Friday, December 25, 2009

'Tis the season

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.

Once the first day of December hits the calendars, an unexplainable sense of euphoria and greatness seems to envelope everything. The mere idea of wrapped presents, Christmas stockings, rich chocolates, blinking lights, holiday decorations and work breaks (formerly school breaks) is enough to send me flying to the moon. Moreover, Christmas songs fill homes and streets with the much needed atmosphere of love and good tidings.

This year, however, I welcomed Christmas quite differently. A good kind of different.

Since April 2009, God - the awesome provider - has blessed me with work that has consistently been an opportunity for me to grow in all aspects of my life, especially in financial matters. So for the first time in twenty two years, I was able to buy gifts this Christmas for people I care for using money I earned. I am also very glad that I am continuously able to support my sponsored child since I started working this year (despite the aftermath of calamities and shadows of recession). What a blessing it is to be a blessing to others in this regard!

I may not have a huge bulging sack of presents being pulled by flying reindeer or a factory of toys run by elves over at the North Pole but I believe there's a little bit of Santa in each of us. Even though I've outgrown Santa Claus per se, I'm still a big fan of the big, jolly guy in red. For me, he is more real as Saint Nicholas: a man with an extraordinarily generous heart who lived centuries ago whose story has been an inspiration for both young and old until now. His charitable act is not tough to follow; we all have something to share: time, talent, or treasure. Most importantly, we have the love of Jesus Christ to give to everybody...

Christmas will always be my favorite holiday.

I realize I am no longer a little girl at 22 years old but I am eternally thankful in the truth that I will always be a child of God.

As the holiday season reaches its highlight, I am filled with joy in embracing more closely the belief that 'it is in giving that we receive' (mentioned by St. Francis of Assisi in his prayer). Truly, 'tis the season to be bathed in gratitude for the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. On Christmas day, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us - to envelope us in the eternal love of God.

In giving our lives to God, we receive God Himself into our new lives. God be with us.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

12 B.C.

It 's that time of the year again!

DECEMBER - the month that brings life into a good kind of busy state and a good kind of crazy state.

What do you think prevented me from blogging in a while?

Obviously, the Christmas bug has bitten me very, very hard.

P.S. It's only 12 days Before Christmas!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Find Me

Today closes a full circle of a year that has passed since I came back from a half a year stay with my relatives in the United States. What a year it has been.

Before I left the country in June 2008, I told myself and certain close friends that the trip is going to be the opportunity for 'soul searching' I've always wanted to have. Since the path after college overwhelmingly branched out to so many different directions, I promised myself that I'd take a back road for a while and figure out where I'm headed for in life. I suddenly realized a few days post-graduation that twenty long years didn't seem that long after all. In fact, it passed by a little too quickly than I thought it would.

Six months in a looking glass away from home also flew by much like a breeze passing through a field. I knew I came back the same person but with broader perspectives, stronger convictions, better values, and deeper faith in God. However, the questions I have when I left still remained unanswered even after arriving back in the Philippines. My period of 'soul searching' was finished but I still haven't found what I've been looking for. At the time, I possibly felt more at a loss than ever.

As I began to re-adjust to life at home, I slowly found my place under the sun without being aware of it. It was like being given a second chance in life - a clean slate to start all over again. Now I've come to understand that 'soul searching' doesn't mean you have to isolate yourself to a far away place in order to have an epiphany. It means looking within... for wherever you go, there YOU are. You are the one thing you cannot escape from.

I have come to the conclusion that, indeed, "Home is where the heart is".

I couldn't be more thankful to God for giving me the opportunity to rediscover who I am and who I can be. Life is truly about the journey - going through every experience we face each day with much gusto. The destination is a bonus, an affirmation of what it took the sojourner to get there.

For almost eight months now, I am blessed every single day to be working with kids with special needs at a therapy center in the metropolis [after a whirlwind of serious decision-making]. I am wonderfully blessed to be living my dream of being a catalyst for good change and a positive influence in society. Moreover, I couldn't have asked for a more supportive family and circle of friends.

I am eternally thankful because when God found me, He not only helped me find Him - He also helped me find me.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


My to-read list is growing long... a little too long, in fact, that it's really taking me some time to finish what's "On My Desk" before moving on to the next one. My shelves are also getting filled with reading material faster than you can say, "Book bargain". That's because I buy books faster than I can read them especially if they are on sale. :P

Then I realize this: I can only read so much.

But still... books are my best friends. :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Race and Shine!

This morning, I ran my first ever five kilometer (5K) race at The Fort, Global City: Race and Shine!

I went with co-teachers from ACC and had a very good time although the race briefing and gunstarts for each running distance (15K, 10K, and 5K) were almost an hour late. The breakfast served after the race was simple but delicious. :)

My unofficial time for the race was 43 minutes and 14 seconds! :) I am extremely HAPPY with the results! I thought I would finish the whole run in about an hour more or less as the week wore on until race day but, lo and behold, I finished in less than three quarters of an hour. Alright! I was also able to meet my goal of not stopping for a walk break or water break during the entire five kilometer distance. I was steadily running (or jogging) the whole time. Going to aerokickboxing and dance class really helped with the cardio and breathing. :)

Tweety de Leon-Gonzales and other public figures were present to grace the event as well. It is heartwarming to know that they support the cause behind run.

Here's a little background of Race and Shine!:

Help Others Help Themselves

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." - Chinese Proverb

Most meaningful provisions for individuals with autism end upon leaving school. The challenge continues as our children with autism become adults. Although the Magna Carta defines their right for employment, the reality we face is in the fact that individuals with autism need more equal opportunities to work.

More research is needed to gather information on all possible suitable jobs for persons with autism. The responsibility does not end at providing vocational training, but also in seeking placement for them by providing work opportunities and creating programs for small and medium-sized companies to employ individuals with autism. The research becomes a basis not only to create skills training programs for adults with autism, but also be used as basis for training and assistance to business owners who want to determine how they can create these work opportunities.

There are several schools that have sheltered workshops that provide vocational programs to prepare them for future employment. The information to be gathered in a research will be shared to all schools and centers that offer vocational training so that they can design curricula that will equip adults with autism with the essential skills necessary to qualify for employment. The potential employers will also have access to research data on the skills and potentials adults with autism have and thus, be guided by information which will facilitate placement into their companies.

The funds raised from RACE & SHINE will go to the ongoing research by the Let It Shine Foundation. The key information being sought out for specifically will identify what job descriptions, employee roles and responsibilities and performance levels are to be expected of them. Your participation will definitely help in making individuals with Autism Shine! Contact the foundation for more information: or 218-2362.

Source: Race and Shine flyer included in the race kit.

I am definitely looking forward to running my next race.
Shine on!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

On this special day

Dearests of my heart,

I am deeply thankful to the Lord above for the wonders of love, joy, and peace that you bring to my life. All of you are and will always be a very important part of me.

The journey I went through to get to where I am and to become who I am now was full of U-turns, crossroads, dead ends, and back roads but you have been there every step of the way. I could never have made it through without you. A glance at the past 21 years brings many good memories and, yes, bad memories as well but never regret.

To be twenty two years old is a marvelous gift. Praise God that I live one more year to experience all that He has made! The road ahead may look dreary at times but I am confident that the Lord will always be there for me, for you, for us.

For having accepted who I am and who I am not, thank you. Words are not enough to express how much I appreciate each and every one of you. You will always be in my heart...

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I have been an avid collector of memorabilia since I was a little kid.

The photo above shows but a small fraction of the things I've collected over the years: from books to candy wrappers, from airplane tickets to photographs, from candles to wedding garters, from corsages to ribbons, from cards to sashes, from receipts to stickers, from dried leaves to letters... and the list goes on.

I find a sense of joy (that I can't quite put into words) in collecting little somethings that remind me of people, places and events. Even after many years, they somehow bring me back to that specific moment - that strand of time and space in the tapestry of the world - that enriches the experience even more.

"A pleasure is only full grown when it is remembered. You are speaking, Hmān, as if the pleasure were one thing and the memory another. It is all one thing. The séroni could say it better than I say it now. Not better than I could say it in a poem. What you call remembering is the last part of the pleasure, as the crah is the last part of a poem. When you and I met, the meeting was over very shortly, it was nothing. Now it is growing something as we remember it. But we still know very little about it. What it will be when I remember it as I lie down to die, what it makes in me all my days till then--that is the real meeting. The other is only the beginning of it. You say you have poets in your world. Do they not teach you this?"

- Hyoi, a creature of the planet Malacandra speaking to Ramsom, the human protagonist. From "Out of the Silent Planet" by C.S. Lewis

As I grow older, though, I realize that I can't hang on to every single thing that tugs my heart otherwise even a museum wouldn't be big enough to house all things that I put sentimental value into.

I have come to think of the act of saving meaningful things as sort of a self-preservation. Although it sounds like a good pursuit, I believe otherwise. I am not here to preserve myself. My stay here in this world is a mere passing by, a sojourn. Thus, as a voyager I wish to travel lightly. I soon became content with the fact the mind finds ways to remember.

The only memorabilia that I continue to hold on steadfastly now are the handwritten letters (which I fondly call 'snail mail') that I receive.

For me, an object only has meaning to the person/s who puts sentimental value to it but to the outsider, could mean nothing - it may even be seen as rubbish. A letter, on the other hand, tells everyone who reads it a story. An object could spark a deep curiosity that may never be answered, while the letter gives answers that may lead to further inquiry.

To sum it up, what I believe about memories is that they should make me more able: able to grow, able to appreciate, able to love, and able to help others become more of what they are meant for and to be.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


On the first and second of November each year, Filipino families go to the cemeteries to visit their loved ones who have passed away.

In the Catholic church, November 1 is a solemn celebration in honor of saints termed All Saints Day appropriately, while November 2 is a commemoration of the departed faithful known as All Souls' Day. These days are called Undas in the Filipino language.

Every year, my family and relatives would gather at Eternal Gardens at Lipa City to visit the grave of my maternal grandmother whom we fondly call Mamita. Her real name is Natividad largely because she was born on the 25th of December, Christmas Day... which makes the holiday extra meaningful for us.

I have very few memories of Mamita in my mind. Most of what I remember about her are in pictures - thanks to film and camera. Nevertheless, the clearest memory I have of her is something I've been able to hold on to very well because that part of my life has influenced me a lot until now.

Mamita died of pancreatic cancer when I was six years old. The family's struggle with her condition and my grandmother's personal battle with cancer did not impact my life at that time because I was too young to understand.

When our family prepared to visit Mamita in the hospital one time while she was undergoing medication, I wrote a short letter for her at home upon the encouragement of my mother. I can't recall the exact words I jotted down but what I do recall vividly was that I put several coins in the envelope with the letter. Upon arriving at Mamita's hospital room, I handed my mother the letter and told her it was for grandma. She was intrigued by the weight of the enveloped and asked me what was inside. I said quite confident;y, "Pera para pandagdag sa babayaran ni Mamita." (Money to help pay for Mamita's medical expenses.) I have no idea what my mom thought of the gesture - whether she was amused or touched or both. It has crossed my mind to ask her about it but I never did.

When Mamita took her last breath, I did not feel the sorrow or the pain of her passing away.

During Mamita's wake in my grandparents' house, however, I remember asking my mom several times where Mamita was. "Natutulog na siya, anak," (She's sleeping now, child,) was all she told me. I did not question my mother's reply for indeed I saw my grandmother in a beautifully decorated bed (which was actually her coffin; I just didn't know.) In my mind, though, I thought, "If she's asleep, how come all these people are here? Is it okay for so many people to watch someone sleep? And what's with all the lights? You can't sleep with a lot of lights on."

Ah, such innocence is a blessing on a concept so seemingly cruel. That was my first encounter with death; my first experience of losing a beloved person.

Only a few years ago did I realize first hand that it was a very painful experience to lose someone you love so dearly. Only half a year ago when I started earning my own money did I understand the financial strain the medical expenses must have put on the family then. Only now has it started to sink in that the other true loss for me is not having grown up with a grandmother close to home. (My paternal grandmother lived most of her life in the United States although she visits the Philippines when she has the chance.)

Loss, it seems, is an easier topic to talk about. People can share experiences of loss with each other. On the other hand, people who have died can't go back to tell of their experience of death. Loss may entail acceptance or denial, either which a person can work on achieving some understanding about. We can take control of what happens after a loss. Meanwhile, there is so much more mystery about death. We don't know exactly what happens after one dies.

I know many people fear death. I am not at all I different; I also feel fear for I am human. But I have this greater feeling of peace about death that overpowers the fear. Knowing I have accepted Jesus as my Savior and believing He died for my sins so that I will be saved is all I need to vanquish fear of death. Mamita has invited Jesus into her life, too, and I am confident that her death is merely a passing on to a better world. I may not have been given a lot of time to be with her and to know her but realizing that she's with the Lord is all the assurance I need to understand that our family's loss is heaven's gain.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Say what?

Today, I woke up quite abruptly upon hugging a cold soaking wet pillow that I retrieved from the floor after half-consciously becoming aware that it landed there sometime during the wee hours of the morning. After rubbing away the sleep from my eyes, it dawned on me that the tiled floor in my and my sister's room was covered with water that flowed from outside through the very thin space under the door. For the first time since typhoon Ondoy [Ketsana] and Pepeng [Parma], the strong winds drove tons of heavy rainfall to the second floor of our house (composed of just our room), which couldn't be kept at bay by cloth rags.

Oh well. What's a few wet things (clothes, a sofa, pillow, blanket, etc.) and mopping the floor? There were much more terrible aftermaths of typhoon Santi [Mirinae] in many parts of the Southern Tagalog region.

To end the month on a happier note, though, I am excited to find out the words most often used in my blog as of today. Thanks, Wordle. :D

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

"...For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."
- Matthew 12:34

Sunday, October 25, 2009

To eat or not to eat

I started going to the gym last October 5 in an attempt to be more pro-active in my health and well-being.

Although I walk a lot in the morning and afternoon during my commute to work and on my way back home, it feels more like the obligatory physical movement that it is and on most days it's a distress. Don't get me wrong though - it is wonderful to be always on the move. However, being cramped in a vehicle like sardines with total strangers on a daily basis can get really uncomfortable and pretty alarming. I can't say I'm used to the commute but I've pretty much accepted it as a reality, a fact of life (my life at least).

Anyway, when my co-teachers told me they were planning to enroll in the nearby gym for about three months, I got interested. My ears perked up all the more when I heard, 'dance class'. I used to participate in a lot of dances in elementary and high school: modern, hip hop, ballroom, etc. I have no intentions of becoming a pro dancer or anything. I just miss the adrenaline rush of pure energetic body movement timed to the beat of a song. I dance for dance's sake. Besides, it is an enjoyable physical form of art and it is a good workout for the heart.

I have been attending the hip hop dance class and (recently) the aerokickboxing class at least once a week for about three weeks now and I am very happy about it. :)

When I found out that my weight is about seven pounds above the ideal weight for my frame and height, I was very thankful that I'm not obsessing over the fact that I need to shed some pounds. I know I'll lose it eventually because: {1} I perspire easily and {2} my schedule is getting filled with activities to do and appointments to keep. Sure, it would be nice to lose some weight and get a more toned physique [those are added bonuses!] but knowing that my body mass index and body fat count (or something, I forget what it's called) is normal is more important for me personally. Besides, if my heart feels right about my exercise, I believe the rest will follow...

I have also become more conscious of what, when, where, why and how I eat. Earlier into the year, I have added more fruits and vegetables (food by God) in my "to eat" list. :)

Just to share, here are some of the things I do in order to regulate my weight and eating habits:

1. Be on the move! I take the stairs whenever I can and I walk a lot during the day. I stretch whenever I find myself sitting too long. Physical activity shouldn't be just exercise - it should be all the little movements you do everyday. Although exercise is good for the body, it's not everything. (Read more: "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin" by John Cloud, Time Magazine August 2009.)

2. Eat on a small plate and use small utensils. If there isn't a lot of space to put food on, then I don't eat a lot of food in one sitting.

3. Eat slowly. I read somewhere and heard several times that the brain takes a while to process information on how full you are. So the slower I eat, the less food I take in. And it works! I'll feel full even if I ate only a seemingly small serving.

4. If I crave for something, I do not deprive myself of it. I eat a very small portion of the food to satisfy my craving instead of losing my peace of mind always wondering, "what if?". No matter how small the portion, the important thing is I tell my brain that I now know what the food tasted like and I'm happy I tried it. Of course, I have to be aware of my cravings, too. It's not healthy to have a 'craving' every ten minutes.

5. Eat small but eat often. For me, eating snacks is actually good especially when my stomach is already sending me "I'm hungry, feed me!" signals. Eating small amounts of food several times a day in regular intervals works better for me than strictly sticking to the three square meals a day. It's not good to let your tummy growl and say, "Be quiet, it's not lunchtime yet. You have to wait."

I feel wonderful having the chance to realize a lot of things for myself in the wellness arena and actually having the opportunity to act upon those realizations. As the saying goes: "The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement." Hmmm.. My next agenda will probably have to be cramming... :P

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Penniless yet Priceless

Poverty has been in the world even before the time of Jesus Christ. There are plenty of stories in the Bible of beggars on the streets, lame and blind people asking for alms, and lepers dying isolated from the rest of society.

More than 2000 years later, many people from all over the world still continue to live in dire conditions. In the Philippines alone, the entire national population consists of what is called CLASS E or majority poor - of which, most even live below the poverty line: "Mahirap pa sa mahirap" (Poorer than poor). I often find myself thinking such conditions, sadly, do not merit the term living but mere existence instead.

There are several causes of poverty: macroeconomic issues, population explosion, agriculture problems, unemployment, poor governance, corruption, armed conflict, disability, limited access, and so on. Although the terms sound depressing, I know that there are many efforts to address such concerns not just on a local level but on a global scale. One such effort is an awareness campaign celebrated today:

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is celebrated every year on October 17 throughout the world. It was officially recognised by the United Nations in 1992, but the first commemoration of the event took place in Paris, France, in 1987 when 100,000 people gathered on the Human Rights and Liberties Plaza at the Trocadéro to honour victims of poverty, hunger, violence and fear.

Living in a third world country, I could not emphasize more the need for us to share our blessings with the less fortunate... and beyond the need, I give more importance to our want, our desire, to help others.

The poor may be penniless but they are priceless. They are also created in the image and likeness of God just like us. When Jesus died on the cross to save mankind, that means no one is exempted.

While we have the physical and socio-economic concerns of the anawims of society in mind, I more strongly believe that we should also have their spiritual growth on the priority list. For even though we have helped them live this life, there is a much more important eternal life that we have to prepare them for.

I dislike to be the one to burst the bubble but I am aware that total eradication of poverty in this fallen world is an ideal. It is not going to happen. We can strive to alleviate the conditions of brothers and sisters in need but we can never truly make poverty history until the Lord comes back to bring with Him a new world.

Until then, onwards, Christian soldier.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hello and Goodbye

"Be kind,
for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
Greek author & philosopher in Athens (427 BC - 347 BC)

There have been some chapters in my life when I've said goodbye to people just as quickly as I've said hello. While the paths have crossed so quickly, there's no guarantee that farewells would come easily.

Several times I have asked the question, "Where's the good in goodbye?", because goodbyes are usually associated with uncertainty, separation, hurt, and sorrow.

More often than not I find myself saying "See you tomorrow", "Until then", or "'Til next time" when the moment of parting ways has come because it somehow lessens the impact of something's coming-to-an-end. It is a sort-of denial of the moment of truth when each one must go his or her own way.

Celine Dion's song "Goodbye's (The Saddest Word)" is about a mother leaving her child, perhaps even pertaining to the mother's passing away, which is one of the hardest goodbyes of all. Listening to it always brings tears to my eyes.

Goodbye's the saddest word I'll ever hear
Goodbye's the last time I will hold you near
Someday you'll say that word and I will cry
It'll break my heart to hear you say goodbye

'Till we meet again...
Until then...

Still, where is the good in goodbye?

Today is one of those days when I ask the question once, twice, three times because I had had to say goodbye to this precious little boy who has seemingly taught me more than I have taught him. It was difficult to see him go and accept the fact that that moment might be last time we will ever see each other, especially when I know I could have done something more to help him.

Out of the blanket of sadness, a friend's voice popped in my head. He shared to me an initially trivial information about 'goodbye' and just to make sure I remember it right, I searched the world wide web for it:

good-bye XVI. Early forms God be wy you, God buy'ye, God b'uy, Godbuy, contr. of phr. God be with you or ye, with later substitution of good for God, after good day (XIII), good night (XIV).

T. F. HOAD. "good-bye." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. 1996. Retrieved October 18, 2009 from

That's right. Goodbye is derived from God be with you. When I first heard it, I was almost skeptical but it totally blew me away.

So where is the good in goodbye?

It is in believing that God is with those kindred souls whose lives have been touched by that meeting of theirs even though they eventually have to part.

Now that I understand this more clearly, I have to keep it in mind and eventually in my heart, no matter how much it hurts sometimes.

God be with you.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Kudos, Teachers!

Bloggers Unite and yours truly, together with the rest of the world, celebrate World Teachers' Day 2009.

5 October is a day to celebrate teachers and the central role they play in guiding children, youths & adults through the life-long learning process. This year, World Teachers’ Day will focus on the role of teachers within the context of the global financial and economic crisis and the need to invest in teachers now as a means to secure post-crisis regeneration.

It is critical, during these difficult times, to seek mechanisms that protect the teaching profession. It is also crucial, despite the crisis, to ensure that investment in teachers is sufficient and proportionate to the demands made upon them. It is the teaching force with its knowledge, experience and foresight which can bring new insights to global solutions. Join us in celebrating this!

To my co-teachers at A Child Can Foundation, Inc., I salute each and every one of you for your hard work, patience, compassion and dedication in transforming the lives of kids with special needs, all of whom have equally touched our lives. Cheers to the many years of helping each child achieve his fullest potential to the best of your abilities. The contribution you give to each family and society is truly invaluable.

I bid each and every one of you padayon, from a local Filipino dialect, which means "to continue" or "to go on". Remembering words from Leland's website: As a wise man once said, "It matters not how slowly you go, so long as you do not move backwards."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Feed the Need

The aftermath of typhoon Ondoy led to various relief operations by both government and private sectors. The severity of the damage caused by the heavy rainfall last weekend still prevails today even with typhoon Pepeng (Parma) and typhoon Quedan (Melor) already within Philippine territory.

Calls for volunteers to help repack relief goods like canned food, instant noodles, rice, blankets, clothes, medicines, and bottled water were abundant to which many people wholeheartedly acted upon.

Yesterday, I met with friends from UST at TriNoMa between 10:30-11:00 am to help out in distributing relief goods to victims of typhoon Ondoy in the area of Pasig.

I was still undecided whether or not to join come the day itself. By nine o'clock in the morning, I began preparing for the relief operations albeit I knew it subconsciously because half of me wanted so badly to help out and half of me wanted to stay home as advised by my dad since typhoon Pepeng was reported to be hitting land by late Friday.

At fifteen minutes to ten o'clock, I left our condo unit all geared up for the mission ahead while the voice of the news reporter and other sounds from the television lingered in my ears. I rode a taxi going to Magallanes station of the MRT to make up for lost time but unfortunately, I was still met by heavy traffic along Chino Roces Avenue (Pasong Tamo Extension). I wasn't usually late for appointments. In fact, I don't like being late. However, the tug-o-war within me was simply taking a toll on my decision-making but, apparently, an inner calling prevailed.

There wasn't a single drop of regret when I have forsaken the safety of home to the risk of possibly endangering my life under such circumstances. It was a day I'll never forget.

The experience of riding inside a cargo truck on top of hundreds of relief goods on our way to Pasig was truly a concrete way of "putting oneself in other people's shoes" or as Vanessa Williams' song Colors of the Wind goes, "If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you'll learn things you never knew, you never knew."

As the saying goes, 'Mahirap maging mahirap' (It is difficult to be poor). And how hard it must be! To see those people - young and old, men and women alike - struggling, no, begging for food will break one's heart to a million little pieces. They did not chose to be poor. Most of them were born poor... but a lot of times I wonder why majority of them chose to remain poor.

You might be thinking, "Surely you're not asking why. You know already know the answer/s to that question." Perhaps. But do I really? I can't say that I know what it's like to live in poverty because I haven't been there. On the other hand, I can say I do know why and refer to all the studies and resources supporting my claims. Technically speaking, there's a scientific/economic explanation for such queries. But then moments after, Ubuntu in African spirituality suddenly came to mind: "I am because of who we all are."

The truth is - the majority poor of our country is both part and product of the society we all belong to. They are who they are because of who I am, who the rest of us are.

Unsurprisingly, the outreach that day to 'feed the need' went both ways: the flood victims' physical needs were met while the volunteers' psychological/philosophical hunger was fed. The encounter with those people who were affected by the heavy floods gave me fraction of understanding, a glimpse into the dynamics of their lives, that I hope will push me more to be a better part of the whole.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

State of Calamity

God save our people.

Typhoon Ondoy (international code name Ketsana) turned savage as it passed by Central Luzon. It was unexpected in many ways. The heavy rains since last night resulted into an epic flood in Metro Manila. Many are now reported dead and missing; thousands of others are stranded on rooftops with no food and water. The night is getting deeper as the floods continue to submerge homes and destroy properties.

Twenty five provinces were declared to be in a state of calamity by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).

"This kind of flash floods in Metro Manila took us all by surprise," said Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., national chairman of the NDCC, adding that flooding was also reported in Bulacan and Pampanga provinces north of Manila.

Source: Storm 'Ondoy' makes landfall, causes widespread flooding - Joseph Holandes Ubalde, GMANews.TV

I was about to leave for Ateneo de Manila University under a blanket of rain thinking it was an ordinary heavy downpour. By the time I reached the clubhouse in our condo village, my jeans were soaking wet and sticking to my skin. My shirt and bag were barely dry making me realize that my umbrella was almost useless. I needed a raincoat because the wind was throwing the water everywhere. I walked to a security personnel and asked him to call for a taxi but the guard told me phone lines are busy and he can't get through to the office. Moreover, most taxi drivers stopped taking passengers and making rounds because of the horrendous traffic.

Shivering from the cold, I headed back for our unit and changed clothes and footwear. I also repacked my stuff into a more water resistant bag. However, by the time I stepped out, people were all over the place trying (and failing) to stay dry while watching several men push cars up drier land. When I went around the corner to take a look for myself, I understood everything. I a matter of hours, the heavy raining became a ferocious storm causing massive flooding.

I hurried back inside to watch the news to see how bad the situation is. When I saw the words 'state of calamity', I started calling people. I called my parents first and informed them of what was going on where I was. Then my brother called me. He was stuck at his workplace and couldn't come home right away. He said he was going to wait the rain out. Kuya Marc also called me. He said that I shouldn't force myself to go to Ateneo because the roads are clogged and it's really dangerous to go outside now. L.J. and I were also texting each other. To make matters worse, the electricity went out.

Sitting alone in the darkness, I pause for a while and tried to let everything sink in. I went to my room and fell asleep albeit uneasily. My brother came at 3:00 pm. I opened the door for him and went back to sleep; I didn't wake up until about 6:00 pm. The electricity was back on and when I peeked outside the window, the waters already receded. (I found out the following day that a huge part of the walls to the sewers gave way, which helped in the release of the contained water.) Praise God!

I continued to watch the news. The rest of the metropolitan area was still enduring the onslaught of the typhoon and flooding. I know I couldn't do much physically to help but I can always pray... pray for lives to be saved.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Undercover Angel

I am convinced that there is still lots of good in the world. :)

On my way to work yesterday morning, I was greeted by a very long line of vehicles on the highway in front of the entrance to our condominium village. It was quite a surprise because traffic doesn't get that heavy at Lawton Avenue that time of the morning. I have no idea what was causing the temporary parking lot on the streets. I left our unit later than usual, around 7:10 a.m., which is the latest I had to be out if I wanted to be at work at least 15 minutes before 8:00 unharrassed by the tedious commute. Nevertheless, it wasn't the time that's the problem. Something was up. I hoisted my bag up my shoulder and looked at my watch.

There was simply no way I was going to risk riding a jeep to Gate 3 and do my usual Chino Roces ave. - Pasay Road route. I crossed the pedestrian lane to the other side of the street. I made up my mind to ride a cab going through Global City, McKinley Parkway, across EDSA to Park Square 1 and then Pasay Road to the center. The only problem was, there weren't too many taxis passing by. They were all probably stranded in the heavy traffic at the intersections.

A cab went by but a Malaysian man who had been waiting longer than I have hailed it first. The next one said he can't go to Makati because of the coding (the last digit on the plate number of his car was prohibited to be used in Makati). A third taxi came but it stopped in front of the lady standing a few steps from me. I watched as she opened the back door and then she looked at me before she got in and asked, "Saan ka papunta?" ("Where are you headed?") "Pasay Road," I replied.

She smiled and told me she was headed for Salcedo Village in Makati and offered me to ride with her in the taxi. I asked her if she was sure it wasn't out of her way. She just smiled and said, "Malapit lang naman yun." ("The place is near anyway"). What a blessing!

As the car pulled away from the curb, the lady and I chatted. I found out that she lived in the same village I do albeit in a different building, Iligan. She's a pre-school teacher at Toddlers Unlimited and she was familiar with the therapy center where I work. Minutes passed by and soon we were in Pasay Road.

I asked her how much I needed to pay and she said, "Okay lang, 'wag na." (It's okay, you don't have to pay.") The taxi stopped by the 7-11 store on the corner of Pasay Road and Edades St. where I got off. I thanked the lady twice before I closed the door after I got out. I watched the cab speed away before I crossed the street heading towards the center.

Wow. A free taxi ride with a kind and friendly lady on a Friday morning. That doesn't happen very often. In fact, it was a rare experience. That was definitely God's work telling me that among us are angels in disguise. :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Line of 2

Welcome to the 20s club, sister!

Oh my, how the years went by. Gone are the days of endless arguments on who had the bigger birthday cake or the best birthday party. I can't call you my 'little' sister anymore because you are now half an inch (or more) taller than I am.

Nevertheless, I am glad that I can still share moments with you that can only happen between sisters. I can still call you nicknames that I think will forever stay with me and the family. Thank you for the endless fashion tips, countless petty arguments, unforgettable funny bloopers and the most mundane things we do as sisters. They are all part of who I am.

As we leave our childhood and teenage years behind, I pray that we grow closer as friends even though we spend more time apart than together.

I am blessed to have you as my sister.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Speak

I love a good conversation any time of the day. :)

Created after God's own image and likeness, man is the only creature in this planet that can make beautiful communication through words. Isn't that amazing? So why not put it to good use every day?

This week, I had very many interesting dialogues between friends, colleagues, and people that I have met for the first time. We talked about ideas and things that ranged from the most banal to the most philosophical, from the most real to the most surreal, and from the most practical to the most ideal.

After spending time in conversation with two different groups of people during two different nights recently, a realization occurred to me: 'We usually hate what we don't understand'. Hate might be too strong of a term but I think not understanding something illicits such an intense feeling of dislike in us more often than not. Afterall, man is a rational being. When something just doesn't make sense, it seems but natural for man to be frustrated and angry about it.

Fruitful conversations have opened my understanding of the world and life more besides my own personal experiences and reflections. It has also brought to my awareness the limitation of that understanding. And this is where the challenge comes in.

You see, the problem is that we always seek to know even if we are strongly aware that we are not all-knowing. God alone is omniscient.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

-Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)

When life seems to go awry beyond what our minds can conceive, God does not demand that we understand - that we make sense of it with a snap of the fingers. He only asks us to do what we can, with what we have and what we know... and all He asks for is our unrelenting faith in Him. When what's happening doesn't add up or doesn't make sense to you, perhaps it is an opportunity to pray for strength and courage to continue and the opportunity to let go of The Great WHY? into His hands.

And you know what? Sometimes, when you're talking to someone about something they don't understand - you find your own understanding in their confusion. All that was needed was another person's perspective. Surely, for all of us, God's point-of-view is the best there is. :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I am fascinated with colors. They play an important part in our world and in our lives.

Arts and crafts make careful use of color combinations. Fashion revolves largely on the play of colors. Even black and white television slowly turned technicolor. Just look around you; Mother Nature surely do a great job of making sure mankind is bathe in its brilliant hues.

The color fever eventually got to me. When I was a little kid, a box of eight colors simply wasn't enough:

Crayola crayons have come in a number of different colors over the years. When Binney & Smith first produced Crayola crayons in 1903, there were just eight colors. By 1949 there were 48 colors. In 1958 the number of colors increased to 64. Eight fluorescent colors were introduced in 1972, increasing the total number of colors to 72. In 1990 the total increased to 80 colors with the introduction of 16 new colors and the discontinuation of eight colors. The number of available colors was increased to 96 in 1993 and to 120 in 1998, though with thirteen crayons being retired along the way, the grand total of colors is 133. Along with the regular packs of crayons, there have been many specialty sets, including Silver Swirls, Gem Tones, Pearl Brite, Metallic FX, Magic Scent, Silly Scents, and more...

Besides the fact that they are vibrant eye candy, colors are very closely associated with human expressions, feelings and behavior: Black is used as a sign of mourning, red can mean anger or war or boldness, yellow can indicate happiness and zest, blue exhibits calmness and relaxation, and so on.

Lately, I've been doing much coloring on birthday banners for kids at the center where I work, which led me to do a bit more pondering than usual. I've come to a conclusion that life is very much like having a palette of colors...

* We may have been handed only three colors but it is upto us if we stick to just three or to try and mix them to come up with more.

* The way we understand life is like a child coloring a fantastic drawing - we start coloring using only one crayon and go beyond the lines. However, when we grow up, we soon learn that we must use more than one kind of crayon and color within the boundaries to make the picture more beautiful.

* There is balance among colors. Green comes between warm and cold hues. (See P.S. of my Green Generation post)

* Color is for everybody although some may prefer crayons over watercolor, paint, colored pens/pencils, or oil pastels. People use different ways to express themselves.

* Black, like sin, absorbs other colors - the lovely things in life.

* Color derives from a spectrum of light interacting in the eye. To make an analogy, what becomes of life is like the interaction between God and man.

* People color with different intensities, just like the way they approach life.

"The color of the object illuminated partakes of the color of that which illuminates it."
- Leonardo da Vinci

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shine on!

Dear Lord,

Thank you very much for this long and fruitful day!

Though tired, my spirit is rejoicing in the works of Your hands. Truly, every moment of my life is filled with Your love and mercy. Each day and each night is full of amazing manifestations of Your presence and guidance. You have blessed me with so many wonderful friends and acquaintances who are helping me grow more like You, Lord. I pray for them all - You know them by name and all that is in their hearts. Bless them and send them Your Holy Spirit so that they may be strengthened and filled with the wisdom they need to face the challenges and opportunities of each day.

Honor and glory and praise be to You, forever!


The Parable of the Revealed Light

"No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him."

- Luke 8:16-18 (NKJV)

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I wasn't much of a girly-girl when I was growing up.

During my freshman year in high school, I still acted like 'one of the boys'. I had very short hair reaching only upto my ears. If not for our school uniform which was a blouse and skirt combination, I would have worn pants or shorts and t-shirts all the time. I was very active in sports and didn't mind having tangled hair, a sweaty face, and wrinkled clothes at the end of the day. Neat or not, I was happy with myself. It didn't occur to me just yet that perhaps boys like girls for being... well... girly. It didn't cross my mind until my mid-teens that at some point, I needed to start acting (even just a tiny bit) more lady-like.

Little did I know that time would present solutions to my problems.

Slowly, that little thing called "self-consciousness" started creeping in. I was starting to get annoyed with my bob cut and began growing my hair for as long as I can manage it and tried different hairstyles. I experimented with my clothes and tried on more girly outfits like skirts and dresses. I also accessorized - hairclips, bracelets, earrings, you name it.

Nevertheless, my discovery of a more feminine side of myself didn't turn out to be a crazy transformation from boyish girl to a fashion junkie. I wouldn't dare let myself get caught in "The Devil wears Prada" whirlwind of fashion. Instead, I made the styles out there fit my taste rather than let it run my life. Modesty is still the best policy. More importantly, I know who I am and I am happy with myself as long as I am growing up to be the woman of God He wanted me to be. :D

Honestly, I am still more of a t-shirt/blouse and jeans kind of person and I think it's going to stay that way. Of course, certain occasions in life would call for different fashion statements and more classy get-ups like formal dinners, awards nights, case conferences, weddings, and so on. I believe it's not going to be a problem. Flexibility has always been one of my great skills.

Moving on, I'm not a huge fan of make-up either.

In our humid country, I easily break into a sweat by just walking outside. I keep my face clean by washing it with a certain soap and applying sunblock during the day. I also use the basic powder and lip gloss but that's about it for everyday. I say: eat lots of fruits, get decent sleep, and drink lots of water. :) Anyhow, I also get regular facial treatments if I've been able to save for it. :D

Don't get me wrong though, there's nothing bad with wearing make-up. The Bible mentioned that women were made to exude beauty, which is told in the story of queen Esther. :) I just don't think my skin can handle the make-up on a daily basis.

By the way, just this year, I've rewarded myself with nail care, spa and massage treatments, too. I find it a very effective way to bring wellness to oneself. I am a firm believer that 'prevention is better than cure' and one way of doing that is by taking care of the body God has given you right now and not when it is already breaking down. Taking drugs or medicine isn't the cure to everything.

There is great truth in the mind-body-spirit connection and God has provided natural ways to heal our bodies long before the dawn of drugs. When I went to a chiropractor, Dr. Gary Bolen, for the first time during my trip to the US, I discovered a lot of new things about health and wellness. He gave me a book "Body by God" by Dr. Ben Lerner and I was glad that I read it.

I also believe that from good health and wellness springs true beauty. :) I read this book, "Who Calls Me Beautiful?" by Regina Franklin and I think every girl, young lady, and woman out there should read it. It tackles about how we are all created in the image and likeness of God while the world convinces us we're ugly by Hollywood standards. It's time to wake up to the truth that we are all beautiful people the way God sees us.

Speaking of this pursuit of health and wellness, I would love to go to The Farm, health and spa resort, at San Benito, when I have some money set aside.

Maximizing Human Potential Through Optimal Health

Rediscover the wellness within you at The Farm, one of the few truly medical and wellness resorts in the world. Located an easy two-hour drive south of the Philippine capital of Manila, this award-winning 48-hectare resort offers an exceptional healing environment for the holistic treatment of the body, mind and soul. Making use of Nature’s own remedies, our mission is to guide and educate you toward your maximum total health potential.


The Farm is near where I live. It's a well-known place for health and wellness not only in the Philippines but all over the world. I've heard a lot of great feedback regarding the place but it's rather expensive. You don't need a lot of money to be and stay healthy. Going to The Farm is just a gift I would like to give myself and my family some day. :)

I have not been to The Farm yet but I have met the chief of their Medical Department, Dr. Marian Alonzo, in a seminar I attended at Protégé Special Education Learning Center in Xavierville, Loyola Heights, Quezon City entitled "Art Therapy for Children with Special Needs and Their Caregivers" last May where she was the facilitator. She gave a lot of insight regarding the topic at hand. In spite of our brief encounter, to me she looked like someone who considers health and wellness extremely important besides the fact that she is a medical doctor.

Anyway, my journey towards a work-life balance made prosperous by health and wellness continues. Let's be well and stay healthy. :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009


In the early months of 2006, the Psychology Society talent pool held auditions for those equipped with musical prowess. Thus, TiEMPO was born into the realm of music. And by a certain twist of fate, tiyempo - a Filipino term – means ‘timing’. True enough, it was perfect timing that brought very talented individuals together to create amazing melody.

TiEMPO music is deeply rooted from reggae fused with the elements of soul funk rock and jazz. Here’s what makes the band very much stand out: the infectious and groovy tunes of Ray Tadeo on bass, the steady reggae of Dianne Ponciano on keys, the jazzy rhythm of Ryan Gonzales on vocals and guitar, dancehall beats of Jigs Cabatit on drums, accentuated vibes of JB de Lemos on percussions.

In December of 2006, this group of brilliant students from the College of Science and the Conservatory of Music won champion in colliSCIon: the College of Science battle of the bands. During their college years, they have been a mainstay in many school events: acquaintance parties, the Recess concert sponsored by Science and many more. They also have gigs in different local music arenas.

Former members of TiEMPO include King Molina on vocals (2006) and Lou Aguinaldo on drums (2006-2007). The band also has a horn/wind section composed of Rickson Poonin on trombone, EJ, Lester, and Sid on trumpets, and Kiko on alto/soprano saxophone.

TiEMPO is driven to experiment and fuse roots reggae music with funk, jazz, and rock riddims. Listen and FEEL the vibes as TiEMPO captures every drop of the steady beat of reggae.

Watch their debut song "I Found You" on Flippish!

P.S. Yours truly is a big fan of TiEMPO and was one of their documentary persons a.k.a. camerawoman during their college performances. The excellent members of the band also happen to be my good friends. :D Cheers, mates!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Salamat, Tita Cory

Maria Corazon "
Cory" Sumulong Cojuangco Aquino
January 25, 1933 - August 1, 2009
"Faith is not simply a patience that passively suffers until the storm is past. Rather, it is a spirit that bears things - with resignations, yes, but above all, with blazing, serene hope."
(Image from

Today is a national day of mourning for the passing away of a Philippine gem, former president Cory Aquino. Today she was laid to rest beside her one and only love, former senator and Filipino hero, Ninoy Aquino at the Manila Memorial Cemetery.

I am very humbled to be a part of this great moment in Philippine history.

My dad, who served in the Philippine Air Force during the Marcos regime and the Aquino administration, was part of the struggle during the Martial Law and the challenge to keep democracy attained after EDSA Revolution. He fought during the bloodiest coup d'etat in 1989 and experienced firsthand the battle for freedom. Years later, he remembers the important role former president Aquino played during the People Power.

"A day before December 1, 1989, at the height of the bloodiest coup d’etat. I brought the helicopter to Lucena because we had information na 'papasukin ang Sangley'. I was the only one able to bolt out of the base the day before, hence I was the only one called by the Chief of Staff to support them in Camp Aguinaldo at all costs. While supporting the friendly government troops, three F5 fighter planes from Basa Air Base supported the friendly forces in Sangley Point that cost the life of Major Danilo Atienza after disabling the tora-tora used by rebel soldiers. We were hit by enemy groundfire, luckily it hit the side of the armor plate, which was an inch away from the co-pilot.

Due to our wholehearted and unfailing support for President Corazon Aquino, our commander-in-chief, even with bullet holes from our main and tail rotor, we managed to fly the helicopter to give support to the government troops. We stayed overnight at Basa for it was the only safe place to stay then. On the wee hours of the following day, we supported again the friendly troops in Camp Aguinaldo firing the 2.75 rockets successively. That historic event ultimately contributed to the defeat and fall of the rebel forces, and there, frustrating again an attempt. For conspicuous gallantry acts of heroism and exemplary demonstration of utmost loyalty as combat pilot above and beyond the call of duty to preserve our democracy that led to the fall of the rebel soldiers, we were given the second highest award, the Distinguished Conduct Star."

Today, he and I went to Roxas Boulevard to await the funeral cortege of the late president Cory Aquino to pay our respects for all the sacrifices that she has made for us, for the the Filipino people.

Her story, for me, is that of a modern-day Esther. God had big plans for Cory that no one could even begin to imagine. When Cory's husband, Ninoy, was assassinated because of the ideals he stood for during a chaotic time in our history, the simple yet outstanding housewife became president of the Republic of the Philippines. I believe that it was destined to be so in God's plan. Ninoy and Cory's life is a beautiful story of unconditional love, enduring longsuffering, and brilliant heroism.

I wish to share so much more but words escape me that is why I decided to express myself with the pictures I took during today's emotional funeral for the late former president.

Hover on photos for captions. Click pictures for a larger resolution.

The entire time we waited for the funeral march, we were listening to the radio in order to know what was happening during the funeral mass at the Manila Cathedral. When Cory's youngest daughter, Kris, gave her speech - I tried to hold back my tears. So did my father. We were both sitting in the car quietly lost in our own thoughts.

The event today was a real awakening of history sleeping in the pages of millions of books. This is the authentic History 101. Memories of singing "Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo" during my second grade Social Sciences class came into mind with much greater relevance. So this is what it was like. I now understand the importance of history. His story, her story, our story. It is still alive and flowing in my veins.

After hours of waiting, I finally had the chance to see the former president's casket and pay respect to this great woman of prayer and democracy.

Cory Aquino loved the Filipinos dearly up to the very end even after leaving the seat of presidency. Now it's our turn to show her and her family how much we love her in return.

My Sony Cybershot camera ran out of battery after taking the photo below, hence I used my Nokia phone to take the rest of the pictures.

According to the news, Cory's funeral was very similar to the funeral of Ninoy. Once again, thousands of people gathered as one family... this time to mourn the loss of such a great Filipina. Being a part of this lamentation as one with the nation is something I can share with my future children and grandchildren (God-willing). I promise myself this day that I will do my best to strive for the ideals that the Aquino couple stood for, fought for, and died for.

"True people power is prayer power." Indeed.

Maraming, maraming salamat po, Tita Cory.
You will live on forever in our hearts.
Hanggang sa muli...


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