Lessons from Stiff Neck, Lenten Retreat and Superheroes

Lessons from Stiff Neck, Lenten Retreat and Superheroes

Mar 30, 2016

Last week I suffered from a severe stiff neck, the type that almost immobilizes you. I was in pain for a few days and I thank my FB friends who contributed to my crowd-sourcing attempt to gather remedies, and of course my chiropractor.

Important Lesson from my severe stiff neck:

In the discomfort of immobility and mild desperation when the condition wasn’t improving, I was reminded of an important lesson: You realize the importance of something you take for granted when it is gone. I never really thought about the importance of my neck, that I should take care of it by stretching in the morning, that I should move it from side to side, up and down when busy at work, until I couldn’t move it anymore!

In the heat of election campaign, I see this at play. We were under the rule of a dictator who pillaged our country, took away our freedom and messed up our development that thirty years after we ousted him, his ghost and minions continue to haunt us. We got back our freedom in EDSA 1986 and it was the sweetest thing, especially for those who greatly suffered during the dark years.

But check out how a lot of Filipinos are behaving now. They’re belittling the gift of EDSA and are flirting with the dangers of going back to a dictatorship! They are taking for granted the liberty that we are enjoying now just because they have forgotten, or for most, have not experienced how it is to be under a dictator.

Do we need another dictator to ruin us, for us to stick in our thick skulls that it’s dangerous to flirt with charming dictator leaders?

 Lenten Retreat

For a few years now, I have always done the Online Retreat by Fr. Johnny Go in his PinsOfLight.net. I like doing his retreats because they are not just hip (he makes use of movie clips and songs I find in my teenagers’ playlists), but are thought provoking and engages both your emotional and rational faculties.

Even as a child watching the gory scenes of Jesus being whipped and crucified (those were the only movies available on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday when I was young), I’ve always questioned why Jesus had to suffer for our sins, and this was one of the things I reflected on during the retreat. There are a number of theological explanations about His suffering but the one that resonates well with me is that the passion of Christ is a demonstration that cleansing is a long and difficult process, not something that can be fixed with a magic wand. And Jesus had to be human – who could feel each thorn, each whip and mocking – in order for us to see that we as human beings are not powerless against sin.

Again this lesson is very relevant to our current situation. Most of us are already giving up that we are not yet there three decades after EDSA that we fail to see the small strides of improvement we have achieved. We want someone to wave a magic wand forgetting that cleansing is a long and difficult process. It takes three generations (roughly 100 years) to make a real change according to historian Dr. Dumol. But as what Christ showed us, human beings are not powerless against sin. You may argue, “But He’s God.” Yes, but his apostles and other followers were not.

Batman v Superman

To cap our Holy Week, thank God my stiff neck was gone, I watched the much awaited Batman v Superman with my family. I’m not going to add to the very polarized reviews of the movie but will just share an insight I had in between naps during the movie (Oops… that’s a slip, but not quite because as my boys say, “Mama always falls asleep in action movies!”) Men are always looking for superheroes to save them.

There are some reasons I can think of why we have a penchant for superheroes:

  1. We’re lazy. We want to assign the task of solving our problems to someone outside of ourselves. Boys and girls alike are sometimes like damsels in distress who want to be rescued by their hero.
  2. “The bigger and dumber, the better.” Comics Journal writer Tom Crippen wrote an essay entitled The Big Dumb Dream. He said there’s a genius in the bigness and dumbness because people like strong, powerful heroes so why not create a hero who is exceptionally stronger and more powerful than anyone else?
  3. It’s a form of escapism. If people are mired in problems, superhero movies provide a distraction from reality by engaging them in fantasy.
  4. We want to believe in magic. Even the most rational beings, whether they admit it or not, still believe in magic. But believing in magic is not totally negative. This is what propels us to forge ahead and do what is something that seems humanly impossible.

Applying the lessons from three unrelated events:

Monday was the start of campaign for local elections and our election fever goes up a couple of notches higher. I wish that amidst all these and our respective preoccupations in life (studies, career, parenting, advocacies), we may learn from my stiff neck, online retreat and superheroes.

First, we realize the importance of something we take for granted only when we lose it. Let’s not wait to lose our freedom again before we realize how important and fragile it is.

Second, cleansing is a long and difficult process. Let’s be more patient, realistic and not lose track of what we’ve accomplished.

Third, let’s not look for superheroes in this coming elections to rescue us. Let’s not be fooled by “the dumber and bigger, the better” syndrome. Let’s continue to believe in magic but realize that the magic we really need to become a great nation does not come from a superhero president. 

It is when each Filipino citizen stops whining and starts contributing his share in nation building that magic will happen!




  1. I will speak at the Bureau of Treasury about Financial Literacy on March 31, 2016 at 3pm. ePoster_bureauoftreasury1
  2. I will give a talk about blogging to CFAs on April 6, 2016.
  3. I will speak at the Kidzania about Financial Literacy on May 7, 2016 at the Kidzania Parents Lounge at 9:30am.

Rose Fres Fausto is the author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook and You Tube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom. 

ATTRIBUTIONS: Image used from cliparthut.com, flickeringmyth.com, tobet.org, wallpaperscraft.com put together to help deliver the message of the article.