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How to Celebrate Halloween the Christian Way

The CBCP released a missive yesterday accusing Halloween of being ‘anti-Christian’.

In said announcement, Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, CBCP media director, lamented how some Filipinos celebrate All Saints Day as a holiday “of ghouls and witches.” I don’t know about you, but people I know celebrate Halloween that way, not All Saint’s Day. Perhaps the monsignor’s friends and family are in the habit of going to the cemetery dressed up as characters from Twilight but the rest of the world is content to do their merry-making a day before.

 “All Saints’ Day was intended to enhance the feast of the saints but it morphed into something else… no longer about saints but evil,” laments Msgr. Quitorio. “Let’s celebrate it meaningfully because we would be emulating the saints. We can do whatever we want for as long as you don’t fall down to that level that would be glorifying the evil one,” he said.

 For once, I agree with what the CBCP has to say. Glorifying the works of the evil one, aka. Stephanie Meyers’s ghoulish Twilight series is just plain tasteless…

 If you’ve missed it before, read my vampire rants here.

So in an effort to put the “Saint” back in “All Saint’s Day”, I’ve decided to give Msgr. Quitorio a helping hand by coming up with list of helpful suggestions on how to dress up as your favorite Catholic Saint to really get in the spirit of All Saint’s Day.

Saint Agatha of Sicily – The Saint with Regenerating Boobs


Among the tortures she underwent was the cutting off of her breasts. An apparition of Saint Peter cured her… Saint Agatha is often depicted iconographically carrying her excised breasts on a platter, in which Agatha sweetly contemplates the breasts on a standing salver held in her hand. The shape of her amputated breasts, especially as depicted in artistic renderings, gave rise to her attribution as the patron saint of bell-founders and as the patron saint of bakers, whose loaves were blessed at her feast day. More recently, she has been venerated as patron saint of breast cancer patients.

Props / Costume: A plate with a pair of boobs

Saint Agnes of Rome – Hairy Virgin Martyr


The Prefect Sempronius wished Agnes to marry his son, and, on Agnes’ refusal, he condemned her to death. As Roman law did not permit the execution of virgins, Sempronius had a naked Agnes dragged through the streets to a brothel. Various versions of the legend give different methods of escape from this predicament. In one, as she prayed, her hair grew and covered her body. It was also said that all of the men who attempted to rape her were immediately struck blind.

Props / Costume: Wig/hair-extensions all over your girly-parts

Saint Apollonia – The Toothless Saint

“According to legend, her torture included having all of her teeth violently pulled out or shattered… These men seized her also and by repeated blows broke all her teeth. They then erected outside the city gates a pile of fagots and threatened to burn her alive if she refused to repeat after them impious words. Given, at her own request, a little freedom, she sprang quickly into the fire, but miracolously the fire did not do harm her. She ended up decapitated.

 … the major part of her relics were preserved in the former church of St. Apollonia at Rome, her head at the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere, her arms at the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, parts of her jaw in St. Basil’s, and other relics are in the Jesuit church at Antwerp, in St. Augustine’s at Brussels, in the Jesuit church at Mechlin, in St. Cross at Liege, in the treasury of the cathedral of Porto, and in several churches at Cologne. These relics consist in some cases of a solitary tooth or a splinter of bone.”

Props / Costume: False Teeth, Pincers, Ceramic Tooth

Bartholomew the Apostle – The Skinless Saint


“Christian tradition has three stories about Bartholomew’s death: “One speaks of his being kidnapped, beaten unconscious, and cast into the sea to drown. Another account states that he was crucified upside down, and another says that he was skinned alive and beheaded in Albac or Albanopolis”,near Bashkale, Turkey.

 The account of Bartholomew being skinned alive is the most represented in works of art, and consequently Bartholomew is often shown with a large knife, holding his own skin (as in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment), or both.”

Props / Costume: Full-body suit of the musculatory system

Saint Brendan of Clonfert – The Saint and the Sea Monster

“St Brendan is chiefly renowned for his legendary journey to The Isle of the Blessed as described in the ninth century Voyage of St Brendan the Navigator. Many versions exist, that tell of how he set out onto the Atlantic Ocean with sixty pilgrims searching for the Garden of Eden. One of these companions is said to have been Saint Malo, the namesake of Saint-Malo. If it happened, this would have occurred sometime between 512-530 AD, before his travel to the island of Great Britain. On his trip, Brendan is supposed to have seen St. Brendan’s Island, a blessed island covered with vegetation. He also encountered a sea monster, an adventure he shared with his contemporary St. Columba. The most commonly illustrated adventure is his landing on an island which turns out to be a giant sea monster called Jasconius or Jascon. This too, has its parallels in other stories, not only in Irish mythology but in other traditions, from Sinbad the Sailor to Pinocchio.”

Props / Costume: A whale or giant sea-monster

Saint Christopher – The Dog-Headed Saint


“The German bishop and poet Walter of Speyer portrayed St. Christopher as a giant of a cynocephalic species in the land of the Chananeans (the “canines” of Canaan in the New Testament) who ate human flesh and barked. Eventually, Christopher met the Christ child, regretted his former behavior, and received baptism. He, too, was rewarded with a human appearance, whereupon he devoted his life to Christian service and became an athlete of God, one of the soldier-saints.”

Props / Costume: A dog-head mask

Saint Denis – The Talking Head

“Saint Denis is a Christian martyr and saint. In the third century, he was Bishop of Paris. He was martyred in connection with the Decian persecution of Christians, shortly after A.D. 250. After his head was chopped off, Denis is said to have picked it up and walked ten kilometres, preaching a sermon the entire way, making him one of many cephalophores in hagiology.”

Props / Costume: A decapitated head, preferably one that talks


Saint Drogo – Patron Saint of Ugly People


Image credit:

“During a pilgrimage he was stricken with unsightly bodily affliction. He became so terribly deformed that he frightened the townspeople. In his twenties, a cell was built for him to protect the local citizens of the village from his appearance.”

Props / Costume: A sack over your head or Quasimodo make-up

Saint Edmund – The Talking Head, Part 2

“Local legend has is that, after being routed in battle against the Danes, King Edmund of East Anglia hid under the Goldbrook bridge. The reflection of his golden spurs glinting in the water revealed his hiding place to a newly wed couple. They gave away his position to the Danes who promptly captured Edmund and demanded he renounce his faith. He refused and was tied to a nearby oak tree. After whipping him, the Danes shot spears at him until he was entirely covered with their missiles – like the bristles of a hedgehog. Even then he would not forsake Christ and so was beheaded and the head was thrown into the woods.

 His severed head was thrown into the wood. Day and night as Edmund’s followers went seeking, calling out “Where are you, friend?” the head would answer, “Here, here, here,” until at last, “a great wonder”, they found Edmund’s head in the possession of a grey wolf, clasped between its paws. “They were astonished at the wolf’s guardianship. The wolf, sent by God to protect the head from the animals of the forest, was starving but did not eat the head for all the days it was lost. After recovering the head, the villagers marched back to the kingdom, praising God and the wolf that served him. The wolf walked beside them as if tame all the way to the town, after which it turned around and vanished into the forest.”

Saint Lucy – Eye-ay-eye!


“She consecrated her virginity to God, refused to marry a pagan, and had her dowry distributed to the poor. Her would-be husband denounced her as a Christian to the governor of Syracuse, Sicily. Miraculously unable to move her or burn her, the guards took out her eyes with a fork. In another version, Lucy’s would-be husband admired her eyes, so she tore them out and gave them to him, saying, “Now let me live to God”.

The oldest record of her story comes from the fifth-century accounts of saints’ lives. By the 6th century, her story was widespread, so that she appears in the Sacramentary of Pope Gregory I. At the opening of the 8th century Aldhelm included a brief account of her life among the virgins praised in De laude virginitatis, and in the following century the Venerable Bede included her in his Martyrology.In medieval accounts, Saint Lucy’s eyes are gouged out prior to her execution. In art, her eyes sometimes appear on a tray that she is holding.”

Props / Costume: A plate of eyeballs

Saint Margaret of Antioch – The Lady and the Dragon

“According to the Golden Legend, she was a native of Antioch, daughter of a pagan priest named Aedesius. She was scorned by her father for her Christian faith, and lived in the country, which is now modern day Turkey, with a foster-mother keeping sheep. Olybrius, the praeses orientis (Governor of the Roman Diocese of the East), offered her marriage at the price of her renunciation of Christianity. Upon her refusal, she was cruelly tortured, during which various miraculous incidents occurred. One of these involved being swallowed by Satan in the shape of a dragon, from which she escaped alive when the cross she carried irritated the dragon’s innards.”

Props / Costume: A dragon

Saint Mercurius – The Original PinHead


“The Emperor called Mercurius and asked him, “Is it true that you refused to worship the idols who helped us during the war?”

Mercurius answered with courage:

Your Majesty, the victory was not due to dumb idols made by human hands. It was accomplished by the grace of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who sent His archangel to give me a sword and strengthened me. I cannot deny my God and worship statues.

The Emperor was infuriated, and tried to persuade him to no avail. Mercurius’ faith was unshaken. He stripped him of his ranks and ordered him to be thrown in jail.

That did not stop the saint from praying and singing hymns in prison. During the night, Michael the Archangel appeared to him and told him: “Do not be afraid of the tortures. Confess your faith in Jesus publicly because He is the only One able to save you”.

The next morning, Decius’ soldiers hung the saint between two poles so that they could hit him with sharp nails. They tried also to cut his body with sharp blades and burn it, but Mercurius endured all these tortures in silence.

Props / Costume: A PinHead mask

Saint Perpetua and Felicity – Mauled to Death by a Cow


“Felicitas, who was eight months pregnant, was apprehensive that she would not be permitted to suffer martyrdom with the others, since the law forbade the execution of pregnant women, but two days before the games she gave birth to a daughter, who was adopted by a Christian woman. On the day of the games, the five were led into the amphitheatre. At the demand of the crowd they were first scourged; then a boar, a bear, and a leopard, were set on the men, and a wild cow on the women. Wounded by the wild animals, they gave each other the kiss of peace and were then put to the sword.”

Props / Costume: A mad cow

Saint Quiricus and Julietta – Massacred Mother and Child

“According to legend, Julietta and her three-year (sometimes described as three-month) old Cyricus had fled to Tarsus and were identified as Christians. Julietta was tortured, and her three year old son, being held by the governor of Tarsus, scratched the governor’s face and was killed by being thrown down some steps. Julietta did not weep but celebrated the fact that her son had earned the crown of martyrdom. In anger, the governor then decreed that Julietta’s sides should be ripped apart with hooks, and then she was beheaded. Her body, along with that of Cyricus, was flung outside the city, on the heap of bodies belonging to criminals, but the two maids rescued the corpses of the mother and child and buried them in a nearby field.

An alternative version of the story is that Julietta told the governor that his religion could not be accepted by a three year old child, whereupon Quiricus testified to his faith, and mother and child were tortured before being decapitated.”

Props / Costume: A doll of a dead baby

Saint Simon the Zealot – Saw, the Catholic version


“One of the original 12 disciples, “One tradition states that he traveled in the Middle East and Africa. Christian Ethiopians claim that he was crucified in Samaria, while Justus Lipsius writes that he was sawn in half at Suanir, Persia.”

Props / Costume: A giant saw


So is there a point to all this? Perhaps the monsignor has failed to realize how Catholicm itself has acquired its fair share of legends and lore… interwoven with historical facts are elements of fantasy, magic, and all sort of ghoulish wonders… some so astounding that even the mythology of vampires and werewolves may even pale in comparison.

When a man of the cloth criticizes the public obsession with witches and wizards yet fully believes in a man who can cast spells, duel with demons, and resurrect the dead from the grave, it seems too glaring a hypocrisy.

So whether you’re Team-Edward (vampire), Team-Jacob (werewolf), or Team-Jesus (zombie-wizard)… have a Happy Halloween everyone!

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The Top 10 List – Tips on Writing the Perfect “Non-Apology” Apology Letter

A public apology can make or break public sentiments towards well known public figures, be they philandering spouses caught with their pants down, corrupt officials caught with their hands in the cookie jar, or like in recent news… sneaky little clerics asking for special gifts from the President.

I'm soweeee!

An apology can elicit sympathy… or expose you for the creepy little rat that you are. Thus, scripting the perfect apology letter has become something of an art-form. In typical pinoy fashion, the best technique is to go for all-out drama. Take a cue from old-school Nora Aunor movies… shed a few melodramatic crocodile tears and utter the immortal phrase “kung kasalanan ang magmahal, then… I… AM… GUILTY.”


[Image from / get your copy now!]



So with a little bit of theatrical sleight-of-hand, you have turned from perpetrator to martyr,  transforming actual crime into a “crime of passion”. Suddenly, the only thing you’re guilty of is loving too much or helping too much. Bravo! The crowd applauses and you are guaranteed a FAMAS award for best dramatic performance.


So now you know the power of a good apology. So to help all you aspiring apologists out there caught red-handed and eager to turn the tides of public sympathy, here’s the:





  1. Apologize about everything except the crime you’re actually charged with. This is an apology letter, not a confession. Knowing the difference means this could never be used as court evidence as an admission of guilt. So what do you actually apologize about? That’s where Tip#2 comes in…
  2.  Apologize profusely for all the “sorrow” this incident has caused the general public. (even though it’s not actually sorrow the general public feels, its DISGUST). Apologize to your constituents, family and loved ones too. (again, even if its not sorrow they’re actually feeling, its actually closer to SHAME). Express your regret over the whole matter but be vague on exactly what it is you regret (people don’t want to hear that you regret getting caught).
  3. Garner sympathy by mentioning how much the incident has affected you personally. Recount the sleepless nights,  loss of appetite, and stress-induced wrinkles it has caused you. Make it look like you are hurting more from your crimes that even the victims themselves.
  4. Emphasize how deeply spiritual and religious you are. Invoke the name of God frequently (don’t worry, this doesn’t count as taking the Lord’s name in vain because it’s for a good cause). Make sure you mention over and over again how much you prayed for guidance. Quote a few bible passages with themes on forgiveness and redemption.
  5. Justify any previous attempts at cover-ups and intentional misdirection as unfortunate side effects of your clumsy attempts to protect your loved ones or those close to you from any collateral damage. It’s totally a SELFLESS act.
  6. Explain to people how difficult and stressful your job is, causing you to have the occasional lapse in judgment. You have so many balls to juggle that you are sometimes put into compromising situations. Your work is the most horrible, thankless job in the world and your critics don’t understand how terribly pressured you are. Those ungrateful wretches should be thankful that you’re even sticking around.
  7. Remind everyone of the virtue of forgiveness. Sprinkle words like “repentance“ and  “atonement” liberally. While on the subject of penance, don’t elaborate on exactly how you plan to do it. Leave it to people’s imaginations (or better yet, their short attention span). Never ever bring up the issue of punishment. Instead, segue straight into the future, where you hope to “build a brighter future for everyone.”
  8. Invoke justice and due process. Justice is not about you being punished for your crimes, it’s about you being protected from public scrutiny until proven guilty beyond any shadow of doubt. Due process is all about being completely innocent until completely proven guilty. Until then, you have complete immunity from criticism. If someone from the media or even the public condemns you for your actions, reprimand them for jumping the gun.
  9. Thank the people for all their love, understanding, and support. It doesn’t matter if there isn’t actually any… just thank them. That way, they’ll look like heartless bastards if they don’t actually show any sympathy towards you after you’ve profusely thanked them in advance.
  10. Turn this into a “lesson” for everyone. It’s not about you or the shameless crimes you’ve committed, it’s about the wisdom gleaned from all this. This is all merely a test from God. Sometimes, it’s tough being the instrument of God’s teachings. But with everyone’s unconditional support, we all learn a valuable life lesson today.



So hopefully after you’ve followed all these tips, you can come up with your very own soul-stirring, heart-wrenching “non-apology” apology letter guaranteed to evoke sympathy from even your most cynical critics.  If you’ve done it correctly, you’ll soon be swimming in high praise from everyone for your “humility” and “contrite heart“. Good luck crawling your way out of whatever mess you got yourself into.



Need a few good examples of a good “non-apology” apology letter? Take a cue from the Catholic Bishop’s conference letter, “A Time of Pain, A Time of Grace”.

Our Dear People of God,

Our Mother Church has been deeply wounded by the controversies in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office that have erupted in the past two weeks. Some members of the Church believe in the innocence of the bishops involved in the issue, while others do not. There is no doubt that everywhere in the Church there is great sorrow. We your pastors are one with you. As shepherds struggling to love you like Jesus the Good Shepherd, we are sorry for the pain and sadness that these events have brought upon you.

 We are saddened that many of you, especially the youth, the poor, our Basic Ecclesial Communities, have been confused because of the apparent inconsistency of our actions with our pastoral preaching.

 As we express our sadness, we also ask you to be slow in judgment and to conscientiously seek the whole truth behind the controversy. Let us seek the truth always in charity.

 We assure you that the bishops concerned are ready to accept responsibility for their action and to face the consequences if it would be proven unlawful, anomalous, and unconstitutional. We assure you that their action was done without malice. Out of their sincere desire to help their people, they failed to consider the pitfalls to which these grants could possibly lead them. They have also expressed their readiness to do everything that is necessary to heal this wound so that we can all move forward in hope.

 We also assure you, our beloved people, that we shall re-examine the manner of our collaboration with government agencies for purposes of helping the poor, making sure that pastoral sensibilities are respected and the highest ethical standards are observed. We shall examine our values in the light of our vocation to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We commit ourselves to the long journey of personal and social transformation required of all disciples of the Lord. We plead with you to walk with us in this path of constant renewal.

 We express again our deep sorrow for the pain that the recent events have brought to you our beloved people. The good Lord knows our love for you. The words of the psalmist come to our mind: “My sacrifice, a contrite spirit. A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn” (Ps.51). As the same Psalmist addresses the Lord, we take his words as our own to encourage and challenge us: “Indeed you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.”


For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,


Bishop of Tandag

President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

July 11, 2011


Notice the deft use of techniques employed in Bishop Odchimar’s “apology”… it says a lot without… well, without saying anything at all. Even after reading it for the nth time, you’re still not sure what he’s sorry for… but somehow you feel sorry for him now. Now that is the mark of a truly well-written non-apology apology letter.





Now compare it with the apology letter Bill Clinton wrote during the Monica Lewinski sex scandal. Who did a better job at non-apologizing? :


Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the White House and to this day to which Hillary and the vice president and I look forward so much every year.

This is always an important day for our country, for the reasons that the vice president said. It is an unusual and, I think, unusually important day today. I may not be quite as easy with my words today as I have been in years past,

and I was up rather late last night thinking about and praying about what I ought to say today. And rather unusual for me, I actually tried to write it down. So if you will forgive me, I will do my best to say what it is I want to say to you – and I may have to take my glasses out to read my own writing.

First, I want to say to all of you that, as you might imagine, I have been on quite a journey these last few weeks to get to the end of this, to the rock bottom truth of where I am and where we all are.

I agree with those who have said that in my first statement after I testified I was not contrite enough. I don’t think there is a fancy way to say that I have sinned.

It is important to me that everybody who has been hurt know that the sorrow I feel is genuine: first and most important, my family; also my friends, my staff, my Cabinet, Monica Lewinsky and her family, and the American people. I have asked all for their forgiveness.

But I believe that to be forgiven, more than sorrow is required – at least two more things. First, genuine repentance – a determination to change and to repair breaches of my own making. I have repented. Second, what my bible calls a ”broken spirit”; an understanding that I must have God’s help to be the person that I want to be; a willingness to give the very forgiveness I seek; a renunciation of the pride and the anger which cloud judgment, lead people to excuse and compare and to blame and complain.

Now, what does all this mean for me and for us? First, I will instruct my lawyers to mount a vigorous defense, using all available appropriate arguments. But legal language must not obscure the fact that I have done wrong. Second, I will continue on the path of repentance, seeking pastoral support and that of other caring people so that they can hold me accountable for my own commitment.

Third, I will intensify my efforts to lead our country and the world toward peace and freedom, prosperity and harmony, in the hope that with a broken spirit and a still strong heart I can be used for greater good, for we have many blessings and many challenges and so much work to do.

In this, I ask for your prayers and for your help in healing our nation. And though I cannot move beyond or forget this – indeed, I must always keep it as a caution light in my life – it is very important that our nation move forward.

I am very grateful for the many, many people – clergy and ordinary citizens alike – who have written me with wise counsel. I am profoundly grateful for the support of so many Americans who somehow through it all seem to still know that I care about them a great deal, that I care about their problems and their dreams. I am grateful for those who have stood by me and who say that in this case and many others, the bounds of privacy have been excessively and unwisely invaded. That may be. Nevertheless, in this case, it may be a blessing, because I still sinned. And if my repentance is genuine and sustained, and if I can maintain both a broken spirit and a strong heart, then good can come of this for our country as well as for me and my family. (Applause)

The children of this country can learn in a profound way that integrity is important and selfishness is wrong, but God can change us and make us strong at the broken places. I want to embody those lessons for the children of this country – for that little boy in Florida who came up to me and said that he wanted to grow up and be President and to be just like me. I want the parents of all the children in America to be able to say that to their children.

A couple of days ago when I was in Florida a Jewish friend of mine gave me this liturgy book called ”Gates of Repentance.” And there was this incredible passage from the Yom Kippur liturgy. I would like to read it to you:

”Now is the time for turning. The leaves are beginning to turn from green to red to orange. The birds are beginning to turn and are heading once more toward the south. The animals are beginning to turn to storing their food for the winter. For leaves, birds and animals, turning comes instinctively. But for us, turning does not come so easily. It takes an act of will for us to make a turn. It means breaking old habits. It means admitting that we have been wrong, and this is never easy. It means losing face. It means starting all over again. And this is always painful. It means saying I am sorry. It means recognizing that we have the ability to change. These things are terribly hard to do. But unless we turn, we will be trapped forever in yesterday’s ways. Lord help us to turn, from callousness to sensitivity, from hostility to love, from pettiness to purpose, from envy to contentment, from carelessness to discipline, from fear to faith. Turn us around, O Lord, and bring us back toward you. Revive our lives as at the beginning, and turn us toward each other, Lord, for in isolation there is no life.”

I thank my friend for that. I thank you for being here. I ask you to share my prayer that God will search me and know my heart, try me and know my anxious thoughts, see if there is any hurtfulness in me, and lead me toward the life everlasting. I ask that God give me a clean heart, let me walk by faith and not sight.

I ask once again to be able to love my neighbor – all my neighbors – as my self, to be an instrument of God’s peace; to let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart and, in the end, the work of my hands, be pleasing. This is what I wanted to say to you today.

Thank you. God bless you.


President Bill Clinton – September 11, 1998




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The Top 10 List – Tron versus Christianity

You don’t have to be a conspiracy buff to notice the none-too-subtle parallelisms between Disney’s new remake of Tron and Christian mythology. Intentional or coincidental? You decide…


The Top 10 List:

Tron versus Christianity

.(aka. The Theology of Technology)


First off,  the “Holy Trinity” of Tron…
1. The Father / Creator – Kevin Flynn, the programmer/creator of the digital world of the Grid

2. The Son / Savior – Sam Flynn, only begotten son of the father,  the archetypal messiah who came to their world to save it

3. The Holy Spirit – Quorra was the non-human member of the “Tron Trinity” (she was an ISO) who was the confidante/messenger/sidekick and most importantly, embodied the love of the Father (who loved her as a daughter) and Son.

Other important archetypal characters:
4. The Fallen Angel – like Lucifer, CLU was the source of conflict in their world. He couldn’t create his own minions, only the Creator can. He could only corrupt existing programs to his side. But as was later revealed, he was only doing what he was created to do.

5. The Traitor – like the Judas archetype, the movie also had its traitor in the character of Zuse who sold the protagonists off and also died without having benefited from his ill-gotten gains.

6. Humanity- the ISO’s (Quorra’s race) are obviously a metaphor for mankind, described as innately imperfect but possessing great potential. They were the catalyst for the conflict between Flynn and CLU. In biblical lore, Lucifer revolted when he refused to serve mankind, thinking them below his station. In Tron lore, CLU saw them as aberrations in the perfect world he was tasked to create.

And miscellaneous bits of flavor details which have their counterpart in Christian mythology:
7. The Soul – like the Discs on their backs, entities in the Grid have their “essence” separate from their physical selves. It held their life-force, it was their greatest weapon and most precious possession.

8. The Last Supper – one would wonder why they would have to even “eat” when they’re in a digital world… but like the Last Supper, it was  more to foreshadow the conflict to come.


9. The Garden of Eden – Notice the “apple” that CLU discovers in the room when he finally breaches Flynn’s refuge in the Outlands… a reference to the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. It was the place where the Creator rested and meditated. Quorra was his digital “Eve”… protected, nurtured and maintaining a pure innocence. The conflict finally escalates after the snake has entered the garden.


10. The Fall and Redemption of Man –

There are actually 2 different allegorical forms of redemption shown in the movie:

  • The warrior Rinzler, who was later revealed to be the original Tron from the first movie, was corrupted by CLU to serve in his army. But upon meeting Sam (the Savior), repents and sought absolution for his crimes. It builds upon mythical “fall of man from grace” complete with the irksome Catholic twist that you “need” Jesus to save you.
  • Sam, the allegorical Jesus, also fulfills his role as the biblical “New Adam”. Together with Quorra (the digital “Eve”), they flee the doomed Grid world to start anew. It was a rather clever bit of allegorical writing since he fits the criteria of the mythological archetype because he was a “user” and literal son of the Creator, thus free from the imperfection and limitations of the other programs and ISO’s in the Grid world. The only inconsistency was that it was his father’s death, not his own, that purchased their salvation.



With so many biblical references buried within the storyline, one would expect the religious crowd to grow fond of this movie like they did with the Narnia series (where Jesus was a friggin’ lion! *Rowr*)

Actually, the sentiments were quite the opposite. If you trawled through the online discussions about the movie, some very vocal Christian critics were appalled or even offended by the movie.

So what has gotten them so riled up about the movie?

  • The “Creator” is portrayed as helpless and impotent, trapped within his own creation and forced into a stalemate by something of his own making. In fact, he had to sacrifice himself in the end to negate the threat posed by CLU. Imagine the implication that the ultimate creator is just at par with the arch nemesis he himself created. *ouch*
  • CLU was just following what he was created to do – that is, to help create the perfect world. In order to achieve his primary objective, he had to get rid of the innately imperfect ISO’s. It wasn’t pride or personal ambition that drove him to usurp power from the Creator, it was his programming – it required him to do everything that is necessary to ensure perfection in their world, even if it meant the genocide of all the ISO’s. And therein lies the ultimate blame – the Creator’s own bad programming of his chief steward.
  • The ISO’s weren’t even created by Flynn intentionally. They were accidental beings whose genesis was spontaneous and unplanned.

No. They manifested. The conditions were right and they came into being.

– Kevin Flynn

Evolution vs. Intelligent Design?


But at least Flynn recognized their great potential and sought to keep them despite their “imperfection”, at least in the eyes of CLU who saw them as flawed because unlike him who was literally made in the image and likeness of the Creator, they were creatures of chance (or perhaps of natural selection) instead of design.

  • If Quorra were the new “Eve” then that would make Sam her “Adam”. But he was already playing the archetypal “Messiah” role. And we already know from the “Da Vinci Code” what happens when Hollywood tries hint at the notion of Jesus in a love team… Jesus and Mary Magdalene? Ooh, the righteous indignation! Jesus and Eve? Sacrilege!

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The Top 10 List – Why Religion is like the Lotto

I wanna be a billionaire so fricking bad
Buy all of the things I never had
I wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine
Smiling next to Oprah and the Queen

Oh every time I close my eyes
I see my name in shining lights
A different city every night oh
I swear the world better prepare
For when I’m a billionaire

-Travie McCoy

It was a sad day for literally hundreds of thousands of people last week when their hopes of turning into an overnight millionaire shriveled up with the news that the lottery prize has already found an all-too-happy owner. Weeks before, the tension has been steadily mounting as the pot climbed steadily to a mind-blowing P741-M. Even people who don’t usually buy lottery tickets tried their luck at the guessing which among the 29 million possible combinations will be drawn next just for the heck of it.

Everywhere you go, the conversation meanders its way to the lotto. People were talking about betting techniques, dreaming of ways to spend all those millions, security concerns, and generally how it could change your life overnight – for better or for worse.

Now it’s strange that one of the most vocal critics of the lotto is the Catholic Church who opined that gambling is a sinful vice. But the irony here is that choosing to believe in a religion itself is a gamble. Mathematician Blaise Pascal was credited with formulating what is now known as Pascal’s Wager – that is, he reasoned that betting that there is a god is a winning proposition since you lose nothing but stand to gain everything by believing that there is one.

Now the argument may be sound if there was only one religion to believe in or not. But as it stands, according to Wikipedia, there are over 4,000 active religions, cults, and sub-denominations in the world today, each one claiming that they have the One True God(s) and/or Goddess(es). And in most cases, simply aligning yourself to a specific religion is not enough to “win” salvation, you have follow their often times vague and seemingly wishy-washy rules and regulations as dictated by their “sacred scriptures” so that come Judgment Day, you would have garnered enough points to pass your deity’s imponderable standards. Factor in extenuating circumstances like the accuracy of translating and interpreting said “sacred text” (the bible itself has over a hundred different variations) and depending on which denomination you belong to, you can’t really be sure which rules to follow anymore.

Suddenly, the numbers don’t seem to be in your favor. Religion has become the ultimate lottery game. You play against impossible odds but still, people get suckered in time and again because they’ve got their sights set on the ultimate “pot money” – heaven.

When you ask the man on the street what he’d do if he won the lottery, more often that not, he’d say that he’d put it to good use by making sure that his and his loved ones’ needs are met and he’d make sure that they’d never want for anything else ever again… well that’s “heaven” in a nutshell – the ultimate freedom from all worldly concerns and problems, where no one goes hungry ever again and you spend your days in  eternal happiness with your loved ones forever and ever… and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s an effective lure. Just look at the sales figures for lotto tickets during the height of the frenzy. The odds didn’t improve any more than it was during the last draw, but people didn’t care about that, they had their eyes set on the pot money and were already dreaming of all the ways to enjoy all that money… how much to spend, how much to give away, how much to invest… but now that someone actually walked away P741 million richer, everyone just sighed and went back to their daily grind, hopes dashed but still dreaming of someday being “the one“.

So what lesson have we learned from all this? The analogy between religion and lotto goes beyond winning or losing, so we have the…

The Top 10 List – Why Religion is like the Lotto:


  1. You’re playing against ridiculous odds but…

  2. It’s easy to ignore the odds if you’re fixated too much on the prize.

  3. There may not even be a “winner” at and you just wasted all that time and money for nothing.

  4. In most cases, you’re actually playing a Lucky-Pick game, because your choice of religion depends largely not on personal choice, but on the circumstances of your birth

  5. If the lotto was like religion, you are forced to use the same combination every time.

  6. If the lotto was like religion, you can’t bet on more than one combination at a time. That is, you can’t improve your chances of “winning” by playing the field.

  7. You have to play continuously and (pardon the pun) religiously because you don’t want to run the risk that your “number” was drawn on the day you didn’t prepare.

  8. Lotto tickets aren’t free. Bought one at a time, you may think its small change. But add up a lifetime’s worth of constant betting and it’s easy to regret all that time and money wasted on buying losing tickets.

  9. Some people may claim that they’re buying a ticket to “help charity” but everyone knows they’re just after the prize.

  10. There’s no shortage of quacks and superstitious nonsense all claiming to know the secret to getting the winning combination.

And a bonus #11: If everyone just stopped wasting all their time and money betting on the lotto and concentrated their efforts on something more tangible and realistic, a lot of good could have gotten done instead.

In recent senate reports, the aggregate lottery sales of PCSO’s accredited operators have grown to P23 billion in 2009. That’s 23 billion in disposable income that people were willing to throw away in a game with ridiculous odds. Now granted a third of that amount is supposed to go to charity, what if the whole amount instead went to a worthwhile cause? It shouldn’t be too hard of a strain to the imagination to think of ways to put the whole amount to good use, instead of 2/3 of it getting lost to the system.

In the same way, imagine a world where people found more productive ways to spend their time instead of worshiping their deities in the slim chance that he/she/it actually exists. And the same reasoning applies when apologists give the same lame excuse that religion does “some good”. If people *really* wanted to help their fellow men, then wouldn’t it make better sense to spend more time helping people than performing those inane religious rituals over and over again?

In the end, its a question of priority – do you want to spend your time and energy making this world a better place? or do you just want to play the odds that there’s a better one in the next world?

You do the math.

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The Top 10 List – Jesus versus Vampires

So you find yourself in a movie theater watching the third installment of the Twilight series and find yourself totally entranced by the deeply moving love triangle between the story’s perennially co-dependent heroine, the brooding matinee-idol vampire that glitters, and the equally moody werewolf who just can’t keep his shirt on.

Caught up in the layers-upon-layers of deeply philosophical underpinnings of the story, you can’t help but ponder upon life’s most sublime existential questions like what is love? what is true happiness? Am I Team-Edward or Team-Jacob?

Ahhh, the eternal questions to life’s greatest mysteries….

So you wonder where all these thoughts come from… what is it about vampires that capture the rapt attention of people everywhere to the point of irrational devotion?

Hmmm… fictional undead dude that rose from the dead with super-powers beyond that of mortal men… where have I heard that before…

Oh riiiiight… him….

Need more proof that they’re actually quite similar? Then here’s the :

Top 10 List Why Jesus and Vampires are Alike

  1. Loosely based on historical figures
  2. The tale gets passed on from generation to generation, each time adding a twist to the original tale until it becomes larger than life.
  3. Very popular in pop-culture. Every year or so, there’s bound to be another re-hashed movie or best-seller about him. Ranges from the teeny-bopper, “cool” versions popular with younger crowd to the bloodier, more R-rated versions. (and it can’t get any more bloodier than Mel Gibson’s version).  Anne Rice even wrote a book about him/them.
  4. Came back from the grave as an immortal undead with super-powers
  5. Only reveals his true nature to a select few, preferably those he’s already gotten under his thrall
  6. Can’t enter uninvited into your house (or heart)
  7. Allergic to crosses, prefers not to be impaled with or into woody stuff but in the official storyline gets staked anyway.
  8. Likes to be called “prince”, though one prefers the moniker of “prince of peace”, the other likes the title “prince of darkness”.
  9. Keeps flying critters as pets which usually come out on special occasions or when specifically summoned. One like doves, the other prefers bats.
  10. Has his own rabid fan-base. Don’t mess with his fans, they can appear to be all nice and normal, but say one bad thing about their master and they bare their fangsssss…


– O –

Need more food for thought? Even vampire lore in general, when you think about it, sounds awfully close to Christian beliefs, so here’s the follow-up list :

Top 10 List Why Vampire Lore is like Christianity

  1. Lore states that you too can have eternal life. When you die, the master has the power to bring you back to life
  2. Your salvation is dependent on you consuming the blood of your benefactor in a special ritual
  3. You are not automatically born as one, you have to be converted into one via special rites
  4. There is a strict code of obedience to one’s sire
  5. Minions like to mind control more hapless victims by using their brainwashing powers
  6. Usually has warring sub-factions which recruits humans to use as pawns or cannon-fodder
  7. Hates other supernatural beings (like witches, warlocks, werewolves)
  8. Despite claims to having a lot of supernatural abilities, nothing really ever gets scientifically proven or recorded.
  9. They only reveal themselves to the public when an apocalyptic battle is about to occur, otherwise they only leave traces of unproven tales and rumors in history.
  10. The “good” guys are usually required to practice total and complete abstinence. The “bad” guys are often portrayed as bestial brutes who can’t suppress their instinctive urges, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground either way.

– O –

But there are alternatives to Stephanie Meyer’s bunch of mormon-inspired “vegan” vampires in the small screen. The closest approximation would be the other teeny-bopper favorite The Vampire Diaries. Though it still falls into Cliche No.10 of  “good vampire totally abstaining from human blood and the bad vampire sucking everyone in sight” (aka. the PG-13 cutesy metaphor for pre-marital sex), its one redeeming value is that the heroine Elena Gilbert is no wimpy Bella Swan (who in Book 1, upon seeing how rich Edward was, thought of quitting school altogether and living with Edward in a state of co-dependent bliss… obviously, growing up to be a self-successful, independent and liberated woman was never part of Bella’s long term goals).


– O –


But another rung up the vampire band-wagon is HBO’s True Blood (now on its 3rd season!). Based on Charlaine Harris’ series of novels set in the south, the spunky heroine Sookie Stackhouse played by X-Men’s Anna Paquin is a force to be reckoned with. Even though she’s no Buffy, she holds her own against the things that go bump in the night.  This is one gritty series that isn’t afraid to dip into controversy.


It deals with diverse, socially-relevant issues like interracial relationships, bigotry, xenophobia, and the like. And unlike the usual vampire stories, the twist here is that instead of  protecting people from the monsters, religious people are the ones doing the oppressing. Some see this as an allegory of religious persecution against gay people. There are several hints in the show which mirror this sad reality with clever twists like  “God Hates Fangs” (God Hates Fags) and “Coming out of the coffin” (coming out of the closet).




In this world, they have found a viable blood substitute – True Blood, which is the namesake of the show. Vampires have no need to prey on humans and are now trying to get accepted into mainstream society.  But people still fear what is different and stoking the flames of paranoia and hatred are the religious zealots who are using scriptures to justify the eradication of all vampires… good or bad.

In a pivotal episode, the protagonists seek an audience with the Queen of the vampires who let them in on a little secret…

“They’re still waiting for the god who’ll come…”

“Does he ever come?”

“Of course not…  gods only exist in the minds of men, like money and morality”

– O –

Author’s addendum: Whoops, forgot to acknowledge the help of everyone who pitched in ideas to complete the Top 10 lists, many thanks to Den, Johnster, Mack, and Mr. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, hehe… though you guys are all dyed-in-the-wool, church-going Catholics, you never fail to surprise me on how far your sparkling wit can actually break into actual heretical humor… see you all guys in Hell, hehe 🙂

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