Who Do You Follow?


I know this might cost me some friends, or shock people, but it is time to examine ourselves and our beliefs. I am going to be a gadfly to your conscience, forcing you to examine your belief system, and if your actions are truly in line with what you profess to believe if you consider yourself a Christian, meaning a follower of the teachings of Jesus. Anyone else is excused, although it is good for all of us to meditate on what is happening and who and what we support nowadays.

I just can not fathom how anyone can support leaders, and policies that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus, because they claim to be the “Godly Party”, or the “Party of Family Values,” when the exact opposite is proven to be true. Please don’t think I am exempting Democrats or anyone else from this, either. If you consider yourself an Anarchist, a Communist, a “Sovereign Citizen”, an Anti-government whatever, you are just as liable as those in the mainstream. If you follow Jesus, you follow what he preached, and not what some demagogue or some party flunkies or whoever and what their propaganda machine wants you to believe. Nor will you be able to say that it starts or is within one political party or leader. If that is what they claim or would have you believe, then they are false prophets:

 20 One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God begin?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God isn’t ushered in with visible signs. 21 You won’t be able to say, ‘It has begun here in this place or there in that part of the country.’ For the Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21 The Living Bible)

For me, “…the Kingdom of God is within you,” means we each have a personal connection with the divine. Part of that connection is my conscience, which is as overactive as my brain. Even if I have not done something others would consider wrong, or committed a slight they did not notice or let slip by, I still feel bad about it. Or if someone or something is wrong in some faraway land, or if there is an issue which has no direct impact on me, I feel it in my Spirit, that other connection to the divine which resides within me. What ever affects others affects me, no matter who or where they are.

If you voted for and continue to support leaders who push through policies that are the very antithesis of what you should believe in as a Christian, you should question what you believe and whether you truly are a follower of Jesus.

You may say, “But I pray for our leaders.” That is your duty as a believer. But do you still support their policies, and give them your tacit and implicit support, even when their policies go against what Jesus asks us to do? Then your prayers and your support cancel each other out and are useless.

If you think healthcare is a privilege, and not a right, you should question what you believe and whether you truly are a follower of Christ. Didn’t Jesus himself have mercy on the sick and dying and minister to them?

If you believe that the wealthy should get tax cuts detrimental to the greater good of all and everyone else carry the burden, to the point where 24,000,000 people will be without basic health care, for one, then how can you say, “I follow Jesus?”

If you think poor people do not deserve any social support, and programs for them should be cut in favor of increases in the military budget, you should examine yourself and ask, “What would Jesus, the one I profess to follow, say?”

If you think it is okay to discriminate and ban people because of their religious beliefs (which by the way, are guaranteed by the US Constitution), ethnicity, sexuality, or any other reason, then you should go back to the Bible, read it, and see who Jesus hung out with and accepted and ministered to, and do the same.

If you think businesses should be unregulated and allowed to run wild and do what they want because, “It will be good for the economy,” or  “It will allow the job creators (the 1%) to create new jobs,” it won’t. It will only allow the rich and greedy to get richer. Then you have to ask who do you believe in: God or Mammon?

If you think that businesses and governments should be allowed to rape the environment, freely contribute to global warming, where it will injure all life on the planet, then you have to ask yourself if I really believe and follow what I espouse.

A few years ago, WWJD, (What Would Jesus Do?) was a popular saying. Unfortunately, this saying seems to have fallen away like other fads.

If you believe and do these things, then do not consider yourself a follower of Jesus, but a hypocrite and a Pharisee.

As for me, I do not want to be part of any church, religion, or organization that condones things which my conscience tells me is wrong, that I cannot defend to my children and future generations. I know I am not perfect, and am a work in progress, and you may pick away at my faults, but I have to follow what that divine spark within me tells me is right, even if at other times I am wrong.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me,you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25:34-45 NIV)

These things need to be said. If this loses me friends, then so be it. If this makes you search your conscience and reconsider your beliefs, then that is my intent.

Faith and Deeds 

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.  (James 2:14-18 New International Version)

Please, my Friends and good people, be forewarned. Do not fall into the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

God’s Love, and my Love to you all.




In my time on this earth I have come to realize that the measure of your life isn’t in how much money you have or in the things you acquire. These are all fleeting things, made of wind and just as easily gone. The true measure of ones life is by the lives you touch for the better. That is your true legacy, and one that lives far after you are gone.

My heroes aren’t those who amass so much wealth they can not spend it in a million lifetimes, and yet do anything to keep getting more, no matter who it kills or hurts or the damage it does to the environment.  They are to be excoriated or at best pitied for their selfishness and inhumanity. What will be their legacy? In the end what will they have done to make the world a better place for anyone else but themselves? Why praise them and hold them up as examples when in the end in the grand scheme of things they leave behind a huge debt to humanity? 

No, my heroes are the selfless ones who give their time and effort to  touch lives, and make the world a better place than when they came into it. They are the real heroes of the world, and the ones that should be celebrated. Unfortunately, the ones who really matter are the ones who remain unsung, except in the hearts and lives of those they have touched and given so much to. While their reward may not be much on earth, it will be great in heaven. 

Be a hero. It may not take much: a smile, a kind word, some time out of your day. It may make you uncomfortable and ill at ease, and no one may notice or know what you have done, but we will all be better for it. And so will you.

The Circus Leaves Town

It is the end of an era: “The Greatest Show on Earth,” the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus is no more. The great circus has gone the way of that other great entertainment venue, Vaudeville, and now only lives on in the memories of those who have seen it and pine for its glory years.

There is an excellent article on the circus’ last days on the BBC website. For those of you who need more visual stimulation, or don’t have the time or patience to go reading through the links or the rest of my post, here is a youtube video.

I remember as a boy going to see it with my class in second grade on its stop in Trenton. The highlight for me was the great lion tamer, Gunther Gebel-Williams. That must have been the highlight, as it is the only thing I remember about the trip other than laughing at the clowns. He came out in a bright blue satin outfit, the paragon of teutonic virtue,  amongst a whole cage of snarling clawing lions and tigers and leopards, and was confident enough to turn his back on one snarling beast while dealing with the others. That made me briefly consider a career as a lion tamer, before realizing that because of my ADD I was more likely to become lion food than lion tamer.

A quote from Gunther’s obituary linked above:

After more than five decades in training and performing with all kinds of animals, Mr. Gebel-Williams concluded that there was just one animal that might be close to being impossible to train: the house cat.

”They do as they please,” he said.

Even though the great circus is gone, are quite a lot that survive around the world. (As an aside, one of my fellow teacher mentors in Malaysia used to be a trapeze artist in a traveling Italian circus. He traveled all around Europe, Asia, and the Middle East before an accident with the rigging while performing left with his upper palate separated from his skull. What do you do for thrills after that? You travel the world, teaching English! Hey, it works for me.)

While I was working at New Day Foster Home, we went into Beijing for a treat. The first stop was at a restaurant for Peking Duck, which a server expertly carves up for you, “leaving nothing but the quack.” The duck was delicious (no one does duck like the Chinese), but after  that was the real attraction: The acrobat show, which was spectacular and amazing. There were all sorts of jugglers and daredevils and balancing acts that made you go, “WOW!” What really got me were the beautiful female contortionists, who could (Note: The next few paragraphs have been deleted as not suitable reading for women, children, and most likely violating WordPress’ terms of service.)

When we were in Ho Chi Minh City, we were living in a guest house in Pham Ngu Lao in District 1. Melody was still a baby, and the darling of our guesthouse and the alley it was located in. Those are stories for another time. Across one of the major thoroughfares a few steps away from where we lived in an empty lot was a circus. Mami had never seen a circus, and of course neither had Melody. I took them to see it as a treat for Mami’s birthday. Melody slept through most of the performance from the beginning, only waking up when one of the performers snapped a whip during the daredevil bareback riding segment, and cried. Mami and I enjoyed it, even though the whole show was in Viet Namese, but that didn’t matter, since the circus is universal. (No comment on the female members of the show since I was married at the time and…)

It would be nice if we could take the kids to the circus, if one came to Hong Kong, so that they could experience it before it goes the way of other bygone relics of entertainment. For now, it continues.

Bravo! I say.

Ringling is gone but the circus lives on!


Addendum to Our Garden

Two things I forgot that are in our garden, one because Mami planted it, and the other because our landlady planted it.

Mami planted aloe vera plants for her to use as a moisturizer come summer, or for the itches and mosquito bites the children get with the season.

Our landlady planted this tiny little succulent that is so nondescript that it is hard to see if it is even there anymore, or has been overgrown by our herbal jungle.

Mami Says…

…That I forgot a few things in my post about our garden. Three, to be exact: The things she planted:

lemonsito (calamansi), which is a small green lime used mostly to make lemonade or in dipping sauces, but being high in vitamin C, it is beneficial to your health:


curry leaf plants. we haven’t used any in our cooking yet, but they sure smell nice. After reading this article, though, I think we can find some use for them in our diet.


And one she hasn’t planted yet, but being a good Visayan, I am 100% sure she will: Malunggay.


Actually, I am surprised she hasn’t planted it before this, as it is an essential part of some of her dishes. When we were newlyweds and living in our first house in Taiping, Malaysia, we had a small piece of ground, no more than 2ft x 2ft, and one of the first things she did was snap off a twig from a malunggay tree and stick it in the ground. Read this article, and you will see why this tree is so important to her.

As you can see, we have quite an eclectic collection of herbs and plants in our garden. The thing is, Mami is thinking of renting a small garden plot from the Hans Andersen Club down the way so she can plant even more!

Our Garden

Our apartment is on the first floor (second floor to you USA types.) There was a wild and wooly overgrown patch of ground in front of the porch of our building. Our landlady, whose family owns the building (and several others on Lamma) gave us free reign to do whatever we want with it. So we did. And we love our little patch of earth.

When you walk out the door onto the porch on the way to the ferry or to the village, it is right in front of you. Across the path  the birds are singing and flitting from tree to tree, building nests or pecking at the tiny fruits they like. The residents of Tai Wan Kau Tsuen pass by going about their business: on the way to the ferry to go to Hong Kong for work; the helpers are going marketing or taking their charges for a walk or to the playground, and the old people are doing what old people do. Even so, people sometimes pause to take a look at our greenery. Or in the case of one elderly Chinese gentleman who lives around the corner, pick themselves some sprigs of rosemary.

Even if I am in a hurry  I stop on the front porch and look things over. The soil is very good, and everything is growing like jungle foliage. All I had to do to make things right was rip out the untended ornamental plants that had taken over. Their rhizomes had taken up so much ground that their was little room for anything else to grow. Getting rid of them was a real chore and didn’t do my back any favors. Now there are some beautiful lilies, tomato plants with tiny fruits, and pumpkin vines I didn’t plant that came up from nowhere. Our best guess is that the birds in the trees across the path brought the seeds with them.  If we left them alone, the tomatoes and pumpkins would take over the whole place.

Of course, we won’t let that happen. We meaning myself, my wife, and our two year old girl, who likes to take her little shovel and bucket and help out, or water the plants. She doesn’t quite have the concept of what that means, and usually ends up pouring it on an empty patch of ground, not that there is much of that left the way things are growing.

We have quite a variety of herbs and plants growing in our little plot.

I’ve been to the Flower Market up in Prince Edward in Kowloon a few times and brought back all sorts of herbs, and all are doing well. I don’t know if I can remember everything we have. Let’s see: Thai Basil, Cuban Oregano (Mami uses it to make tea when the kids have coughs, an old Filipino remedy), Sage, Rosemary, Thyme (sorry, no Parsley yet), Lemon Mint, Lemon Grass, (had to replant it because Mami killed the original one by using too much of it too soon) Hot Peppers, Bell Peppers, Eggplant (the last two Mami planted) Jasmine (the plant, not some woman), and Turmeric. From what I’m told, the Turmeric won’t sprout until next year, and we won’t be able to harvest it until the year after that. Oh, and I almost forgot, a papaya tree, growing from a seed that Bee, our Thai neighbor, planted for us. After only a couple months, it is more than waist high.

We also have a smaller section of garden, because it is bisected by the walk to the street. I use the term street very loosely, as there are no cars here on Lamma, and it is more of a concrete path than what you would think of as a street.

Mami took it upon herself to clear out this section, because it was so overgrown that it made a perfect hiding spot for snakes. She hates snakes. I can’t blame her. She told me that when she was a girl, the snakes would climb the trees in her village. Sometimes they would jump from tree to tree and skim the top of her head. So she went and ripped out all the excess foliage, while leaving behind a few treasures, like some colorful lilies and a small tree we didn’t know was there.

In the little garden I planted a small fig tree, a blueberry bush, and bay leaves. Mami has already  used the bay leaves in making her world famous Filipino Adobo. The fig tree was doing alright, but I’m not too sure what is up with it lately. It might be getting too much water or not enough sun, and some unknown varmint seems to be chomping on the leaves. The blueberry bush, on the other hand, is doing quite fine, and has more than doubled in size since I planted it a couple months ago.

Now instead of some wild out of control botanical mess, we now have a wild, out of control herbarium. And you know what? We love it that way.




Godzilla vs Tinkerbell


(Okay, so one of the purposes of this Blog is to help me establish a literary presence, whatever that means. So here’s something literary I wrote.)


Lights up

Tokyo Bay. Godzilla appears.


Out of the depths of the mighty ocean, the great Godzilla has come to destroy Tokyo! (He gives a mighty roar and beats his chest) I am the mighty GODZILLA!

(Tinkerbell enters, dancing merrily and throwing fairy dust around.)


Fairy dust! Fairy dust! Love and Fairy Dust!


Who the hell are you?

TINKERBELL (cheerily)

I am Tinkerbell, companion of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. Who are you?

GODZILLA (With an arrogant roar)

I am the mighty Godzilla!


Big whoop de doo! So why are you here?


Huh? I have come to destroy Tokyo. And what are you doing here?


I have come  to spread LOVE and Fairy Dust to the people of Japan!


Boy, are you ever in the wrong play. I’m about to destroy where you’re about to spread, “Love and fairy dust.”



GODZILLA (scratches his head and shrugs)

It’s what I do.


So the whole point of your existence is to destroy Tokyo?


Well…not just Tokyo, but other places around Japan.


That’s pretty stupid.


Well, how about spreading “Love and fairy dust”. What’s the point in that?


You know, I never thought of that. It does sound pretty stupid, doesn’t it?


You got that right.

TINKERBELL (starts to sniffle)

But it’s what I do.


Yeah. But don’t you ever get tired of doing that?


Of course! You want to know how hard it is to keep cheery and smiling

all the time while spreading love and fairy dust and getting it all over you?  Sheesh!


What about you?  Do you ever get tired of marauding through Japan?


Yeah. I mean it was fun the first few times, but after a while it just gets boring. I wish I could do something else.


Say, tell you what? Why don’t we try something different? We’ll change roles. You spread love and fairy dust, and I’ll destroy Tokyo!


Wow, you really mean it? That would be great!


Sure! Here, you take the basket of fairy dust, and I’ll go terrorize Tokyo.


It’s a deal.

(They shake hands. Godzilla takes the basket and stomps away, and

Tinkerbell also exits.)



Godzilla stomps along, throwing fairy dust, and we hear people

screaming and running away.

GODZILLA (Trying hard to be cheerful, and violently hurling handfuls of fairy dust everywhere.)

Love and fairy dust! Love and Fairy dust! Oooops! You don’t

look too good. Have some Fairy dust!


Ooops! Sorry! Maybe some fairy dust will fix that.


Ahhhh! The evil Godzilla is trying to kill us with fairy dust! Run away!


That does it! I’m through with this fairy dust deal. I’m outta here!


Godzilla and Tinkerbell meet up. Neither looks too happy.


How did it go, Tinkerbell?


Not too good. The only thing I was able to do was to scare away a couple of pigeons


and they pooped on me!

She starts crying, and Godzilla comforts her.


What about you?


Oh it was great! People thought that I was taking a new tack with my destructive ways.

They thought I was trying to smother them to death in fairy dust!


Did You?


I may have overdone it a little.


It looks like we weren’t too successful in our new professions.


Yeah. It looks like we’re stuck doing what we’ve always been doing.


I’m sick of throwing that stupid fairy dust around all the time! I want a change!


Me too!

(They sit around looking forlorn)

Well, if you could do something else, anything, what would you want to do?


Well, I’d be a pole dancer!


That’s all well and good, but I don’t see how you’d be too successful at it, as you’re only 3 inches tall.


That would be a bit of a handicap, wouldn’t it? What about you? What would you do?


I’d like to work in interior design. I’d really like to see if I could use radically clashing colors to create the illusion of more space.


That’s great, but since you’re 300 feet tall and known for smashing buildings instead of designing interiors, I don’t think that is going to work.


Yeah, you’re right. We’re stuck. So what are we going to do?


I don’t know. I guess I’ll go back to spreading “Love and Fairy dust”, and dying every now and then so that people will believe in fairies. What about you?


I guess I’ll go back to ravaging Japan and killing innocent people.


Yeah? Well, have fun.


Yeah, you too.





(They start dragging themselves offstage. Then Tinkerbell has an idea.)


Hey wait a minute, I have an idea!


You do? What?

Tinkerbell whispers her plan into Godzilla’s ear.



So, what happened?


Well, I talked with the author, J M Barrie, and he said no dice. I’m going to stay 3 inches tall, I’m not going to have huge boobies, and I’m certainly not going to be a pole dancer.


Oh yeah? We’ll see about that!

Godzilla walks off the stage, while Tinkerbell watches. A man screams

offstage, and Godzilla comes back.


Well that’s all taken care of.


What did he say?


You’ll be almost 6 foot tall, look like a very busty supermodel, and you can do as much pole dancing as you want. And if there are any other changes you like made in the book, just let him know.


Hmmmm, now that I think of it, it would be nice if Peter Pan stayed an eternally youthful man, was hung like a horse, oh! And if he got rid of that bitch Wendy.


I’ll be right back.

He goes offstage, and comes right back.




Great! So how are we going to take care of you, Big Boy?


I don’t know. My story is written by a bunch of nerdy repressed Japanese guys-

(He gives a start)

HEY! Mr. Barrie must be working on those changes now! Wow!


Oh my God! I’m getting taller! And my Boobies are getting bigger!


Yeah! I’ll say! They, I mean, you sure are.


Come with me, big boy. I think I know how to get you into interior design.





Me and Politicians

I don’t think all politicians are bad people or corrupt. There are a couple I’ve met that I like, and did not get a sleazy feeling about.

On the left is me with former president of the Philippines General Fidel Ramos. He is a Korean War vet. I met him a couple times at different conferences in KL (Kuala Lumpur for those of you who aren’t Malaysian.) The General is also a real joker and a nice down to earth guy, like your funny Filipino grandfather. The Philippines did pretty well when he was in charge.

On the right is Mukhriz Mahathir, former Mentari Besar of Kedah, and the son of former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.  We had high tea with at some sort of education meeting. He is an intelligent guy, well spoken, even though he didn’t  study at my alma mater, Rutgers, but went to Boston University instead. He seemed genuinely interested in improving the state of education in Kedah.

So please, if I go on a political rant, don’t think I paint all politicians with the same brush. Everyone is different, and we all have our strengths and weaknesses.

Well, there is one current political leader who I find it extremely hard to find… oh, nevermind. That’s like beating a dead horse.

What Are You Doing About Things?

I post a lot of political things on Facebook, and also about other issues that concern me. Most of it is about what is happening in my home country, the USA. My sister asked on one of my postings: “What are you doing?”

It’s a valid question, since I live and work in Hong Kong, and these things are happening half a world away. This is my answer:

In the 1980’s I took part in some political organizing, trying to make people aware of issues that have now come to fruition, such as the destruction of the middle class to the benefit of the 1%. At the time, the general feeling was, “I’m doing okay, it doesn’t bother me.”  Look what’s happening now.

15 Years ago I left the USA because I could not support a president who stole the election, or to be truthful, had it all planned out years before and handed to him by the power cabal whose puppet he was to be, just like that conservative icon, dear old Ronnie Reagan.

I also could not support an immoral war which was all about enriching those supporting said president and their friends, and not about Osama bin Laden / Freedom for Iraq, or anything other than taking control of what at the time was thought to be the world’s largest oil reserves. It was wrong to send American soldiers to die for the benefit of these people under the guise of “Patriotism,” when in reality that had nothing to do with it.

I gave Bush one year, and saw the way things were heading. The USA was, and is, in a downhill slide that is now rapidly accelerating. If it continues it will be nothing but a third rate plutocracy run by the elite members of society who have all the lawmakers under control. It will not be much different than the Philippines under Marcos, or for that matter, any fascist society of the previous century. The signs are all there.

I swore that I would not return to the USA until Bush and his friends were out of the government.

My outlook changed when Obama was elected. It gave the whole world hope that things would change and be better. Then he ran into nothing but complete opposition from the Republican Party, whose clearly stated aim was to be against anything this upstart biracial president was for. It was nothing short of a miracle that anything got done those eight years. Things continued on their downward slide, but maybe at a slightly decelerated rate.

By this time, I was married with children, and had a much better standard of living than I would ever have in the USA, a career I enjoyed, and a much richer and varied life. There was no reason to go back, but more importantly, my conscience would not let me go back and support policies and actions that had not changed much.

So yes, here I am, living in Hong Kong, and there is not much I can do to protest what is happening half a world away other than to post issues on Facebook to try to spread the word and make people aware of what is happening, instead of accepting the Status Quo. All those links to petitions I posted? I sign similar ones virtually every day. I posted the links so that others might be interested and show their support rather than just sitting on their hands and accepting things, whether it’s something the Anti-Christ you people elected is doing, or an environmental issue that does not directly concern the USA or what not. It’s not much I know, but I deeply care about things, and maybe I care too much,  but it is the only way I can get involved right now, other than leaving my family behind to fend for themselves and manning a barricade with a bullhorn.

Here in Hong Kong, I cannot be politically active for obvious reasons. But I will do what I can to try to make the world a better place, no matter how small and futile that gesture may be.

Peace and Love to All, no matter your religion, ethnicity, color, race, sexuality, beliefs, or any other false categories we use to separate ourselves and put ourselves and others into neat little niches and boxes. I Love you all, even if that is not reciprocated.