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Monthly Archives: April 2018

The Thanos Effect

thanos2It was surprising that nobody moved from their seats when  the movie AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR ended. I wasn’t sure if they just wanted to see the post-credits scene which Marvel has been using as teasers or they could not believe how easily Thanos defeated the team of Avengers that stood on his way and turned many of them into dust after merely snapping his fingers.

I’m used to seeing a few people beginning  to move to the exits of the movie theatre when the post-credits start rolling. But that time it was different. It was like Thanos applied his reality-bending power on us and welded our a – – es where we were seated.

Nobody stood. Like me, they were glued on their seats perhaps with jaws dropped  and eyes wide open not believing what just happened. They probably didn’t expect it to end the way it did. Spoilers have already warned the movie goers (who do not mind reading them) that Avengers would die trying to prevent Thanos from getting all the infinity stones. However,  they and I never thought it would be that many.

It seemed that just like me, the moviegoers stayed for they were hoping that instead of a teaser what Marvel designed for the post-credit scene is to have everything Thanos did getting undone. Perhaps the gods and goddesses (creators) of the Marvel “movieverse” could have possibly used it as an opportunity to introduce time-travelling LORD IMMORTUS who would have moved back everything to the time that Thor attacked Thanos, tell Thor in the process to change his aim and make him target, not the titan’s chest but his arm with the gauntlet so he would not be able to put his thumb on his middle finger and do that infamous finger snap.

The post-credit scene which Marvel cruelly put at the very end was not something I hoped for though. There was no LORD IMMORTUS, not even one of the TIME-KEEPERS who may have possibly not approved of Thanos’ intentions. What we saw instead was a confirmation that Gamora’s stepfather succeeded in “murdering half of all life in the universe.”

At least those among us in the theatre that time who previously read spoilers had the idea that certain Avengers would die. But the spoiler-phobic movie fans there who may have intentionally shut themselves off any information about the movie, and might perhaps avoided watching the trailers (which I sometimes do), were gravely disappointed for perhaps they were expecting an ending similar to the first two installments of the Avengers’ series where all of their favorite characters survived (except for Quicksilver in THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON) and emerged victorious.

It was possible that  not a single one of us in the theatre was heartbroken when Loki died.  Moviegoers dislike him anyway. That’s the unfortunate role of bad dudes like him in stories – to be hated. None probably minded when after killing the Trickster Thanos said, “There would be no resurrection this time.” But I was thinking if everyone of us went back to that line and started wondering if that applies to all of the super, mighty and seemingly invincible Avengers who disappeared in thin air after Thanos made that murderous snap of his fingers.

The Winter Soldier was the first to flake into nothing. I, possibly the other moviegoers also, waited with bated breath who would go next after him.

Then one by one the other Avengers disintegrated – the Black Panther, the Scarlet Witch, and the Falcon. Those whom Thanos defeated in Titan were not spared. Dr. Strange, the Guardians – Star-Lord, Groot, Drax and Mantis were also reduced to dust.

Also killed by Thanos, aside from Loki, were  Gamora, Heimdall, and the Vision.

The silence that engulfed the  movie theatre after the post-credit scene reminds me of a funeral.

I am not sure If anyone of us cried. I didn’t. I was just a little bit moved when Peter Parker sobbed unabashedly clinging to dear life when it became obvious to him that he was randomly chosen in Thanos’ selective slaughter.

But the post-credit scene offered a glimmer of hope. Before Nick Fury disappeared, he successfully sent what appeared to be a distress signal to Captain Marvel paving the way for “AVENGERS 4.”

Of course, some of the Avengers, if not all, will be resurrected in the next Avengers movie. As to who among them will be brought back to life is anybody’s guess.

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Limang Taon Na…Limang Taon Pa Sana

15230588_10154742196094844_1736197831389088062_nMahigit limang taon na pala ako dito sa South Korea. Salamat sa Dakilang Maykapal sa pagkakataong ito. Mahaba-habang panahon na rin akong nagtatrabaho dito bilang guro sa isang unibersidad. Sana’y kaloobin ng Panginoon na manatili ako dito ng mas matagal pa.

Napakagandang oportunidad para sa akin na makapagturo dito. Hindi lamang dahil sa sahod. Alam na ng lahat na mas mataas ang kinikita ng mga “professionals” na nabigyan ng pagkakataon na sa ibang bansa makapagtrabaho. Dito kasi, bukod sa  pagtuturo ay nakakapagsulat ako. Napakahalagang bahagi ng buhay ko ang pagsusulat – isang bagay na napakahirap gawin sa Pilipinas dahil  maghapon ang trabaho. Kung school administrator ka pa, katulad ko noon, ay kakainin ng trabaho mo pati ang gabi. Kung may accreditation eh pihadong nanakawin nito maging ang madaling araw mo. Minsan (o kadalasan?), maging Sabado’t Linggo eh may mga gagawin pa rin. Kaya sa Pilipinas hindi ako nabigyan ng oras ang hilig ko sa pagsusulat.

Dito sa South Korea eh magtuturo lang ako ng walong (8) 2-hour subjects sa loob ng isang linggo at naglalagi sa office ko ng dagdag na tatlong (3) oras para sa student consultation at paperwork. Ang bawat 2-hour subject pa eh kaylangang ituro lang ng 100 minutes. Apat na araw lang ang pasok ko, dalawa doon eh half-day pa.

Kaya napakadami ng oras ko para makapagsulat. Sa dami nga ng bakanteng oras eh may panahon pa akong makapag-basa at pag-aralan  ang mga gusto kong matutuhan. Dito nga eh natuto akong gumawa ng sarili kong website kung saan lahat ng mga katha ko eh doon ko ipina-publish.

Hindi swerte ang naghatid sa akin sa bansang ito. Hindi ako naniniwala sa swerte. Nagsunog ako ng kilay at naglaan ng panahon para dito. Gumastos ako’t nagsakripisyo. Pinaghandaan ko ito’t ipininalangin ng taimtim. Ang maging ESL teacher at makapagturo sa ibang bansa ay bahagi ng “career path” na inilatag ko para sa aking sarili maraming taon na ang nakakaraan.

Nasa crossroads ako noong taong 2011. Kung totoo ngang may mid-life crisis ay iyon na marahil ang pinagdaanan ko noon. Naramdaman kong may mga drastic changes akong dapat gawin sa buhay at sa aking propesyon. Napakarami kong tanong noon at alam kong ang kasagutan eh wala sa Pilipinas. Dalawang taon pa ang lumipas bago sa wakas eh  napunta ako dito sa South Korea.

Marami akong inaplayang universities sa ibang bansa noong 2011 hanggang 2012. Kadalasang native speakers of English na mga guro ang hinahanap nila. Pero alam ko ring may ilang Pilipino na nagtuturo ng English sa ibang bansa kaya hindi ako sumuko sa paghahanap. At sa wakas, matapos akong mabigo sa 2 personal interviews para sa 2 universities sa Middle East, sa pangatlong pagkakataon, isang university sa South Korea ang nagbukas ng pintuan at ako’y pinatuloy.

Heto nga’t naka-limang taon na ako. Nagtuturo ako hindi lamang ng English. E-1 visa holder ako kaya pwede rin akong magturo ng content subjects. Sa kasalukuyan ay pinagtuturo din ako ng university namin sa Graduate School nito. Hindi lamang mga Koreano ang tinuturuan ko, maging mga foreigners man. May mga PhD at MBA students ako na galing sa mga bansa sa Africa as iba’t-ibang sulok ng Asia.

Dalawang beses akong nakakauwi ng Pilipinas sa isang taon – tuwing winter at summer break dito sa South Korea. Bayad kaming mga professors na nagtuturo sa mga universities sa bansang ito sa buong isang taon kaya kahit bakasyon eh tuloy ang sweldo namin.

Sa isang taon eh katumbas ng tatlong buwan na nasa Pilipinas ako kapiling ng mga mahal ko sa buhay. At kapag nandito naman ako eh mula umaga hanggang ako’y gising na nakabukas lang ang aking Skype kapag wala akong pasok. Parang nasa bahay din lang ako dahil nakikita ko ang ginagawa ng mga mahal ko sa buhay. Naririnig ko hindi lamang ang kanilang mga boses kundi pati ang mga kantang pinapakinggan nila, ang tahol ng mga aso namin, at maging ang tilaok at putak ng mga manok doon. Kaya hindi ako tinatalaban ng homesick. Hindi rin ako dinadalaw ng inip dahil sa lakas ng internet connection eh napakadaming pelikula ang pwedeng ma-download at napakadaming educational and motivational videos na pwedeng panoorin sa YouTube. Dagdag pa na alam ko kung paano hanapin sa Internet ang mga live na palabas ng paborito kong NBA. At kung ayaw ko naman manood eh may sariling gym ang university na pwede kong puntahan at mga hiking trails sa mga bundok na pwedeng lakaran. May hideway ako sa isang bundok dito kung saan ako minsan nagbababad para magbasa, magsulat, uminom ng beer mag-isa, at matulog.

Pangalawang tahanan ko na ang South Korea. Kapag kinaloob nga ng Panginoon ay gusto kong maka-limang taon o higit pa na makapagturo dito. Totoo ngang “Land of the Morning Calm” ang bansang ito. Dito ay kumalma ang katauhan ko. Natutuhan kong maging mahinahon, maghinay-hinay. Dito ay natuto akong mag-isip ng maayos bago gumawa ng desisyon. Nagkaroon ng mas malinaw na direksyon ang aking buhay dito.

Dito, dahil nga sa nakakahalubilo ko ang mga taong iba’t-iba ang wika at kulay ng balat ay natutuhan ko ang mas malalim na kahulugan ng respeto sa kapwa-tao.

Dito sa South Korea ay mas nakilala ko ang aking sarili. Higit sa lahat, natutuhan ko kung paano  manalangin ng mas taimtim.

On Perspective

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I do have a friend who would usually be mistakenly identified as me. There were many instances that  people in the university where both of us are teaching called me by his name and him by mine. Why? None of us is a dead ringer for the other but very likely that our  similar built, height and rounded face would make people commit that mistake.

Seemingly bemused, he asked me one time, “Why would they think I am you? Do I look as old as you are?” I paused for a while, smiled then told him jokingly, “No, I think I just look as young and handsome as you are.”

As my friend laughed at my response, I thought that the contrasting way we looked at the issue has opened an opportunity for me to revisit the topic “perspective.”

That (perspective) is one of the most amazing things about us humans – our tendency to look at the same thing differently.

Anything in this world can be viewed from different perspectives. We get to decide at what angle we would look at circumstances, problems, events and even objects using lenses that are uniquely ours. We tend to measure the value of those things using our own sets of standards and label and define them according to our beliefs.  Those standards and beliefs are shaped by the way we were raised by our parents, trained by our  teachers, influenced by the people around us, and conditioned by our culture.

The sum total of the experiences we accumulated since birth and the amount and quality of information we gathered through the years from different sources are the factors that contribute to the kind of perspectives we develop as persons. Our way of viewing things depends on the belief system that those experiences and information impressed upon us.

Each person is entitled to embrace a particular attitude towards something. There are no specific measurement to determine the rightness and wrongness of perspectives. Only the consequences of a person’s action (or the lack of it) as a result of embracing certain perspectives could perhaps be labeled as right or wrong.

When we are about to take a perspective it’s like we’re positioning ourselves in the number scale and decide whether to go north or south.  We can either be positive or negative with our perspective. Those are the only directions we could take when we look  at issues and circumstances confronting us. It’s a matter of choice.

Perspective is said to be like a coin, it only has two sides. We flip the coin and choose either “head” or “tail.”

Our perspectives affect the decisions we make. They inform the things we think, say and do. Thus, while we are entitled to have any kind of perspective, in the same manner that we are entitled to our own opinions, we have to understand that we will bear whatever consequences there may be for embracing the perspectives we take.

We also need to understand that we could not assume that what we believe or see is definitive. Different people have different ways of looking at things. The perspective of the world that dictates the lens through which we see it is not the same for everybody. We need to develop the ability to see things from another’s viewpoint.

Perspectives can either be broad or narrow.

Having a broad perspective means being able to see the bigger picture.  `

I once had a conversation with  another friend about working conditions. He bewailed the fact that a truck driver in his country earns more than what he is earning in a year as an expat teacher. After listening to his litany, I told him to pause for a while and dig deeper into his comparison and consider other factors like number of required work hours and the physical demands for the job. When computing the number of hours, I reminded him that we as teachers are not actually working during winter and summer breaks but we get paid in full by the university as stipulated in our contracts.

He realized at the end that his pay per hour is actually higher than the truck driver and his working conditions are much better.

It is not really hard to train the mind to look at the bigger picture. It is easy to look beyond the obvious if only we’re open-minded. It does not require a special kind of training. All we need is common sense.

There are a lot more that could be explored in the discussion of perspective. At the end, the thing that matters is the answer to the question, “How do our perspectives affect the way we live?”

If the lenses we are using to view the world have brought us success and happiness, why change them. We’ve been told many times, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But what about if those lenses are seemingly broken and  have caused us nothing but failure and misery?  Is it time to visit an OPTIMIST?

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