Wednesday, January 7, 2009

SOMETHING INSPIRING… FOR A CHANGE

Okay, we’re supposed to write something inspiring here.
2009 came in minus the usual thunderous welcome we traditionally prepare for the new year. Well, there was some noise alright, but compared to past new year celebrations, this one sort of fizzled – a mere headphone, instead of the familiar loud speakers.
And this is good. Perhaps, we’re learning.
*****
According to the SWS survey, 92% of Filipinos shall face 2009 with high hopes. Now, a negative attitude which one puts on as the calendar changes is not healthy at all. Why brood, why worry, why lose belief – when we can do so much? There is just one thing that worries me, though: who, the hell, comprise the negative-minded 8%?
*****
In the Chinese calendar, 2009 is the year of the ox – but the Chinese new year will still make its entry on January 26, thus all the preparations we insist on copying from the Chinese must be applied on that date.
The Chinese method of identifying every year with animals has greatly influenced most people, even those living in western-influenced countries. So much is its influence that people’s personality and character are often regarded in relation to their Chinese horoscope more than that of its western counterparts.
The Ox years near our time are 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997 and of course 2009 – meaning, Ox people can expect 2009 to be very good for them.
The basic traits of an Ox is being methodical and calm, hardworking, dependable and patient, and topped with an ambitious character. They are said to be great in organizing and they are so logical, that is why people go to them for advice.
Unfortunately, balancing these positive characteristics of the Ox are some negative traits associated with them. People born in this year are also said to be stubborn, narrow minded, and with low public relations skills.
Interesting combinations, I must say. Rather contradictory, if one goes further. For how can one be patient and yet be stubborn at the same time? These are the things that make one conclude: “horoscopes are pure nonsense” – but most of us love horoscopes. Especially when we get to read positive traits that the horoscopes claim we possess. In a confirmatory stance, we say “Wen man nga agpayso, kasta-ak.” But when we get to the unpleasant descriptions, we simply say “That’s not true.” So we turn to the western signs for vindication. We hunt down for the shimmering descriptions embodied in Aquarius, Libra, Pisces, etc.
Ahh, life.
By the way, considering the low public relation skills of Ox-born people, they must shy away from employment in the media and communications industry – including posts in politics. Especially politics.
*****
Mimosa. It is a shade of yellow.
Pantone Company (the color authority) picks Mimosa as the Color of the Year for 2009. In a time of economic uncertainty and political change, the color authority suggests that this warm yellow represents optimism, hope and reassurance.
Yellow is actually one bright color that is appealing to both genders – as opposed to pink and dainty shades of green. Thus the world of fashion may benefit from similar attention given to yellow by both genders.
*****
Every year for the last nine years, Beliefnet – an organization in the USA – has recognized 10 people whose outstanding humanitarian actions inspire and encourage people to live better lives. On the last day of voting, three champions stood out. The three finalists were Steven Curtis Chapman, the heroic Boy Scouts, and Prof. Randy Pausch.
Steven Curtis Chapman, a Christian music star (original singer of I Will Be Here), had long been a passionate advocate of adoption, inspiring thousands of families to provide homes for children from China. He underwent a tremendous tragedy this year when his adopted daughter Maria Sue was accidentally run over by his teenage son. Chapman held his family together through faith and faced the inevitable media attention with courage, serving as a model for suffering parents everywhere.
The heroic Boy Scouts of the Midwest withstood a killer tornado that struck their encampment in Iowa while they were at a leadership training. The young teens, who called on the skills they had learned in scouting, saved many of their fellow scouts, forming mini-triage centers and refusing to panic. Tragically, four of the boys died. These youngsters were recognized for their courage and steadfastness under the most challenging conditions.
But in the end, the editors selected Dr. Randy Pausch, the professor who, facing imminent death from pancreatic cancer, delivered a “last lecture” that inspired millions of people to live every day more consciously and achieve their dreams.
Pausch was selected because of his huge, far-reaching impact and because even after his death he continues to inspire legions of viewers. Pausch's lecture, delivered for a small audience at Carnegie Mellon University where he was a professor of computer science, became an internet phenomenon. He reached more people than he ever dreamed of. People uploaded his words of wisdom and inspiring tips for life and forwarded them to friends. By 2008, his inspiration had reached millions of people. His message was simple and powerful: "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."
He showed the importance of living each day well, even if one is dying, and to never give up on your dreams.
I hope the 8% Filipinos surveyed by SWS who are pessimistic about 2009 can learn a lot from that simple message.
*****
As for my most amusing media incident for 2008, I would have to point out Muntadhar al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist with Egypt-based al-Baghdadia television network. He was the reporter who threw his shoes – flung one at a time – at outgoing US President George W. Bush when he visited Baghdad, Iraq last December.
When a reporter later questioned him about the incident, Bush said "So what if the guy threw his shoes at me? It's one way to gain attention.”
Here’s the stinger: Lebanese television channel NTV, known for its opposition to Washington, went as far as offering a job to the journalist al-Zaidi. In its evening news bulletin shortly after the incident, the TV network said that if al-Zaidi takes the job, he will be paid “from the moment the first shoe was thrown.”
Now, can you imagine Maki Pulido of GMA-7 throwing her stiletto heels at our very own president?

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