To the Moon and Back (A review and reaction of “Mula sa Buwan”)

“Ang tanghalang ito’y atin ngayong gabi.
Walang makakapigil. Hindi tayo titigil.
Hanggang puno na ang gabi ng ating galak.
Limutin ang problema, ang tadhana’y pag-asa…”


Cue, the start of a magical journey into the lives of Cyrano, Roxanne, Christian…

.. their friends and families,
dreams and aspirations,
of singing and dancing

… and of love and heartbreak intertwining

At the onset, Mula sa Buwan takes you through a wild ride. At times, you wouldn’t even know what to feel. Do you feel like laughing? Crying? Do you feel pain? Chagrin? But one thing I know for sure you’ll feel at the end of it all — heartbreak.

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Photo by Cristine Faye Denna

If only I realized early that this sign was for my heart..


“Ang sakit sakit, bes.”

… my friend told me, after watching it for the very first time. I can’t help but laugh. She was still processing it. I laughed, not because I though she was overreacting, but because I watched it the second time around and that’s exactly how I felt.

“Feeling ko hindi naman ako iiyak.”

… told another friend of mine before the whole thing started. Until I saw her beautiful crying face towards the end of the play. And then out of the theatre, she continued exuding heartbreak. “I didn’t want to say this but. ‘I told you so.'” I said in jest. Haha.

She said, “Ang sakit sa puso. Physically.” And I told her that I don’t blame her. It’s exactly how I felt the first time around… Oh, who am I kidding? That’s exactly how I felt the second time I watched it.


It’s only the beginning, yet the entirety of Irwin Theatre was treated to an amazing opening number. For those who watched it several times now, it will have a different meaning. It’s a masterful mixture of two things: The foreshadowing of a very heartbreaking moment towards the end, and a jaw-dropping opening number to start it all off.

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Photo from Mula sa Buwan’s Facebook Page

We are now introduced to an ensemble of lovable characters like Tato and Maestro and a whole bunch of other characters who — (I’m sorry to say that) I forgot their names — but equally lovable and funny.

Eventually, we have our first encounter with Roxanne and Christian and the gang. Oh and a humorous entrance to introduce our main character — Cyrano. Later on, you will only get to understand how powerful his character is. Primarily because, he represents a phase in the lives of us all — an almost endless cycle of love and pursuit only to be taken for granted by the person we love most.

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“Tinig sa Dilim” (Photo by Cristine Faye Denna)

Chos. Haha.


“Patas nga ang Panginoon..”

Everyone who watched Mula sa Buwan, I believe, would never forget this line after everything is said and done. And for a good reason. Our main character, Cyrano is ugly. He had the longest nose than anybody in the entire world. However, one thing’s for sure. He’s no Pinocchio. He’s the bravest of them all, strong, principled, poetic and doesn’t lie — except perhaps — only to himself.

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Photo by Cristine Faye Denna

As people listened to songs such as “Ikaw,” “Awit ni Roxanne,” “Manifesto,” “Tinig sa Dilim,” “Mula sa Buwan,” etc. (all of which of course are available when you buy their album sold at the entrance) they can’t help but get their feelings swayed by them. The songs empowered the entirety of the masterpiece’s message. What I love the most about the actors and actresses is how they truly captured the heart of it all. You can say that they were all pulling from their own experiences — their own #Hugot.

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Cyrano singing “Tinig sa Dilim.” (Photo by Cristine Faye Denna)

 

“Walang ibang mai-alay sa iyo
Kundi bulaklak at ang awit na ito.

Nawa’y pakatandaan mong:
‘Hindi magmamaliw ang aking pag-ibig.’ “

‘Tinig sa Dilim’

This is indeed one of my most favorite songs in the play. It is one of unconditional love by Cyrano and the love that Roxanne had for her suitor, whose face is so hidden by the night, she can’t even recognize him. The only thing she held on to were the words uttered that magical night. The words of someone who loved her very much, hidden in the physical facade that was Christian.

“At kahit anong yaman pa ang itapat.
Walang kasing halaga ang pusong hinahangad.”

Cyrano sang.

“Ikaw ngayon ang tinig sa dilim.
Dinggin ko ang iyong dalangin.
‘Di man alintana ang ‘yong mukha.
Ngunit damang salita.”

Roxanne replied.

“Sa’yo ay inaalay. Hinding-hindi wawalay.
Mananatili sa dilim. At sa’yo lamang iibig.”

Cyrano finally concluded, as he bid farewell to the love of her life.
And unselfishly (or perhaps selfishly) let Christian be
the acceptable face for his truest feelings.

And as a last (not really) act of martyrdom — he proceeded to make sure that Christian and Roxanne are married without hindrance. And perhaps to give voice to the frustrations of his hurting, broken heart — he, together with his platoon masterfully sang and danced to their song, “Mula sa Buwan.”

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Roxanne and Christian’s wedding (Photo by Cristine Faye Denna)

“Kami’y naglayag kung saan walang sakit o hapdi.
Lahat ng tao ay nakangiti sa buwan, sa buwan.
Ako’y mula sa buwan.”

“Kami’y naglayag kung saan walang pusong nabibiyak.
Kailan man ay ‘di ka iiyak sa buwan.”

Mula sa Buwan

This all eventually leads to the arrival of the Japanese forces and the biggest slap-in-the-face that life can throw at them — WAR. We now depart from the chummy, just kilig and ‘awwwwww’ moments and gravitate towards the heavy second act — where your reaction can almost only ever be these two: heavy silence and tears.

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Cyrano, Maximo and the cadets march onto war (Photo by Cristine Faye Denna)

The cadets, who in the beginning only ever thought that the war would never reach them, only focused on one thing — their craft, their songs, their art. They were never really ready to face the harsh reality which is war and death itself.

Another heartbreaking song that is now very close to my heart was sung. As the cadets are faced with frustrations, discouragements, hunger and the imminence of death, they almost forgot one thing — that is — to love.

“Matatapos din at mauunawaan.
Kung ano ang saysay nitong labanan.
Ang mahalaga’y hindi natin malimot.
Na marunong pa rin tayong magmahal.”

“Di man alam ang awit, pati mga salita.
Kunin man sa akin, maging mga tula.
Hindi ko lilimuting magmahal.”

sang Christian.

And oh boy, was that song powerful.

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Christian singing “Matatapos Din” (Photo from Mula sa Buwan’s Facebook Page)

And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I tried, as much as possible to stray away from writing about entire plot points. But before I end this particular blog post, I wanted to share about the final song that struck me as I left the theatre.

The song that would make the most sense if you will be watching “Mula sa Buwan.” The song that would undoubtedly break your heart — “Ang Sabi Nila.”

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Photo from Mula sa Buwan’s Facebook page

“Ang sabi nila, walang ibang magagawa.
Kung ang puso’y lubhang nasaktan.

Ang sabi nila, nanatiling paraan
Ang matutong muling magsimula.

Hindi pa rin nakikinig, nakailang ulit nang pinayuhan.
Hindi man lang sinusubukang umibig nang muli.
Ang pagmamadali ay simulan.
Ngunit ang sandali’y ayaw pa ring iwan.”

… sang a heartbroken Roxanne

The song to conclude this masterpiece.

I will not be divulging more of Mula sa Buwan’s plot line. All I can say is that it’s something to actually see to better understand. If you want to get that feeling that you felt (or lost) when your heart was broken, this is definitely a must-watch for you. If you’re reading this, you still have 2 nights left to grab yourself a ticket and get what all the people are clamoring about.

MULA SA BUWAN  
by Pat Valera & William Elvin Manzano                                                 
                                                              
…is a new Filipino musical about love, ideals, and the heartbreaks in between.

Based on Cyrano de Bergerac, the play is now set in 1940s Manila, among young ROTC cadets and blushing colegialas. The play shows the innocence and beauty of our nation where music, harana, kundiman, wit, passion, and hope abound! However, when World War II strikes, virtue, honor, and love are all tested – the young now forced to suddenly…grow up.

The story moves to a time after the war, to a field of ruble, of forgotten memories, of heroes lost in a country struggling to survive. At the center of it all, the tragic love story between Cyrano, Roxane and Christian.

Follow them at: https://web.facebook.com/mulasabuwan/

The Giving Tree

“And the boy loved the tree…. very much.
And the tree was happy. “

Shel Silverstein


So last meeting, we had this activity in our EDR 121 class. We discussed about “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. After reading about it in class, Teacher Hazel gave us a bunch of Engagement Activities in relation to the Giving Tree.

We were asked to write something like “Echo “<3’s” ______.” A lot of jokes were thrown here and there about it being the Season of Love since it’s February and it would be best to put a name of a special someone there. But instead of doing so (not that I’m a killjoy or anything), I instead chose to put the name of my little brother.

My little brother is truly special to me. Just to give you a little bit of background, I have been an only child for 17 years until my father passed away and my mom eventually had another partner and when I was 19, she had bore a child with her partner. Thus, my little brother was born. I named him Samuel David named after two Biblical characters — David, the greatest king of Israel and Samuel, the prophet who anointed David to become king. Or you can just call him, SAMDAVE for short. Haha. 😉

The reason I gave him those names was because my brother was born with Down Syndrome and also with an imperforate anus. This was largely due to the fact that my mom did not know she could still get pregnant during that time and she didn’t know she was pregnant until the child was 3 months old. She was taking medication for Diabetes during that period and realized it very late that she was indeed bearing a child.

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So enough with that very dramatic background. But truly, having another child in the family from being the only child for 19 years is a different experience. Despite challenges and troubles faced during the early years, it proved to be very fruitful for me to have him as my brother. Repeatedly, he has always been the joy of the family. Despite cognitive challenges and late development, he proved to be uniquely intelligent and irresistibly sweet in his own ways.

So instead of being so cheesy and romantic with another person during this season, I chose to dedicate this particular blog post to him.

Now, instead of taking photos of each of the pages of the activity, I chose to share photos of my little bro instead (I can just submit the paper copy anyways. Haha).

Nevertheless, going back to the Giving Tree illustration, it touched me in a way that I was able to relate to the tree relative to my brother. How I can be like the tree — giving, giving and giving. Never tiring, truly happy, always loving. It may be unreciprocated vocally and in the same manner, but those things don’t matte to me. The important thing for me is to show that I love him and will always be there for him, through whatever experiences we may have.

 

And of course, also, I was able to relate it to some of the relationships I’ve had growing up. I’ve encountered several friends that I thought to be lasting only to find out they have never treated me as such and only viewed me as “the-guy-you-can-always-go-to-when-you-need-something-but-never-treated-as-a-friend.” But that’s for another story. Perhaps I’ll have some chance to share it in class or in another blog post but who knows? 😉

How about you? Have you read the giving tree? How has it affected you? Would be glad to know some of your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂

The Child That Books Built

It seems pretty repetitive of me to say that, “I haven’t posted in a while.” And while I struggled to keep my blog flowing with regular content (as I’m a feeler-rather-than-a-thinker-kind of guy.) I do indeed have the stories and topics in my mind. But because of my usual weekly schedule, I fail to put them all in writing.

However, things changed a little bit now as I do have a more constant motivation due to my EDR 121: Children’s Literature class.

I honestly didn’t think too much of the course at first. I honestly had no idea what to do or what to study about it even but our first day in class went different from what I imagined it would be. It was more interesting, more interactive, more fun, than I thought. And to think, we’re just getting started!

So basically, I’m writing again, this time as an assignment given to us by our Professor in the course. It got me thinking: “Do I really just write on my blog as an assignment?! That’s the easiest thing ever!” It’s just funny how things turn out. Doing what you love and learning at the same time. So without further ado, I’ll cut down to the chase.

We were given this particular homework, entitled The Child that Books Built hence the title of this particular topic. We were tasked to write a Reflective Essay relating to a story given here. Now, I’m not entirely sure if the story was a real life story based on our Professor’s childhood (it may have been mentioned, but perhaps I failed to listen to that specific bit of information) or something made up entirely, but I found the question at the bottom quite intriguing. It went something like this:

Now, if I were to ask you: “How much of an impact has children’s literature had in your life?”

Intriguing for me because I thought, “Hey! Have I really had that much exposure to children’s literature?” I mean, we’re not a very well off family at first so I had a few books. What little books I had were usually Encyclopedia because my mom and dad wanted me to grow up to be a doctor. Up until I found this stash that I have almost completely forgotten about. I realized that I’ve been drowning in Children’s Literature since time immemorial!

Okay. Yes. Some of this perhaps aren’t considered as Children’s Literature per se (maybe?) but these are some of the stories and/or songs that really impacted me as a child.

In these series of books. I began to distinctly remember pictures inside these books portraying my favourite Disney characters scattered throughout different time periods and situations. One personal favourite was Mickey and Minnie seemingly trapped in the period of the dinosaurs.

This next one, though I’m not entirely sure if this encompasses what can be considered as children’s literature but these are my materials and piano pieces for nursery rhymes and children’s songs during my childhood days while I was studying in Yamaha learning the piano.

When I saw this, a nostalgic song popped into my head. It goes something like this.

My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf
So it stood ninety years on the floor
It was taller by half than the old man himself
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more

It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born
And was always his treasure and pride
But it stopped, short never to go again
When the old man died

Ninety years without slumbering
His life seconds numbering
It stopped, short never to go again
When the old man died

My grandfather said that of those he could hire
Not a servant so faithful he found
For it wasted no time and had but one desire
At the close of each week to be wound

And it kept in its place, not a frown upon its face
And its hands never hung by its side
But it stopped short, never to go again
When the old man died

It rang and alarmed in the dead of the night
An alarm that for years had been dumb
And we knew that his spirit was pluming for flight
That his hour for departure had come

Still the clock kept the time with a soft and muffled chime
As we silently stood by his side
But it stopped short, never to go again
When the old man died

Ninety years without slumbering
His life seconds numbering
It stopped short, never to go again
When the old man died

— My Grandfather’s Clock

Little did I know that this song was not a nursery rhyme but an actual proper song. (Not that nursery rhymes aren’t proper songs but you get what I mean) This was one of the songs I particularly loved during my childhood days and again, I remembered distinctly how I always felt so sad when I hear this.

Perhaps, you could already identify here that there is no ONE specific story that really affected me but multiple stories in actuality. Though if I had to pick one, I’d say it’s one of the stories in these Filipino-written books. With the Filipino versions of their foreign counterparts.

Can you guess in which of these books this particular story that I chose is in?

Well, if you watch a bit of BBC’s Sherlock, and feel that you can do some deductions like they do, you can easily infer, by looking at what particular direction I favor — in this case, the right hand side. Clearly because I’m right-handed which would suggest that the most probable choice for me is to subconsciously put the book I like most at the right side of my field of vision.

Nah, just messing with you. But if you read that gobbledygook that I just wrote above, using Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice, you’d get the joke behind it. Hahaha. Sorry. My blog, my rules. Kidding. Not really. Haha.

But yes, the story was inside the book “Pabula.” It’s just mere coincidence that I put it on the right hand side when I took a photo of it.

Again, sorry for my sanguine approach. But moving on, the specific story is about the Turtle and the Hare. In this particular case, it’s version is about “Ang Usa at ang Palaka.” primarily perhaps because deer and frogs are more common here in our nation than Rabbits and Turtles.

Why this story? I don’t know if you’d believe me but, young as I am, I found this story interesting because it’s not always about the strong ones, the gifted ones, the bigger ones. It’s about the frog, outwitting the deer in a race by using some mind tricks and intellect and just a teensy bit of deception. Haha.

You see, I was bullied a lot when I was a kid. Because, as unseemly as it may seem, I was small back then. Wayyyyyy smallllllleeeeeeeerrrr than I am now.

So I thought, when I read this story, I’ll indulge myself in books, knowledge, encyclopedia, other books above my “grade level” because I believed with all my heart that in the end, those with the brains will eventually overtake those with just brawn and their bodies. Bodies can be trained easily. But minds can’t be trained the same way our bodies are.

This story prompted me to invest in my knowledge. As a kid, I took pride in being the most active participant in class. The class know-it-all when I was a kid. It bore fruit of course. In my academic standings, etc. but the bullying still continued up until I got my growth spurt in high school.

Well, I won’t delve too much into the next details after that. But I’ll try my best to tell that story another time.

I’d be glad to hear from you guys what your thoughts are as well! Also, do you have some Children’s Literature you’d love to reminisce and talk about? Feel free to comment down below. Until next time. Ta ta!

Why you, as a Christian should watch #Seklusyon [WARNING: SPOILERS]

 

If you are a mature Christian and have been for how many years now, chances are, there were times that you refrain from watching horror films or have been discouraged from doing so because you might get a spirit of fear from watching it.

Whilst it is true (I in particular also refrain from watching horror films and discourage others from doing so especially if they are new in the faith), I do watch them from time to time, especially if it intrigues me enough to do so.

In this case, Seklusyon did it. It intrigued me enough to risk getting scared just to get the point behind the film. While, in fact it is a masterpiece in terms of cinematography, plot and other technicalities, I had more appreciation of the symbolisms behind it, the hard truths and extremely important points the film was trying to convey.

Firstly, some thoughts on the film. There are some very intriguing, disturbing things that the film tried to convey. These things are truths too hard for everyone to swallow, especially the “religious” sects. But these things are truth and we can’t ignore them. I thought to myself: “Could they have used another genre to portray such important truths?”

These truths are scary. Especially if you know what happens behind the scenes. Behind those facades you see in church, behind those fake smiles, fake priests, molesters, liars, “faith healers” and superstition and superstitious people that ironically surround the church, stand on the stage, preach at the pulpit, etc. Well, they could’ve used drama or comedy to illustrate them but I believe the “horror” genre conveyed them best.

[SPOILERS START HERE]

Continue reading “Why you, as a Christian should watch #Seklusyon [WARNING: SPOILERS]”

Doctor Strange: A Review [Warning: Mild SPOILERS Ahead]

It’s been TIME immemorial since I’ve made a movie review. But now, I think it’s high TIME I start reviving this blog.

Okay, enough with the time references.

I’ll try my best to hold back on the spoilers and just give out just enough detail so as to get a picture of the film.

Well, Marvel has done it time and time again (and again with the time references. Haha.) But this time (okay, stop.) I don’t think they hit the jackpot. Doctor Strange is mystifying, good in every way, but that’s just it — good.

I’ve watched the Marvel films countless times now and even though they don’t remain fully faithful to the comic book lore, they made them interesting enough to consider it on its own merit. However, Doctor Strange tried to break out too much that for me, it didn’t seem to give the Comic Books enough credit.

Firstly, for a film that should’ve been filled to the brim with magic, magical stuff, incantations, as it was in the Comic Books, didn’t have much.

Strange-ly enough, they struggled to use the characters for what they are — MAGICAL. Characters like The Ancient One, Mordo and Wong continually goes on and on about the Space-time continuum, Multiverses, Alternate Universes, etc. For me, it takes the mystery vibe out from these beloved characters. I mean, I could imagine Stark, Thor or Banner to speak these words in their language but it just weirds me out that these “Mystical People” sound like your regular run-of-the-mill Science Geek.

Another one, for a movie based on a Comic Book so mystical, full of incantations, spells and just downright crazy, it’s actually pretty normal. True, there were scenes that are just your typical acid ride (not that I have taken any acid before… or maybe.. I don’t know.. just, let’s move on) But that was it. Acid — trippy acid. I was looking for more “magical” or “mystical” words in their vocabulary.

What I actually loved about the Comic Books is how they portray these characters when casting off spells. You hear them shout out loud like the crazy men they are supposed to be: “By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!!”, “I command the Vapors of Valtorr!!”, “From the Crimson Bands of Cytorrak!!” and so on, and so forth. That was actually the time when you know deep in yourself: “Something’s about to go down.” I honestly was a bit disappointed that I didn’t hear any of those in the film.

If you’re an avid Marvel Easter Egg Hunter though, you will have so much fun because, in actuality, name drops aren’t that subtle in this film. We meet Daniel Drumm, albeit shortly. There was a mention of the Wand of Watoomb, and the Staff of the Living Tribunal — which if you are a hardcore Marvel fan, you would definitely know the possible repercussions this simple name drop would have in the Marvel Universe — correction, Multiverse.

For those that are eagle-eyed, you will get to see what is most likely The Staff of One which in the comics is owned by Nico Minoru of The Runaways. However, this one is most likely possessed by Tina Minoru which in the tie-in comics is likely the mother of Nico.

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Also, for those reading the most recent Doctor Strange arc named: “The Last Days of Magic” there are a lot of allegorization towards it like Mordo’s not-so-subtle-way of saying, “Magic always has a price” or “The bill will eventually catch up to you.”

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You might also want to keep an eye out for the possible Axe of Angaruumus which has been a very useful magical artifact in Strange’s arsenal.

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Rachel McAdams’ portrayal of what is supposed to be the MCU’s second (one is Netflix’s) version of the Night Nurse for me is quite on point. In fact, if you’ve read the old Doctor Strange comic books, you’d see this nostalgic scene come to life.

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There was also a particular reference to the Hippocratic Oath in the film reminiscence of this particular scene as well to the story above, “The Oath”

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Perhaps to wrap things up, let me just add Mads Mikkelsen was an awesome actor in the film. Again, however, Marvel is back to their old game of giving us disposable villains. He could’ve been great as another villain instead of just Kaecillius. Cumberbatch was awesome as Strange. He definitely put that arrogant doctor vibe just perfectly. It was like Stark all over again.

If you’ve been following the teasers and trailers, as Marvel has repeatedly confirmed, The Eye of Agamotto is indeed the Time Stone of the Infinity Stones which finally makes it officially the fifth stone revealed in the series. Here’s hoping that the Soul Stone isn’t really Heimdall — but that’s for another discussion.

Finally, the Mid-credits scene and the End-credits scene should definitely have been interchanged. It made the ending more anti-climactic instead of going off on a high note. Though it almost definitely assures us a Doctor Strange 2, whenever that may be.

Overall, the movie was good but I’ll give it a 7/10 instead. Definitely could’ve had lots of room for improvement.

Captain America: Civil War, A Review [SPOILER-FREE]

After a long day, me and my friends, being the true fans we are, decided to CAP (get it? HAHA.) the night off with a Midnight Premiere of Captain America: Civil War

Since I haven’t done any movie reviews lately, especially Marvel-related ones, I’ll do a quick one and some thing I’m looking forward to in the next films — especially the coming Avengers: Infinity War

This would just be a preliminary review as I don’t want to spoil the people about to watch the film. Don’t worry, I’ll try to black out as much text as possible that can pertain to any spoilers. 🙂

So here are some of my take-aways from the film:

 

#1 Spidey TRULY is home!

As a big fan of Spidey since… forever, I can truly say that Spidey is truly back where he belongs. The crowd in the cinema were all shouting and cheering when they saw Spidey (Peter Parker) on screen. If you listen very closely, you can even hear man-tears flowing from people’s cheeks. 😉

His action sequences were great and I can assure you that he wasn’t just a glorified cameo. He was as much a part of the film as anybody else.

Oh and yes, it was roughly 15 to 20 mins of Spiderman screen time, apart from the Peter Parker scenes, I think.

 

#2 It’s 6v6 Superhero Showdown to the MAX!

Yes, you all saw the trailers. You have seen the money shot the trailers and teasers were all featuring but I can assure you, you haven’t seen it all.

And when I thought the movie was gonna be too crowded to give each and everyone enough screen time? I was wrong. They were all truly a part of the film. They weren’t just there for the action shots, they were all incorporated properly into the movie. Well done, Russo brothers! Makes me look forward to your take on Avengers: Infinity War then!

 

#3 It was a Captain America film, not an Avengers movie.

People were going on and on how Civil War is just an “Avengers 2.5”.

Well, they’re wrong. It was definitely not an Avengers movie. It is indeed a Cap movie. It was truly a story about Cap and his principles, his beliefs and emotions. You have always seen a “perfect and ideal” Cap. But you haven’t seen him like this before.

 

#4 That Airport Sequence

… is the best bit of Superhero action I’ve seen so far! Maybe it’s the sheer amount of heroes brawling? But apart from that, it’s a cinematic marvel. It’s great camera work, great choreography, great cinematography. Everything that you have always wanted in a superhero fight.

 

#5 #TeamCap? #TeamIronMan? Really? 

Honestly, after watching the film, a lot of people may even want to reconsider their sides. Are they still #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan? Is anybody really “more right” than the other?

This movie deals with these heroes as human as possible. Yes. They are humans too. They have their own motivations, they make mistakes, they make good and bad decisions, they become emotional too.

The reason Marvel had so much success especially back during the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s? They strayed from the flat, heroic characters and moved on to the “daily” or “average” man kind of hero. That heroes can make bad decisions too. That in the end, they are just men and women trying to do the right thing. They can be just one bad day away from making decisions they might. just. regret.

 

Through The Eyes of Echo: Mark and Kevin

Recently, one of our Pastors — Pastor Zhaleen, told me that it doesn’t have to be their birthday for people to know that they are appreciated. Since, my primary love language is kind words, I was inspired by a number events to revive my blog and make this as an avenue to honor people, especially those that I meet on a regular basis. I would like to call this, “Through the Eyes of Echo.”

 

Here’s hoping, you can journey with me in knowing these people that I met through the years that in one way or another, made an impact in my life. If you would take a few minutes of your time to read on and get to know about these people Through the Eyes of Echo.

 

Firstly, I’m starting off with these guys: Mark Reyes and Kevin Diwata. I posted a photo of Mark on Facebook and Instagram which garnered a lot of likes, so I realized, this guy has touched a lot of people’s lives. And I’m not doing this blog to ride on the “like machine,” although I would appreciate it if you guys liked and shared this for people to get to know him too. I did this because again, I believe this could be an avenue in honoring these people.

I met this guys several years ago. I’m not even entirely sure how long I’ve known him but I started hearing his name, I believe around 4 or 5 years ago, give or take. He was invited to church and currently he is being mentored by my friends and co-leaders Raysal Dizon and Pastor Ben Dinglas.

The first I ever heard a mention of his name was from Pastor Ben. He said that they discovered that this guy, together with his close friend – Kevin Diwata, walks to church from Manila! Now, it would be great if Destiny Chuch – Manila is literally IN Manila but during those times, the church services were being held at the UP Film Institute inside the University of the Philippines, Diliman.

Imagine! They were walking for 3 hours just to be able to attend church! I was so amazed by the commitment of these two guys! Pastor Ben actually got a little angry because we didn’t even know that these guys were doing that! Of course, when we knew that, we gave them some money to be able to commute to and from church.

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Eventually, I came to know that they were my team-mates in our church’s Production Team. The team is composed entirely of volunteers barring one or two people which are full-time church staff. Note that, Destiny Church is mostly run by volunteers – people passionately working to do great things for God through serving people and winning them to Christ. And so, I found out that these highly committed guys were working together with me in our, “Hakot” ministry as it was called then. Meaning, they transport our church equipment to and from our venues for church events. It would be great if these guys are buff and muscular, spends their time in the gym, eats chicken breast everyday and drinks their protein shakes. NO. It was actually the opposite. These guys are thin and sometimes, you would even call them a little frail.

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If you can’t still see the entire picture, just to sum it up, they walk 3 hours from Manila to Quezon City, sleeps at the Destiny Center to prepare for transporting equipment the day after. Wakes up at around 3 or 4 in the morning, loads equipment sometimes heavier than themselves even, into two separate trucks, takes a very quick bath, transports the equipment to our venue, sets it up and serves the entire day in our five services then, sets everything down, transports it again back to our storage center, segregates equipment properly ready to be picked up if needed for the next even. That was our routine then. We usually go home at around 2AM or 3AM of Monday – the next day. Now sometimes, you need to repeat that around 4 or 5 times during the week for all the other events, midweek services, etc. Talk about the commitment of these guys.

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Just to clarify things, I did not put it all here to show off or to undermine other people’s commitment. I just wanted to show you how far these guys are willing to exert themselves because they truly love God and they love our nation.

From here on, I would like to say some of the things in Filipino because they convey the message more clearly.

Sa Destiny, naniniwala kami na ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng ating bayan. Naniniwala kami na, eventually, kakailanganin ng bansang ito ang mga lider na tatayo ng may integridad sa iba’t-ibang larangan. Maaaring ito ay sa gobyerno man, sa pribadong sektor, sa larangan ng arte at sining, musika, agham, teknolohiya, atbp.

So back to Mark and Kevin, they were willing to go so far doing a work in which they are not paid for – volunteering entirely because they want to see this nation change. And that on their own part, they are contributing in making that happen. How? The equipment they set-up makes our Sunday Service possible which enables our Pastors to focus on doing what they do best, minister to people and proclaim the message of Salvation – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They know that in doing so, people are saved from the clutches of Satan, lives are transformed, families restored and they help in eventually winning people to Jesus which will become future leaders of this nation. Leaders that have vision, integrity and the fear of God.

In their own little part, they contribute to change. To making this nation a better place.

I remembered this verse in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 in the Amplified Bible Translation:

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 AMP

 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours! 25 Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither]. 26 Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. 27 But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service].

Earlier today, in one of our Youth gatherings, I saw this video of Mark. It was a video of what they are doing in their campus – in Universidad de Manila. That they are inviting people, doing small groups, leading people to Jesus. Now, they don’t walk from Manila to Quezon City. God has blessed their hearts and provided for them. Mark is now a 2nd Year, Electronics and Communications Engineering student in Universidad de Manila. When I saw that video, I got teary-eyed. He handled himself with so much eloquence, dignity and passion – passion for his campus, to seeing his campus be changed right side up for Jesus.

This guys, Mark and Kevin. They had their limitations but they never stopped dreaming – dreaming big dreams for God. Now, since they have honored God and their leaders with so much, God is also blessing them with so much.

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When I saw that video, I am so proud. Proud that they are my team-mates too. So proud that indeed, these guys are the guys I will choose to guard my back if needed to. Proud that they have grown so much from those children I knew to leaders sold out to God and uncompromising. Proud also that they have been honored earlier in their commitment.

I have seen them since and I am seeing them now and I just am unable to see the limit of what God can do in their lives. I am believing for so much more for these guys. God is not yet done in their lives. That I am sure of.

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Mark Reyes
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Kevin Diwata

I have so much more to tell about them but let those stories be for another time. But I’ll end with this. Remember when I used to joke that, Universidad de Manila which is known as UdM meant Unibersidad ng Dakilang Maynila? Well, that might not be a joke anymore. One day, I believe, it will be a reality. 🙂