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Monday, November 12, 2012

The Bully Project

“Bully” film to launch anti-bullying campaign

The Jesuit Basic Education Commission (JBEC), in cooperation with Solar Entertainment, is bringing the acclaimed documentary “Bully” to the Philippines. The film, directed by Lee Hirsch, will have a limited theatrical run in November, after the by-invitation premiere on November 13, 6:30 PM, at Robinson’s Galleria Cinema 4.

The film focuses on the alarming rise in bullying faced by teenage students in America. It chronicles the experiences of victims in high schools in Georgia, Iowa, Texas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, focusing on the cases of Tyler Long and Ty Smalley, both of which tragically ended in suicide.

JBEC will use this powerful documentary to launch the anti-bullying campaign, “Not in Our School,” endorsed by the popular sportsman, Chris Tiu.  The advocacy is aligned with the DepEd’s Child Protection Policy which seeks to defend the student from any form of abuse, including bullying. In light of recent local and international headlines about bullying, this film can be a timely wake-up call for all involved: parents, teachers, administrators, and especially students.

In addition to its theatrical screening, JBEC is offering several Saturday block screenings in Robinson’s Galleria for schools who want to show the film exclusively for their community. In addition, schools can also sponsor campus screenings for a minimal fee. To enhance its use as a formative tool, JBEC will provide teachers and parents with a discussion guide to facilitate processing of the complex message of the movie. Interested schools may contact or for bookings.

Fr. Johnny Go, SJ, JBEC chair, hopes this campaign will lead schools to adopt a pro-active stance against bullying, with each stakeholder committing and contributing to a nurturing and bully-free school environment that is the right of every student.  “We hope this movie can reach as wide an audience as possible, especially among our students,” he says. “At the very least, it should heighten awareness of this issue and begin productive discussions and reflections about a real problem that can no longer be ignored.”

The “Bully” hits theaters starting November 14. It is rated PG-13 by the MTRCB.

Here are the theaters that will be showing "Bully"
1. Robinsons Galleria
2. SM North
4. SM Fairview
5. SM Sta. Mesa 
6. SM Marikina
7. SM MegaMall
8. Powerplant 
9. Gateway
10. Greenhills Promenade
11. Sta. Lucia
12. KCC Gensan

Here's the Official Trailer of "Bully"

Here's the video of our "NOT IN OUR SCHOOL" Anti Bullying Campaign

Here's our official poster

Please check out our FB page
You may also visit our website

Thursday, June 21, 2012

ECOwarriors Tree Planting in Rizal, Laguna

On June 12, Independence day, around 50 young volunteer ECOwarriors from Manila went to Rizal, Laguna to support the local government's various green initiatives. That day, the song entitled "Punongkahoy" was launched and will serve as the official song of the nationwide tree planting campaign of the DENR. After the short program in Tayak Hill, the Pilipinas ECOwarriors volunteers proceeded to plant trees. Hundreds of students, local leaders & BatangRizal members walked up Tayak Hill to show support for their regions aggressive efforts in the preservation & enhancement of our country's natural beauty.

In order for the Pilipinas ECOwarriors to get to Rizal, Laguna, I had arranged for a bus that could fit around 50 people. Meeting place was at Robinsons Galleria at 530am. Unfortunately that morning, the rain was pouring extremely hard!! But despite that, our volunteers braved the rain and continued on to make it to the meeting point. I really have to salute the dedication and commitment of our volunteers for continuing on and not going back to their cozy beds to enjoy the holiday.

We stopped over at the Petron station in SLEX for a quick restroom break and to allow them to grab breakfast. Then we proceeded to Rizal. It took us around 2 hours to reach the city hall of Rizal from Makati, where we were met by the BatangRizal organization members. Rizal is the next town after San Pablo. Then, from the city proper in Rizal, the volunteers had to get off the bus and transfer to jeepneys that brought us through the steep and winding rocky roads that led to Tayak Hill. The bus would never make it through those narrow roads. It was about another 15 minutes travel time from the city to Tayak Hill.

From the base, we had to hike for another 10 minutes through the steep slopes of the hill to get to the gathering point. I have to admit that it was really tiring, not to mention that I am in pretty good shape. There, we were met by hundreds of youth supporters, educators and local government officials who were waiting for us in order for them to begin the program. Fellow ECOwarrior Doc Nielsen Donato and I shared a few words with the people. The view was spectacular! You could see the Laguna from the top as well as its various lakes!

After the short program, we proceeded to plant trees at the other side of the hill. Without us knowing, we had to go back down the hill and walk up to another hill where the site of the tree planting was. Wow! This was a super longgg 30 minute walk through steep, rocky & muddy slopes. Volunteers were exhausted! Some were cramping up in their legs and in their abdomen, I guess partly because of the heat & humidity.

Led by the city mayor, we finally reached the tree planting site. They had prepared 1000 mahogany seedlings to be planted along the sides of the road that led to the “Landing Point”. They were pretty organized, all we had to do was to remove the pre-grown seedlings from the black wrap, dig a hole, plant the seedling in that hole and replace it with soil. 

Due to time constraints, I estimate that we planted around 400 trees. Then, since we were close to the "Landing Point", we walked further up a bit to check what it was all about. 

The "Landing Point" is a plateau where there used to be an airstrip in the 1940s during World War 2. This was the location where American soldiers would drop off food, ammunition and arms to the Filipino guerrillas to aid them in fighting the Japanese who took over the city. Today, the airstrip does not exist anymore. You can see the breathtaking view of Tayak Hill & Laguna from the Landing point!

Upon reaching down the hill, we had to make sure that no one was left behind as we were split into smaller groups because not everyone could make it to the top. We did a quick headcount and road our jeepneys back to the city. Man! Were we starving and thirsty!! Immediately, we took the bus and proceeded to San Pablo where a very late lunch was waiting for us in GREENWICH, Ultimart! It was my first time in Ultimart, I thought I was in Makati for a while. 

We were stuffed with chicken, pasta & the best pizza, my personal favorite is the 7-cheese pizza! YUM!!! Our group practically took up the entire store, which was 2 floors. The staff was extremely accommodating and service was excellent! Thank you once again to Greenwich for making the experience complete!!

After our quick lunch at around 3pm, we headed back to Manila. I rode on a van with Doc Nielsen and our ECOwarrior team while the volunteers took the bus. By 4:30pm, I was in Makati and went on to play an Inter-village basketball game. After the game, I got word that the bus had broken down in the highway and they had transferred to another bus that was taking them back to Manila. I got worried for a bit, until I was told that everyone in the bus was okay. In fact, they were having fun playing games inside the bus. This amazed me! Instead of complaining & bitching about the situation (they were up by as early as 430am and had trekked for about 6 kilometers under the heat), our very selfless ECOwarriors utilized the time to bond and get to know each other more by playing games! Mind you, most of them just met each other that day.

Overall, I think it was a very fruitful, educational and fun experience!! You could see it in the faces of our volunteers! Not only were they able to visit a historical site, but they had done a great deed for mother nature as well :) This is what ECOwarriors is all about. We are not just planting trees for mother earth, but more than that, we are planting seeds in the minds of our young volunteers to love and protect our only planet for future generations to come! 


P.S. It's not too late to be an ECOwarrior.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


In the past two entries, we reflected on Jesus’ passion and death. These events are indeed essential in our Christian faith. But St. Paul said: “If Christ be not risen again, then is your preaching in vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14) This is why Easter is the feast of all feasts. It is the most important day of the Church year. Today, Jesus rose from the dead, performing His greatest miracle. His resurrection makes His humanity special, proving He is divine as well.

Through Jesus’ resurrection, we are given new life and a renewed hope for salvation! And this virtue of hope is vital in a Christian’s journey towards achieving his last end – salvation! This spiritual journey can be likened to a sport, something very close to my heart.

In basketball, or in any sport for that matter, the most fundamental quality one must have in order to be successful is a DESIRE or HOPE for triumph. Without hope, you are already a loser. There will be many obstacles and challenges that we will have to face before becoming champions. Just like in our spiritual battle, we will have to overcome temptations and our bad habits or vices. How?

Training. In sports, we train regularly not just to be victorious in one game, but to win an entire tournament. Training requires determination, the will to work on every detail of your game, our skills, strength, endurance, agility, etc. We need to live out the spirit of MAGIS, or a lifestyle of excellence. In our spiritual life, we try to get rid of bad habits (vices) and practice good ones (virtue). It does not happen overnight. We need to keep practicing by doing good deeds and making sacrifices. It’s definitely not easy but here’s a tip. Go and receive the Sacraments regularly to receive graces from God. These will strengthen us and help us overcome such temptations or bad habits.

Consistency. In sports, professional athletes do not just train hard when a championship match is coming up or when you are about to be eliminated from a tournament. Rather, they do it consistently over a period of time (Of course, there are various phases in a training program) so that old skills are perfected and new ones may be developed. Same goes with our spiritual life, we don’t just receive the sacraments or go to spiritual direction when we are ‘lost’ already. We don’t go to confession when our souls are dead, we go before it can get worse. In the same way, a sick man does not go to a doctor when he is dead already.

Humility. This is one of the most important qualities I learned from being an athlete for many years now. Having an open mind to correction and improvement from your coaches or peers plays a huge part in the success of an individual, even if you are the star player. At an early age, we were also reminded that we must be gracious in defeat and humble when we win games. We must acknowledge that our success is a result of a team effort, not ones’ own doing. We must realize that our talent to play basketball, golf or tennis did not come from our hard work or parents’ genes. But these are gifts from God that must be shared with others. In our spiritual life, we must always be thankful to Him for all our gifts. Sometimes we take it for granted and we forget that we are truly blessed. We thank Him for our families, friends, education, material possessions, good health, etc. When we stop comparing what others have and what we don’t, and just be grateful to Him, we become happier.

The only difference in our sports battle and our spiritual battle is this. In sports, there’s only one who brings home the trophy or the gold medal. But in our journey to God, we can all win.

Therefore, this Easter, let’s share the joy that Christ is risen and that He loves us.  And we can share in His resurrection when we are converted, when we are given new life. Keep training. Keep converting. Never lose hope.

Happy Easter!


P.S. If you like this, feel free to pass it to our family and friends to spread the joy of Easter

Saturday, April 7, 2012


As you are reading this blog of mine, some of you may find it boring and decide to surf another website for more ‘interesting’ articles, tweets, photos, videos or what not… all, just in a matter of seconds.  Because of the internet and modern day technology, our attention span is getting shorter and shorter since there are so many alternatives before us.  Convenience is a great luxury that our grandparents’ generation didn’t have.  We cannot argue about the added value that these technologies have brought into our lives, but they pose threats that can be very dangerous to our existence.

About a decade ago, we had the iPod that simply played mp3 music files.  That was a great luxury already, coming from mp3 players that could only store 5 to 10 songs.  Then we asked for more.  We had higher versions of the iPod, then the iTouch, then the iPhone, iPad, and now the iPhone 4S.  This iPhone 4S can do pretty much everything from video calls, GPS mapping, live chatting, voice recognition, etc… Wonder what’s the next thing will we ask for? Just when you think it’s got all the features, something newer and ‘cooler’ is developed to satisfy us consumers.

Our lives are so accustomed to convenience.  We want more, more, more and fast, fast, fast.  We take shortcuts and want to make money the ‘easy way’.  For some, it is more and more power or more and more sexual satisfaction! We can just never get enough!  One saint said that this is a major tragedy since we are looking for joy in the wrong places.  These ‘attachments’ are fleeting and will not give us the lasting joy that we long for because they disconnect us from God.

We want quick-fix solutions to address lingering problems.  A little inconvenience and we get easily irritable and annoyed.  This is manifested in many relationships nowadays that don’t seem to endure trials.  They resort to the easy way out.

So what do we do now? What does this have to do with Lent?

Just as Jesus’ self-sacrifice through His passion and death, God has also given His ultimate sacrifice by sending His only Son to become fully human only to die on the cross.  Imagine how painful that is for a father.  And more so for a mother that is why we feel especially close to Our Lady of Sorrows these days.

In this light, we too are called to make sacrifices. They don’t have to be big ones. I have some friends who have given up eating ‘sweets’ during the entire season of Lent.  Some have given up drinking alcohol.  Or it can be as simple as being extra patient in trying to understand a difficult friend.  Or doing small acts of kindness to your parents or siblings. This is also the reason why we fast and abstain from eating meat during Fridays of Lent.

This is mortification.  It is about self-giving.  We do not make sacrifices for the mere purpose of pleasing others or appearing ‘holy’ but we do it because of our deep love for Christ – that is charity.  And in doing so, people see Christ in us.  St. Josemaria said it best when he said that you must experience Christ within yourself—be His friend—then that overflow of your interior life will communicate itself to others’.

Advance Happy Easter!


P.S. Still working on part 3, the theme is HOPE. Will post it tomorrow. 

Friday, April 6, 2012


Hello there! It’s been a while since I last blogged.  Before I begin, let me just announce that my previous blog has been hacked and I don’t have access to it as of the moment. That’s why I created a new site.  It’s really sad because we’ve already established a number of subscribers to that blog for the past 4 years. Hope you can help me spread this to more people this time around.

I am writing this in the midst of a 3-day silent retreat in the city.  Silent retreat means spending time in silence, prayer and recollection: between you and God alone.  Yes, it means not talking to the other participants, but you can always talk to your confessor or spiritual director.  There are around 25 of us—all-male students and young professionals. I can’t find a better time to reflect and share my thoughts to you than in this Easter Triduum, when we remember and contemplate Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.  

Allow me to share my personal reflection on this topic since this is only once a year and I believe you may find it useful as well.

In the contemporary world, our lives can get so much caught up with work, work and work, including schoolwork.  Couple that with the ubiquity of modern-day technology—we find it almost impossible to detach ourselves from communication, information, entertainment, and the like.  I’ll admit that I am one of those guilty of that!

Sad to say, our modern world doesn’t favor reflection.  And it is during this moment of absolute silence when we can best listen to our Lord and speak to Him, in order to understand fully His divine will and plan for us.  After our first day in retreat, I felt so at home and so at peace.  I actually think I can live here—so simple and peaceful.  

Today is Good Friday, the day when Jesus suffered and died on the cross in order to save us.  It is on this same day when the first to be proclaimed a saint was a thief!  On the cross, the thief said to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me when You come to Your kingdom.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23: 42-43).  This good thief, a.k.a. St. Dismas (or Dimas), was saved because of his faith, repentance and contrite heart!

Our Father God constantly calls us to come back to Him.  Just like in the parable of the Prodigal Son, no matter how sinful or lost we can be, God unconditionally accepts us back as long as we repent.  He even slaughtered the fattest calf and prepared a huge feast for the younger son who has come back home after years of squandering his wealth. 

Through the sacrament of Reconciliation, God always awaits us to go back to him: we repeat in our lives the story of the prodigal son.  Conversion is not impossible with the help of the Sacraments and prayer.  And it is only then that we experience the joy of inner peace and lasting happiness—because we experience God, who only wants what is best for us, such that we can exclaim as Pope Benedict XVI said, “I am personally loved by God.”  That is why Confession is personal, one-on-one, between me and the priest ordained to represent God (because only God can forgive sins), as Our Lord told the first priests, the Apostles, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:23).  Then we are cleansed from anything that may hinder our complete union with God.  My confessor gave a beautiful analogy of a glass window. He said, “If the glass window is stained and dirty, how can the sunlight enter the room? In the same way if our souls are not clean, how can God enter us?”

I entitled this blog, “Joy of Repentance” because being sorry for our sins should be a cause of joy for us—we are going back to our Father God, whom we know is ever-ready to accept us no matter how sinful we have become!  All we have to do is to eat our pride and be humble to say, like the prodigal son in common parlance, “Dad, I’m sorry.” We are just going back home!  Is there anything more fun than that?  Now, I understand more clearly why St Josemaria calls the Confession as a sacrament of Joy!

Who could have been the happiest man on that first Friday which we call Good?  The good thief! Our speaker phrased it very wittingly.  “St. Dismas was indeed a thief until the end, because until his last dying breath, he stole heaven and the heart of our Lord!“


P.S. Watch out for parts 2 & 3