Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Invisible Class

Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all enrolled in one huge classroom called 'the world' and we are all students of 'life'.

The young professional standing next to you waiting for the bus might be a 'classmate' learning how to commute around the city. On the other hand, the old lady vendor on the sidewalk who you discovered was able to send all her five kids to school because of small business may turn out to be your 'teacher'.

Not everything an individual knows is learned within the four walls of a classroom. Formal education offers only a partial view through the window of learning.

Geometry, Algebra, Trigonometry and Accounting are all good subjects involving numbers. In school, my classmates and I were taught how to compute whole numbers and decimals, solve mathematical problems, and analyze financial statements. However, we were never taught the practical hows and whys when it came to managing the coins and bills in our wallets or pockets.

I first learned the concept of money at home. Mom and Dad taught me the value of money and the importance of handling it well. They are good stewards of their finances and I consider them as role models.

My big break in actual, hands-on experience managing huge amounts of money was when I became the finance director (a.k.a. treasurer) of one of my college organizations, the UST Psychology Society. It was really serious business - a tremendous leap from budgeting just my allowance. I had to collect money by certain deadlines, allocate them in certain funds for different organization programs, file all receipts, record all transactions, and submit monthly financial statements to the dean's office. It was somewhat of a shock during my first few weeks in office because the Society had more or less a thousand members and, more importantly, I had other extracurricular activities and responsibilities as a student.

The challenges I went through during college definitely paid off because I have learned very valuable lessons that I know I wouldn't have learned elsewhere. I also knew that all of those were in preparation for other greater things after graduation.

From August to November of 2008, I attended Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University through The Bridge Church in Venice, Florida. FPU is "is a life-changing program that teaches you how to make the right decisions with your money." In the FPU classes, I learned more about how the financial system works. I gained more knowledge about cash flow planning, debt reduction, investments, savings, insurance, tithing, wealth building and much more. In FPU, truly "you'll be empowered with the practical skills and confidence needed to achieve your financial goals and experience true financial peace!"

Of course, everything is useless until they are applied in one's life.

Recently, one of my friends, a financial planner, invited me to a financial wake-up call seminar under the International Marketing Group (IMG), the company he works for.

International Marketing Group is one of the few companies of its kind in the industry today - a marketing company that is dedicated to serving the financial needs of individuals and families from all walks of life.
International Marketing Group's independent associates do not just work with clients who have large amounts of discretionary income - instead they work with everyday people helping them make critical financial decisions that help move them from where they are to where they want to be.
International Marketing Group is one of the biggest and fastest growing financial distribution companies in the US, Canada, Taiwan, Hongkong, Philippines and going worldwide.

What I like most about the seminar is that everything is within the Filipino context. Lifestyles here and abroad are different; taking context into consideration is very important. Nevertheless, sound financial CONCEPTS and PERSPECTIVES are evidently universal and I realized that by the end of the first lecture.

Here are some simple lessons that many people often forget:

1. Do not spend more than you earn.
2. Save first before you spend.
3. It is in giving that we receive.
4. "The borrower is servant to the lender." - Proverbs 22:7
5. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;" - Matthew 6:19
6. "The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein." - Psalms 24:1

Understanding why you are here is the most important first step. We still have much to learn but knowing that we are here to know God, love God, and serve God - the rest will surely follow.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pen and paper

I seem to write less and less as the years go by. I used to have so much time to jot down the details of what transpired during the day every day. But now the days turn to weeks, weeks to months and months to years.

Not that I'm complaining.

I still have the same 24-hour day like everybody else. It's just that more important things have taken over the time I used to dedicate to my diary writing.

I realized at some point during my mid-teens that it's much better that I live the moment to the fullest and share the time wholly with the people I'm with rather than soak in that instance to later on busy myself writing it down for no one in particular - one who can't even fully appreciate the importance of the events/connections that transpired. It is very similar to taking a picture wherein the photographer was too busy thinking about the perfect conditions for a brilliant capture that the glory of the moment already eluded him.

Writing in my diary has been (and still is at very certain occasions) a good outlet for me.

The big difference now, however, is this: In the past I used to write down my story, now I write down what God wants my story to be like.

"It is such an amazing feat to hear the resounding voices captured by the silence of words on a piece of paper even after inches of dust has accumulated on the pages with the passing of time."

I have more than 20 diaries to date and I am thankful for each one. When I have the chance to scan through them, I see how much I've changed and grown through the years. I can't help but burst into laughter, feel funny, hold back tears, and shake my head in disbelief over some of the things I wrote down in the now yellowing pages of my journals.

More often that not, I also feel like I'm reading about the life of someone else.

There was a time I thought of burning all of these diaries. One day I just felt that the person I am now doesn't want anything more to do with the person I was then. The present self regarded the past person as a complete stranger.

However, I realized later on that even if I did let fire consume those notebooks, God still has a record of all that I wrote down. He knows everything about me and everything that happened (and will happen) in my life - written or unwritten by me.

Truly, one must be aware of how he is living his life.

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it."
-Matthew 7:13

So I say, "let Thy will be done in my life."

Monday, July 20, 2009

ManilArt09 and more

I had the busiest and most enjoyable weekend I had in a while.

I had two meetings last Saturday: one in Dapitan, Manila near my college alma mater and one at the EDSA Shangri-la mall. It was wonderful to see old, familiar faces. The weather might have been unpleasant but we've accomplished so much that my somehow adventurous commute around the metro made it very much worthwhile. Besides, I don't like being cooped up in the house for a long time. The meeting at EDSA Shangri-la was a monthly gathering of the Association of Thomasian Psychology Alumni (ATPA) officers. Important organization matters, updates, and upcoming activities were discussed after a sumptuous Kimono Ken dinner. :)

Come Sunday after church, my college friends and I went to a birthday/graduation celebration in Caloocan City last Sunday. It was my first time to go in that area of Metro Manila. The party was set around lunch time. The food and the company was fantastic! We were all full, everyone was feeling a little sleepy afterwards. (Did I hear someone say nap time?) Good thing the fun and laughter managed to keep us all awake. ;)

The only souvenir photo I had on my camera during my Caloocan visit is the photo above of the little manhole with a smiling face. I was nicely surprised to see one like it but being in the metro, I knew it wasn't unusual. That's what I call 'street art'.

After the lunch date, my friends and I went to TriNoMa. In all the excitement listening to Michael Jackson songs on the music player and catching up on things, I forgot one tiny detail: malls are jampacked on Sundays - especially on Sundays. I think the TriNoMa photo at the beginning of this entry speaks for itself.

We didn't stay there very long. After a few fun arcade games, Tin and I bid our other friends farewell as we decided to go to the art exhibit at the NBC Tent, Global City, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig. July 19 was the last day and the venue is open only until 8pm. Tin had to be home by 7pm. Since watching a movie was out of the picture due to the time constraint, a trip to see amazing masterpieces was the perfect way to end the day.

Tin was given complimentary tickets by her boss, which meant we can view the artworks for free! Awesome. :) I had enough money to buy the commemorative issue of the Contemporary Art Philippines magazine they were selling and a few button pins from Children's Environmental Awareness and Action Foundation, Inc.

ManilArt09 is "is the first international art fair to be hosted in the Philippines. It is participated in by the country's leading art galleries and those of the Asian region. This is where art collectors and enthusiasts can view the finest examples of Contemporary Art today and gather together to exchange views and insights about the world of art."

It is a flagship project of the National Committee on Art Galleries (NCAG) of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in partnership with the Bonafide Art Galleries Association (BAGO).

Too bad I didn't have enough money to buy any of the original artworks. There were several oil on canvas paintings, mixed media masterpieces and excellent sculptures that I would love to take home. *Sigh*

The art exhibit was brilliant! I'm glad we ended up going. It was nice to get our minds off from work and from the unnecessary worries of life. Tin and I agreed to go to Global City more often and explore the place: go to more exhibits, grab a bite at the good restaurants, stroll around and what-have-you. It certainly sounds like a good plan to me.

Cheers to all the amazing artists!

...and cheers to more relaxing weekends!

Friday, July 17, 2009


We believe that all people are born with basic rights and freedoms - life, liberty, and justice.

For this event, I became particularly interested in Youth for Human Rights International. I browsed their site and learned a few things - important things.

I learned that 'in 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights', a copy of which can be downloaded from the YHRI website. In fact, there is a petition urging "all member countries to follow the wishes of the General Assembly and cause the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

There are 30 of these rights namely:

1: We Are All Born Free & Equal
2: Don't Discriminate
3: The Right to Life
4: No Slavery
5: No Torture
6: You Have Rights No Matter Where You Go
7: We're All Equal Before the Law
8: Your Human Rights Are Protected by Law
9: No Unfair Detainment
10: The Right to Trial
11: We're Always Innocent Till Proven Guilty
12: The Right to Privacy
13: Freedom to Move
14: The Right to Seek a Safe Place to Live
15: Right to a Nationality
16: Marriage and Family
17: The Right to Your Own Things
18: Freedom of Thought
19: Freedom of Expression
20: The Right to Public Assembly
21: The Right to Democracy
22: Social Security
23: Workers' Rights
24: The Right to Play
25: Food and Shelter for All
26: The Right to Education
27: Copyright
28: A Fair and Free World
29: Responsibility
30: No One Can Take Away Your Human Rights

In a world where boundaries are often overlooked and overstepped, I think this is something worth knowing. I have studied the Philippine Government and Constitution when I was in my senior year in college and it has been truly helpful knowing where I stand as a citizen of my native land. However, living in a world where the the planet has become but a global village, I strongly believe that this Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be made known to every person.

In line with taking action for Human Rights, I pay my tribute to the late great Michael Jackson. His song, "Heal the World", is closest to my heart among his many dearly loved music hits. The video below of his performance on January 31, 1993 in Pasadena, California is for me his most stellar performance.

Too often, people are remembered for the good that they have done when they have passed away. While they are here, we often notice what's wrong more than what's right. We live with other people as if they'll live forever but the instant they are gone, we pay them tribute as if they never left. When will we ever learn to cherish people while they are still here?

It was really sad to see the Michael Jackson's life go downhill. He started as a very promising young boy full of talent and aspirations. Unfortunately, he ended becoming less and less the person God wants him to be. Nevetheless, the life of one of the most famous music icons of our time - harsh controversies, humanitarian efforts and all - was not without society's influence.

I quote: "I am what I am because of who we all are"...

"Ubuntu" is an idea present in African spirituality that says "I am because we are" - or we are all connected, we cannot be ourselves without community, health and faith are always lived out among others, an individual’s well being is caught up in the well being of others.
(Source: Wikipedia)

The way his journey ended reminded me of Vincent van Gogh's own struggles portrayed in Don McLean's song "Vincent". Sadly, while millions of people adored him, only a few was able to stand by his side when he asked, "Will you be there?"

Indeed, the King of Pop was gone too soon.

Image from Afrobella

August 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009

Thank you for the music.

by Maya Angelou
(read by Queen Latifah in Michael's memorial service)

Beloveds, now we know that we know nothing, now that our bright and shining star can slip away from our fingertips like a puff of summer wind.

Without notice, our dear love can escape our doting embrace. Sing our songs among the stars and walk our dances across the face of the moon.

In the instant that Michael is gone, we know nothing. No clocks can tell time. No oceans can rush our tides with the abrupt absence of our treasure.

Though we are many, each of us is achingly alone, piercingly alone.

Only when we confess our confusion can we remember that he was a gift to us and we did have him.

He came to us from the creator, trailing creativity in abundance.

Despite the anguish, his life was sheathed in mother love, family love, and survived and did more than that.

He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style. We had him whether we know who he was or did not know, he was ours and we were his.

We had him, beautiful, delighting our eyes.

His hat, aslant over his brow, and took a pose on his toes for all of us.

And we laughed and stomped our feet for him.

We were enchanted with his passion because he held nothing. He gave us all he had been given.

Today in Tokyo, beneath the Eiffel Tower, in Ghana's Black Star Square.

In Johannesburg and Pittsburgh, in Birmingham, Alabama, and Birmingham, England

We are missing Michael.

But we do know we had him, and we are the world.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

prIde with a capital I


... was when I had to walk under the pouring rain from the EDSA highway to the place where I work near Don Bosco Makati because I had no idea that there was a jeepney strike that day and the FX driver forgot to drop us off at SM so he had to stop in the middle of the road so we could get off and go our way.


... is waking up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning to get myself ready for the day, preparing my things for work, cooking my breakfast and lunch, commuting for about half an hour to 45 minutes (walking in between riding three different vehicles, passing by three different routes, with different passengers coming and going), working from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, commuting for about an hour and a half (walking in between waiting in line and riding three different vehicles, passing by three different routes, with different passengers coming and going), doing the dishes by hand upon coming home, cleaning up a little, hand-washing my clothes (blouses, jeans, socks, handkerchiefs..) in the bathroom and hanging them there aka doing the laundry, eating dinner (if I still have energy left), and reading a few pages (if my eyes haven't closed by themselves yet) before getting ready to sleep.

But even more TIRED

... is having a heavy heart after a heated argument with your mom over the weekend upon getting back from grocery shopping, causing her to cut the family's visit to the condo short, and crying yourself to sleep after doing all you had to do for the day and waking up the next morning not wanting to do anthing but eventually getting on with the day's activities.

Prayer for a healthy heart:




Monday, July 13, 2009

No to Hunger

How many times does the thought of eating food cross your mind in a day?
I'm guessing, more than thrice.

What kind of food would be great to have the next time you eat?
I'm sure you have a lot of choices in mind.

How many times have you actually eaten the food that you want to have that crossed your mind today?
Perhaps at least once.

Have you ever worried that your next meal time might not come for hours and eventually days and that you would not be able to eat what you want or, more pressingly, not be able to eat anything at all?
Millions of people all over the world have.

Ten days ago, I committed to participate in a 'campaign to raise awareness about the urgent hunger crisis affecting over one billion people around the world'.

The global humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger is launching No Hunger with a trailer to Al Gore’s next film—a film that doesn’t exist yet—about acute malnutrition, a disease that kills 5 million children each year.

I signed the petition asking Al Gore to make No Hunger his next film, a film that will open the eyes of everyone to the harsh reality of the hunger and malnutrition crisis today in order 'to end childhood deaths from malnutrition—a predictable, preventable condition that threatens 55 million children every year'.

The world's hungry exceeds one billion and that definitely tells us something; it tells us to do something.

Just as the 2007 Nobel Prize Winning work, An Inconvenient Truth, helped reshape public perceptions of climate change, we hope that No Hunger will help attract the public support needed to reach every acutely malnourished child.

The campaign’s overall objective is to reshape public understanding of acute malnutrition. The new story is we now have the tools to end acute malnutrition and we’re convinced a film by Al Gore could reshape perceptions and mobilize the resources needed to end hunger-related deaths.

The No Hunger initiative, which began in Madrid, has already collected more than 64,000 signatures and is endorsed by “Heroes” co-star Jimmy Jean-Louis and numerous French and Spanish actors.

The petition will be presented to Al Gore this December at the climate change conference in Copenhagen.

The first step before action is awareness. One cannot act on something he does not know about. Go ahead and discover what is there to be learned about hunger and malnutrition. Be counted.

Remember, "big things come in small packages".

Unlike the cures for many other diseases, the treatment for severe acute malnutrition is not expensive—it costs about $50 and doesn’t require prescription drugs. Instead, it relies on nutrient dense, ready-to-use food products, such as plumpy’nut, that can take a child from the brink of death and restore him to health in as little as six weeks.

Click here to view a video report about plumpy’nut by Anderson Cooper.

By learning about what we can do to save the people suffering from hunger and malnutrition, we are slowly getting closer to making this world a better place.

Be aware. Be heard. Be involved.

Together, let's say NO to HUNGER.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I love writing.

I write about anything that comes into mind - anything under the sun or beyond it.

I started writing poetry at a very young age. When I was in elementary, I joined the school paper and became part of it until I was in high school. During college, I would frequently contribute feature articles to different publications. I have also been maintaining a blog since I discovered the world of online journals. But more than anything else, I particularly love writing letters.

I looked up the word history of write and I found this:

Every western Indo-European language except English derives its verb for “to write” from Latin scrībere: écrire in French, escribir in Spanish, scrivere in Italian, scribaim in Old Irish, ysgrifennuin Welsh, skriva in Breton, skrifa in Old Norse, skrive in Danish and Norwegian, skriva in Swedish, schreiben in German, schrijven in Dutch. The Old English verb “to write” is wrītan, from a Germanic root *writ– that derives from an Indo-European root *wreid– meaning “to cut, scratch, tear, sketch an outline.” German still retains this meaning in its cognate verb reissen, “to tear.” Only Old English employed wrītan to refer to writing, that is, scratching on parchment with a pen. English shows a similar contrariness in its verb read, being almost the only western European language not to derive its verb for that concept from Latin legere.

To write. To tear. To scratch. To cut.

Ahhh, I see.

Now it makes more sense why whenever I write, I somehow get a glimpse of what it feels like to "dig deep into the soul". Facing a blank page is always a struggle. For me, it takes a lot of effort to make the first mark and get going.

There are times when I find it very difficult to write about the things I want to share (especially in English since it is not my native language). I can't seem to find the right words to use. I can't seem to organize my thoughts into creative and witty paragraphs. With pen and paper at hand, I sometimes appear to have only perfection in mind when I should be asking myself, "What do I want to let my reader/s know and why?". Then I can worry about the rest later.

Pen. Paper. Perfection. Purpose.

Makes more sense to me.

About that snail mail, where's that card I bought...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Part of You

Color My Life, Lord
© 2009 Julie Ann Caringal

White is for the beginning
Plain, simple, and true
Waiting for the Light to strike
Revealing colors we never knew

Blue and green are for nature
The calmness of the soul
A refreshment for the spirit
In which we are made whole

We also need some spark of hope
To guide us on our way
A flame’s orange and yellow
We must bring along day by day

Black and purple are for reflections
Many faithful times of prayer
For life is not without trials
Or burdens we must bear

Pink and red and a million others
Are for love and all that is good
Color my life wonderfully, Lord,
For from Thy palette I understood

Today, the company I work for celebrates it's 10th anniversary. I am very joyful to be a part of its milestone. I pray that the Lord will continue to bless it and all the people involved especially those who give their faithful time and effort at work and those who receive the fruits of those endeavors. For its mission and vision... to God be the glory!

Let's start the month right.


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