Monday, September 20, 2010

In Memory of my Good Friend, Rolando dela Cruz, R.I.P.

*originally posted in Facebook on February 10, 2009 - ask permission before reposting

Rolando "kiling"
dela Cruz
“Kiling!!! Lando!!! You’re not pissed again, are you?” hahahaha… that’s our parting words for Lando back in our teen years whenever he gets pissed with us and he’ll just turn his back on us and head for home. It is not like Lando to stay and continue teasing with us if he’s not in the mood to do so. He will not stay and instead, will head for home if he had enough. Like anyone of us, we do not hurt each other physically. Just teasing.

I remember way back when I was in grade six (school year 1976 to 1977). I was first brought to join a club of altar boys in Don Bosco Youth Center by my friends. They were Ronnie, the brothers “Boy” and Richard and Ricky. The club was called the “Altar Boys.” I also remember Bro. Ritchie Santos. He’s the seminarian who manages the club and after a few years he eventually was ordained a priest. He goes to Don Bosco Pampangga where he took his education to become a priest.

When my friends and I arrived in Don Bosco, I did not realized back then that there were so many kids playing basketball, ping pong, football, table football, etc, there. I have no knowledge of what DBYC (Don Bosco Youth Center) was before that day. Every Saturday afternoon, we can also go swimming there. That’s a relief especially during summer.

My friends took me to DBYC so I can join the Altar Boys club. There I learned more about the Catholic faith and learn to understand my religious beliefs. We regularly attend catechism and we learned more about God. I like to "serve" in mass and at some point for a while, I would be in every mass every Sunday starting at 5:30 am. There were 7 masses every Sunday and I'm in all of them.

FIRST MEETING - the skinny kid
On my very first day in DBYC, I can still remember clearly it was Lando who first welcomed me in the club. He was a very skinny kid and was already in his 1st year high school (grade 7 in Canada) at that time. I was just in grade six and like most of my friends who took me there, we are nearing our elementary graduation that year (in 1977). Lando, from the first time I met him, him and I became very good friends and he’s a very easy person to get along with up until we became adults.

Back then, our group of friends all love to play football (soccer). It was a fact that our club of “altar boys” later renamed as “Akolitos,” became “the team to beat.” Because of the club’s many members, we ended up having 2 teams (division A and B). Division A team known as the “Hardvards” and in division B known as “Kiling-metrikos.”

“Kiling-metriko” was from the new brand of pen that just came out that time called Kilometrico. The reason it became “Kiling-metriko” because Lando is nicknamed as “kiling.” Lando walks with an odd “tilt” (kiling) and both heals of his feet never touches the ground most especially when he is running or in a hurry. Lando was our captain ball of the team and we always win the championship. Our only toughest opponent was the Choir club. In later years, we became one team.

DBYC was found by an Italian priest/saint known as St. John Bosco whose main goal is to help “poor” boys. The school itself is an all boys school and that’s the reason there are only boys club in DBYC (at that time). The clubs are the Akolitos (altar boys), Choir, Rondalla, YMC (Youth Marian Crusade), FMC (Future Missionary Club), etc. Later on a new club was introduced called “KERYGMA.” It is a club of catechists we later joined to teach catechism to other kids. Most of us in the Akolito club are also members of the KERYGMA club.

New members of the group arrived sometime in 1979. They are Jeffrey (a.k.a. Tikboy), Ohgie and Landong Batang. In our group of friends, Lando is always with us. We are always together.

Like any regular teens, even though we are altar boys (supposedly known as someone who will be nice, good boys who will not try anything bad), we also have our own group of friends outside DBYC. Some of us tried smoking, or drinking beer, etc. But we are not known to be involved in any “gang-related” issues which were very common back then. Our group of friends was known in the neighborhood as decent young men. We grew up fearing God.

In later years when we started working, even though we have other group of friends making us go in separate ways, in the end, we still see each other back in the neighborhood in A.Luna St. We outgrew the altar boys club and no longer active in it. Imagine, it does not really look good anymore to see “us” with the priest up in the altar all grown men. We leave it to the new generation of teens to handle that.

All of us still see each other and most especially if one of us is celebrating his birthday. We would go out as a group and everyone will watch a movie or go to the park and just hang out there. One time, we went to Fort Santiago (a park in Manila) and I remember that so well that we had such a great time.

I remember Jeffrey (Tikboy) that every time we will be around a group of Chinese and/or Japanese tourist, he will start “speaking” and try to sound like either Chinese or Japanese. Loud enough that you can tell he was making fun of them. I remember Lando was so embarrassed about it and will try to stay away from us and pretend he was not with us. It was always worst whenever we have Nanding (another friend of ours) is around because he is also a moron (in a good way). And Nanding, was always the one who gets into Lando’s nerves because of his stupid antics and or just basically his stupid ways. Lando, when he had enough of Nanding, will just go home.

LANDO - still single after all this time
Other than Lando and Nanding, our group are mostly married now and with families of our own. For some reasons, I never saw or found out if Lando ever dated someone. We will always tease him because that’s our only way to push him to go find someone and not end up single forever. We prefer teasing Lando than Nanding. Nanding is no fun to tease anyway... I don't think you can win against Nanding. With Lando, you’ll get a good laugh from him everytime.

When Lando started working in a publicly-run hospital in Mandaluyong city, he started to gain weight and no longer that skinny little kid when I first met him. During these times he started drinking heavily a lot and I later thought that if only he had a girlfriend and/or even married, he would not probably have been so involved in drinking too much. If he had a family of his own and had kids, he would probably have taken better care of himself and would still be alive today.

By the way, Lando is one of my “best man” in my wedding. He almost did not make it because the night before the wedding, he still had nothing to wear. I remember Tikboy (Jeffrey) was so worried about him not being ready yet and actually helped him find a "barong Tagalog" that night. Tikboy took Lando out and with Ohgie, they tried to find a “barong Tagalog” for Lando to borrow. Eventually they did find one for Lando and he stood out during the wedding. He looked like a politician with the barong he was wearing. I would love to go with them that night before the wedding day but Tikboy warned me not to go because it is going to be my wedding the following day and he told me it’s best that I stay at home. Good ole Tikboy, he acts like our “dad” in our group of friends.

THE PASSING OF A FRIEND - a very sad news
On February 9, 2009, Monday in the Philippines, Tikboy informed me that Lando passed away at 12:40 pm because of complications with Lando’s diabetes. It was actually the inability for Lando to undergo regular dialysis treatment that caused his death. Diabetes was the result of Lando’s too much drinking and a few years before he lost one of his legs because of it. The news made me so sad that day. Lando is not just a good friend of mine… he is like a brother to me. All of us are so close to each other, we treat each other as brothers. We grew up together and always together and remained in contact with each other. Our group is now missing one. I thought that I will still all my friends when I go back for a vacation again. I was looking forward to seeing all my friends in my next return to the Philippines but it will no longer be the case. I will never see my friend Lando anymore.

What can we do? That’s life and we cannot avoid that. Our group of friends is now at that age we will never know who will be next. Let us look forward that even if we leave this life, we will see each other again in the hereafter.

Goodbye Rolando “Lando” dela Cruz from your friends in Mandaluyong. You will always be in our memories. You will always be remembered by Jeffrey (Tikboy), Ohgie, Louie, Ronnie, Danny, Josie, Anna, Cynthia, Lisa, Aida and all of your friends.

Rest in Peace, my friend.

Look Beyond "Sports" Competition - The Pros & Cons of Sports Martial Arts

*originally posted in Facebook in August 10, 2010 - ask permission before reposting

First of all, I just wish to share these thoughts with my friends (in this group) who are studying martial arts. I wish to share my personal experience and to pass to my friends why learning martial arts is very important. That is, learning martial arts the proper way.

Nowadays, there are so many martial arts schools popping out all over in many cities here in Canada and abroad. It is becoming a common sight or knowledge that most likely, there's a martial arts school just "around the corner" where you live. With the proliferation of martial arts schools it is normal to see that there will be frequent martial arts competitions "your school" will participate in.

The answer is ATTITUDE! - Nothing really changed between the traditional and non-traditional martial arts. Both "ways" are effective martial art techniques. The difference is in the attitude of both the instructor(s) and/or the student(s).

In the Traditional form, most martial arts practitioners (and instructors) are working out and/or learning a technique of martial arts without the intentions of competing. Even the instructors' teaching methods are designed for non-competitive encounters. What does this mean? Any punches, kicks, etc., are designed to bring down a threat instantly and that could mean a deadly or lethal execution of a punch, a kick, etc. In the traditional Shotokan way, it is called "one hit, one kill" or the "God Hand."

This lone principle (or mentality) of learning a martial art technique makes sense in a real world scenario when you are trying to defend yourself and/or your love ones from life-threatening situations. You do not wish to give a second chance to the person who will endanger your life or your love ones. You will "bring down" that threat right away. Eliminate the threat!

Coming from an "old school" of martial arts, this is what I learned. We do not compete a lot back then because it is dangerous for us to compete. We concentrate more on how we execute the proper punches, kicks, etc., and how forceful should those punches, kicks, etc., be.

I wish to re-iterate that although sports and/or non-traditional martial arts is a "diluted" form of the traditional "way" of martial arts, I am not downplaying the importance of learning any martial arts in a non-traditional way. The important thing to remember is for the students to UNDERSTAND that there's more to it than competing in a sports martial arts tournament. Competitions can develop confidence, knowledge, and techniques. It will help the student to "know" if he/she is able to compete with the techniques he/she learned and apply it in a "controlled" environment.

One thing a student must understand is to not just concentrate and limit himself in competitions. Competing has its downside if you focus too much in it and do not understand that there's more to it than competitions.

In competitions, you are told not to punch the face. That alone is a very dangerous way to condition a martial arts student. Punching the face is very important in a real world scenario. Telling a student and conditioning a student to avoid punching a face "may" have a negative impact on the conditioning of a student when faced with real threats.

If you are conditioned to not punch the face and/or any vital parts of the opponent, it may become possible that you will avoid hitting those same vital parts of your real world opponents. The student might become reluctant to react... reluctant to kick the groin or throw a punch to the face and the outcome of this scenario will not be good. It may cost the student his life.

Learn not to just look forward to competitions or tournaments. Concentrate on learning that there's more to it than sports competition. Martial Arts is not designed to be a sport when the founders of most if not all the martial arts techniques known today began. Martial Arts is meant to kill or to put it lightly, stop a threat.

You can still continue learnning non-traditional techniques of any martial arts but always keep in mind that you have to learn it and practice it properly. This is crucial so that if in the future and you are faced with a life-threatening situation, you will know what to do. You will know how to defend yourself properly.

Practice to learn how to execute the proper stances, punches, kicks, etc. Knowing how to throw the proper punch, to kick the proper reverse/front kick, side kick, etc., will someday save your life. A poorly executed punch, and/or kick will cost you that brief/split second or moment to save you or your love ones one day. Remember, in the real world, there's the possibility that second attempts to throw another punch against a threat is unlikely.

I can speak from experience.

*follow some of my articles in my Facebook account at
*Chito holds a brown belt in the Shotokan and black belt in Sikaran techniques

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan

*originally posted in Facebook on September 13, 2010

The "pale blue dot" refers to the planet Earth when the Voyager 1 probe took pictures at the direction of Earth. In 1990 as the Voyager 1 was just on the boundary or edge of our solar system and as it was leaving our solar system, Carl Sagan requested NASA to turn Voyager's camera around to attempt to take some pictures at the direction of Earth. The result was the "pale blue dot."

This "blog" is my way to honor Dr Carl Sagan and his great contribution to science. Also, a reminder I wish for everyone to contemplate on as to how we should look at our world and all of us who live in it... the only Earth we know, the "Pale Blue Dot."

we are but a speck in
the vastness of the cosmos
 Here's Carl Sagan's reflection on the image.

"From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."