Friday, August 26, 2016

On Big Eyes, the Movie

   Before Gloria moved to California, she and her best friend Margarita used to see movies together.  In 2014, Margarita texted her to see the movie, Big Eyes.  Margarita said she had seen it and Gloria shouldn’t miss it because the movie is based on a real life Jehovah’s Witness.  That was about two years ago.

Damian Lewis
   Two months ago Gloria's daughter told her the movie Big Eyes is now available in HULU.  Gloria took note but she had a list of shows she binge watched from pilot episode like Homeland, Billions, Life, etc.  Obviously, she has fallen in love with Damian Lewis, the guy who put red head in fashion.  Then, she ran out of Damian Lewis’ shows.     

   So finally, she watched Big Eyes.  Three quarters of the movie showed Margaret Keane being dominated by her husband.  Gloria thought, she was different from her.  She would not have suffered like Margaret did.  

   Margaret was manipulated to be her husband's work horse while he took the credit for her talent.  He isolated her from her friends, yet she stayed ten lonely years.  When Jehovah’s Witnesses gave her a Bible study, she found the strength to make a change, to break away.

   At the end of the movie, Gloria realized she was no different from Margaret after all.  She stayed unhappily married for twenty three years.  She did everything she could to disguise her loneliness.  When she studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, she found the strength to make changes.  

   First, she threw away the eight feet plastic Christmas tree she set up every year to convince herself that she's got a happy family with presents around the tree.  It was a façade, no one in the family was happy.

   Second, she had a talk with the Elders of her congregation about the legalities and spiritual status of her marriage.  She sought to do what would be right in God’s eyes.  Due to a technicality, her wedding was not perfectly legal.  It needed fixing.  

   The Elders gave her a choice between having a second wedding to remove the technicality or walk away and be single again.  When she heard that it would not be a transgression if she left, she felt as if a weight had been lifted.  With prayers and Bible passages to guide her decisions, she sold their two story, four bedroom home and split the money between her and her husband, as fair as her conscience allows.

   She was baptized in December 1991, at the Lovers of Freedom Convention.  She got freed at last.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

The Girl at the Airport

   Gloria, a Jehovah’s Witness senior citizen came home to Manila for a vacation in January, 2016 at the height of the ‘Laglag Bala’ controversy.  She was so wary that she wrapped her Coach purse in paper then covered it with duct tape.  She checked-in a one regular size luggage securely locked after watching the YouTube video of how easy it is to open zippers with ball pen or pencil.  
   When she arrived in Manila, a female airport employee in white security uniform with a handheld CB Radio hanging on her belt caught up with her as soon as she passed the immigration and security counters.  The airport employee offered to help her with the wheeled luggage she dragged around.  Gloria respectfully declined the offer.  The woman continued to walk with her until they reached the spot where arriving passengers awaited their pick up.  They sat on the bench provided for those with last name that starts with the letter ‘C’.

   They sat facing the four meter wide curb and the street that brought in the cars picking up arriving passengers.  Fely wasn’t where she should be.  The airport employee asked Gloria for the phone number of the person picking her up, her cousin Fely.  She offered to call Fely because Gloria did not have a cellphone roaming in Manila.  Their call kept going into Fely’s voicemail.  After several tries, they gave up.

   All the airport employee’s kindness made Gloria more fearful.  She asked herself “why is this woman hanging on to me?”  An hour later, Gloria decided she would stay put, sleep on the bench if necessary, until Fely comes to find her.  She remembered an old friend who worked as an airport porter.

   “Do you happen to know a porter named Mario?  He’s Jehovah’s Witness,” she asked the airport employee.

   “Are you a Jehovah’s Witness?” the airport employee replied, without answering her question.

   “Yes, I am,” Gloria said.

   “Are you a Regular Pioneer?” the airport employee asked.  The term Regular Pioneer refers to an organization ministry privilege in the Watchtower organization.

   “Are you a Jehovah’s Witness?” Now it’s Gloria’s turn to ask the airport employee.

   “Yes, but I have recused myself since I married a non-witness man.”

   “Were you disfellowshipped?  Were you reprimanded?”

   “No, but I felt I no longer belonged there,” the airport employee sadly replied.  Gloria guessed that the woman might have heard some unkind, judging words from fellow worshippers.

   “Are you legally married to the man?” Gloria asked.


   “The very first Jehovah’s Witness I met said something that stayed with me.  He said, “Humans judge each other harshly than Jehovah himself.”  I also married a man who was not a Jehovah’s Witness.  I am still a Witness to this day.  Jehovah owns the organization.  You are not in the organization for anybody else other than Him.  You deserve to be there if you want to stay.” Gloria said strongly to the sad woman.

   Immediately after that conversation, Fely came walking towards them saying, she had walked back and forth past their bench less than four meters away but didn’t see them.  Neither did Gloria and the airport employee see Fely.  Amazed at the implied miraculous mishap, Gloria and the airport employee stared at each other.

   Just as it says in Ezekiel 34:11,“For this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: “Here I am, and I myself will search for my sheep, and I will care for them". 

   “You see how much Jehovah wants you back?  Fely and I could not find each other until after we’ve had that talk.  You need to go back to being a Witness now,” Gloria said, the airport employee hugged her, both of them close to tears.  

   “whatever our hearts may condemn us in, because God is greater than our hearts and knows all things” (1 John 3:20)

   Gloria, in the stress of travel or maybe due to a senior moment, forgot to ask the airport employee’s name.  She hopes they find each other again on her next trip home.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Conceived in Heartbreak

   The Filipinos have an ‘old wives tale’ that babies conceived in heartbreak grow up to be grumpy while those conceived in bliss grow up to be cheerful adults.  This has been passed from generation to generation.  It has been used to tease irritable people as “ipinaglihi sa sama ng loob” (conceived in heartbreak).  Here’s what modern thoughts say about it.

   “Fetuses exposed to elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which possibly gets released in the mother's body when she's stressed out, could have trouble paying attention or solving problems as they grow up… “fetal programming,” the idea that events in the womb could prime the developing child for long-term health and developmental outcomes.” (

   “In fact, given the intricate physiological relationship between mother and fetus, it would be somewhat surprising if dynamic aspects of the maternal environment did not serve to shape fetal development.” (

   “It is thought that high levels of stress hormones in the womb affect the delicate development of the unborn baby’s brain…The research, which tracked thousands of babies from the womb to school, found the hormones raise the odds of a child experiencing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other behavioral problems… The study found that mothers who were stressed in pregnancy, or had suffered a relationship breakdown or bereavement were twice as likely as others to have a child who was ‘mixed-handed’ at the age of five... Those who are mixed-handed use one hand for tasks such as writing and another for things such as throwing and catching a ball.” (

   The good Filipino husband knows, by tradition, to give in to the pregnant wife’s whims during pregnancy.  Apparently, it also makes him a good father to the unborn child.  The mother’s ‘blissful state’ contributes to the child's well being. 

   “Ayurveda, the ancient scientific system of Indian medicine, recommends that expectant mothers should be happy, pleased, always calm and satisfied. Ayurveda also suggests that their wishes should be fulfilled to keep their body, mind and spirit, in a blissful state...Research studies prove the theory that fetuses recognize their mother’s voice and start learning while they are still in the womb(

   Hence, it follows that the mother’s weeping, or the sound of someone yelling at her, the issues argued, verbalized disappointments and difficult situations that confront the mother during pregnancy will be ‘learned’ by the fetus.

   The Filipinos’ ‘old wives tale’ about babies conceived in heartbreak seems to have a scientific basis, proving once again the wisdom of the ages.

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