Youth

Here is an excerpt from a poem called “Youth”, by Samuel Ullman (1840-1924), emailed to me by my japanese host “Otosan” (“father”) when he learned I was leaving Japan for Sweden way back 2001. A very beautiful poem, which alongside Desiderata, continues to be of great influence to me how I perceive myself and the world.

Youth is not a time of life;
it is a state of mind;
it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees;
it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination,
a vigor of the emotions;
it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.
This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty.
Nobody grows old merely by a number of years.
We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Interestingly, the poem is very popular in Japan due to it being a favourite of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Pacific during and after WWII, who had the poem posted on the wall of his Tokyo office. Here is the link to the complete poem: Samuel Ullman Museum.

And here’s my own translation into Tagalog/Filipino (2007):

Ang kabataan ay hindi isang antas ng buhay;
ito ay ang kalagayan ng pag-iisip;
hindi ito patungkol sa mabuburok na pisngi, mapupulang labi, at matibay na tuhod;
tumutukoy ito sa lakas ng kalooban, uri ng guni-guni, sidhi ng damdamin;
ito ay ang kasariwaan niyong malalim na bukal ng buhay.

Ang kabataan ay ang pangingibabaw ng katapangan sa kahinaang-loob,
ang kagustuhan sa pakikipagsapalaran imbes na sa kadalian.
Madalas itong nakikita sa isang animnapung taong gulang kesa doon sa dalawampung taon.
Walang sinuman ang tumatanda dahil sa haba ng panahon.
Ang pagtanda ay nagaganap sandaling
lisanin natin ang mga dakilang hangarin.

Maaaring mangulubot ang balat sa paglipas ng taon,
subalit ang pagpapabaya sa sigasig ng buhay ay nakakapangulubot ng kaluluwa.
Ang pag-aala-ala, takot, kawalan ng tiwala sa sarili ay nakakalagas ng puso
at ang diwa ay nagiging alikabok.

Maging animnapu man o labing-anim,
sa bawat puso ng isang tao ay may umiiral na pagnanasa sa kamanghaan,
‘kumbaga batang paslit na laging sabik sa magaganap,
at sa kagalakan ng laro ng buhay.

Doon sa kaibuturan ng iyong puso at ng aking puso
ay may antenang nakahimpil;
habang ito ay nakakatanggap ng mensahe ng kariktan,
pag-asa, tuwa, tapang, lakas mula sa sangkatauhan at
mula doon sa Itaas, ikaw ay mananatiling bata.

Sa panahong nakatumba ang antena, at ang iyong diwa ay natatakluban ng
niyebe ng pag-aalinlangan at kawalang pag-asa,
ay doon magsisimula ang iyong pagtanda, kahit na ikaw ay dalawampu pa lamang.
Subali’t habang nakataas yaong antena,
at handang sumagap ng kalatas ng kinabukasan,
ay maaring isa ka pa ring bata sa iyong paglisan pagsapit ng walumpo.

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Between Marriage and Death

Another positive thing about the death of one of the world’s most wanted terrorist is that it virtually erased everything that pertains to the marriage of some privileged individuals from my newsfeed. Kudos to all journalists who still know the concept of newsworthiness. Things that matter, that is.

Now I can check the news again.

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Are You On A Crossroad?

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

The above, I dedicate to all the people out there who find themselves in a crossroad and are too afraid to make a decision. North. South. East or West. The choice is yours. It doesn’t matter as long as you don’t stay in the middle of the crossing reaching nowhere. Eventually, you will realize that there is no right or wrong choices in life. What matters in the end is how you made the most out of it; how you lived your life towards the fulfillment of your dreams; how you strived to get out of your mediocre existence; how you learned to care, love, and even forgive those who hurt you along the way. 

The average human lifespan is about 80 years. The first 15 years of which you spend with your parents. If you are lucky and still have a clear head by the time of your death, that gives you 65 years of having most of the decisions in your life by yourself (provided you don’t marry a dictator). If you sleep 8 hours per day in that 65 years, you are basically asleep for about 20 years, leaving you only  45 years of waking hours. 

Forty five years. That’s barely half a century! The age of the universe is around 14 billion years. Humans have been walking the Earth since 195,000 years ago. And what is 45 years compared to that? Not even a blink of an eye in a person’s lifetime, if I may borrow that tired cliché.

So in 45 years of your waking existence, are you then willing to just stand on the harbor and watch the world go by?

Regrets are for losers. Just effin’ do it, man!


Last Wednesday (27/4) was exactly ten years ago since I received that confirmation email from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg that I was admitted to one of their International Master’s Programmes. Ten years hence and I’m still in Sweden. The only regret I have is that I gave too little time in nourishing the friendship I made with people I have met along the way (both in real life and online). This is something I am continuously striving to change about myself.      

The entry above is a repost and was originally published on 2007-08-30,  http://metrobloggen.se/mogli/just_do_it/. I was cleaning my email account and found that old email from the coordinator of the master’s programme and somehow it brought back that feeling of uncertainty as I was weighing options whether to move to Sweden or not. Then I remembered that Mark Twain quote, leading me to the blog entry.  

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mogLi’s Question of the Update

What is so interesting about a balding guy tying the knot?

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Sex With A Neanderthal

If you are of European or of Asian ancestry, there is a big chance that your human ancestors from around 50,000-80,000 years ago exchanged genetic material (read: had sex) with neanderthals somewhere in the middle east, before migrating out to rest of Europe or westward to China and other parts of Asia. Results of sequencing of fragments of neanderthal genome found in fossilized material compared with those of modern humans from different population groups suggest that Eurasians carry around 2.5% of the Neanderthal genome.

These are what I learned last week in a seminar by Svante Pääbo, the scientist at Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology who led the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome a year ago. Not only was the talk very eloquently delivered, it was also injected with humour not so common in scientific meetings.

Svante Pääbo quipped, “We screwed a lot of Neanderthal bones!” while showing a slide of some fossilized bones full of holes; from many attempts of grinding bones to extract sufficient amount of DNA for sequencing.

Another funny moment was when he showed this figure, about the number of people calling the institute claiming that they are neanderthals, or they are married to a neanderthal. The breakdown of the phone calls were shown as bar graphs:

What would be interesting to know is whether those men who are claiming to be neanderthals are the same men who were reported by their wives as neanderthals. For I’m pretty sure that men who voluntarily reported themselves as neanderthals are somewhat proud of their ancestry, while those reported by their wives are probably not so flattered by this label.

Anyway, jokes aside, for me it does not matter what kind of genes we have in us. What matters most is whether we as human beings are fulfilling the potential of our genetic make-up for the benefit of human kind. Once again, I’d like to quote Leo Tolstoy who once wrote, “To serve humanity alone is the sole purpose of life.”

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It Is Really Getting Better All The Time

Don’t you think it is getting better?

The Beatles thinks so!

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It Is Getting Better All The Time

Yihaa! Old comments are back!

Thanks so much to Patrik Högberg of Virtuellmedia, the IT company who took over the metroblog portal. I’m still trying to familiarize myself with all the new admin functions of the blog.

In the meantime please feel free to browse my archives of posts and comments from way back 2007, while listening to the awesome riff of this classic RamJam:

watch?v=V0OFF3q4Pxk

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