Live dying

MY FOUR CENTAVOS - Dean Andy Bautista - The Philippine Star

The first column for the year is always difficult to write.  Still recovering from the holiday hangover, the dilemma is whether to tackle a current event as opposed to a philosophical topic.  Let us try to do both. With a little lightness in between.  

Life and death were on my mind as 2014 turned to 2015.  At first blush, our title this week may seem odd. Why begin with a morbid thought at the start of a new year? In a way, this week’s incident involving Air Asia flight 8501, the third Malaysian plane to crash (technically one is still missing) in 2014 brought about this reflection. My mother would always say that bad accidents happen in threes so hopefully this is the last crash for the Malaysians in the foreseeable future. The stampede that killed 36 new year revelers at the historic Bund in the showcase City of Shanghai contributed as well.  And to think they were killed in pursuit of good luck and fake money. 

Living and dying seem contradictory. They can be seen (or unseen) as poles apart.  One can argue that combining the two words is a classic example of an oxymoron. But in reality, these two concepts are but part of the same reality. It is the cycle of life (or death – depending on which vantage point you prefer) where the more fortunate ones are born with cloth diapers and die with pampers.  So after we are born, we begin to die.  The two realities actually complement.  You cannot enjoy one without considering the other. Imagine if life as we know it would just go on forever? It could get boring and people would naturally take time for granted,

A terminal perspective may provide us with a sense of urgency and an attitude to “make hay while the sun is shining.” Robin Williams who left us last year taught me in my youth the “carpe diem” (seize the day) lesson in Dead Poets Society.  But while we enjoy and live the moment, we should also seek to gradually die from our selfish and egoistical selves and slowly learn to detach from our earthly possessions to focus on more heavenly pursuits. Easier said than done, but we should try. 

In this regard, last New Year’s Day, we were egging our mother, a GI (for genuine Ilocano), that for her new year’s resolution, she had to spend more. I suggested that she undertake her own CCT– children’s cash transfer – to help stimulate the family economy.

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Looking forward: The world will be celebrating several momentous events this 2015. In September, Queen Elizabeth will overtake her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, to become the longest-reigning British monarch. The 88-year-old Queen would have occupied the throne for 63 years. On March 20, many parts of the world will witness a total solar eclipse, an astrological event that will turn day into night. This rare occurrence will not happen again until 2026. For Luke Skywalker’s fans, the much hyped sequel, Star Wars Episode VII, is slated to hit the cinemas in December. And for history buffs, the non-French will be celebrating in June the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo which saw a combination of British, Prussian (German), Dutch and Belgian forces end Napoleon Bonaparte’s hegemonic vision.  

The Philippines has a lot to look forward to as well in 2015. In the next two weeks, we will be blessed by the visit of the inspiring Pope Francis, the “People’s Pope” who talks and walks the Gospel values. He will be the third Pope (after Paul VI and John Paul II) to visit the country. True to form, he has shunned VIP treatment insisting that he stay in the modest residence of the Apostolic Nunciature in Pasay (with strict instructions that no renovations be undertaken) and that events be kept simple. And his preference is to break bread with the poor and the victims of natural calamities. He has also insisted that the pope mobile be open and accessible perhaps the same way he wants the Church to be. He will be bringing his message of “mercy and compassion” to 11 local venues. Moreover, to manifest solidarity with the ordinary Filipino, the pope mobiles are not bullet proofed nor air-conditioned as the Pope wishes to share in their vulnerability and humanity. His visit coincides with our own church’s observance of the Year of the Poor, the third of the nine-year program of New Evangelization that seeks to prepare the Catholic faithful in celebrating 500 years of Christianity which was introduced in the country in 1521.  

Our country will also be chairing and hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in 2015. Founded in 1989 and comprising of 21 member countries with coastlines along the Pacific Ocean, APEC is a cooperative, multilateral, economic and trade forum participated in by its senior officials from the public and private sectors. It will be capped by the economic leaders’ meeting in November 2015. The kick-off meeting was supposed to be held in Legazpi City last December but typhoon Ruby forced the organizers to move the launch to Makati City instead.

 For sure, we will not be able to match the pomp and pageantry of China, hosting last year. But hopefully, our people’s genuine warmth and heartfelt hospitality will more than make up for our infrastructure deficiencies. The first time the Philippines hosted APEC was in 1996.

And, speaking of wishful thinking, who knows, Godot’s waiting may finally end, and the Pacquiao-Mayweather bout may finally come true.

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Greetings: Birth anniversary best wishes to Singapore-based Deloitte managing director Richmond Ang and nephew Jose Alejandro De Castro.

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“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”— Mark Twain

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Email: [email protected]

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