Saturday, October 30, 2004

A demon named Jealousy

A demon named Jealousy

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Saturday, October 30, 2004 12:42 AM

If there is one demon that eats a man up and tears him apart, it is the Jealousy Demon. Men have such a terrible time handling jealousy.

Jealousy can make of a gentle man a roaring lion and even a homicidal maniac. The Jealousy Demon has provoked men to kill. It has destroyed more love relationships and collapsed more marriages than you can imagine. The Jealousy Demon is a tricky fellow. He pretends that he does his work in the name of love when in truth, he is all about low self-esteem, insecurity and controlling behavior.

Even the most solid man can, of course, get jealous if there is a real reason to be so. You become jealous when you fear losing your beloved. You might feel threatened by someone you sense could move into your relationship and steal your loved one. If you are correct about your suspicions; if there is really something there; if the threat is real, then you have every reason to be jealous.

If, however, your jealousy is justified, it is because there is a crack in your relationship. Perhaps things are not going well and your beloved is tempted to play with fire. Maybe there is conflict and boredom and your partner is seen looking over the fence for some consolation.

This is when panic sets in and the Jealousy Demon goes to work on you with a fury. You feel threatened. You fear losing the love you cherish. You ask yourself what went wrong, why you are not enough for your beloved. You are hurt and perhaps even insulted because your loved one seems to be looking away and searching for someone else. You sense that you might be losing your grip on the relationship. You might even feel so upset that you wonder if you are going crazy.

If, however, you are jealous for no real reason, then the Jealousy Demon really has you running around in circles. Now you’re imagining ghosts that are not really there. You’re making accusations that are far fetched and off the wall. Your beloved is as loyal as can be, but you cannot believe it. Your low self-esteem and your lack of confidence in your ability to keep your beloved kick in and cause you to imagine all sorts of threats that only exist in your troubled imaginings.

You suffer even more than the jealous person who is justifiably jealous because you have nothing to go on. You can’t prove anything and what you think is a real threat is proven false time and again. You have become paranoid. You are so possessive of your partner that it is difficult for your beloved to breathe.

All this creates a growing level of stress and tension which becomes unbearable after a time. It gravely damages your love and threatens to destroy it. And should your relationship survive and the Jealousy Demon remains firmly entrenched in your heart, then your relationship becomes a real hell. And if there is no true threat, your jealousy becomes a major threat in itself and could, in time, cause the collapse of the very love you want to save.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Meaningful sexual intimacy

Meaningful sexual intimacy

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Thursday, October 28, 2004 11:40 PM

There are few moments between a man and a woman that are more profound than meaningful sexual intimacy. I do not refer here to just sexual activity and sexual intercourse, but meaningful sexual intimacy.

So many couples are dissatisfied with their sex life. This is because intercourse is only one aspect of sexual intimacy. For some couples, however, intercourse is pretty much their only expression of sexual intimacy. It is so sad that some unfortunate couples experience intercourse only as the goal of sexual intimacy.

In truth, there are many more dimensions to meaningful sexual intimacy than just intercourse. Intercourse without intimacy can become exploitive, manipulating and controlling. Without the dimensions of intimacy, sexual intercourse can become quite ugly. It degenerates into using one or each other and treating the partner as a sex object. Much like the experience with a prostitute when two persons exploit each other. One for gain, the other to satisfy lustful cravings.

Meaningful sexual intimacy means more than that. It is a time for true sharing, of giving and receiving more than sexual pleasure. As a marriage counselor, I have had countless cases of women who complain that sexual intercourse has become a meaningless burden, an obligation to fulfill. There is a sense of being used, not loved. There is the belief that the man is exploiting them, using them for his pleasure without any real concern for their well-being and satisfaction. These miserable women see intercourse as something to be avoided when possible. When that isn’t possible, then they bear it as best they can. Sometimes they pretend to be satisfied. When, however, the relationship is dying, they don’t even fake it anymore. Instead, they either make their disgust known or they refuse to participate altogether in the charade.

Sexual intimacy without true love isn’t true. It isn’t authentic, but more of a biological act used to relieve one’s sexual cravings. It objectifies the partner, and objectification has nothing to do with true love.

I remember a decent man telling me that he no longer felt like touching his wife because his love for her was dying and the act of love was, for him, no longer an expression of love. Instead, he felt that he was into cold, hard exploitation when he had sex with her. And he wanted it stopped because he had a conscience and it bothered him.

For sexual intimacy to be meaningful and true, it must be sealed with love. It must be a vehicle to increase the intensity of love in the relationship. The sexual activity must not be taken out of the context of love. The sexual pleasures are more meaningful as love grows deeper.

Sexual intimacy is more meaningful if it becomes a venue for real sharing of thoughts and feelings. It should “feel good” emotionally and intellectually as well as physically.

This does not happen in extreme, opposite cases. Take the sex addict, for example. He does not care about intimacy. In fact, he fears it because he fears commitment, and real intimacy leads to commitment and the deepening of a commitment. He wants to enjoy the pleasures without having to get into the business of true love which for him is scary.

Lovemaking should be all about making love stronger and more profound. It is about a whole lot more than just having sex.


If you have problems about drugs, alcohol and behavior/attitude call my office at 820-6107 or 825-1771 or, e-mail me at or write me at P.O. Box 2099 MCPO, Makati City

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Overcoming fear of commitment

Overcoming fear of commitment

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Wednesday, October 27, 2004 10:00 PM

Another tactic that men use when they feel threatened by a woman whom they fear might be difficult to control is the delay. They come up with all sorts of excuses.

They say they are not ready and cite a thousand and one reasons. The truth, however, is that they find difficulty in making

a commitment and taking the plunge.

Men have many delusions about themselves. They believe they are the stronger sex. When they meet a woman who is very talented, who has brighter personality and who is more successful, their delusions about themselves can explode. So they suddenly feel vulnerable and threatened when the time comes to commit for a lifetime. They don’t relish the prospect of playing second fiddle to a woman.

Another tactic that guys use to keep a woman at arm’s length is to tell her that he has strong doubts about remaining faithful. This might be true if he is a bona fide womanizer and sex addict. But then, even if he isn’t, he might use this strategy to cause the woman to hesitate and eventually back off.

Then you will find men who are ready to give up a relationship because they feel that love has lost its luster. They feel that the level of their love has fallen and that it cannot rise anymore. So they use this as a reason to delay or even break off the relationship. They can-

not seem to accept that in love there are rainy days when love doesn’t shine brightly. They see every bump in the road as a mountain to climb. Men are, in general, less disposed to work hard at a relationship. Women are ready to put a whole lot more into it than are the men. When men sense a temporary fall in the intensity of love, they put up their hands and walk away instead of putting their hands to work.

This fear of losing autonomy is experienced differently by men and depends on many factors. The expression “tie the knot” is scary for most men who value their independence. They fear their loss of freedom will not be worth the paybacks of a committed relationship.

The worst thing a woman can do is to make a man she loves and hopes to marry feel like he will get tied down after the wedding.

Commitment that is sincere and true always results in dramatic changes in one’s lifestyle. It redirects one’s focus and causes a person to make a number of trade-offs, some of which will be painful indeed. The move from the single state to that of a committed married man is huge. It’s scary too even if a guy is madly in love.The fear of intimacy and the fear of losing autonomy are clearly linked. Men fear that if they become too intimate, they could get sucked into a deeper relationship than they bargained for which could result in a loss of freedom. Besides, the fear of intimacy could also expose many of the weaknesses they have worked hard to hide.

Unless a man is at peace with himself and accepts his true self, he will fear intimacy and possible rejection. Only the man who has a healthy self-image and possesses strong self-esteem is ready to satisfy the requirements of meaningful intimacy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

More on men’s fear of getting too intimate

More on men’s fear of getting too intimate

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Tuesday, October 26, 2004 11:24 PM

Part 2 of 3 parts

When the conversations that women have with men turn very personal, the guys will often build a protective wall around themselves.

They begin to withdraw and become silent or evasive. They clearly don’t like the direction the talk is going and do what they can to change the topic. If that fails, they simply shut down and retreat into silence.

These thick walls, these various defenses are the shields they use to protect themselves from the intimacy that women value so much. If the guy can go back into his shell, the threat of vulnerability, the possibility of losing himself in a woman is neutralized.

Sure, guys like girls, but they are quickly attracted to a woman more because of her looks than her brains. In fact, very intelligent women turn off most men because they fear being controlled by the female whom they know has a superior mind. Besides, brainy women can shake a guy’s self-esteem a whole lot. That is a risk that most men are not willing to take. In fact, a lot of men will prefer women whom they believe are inferior to them. That way, they are convinced that they will be in control of the relationship. Their silent motto is “The dumber, the better.”

Other men escape into their careers and hide from intimacy in the midst of their work. They talk and talk about their work as a way of not having to deal with too much intimacy.

Some guys are very direct and simply don’t want to talk about anything that is very personal. They are quick to converse about everything except the very personal. The woman knows him, but feels she doesn’t truly know him. She can never seem to draw him out of himself long enough to make much headway. He continues to be real mystery to her, a mystery she can never seem to solve.

Some men keep themselves so busy that they hardly have the time for intimacy (definition: knowledge of something based on personal exposure). They throw themselves into their work with such gusto that they can’t become too involved in a love relationship. The partner of this type of person has to live her life without very much intimacy, and it can get very lonely at times. These men use the volume of work to ward off a woman’s threatening love.

If men fail to keep the woman at a distance using these strategies, then some of them simply grow cold and pull back the warmth that they had previously given. They become less loving, less gentle in an effort to shut down what they believe are intrusions into their private space.

We see this in counseling when the counselor gets too close to some personal matter for comfort. The guy will either respond with measured hostility or simply grow silent.

When intimacy deepens, some men do not see this as a blessing. Instead, it is perceived to be a threat to their independence and emotional well-being.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Why men fear intimacy

Why men fear intimacy

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Monday, October 25, 2004 10:59 PM

Part 1 of 3 parts

Why is it so difficult for men to love a woman with a love that is true? I mean love that is deeply intimate and not just skin deep. Love that is sharing of the most intimate kind, a baring of the heart and soul, a meaningful opening up of the very personal.

Men don’t talk much about their feelings, especially those deep, inner feelings about very personal matters. Women are good at this and they expect their men to share with the same intensity as they do. Sadly, more often than not, they are disappointed. Intimate sharing is not the strong point of most men. In fact, it is where they are most lacking.

Is it because men don’t know how to be intimate? Or is it because they fear intimacy? I think it’s a little bit of both. First, they are not used to it. When boys get together, the last thing they want to talk about are matters of the heart. They would much rather get into sports, cars, music and yes, girls, but when they talk about females it’s more about sex than affairs of the heart. Girls, for the most part, are just the opposite. They would much rather talk about intimate matters.

And so, when boy meets girl, you can imagine how difficult it can be. She wants to talk about feelings, about the heart. He’s lost and cannot find the words to express what he feels because it’s not his thing. He isn’t used to it. She’s frustrated and so is he, both for different reasons.

I was reminded of this just a moment ago. My daughter was sharing with me what happened during a dinner date last night. Well, nothing happened. She told me how she did all the talking because the guy could only utter a word now and then. Now, she’s a good listener, but she had to carry the conversation (monologue) because the guy was completely out of it. “Never again,” she said to me, “that was the first and the last time.”

Men don’t like to talk about personal matters because of fear. Fear of what? Fear of losing their independence in a close relationship. Knowledge is power, and he who opens up in a relationship makes himself vulnerable. And men don’t like to be exposed and vulnerable. This is also why they have to be dragged into counseling. They fear that being open will weaken them.

Rollo May says “it’s the fear of being totally absorbed by the other, the fear of losing one’s self and one’s autonomy.” Otto Rank, a psychologist, called it “death fear.”

When men fall in love, they fear losing control. One man, a relative of mine, said it well. “I don’t want to have to ask permission or consult with a woman when I want to get up and go somewhere or do something.” He is still single today.Some men get turned off completely when a woman probes too intensely. When a guy called my daughter a few years ago and wanted to court her, she started asking him a lot of personal questions that made him feel very uneasy. Finally, he asked her, “Are you cross-examining me?” He stopped calling.

More tomorrow.

Monday, October 25, 2004

'I was wrong' is all right

'I was wrong' is all right

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Sunday, October 24, 2004 9:22 PM

It takes a very strong man to admit to his weaknesses. It calls for character to accept one’s mistakes. Not many of us have the guts to do so. Consequently, we resort to making excuses and blaming others for our failures.

The great George Washington Carver, a black man, who made his mark in a hostile environment said, “Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.” Carver was a man who could have made countless excuses, but did not.

Instead, he faced his reality, and rolled up his sleeves and got to work doing something with his life. He had little time to make excuses for himself.

You need to have character and a healthy ego to face failure and mistakes without blame tossing. Persons with low self-esteem cannot do it for fear of further collapsing their fragile make-up.

Someone said, “You can learn from your mistakes if you don’t waste your time denying and defending them. Excuses are the tools a person with no purpose or vision uses to build great monuments of emptiness.”

There are those who blame their poverty for their misery even if so many industrious poor persons are able to lift themselves out of even greater poverty by hard work. And in a country that all too often relies on luck to make it, there are too many people who sit around waiting to hit it big in the lotto. Meanwhile, they blame everything and everyone for their misery. “Some men,” wrote Willis Whitney, “have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to do when all they really need is one reason why they can.”

John Mason writes: “When a winner makes a mistake, he says, ‘I was wrong.’ When a loser makes a mistake, he says, ‘It wasn’t my fault.’ Do you admit and say, ‘I was wrong,’ or do you say, ‘It wasn’t my fault.’ A winner explains; a loser explains away.”

“The best years of your life,” says Albert Ellis, “are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You don’t blame them on your mother, the ecology or the president. You realize that you control your destiny.”

We are quick to take the credit when we succeed. We are even tempted to take the credit when others succeed. When, however, we fail, we make excuses and/or blame toss. That isn’t the way of success. When you get into the habit of making excuses, you start believing them and don’t learn a thing when you fail or make a mistake. If, on the other hand, you have the courage and the character to face the music when it’s awful, then you learn and grow.

The last word is given to the very successful Florence Nightingale who said, “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took an excuse.”

Saturday, October 23, 2004

How many of us still believe in honesty?

How many of us still believe in honesty?

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Saturday, October 23, 2004 12:02 AM

In the old days, a man’s word of honor was, in great part a measure of his value. When a man gave his word, he was expected to keep it.

My dad was such a man. I cannot remember him lying to me. Neither can I recall him ever breaking his promises. He was poor all his life, but when he died I was surprised to see the church jampacked with people, many of whom I had never met. They had come to pay their respects to a man who had little in his life. Still, the one thing they kept repeating to me was, “Your dad was an honest man.” What greater tribute can you give to someone at life’s end?

The great Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.” I wonder though how true that is for us today. We live in a society where trust is a rare commodity and men of honor are increasingly difficult to find.

There are countless security guards everywhere. High walls and locked doors are the norm. At the counters of shops, checkers check the cashier and then are checked by the guard. And we were all witnesses to the ballot counting in Congress during the last elections. The way accusations of cheating were flying back and forth, it was as if there was no honest man (woman) anywhere in sight. There was a clear message sent and it read: “We are all crooks here and we can’t trust one another. There is no honor in this hall. All of us are liars and manipulators. Victory will go to the quickest and the most skillful among us.”

It is so disheartening to live in a society where dishonesty is not only the norm, but where it is actually celebrated. Where the dishonest man who gets away with stealing and cheating is not sanctioned, but looked up to for beating the system and enriching himself.

It is a society where women remove their jewelry before boarding buses and jeepneys and pray that they get to their destination without incident. Where one is surprised if the cop or the government official does not ask for a bribe.

When a cab driver returns something forgotten, it is so rare that the story makes it way to the front pages. We are more shocked by honesty than by graft and corruption which we have learned to live with. We even aid and abet it when we get fed up with waiting or when it works to our advantage.

David Blunt said, “If you continue to do what’s right, what’s wrong and who’s wrong will eventually leave your life.” How many of us truly believe it? How many of us believe that old worn phrase, “Honesty is the best policy?” How many of us sincerely believe that right is right even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong even if everyone is for it?

How many of us believe the words of Horace Greely who wrote, ”the darkest hour of any man’s life is when he sits down to plan how to get money without earning it.?”

The answer will make all the difference in the world for us a society.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Don't fear change, go with the flow

Don't fear change, go with the flow

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Friday, October 22, 2004 12:39 AM

Why is it that we often find life so difficult? Because we get surprised by change and unexpected events. We like permanence. We look for predictability because therein lies the known. We fear the unknown because it holds so many surprises, yet, it is in the impermanence of continuous change that we grow as persons.

From the day we are born, till the last moments at the hour of death, we experience a never-ending chain of events, happenings and inner movements of the heart that build one upon the other as we grow in maturity and wisdom.

Though there is an instinctive fear of the unknown that changes inevitably bring, we are aware that without change, we remain stagnant and drift backwards downstream as life passes us by. Impermanence causes us to feel insecure, even fearful. We then try to hold on to what we have and what we are in an attempt to keep what we have, to remain what we are.

Organizations and governments hate change. And so do the people who work in them. They vigorously resist change and the unknowns it brings. Better to keep the status quo than to risk, even if the potential benefits far outweigh what is here present.

We are terrified to let go. The lover who finds herself in a toxic relationship won’t get out because she fears letting go because doing so might bring even more pain than she now suffers.

We change mostly when we have no choice. We get off the ship only when it’s burning and sinking. And some of us would rather go down with it than take our chances in the sea of the unknown.

Still, if we look back on our past, it becomes crystal clear that what has propelled us forward to success in our endeavors was change. How many of us felt depressed at experiencing unwanted change only to find greater happiness in the changes that followed?

I know a man who felt it was the end of the world when he got fired from his job. He had no place to go, no means of support. The future was pitch black with not even a sliver of light in sight.

He finally landed a part-time job that was so successful that he formed his own company and went on to become a multimillionaire. He told me that his firing was the best thing that ever happened to him. It changed the course of his life and led to success he could never imagine.

How many seeming tragedies end up being great blessings in disguise? How many misfortunes lead to unexpected fortunes? How many criticisms of God end up embarrassing us as we find ourselves blessed beyond belief?

We need to learn to accept that change is an integral part of life. We need not fear impermanence because the Lord on high has endowed us and empowered us to deal with it and grow, not despite it but because of it.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Is your child watching too much television

Is your child watching too much television

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Thursday, October 21, 2004 12:32 AM

Technology has become an integral part of our lives. Even in our developing and poor country, the moment our people have a few extra pesos, they buy a cell phone. Maids may not earn very much, but so many can be seen texting.

The Internet is limited to a relatively few, but it’s here and it has opened a whole new world for our people. So much, so soon. And the coming years will bring unimaginable new gadgets that will make life more interesting.

But for now, even the poor can count on an old standby for their pleasure. Television antennas can be seen on the roofs of even the most rundown shacks. TV is the entertainment of the poor. You cannot blame them for spending some rare pesos to give themselves a daily escape from the harsh realities of grinding poverty.

But television has its flipside, too. I remember the barangay captain of barrio Calumayin on the shore of Taal Lake where we have our rest house. He told me that when electricity was brought in a few years ago, everybody bought a television set and, believe it or not, he complained that people spent so much time watching TV that work wasn’t getting done.

Like every good thing when carried to excess, TV becomes a curse. In an August 5, 2004 article in the International Herald Tribune, Jane Brody reports that “studies have documented unhealthful effects on weight, attention span, reading skills, and socialization among children who spend hours a day watching television or playing video games.”

Brody says that long term studies have shown that child obesity is somewhat related to excessive TV viewing. “… a child glued to the tube is sitting still, using the fewest calories of any activity except sleeping. Such children get less exercise than those who watch less television, and they see more commercials for unhealthful foods and beverages. They also have more opportunity to consume such food than do children who are out playing. It is no surprise, then, that the percentage of children who are seriously overweight is rising.

“TV reduction appears to be the most effective measure in reducing weight gain,” said Dr. William Dietz of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Aside from this, kids who watch too much TV have other problems. “Studies have found that children who watch 10 or more hours of television a week have lower reading scores and perform less well academically than comparable youngsters who spend less time watching television. Studies of brain function show evidence of direct harm to the brains of young children who watch television for two or more hours a day.“Watching television fosters development of brain circuits, or ‘habits of the mind,’ that result in increased aggressiveness, lower tolerance levels and decreased attention span, in lieu of developing language circuits in the brain’s left hemisphere.”

Another study found that “children aged 10-15 who watched five or more hours of TV a day were SIX times as likely to start smoking as those who watched less than two hours a day.”

These findings did not surprise me, but they should be a wake-up call for us parents who allow our kids to watch as much TV as they like. Perhaps more supervision and less time in front of the idiot box will be more beneficial than we ever thought.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The laboratory called Life

The laboratory called Life

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Monday, October 18, 2004 11:48 PM

Why is it that we need to learn so much about life the hard way? Why must teenagers get hurt instead of listening to the wisdom of their elders?

The answer is, I think, because we learn by doing. We don’t listen very well, and even when we do pay attention, there is something in us that causes us to doubt. So we go off on our own and test the theories, the wisdom of our elders.

Life is like a laboratory where we experiment with how to live. We hear the advice of those who came before us, but it isn’t enough. We need to experience to truly learn and formulate our own convictions. We have to practice ways of thinking and doing in order to feel secure about ourselves.

This is why youngsters make so many mistakes. It is why they gather in groups so easily and quickly. They gain confidence and security in numbers and the sense of belonging. They blindly copy and imitate their idols hoping that they can carry them through to adulthood. The changes come fast and furiously at them and the challenge of meeting these changes is too great for some kids to handle. So they escape into their own world of drugs, alcohol, sex or any other convenient hideaway. And because they cannot handle change, they are stunted in their growth as human beings.

Life is a laboratory of change. As we get used to dealing with the countless unexpected changes in life, we become more relaxed, more skillful in coping with them. As a result, we grow more quickly and steadily.

We often fear change. We enjoy the comfort of the familiar. We tend to get tense when the status quo is threatened. We worry that our world might be turned upside down and we won’t be able to handle it.

Not to worry. Changes are opportunities to grow, to improve ourselves and to mature.

A wise Eastern writer said it well when he wrote: “Just as medical studies require both theory and practice, so does life, and in life the practical training is here, is now, in the laboratory of change. As changes occur we learn to look at them with a new understanding; and though they will still go on arising just as they did before, something in us will be different.

“The whole situation will now be more relaxed, less intense and painful; even the impact of the changes we go through we will find less shocking. With each successive change we realize a little bit more, and our view of living becomes deeper and more spacious.”

Changes are on the way. Be brave and face them with the courage that lies within the depths of your soul. Exciting new adventures in growth await you and are yours for the taking.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Letter from a seminarian

Letter from a seminarian

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Monday, October 18, 2004 12:58 AM

A while ago, I gave a talk about the tough demands of the priesthood to a group of major seminarians. I threw one challenge after another at them. I emphasized just how difficult it is to live the priestly lifestyle as it should be. Too many seminarians have a lot of naïve ideas about what it takes to be a quality priest, a priest who is a man of God.

Later, I received an e-mail from one of the seminarians who attended that talk. I want to share it with you because it reflects all that is good, noble and inspiring in the commitment of seminarians who want to serve God and His people for all the right reasons.

* * *

Dear Bob:

I just want to thank you for your great concern for the mother church we both love. The church that was entrusted in our charge! I was deeply moved by the woundedness of our priests today. Now at least I know the whole reality of the priesthood that I so desire to receive. Thank you very much.

I have become more aware of its demands and was challenged to do more and to change the things I have been doing mechanically.

Sometimes, things in the seminary become so familiar that most of us fail to see their importance and take them for granted. In my prayers today and every time I sit or kneel inside the chapel, I bear all those reminders you have given me.

At the start of the school year during the Holy Spirit mass here, I asked for one thing from the Lord. I don’t know why I asked that but I felt the need for it. That is the gift of courage. After you came here. I realized why God inspired me to ask for it. It is really needed badly! And I thank God too for making me realize that. God has something to say now for all of us and I will let Him speak! And I will listen.

I also believe that the spirit is moving now, putting things in order once again, and I want to become a part of it. Bob, there are thousands of reasons to become worried and afraid, but I will take the risk, the challenge if this is the only way to please God whom I believe called me to serve Him.

From my childhood I dreamed of nothing but to become a priest and dreamt of being a martyr (like Bishop Romero). Now I am 24 years of age and I still want it. I tried hard to become a good seminarian and journeyed a lot. My many failures saddened the Lord, but His inspirations kept me on my feet. But I don’t know how long it will take me. There are so many uncertainties in life, but there is only one thing I am certain of: that God loves me.

In my whole life, I felt God and I still feel Him working in my life, and I don’t want to lose my grip on that experience. And yet, I cannot know what lies ahead. I want the best for my priesthood, but I cannot do it alone. I need people around me, people who constantly remind me to keep God’s greatest gift, the priesthood.I thought before that the priesthood doesn’t have any problem at all simply because it was God’s, but I was wrong. Anyone who would take it must, at the same time, carry the cross that Jesus carried and is still carrying until now. It is because of this that a simple dream that I had in my childhood will become a mission to fulfill. God Bless Us All!

Bro. Marchito H. Oriño
Prelature of Libmanan

* * *

Yes, Marchito, it’s true that “there are thousands of reasons to become worried and afraid.” This is why it is so inspiring to read your letter and feel the sincerity with which you wrote it. I can sense that you are on fire with God’s love and are determined to serve Him and God’s people in ways that are befitting of your high calling.

Your ability to do this will depend on how close you stay to the Lord you insist you love so dearly. Unless you can do this by maintaining a deeply rooted spirituality that is nurtured by an intense, I repeat, intense prayer life, you will fail and all those beautiful ideals found in your message will be thrown by the wayside.

When you leave the seminary, it will be testing time. This is when you will have to deal with multiple temptations, distractions and every sort of obstacles to keeping your spirituality on track.

This is why nothing, I repeat, nothing must be allowed to get in the way of your prayer life. It is what will sustain you and keep you close to God. Nothing else can do so.

We need more seminarians like you who are burning with zeal and whose noble ideals urge you on to serve God and us, His people. I wish you all God’s very best.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Maximize your potentials

Maximize your potentials

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Saturday, October 16, 2004 12:50 AM

It is amazing what even one little letter can do. Take the word “can.” Then add the letter t and you create an incredible difference: “can’t.”

It is just as amazing to see talented people standing around with skills that are wasted because they remain unused.

Take a look around and you will see highly talented people doing little or nothing with their lives. Then look again and you will find those who have comparably less talent but who are very successful. Somehow, they went far ahead of those who had a lot more to work with.

That word “work” is key. Many do not even attempt to work with what they have because they have lost confidence in themselves. They spend their time doing little with the talents they have. It is as if they do not recognize the value of what they are, of what they can do. Like the guy who has an armalite but thinks it’s water gun and is afraid to face the enemy.

Kahlil Gibran wrote: “Mankind have I loved. Ay, much have I loved men, and men in my opinion are three: the one who curses life, the one who blesses it, and the one who contemplates it. The first I have love for his misery, the second for his beneficence, and the third for his wisdom.”

There are those among us who curse life and the hand it has dealt them. They are bitter and angry and find difficulty smelling the flowers and seeing the beauty that surrounds them. They are the ones we need to reach out to because they need help to start living life. They are the takers in our midst who are grasping and insensitive to their fellowmen.

Then there are those who serve and are generous with their time, effort and resources. They are the givers, the incurable optimists who never fail to see the bright side of life even if they are often surrounded by darkness. They are dedicated to making our world a better place and it is because of them that civilization moves forward.

Then there are the thinkers. Those who inspire us to explore new avenues. They are the ones who help us to understand ourselves and our place in the universe. They provide us guidance and encouragement to walk the paths that lead us to greater heights and to higher levels of happiness.

We need to do more with ourselves than to simply exist. Living life means first assessing what we have and then actualizing our potentials. If we have the potentials, the Lord has also provided us the courage to put them to good use for our own benefit and that of mankind. If we wish to live life to the fullest, we need to understand that we have an obligation to ourselves, to mankind and to the Lord above to maximize our potentials and to be the best that we can be. Anything less just won’t do.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Know what healthy self-esteem can do

Know what healthy self-esteem can do

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Friday, October 15, 2004 1:29 AM

It’s amazing how important affirmations and honors are to most of us. All over the country, you will find names of donors on the walls of public schools, tributes to those who donated to the school. There are organizations that will give you a plaque of appreciation if you give a certain amount. They know how to get to those who are hungry to put something on the wall.

This isn’t true to everyone, however. There are those whose self-esteem is in such good shape that they don’t need these things. Take Michael Jordan, for example. In his book Rebound, the sports author Bob Greene writes about an exchange he had with Jordan. It was about the bronze sculpture of Michael in front of the United Center in Chicago where Jordan played during the best years of his life. Greene asked him how he felt about the honor.

“I’m not a statue,” Mike said. “I’m glad that people seem to like going to see the statue, but the whole thing makes me feel very strange. A statue just stands still forever while people stare at it. I’m a person. I’m alive.”

“People are tossing coins at it,” Greene said.

“Come on,” Jordan replied in disbelief.

“It’s true. They do it as a good luck thing. They try to make the coins land on the base of the statue and stick.”

“If they were going to toss coins at me,” said Michael, “I wish they would have done it while I was still playing.”

“Had you seen the statue before they drew the curtain back?”

“Not the real thing,” said the basketball immortal. “They’d shown me a model of it.”

“Do you ever plan to drive by it, when no one else is around?” asked Greene.

“No, it’s not something I have a whole lot of interest in doing… driving out to see myself in front of a building.”

“It might be an interesting feeling,” Greene insisted.

“What am I going to do?” Michael replied, “get out of the car and toss coins at myself for luck?”

“So you have no desire to go out some night by yourself and look at it?” said Greene, who wouldn’t let go.

“What do I want to look at a statue for” snapped Michael impatiently. “It’s a piece of metal. It’s stuck in one place. It doesn’t move. I’m a man.”

Now here’s a man who feels so good about himself that he doesn’t need what most of us would die for.

This is the same guy who said, “If you’re going to change your life, whatever you may say about it is basically meaningless unless and until you do it.”

The truly great ones who have made it and who have healthy self-esteem don’t need another plaque of appreciation. They already have a pile of them. They are too busy looking forward to spend much time thinking of what they have accomplished.

Again Jordan: “It’s up to you to decide what you ought to do with the time you have in your life. You’re the only one.”

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Thank you, Herr Goethe

Thank you, Herr Goethe

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Thursday, October 14, 2004 1:24 AM

I will never forget a quotation from the works of the German poet, writer, philosopher, scientist and all-round genius Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that my best friend in the seminary kept on his desk. It read: “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and help them to become what they are capable of being.”

I never forgot those words and sought to apply them in my life. They are especially important when working with wounded persons, something I do every day.

When the addict or alcoholic is shattered and laid low by his disease, he has lost all hope of ever being healed. He is so discouraged by the failures in his life that he cannot see any light at all at the end of the dark tunnel that traps him.

One of the most difficult tasks of the therapist is to give him hope and lead him to believe that he can be healed and start a new life. This is more difficult than you might think. The addict is used to failure. He has lived with it for years. He no longer believes he can live a straight life let alone enjoy it. One of them said it well when he shouted: “I cannot live one day without my drugs!”

At the Nazareth Formation House, we spend lots of time urging our residents on, encouraging them to believe in themselves enough to give themselves a chance to be free from the chains of their addiction.

At first, they look at you with a blank stare, and you know they don’t believe a word you’re saying. Still, you don’t stop giving them a vision of what they can become. If you treat them the way they are, they will never change. This is why we do the opposite of the way they were living.

They live a disciplined life with tight schedules. They dress well, keep clean and wear their hair short (no skinheads allowed). They attend Mass everyday, pray the rosary, have regular retreats and show respect for authority and each other. The young ones go to high school in Nazareth, study hard and do well. Those who have not finished college go to the university and must be successful before they leave the program. They must reconcile with their families and repair the damage they caused.

By doing all this, the scared, downtrodden new resident grows, in time, into a confident person who gains enough courage to try to change himself. And when he tries, he succeeds. And when he succeeds, he becomes a new person ready to face the many challenges of life.

Not all of us are called upon to work with badly damaged people, but all of us can do a bit of therapy with the ones we love and those persons the Lord sends into our lives. We can look at their potentials and then find ways and means to encourage them to pick themselves up and move forward. It is amazing what a few well-spoken kind words of encouragement can do to lift a man’s spirit and cause him to keep working to change his life for the better.“Trust men,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson,” and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.”

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Relationships: Look before you leap

Relationships: Look before you leap

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Tuesday, October 12, 2004 10:36 PM

The tendency to jump mindlessly into relationships first and think about the consequences later is more common than you imagine. People do it all the time.

Because the initial surge of good feelings can be so compelling, there is a rush to secure a budding relationship with little care about its negative potential in the future. And if you’re looking for long-term happiness, it is what lies ahead, down the road, that really matters.

Getting into a love relationship is the easiest thing in the world. It happens to countless persons daily. Holding that relationship steady and causing it to grow over the years is something else again. Like so many other matters, we are good at starting things, but a lot less successful at getting long-term results.

New love is exciting. Nobody doubts that. The adrenalin rush is something poets have written about down through the years. There are few more exhilarating happenings one can experience in life. Perhaps that is why people are so swift to grasp at love when the love bug bites. It is as if they simply cannot resist. Like the moth that is inexorably drawn to the dancing flame, humans can never seem to stand back and do some serious thinking before rushing forward to experience more of those good feelings that are so quickly generated by initial love.

It is precisely the swiftness of these exciting feelings that convinces us of the authenticity of what we are feeling. It’s like “these feelings are so powerful, they cannot be wrong. This is it. This is the real thing. It cannot be otherwise.” And so we jump headlong into the relationship in order to secure those good feelings before we lose them. There is precious little serious thinking that goes on. No time for that. We have to hurry before the magical spell is lost.

All too often, however, we eventually discover, much to our grief, that the water we dove into was shallow and full of rocks. When reality hits us hard, we discover that like so much magic it was just a mirage. We are angry and embarrassed that we could have been fooled so completely. We kick ourselves for having jumped without first looking carefully. We cannot believe we were so reckless, so unthinking.

As we attend to our wounds, we realize that most of them are self-inflicted. If only we had not been taken in by those initial good feelings we would have not damaged ourselves so badly. If only we had shown more discipline, more good judgment, we could and would have avoided a lot of unnecessary pain.

Just about the only consolation we have is that hopefully we have learned some important lessons about feelings, emotions and their potential to mislead us. Perhaps we can now build on the ashes and the debris of the collapsed relationship and start anew. Humbled and sporting scars from the past, we can move forward once more and continue our search for a meaningful love. Perhaps the next time we will hesitate and look carefully before jumping.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Temptations to a weakening relationship

Temptations to a weakening relationship

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Tuesday, October 12, 2004 12:07 AM

When the addict takes his drugs, he revels in his chemical high and has very little thought about the consequences that tomorrow holds. The euphoria he feels is enough to cloud the mind and make him feel invulnerable to the unpleasantness and the disasters that await him. But for now there is more than enough excitement to keep him going blindly, oblivious of all else except his pleasure.

When a relationship is weak or in the process of dying, there also arises situations when the partners get themselves into similar circumstances. The high is the third party that suddenly appears and causes an adrenalin rush.

He unexpectedly meets a woman who knocks him off his feet. At first glance, she seems to be everything his partner isn’t. Her attractiveness is his high and it feels good, almost too good to be true. It is nothing less than a euphoric state of infatuation that causes him to feel like a new man. His heart skips a beat. He is more alive than he has been in a long while. The contrast between the darkness that is his present relationship and the excitement this new woman creates is unbelievable. It is almost unreal . . . like the feeling the drug addict gets from his high.

There is a distortion of reality. This is why we say the guy is “madly” and “crazy” in love. This sudden rush of good feelings might not be the deepest kind of love, but like the drug addict who swears by the magical qualities of his chemicals, so too does this man insist that it’s the real thing.

There is no doubt that both have experienced pleasure, even intense pleasure. Still, pleasure can, as the addict can attest to, be terribly destructive and even deadly. So too does this sudden surge of feelings for the third party have the potential to destroy the relationship that is in trouble. Like a stimulant drug, it has the potential to inject a new sense of purpose, a new outlook on life to the unsuspecting and naïve. Like the addict who creates his own world of the unreal that is very real to him, so too does the disappointed lover or spouse suddenly find himself full of hope for an exciting new beginning.

We need to be careful about the potential for such circumstances to throw us off balance. We need to catch ourselves and hold steady when tempted by such a happening. The tendency will be to idealize and to try to bend reality to fit into our expectations. The consequences could be disastrous.

When faced with a crisis or even a lot of uneasiness in a relationship that we treasured in the past, it is wise not to dismiss it quickly when faced with the sudden appearance of a more tempting alternative. What looks better at first glance often isn’t when examined more carefully.

It is advisable rather to stand back, hold onto something solid, and look carefully before rushing forward where angels fear to tread.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Choosing one’s right life partner

Choosing one’s right life partner

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Sunday, October 10, 2004 10:53 PM

In choosing the most suitable life partner, it’s absolutely vital to know what one wants. Many people rush into relationships without having the faintest idea about what they truly need or want in a love relationship.

Everything is so vague, so dream-like, that it is virtually useless if one is to make a reasonable choice of a partner. We need to accept that any relationship is risky. There are too many unknowns, too many things that can go wrong and too many inevitable changes that will take place to say that this or that relationship is guaranteed.

My 40 years of counseling have taught me that even the best-looking, most solid relationship can and does collapse. Even if every relationship has elements of risk, some are a whole lot riskier than others. And others are sure disasters in the making from the very beginning.

The key is to have a combination of things work together so that the relationship is not the result of a crap shoot. Marriages that don’t work can be so devastating to one’s happiness that any relationship should be seen as a potential marriage in the making. How many couples start out dating for fun when marriage is the farthest thing from their minds and they end up being sucked into marriage by circumstances and happenings that are totally unforeseen. Before they understand what’s happening, they are married and with kids.

Then, when reality sets in, they are miserable and don’t know what to do.

So it is exceedingly important that people (the young and the not so young) accept that any man-woman friendship has the potential to get a lot of more serious than originally thought. I worked five years with the woman who became my wife. If you had told me when I first met her that she would become my life partner, I would have called you crazy.

But the heart has its own reasons that defy logic and understanding, and when it begins to skip a beat, anything can and does happen. This is why we all know of the most unlikely people ending up sharing a life together.

Many relationships are unmitigated disasters. Often they work out quite well, and sometimes they surpass all expectations.

Relationships are very difficult to maintain because they are so tricky. Living together 24 hours a day for years on end and staying happy is no mean feat. Murphy’s law (everything that can go wrong, will go wrong) keeps disturbing the peace. Your partner changes (it cannot be otherwise) and you don’t especially like what’s happening. The relationship is constantly evolving and going in directions you least expected, and that troubles you. There are doubts that creep into your mind every once in a while. Something you never believed would happen, but is happening.There are maybe even moments when you cannot believe how quickly and almost thoughtlessly you got into your marriage, but here you are tied together by your vows, your kids, your material goods and so many other factors. Sometimes you wish it didn’t happen so fast, no matter how long was your courtship.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Waiting for the ‘good guys’

Waiting for the ‘good guys’

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Saturday, October 9, 2004 12:26 AM

The other day, Carlo Salcedo, an English teacher of La Salle, Dasmarinas, sent me a passionate piece he wrote. I must share it with you because it reflects the kind of fiery thinking that our people need to have if they are to make an impact and change the society we live in. He writes:

“So young... yet so corrupt.” Sadly, these sinister words of the late Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson are no less true of the majority of our youth today. Filipinos are so corrupt that to be clean is simply unfashionable. Nowhere is it more true than in the Philippines that “money doesn’t care who owns it.”

“Corrupt politician” is redundant. The Filipinos don’t want a president who doesn’t steal, only one who is “doing something” for the economy, better yet, giving away bogus land titles. We don’t care if only a measly 40 percent of the budget for roads actually goes to the projects as long as the roads ultimately get built. We don’t hate the corrupt politicians, we just wish we are one with them. Our standards have sunk so low, for so long, that nobody cares anymore. The few who still do are nothing but nameless crusaders relegated to the lunatic fringe, unproductive dreamers of a bygone era.

Woody Allen once said that “politicians are either corrupt or stupid, sometimes both on the same day.” We are being led by greedy, insatiable morons who, at their dinner tables brag before their salivating guests of the millions they pocketed in the government projects they signed into contract.

So what can decent people do? “For evil to triumph, good men need only do nothing.” Good people need to get involved. They need to get organized.

They need to fight like hell. Good people need to hate evil from the gut, from the very core of their being.

But they also need to pay the right taxes, show up at work on time, give their best at work, be faithful to their spouses, be good examples to their children, and treat people like people, things like things and not the other way around. In short, they need to be perfectly sure that they are indeed the “good people.”


There are times Carlo, when we seem to be so overwhelmed by the entrenched evil practices of our society, that we feel like throwing up our hands, then give up and join the good people who do nothing.

The corruption is so endemic that one barely knows where to begin. And there are so few “nameless crusaders” who care enough to put their lives on the line that we doubt that they can ever make a difference.

Perhaps it’s too late for us. Maybe we have been too beaten into submission and have accepted the corrupt status quo to ever make a difference. Perhaps we have lost all courage to stand and, as you say, “fight like hell.”

Maybe it will be up to guys like you to take up the fight. Maybe some of us feel we have too much to lose. Or perhaps we have watched too many crusaders fail to risk getting truly involved.

So, it might have to be left to gutsy guys like you, Carlo, to lead the way. If there are enough like you who are willing to march into the arena and fight for real change (not the cosmetic type), then perhaps we bystanders will find the courage to follow you. And so, Carlo, we are waiting—as we have waited for so long.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Love is meant to heal, not hurt

Love is meant to heal, not hurt

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Thursday, October 7, 2004 11:40 PM

Couples in love do not always behave in loving ways. In fact, they are often downright unloving in their manners.

Like when it comes to teasing and having fun at the beloved’s expense. Men who tease the woman about her weight and do it over and over again are throwing darts at her heart. Or when she reminds him of an embarrassing moment in the past.

They would never dare do this in the early stages of courtship because if they did the relationship would be over quickly. We love in order to heal, not to have more wounds inflicted upon us. When we commit to someone, we do so because we expect to be respected, not demeaned and ridiculed.

Still, lovers hurt each other as they become more comfortable and familiar with each other. As they get closer and more confident of each other’s love, they become bolder and are more likely to risk offending the beloved. The old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt” is applicable to couples whose love is dying. Couples still in love, however, have moments when contempt flares up momentarily.

Hopefully, these times are few and far between. Still, they are moments of contempt (definition: “the state of one who has lost esteem”) and they undoubtedly cause a relationship to weaken.

This kind of teasing and making fun at the partner’s expense is most often an expression of anger that is thinly veiled. The more a couple’s love is on a downward slide, the more often are the darts thrown.

If we love deeply, we don’t want to hurt the beloved. The deeper the love, the greater the hesitation to hurt. The weaker the love, the easier it is to inflict pain, either directly or indirectly by sniping and unwanted teasing.

This is so especially when the one on the receiving end asks the tormentor to stop, but to no avail. The sniping can go on for years. It is used as a weapon to hurt, to humiliate and to score points.

What it also does, however, is stick another needle in an already suffering heart. If you love a person deeply, you cannot stand by watching the beloved suffer, much less be the one inflicting the pain. When, however, love is falling, you can more readily witness the suffering of the beloved. And when love has sunk into the depths, then the lover becomes the willing tormentor and hurt is inflicted with little remorse.

So be on the lookout for these signs of a sick or dying love. The more heartless and insensitive the teasing and the unwanted remarks are, the greater the chances that love is taking a serious hit and the more concerned you must be about a tragedy in the making.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Threats to marriage

Threats to marriage

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Wednesday, October 6, 2004 10:24 PM

The other day, I came across a piece by Fr. Roy Cimagala that caught my eye. Father Roy had a lot of interesting points that I believe are relevant to our society in our day.

He writes about marriage and how it is evolving. Sadly, many of the changes are not good for the institution as we have known it.

1. “It’s something that we should not take for granted. The institutions of marriage and family, as we know them in the original, i.e., as taught by natural law and by the Catholic Church, should be defended and protected.

2. “There are tendencies springing sporadically at the moment in many places, and even right here in our country, that tend to undermine the very nature of these basic elements in our lives.

3. “We have to keep in mind that once these institutions are denatured, some radical transformation in the lives of both individual persons and society in general, will also take place.

4. “We can see this quite clearly in the experiences of people and societies where the nature of marriage and family has been watered down, contaminated, if not severely compromised.

5. “The concepts of love and commitment, for example, have gone very far away from their original meaning. Love is not so much of self-giving as the pursuit of self-satisfaction now.

6. “Commitment now seems incapable of existing without external conditions. The sense of commitment that is absolute, that is until death, that goes on “for richer, for poorer, in health or in sickness” is disappearing.”

He’s right. There is no question about it. Our traditional ideas about marriage are changing fast because of a number of reasons.

Among them is the fact that we are becoming a global village. New ideas and influences are flashing across the world and into our homes in seconds. Telecommunications and the Internet are not only transforming the way we live, they are changing the way we think about many things. Two of those are love and marriage.

And as we live longer than ever before, the idea of loving “till death do us part” is becoming more of a challenge as time passes.

The growing acceptance of living in and separation (divorce elsewhere) is loosening the moral standards as we have known them. Even if living in is not new to this country, it is much more accepted than ever before.

“Worse,” says Father Roy, “there are now some political leaders, who even question the objectivity of natural law and the authority of the Catholic Church to talk about marriage and family.

7. “They offer instead their own ideas, mostly based on abnormal situations, then start to rationalize certain practices that are usually regarded as aberrations.

8. “We should all feel the urgent need to defend and protect the true nature of marriage and family, and everything that contributes to the vitality of these two fundamental situations.

9. “There has to be better coordination and organization among all people concerned so that this aim can be effectively pursued.

Especially now when we face some smart-alecky persons who glibly promote antimarriage and antifamily things, we need people who can charitably and truthfully expose their fallacies.

10. “I was impressed by the initiative of an American couple who put up what is now known as the Alexander House in Austin, Texas. Greg and Julie Alexander started it three years ago after they themselves bounced back from the brink of divorce and discovered the power of the sacrament of marriage.

11. “The couple has made one interesting observation to describe the crisis of marriage and family in the US today.

12. “‘Marriage continues to decline,’ Greg says, ‘because we have moved so far away from God’s original intention for marriage. We have traded in God’s plan for something more in vogue, more modern or more politically correct. We are bombarded with messages from society that degrade the beauty of marriage.’

“Let us reflect a little on his observation, a result of lived experience of a couple who have gone to the edge and have managed to come back to safety.”

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

How men and women differ

How men and women differ

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Tuesday, October 5, 2004 10:19 PM

Despite their many differences, men keep running after women, and women keep hoping they get caught. Women keep saying that men don’t know how to love deeply while men complain that women expect too much from them.

The list goes on and on. I cannot resist sharing with you a piece that my Singaporean friend, Gul Chotrani, sent me. It should make you smile as you take your coffee regardless of which gender you belong to.

1. Names

If Laurie, Linda, Elizabeth and Barbara go out for lunch, they will call each other Laurie, Linda, Elizabeth and Barbara

If Mark, Chris, Eric and Tom go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla, Peanut Head and Scrappy.

2. Eating Out

When the bill arrives, Mark, Chris, Eric and Tom will each throw in $20, even though it’s only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back.

When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

3. Money

A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.

A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn’t need but it’s on sale.

4. Bathrooms

A man has five items in his bathroom: a toothbrush, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from the Marriott.

The average number of items in the typical woman’s bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify most of these items.

5. Arguments

A woman has the last word in any argument.

Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

6. Cats

Women love cats.

Men say they love cats, but when women aren’t looking, men kick cats.

7. Future

A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.

A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

8. Success

A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.

A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

9. Marriage

A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn’t.

A man marries a woman expecting that she won’t change and she does.

10. Dressing up

A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the garbage, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail.

A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.

11. Natural

Men wake up as good-looking as when they went to bed.

Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

12. Children

A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams.

A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

13. Thought for the Day

Any married man should forget his mistakes. There’s no use in two people remembering the same thing.


A couple drove down a country road for several miles, not saying a word. An earlier discussion had led to an argument and neither would yield. As they passed a barnyard of mules, jackasses, and pigs, the husband asked sarcastically, “Relatives of yours?”

“Yep,” the wife replied. “In-laws.”

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Still practicing ‘split-level Christianity’

Still practicing ‘split-level Christianity’

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Tuesday, October 5, 2004 1:07 AM

Dear Tito Bob: The kind of people (and even some priests) on this side of the world is absolutely different here than in the Philippines. There’s no "pataasan ng ere” among parishioners, although, of course, some people tend to be snobs. There are no reserved seats for the VIPs. Unlike the “Church of the Poor” in the Philippines. Our bishop said Mass a few months ago and people just sat where they want to. No one “bought” his/her seat. There are no intrigues, or chismis. I’m happy to serve the church here as a volunteer in the St. Barnabas Cathedral bulletin and in the liturgy subcommittee of the parish pastoral council in our own parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.

Filipinos are very religious, but there’s still a need for an “examination of conscience.” There was once a remark from a priest that the country is the only Christian nation in Asia and yet has produced only one saint. Quite a shame, really.

Hope you can comment on this. I also hope that your column will always help make readers aware and involved toward renewal and healing.

Pietro Albano
Nottingham, England

* * *

When there is inequality in society, it is difficult for the Church not to be a reflection of this. It would mean that the Church, its priests and its influential members would have to lead the way in changing the ways and values of society.

This is clearly not this case here in our country. The Church still gives privileges to the rich and the powerful that it courts. Its priests, by and large, do not reflect the poverty of the masses unless they are forced to do so. Given the chance, they will live much better than the people they serve. This, even if 90 percent of Catholic priests come from poor families. When they become priests, their lifestyle suddenly rises far above the families that raised them.

You are correct in saying that “there’s still need for an examination of conscience” among our people. More than that, I think, the first ones to make that examination of conscience should be our religious leaders. A people is always a reflection of its leaders. This is especially true of religious leaders. And a quick look at our sick, corrupt society says much about the failure of our churchmen.

If we are so overwhelmingly Catholic and Christian, why are we so corrupt, so tolerant of evil among us? Why does the cross sit so comfortably in the midst of evil? Is it perhaps because our churchmen, our priests are too tolerant of all that is evil in our midst?

I think there is something very wrong with the religious leadership. There is a serious vacuum, an absence of effective leadership that can bring about real change in our Catholic society.

There is a failure to link religious practice to everyday behavior. We are a nation of Christians who practice “split-level Christianity,” as Fr. Jaime Bulatao, SJ (my former professor), put it so well in a book he wrote years ago. We are piously practicing our faith on Sunday, but on Monday morning we forget all about it till next Sunday.

We have lots of religious practices, but we are not practicing our religion and reflecting its true values in our everyday lives. If it were so, our country would be very different today. But it isn’t. In fact, we seem to be slipping deeper and deeper into the slime and corruption and every form of dishonesty. Our faith seems to be only cosmetic, but not something whose basic values we have internalized. You’re right, Pietro, it’s time we all made a serious examination of conscience and invited our priests to lead the way in doing so.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

What's your idea of happiness?

What's your idea of happiness?

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Friday, October 1, 2004 11:48 PM

Happiness means different things to different people. One man’s happiness is another man’s curse. A daughter runs away with her lover and marries him. She’s happy. Her family is furious. The drug addict is happy because he has been given lot of drugs by a friend. His parents despair when they learn about it.

Never mind what the others think, we all have our own ideas about what makes us happy. Webster defines happiness as “a state of well-being or pleasurable satisfaction.” But that can mean one thing for you and something else for me. I don’t drink. Never have, and don’t intend to. I have lots of friends who enjoy drinking. Some are even alcoholics, but it isn’t something that makes me happy. But for so many, drinking the night away is what makes them happy.

I have friends who regularly work out in the gym. They like sweating it out for hours. It makes them happy. Not me. If I do workouts, it’s because I have to. Though I used to be into lots of sports, that was then and this is now. Working out for me is just that: work.

For me happiness is all about having peace of mind. If you have inner peace, you’re happy. It doesn’t matter where you are or whatever are your circumstances. If you have inner peace, you surely are happy.

But having peace of mind and keeping it isn’t as easy as it might seem. There are so many things, people and events that come into our lives unexpectedly and disturb our peace of mind. The death or the loss of a loved one, frustration, rejection, setbacks, etc. Any number of things can threaten our peace of mind.

It seems like we are constantly riding a roller-coaster when it concerns our happiness. There is an unending series of ups and downs. Just when we have peace, something happens and we find ourselves in a dive. It is a constant struggle to keep ourselves balanced and hold steady in inner peace. It is truly amazing how easily we get disturbed and find ourselves trying to regain that peace of mind that was ours just a while ago.

This is why the way to inner peace lies within us, not in bank accounts, mansions, fame or good fortune. We need to learn well the ways of those who came before us and who found the keys to inner peace. A most important factor is the acceptance and understanding of reality. Knowing and accepting that life deals us a mixed bag of highs and lows. The ability to accept the fact that we are never exempted from the lows. The inescapable reality of the need to struggle in life and work hard to gain peace of mind. The reality that constant happiness is a pipe dream that is an impossibility.

So much of our unhappiness is the result of our unrealistic expectations. If only we can learn to see reality as it is and not as we would like it to be, and then accept it and the pain it gives, then we might still salvage a measure of happiness even in the midst of suffering and disappointment.

Then perhaps we can identify with the words of Saint Augustine: “We, oh Lord, are restless till we rest in You.”

Friday, October 01, 2004

Passionate loving

Passionate loving

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Friday, October 1, 2004 12:21 AM


Tennov continues to describe the components he has found in passionate loving. That is, the initial feeling of falling in love. This is about the beginnings of love.

6. “They are shy in the other’s presence.” Shyness always has a strong element of fear. New lovers are shy because they fear making a misstep that could cause a budding love to end quickly. They become less shy when they feel more confident about the success of their love.
7. “When everything seems lost, their feelings are even more intense than usual.” They truly feel terrified at the thought. It is as if the end of the world is upon them.

8. “They search for signs (a squeeze of the hand, a knee that doesn’t move away, a gaze that lingers) that signify that the other desires them.” The problem is that often too much is read into these seemingly insignificant signs. And sometimes even the sound of wedding bells can be heard in the distance.

9. “Their heart aches when they imagine they might lose the other.” Love can cause a lot of desperation. It can bring about pain even when there is no reason for pain. The mere thought of separation is terrifying.

10. “They feel like they are walking on air when the other seems to care.” The overwhelming good feelings that beginning love generates can sweep you into the highest of highs and then, when it fails, drop you into the lowest lows.

11. “They care so desperately about the other that nothing else matters; they are willing to sacrifice anything for love.” When lovers focus, they truly focus. And the focus is on each other. This is when parents feel they are losing their daughter and friends feel that their starstruck buddy has abandoned them. New love has a way of excluding family and friends. This is sad because if and when the end comes, the lover feels very much alone and inconsolable. There is also a feeling that she betrayed those who truly loved her for someone she thought she loved.

12. “Love is blind; lovers idealize one another.” Love tends to exaggerate the positives and minimize the negatives. It is said to be blind not because it cannot see, but because it reads too much into the qualities of the other and too little into those matters that are seen to be obstacles to the advancement of love.

Researchers found that women (surprise!) tend to be much more passionate than men. They feel a whole lot more intensely than do the men. But, the researchers say that both men and women were equally nervous before a date. The researchers also found that women tend to love more intensely and with more passion (feelings) than did the men. This is why when love crashes, women tend to suffer more pain than do the men.