cinema, Film, Film Review, Magazine article

Da Vinci Code: Review of film and book

I have a number of free-hosted blogs that vanished into thin cyber air, for whatever reasons. Fortunately,  I found out that some people or organizations re-published or archived some of my blogposts.

Three nights ago, I browsed the web for my lost blogposts. Almost miraculously, I found many of my posts from my blog, Reflections on the Bangsa Moro, had been archived! Snapshots of my blogposts had been captured and saved in the Internet. I don’t know if this was done by people or by bots.

Da Vinci Code movie

One of these blogposts was my review / critique of the film and book, The Da Vinci Code. The book was a phenomenal blockbuster while the film was a smash hit with superstar Tom Hanks in the lead and ably supported by European stars.

Now that I found this post, I am re-blogging it. People might still want to watch or read The Da Vinci Code.

 

 

FROM MY NOW DEFUNCT BLOG, Reflections on the Bangsa Moro:

reflections blog title 2

March 20, 2008

Lenten Ponderings — the Da Vinci Code | # | Media StudiesSocio-PoliticalReligious / CulturalChristianity — jamalashley @ 10:59 pm

 

When I was a kid, all TV programs and movies in the Philippine were all related to the story of Jesus Christ or the Bible. Because of this, I saw The Ten Commandments, The Bible, Ben Hur, Samson and Delilah, David and Bathsheba, The Robe, and films like these more than ten times at least. There was no choice because there was nothing else to see. Besides, when I was a kid, I just wanted to go to the movies with my mother so I could gorge on chocolates and popcorn. We never watched a movie without anything to munch on.

The kids today are so lucky. TV and movies are showing regular fare.

For those who want to ponder upon religious thoughts, below is an article I wrote for Mr.& Ms. Magazine -July 2006. It is about the Da Vinci Code and the topicts surrounding it — Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene, Judas Iscariot, the Jews, The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson, Dan Brown, etc.:

QC da vinci code

 

Film adaptation of literary works started with no less than the inventors of the film apparatus – the Lumière brothers. The book was the all-time best seller – The Bible. The film was La Vie et Passion de Jésus Christ. In Film Studies, the adaptation of classical literature is usually given more attention than those of contemporary books. Contemporary film adaptations are generally studied for their portrayal of current political culture.

Da Vinci Code, the movie, is an adaptation of a very contemporary novel but the structure of the story rests firmly on the New Testament and the early Christian Gnostic writings.

While the novel/film is ostensibly a thriller beginning with a murder and the consequential cops-and-suspects chase, what are foregrounded are the alleged marriage of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene and the existence of their descendants.

The text of the film calls on so many other texts and subtexts. A proper critical analysis of the film would require so many pages.

MEDIOCRE BOOK

Dan Brown’s novel cannot compare to the classics. In terms of artistic value, it has practically none. It contains no new information. The non-fiction best-seller The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail already profited from the Jesus – Magdalene royal dynastic love story almost 25 years ago.

It is interesting to note that Dan Brown’s first three novels – Digital Fortress (1998), Angels and Demons (2000) and Deception Point (2001) – each had less than 10,000 copies printed. All of a sudden, Brown’s fourth novel, the Da Vinci Code, sold more than 60,000,000 (sixty million) hardcover copies. Can a badly written novel become an overnight sensation merely because of its subject matter?

Because of the overwhelming success of his fourth novel, his other novels got a big boost in sales, too. Do people buy books because of the novel’s inherent qualities or because of something else?

In analyzing the movie The Da Vinci Code, the current political culture / political economy surrounding the film takes precedence over aesthetic values.

AGENDA-SETTING

Scholars have acknowledged the big role of Media in the creation of social reality. Media Studies scholars define agenda-setting as the practice, whether intentional or not, of Media to structure public debate and awareness. The Media do not tell people what to think but they tell people what to think about. In the case at hand, for example, the Media do not tell the people to believe the Da Vinci Code’s premises, but they prod people to at least think about Dan Brown’s allegations.

How can they do that? In this case, the novel was given tremendous media hype. Even before publication, the New York Times already endorsed the book.

The novel debuted at No. 1 in the New York Times Best Seller List. By the following year, all of Brown’s novels were already in the New York Times Best Seller List.

Practically all major publications wrote about the book. Brown was listed by TIME magazine as one of the top 100 most influential person of the year 2005 and chosen by Forbes magazine as the No. 12 Top Celebrity of 2005.

Other similar media products like the documentary Origins of the Da Vinci Code were produced. Related materials like the Gospel of Judas were given much media time. In the run-up to the opening of the movie, National Geographic Channel showed several times the Gospel of Judas documentary and had a series called the Secret Bible Week which featured stories on early Christian (Gnostic) writings – those that were prominently featured in the Da Vinci Code novel and film.

JEWISH HOLLYWOOD

The Jews – Metro, Goldwyn, Meyer, Hecht, the Warners, Cecil B. De Mille, etc. – created Hollywood. Biblical stories like the Ten Commandments, Samson and Delilah, The Bible, etc. produced by Hollywood featured mostly the Jewish Bible – the Old Testament. In stories of Jesus, the guilt for killing Jesus is put squarely on the Romans. And Jesus was always portrayed as cool and calm and his suffering (called the Passion) was mellowed down.

Lately, Jewish domination of Hollywood has been watered down by the coming of the Japanese (Sony) and the Australians. The Japanese agenda however seems to be purely financial. But the Australian Connection gave the Jews reason to be afraid when top Australian actor/ director made in 2004.

THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST

Unknown to many people, the 1999 Life of Jesus Mini Series was censored. CBS cut out the nail scene and the screams of Jesus among others because CBS wanted to portray “a more traditional Jesus.” (to see the censored scenes visit  http://hollywoodjesus.com/jesus_series3a.htm)

But Australian Mel Gibson wanted to show the great suffering of Jesus as depicted in the Lenten season’s Passion Play re-enacted in many places in the world, including the Philippines. In 2004, Gibson co-wrote and directed The Passion of the Christ. The Jews cried foul. The movie’s stark portrayal of Jesus’s passion could make the viewers react harshly to Jesus’s enemies, they averred.

Hollywood and other media products have been selling the idea that the Romans – not the Jews – killed Jesus. But in Gibson’s movies, the killers appeared to be Jews. This was somehow emphasized by Gibson’s insistence that the characters speak in Hebrew and Latin. While the Jews protested, Gibson made sure that he got the backing of the Christian churches before the movie’s premiere showing

The movie became a blockbuster and made Gibson many millions richer. The Jews immediately re-issued the Jesus Mini Series and claimed that the series had “Less Passion but More Compassion.” But the harm was done. A sign outside one church in America read “Jews- Christ Killers”. This was one of the more palpable effects of the movie. The Jews needed to do some damage control. As a minority, even a powerful one, they could not afford to antagonize the Christian majority.

DAN BROWN’S NOVEL

It may be a coincidence that Brown’s editor is Jason Kaufman, presumably a Jew. But it is safe to presume that a Jewish editor, upon reading Da Vinci Code, would immediately realize that the answer to Gibson had come. In fact, it would not be far-fetched to presume that the editor himself gave the struggling Christian writer, whose previous book concerned Angels and Demons, some advice on what story to write.

With the agenda set, the Jewish media moguls could easily create a best-seller. And of course, the Hollywood Jews could then make a blockbuster film. An American superstar (Tom Hanks) and famous director (Ron Howard) plus European big stars for supporting roles and a big budget for promotion and PR equal a top grossing film.

For good measure, the Gospel of Judas was hailed as finally transforming Judas Iscariot from evil to good. In the documentaries, Jews claimed that Judas was regarded by the Christians as the representative Jew in the New Testament. The Jews interviewed in documentaries claimed that the New Testament was anti-Semitic. This is quite astounding. How could it be anti-Semitic when ALL the characters in the New Testament, except for the Romans, were Jews? Even Jesus and the Virgin Mary were Jews.

In the Bible Secrets documentaries, it was alleged again that the Romans, not the Jews, killed Jesus. The reasoning however was historically baseless.

With the great media hype on Dan Brown’s novel plus the documentaries on “Bible Secrets”, the stage was set for the box office success of the movie.

Just as the Jews protested over Gibson’s movie, various Catholic groups from different countries protested over the film The Da Vinci Code. The title of an editorial in the New Jersey Jewish News perhaps encapsulates the Jews’ feeling of sweet revenge – “Mel Gibson, Meet Dan Brown.”

AESTHETICS

Cultural politics aside, the film is just as mediocre as the novel. The film tried not to be too gung-ho over the Jesus-Magdalene dynastic line. Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) did not agree fully with Brown’s or Teabing’s (Ian McKellen’s) suppositions. The filmmakers tried to make some characters more credible like Fache (Jean Reno) whose motivation for his obsessive desire to catch Langdon and Neveau (Audrey Tautou) and his connection with Aringarosa (Alfred Molina) were not explained well in the book. However, they made other changes which made things even murkier.

In the novel, Aringarosa was the head of Opus Dei who wanted to secure the secret documents to obtain more power in the Catholic Church. In the film, it was not clear if Aringarosa was with the Opus Dei. And yet, police detective Fache was made an Opus Dei member. Who and what was Silas’s (Paul Bettany’s) motivation then? Like the novel, Akiva Goldsman’s (another Jew?) screenplay was sloppy.

The value of novels and films depends mainly on the narrative’s coherence. At the end of the story, all dilemmas should be resolved, all questions should be answered, and there ought to be no loose ends. Unfortunately, in both the Da Vinci Code book and film, dilemmas were unresolved, questions were unanswered and there were quite a number of loose ends.

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Published in the Mr. & Ms. Magazine Supermonthly of the Body, Mind & Spirit, July 2006

Related Post:

Mary Magdalene, Judas and The Da Vinci Code Origins

Magazine article

VIA MARE – The Filipino Comfort Food

The latest issue of DDG magazine (Dec-Jan) is out.

DDG dec-jan
I have an article there:

via mare001

via mare 2

Here are more photos (by me) of Via Mare’s delicious “comfort food”:

BIBINGKA
BIBINGKA
PUTO BUMBONG
PUTO BUMBONG
PUTO MAYA
PUTO MAYA
PANCIT LUGLUG
PANCIT LUGLUG
CALCAG (RICE)
CALCAG (RICE)
calcag, pancit luglug and PAKO salad.
calcag, pancit luglug and PAKO salad.

Get your DDG magazine at the nearest National Book Store!

Magazine article

DDG – the latest magazine in town

Last night, DDG Magazine, a lifestyle magazine, was launched at the PRIVÉ Luxury Club at the Strip in Global City. A bevy of drop dead gorgeous girls graced the occasion. The editor-in-chief Apple Hollin acted as the gracious hostess of the night. The publisher was also there as well as a few writers like myself.

I have two articles in the first issue of the magazine. One is a 3-page spread titled VIGAN: Romancing the Past. It’s about Vigan City in Ilocos, Sur. The first page is here:

The other is a short article titled Inner Truth, Outer Beauty: Celebrating the Beautiful You. The whole article is here:

Get your copy ASAP!

Magazine article, New Age

George and the Temple of Prosperity

 

george

St. George slew dragons that terrorized people; this George slays the Poverty-consciousness that makes most Filipinos wallow in penury and misery. This George wields no swords, but spreads words of wisdom. This New Thought crusader fights the superstitions and the dogmatic beliefs that have impoverished people’s bodies, minds and souls for ages.

Son of business mogul Carlos Moran Sison and socialite Priscilla de la Fuente, multi-talented George tried his hand at various things – astrology, business (handicraft exports), stage acting (Avellana’s Barangay Theater Guild), teaching (Philosophy at FEU), painting (three one-man shows), poetry writing (three books), songwriting (Pilita Sings George CD album, What Name Shall I Give You My Love?- recorded by The Platters), film producing (Ishmael Bernal’s first film Pagdating Sa Dulo), column writing (at Weekly Graphic, for which he was detained at the start of Martial Law ), TV talk-show (Manila After Dark with Gloria Diaz) – but did not find fulfillment until he established his very own Temple.

In his search for the Meaning of Life and answers to ultimate questions, George learned about simple but powerful ideas which changed his life. In his desire to share these metaphysical concepts with others, he put up in 1983 the Temple of Prayer, Peace and Prosperity (TOPPP), a transformational and developmental center, which is ecumenical and non-sectarian. A few years later, TOPPP was endorsed by Catherine Ponder, one of America’s foremost inspirational authors and prosperity Guru (The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity, Prosperity Secrets of the Ages, Open Your Mind to Prosperity), to be a member of the International New Thought Alliance (INTA), a world-wide association of organizations catering to spiritual learning and well-being based on the concept of the in-dwelling God. (Behold, the kingdom of God is within you. – Luke:17:20-21)

“With the New Thought, there is the realization of the Power Within, which brings happiness and fulfillment,” says George. “And the Temple is a process of sharing this joy with others,” he adds.

In recognition of George’s activities at the TOPPP, he was conferred the title of Minister by the Community Church of New Thought in Mesa, Arizona, USA in 1998. He is currently the District President and Ambassador-at-large of INTA to the Philippines.

PROSPERITY RITUALS

The Temple is located at the 3rd Floor of the Priscilla 100 Building, which also houses the George Sison Gallery, in Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati. Meditation sessions are held every Sunday afternoon. Before the congregation begins, the attendees can get to know each other, read a book or drink coffee in the foyer and the well-furnished antechamber.
The congregation room is usually kept at a very cool temperature so it will be conducive to meditation. In the center of the room is a small dome with points of light representing stars, much like in a planetarium. The lights are dimmed and meditation music is played.

Prayers, guided meditation, contemplation, affirmation and visualization are done
by the group. In the middle of the session, a person stands and loudly affirms for himself / herself. The group then echoes the affirmation for that person.

And then there’s a 15-minute or so intermission where the TOPPP members write down their “decrees” (requests for specific desires) in the Will Your Fortune sheets. The decrees are in the form of affirmations for themselves and their loved ones in the four areas; namely, Health, Success, Love and Wealth.

George then gives a lecture on a specific topic. Afterwards, a staff member goes around carrying a bunch of collages the size of an old LP album. The member asks a question in his/her mind and picks up a collage. This is a form of divination based on the principle of Synchronicity as propounded by the pioneering psychiatrist Carl Jung.

This is followed by more group and individual meditation. At the end, the group stands in circles and sings inspirational songs while swaying to the rhythm of the music.

george-MrMsArticle-1

TOPPPers

They call themselves TOPPPers. They come from all walks of life, from the financially challenged to millionaires, from ordinary employees to top executives, from fans to movie stars. Dina Bonnevie, Derek Dee, Marissa Delgado, Juan Rodrigo, Ernie Garcia, Lirio Vital, and Dexter Doria are just some of the actors who have become members of TOPPP at one time or another.

Berna Martin is familiar to all Temple adherents. She joined the Temple staff in 1991 and found happiness there. “As a graduate of psychology, I find that attending George’s lectures is just like learning more psychology,” she says. “Also, as Mr. Sison told us recently, the Temple is like a ‘spiritual gym’,” she quips.

According to Berna, before she came to the TOPPP, life seemed to be so much of a struggle. “Growing up in the province, I was brought up to believe that life was hard, that it was constant struggle,” she explains. “But after coming to the TOPPP, my outlook in life has changed, especially my concept about money. Now, everything is alright. There is no struggle,” she proclaims enthusiastically.

Movie and TV actress Dexter Doria joined TOPP in 1987. She “decreed” to have more movie offers. She got what she wanted – she made 23 movies in about a year’s time. But she discontinued attending the regular meetings for some time. In 1995, she came back and has since been attending TOPPP meetings regularly. She said she came back because she “needed the Temple.”

Leila, a bank executive, has been with TOPPP since the late 1980s. She regularly attends the congregation and attributes her excellent health and general well-being to TOPPP. Two of her children join her at the TOPPP.

Glenn is a young man who was brought to the TOPPP in January 1997 by his mother. He enjoyed going there. Unknown to people at the TOPPP then, he was an alcoholic. Pretty soon, Glenn got rid of his alcoholism and went to the Middle East to work as a telecom engineer. A couple of months ago, he was back at the TOPPP celebrating his birthday.

Consuelo, a businesswoman, joined the TOPPP recently. She said she is seeking answers, and has joined other spiritual groups. She said that after joining the TOPPP, the “manifestations” came in immediately. Her grandfather’s properties were not titled and there seemed to be some obstructions. After joining the TOPPP, she got the titles for five of the properties and even found buyers for them.

“What I like about the TOPPP,” she says, “is that the people here do not mind other people’s business.” Apparently, in a “spiritual” group she joined before, other people maliciously poked their noses into each other’s lives and even criticized each other’s clothes or actions.

george-MrMsArticle-2

PROSPERITY BOOKS

In 2002, George’s long-awaited book A Miracle Awaits You was published. Dr. Catherine Ponder herself wrote the Foreword while Dr. Blaine Mays, INTA President wrote the Introduction. Media personalities praised the book. Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc wrote: “Everything you’ve always known to be true but were too afraid to say and do because of the high-tech temper of the times is reaffirmed and celebrated in this book…The Spirit will move you as it did me toward the appropriate pages for your delectation and application.”

The 183-page book is a goldmine of wisdom filtered through the ages to help humans help themselves. As Julie Yap-Daza remarked, “It’s a book so simple yet so profound in its implications, so clear and graspable in its explications.”

The format is reader-friendly, even for children and the elderly. Each concept is explained in 3 to 4 pages, with illustrations. And the fonts are big. The book is designed like a handbook or manual so that it can be consulted anytime.

Last year, the TOPPP published George’s booklet I Am A Winner: Feng Shui of the Mind. The booklet explains how the Feng Shui of the Mind works and enumerates 102 ways of practicing it. It includes colored collages on every other page to elaborate on the meanings of the messages.

REQUIRED READING

Those who want to join the Temple are advised to read books that would introduce them to the concepts of New Thought. Some of these books are: the above-mentioned books by Ponder, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings, U.S. Andersen’s Three Magic Words, James Redfield’s Celestine Prophecy and books by Og Mandino, Deepak Chopra and Richard Bach.

BAD PRESS

Throughout the ages, Wealth and Prosperity have bad press. Eighteenth century poet / writer Oliver Goldsmith asked, “Can wealth give happiness?” His answer: “Look round and see – what gay distress! what splendid misery! – whatever fortune lavishly pours, the mind annihilates, and calls for more.”

Even the great Shakespeare wrote: “If thou art rich, thou art poor; for like an ass, whose back with ingots bows, thou bearest thy heavy riches but a journey, and death unloads thee.”

And of course, there are the famous Biblical quotes – “The love of money is the root of all evil” and “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”

At the TOPPP, people learn or re-learn that Wealth is not evil, that Money is simply Energy; i.e., My Own Natural Energy Yield, and that Prosperity is a natural consequence of one’s own consciousness.

A TOPPP session is not a religious service. It is more like a motivational seminar. It is open to everyone, of whatever creed or religion. George says, “If there is a single idea that you get from the TOPPP that changes your life, then TOPPP would have done its purpose.”

Another George, the British World War I Prime Minister Lloyd George said, “Liberty is not merely a privilege to be conferred, it is a habit to be acquired.” TOPPPers would say, “Prosperity is not merely a privilege to be conferred, it is a habit to be acquired.” (end)

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========== SEE OTHER POSTS BY JAMAL ASHLEY ============

Magazine article

Niza and Woodstock


For the lighter side of things, here is my magazine article on Niza Abbas and her Belgian Malinois:

By Jamal Ashley

Niza has always loved cats. She had them for pets since she was still in grade school in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Now, after being a cat person for so long, she decided to have a dog. When her brother’s friend was looking for people to adopt some Belgian Shepherd Dog Malinois, she took the leap.

“They say that having a dog is different than having a cat. I wanted to experience having a dog,” she says. She didn’t want a small dog because she already has cats. She wanted a dog that could act as her “bodyguard”.

She said that her main reason for getting a dog was her desire to get back in shape. She thought that a dog would be perfect because she would be forced to take him for walks.

Her brother’s friend told her that among all breeds of dogs, the Malinois is the one that really aims to please his master. She liked the idea and did a little research on the Malinois. “They are good sniffers and they are some of the most intelligent dogs,” she says.

“When I got him, it was a totally different experience,” she swears. She named him Woodstock, after the 1969 rock festival.

WORKING GIRL

Niza is short for Zebuniza. She’s the daughter of the late Moro leader and 1992 Liberal Party senatorial candidate Macapanton Abbas, Jr. and Hajara Canoy Abbas. Niza grew up in Saudi Arabia where she studied grade school and high school. Unlike most Filipino children in Saudi Arabia who go to the Philippine School administered by the Philippine Embassy, Niza and her siblings went to Arab schools. Thus, they learned to speak Arabic.

Her knowledge of Arabic landed her a job at the Factset Philippines Inc. as a Financial Language Analyst (Arabic). Her company provides financial information and analytic software for investment professionals.

Previously, Niza was a Director III at the Office of Muslim Education in the Department of Education (DepEd).

Niza loves painting. She even had an exhibit at the GSIS Museum years ago, but she did not pursue the art professionally.

When opportunity arises, she does volunteer work such as tutoring Muslim students in English, collecting old clothes for typhoon victims, and participating in various outreach programs for street children.

When not working, Niza prefers spending her time with her cats, and since a few months ago, her dog.

WOODSTOCK WON HER HEART

“I wanted a big dog,” she says. She asserts that as a responsible pet owner, she would naturally take care of his needs, and one of them was to make sure he has the daily workout he needs for his size.

“But instead of him just being my reason or excuse to exercise, Woodstock won my heart and the rest of the hearts of my siblings and my mom,” she admits. “He had become part of the family,” she adds.

Niza’s siblings were not dog lovers but somehow they had a change of heart when Woodstock came into their lives. Her brothers have even started buying treats for him and teaching him some tricks.

Because of Woodstock, Niza and her family started watching Cesar Millan to learn some tips on handling dogs. Millan is the Mexican-American dog trainer with a TV show, The Dog Whisperer.

WOODSTOCK’S CHARACTERISTICS

Niza says that Woodstock is very sensitive to her feelings. “I’ve read that they are very perceptive when it comes to the emotions of their master,” she says. “One night, while I was walking him, a frog jumped out of nowhere. I am very scared of frogs,” she continues. “I didn’t make any movement but my heart was racing. He became suddenly alert and started growling.”  Somehow, Niza feels consoled in knowing that her dog is sensitive to her feeling.

Niza thinks Woodstock is very smart. She bought him a crate which was to be his “(dog)house”. The doghouse is at the garage. “When I leave the house, I don’t want to run over him so I tell him to go to his house by pointing at the crate-house,” she says. In two days, Woodstock understood that when Niza points to the doghouse, he must go there right away. Now, Niza doesn’t even need to point at the doghouse. She simply rattles her keys and Woodstock immediately goes to his doghouse, safe from the car of his mistress.

The Malinois breed of dogs are reputed to be dangerous. “That’s what they say but I don’t sense any danger from my dog,” she insists. Niza noticed, however, that Woodstock reacts differently to different deliverymen. “With some, he just looks at them while with others, he growls and barks,” she explains.

Niza swears that Woodstock is a very good companion and very affectionate. “Dogs are very loyal, that’s what I love about them,” she adds.

MUSLIMS’ DISLIKE FOR DOGS

Generally speaking, Muslims are not dog lovers. Unlike cats, whose saliva is deemed germicidal, dogs’ saliva is considered dirty; thus, the Muslims’ aversion to dogs.

But Niza is not bothered. “The restriction is just about saliva. So, wherever the dog’s saliva touches you, you just wash it seven times,” she says. “Besides, in religion, it says that one must be kind to animals,” she adds.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CATS AND DOGS

Niza says that her cats are not the type that she can take out to the park. “I can’t teach my cats to do tasks – such as fetching a ball — that easily,” she says.

Niza explains that Woodstock is the outdoorsy type so she can bring him out of the house, which she could hardly do with her cats.

She brings Woodstock out to Ayala Park once or twice a week. There, he meets his brother and another dog they had befriended, a female German Shepherd. They play off leash.

For Niza, her cats are there for her when she wants to relax and be calm. Woodstock, on the other hand, is there for her when she wants to exercise and feel more active.

What’s the biggest difference between dogs and cats? Niza says: “Cats already know that I love them and they love me back. My dog needs me to reaffirm that he’s needed and loved every day.”

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Published in Animal Scene magazine, Feb 2012

Magazine article, New Age

Brethren of the Rosy Cross

During this Lenten Season, one’s mind might be open to things esoteric or spiritual. Below is an article I wrote, which was published in Mr. & Ms. Magazine, Sept. 2006 issue.:

          Brethren of the Rosy Cross

                                                      By Datu Jamal Ashley Abbas

Aramis Aguilar is an hale and hearty 78 year-old CPA and lawyer. Rolly Sison  is a 64 year- old engineer. Ignacio Ong is 58 and a retired insurance executive. They are called Adepts, having gone way beyond the Ninth Temple degree of their mystical Order. They are Rosicrucians.

Aguilar is the Regional Monitor for the Philippines. He joined the Rosicrucian Order when he was already in his 50’s.Rolly Sison is the Master Servant of the Pronaos. He joined the Order in 1972 when he was just 28 years old. Ignacio Ong, is the chair of the Quezon City atrium.

Da Vinci Code

In the phenomenally successful book Da Vinci Code, one of the main “characters” is not a person but a mysterious secret organization called the Priory of Sion, The Priory was supposed to have created the Knights Templar and is the protector of the Holy Grail. The Priory of Sion, according to the document in the French National Archives, belongs to the Rosicrucian Order.

The Brethren of the Rosy Cross, the medieval name of the Rosicrucian Order, is supposed to be composed of Adepts skilled and knowledgeable in alchemy and other esoteric / occult sciences. The Rosicrucians were also thought to have created Freemasonry. Famous Rosicrucians allegedly include the physicist Sir Isaac Newton, the composer Claude Debussy, the artist Leonardo da Vinci, the alchemist Robert Fludd, the writer Victor Hugo and many more great men in Western European history.

Rituals

There are several Rosicrucian groups that exist today, with members called masters and grandmasters and with ranks like “the Illuminati”. They perform initiation rites and ceremonies dressed in monks’ robes that hark back to medieval times.

Ignacio Ong explained that they perform rituals “in order to affect or improve the environment so that students would be attuned to the activities during the convocation.” Sison added, “Rituals enhance the transfer of knowledge through the atmosphere.” Aguilar explained that all these rituals and paraphernalia are merely symbolic.

Founding of the Rosicrucian Order

Legend has it that German nobleman Christian Rosenkreuz, after his travels to the Middle East, founded the Order in the 15th century. His objective was the “universal reformation of mankind”. However, the Order died with him.

In the 17th century, the Order was revived and three manifestos were published anonymously, namely, Fama Fraternitatis in 1614, Confessio Fraternitatis in 1615 and the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz in 1616.  The manifestos declared the rebirth of the Order and welcomed all seekers. The second manifesto states: “We speak unto you by parables, but would willingly bring you to the right, simple, easy and ingenuous exposition, understanding, declaration, and knowledge of all secrets”.

Earlier Origins – Egyptian, Early Christian and Islamic

Many Rosicrucians like Messrs Aguilar, Sison and Ong believe that the Order started much earlier than Rosenkreuz. Many claim that the origins came from the ancient Egyptian mystery schools established in the reign of Thutmose III ca. 1500 B.C.. Some even believe that Akhenaton (ca. 1355 B.C.), considered to be history’s first proponent of monotheism, was the Rosicrucian’s first Grand Master.

According to the 18th century group, the Golden and Rosy Cross, the Order started in 46 AD when Alexandrian Gnostic monk Ormus was converted by the Apostle Mark. From this conversion arose Rosicrucianism which blended Early Christianity and ancient Egyptian doctrines.

Writer Émile Dantinne (1884–1969) concluded that from the manifestos, it can be seen that in Rosenkreuz’s travels to Arabia, Egypt and Morocco, he met Muslim sages who taught him the “universal harmonic science”. Rosenkreuz was supposed to have studied the alchemical and esoteric teachings of Muslim wise men like Abu-Abdallah, Gabir bin Hayan, and Imam Jafar al Sadiq.

The Original Rosicrucians

The Rosicrucian Order was a secret society. Even those who wrote about the Brethren of the Rosy Cross like Michael Maier (1568–1622) of Germany and Robert Fludd (1574–1637) of England did not admit that they were part of the Brethren. Thus they are referred to by historians and researchers as Rosicrucianists instead of Rosicrucians.

In the aftermath of the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) which reduced Germany’s population by half and redrew the map of Europe, most of the original Rosicrucians were said to have fled to the East. In this vacuum arose various Rosicrucianist groups.

Modern-day Rosicrucians

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, various Rosicrucian societies were established. There are two main streams – the esoteric Christian groups and the para-Masonic groups. The groups have nothing to do with each other.

Before World War II, Aguilar’s father was the head in the Philippines of the esoteric Christian group, the Rosicrucian Fellowship. Now, Aguilar is the head in the Philippines of the para-Masonic group, the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC).

AMORC

Antiquus Arcanus Ordo Rosæ Rubæa et Auræa Crucis is the “traditional and authentic name” of the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC). Founded by Harvey Spencer Lewis in 1915, it is probably the biggest and most accessible Rosicrucian society today.

From its name, one can infer that AMORC is a “mystical” group. Mysticism, according to the Order, “is a doctrine that the knowledge of reality, truth or God is attainable through direct knowledge.” This knowledge must be experienced from within and not from secondary sources. Sison defined mysticism as “the personal experience of the Divine.”

AMORC, like other para-Masonic groups, is heir to alchemical and hermetic knowledge, claims lineage from the original European Rosicrucians and organizes its internal structure like the Masons with its grades, initiations and titles.

Filipino Rosicrucians

There are not enough Filipino Rosicucians to put up an AMORC Lodge or Chapter. But there is a pronaos (ante-room) and an atrium in Quezon City and another in Davao City.

Masters Aguilar, Sison and Ong meet regularly with fellow Rosicrucians in the pronaos and atrium for convocation. The Philippines is under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge in Australia.

How Rosicrucianism help them

Ong says that after joining the Order, he realized his value to the company and the value of the company to the community. “What I was doing became relevant to the objectives of the company. Thus I got noticed,” Ong said.

He joined AMORC in 1980. Less than a year later, he got promoted to AVP and in less than two years, he became Vice President. “Normally, in the Ayala Group, it takes 4 to 5 years to be promoted,” Ong added.

Sison explained that Ong’s corporate promotions were due to his (Ong’s) “expansion of consciousness”. “When your consciousness expands, people will notice it,” he said.

For Sison, “evolving consciousness” is his personal concern. “The (Rosicrucian) teachings and exercises help me evolve,” he said.

“My relationship with other people is my testimony as a Rosicrucian,” said Aguilar. “(In the Order), we become more deliberate, more introspective,” he continued

Some (Psychic) Experiences

The Rosicrucian teachings can help members in all aspects of life – from the mundane to the miraculous.

Ong had a quintuple heart bypass more than a decade ago. “I was operated during the third week of May. By June, I was back in office and by the last week of June, I was already traveling,” he said. “But on July, I had another surgery (gallbladder). By October, I was already traveling overseas,” he continued. He said that people were saying, ‘masyadong mabilis ang healing’. The reason? “The whole time I was in the hospital, I was applying the principles of healing,” Ong explained.

Aguilar said that a member can also call on the other members to help in the healing process.

Regarding the psychic development of a person, the Regional Monitor recounted two amusing instances when he gamely exercised his ESP. “There is a restaurant where if you could cut a beef (roast or steak) weighing exactly 200 grams, you would get it for free. I did it twice,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar then recalled the time when he correctly divined how many beans were inside a particular jar.

Sison said there is a story about the first Imperator of AMORC and his alchemical skills. H. Spencer Lewis allegedly demonstrated in a closed door Rosicrucian convention the transformation of lead into gold.

Life Purpose

For Aguilar, the Rosicrucians’ goal is the development of the Inner Self. Ong maintained that all of them are trying to listen to their Inner Voice. “All of us are seeking,” Ong said. For Sison, the goal is “to have an evolved consciousness, to improve oneself and to realize one’s true Identity.”

According to AMORC literature, “There is no greater joy than discovering your life’s purpose…They (Rosicrucian teachings) appeal to both heart and mind, giving a continuous path to enlightenment. You will learn how to create your own destiny; find creative solutions to life’s everyday challenges and realize your connection to universal consciousness.” (END)