Book Critique by Santiago P. Orias

Alchemist by Peter James

Author’s autobiography
from Wikipedia (

James is the son of Cornelia James, the former glovemaker to Queen Elizabeth II. He was educated at Charterhouse School and went on to Ravensbourne Film School. Subsequently he spent a couple of years in America, working as a screen writer and film producer. Today he divides his life between his home near Ditchling and his apartment in Notting Hill, London. His interests include criminology, science and the paranormal. He also enjoys motoring, having owned many cars over the years, most notably Jaguars and Aston Martins. Once a year he races, holding a racing driver’s license.

James has written 25 books, the most recent of which feature Brighton-based Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. His books have been translated into 29 languages. In England they are published by Pan Books and in the US by Carroll & Graf Publishers. James has written supernatural thrillers, spy fiction, Michael Crichton-style science-based thrillers, and a children’s novel, as well as the introductions for Graham Masterton’s collection ‘Manitou Man’ and Joe Rattigan’s collection ‘Ghosts Far From Subtle’.

He also wrote, as ‘a labour of love’ the children’s novelisation for the 1986 movie ‘Biggles’, which he also produced.James is a lifelong fan of the Biggles franchise, at one time owning the rights to the books, and having translated some foreign editions.

In 2005 The Merchant Of Venice, directed by Michael Radford and for which James was executive producer, had a Royal Premiere in the presence of Prince Charles and received a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Costume Design. In 2006 the film also won the Silver Ribbon for Best Production Design (Migliore Scenografia) from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists.

In 2007 he made an appearance at the Festival International du Roman Noir in Frontignan, France.

Personal View

This book was released in 1995. I actually had this book from my uncle, who bought it from Australia. It is a 6.8 x 4.3 inches book with 674 pages. I became fascinated in reading this one coz it really caught my attention, especially when I saw the book cover. I was always a fan of occults and stuffs, so it’s not a big surprise.

Most books bore its readers to death coz the first 3 chapters were not that good or catchy. Well, I suggest try the first chapter of this book. From the very beginning of the sentence, you would easily grasp the idea that there is somewhat demonic about the story. Yeah. I remember it reading, excitedly going over the words that described about a satanic ritual somewhere beyond the mountains.

The story is about a young woman, daughter of a geneticist, and a young man whose family happens to be in an occult met together in a genetic and pharmaceutical company. Monty Bannerman, the young woman, always wanted to work in the world’s #1 genetic and pharmaceutical company – The Bendix Schere. All was going well, until she discovered that the company she idolizes is the inventor of the drug called Maternox. It is supposed to make woman conceive or become pregnant, an ultimate solution for couples with no child. It was effective, aside from the fact that this drug actually creates anomaly to the child. Women suddenly dies, children were born deformed or with cyclops disabilities. Monty has all the chance to stop this evil and demonic sacrifice to save the world from the danger it faces. It was later when she found out that the company she’s been working with is selling it’s soul to the devil itself.

The Alchemist was done in a very creative way. It tends to make the readers freak out about the awful truths about science today. The way Peter James explains the story, we can assume that he himself was involved in an occult. Well, that’s what I thought. Coz I’ve been there too, once, and the way he described the rituals – it was all detailed. It matches the rituals that we are doing all those years. But, this book does not intend us turn away from our religion. It brings us awareness, that not all problems can be solved by science, that not all our mishaps can’t be solved by mere rituals.

You should try reading this one, and see for yourself. Who knows, maybe this fiction can change your whole view in life..

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The Procession Of The Black Nazarene- Ellonah Jean Varela;_ylt=Ao9wNjhYiailcio1vNAnll_6SpZ4

This news footage was taken from yahoo news. With the interactive pictures it made this coverage even more interesting to read. This is about the special event that happened last Monday January 10, 2011 about the parade of the Blacn Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila.

The event was one of the biggest celebration celebrated in the Philippines. It symbolizes Filipino devotion and belief that no matter how hard life is, God always makes miracle to make it better. And through devoting a day for Him makes Him fonder to us.

However, with the coverage that can be found in yahoo news, it has a very limited information, it only covered the general information that people already knew. For instance, it says in the news that a “man carries Filipino devotees as he became unconscious during the 17-hour raucous annual procession”. These kinds of things do happen in an event like this.

The news did not cover other happenings on the said day. The people who are giving free foods and drinks and the disabled and sick people who went there for a miracle to cure their illness. Even the “snatchers” who got renewed even just for a day to join the procession. There are many faces during the celebration of the Black Nazarene. There are those who just went there to take advantage of the free foods.

This news only covered the hardships caused by the procession, but it missed the real point of the celebration. Its about giving and going back to the light of God. It’s also about hope. Hope that our fellow Filipino wished to witness as a cure to their own problems. It also showed the Filipino culture based on religion.

On that day, we saw how strong we believe in God and in everything that He can do. It may cause us death, but death due to worship is worth it than losing your life for just nothing.

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Article Interview with Ryan Jayson Policarpio-Ellonah Jean Varela

The interview I had with Ryan Jayson Policarpio, one of my groupmates, was mostly technical. He focused his answers about statistics and study of general information. About the percentage rate of corruption in our country and how bad it’s becoming nowadays.

On our first question:

What do you think of corruption?

Ryan focused on what effects does corruption have to people. How it makes people greedy and wealthy. He also focused on the advantage and disadvantage of corruption in our country and our fellowmen. He also compared our case with the situation in other countries. And how we could consider our case worse than them.

On our second question:

How popular it is in the Philippines?
His answer justifies that the Philippines is worst then the other countries tagged as most corrupt. We are among the eight countries tagged as most corrupt. Well, we can all see that too. With our economy like this and how poverty became so vast in our country. I believe, it is also now safe to say that, because of that study, not only our government officials are corrupt, but also normal people like us.

On the third question:

How could we prevent corruption?

As per comparison as well, there is a possibility that if we once again focus our economy to agriculture and other indigenous works, we might be able to lessen greediness, that we can also lessen corruption. Since nowadays, people are so engrossed with having all kinds of material things just to show others of what they are capable of. Maybe if we once again teach our new generation about natural richness we might change how they think of life and might erase corruption in their mind.

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The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines- Ellonah Jean Varela

The Philippine Constitution is a very interesting book to read. I was able to realize that if only we adhere to it, our country would have been a perfect place to stay. Many rules and clarifications were stated in the book. There are the laws and regulation about bill of rights

Article III of the Philippines Constitution
Section 1 No person shall be deprived of life, liberty , or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of law.

This is one of the phrase that made a mark in my mind and heart. Many of us wishes this to be true and to happen in reality. However, based on how I see it, many people are suffering from this. As to others, they say money makes the world go round. Even if you are innocent but you are not wealthy, you’re sure to be beaten. Few are those who really get a genuine justice. Even if we admit it or not we are lacking justice.

The book about our constitution makes us shows how we, as Filipino live our lives a part from what we believe in.
Another article that made me think deeply is Section IV No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech , of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

Well, this right made me so excited about how my life would go once I graduate and be a part of this industry. This is an eye opener that no matter what happen, we still have an institution we can turn to for truth and freedom.

The book of constitution address a lot of imperfections in our country and I guess if we adhere to it in a way, we would be able to lessen the crime and corruption that we Filipinos are so exposed to. Sometimes, we already see that something’s wrong we would just ignore it. Maybe we just don’t mind or probably, because we are ignorant of the law.

We sometimes neglect the fact that we have the right to express who we are and that there is something to back us up. The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines book is a reflection for us to see what is right and what is wrong. We need to know in order for us to live the life we want. Most of us would just rant about how corrupt our government is. Some would even walk the streets and shout their hearts out, but the question is, are they also aware of their own right to correct that mistake in a way that would also show the people. Not only through rallies but also through spreading the perfect instruction coming from this book. So that we can also teach those who are not aware.

Some parts of the book also shows how we should adhere to the rules and regulations of our country.

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Year of New Hope- Ellonah Jean Varela

This year of 2010 has been a year full of memories for me. Many unexpected things happened that made this year a mixture of dismay and excitement. There are memories about the tragic hostage drama at the Quirino Grandstand

and there was Venus Raj winning as the 4th runner up in the Miss Universe Pageant,r:24,s:0&biw=1366&bih=633.

It was also the anniversary of Typhoon Ondoy

where people, reminisced and celebrate new life.
This coming year of 2011 is something to look forward to. We all are not yet aware of the events that would spice our lives this year however, whatever it is, we are all anticipating that it will also be a good year. I, for one, just have a lot of things to thank this year. First, I survived this year’s waves, no matter how big they were.

This year as well, I was able to stay in just one company. And to be honest, it was fun. It gave me the chance to get to know my friends at work better than before and I also got the chance to spend more time with them, which I wasn’t able to do during the previous years. Another thing that makes this year so memorable to me is that it made me realize what my priorities are.

It made me see clearly what I want for my future. It also showed me the way on how I could reach my dreams. Maybe we can call it maturity, well, that’s what probably made me say that this year is memorable. The year of 2010 was the year when I found a torch to light my way. During this year I was able to find the most important things in my life.

It even gave me the chance to correct the mistakes that I did in the past. I could say, the year of 2010 was a year of realization, maybe not only for me, but for most people. Realization of what the future is going to be, of what they would like to happen. How they would like their lives to be. Being “one” also became so evident this year. Through the way that people were aware of the events in our country. We all became so proud of our achievements. We also cried as one for all the tragic events that we all experienced.

And we would always remember everything that we’ve been through this year. It will, for sure, remain in our hearts forever.

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Personal Thoughts on New Year – Ryan Jayson L. Policarpio

Personal Thoughts on New Year

Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed. -Corita Kent

Have you counted your blessings?

The year 2010 has come to an end, and many people use this time to reflect on the past 300-and-so-many days.

Reflection can be done in two directions: towards what didn’t work the way you wanted it to, and towards what did work the way you wanted it to.

My personal and professional philosophy is quite simple: life “is”, and you decide -by your thoughts, feelings and actions- whether you see “what is” as positive, or as negative. Simple example: for the one person a bankruptcy could be the end of the world; for the other it could be an event that makes him/her even more determined to succeed next time round. Still, whichever way you want to see it, it is still a bankruptcy. An event in life taking place. Not good, not bad. Just what it is.

The same goes for illness & health, divorces & marriages, financial hardship & prosperity, personal dilemmas & victories, deaths & births. All are events, and depending on our perspective on life will we consider these events nasty or nice.

What I would like you to do for 2011 is, put your “good” hat on, and look for the successes, victories, celebrations, highlights etc. that came your way. And for events that you originally didn’t really appreciate: can you see the blessing in them, the lesson you learnt, and the opportunity that lay in them?

Once you start to observe life from both sides, you will start to recognize that there is no “good” or “bad” in life as such, only good and bad in our perception of it. And no, that is not some sort of “positive thinking” hype, it is all about thinking differently, thinking both ways. I honestly think I learnt to understand this concept through and through when I studied and practiced Law. Never ever was there one side to the story, there were always at least two, but most of the time even more than two!

I’ve made it the foundation of my coaching and mentoring: learn to see the balance in everything, and you will be able to choose to see ANY event in your life the way you desire to. Stick to one (i.e. your own) perspective only, and you may not be able to see the “other side to the story”, and could therefore miss out on a solution, or another approach or viewpoint.

Choose to look at only what went right in 2010; think about it and linger over the details. And in what hasn’t seem to have been right, choose to see the lesson, the learning, the benefit in it. There will be one, when you commit to finding it. Or as Dewitt Jones once put it so aptly: choose to celebrate what is RIGHT with the world.

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News Critique – Ryan Jayson L. Policarpio

News Critique

Police corruption probe to deepen in 2011

By OMER GILLHAM World Staff Writer
Published: 12/26/2010 2:25 AM
Last Modified: 12/27/2010 1:58 PM

More than one year after a police corruption probe became public, eight police officers and a federal agent have been implicated in a grand jury probe, while numerous people have been freed from prison and some have filed lawsuits against the city of Tulsa, a Tulsa World investigation shows.

Two police officers remain jailed while they await a criminal trial that could be rescheduled for June, U.S. District Court in Tulsa records show. The officers, Jeff Henderson and Bill Yelton, were jailed July 20 on a federal indictment.

While Henderson, 37, and Yelton, 49, were indicted together, the officers filed motions Wednesday to separate their case and to seek separate trials, court records show.

Two additional defendants, retired Officer Harold R. Wells, 59, and Officer Bruce Bonham, 53, indicted July 20 in a separate case, have asked the court to delay their trial until March, records show.

Nick DeBruin, 38, a third officer indicted with Bonham and Wells, does not oppose the motion, records show. These officers remain free on bond.

The trial date for all the officers is Jan. 31 unless it is moved by U.S. District Judge Bruce Black of New Mexico.

On Nov. 1, 2009, the World first reported on a grand jury meeting in a secret location, taking testimony from inmates being brought in from various federal prisons.

Since the investigation began, police officials have established a no-tolerance policy on police dishonesty and revamped guidelines for officers who handle drug money and manage informants.

Guideline changes are still pending, but progress has been made, Police Chief Chuck Jordan said.

“This is obviously a lengthy process and we want to be thorough and establish a fix that will last,” he said. “We have sent the policies for review by the district attorney and the city auditor and we hope to have something to release soon.”

Jordan said the outcome of the criminal trial against five current and former police officers also must be considered for possible corrective measures by the Tulsa Police Department.

“We still have a trial and adjudication to wait on, so some things could be addressed by the trial and its outcomes,” he said. “That could take months.”

U.S. Attorney Jane W. Duke of the Eastern District of Arkansas is leading a federal investigation of police misconduct that involves allegations of stolen drugs and money, falsified search warrants, nonexistent informants and witness intimidation. The federal investigation covers a time period between 2004 and 2009.

In 2004, Tulsa police officers recorded a spike in the number of “John Doe” search warrants, apparently in response to gang violence and a record number of killings in 2003, the World investigation shows. In that year, 69 homicides took place, records show.

Although 25 people have been freed from prison, had cases dismissed or sentences reduced, the number of cases involving alleged police corruption continues to mount.

District Attorney Tim Harris’ office is reviewing cases involving eight officers whose names have surfaced in the investigation.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

My review

Police corruption is not an isolated case here in the Philippines. I can say that we all have same experiences when it comes to this scenario, or at least have witnessed a jeepney driver inserted a bill in his driver’s license. However, the difference with the other countries is that they don’t let these crooks get away with it. Although, this kind of crime is common all over the world, some countries are strict with implementing their laws.

Why can’t this be done here in the Philippines? Is it because the higher ranking officials are better crooks that those who will be caught and trialed?

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Book Critique – Ryan Jayson L. Policarpio

Giveaway! Work in Progress: An Unfinished Woman’s Guide to Grace By Kristin Armstrong About the Author: KRISTIN ARMSTRONG was married to cyclist Lance Armstrong for five years, raising their three children while living in France and Spain. She is … Continue reading

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Article on Corruption – By: Ryan Jayson L. Policarpio

Why is the Philippine poor? This is a question I often find myself thinking about. Our country is endowed with more than 7,000 islands with rich natural resources. During the 1950’s – 1960’s the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was among the highest in South East Asia. It was even higher than that of China and Thailand. So logically it is hard to see why the Philippines had been left behind by its neighbors in terms of economic progress. A study conducted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2007, however states that in the last 50 years, the Philippines’ economic growth has slowed down compared to its neighbors.

According to “The 2009 Index of Economic Freedom” the Philippines ranks 104th freest among 170 countries. Our low ranking is perceived to be primarily a result of our long-standing problem of corruption. As of 2008 based on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) our country is placed 141st among 180 countries. In a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being “highly clean” and 0 as “highly corrupt”, the Philippines “Confidence Rating” score ranged from 2.1-2.5.

To fully comprehend the value and the implication of the figures above, it is imperative that we understand what corruption means and how it is relevant to every Filipino’s life. Corruption is detrimental to every citizen’s survival. However it is also Filipino culture that tolerates and permits corruption to prevail. It is important that the Filipino people will know the vitality of putting an end to the ‘cancer’ which is crippling the society and gnawing at the people’s basic needs for survival. This then will determine the course of action that needs to be taken towards alleviating the country’s economy and thus improve the people’s lives.

This paper identifies the major forms of corruption plaguing the Philippine society and its effect on the Filipinos’ life. This paper also attempts to understand why corruption seems to be incurable despite many internationally aided programs.

Political Corruption is commonly defined as “the abuse of public office for personal enrichment” (Nye, J. ). The most common forms of corruption that are prevalent in the Philippines are:
Lagay System — “grease money” is given to the person in charge / official of a government office/agency for obtaining something they need/want expediently.

Extortion — Almost everybody in government offices from government employees, to high-ranking government officials are reputed for collecting extra money just so they will process the documents the people need.

Collecting ‘tong’ — ‘tong’ is the substantial amount of money given to the government particularly to the law enforcers so they will ‘look the other way’ from your illegal activities.
Rigged bidding — ‘staged bidding’; a secret deal was made between the dealer and the Bids and Awards official prior to the bidding to ensure that the favored bidder gets the deal.
Ghost employees— including names of bogus people in the roster of employees of a government office for the purpose of getting more wage budget for a particular office.
Overpricing— The price for the transaction or procurement of an important document is charged more than its original value to include the ‘grease money’.
Nepotism, Favoritism, Cronyism —- Government officials often hire their relatives or close friends as government employees regardless of their qualifications or know-how of the jobs they’re assigned to.

Corruption hampers the development of a country. It strips the people of basic commodities including health care, education and even safety. Corruption hinders the Philippines from having access to free medicines and supplies. According to a study by Transparency International, for every 10 percent increase in corruption, immunization rate drops to 20 percent. It deprives the children from having quality education that can give the country hope for a better future. An investigation conducted by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) in 2009 found that corruption in all levels in the educational system is widespread; starting from the central office of the Department of Education to the public schools in remote islands. It can also compromise the safety of the public. According to the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP’s) country director Renaud Meyer, corruption “is a primary obstacle in the effective delivery of public services and fulfillment of basic rights.” European Union ambassador to the Philippines, Alistair MacDonald said
“”Freedom from the disastrous effects of corruption is as much a human right as is the freedom from fear or the freedom from hunger…”

A study conducted by the Asian Institute of Management- Hills Governance Center (AIM-HGC) establishes the point that corruption is wrong and that it hinders the economic development of a country. According to the Social Weather Station “corruption hurts national development”. It discourages investments from coming in. The study also discusses the reasons why corruption continues to flourish in Philippine society. The Philippines lacks implementation of programs that promote transparency which could lessen the temptation for corruption of power and resources by high-ranking officials. It is hard to combat corruption if the society tolerates such wrongdoing and if officials who succumb to corruption are never held accountable. The study also notes that “countries that succeed in controlling corruption have higher level of human development”.

Another study which recognizes the vitality of combating corruption is a study conducted by Vinay Bhargava, country director of The World Bank in 1999 entitled Combating Corruption in the Philippines. This study was initiated by the Estrada administration in 1999. Like AIM-HGC’s study, it recognizes the fact that corruption hinders foreign and even local investments which quells any chance for economic growth. This study also ascertained that corruption is not limited to the public sector. Because of the participation of private sectors, they should just as likely be trained/educated for combating corruption.

This study proposes 9 strategies for fighting corruption. “The 9 Key Elements” are:
* reducing opportunities for corruption by policy reforms and deregulation
* reforming campaign finance
* increasing public oversight
* reforming budget processes
* improving meritocracy in the civil service
* targeting selected departments and agencies
* enhancing sanctions for corruption
* developing partnerships with the private sector
* supporting judicial reform

According to the study made by the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime (PCTC), about 30% of the national budget reportedly goes to graft and corruption. This study names the specific types of corruption prevalent in the Philippines. It also names the efforts that government took to control graft and corruption. It also gives a list of the factors which hinders the implementation of the anti-corruption measures. The Filipino culture is greatly to be blamed. Particularly the culture of gift-giving which is a form of bribery or ‘lagay.’ Having close family ties is also a culprit. Prioritizing family members despite qualifications leads to Nepotism. The ‘kumpadre system’ and paying ‘utang na loob’ encourages Cronyism. Another significant obstacle is the lack of funding from the government to implement the anti-corruption programs. Transparency in government transactions and consistent monitoring on projects are key factors in fighting corruption.

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Retribution by Santiago Orias (article 4)

Pilitin man nating palalimin ang ibig sabihin ng salitang iyan, huwag mo ng subukan. Do not complicate life, ika nga.

Matapos ang lahat ng pagtalakay na ito, syempre hindi naman tayo matutulog sa gabi na puro kasamaan ang nasa utak. Huwag puro laitan, marami naman ang natitirang may magandang loob, sa maniwala ka’t sa hindi. Oo. Paano yung mga tao na mula pa simula ay nasa tamang direksyon ang paniniwala? Kakalimutan na lang ba sila? Unfair.

Syempre gusto namin ibida yung mga taong unang umiwas sa tukso. Yung tipong ikakabuti na nila, iniwasan pa. Kasi mas iniisip nila ang pagpapahalaga sa moral na paniniwala. Binigyang timbang ang pagiging tapat sa halip na magpakasasa at malunod sa kaginhawaang dulot ng korapsyon, moral man o salapi ang usapan. \hindi ba’t dapat sila yung mga taong dapat na i advertise natin sa mga billboards? Dahil sila ang pinakamagagandang halimbawa ng tapat na pamumuhay, walang bahid ng impluwensiya o dungis ng pag iimbot. Mahirap kaya tularan yung mga tulad nila. Try mo lang.

Dapat ay ipagmalaki rin natin yung mga patuloy na lumalaban para sa mas maigting na pagsugpo sa kabulastugan ng mga opisyal, mapa eskwelahan man o gobyerno. Dahil sa kanila, patuloy nating nababantayan yung mga pagkakataong hindi natin alintana na gagawan tayo ng masama. Isa sa malaking dahilan ng pagtigil ng korapsyon ang walang puknat na pagpuna sa knila. Di bale ng walang mangyari, at least nababawasan sila ng kawalang hiyaan, di ba?

Pero syempre, huwag nating kalimutang ipagmalaki yung bawat karaniwang tao tulad natin na kahit sa pinaka maliit na paraan ay talaga namang lumalayo sa kasamaan. Dito naman lahat nagsisimula yan. Kahit anung pilit mong sugpuin ang malalaking institusyon ng kasamaan, hindi mo magagawang tapusin ito pagkat yun na yung sistema eh. Kung sa simula pa lang ay kinagisnan na natin ang tama at tuwid na sistema, sa paaralan man o sa gobyerno, hindi sana tayo aabot sa ganito. Ang masama pa, sa paaralan nagsisimula. Parang kasama ata sa kurikulum nila yung Korapsyon 101.

Ngayon ay alam mo na. Namulat ka, nakaintindi, nakabasa. Ang tanong, ano na? May magagawa ka ba? Hindi naman sa pinipilit kita na ipakita yung kaya ng iyong kaluluwa. Pero sana ay magsilbing kuryente ito na kikiliti sayo na kumilos at lumaban kung may mga pagkakataon kang mararanasan tulad ng naranasan nila, namin. Hihintayin mo pa bang mangisay ang iyong pagkatao bago mo aksyunan yung mga bagay na tulad nito? Huwag na siguro. Meron tayong free will di ba. Ba’t di kaya ipakita yung mga bagay na kakaiba naman sa paningin ng lahat? Malay mo sa pagkakataong ito, gumaan na ang loob mo. At makikita mong hindi naman lahat ng bagay sa mundo ay masama, at may nananatiling tuwid at marangal sa kabila ng pagtatago ng katotohanan. At malalaman mong ang katotohanan ay mas mabuting hubad, lantad ang kaluluwa.

Kilos na.

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