26 February 2008

A Lesson on Filipino Crab Mentality

Below is a story I read on the blog of Kurma Dasa.

I found it to be very insightful and significant, one that really strikes to the heart of the matter.

Read it carefully, for I find that the tale, tall or true as it may be, is one of the best justifications for the Filipino to shed its innate crab mentality all but ingrained into its fiber. Though many feel that this trait is nothing more than that, one that is not harmful or destructive. I beg to disagree, as you will see how much this story below reflects crab mentality in its truest and most common form.

The Brahmana and the Prostitute

Once, near the peaceful village of Vrndavana, the transcendental place where Krsna manifested His pastimes on earth, there lived a scholarly brahmana (priest) and servant of Krsna. Opposite his home, there lived a prostitute.

As a daily observance, the brahmana would sit in his doorway and recite the Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, then cook offering for the Deities in the Temple. His cooking abilities were famous throughout the land. Meanwhile, across the street, the prostitute would tend to her business.

As the years passed, the brahmana grew ever more disturbed by the prostitute.
'Just see how lowly and disgusting she is. How can such a low life ever leave her disgraceful body near the beautiful land of Vrndavana!' He would proudly and arrogantly think this to himself, then continue with his recitation while cooking various preparations.

It so happened that both the brahmana and the prostitute died at the same time. To the brahmana's surprise, the Vishnudutas (the Lord of Vaikuntha's messengers) came to deliver the prostitute while the Yamadutas (the Lord of Death's messengers) came for him.

'What is this'? he protested to the Yamadutas. 'There must be some mistake!'

The Yamadutas replied, 'My dear brahmana, there is no mistake. While you were busy meditating on the lowly activities of the prostitute, she listened to you recite the Gita and prayed that she could one day elevate herself to your position.

In this way the prostitute achieved liberation while you only degraded yourself to take birth on a planet of prostitutes.'

So, my friends, it is very clear as to what extent our ill trait affects each of us, especially on the spiritual level. May this serve as a reminder that all our actions and thoughts DO somehow form what we are and determine what becomes of us in Death.
Let us not look far, for even in the Holy Bible, Jesus Christ saw the same Light in Mary Madalene. So as we look at the people around us, we must see God in each and everyone, lest we fall into the realm of crabs and take birth as one.

13 February 2008

Quan Yin

Ever since I was a little boy, we have had a white porcelain statue of an oriental-looking lady in our living room. She stands on what looks like a huge plant, and holds in her hands a flower whose thorny vines gracefully wrap around her flowing robes. The statue has an intricate wooden base that contrasts, yet adds, to the beauty of the subject.

My mom says she hand-carried the statue with great pains from Singapore during one of her trips.

I later found out, after seeing many other visual representations of this lady, that our statue was of the merciful Bodhisattva Quan Yin. She is said to have vowed never to return to heaven, and remain among us, until she had ensured that all beings had been freed from samsara, or reincarnation, and would finally come home to the source.

Although most depictions of her are oriental, it seems that references point to her Indian roots, in the same way that the Buddha is commonly mistaken as being Chinese. But then again, in those days, we did not have the same territorial distinctions we are all too stuck up in now. As the painting above suggests, we see Quan Yin dressed in traditional 'Bharat' attire, but possessing unmistakable oriental features. Beautiful fusion, I must say.

Because of her great compassion, she is sometimes the object of a cruelty-free or vegetarian lifestyle.

Hands down, when asked what my favorite vegetarian restaurant in the heart of Manila is, my response is Quan Yin Chay.

One fellow blogger I sincerely admire, Senor Enrique, wrote about Quan Yin Chay very recently.

You can read about it here.

09 February 2008

Philippine Congress

I received an enlightening email recently, which made me think hard about some recent goings-on, and I now toss this question at you:

If 'CON' is the opposite of 'PRO',
then is
CONGRESS the opposite of PROGRESS?
Well now, is it?!

08 February 2008

Unexpected Find at NLEX

I apologize for not having pictures for this post, not even a menu to back up my claim, only what I can recall of my recent experience.

On my way to Subic Bay from Manila two evenings ago, a friend and I decided to go past both Shell and Petron to see what lay ahead of us by way of dinner at the new Total station along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). I must say that I still can't get over how much better it is to ply the north expressway after its rehabilitation. Imagine, we quickly we made it from the Balintawak toll plaza to Total in around 30 minutes. With the old system, it would have taken us the unpredictable route, ranging from an hour to 2 hours, depending on traffic levels.

As we pulled into the Total station, I must admit that the choices were not as varied as that of Petron's or Shell's. There was no Teriyaki Boy or Starbucks. What greeted us, at this late hour of 10PM, was a bunch of empty outlets including Tropical Hut, a dine-in Andok's, another place I forget and.... a Japanese/Korean resto whose name I forgot. We settled for the Japanese/Korean resto in place of a bowl of instant cup noodles at the mini-store.

Upon stepping into the resto, we couldn't help but notice the cheap prices. Cheap prices = crappy food, we thought. My friend ordered a chicken teriyaki bento box, while I ordered a bowl of hot soba noodles and vegetable tempura. They didn't have Kimchi, for some reason.

Were we going to head to the mini-store for a bowl of instant noodles?

Fortunately, we were proved wrong. The food was surprisingly decent for their prices. It was my impression that they do not scrimp out on the quality of their ingredients. The miso soup tasted like it was made of good quality miso, the soba broth wasn't just made from soy sauce and my friend says the chicken teriyaki was "quite good".

The next time you head over up north, stop by the Total station, it is definitely not as crowded as the first two petrol stations, and where you can find a decent Jap/Korean resto to try. Although, I can't vouch for the rest of the items on their menu, I guess it is worth a try for the price. Besides, the Total station provides for a relatively relaxing pit stop.