MattAndJojang's Blog

God. Life. Spirituality.

Posts Tagged ‘Relationships

2019 Christmas Letter

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Bamboos

In the garden
The tall bamboos are dancing
The sound of the wind.

ZenRetreat Collage.jpg

The year started with a joyful note for us when we were invited to join a retreat by the Bahay Dalangin Zen Community. There, we met with Sr. Sonia Punzalan, Matthew’s Zen Teacher, Fr. Momoy Borromeo, and the rest of the sangha. Matthew was given the chance to share with the group his Zen journey which was well received. During Mass, Fr. Momoy had a healing session and prayed over us… What a beautiful moment for us! Thank you Bahay Dalangin Zen Community for your warm welcome.

Holy Spirit Sisters-May2019

The next few months were challenging. We are grateful to the Holy Spirit Sisters who offered their place for us to live in. Thank you Sr. Linda, Sr. Marijo, Sr. Mahil and the rest of the community of Sisters and the staff!

Ricky and Corito

We are deeply grateful to our dear, dear friends – Ricky and Corito – who were an answered prayer at the time that we so desperately needed it.

Your home, The Cabana, is so beautiful with a lush garden that makes it conducive for prayer and meditation. By the way, the Haiku posted at the beginning of this letter was composed by Matthew in a moment of inspiration in this marvelous home.

We would also like to thank Ronnie and Jimmy who took the time and effort to help us fix up the place.

NotreDame-Oct2019

Last October, I rushed Matthew to the hospital where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. The sun-less and continuous stormy weather during the months before that, took its toll on his health. Thank God he was brought just in time and recovered quite well. Thank you so much Dra. Chona for always taking care of us.

Manila Trip Collage

Sometime November, I was able to visit Manila to see family and friends. It was a short but hectic trip. My love tank is full ! Thank you everyone for taking time for me.

Visitors Collage 2

During the year, Matthew and I had visitors. Thank you for cheering us up and brightening our lives!

Finally, we cannot end this letter without mentioning our blog. Now on its eleventh year, we have grown to have 368 followers and have surpassed the half a million hits at 520,269 views. As our cyber community continues to grow, we never expected this blog to touch so many people. Thank you for allowing us to share our lives with you.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and May you have abundant blessings for the coming New Year.”

— Matthew and Jojang

2018 Christmas Letter

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The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

2018 is a surprisingly busy year for Matthew and myself.

We are grateful to Sr. Sonia, who encourages and inspires us in our spiritual journey. Through her, we met two wonderful people, Ricky and Corito, who have become endeared friends. We are grateful for their love and friendship. In the words of Matthew, “I am always energized by the visits of Ricky and Corito.”

We are also thankful to Sr. Marijo who, in spite of her busy schedule, makes it a point to visit us at least once a month for fellowship, prayer and sharing. Her constant presence in our lives has been always a source of support and joy. We are always happy to see her.

Through the efforts of Sr. Marijo, our parish priest, Fr. Edgar Lumanlang, visited us on Matthew’s birthday when he turned 60! He prayed for us and gave communion to Matthew. The best gift ever is to receive Jesus through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist!

The year began with Matthew’s delightful and unexpected reunion with Jun who came with Sr. Marijo. It has been 40 years since they last saw each other. Sr. Marijo introduced Jun and Matthew and a small group of students to Zen meditation. They had a wonderful time of catching up with each others’ almost a lifetime of spiritual journey.

After Jun left my sister Cristy went up to Baguio. We had fun sharing stories and taking photos of each other. After Cristy’s visit, Luth, who is based in the US and whom I have not seen in decades, went up to Baguio for an overnight trip just to see me. I am deeply touched by her gesture of taking time to be with me. We spent a full day catching up on our lives.

As soon as Luth left, I met up with my dear friend Wawi and her family who also went up to Baguio for a visit. We enjoyed our time together during breakfast at Chocolate de Batirol in Camp John Hay and bought some pasalubongs in Good Shepherd. Not to be missed is Wawi’s favorite, the raisin bread from Palaganas Bakery!

We were happy to see members of the Sacred Heart Community, who dropped by on April 1 to celebrate Bro. Paul Aguas’ – Matthew’s Dad – birthday! This enjoyable bunch of happy brothers and sisters is so much fun to be with.

Still in April, I went down to Manila to be with my best friend, Natalie and her family, because of the passing of her Dad. It was also an opportune time to meet up with my siblings whom I have not seen in a while.

Matthew was delighted to reunite with members of Sacred Heart Community in the 1970’s – Pia, Jean, Flor, and Helen. Everyone had fun reminiscing the good old days! Since then, we have now reconnected through Facebook.

June was a special month for us. Besides celebrating Matthew’s 60th birthday and our 16th year wedding anniversary, we were happy to meet up with Binky’s parents. I have happy memories of them when Binky and I were still office mates and I would go up to Baguio for a visit. They have big hearts and have always made me feel loved and welcome. It was sad though, because that was the last time we were going to see Tita Rose. A month after, she passed on.

September was a stressful month for us because I had to rush Matthew to the hospital where he was confined. He had an allergic reaction to a diabetes medicine that was prescribed to him. But we thank God, he was able to recover albeit slowly. We were happy to see Gie and Mel, who also dropped by the house.

Come October, I had breakfast with Candy and Riley who went up to Baguio for a quick visit. After they left, my cousin from the US, Ate Ely came to the house with Ate Genie and Bobbie Malay (Ate Ely’s good friend). I was excited to spend time with her since I have not seen her in more than 10 years. Her company brought happy memories of my childhood.

Beth was a high school chum whom I have not seen since 1977 when we both graduated from High School. We met up because she was vacationing in Baguio. It was so much fun and it seemed like we didn’t run out of stories. She had to postpone an appointment two times because we could not seem to get enough of each other!

At the same time that Beth and I were together, Matthew was spending time with Leo at home. We always look forward to Leo’s visits because his pleasing personality makes him great company!

Finally, we cannot end this letter without mentioning our blog. Now on its tenth year, we have grown to have 350+ followers and have reached an astonishing  497,000+ hits! We are amazed and delighted because people from around the world are visiting our blog, liking our posts and our cyber community continues to grow.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and blessings for the New Year.”

— Matt & Jojang

 

Written by MattAndJojang

December 10, 2018 at 11:01 am

The People Who Changed My Life

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Sir Isaac Newton said that we always stand on the shoulders of other people. In other words, our lives are shaped by our encounters with people, who shared generously their time, talent and treasure with us. On the top of my list are these people who changed my life:

1. Bro. Paul Aguas – My Dad. A selfless, loving and compassionate man, who to this day remains my model in the way I live my life. He spent his short but fruitful life serving God and helping people. He did not only inspire me, but he also inspired the countless number of people he met through his ministry both here and abroad.

2. Sr. Marie Jose Garcia, SSpS – Religious of the Holy Spirit Sisters, Social Worker and Missionary. Above all, dear friend for 40 years. She introduced me to the practice of Zen meditation. Never did I imagine that the practice of Zen meditation would have such a powerful repercussion in my life, and would tide me over during the most difficult and challenging times of my life. I consider her as a friend, mentor and guide to this day.

3. Dom Fil Cinco, OCSO – Abbot of the Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Monastery. Our conversations in the open fields of the monastery, under the blue skies, about the spiritual life, especially about the Desert Fathers, remained etched in my memory. 30+ years later it seems that those conversations took place only yesterday.

4. Sr. Elaine MacInnes, OLM – Catholic Nun and Zen Master. She patiently and generously guided us, a group of young college students, myself included, 40 years ago, in the practice of Zen meditation by conducting Zen retreats for us. The seeds she planted would later bear fruit in our lives. In my case, it just took a little longer to do so.

5. Sr. Sonia Punzalan, RC – Religious of the Sisters of the Cenacle and Zen Teacher. It was on my first Zen retreat with her that I had one of the most powerful spiritual and transformative experiences of my life. It goes without saying that it profoundly impacted my life. Almost 20 years later that experience continues to inform and affect my life. I am very grateful for her guidance and friendship.

6. Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO – Trappist Monk, Writer and Artist. He is considered as one of the great contemplatives, and among the most significant spiritual writers of the 20th century. I’ve never met him in person, but his books on the Christian monastic and contemplative tradition, which I read when I was 15 or 16 years old, changed my life forever.

I humbly owe them a debt of gratitude. They’ve made me the kind of person that I am today…

–Matt

Written by MattAndJojang

August 27, 2018 at 1:15 pm

What Makes a Good Life: Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness

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What makes a good life? What truly makes us happy? Is it wealth? Is it fame?

The psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, who has an unprecedented access on data about what makes people happy, reveals that money and popularity doesn’t enter at all in the equation.

He says that what makes us truly happy and healthy is the quality of our relationships.

If you’re interested in what matters most in life,  listen to his talk.

–Matt

Written by MattAndJojang

July 13, 2016 at 6:28 pm

Finding Forrester

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Finding Forrester

I realize that the one wish that was granted to me, so late in life, was the gift of friendship.

— From the movie “Finding Forrester”

When was the last time a Hollywood movie portrayed the acts of reading and writing in such a gratifying and fulfilling way that it made you want to read a real book rather than an “airport” bestseller? And when was the last time you saw an interracial mentor-pupil relationship presented as mutually rewarding, and interracial teenage romance depicted without punitive condescension or parental disapproval? Gus Van Sant’s deftly crafted “Finding Forrester” achieves all of the above and more: It provides a platform for Sean Connery to deliver a definitive, career-summation performance as a reclusive, charismatic literary legend. With the right handling, Columbia has a sure winner here, a skillfully written, expertly acted picture whose uplifting plot should score high among viewers across the board.

With the notable exception of “Psycho,” his futile 1998 remake, Van Sant’s technical work continues to improve in a way that doesn’t call attention to itself. His work has always shown a fondness for outsiders, but rather than merely depicting them sympathetically, Van Sant places his outcasts in crisis, forcing them to confront their relationship to society and its rules. Two of the filmmaker’s most-used motifs are highlighted in the new film: the moral odyssey of outsiders and the casual randomness of urban life.

Indeed, on the surface, “Finding Forrester” tells a similar story to that of Van Sant’s 1997 Oscar-winning “Good Will Hunting,” with Connery playing the Robin Williams part and black teenager Rob Brown in the Matt Damon role, a gifted kid with a chip on his shoulder. While “Forrester” is critical of conservative educational institutions and tyrant instructors, it doesn’t put down the system itself.

With a touch of “Rear Window” voyeurism, narrative depicts Forrester as a silver-haired eccentric who spends a lot of time at his Bronx apartment window, seemingly observing a bunch of black kids playing ball in a court across the street; later it turns out he’s an avid bird-watcher. Veiled in mystery, the last the world has heard of Forrester was more than 40 years ago, when he was a brilliant Pulitzer-winning novelist. His book, which has since become a cherished classic, is apparently his only literary output.

As the youngsters are aware of Forrester’s invisible presence, their curiosity naturally builds. Sneaking into his apartment to get info about the mythical man, 16-year-old Jamal (Brown) accidentally leaves behind a backpack full of his writing. The next day, the bag appears at the window and, to Jamal’s surprise, his papers have been read and graded by Forrester. An unlikely relationship begins, marked by all the familiar ups and downs of such bonds. Turning point occurs when an exclusive Manhattan prep school recruits Jamal for his basketball talent and his academic achievement, and he seeks Forrester’s help in dealing with the new environment, becomes a reluctant hero and Jamal gradually becomes committed not only to his own writing, but to cracking Forrester’s shell.

Central acts chronicle the flowering of a union that goes beyond the routine teacher-pupil interaction. While lines of authority are clearly maintained, Mike Rich’s graceful script shows how dependent the mentor becomes on the kid, who evolves from an intrigued fan to a loyal student to a social companion, all the while determined to reignite Forrester’s passion for writing before it’s too late. Though earnest and utterly predictable, yarn avoids the traps of the similarly themed “Educating Rita,” in which a working-class hairdresser-wife (Julie Walters) forces a boozy professor (Michael Caine) to become her instructor. “Forrester” doesn’t unfold as a series of calculated setups painted with a broad brush — there are no cutesy scenes like Rita giving her mentor a shampoo. Rich inserts enough narrative subtleties and moral shadings into a friendship that ultimately becomes a surrogate family relationship.

The text is extremely old-fashioned: A crucial scene at school, in which Jamal is reprimanded for his conduct, functions as the equivalent of a courtroom scene, in which an inflexible teacher (F. Murray Abraham) is contrasted with good ones. A bigger mistake is that the filmmakers signal where the tale will ultimately go about a reel before it gets there.

Undoubtedly, it’s the bravura acting that binds viewers to the characters’ shifting emotions from one scene to the next. “Forrester” is very much a chamber piece for two, with more than half the scenes set indoors in Forrester’s cluttered, oversize apartment, inventively textured by production designer Jane Musky to capture the feel of a capacious pre-WWII residence, which later becomes a kind of Never Never Land. What gives pic a much needed outdoor cinematic dimension are the basketball scenes, which are dynamically shot by lenser Harris Savides, and Valdis Oskarsdottir provides modulated editing.

Playing the Salinger-like writer of legendary stature, Connery expertly fills the bill as a man who’s at once ingratiating and infuriating, a recluse who needs to be rescued from misanthropy. The role allows the actor to display his signature humor, a flourish of arrogance balanced by depth. Connery hasn’t only stopped masking his Scottishness, but now integrates it into the plot. But Forrester is by no means a one-man show.

Amazingly, with no previous experience, Brown stands up to Connery, and in some scenes even matches him with his inner strength and stillness. Anna Paquin plays a student who fosters a flirtatious friendship with Jamal, while “Good Will Hunting” star Matt Damon pops up for a late-in-the-game cameo.

— Emanuel Levy

Written by MattAndJojang

October 13, 2015 at 7:26 pm

Remembering My Father

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Paul Aguas

A short piece written by Matt’s sister, Katherine, to honor their father, Paul Aguas, on his 21st death anniversary.

My father was a man who had smiles to brighten your days,
Who always made you feel good with his warm words of praise
And what’s more he knew what to do to make your wishes come true.
He was my father.
My father was someone who always had good stories to tell,
But just as importantly he knew how to be a good listener as well.
He was patient & kind and the very best friend you could ever hope to find.
He was no ordinary man,
And I’m proud to tell the world that he was my father.
Rest in peace, Daddy. We miss you so much.

–Katherine Aguas Padua

 

Written by MattAndJojang

December 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

The Art of Living Well

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Top 5 Regrets

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.

~ Voltaire

Written by MattAndJojang

October 24, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Happy Birthday, Mom

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Mom's Family

Matt’s Mom, Matt’s Maternal Grandmother, Lola Moning, and Matt’s Mom’s Siblings, Tita Sonie & Tita Pilaring

All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.

~ Abraham Lincoln

Happy birthday, Mom!

Written by MattAndJojang

August 9, 2013 at 9:32 am

“See the Good…”

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Matt's Dad and Mom. Photo taken at Monterey, CA.

Matt’s Dad and Mom. Photo taken at Monterey, CA.

See the good. Assume the best. Be ready to forgive.

~ Paul Aguas (Matt’s Dad)

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June 10, 2013 at 10:37 am

Welcome, Kevin!

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Matt's Nephews (Kaden & Kevin) with Grandma (Matt's Mom)

Matt’s Nephews (Kaden & Kevin) with Grandma (Matt’s Mom)

Yesterday my sister, Duday, gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Kevin Emmanuel, at the Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Glendale, CA. Welcome to the family, Kevin!

~ Matt

Written by MattAndJojang

June 4, 2013 at 6:23 pm