Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My God is Up to Something

I have a strong feeling that God is up to something big in my life. Of course, He always is, in a sense, and in EVERYONE'S life, but with all the beginnings in my life, I recognize that He's really about ready to show me what He has cooked up for me.

I just finished the Steward Leaders Training (SLT) course conducted by the
Institute for Pastoral Development (IPD) for the Cradle of JOY Center for Learning (COJ). I was supposed to be an observer but of course the more I shut off the Lord, the more He spoke to my heart during the past three days.

Both IPD and COJ are close to my heart. COJ was the venue of the first couple of years of Lingkod Quezon City. It was a preschool on weekdays and a prayer meeting venue for single young professionals on Friday nights. IPD taught me the Joy of Discovery in Bible Study right before I became a full-time staffer for Lingkod Office. It was thus no sweat for me to join them both for this SLT run. I thought I could be an outsider in the course, however, as I was not ready to face God's plan for my life in yet another seminar.

Let me share the brief description of what one gains from SLT from the IPD website:

"As a steward, discover and align your talents, resources and relationships to accomplish God's unique purpose for your life.
"As a leader, learn to live a meaningful life of service to God and others."

Interesting, right? The course, through its facilitators, did not disappoint. It made me answer the tough questions. It made me face my fears. I was able to come up with something that resembled a mission statement and a plan for my life, reluctant though I was to do so. I refrained myself from polishing it too much as the speakers assured us that we had the rest of our lives for that.

There were many tools presented to us that were all meant to help us in our journey of discovering God's unique purpose for our lives. I was overwhelmed at the amount of work involved to get my life in order. I stepped back a little and came before the Lord. I told Him it was a futile exercise as I had been discerning and searching for as long as I could remember and yet, I still had not found my niche. The Lord simply told me to be patient with myself and to trust His plan and His timing. I sat down to work but did not really believe I could come up with a conclusive document showing my life plan.

Before we closed the SLT, we were all asked to share. I was struck most by the sharing of the Directress of COJ, Teacher Marion Abiva-Cruz, who said that she had found her passion in COJ, in helping the teachers and the students, and she would grow old with COJ. She could see herself with white hair still serving at COJ. She has a supportive husband and her children all go to COJ.

I yearned for that, for the place I could say, "This is it. I would grow old with this place. This is my mission place, where my passion could be best put to use. This is where God called me. This would be my legacy." I approached Teacher Marion and asked her to pray for me that I find my own Cradle of JOY. She said I was welcome to be a teacher anytime. I knew teaching, though very noble, was not my passion. My gifts lie elsewhere. In too many places and too many involvements, actually.

I then went to a meeting with my friends Bobby and Jeng Quitain about a retreat we were conducting this weekend in Davao. Over dinner, we shared about our lives as well and I was inspired once more by this couple. Bobby, the first Lingkod QC Branch Leader and my personal Agitator to be the best Christian I could be, shared with me what the Lord had been doing in his family. I was am-azed. Jeng, my very good friend, with whom I shared many of my best years in Lingkod laughing, serving, and crying, also told me how the Lord was blessing them. I shared about the offers I had before me, those that I took and those that I let go of, and we all marveled at God's hand moving in our lives.

They presented me with more service opportunities and though I knew I was already overbooked and overloaded, I found myself saying yes to them. Who could say no to service? It was simply a matter of planning my schedule ahead, as I learned from the SLT. Besides, they were asking me to use my gifts and passions to spread God's word. I would be a fool not to recognize that as part of God's plan for me.

I have a blessing I want to share, by the way. I prayed to the Lord to give me a cellphone. I did not have any money so I specified, for free. Lo and behold, I qualified for Globe's loyalty/ reward points/ whatever they call it, and they sent me a brand-new Nokia E65.

I don't need proof of God's existence, but when I look at my new phone, I can't help but smile. God knows the key to a woman's heart - an Unexpected Gift at an Unexpected Time. (It's from the movie Finding Forrester starring Sean Connery.) I should have no reason to doubt that He would bless me, materially, spiritually, physically, emotionally, etc. etc.

I will step back and watch His plans unfold even further.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Scenes from The Youth Alive Summer Program Food Challenge

One thing that the youth can teach us is not to take life too seriously all the time...

To seize the moment and make the most of it, whatever it is...

To keep our sense of humor, no matter what life brings us...

To enjoy moments of triumph in the company of our friends...

And to find God in everything that we do, for He is the One who can put genuine smiles on our faces.

These are the lessons I learned from Youth Alive!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Thorn in the Flesh

I remember how this started, at least from my point of view. It was the first Holy Week that I spent in our parish, as up to last year we were just a sub-parish and I was free to attend Easter Triduum services at my Catholic community, which is not parish-based. That week, I felt I was going on and on like Martha, fulfilling tasks and learning new duties as I came along, and I found myself staring, exhausted, at the Crucifix. I realized I wanted more. I wanted to understand or at least know more about what happened on Good Friday. It was not enough for me to be involved in the minute details of the prusisyon or in the layout of the Holy Week schedule. I had so many questions and knew so little.

Our parish priest asked me what I was thinking about as I must have stood for a long time, and I tried to tell him the things I was grappling with. He said, "Don't worry, we'll cover those topics when we study Paul's Letter to the Romans during our weekly Scripture Study at the parish".

So part of me wanted to know more about salvation and that part is awed at the generosity of God's love and the immensity of Jesus' sacrifice as it is revealed to us verse by verse, sometimes word for word, every week during Scripture study. My "classmates" and I exchange quizzical looks at the input we are getting, simply because they are sometimes too much for us to comprehend quickly. I take down notes feverishly but periodically, during the lecture, I have to put down my pen and sit with the ideas for a while in order for them to sink in properly.

As I learn that I have been saved as a unilateral act of God, and I can either respond or refuse to it, my mind tells me I'm a fool to reject this golden offer. The reality, however, is that I am a sinner. I rebel against God. I've sinned in the past; I'm sinning still everyday; and unless I die tomorrow, I'm pretty sure I will sin again in the future. It is perverse, indeed! Why can't I simply accept what is good, and right, the thing that is pleasing to God who made the first move by loving me and sustaining that love for me? Why, despite this growing knowledge, do I still sin? Why is my sin ever before me? Why do I give in to the temptation to disobey God? Why do I grow impatient with Him? Why must I try Him so with my willful disobedience?

I know the saints can explain this and I am assured that I'm not the only one with a thorn in the flesh that God won't simply remove. Still, I am struck at the reality of my own sinfulness, despite Jesus' supreme act of love that ought to make me refuse to sin forever and ever. I wish I would improve in this struggle, so that I don't waste my salvation and meet God face to face someday.

For a day in thy courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness. -- Ps 84:10, RSV

Monday, May 21, 2007

Only the Cream Ought to be with the Supremes

My father asked me to read yesterday's column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer written by former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban entitled "Hot Seat in the Supreme Court". It was a particularly factual piece on the details surrounding the announcement last week that Justice Gregory Ong was appointed by PGMA to the Supreme Court. I'm sure Papa and I were not the only lawyers in the country shaking our heads in utter disbelief at the selection process, if indeed there was a process, that went on. Most striking was this portion of the column, and I quote:

"Ignoring rank, age and precedence.

"In choosing Ong, President Macapagal-Arroyo bypassed the three heads of the three appellate courts: Reyes of the Court of Appeals, De Castro of the Sandiganbayan, and Acosta of the Court of Tax Appeals.

"These three presiding justices are superior in rank, age and precedence of appointment to their respective courts than the appointee. x x x"

Read the full story here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Life Begins at Forty

On Sunday, May 20, 2007, my parents Lourdes and Cecinio del Rosario will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. True to form, they have shunned any ostentatious celebration. With their children living in different continents and their grandchildren on holiday abroad, they just want to focus on the basics for that day.

We, meaning the couple and me their driver, will relive that fateful day by hearing mass at Malate Church (Nuestra Senora de Remedios) where they exchanged vows one early Saturday morning. Then, we'll dine at the venue of their wedding reception, the nearby Aristocrat restaurant.

Mama preserved the negatives of their wedding photos. When she had copies made a couple of years ago, the photo center said that the negatives could win if they had a contest on oldest and best-preserved negatives. I wish I had a scanner so I could show you how they looked like then, the young lawyer who married the young music/piano teacher in 1967. Papa thinks he looked like Jude Law then. Mama had such a tiny waist! Why didn't I inherit that?

My parents are low-profile, simple people. Their conversations are not about their achievements and they are not fond of lavish parties. I've always said that people need only ask one question, however, and my parents would proudly recite that they have five children, all graduates of the University of the Philippines - an architect/businessman, a mathematician (Ph.D./ Ten Outstanding Young Scientists of the Philippines - this always comes up), an accountant, a lawyer, and a scientist. They have four children-in-law, two from U.P. and two from other countries. They have two handsome grandchildren who are very talented and loving. Their listeners should brace themselves for more where this came from as this is their favorite topic.

Like any married couple, they went through the ups and downs of raising five children, but looking at them now, sharing their passion for traveling and gardening, one a Sudoku lover and the other a Koreanovela fan, still criticizing each other's cooking, watching movies that are free for senior citizens at movie houses on Mondays, and united in their love for family and music, I am (and I'm sure my siblings are,too) very, very grateful.

We'll have a reunion with the immediate family later this year and we'll drink to those 40 colorful years. I want to thank God that Mama and Papa are still healthy and happy together.

Photo taken during their vacation in Europe last year. It's one of my favorite shots of the two of them, taken by Kuya Ric.

The Facts on the Dis-appointment at the SC

Sometimes, thankfully, this blog is not just about me.

Kindly read this article on Newsbreak on the controversial appointment of Justice Ong to the Supreme Court so you'll know what I mean. They have the facts.

Since I really want you to read it, here again is the link:

Where I Was...

I would have posted about the appointment and disappointment to the vacant position at the Supreme Court earlier had I not been busy with a swimming party for the youth. As you can see from the photos, I was not able to jump in the pool at all. I was one of the assigned whistle-blowers. During my spare time, when I was not being driver/yaya/secretary/tita/ate to some people, I posed for some photos with my friends from the Youth Alive ministry.

An Almost Unforgivable Insult

The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines provides, in Article VIII, on the Judiciary:

"Section 7. (1)
No person shall be appointed Member of the Supreme Court or any lower collegiate court unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. A Member of the Supreme Court must be at least forty years of age, and must have been for fifteen years or more a judge of a lower court or engaged in the practice of law in the Philippines."

Constitutional Law is taught in law schools, or at least, it ought to be, throughout the country, during freshman year. ALL bar reviewees memorize this provision. All lawyers know, or ought to know, of this citizenship requirement for Supreme Court justices.

Malacanang, therefore, announced the appointment to the Supreme Court of an Associate Justice from the Sandiganbayan who failed this very basic requirement of the fundamental law of the land, it makes us think how many lawyers conveniently forgot their constitutional law, or probably simply blinked at the [in]appropriate moment just so this appointment could land on the hands that gave the go-signal, which was then so quickly withdrawn just a few hours earlier.

It was a lapse that would probably be soon forgiven by this forgetful nation. No amount of "I-am-sorry" statements should assuage us. Is the supposedly independent judiciary, with no less than the highest tribunal of the land, being treated with due respect by our government?

Achievement and qualification should determine who gets appointed as Supreme Court justice. This is something ALL citizens deserve, whether or not they know their Constitution. Whenever connection and ambition cloud the judgment of those who are in power, the whole nation suffers.

We've been suffering for so long and for many reasons now. When we suffer due to something as basic as this, it is aggravated by ignominy, and not only we are insulted but also our Constitution, the safeguard of our so-called democracy.

Time was when I believed in people and governments and systems. These days I have become more selective in what I believe in. This government has long ceased to be one of them.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Like a sandwich filling, I am in-between.
I'm neither fit nor dying;
neither young nor old;
neither successful nor broke;
neither winning nor losing.

I am floating,
leaving behind all that I have been
and believing tenaciously in a bright future Promised to me...
but for now, I am in-between.

This is a place I have never been.
I never planned this;
never wanted this;
and for sure, I don't know what to do with this.

There are days when I hold my breath in anticipation,
other days I just let out long deep sighs.
I return the balls that are thrown my way.
I close my eyes and let difficulties pass me by.

When through the cracks and crevices,
sunshine passes,
and a flower blooms like hope in my heart,
I pause to ponder,
stopping myself from analyzing its color,
and purpose in life,
but letting it be,
the promise of beauty,
in me,
and of more to come.

I am waiting -
for heaven,
or heaven on earth,
or to make sense of earth -
and I embrace The One who holds my hand
and assures me that my time shall come.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mothers' Day, Mama!

This is Mama with her current unica hija. She has five children, four children-in-law, and two grandchildren. She and Papa will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary next Sunday. We'll drink to that. (Hey, 40th year is ruby year and I read somewhere red wine is appropriate.)

Today we ate a great meal at Luk Foo. Everyone was happy except Miko, who wanted to go to Jollibee instead. We told him he had to give in today because it was Mom's Day. He quietly ate his lunch but I heard that he was going to try to convince his other grandma to have dinner at Jollibee tonight.

Instead of a bouquet of cut flowers, Mama requested for orchids that she could take care of. We happily gave in.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Flickr Slideshow

YASP Picnic at DAHHA Park Last May 8

199 Teenagers (although in photo are only around 118). 15 Sessions. 1 Event: Youth Alive Summer Program!

I have more teenage friends now than when I was a teenager! This is the reason why this summer, I'm at church more times than I've ever been my entire life. It is exhausting, but a whole lot of fun, to have the Alpha Course for Youth expanded into 15 powerful presentations (with slide design, layout and animation by Fr. Geoffrey Coombe, mgl) containing teachings about the Holy Trinity infused with video clips and capped with discussion groups. Fr Brian Steele, the energetic youth chaplain, does not seem to tire of hearing the youth sing "Prince of Peace", currently the No. 1 in the YASP Charts.

Fr. Steve Tynan, mgl, our parish priest, gives full support from buying the snacks to giving the talks. It's just unbelievable how the numbers have grown. The youth keep on coming back for more. Generous parishioners and friends have sent food and Jesus has multiplied what we have. We always have leftovers, imagine that.

We're also having an ongoing Mother's Day sale and an ukay-ukay for the World Youth Day participants from among the members of Youth Alive.

Fr Brian is right, the youth singing to Jesus, "I will live my life for you" is simply great music. The sessions will end on June 2. I'm almost sad that it will be soon be over. Ok, I'll be a bit relieved to have my life back, but I'll miss the 199 kids.

Blessed am I who are childless, for I have more kids than I've ever hoped for.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Opportunity Doesn't Knock Twice

I dug this undated story from my files tonight as I was looking for any unfinished piece I could work on just to be able to write something entirely from my imagination.

This story is entirely a figment of my imagination. I think I wrote it sometime in the year 2000. I know I should date my work but I'm too lazy. I can't even write like this anymore. I've just lost the touch.

Opportunity Doesn’t Knock Twice
Ella del Rosario

We grew up together, Joshua and I. He was my quiet, sickly seatmate in first grade who wiped away my tears when he saw that I could not color within the lines. My world was falling apart because I felt like everybody else was doing well in their seatwork, whereas my workbook was such a colorful mess. He offered me some Sunkist orange juice that his Mom had prepared for him in a Voltes V thermos. “My Mom always gets thirsty after crying,” he wisely said as he handed me the red cup. I took it and asked if he could do my seatwork for me. He smiled and then colored my flowers in beautiful, even strokes.

When I got home, I told my mother about it and she packed some M&M’s for me to give to that “nice little boy classmate” of mine. The next day, however, Joshua was absent. Teacher said he was sick with asthma. I didn’t know what asthma was so I asked Teacher if my M&M’s could help Joshua. She said I had to wait until he got well before I could give it to him.

I waited again the next day. I heard the bell but I waited outside the classroom just in case Joshua got in late, clutching the little brown package I had for him. Teacher took me by the hand and said that Joshua was going to come soon. But he didn’t arrive that day. Or the next. I was so sad that I tried to color within the lines, so I could show it to him when he came back. My tears began to flow when it appeared like the elephant I colored became the ugliest elephant in our class. I wished Joshua were there to help me.

He came after a week looking thinner than I remembered him. I waited for recess and readily gave him the treasure that was meant only for him. He said he wanted to share the M&M’s with me, but not with the other children. So we hid from our classmates who were all in the playground and stayed in the classroom with Teacher. She smiled at us as we ate the candy piece-by-piece, one for him and then one for me.

We became inseparable after that. I often ended up giving him all my baon because I wanted him to get a little fat so he wouldn’t be sick again. He, on the other hand, showed me all his secret hideouts in the school grounds where he would go during recess. The other boys called him names and bullied him because he was the smallest among them. He never fought back and even stopped me from calling names on his behalf.

When we were ten years old, his parents enrolled Joshua in a swimming class. He got better and grew stronger after that. Our girl classmates all had a crush on him. I could not imagine having a crush on him; it was simply a ridiculous idea! He was my friend!

He told me he wanted to be a doctor someday because he wanted to heal sick people. I did not know what I wanted to be then, so I joined his dream and planned on becoming a doctor, too.

Our classmates started to tease us in fifth grade. On Valentine’s Day, they sent me a card and signed his name on it. I knew he didn’t send it because that wasn’t his handwriting. I showed it to him and he laughed so hard. To my surprise, seeing him laugh made me feel worse. I didn’t expect to be disappointed, but I was! The Sunday after that, I saw him and his family. I was seated at the first floor while he was at the balcony of the Church. We used to make faces at each other whenever Mass got boring. Joshua tried to catch my attention then to but I ignored him.

I did not want to be teased about him. But I didn’t want him to laugh at the teasing. Puberty caused so much confusion that I decided to ignore Joshua indefinitely. This went on until we graduated from grade school. He never made an effort to talk to me, either. He was busy with the swimming team and all his fans. I could not wait to graduate and move to a different school!

I didn’t hear from him for two years. Until we had a class reunion and he was there, looking taller and more handsome than I gave him credit for. He told me PLDT finally reached their subdivision and he could now call me. He recited my telephone number, which he said he had memorized all those years, even though he had never called me on the phone before. I was delighted to learn that and gave him permission to call me.

We burned the lines after that, picking up where we left off. No day was complete without us talking for at least three hours. My sisters could not wrestle the phone from me, as I carried it even while doing my errands around the house, describing to him in detail what I was doing. We got so familiar that he could already tell from the swishing sound whenever I stood in front of our washing machine and I could tell from his “Hello” if he was sick. He consulted me about his crushes – how to charm them, what gifts to give them. We talked about a different girl every week. He would also interrogate me, like a strict kuya whom I never had, about boy classmates who visited me at our house. He always had an insult ready for every boy I told him about. And yet, when I went on our graduation retreat, he gave me a Palanca letter that sent me bawling because he wrote there that I was the best friend any man could ever have.

His expected date for their graduation ball backed out at the last minute. He told me about it and on the same breath and in the same sentence, asked me if I thought my father would allow me to go to the grad ball with him. Caught off guard, I said that I would have to ask permission first. He said it was ok and moved on to other topics.

That night, I told my Dad that Joshua needed me to be his date and explained that it was too late for Joshua to get someone else so I would be the most logical person to bring. Dad looked at me intently and asked if I wanted to go. I said I did, because I pitied Joshua. My Dad said that he would not allow any of his daughters to be anybody’s consolation prize. He said he only would allow me to go if I told him that I was not expecting anything more than friendship from Joshua. “Of course, Daddy,” I assured him.

I tossed and turned in bed after that and wondered how honest I had been to Daddy. I remembered how fast my heart beat when Joshua asked me to be his substitute date, even though he did it so matter-of-factly. I also nearly palpitated when I thought Daddy wouldn’t allow me to go. I realized I didn’t like where my thoughts were going.

The next day, I jumped every time the phone rang. I couldn’t wait to tell Joshua that I could go to his grad ball with him. When he finally called, he didn’t ask about the ball immediately. He talked about the summer outing he and his friends were planning in Batangas. I prayed that I could play it cool until he brought the dreaded matter up. I lost my balance when he said, “And oh, Dawn said she would go with me to the ball after all! Isn’t life great?” I felt as if ice-cold water was poured into my heart. Trying to control my voice, I told him I had to put the phone down because my sister needed to use it.

How insensitive and dense could this person get?! I planned a future without him shortly after that. I went to a different university and did not even take up pre-med. Yet he called me long distance everyday just to tell me about his campus and the many women he met in all their college parties. I gave up hope on us and eventually had my own boyfriend who was so loyal to me that he didn’t mind the mandatory one-hour conversations with Joshua that I couldn’t let go of.

One day Joshua asked to meet with me for dinner. He said I should look my best because he had something important to say. As I was preparing for that, I planned how I would break off with my boyfriend so I could be with Joshua. Of course that was where all these were leading to, I concluded.

I arrived early at the restaurant. When Joshua walked in, someone was with him. He had his arm around a pretty, pale-looking girl. When they reached me, he said, “Catherine, this is Annabelle. I wanted you to be the first one to meet her! She’s THE ONE I’ve been telling you about.” I got confused because there were around 12 women’s names I could remember from our recent conversations. Who was this and what planet did she come from?

I endured that dinner, witnessing a different Joshua. My friend looked wonderfully happy. Every bite I took was tasteless and I wanted so much to throw up.

I broke off with my boyfriend anyway and moved on with my life.

Six months later, I got a call from Joshua. Nothing unusual with that, as we had kept in touch. He asked me to sit down and not to get mad and to just say yes. I didn’t know which to do first so I just froze on the spot. He said, “Will you be part of my wedding entourage?”

WHAT? Run that by me again, please! It was a few months before college graduation and Joshua got his pale-faced girlfriend pregnant. How stupid of him, I blurted out. I told him I did not want to be present at his wedding and he could waste his future without my participation.

On his wedding day, he sent his brothers to pick me up at my house early in the morning, when I had no plans of getting up from bed. I wore a plain dress and would not have worn any makeup if my mother did not insist on it. His two younger brothers treated me as their Ate and in consideration of their innocence, I behaved well on the way to Church.

We arrived before everyone else. Joshua was restlessly pacing in front of the Church and upon seeing me, ran to hug me. I didn’t hug him back. I went to the Blessed Sacrament and prayed the rosary. After I finished, I saw his Mom helping Joshua with his Barong Tagalog. She saw me and beckoned for me to come nearer. “Did you believe it when he told you, hija? My little boy is going to be a husband and father! Oh, my makeup!” Just like that, and then she rushed off to wipe away her tears, leaving Joshua with his Barong hanging from his upraised arms. I finished the deed and buttoned it for him. He was just looking at me the whole time. I was thinking of our childhood and how his had to end that day. Finally he said, “Thanks for coming. I really need you to be here.”

“I hate you, Joshua,” I said. I didn’t elaborate any further.

“I love you, Catherine,” he replied. I didn’t ask him to elaborate on this, either.

After the wedding, I rushed to the ladies’ room and locked myself in the cubicle. I cried without a sound. Nobody ought to hear. Nobody ought to know.

Shattered were my dreams, and his. Joshua never became a doctor.

I, on the other hand, never recovered from that day. But nobody heard. And nobody knows.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Through Heaven's Eyes (Now Playing Too)

I thought I had given up on politics after law school. After seeing how people believed what they chose to believe and supported those whom they could share or control power with, I made a decision to live my life in service of my fellowmen as a Christian, so that the world's penchant for politics could be tempered by Christ's teachings, and never again run for "public" office or to dance the dance of politics.

Perhaps my U.P. professors would be glad to know that I have not given up my idealism. No, not one bit. It had just been upgraded from a mere desire to make a difference in this world, to a strong hope to be part of change the way Jesus taught his disciples to do. I thought I was prepared for anything, after years of being in student councils and then experiences in the practice of law, up to the eight years I spent in Lingkod, where I breathed passion and service for the Gospel.

Well I was surprised at my own ignorance. How could I think that Philippine society would improve so quickly, or that people would listen to the truth just because they claimed to be Christians? I was reminded of the following verses:

Mat 10:1-42, ESV

(1) And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.

(5) These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, (6) but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
(7) And proclaim as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
(8) Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.
(9) Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, (10) no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.
(11) And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. (12) As you enter the house, greet it.
(13) And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. (14) And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.
(16) "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (17) Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues,
(18) and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.
(19) When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.
(20) For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

(22) and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

(24) "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.

(25) It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
(26) "So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. (27) What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.

(30) But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
(31) Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

(38) And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
(39) Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
(40) "Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.

How could I think that I would be spared from difficulty just because I had good intentions, well at least from my point of view? Maybe I should take intrigues with a grain of salt and make sure I gave no reason to cause them in the first place. I was doing all right when I learned about them through other people, but when I was confronted with all sorts of questions as to my family background and civil status; my address, education, profession, and workplace; my relationships and priorities in life, by people whom I had only spoken to for the first time, I felt the strength of the combined blows and admitted I was not above being affected by such scrutiny. In other cultures, it was considered rude to ask those personal questions. They were not the stuff "small talk" were made of in those parts.

Here in our country people have less respect for the right to privacy. The cross-examination I was subjected to gave me the impression that they were looking for my credentials, wondering who I was as I seemed to appear out of nowhere, and thinking that surely I was a pretender, for no self-respecting lawyer would spend her time serving at church unless she had other motivations, or could not find a decent job elsewhere.

I could not defend myself short of bragging. It was unprofessional to solicit the "investigators" as clients if only to show that I was a lawyer accepting cases, and downright sinful to fall into the trap and play the game of politics, of name-dropping and achievement-reciting. I could not come up with a single sarcastic response or witty reply when I needed them most! I could only say the truth, and the truth sounded lame somehow. I wish I had better news to say - that I was married (which somehow legitimized anyone, apparently) or engaged (the next best thing); gainfully employed (but this in itself would make me too busy to be at church everyday in the first place, hello!); filthy rich and in no need of making a living and wanting only to live off my inheritance and distributing them to the poor.

My parents and friends said I should give this time and let people get to know me; that I need not prove anything; and that I didn't have to please everyone. They cited and Noli me Tangere and Florante at Laura as depicting the way Filipinos acted, consistently then and now. Sadly, things have not changed, or if they did they had gone from bad to worse.

I should not let anyone make me feel small. My security should lie in my relationship with God, and I should remind myself that I am His daughter, first and foremost, and that was the only identification card that I had to carry. It should come out in the way I speak, look, and act.

It is easier said than done! If only we looked at the world with heaven's eyes, as Moses' father-in-law sang in the movie, "The Prince of Egypt". We had a film showing of that animated feature for the youth during Holy Week, and it would be one of the film clips for my presentation tomorrow to the 100+ young people at the Youth Alive Summer Program (YASP).

I should concentrate on the task at hand and not mind too much that I don't fit other people's standards. I should pray for all of us that we may grow to become a Christian community and live up to the name.

I will sing na lang!

Through Heaven's Eyes
[" The Prince Of Egypt " CD]

A single thread in a tapestry
Through its color brightly shine
Can never see its purpose
In the pattern of the grand design

And the stone that sits on the very top
Of the mountain's mighty face
Does it think it's more important
Than the stones that form the base?

So how can you see what your life is worth
Or where your value lies?
You can never see through the eyes of man
You must look at your life

Look at your life through heaven's eyes

A lake of gold in the desert sand
Is less than a cool fresh spring
And to one lost sheep, a shepherd boy
Is greater than the richest king
If a man lose ev'rything he owns
Has he truly lost his worth?
Or is it the beginning
Of a new and brighter birth?

So how do you measure the worth of a man
In wealth or strength or size?
In how much he gained or how much he gave?
The answer will come
The answer will come to him who tries
To look at his life through heaven's eyes

And that's why we share all we have with you
Though there's little to be found
When all you've got is nothing
There's a lot to go around

No life can escape being blown about
By the winds of change and chance
And though you never know all the steps
You must learn to join the dance
You must learn to join the dance

So how do you judge what a man is worth
By what he builds or buys?
You can never see with your eyes on earth
Look through heaven's eyes
Look at your life
Look at your life
Look at your life through heaven's eyes

Friday, May 04, 2007

A Wise Woman Told Me

Don't be too hard on yourself
, my spiritual directress told me during our session this morning, which was our first in several months. Her words to me were like the first drops of rain on parched land. I had been given that advice often enough in the recent past to realize that I must have a tendency to, well, be hard on myself.

I came to see her because I had finally made a decision regarding something that I'd put off for a long time now. I wanted to hear her inputs on the matter. I wanted her to tell me if I was crazy for throwing away what's familiar and structured to accept something that was unchartered and disorganized. In the alternative, and this was what I was hoping for, I wanted her to assure me that the path I had chosen would bring me closer to God.

She listened to the pros and cons of both choices and then asked me to weigh what were "needs" versus "values". If I operated on "need" all the time, I would never be able to feed it, and would always ache for something that might never be filled in this world. On the other hand, if I chose based on what I valued, I would be willing to make sacrifices, and to die to myself, like a seed falling to the ground and shedding off its old self in order to grow, take root, and bloom.

I should have brought pen and paper, for while she spoke I wanted to capture what she said. I knew all about focusing on a need that seemed to never be satisfied - even if it was something good as the need to receive spiritual teaching, formation, and support. She showed me how much I was limiting the Lord's presence in my life.

Then, she mirrored back to me what I said - that I was "in waiting", that this time was still part of my transformation, hence a pause from one structured life on its way to another. When in transition, my forms of prayer could change, and that's alright, she said. I need not fear "backsliding" after I left Lingkod and the many graces I had experienced there for eight years. I should be free to make mistakes, if that was the way to teach me where to go next.

She likened it to making a U-turn. She said it would only cause an accident if I was given a small space within which to make a U-turn. Similarly, in my spiritual life, I should go about change with as much space as was necessary for me to find my bearings again. I should not fear the loss of one aspect of my life when the invitation to a new life was so clear. She reminded me that the Easter season is about new beginnings, and to be thankful that God had revealed to me a fresh direction to take in life.

In less than an hour she was able to answer my questions and assure me that I was taking a leap of faith in the right direction. Whatever doubts or fears I had, largely caused by previously-cherished beliefs and values, were one by one dissolved by her assuring tone and compassionate smile. I was growing and changing, as a person and as a Christian, and I should embrace it with a grateful heart.

She asked me to look back at my years in Lingkod and to thank God one by one for all the blessings I received. It was one way of having proper closure, and it would allow me to appreciate more what God had done in me and through me. It would also prepare me for my new "community" and the new challenges I would face. She asked me what the title of the Lingkod chapter of my life would be, and what theme song for me recurred during that time. I was very clear about the song - it would be "Something More" performed by Lea Salonga from the album of the same title produced by the Jesuit Music Ministry. The song could be my title, for it captures my search for what God has in store at the end of each road that I take.

It is not going to be easy revealing my choice to some people, especially those whom I love and respect. I could only pray that they see that my physical absence does not mean I am going over to the other side of the battle. We would still be fighting for the same values, only on different roads. Best of all, we would be serving the same loving God, in whose family we all belong.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Out of my Comfort Zone

There was a time when I thought I could never be effective in serving the youth. It was a result of a traumatic experience of serving in a recollection for graduating college students and being insulted while I was teaching a beautiful song and then giving a talk on God's love. I told myself I was meant to serve the single young professionals; that my jokes, experiences and insights were not meant for the teenage crowd.

I'm in awe of how God was able to change my limited perspective of His plan and His power. All of a sudden, I found myself serving three times a week in the parish youth ministry. Of course I could not have done it alone and I had wonderful people guiding me and leading the different aspects of the summer youth program, but all in all to be part of this work was never my plan for myself and something I thought was impossible to happen.

It is gratifying to work with the youth. Aside from the fact that they insist I'm twenty-five (25!) years old (God bless them), they are very open to the Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. I find it easier to talk about my faith with them than with some grownups who are set in their ways of relating to God and who are not open to fresh approaches and different people. They are very honest about their backgrounds and circumstances. They appreciate the littlest of efforts and always greet with a smile.

Of course, there are painfully shy teenagers in our parish who are just a challenge to reach out to, but in their place more than a hundred people have come to partake of the banquet that God had prepared for them through the Alpha Course for Youth within the Youth Alive summer program.

I know now that there is no limit to what God can do through me, even if I refuse or hold back, He has His ways of transforming His servants in His own time. There may be new and complicated situations I'm encountering right now, but I'm learning as well to lean on God and have faith that He will intervene and never let His sheep down. Things may not go as I wish they would, for I am idealistic to the point of being naive sometimes, but God is in control, and I am not afraid to trust Him on this one.

It is in matters more personal to me that I struggle with my faith. Those I would write about some other time.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Vote4U - The Election Game Show

Got this from CFAvideo on Youtube, as recommended by a sister, Maria. "This was shown on April 30, 2007 at 12:47 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Dream Satellite channel 21, Destiny Cable channel 96 and Unicable Cebu channel 17. Produced by Communication Foundation for Asia (CFA), this TV Series is composed of three episodes about the coming Philippine elections. Taking the format of a reality game show, it aims to emphasize the value of every citizen's vote. Veteran filmmaker Clodualdo Del Mundo, Jr directs the program. Visit for more info."

Now Playing: I Could be the One

This danceable tune speaks about how God can choose anyone to serve Him and show His glory. There are some people I want to share this song and its message with, however, they don't read my blog. I just pray that one day they would be able to see the way God sometimes relates like this to His people, that way they would not question so much those whom God had chosen as their leaders, and also they would volunteer to serve solely because God chose them and not to get anything else out of it.

I wish I could sing or dance this but alas, I may be too old for those things. So I sing it to God sometimes during my prayer time. This song is so me!

"I Could Be The One"
Stacie Orrico

I could be the one
I could be the one

I wonder what I've got to be
For You to wanna use me
I do not always have just the right words to say

But You taught me simple things
That I'd love the chance to bring
To a world of people who just simply need You

Doesn't matter where I'm from
Where I've been
How far I've come
Doesn't matter where I live
Or what I have
You want my life
Doesn't matter who I know
Or what I've done
You Take it all
You want me as I am

I could be the one
Someone You're looking for
I don't have much to give
Lord, I'm ready
And through You
I could be the one
Whatever You want me to do
I will hold on to
What You say can be done
I could be the one

It is amazing to see
That You chose people like me
Who get off track, fall, crashin' down to the ground
But that's when You pick me up
And show Your strength is enough
You can use a broken heart to heal a broken life

Doesn't matter where I'm from
Where I've been
How far I've come
Doesn't matter where I live
Or what I have
You want my life
Doesn't matter who I know
Or what I've done
You Take it all
You want me as I am

I could be the one
Someone You're looking for
I don't have much to give
Lord, I'm ready
And through You
I could be the one
Whatever you want me to do
I will hold on to
What you say can be done

I could be the one
Someone You're looking for
I don't have much to give
Lord, I'm ready
And through You
I could be the one
Whatever you want me to do
I will hold on to
What you say can be done
I could be the one

Bright, Bright
Shooby-Doop, Shooby-Doop
Bright, Bright
Shooby-Doop, Shooby-Doop-Doop
You take the crazy things
You take the weakest things
You use the foolish things
To show Your glory
Lord take my broken heart
Take all of my mistakes
Please, take all of me
I want to show how great You are

I could be the one
Someone You're looking for
I don't have much to give
Lord, I'm ready
And through You
I could be the one
Whatever you want me to do
I will hold on to
What you say can be done
I could be the one

If You say it can be done
I believe I could be the one [repeated]