Friday, September 30, 2005

To Forget What I Regret

It is far better, in a sense, to just move on with life, forgetting the past and all the people who have hurt us. After all, we are doing ourselves a favor by moving on.

We have selective memory with regard to the people whom we have hurt. We must have instinctively shut off those episodes of our lives wherein we did things we eventually ceased to be proud of.

Sometimes, however, the past catches up on us and we wonder if we have ever really moved on.

We seek wisdom, strength, grace, maturity. We desire to become better persons and live our lives accordingly. But we each of us carry within wounds that refuse to heal completely.

Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe it's a concern particular to me because of my stubborness. I have allowed many issues to fester, and when certain people resurface, the memories come to life like dry bones finding flesh.

Sometimes I succeed. I’m brave and grownup and mature. I did the right thing with that situation, thank you very much, and I’m so over it. Yeah right. But once in a while, a gnawing feeling arises and a little voice in me asks, Yes you did the right thing but how come you let others get away with it? Why were you such a martyr? And I walk around with a mountain of regret and resentment and find that I want to blame everything on God who allowed it to happen.

For all those times when I was at fault, oh, I still carry a huge block of regret! If only I didn’t wear my heart on my long sleeves so much, and if only I were not so blind and gullible, and if only I could take back what I said or did.

Once during confession I told the priest that I had been struggling with certain people with whom I had a falling out with. I was told, patiently, that faith means I should trust that God is in control of that situation, and that I should stop obsessing about my mistakes once I have confessed them.

When I look back at how I was as a person before I took my personal relationship with God seriously, I am amazed at how God chose to find the diamond in the rough. Nights like this one, I still have trouble finding the sparkle in me.

Faith means believing that nothing is impossible with God – that relationships are healed, and broken self-images are restored. Hope means trusting in a happy ending no matter how bleak the circumstances are, no matter how stubbornly we cling to the patterns of sin and weakness that have so become our comfort zone.

And the greatest of these is love.

To love means to accept that God loves me, to return to Him that love, and to let Him share that love we have to others. Now if only human beings were not involved in this matter, it would be a whole lot simpler.

Lord, let me trust, let me hope, and let me love again – in the sense that you want me to. In you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Long Qeue, Short Interview

I have suffered through some painful rejections in life, and after having heard about horror stories of single Filipinos during US visa application interviews, I was a bag of nerves this morning.

Months ago, I had already booked our interview through the US visa assistance hotline. My parents' 10-year multiple entry visa expired early this year so they applied for a renewal as they want to go on vacation this December. They encouraged me to apply as well, but I was extremely hesitant at first because 1) I don't have the salary to show for it; 2) I don't have shopping money (or Broadway play money; or Disneyland entrance money); and 3) I don't want to have a record of a denied US visa application in my passport. However, since I had nothing to lose, I decided to obey my parents. There's a lineup of things I could do if I get the denial - e.g., enjoy Simbang Gabi, party for weeks here at home because I would have no parents for a while, go caroling again, etc. I was as detached from it as I could be.

We spent some time and energy collecting proof of links to the Philippines, especially for me who had never applied for a US visa before. My relatives in the US, especially my sister, were very supportive as they all wanted me to visit them, finally.

The day of the interview came. We were advised to arrive one hour ahead of schedule. We arrived even earlier than that, but ended up being interviewed close to three hours later. Hunger, thirst, and sunstroke almost got to us. We had to line up for: 1) entrance; 2) conveyor belt for belongings; 3) pre-assessment of application form; 4) pre-assessment of documents; 5) fingerprinting; 6) interview proper. The seventh qeue was reserved for those given their visas - located at the Delbros counter for the passport delivery service.

It was a Lesson in Waiting, big time. While waiting for the consul to call us, I had the chance to speak to God in my heart. I told Him that I knew He wanted me to live a simple life, and if the US trip would hinder His plans for me, then I would accept the denial. While lining up for finger printing, I had a strong sense from Him, "I am a God who could take you to places. Nothing could hinder me from opening doors for you."

Did I believe that it was God's promise for me? I was too tired to tell. I just convinced myself that I wasn't at the mercy of the consul, but at the mercy of my God. I prayed three Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory Bes before our number was called. The lady who interviewed us looked really friendly. In fact, upon seeing the way she related to the other interviewees before us, I prayed to God that she would be our consul. It was an answered prayer.

Consul: "Ok, how are you related to one another?"

Ella: "They are my parents."

Consul: Where do you work?

Ella: I'm a lawyer, and I work as a corporate secretary for a foundation.

Consul: Thank you. How about you sir?

Papa: I'm a consultant for a bank.

Ella: He's also a lawyer.

Consul: That's good. And you, ma'am?

Mama: I'm a piano teacher.

Consul: That's nice. I used to play! But I'm sad because I cannot play anymore. It requires lots of practice.

Mama: Yes you should practice.

Consul (looking at me): What is the purpose of your trip?

Ella: We're attending my sister's graduation.

Consul: From what university is she graduating?

Ella: She's graduating with a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Arizona State University.

Consul: Wooowwww....

Ella: I know... Wow.

Consul: Well, Congratulations to your sister. I'm granting you tourist visas.

I couldn't believe it, and neither could my parents. We were armed with a thick folder of supporting documents. I rehearsed arguments in my head to prove that Lingkod is something I'm passionate about and would be my main reason for going back to the Philippines. It turned out we didn't need them. God heard our prayers.

While eating Crispy Pata and Sinigang na Tiyan ng Bangus at nearby Barrio Fiesta shortly after, my father said, "I told God that I don't have to get a visa, but asked Him to grant one for Ella." He's extremely happy that God was even more generous than that.

When we lined up the seventh time today to pay for our passport delivery via Delbros, we looked much better - relieved, elated - than we did a few hours before. We tried to analyze why we were given a visa so quickly, but knew there was no logic to it. People who had flown back and forth from the US were later on denied their visas. It was something totally out of our control, but fully in the hands of God.

It's something beautiful to cap a pretty eventful year for our family - with a CCP piano recital for my Mama, sis-in-law, and their students, including my nephews, featured at newspapers; balikbayan relatives from both sides of the family; my brother's wedding - an unforgettable event for us; arrivals and departures, hellos and goodbyes; my going off to volunteer mission work after Sandiganbayan (milestone for me, shock for family); my brother's job in Germany and Celeste's new life as a housewife from being a Citibanker; my brother's TOYS award; my kuya's new internet business; the kids' first flight on the airplane to Cebu; lakwatsa at Singapore/Malaysia with Peeya, Mama and the Punsalan Travel & Tours; my Ate's new job at Apple Computers; and the list goes on.

I have much to be thankful for. This is going to be a special Christmas.

See you soon, Mel. I'm excited to conquer Disneyland, Universal Studios and the Grand Canyon with you.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Quote from Pope Benedict XVI

And only where God is seen does life truly begin.

Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is.

We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.

Each of us is the result of a thought of God.

Each of us is willed,

Each of us is loved,

Each of us is necessary.

There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel,

By the encounter with Christ.

There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him

And to speak to others of our friendship with Him.

-- Pope Benedict XVI

The Grace of Fulfillment

There was an email message that I received before stating that "Your Work Should be Your Vocation". I could not accept it then but I had a major difficulty in finding where God was in the picture when it came to my previous work. I eventually set out to look for work that could make my heart sing and would show my place under the sun. That was what my heart yearned for, ultimately.

I have found my present vocation because the way I see it, working for Lingkod Office is working for the Lord. I knew I had it in me to work overnight if necessary, to come to work on time, to find joy when I wake up in the morning, to look forward to seeing my officemates, and to take delight in the little and big things I have to do regarding work, so all the time I endured law practice I was not being the best person I could be. I'm not discounting the possibility of my being called back to practice my profession or at least work in a corporate setting, but for now this is clearly an answered prayer.

Sure I get tired and frustrated more because I'm wearing my passionate hat more often now, but I go to bed at night fulfilled, and it matters a lot to my overall happiness. I just love what I do, hard though it may be to explain it. I tried to describe all the things I was busy with and my mom said that everything sounded like a nonstop extracurricular activity! She could not see the curriculum, and I don't blame her, for it is still being defined.

As I take on roles that challenge me to be forbearing, patient, proactive and firm, I know that my character is being molded and I find peace there.

Joy abounds in our workplace, despite the tension brought about by frantic activities for the upcoming National Leaders' Training Conference and the release of new projects of the Fund Development Team. The bond shared between brothers and sisters who have set aside their careers in order to serve full-time is beautiful to experience.

I'm only beginning to see the many reasons to smile despite the pressures and adjustments that I go through. The Chairman of the Board of Lingkod, Tito Eddie, had this to say to me after I updated him that there are still many things I'm not used to in my new job:

"“Rejoice in trials!” You should be so lucky as to expend all your energy in direct service to the Lord’s church. Some of us have to struggle to look beyond and within to find the Lord whom we serve. ;-)

After reading that, I looked at my challenges as blessings once more. So life isn't perfect and I'm the most imperfect being of all, but to know I'm where I'm called to be at this moment reduces all doubt and fills me with strength.

Sometimes it only takes a remembrance of where we were led out from in order to be full of hope and anticipation for where we have been promised we would go to.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Blogging with Word

I downloaded Blogger for Word and I love using it! I can type, format and edit using Word. More fonts and better spelling checker! Try nyo. Hindi naman ako binayaran para sa plugging na ito.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

"Seven" from and for Joni

It took me a week to find time to blog-hop so this reply to Joni's tag is one week late. Joni this is just an updated slumbook and the fact that we're answering the questions means we like to think like we're still in high school sometimes... =) I'm trying to unwind after an unbelievably exhausting week so please bear with this. If you're looking for the usual dose of mala-Daily Bread reflections, sorry no power to do that at this time. :D

Seven Things That Scare Me
1) Snakes
2) Driving alone near old houses on a full moon
3) Addressing a group of people who have high expectations
4) Presenting a witness on direct exam (hence, goodbye litigation)
5) What happens if I miss a deadline? I have died several times over.
6) My loved ones getting sick ... or just plain losing my lovedones
7) Saying goodbye and letting go

Seven Things I Like The Most (not in the same level of like ito ha)
1) The Bible
2) Music
3) Cellphones
4) Internet
5) Coffee
6) Books
7) Chocolates

Seven Random Facts About Me
1) I'm not fond of rootbeer
2) When eating out alone, I savor it and even order the works.
3) I get bored with repetition and monotony (who doesn't?)
4) I used to be Model Girl for my freshman class at Manila Science High School... hah!
5) I failed the bar the first time that I took it... 1999.
6) I dream of owning a violin and I don't need to learn to play it.
7) I used to be a Menudo fan! :))

Seven Important Things In My Bedroom
1) Prayer Time effects - Bible, Daily Scripture Guides, Journal, Pen, and Music (guitar/Cd player)
2) Alarm Clock
3) Mirror (I like to reflect a lot eh)
3) Mini-library
4) Bed
5) Lamp
6) Closet
7) Electric Fan.

Seven Things I Plan To Do Before I Die
1) Publish my book
2) Have my own column
3) Visit Europe
4) Go to Disneyland
5) Take my vows (hmmm...)
6) Have a healthier lifestyle
7) Rid myself of stress.

Seven Things I Can Do
1) Write
2) Type
3) Sing
4) Dance
5) Drive
6) Swim
7) Talk

Seven Things I Can't Do
1) Leave the house without a wristwatch
2) Play ball
3) Paint
4) Color within the lines
5) Fly an airplane
6) Speak French
7) Have a child with blue eyes. My Ph.D. (well, almost) scientist/reasearcher younger sister Mel says it's genetically impossible. Sayang!

Seven Things That Attract Me To The Opposite Sex (i-publish daw ba ang essentials)
1) Leadership qualities, so easy for me to submit
2) Highly intelligent
3) Excellent communication skills (this list is beginning to sound like that for requirements for a job opening...)
4) Boyish looks - (mukhang totoy pero hindi totoy!)
5) Strong faith in God
6) Sense of humor that I appreciate
7) Musically inclined

Seven Things I Say The Most
1) I'm sure...
2) I hope...
3) I know...
4) Hindi siguro...
5) Tama ba naman yun.
6) Naks.
7) God bless.

Seven Celeb Crushes (whether foreign or local)
1) Brendan Fraser
2) the late John F. Kennedy, Jr.
3) Christian Bautista (hehe dati... saw an episode of Kampanerang Kuba at nawala crush ko bigla)
4) Ben Affleck
5) Gary V.
6) Aidan Quinn
7) Benjamin Bratt

Seven People You Want To Take This Quiz
1) Honey
2) Myra
3) Pie
4) marlon
5) Belle
6) Peeya
7) Chard

Friday, September 16, 2005

Finding True Joy

“The key to true joy is obedience to the Father’s will and conformity to Christ’s life, as closely as possible. The saints found true joy in serving Christ because they desired to suffer with Him.” – Steve of Canberra.

As my resource person for tomorrow’s Lingkod prayer meeting lectured me about his friends Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, Therese of Lisieux, Ignatius of Antioch, and Teresa of Calcutta, I listened and took down notes, becoming all the more convinced that those saints were really set apart and holy for they desired poverty over riches, contempt over praise, and humility over good standing. Yes, some of them would probably have been kept in an asylum if they had been alive during our time, for they embraced a way of life that was totally out of this world. So out of this world, that I’m sure they’re all in heaven now, praying for us that we make it too – not to be canonized but to merely be victorious in our little battles. This blog is teeming with such struggles in the little world that I live in. Wish that I could make friends with the saints as well.

The way of the Lord is the exact opposite of the call of the world, and the more I ponder about it, the more I understand why I struggle and wage war against myself a lot. My conscience pulls me in the direction God wants me to take, but unfortunately I am not cut out of the same bolt of cloth, it seems, as the saints were. It’s a good thing that they laid down their lives like that for people like me to hear about. It gives me inspiration and allows me to hope and believe that God sees and blesses my prayers when I ask for strength and grace to be able to do what is good, despite the tug, nay, pull, that seems to be a constant part of life here on earth.

It is in poverty, while I am in the desert in terms of some aspects of life which I thought were important, and while I am gravitating more towards simplicity and silence, that I seem to hear God speaking more clearly. He uses concrete persons to deliver His message too. But to simply hear does not mean that I listen, let alone obey. I have miles to go before I sleep.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hard Habit to Break

It is a foregone conclusion:  I’m a crammer.  I throw away Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People the moment I’m given an important assignment.  I prefer picking up the quadrant IV items first, and I’m highly effective there, mind you.  Blogging, texting, sleeping, e-mailing, name it, I prefer it to the big projects.

Don’t ask me to talk about Personal Order, a major Way of Life teaching of Lingkod.  It’s not in my vocabulary.  I’m OC about a lot of things but I have certain work habits that are pretty annoying, even for me.  I saw a calendar/planner at Powerbooks that I couldn’t afford, but the title of which struck me:  “The Procrastinator’s Guide”.  It has little ticklers for “What You Can Do Tomorrow”, “What You Can Avoid”, etc.  It was so me.

I am efficient for meetings, follow-ups, long-term plans, and discussions.  But once I’m given a thesis-like assignment, I put it off until the very last day, and file a Motion for Extension several days in a row.  

As if to emphasize my already pathetic time management skills, a song played on RX’s Monster’s Riot this morning, “Under Pressure” by Queen.  Boy did I type faster after hearing the all-too-familiar words.

I like to ruminate on things before finalizing them.  I like to collect all my materials before attacking them.  I like to distract myself, too.  So global, and what a headache I’d pose to the analytics I work with.  Tomorrow we have staff training that’s meant to assess our working styles and habits.  

I’d probably give a talk on Seven Habits of Highly Inefficient People.  That’s why coffee returned to my system – I switched to night shift once again. I’m no longer in the corporate world and so far removed from the legal profession, yet I still exercise these magic procrastinating tricks.  When will I ever change?  Will I ever change?

My friend Toni once commented, “Ella, you thrive on busy-ness.  You breathe better when you’re under stress.

Oh, the things we discover about ourselves when we no longer have others to pin the blame on.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Two Loves of My Life

Ok, love is too strong a word. I love people, not things.

So ang title nito, pwede ring "two addictions". Or "two attachments". Decaf Cafe Mocha and my Nokia 6600 (with the penguin holder courtesy of Paully). Binigyan niya ako para raw hindi ko na ilaglag ang aking cellphone. Nalalaglag pa rin eh. So hindi attached sakin. :D

Thanks Ted for allowing me to tinker with your brand new phone with high-tech camera. Di ko alam kung anong model yan, I lost track of updates. Basta maganda.

Notice my misspelled name, "Elya". I can't get it why barristas slash cashiers always misspell my name. Or baka poor hearing. I've drunk coffees from cups labeled as "Delia", "Nelia", "Eya", and "Elias". Ella po, Ella. Kakaiba ba yun?

Buti na lang happy ako nung gabing yun at hindi ko na pinansin ang wrong-spelling-wrong. With great coffee (Gloria Jean's - hindi matao), great company (brothas and sistahs and a fatha), and of course great conversation, I sipped my free decaf (courtesy of one of the people whom I love) contentedly.

For a coffee lover, I take longer than expected in drinking it. I think I already mentioned that I can't drink really hot coffee. Mahina tolerance ko at napapaso ako eh. So kailangan, almost room temperature. Ewww goes the true coffee lovers out there. Sorry po, tao lang.

All They Asked for was a Greeting...

(Email sent to the Tiguls last Saturday. If this sounds like a congratulatory greeting to our very own, my apologies, but it is. Proud to be, happy to be, a QT. Even if I’m already a Lola as Gay serves as branch Mama.)

The spirit of joy and celebration overflowing from the hearts of the QT’s was unstoppable. I would like to report to the Tiguls (read: Lingkod QC former Service Council & earlier, not necessarily older, members) what the QT’s have been up to recently.

As an offshoot of the stunning video prepared by Gay’s Unit for the June QC anniversary featuring sisters singing to the tune of “Tara Na, Biyahe Tayo” (see lyrics at, Ted & Gay commissioned Janice, Sheila, and the rest of the QT’s to record an anniversary greeting for Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon nationwide, to be shown at the Metro Manila 21st anniversary. With lyrics by Gay, minus-one by Karreen’s uber-talented brother Jobin Ballesteros (professional ito), a videocam, a reading lamp-turned-props-microphone, and QT’s characteristic passion for excellence, another classic came to life and it was shown last night.

It was impossible not to be swept with the wave of enthusiasm from the members to come up with the surprise number. I was particularly surprised, however, because I was the one who sent the e-mail from Lingkod Manila (c/o Jabar) to the BLs and BWMs asking for a greeting for Lingkod’s 21st anniversary. I don’t remember any mention of a grand production number in that request, but there’s just no stopping what’s in the hearts of the QT’s, so they responded in the only way they knew how – in the most showbiz, fun, wholesome, and entertaining manner possible.

The shooting took one hour only at the closing of the Sisters’ Household, as the brothers and I were invited for the Lord’s Day celebration. It was a joy to see the seemingly quiet and shy sisters putting on lipstick and powder just to sway in front of the cameras, singing about the 31 branches of Lingkod on its 21st anniversary, emphasizing “ang ganda ng mga sisters, ang galing ng mga brothers”. Even if the video was not shown last night, the shooting itself was reward already as everyone had the time of their life watching the footage afterwards! Audio recording took another night at Jobin’s now famous bedroom – with just a microphone and state-of-the-art equipment. One by one, the Lingkod singers recorded their respective parts. The rest waited at Karreen’s bedroom, surprised by shrieks of delight from those who entered the door with lines like, “One take lang ito, thank you, thank you!”. Where do we get these people? So talented, so passionate, and soooo … on fire. Hehe

I asked Ted if the number was approved by Lingkod Manila, the organizers. The incoming BL of that branch had to call up Ted to verify the equipment we needed – and QT’s who overheard the conversation butted in, “We need a good sound system, LCD projector, laptop…” Career! Over sa O.A. talaga!

On the night itself, we positioned ourselves near the aforesaid equipment and tested the video, and those from Lingkod Office and other branches who had a glimpse of the number said, “City of Stars talaga kayo.” When the video was finally shown, everyone laughed and was entertained! Honest. This is not a biased account, promise. The brothers from the Servants of the Word reacted – why is it that sisters were “maganda” and the brothers were just “magaling”? Lingkod staffers said, “Kakasuhan na namin kayo, Lingkod QC. Masyado kayong magaleng!” My ears grew tired of flapping by themselves (palakpak tenga) and I prayed for the grace to respond graciously to everything that was said. Who wouldn’t be happy at that moment???

The video was followed by Tina’s sharing. It provided a period and made the greeting complete – as Tina showed how she slowly grew to love God more through community, and how she was transformed from a reluctant member into an Action Group Leader after three years. It showed that God Himself is the one at work and He uses community and its members to make His presence felt to do what we ultimately do – bring lives to Him, Christifying the workplace.

The experience of the Lingkod WOW video (based kasi ito on the WOW Philippines song of Department of Tourism, recorded by Freddie Aguilar, Sharon Cuneta, Jessa Zaragosa, Lea Salonga, etc.) was so beautiful because the effort was not merely by one person, or those who were on the video, or those who were behind it, or those presently serving, or those who recorded the song – but the ultimate lingkod video was a production of Lingkod QC, who has always been blessed with the spirit of joy, the gift of song/dance/pen/visual art, and the passion to give the best in everything, that God may be glorified.

A brother from another branch made a comment that was unforgettable. He said, “Sis, ang ganda ng video. Nakaka-uplift at nakaka-encourage.” Brothers and sisters, this is our gift and our mission – to spread the good news the QC way, to show that struggles may come but the goodness of the Lord is more powerful than anything and if we but focus our eyes on Him, we can do anything.

Lord, I hope you were pleased, it was because of you that we were able to do that.

This is the Lord’s promise fulfilled – He gave us a theme this year, “Joyfully, we proclaim God’s glory”. At last Friday’s anniversary, we did just that, thanks to Him who made it possible.

My Daily Battle

Exercise two to three times a week. Eat light dinner and avoid salty, oily foods. I must have learned these golden rules when I was still in my pre-teens. Do I follow them?

I love to swim. I love to dance. I love taking walks. I love to play the piano. So how come in a given week, I spend more hours in front of the computer than in engaging in these activities?

I feed my soul but my body is not so well-taken care of. Times like these, I sound like St. Paul. In his letter to the Romans, he said:

"I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. " (Romans 7:15)

I have daily battles as well - against sin, laziness, selfishness, pride, and a host of other evils. Every morning I pray for the grace to live out a better day. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. (v. 19)

St. Paul comforts me by saying that if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. (vv. 20-23, RSV, emphasis mine.)

It is a LAW then: try to do what's right and evil would come close at hand - to distract, discourage, and disappoint. To derail me from the path of good and to deprive me from the blessings in store for me. That's why going to prayer meetings, retreats, works of mercy, and other "good" activities could be so boring and lifeless sometimes, if I'm not wary and attuned to the spirit.

That's why I find I'm for these good works, because I have to contend with all the obstacles that are thrown my way. That's why I can't meet deadlines and I can't be there for all the service opportunities that I could be in. That's why I sing lyrics of songs even if I know that they're not upbuilding. For example, the French lyrics of Lady Marmalade... aargh! So I took French 10 and could attempt to pronounce them. I asked Fr Steve, my confessor who was in the same car when the song was playing, how come I still sing those songs sometimes, and he said simply, "It's the flesh".

The flesh. I know theologians have written volumes about it. I'm here to reflect on my own battles against it. It's the reason why I've never visited the lolos and lolas at Anawim, even if all my friends have gone there at one or many points in their lives. That's why I don't help the poor as much as my conscience tells me to - convenience still plays a major factor in this. That's why I have struggles about being poor, unknown and insignificant, even though they are all part of my present call, which I'm supposed to have embraced almost a year ago already. Yet in my inmost self, I know my God would delight in me if I do all those things. Be patient with me Lord, and teach me to be patient with myself as well.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (vv. 24-25, RSV)

St. Paul says it so clearly! He must know how I feel. He's a saint but very much a human being. He has a thorn in the flesh which he asked the Lord to remove three times, but which remained with him. I could relate so much with that!

Thankfully there's a truth in Scripture: It is through Jesus Christ that I could conquer the law of sin that my flesh wishes to serve. In his other letter, this time to the Ephesians, St. Paul wrote:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

And he instructs us on how to fight the good fight:

Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace;

besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (vv. 13-18)

This is one of my favorite verses. The armor of God could cover me from head to toe, from my mind to my heart to my soul. Mother Nadine wrote a whole book on this, "God's Armor". This is a battle I am not meant to fight on my own. He has equipped me, and I serve a victorious King, so guess what, I shouldn't be worried.

Whether or not the evil in my life is obvious, I have only to remind myself of Scripture. It is hard to do good, to be good. It is hard to receive, to give, and to be love. I cannot do this perfectly in my lifetime, and people close to me would agree that I don't even come close to a passing grade, but I am called to do it faithfully.

I know all of you out there also want to triumph over your battles. Jesus wants us to be on His side, the winning side. Let's keep running. Hmm in my case, I would rather be walking, swimming or dancing. The Lord waits for those of us who walk slowly. Ain't that grand.

Tell me how you're doing. It's probably not as bad as you think. We're in this together.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Question on Waiting

Been trying to write. Couldn't find the words.

Found this instead. Interesting.

He seems to me equal to gods that man
who opposite you
sits and listens close
to your sweet speaking
and lovely laughing -- oh it
puts the heart in my chest on wings
for when I look at you, a moment, then no speaking
is left in me

no: tongue breaks, and thin
fire is racing under skin
and in eyes no sight and drumming
fills ears

and cold sweat holds me and shaking
grips me all, greener than grass
I am and dead -- or almost
I seem to me. [Sappho Fr. 31] (Translated by Anne Carson)

The page where I got it from, Excerpt from Hamerton-Kelly's "Sacred Violence", is interesting as well. I can't understand everything written there, but it talks mainly about eros vs. agape. The selfish and the unselfish love. From where I am I seem to be capable only of selfish love. But with God, nothing is impossible, right?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Inspiration from Holy People

Happy Birthday, Mama Mary. I hope to grow closer to you and imitate your obedience, humility, and gentleness.

Today also marks the first year of this blog. I continue to be awed by how God uses simple thoughts and reflections to touch lives.

I have also been working at the Lingkod Office for four weeks now. Monthsary!

I was disturbed by many things today and found inspiration from quotations found at the EWTN website. Naturally, I was working on something else for the Lingkod Members' Kit (the ultimate document for all Lingkod members, or so we dream) and found these instead:

So, you will ask me, who then are the people most tempted? They are these, my friends; note them carefully. The people most tempted are those who are ready, with the grace of God, to sacrifice everything for the salvation of their poor souls, who renounce all those things which most people eagerly seek. It is not one devil only who tempts them, but millions seek to entrap them.-- St. John Vianney

It is not particularly difficult to find thousands who will spend two or three hours a day in exercising, but if you ask them to bend their knees to God in five minutes of prayer, they protest that it is too long.-- Bishop Fulton Sheen

Burning the candle at both ends for God's sake may be foolishness to the world, but it is a profitable Christian exercise-for so much better the light. Only one thing in life matters. Being found worthy of the Light of the World in the hour of His visitation. We need have no undue fear for our health if we work hard for the kingdom of God; God will take care of our health if we take care of His cause. In any case it is better to burn out than to rust out.
-- Bishop Fulton Sheen

Your first task is to be dissatisfied with yourself, fight sin, and transform yourself into something better. Your second task is to put up with the trials and temptations of this world that will be brought on by the change in your life and to persevere to the very end in the midst of these things.-- St. Augustine

Amen to the saints.

Struggles, Struggles, So Often, So Soon

Is it just me or have I reached the point of "insecure dis-orientation", as described by Menchie Rojas, a woman of wisdom not unlike Yoda in stature at the Institute of Pastoral Development?

It seems like my days of "secure orientation" have ended. At that state, a person is full of hope, gratitude, passion, and peace. I felt that my time in such period was so brief. Now what Jesus said about God being the vine-grower who prunes even those branches that do bear fruit, seems to be coming to pass. My decisions are being challenged, my priorities are being shaken. Broken, imperfect and weak me needs grace in order to make it through this. I do not like to have to go through this. Take me back to Paris.

The pruning hurts no matter how "forewarned" I have been. Mentors and spiritual directors have said that I would face further questions and tests in life, and I said I would willingly embrace them all. Here I am being pruned and I'm not enjoying it one bit. For one thing, I can't sit still, so I'm inflicting more wounds on myself than are necessary. Furthermore, I am stubborn and unyielding. Pride has so crept up in my heart like a tenacious weed that I have difficulty in loving these days. I no longer work for the courts yet I still tend to think like a judge, feeling like I have the last say in every situation, even if the "decision/resolution" is just formed in my head.

Impatience has developed out of such pride, so much so that the I struggle, and wiggle, and wobble, in relating to others who do not follow the same rhythm that I have been used to. People who were raised and made differently from me are now my source of holiness, and this is where I'm being tested. As a Christian, as a servant, as a daughter of the heavenly Father, how do I respond to this? I have a textbook, formula answer, but the practical aspect is where my grade would be based from.

Lord, enlarge my heart. Give me your mind so that I may handle emotions and channel them properly to productive ends. Allow me to hope that relationships which do not seem to take off right now would someday be part of my treasure. Teach me to be patient of others who, like me, are just trying to give their best in everything.

Finally, Lord, take me to the point of peaceful re-orientation.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Only Christ Has Got the Power

"See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy
according to the tradition of men,
according to the elemental powers of the world
and not according to Christ.

"For in him dwells the whole fullness of the deity bodily,
and you share in this fullness in him,
who is the head of every principality and power."

-- Colossians 2:8-9 (NAB), part of the First Reading today.

My thoughts exactly! Well, maybe not that eloquently, but I think this is a timely reminder for some of us.

"...obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us,
he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross;
despoiling the principalities and the powers,
he made a public spectacle of them,
leading them away in triumph by it." -- vv. 14-15 (NAB)

I have met this Jesus -- my Savior-- through His saving power in my life. He has obliterated all the principalities and powers. I no longer get confused by empty philosophies. There is One Diety, One God, and He is in Christ alone. This "sharing of fullness in him" does not mean that I can be God as well. Yes God is within me, but He is a separate and distinct personality. He created me and entered into a Father-Daughter relationship with me. If I only had a relationship with myself, what a boring, monotonous universe this would be! When blessings come my way, I have to be thankful to Someone - this is deeply ingrained in me as a human being, for God created me that way - for worship, and for eventual union with Him. I thank my God because I know Him. I do not thank some other elemental powers of the world, whose existence does not even have basis.

This probably sounds gibberish to most of you, but there are certain people whom I hope would read this verse and be enlightened. May their wandering minds be stilled and may they pine, search, yearn, and long for a personal relationship with Christ. My own search for truth, knowledge and love pointed me to the Lord - through His Cross, through His Word - back in 1993.

Come home to the Father and rest in His embrace. There is so much more to say on the matter but I am late for work already.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

It's an Honor Just to be Nominated...

... especially since in this case, I nominated myself. Permit me to reveal just how much of a blog addict I've become. I live with my blog inside my head all the time, and everyday I carry it with me, thinking of who to beg to give me a new template to improve my layout, and taking actual and mental pictures of the parts of the world that I get in touch with so that I could write about them.

A few weeks ago, because of a sleepless night, and with less than zero knowledge of html, I managed to generate the html code provided by Pinoy Top Blogs and thus nominate my blog for it. I did it just to find out if indeed there was traffic on my blog or if it was just a product of my creative imagination. I lived with being on page 5 of The List for a few days, then I stayed on page 4 for a week, but today, I thought they lost my blog! :(

Imagine my surprise to discover that I jumped some 335 slots to make it to Number 50! Yes friends, brothers, sisters, and/or voting public, "Lessons in Waiting" made it to Page One! I wouldn't have found out if I hadn't checked my CQ Counter and discovered that somebody visited my blog from its link at Page One. This might last for a day or two only but it just amazed me how this thing works. For today, this is my reality. Babaw 'no? Frustrated writer kasi. Hmm let me correct that, maybe I already am a writer, but I haven't experienced getting paid for it enough to make a living out of it.

Now back to the real world, I spent a day at the Book Fair at the World Trade Center. I was one step short of a nosebleed, as I salivated and had to control myself at the sight of rows and rows of books, spread from wall to wall across a huge land area!!! I didn't have much time to myself at first as I went with my family and part-timed as yaya to my two nephews, but nonetheless my eyes wandered to the shelves all waiting to be discovered, and as soon as I could free myself from nanny duty I checked out Fully Booked, Powerbooks, National Bookstore, OMF Lit, St. Paul's Publications, and almost all the other exhibitors who participated at the fair.

I skipped the fiction and classical books sections because between my father and my siblings, I already have enough reading backlog to last me a lifetime. I'm not kidding. There are several bookworms in my immediate family and our collection, if put together, deserves its own library, so to even imagine buying another book is totally impractical. The trip to the Book Fair reminded my father of his reading list for all his children, and so he turned to me and asked, "Anak, nabasa mo na ba ang War and Peace?" I said, "Yes, when I was 11 years old and I don't remember anything about it!" Me and my big mouth. He told me that I should read it again now, and he chided me for not reading the rest of his Tolstoys.

Growing up I much preferred Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, Piers Anthony, David Eddings (I know, this list keeps getting more ridiculous by the minute, but it's true) over all of Papa's Dostoyevskys and Tolstoys. Thank God my father can't sue me, for he actually paid me summer money after I promised to read all those books on my reading list. The money, I spent buying X-Men and New Mutant comics, I think, with my younger sister who was similarly-minded. Sci-fi and fantasy over classics, that was our rule. We were teenagers, what did you expect?!

Back to the Book Fair, I willed myself to let go of Nigella Lawson's "How to Eat", which I returned to its proper place upon realizing that P1100.00 for a cookbook, even from the kitchen goddess herself, is not pratical and just deserves a slot on my lifetime wish list. It's not that I don't know how to eat, folks, but it's how Nigella presents food and cooking and maintaining the kitchen that amazes me. She has the best toys, I mean gadgets, I mean tools for the kitchen. How she manages to make perfect meringues with perfect nails and fabulous makeup intact is something I want to learn, or at least attempt to try learning.

I went to "Book Wagon" and browsed through all the piano pieces at tempting sale prices, from classical to broadway to jazz, and told myself I should only buy a new piece once I've learned all of Mama's pieces that I keep pulling out of her files year after year, but which I never have time for. So it's like telling myself no, forever. Sigh.

I'm currently trying to learn the guitar, for the 10th straight year, I think, and I found some books that seemed to offer some help - like "Guitar Secrets of the Masters" - haha, but I knew it would just end up being buried underneath all the clutter that I accumulate in my room as a way of life. I let go of those as well.

Health and fitness concerns motivated me to look for inspiring and realistic reading materials on the subject but I couldn't find a single book that summarized Oprah's slimming secrets. I know she's been sharing the secrets of her success online, in her magazine, her TV show, and countless interviews, but I thought if I had everything in one book I could do it myself. Of course Miss O has her own garden from which she picks up her salad greens, and that, along with the other little details like a personal trainer, probably define the world of difference between what would work for me and what I could afford, based on her fitness plan. So it remains an unfulfilled dream, this goal of mine to get into the program.

I finally convinced myself that if I was going to buy a book, it might as well be THE BOOK itself. I've been dreaming of having a Revised Standard Version (RSV) Catholic edition bible that's slim enough to carry around and affordable enough that I won't regret using my Post-It Highliter on it, but alas, I couldn't find a single RSV bible at the Book Fair. The RSV of Ted Te and John Keating has thin pages and gold edges, both of which disqualify it from being the RSV for me, aside from the price, which is a whole other subject. It's a book that Ted ordered online, go figure, Ella. Live with your seven other bibles. At the BF, perhaps I didn't search well enough for the perfect RSV, as it became more and more difficult to look around the stalls because of the sheer volume of crammers who, like my family, couldn't resist going to the fair on the last day.

We went home with children's books and fliers from all the bookstores and the CCP. I think I have more time now to go back to watching plays, ballets, and musicals, so I'm thankful for the schedule of performances. Papa bought four books from Adarna for Luigi and Miko. One of the authors was there and she autographed the book for the boys. Luigi interviewed her about the contents of the book and she just laughed, saying he should read it, but he was persistent so she gave in a bit and had a short storytelling session with my inquisitive nephew. I hope that both boys would appreciate books because everything I need to know, I learned from books. Well, prior to the onslaught of internet fever in my life. Bookworms on cyberspace would certainly agree with me, however, that there is nothing compared to the feeling of reading from crisp pages, whether brand new or old and historic. Somebody offered me a Palm version of Harry Potter VI but I declined, saying it's not so much my conscience talking to me as it was the desire to wait for the actual book. Lo and behold, God in His goodness gave me a hard-bound copy of the book.

You can really tell one person's lifestyle and priorities by his or her book collection, and if there is even one to begin with. I visited slices of my life today as I scoured the book fair. Even though I cannot buy books for now that I don't really need , I could still dream of and plan buying a really good one as a Christmas gift to myself.

This day got me thinking of my unfulfilled dream of writing a book. I would be glad to oblige to write about anything God wants, really, be it something about music, mission, community, family, and all my passions, or even those subjects I'm totally clueless about like sports, painting, and geometry! At the right time I know it shall be fulfilled.

For now, this blog would do. It gets read anyway, and for an aspiring writer that's always enough reward.

My Community, Lingkod QC

Where you belong... Kapamilya... Kapuso. When I think of these words, I have only one community in mind - Lingkod Quezon City. It has been my second home since 1999, yet the love I have for its people just grows everyday.

Tonight we shared one more memorable time of fellowship (read community parlance: this just means gimmick or hanging out) at the closing activity of the 2005 Women's Household. Since I'm not a part of the household, I was invited to give a talk last Thursday and to sleep over, and again tonight at their Lord's Day celebration, together with some brothers. We shared a beautiful meal together. This was followed by a hilarious but simple activity, wherein the sisters showcased some of their numbers from their E-night a week ago, relieved some treasured moments from our 1st sisters' Household last year, elicited surprise numbers from their guests (a preview of The Alan Silayan Show which would be re-launched for the anniversary celebration of Lingkod Greenhills next week), and rolled with laughter as we shot a music video for another important Lingkod event on Friday. I know that my ability to enjoy the company of brothers and sisters tonight was let loose because I'm no longer the uptight, stressed-out, burdened BWM. Life without worry is indeed pleasant.

From left - Jhing, Imee, Tina, Gay and Mercy, roommates from the best room in the house (the only one with an aircon, which they didn't use out of pakikisama with their less-fortunate housemates).

Mercy, Ria and Nenen - F3, walang kupas since 2003, with their hit song "Trenta Ka Na" dedicated to SG. I was asked later on why I didn't "censor" those lyrics when I was still BWM. My answer was, I couldn't hear the lyrics because people always howl with laughter whenever it's performed. :D
We capped the night with Night Prayers at the roofdeck of the building that they were able to use for three weeks as a blessing from God. I savored the few seconds after the last "Amen", when no one spoke out loud but all were communicating with God, in a circle, with the night breeze embracing us and a view of San Juan by night.
I'm happy to be a lingkod QT talaga. I bring this love with me when I'm with other Lingkod branches, and I always go home to it when I need to be refreshed and relaxed. Thank you, Lord of Quezon City and beyond, for giving me this beautiful gift.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Lunch Break (Part Three)


“Happy Birthday, Cristy,” came a deep baritone voice Carol would recognize anywhere. It was David, her one and only ex.

Carol could feel the eyes of the entire room focused on her. Perhaps she was being paranoid, but she checked her reaction just the same. She smiled at The Perfect Man who arrived and made a mental note to strangle Cristy and/or Arthur for not warning her, later.

Richard could not believe it. After all these years, Carol’s ex still commands attention to himself. This dramatic entrance was so typical of him. He smoothly came to Carol’s rescue and ushered her into the dining room with one hand on her shoulder.

“I swear, if you hold that smile for one more minute, you could model for this ad I’m making,” he whispered to her ear while walking. Still smiling to the outside world, Carol asked, “Ad for what product, Close-Up?”

“Careful, honey, your clenched teeth are showing,” he replied into her deep, dazed eyes. “No, we’re re-launching Pioneer Epoxy,” he said with a straight face. “I noticed that you used some awfully tight glue on your smile tonight.”

Despite herself, Carol broke into a genuine smile and gave Richard a playful punch. She noticed the firm biceps of the funny man. “Your job is to distract me tonight,” she said, a silent plea mirrored in her eyes. “It will be my pleasure, my lady,” Richard replied. Carol needing anything from anyone was such a rare opportunity; he would not be one to waste it.

The feast that Cristy prepared for her guests momentarily distracted everyone. Carol went to the kitchen to help her serve dessert. “Cristy, you’ve outdone yourself again. Even the men were stuffing themselves with your cooking and not drowning themselves in Arthur’s open bar,” she said, while slicing the carrot cake that she made.

“Thanks, Carol. Um, about David…” Carol interrupted her in mid-sentence. “YES, about David, what, pray tell, is your excuse, for conveniently forgetting to warn me of his presence in this party? In the country, for that matter?”

“I knew how you’d plan everything and prepare for tonight’s party as if you were going into battle. There’s no need for all that anymore, now that you’ve apparently moved on with your life and he with his. All those long talks during his previous visits should pay off by now, don’t you think? In fact, I think you’re doing well tonight.”

The kitchen doors swung open as if on cue and there he was, tall and mighty David, come looking for more ice. “Your guests are starting to remember there’s an open bar,” he said to Cristy while smiling at Carol. “I shall come bearing dessert,” Cristy announced, and left to keep her guests sober.

“I heard about your promotion. Congratulations, Carol,” he said.

“Didn’t know you were in town,” she replied, suddenly finding herself wiping and cleaning Cristy’s kitchen.

“Had to come flying home. Angela got married,” he beamed at her. She returned the smile, “Little Angela? That’s great! Ooh, wait, that actually makes me feel old.” She was so fond of David’s younger sister, who was then too young to be her Maid of Honor, and who was now a happily wedded bride.

“Tell me about it. And she succeeded in persuading me to sponsor their honeymoon.” They laughed like old friends. They WERE old friends, Carol thought.

“There you are,” Richard swung the doors open. “Your cellphone is ringing,” he said, handing it to her. He nodded at David.

“Thanks. Richard, you remember David. David, Richard,” she glossed through the re-introduction while checking who the missed calls were from. They were from Diane who was probably dying to know how the night was going. She turned her phone into Silent mode. Diane would hear all about it on Monday. She turned to face the present.

“They’re probably waiting for this melting ice,” David said. “I’ll be at the bar,” he told Carol. “Good to see you again, Richard.”

There was silence in the kitchen as the doors swung close behind David. After the silence became unbearable, Richard spoke. “I’m not sure if I rescued you, or interrupted you.”

“You did both,” Carol said. “We were laughing like the best of friends. But people like us are not allowed to be the best of friends.”

“He has always been a party drinker, your ex,” Richard commented disapprovingly.

“Let’s go get some fresh air,” Carol said. They went through the back door into Arthur’s neat backyard, illuminated by the full moon. Carol led Richard into the big swing that she often sits in with Clarice, her goddaughter and Cristy’s first born.

Richard began the swinging before jumping in and sitting across her. “I still believe you didn’t need rescuing a while ago,” he insisted, probing.

“Girls always need to be rescued, though we seldom admit it” Carol said, realizing how relieved she was to see Richard a while ago. There was a soft breeze. She felt a little cold so she folded her arms to fight it.

“Not you. Whatever a guy can do for you, you can do for yourself, and even do it better. Unless it’s a totally self-made and successful man, probably.” Richard caught himself voicing out his long-kept observations. Perhaps it was the chilly night that made people instinctively want to protect themselves.

Carol could not help her reaction. “Is that how things are now, Richard? Career woman meant to live successfully alone? Carefree man justified in never being alone with one woman? Have you boxed us both into one-dimensional persons?”

“You know why I let you go when you told me you met David all those years ago?” Richard asked, allowing himself to recognize emotions he had ignored all this time. Carol was asking for it. “You needed someone you could fit into your perfectly organized life. Someone you could predict. Someone you could be proud of. I am not so sure about myself, Carol. That’s why I never fought for you. I may never have enough confidence to stand by you and be your man. You need someone who is exactly like you.”

“You’re wrong. I didn’t think of it as heroism on your part then, but as a sign of extreme pride. You are the one who doesn’t need anyone in your life. You can drown and yet never ask for help from anyone. And you wonder why your life seems so directionless.” Carol didn’t feel cold anymore. She couldn’t understand how they became so hostile on this beautiful moonlit night.

She softened her voice. “Let’s not talk about the past, Richard. We were young. We were expected to make mistakes. But we’re here now, older, hopefully wiser. People seldom get a second chance like this.” There. Carol took a chance with that last line. She couldn’t take back her words anymore.

Richard stared at her. The swing had slowed down. “How sure are we that you won’t meet another David and decide that you need to be rescued by a king and not by a prince?” Richard asked, all thoughts about the party forgotten by the way things are turning out in the children’s swing.

“We’re not. We can’t be sure about anything. We can’t predict that you would cease flirting with other women just to spite me.” Richard was about to protest violently, when Carol continued, “I think I will be doing a lot of women a favor if I finally reined you in. I’m rescuing you, too, Richard.”

The swing finally lost momentum and stopped completely.

No one moved. The wind carried traces of laughter from the guests in the house. Carol waited.

Then Richard stood up, and sat beside her. “You threaten to wreak havoc in my perfectly imperfect life, and you claim to rescue me? You are something else, you know that?” He took both of her hands. They were cold. “I still make mistakes up to now,” he said, “but I recognize a golden chance when I see it.” He kissed her right hand.

Carol was fighting back tears. She could not think of a single word to say.

“You are so beautiful… to me” Richard sang, or at least attempted to. Yes, Carol could live with imperfections.

“I’ll let you in on a secret,” she whispered. “ I make mistakes too. I made one when I left you.”

They were still locked in a tight embrace when Clarice found them.

“Ninang, Mommy’s looking for you. Oh hi, Tito Richard. Mommy said I’d find Ninang with you.” She declared as she took them both by the hand and walked back into the party with them. Too young to be the Maid of Honor, she became the couple’s Flower Girl when they got married not long after.


Lunch Break (Part Two)

(This is the second part of a series I call "Lunch Break". You may want
to read the first part before continuing with this. The previous post.)

From: Ella del Rosario
Date: Wed Jul 10, 2002 12:25 pm
Subject: LUNCH BREAK CONT'D. galadri_ella

Richard stared at the phone after she hung up. Now why on earth did I do that, really? He asked himself.

He had gone out of his way to be “in the neighborhood”. He admitted to himself that it was because he wanted to see her. Now, how to explain that later, in front of her penetrating eyes that don’t seem to miss anything, posed a real problem. He would have to be creative! It was going to be an interesting dinner, he thought.

Being with Carol always challenges him to be up on his toes. Unlike all the girls he had been with, she always asks the WHY’s of things. Unfortunately for him, she seems to always know the answers to her questions. This unnerves him.

They had met in college. They started out taking the same business subjects until he shifted out and went college hopping before finally graduating on his seventh year at the University. By this time, Carol had already been pirated twice by multi-national companies. They had dated for a while during sophomore year until a more serious suitor captured Carol’s attention. Richard let her go easily, but they had kept in touch. After five years, Carol’s fiancĂ© broke off their engagement to try his luck as an engineer abroad. She was devastated.
She shut out everyone and concentrated instead on her career, which was more rewarding at that time.

Richard, on the other hand, dated a different girl in each college that he enrolled in. Carol had warned him against breaking too many hearts but he simply was a man who enjoyed the opportunities that were put before him. She and Richard only got friendly again after the reunion of their college freshman block. Seeing her again after all those years, she looked prettier and more self-assured than he remembered. He had decided, then, that a woman like that would have nothing to do with him.

Recently, however, his cellphone has been loaded with her messages. He wasn’t sure which of those were merely forwards and which were intentionally meant for him, but he kept most of them.

He was growing to be more excited about that dinner party, the more he thought about it. Smiling, he bought a sandwich and munched contentedly while he composed his opening line for Carol later.

Carol could not believe the sea of cars that she met in EDSA. After her long yet productive meeting, she had barely an hour left to go home, grab the cake she baked the night before for Cristy, squeeze in a quick shower, change out of her stifling linen suit into her little black
dress, and rush to her best friend’s house. She would need to exercise her makeup-application-while-driving skills again. She wondered if she had seamless black stockings to go with her stilettos. She hated the wasted time and texted Cristy her apologies for being late, in advance.

Later, she rang the bell and then ran her fingers through her damp hair, very much aware that she didn’t have enough time for a proper blow-dry. Cristy’s husband Arthur opened the door for her. “Now the party can start,” he said, beaming at her as he ushered her into the
living room where most of their friends were gathered.

Cristy, radiant and pregnant with their second child, greeted her with a tight hug, “I never imagined I’d be THIS happy when I turn 30!” she said. “I only wish that you would be happily settled down when your 30th birthday comes.” Carol returned the hug and felt how genuinely fulfilled her friend was. Then Cristy raised her eyebrows and subtly pointed Carol to look at the corner of the room where Richard was talking to Arthur’s younger cousin, Melanie. Cristy did not hide her disapproving frown. Carol raised one eyebrow in return and went to the powder room to check her makeup. She needed to fortify herself for this night.

Richard noticed Carol come in and almost dropped the glass he was holding. She looked smashing in black. Power oozed from that woman and he felt the ancient need to protect himself. He pretended not to see her and feigned interest in what Melanie was saying. It was difficult because she was talking about some bar she hangs out in with her friends, a bar he
had never heard about. Richard felt old, all of a sudden.

People were on their way to the dining area when the doorbell rang again. Arthur looked at Cristy before opening the door. The exchange was not lost on Carol, who suspected something was up. When the door opened, she froze.

“Happy Birthday, Cristy,” came a deep baritone voice Carol would recognize anywhere. It was David, her one and only ex.


Lunch Break (Part One)

Posting LUNCH BREAK, a three-part series that I posted to the Lingkod QC egroup. It was my first short story in about five years. The brothers and sisters lapped it up a la Meteor Garden, with discussions, comments and arguments in between my postings. I wrote these on my lunch break while working at the Sandiganbayan. :) Internet connection was my own dialup account ha!

From: Ella del Rosario
Date: Fri Jul 5, 2002 12:57 pm
Subject: LUNCH BREAK galadri_ella

Richard was about to step out of his apartment when his cellphone beeped. It was Carol, reminding him to bring the Marvin Gaye CD that he had completely forgotten he borrowed from her in the first place. He quickly texted back the requisite “K” and ran to unearth the CD from his pile of readings for his Masters class.

Carol had been texting everyday lately, Richard thought as he boarded the FX that would take him to the MRT station. He was not sure what to make of it, though, so the thought was soon forgotten as he saw a petite mestiza and followed her line through the MRT turnstile and onto the Cubao platform.

“I wonder if he liked the songs”, Carol told Diane as they were collating materials she would use in her presentation to their Board of Directors that afternoon. “That CD contains great date music,” she sighed. “I’m tempted to ask our whole barkada to back out at the last
minute tonight so I could have him all to myself!”

Diane shook her head at her boss and friend. Carol is the Chief Finance Officer of their company, a very logical and take-charge kind of woman who is attempting to use her corporate-world skills to capture the man of her dreams. Diane knows she is all bark and no bite, though.

“Wake up, Sleeping Beauty, and focus on your report. Our year-to-date figures would surely make Chairman Ben jump from his seat again later. May I remind you that you have to convince him we can meet our targets next month? You’ll have time to entrap Prince Charming afterwards!”

“I swear, Diane, you exist to make my life miserable!” Carol wailed as she made a face at her assistant and left her to come up with a speech to pacify Chairman Ben.

As usual, she lost track of time as soon as she sat in front of her computer. When she stood up to print her work, her attention was caught by her blinking cellphone – it was ringing in Silent mode. It was Richard!

“Hi.” She managed to sound cool and NOT overly eager.

“Hi! I thought you’d never pick up.” Gosh, he sounds so cute… I swear I don’t have time for this… I’m acting like a high school junior again, focus, focus!

“Oh, I’d make you wait but never forever, my friend,” she had the presence of mind to reply as she saw Diane mouthing through her glass door, “WE’RE GONNA BE LATE.” Carol signaled for her to go ahead. She’d make time for this even if it meant her job. At this point, she didn’t care actually. Innocent flirting seemed more interesting than her lifetime of career choices.

“I was in the neighborhood and thought you could treat your working-student-friend of 12 years to lunch,” came Richard’s excuse for this welcome disturbance.

Carol gritted her teeth in frustration and replied, “Much as I’d love to drop everything to be at your beck and call, Mister, I can’t today. You should have booked this with Diane a month ago.” She could feel her chest getting heavier every split second. Darn Richard and his spontaneity! She wanted to drop everything to be at his beck and call.

“Aww, sungit tayo today. You need a break! Let me cheer you up with a song…”

“WAIT!” Carol interrupted him before he could start serenading her with his legendary off-key rendition of “You are So Beautiful To Me.” “Diane’s waiting for me, I’ve really got to go. Whatever made you want to have lunch when we’ll see each other at Cristy’s birthday dinner tonight?” She couldn’t help asking him as she hurriedly shoved her materials into her portfolio and frantically searched her pockets for her car keys.

“Wala lang,” came the non-comittal reply.

“That’s not good enough, you need to come up with a better reason tonight. I’ll see you later, k?”

“K, take care.”

I will not analyze, I will not speculate, I will concentrate on our company’s performance for the year-to-date, Carol chanted to herself as she repeatedly pressed the elevator button.

Richard stared at the phone after she hung up. Now why on earth did I do that, really? He asked himself.


Everything is possible to a man who trusts. Mark 9:23