Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Alphabetically Thankful

I think the best way to cap the year is to give thanks for all that has happened, good or bad. I could just give a general thanks but that would rob me of the joy of identifying specific things I am thankful to God for, so here goes…

A – Apple. I had a wonderful three-year relationship with my iBook before he called it quits this year. Well, it was fun while it lasted…thanks anyway for the great experience.

B – Blogging! I discovered the joy of blogging last March and never regretted it. It has helped me in my writing skills (though I still have trouble with my prepositions) and also in becoming more perceptive about things that concern me.

C – CK, my 4-month old Toshiba laptop, despite its bulk, it is serving me well...I'm hoping this relationship will last a bit longer...

D – Davao. It’s great to spend a few months home on Sabbatical from work in Manila. There’s no place like home, and what a place to call home!

E – Emails. The long, windy and intimate ones I receive assures me that friends who are far away doesn’t mean they've become strangers.

F – Fellowship. Even though I value my alone time. I am thankful for friends I can fellowship with in a deeper level.

G – God’s Word. Not just anybody’s words, but His, most especially and most essentially. There are times when I feel like I'm tossed in restless waves of angst and confusion, His Word anchors me.

H – Home. These days I am hard put to figure out where home is, but it’s great to realize that where one’s mom is, there your home can be also. It is good to be home with my mom even if it's just for half a year. It isn’t always sunshiny sweet, but it is still a restful to be able to leave the adult rat race once in a while and simply be somebody’s child again.

I – Inexpensive Airfares. It is such a great thing that budget airlines are in vogue these days. I get to travel without having my organization pay so much!

J – Jesus, the friend who loves at all times, forgives at all times and believes in me at all times.

K – Ketchup. I can never do without a packet or two of ketchup in my bag, and it has come in handy. It’s very touching as well to know that some of my friends are collecting ketchup packets for, if that's not friendship, I don't know what is!

L – Late mornings. For a change, I get to sleep in a little bit later than usual. It’s wonderful to catch up with something that has become an almost unaffordable luxury to me.

M – Music. It wakens me, grips me, inspires me, and gladdens me. What would the world be without music?

N – Nighttime Musings. Since I am nocturnal by nature, inspiration usually hits when I am laying in bed, hoping to catch some sleep.

O – Opportunities. Some of the opportunities that come my way have been unbelievable, frankly speaking. I am just thankful that I have been given these opportunities…it could have easily gone to other more qualified people.

P – Provision. Living by faith as a Christian worker sounds grand but it can be “hairy” sometimes. When I am in a tight squeeze, I wonder how I will be provided for and God never fails to show me how, in His wonderful and unexpected way.

Q – Quiche. A good friend bakes spinach quiche for me and I'm glad she still makes it for me when I am really hankering for it.

R – Regrets. I have been thinking of things I have done in the past that I shouldn’t have. I know that they cannot be undone, but for what its worth, I can learn from them as I move on.

S – Silence. Those rare blocks of time when the only sound I hear is silence. I so need those times to just be quiet and hear myself think.

T – Travels. Being on the road has a lot of perks, from enjoying nice roadside scenes to meeting new people.

U – Unlimited Wi Fi Access. I get to enjoy this while in Davao, and really savoring it as long as I can, ‘cause when I get back to Manila, it will be back to the old dial-up drudgery...on second thought...I’m not sure this is something I should be thankful for...

V – Vacations—I mean mini ones. I can’t usually afford to be away from work for two straight weeks but the pockets of rest I get in between whenever has been helpful. But I hope to get a full two-week break next year…

W – Words. I love words. I love the fact that I don’t have to hold everything in...and that I have words to use to express my feelings and ideas.

X – Xasperations...minor ones, at least, like the neighbor’s 11pm to 3am drunken and frighteningly tone-deaf videoke sessions. I am not exactly sure why I should be thankful about it...maybe just to fill the letter X?

Y – Yahoo Messenger. Some of the friends on the list are hundred of miles away, but just to see them on line while I am working is great—it’s like their just working beside me.

Z – Zany humor (I know, a bit stretching it just to put something on “Z”). I thank God for giving me this gift, helps keeps me sane in trying moments.

So, how was your year?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sleep Eludes Us

In the warmth of my bed

Silence broken
By rhythmic, reassuring cricket hymns

Staring up at the ceiling
Seeing dancing shadows from passing lights

Sleep eludes me
Images and noise stir my mind

Of men, women and children,
Shivering on scant, damp mats

Shrills fill the air
of babies’ wails and mothers’ weeping

Squinting at harsh lights
Glaring from above thin rusty roofs

Sleep eludes them
No comfort, no shelter, only grief of buried lives
And fear of another storm

Sleep eludes us
As sadness engulfs.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Bliss of Getting There

The whole point of traveling is to get “there.” Not for me, especially when I’m on my way to Bukidnon! The travel is as much a joy as the destination point. I always get refreshed from the four-hour (by bus) or three-hour (by private transport) travel just staring out at the wide open spaces, brilliant blue skies, rolling hills in different shades of green and the awesome mountains.

One of things that always come to mind as I take that scenic route to Bukidnon is, “The people who live here are sooo lucky!” But what I always see when I look out the bus window, are people seemingly blasé about the view from their windows (a view that would actually beat any ol’ calendar picture). In fact, many of them can be found hanging around by the side of the road, looking out to buses and cars that pass by, instead of staring out at the green expanse behind ironic is that!

But I guess too much of a good thing leads to boredom…and too little of a good thing leads to giddiness (when faced with the good things).

And I guess the oohhs and the aaahhs that come out of me are simply because staying in Manila meant I only get to “admire” soot-blackened, run-down buildings, murky grey skies and cramp spaces.

But if that makes me more appreciative of God’s creation—far from being blasé, then I guess staying in Manila has its benefits…I know, I know it’s a warped way of looking at the bright side, but hey, I have to find some good out of staying in Manila...instead of Bukidnon.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Will I or Won't I Miss My Flight?

I started the year missing a flight. I rushed to the airport in January to catch the morning flight back to Manila...and found out when I was at the counter that my flight was yesterday.

Middle of the year, I was dawdling around Changi Airport in Singapore and happened to check my flight sched then made a mad rush to the departure lounge (see one of my previous blog entries) thinking I was going to miss my flight again! I didn't...just read my boarding time wrong...can't get those military time computed right..duh!

Coming back to Manila from Davao first week of November, I only realized the night before that my flight was three hours earlier than I almost missed flight! Good thing a friend who knew about my January blooper texted me and teased me about checking my flight sched the night before...

Now am all packed up and psyched up to fly home to Davao from Manila this afternoon via Cebu Pacific. And what do you know, the typhoon that's bashing Southern Luzon big time is heading north! Flights with PAL and smaller aircrafts have already been of all days.

I seem to pick up a pattern here...

Will I miss this flight? Will see...

PS. I did make it home..Hurray! :)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Of Personalities and Temperaments

A couple of weeks ago, I joined a training where we took a Myers Briggs personality test. I’ve done that a couple of times in the past and have already known I was an “E” as in extroverted (why else would I choose to blog rather than write on a paper journal?!) but forgot the rest.

Well, now I’m reminded: I’m an ENTJ.

E means Extroverted. No surprise there! Though this doesn’t mean that I need to always be around people…I still long for “alone” times, moments when I can be my own person and not have to worry about the needs or cares of others, moments when I can just spend time with myself and my thoughts.

N means iNtuitive, that is someone who sees the forest and not just the trees. I know the value of details…as long as they lead to a bigger picture, or a valid point. The material we were given also says it is someone who tends to “work in bursts of energy powered by enthusiasm with slack periods in between.” Hah! That sounds exactly like me.

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T means Thinking. I do get accused of analyzing things too much. Although the material says Thinking people tend to “hurt people’s feelings without knowing,” I would like to think that my extroverted nature balances this off with an awareness of people’s reactions and feelings. I may fumble a bit with diplomacy…but not for lack of trying!

J means Judging—but not the way people use the term! Judging types are people who tend to be satisfied only once a decision or judgment is made. It also says that Judging types tend to “decide things too quickly”...and with the number of “ooops” I have committed in my life, I guess that’s very true!

On the whole it might sound pretty intimidating but I wonder, really, if this is the true me…I wonder too if, aside from the “E,” the NTJ are only because I‘m an E?? That is, could the rest of my personality be because I am externally motivated? Maybe I do have a alter ego! What I do know is that if I’ve no responsibilities, I could be a really good bum, one who might actually make it to the Guinness Book of World Records for spending the longest number of hours watching TV…a professional couch potato! Oh, wow, that may sound pathetic so I’m really thankful I have friends who will make sure this won’t happen…sigh!

What’s yours? Check your personality type out!

Friday, November 17, 2006


Move over, Ethan Hunt!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

La Vida Loca!

When I went to Singapore to study some years ago, the first letter I got from home was from a guy friend, and he wrote:

“I actually was planning to court you, but I had a hard time keeping track of where you were, so I finally gave up…”

In one of the places I’ve stayed for a couple of years, which I am hardly ever in, the caretaker jokingly asked me once when I came home,

“Why are you home?”

Last week, while I was in the middle of a messy bedroom, with clothes and other stuff strewn all over the place, figuring out what to put into my luggage, my sister-in-law came in and asked,

“Are you coming or going?”

Story of my life.

Since graduating from college, I've never spent more than three years in one place. And when I do stay in one place, I end up traveling so much I’m hardly ever home!

People who wander into my bedroom or office would notice one thing: it has no personal touch. A good friend has set me straight since, “…make yourself at home wherever you are! Don’t let it look like a hotel or an anonymous workplace! No wonder you are stressed can you relax if you don’t feel at home?” The proof that I have indeed followed this advice is the number of plants I have sent to heaven.

Am I complaining? No way! This gypsy life may have had its “dire” consequences and inconveniences, like maybe losing a potential husband to someone else (Hah!)and losing stuff as I move from place to place (I have yet to master the art of photo on the left shows). But no regrets.

This life has brought me to places I've never dreamed I'd go to, given me experiences so exciting that I wouldn’t mind going through them again and brought me into relationships that are more precious than any material thing I can think of.

Next year, I might just move again. Now if only I can work out how to pack…

Thursday, November 02, 2006

25 Personal Questions To Muddle Your Heart and Mind With

...and everyone on my blogroll is tagged!

1. What would the title of your autobiography be?
Square Peg in a Round Hole: How to Fit in and Still be Unique

2 Which actress would best play you in the film of your life?
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Zhang Ziyi (ahem.)

3 If you were a country, which one would you be?
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Still the Philippines!

4 If your philosophy in life could be summarized on a car sticker, what would it say?
Love Life!

5 If you could choose your own nickname, what would it be?

6 If people used your name as a verb, what would it be for? (as in he did a sarah last weekend)
Making a witty comeback

7 If you had your 15 minutes of fame, what would it be for?
Writing a Revolutionary Children’s Book that will inspire kids everywhere to reach out to people, whatever color their skin is.

8 If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Eowyn of the Lord of the Rings

9 What three qualities in a man would be essential for him to quality as the love of your life?
An Analytical Mind

10 Which TV character do you most identify with?
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting None, though I most admire Jack Bauer of 24

11 How would you describe yourself in a lonely hearts ad?
I won't put an ad there in the first place...

12 If you could be an animal, what creature would be?
A cross between a cat and a dolphin

13 In what era do you belong?

80’s (sans the fashion!)

14 When someone asks you, What do you do? What would you like to be able to say?
I am a host of a travel show.

15 Which fashion designer epitomizes your sense of style?
Calvin Klein

16 What car would you be?
The Old Volkswagen Beetle

17 What season is most like you?

18 Where are you in life’s swimming pool? In the deep or shallow end, floating, sinking, on the diving board or in the changing room?
Either floating on the deep end or on the diving board

19 What song sums you up best?
“Jesus Loves Me, This I Know”

20 What flower would you be?
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Sunflower

21 What are your 3 best qualities?
Making people laugh
Putting stuff into words

22 What 3 words would your detractors use about you? What 3 words would your friends use about you? Who do you agree with?
Detractors might say: Too Direct; Too Quick to Judge; Emotional
Friends might say: Honest, Reliable, Loyal
I agree with everyone of them.

23 Which of the 7 deadly sins are you most likely to commit?
Glutonny! Help!

24 What famous person, past or present, would most enjoy your company?
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Gary Valenciano...and I hope he gets to read this!

25 When & where were you the happiest you've ever been in your life?
Early 90’s, while working at an Indochinese Refugee Camp in Bataan, Northern Philippines.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Marang, Bay!

What’s that smell?

Whoa! there it is again! Whew!

What other fruit would give such a strong olfactory impression other than the (in)famous durian? Everywhere you go now in Davao, and many other cities in Mindanao, you see them precariously piled high in all their thorny splendour. If the aroma is not a scent to behold for you, then maybe the sight does! Not many fruits look as interesting as a durian—and that’s why it gets a lot of attention--and loyalty from fellow Mindanaoans.

So, I am afraid that I have been subjected to much persecution because I dare to admit that I don’t eat durian. I like Marang better—that declaration should be enough to assure people that I am still very much a true blue Mindanaoan, but no, sir, it doesn’t!

I don’t understand why the lowly Marang is overlooked and underrated. Hey if you give the Marang a chance, you’ll realize that it has better qualities than the overrated durian!

Firstly, its just as odd-looking as the durian but not as harmful. If you accidentally drop a Marang on your foot, you’ll be a bit sticky but you’re okey--but if it’s a durian….(never mind, don’t want to get into too much gore here.)

Secondly, its aroma is definitely not going to make you wrinkle your nose or (to some others) violently sick. Its mild scent invites people to come and savor it, unlike the durian who boldly proclaims its aroma (or odor, depends who’s smelling) but delivers quite a different taste.

Thirdly, check out its mild, sweet taste! Why go for the bitter zing when life’s already giving you heaps of that? Just let the Marang's sweet taste melt in your mouth and you’re in 7th heaven.

Fourthly, with Marang, nobody’s going to run away when you suddenly burp! While the durian has been known to break up marriages…(alright! temporarily, at least..!)

May the Marang get better press from now on, it deserves the honor!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Where I Lay My Head

*written October 11 in GenSan

I just woke up from the third bed I’ve slept in since I came to Gen San 7 days ago…another new bed, well-slept. If I were asked to count how many beds I’ve slept in since I left home to work, I would never be able to tell!

My six-month stay in Thailand a couple of years ago is pretty much a description of my life: wandering from one place to another by plane, train, tuktuk and car and sleeping in a grand total of 36 beds.

I’ve slept on a rock-hard mattress on the floor, on a lopsided bed ready to collapse anytime, on an upper bunk of a very shaky bunk bed (look ma, no railings!), on a rickety bed of a chugging train, in a sleeping bag on a breezy bamboo floor, on a lovely, firm queen-sized bed. I’ve slept on a bed with a bat hanging upside down above it. I’ve slept on a bed possessively claimed by the owner’s cat. I’ve slept on a bed with a lizard crawling up my leg in the middle of the night.

Having slept on so many beds, you’d think I can sleep well anywhere. How I wish that were true! The thing is, along with the different beds, comes different situations, different conditions and so, different sleep.

In all this time, I can only remember one particular bed on which I not only had wonderful, deep restful sleep, but also the most fantastic Technicolor dreams that leave me with a wonderful feeling when I woke up! I told my host this and she said that she prays over her guest room—that the Lord will grant anyone who uses that room good, restful sleep. Isn’t that a wonderful thing! But then, that was just for three days...and then I had to move on to another city, and another bed.

It must be nice to sleep on just one comfortable, sturdy, queen-sized bed for the rest of your life—a bed I can often come home to---my own. A bed I can dream dreams in, a bed I can lie down on happily falling asleep as I see my dreams fulfilled. A bed that I can fall asleep crying on, like a close friend’s shoulder and wake up comforted. There’s no one bed who has seen me through all my good and bad days—no bed I have shared lots of memories with.

Interestingly, one Man had it worse! He said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”( Matthew 8:20)

Not an easy thing, to follow such a Master. But I am looking forward to one day having my own bed, enjoying good rest and the Master’s presence forever.

Friday, October 13, 2006

That Off Line Feeling

I'm hanging out at my aunt's place in Gen San the past two days and its been pretty laid back, just the pace I like my vacations to be. But what was really curious was my reaction when I found out they had DSL!

You see, I had been in Gen San for about a week already, but the first few days, I was holding a workshop and staying in a place where the outside world was only accessible either by my cellphone or by tricycle. When my hosts mentioned this, I was quite cool about it. In fact, I thought, this would be great since it will give me a chance to just disconnect and focus on the workshop plus throw in some retreat time for myself. Well, the 4-day stay went quickly enough and I was pretty proud of myself for staying nonchalantly disconnected all that time.

Until I got to my Aunt's place...with the workshop done and nothing else to focus on but thoughts of next week's work schedule...I started to get that "I-must-get-on-line" feeling. I wondered when the twicthy feeling would pass since I was almost positive that I would have to stay off-line for a few more days--since I assumed that my Aunt didnt know a thing about going on line--until I saw their computer and my cousin typing away on it...and ventured to ask the all-important question, "Do you have DSL?"

The feeling I had must be similar to that of a coke addict finally taking a hit after days of trying to stay clean...hmmm...not a pleasant comparison, but I have to admit that this has become sort of an addiction. Sigh.

So here I am on-line, relief flowing through my veins as I checked my inbox and answered all the important(?) emails. I had thought I would simply spend my time at my aunt's place resting and enjoying "other stuff" that being off line would bring me. So I am not sure this is a good thing...being on line that is.

I hope I can go off-line after this...though I would'nt bet on it...would somebody please start a webaholic anonymous group???? On line???

Thursday, October 05, 2006


“Di tsai iya ba kung asa ang pinakalami nga restaurant dito sa Davao?”
“Ay, hindi ko baya alam, better siguro kung di khi m’ng Bebbs na lang.”

If you are not a Cebuano-speaking, Davao-born Chinese, you would be scratching your head, wondering what the above gibberish is all about. You might be able to guess part of it, but would be hard pressed to figure what language it is exactly.

Well, there’s no name to it, but just to say that the above exchange is a concoction of 4 languages: Hokkien, Cebuano, English, Tagalog. It can get more complicated than that, depending on who you talk to, what region you are in and what context.

I guess if you are an overseas born whatever—Chinese, Indian, Filipino…etc. etc., you’d end up becoming as linguistically mixed up as I am. People are so impressed that I speak 5 or so languages (throw in Cantonese to the above list)...what they don’t realize is that I am a jill-of-all-trades but a mistress of none: I am not fluent in any of them!

To my shame, I can only say that the language I am most comfortable with speaking and writing in, is English. Shame because that shouldn’t be…my ethnicity is Cantonese Chinese, so why can’t I be identified as such in my speech?

But the world has grown much more complicated than that.

Globalization has done a lot of good things for the world, but then it also has its setbacks…like producing mixed-up people (yours truly as Exhibit A) who don’t exactly know who they are, and where they belong.

Finding my center in Christ has been a real relief for me—this has helped me celebrate instead of denigrate my uniquely blended identity (and embrace the eccentricities that come with it!). His truth has somehow helped me identify and (try to) live out the best of who I am….obviously a lot of tweaking is still called for, but I am thankful that He has given me an identity that I can hold on to.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Locker Room Wisdom

The only thing I had expected to gain from going to the gym was fitness. Little did I realize that there was much more to gain, like advices you get or overhear in the locker room. Some are wacky, some ironic, some true but all are interesting, to say the least. Here’s some I’ve picked up…(you supply the comments)

1. To gain your ideal weight, eat only meat buns for one whole week.
2. The best (and cheapest) steak in town is just a block away from the gym (tip from one of the gym instructors).
3. Instead of eating chocolates when you’re hungry, try bananas.
4. Exercise more so your husband won’t go looking for another woman.
5. You must look stylish while you exercise…buy these exercise costumes from me!
6. When you exercise a lot, you’ll be so addicted to it that you'll look for it everyday.
7. Gym instructors usually punish you on Mondays with high impact exercises for your lazy, pig-out weekends.
8. Manang (Big Sister) Alma, the cleaning lady, sells the best bibingka (rice cakes).
9. The thin ones are often addicted to exercise...the fat ones have to drag themselves to the gym!
10. You must wear bras with maximum support if you are going to jump up and down at aero!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Born Yesterday(?)

This morning, I woke up to the sound of my cellphone’s robotic text tone. Trying to clear the sleep fog from my brain, I checked the message and boy, did the message zap the fog away fast!

“PHIL. CHARITY FOUNDATION inform (sic) that ur CELPHONE NO# had won (800,000.00) During our 50th annvrsry text ur NME, AGE& ADDS. 4MORE INFO, CAL NOW, REY T. OSMENA. +639286087535”

Whoa! Brain jumpstarts….
Hmmm…Brain starts whirring…
Oh…Brain realizes that owner of brain is not born yesterday…
Yeah, right…Brain snickers…
Duh! Brain wonders if people actually believe is kind of baloney…

But after that less than 30-second-knee-jerk cerebral processing, I began to wonder again, but what if…?

As they say, there’s a sucker born every minute…I don’t consider myself one, but in this case, I decided there’s no harm checking this one out, but not by replying to Rey T. Osmena and thereby biting the bait. I texted my dear lawyer-friend and got her reply:

“That’s a hoax. Call PCSO and ask if there is such a foundation and promo.”

Well, for a minute I began fantasizing on what to do with 800,000.00.. the currency was indicated, so I started wondering…

Yen? Yikes, hope not…
Peso? Hmmm, okey lang
US Dollars? Hmmm….wish wish…
British Pound? Hmmm….Yes! Yes!

Oh, well…no harm done. But I wonder about others who’ve been suckered into this scam…I wonder how much they ended up losing.

Well, to Rey T. Osmena, (or whoever you are using somebody else’s name), you will definitely reap what you sow.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Beware of Korean Dramas!!

Since I’ve been based in Davao for the past three months, I have spent my bonding times with mom watching Korean dramas on DVDs. I have had friends tell me that they are addictive, and that they have great plots. Since I have never really been a soap fan, I never bothered to check out how true (or false) my friends’ claims were.

And then I came home to a mom who's on a self-imposed retirement—and filling most of her time watching Korean soaps (the DVDs are faithfully supplied by her friendly suki Abdul in downtown Davao). So how do I bond with her when her eyes seldom stray from the TV???

The first one I watched with her was a weepy one called ‘Spring Waltz.’ It just happened that I liked it and got really hooked—even to the point of enduring the really dragging parts of the soap.

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The English subtitles were impressive on the first half…so by the time the English went from bad to undecipherable, I was already far too emotionally involved with the romance of Eun Jung and Jae Ha to break away. But since the weepy tale did have a good plot, good-looking actors (a must for me, after all, this kind of stuff is supposed to be escapism, right??) and it ended happily, nobody had to stick a gun on my head to get me started on the next Korean soap.

That’s how it started to get frustrating.

The next one was 16 dragging, weepy episodes long (my mom cried at every episode) and, que horror! the lovers both died at the end!! Argggghhhh!!! How could the producers of the show be so sadistic as to pull my emotions up and down like a yoyo through 16 episodes only to send me crashing at the end?!

Because I am an idiot, I allowed myself to be conned one more time. I found myself shattered, yet again, when the heroine died on me, leaving me dismayed at having to cope with another tragic end!

So this is a word of caution to all of you who are still on the verge of getting hooked—if you don’t want to fall prey to sadistic Korean directors, check out the ending first!!!

Ok, I think I’d better get back to having a life now…

PS. Check out Super Rookie though, it’s funny, has superb English subtitles, the lead actors are good looking, and most importantly…it has a happy ending!

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PPS. At least I got to bond very well with mom…and this is still my (best) excuse for watching Korean dramas…

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Cherish, Dont Cling

In the past three months, I saw:
My laptop crashing.
My eyeglasses snap.
My wristwatch break.
My thumbdrive not working.

Weird that all of them should go, one after the other. In a span of a few months. For every object that broke, I kept saying to myself, these are just “things.” There’s more to life than “things.”

Knowing this has not kept me from feeling ticked off, to say the least. It’s not just that they happened one after the other, or that this has set me back financially—big time, but it's more the sentiments I’ve attached to these things. Each one has a special reason for being bought, and as I use them, memories pile up to make each thing more valuable than the price I paid for them.

I can choose to go on and feel miserable about it—hey, its fun to wallow in self-pity. But I have a life. So I choose to move on. I realize that these things could’ve been broken relationships, friends who’ve moved, or dear ones who’ve left this life. I’ve had my share of these as well…and I chose to move on as well.

But I have been learned somewhere along my journey, to
Cherish…family, friends, memories, things with special meaning, and not cling on to them, instead, cling on to…God’s Word, His love and His promises.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Cheers to the Greatest TV Show on Earth! You deserve the Emmys!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Thoughts of Heaven

How would you feel if you were told that you only have 5 days to live?

That happened to a friend’s friend. And as we prayed for her, I felt, in a very strange way, an overwhelming sense of excitement. A bit twisted of me to think this… I guess it sounds twisted to those who are left behind, they will feel the pain of loss. The one who has left would interestingly, will feel the pleasure of gaining a face to face meeting with the glorious Maker…for eternity!

Even with all of what this life has to offer, it cannot compare with what life would be in the Great Beyond.

What if I was the one hit with cancer and told that I only had a couple of days left? I was reeling a bit at the thought of getting off this life-train and entering the pearly gates, but not with terror but with thrill. But then again, this is all hypothetical. I might feel a bit differently when the time comes to meet my Maker.

But let’s just say this would happen..

Let me see…things I would miss when I get to heaven would be…a friend’s shoulder when I need one to cry on, a warm shower after coming in drenched from the rain, a hot cup of coffee that blasts away the leftover sleepiness in the morning, my mom’s home cooking after having to eat commercial junk while living alone in Manila, a good belly-aching laugh after a really stressful day, a sense of wonder seeing how God miraculously provides after I lose something…

It’s all the “bad” stuff that makes the “good” stuff even better. I guess that is what makes this life “fun” to live: the good stuff that is so much appreciated because of the bad ones that happen.

In heaven, there won’t be any bad stuff that would help me appreciate the good ones. But by then, I guess it won’t matter anyway, I’d be too awed by all the good stuff to even think of anything else.

“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be his people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear form their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…(Rev. 21:3-4)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Color Blind

I spent one lazy afternoon watching a romantic comedy on DVD called Guess Who which was about the snags of a cross-racial relationship (ie. white man and black woman). As I snickered at the hilarious antics of the black dad and his daughter’s white boyfriend, my niece, Nikka came in and out of the bedroom, glancing once in a while at the movie.

At one point, she stopped and stared at a scene and asked, “Why is the dad angry with that man?” I absently replied, “Oh, he doesn’t want that man to marry his daughter.” She puzzled over the scene of the dark-skinned father-daughter pair with the sparkling white boy sandwiched between them, and wondered out loud, “Why doesn’t he like the boy?”

Out of the mouth of babes.

I would have thought it was obvious just by looking at the stark contrast of skin colors...until I realized I was talking to a child. Nikka, at age 8, is still color blind. She still doesn’t have the grown ups’ tendencies of judging people by their externals.

How amazingly peaceful the world would be if we have not allowed the innocence of childhood to be polluted by the so-called wisdom of adulthood.

That short exchange with my niece forced me to look into myself: How "un-colorblind" am I? Do I size people up by what I physically see? Do I treat people differently simply because their skin colors are shades darker (or lighter) than mine?

A few days later, I watched another movie. It was also a color-themed movie but with a darker tone: Crash. The movie centered on two tumultuous days in the lives of certain individuals in Los Angeles, where the color of one’s skin becomes the trigger for the tumult. In some sense, it was painful to watch that movie as it depicts, in an “in your face” way, how all of us have a bit of racism coursing through our blood.

The tagline of the movie was “You think you know who you are. You have no idea.” Indeed.

We may not exhibit our racism in violent ways but it is there, just below the surface, waiting or something or someone to trigger it. Can we ever really return to the innocence of childhood and gain back the gift of colorblindness?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My Boyfriend CK

I realize I will be eating my words with this blog, but the flash of inspiration I’ve had while riding the bus home just was too hard to resist. So, here goes…

I have decided to take the risk of naming my laptop. I know that taking this new “relationship” to the next level means more emotional investment on my part…but I’m hoping that this will help me move on from grieving over my iBook, which still holds a special place in my heart (which goes to show that NOT naming it didn’t make it easier to cope with the loss…sniff, sniff.)

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you: “CK.” Nope, not for Calvin Klein since I’m not really a fashionista…but Clark Kent! Why Clark Kent? Well, it flew in to save me when my iBook crashed, just when Superman was (and still is) all the rage. My laptop has a bit of the “superman” feel to it with its handsome steely look and sturdy feel.

So why CK and not Superman? Well—it’s simple, I would like to go for some subtlety with a dash of style. I realize that unlike the real guy, this one isn’t bulletproof and won’t be able to leap tall buildings but I do hope it will love me as much as Superman loves Lois Lane…sigh!

Now to make sure there’s no Lex Luthor or kryptonite around…

Thursday, July 06, 2006

On Goodbyes and Hellos

I looked at this dear couple whom I have come to know and love for the past 6 years, and felt a lump form on my throat. This evening could be the last time I’ll ever see them. They are leaving for their home country soon.

I’ve never bothered to keep track of how many times I‘ve said goodbye. And at the rate I’m going, I don’t think I can anyway.

But saying it often doesn’t make it any easier, obviously. It actually makes it harder.

In saying goodbye, I realize how much power we give to people when we say, “hello,” and open our hearts to them in friendship. In so doing, we give others the power to hurt us even if they don’t mean to, like when they say goodbye.

I wonder sometimes why I bother to open myself up to hurts. Why not just keep people at arm’s length and protect my heart from wear and tear?

Then again, what’s life about if not about the rich experiences with people around us? The things we learn about life, love, joy, tragedy are all in the context of relationships. Life without relationships is not a still, peaceful pond but a stagnant, murky cesspool.

I think I’ll choose to risk the hurts that goodbyes bring for the joys that I glean from the relationships. Anyway, one day soon, we’ll meet in the eternal hereafter and never have to say goodbye again.

‘Til then, I guess we just have to move on, cherishing the memories goodbyes leave behind and embracing each “hello" that comes our way.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Airport Blooper

I consider myself a semi-seasoned traveller. You would think that being in and out of several Asian airports would make figuring out the ETD a piece of cake..BUZZ! Wrong!

I had just breezed though the check in counter and immigration. I gleefully received some money back as tax refund for the computer and software I bought. I also got a nice tote bag full of freebies since I happen to be flying on the 25th birthday of Singapore's Changi Airport.

What perks, I thought as I counted the money I got for my refund. The I checked my boarding pass which says boarding gate closes 10 minutes before flight, then I checked my ticket and did my maths and thought Omigosh! I have 20 minutes left before boarding!!

So I tried to figure out all the signs and decided where Gate E4 was. Halfway down the great long hall, I checked the gates...E22....E24....E25...E26....It took a few more gates down the hall for me to realize I was going down the wrong hall. (Duh)

So after a quick u-turn, I careened down the hall filled with travellers going the other direction (THEY got their directions right!). With my hand carry stuff rattling on the cart, I sped off....

When I got to gate E4, it was closed and after a momentary panic, I noticed the row of bored passengers outside the gate, throwing puzzled looks at me as I tried to catch my breathe and wiped the beads of sweat on my forehead, then realized...ooops...I was one hour early (ie. boarding was 145, that is 1330 and not 1230 as I thought.) *blush*blush*

So I guess there's no sense in me faking that bored air of a seasoned traveller.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sleepless in Singapore

It' almost 2am in Singapore and I'm in front of my laptop furiously finishing a report for my work in Manila. And since I am blogging, it means I am obviously not "working." Why so? Well, I need to get through my grief process. You see, my Mac died on me the first night I flew in to Singapore (a week ago). That's a Mac iBook G3. My shiny white handsome companion for the past three years. I had budgeted for it to last me 5 years and I had high hopes that this would be the case, since I have been told Macs never crash. So much for a committed long-term relationship. Sigh.

When I walked back to the guesthouse after being told this bad news by the lady at the Mac Clinic, I was emotionally numb. Carrying my Mac in my backpack and walking past shop windows along Orchard Road, I stared stupidly at myself and thought I looked good. I walked on and thought what a good thing I brought my umbrella as I felt a light drizzle. I was numb. Funny how the Lord makes us numb when "tragedy" hits us...maybe that's His way of administering anaesthesia to my poor pained soul.

Then I thought hit me..hmm...good thing I wasn't able to name my iBook, that would have made its dying more painful! When I got back to my room, I put the shiny white iBook on the table and decided to press the power button and see what happens. After trying gazillions of times (probably my way of working through my grief), it did a Lazarus! It blinked on for a while and allowed me to go and save my personal files (yes, I admit to the sheer stupidity of not backing up files!! At least the personal ones...) After that, it came on again a few more times (after pressing the power button another gazillion of times). It's fierce grinding noise as it came on convinced to me that it was in the throes of death. Maybe coming on was its way of saying goodbye to me.

I don't have much time to grieve, not with work breathing down my neck. So I was off to Funan Centre and Sim Lim Square to find a new PC (I will be declaring bankruptcy very soon...) when my iBook was pronounced clinically dead. After much asking around and pretending I understood what the salesman was saying about RAM, DVD Multilayers, blah blah, blah, I decided to go back to PC. I would have given Mac and Steve Jobs a second chance to prove themselves but they didn't have stock. As Singaporeans would say, "What to do, lah!"

So I am now in front of my Toshiba laptop, and able to thank God that my iBook died on me while Singapore is in sale season, thus able to get a Toshiba at an incredibly low price (plus rebate) that I would never be able to get in the Philippines. This eased my grieving a bit. But am now a little bit more cautious about developing a personal relationship with machines. So I don't think I will be naming this one...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Glimpses of Paradise

Manila. The mere mention of the name conjures up images of smog, trash, beggars, crime, traffic and all things negative. No wonder we see more and more people leaving Manila for either Western countries (read: clean and modern) or smaller towns (read: clean and safe).

I have yet to meet anyone who would admit to enjoying Manila living. I wouldn’t admit to that myself! Yet there are certain things that has made living in Manila bearable, and even fun.

Amidst the dirt and grime, if you look hard enough, you can see glimpses of paradise.

*On the daily commute:
a. Observe how you can confidently pass your jeepney fare from one passenger to the next and have it reach the driver even if you are sitting on the farthest spot.
b. Observe how, when you have a seemingly deaf driver, everyone helps you scream “para” when the driver zooms pass the spot you’re suppose to get down.
c. Observe how everyone helps bring the little old lady’s heavy basket into the jeep so she doesn’t have to struggle getting on the jeep and struggling with her heavy purchases at the same time.
d. Observe how drivers sometimes crack jokes at each other while trying to beat each other to the next stop.
e. Observe how many funny incidents you’ve experienced from your daily commutes.

*In your neighborhood:
a. Observe how you can still swap stories with your neighbor who sells yummy (and cheap) breakfast and lunch meals.
b. Observe how people can often patiently endure hellishly awful karaoke singing by obnoxious neighbors. (although I’ve heard of tragic endings that befall those who insist on singing ‘I Did It My Way.’)
c. Observe how children play with the simplest of toys with glee—hardly annoyed that they are robbed of the right to a proper playground.

*On the streets:
a. Observe how you can still find somebody who would gladly share their umbrella when you’re caught in a sudden downpour.
b. Observe how you can still find concerned citizens who will tell you to zip up your bag when you’ve forgotten to do so, and thus save you from pickpockets.

There could be more one can add to the list. Glimpses of paradise, touches of God’s grace---helping us endure the harsh realities of living in Manila.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Top Ten "Ickiest" Remarks Made to Singles

If you want your single friends to cringe..these are the Top Ten Comments to make...(and suggested answers for singles):

1. Don’t be too choosey!
(Hmm…shouldn’t I be, since we’re talking about “till death do us part?”)

2. There’s somebody I want you to meet…
(Psycho music plays..)

3. You should put on more make up and dress up more…
(If we should look like Barbie, how come they don’t look like Ken?)

4. You’re too smart, guys might get intimidated.

5. You don’t pray hard enough.
(Gee…maybe I should also fast for 40 days…)

6. Don’t worry..just wait, the right guy will come...
(I might die if I hold my breathe too long..!)

7. Go out more often, maybe you’ll find somebody.
(Que horror! I didn’t know I look like I live in a cave!)

8. Hey, your younger brother got married before you did!
(If I knew it was a race, I would’ve grabbed the first guy I saw on the street and dragged him to the altar before my bro beat me to it!)

9. How about him?
(Psycho music gets louder.)

10. You should go and catch the bouquet!

To all singles (and married folks), carpe diem!
This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. Amen.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Missing Him

“I miss you.”

Three good friends sent me this same message today: by text message, by YM and by email. Such heartwarming words. Yet in them is a taste of both the sweet and the bitter.

These words have in them a sense of…
Longing to touch, to see, to talk or to simply BE with another.
Wishing that another is with you as you walk through certain patches in your life.
Frustration that a dear one is not within grasp or hugging distance.

I miss my friends, too, in varying degrees, in different occasions. There are days I wish I could gather all my friends together for a tight group hug that would squeeze away pain, sadness, loneliness and self-pity, and infuse joy, togetherness, peace, and faith.

In this imperfect world, that couldn’t happen. So it eases the frustration just to know that ‘I miss you” can also mean
becoming an important part of someone’s life.
being appreciated.
being longed for
being held dear.
being loved.

There’s One Person I have missed every single day since He made Himself known to me.

Glimpses of Him in His love letters strengthens my resolve to trudge on through rough patches.
The brush of His loving fingers on my cheek in the warm summer wind lightens my spirit.
His tight embrace through the arms of a friend assures His healing comfort in grief.

Still I miss Him. I long to see Him, to stare into His keen, loving eyes, clasp His hands and feel the scars against my palm. I long to lean my brow on His, feel the warmth of His presence near me and simply Be with Him.

Miracle of miracles, He misses me too. So much so that He won’t allow anything to stand in the way of my journey to get to Him. Every obstacle I face, I push away with His strength and walk on. Every time I am down, He buoys me up with His love.

The day when I finally see Him will definitely come.
My friends will be there as well.
We will all be together.
We won’t miss each other anymore.

I won’t miss Him anymore.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mom's The Word

Ours is not a Hallmark Card-type family. Meaning, we don’t smile at each other goofily, hug each other and say, “I love you” every 30 seconds. (Yikes. I’d consider that type to be on the other end of the dynsfunctionality continuum!!)

If I start going Hall-marky on my family members, they’d most probably think I’m dying or have gone bonkers. I’d feel the same if they did that to me.

Before you start thinking we’re a heap of cold fish, I would have you know that I can go “Hall-marky” to friends who are into it. It all depends on the cultural norms of the relationship I am in.

But before I get carried away with that stuff (hmmm….this topic merits a lengthy blog), I’d just like to talk about my mom. As I said, we weren’t brought up amongst sunshine and roses. There were lots of things that happened when I was a kid that scarred me—but who doesn’t have childhood scars?

I credit my mom for bringing us up well despite the scars.

She was a tower of strength in tough times, yet she taught us not to lean on her so much that we become weak and spineless.

She made sure our wants and needs are provided for, forsaking her own, yet not so much as to make us giddy and greedy over worldly excesses.

She disciplines us when we misbehave, but just enough for us to know our boundaries and not so much that she breaks our spirit.

She cares for us when we were sick, but doesn’t fuss over us so much so that we become soft and whiney.

Mom is the only daughter of Chinese immigrants who came to make a new life in the Philippines many years ago. Her own childhood was empty of gentility and creature comforts. Rough was a word they lived by. All these toughened her spirit, but thankfully, not her heart.

I remember sharing a box of tissues with her over soppy movies. I also remember her being concerned for strangers even over small things, like when an old lady was at a loss on where to line up to buy food in a cafeteria. I also remember her going out of her way to act as peacemaker over many a family mess (hers or a friend’s).

Our house will never make it to the cover of Martha Stewart Living. There are stacks of magazines and newspapers piled high on certain strategic corners of the house—a sign that my mom has not gotten over her hoarding tendencies probably developed during her tough childhood days. The kitchen wall has a stain of oil splattered on it— a sign of the many delicious Cantonese dishes she’s whipped up for us. The curtains in the living room don’t match the sofa’s upholstery—a sign that she is more concerned with the fact that we had curtains and a living room to enjoy!

She’s no paragon of love modeled by silly smiling TV moms who lovingly feed their kids with MSG-smothered instant noodles. (Thank God!) She has shown her love in so many other ways—and the fact that three of us kids grew up relatively level-headed, confident and considerate of others, is enough proof of her love.

This blog would no doubt embarrass her (and me—if she reads it). Thankfully, she doesn’t know (or care!) what hi-tech nonsense a blog is. She’s too busy these days being the doting grandma to my two nieces.

I pray,
for the most unselfish human being I know,
a mom who never considered her own needs, only ours,
that as she now basks in the warm glow of her sunset years,
the Lord will be merciful to her and shower her
with much joy…and love,
no matter how soppy.
She deserves it.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Six Things I Love About the Philippine Summer

1. Fire Trees in Full Bloom—nothing beats the sight of these magnificent trees that boasts of fierce fire-orange blooms. The best summer treat is a super long row of fire trees blazing the way somewhere on the Batangas-Manila route.

2. Halo-Halo- every thought freezes as the ice-cold sweet blend of ice shavings, milk, sweet beans, leche flan, nata de coco, gelatin, ube and ice cream melt deliciously on your mouth.

3. Long days—isn’t it great that you can enjoy an hour more of daylight before the sun sets? Just to delight in being able to find your way home by the sun’s light instead of the weak light of a streetlamp.

4. Children’s laughter—what could cheer one more than kids giggling and playing outside your door early in the morning because school’s out?

5. Dry clothes in a jiffy – what could be more convenient than having your wet laundry, hung up in the morning, dry by early afternoon?

6. Dry streets – what could be easier to walk on than streets free from flooding and mud and muck that rains inevitably bring?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sandpaper People

One of the most interesting relationships in life are those with people who have sandpaper-type personalities. Yes, you guess it, people who are gifted in rubbing others the wrong way.

Like sandpaper, they also have degrees of roughness. Some of them are so rough that people would rather jump in front of a rampaging bus rather than talk to them. Others are mildly rough but irritating enough for people to prefer eating raw garlic, if only to ward them off!

I remember countless times when I mentally winched and groaned in agony at the company of sandpaper people. If I grit my teeth some more, I might have to get dentures to replace my ground-out teeth...and charge the cost to these sandpaper people.

Real sandpaper loses its roughness after much sanding—the problem with a number of the sandpaper people I have come in contact with, they themselves don’t seem to lose their roughness! In fact, they seem blissfully unaware of their effect on people!

The sinner in me would absolutely love to smooth their rough edges by coming up with stinging comebacks like, “Here’s a hundred pesos, maybe you can go rent some poor desperate soul to talk to!” Or “You know, you look like you could win a role in one of those Harry Potter movies!” Or maybe, “We’d really like you to come with us, but we don’t have enough room in the car for your head.” I know they sound cruel—but let him who has never had a cruel thought cross his mind cast the first stone…!

Okey, so I shouldn’t be cruel. What would be a good alternative? Is it to mindlessly, silently chant, “They are good for us…they are good for us..” like a Good Friday penitent who whiplashes himself on the back or like a child being force-fed with liquid cod liver oil (ugh)?

But the Christian side of me, reminded by the grace of Jesus Christ, insists that I do not lash back, but to instead, turn the other cheek. Obviously, easier said than done. One way I have tried to turn the other cheek is to bite my tongue and not allow my homicidal thoughts to get the better of me, but as my anger gets bottled up—it doesn’t fizzle out like a punctured balloon—but waits to burst like a can of thoroughly shakened Coke. Imagine the mess when the can is opened.

I think I've been around long enough to realize that worse than getting hurt by sandpaper people is to have to clean up the mess after a burst of angry words. Contrary to what popular culture advises, revenge only leaves festering wounds and emaciated spirits (on both the sander and the sandee).

So I am striving on another way of dealing with sandpaper people—it’s a process a friend once told me about called Cognitive Reinterpretation, which simply means being positively philosophical when you are at the receiving end of sandpaper comments.

Meaning, instead of waiting for the right time to blow them away to Kingdom come with my own sandpaper-like comeback, I could:

1. …think, maybe they had a bad day.
2. …take the high road, and respond with dignity that is reflective of Christ.
3. …perceive it as God’s way of smoothing my own rough edges.
4. …reexamine my own life…maybe there is some truth in what they said about me and discovering that truth might help me become a better person.
5. …just let it go, life’s too short to be spent bickering and wallowing in anger.
6. …look at it with a dose of humor.
7. …try hard to look for something positive about the other person.
8. …remind myself that Christ was at the receiving end of much worse tongue-lashings.
9. …remind myself that they are as much an image of God as I am, and pray for healing for whatever wounds that torment their souls.
10. …if I have the nerve, follow the Matthew principle and speak the truth in love. If they do not respond, I release the matter to God.

Having done much of item number 4, I realize that my own sandpaper quality can be quite high. I realize I have hurt many people myself with my own brand of 'sanding.' I wish I could claim that my brand of ‘sanding’ is God’s way of smoothing their rough edges, but that would be the height of arrogance and the most pathetic excuse for lashing out.

This may be a worn out cliché, but all through my life as both a sander and sandee, I am deeply grateful that I am under a gracious Father who will lovingly work out my life and give me many “second chances” to smoothen out my many rough edges.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Single Bliss

Friday, April 21, 2006

Confessions of A House Plant Killer

I just killed another potted plant.

As I cleared a pile of files off the top of my office cabinet, a poor little dead houseplant revealed itself behind it. It looked vaguely familiar, then I remembered the robust looking plant my boss gave me a few months back. To brighten up my office, she said.

My officemates snickered knowingly. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they placed bets behind my back on how long before the plant dies.

I wonder how long it had been struggling for survival! The poor thing looked like it had been gasping for water for quite some time before it finally gave up its spirit. But it might not have been THAT long since there was still one tired-looking leaf left that remained green.

After pausing for a moment of silence in respect to the house plant’s demise, I dumped it in the thrash can with a twinge of regret. If only I had been less forgetful! Maybe next time….

Oh well, who am I fooling here?

I believe that what is important to you, you won’t likely forget, whether its an errand, an appointment, a pet or a plant.

Friends tease me and wonder if maybe it’s because I'm too much of a free spirit. That is, not wanting or allowing myself to be bounded by anything—whether it's a responsibility to another person, a plant or a dog.

That really unsettled me. I do fancy myself a free spirit, but I wouldn’t like to think of myself so free as to be irresponsible. As far as I can remember, I very rarely missed appointments, or deadlines.

I go back to my original premise. I think it is a matter of viewing something as important enough to merit attention. Not to say that keeping a spot of greenery in my room is not important—unfortunately, there were other, more important things that distracted me, like appointments and deadlines.

Oh well, keeping a goldfish is now officially out of the question.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Spider Solitaire.
Coke Light.

What do they have in common?

They are my addictions.

With any of the aforementioned games, I have to be mindful of the time spent on them or else I would use up half my waking moments playing, while downing Coke Light or sipping hot coffee. And if I am not careful, the other half of my waking moments would be spent watching TV or doing email, while downing Coke Light or sipping hot coffee.

On the bright side of things, I could be addicted to MORE stuff!

And I thank God I don’t have a TV—so coach potato-ing has become more of an incidental addiction.

Why is it so much easier to be addicted to “bad’ stuff rather than good ones?

Instead of being addicted to chocolates, why can’t we be addicted to vegetables?

Instead of being addicted to watching movies, why can’t we be addicted to helping the poor?

Instead of being addicted to on line games, why cant we be addicted to teaching kids at Sunday School?

Instead of being addicted to gossip, why can’t we be addicted to saying the nicest things to the most unlovable cad?

Wouldn’t this kind of addiction make the world a better, healthier place?

Well, at least, I have one newly-acquired “almost-but-not-quite” addiction that I certainly hope will end up to be a positive one: blogging.

And by the way, I have given up Coke Light…I have switched to Pepsi Max and had just triumphantly tore myself away from playing Bejewelled for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Come and See

Come and see, come and see,
Come and see the King of love;
See the purple robe
And crown of thorns He wears.
Soldiers mock, rulers sneer
As He lifts the cruel cross;
Lone and friendless now,
He climbs towards the hill.

Come and weep, come and mourn
For your sin that pierced Him there;
So much deeper than the wounds
of thorn and nail.
All our pride, all our greed,
All our fallenness and shame;
And the Lord has laid the punishment on Him.

Man of heaven, born to earth
To restore us to Your heaven.
Here we bow in awe
Beneath Your searching eyes.
From Your tears comes our joy,
From Your death our life shall spring;
By Your resurrection power
We shall rise.

We worship at Your feet,
Where wrath and mercy meet,
And a guilty world is washed
By love’s pure stream.
For us He was made sin—
Oh, help me take it in.
Deep wounds of love cry out
‘Father, forgive.’
I worship, I worship
The Lamb who was slain.

-Graham Kendrick

Friday, April 07, 2006

No Cellphone for A Day

“I left my cellphone at home!”

After a thorough combing through of my huge bag where a PDA, a coin purse, a wallet, a make up kit and other knick knacks jostled for space, I came to this realization.

Then came a slight tightening of the chest, a slight shortness of breath, slight blurring of vision, and a slight trembling of hands.

Overreacting? Well, I DID say "slight!”

This wasn’t the first time. But the reaction had not changed (improved?). That sick helpless feeling still trickled down my spine and set my teeth on edge.

“What if there’s an emergency?”
“What if it’s a one-of-a-kind call that shouldn’t be missed?”
‘What if….?”

I realized this right before the workshop I was attending started. So for the first 15 minutes, I stared at the facilitator, his mouth was moving and in my mind’s eye, it seemed like he was saying, “You have a dozen missed calls and a gazillion text messages!!!! Read them! Accept the calls!! Now!!” Aarrrgghh!!

It took a while before I could re-attach my soul to my physical body and really BE at the workshop and not miles away, in my house, beside my bed, where my lonely cellphone is dying for my touch.

To make a long story short, I survived the day. Got home and read four (!) not-so-earth-shaking messages and zero missed calls.

No ego trip here, since my ego just tripped…and fell flat on its face. Hah! As if people’s lives would fall apart just because I can’t reply to their text messages A.S.A.P.! Who's important now?

Anyway, thank God, we don’t need cellphones to get to Him and thank God no human is put in charge of holding the world together in the first place.

Today’s forgetfulness did my soul some good.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My Non-Negotiables (Revised)

As you can see from the title, I have revised this list. After much thought, I realize these are not values in the sense of 'being' or character values (what makes you tick or what ticks you off) but these are aspired operation values, that is, values of 'doing' (how you tick). As for character values, am going on a retreat, so will think through that list and blog them one of these days...meanwhile....this it it! I hope that sharing these will help you think through your own.

Caveat: Some of the operational values listed are already in operation in my life, while others are those I aspire to have and am committed to work on. After all, we are all works in progress, aren’t we?

1. Honest Self-Evaluation--Aware of my imperfections and wanting to always be made aware of my blind spots, I constantly seek to evaluate myself, my actions, my reactions and motives in the light of what blesses people and helps me grow as a person.

2. Liberating Boundaries--I want to rid myself of the “Messiah” complex. I understand and accept my limitations and release matters that are beyond my control to God.

3. Responsible and Strategic Stewardship—My fear is that one day, I will look back to a life full of “if only's.” I seek to wisely manage my time, talents, relationships, resources, and health in the light of what benefits the Kingdom.

4. Synergistic Relationship with God and Man—With an understanding that God is an all-wise, all-knowing Father who wants ultimately what is best for me and for His Kingdom, I constantly strive to know Him more, love Him deeper and seek His counsel in all things.

I also understand that no man is an island. Man thrives and grows in the context of relationships. I seek to learn to love, encourage and bless others—helping them bear fruit for His kingdom.

5. Sense of Humor--Humor has been a healing balm that cured many a heartache. It is a gift from God. I insist on using it. I insist on looking at the lighter side of life…to laugh at myself, laugh with others and be reminded to take myself lightly and take God seriously.

6. Analytical Mindset--Modern society offers many attractive concepts and trends. Some of them seem right superficially, some seem wrong at first glance. I fear finding myself following the Pied Piper and regretting too late. I seek to think through and analyze ideas, concepts and trends in the light of Scripture and God’s character.

7. Apportioning God’s Boundless Grace—I am keenly aware of my own imperfections and know that there will be times when I will fail. Instead of quitting, I unashamedly insist on going on, understanding that God in His grace extends forgiveness and gives second chances to those who fail.

I realize that there are operational values that I am holding on that may not be helpful in my growth as a person--these I have resisted putting into this list. I am symbolically (and hopefully in practice as well) letting go of them.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Conspiracy Against the Carless

As I edge my way to the footbridge after work, I find myself a hair’s breath away from speeding buses and motorcycles. If they swerve just half an inch on my side of the road—well, we will then have to include “humans” somewhere in the definition of roadkill.

If you’re thinking, "Hello! Why don’t you use the sidewalk?” Then, you, dear reader, are obviously not from my beloved motherland, the Philippines. In most streets here, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) deem it more “efficient” for pedestrians to “share” their paths with motorists, food vendors, ukay -ukay entrepreneurs, vulcanizing shops, PLDT and DPWH diggings, carparks for shops and banks, etc etc etc. Sigh.

Anyway, once I get to the footbridge, I prepare for a long climb. For some of us who lead somewhat sedentary lives, this exercise may be welcomed—but I wonder about the old man with a limp who struggles his way up with his cane, or the vegetable vendors who have to heave their carts and goods up the stairs—if you are on a wheelchair, forget about crossing! Because pedestrian crossings, along with traffic lights are fast becoming extinct…all in the name of less traffic, never mind the pedestrian.

When you get on the bus, there is a sign that says, “Sa Fast Lane lang po tayo pag hindi pumayag ang MMDA mag ilalim.” (If MMDA does not allow us to use the underpass, we will have to use the fast (ehem) lane.) Meaning, the bus you ride will have to shoulder its way through millions of other buses that bottleneck at EDSA-Cubao because the underpass is just for private motorists, company vans, and anyone who can afford to take the taxi! Sigh (again).

And please don’t get me started about what the situation is like when there’s a downpour!

Sometimes, I have the blessing of hitching a ride with a “car-red” friend, and as I gaze out to the pedestrians and commuters edging their way down the roads or frantically dodging cars to get to the jeep they want to ride, my heart goes out to them.

Well, there are two good things that come out of this which the anti-carless conspirators can never rob me of:
A. Developing a sympathetic spirit (at least to fellow carless citizens)
B. Deeper understanding of what it means to step out in faith!

So there!

Friday, March 31, 2006

From 12 to 39

“…He has been a missionary in the Philippines for 39 years..”

That statement was understandably followed by muted oohs and ahhs from the audience during the ATS commencement exercises earlier tonight. The person that illicited the murmurs of admiration was Rev. Mike Harrison. Kuya Mike to many of us. He was conferred an honorary doctorate by ATS for his many contributions to Christian ministry all these years. I wrote in my ‘congrats’ card to him, ‘Kuya Mike, you deserve it!’

And deserve it he does.

39 years—that’s like the whole of...uhm…somebody’s life! Well, almost the whole…

39 years—gasp! I myself have been serving full time in Christian ministry for about 12 years—not counting the arduous time in seminary. And already, there are days I feel spent, battle-scarred, tired and almost ready to throw in the towel.

What’s Kuya Mike’s secret? 39 years of service and he doesn’t look anything like how I feel in my 12 years of ministry. He still retains that élan and youthful passion for God that I am sure, compelled him and Ate Betty to Asia all those years ago.

If I can guess correctly, the secret is simply not quitting. Did they ever think of quitting? I actually never got to ask Kuya Mike and Ate Betty that. Maybe they did—maybe they do have times when they felt like throwing in the towel, they just didn’t give in to the feeling.

I would like to believe that like little ol’ me, they did feel that way too…and maybe, like them, I can also consider quitting but not give in to the feeling.

Maybe, like them, I can just hold on to God’s grace and keep on, keep on, and who knows?

Maybe one day, it’ll be 39 years later and I will still be found serving with élan and youthful passion for God, and who knows?

Maybe someday, I will be able to hear people gasp when they find out I have been serving for 39 years, and who knows?

Maybe, this will help them wonder about their own service to God, and maybe they will be encouraged to serve and not quit too…

Thank you, Lord for people like Kuya Mike and Ate Betty...thank you for how You use them to inspire us to continue serving You and not throw in the towel.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Change of Plans

This blog should have debuted two days ago. On my birthday.

I was already sorting through stuff in my brain on what I would write as my very first blog entry. I wanted that blog entry to be one special way of celebrating my birthday.

That didn’t happen. My laptop got sick, the office DSL connection was also down with ‘flu. So for the past five days or so, I was tragically, utterly off line. That set me to thinking in the most clichéd manner, “Why, Lord?? Don’t you want me to blog and bless?!”

Well, I figured, the reason is simple. He wanted me to reflect on one certain truth on my birthday: I have other, better plans for you.

For the past 30+ years, that seemed to be the pattern: He has better plans for me.

I wanted to take up Fine Arts in college—but He had other plans, so I ended up taking Communication Arts—and “discovered” my giftings in the process.

I went to Manila wanting to start a career in Advertising—but He had other plans—I ended up working in a IndoChinese Refugee Camp in Bataan—and “discovered” my potentials.

A closed door here, an open gate there, a nudge to the left and push to the right…all these altered plans have led me to where I am now.

It doesn’t mean I like them all the time. I have my share of heartaches and complaints too. But its been quite a ride. I don’t know what’s going to happen next but am sure it will be way better than how I would have planned it to be.

So on this belated birthday blog, celebrate with me, the fact that an infinitely wiser God always has other, better plans for me, for us.

“For I know the plans I have for you.” Declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah29:11