Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Photos from Butuan

E-Night. Medyo putol ang picture ano!

Opening Night. I don't know what we were doing and why we posed like that. :)

Favorite hangout next to Inland - Margie's. Great Cookie Monster!

The QC sisters with Mon Samson, the National Director. My boss. :)

After the NLTC Singing Icons contest, a la Pinoy Dream Academy slash Philippine Idol. But with a twist - group singing! It was fun. I recovered from sore throat just enough to enjoy the hosting job Vannie entrusted to me.

QT's at the Restaurant near the Pool area, Inland Resort, Butuan City. Leah, Darleth (the two doctors of the conference, aside fr. Dr. Jake Yap), Juanda, Tina, and me.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Aza Aza Fighting!

My father, the retiree, has found a new hobby, and has joined thousands of Filipinos who are addicted to Koreanovelas. His balae, Tita Marisa, lent him DVDs of two popular Korean TV series, which had already been shown on Philippine television, "Lover Story in Harvard" (LSIH, photo of lead actors above) and "Full House" (photo below).

The first time he sat to watch LSIH, he hardly left his seat for ten (10!) hours! Mama and I teased him endlessly about it, but he was so hooked by the plot that he ignored our teasing. When his grandchildren visited us last Friday, they noticed Lolo's new passion. Luigi said, "Lolo is lazy today. He only stood up to open the gate." In fact, Papa missed meals, skipped gardening, and stayed glued to the screen. Every chance he got, he discussed with us the twists and turns in the lives of the characters. In order to get his attention, Luigi and Miko played the piano, because that was the only time that he would press the "pause" (yes, pause and not stop) button. The kids were so bewildered by his behavior that they told their parents about it when they got home.

After two days, he repeated the entire LSIH series!!! Last Saturday he complained that his eyes hurt already, so he would not watch muna. Then yesterday, he started "Full House" and got me hooked as well. I didn't enjoy LSIH that much because it was too dramatic, but "Full House" is a comedy and featured a budding writer who worked with a view of the beach outside her window, so I was curious. Papa especially enjoyed the treatment of the directors of Asian parents, and loved the father-characters in both series.

I have so many friends and relatives who have been Koreanovela fans for sometime now. It was only this week that I experienced how addicting they were, firsthand. I now can say with the proper accent and facial expression "Aza aza fighting!!!"

Papa, however, is not a surprise addition to the Koreanovela Addicts Anonymous. He has always loved watching movies and TV shows, not counting the hours and not minding repeated airings of his favorites. Being a lawyer and having children who studied abroad, the LSIH plot appealed to him a lot. Now he appreciates Asian stories more than Hollywood films.
Maybe if I become a true writer I could write about my father. He will be the hero in his own novela. Well, there's no harm in dreaming. As the Full House heroine Han Ji-eun would say, "Aza aza fighting!"

Friday, October 27, 2006

From Baguio to Butuan

I'm cleaning up my inbox in an attempt to sort out my life. This is my off-season spring cleaning. My jungle of a room is next. I'm looking for a garage/rummage sale or donation box I could give all my unused and hardly used stuff to.

From Baguio:

When the Lingkod QC Music Min fellowshipped (is there such a word?) in Baguio a few months back, our last stop was a quaint little restaurant/bed & breakfast/ antique story, PNKY, that so impressed us with the food presentations and the overall ambience that we all promised to go back. This is my order, but for the life of me I can't remember now what I ordered. It was yummy, that much I can recall!

To Butuan:

This is the swimming pool at Almont Hotel's Inland Resort, my home for 10 days. I didn't have time to swim, though, so I just gazed at it.

Old Wedding Photo - 3

From Wendy's to Weddings, these are some of my high school best friends. We used to frequent Wendy's along Taft Ave. because of their P19 promo - for that amount we could buy softee, or double iced tea, or large fries, or even spaghetti. 15 years after graduation, our diet still consists of those items as staple food.

L to R: Laura, Abi, Paully, Glecy, Cyrill with daughter Clarisse. Not in photo - Melissa, Carla, Lilet, their husbands, children, and the many other friends we've hung out with through the decades.

Now I feel old.

Third Inaanak

Yesterday was the birthday of my second inaanak, Audrey.

Here in photo with me is third inaanak Clarisse, flower girl to Tita Mhel and Tito Paul. I once wrote a short story with this little girl as the inspiration for one of the characters. It's in this blog somewhere, entitled "Lunch Break".

Old Wedding Photos

... and these are not mine! When Paul married Melissa, our high school barkada got all dressed up. Too bad Lilet/Ramil and Carla/Sonny were both in the US at that time.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fullness of Life in THIS Life

I cannot contain what God has done in me throughout the NLTC in one post. I have decided to take bite-sized pieces and chew on them slowly, for I'm afraid to miss out on important flavors and nutrients. I am thankful that He generously revealed Himself to me, for I sought Him with all my heart.

Our theme for the week-long conference was taken from John 10:10 in Today's English Version, wherein Jesus said, “I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.” Fullness of life may only be perfectly or completely realized when we see Him face to face in heaven, but we could also experience fullness of life in this world, if we let Him. I learned to let go of what I thought an abundant or full life meant in the days that I spent serving in Butuan City.

God is moving me once again, and I have to make decisions in my career, family, service, community, state of life, and even domicile before the year ends. This is enough to rattle me, but with God's assuring touch throughout the morning prayers, the plenary sessions, the tracks, night events, and retreat talks, I was able to surrender my life once more with abandon.

Whatever notions I had about holiness, mission, service, and purpose in life were challenged during the NLTC. God could choose to use me, and He could choose not to. What He was longing to do was to bless me, love me, and give me fullness of life. Whatever "good/holy things" I was holding on to, if they were hindering me from accepting God's unconditonal love for me, had to go. Repeatedly, God asked me to "let go" and to seek closure.

Brothers and sisters I had unfinished business with approached me and discussed issues, some dating years past, so that I could be at peace with my relationships. God spoke to me about my service as National Administrator, and the Chairman of the Lingkod Board, Tito Eddie, confirmed what the Lord said, that He was after my heart, not my particular service. Karreen prayed over me and spoke God's word - that He longed to see me resting in Him, and I need not search for a mission place to do so, for He would be in my heart wherever I go.

The Friday prayer meeting was a time of tears for me, for I let God strip away all of my latest attachments, all of the things that had become my source of pride. Bobby Q. is a gifted preacher, and being my friend I felt he was using my life as an example in his talk! Of course that wasn't true, but I was just struck by the truths that he pointed out. It was a painful process.

Yes, God allowed me to have fun while hosting the Thursday night NLTC Singing Icons (a la Philippine Idol), but I had to admit to Him that if He didn't pull a miracle by returning my voice, I wouldn't have been able to stand up on stage and say my lines properly. I wasn't able to sing, and that in itself was a lesson for me. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

I experienced love and care from the brothers and sisters, for while I was backing out from the hosting job, they sent encouragement and medication my way, and these strengthened me enough that I was able to have fun while hosting with Roman. The Lord knew what I liked to do, He really did let me have some fun as a form of rest from the admin concerns of the NLTC.

I was able to serve with passionate, generous and loving brothers and sisters, from Lingkod Butuan, to the service team, to the national staff, and finally, to the fantastic crew of Almont Hotel's Inland Resort. All I had to do was stand, the rest were well taken care of.

I was able to pray despite the busyness of the service. I tried to hide from Jesus during the retreat, but Menchie's words reached my heart and rested there. How could Jesus give me the living water if I insisted on the water that could not quench my thirst? I was cornered. I was found out. I was thirsty and yet I didn't know what was best for me. I doubted Jesus' love for me. I doubted His promise. For I thought He wanted a busy me, an important me, a special me. Long after I had realized how totally human, weak, and vulnerable I was, I still insisted on finishing a service that I was ill-suited for. It wasn't life-giving anymore, to me or to the people I claimed to serve. I wasn't being a good witness because of my pride and my fears.

Now for the first time in my life, I have no plan. I will rest. I will wait. I will discern. I will pray. I am open to receive fullness of life, to drink from the source of living water that never runs out, to be healed.

But I am so afraid to admit that I am thirsty, and that I need healing. May the people around me love me despite this strange new twist in my journey.

The warrior, the lawyer, the missionary, is once more a child. I need to pause for a while. I might take time. I can give, I can serve, I can share, but not now.

I hope the people closest to me would understand. If they don't, I hope I have enough strength to endure their disappointment. For I can make plans, but the Lord knows better, and I trust Him more than anyone.

What are gifts, if not to be used for God's glory? What are skills, if not to be used for God's service? What is life, if not to be spent seeking God?

I am increasingly disengaging myself from all that is familiar, and predictable, and expected of me. I live now to please my Audience of One.

Just Some Admin Matters...

This blog is under re-construction. I recently signed up for Blogger Beta, so I had to go back to my previous theme (Scribe), and forego the pink page I had been using for the past few months, in order to avail of Blogger's new features. Note the cool new archiving feature, showing posts per month, and packing the old ones per year.

It will take time before I can rebuild the Sites and Blogs list. Please be patient with me. As Menchie Rojas, the wonderful retreat master for the women during the NLTC said, "Anything worthwhile is worth waiting for."

Oh I have more to share regarding Admin, aside from these admin matters. But that will have to wait until the day I process all that went on in Butuan City. Suffice to say that I had a foretaste of what Jesus meant in John 10:10. Fullness of life is now within reach!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Off to Butuan!

Enough about thinking of alternative careers, I'll face the current one I have. I'm off to Butuan tomorrow for 10 days. I'll be offline and unplugged. Will use the time to talk to God. Will be a Mary and not so much a Martha. Hopefully!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Alternative Career No. 4

Miko came up with this one. He wanted me to come out and play with him and his Kuya Luigi but I wasn’t feeling well due to flu and cramps. Luigi, who had just recovered from a long bout with fever, said, “You should drink lots of fluids, Tita Ella”. As he was wearing a white shirt and a white pair of shorts and looking very much the part, I told him, “Thanks, Doctor Luigi.”

They were playing outside my bedroom window. Miko came closer, still dribbling a tiny basketball, and said, “I don’t want to be a doctor. I don’t like doctors. How about you, Tita Ella what do you want to be when you grow up?

There was a long answer to that, as it appeared like I wasn’t grown up yet to them, which was great, but I was also asking some questions in my head, along those lines. Due to my headache and state of being drugged, however, I just gave the simplest answer and declared, “I already am a lawyer.”

Miko replied, “What?! I didn’t know that! I thought you were a church choir singer!”

I laughed so loud that Luigi approached my window as well on his scooter to ask what we were laughing about. Miko told him that I was a lawyer, and then turned to me and asked, “What’s a lawyer anyway?”

More laughter from me. I couldn’t think of how to explain that. I wanted to say, ”Bukas pa yata ang Enchanted Kingdom!” Luigi said, “My friend Andre wants to be a lawyer.

I told them, “Better ask Lolo what a lawyer is. He is one, too, and he’s been a lawyer longer.”

The mokong replied, “But Lolo isn’t here. Can’t you just tell me?”

I sat up properly on my bed to think. He was peering through the jalousies of my window, impatiently waiting for my answer. Finally I said, “A lawyer is someone who helps people with their problems. For example if Daddy has clients who don’t want to pay, a lawyer could help daddy make his clients pay.”

His curiosity satisfied, he simply said, “Oh. Thanks. But I still thought you were a church singer.”

Where in the world did he get that idea? Maybe to them I’m just their aunt whose world revolves around them whenever they are here at Lolo and Lola’s house. They knew I always went to church and they heard me singing with the Lingkod QC music ministry during our anniversary.

Who knows, these could be prophetic words from my little nephew. Maybe I’ve really shed off my lawyer image successfully. I never wore it fittingly in the first place. I just miss the suits. And the shoes.

The quest continues.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Storms may Come and Storms may Go

Due to typhoon Milenyo which turned our lives upside down last week, I wasn't able to blog for several days. But there are worse things - for people have died; trees have been uprooted; and billboards have been toppled. Luzon suffered a blackout and power has not yet been completely restored in all areas. In the midst of all these, I wanted to blog.

In our home front, our casualties are four goldfish, who died after 24 hours without the aquarium pump and light. Miko said it was the saddest day of his life when he lost the four. His dad was able to save the other four goldfish when he drove them over to our house, which had electricity back Friday early morning, unlike in their area which only got power back late Saturday.

Here in the office, we're busy preparing for the National Leaders' Training Conference of Lingkod to be held in Butuan City next week. The typhoon also affected our preparations.

With mounting concerns, it is good to look at the positive side of things. For just as there are storms in our lives, there are also moments of peace and joy, when good friends come together and celebrate milestones in our lives.

This photo was taken last Saturday during KJ's lifelong commitment celebration. Friends of the Servants of the Word joined together to thank God for calling KJ into this lifelong commitment as a single brother. It was a beautiful occasion. When I have the time I'd like to write more about what I learned about the different states of life, for on that night the clergy and the lay came together to celebrate God's call for each of us, which is equally beautiful. Even married couples and single people celebrated together, for we are one in the work of the Lord.