation. The SJCS’ School of Philosophy was inaugurated only last year. If Bruce Lee made himself known in the US by putting-up Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, I told my eldest and only son that I knew somebody that in a way did the same before he went puff.

And maybe because the spirit of the Dragon has engulfed my young kid, full of enthusiasm and determination he passed the entrance examination he took in October 2008. A gathering, I think a month-long orientation for seminary enrollees/candidates, is on as I post this entry. My son was at the Vigil Mass last night along with nine other young boys from different parishes all over the province. Coincidentally, “Yobhel”,- my son’s given name is the Hebrew word for “Jubilee”. Last night at the Mass he was holding a censer. The very same heavy hands he used to lift a dumbbell and punch a bag,.. and a boy.

What if he doesn’t make it? What if I couldn’t afford him to stay? That won’t worry me I tell you. Bruce Lee the culprit has this to say: “It is not what happens is a success or failure, but what it does to the heart of a man. No man is defeated unless he is discouraged.” Surely my boy will learn something from the pre-formation orientation (which is set until May 2.). We, his immediate family members, would-be formators, relatives and friends are here to bring encouragement. People that would tap him on his shoulder and say, “Keep on punchin’, I mean,.. goin’.”

“Come alive!” may sound like a movie catch phrase but actually an Easter message of certain Sr. Corita Kent who lived in the 60’s. See? Even the Resurrection can also be restated in a sportive style. True enough, not only love but conversion could also come from, according to a famous song, “the most unexpected places…” and faces. Have you ever imagined how a long-dead individual would in a way become a present-day (priesthood) vocation campaigner? God’s calling cannot only be inspired by the works of ancient pious individuals like saints and mystics but by pop culture icons like Bruce Lee who are considered by many as false idols.



  1. I would love to have your Yobel as my student. Sayang...
    I still dream of someday going back to our place and teach in our school of philosophy -- the first school of philosophy in the province, and the third in MIMAROPA.
    Yes, education itself is more than an ROI. You are right too not to force your son to become a priest, since priesthood in itself is not an end but just a means towards an end that is definitely bigger and grander than being a man of cloth (MS).

  2. Hi, MS, hah, you are becoming sentimental now. signs of aging!?!
    If ever Yobel will be the first priest in the novio's clan? Nice to hear that.

  3. Dear MS and Eunice:

    Thank you for such wonderful words...

  4. hahaha! eunice, we are not getting any younger...
    plus ang tumira sa malayong lugar ay nakakadagdag sa pagkagiliw...

  5. But I do. kasi nga going organic na ko! cousin, kelan natin praktis yung i-pe-present ko sa York University?
    Saka pala MS, talagang magiging magaling si Yobhel, may pinagmanahan eh.Sana nga lang ma-i-share ko rin sa mga seminarista ang feminist theology ano.talagang frustration ko yan.

  6. Eunice:

    Try to communicate with any of the priests whether in the seminary or any pastoral office or parish regarding your proposal...