Saturday, June 28, 2003

The feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is not one that is widely celebrated, at least in Malaysia. When the occasion arises, the Feast is celebrated, but I doubt that most Catholics in Malaysia would know when the Feast is.

Mary is the Mother of Christ. Some believe that she is nothing more than a myth. Others think that she is just a normal human being. Why give such honour to a mere mortal woman? They ask.

From a historical point of view, Jesus Christ can be said to be responsible for changing the course of history. If not, most of us would still be worshipping whatever Pantheon was in our region; Buddhism, Hinduism, or even Greek/Roman Gods.

That is one of the reasons why the woman who gave birth to him is so celebrated. But there is another reason as well. Remember that in ancient times, women were not given that much rank, but in Mary’s case, she is seen as second only to God, and rightly so.

Those who read the Bible will realise that Adam and Eve were considered the first sinners, as they took the Forbidden Fruit. What many forget is that just Jesus brought man back to God, in a similar vein, we could say that Mary did the same thing for women. What could be more just, than if the world was brought to know sin through a man through a woman, than for salvation to be brought to us from a man through a woman.

That’s just a thought of mine, so the next person who says that women are born evil should go back and re-read their information.

Furthermore, she is the model of pureness and submission. No, I don’t mean submission as in to Fate, but to the Will of God. How many of us, when confronted with such a choice, would have said yes? Some say that Mary did not think about the consequences about her actions, merely trusting in God to provide for her. I disagree.

I would bet with you that she did think about it, but chose to follow His word anyway. She hesitated. If not, then why was her initial response one of uncertainty?

She is a role model to all of us. Who else could have followed His Word faithfully? Who else could have been the perfect example of saying ‘yes’ to God?

Many Catholic priests and brothers are devoted to her, as are the women. Our Protestant cousins (no insult, just that I used brothers and sisters as to denote the vocations) do not believe in her, in fact they denounce us as to say we WORSHIP her. How untrue!

We do not pray to her, but we ask her to pray for us. She is our intercession, our middleman (or woman). Some may ask, why go through a middle person at all? Why not go straight to God? We all do, but remember that when we fight, we often cannot meet with the person we fought. We are either to embarrassed or proud to acknowledge them. We often use intermediaries.

Mary is the same as that. Furthermore, she gives extra strength to us, not only as faith and belief in her Son, but consolation as well. It is said that Jesus comes to the Saints often not alone, but with His Precious Mother as well. Devotion to Jesus through Mary has yielded results that can still be seen today.

I’m assuming that everyone knows about the Miracle at Lourdes and at Fatima. If you don’t, well, please do a Google search on that. I’ll write on that one later. The proof that I am talking about lives in Rome. He’s on his last legs, but faith in the youth and in Mary and Jesus keeps him alive and kicking. Though he is old, he is still quite popular with youths.

Can’t guess? He is none other than Pope John Paul II. His devotion to Mary, who could be said to be not much older than us when she accepted the Word, is famous and legendary. On the Hem of his robes is the letter ‘M,’ for Mother Mary. And she has taken care of him. Regardless as to what others might say, I believe that she looks after him still. Who else would have interceded for him when he was shot in 1984? (I think). Jesus did, with lots of help from Mary.

Another proof is my grandmum. She is old, getting on to be about 77 this year. Her devotion to Mary has been passed down to her children and her grandchildren (like me!) and is nothing short of legendary in the family. Every night before she goes to bed she says her rosary, which is a special devotion prayer to Mary. Not only that, even when she was on her deathbed she had her Rosary near, and when we had to send her to the hospitals when she was quite ill, one of the most important thing to bring was her Rosary. It had to be either under her pillow or in her hand or pocket.

The main reason why I am saying this is because of a miracle that happened not too long ago. My grandmother had a stroke in the middle of the night. I could not hear her as I was sleeping in the front room. Somehow she called my aunt who lived not too far away, the latter who woke me up. We found my grandmum on the bed. The room was a mess and the phone was off its’ hook, indicating that my grandmum had fallen.

To this day, my grandmother has no recall of how she made it to the phone or how she got back. My other aunt, who is a devout person herself, suggested about a month later that maybe the one who had made the Call was Mary herself. My grandmum has a very strong devotion to her.

Mary is my Queen. It is said that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. How true it is!

Food is the second most basic need of humans. The first of course, is water. The human body (sorry, I think most of you know this but I think I have to repeat it anyway) may last more than 20 days without food, but only 3 without water. Water has been flavoured and changed in so many ways, but it is still the most beneficial to us in its purest form, which is plain water.

That’s not the same of food. Food has evolved, the way it is cooked, the way it is eaten… The basic ingredients have been transformed to make new attacks and sensations on our palate. Even now it is evolving. Foods from different nations are being fused together to make new dishes, new tastes.

Why am I writing about food? Simply because growing up in a multiracial family has made appreciative of the food that is on my table. As I have mentioned before, I hate spicy food. However, years of merely smelling spicy food have done wonders for my nose. I know when it is seasoned well, and when the dish has been deliberately ‘watered down,’ so to speak.

One instance is Devil Curry. This popular Portuguese dish is red in colour. It is called Devil Curry not only for its deep red colour, but also for its spiciness. It is one of the few dishes that you can actually smell the chillies in them not only as they are cooked, but when they are served as well. I don’t know how it is served in Portugal, but here in Malaysia, it is served with rice or even putu mayam. Both of them are staples. Dishes are served with them to enhance the flavour of the dishes.

Putu mayam is made out of rice flour. Add a little salt, a little water to make it thick and then put it into the mould. The mould consists of two parts. They are basically a long hollow cylinder and the tube that fits into the cylinder. Both of them have handles.

The cylinder has one opening at the top, to allow the tube to enter. At the bottom, holes are poked. A handful of flour is put into the cylinder, the excess put back with the others. The tube then presses the flour through the holes, making thin noodles. The mould is turned as a repeated circle, until the flour is used. The results are then steamed.

This is putu mayam. It’s one of the dishes in Malaysia that is the daily staple food. I have it only once a year generally, because like most of my family members I was raised on mainly rice. I have it during Christmas, with another dish called “Kurma Curry.” But that’s for another day.

Catch ya later!

Religion is something that is easily dismissed by those who study science. The main reason for it, they say, is because God cannot be measured by empirical means. He cannot be measured, He cannot be touched, smelled, or taste. Yet if He were, would that not mean the end of the Mystery? Would we not be moaning about the death of one of Life’s greatest Pleasures?

Now, unlike the days that have gone before us, are truly the days of wonderment. Everyday something new is being discovered, and in some cases, something old is reaffirmed. There is much to see, much to do, much to discover by all.

We are no longer simply the people who had to slave all day and sometimes all night to put food on the table. At the end of the day our minds crave stimulation, intellectual arguments, we want to fill this curiosity that is burning within us. We have the time to do it. We have the energy.

Most of us are comfortable in knowing what they already know. Many of us are content to merely watch and absorb new information. However, there are many more of us who are not.

Many of the youths of today, dream as the youths before them, of making a difference in the world. They dream of having a voice, and to make those in power listen to their voices so that the world might be a better place for them when it is time to hand over the reins.

And they have the means and opportunities to do so. However, their focus has gone awry. What you hear students and people talking on the street nowadays is not how they may serve their country, but on what is current, what is new, and what is passé. Can we blame them?

In Malaysia, the youths, with the exceptional few, have been trained to think shallowly. What matters is that you get a degree. You get a good, high paying job that will enable you to live out your lives as you want. Don’t take risks! That’s too dangerous! Would you want your poor old mom and dad to live outside on the streets?

What do you mean that you want to be a writer? Don’t you know that writers are all poor? What do you mean that you want to be a journalist? Don’t you know that they all smoke and die young? And you want to be a police? Whatever for? They are all corrupt and useless people, only Malays go there! You want to be a teacher? Those are all dead-end jobs and low pay, only failures go there!

Be a businessman, like your Chinese uncle. Be a doctor, like your Indian father. Take advantage of the system you’re a bumi* aren’t you?

And with parents mouthing statements like these the leaders of today are wondering what happened to the leaders of tomorrow. I mean it. I know what my friends and I face, Many of our parents, they say, want the best for us, but they don’t realise that what may the best for them, need not necessarily be the best for us.

It’s hard for me to find someone who will happily engage me in an hour or two, just to discuss politics, (not withstanding that the leaders of today, who are parents, have banned students from being political until they come out of college/university) philosophy, among other matters. Things that challenge and stimulate the minds in form of discussions are very rarely found. Why? Because our parents dismiss them as nonsense. After all, they don’t bring in money, and they encourage you to loiter.

If they would make these things accessible to youths and to give them truly a platform to discuss them, maybe the youths of today will be slightly more equipped to be the leaders of tomorrow. By the way, for those of you who say premarital sex is bad and etc, please don’t attend. I’m all for the exchange of ideas, but looking down from a moral high ground makes me ever so slightly nauseous.

*bumi- Malays or those who have been here before the British

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Exams, exams, exams. Are they not the scourge of students everywhere? Do they not have only one purpose and one purpose alone? To torture hapless students, even if they have studied? Perhaps the exams serve a purpose noble to teachers... To give them some pleasure in marking student's works.

Yeah, I know, I sound a little off. The thing is, today is the first of my last two papers. Funnily enough, it is my Public Relations paper. I love Public Relations. It's far more complex and entertaining than I thought it would be. Yet, at the same time, it is quite tiring. I've had a taste of organizing an event during my last term hols, so I kinda know what you need to do when organizing an event. Yet that's not what I find the most challenging when it comes to PR. It's the management of the different publics, what they need, want and in some cases, their demands.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The choices we make haunt us forever. That's one of my mottos. No matter what you do, your past will always come back to haunt you. Your embarrasments (hoped I spelled that correctly), your hopes, dreams, bitterness, disappointments... It doesn't matter that you've fulfilled something you set out to do. Something will always come back and make you regret it.

Unlike the song, I have a few, and they are not too few to mention. The pain, the regrets, but most importantly, the people I met whom I never gave a chance to know. Losing a chance to meet them... These were people I only knew when they were gone.

I've had two deaths on my mother's side, both of whom were rather important to the family. One was my maternal grandfather, whom I did not associate much as he spoke Hokkien and I didn't speak a word of it. Well, just a little. I liked him because he was nice, but he never hugged nor held me. Coming from a conservative and traditional Chinese family, that was to be expected. I think his greatest regret was that he never had a grandson. You see, though I have a brother, my brother carries my dad's family name and not my maternal grandfather's. There was talk of perhaps changing my brother's name, but that too was scrapped.

My gradfather passed away when I was 10. It's been nine years since his death. We were blessed about two years ago with finally, the heir to the family name. He gave a scare during his early years as he contracted a disease that had killed a lot of children in Sabah and Sarawak, but now he's fine and making us run around when we play with him. He has two cousin sisters who are in their middle and early twenties, a cousin who is 19 (that's me!) and her 16 year old brother, and lastly, a cousin who is very much closer to his age, eight years old. With the exception of my brother, the rest of us are all girls.

My youngest female cousin on this side also has a sad story. Her mother passed away about three years ago, shortly before my cousin brother was born. She was in her 30s. She had had brain tumours appearing now and then. I still remembered holding her daughter in my arms during those dark, last days. Death is never, ever a pretty thing!

Monday, June 09, 2003

Variety, they say, is the spice of life. How true. You certainly get that in Malaysia. In the Chinese Coffeeshops alone you'll find Chinese, Indian, Malay food and if you're lucky, even Western food, which are sometimes a rarity during lunch hour. In any case, you can find food to satisfy even the most discerning palate in Malaysia.

Around my college area in Taman Mayang, which is in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, there are about 13 shops (some are hawker stalls, others coffeeshops and even cafes). That's quite a lot, considering that the area is less than 1.5 kilometres in radius. However, some of the food are not suitable for everyone, simply because of one simple word, "Halal." This word means a lot in Malaysia.

With the main religion being Islam, there is a demand for food that are not only delicious, but meets the standards set by Jakim, the Islamic Department in Malaysia. 'Halal' implies that these foods meet Islamic standards. These are found quite readily but they tend to be the same kind of dishes. For non-muslims like me, sometimes we prefer non-spicy food.

Well, make that all the time for me. I can't stand spicy food due to a bad experience when I was a kid. Besides, eating non-spicy food has given me a chance to enjoy other foods that are not so spicy and enabled me to taste them without adding anything. Some people cannot eat food without adding a 'hint' of spicyness to it, whether it be chillies or pepper. That destroys the experience, I believe. It's a very sad thing.

That's all for now about Malaysian food. Ahh... In some places they say that you eat to live, not live to eat, but with so many varieties and tastes and scents to experience, you'd be foolish to miss out! Well, unless you're on a strict medical diet, which sorts of restricts you.


Hello! Welcome to my blog. This is just a brief intro about myself, and I hope that you won't be too critical of me.

I'm an 18 year old Eurasian of Portugese and (mainly) Chinese descent. My grandfather is a Portugese while my grandmothers (both of them) are Chinese. My mother is also a Chinese, which means that I grew up with a very large dose of Chinese culture. Yet I went to national schools and a private mixed secondary school which was located near one of the centers of cultures in the capital city.

Not only that, I am an avid reader of Greek and Roman Mythology, went through a rather short phase of Egyptian Mythology not long ago, know a little about the myths and legends of most races in Malaysia, and well, I love anime too. So be warned! My ramblinsgs are quite varied and rather well... rambly.