Monday, December 31, 2007

What Am I Doing New Year's Eve?

What am I doing New Year's Eve? No, I'm not sorting through the thousand invitations I've received. I'm doing the Resolutions List, and blogging about them. Either I'm being brave or I'm being stupid. Nevertheless, here goes:

1. Buy Filipino. I'm so guilty of colonial mentality, and easily tempted by the lures of shopping malls when I'm abroad, whereas there are so many local brands to be proud of. I resolve to exercise my shopping skills in local retailers and stock up on homemade products.

2. Invest wisely. Some people my age have finished paying off their insurance, health care, and pension. This is my backlog.

3. Use my talents, and throw my excuses to the wind.

4. Believe in myself. After all that God has accomplished in and through me, I should be less prone to stress and anxiety, and more relaxed and focused, especially on my job.

5. Give in to discipline. Having a time in/ time out schedule at work is strange for me, but it's for my own good and I should exert more effort in this area.

6. Express love more. I've always thought, "If I love you, what's that to you?" More and more I realize that expressing love increases love.

7. Seek growth, not just wait for it. When people offer to help with my healing process, I should cooperate and not obstinately refuse to open up.

8. Be a radical Christian in a new way. I keep saying this and I've tried to yield to where the Holy Spirit had guided me in the past. This year I'm excited at what's in store, what kind of service I'll give, and what kind of lessons I'll learn.

I posted this before my year-end review, which requires more introspection. But 2007 helped rebuild me in many ways so that I enter 2008 with more hope than there ever was in me.

I wish you all a very blessed, prosperous, and wonderful New Year. Cheers!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Promises Like Pie-Crust

It's poetry time again.

Promises Like Pie-Crust

by Christina Georgina Rossetti
(1830-1894)

Promise me no promises,
So will I not promise you:
Keep we both our liberties,
Never false and never true:
Let us hold the die uncast,
Free to come as free to go:
For I cannot know your past,
And of mine what can you know?

You, so warm, may once have been
Warmer towards another one:
I, so cold, may once have seen
Sunlight, once have felt the sun:
Who shall show us if it was
Thus indeed in time of old?
Fades the image from the glass,
And the fortune is not told.

If you promised, you might grieve
For lost liberty again:
If I promised, I believe
I should fret to break the chain.
Let us be the friends we were,
Nothing more but nothing less:
Many thrive on frugal fare
Who would perish of excess.

Tiguls at Metrowalk




About six or seven years ago, we were together almost everyday in Lingkod QC - serving God, growing in our prayer life, and enjoying one another's company as friends.

God had taken us to different paths since then but it's still a joy just to get together and laugh, to be silly and remember "Friends ", "Harry Potter", the Service Council, countless meetings and fellowships, heartaches, and victories.

We are aging together, the Tiguls and I. "Mga Tigulang", we are called, especially with new Lingkod QT's in their early 20's, who can also dance hiphop, hit the high notes, and love God in a radical way.

We tried last night to stay up longer, but at 11 p.m. those with children to go home to, and/or work to attend to the next day, could no longer keep their eyes open. We just remembered fondly those days when we would go home at 5 a.m. and be up and ready for a Lingkod activity by 9 a.m.

It's time for the new generation of QT's to keep the fire burning.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Secrets Christmas Party

We used to call ourselves Secrets and now we're stuck with the name. We are ninongs and ninangs of the Secrets children, although some are not in these photos. We had Tita Tess as special guest.


Thanks to BJ for the professional quality shots. I grabbed these from his Multiply site.

With Juan, Martha and BJ's handsome son.


Here I'm carrying Ava, my goddaughter by Arvin and Anj. In photo with me are Arvin and Martha, who were my classmates from grade IV to grade VI. Martha and I were also schoolmates in high school (Manila Science) and college (U.P. College of Business Ad).




Juan couldn't make it to this picture as the baby was fast asleep na. Ava gamely posed with ninangs, parents, and tita.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Greetings


We're scattered around the globe once more, but from my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Hyde Park with Mama


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
Mama and I at Hyde Park, with St. Mary's Cathedral in the background.

Papa with the Jacaranda


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Papa posed with his favorite lavender tree when we spent an afternoon at the park.

Ella's Dress


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I went with Ate to the bridal shop and found this one I liked. Too bad I don't have an occasion to wear it yet.

Cheers!


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
Christmas is for family, but most of mine are far, far away. This photo was taken when we had wine tasting during our November trip to Australia.

To Ric and Celeste who are in Germany, Lani and Danny who are in Sydney, and Mel and Josh who are in Phoenix, Cheers! Maligayang Pasko!

Two Sisters and the Groom


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
On the Second Day of our Sydney trip, we went to see the Blue Mountains. In photo with me are the bride and groom, Danny and Lani.

Belated Happy Birthday, Ate Lani!

Blue Mountains


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
Still have a bit of Sydney Hangover, two months later!

We loved that the mountains were blue and that we had Kuya Ric as a photographer. You could see the famous Three Sisters behind us.

Melbourne Cup


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
I was in Sydney for Melbourne Cup, and while everyone placed their bets, I simply enjoyed the meal and posed for my souvenir photo.

Youth Caroling



Pardon the Nokia E65 video quality. This is a fundraiser for the World Youth Day '08 delegates - caroling activity at the CDO residence.

If you're interested to sponsor youth for WYD in Sydney on July 2008, please get in touch with me. Visit the Youth Alive, Parish of St Benedict, and WYD Sydney websites for more details (links on the left panel of this blog). Or email me at ella.delrosario@gmail.com.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

B&G with MOH and BM


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Originally uploaded by bdelrosario

Wedding Party 111107'


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Originally uploaded by bdelrosario

Always the Maid of Honor...


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Originally uploaded by bdelrosario
It was my second time to be a maid of honor. In the past, I had been candle sponsor, veil, cord, bridesmaid, choir, lector, soloist, and guest. Thank God I've never been ninang or primary sponsor.

In limo - Ella, Danny and Lani.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Now Playing: Sing of Him

I can't get enough of the new CD launched by the Cenacle Sisters through the Jesuit Music Ministry. It's entitled "Sing of Him: More Prayers from the Upper Room". I attended the live concert-album launch last Sunday at the Cenacle Garden and was moved at how Sr Bubbles Bandojo, rc, Sr Susay Valdez, rc, and their Jesuit friends rendered "prayers wrapped in song".

You may read more about the CD and the launch here.

The songs "Sing of Him", "How Beautiful", "Song of Ruth", and "Naaalala Mo", are now part of my advent soundtrack. You may buy from the Cenacle Retreat House, or wait for the release at the Jesuit Music Ministry stores.

A Christmas Wish: Granted (Mine!)

There is a youth group I volunteer to care for that meets almost weekly in different chapels surrounding our parish.

The members are not the regular iPod- and PSP-toting kids who hang out at malls and live chauffer-driven lives. My kids, although mostly in school and living with their families, sometimes have to skip classes because they don't have enough money for their project, fare, or lunch. It breaks my heart every time I think about it, but such is life, and I, together with the core team of adult and youth leaders, try to help them as much as we can by supporting them in their Christian journey.

We had our last general assembly for the year in November, as we are taking a break this December, for most of the kids would be busy then with their respective church choir activities - Simbang Gabi masses, caroling, and Christmas parties. While we were saying goodbye, the kids asked me, "Ate, wala ba tayong Christmas party sa Youth Alive?"

I looked at the other core team members and we all sadly shook our heads. The Knights of the Altar, the Junior Choir, the BNP Choir, the OLA Choir, and the scholars would each have their own parties, we said. They said they wanted to be with the whole group (all 200 of them? I thought) and besides, "IT WAS CHRISTMAS!" I felt the same way, as if the last three words explained it all.

I approached Fr. Steve and he said the YA had been blessed already the past year, especially in the summer, so there was no real need for another big party, especially if we were not able to raise funds for it previously.

I texted my friends that if they were looking for a cause to support this Christmas, I had two suggestions - Youth Alive, and Noah's Ark (the charity my office is donating to this Saturday). One of my friends replied that she had tons of clothes and the kids could have a rummage sale to raise funds. I agreed to meet her to pick up the clothes, and we had a long-overdue lunch and coffee. We shared about our lives and what we were doing. In the middle of that late lunch, she blurted out that she was giving me money (a HUGE amount, by my standards) for the youth. She said she wanted a real party for them, not spaghetti with catsup, but real food, "something that you and I would eat". I was overwhelmed and cried on the spot!

Another friend of mine, let's call him Willie Wonka, sent me boxes of chocolate-covered pretzels for my two "charities" this Christmas. I could not believe how generous people could get. I was just thinking of a simple party at the back of the church - with sandwiches and juice. Now the kids were getting a Christmas party to remember. The core team immediately came up with plans on how to wisely spend the donation, and we're very excited about the ideas that now need a little bit of execution.

I know we should be doing something for them every day of the year, but with more reason, the coming of Jesus this Christmas just makes me want to have an extra special time with the kids - whether they be the kids on the street, at Noah's Ark, at He Cares Foundation, or at Youth Alive Manila.

As for the two kids closest to my heart - my nephews - I have a surprise for them as well. Wink. Wink. They might read this blog and get too excited.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Wish I Had This When I Was a Law Student


This Christmas, give the ultimate gift for the law student in your family! Click on the picture above to get the Order Form now!
This is my pet project. I think every law student must have this. Help me spread the word!


You may visit http://cdasia.com for more details and product updates.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Masci '91 Reloaded

Calling all my batchmates from Manila Science High School Batch '91, please join our new yahoogroup, "masci91reloaded". You may email iancaparro@gmail.com or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/masci91reloaded and sign up!

-- Laura del Rosario
Compton-Edison-Calvin-Faraday

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Advent of Advent

One early December Monday, when I was in second grade, our teacher asked us if we noticed something new at Church when we went to mass the day before.

I eagerly raised my hand and when signaled to stand up, I proudly said, "Isang malaking istatwa ng Sto Nino po!" (One huge statue of the Sto. Nino.). My teacher's face went blank and then she asked for another answer. As I sat down, I was clueless why she didn't affirm me for my brilliant answer.

Then one of my classmates stood up and said, "Ma'am, I saw an advent wreath."

So I was eight when I first learned what an Advent Wreath was.
Our Own Advent Wreath with Christ Candle

You can find s a simple explanation of the symbolism of the advent wreath here.

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent, also the start of the liturgical year. A couple of days ago, I attended an Advent Recollection with Lingkod QC, facilitated by Bro. Francis Iturralde of the Servants of the Word. Mass was celebrated by Fr Steve Tynan, mgl, who incidentally marked his 42nd birthday yesterday and his 15th anniversary as a priest on Thursday.

It's been months since my last personal retreat. When I heard Francis say, "Every transition is painful", I knew I would hear God during that recollection. By the second talk, I was reduced to tears and could hardly write in my prayer journal. I was enveloped by God's love and assurance, that even if I had many struggles due to the many changes in my life, He was with me. Lingkod QT's asked if I was ok, and I said, "Don't mind me. I'm experiencing God's presence." The sharing within our discussion group was also life-giving for all of us. It was a Spirit-filled recollection.

Francis assured us that as pilgrims on this earth, we're not meant to live a comfortable life. We're not supposed to settle down and be content with our earthly possessions; not even our earthly relationships. We're meant to hunger and thirst and wait for our union with God.

He led us through the liturgical year to explain the significance of Advent, how it points to the end. I was able to recite significant dates in the Catholic faith and to express what Christmas was all about- the incarnation. Thankfully, I was not as clueless as when I was a grade schooler.

But I was not content with mere head knowledge of facts and dates. I was searching for the meaning of God's word in my life, at this stage of change and challenge. God did not disappoint. He spoke with understanding and compassion. He made me see that I was on the right path - that a lifetime of waiting was nothing compared to an eternity with Him; that the challenges and crosses of this world were nothing given the fact that His Son had already conquered the world.

I almost didn't attend that recollection as I was physically tired and emotionally burdened, but I'm glad I did. Sometimes clouds don't lift all at the same time, but there are significant moments when we gather enough strength to endure.

It is not yet Christmas, but the fact that it certainly leads to Christmas makes Advent so very special. Every day is a step of faith, closer to where real hope, faith, and love are waiting.

Lord, I am once again blinded from seeing Your Love for me. Please lead me to get rid of the scales from my eyes. I want to see You clearly, and to love others as You love me. Amen.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Confusing Times

I am confused. I can attribute this to my educational, cultural, or personal history. Or I can blame the current state of events in our country. I'm not referring to the overlapping typhoons or the earthquake that occurred earlier this week.

I was in Cebu when the Trillanes Walkout and the "Makati standoff" happened at the Peninsula Manila. So far away from friends and family, I had to wait for my meetings to end so I could watch the news and see one of my favorite hotel lobbies being broken into by a military tank. All over the country's central business district, I had friends who were trapped inside their offices because the roads were jammed with cars, soldiers, and journalists.

Processed

I don't understand what happened, actually. Not yet. But there was a word I heard repeated many times by the police and the military. They said that the people who were left with Sen. Trillanes - mediamen included, who were herded off inside buses were "processed".

Processed? I wondered what they meant. It sounded like something that was done to cheese food or sausages.

Confused citizen that I was, I sought the dictionary and looked up the meaning of the word, to see if they used it properly, as I was bothered by the particular, even careless, choice of word.

From http://www.m-w.com/:

process

process[2,transitive verb]process[4,intransitive verb]


1 a: to proceed against by law : prosecute b (1): to take out a summons against (2): to serve a summons on

2 a: to subject to a special process or treatment (as in the course of manufacture or film development) b (1): to subject to or handle through an established usually routine set of procedures (2): to integrate sensory information received so that an action or response is generated

(3): to subject to examination or analysis c: to work (hair) into a conk

The "processing" done to the legitimate members of the media and everyone else rounded up inside the Manila Hotel after the authorities ordered the premises cleared, did not involve "the course of manufacture or film development", "insurance claims", "sensory information", "computer data", and all the other words I found in the dictionary meaning.

But then, what do I know? I'm an ordinary citizen. I don't know who to trust. I don't know who to believe.

Part of me wanted the military to takeover the government. Part of me got irritated at Trillanes' grandstanding and diva-like hog of the limelight. A huge part of me got confused at the over-reaction of the authorities to the groups who were gathered yesterday. I saw no arms on Trillanes' side; hence, to my mind there was insufficient provocation, or reason, to fire warning shots just an hour after the deadline to surrender. Neither was there a need to break a perfectly good hotel door.

Reassuring Words

The President commended the police for efficiently resolving the "Makati standoff". She also told the Filipino people not to be affected by the day's events. She said, "To one and all, let us leave this short charade behind and get on with the business of the people. Our fight against poverty and justice must be uninterrupted." Read more here.

Let me get that straight -she expected us to what? There was tear gas; there were guns; there were tanks. It reminded the people of scenes from the '70's and the '80's. We never learn from our history, we just keep repeating our mistakes.

I was on the phone practically the whole day monitoring the events through text, 3G and calls. I bought an overpriced Internet prepaid card at the hotel where I was staying just to get more of the news. There were threats to peace, democracy, and life, however uncomfortable, as I knew it. Sorry Madame President, but I could not just shrug off everything like that. My thirst for justice is looking for answers.

Only in the Philippines

We were voted one of the happiest, most positive people in the world. Only Filipinos cope with disaster with such ironic humor.

I saw on TV that while the military tank was slamming against the entrance of the Peninsula Manila, one of the soldiers took out his high-tech camera phone (probably a Nokia N95) and tried, several times, to get a good shot. TV cameras also saw them laughing and joking. This was in the midst of a possible coup d'etat and all.

Inside one of the tallest buildings in Makati, my friend told me that some of her officemates disappeared while the conflict was ongoing just a few blocks away, and she later found out that they slipped into the pantry to practice their number for their Christmas party.

It seems like Christmas will go on, Pinoy style, however tragic our lives may be. We still document every event and pose for a souvenir photo, especially once-in-a-lifetime moments like military tanks entering deluxe hotels.

Forgive me; I'm just dog-tired from work and travel, confused due to lack of sleep, and confused as to my identity. Heck, I'm writing in English when I'm thinking in Filipino. There must be something wrong with me.

Filipinos are not native English speakers. I should be kinder to those who insist on using "processed" when they refer to human beings. I don't know any better.

Aside from being the most optimistic people in the world, these days we Filipinos probably are the most confused of them all.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tourist, not Traveler


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
I had two bags and looked every bit the tourist in this photo taken at Circular Quay.

Have Camera, Am Asian, Will Pose for Souvenir Photo.

QVB


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
Inside the Queen Victoria Building with my sisters-in-law, Celeste and Peeya.

The Three Sisters


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
Their names are not Lani, Ella, and Lissa. These are the famous Three Sisters at Blue Mountains. A visit here is among Australia's Top 15 Things to Do.

The Three Sisters are 922, 918 & 906 metres tall, respectively, or over 3000 feet above sea level.

The Legend

The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that three sisters, 'Meehni', 'Wimlah' and Gunnedoo' lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe.

These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry.

The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle.

As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witchdoctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come.

253 Days Early


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
I was 253 days early for World Youth Day in Sydney.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ocean's 13


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
My parents' family has ballooned to 13, and this photo was taken on the second day that we all got together. This was our best family vacation ever.

Maid of Honour


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
It rained for several days before the wedding, although it was summertime in Sydney. We prayed hard for the sun to come out on November 11, and it did. My hair and makeup by Bhajune, gown by MM Cruz-Bogarin.

Without the Bride and Groom


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
We went to The Rocks for the after-wedding pictorials. The bride and the groom were with the official photographer so they couldn't make it to this photo.

Lion King and Queen


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
Miko wanted to stay overnight at the zoo. He didn't want to wake up the sleeping animals because he said he didn't want to be bothered whenever he took his nap.

My Boutique


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
Found this shop at the Darling Harbour mall. Harbourside, I think that's what it's called.

Wedding Rehearsal


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
After the wedding rehearsal at St Michaels Church, Lane Cove, Sydney

Rehearsal Dinner


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
Rehearsal dinner at Red Chopsticks Vietnamese restaurant. This wedding party included English, Lebanese, Australian, Irish, American, and Filipino citizens.

Monday, November 12, 2007

St. Mary's Cathedral


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
I tend to be the advanced party for cities who are hosting big events for 2008. Last March, I was at Beijing watching the city being spruced up for the Olympics to be held next year. And then last weekend, I was at St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, which is being prepared for the upcoming World Youth Day. Well at least I could say I was there for the pre-events.

Lunch at the Harbour


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
We had a million family occasions to celebrate in less than two weeks. We pretended it was May 20 on November 10 and celebrated my parents' 40th wedding anniversary, all 13 of us. Luigi woke up Lola and greeted her with "Happy Pretend Wedding Anniversary, Lola". We had the cake and the flowers for them. We also ate duck.

Circular Quay with Miko


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
There are times when we have to let the photos speak, as we are yet collecting the words that would capture best what we wanted to say. Sydney 2007 with the whole family is one of them.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Havin' It All: A Myth

I have to admit that the latest Sharon Cuneta commercial caught my attention. She's endorsing a product that claims to give her the ability to "have it all".

In the past, I would have bought into the marketing blitz and taken the multivitamins if only to extend my energy, or shall I say, power. The world brings that out in me - the desire to "be all", to "have it all", and to "be complete". I'm reminded of another multivitamin brand that promises to give me everything I need from A to Zinc in order to help me fulfill my dreams and realize my passions, whether it be of opening a business, or of saving the world (the actual claims of the product endorsers are even grander).

If there were any truth to this advertising, then I would probably stand to benefit a lot. I could wake up earlier, prepare my lunch, have a healthy breakfast, spend time in prayer, squeeze in enough time to exercise, avoid traffic, arrive at work cheerfully and look my gorgeous best, go through the work day with passion and dedication, leave the office early to attend mass, meet up with friends or go home for dinner with my parents, help out young people with their homework, do volunteer work for the church, attend baptisms and birthdays and weddings, hang out with friends at the latest "It" mall, clean the house, organize my room, read books, watch movies, and blog. Those are only the major things I want to accomplish in a week. I have a thousand other dreams, the complete fulfillment of each being the condition before I could contentedly purr that "I have it all".

If I took the capsules and found the results wanting, then I would just be my usual, human, self - a stress magnet who is forever anxious to get one more task done, a frustrated artist who refuses to create for fear of failure, and a hard-to-please child who throws a tantrum every time she gets less than the best that the world has to offer.

I think it is a myth to say that anyone can have it all in this world, for St. Augustine correctly put it - our hearts are restless 'til they rest in God alone.

Up until my college days, I tried to be perfect and complete, but naturally, I met disastrous results. Then when I was 19, I met a Man, Someone who taught me that it's better to "give than to receive". That was my paradigm shift - instead of wanting to receive it all, I learned through my growing, personal relationship with Jesus that I would find more meaning in life and gain eternal life if I strove to "give it all". He changed my life completely.

In Tagalog, I would call this "todo na 'to", roughly translated, it means to give full blast, without holding back, into whatever it is I commit to do. Last year, I prayed for my finances to stabilize so I could be free to pursue my passions. Now, I have the opportunity to do that. For this job, my mantra is "todo na 'to".

I've reviewed the aspects of my life that I gave up temporarily as I was studying the path God wanted me to take. There were many things I could not give full attention to before - mundane things that I thought the saints like Francis of Assisi or Teresa of Avila shunned - but which turned out to be things I had the ability to do without betraying my identity as God's daughter. I would probably write about them in detail in some future time.

Tonight, my Lingkod friends are gathered in a national conference in Ormoc. Some of them have texted me that they miss me out there. I miss them, too. I miss everything about Lingkod, the NLTC, and most especially, the brothers and sisters. But even my time in Lingkod had to end, in order for a new life to begin. Who knows, I might find myself serving in Lingkod again, in my small way. But I've let go of my attachment. I miss them but I'm not incomplete without them.

Todo na 'to. I'm experiencing how it is to be disciplined anew and to be open to blessings I had not thought myself qualified for before. The next Ella will use her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Economics, combined with her Bachelor of Laws degree. *

* With apologies to the writers of Ate Sha's ad.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Oxymorons and Other Morons

There are many things I don't get in life, most likely due to my limited understanding and perception.

I don't get why the new Bayantel product is called a wireless landline. I don't care if the consumers could more easily understand what they mean even if it does not make sense. It still is an oxymoron in my book and it's contrary to the common meaning of a "land line".

I don't get why Kris Aquino still has many billboards. Is she considered a role model for Filipinos? Why do people buy the products she endorses, or watch the shows she stars in? I don't care if her father is considered a hero. People should stop giving her attention; otherwise, she just won't smile her way to the bank, she might be the second woman in her family to win a presidency that her father aspired for. I shudder at the thought.

I don't get why it's taking the police too long to determine the cause of the bombing in Glorietta 2 yesterday. It has claimed nine lives and caused injuries to a hundred innocent people, aside from damaging the stalls and restaurants in the surrounding area. Filipinos are once again fearing for their safety, and we don't know who to trust anymore.

I don't get how the bomb from high-powered explosives could have gotten through the "strict" security of the mall. It goes to show how useless it is to pretend to check the belongings of everyone who dares enter the malls in Metro Manila. What a futile exercise. The violation of our privacy and the unwanted delay in our schedules do not bear the necessary fruit, for recent history shows that malls still get bombed. Maybe I'm asking too much when I want to be protected from bombers - whoever they are, as speculations abound as to who the real minds were behind the incident in Makati yesterday. For the sake of my ignorance, I won't say any more about this.

Since it's an incident that's so sad and frustrating, the Glorietta 2 incident deserves another rant in this post.

I don't get why PGMA chose those words when she addressed the people immediately after the incident. At the very least, I was expecting her to succeed in assuring us, the Filipino people, that we are not on the brink of chaos. Who are her speech writers? Couldn't they have written, however hastily, a more sincere-sounding speech, one that could have reached out to the victims, or showed some concern over their plight, or expressed firm control over the situation? I felt the same way every time I watched her give her SONA. Maybe the problem does not lie with the speech writers.

There are days when I dare voice out questions such as these. There's plenty more where they came from, but I'll save them for another day.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Hannah Banana


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Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
This is me with my goddaughter Hannah, who left the Philippines when she was just two months old. We met in 2005 when her family visited us while we were vacationing in Arizona, but she was too young to remember. When I went to their house in Las Vegas, it took her a while to warm up to me.

A few Disney Princess lip glosses later, I became her favorite Tita and she asked me:

"How come I didn't know that there was a you?"

I loved her more then. She's pretty, she's smart, and she's a chatterbox. She definitely knows how to make her presence felt. She's very animated and has the makings of a drama queen. I wonder who she takes after...

Oh, I know. Her mom!

Phantom Photo


Las Vegas 009
Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
I mostly worked at our lawyers' seminar in Las Vegas, but having friends who live in the area, I was able to squeeze in some sightseeing. I dined at Spago, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in Caesar's Palace. I enjoyed the buffet at Treasure Island and the shopping at the Premium Outlets. I also watched Mamma Mia at The Mandalay Bay Hotel and Phantom of the Opera at The Venetian. I wasn't a Phantom lover but it was a spectacular show. I fell asleep around four times while watching and my friend had to pinch me and remind me that I paid a lot of money and was wasting it by missing the show.

Mamma Mia was a wonderful musical and I found myself singing along. A tear fell during the scene "The Winner Takes it All". I'm a drama queen, after all.

Las Vegas is now more than just slot machines and weddings. It's a place the whole non-gambling family will love due to its myriad of dining and entertainment choices. I did not play in a single slot machine during this visit, and enjoyed myself immensely after a hard day's work.

Inside a Chocolate Factory


San Francisco 022
Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
My fellow chocoholics would instantly recognize the name in lights. I went to Ghirardelli Square and tasted not just premium chocolate but delectable ice cream and rich coffee as well. If only I could take the entire store home to give away to friends and family! It's that good, and it's a stop that every tourist ever in San Francisco should make.

Happiness Is...


San Francisco 021
Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
There's a song from the musical "You're a Good Man ,Charlie Brown" popularized locally by Lea and Gerard Salonga that captures how I feel when I see this picture and remember that beautiful day I spent with Mel hanging out at Pier 39 and walking around Muir Woods.


HAPPINESS

x x x
LINUS
Happiness is having a sister

LUCY
Sharing a sandwich

LUCY AND LINUS
Getting along-

ALL
Happiness is singing together when day is through.
And happiness is those who sing with you.
Happiness is morning and evening,
Daytime and nighttime, too,

CHARLIE BROWN
For happiness is anyone and anything at all
That's loved by you.

If there's someone I sing well with, it's always been Mel. We don't just finish each other's sentences, we also finish each other's songs. Never mind that we remember songs from obscure Disney movies or some Broadway musicals or even wordless classical music played by Papa on his turntable while we were growing up- we just love to sing as we do household chores, and we sang well while I stayed with her for a week in her San Mateo apartment.

I'm excited to see her again together with the rest of the family very soon. I know she doesn't like publicity, but I just had to write this post.

Visiting the Redwoods


San Francisco 026
Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
They reminded me of The Faraway Tree in Enid Blyton's books. When planning for my US trip, my sister asked what I wanted to do that I wasn't able to do during my first visit. Among my top requests was to visit a redwood forest.

She drove me to Muir Woods. I got car-sick for a while due to the zigzag roads but upon reaching the beautiful forest and inhaling its fresh air, I felt peace and balance. I did a little research and found that:

"California's magnificent Coast Redwood is the world's tallest known tree and one of the world's oldest trees. Average mature trees, several hundred years old, stand from 200 to 240 feet tall and have diameters of 10 to 15 feet, and some trees have been measured at more than 360 feet. In the most favorable parts of their range, Coast Redwoods can live more than two thousand years."

This is a picture of me beside one slice of a redwood tree that shows its age. Awesome. Simply awesome.

My First Football Game


Tailgating 025
Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
Not that there will be a second game, but the first is always memorable. My sister graduated from Arizona State University and the Arizona Sun Devils were in San Francisco to play college football against Stanford University. My sister, her husband, and I watched the game at the new Stanford Stadium. Josh very patiently tried to explain the game to me. I couldn't appreciate the many pauses within the game, the changes in players, etc.

What I appreciated was tailgating. For my Pinoy readers - a tailgate is "a hinged board or closure at the rear of a vehicle, such as a pick-up truck, that can be lowered during loading and unloading". To tailgate means "to participate in a picnic that is served from the tailgate of a vehicle, as before a sports event."

My brother in law grilled some bbq that my sister bought from an Asian store. Then she prepared a special sandwich made of grilled portobello mushrooms, avocado, lettuce, and tomato. We washed everything down with beer. Somebody please have the heart to tell Josh that I'm not a sports fan. Or maybe he noticed after one whole day of explaining the game and still I had a blank stare during the actual game.

American football is a winter sport. Josh said the cold was part of the deal. Since not many people showed up, it was freezing at the stadium. Many people won't believe that I cheered for a team whose mascot is a guy in a little red devil's costume. What's a girl to do?

I am truly Pinoy, I realized then. When I say barbecue, I usually am just referring to tiny pork bits skewered on a thin stick. I appreciate watching basketball a lot more than football - though I relished the experience of it all.

Our team won. GO ASU! Stanford's gifts must lie elsewhere, just like my beloved alma mater University of the Philippines. I read that once again, we're the top university in the country in terms of board passers in all courses and fields. I'm quite sure they didn't include UAAP as a category, because just like me, my university is so not into sports.

Next month, I'll be in Sydney and I heard that the whole country stops for Melbourne Cup. It's a horse race. We'll see. That would be another wonderful first for me.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Travelogue: Las Vegas & San Francisco '07


MCLE in LV 005
Originally uploaded by galadriella2007
I'll be writing a series on my recent US trip. This photo was taken at Fremont in downtown Las Vegas. It's the place of the old strip. I posed with Lilet, my high school friend who's now Vegas-based. They own the Manila Sunshine restaurant. They (her husband, sisters, and daughters) dragged me to see some sights even if I was on "work mode". They knew me well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's All on Multiply

It would be good if I could annotate these photos from my US trip, but as I said earlier, I'm too lazy.

San Francisco trip - http://galadriella.multiply.com/photos/album/62/San_Fran_07

Tailgating - http://galadriella.multiply.com/photos/album/61

Leaving Las Vegas - http://galadriella.multiply.com/photos/album/60

Let them speak their thousand words.

The Jonah in Me

I can't help but be amused by the story from the First Reading today. It tells me how I relate to God and how God relates to me.

We know the biblical character Jonah more because of the big fish that swallowed him and in whose belly he stayed for three days. What happened to Jonah after he obeyed God, since he was given a second chance to do so, is told in Jonah 4, the last chapter. In the previous chapters, Jonah tried in vain to escape from God because he didn't like what God was asking him to do. As he found himself on land again, delivered by the fish to the shore, he got God's point and proceeded to deliver His message for Nineveh. We read that the people repented so much that God decided not to punish the Ninevites anymore. He was moved by the prayer and fasting that they all did. Jonah, who was supposed to be just the messenger, did not like it that God forgave and forget so easily. So chapter 4 reads:

4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

5 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6 Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Believe you me, this drama sounds so like me these days, by analogy. To put it simply, God told me to do something, but I didn't like it. I tried to run from him and to hide, as if there was a place on this earth that was beyond His loving eyes. He scooped me out of the "bottom of the sea" that I was in, and gave me a second chance to do what He asked of me. But something happened - something unexpected - that shook my faith. I didn't confront God, but tried to avoid Him.

The ending of the book of Jonah sounds unfinished, at least, from a human standpoint. Jonah wasn't given a chance to reply. God had the last word, and I ponder upon these words. I was angry at God for something that He took away from me, but now I see that I did not labor for it, I did not make it grow, just as Jonah did not have the right to be angry at God for letting the plant that gave him shade to wilt. God, who pursues us the way He pursued Jonah, deserves much better treatment than what I'm giving Him.

I cannot say that I understand. That may come later. But I realized that I would not do well to be angry.

Monday, October 08, 2007

For sale: Stateside Items

I couldn't resist posting this.

I'm selling Liz Claiborne wallets & a brown office purse, Smashbox makeup, Julie's Closet blouses, etc. at reasonable prices. Please email me at ella.delrosario@gmail.com if you are interested. I haven't had the time to photograph them. Direct buyers only.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I'm... Too Lazy for My Blog

Too lazy for my blog, too lazy it hurts.

I visit this page regularly, stare at the archives, articles, photos, and tags, and yet am not moved to write. Perhaps there is too much going on and I'm too lazy to put them into words. Writing requires a process - some analysis, a little simplification, at times, it calls forth certain embellishment - and I have neither the energy nor the desire to go through it.

Many things to be grateful for - my trip, the seminar we had in LV, my vacation, and the new things I experienced - but I guess I'm still lagging behind on many things so writing has to wait.

And there are the sad parts - failures and longings, frustrations and disappointments. There is the undeniable doubt that I struggle with daily, clogging my vision, blurring my passion. This too shall pass. The doubt comes from some pain I have not fully faced yet. If I'm too lazy to write, which is something I love to do, when it comes to facing pain I am downright slothful. I tell myself that if it doesn't go away soon, I'll have it removed by a professional.

Sometimes, though, when I let the thoughts wait too long, they pass me by, never to be recovered. A life is lived even though it is not blogged about anyway.

So I'm still here, gathering material until the day when the words come. I may write about a different time then and a different me. That would be so much better, not just for the writer, but for the reader as well.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What Am I Busy With?

I am here in San Francisco trying to relax after our conference in Las Vegas. I have exercised my shopping muscles, against the advice of people who have moral ascendancy over me. I can justify it by saying that it is my way of de-stressing.

Then I read today's passage and was struck by this:

"Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?

Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house." (Haggai 1, 4-9 ESV)

I felt the Lord speaking to me through this passage. Nothing satisfies, only Jesus. The problem is how to be part His work while going about my earthly business and not being tempted to be busy with my own "house".

I did get out of Las Vegas without betting a single cent in the slot machines that could be found in every corner of the city. Yet, the struggle continues to be "in the world" and not "of the world", as Jesus exhorts His disciples to do.

There is no simple solution to this struggle. All I can do is to keep trying, daily. In fact, I can start again tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Blogger is Out

Not that I have been able to update this blog regularly, but just in case you're curious, I will be silent in the blogosphere for a while as I won't have regular Internet access. I'll fly off for business but will definitely squeeze out some pleasure by visiting friends and relatives who live in the area.

Until then, may the Force be with you. Keep the faith. And please pray for the success of our conference!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Procrastinating Again

My bags aren't packed and I'm not yet ready to go. I can't get myself to finish it, as if I'm waiting for something. I've met up with several friends this past week. I've reminded myself that I need to go to confession because it's a long trip away from home that I would be taking in a few days. I've made checklists for things to do but I have a certain sense that I'm forgetting something important.

Maybe when I finally roll up my sleeves and attempt to travel light for the first time, I would see what it is that's bothering me. I know I can't finish all the work that I wanted to finish before leaving. I've begged off from the services I had volunteered for before, but haven't done everything I had planned to do to make the turnover smooth.

This always happens when I lose control of my time and I'm overrun by tasks. I take it one step at a time but somehow still miss out on certain things.

It is possible that my checklist was not comprehensive and complete in the first place.

Maybe these feelings are the effect of what happened to me. I got lost last night and arrived home late. I took a wrong turn and ended up on a deserted highway in the middle of the night. I prayed hard to be able to find my way home safely. I was thankful that I had stopped for gas earlier that day so that my tank was full. Relief flooded me when I finally saw our gate. I couldn't call or text anyone as I was afraid to pull over and be seen as alone through my clear car windows. Instead I kept driving and looking for road signs that would show me the right way. I thank God that He kept me safe and found my way back, after being lost for a short bit of time.

The hotel where I will be staying made it to the US headlines today, as that was where OJ Simpson figured in another controversial situation. I hope that by the time we check in, everything would be peaceful in that building. These things do compound the need to go to confession A.S.A.P. Life is short and we neither know the time nor the hour.

I must be sleepy and tired. I'm not my usual Disney-ending self here. I have days like these, too.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sandiganbayan: Erap is Guilty of Plunder

The verdict on former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada by the Sandiganbayan: guilty of plunder, but acquitted in the perjury case. His son Jinggoy Estrada and lawyer Edward Serapio have been acquitted of the charges.

It won't read like Harry Potter, but for those interested, you may download the full text of the decisions here. There are several mirror sites but due to the number of people downloading the files at the same time, it might take a while to open the documents. Just be patient.

I noticed that they forgot to indicate who penned the decisions (the ponente). Probably, the three magistrates comprising the Special Division wrote as one body; hence, I was looking for the words "per curiam"*. I'm in the office so will reserve my other comments for later, after I've read the decisions.



* Latin for "by the court" where the court gives an order or decision on the whole operating as a single body without any particular judge being the author. Taken from http://www.legal-explanations.com/definitions/per-curiam.htm

Erap's Judgment Day

I know that this post will only be relevant for a few hours, as today September 12, 2007, the Special Division of the Sandiganbayan, the Court that tried former Pres. Joseph Estrada for plunder, shall promulgate its decision. A total of 6,000 cops have been deployed within Metro Manila, mostly near the Malacanang Palace and here along Commonwealth Ave.

There will be a live coverage of the promulgation and for sure, all eyes will be on the Sandiganbayan. I'm worried that I might not make it to work on time as I live a mere five minutes away from where the demonstrators have been allowed to gather, in front of St. Peter's Church. I cannot work-from-home as I have deadlines with our printer for the souvenir program and handouts that we will bring to our lawyers' conference in Las Vegas next week.

Funny how seemingly apathetic I've become, for I used to work in the Sandiganbayan. Had I not resigned to serve as a full-time volunteer mission worker for our singles community, I would probably be part of the action, even if just to assist the justices in the research and the drafting. But now I'm just as clueless as the rest of the world as to Erap's future.

He was tried the way Marcos, the dictator, should have been, had the proper laws been enacted before. It would be very interesting how the Sandiganbayan justices would explain their decision, as whether they convict Erap or not, their ratio decidendi would definitely be subjected to intense scrutiny especially by the media, the politicians, and the lawyers .

The whole world would be watching, classes have been suspended, and all I could think of is how to escape Commonwealth Avenue to get to work. I'm watching myself from a distance and I'm surprised at the lack of emotion there.

I am praying for justice to prevail and for peace to reign. I do not want our people to take to the streets again. There must be another way to make ourselves heard and to fight for our rights.

In about twelve hours' time, this blog entry would be moot and academic. We'd know by then whether Erap was acquitted or not. And I would probably be in the office trying to beat a deadline.

Life goes on.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Lingkod's 23rd Anniversary

Lingkod QC Sisters with Branch Leader Ted Te and Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon (ALNP) National Director Mon Samson

The present and past QC BWMs with the current National Director. Please see name tags. There you go.

From left: Francis Iturralde, former Lingkod National Director; Ella, former QC Branch Women's Moderator, ALNP Corporate Secretary, National Administrator; Pepot Alquisada, former Makati BWM; Mau Viterbo, Regional Women's Moderator for Metro Manila, former Makati BWM; Jun Viterbo, ALNP Board Vice President, M.M. Assistant Regional Director, former Greenhills BL; Judd Cabasug, former Makati BL; Lot Cabasug, former Makati Unit Leader; Nerry Gool, National Women's Moderator; Chas Alapag, Fund Development Head, also former Angeles BWM & North Luzon RWM; Pola Cartalla, Makati BWM; Ted Te, QC BL.
Whew.

Lingkod QTs talaga.

Happy Anniversary, Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon! Let's start gearing up for our 25th anniversary. Calling all Lingkod alumni. You'll hear more about this within the next two years.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Getting Back on My Feet

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." (Gen 22:1-2)

This is a familiar story and many of us have, at one time or another, experienced something akin to Abraham’s “Moriah experience”, where we had felt God asking of us our most treasured possession or beloved, and we had reluctantly surrendered to Him, unable to take after Abraham who simply told his son Isaac, when the latter was looking for the lamb to be their burnt offering, that God would provide.

I’ve always related this story to particular people in my life that I’ve had to sacrifice just because it was wrong for me to hold on to them. While driving home tonight, however, I realized that my recent and most concrete Moriah experience did not pertain to a person, but had everything to do with my career. This is the wisdom and clarity provided by hindsight and a cup of coffee shared with an old friend.

I could be second-guessing God, over-spiritualizing my life, and jumping to conclusions, but then again, being human and of limited understanding, I could only grasp at what my life means and where God is taking me. I am entitled to be unsure of what God is truly up to, as usually it takes me a lot longer to figure things out. But I have wounds that are healing, and these new insights that I discover along the way help in easing the pain and in letting me walk again. If they point to the truth, I am all the more relieved.

So what was my Isaac, “my only son”, one which I had waited for for a hundred years under pain of a huge mistake along the way, like Abraham did? It was something I had to wait for a very long time to achieve, and, surprise!, it was my being a lawyer. I had written about it many times before that in my pride God showed His mercy by letting me fail the bar exams and teaching me to put my complete trust in Him when I took it the second time. Just like Abraham, I thought my career would pave the way for God’s other promises to me. God promised Abraham descendants as many as the stars in heaven, and Isaac being his only son surely was going to be instrumental in the fulfillment of that promise.

If I was going to make it in life, my career as a lawyer would define it, as it provided me with many opportunities. There came a time, however, when God called me. I was sure of it; I consulted others about it; and I was able to confirm it – He wanted me to give up being a lawyer and to serve Him as a volunteer mission worker. The mission field before me then was Lingkod, and I sad yes. It was like setting myself up to be burned alive, however, as my decision was tested and contested by many people. I had to endure months of doubt and disappointment. I left everything and followed Him. Or so I thought.

Things did not fall exactly into place. I did get a fulfilling service in Lingkod, and I had the support of many friends, brothers, and sisters; still, something did not fit. I was restless again, but since I had discerned about it, I did everything I could to make it work. I addressed the people I had difficulty serving with. I endured the pain of correction for my mistakes. I helped point out matters that could be improved. I thought I was living out my dream, but happiness remained elusive. There was the knowledge that I was “seeking first God’s kingdom” and “building my treasure in heaven”, but slowly I grew tired of meeting the high expectations I set for myself as a supposed servant of the Lord.

I checked with Him again, after months of crying almost everyday, if there was any other way He wanted me to sacrifice my life. What was it that was so wrong with my situation that it was not bearing as much fruit as I knew it could? People said I was doing a good job but I did not believe them. I could not feel the “click” that I was looking for. I could not see what was in store for me. I was stuck in an idealistic mold.

Slowly, I lifted my eyes in prayer and God gently showed me that I did not have to struggle so much. I went through discernment again – retreats, spiritual direction, consultations – and heard God’s encouragement to be free to serve Him the way He created me. It was hard to understand because I believed at that time that I did not have to be a lawyer anymore. I stopped paying my membership in the IBP. I refused to accept consultations. I stopped reading the news. I soaked myself in all things spiritual and shunned anything that was “legal”. I said to myself I had a whole lifetime to figure out why God allowed me to be a lawyer who did not want to practice.

I eventually got back on my feet and found a job that was a blessing (a subject of many previous writings). Just as if I never left it, God gave me back my profession, and even allowed me to expand what I could do with it, breaking away from the traditional mold of a lawyer-in-a-suit appearing in court. I am now applying my interests in technology, research, writing, organizing, and working directly with people. I’m no longer prepared to say this is it for me, that I’ll die in this company. No, I’m just thankful to be here where I am now, and to see that what I had sacrificed, God gave back to me, with so much more than I had before.

I thought I had placed myself as a sacrifice and God refused the offering my life. That was a major cause of my tears before, that I displeased God in some way that’s why the decision to be His alone did not last.

I was wrong. Jesus had already offered the ultimate sacrifice, and He did it for me. God did provide the sacrifice, but so that I would see and understand, He waited to see how I would respond if He asked it of me, like He did for faithful Abraham. In some ways working back in the corporate world seems like a deviation from the path to heaven that I was aiming for a year ago, but on many levels it is a part of the personal journey where I could give, receive, and become the person God promised I could be, which could still be hiding somewhere inside me.

Another Old Testament character who was tested, Job, put it best when he said, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." (Job 1:21) As we have read from the Bible, God spared Isaac and fulfilled all His promises to Abraham. As for Job, “…the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. (Job 42:12)

Therefore, regarding my career as a lawyer and I, I believe that love should be lovelier the second time around.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Make Love, Not War

I was invited to speak during the Christian Life Series (CLS) sponsored by Christian LAw Students Evangelization (CLASE) for law students within the University Belt. I used to visit them every year at San Lorenzo Ruiz Dormitory along Legarda, but they had since moved to UST, and tonight was my first time to attend there.

I couldn't recall if I had actually stepped foot inside a UST building before. I had been to the UST hospital a few times as a child and I took swimming lessons one summer in the pool, but that was it. All my UST memories were from the '80's. As I entered the main building earlier and walked towards the classroom where the CLS was held, I saw paintings on the wall that reminded me of Hogwarts. I wondered if National Hero Jose Rizal walked those very same halls, or if my father did, when he took up Philosophy and Letters in the late '50's.

At the CLS, I met new students and young lawyers, gathered together to proclaim the good news on a Saturday night. I was inspired by the witness of the lives of the people of CLASE and those they had invited. Not so long ago, I too was a struggling law student with a perpetual backlog in my studies, so I knew how precious time was for all of them. Yet, they chose to listen to two CLS talks inside a semi-deserted building on a rainy Saturday night. Other people of their age and background were probably watching a movie or attending a party at that exact moment that they were listening to my talk on Repentance and Faith.

I shared with them what I had learned about repentance: that it did not come from emotions alone. Merely feeling sorry or promising not to do something again was not enough. Fraternities had time and time again apologized for the consequences of violence as a result of hazing and rumbles, and yet, students like Cris Mendez (senior Public Ad student at the University of the Philippines who passed away a few days ago) still continued to die young in their hands.

I am one with the U.P. community in prayer. Justice for Cris Anthony Mendez. And peace inside U.P. Diliman. No to fraternity violence! I have many friends who are members of fraternities and I urge them to speak out and do something to stop this endless cycle that operates on hate, not love. There are many positive endeavors where those energies spent in violence could be channeled. Our beloved U.P. will celebrate its 100th year in 2008. There are a million things that we could be proud of. But we have to remember that our graduates who more often than not become leaders should show strength through their deeds, not their batons.

Repentance, I have learned, is about a complete change of heart and of direction. It entails a concrete decision to avoid serious sin, and a daily struggle to sustain that decision, because following Jesus means turning away from sin. It is done in faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to move further away from the cause of the struggle, which is sin itself. It is objective and not subjective. Let's pray we would see genuine repentance in our hearts for the times we supported violence as a means to wield power.

An important law-related event will start tomorrow: it's the first Sunday of September, and the first Sunday of the bar examinations. For four consecutive Sundays, bar hopefuls will troop to De La Salle University along Taft Ave. amidst fanfare from well-wishers. All that noise could just create "violence" inside the examinees' minds. What they really need is prayer, for this could very well be THE most difficult exam of their lives.

I will end my list of prayers tonight with one for more Christian law students in the country, so that we may have more Christian lawyers. They do exist. I prayed and worshiped with them tonight.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Spread the Word!

Good news for Filipino lawyers in North America! The early bird discount for MCLE in LV has been extended up to August 31, 2007. Register now to avail of the 5% discount!

You may see our flyer at http://www.mclepro.com/www/email_flyer_mcle.htm for more details.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Age-Old Dilemma

Two people, concerned for my future, warned me on separate occasions today that I should not focus on career too much to the detriment of my state of life. But I didn't need reminding of what I valued the most.

Unfortunately, it's easier for me to find a job than to find love. For other people, the opposite is true. Still, there are a chosen few who have both.

I'm learning to respond to what I have and to stop pining for what's not there. Since I have a job, I will do it well. If I had my own family, I would give them my all, as well. One should not mean the absence of the other, though I would gladly give up the former for the latter.

Monday, August 20, 2007

If You Build It, He Will Come...

This is a cross-post from my other blog, but I feel it's justified.

What to do when you need to raise millions of pesos for a parish mission center building project? Do it step by step, brick by brick, peso by peso.

As I've written here before, we are a new parish. We're celebrating our first anniversary next week. Our parish priest, Fr. Steve Tynan, launched St. Benedict's Mission Center building project during our fiesta last July, as he said it's necessary for the vision and mission of the parish as well as the apostolate of the Missionaries of God's Love (MGL) in the Philippines.

This tiny building currently serves as the parish office:


This portion at the back serves as the meeting, storage, and practice area:


And this is what our parish church looks like at present:


The mission center, as planned, shall have an adoration chapel, a baptistery, meeting rooms for the different ministries and commissions, living quarters for the priests, as well as proper office space. There are generous individuals who have already given their pledges, but we need more bricks to see this building into completion. Ground-breaking will be on Monday, August 27, 2007.

We would greatly appreciate donations in cash or in kind (cement, paint, chairs, etc.) for this project. Contact me at galadriella2007@yahoo.com if you want to help the mission of our parish.

Thanks and God bless!