Thanks Mrs Ukita for the pasalubong!
Spiritual Reflections

Learning to Stand

“Your swings are good,” our dojo’s sensei said, “but where’s your footwork?”

Two months into training, I still find myself frustrated: how can something so basic and simple as a proper stance be so difficult to memorize? I practice in front of the mirror and whenever I can. I get the feel of it. Then training sessions come, and my feet forget what it was supposed to do. Sometimes, I just awkwardly execute the footworks; most of the time, I lose focus and at worst, my balance.

At the end of each sequence, I glance at my feet, adjust them back to their proper places, annoyed. Ugh. I just want to swing my shinai like Kenshin Himura; why do I have to do this boring routine every time?


Even when I was doing Muay Thai, I had the same problem: my strikes were good (I think), my balance was bad. I’d get reprimanded over and over again about it— and for a good reason. No matter how powerful my punches or kicks were, it’s useless if I lose my balance and fall down whenever I move or block a hit. And the same was true with kendo: even though my swings were improving, I still trip on my footwork.

Practice at home, our trainor keeps encouraging us. Practice wherever you can.

I stare at my ugly toes, wriggling them into position. How can something so simple as standing become so complicated? I can’t help but remember that oft-neglected phrase at the beginning of Ephesians 6:14— Stand firm then. Continue reading

Spiritual Reflections


“Crucify him!” The crowd chanted in passionate frenzy. Here they were: united, one nation upholding their belief, crying out against a blasphemer of their faith. This is justice, they thought. We are doing this for righteousness.

“Burn the witches!” The crowd chanted in passionate frenzy. Here they were: united, one community purging an evil in their midst, freeing themselves from the clutches of fear. This is justice, they thought. We are doing this for righteousness.

“Kill the criminals!” “Impeach him!” “He does not deserve to be honoured and buried!” “Why should they be forgiven?!” “She deserved this!” 

Everyday, we crucify people: politicians, celebrities, strangers, friends, family. Some of us heckle, some of us shake our fists in rage, some of us smirk condescendingly at their plight. They are wrong, we assure ourselves. We are in the right of things.

And in our unsaid thoughts, we judge: Crucify them.

Continue reading

Spiritual Reflections

The Prejudice of Love

“I realized,” my friend confided, “she wasn’t that pretty after all.”

I kept silent. I didn’t know how to react. Was he simply sourgraping the breakup? I couldn’t honestly tell; I am not the best judge of physical appearances, as I admittedly am as vulnerable to the usual biases as other guys when it comes to beauty.

But as embarrassing as this might sound, I am indeed judgmental when it comes to appearances. I am quick to ask myself, “What in the world did that girl see in that guy?!” (or vice versa) And yes, at the end of the introspective argument, the only explanation that makes sense: “S/he is in love.” That’s it.

Love is blind, and we often quote it with sarcasm. Yet— is that such a bad thing?  Continue reading

Spiritual Reflections

The Prejudice of Hope

I sat beside her bed, hesitant and confused. I loved my mother, yet I didn’t know what to say. I want her healed. I want her restored. I wanted to see a miracle. I wanted for her to be back to normal. I believe in God, in His words, in everything good and wonderful about Him. Yet I stayed there, unable to say anything. It’s one thing to have faith in God’s nature, to believe in everything He is about and stood for. It’s another to trust in His promises— to hope, not just on what’s about to happen, but beyond what’s about to come.

How often do we mistake our wishes for prayers, and how often do we mistake our prayers as hope? Likely, we tend to pray, not because we hope, but because we are about to let go of it. Bahala na, as we Filipinos tend to say. A hopeful faith hiding our hopeless resignation.

We always say we hope for the best, but most of the time, we barely recognize what it is we’re hoping for.

What is it that we’re hoping for? Continue reading

Spiritual Reflections

The Prejudice of Faith

Beliefs can be such a stubborn thing. There always comes a point where we somehow notice that our way of reasoning sounds a bit irrational, yet we hold firmly to it simply because to our own logic, it makes most sense to us.

“See,” I told myself smugly, as “I knew she was going to do that.” I knew because I’ve seen the behavior pattern. I believed in that pattern, and simply dismiss every deviation from it. “I knew she can be relied on.” Thus, faith comes and becomes— and turns into something that is difficult to unbecome. Continue reading