Good vs Evil

So here’s my take over these hullabaloos recently. By not believing in every news I read and see on social media, be it true or fake, life becomes simpler. We all just need to live with our normal routine every single day. This time with a lot of precautions and reflections.

Clearly, Mother Earth is crying for nurturing and tender loving care by its citizens. It took an outbreak to change the way we look out for others and ourselves. It taught us to go back to the basics of hygiene, healthy living, eating a balanced diet, exercise, appreciate arts, music, literature, and last but not necessarily the least, to be thankful for the things we have that in all honesty, some of us don’t really deserve. We have become so engrossed with the way of the world. Living in the edge, like a cliffhanger waiting for the next exciting event to happen. We move faster than the bolt of lightning, not knowing when to breath and feel in silence. Too much talk, too much brouhaha on everything. We have become our own monsters unaware of our actions. The 7 capital sins over powered the 7 cardinal virtues. The 7 capital sins namely lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath envy and pride are winning over the 7 cardinal virtues being chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility.

Somehow, we are being reminded that at the end of the day, humanity matters. Lives matter. Not only black lives (as the cliche goes) but all of us matter. We have fear for our lives more than ever as the dreadful Covid 19 spreads and becomes a pandemic.

I am not writing this to preach or to proclaim myself as a self righteous person. This is my observation and thoughts as I continue to pray in silence and feel anxious about my loved ones. Family and friends. I must admit, in the first few days of the outbreak, I panicked. For my life? No! For running out of stock on toilet papers and masks. Shallow nonsense thinking hovering around me. It’s emotionally and physically dragging until I heard a wise person said that fear and anxiety causes stress and stress makes the immune system weak making our systems vulnerable to diseases.

At a certain point, I stopped. While taking all the necessary precautions like washing my hands, keep a healthy lifestyle, be thankful for little blessings everyday, for friends, for families and for beautiful mornings, I continue to live my day as normal as I can. In the first place, these are basic in daily living. All I need is to be reminded that cleanliness is next to Godliness. I try to meditate more by breathing in and breathing out, tell myself, that no matter what, God got my back and God is greater than this. 

Who knows where and how this pandemic started or going to end if at all, but we will thrive. We will get through this. With a lot of precautions and to always knock on the doors of the Almighty, to have faith that He will not forsake His children. While He takes care of us, let us take care of Mother Earth. It’s hard to go back to basics, be organic, be compassionate for humanity, be kind to one another, and above all, be thankful every waking moment of our lives. It’s never too late to start all over again. I am now. This is why I’m writing this. So I can contribute a new article on my blog. Covid 19 is man made, while we are created by our Almighty. We can undo this. Remember that The Good is mightier than the Evil.

Prayer and Music Connection

Prayer and Music Connection

by Lorna Cifra Shimojo

Let us all be honest. With the emergence of the internet and innumerable social media accounts, we can easily connect with family and friends, shop, order food, do our business transactions online without the aid of a real person. I am now in a dilemma and can not help but think if we are really more connected or more so, disconnected as human beings. Gone are the days when only CEOs of million dollar corporations, high-profiled politicians, the CIA et al can get hold of a computer. Now, even a newly born baby is already hooked on online computer games, animations that can be searched, all in one click. As adults, specially the working moms and dads, rely on automation to find more time to spend with kids and to have a social life or perhaps, time to visit the church more often. If that is the case, then thank God for Internet connection.

One quick question, did you ever, at one point in your life, depended on google search and have SIRI or Alexa find your prayer and recite it for you? If you are guilty of this, don’t worry. Welcome to the club of tech savvy like me. Some of us agree that technology saves time, correct. SIRI and Alexa are both computer programmed robots engineered to assist us with the stress of daily living. They help us pray too, when we run out of words on what to pray or how to pray to gain favors. Charismatic Catholic, members of the clergy like priests and nuns should spend more time in Catechism, to teach and remind the members of the church, that all we need to do is to thank Him everyday for sustaining us. You do note that a prayer, not coming from the heart is totally disconnecting us from God.

Does prayer have to be always recited loud like a monologue and be literally heard? What about music?

The musical arts of the Roman Catholic Church rank among its greatest contributions to contemporary culture. Music existed outside of the Church, of course. But it was the Catholic Church that first truly cultivated the art as we know it. In the service of praising God, it fostered a number of innovations, such as musical notation, that inform the ways we create and transmit music even today. This article will not dwell on the history of Christian music. It only wants to impart that through the power of music, we are profoundly connected to God.

Praying through music allows us to express our highest calling, to come together as a community to worship and praise God, in a way that no other art can. Painting, sculpture, and architecture might spur us toward holiness, but none can unite us quite like music. It is a form of art that invites group participation. Isn’t it written in the Holy bible, when two or more are gathered together in prayer, God is present? For as long as In praying through music, we share the same sentiment with a decent tune, God is with us.

We are profoundly blessed to be given this opportunity to be a part of the celebration of Radio Veritas’ 50th year anniversary. God has allowed us to sing to Him, in a form of a concert. All the Angels and saints are gathered in this event through prayer and music to give Him praise and Glory through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Blessed Mother has gone digital as well. She made sure that on this event, we shall all be connected to honor the Heavenly Father.

P.S. This article was written for the concert entitled ‘Music for the World’ dedicated to Radio Veritas’ 50th year anniversary.

Musicians are not entertainers

‘Musicians are not entertainers. Music is an entertainment. It’s an evolution. It is SACRIFICE. An evolution of the mind and the heart’ #RicardoMuti at the CSO strike picket line.

There is a general stereotype that musicians work only for a minimum of 3 hours to a maximum of 5, but they get paid more. Some people complain, and make a big deal out of it. What they don’t know is that musicians work for the love of MUSIC per se. The compensation comes second. A musician can get luckier if he is good and paid for some amount of fortune.

We study hard, practice a lot, listen a lot, eats a lot of time for rehearsals to create an impeccable sound. We are doing this to inspire, to inform and share some wealth of knowledge to the aspiring and the real gifted ones. Musicians are either undervalued or unfortunately overrated by the people manipulating the industry of Music. We sacrifice, practice, create and recreate because if we don’t, then WHO WILL?

Therefore the reason why there are a lot of continuous studies on campuses all over the world and thank God for technology, online courses accesible in countries where internet connections are available.

We eat, drink and live music. You got no choice but to deal with that. Thank the universe for the gift of music and the musicians who continue to keep the legacy. The legacy of creating a GOOD sound. #LornaCifra

Changes

Changes are inevitable. It’s like death. Like a thief in the night. I do not believe in tarot cards nor fortune tellers but what I believe in is that change happens everyday in our lives. We do not have the faintest idea why all of a sudden, without any notice, we need to say goodbye to people, things and others that have been with us for years, or we have gotten used to for the longest time. These events can leave us unprepared, taken aback and make us even emotional, for crying out loud. I’ve shed many tears, and this year 2019 is not new anymore.

What is a big question to me is that, have I become stoic to these sad events that I can no longer feel a lump in my throat building up as if anytime I will just burst into tears? No more tears. Does that mean I’ve become anesthetized and numb that i treat life , along ( with its’ ups and downs ) with full acceptance and became a full blown adult or otherwise? Have I become non human, unemotional, detached and impassioned?

Things happen for a reason is an old school cliche. I’m always on the lookout for those reasons but I end up concluding that things, just happen. A writer once wrote that being too positive and optimistic in life, makes a man dumb and dysfunctional. I will agree to that. Adversities and tribulations come in so many different shapes and sizes. We often think that they are heavier than what we can only carry. Getting through a day is already stressful, tedious and could be fatally soul-destroying. I am not insinuating that life actually sucks. Although reality is, it does.

These trials and challenges we face on a daily basis make us better people. We become fiercer, bolder, better problem solvers and head strong, we get though these hurdles by mastering mind control. It boils down again to ‘Mind over Matter’ theory (which personally works for me) all the time. What you don’t mind doesn’t even matter. Believing that what happens at the present stays there and it becomes the past. The future and the consequence of what has happened is not even a part of the deciding factor to find solutions to certain unthinkable situations. As we are pumped, knocked, jabbed, smashed and cuffed by these travails, we bloomed into becoming better warriors in life. We learn to accept and embrace change.

Slapped by God

A cousin sent me a note a couple of moons ago telling me that my uncle (my dad’s brother) complained of difficulty in breathing. Minutes after he was brought to the hospital, the entire clan held a prayer brigade to help the physicians keep him alive and well. My uncle survived and is now more conscious on his life style more than how he is conscious already. He checked out and saved by the grace outpouring from the family’s prayers. Days later, a beloved aunt (my mom’s sister) was taken by ambulance again due to pneumonia leading to heart failure and eventually, death. A very classic example of the cliche, ‘when it rains, it pours’.

This story leads me back to the time when my mom passed away and followed by the demised of my dad 10 months later.

Death. It’s very mysterious. Members of the family, of the bigger family, gather on birthdays, reunions, baptism, school graduations, weddings and what not, but as always, not everybody will be present. Then somebody says goodbye forever. What do we see? Who do we see? Unfamiliar faces. Relatives whose names are unknown, not to mention that at times, we meet people who claim to be a brother or a sister which makes the situation not only complex but utterly depressing. Enemies become friends. Everyone hugs everybody for consolation. We suddenly feel kindness and compassion hovering above our heads. We feel numbness. It feels like we just got slapped. Slapped by a powerful being unseen but profoundly felt because a beloved was taken away.

A death of a loved one equates a 7.8 magnitude jolt of an earthquake while we sit and wait for the earth to crumble and see the rubbles to unravel and dwell among the bereaved family survivors followed by aftershocks even bigger than the major blow. I know. I got through, and still in mourning by the loss of my husband and my parents. Three wonderful people I love dearly.

A slap hurts. It hurts big and the swelling lingers for a long time. What’s worse is that we only realize how important the word’ family’ is when somebody dies. We are too human. Too hanged up by our ego, insecurities, hatred, jealousy, envy and greed forgetting that all these do not matter anymore when a person who gives meaning to your life is gone.

We are being reminded time and again that we are here on earth on a temporary basis. While we are busy working for that dream, reaching that shooting star, and dying to have our shining hour, it’s imperative to take baby steps backward and pause to meditate on what is our real purpose in life. The call from my brother to tell the news about our beloved aunt was a slap and a relief. God knows when to knock when life takes a toll on us. I am writing this as we mourn for the passing away of my Auntie Lilia. Rest now my dear Aunt.

SPRING CAN REALLY HANG YOU UP THE MOST

My daughter finally left home to search for her own niche in the society. Her adventure begins while my empty nesting starts. Any mom would understand what empty nesting is or anyone who did not go away. While I start to wallow in misery, my brother called and asked if it would interest me to enter into a songwriting competition. To my recollection, the feeling of being recognized is indescribably incredible which I last felt in the year 2017, month of May, when my student (Yuka) brought home the crown to be the Jazz Vocal Queen in Japan. This year, she passes on the title to a new champion. Nothing really exciting is happening so far on my 2018 Spring. Sometimes, spring can really hang you up the most. So back to my brother. Pipo (that’s his name) asked me if I’m interested to join a songwriting contest in which the theme is ‘Destined for Greatness’. He literally says that I should use my emotional pain to be creative. Really? I love my brother. Therefore wrote some lyrics, melody by him and voila, submitted our song, then totally forgot all about it! I’m writing this to document a very important chapter in my life. The organizers emailed my brother informing him that our song got on the top 10 finalists, chosen from entries by other songwriters nationwide. How did I feel? Numb, motionless, speechless, adrenalin rush through my veins, palpitation, shock, dumbfounded, felt like struck by thunderbolt and lightning (very frightening) astonished, shaken up, and all the other words Wikipedia has that meant surprised. The universe works in many mysterious ways and I believe that this is a part of God the Father’s plans. After all, He wants only the best for His children. Hallelujah Lord! Definitely happy and jumping for joy. The competition isn’t over yet, but I guess there’s no harm in writing this so that history won’t forget it. On my next blog, I will attach the song but for now, I am sharing the lyrics that got us into the final 10 of this competition: http://livechristsharechrist.net/clarion-call-music-songwriting-competition/

EMPTY NEST by Lorna Cifra Shimojo

So what’s next Lorna? Oh dear, I’m actually speaking to myself. I recall many moons ago, while I was driving my car on my way to the supermarket, I was thinking out loud and enumerating the list that I’m suppose to buy on that day. My daughter, then 10 years old, sitting at the back caught my attention and said ‘Mama, that’s dangerous’, and I asked ‘why’? She replied ‘ you’re talking to yourself’, now slap your two cheeks’ implying that I’ve gone deranged or doomed for dementing, ergo, I need to slap my face.

You probably think I’m becoming a loony or perhaps gradually losing my sanity, so to speak. Yes, correct. My daughter is leaving home in two weeks and I find myself rearranging the furnitures, throwing unwanted and unused stuff that I’ve accumulated every time I go out shopping for her, usually for her, not for me. Well, that’s how moms are, children become your priority above all else, forgetting that one day, kids will grow and will eventually find their destiny or soul-search, (which I myself has been doing a lot lately) and tell their parents, break the sad news that they’re moving out. I prepared myself for this. I gathered some amount of emotional, mental, psychological, most of all spiritual strength so that when that day arrives, I’m ok. I wish my husband was here to comfort me, and as a single mom, the thought of being away from your one and only child is doubly heart-wrenching. Indeed, the cliche ‘easier said than done’ certainly is true.

After her graduation ceremony, we go separate ways. I’ll go back to my house, and pretty sure will be empty nesting, while she flaps her wings and prepares to conquer the world and all its’ intricacies and complexities.
I’m letting her go with an open heart and wrote a to-do list while she starts enjoying freedom.

1) To check on me once in a while, to find out if I’m not deceased yet.
2) Pray everyday
3) Find the nearest church
4) Choose your friends in business
5) Not to forget her vitamins
6) Remind her that I will always be a call away, anytime she needs me. As in anytime.

We have a joint account as well, just in case she runs out of cash, withdrawing would be convenient. Separate ATMs. The bond will stay forever. I’m still paying her phone bills, until she decides to get married, (who knows when and who). There you go! The answer to my question. What’s next? Continue to be a mom, only on a different level. Besides being her mom forever, I will be her friend, her advisor, her mentor as she enters into the world of capitalist corporate world where monsters live out there to devour the newbies. My daughter is a fighter, a survivor even at a very ripe age. What can I say, I’m her mother. I’m here for her to memorialize that I will be 2 steps behind her forever. The journey continues.

Check my YouTube channel too!

https://youtu.be/HQfSrA5NBCs

Why is it necessary to have a purpose in life? by Lorna O. Almeda Cifra

Having a purpose in life is the very essence of one’s existence in the universe. We were created and along with that comes the purpose why we live. Who do we live for? What do we live for? If there are no definite answers to these questions, what right do we have to breath the air, drink water, enjoy the sunshine each morning we wake up, have friends or fall in love?

Humans are created and composed by a DNA structure that only a person of extremely high intellect can conceive. Scientists have proven that theory. Not even Albert Einstein know the complexities or the formula for creating a human person. Some believe that there is indeed a Supreme Being , which a lot of them deny (that there is a God) who is the only one capable of DNA creation. The physical, mental, emotional and psychological complexities may only be created by the Highest form of authority. If indeed, up there in the unknown, is a Supreme Being capable of creating a person, he/ she/ it is absolutely smart as well to create a person and assign a task to his creation. That task is that purpose. If you are created to be a talented musician, then logically, your purpose is to share and spread your knowledge and talent. If one is assigned to be a doctor, his purpose would be, let’s see, to save life? Indeed!

Can you imagine a live human person with all his senses and faculties functioning well and not knowing what to do with them? It doesn’t make any sense that a very intelligent creator will create without a reason for that person to exist. We all have a purpose. It might take sometime to figure it out but it is imperative that one should live a life with a purpose so that when his existence comes to an end, a legacy will be left and passed on to the next generation and live according to their assigned purposes. Otherwise, there is no need for DNA and robots might as well rule the world.

6 years ago 


Today, 15th of September would have been Tetsuro’s  (my husband) 64th birthday. I would be prepping up to go to the department store and find him the finest gift he deserves, after all, he’s the love of my life. Finally, after hopping from one store to another, I end up with nothing. What should I give to a man whose best birthday gift ever is to be with his family? A home with a wife and a child to look forward to after a long day at his office? Time and again, I would casually ask him on what he wants for his birthday and to which he would reply that having me and my daughter Rachelle over a simple home cooked dinner will suffice. 

       The intangibles, those were more important than an expensive watch, a Burberry (his favorite) shirt, the finest whiskey or wine, a pair of Bali leather shoes, the latest Apple gadget and what not. What could be more important than tight hugs, our stories for the day, the sound of our laughter behind every corny jokes he would throw at us, his dream of seeing our daughter finish school, find a good job and eventually get a decent husband, to see his future granddaughters and grandsons and I can go on and on. He had them all orchestrated that when he retires, he will live his life to the fullest by simply enjoying the role of a husband and a father and we all would sit at the dining table on all his birthdays, the same way over and over again,  until we grow old, grey haired and just waiting for our time to be called back. Those intangibles stopped 6 years ago. Cancer. Terminal. Longest he can survive, 1 year. Why? 

       What has gone wrong? Am I not serving him the right food on the table every mealtime?  Did I forget to remind him to take his vitamins or see a doctor when he is physically ill? Did I take it too easy to think that he was always healthy and robust? Did I not deserve to have a good husband longer than I expected? I have millions of unanswered questions. What else can I do but accept the reality that the powers to be wanted him home. I question myself, why can’t we go together? He was so good to me. The best husband any wife would wish to have. God blessed me to have him for a certain period of time, short but with mutual profound love for each other. I can’t thank the Lord enough for those unforgettable joyous moments we once shared, but at the same time, asking for a miracle to let me see him even in my dreams, like 5 minutes so I can greet him Happy Birthday, and tell him that nothing has changed, and that I love him very much. When Tetsu passed away 6 years ago, I mourned, wallowed in misery, drowned into the sea of blue and green, and sometimes I ask myself, did I make an attempt to make little steps forward? As I write this, I’m thinking no. 

       I reflect upon what might have been if he is still with us. He would have been proud to see his daughter march on her graduation day. That would have been his best birthday present ever. 

       I still hear the ringing of the church bells, eerie and sad. The sound of the birds bitter and yearning . Yet, I need to allow myself a moment to believe that one would leave the other. Question is, who goes first. I decide to  remain in the vision, in my pure imagination that Tetsu is alive and well.  That vision is a new place for me to see him. Another way of living. 

CBCP urges Prayers with Muslim brothers 

An Insurgency expert was interviewed by an infamous journalist, whose network is very popular over social media, regarding the declaration of Martial Law in Marawi City. We all know that Marawi city was attacked by the Islamic State of Iraq led radicals or people who use unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims, or for lack of better words, (terrorists) last May 23, 2017. 

Battle of Marawi, is an ongoing armed conflict in Marawi, Lanao del Sur, that started on May 23, 2017 between Philippine governmentsecurity forces and affiliated militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, otherwise known as ISIS, including the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Salafi jihadist groups. 

His opinion on what the government should do in this verbatim ‘Autonomy region is the solution to ISIS attack. The country is in trouble according to that insurgency expert. While I listen to his analysis, I questioned myself, free Mindanao? Seriously? Independent from the republic? Are there better opinions around? The President declared Martial law and as far as I know, the war is not over till it’s over. This is the time to pull ourselves together. To be united as Filipinos and warriors of Christ so that we can finally achieve peace and live in harmony right in our own country. 

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines appealed to the government to deal with the threat posed by the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City following its clashes with soldiers being shot and innocent civilians.

In a statement issued by CBCP , it urges Catholics to pray with Muslims for peace. 

CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop Socrates Villegas has expressed the Catholic Church’s alarm over “reports that Islamic State flags now flutter over Marawi City” in Lanao del Sur.

“We call on government to deal with the threat without wavering and without compromise,” the prelate said.

He also called on Filipino Catholics to pray with their Muslim brothers and sisters, saying they have always believed most Muslims to be peace-loving people.

In an issue stated by Archbishop Socrates Villegas and I quote ‘we call on the occupiers who claim to worship the same God that we all do not to defile His name by bloodshed,” 

The CBCP added the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for many terrorist attacks all over the world.

To storm the heavens with prayers is what we need to do in this seemingly desperate situation and that is what exactly what the CBCP is asking us. These terrorists are out of control. They reportedly raised black flags all over the city as a symbol of their allegiance to the extremist Islamic State.

Residents took to social media to post photos of black flags, continuing gunfire, air strikes, burning of buildings and the local gunmen’s presence in the streets.

To Jesus, through Mary are the weapons of the legionaries of Mary. Our country is in dire need of spiritual intervention. When guns and air strikes are not working anymore, we resort to prayers as our last solution, when both should be done all at the same time. Let us pray both for the military and the radicals as well. For our soldiers to be shielded and protected and that they may be able to go back to their homes and families, alive and safe. For the enemies to be touched by the hands of God, to be given wisdom, so that they may realize that in the eyes of God, we are all brothers and sisters. 

The prelate is hoping the government can bring back peace soon as people have longed to go back and live a normal life. 


In an article I read, an interreligious movement has appealed for prayers and nationwide participation in the “Prayer for Peace in the Philippines” initiative to be held on July 7 at 12:00 noon to be aired on national television. 

The convenors believe that prayer for unity changes things, so they are asking all Filipinos from every faith and sector of society to pray with them for peace in the country.

“Anywhere, everywhere. Filipinos are urged to pray wherever they are.”


Organizers of a community called Pasa Lord Movement said people can come together with family, friends or their communities and churches in their usual prayer venues, or gather in groups at their work places or their schools.

The movement is composed of ordinary citizens from various faiths and denominations including Catholics who are mostly from Charismatic groups, Muslims, Protestants and Evangelicals.


Let’s look at it this way, if a community like Pasa Lord Movement could come up with an appeal like that, what more with a larger community like us, Legion of Mary? Legionaries of Mary, spiritual soldiers, let us march forward for peace and unity and best of all love.