Monday, March 30, 2009

Cost of living

"Unemployment data from the January 2009 Labor Force Survey confirms the country’s descent into greater joblessness due to the global crisis and accumulated domestic economic weaknesses. The figures however are a gross underestimation of joblessness in the country, which is likely to have already reached at least a massive 4.3 million, said research group IBON Foundation.

The officially-released figures already show an increase of 180,000 jobless Filipinos, which is reported to have reached 2.9 million in the latest labor force survey. However, the real unemployment rate is not 7.7% as officially reported but likely to be at least 11.2 percent. Combined with the 6.2 million unemployed means that there were at least 10.6 million Filipinos jobless or otherwise looking for more work and pay in January 2009..."

"Unemployment Figures Wrong; Number of Jobless Higher". (2009, March 24). Pinoy Press. Retrieved March 30, 2009 from

The numbers are staggering. Millions of people are without work and are struggling to make ends meet as the financial/economic crisis deeply sink in. Join me in prayer for the unemployed as they search for jobs and find ways to support themselves and their families. Pray that they find strength in the Lord, the gracious Provider, and believe that He cares.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Mahatma Ghandi once said, "The earth has enough for man’s need but not for man’s greed." It is true; ours is a finite earth. However, with this thought, we - as caretakers of God's creation - are doing a very poor job of watching over the one planet that we all share. Nevertheless, it is reassuring to know that things are changing for the better. It might be helpful to realize that the earth existed before man ever stepped foot on it and that the earth can go on existing without us men... but we cannot exist without the earth.

Well, folks, this is it. I am taking a stand.

I am half an hour into my vote to save Mother Earth. As I wait in silence surrounded by darkness, I feel a sense of ease wash over me. Tonight, Filipinos and people from many other countries are turning their lights off to show that they care about the planet. There was no national or local mandate about this historical event for mankind but the people chose to Vote Earth. I am blown away by the power of strong awareness campaigns and by the word of mouth. It is just amazing how people from all over the world are coming together to support the Earth Hour movement. It is proof that many of us have, indeed, put kindness back in mankind.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.

In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.

Vote Earth. Your Light Switch is Your Vote. (2009). Retrieved March 28, 2009, from

I first knew about Earth Hour in 2008. When the time came for turning off the lights, the only people in the house then were Mama and I. I shared to her about the important message that Earth Hour is trying to convey through its goal and my own opinion on the matter. That one hour of darkness became a time of light for me and my mom. We stayed in the living room and spent 60 minutes of meaningful conversation about life in general, which we don't get to have every day.

This year, my parents are away at a conference but they did not forget about Earth Hour. In fact, Papa called an earlier to remind us to switch off the lights. :)

It is now seventeen minutes after 9:30pm yet the lights in our house are still turned off. I chose to leave it off for a few more minutes - or maybe another hour. I believe that while Earth Hour is very significant as a point of oneness with the whole world at a particular date and time, it doesn't have to just start and end on March 28, 2009 from 8:30 to 9:30 in the evening. If we strongly believe in its message, we can hold Earth Hour at least once a day, once a week or once a month. We can also help in fighting the green battle by being more aware and well informed of the many environmental issues our generation is facing today.

"Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."
- Ancient Indian Proverb

Friday, March 27, 2009

I found you

The artwork above was originally drawn by my classmate, Liz, during our freshman year in college. As we were adjusting to university life during the first few weeks of the academic year, Liz and I exchanged stories about high school. I've shown her several pictures including a photo of me and three of my closest friends in senior year. Liz, as the talented artist she is, cartoonized us and ta da! - the drawing featured above was born. (I added the colorful texts.)

After our first year in college, though, Liz and her family moved to the United States. She didn't continue with her Psychology degree there; instead, she pursued studies in the arts. I believe that that is really what she wants. We have kept in touch until now and I have seen her works. They are absolutely brilliant! :) Art is truly her calling.

Upon remembering Liz and thinking about friendship, I decided to share this with you:

© 2009 Julie Ann Caringal

You and I started something together
Something indescribable and something unbelievable
And through the years we've gone farther
We can say it’s been quite unpredictable

Nevertheless, it was the perfect present
Given to me and you by the God Almighty
"To be taken cared of well," He said
Like a dream that unfolds into reality

A road to take in the span of a lifetime
Filled with joy, success, laughter, and ease
But can be barred still by many dangers
Yet full of turns, signs, decisions and opportunities

A lot of people we've met along the way
Became our friends – companions they remain
And with every step in this journey before us
We tried to make everything perfect, but all in vain!

Now I see only one thing is proven true:
An adventure once experienced is truly a great gift
Like the journey unfolded before our eyes is worth all...

This poem is monumental for me. It has a very special story.

I wrote this poem about five to six years ago when I was in high school. I was part of my school's student publication then. I really loved to write, especially features articles and poetry. While net surfing at home one time, I came upon and found out that they hold poetry contests. I instantly became interested in joining. I submitted "The Journey Unfolded" and hoped that my poem will be considered.

After a few days, I figured that I didn't win the contest but I don't remember being sad about it. I know there are a lot of other great poets and writers out there. All I wanted to do was join and see what happens. No big expectations. More importantly, I wanted to share the message of my literary piece to others and I was glad to be able to do so through that opportunity.

One day, the postman came with a letter addressed to me. It was from - what were the chances? I felt as if it was suddenly Christmas and Santa came to town while I was eagerly opening the envelope to read the letter. A printed copy of my poem was inside and in the letter, mentioned that they liked my work and wanted it to be a part of their anthology! Wow! I rushed to find Mama to tell her all about it. The events after that are now a blur although I probably have it written down in one of my journals now tucked away in the attic. (I'll go through them tomorrow.)

The amazing twist to this story is this: While I was thinking of what to write about in my blog, I stumbled upon Liz's drawing, edited it, and decided to look for a nice poem to go with it. I went through my collection of poems that I've written years ago and for the first time in five years more or less - the wonderful memories of "The Journey Unfolded" came rushing into my mind.

I went to in the hopes of finding my poem there to convince myself that the memories I have came from something real. In the 'Search for a Poet' box, I typed my name... Lo and behold! My poem is still there. I was really, really nicely overwhelmed to see it with my own two eyes. I was grinning from ear to ear. I felt like singing the music of my heart filled with the joy similar to finding a lost treasure.

"The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle." 
- Anais Nin

Let us celebrate 'the journey unfolded'. Let us celebrate friendship!

P.S. In case you're wondering, I'm the girl second from left in the drawing. :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Basta Ikaw

It was never easy for me to say goodbye. Never is. Never will be.
Especially to someone close to my heart.

Last December, I lost someone dear to me: a mentor and friend. She is a precious person who meant so much to her family - a daughter, sister, wife, and mother. It really broke my heart to see her one last time during the wake.

Nearly two years ago, another person I know left this world to be with the Lord. Yesterday, I was at Sta. Rita, Bulacan with some friends to visit his grave. His family was there as well. A mass was held in remembrance of him. There was no more crying; only smiles and happy conversations... albeit there will always be that tug of sadness in the heart. It was unspoken but definitely felt.

His farewell was so sudden; it was a shock to all who knew him. I received a text message about his accident in the middle of a school day - only a couple of weeks into the academic year. After class, I approached one of my classmates and told him the news. At first, he thought it was a small accident or injury since they play football [soccer] during intercollegiate sports festivals. When he realized the gravity of the situation, I literally saw that his face fell. Next thing I know we, together with many others, were at the hospital for a visit and prayer vigil. Waiting for him to recover and to hear the words, 'he is going to be okay' from the doctors was very painful and trying. Especially since we knew he was in a deeply critical condition with small chances of surviving.

Today, he would've been 24 years old, finishing his sophomore year in medical school. But we do not (and should not) dwell on what ifs and if onlys for we know that he is far happier now to be with God. Revelation 21:4 says, "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

John Gay once said: "We only part to meet again." I believe so.

"Say goodbye... When I can barely say good night..."  Difficult as it may be, I just think about going separate ways in such a manner that each day farther away from 'farewell' is a day closer to 'we meet again'.

"My days with the Lord are forever."
- Stephen G.

For you, Stephen. We miss you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Picture Perfect

"A photograph, can take you back instantly --- to a moment, a place, or even a person. No matter what else has changed in you or the world, that one photograph stays the same. Just like that moment." 

During my freshman year in college, digital cameras abound but they were too expensive at the time for my family to buy one. We had a manual, film camera and we're happy with that. My mom wouldn't let me take it around campus for random photo shoots though because the price of a roll of film and developing costs were beginning to soar. Nevertheless, I simply made the most out of what I have. Armed with my Nokia 6610i cellphone, I took the photos featured above - with zoom and macro settings based on a change in arm's length and the number of steps I am away from my subject of choice. Still, I loved the way the pictures came out. I would send the photos from my phone to my e-mail at P5.00 each. Each JPEG formatted image's resolution is only 352 x 288.

Such were the beginnings of my photography pursuit.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sing a prayer

Psalm 5:3, 27:14, 33:20, 37:7, 38:15, 40:1, Isaiah 30:18, Lamentations 3:24

"The explanation for this song is simple, I was waiting on God and I was hurting when I wrote the lyrics. I probably wouldn’t have written a song if my friend, Mike, hadn’t encouraged me to document what I was going through during that time. I’m sure there are few people who can’t relate to this song, but the important thing to remember while we’re waiting on God is to not just wait but to actively wait. Serve, worship and be faithful with what you have, where you are… “even while (you) wait.”
-John Waller

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait

I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord

© 2007 Travelin’ Zoo Music (ASCAP) (admin. by EMI CMG Publishing)

Most of life and growing up involves waiting. Joyce Meyer said, "I have discovered that patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting." More often than not, it is easier said than done. Nevertheless, I will do my best.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What's in a name?

Tomorrow marks exactly one year of my being an official alumna of the university I attended. March 16 was the College of Science graduation day - one of the most awaited days of my life. The last thing I remember writing down for school was my graduation speech, the address of petition in vernacular, to be delivered in behalf of the graduating class of 2008. It was an honor I will always remember.

When the giving of diplomas, taking of oaths, etcetera were done with, Tim (B.S. Biology major with the highest honors in the college for 2008) gave the thanksgiving message in behalf of the batch. Like what I did with mine, he started his speech by acknowledging the vice rector for religious affairs (presiding officer of the commencement exercises), the dean, the regent, the assistant dean, the secretary and the chair of each department in our college [in that order] - all of whom are important people in the school administration who created structure for our college years.  If not for the five-minute time limit, the generality the message had to exude, and the formality of the ceremonies, I am quite sure that anyone who would be given the chance to exclaim a public address of gratitude would've possibly taken the time to mention by name every single person who have been an essential part of the scholastic journey. I know I would have.

Honestly, though, there are times when I am bad at recalling names. Believe me, I don't mean to forget but sometimes it just escapes me and sadly - just when I remember - the person who, for instance, said 'Hi' to me has already left. Meanwhile, I have my share of experiences when a person whom I've spent time with, who I know much about, wave at, smile at, or talk to forgets my name. "Listen, I'm sorry I have to ask, but.. er.. What's your name again?" I get that feeling alright. It is as if... I'm not that important enough to remain in memory. Last in, first out.

I understand we all have our moments, especially me, but I do realize that names are venerable because they distinguish people from one another and represent them - it is a word or group of words by which we are known throughout our lives. With these thoughts, I have promised myself to exert much, much more effort to bear in mind names especially of people to whom I have just been introduced.

While I struggle with remembering and trying to be remembered, it is so reassuring to know that the Lord has 'enscribed us in the palms of His hands' (v.16):

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine."
- Isaiah 43:1

To everyone who has been a part of my life journey, thank you. Bless them, Lord, you know each one by name.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tribute to the Free Man

This is for the man who chose to stand up: for family, for country - the "7,107 spots on the map" with "three stars and a sun". You truly make us proud to be Pinoy. Indeed, your enthusiasm for life and optimism for this nation make you a legend.

You faced the world with a smile no matter how difficult, no matter how painful, and no matter how trying was the situation that you were going through knowing that millions of people will be shedding their tears when you are gone - when you've finally come home to the Master.

Faces by F.M. Photo taken from The Happy Battle.

Fighter. Friend. Father. Free Man. Filipino.
October 4, 1964 - March 6, 2009

He fought The Happy Battle against Acute Myelogenous Leukemia with Mixed Lineage. Amid the fact that his health was slowly slipping away, he remained strong in God - loving and supporting his family, creating truthful music and photography, and being an inspiration to many Filipinos.

Francis Magalona passed away at 44. But his story will always be a part of ours.. our history. "Mga kababayan ko, dapat na malaman niyo, ako ay Pilipino!" Francis M., we salute you!

So many faces, so many races
Different voices, different choices
Some are mad, while others laugh
Some live alone with no better half
Others grieve while others curse
And others mourn behind a big black hearse
Some are pure and some half-bred
Some are sober and some are wasted
Some are rich because of fate and
Some are poor with no food on their plate
Some stand out while others blend
Some are fat and stout while some are thin
Some are friends and some are foes
Some have some while some have most

Every color and every hue
Is represented by me and you
Take a slide in the slope
Take a look in the kaleidoscope
Spinnin’ round, make it twirl
In this kaleidoscope world

Some are great and some are few
Others lie while some tell the truth
Some say poems and some do sing
Others sing through their guitar strings
Some know it all while some act dumb
Let the bassline strum to the bang of the drum
Some can swim while some will sink
And some will find their minds and think
Others walk while others run
You can’t talk peace and have a gun
Some are hurt and start to cry
Don’t ask me how don’t ask me why
Some are friends and some are foes
Some have some while some have most

[Repeat Chorus]

Kaleidoscope world
In this kaleidoscope world


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