When Catholics were the Galactic Empire

Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, gave the Protestants their first major victory in the Thirty Years’ War. Image credit: Painting by Johann Walter via Wikimedia Commons​
Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, gave the Protestants their first major victory in the Thirty Years’ War. Image credit: Painting by Johann Walter via Wikimedia Commons

The Thirty Years’ War, which raged from 1618-1648, was one of the most devastating conflicts in European history, resulting in the deaths of approximately eight million people.

It started out primarily as a religious war, with the Catholics attempting to put an end to the Protestant Reformation. In Star Wars terms, the Roman Catholic Church and Holy Roman Empire were definitely the Galactic Empire in this destructive war, while the Protestants were the Rebel Alliance.

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The day my father died

On this day last year, my dad Melencio Avila Alarilla died. He was almost 70.

When I was almost 13, my mom took my two younger sisters and me to look at a house. It sounds stupid, but I didn’t ask why. I don’t remember what the house we looked at was like — only that I was thinking at the time that I wouldn’t mind if that became our new home. While showing us around, the owner asked my mom the question I didn’t: “Why are you looking for a house to rent?” My mom replied: “My husband and I are separating.” And that’s how I found out.

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My sister and ‘Tahan Na, Tahanan’

In 2011, my younger sister Maria Isabel Alarilla-Arellano (Maribel) won in The Center for Art, New Ventures & Sustainable Development’s (CANVAS) Romeo Forbes Children’s Story Writing Competition.

CANVAS launched her book “Tahan Na, Tahanan”, which was illustrated by the late multi-awarded artist Don M. Salubayba, on Sept. 30 at the Ayala Museum.

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The one where ‘This Borrowed Flesh’ got published

“This Borrowed Flesh” was my first short story to be published.

It came out in the Aug. 5, 2019 issue of the Philippines Graphic, for which I will forever be grateful to then Associate Editor and Literary Editor Alma Anonas-Carpio. It was the first of three short stories that they would publish. The other two were “Body of Work” and “The Rizal Virus”.

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Manananggal on PBS Digital Studios program ‘Monstrum’

One of the most bizarre monsters in Philippine folklore is the manananggal, which was featured in an episode of "Monstrum".Image credit: Screenshot of 'Monstrum' episode on PBS Digital Studios
Image credit: Screenshot of ‘Monstrum’ episode on PBS Digital Studios

One of the most bizarre monsters in Philippine folklore is the manananggal, which was featured in an episode of “Monstrum”.

While the show made a mistake in saying that the manananggal’s arms transform into wings, it’s still an awesome, well-researched PBS Digital Studios video. “Monstrum” host Dr. Emily Zarka also discussed how women played an important role in pre-colonial Philippine society. And I’m glad that she tackled how our Spanish colonizers did away with that gender equality while demonizing female shamans and indigenous religious practices.

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Matane: See you again, Hana Kimura

Image credit: Hana Kimura’s Twitter account
Image credit: Hana Kimura’s Twitter account

“Everyone is different. Everyone is special.”

That was the motto of Tokyo Cyber Squad, the faction that the late Indonesian-Japanese pro wrestler Hana Kimura led in STARDOM. It’s a motto that also fits Hana perfectly. Today, I joined thousands of Hana’s fans from all over the world in celebrating her life through the Hana Kimura Memorial Show, “Matane”, that streamed live from Tokyo’s legendary Korakuen Hall via FITE. A year ago today, Hana died of suicide, a victim of cyberbullying. She was 22.

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When mythology was religion

Image credit: Constantinos Kollias on Unsplash
Image credit: Constantinos Kollias on Unsplash

“My favorite definition of mythology: other people’s religion. My favorite definition of religion: misunderstanding of mythology. The misunderstanding consists in the reading of the spiritual mythological symbols as though they were primarily references to historical events.” – Joseph Campbell, “Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor”

We tend to forget that mythology was once religion, and that people used to worship the Greek, Roman, and Norse gods, to name just a few. In fact, gods can even make a comeback, such as in Iceland, which in 2015 constructed the first major temple to the Norse gods since the Viking age. It also helps to keep in mind the origins of living religions and their deities, such as Yahweh, who was originally part of the Canaanite pantheon along with its chief god El, with whom Yahweh was retroactively combined.

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Why minimalism is meaningful to me

It was in 2011 that I started to embrace minimalism, thanks to a friend of mine since high school, Marianito Rodrigo.

He introduced me to Leo Babauta’s zen habits blog and his books, as well as the works of other minimalists. While I was skeptical at first, little did I know that our chat on Google+ — yes, Google+ was still alive and we were chatting there because he refused to have anything to do with Facebook from the start — would prove to be life-changing.

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Jollibee in Hugo Award-winning sci-fi novelette?

Every Filipino knows Jollibee, which is the name of both the hugely popular Filipino multinational chain of fast food restaurants and its beloved bee mascot. But did you know that Jollibee was mentioned in a Hugo Award-winning science fiction novelette? Twice, actually.

That’s what I found out when I read “Six Months, Three Days”, which is included in Charlie Jane Anders‘ short story collection “Six Months, Three Days, Five Others”. The novelette, which is about two precogs, Doug and Judy, won the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. It was also nominated for the 2011 Nebula Award and the 2011 Theodore Sturgeon Award.

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