Thursday, June 30, 2005

Abraham's Lessons & God's Arms of Love

God is teaching me lessons in faith through the daily mass readings about Abraham. The man who believed that God would send him a son despite his very old age was once again put to the test when God asked him to surrender that beloved son. It's true for it is written, "God put Abraham to the test" (Gn 22:1b [NAB]).

I think I'm again being put to the test, after God and I had moved some inches in my lessons in waiting. Now that I have promised to try to live simply and even actually let go of my salary, I'm being challenged to teach the people around me to adjust to that. I'm being taught the value of money and at the same time being detached from it. Unfortunately, some people who are close to me refuse to accept my new situation. It breaks my heart that I can't please them anymore just because my choice is affecting their lifestyle choices. I wish I were a better witness in this regard, but I also don't have the capacity at this point to explain properly that we could be happy without having to spend so much. I realized that sensitivity is not everybody's gift and one of my friends just drove a four-wheel drive truck over my heart, my pride, and my value to her as a friend.

So I came before the Lord to say that if this means I have to ease up on this friendship for a while, then may He give me the grace to do so, because I value this friend. Then I read about Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac. I knew that it was just a test of faith and I said Yes to God once again. He is not so cruel as to ask of me something that would not teach me something of far greater importance. Abraham did not stop loving Isaac; he just loved God more. I've had some Isaacs in the past already. Just as I was asking God to comfort me during this time of painful giving up, which occurs daily now, I heard a song that more than comforted me.

I am enjoying a month-long vacation these days but there are many threats to that vacation, from people who continue to demand and expect without noticing that the chicken that lays the golden egg has become dehydrated already. I wish I could live in a beach resort for a month and put a sign at the door - "Do Not Disturb - Cleansing Ongoing".

Arms of Love
Amy Grant

Lord I'm really glad You're here.
I hope You feel the same when You see all my fear,
And how I fail,
I fall sometimes.

It's hard to walk in shifting sand.
I miss the rock, and find I've nowhere left to stand;
I start to cry.
Lord, please help me raise my hands so You can pick me up.
Hold me close,
Hold me tighter.

I have found a place where I can hide.
It's safe inside
Your arms of love.
Like a child who's helped throughout a storm,
You keep me warm
In Your arms of love.

Storms will come and storms will go.
Wonder just how many storms it takes until
I finally know
You're here always.
Even when my skies are far from gray,
I can stay;
Teach me to stay there,

In the place I've found where I can hide.
It's safe inside
Your arms of love.
Like a child who's helped throughout a storm,
You keep me warm
In Your arms of love.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A White Rabbit

Neo looked for it at the first episode of The Matrix series. Alice followed it into Wonderland. Everyone's favorite chewy candy is named after it. And I've always wanted to own a real, live, white rabbit.

I have a friend who had a stout white rabbit roaming their sprawling gardens. It had shades of pink and I wanted to take it home! I'm fascinated with their extreme cuddliness. Last week, at the (where else?) Cenacle Garden, I was surprised when I found one bouncing about, munching on the grass. How I wished I could bring it home as well. Then I read an article at the Inquirer about a family that owned several pets, including two rabbits, and about the latter's cutesy antics.

Yesterday I took a walk around our neighborhood after mass. I was on my way to the bank, actually, when I noticed a place I had never entered before, but which my favorite cartoon character Ben (of PDI's Comics Page) loves because of the free entertainment it provided his grandson ==> a pet shop! I've been living here for seven years, and yet I've never had the time nor the inclination to go inside it. And so I finally did.

I looked around and felt like a disappointed kid when I couldn't find the object of my search. The store clerk asked me what I was looking for, and I said, "Do you have rabbits?" I was tempted to pronounce them "wabbits" but decided against it. He said, "Ma'am, hindi po ba yan yon?" I looked down at a cage that contained three white rabbits and smiled widely. I interviewed him about how to feed and take care of the pets. He showed me rabbit pellets and rabbit cages. I started to calculate if I would have the time to clean that cage, and to keep the rabbit immaculately white. The clerk quoted a very affordable price for the littlest of the three, for me, but I couldn't make up my mind if I was ready for it.

I've never single-handedly raised a pet before. We used to have a dog but when my eldest brother developed asthma, we stopped having dogs and cats in the house. We were allowed to keep an aquarium and we bought different kinds of fish. We also had parrots. But those pets I was used to never needed much maintenance. Now that all my siblings have flown away from the nest, and I'm left alone with my parents, I would have to take care of my rabbit all by myself. That got me thinking!

What if I just gave a wabbit to my nephews? They have a bigger garden, surely they could play with it and take good care of it for me. The problem is, my brother - their dad - might think wabbits are for girls and might not want his little boys to grow up with a pet rabbit.

So right now I haven't come up with an answer to my dilemma yet. Maybe, in the meantime, I could get myself one of them stuffed animals. It can't run around our tiny garden but it sure would look as cute as the real one.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tinkering with Blogger's Image Uploader

Good things come to those who wait. I did not doubt for a second that Blogger would come up with its own image-uploading tool. I'd like to thank Hello for all its help the past few months, but I think I'd use blogger now to send my photos to my blog. It makes life a whole lot easier. :)

So now I have this picture of the cat I've always wanted to be. And this place I've always wanted to visit...

And the little black dress I've always dreamed of. As Prof. Jacinto of UP Law once told me, everyone is entitled to their own dreams. :)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

And the Favorite Fountain for Day Three

From where I was looking, it was a little well, and I imagined that I was that woman to whom Jesus conversed, telling her to drink the water that would quench her thirst forever. Posted by Hello

Favorite Fountain for Day Two

... I went home unable to figure out how it worked. :) Posted by Hello

Fountain beside Our Lady of the Cenacle Posted by Hello

The Giving Tree

The giving [mango] tree, under the shade of which, I waited for the sun to set on the Second Day. Posted by Hello

Not So Secret Garden

For three whole days, this garden was mine. Too bad I only had a small camera phone to take photos with. Posted by Hello

Shot of the Cenacle Garden

I took this last year, June 2004, during my Day of Prayer. This used to be my favorite spot at the garden. This year, many new discoveries led me deeper into my prayer. Posted by Hello

The Past is Really Past Now

Earlier tonight, I found myself at a noisy restaurant that serves alcohol. Good thing that I was surrounded by the Lingkod QT's who were all attempting to eat a normal dinner despite the unfamiliar surroundings. Well, it probably was familiar to us individually, at one time or another, but not on Friday nights and hopefully, not in our present life anymore.

The past life. Just like any bar-restaurant, the place where we held our last anniversary Friday fellowship had several bottles on display. I was seated exactly underneath some familiar ones - Bailey's, Absolut, McKevin's and Jose Cuervo, in that order. Just like in a commercial, I tuned out the loud music and the nonstop conversations in my head and while sitting, remembered the nights (and even days) of my law student life.

McKevin's was our sponsor for the fundraiser that I organized for Bar Ops '96, and all the excess bottles found their way into the apartment that I shared with four female blockmates at Matahimik St. Friends would come on school nights to mix Mc Kevin's gin with Tang pomelo, and we would sit outside to watch the stars, talk about the law, our professors, and the latest law school gossip. A couple of years later, I developed a friendship with Absolut in different forms - citron, curant, and the original one. Bailey's was available to me at that time as well because I had a sister who always kept a bottle at home. Lastly, Jose gold. I could not recall anymore how many shots was my limit, because on one particular rainy night when I was a junior law student, I consciously crossed such self-imposed limit. In law school, drinks were usually free and very easy to come by.

Yes, I once was so attuned to the spirit...of the glass. My patron saint was San Miguel (maximum bottles in a night- eight). Brothers and sisters in Lingkod QC, perhaps my spiritual directress, father confessor, parish priest, and CEFAM counselor would probably not believe that I had once entered the Law library tipsy from an afternoon at Tia Maria's, availing of their buy-one-take-one promo, and that I have a few hangover stories in my memory.

As I breathed the smoky air at Tequila Joe's, and drank from my glass of ice-cold water, I marveled at God's transforming power. The desire to drink once in a while is still with me, but I am now in such a place of peace and joy that I do not need to be in an inebriated state for me to appreciate life. Coming from a three-day silent retreat, tonight's fellowship venue was a reminder of my past life. None of my companions ordered alcohol. Nobody lighted a cigarette. It was a Friday night and I was with single young professionals. The irony and the blessing were not lost on me.

I am thankful that God pulled me out of the darkness I was in and brought me closer to His light. I am glad that He had taken the time to wait for me to come to my senses. The Holy Spirit is the one who lifts up my spirits now. And I have just finished my list of personal patron saints. St. Michael, although a very good angel and warrior, is not one of them. :)

Mama Mary, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Joseph, St. Ignatius, St. Therese, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Claire, please pray for me. I do desire to share a drink with all of you in heaven. Make mine red. :)

Friday, June 24, 2005

Now Playing: You Raise Me Up

At first Josh sang this, then Daniel, then Lingkod QC Music Min. Then I realized it's not about me, but about Jesus. You raise me up, Lord.


Lyrics by Brendan Graham
Music by Rolf Lovland
sung by Josh Groban

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.

There is no life - no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Excerpts from My Journal - Day Three

Wednesday June 22, 2005 8:40 a.m.

I wish I could transform our house into a place of tranquility. Teach me Lord to build your altar, as you instructed the people during Biblical times. Allow me to create prayer spaces at our garden, so your light may shine upon me everyday.

In the real world, I run out of strength, peace, joy, patience, compassion, and forebearance so easily. It is through daily quiet times of prayer that I could be recharged, I know that. Through this and daily offering of the Eucharist, I pray I could become a better witness to the world and the people around me.

I pray for tranquility, peace, joy, and love as I step out into the new world You are calling me to. There is so much grace to tap from. I trust in Your power to carry me through, always.

9:15 a.m.

Retreat is heaven. The world outside is a distraction. Here at the Cenacle Garden, with a cup of coffee and a cold glass of water beside me, everything is crystal clear. I can discern from the Image of God and the ego-image. I can consult my personal compass and give an unequivocal "Yes" to love Jesus with everything that I have. I can lift up to Him my struggles and not be burdened by them. Would that life could be this simple and easy daily!

John 10:10 "I have come that you may have life and have it to the full."

Lord Jesus, fullness of life in You means saying goodbye to my old self that is full of pride and insecurity. I am a living paradox. It also means following godly people.

Ezekiel 36: 24-28 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.

Dear God, thank you for not stopping until I become holy. Thank you for showing me areas for improvement, and providing opportunities for me to become a more relaxed, grateful, joyful and charming girl. :)

Psalm 51:3 "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me."

v. 6: "You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart."

I have often prayed this prayer with David the psalmist, who knows about times of rest and also about times of trouble. The man after God's own heart has been teaching me a lot this year.

And from Luke 1:26-56, Mary's "YES" to God's plan. What a beautiful passage. Mary, naturally, was perplexed at what the angel Gabriel said and pondered what sort of greeting it could be. She asked how it could come to be as she did not know man. The angel said, "For nothing will be impossible with God." (v. 37). Then Mama Mary replied, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word" (v. 38).

Her cousin Elizabeth said, "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord" (v. 45).

Mary sang her Magnificat. Her spirit rejoiced in God her savior! She said, "Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me" (vv. 45; 48-49).

From the start, Fr. Geoffrey already asked me to pray with Mama Mary, to learn to respond like her, when I first consulted him at the NLTC in Iloilo, October 2004. Back in QC, Tito Eddie Mendoza likewise e-mailed me to learn from Mary. Indeed, many more people said that Mary's Yes is God's desired response from me. To believe in the fulfillment of God's word. To rejoice! To be certain that I would be a blessing because of what God has done to me. To boldly proclaim His holiness and glory!

1:30 p.m.

I went through the pages that I wrote during this retreat. I was transformed. My soul grew bigger. I have moved from noise to silence.

2:05 p.m.

I'm dreading having to go back into the world. I wish I could stay here and put the world on silent mode, like my cellphone. Lord, I pray that I could respond better to the people around me after I leave the Cenacle.

Working for the Lingkod National Office

I prayed for this. I fought for this. I waited for this. Like I've never prayed, fought, and waited before. The discernment took six months. The people consulted - close to 50! The lessons in waiting - a lifetimes' worth. The changes I had to deal with - multiple job offers, changes in our leadership, surrender of salary and benefits, explaining to my family and relatives, harsh reality-lifestyle check, etc. - were of great magnitude. It was the biggest decision of my life.

And yet... I am at peace. I'm smiling. I'm excited. I'm looking forward to it. I desire to live more simply. To have less deadlines and headlines in life. To learn as much as I can. I would type documents, answer phones, receive faxes, prepare ice candy (Direk Mon's favorite), joyfully. I would love to travel the country and meet new people. I could sing, dance, write, type, or serve, on all occasions. I will be available for the Lord. I look forward to my future officemates. My sweet spot, like in a badminton raquet (Tito Eddie's analogy, not mine, as I don't play badminton), is reserved for you.

To love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. To love my neighbor as myself. This is my job description. And my salary? You can bet that it is out of this world! :)

My heart is ready, Lord. Here I am.

Excerpts from My Journal - Day Two

Tuesday June 21, 2005 9:05 a.m.

I took a walk to attend the morning mass at the nearby parish.

Lord, I lift up to you this day. I came here to listen to you and to myself but I admit that I've had some difficulty opening up. My mind is closed and my heart is blocked. What am I afraid of? What am I hiding from? I have all this time, a great ambience, and all my needs answered. Everything allows me to pray, and yet I am still distracted. Maybe I don't know where to begin. The past and the future flood the present. What is your invitation for me now? What do you want me to take a look at during this time of retreat? I guess I'm not so ok. I don't know why.

9:35 a.m.

I roamed around the small Cenacle Garden. I discovered new things. Little fountains now dot the garden, providing the comforting sound of water. I watched its crystal-clearness trickling down small jars and smooth pebbles. I compared the fountains with one another and chose my favorite for the day, as a focal point of my meditation.

I realized that I had left behind a totally different life and I was trying to do a balancing act to get into the beat of my new life. The sounds of the two metronomes, however, have confused me. Pressures, expectations and deadlines have become familiar. Prayer, peace and joy - these beautiful things take getting used to. I am still me, weak and sinful.

At the same time, I hear a new song in my heart. A song of love - affirming me and telling me how special I am. This love lets me be who I really am, and assures me that I am not alone. The Source of this Love shows me the plans he has laid out for me.

Sing a new song, Ella. A happier song.

11:01 a.m.

Jesus, thank you for inviting me to bask in your love today. Sr. Susay gave me Psalm 23 to pray with, which is precisely what I was reading last night from "Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You were Never Meant to Bear" by Max Lucado.

I don't understand your love, Yeshua. I'm used to love that demands - achievement, good behavior, trophies, acclaim. The people around me have also gotten used to this from me. Yet without any pressure to achieve, you tell me that you love me and find me beautiful? I guess I'm still clouded by rejection I got from certain people, which have marked me since I was young. Even though I know that you have great plans for me, Lord, I'm just human. I need to move on.

What do I get out of fulfilling deadlines? I was programmed to meet deadlines. Therefore I am not at peace until I submit - articles, projects, papers, decisions, resolutions, and drafts. I measure success in terms of these. That's why all the honoring and affirmation in the world could not make me happy. I do not rest on my laurels. I do not think that I am good enough. My mind is already on what I have to do for my next project.

So if there is no deadline, I know I should be free and thankful. Instead, part of me feels lost. How would I know if I'm doing well? How would I know if I please others? How do I glorify God? If I sit and wait to be served, am I not being lazy, selfish, stupid and unworthy? Lord, teach me Your kind of love that is so different from my programming.

If I allow myself to “just be”, if I sit still, how could You love me? What would I do to earn or deserve that love? In my head I seem to have an answer. But my heart refuses to cooperate. Teach me to simply rejoice, be glad, be grateful, and be in awe. I don't know Your love!

2:45 p.m.

You asked me, Lord, to walk barefoot on the grass. I looked at your creation. I stared at the blue sky. I allowed the gentle breeze to ruffle my hair and to touch my skin. I appreciated the flowers and the leaves at Your garden. I listened to the chirping of the birds and watched them fly one by one out of their respective hiding places.

As I did all that, I prayed for the grace to be awed by Your immense love for me. How frustrating it must be to love me. You woo me, heal me, take care of me, embrace me, engulf me with Your merciful, forgiving, generous and unconditional love, and yet I don't allow any of these to penetrate my heart. What am I afraid of? Getting hurt – You supplied the answer. Lord, I pray for the grace to accept Your love and to acknowledge that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I have three Scripture reading assignments today. From Ezekiel 34:11-16, Psalm 23, and Luke 12:22-34.

In Ezekiel, I substituted "sheep" with "Ella". So I will seek out My Ella. I imagined that God would personally rescue me from the places to which I would wander again and from the people I would get attached to. He would bring me to my "own land", to my destiny. He would give me food and water. He would make me rest and lie down. He would seek me when I am lost, and He would bring me back, bind up my injuries, and strengthen me. I would love for You to do that, Lord.

I could recite Psalm 23 from memory. It was our doxology during my high school graduation, when I sang with the Senior Choir.

The Promise of Luke 12:22-34 has been a recurring message from me. Do not worry. Jesus said this to His disciples. I am His disciple! I have left behind my trade, like the fishermen in His time, to follow Him. I am of much more value than the grass and the birds! Worry will not add to my life. (Would coke add life? Aged ad! I digress...) This is a call to greater faith from me! I should not keep striving, for it is the world that strives. Instead, I would continue to strive for the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be given me as well. For it is the Father's good pleasure to give it to me.

In response to this great, unconditional and mysterious love, I made several resolutions, which I would not post here. :)

Excerpts from My Journal - Day One

What, no blog entries for almost a week? This student of waiting went on a three-day personal retreat at the Cenacle under the direction and guidance of Sr. Susay Valdez, rc, my SD for almost two years now.

Monday June 20, 2005 2:50 p.m.

I had a restful day here at the Cenacle. I went to this retreat to pray my goodbyes. I also plan to lay my future at the foot of the Cross. I'm excited to serve God full-time, but what does it really mean? How do I live simply? How do I eliminate stress and pressure when they are deeply ingrained in my system? How do I become a brighter, more consistent light?
What does it mean, Lord, when you say you love me? How do you want to use me? How do I adjust to this new life? How could I best serve you? How do I receive and give love?

5:30 p.m.

When I opened the First Reading for Mass today, You led me to Abram's call! I heard the very same call when I first visited the Cenacle three years ago. Back then I was just discerning to become BWM. What struck me then, and still strikes me now, are the lines about leaving "my father's house" and the promise of being a blessing to communities. This is my mission - to dwell in Your courts and to be a laborer in Your vineyard. To please you, my Father in heaven, to be intimate friends with Your Son, and to lead others closer to You by the power of Your Holy Spirit.

8:50 p.m.

Sr. Susay asked me to examine myself. How am I physically? Tired and in need of rest. My whole body hurts. I have neglected my health. Emotionally, I am a lot better now than in the past few weeks. The external pressures to please people are now gone. Perhaps because I'm on retreat and they're not with me now. Spiritually, I desire to grow - in knowledge, experience, training, and wisdom. I desire to be a more peaceful person to be with, and I know I can only achieve this through greater intimacy with the Lord. Admittedly, I have allowed myself to be distracted in the past year as a way of coping with my challenges. Now I know that I can only attain peace through Christ. I have found my calling.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Great night!

I'm supposed to drive to Tagaytay in four hours' time. Between now and later I should pack and get some sleep. But how could one sleep after such a great night? Ted and Gay's installation was beautiful, inspiring and touching. They are both well-loved, -respected and -admired in community so it is no surprise that almost all of the Servants of the Word, Jerusalem House sisters, Lingkod Office staff, were there, aside from brothers and sisters from different branches. QT's also had so much to honor them both with, through videos, photos, songs, and words. Gay's flowers and scrapbook was matched by Ted's teddy bear and portrait as "king arthur". I thought I would cry when Rommel sang The Warrior is a Child, unfortunately, I was in front and forced to sing in part! I am restraining myself from being a perfectionist about how the song went again. So what if we did not practice and the key was too low for a sister? We sang for Ted.

God answered Ted's request for a surprise. He answered my need for an embrace from Him. I received His embrace from so many brothers and sisters who are Jesus to me. In particular, John Keating, the Presiding Elder of the Servants, reminds us of Jesus and I was so blessed to have been sitting beside him during the program. Mylene Romero's tight hug and affirmation also filled my heart to overflowing. The faces of the QT's as they said their thank you's and goodbye's will forever be etched in my memory. As a bonus, i was able to sit beside National Director Mon and Dr. Jake Yap during fellowship at Don Hen. I polished my job application speech for Mon, who was so gracious although he was sleepy. Jake offered his wisdom in my discernment (which does not seem to end) and agreed to meet with me for consultation later on. What a night! The BWMs, regional leaders, national leaders of Lingkod, and even CYA and Ligaya were there.

How does one sleep after such a night as this? I know that Gay and Ted's term would be blessed for it started with this abundant, lavish, spectacular, phenomenal night. There were no long talks given. It was just the presence of all those special people that made the night unforgettable for all of us at Lingkod QC.

Thank you for the hug, Yeshua. I knew it was You. :)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Yeshua and Ella

If I could have things my way, I would be standing at a beach right now, not to party or to get a tan, but to speak to the Lord. When I look at the horizon, the sky seems to kiss the earth, and I can feel God’s presence more concretely.

In Olongapo where I grew up, I could watch the sun hide behind clouds at dusk, leaving behind majestic rays that infuse color into the darkening sky. I could stare at the water and breathe the salty air and take in all that beauty through my five senses until darkness envelopes me. The sound of the waves, the sight of the setting sun, the smell of the salt, the feel of the sand, and the taste of the water on my lips all work together to remind me of God, my Father, Creator, Teacher and Friend.

I used to visit the beach to talk to God about my hopes and desires. Once I got my heart so broken that I just lifted it up to Him there for healing. When I got back to the city, I carried His love with me and it helped me recover from the pain of loss that I thought would never leave me. At another time, I was able to have an unforgettable time of prayer and worship with brothers and sisters at a generous family’s house where we saw the mountains and the sea. We sang in Tagalog some beautiful Church songs from our childhood.

I thought of the beach today because I believe this occasion calls for such an intimate conversation with my God. But alas, I have to wait for the perfect opportunity to address Him in the way that my soul yearns for. Since God is everywhere I am sure He could hear me now.

This is what I wanted to tell You, surrounded by the perfect ambience of Your creation.

Lord God, thank you for the power of Your love that led me through two years of service. Who was I that You chose me to be Your servant at a time when all I could think of were myopic dreams and shallow ambitions? You have taught me humility, patience, compassion, forbearance, mercy, and grace. You have given me first-hand experience of what faith, hope and love mean. You sustained me by Your love, encouraged me by Your Word, and empowered me by Your anointing. I can feel You gently putting me down today from the places that we flew to while I was BWM of Lingkod QC.

I do not deserve Your faith in me. I disappointed and failed you countless times, even in the recent past, and yet You did not cut me off. You sent Your angels to guide and protect me. Through fire, accident, heartache, pride, selfishness, and other dangers, You were true to Your promise. I am here, a stronger person, I think, because of what You have done in me. Thank You for disturbing me so I could do Your will more fully. We have a long journey ahead of us, my Lord, but for today, I want to proclaim Your greatness and glory, for I am a living witness of all that. Blessing, honor, worship and praise belong to Your Name. I am Yours. Here I am, Lord. Before You send me off again, I want to stay in Your arms for a very long while.

Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Last Day

Perhaps there is not much to write about now as I do not have the benefit of hindsight yet. It is a significant step, however, so it deserves a line in this blog.

I spent my last official day at the Sandiganbayan yesterday. My boss is in the U.S. for an official trip so it was just a time to be with my peers. They might have thought that I was so unemotional and detached the whole time. The clerk of court treated her staff and me to some pizza. It was a pleasant surprise as they belonged to our neighboring office and I did not think that they would make a fuss about my leaving. A few minutes after I got back to my cubicle, she sent me a parting gift - a brand new bible, the NRSV. I was deeply touched and grateful. My NRSV is my most worn-out bible because the words seem to leap out of the pages, through my mind and into my heart. I thanked her and promised to pray for her and her service to the public.

For three years the language that I spoke with Atty. Tess Rosete had been about cases, litigants, resolutions and decisions. I hardly witnessed to her directly about what God was doing in my life. It was only recently, when she asked why I resigned, that I revealed to her some of what was in my heart. The Holy Spirit must have moved her to give me the gift I would surely need for my mission. It is my eighth bible and counting. Each one was bought or received under special circumstances.

I left the office with a trunkload of documents, books, and other stuff accumulated through my years as a court attorney. Unlike my previous resignations, I did not shed a tear this time. I went straight to Mass to report to Jesus. "It is finished." I had taken part in the resolution of some criminal and civil cases that I would never forget. I left what had become a comfortable cubicle in place of a stint as a full-time worker for Him. I asked Fr. Geoff to bless my brand new bible. I prayed that it would become my sword of truth for the battles that lie ahead, and my partner in rejoicing for the victories that I would witness.

My officemates at the PJ's chamber and I have yet to finalize our goodbyes. We're taking it one day at a time. Two more despedida parties are lined up in the coming weeks. Instead of being torn, my heart is stable and at peace.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A Real Worship Concert!

I read somewhere that the easiest way to fulfill your dreams is to simplify them.

Ever since I received a CD of Hillsong Music Australia two years ago, I have made the Hillsong Music team a part of my regular prayer time. Lingkod QC also increasingly used their songs from different albums. There were countless mornings when I prayed that they would come to the Philippines so that I could attend their worship concert.

God must have said, "Chicken feed, my daughter." Because Hillsong is so popular among Catholic Charismatic communities and Christian groups, I didn't have to wait long before somebody produced the worship concert of my dreams. It was one step short of perfection, though, as everything in this world is, because Darlene, the dynamic lady worship leader, wasn't with Reuben and his band.

I didn't pray for a music workshop. That was a bonus. One intimate afternoon at the Araneta Coliseum, Reuben Morgan and his band gave us tips on how to serve and glorify the Lord through music. It didn't matter to me that they decided to do away with the keyboards for this particular tour, after all, drummer Paul apologized to us for it. I was thankful to have been part of that seminar, together with my brothers and sisters from Lingkod and several other Christian communities from all over the country. The way we all prayed and played that afternoon was unforgettable!

Later that evening, while I sang "You Said", "My Redeemer Lives", "Shout to the Lord", "On Eagle's Wings", "Lord I Give You My Heart", and other worship songs together with Reuben, his band, and the whole of Araneta Coliseum, I was aware that I was living out a dream. We danced, shouted, and clapped for the Lord. We interceded for our country. We celebrated God's love through music. Some thirty Lingkod QT's were scattered around the Dome that night. It was like being in a prayer room, which we like to call "praying alone together".

I once again offered my gifts to the Lord and asked Him to have His way with me. I want to praise, worship, and serve Jesus through music all of my days. I was inspired to keep practicing, trying, and giving. I would start by dusting off my piano keys, securing my music sheets, and setting up a regular practice schedule. I would also start using my brand-new (although with me for three months now) guitar. I would play when I pray again so that when I pray with others, I could play.

Thank you Reuben, Paul, Benny, and Hinui for helping people like me to see our gift of music as a concrete way to serve others. God bless you!
Posted by Hello

Dreams Can Come True Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 12, 2005


The chocolate truffle gelato was one tough cookie. Everybody tried to slice it, but only Ted could pull the knife out. Marlon hit the nail on the head when he said, "We have a King!" Jesus would be the king, but he sent us a new BL. :) Posted by Hello

After Hillsong Class Picture

Parang class picture... sino ang adviser? assistant adviser? principal? guidance counselor? :)) Posted by Hello

Shot Taken by a Former Paparazzi

It's true! The owner of Bellini's Restaurant at Marikina Shoe Expo, who used to be a paparazzi, fixed the chairs so that we would not be too crowded in the picture. He then stood on a chair himself so he could take a shot of the QT's with the Leaning Tower of Pisa as a backdrop. After a music seminar, a worship concert, and an Italian dinner, we had every reason to rejoice and be glad! Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

Today our country is in chaos once more. Two days before Independence Day, our identity crisis has again polarized the nation into indescribable proportions. It is as mind-boggling as it is heartbreaking to see our tendency to self-destruct so evident and worse, so inescapable.

Amidst the chaos, however, I am surprisingly at peace, for I was reminded on this very same day that who I am is independent of my leaders, whether in community or in government. I am, after all, a beloved daughter of God. I find it necessary to share how my June 10, 2005 went.

After battling with a body that seeks bed rest, I pulled myself together and made it to the Sandiganbayan, to report for work for the second to the last day. My love-hate relationship with my legal work was nearing its day of rest and I had only a small portion of strength to survive on. As He promised, God's grace was sufficient for me. It did not run out!

There was excitement in the air for all the preparations for the anniversary Mass and program. Having been inconspicuous around the office for sometime now, I thought I would just be a mere spectator. When we got to the SB Multipurpose Hall, however, my former choir-mates called out to me because they needed singers for the Mass. That was a higher calling I could never say no to. Exactly a minute before Mass started, we all realized that nobody was assigned as commentator. Somebody lifted the microphone from the guitar and handed it to me. That was how I found myself serving at the SB Mass for the very last time - totally unprepared, and Spirit-led. Needless to say, I savored every part of that Eucharistic celebration. I prayed for the people at our office while offering my heart to the Lord.

I didn't expect that the anniversary program would move me as well. The speech of Presiding Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, my boss, turned out to be her best one yet. She was her idealistic and passionate self and I nodded my head vigorously at her repeated references to the basis for the Sandiganbayan's existence, that is, to uphold the constitutional precept that "a public office is a public trust". With that, she launched the Sandiganbayan hymn which was written by my friend Atty. Lily Biton and arranged by Music Works ministry. Chief Justice Davide described the hymn as "simply beautiful" and gave a very inspiring speech as well. He spoke about how special the SB was to him since his Batasang Pambansa and ConCon days. He lauded the efforts of the SB of coming up with a hymn after 27 years, saying that "music is the language of the soul" and singing about "honor, integrity, accountability" would make the goals more real for each employee. The Chief quoted Scripture and said that like the Lord said through Isaiah, He is looking for people whom to send for His mission and this Judiciary week, court employees are being tasked to answer "Here I am, Lord, send me."

The message was different for me. I was hearing a different tune. Although I believed that "honor, integrity and accountability" are ends that are worth fighting for, I felt that it was time to put down the sword and shield for that particular battle and confirmed what was in my heart, that the Lord was indeed calling me out. He just gave me the blessing of looking back at an institution I served with pride and hope.

We have the possibility of trying another president for impeachment, and I have hope in my heart. Call me idealistic and passionate.

The guest singers, who said they were missionaries who wanted to spread the good news through music, sang "The Prayer", something I used to sing with my partner Sunday for Lingkod mini-gatherings. I sang along. Then, they launched into "More Than Wonderful", a song about Jesus that I had been planning to sing if God sends me the person to perform it with, as it's a duet. I could relate more to their mission. I realized that we each have different missions and one is not necessarily better than the other. I was happy to find my purpose and to be on the road towards its fulfillment.

Then in the evening of June 10, I attended Lingkod QC's 5th anniversary entertainment night or E-Night. This tradition was started in 2001, when very talented QT's ( I speak with pride and gratefulness to God) came up with a variety show to celebrate God's goodness and share their gifts to others. I have been part of E-Nights for four years as a singer and dancer. This year, I distinctly heard the Lord telling me to relax and let my other brothers and sisters do the preparations and the performing. So I came to watch my brethren perform.

There were presentations, skits, gimmicks, and songs that were classic and unforgettable. Gay's Unit showcased QC with "Tara, Byahe Tayo", highlighting the best of QC as a place and as a branch. The brothers could not accept the lyrics that went like this: "ang ganda ng mga sisters, ang galing ng mga brothers". Hehe. Then, Mirac's Unit left us all in stitches, especially with Ricky Reyes' surprise appearance and the heartfelt singing of Riags. The brothers launched into the best of their past performances, with a remake of "Pataay" under new talents, and "Iba't Ibang Pagdarasal" QT version. Finally, Mercy's Unit presented a song about "Laura".

So who's Laura? That was me, I realized a few seconds into the performance. They traced my childhood dilemma between piano and law, my past discernment about law practice and missionary life, and my question as to my state of life, with a prophetic shot of a bride whom they saw at a hotel where their unit had their outing. The bride's name, they found out, was "Ella". So who's Ella? My gosh that was me. They could not remember the name of the groom. I thought it could be prophetic as well, but alas, I was not meant to find out. Too much blessings for one night, probably.

And then they were on a roll. The branch decided to honor their outgoing leaders. That was Rommel and me. What was a total shock was their request for us to sing a song that we had never ever performed before. Come to think of it, we probably had only two songs in our repertoire, "You are Holy" and a Tagalog song. Given that we're both perfectionists when it came to singing, I summoned all the saints in heaven in order to sing my part of the song originally performed with my erstwhile partner Sunday, "Come What May" from "Moulin Rouge". In fairness, Rommel sang it better than Obi Wan! He had the benefit of practice, plus he's the 100-percent scorer with the Magic Sing. My voice refused to cooperate and I just relied on my brothers and sisters' commitment, for they clapped and cheered, probably all too happy to see two old Tiguls so relieved to just be singers and not anymore their leaders. "Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place", the words which I sang, described how it felt, that moment of being with the Lingkod QC brothers and sisters.

I held back my tears as Gay gave her honoring. It caused a major headache afterwards. What was totally new was a performance from the Music Ministry in lieu of the traditional branch dance led by the Dance Ministry. This year, they decided to sing "You Raise Me Up", one of my favorite songs by Josh Groban, previously performed by our brother Daniel Strickland, in four voices! I felt like I was enveloped in clouds and was being lifted literally into heaven. With around 20 men and women gathered as music min, I knew it was indeed time to step down, and to step down with a smiling heart. God had raised up new leaders and members. A new life has begun in our branch. It felt good not to be cut off from the branch but to be considered a root as new leaves sprouted, flowers bloomed, and fruits ripened.

Then they prayed over us. God said we should be courageous for what lies ahead. My tears fell. I was still anxious about the future, and there my God was telling me to have courage. When Alan sensed that the Lord was pleased with us and was telling us to forget what we failed to do for Him, I could not help thinking of the way I performed for the song "Come What May" just a few minutes ago. I did ask for forgiveness, for I could have done better, but under the shocking circumstances, it was all I could muster. And the Lord said He was pleased with that. More tears fell!!!

Capping the night at Mocha Blends Morato, we all happily recounted the whole night. Marlon's punches were delivered with perfect timing and he, together with Tina, were the discoveries for this year's E-Night. Aside from creating an interactive (or hyperactive?) blog, Marlon had a dry sense of humor that made Ryan sigh with relief.

I don't know how to thank all the men and women who took time to be there tonight. Mercy and Karreen's presence were palpable not only in their unit video but also in the music min's number. All the brothers and sisters who were considered as QT's through the five years of its existence are also part of tonight. Some of them are not with us for various reasons, but I know that in God's time we would all be together again. Maybe on this earth, or maybe in heaven.

Reflecting on Chris Jandic's exhortation for E-Night, I realized why I was at peace despite coup rumors. I have my eyes, heart, mind and soul fixed on God and all the wonderful things He is doing to the world around me. I have found such peace that surpasses all understanding. I end this blog with the verse which Chris read:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!

Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.

Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
-- Philippians 4:4-7 (NAB)

Joyfully we proclaim God's glory. Rejoice and be glad, He said. There is so much reason to obey Him in this. My cup overflows.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Happy Anniversary, Sandiganbayan!

On Saturday, June 11th, the Sandiganbayan will turn 27. I think. I'm not sure. I have to check the programme tomorrow. We have a new Sandiganbayan Hymn which I hope to learn on my last few days at the Court. It was a great 3 years. I also celebrated my 3rd anniversary there last June 3. I'm thankful that I was given the chance to serve God and country through my work there.

Everywhere I look there is reason to celebrate! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

New TOYS in the family

I am just so proud! My kuya, Dr. Ricardo C.H. del Rosario, will receive another award this coming July as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Scientists of the Philippines. This award is given by the National Academy of Science and Technology.

I have friends who are TOSP and TOYM awardees, but this is the first time that a member of the family gets such an award.

Congratulations, Kuya Ric!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Letter to QT's on our Fifth

Busy with writing assignments for book projects for Lingkod. I'm actually using pen and paper these days.

Here's something I wrote last Saturday for the Lingkod QC blog, containing my greetings and some goodbyes.

Marlon, Ted, Nik and Sheila did a great job with the LingkodQC blog. Click on it constantly for updates. :)

I noticed that I posted Seasons of Love twice here already. I obviously like the song.

Busy, busy week but all shall be well, for God is good.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Seasons of Love

It is the first week of June and as has been our tradition for the past five years, Lingkod QC offered the First Friday Mass as thanksgiving. It always falls on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and we consider it an immense blessing that we were born on the month of Jesus', and also Mama Mary's, love.

I have writer's block once again so I would like to summarize all those years of memories in this one song which we love to perform:

Seasons Of Love
from the Musical Rent

Five hundrend twenty five thousand
six hundred minutes
Five hundrend twenty five thousand
moments so dear
Five hundrend twenty five thousand
six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights,
in cups of coffee,
In inches, in miles
in laughter in strife,

In Five hundrend twenty five thousand
six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life

How about Love
how about love
how about love
measure in love

seasons of love
seasons of love

Five hundrend twenty five thousand
six hundred minutes
Five hundrend twenty five thousand
journeys to plan
Five hundrend twenty five thousand
six hundred minutes
how do you measure the life of a woman
or a man

In truth that she learned
or in times that he cried
In the bridges he burned
or in the way that she died

Its time now to sing out
though the story never ends
lets celebrate remember a year
in the life of friends


The story never ends, though this chapter has to. Happy Anniversary to the Lingkod QT's.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Faithful@5 - Lingkod QC's 5th Year Anniversary Blog

Yup we are five years old. God is faithful and there is only one fitting response from all of us - faithfulness!

Joyfully we proclaim God's glory!
ALNP-QC Theme for 2005

Faithful@5 - Lingkod QC's 5th Year Anniversary Blog

Saying yes! We'd like to thank everyone who helped make this production a success. Wedding photos by Chito Cleofas.  Posted by Hello

The whole del Rosario Family including newest member Tita Celeste. Posted by Hello

Reception at Sonya's Garden Posted by Hello

I like this shot of the chapel. Postcard material ulit. O kaya greeting card. Baka makatanggap tayo ng ganito sa Christmas, from Munich, Germany Posted by Hello

Clockwise: The Groom, Luigi, Miko, his Second Cousin Jonathan (Tita My thanks for the correction, mag-comment ka na kasi dito), and the Bride Posted by Hello

Shower of Petals were met with their brightest smiles Posted by Hello

Souvenir Pose Posted by Hello

With the Groom's Relatives Posted by Hello