Wednesday, November 29, 2006

71 Years na si Papa

Here is the birthday boy in photo with grandchildren Luigi and Miko.

We were only seven people for dinner, but it felt like there was a party of forty people. There was so much food, so much fun, and so much dishes (not a parallel, couldn't find one while writing this). Papa is very happy today. His family, local and international, is complete. He didn't want a birthday cake, but wanted the works - wine, pancit, sapin-sapin for the grownups; spaghetti, Coke, ice cream and fried chicken for the kids.

He woke up early to go to mass and bought flowers for himself! He hummed while he cleaned his best china and waited for all of us to come home - from school or work - as if it were a holiday. His children from US, Germany and Australia all called up. His only brother and his friends from his banking days all remembered him. He tried to get us all to play the piano for him, but some of us were either too rusty or too much of a perfectionist to perform without proper practice. I was the rusty one but gave in.

He drank too much wine, he said. He didn't have time to watch his koreanovelas today but he ate kimchi and korean beef stew served on bowls that were made in Korea. Our dinner, like our growing family, was made up of fusion, east-meets-west dishes. We're now too tired and full to dry the dishes. If I had it my way, I'd let the air to naturally dry them dishes. Yes, I'm the lazy one in the family when it comes to drying dishes. It's my least favorite chore.

I think Papa will do it tomorrow, hehe.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Things I Don't Get

Aside from the usual posts that I make here about movies, music, lessons, shameless plugs, stories (see neat feature "Labels" of Blogger beta on the left column of this blog), I'd like to introduce a new Label. It's about things that make me say, "I don't get it!" in this world. Now, I have to be really careful for I could get carried away and rant about everything contrary, so I'm making a resolution to be extra-discerning before posting anything.

It's just that this morning, while reading the papers, I couldn't help but wonder if the fashion editors of a leading daily are residents of the Philippines. Add to that my total bewilderment at how boutiques and fashion houses could expect to sell to Filipinas living in humid Manila their "winter collection".

I don't get it. We don't have winter. Have these people tried wearing stockings, tights, let alone socks in this weather? The fashion gurus would like to let us take "style over comfort" to the extreme by focusing on layering and tights, tights! in this climate. I'd like to bring them down to earth or at least ask if they are really in touch with a significant number of Filipinas who live with centralized airconditioning, are chauffer-driven, and never experience the heat of the Philippine sun when they step out of their houses or offices.

I may be the wrong market for these clothes, but I just don't get it. If they're dressing up Filipinas, then they should probably endorse clothes that are actually wearable considering our lifestyle and environment. Instead, they raid the racks of stores from the U.K. (England, not the modern Eloy's) and would want us to believe that in order to be fashionable these days, we have to suspend our body's propensity to sweat.

Oh no, that sounds like a rant. Give me SM, 168 mall, good old Greenhills, or my favorite boutique two subdivisions away, Marien, anytime.

I'd Like to Leave Earth for a While...

I know very few poets. One of my favorites is Robert Frost.

66. Birches

WHEN I see birches bend to left and right
Across the line of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them 5
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells 10
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed 15
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun. 20
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows— 25
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again 30
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away 35
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish, 40
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.

So was I once myself a swinger of birches;
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood 45
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over. 50
May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree, 55
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches. 60

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Now Playing Over and Over...

I am tired of all this sadness... I sound so serious in this blog! Actually, there are moments of grace, moments when I feel I'm directly standing under a ray of sunshine, and they are enough to allow me to weather the storm clouds that appear once in a while.

A friend teased me that I should just sing this song. She cheered me up and I ended up singing this in my head. LSS! Not Life in the Spirit Seminar... Last Song Syndrome!

Let me post the Karen Carpenter song that keeps playing in my head. You know this song. You can sing it with me. You can even close your eyes and think of that person you can't last a day without! Join me on my (in)sanity break and together let us declare...


Day after day I must face a world of strangers
Where I don't belong, I'm not that strong
It's nice to know that there's someone I can turn to
Who will always care, you're always there

When there's no getting over that rainbow
When my smallest of dreams won't come true
I can take all the madness the world has to give
But I won't last a day without you

So many times when the city
seems to be without a friendly face
A lonely place
It's nice to know that you'll be there if I need you
And you'll always smile, it's all worthwhile

When there's no getting over that rainbow
When my smallest of dreams won't come true
I can take all the madness the world has to give
But I won't last a day without you

Touch me and I end up singing
Troubles seem to up and disappear
You touch me with the love you're bringing
I can't really lose when you're near

If all my friends have forgotten half their promises
They're not unkind, just hard to find
One look at you and I know that I could learn to live
Without the rest, I found the best

When there's no getting over that rainbow
When my smallest of dreams won't come true
I can take all the madness the world has to give
But I won't last a day without you

When there's no getting over that rainbow
When my smallest of dreams won't come true
I can take all the madness the world has to give
But I won't last a day without you.

Wasn't that nice? I feel better already. :-) Thanks Gay! You live up to your name.

Truer Words Have Not Been Spoken Here

14 "Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.

15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
no longer will their names be invoked.

19 I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.

20 I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the LORD.

Achor means Trouble. This is from Hosea 2. I am in that desert, and I have this promise to hold on to.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Subic Adventure

My sister-in-law, Mommy P, has created a video of our family trip to Subic earlier this month. She really has talent in these things.

This video captures Luigi's first go-kart experience, with a voice-over from Mommy P and Tita Ella ("Si Luigi ba yung nag-overtake?" "Nag-overtake!!!"); Miko's signature five-second swim with matching erase-his-nose movement; Lolo's joy at being with his grandkids; etc. Heartwarming!

Now Playing: Power of Your Love

Sometimes an old song given a new twist delivers a fresh message. 
Power of Your Love
Hillsong United
Performed by Sr. Susay Valdez, rc
"Stand by Me Still"

Lord I come to You
Let my heart be changed, renewed
Flowing from the grace
That I found in You.
And Lord I've come to know
The weaknesses I see in me
Will be stripped away
By the power of Your love.
Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side.
And as I wait
I'll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love.
Lord unveil my eyes
Let me see You face to face
The knowledge of Your love
As You live in me.
Lord renew my mind
As Your will unfolds in my life
In living every day
by the power of Your love.

Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side.
And as I wait
I'll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love.

And I will soar with You

Your Spirit leads me on

In the power of Your love.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hide Not Your Face

We tend to look at our role models and think they have it all made. They are happy, they are successful, they are famous, and they are loved. We, on the other hand, can’t seem to muddle through the mess we find ourselves in.

My role models at this stage are two magnificent people – a singing nun, who is my spiritual directress, and a writing priest, who pastors me in the parish and in our community. When I talk to them individually, I marvel at how single-heartedly they pursue the Lord and how they share their lives beautifully to those around them just by releasing God’s power in their very being. I doubt if they know each other, but I count them as two of my greatest blessings, for they both lead me closer to the Jesus whom they seem to know so well.

Not having a calling for religious life, I fail to apply what they teach me to my everyday because I draw imaginary distinctions between their ministry and mine, their vast audience/ influence and my small, sometimes possessive circles of friends, as well as their great roles and my trifling responsibilities. They are my living saints, but I refuse to live like them in every sense of the word, out of fear and more often than not, sheer stupidity.

As I found myself sinking deeper into this state of uncertainty, my voices of wisdom and compassion were somehow called by their respective ministries out of the country. And I, stubborn, slow student, was left to figure out what to do. I could not run to them to wait for them to spell out what God was telling me. I could not receive practical advice or hear freeing sermon. I was on my own, as I was supposed to be.

I could only hold on to my prayer time. Even then, I was afraid to be left alone with God. I had a Companion – a Catholic Scripture diary. I read other people’s reflections on Word Among Us. I had music – Jesuit, charismatic, Christian, even secular – to fill my ears. I could not journal regularly, afraid once more to write my tears down on paper, lest I form a lasting weapon that would poke at me whenever I look back at it.

A sister and friend asked me if I had spent time at the Blessed Sacrament to pour out my heart to Jesus. I bowed my head and admitted that I had not. She simply told me that her life-shattering woes were soothed every time she spent an hour with the Lord. Another sister asked me at another time what Jesus was telling me about my circumstances and my future, and if I had found a specific verse from Scripture to guide me. I had the entire bible – several versions of it, actually in my room, office and car, not even counting the immense biblical resources online – but admittedly, I had not allowed even a single verse to fully take root and bear fruit in my heart, to lift me up from uncertainty and take me to higher ground, where I would see how trivial, selfish, and pessimistic I was being on a full-time basis..

I am a sick woman refusing to be healed. I’m reminded of the man stranded on an island and praying fervently for God to save him. He refused every passing boatman’s offer of a ride, stubbornly waiting for God Himself to arrive in a chariot maybe and hopefully accompanied by lightning and thunder, not knowing that his Savior had already come, because He came not in the form expected.

Remove the scales from my eyes, Lord Jesus, and let me see you, and the wonders you are doing in my life. Let me not fix my eyes on reflections of you, for they could fail, disappear, and disappoint. Remind me that you alone are my constant companion, and I shall exist, nay, live, on the power of your love alone.

The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation
Psalm 27 (ESV)

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.

3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet [2] I will be confident.

4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire [3] in his temple.

5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!

8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!

10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.

12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!

14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

P.S. Obviously, this has become my Scripture of choice for now. Every word from this psalm, I shall continue to meditate on until the day when I can reach Psalm 30/31, where He turns my mourning into dancing.

P.P.S.S. Himig Heswita has recorded a sequel to their first venture into live recording, "Songs for Healing". It is an inspiring collection, "Stand by Me Still", and cut no. 4, "Power of Your Love", is my current theme song. Vocals by Sr. Susay Valdez, r.c.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Something is not right. There is a long-standing imbalance that I cannot set right; a major inconsistency I cannot align; a tragic conflict I cannot avoid.

I stand in the middle and wonder how long I can wait. I know I should not make huge decisions when in desolation. From what I remember of the word "desolation" as described by St. Ignatius, I seem to be there.

Life is difficult. There is not one path that is easy. Nothing is attractive, or palatable, or exciting. Everything is risky and complicated. At this point. My passion has been challenged. My dreams have been tested. I still want to give, and to serve, and to share, that's true. I'm not about to up and take back my life and say it's "Me Time" from now on.

Maybe when the rain is gone, I can see more clearly. I should hold on until then. I know God's way is not this way - this, this is chaos. He can't be the author of this chaos. I shall not give in to pressure. Good is not good enough. I know who my God is. I know He created me, beautifully, carefully, purposefully. So I shall not waste this creation by being reckless, swinging to the other end all of a sudden, listening to the voices just to shut them up once and for all.

For this, too, shall pass. And faith, well it's the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things yet unseen, as defined by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews.

Sometimes, when dreams, and loved ones, and lies confuse us, we desperately need more faith. We just need more faith to remember that the Author of Dreams, He who is Love, the source of all truth and beauty, is on our side.

If God is for us, who can be against us?

I shall repeat that and other assurances from Scripture, until the day when the flood subsides, and I see a rainbow again. I know it's out there. My God promised me that.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Charismatic Mass in QC

"It's the start of something new...." This line from one of the songs from High School Musical (a Disney made-for-TV movie, so famous that all the songs must be running through moms' and titas' heads as often as they do in mine) crossed my mind when Fr. Geoffrey told me that we're starting the first of many beautiful changes in our parish.

Every Sunday at 10 a.m., St. Benedict's Parish in Don Antonio Heights, Quezon City will celebrate a Charismatic mass. We are blessed to have the Missionaries of God's Love, a congregation of Charismatic priests from Australia, as our parish priest and assistant parish priest. Starting this Sunday, we shall spread the fire of God's love in a new way (at least, for Don Antonio mass-goers). Some of us from the youth group (yes I'm still serving in the youth group of the MGLs, thus I still qualify as youth) will serve as lectors and singers.

We expect that many people from the surrounding subdivisions would join us. Lingkod - Quezon City, hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

DND: Do Not Disturb

I must be missing out on something important. I probably should be aware of the lesson by now, yet here I am still clueless. Other people tell me it's so easy and simple. Just do what, in their expert opinion, is best for me, and I will be happy.

It gets complicated when the world inside me and the world outside me are in such conflict that I get spiritual vertigo again. For me, temporary, external happiness is not the goal, but permanent, internal joy is. Success by now is not as important to me as faithfulness. To paraphrase Scripture, I do not need to gain the whole world, not even a small piece of it, if that means I lose my soul.

I do not impose my beliefs on anyone, but when it comes to my life, then I have every right to do what my heart tells me to. In hotels they have signs for guests to put on their doorknobs. One side of the sign says "Please Make Up Room", and this is the cue for the cleaning people to make the beds, take out the trash, and change the towels. This is the exception rather than the rule, for people who go to hotels desire privacy and deserve to rest. Most of the time, they put the other side of the sign, which says "Do not Disturb".

When I'm ready, I'll invite people to come in, look through my life, share their views and opinions, offer suggestions and options. But until further notice, or unless otherwise invited to do so, please do not disturb. If people have a compulsion to clean, I would suggest they go read another blog, or choose another person to make over.

I have the right to remain silent.

Monday, November 06, 2006

In Subic, Where Another Dream Came True

Subic, November 2006, was when I witnessed a dream coming true.

Luigi was born with a passion for cars and driving. He could barely say our names when he was a toddler but he could always call out "Car!" and exclaim "Eng-eng! Eng-eng!" complete with the steering-wheel motion to show his favorite toy. He grew up watching race car drivers on cable and mastering computer games featuring virtual driving. The first time he ever rode the bump car, he was beside himself with joy. His milestones continued - first time to drive a bump car alone, first time to ride a go-kart with his dad, etc. When our family went on a short vacation to Subic last week, he hoped against all hopes that he would be allowed to drive a go-kart by himself. He felt he was tall enough.

Fortunately for him, he was deemed qualified to be a go-kart driver. Lola and lolo positioned themselves on the bleachers to watch. His mom and Tita Ella, with videocam and digicam in tow, were poised and ready to catch his every move, to be included in the family archives. His dad drove the go-kart behind him, and his brother Miko and Tito Ric trailed behind.

He was ready. For P300, he drove 10 laps with nary a scratch. He knew when to slow down - upon turning, and when to overtake. He started slowly and then at about the third lap, he stepped on it and drove smoothly. I was clicking the camera like crazy, unable to believe that the 9-year old boy was driving so perfectly. He smiled and waved everytime he passed the photographer's corner.

When it was over, he had a triumphant grin on his face. We all rushed to congratulate him. He said he was smiling inside his helmet almost all the time. I asked him how it felt to have his dream come true and he simply said that it felt good. He said, "My hobby when I grow will be go-karting!"

The next day, he was allowed to drive again, and he cut short his swimming to arrive early at the go-kart area. I asked if the first try was better than the second one. He said he liked them both. It was so cute to see him thrilled like that.

It was a relaxing weekend for all of us. We visited our relatives in Olongapo City, but we stayed at Bayfront Hotel. We walked along the boardwalk facing Subic Bay and listened to the bands playing at night. It was a safe place to be with kids, for even if people were drinking, there were a lot of policemen around the boardwalk area and entire families were eating on tables set out under the moonlit sky. Some kids danced on stage. Ice cream, hotdogs, pizza, siopao, and other fun food were laid out on stalls. I heard that the tiangge will continue up to next year.

We also witnessed fireworks in Olongapo, which only added to the excitement of our trip for the kids. Miko surprised us all when he showed us he could swim, after dropping out of swimming class last summer.

The sem break, my vacation leave, and Tito Ric's trip is over. He is back to Germany, the kids and teachers are back to school, and I'm back to work. It was a good, albeit tiring, trip back to my hometown. We'll definitely come back for more of Subic.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Malling in Asia

These are family pictures from our trip to Mall of Asia - the Hong Kong Disneyland plans that were changed to Enchanted Kingdom but finally ended up at MoA - last Sunday.

I'd like to thank Peeya, my sister-in-law, for this wonderful bubbly photo album.