Is The End of Ang Huling El Bimbo: The Musical a Happy Ending Story?

1. “Pagkalipas ng maraming taon, di na tayo nagkita. Balita ko’y may anak ka na ngunit walang asawa. Taga-hugas ka lang ng pinggan sa may Ermita. At isang gabi nasagasaan sa isang madilim na eskinita.”

English Translation: “For many years, we didn’t see each other. I heard you have a child but still unmarried. I heard you were working as a dishwasher in Ermita (Manila). And one night, you got run over a car in a dimly alley.”
Ang Huling El Bimbo by Eraserheads

2. Hello WordPress! I’m back! This is a Review of Ang Huling El Bimbo: The Musical. Be warned that this contains spoilers.

3. The musical began with a woman who is a victim of a hit-and-run, with the police getting her phone from the crime scene. Prior the accident, the woman, named Joy, called three men: Anthony, Hector, and Emman (Ang Huling El…Bimbo? A quick google search will give you that bimbo means “an attractive but unintelligent or frivolous young woman”). The three were then “invited” to a police station and this became their college reunion.

4. A Parallel Story? There was a falling out between the four when they were in college, giving the Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruku Murakami vibes. In the book, Tsukuru was cut out of his high school friends circle. His friends were keeping a secret from him and they decided to cut him off because he seems to be capable of bouncing back from it, an echo of Anthony’s comment to Joy after what happened to her in an incident during their college days. Tsukuru was banished because they were keeping a secret from him. The three ran away from Joy because they also wanted to keep a secret which all of them knew. I will go back to this later.

5. We then go back to the 90s where the three guys were still young college students living in a dormitory. On the other hand, Joy was not as fortunate as they were. But like them, she wanted to enter college and “graduate”. But for the meantime, she is stuck with working in an eatery. This is where she got to know these three.

6. Joy became good friends with them. Anthony became her best friend; Emman as her kuya (elder brother); and Hector her lover.

7. Like the Ang Huling El Bimbo, this musical has two parts: the flashback (Act One) and the tragic story (Act Two).

8. The Eraserheads’ song is about a Paraluman-look-a-like girl who loves to dance and the boys attraction towards her. The musical’s first act was a story of the three guys’ struggles in identity (Anthony), involvement in social issues (Emman), and pursuit of arts (Hector) during their college days. And in the case of Joy, she has yet to enter college first as we audiences do not even know yet what she really wanted to do achieve in the future except to graduate in college. But she’s adorable and very positive in her outlook despite her being underprivileged.

9. Just as the audience are already emotionally invested with the protagonists, hooligans will then rock the friendship of these four when they crash into their out-of-town joyride, point guns on the guys inside Hector’s car, and rape the helpless Joy. (How it pains me to type this line.)

10. Instead of bringing her to the police station to file a blottter or have Joy treated in a hospital, they agreed to just bring her home and just forget everything about the incident. This I cannot really comprehend. What were these three guys thinking?

11. My limitations: Probably you have seen other reviews on this musical about the LGBT rights (regarding Anthony), toxic masculinity, degrading views of women, rape culture, etc. I will not quote or discuss them here. While reading them, I realize there’s no way for me to be as nuanced and precise as them with their choice of words. For the love of our country, they even conected the musical to what is happening now in the Philippines. As for me, my views and limited vocabulary will fall short. Besides, I am not versed in political and social discourse. Also, I know nothing about  the intricacies of acting, singing, technicalities of a musical. I leave it to the experts.

12. But one thing I know is being a friend. That’s what I will focus on later. Is the end of the musical a happy ending? Did “love” or friendship reigned in the end?

13. Male figures in Joy’s life: Notice that there are no male figures inside Joy’s family. She was adopted (is she? I might be wrong on this), we didn’t know anything about her father, and she doesn’t even know who is the father of her daughter. We saw the three guys’ parents. All of them alive! How about Joy? Where is her father? Uncles? Male cousins? Grandfather? Great grandfather?

To be continued…

P.S.: This is a draft but I’m publishing it so I can go back to it later. I have to go to sleep early. I have online classes later this morning.

Preparation Program for Perpetual Profession of Vows 2019

LOMERI, FIJI—We are now at the end of our 8-week long preparation for perpetual profession here in Marist Brothers Novitiate where we arrived last May 24. We, the 15 participants from six different countries, are the following

District of Melanesia
1. Dominic Nekebatu (Solomon Islands)
2. Jeremy Wabi (Bougainville)

Compostela Province
1. Fabio Oliveira (Portugal)

Marist District of Asia
1. Cong Nguyen (Vietnam)
2. Quy Nguyen (Vietnam)

East Asia Province
A. Philippine Sector
1. John Emil Alada (Philippines)
2. Rechie Dean Bagsican (Philippines)
3. Raymund Gallardo (Philippines)
4. Lloyd Gamboa (Philippines)
5. Deo Dudz Hizo (Philippines)
6. Philip Caesar Renacia (Philippines)
7. Cian Marco Tabuada (Philippines)
8. John Allen Timola (Philippines)
9. Aljon Yonder (Philippines)

B. Korea-Japan Sector
1. Moses Cho (South Korea)

Along with the Novitiate community, we were welcomed by the Preparation Team headed by Br. Bryan Davis (Australia), Br. Jacobo Song (South Korea), and Br. Ted Fernandez (Philippines).

Br. Bryan Davis led the first week with “Vocational Quest”, where we shared about our vocation stories, our questions on religious life, discernment, meaning of life for us, and our hopes and expectations.

Br. Graham Neist presented the topic on Listening and Responding Contemplatively, where contemplative practice and “turning up” (presence) appealed to us.

Br. Michael Green presented us Marcellin’s Spirituality according to the vows, wherein the “bon enfant” style of being a brother, a down-to-earth way of being a brother, struck us the most.

Br. Sean Sammon presented An Undivided Heart, a topic on celibate chaste living, and even gave out copies of his book.

Br. Barry Burns presented Living Simply, a connection of our vow of poverty with our pope’s call to care for our common home.

Br. Tony Leon presented Brothers Today as an epic love story, and he even prompted us to make our own artworks.

Br. Angel Medina presented New Expressions of Marist Life, particularly the La Valla 200 Program.

In the midst of the program, the brothers enjoyed going to the nearby beach in Loloma to swim and play volleyball. But what excited them most was drinking kava, a must-try local drink here. Each brother even bought Bula shirts and some even wore Fijian sulu.

Our final week of the program is dedicated to what we call as the Synthesis, wherein each brother will make a creative presentation of all their experiences of the program with songs, dance, music, artworks, poetry, crafts, video presentation, and even told their own life stories.

And now, our hope for the future is that we would bring all of these learning into our respective communities and our ministries.

Please pray for us. 🙏

Why be a brother?

Hello WordPress,

Allen here.

It’s been a while since I last wrote here so let me freewrite. Well, every post here are fruits of freewriting.

Let’s begin.

Last January 9, I started attending Conversational Japanese II in YMCA Kobe. We lost two of our previous classmates but they were replaced by three more students: a Korean, Swedish-Japanese, and a Chinese. Now, there are nine of us in class.

All of our new classmates speak English as their second or third language so in between classes, we take a break in speaking Japanese and talk about anything under the sun or ask our Swedish-Japanese classmate to explain to us some of the grammar and usage.

In one of our classes, there was an exercise wherein we predict what will our life be ten years from now. One of my classmates tried to predict my life by that span in Japanese. For the sake of convenience, I’ll write it in English.

“Ten years from now, Allen will be married to a beautiful woman.”

Then two of my classmates, also religious brothers, said that I cannot marry. In that exercise, it just so happened that the first topic that was talked about my vocation as a consecrated brother is not being able to marry.

As much as I try to avoid these topics last year due to my lack of Japanese vocabulary, it was brought up in an exercise where I didn’t expected it to be. It was so personal and awkward to be honest. But that is true, I cannot marry because I am consecrated.

But there is more to consecrated life than not being able to marry.

I joined the Marist Brothers last May 2011 as an Aspirant. It’s not like I didn’t have a choice to find an exclusive relationship. Though I had a Psychology degree already, I went back college to take Education units. I even had a crush, considered having a girlfriend and leave. But I didn’t. I reconsidered and continued my vocation journey and entered religious life on May 2012.

In the novitiate, I consecrated myself to Our Good Mother Mary as I received my habit. In my consecration prayer, I told her to hold my hand as I journey on my life as a Marist Brother. As I am writing this, I remember Jesus on the cross telling his beloved disciple, “Behold, your Mother.” And that disciples name? He is John the Evangelist.

Chaste celibacy is one of the “crosses” I received upon entering consecrated religious life. This “cross” is actually a sweet yoke and a light burden. It is not like we celibate/consecrated religious hate marriage. But let me speak for myself.

Matrimony is one of the sacraments our Lord has given his Church. When a man and a woman deeply in love with each other decides to sustain that love and even “consecrate” their love, it is through matrimony and that keeps them together for the rest of their lives and even share their overflowing love through and with their children.

The Liturgy of Matrimony is one of the most beautiful and “lit” rites in the Church (sorry for the pun). I actually love attending marriages.

In my almost thirty years of existence, I must admit that I have only attended three Catholic weddings (so far). My younger brother married last year and a college friend married last year too so that’s two weddings attended in 2018 alone. I am usually away from my hometown and I do not have money to travel back so sometimes, with deep regret, I am not able to attend. Of course, I want to attend as much as possible.

As I promote vocation for priesthood and religious life, I promote marriage too though there is actually no need for me to promote marriage because it is already mainstream. Matrimony is the default call for the people of God.

So, Allen, why be a brother? A short answer would be for the sake of the kingdom. Cliché, I know. I gave up the good of the marriage for the sake of the kingdom not made of human hands. I find my life from the source of life itself. That is my answer to the question, “Sa paghahanap buhay mo, mahahanap mo ba ang buhay mo?” (Can you find your life in your livelihood?)

I hope in time I can tell stories out of my own experiences but for now I still feel inadequate to talk about Marist ministry, prayer life, and community living, since I am still a young brother. For the past three years I have been to a school ministry so maybe I will write about it in my future posts. Or maybe write too about my life now as a missionary in Japan and not being involved in school ministry.

If ever there is one thing I really treasure about my life as a Marist Brother, it would be my relationship with all my former students. I love them all no matter how tough it was for me in the past two years. It is really one of the most precious gifts I ever had as a brother. But if you ask me if I ever expected this before I entered the Marist Brothers, to be honest I did not. It is like finding a treasure on a field. Yes there are ups and downs and sometimes I feel like giving up on them but I didn’t because I love them so much I treat them like my little brothers and sisters. It was really unexpected but I am truly grateful for it. Glory to God!

I am always praying for all of you though I am far away now, my dear former students.

Right now, I am still one or two years away from taking my final and perpetual vows and I am already looking forward to it.

If ever in these years of preparation, through prayer and discernment that I feel I am not “worthy” to be a Marist Brother, then I will go out. God’s call to holiness is still there. Consecrated life is not for all but everyone is called to holiness. Then again, that is a small “what if”. I must be honest, it is very tempting to leave.

This year is a big preparation year for me. I will go back to the Philippines for a 30-day retreat this April then go to our novitiate in Lomeri, Fiji for a three-month preparation course on May to July 2019.

So please pray for me and for more vocations to consecrated religious life. 🙏

Thanks for reading and have a blessed and wonderful day.