Friday, December 31, 2010

The battlefield we called home

Hours before New Year's Eve, I'm at the computer shop. This is all too familiar for me. Once again, I'm escaping the place one is supposed to feel at home... HOME.

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed at how broken we are and how difficult it is to live together. Sometimes I have come to the conclusion that we can't stand each other. Sometimes I change my mind, during the good times. But again, the wish that keep coming back, what I've been waiting to come true, is the time when I would finally live on my own. Somehow I have equated leaving home, becoming independent, with getting more hold with my life, to escape the hurts I don't deserve.

***
Backseat on a rainy night. The two older boys in front, one driving and the other, on the passenger seat, discussing the older's reunion with fraternity-military buddies. College stories of drunken old men, firing shots, eating on toilets, cursing and beating each other up filled the air. I had no earphones on. It was too dark to read a book. The lights passed by outside the window, I was hoping for an escape. I kept focusing on the faint sound of the radio, but their conversation rung in my ears. I tried asking the other a question, a question that is completely ignored, hung in the air, incapable of penetrating an invisible wall between me and these two men. I sat back, defeated and trying to go to sleep. Wishing I could open the door and commute someplace else.

***
"You're not coming home are you?" I was itching to text. I was lying in Dad's empty bed during midnight, reading. It was my parent's bed, the master's bedroom of my childhood, but not anymore. Now it was just Dad's bed. This has happened many times before, yet I could not bring myself to be numb about it. He's not coming home for the night when Mom's away. I remembered that one night when Mom ran away and Dad did not go home either. I remembered my brothers and I going to bed without eating dinner, without parents. Then high school, when everyone was asleep and Dad's not home yet. I was worried and avoidant of the fact that he's not coming home. I was waiting. I was in the bathroom when I dialed his number. Many times he didn't pick up. I don't know if I wanted him to pick up. I don't know if I wanted to hear a lie, but I am more afraid of hearing the truth of where he is. He finally answered. He seemed tired. I was silent but trying to speak, in a small voice trying to hide the sob in my voice and understand. Soon, I ended the call.

Until I heard the beep of an SUV outside that woke me up from reminiscing bad memories. I climbed out of Dad's bed and saw the headlights flashing on the windows. He did get home. A part of me smiled, a part still hurt with the fact that he's late. Where had he been? I climbed to my own bed afterwards and pretended to sleep when he woke us, saying there's Jollibee on the table. I pretended to sleep, but not for long. I came out and greeted him. Traffic, he says, long lines and a board meeting. I believed him. I smiled and was thankful. I could trust him...

***
Somehow it has been the tradition that the man in the house would get angry at someone and the rest of us will be sad as the fireworks cheerfully explode up in the air and the children blew their carton trumpets. Happy New Year.

Last year, there was no such victim. A year after, tonight, I sensed that someone might end up crying again. I hope it's not me. That's why I'm here. At the computer shop. Beside children playing DoTA. In hiding from hurts. Future hurts, maybe. But past hurts also came into place. God tells me to go back in the battlefield we called home. There is no use of escaping. What would it bring? I'm not afraid of the man. I can stand up to him, but afterwards I'll just be more broken than before, knowing that nothing has changed. I know that love would be the answer. I know. I just know it. But it was so hard. Incredibly hard to love knowing you'll put yourself in a vulnerable position before a man who might destroy your heart without minding it. Someone who will give you Jollibee the next day, and not a word of apology. Surprise, surprise, people are broken.

I have to go back, anyway.
Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Boom

Ral is sick with UTI. Oh no. I've been there before and I can relate to him a hundred percent. He's moody, always sighing, always wishing that he'll get better. It's New Year's Eve tomorrow and classes are around the corner. I dearly wish he'd get better, even if we'd have to spend the New Year at a hospital (he's not confined yet, but it's better if he would be)

Anyhoo. For the lack of post and the lack of NYR I could think of, let me just share that I'm wowed by these photos. Of myself. Yes. Haha. It's not vanity. I'm really just amazed at how I look with the gown + hair extensions combination. Bear with me. :)



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas on the Streets


A miracle happened this Christmas. Thirty feet away was a middle aged man participating in a children's game. He holds in his hands a fragile chicken egg. On the other side of the intersection of the road was a teenaged girl without her glasses. Her "grade" is 325, meaning, anything five meters away is like a picture submerged in water. He throws the egg up in the air. Twelve other people had theirs smashed in their hands. With this in mind, the girl lunges! Prepares her hands, focused as much as she could to get a picture of the egg. Everyone gaped and dropped their jaws, not knowing what to expect: a cracked egg or... And she catches! After two games, they won! HAHAHA.

Our family is not rich, but it has been my Dad's tradition to hold street Christmas parties. The reason why we celebrate Christmas at home for the past eighteen years (in short, all my life!) is that not many children receive Christmas "aguinaldo", or money presents. Dad, in his over-told story of poverty, wanted to give something to these kids. So starting January, he has been accumulating coins and cash to have something to give. December 25 is the deadline. The neighbors participated, providing us with sound system and aid. Children and, I tell you, old people alike, participated. It's not the best Christmas party. The adults had the tendency to ask for more prize. Haha *sigh*, but the kids are happy. :)

I was just a spectator in these parties, helping Dad if he needs to fetch something, so that all the prizes would go to other people, but they insisted for me to join in the dangerous game and amusingly, I enjoyed myself. This is the picture of Christmas every year. And family, of course. My grandparents, my aunt's family and my inaanak visited on Christmas day, and I'm in Laguna right now, we've attended a family reunion two days ago. Building stronger relationships with my relatives, which is something new. On the contrary, I have not received ANY aguinaldo from my godparents!! Is this what happens when you turn eighteen? HAHAHA.

But my parents performed! Haha. Dad gave me slippers, a watch and some cash. Mom, a backpack and charm bracelet. Hindi ako nagpatalo. Haha. I gave my Dad a book, Mom a steel water jug and my two brothers a chess board. With cards. One of my New Year's Resolution is to buy more gifts. I'm a bit of a "manager" and not a "spender" when it comes to personal finances. Haha. But still, gifts are delightful. More of the resolutions next time.

Santa. I mean, Dad. This was last year. I realized he wore the same shirt. Haha.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Teammates for Four Years

Wesley's gift. I love how Aya is here :)

Hi everyone! After a long break from the Internet, I finally secured a place at the local computer shop here. Haha. I'll describe Christmas probably next year. But now, I was a bit overjoyed seeing pictures of our photoshoot for Flaired. At least, the behind the scenes. Haha. The promotional ones are being edited. December 23 was spent with my high school friends. We call ourselves 35plus now. 35 was our third year high school section, and there is a PLUS because there are three who are not from 3-35 but nevertheless became our close friends (some, just in college. Amazing. :)

Flaired received tremendous support from friends. Gelo took the photos, Wesley the outtake videos, Neil and Q coordinating the poses, etc. Kri make-up and CJ styling. Kri and I brought our own clothes and posed away. We were supposed to do 12 looks, but it was too much for the time. We still had a Christmas party that night! I am so grateful for their help. It was lots of fun, from setting the blankets, testing the colors, missing breakfast and lunch and eventually snapping away.

Flaired has stocks now! And it now comes in three colors: natural black, chocolate brown and bunny blonde, ALSO in a new white box.

The team




Afterwards, we shopped for kris kringle and headed to Neil's place for an overnight party. It was grand. We were almost complete, except of course for Aya. I missed her dearly. The past years of our annual Christmas party were held in their house. But we had fun, especially for that honesty game, and the fact that at night I was surprised and awoke to CJ telling things about Jesus. Haha. I was thankful. I really love them all. Every year we just get to know each other deeper.

Everyone, after the gifts were given
I know, this post is rushed. Haha. Will update more later. Happy New Year! And don't forget to visit Flaired!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Just for "Someone Else"

Lately I've been wondering if it is possible to be happy for someone if the situation is... something like winning second place in a contest, wondering if you really "won". Like losing a game and then shaking hands with the other team. Or like watching the one you love get married to someone else. Could you truly be happy for someone knowing it could be you? I think it is possible to be happy for someone. But knowing the slightest possibility of you getting just as lucky, and that you want or need it just as bad---it can be devastating or even depressing. A huge amount of envy and regret could not be avoided in being torn between congratulating and sulking. I don't think anyone has the right to tell you to be happy for other people. It's something you're going to figure out for yourself and admitting that you're not is okay. In the end, focusing too much on what is lost could really be distracting, though. Maybe another game is going on where you will win.

One of the best things I learned this year is from a Hawaiian proverb: "Bless that which you want". It means that you bless someone who, like, won because that is also what you want. You bless someone who got promoted because that is also what you want. You bless someone in abundance because that is also what you want. In the end, when God gifts you with abundant things, you'll know that people will not hate or envy you for it. They will bless you, as well. And all of you would get moving to recognize other blessings to come each other's way. It's a really nice thought. A Christmas-y thought. :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spruce up

I'm home alone for two days. Without provision for food. Do my parents think I am that old already? Haha. No food. :( But I have to stay here in Rizal until the 23rd!

The stocks are going to be picked up tomorrow and the little boxes we're going to use to package them are downstairs in piles of six. Another thing that's piled up are my clothes. In Mom's bed and in Mom's chair in Mom's room. That's why I'm glad nobody's home. Haha. She'd be horrified. But this is my natural order. This noon I wiped my room clean. It was amazing. Nothing on top of anything, everything in its right place, no wrinkle on the curtains or on the sheets, no disorderly books or papers. And then I come home and ruin things again because *tada* we have a photoshoot on Thursday, my friends and I. *Cheers!* We'll be doing looks and I have to scout for possible "props".

Made me realize that I've been playing dress up for as long as I can remember, which is usual for little girls. I would lock myself in a room, take out bathrobes and blankets and come out a geisha. I'd wrap my feet in a towel, place myself on a big basin and pretend to be a mermaid. I'd smile really wide during weddings in which I'm the flower girl, and play the role of scattering petals well. All this while denying that I'm not a girly girl. Haha. There's something comforting in knowing that you could "ruin" things up and emerge more creative than before.

Holly frame. And girl meets red lipstick. Really? This is almost embarrassing. :))

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Heart at Rest, Finally

Deadlines could really make me cry. Last week, despite an academic storm, writing five times more words than blockmates because of the combination of my classes, I did not shed a tear except when I was laughing. :)

Every night I'd come home extremely late because of traffic, celebrations, dinners, practices and service. The dinner at the Baron's were grand! Enjoyed. Haha. It was my first homemade turkey, pumpkin pie and apple cider. The home was filled with an air of the holidays and people gathered that it radiated with such Christmas kind of warmth.. :) The Thursday service the next day was disastrous, though. The program was jumbled, people were late, etc. that it prompted the leaders-in-training to sit down and talk, once and for all. There were so many concerns unspoken, and everybody had the chance to speak. Finally, we came down to our ultimate need which is to talk. Sure, we are good friends. But we don't see each other as leadership teammates yet.



Friday noon was spent at Zyra's place playing Bingo and stuffing ourselves with pasta and barbecue. Lunchtime was on the new Physics building, for Kuya Marvs' advance birthday celebration. Cake and pizza *tongue in cheek*. The Lantern Parade followed in the afternoon. :D The CFA's theme was a sort of under-the-sea, with jellyfishes, baby turtles and water-type Pokemons that as they passed, it seemed like an animated aquarium. Unfortunately, I have no camera to capture it all. And there were a lot of cameras during the event anyway. So much that they almost blocked the parade. Fortunately, though, it did not rain on the parade

Eleven ladies spent the night at Ate Flo and Kuya Melvs' abode, dancing through the night. Haha. Morning after, the leaders-in-training finally spent a time together. It almost felt forced because we don't really purposefully bond with each other. We didn't know what would happen. But we are united with the same goal. The betterment of relationships. By the way, Narnia 3 was really good. At least, now that I know the symbolism behind the characters and the lines. Makes me want to read more of CS Lewis' tales this Christmas break. =D



Finally, a break! I'm going to spend this vacation meaningfully, hopefully to get together with high school friends, to celebrate the holidays with the family (OVER FOOD AND GIFTS! I LOVE THIS SEASON), Dad's annual neighborhood kid's party, New Year at Lola's, et cetera. I'll also be adopting a Korean kid for 10 days! Haha. We'll keep him company and I'm glad my parents agreed to have a visitor. I can't wait. Most of all, the academics won't stop. Just pause. Haha. I got a report right after the break, with paper, and an exam. Praying for fruitful weeks. More pictures later, coz we like keeping memories. :)

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." -II Tim 4:7

Thank you God for being faithful to me!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Merry Christmas ECPAT!


I think I'm going to like my CWTS 2.

The one I enlisted is from the Population Institute. I wasn't really thinking of getting anything desirable, such as the College of Engineering's Military Science. I figured that not many people lined up at the Pop-I, as we call it, because the department is small and a little hidden. Surprisingly, lots of students are enrolled in this class. Students who were classmates the previous semester. I was new.
So our group will spend the semester with ECPAT (End Child Pornography, Child Prostitution and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), which is an international organization. Last Monday, despite the papers and problem sets, we celebrated our a Christmas party with them at their place. The preparation was hastily done. The meeting before that, we just separated to committees, then the next Monday, it's party time. Nevertheless we had decorations, food, gifts for the children and games. :D


Unfortunately! My Christmas break won't come until next week. Would you believe that aside from the 6000 words last weekend, another 3000 added! But that's better than staying with a dead-end topic. Truly hoping and praying that everything would fit right into schedule!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Home Early on a Friday

This was a beginning of a series of extremely wacky pictures when Mom came home with a huge heart-shaped pillow


The house was dark when I arrived tonight. Mom is gone to her Christmas party with friends, and for some reason I'm thankful to be home alone even for a few minutes and for the fact that my mother's Friday nights are spent having a good time. It gave me time to relax. With the rate that that things are going, there is a huge time to be spent filling in 6,000 words and a problem set.

The day at school was colder and more fun than usual, signifying that almost everyone is getting ready for vacation: Miss Engineering parade, frisbee, Carisse's birthday celebration, etc. Ate Faith and CJ fetched me from school and for the nth time I had a "surprise" dinner with their family. It was fairly embarrassing since I don't initiate the conversation with the adults. But more than the free dinner and ride home, I like their family. Family dinners are a mere monthly experience for us. And to see their parents so involved with their lives, at school, in church, with their endeavors, and the husband and wife staying to watch a movie on their own amazes me.

Right now, I'm terrified at the huge load on my doorstep. The message last Thursday hit the spot. "Be anxious of nothing, but in prayer and supplication, make your requests known to God". Well I'm definitely requesting that I finish everything, and excel in doing so! In the meantime, no more Fushigi Yuugi marathon. ;)

Friday, December 3, 2010

If I would have a tattoo, it would say Beloved



This week has been hell and I didn't even know it to prepare for it. You would usually find me running to and fro the duties and demands and expectations, and I feel completely missing the mark. This is rare. I usually like busyness. It was about academics and music.

What really got me through were women. Last Wednesday, Lyka came over to UP to help me with my Economics problem set. What an effort of crossing from Ateneo to be of help someone. I do not usually like asking for favors, but the assurance that I have with our relationship made me feel like it's okay. She even initiated that we try to finish the whole set, though I only asked for her help on a few parts. In the end, we finished it together.

Then on Thursday after service, we had to practice for the praise and worship service of the Christmas party. But it seems that we can't practice together again. Agitation crept in. I have no gift yet, I have a graded recitation the next day, I haven't read the readings, I've been going home late for two days in a row, and most of all, I'll spend a whole lot of time waiting. I can't do it. I walked away right then and there, admittedly, bitterly, to do other things I had to do. So I was in front of Drew's when Trizia and Claudette caught up with me and put an arm on my shoulder and stopped me. It was fairly dramatic, I know. I didn't want it, but it's there. And for that, I was thankful.. Like someone leaving for another country, we cried and apologized. Normally someone would just let me walk out and come back when my head is cooler. But they just had to do the chase. Sigh. Breath-taking.



The day of the Christmas party set in. I'll be jumping to my biggest issue. I felt like a failure when I lead the music team. HAHAHA. I know it's probably not a big deal to anyone, or maybe it is. But it is, for me. I just don't know where everything was going. I can't reach the tune. I was so nervous. You get the picture. Haha. Well, after that, we were laughing. I was laughing and shaking, hoping to melt into a pool of goo. Then Les came over me and gave me a hug. Then, Mina. They were both freshmen and it was their first Christmas party and for all I know, they were shy, but somehow they became an "ate" to me when I felt small. Talk about reversal of roles. :)


So last night when I haven't processed it all, I felt the devastation. But when I woke up, I realize how thankful I am of these women, most of all, the new women in our church. Long before I have concluded that every relationship is two-way. As much as Mina, Julie, Carla, Jian and Ja were getting used to me leading their Bible studies (except Jian, they were all transitioned to me from Ate Sarj), I was also getting used to them. But it all came naturally. I love women. I love talking to them. I love spending time getting to know them despite being naturally afraid of initiating conversation. To be loved back is satisfying.

This is the gift I received BTW. I love it. :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I actually had a Childhood

Add caption

I have a ton of stories about being a kid. These are things that you don't often get asked about, even though they're really interesting. A Facebook "trend" gave me free tickets to Memory Lane, so let me introduce you to Miaka, from Fushigi Yuugi, my childhood heroine. Haha. It's not the best kid-friendly anime. Anyone who's familiar with anime knows that they have plenty of adult contents in them. But I really loved Fushigi Yuugi, though the 2000 impeachment trial prevented GMA from airing the whole series.

I swear Miaka is responsible for me picking up a pencil and starting to draw. And to purposefully memorize song lyrics, which is I'm quite good at now. After school, way back third grade, I asked the driver of our school bus to stop by a store near a gasoline station, and with my own money (I only get P10 a day to buy nachos because I got recess cookies--I actually learned how to save) bought a poster of Miaka. I was so addicted to this that I'd go to school on a Miaka hairstyle, and the bullies would say it's pathetic [bullying is another story. I'd tell one sometime! :D], and I would pray with hands like Miaka and they'd still laugh at me, but my pretty friends divided the characters and I got to be Miaka, one was Nurico, the other was insisting that she's Miaka but I was more persuasive. HAHAHA. I laugh at those moments now. How cute am I? :))

Monday, November 29, 2010

Again, December

The most exciting month is coming. :)

When I got home in Cavite, my parents shopped for the simplest Christmas decors--a thick glittery ribbon on that arc in our house and gold snowflakes and beads hanging on them. A Santa Claus sat on the bar and a belen stood in front of the wine glasses. That's about it. Haha. Dad is surveying us college students when we will be home for the holidays for a Christmas party with the neighbors. I'm not too excited with that, though.

I almost came home a little sad today from a practice. I had too much tasks during the weekend. And we chased a taxi in vain, in hopes of getting back my Economics book. Sigh, it's lost forever and it's not even mine. Replacements. But the past week reminds me that I have more to be happy about than sad, and everything is still under control. I won't let things slip away from my hands again just because something went wrong. SOOOO back to the readings and to the studying. Back also, to the excitement for Friday. :)

From Bea's birthday. I had to post this because they/we are beautiful! :D

Also, Thursday had its second worship service last week. I was with them because of the strike against the UP budget cut. RJ preached and WOW. We were really blessed. I guess I'd continue coming down to the services even at the last minute just to see how our housechurch is growing. The big number is consistent so far. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

'Tis the Season


It took me a while to get that Christmas feeling.

The air finally has a cold hint to it, the street remain unlit though, and no Christmas decoration hung anywhere around our house. My folks grow old so fast. Haha. It's been a long time since we edified a Christmas tree in Cavite. But we're no Grinches. Christmas last year was the best because Mom and Dad played Santa. And they played it well. This weekend, I'll go back to my hometown. I wish I'd see a hint of the joyful season by then.

Before Christmas though, is another story. Academically, there are a lot of requirements to fulfill before the break, and a lot of events at school to cap off the year. In my church, there's this^ Glimmer of Joy! And of course the Lantern Parade (and Oblation Run) in UP. And many, many more.

I'm praying for a surprise. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Unpublished Weekend

Much of the posts I did this weekend remained in an unpublished status. I can't really say why I had thought of the future so much these past few days, hand-in-hand with torturing my eyes with readings. Truly the weekends gave a breathing space to be with the people I'm with the least: my brothers, my best friend who migrated and my high school friends (well, at least think about them. Haha).

Yesterday we went grocery-shopping with the boys and I missed having them around like that. Really. They might not notice it because I usually poke fun at them, but I'm one of their biggest fans (hey, did you know that having a sister makes you generally happy? Sisters foster social cohesion within the family.... hmm, anyway!). Ral did some tutoring for me with accounting, not as a subject but in practical matters. Kuya described in length what law school was like. And I wonder which path to take after graduation?

The day before that, Aya and I had a unique conversation not about how she's doing in Canada, but what happened four years ago, way back high school, which was the first time we met. Confessions led us to a deeper sense of friendship, despite the amusing mistakes of the past that only now did we sift through and apologize and thank for. I miss her. And my high school friends as well because I haven't seen them "complete" since August! I don't know what's going on with them anymore and those Facebook sidebars really make you reminisce out of the blue.

The element of the future that I'm thinking about is that whether I am happy at my current state. To be comfortable is excruciating. I long for more hardship than what I currently handle. Is that normal? There's this word that keeps me frustrated: fulfillment! And Philip Yancey said it's good.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Service Comeback

After Economics, I headed straight to AS, where my next class is at. And I saw them, carrying the guitars and beat boxes, on their way to the worship service place. It was a bit heartbreaking because I'd miss the first worship service in monthssss. I know for a fact that everyone has been waiting for this to return. The music team had a good months' worth of rest and I could only imagine them sing. Take also the messages that we've been aching to hear as a housechurch, and the group discussions that allowed us to be more in tune of each other. I just never wanted to miss this. But I have class.

What kind of sucks is that my last class has a population of five. But FULL attention has to be given to each class until it ends. And when it did, I hopped on the next jeepney and inside the room I saw it: a huge circle of chairs whose "sitters" I cannot even scan/count as I enter the room. Lots of people and a half-finished message was all that's left (plus a treat from a belated celebrant afterwards)--to my delight. It was such a great experience to take even a small bite on. Until I got home the overwhelming blessing is still with me, and I know that in this I am not alone. Based on Facebook, they, too, are rejoicing with it. Haha. The Power.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

First BS this sem

Military Tactics No. 1
Never play the victim


When the ugly part of life kicks in, it's easy to feel bullied by circumstances. To cry foul when you try to understand people and they still treat you badly. 'Til you're so full of anger and resentment that you quit trying to understand them and give them a taste of their own poison. After all, hurt people hurt people. It's a natural thing.

But today, I understood that I'm not in a war against other people, but an even greater enemy. I was under attack. Caught off guard, unarmed, and taking the role of a victim when on I'm the winning side. It just took all the power away from me into the hands of circumstances. What a powerful day this has been to strengthen me into not conforming to do what's natural.

NISSIN LULZ. That's me and Jian. :)
This sem so far, I enjoy meeting new faces on and off classes and watch how bonds begin to form. Also, tomorrow will be our first worship service after a very long time! But I can't be there, perhaps for the whole semester because of my schedule. It's okay, though I have to make a great deal of asking how things are going during those times. Seeing new people preaching, playing music and facilitating the activity would be nice. And Christmas is coming soon. There are lots of people to be thankful for this year. :D

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sweet Little Cousins

Aww. Felice
 For some reason, I get really close with my young cousins. Young being nine and below, which is about the mean age of ALL the cousins I have. Mom found this out long ago, as Tita Arville's girls would insist on accompanying her when visiting us in Cavite, how they were pulling my arm to play with the teacups, badminton or crayons. On my Dad's side, how, in their PJ's, Tita Lea's kids would ask to be taken to Lola's house (where we're staying when in Laguna) just to play with us before they sleep, and how they affectionately call me Ate Spam (not related to food. Haha. They have problem with pronunciations then).

During the semestral break, we didn't really go anywhere out of town, but we did have mini-family reunion by the side of my great-grandma's grave. The kids I ignored before have all surpassed infanthood and have grown quite close to each other. I somehow envy this because my brothers and I are the "first batch" of the third generation, so we didn't enjoy the luxury of having many blood-related playmates. So instead of being the quiet some-daughter-of-another-Tito-and-Tita, I tried talking to them. Really talking. And listening. For the first time. At first they were sheepish about it, the way kids are when an "adult" talks to them, but I guess the "We're cousins, not aunts and nieces," advocacy rubbed off because soon we were adding each other on Facebook. Great! More cousins to play with! And less boring grave visits next year.

This delights me. I technically don't have a sister, but at school and in my extended family, I clearly have an abundance of em. Sweet and talented ones (see below) at that. :)










      Tintin's diorama of my debut. VERY accurate. And she's only seven

!










Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Momentum

Contrary to the tradition that professors usually don't hold classes during the first days, I had my schedule full of running to and fro buildings yesterday and today. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed every bit of it and have seen this semester with a whole new light, that is, an opportunity to really learn more, more than academically. A new sense of eagerness overcame me, especially that my impression that my profs are pretty challenging, better than boring. Having profs who are going to give you a paper a week, are strongly antagonistic towards plagiarism, firm and clear with the grading system and willing to introduce novel methods should be enough to equal to a better sem!

Another thing that I enjoyed was seeing my friends again, and the anticipation of handling discipleship groups next week. It will be my first time to do so, and I think it's a huge responsibility and a ground for having fun with the freshies. :)) I'm also excited to work with my co-leaders-in-training as we had our first on-our-own meeting today. We never really were together last semester, but having a goal or an objective to fulfill and brainstorm together is quite EXCITING. :D This is the best time to be purposeful for everything I do. :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Good Receivers

T. Harv Eker gave me a lightbulb moment upon reading his book tonight. It was not a Christian one, but a book on mentalities on success. He said that most people have not much problem in being good givers. After all, philanthropy is good for the heart. But being good receivers is something we do not do that well. How true that is!

When somebody grants us a favor, we are too quick to deflect it and throw it back as if the act would compensate for the good deed done! We hardly say a wholehearted "Thank you" without an awkward pause or thinking of paying the kindness back. Maybe we don't even think we are ever worthy of an unconditional blessing and suspect motives or good luck to be what is behind them. Either way, it sabotages the giver's intentions and the receiver's benefits.

Many times in our worship services then, we emphasize the weakness of "performance". All the time we are expected to perform, to prove our worth and to maintain our positions. Yet this only exhausts us: giving immensely without receiving immensely. One of the first acts that a Christian does is to receive, and that really is something we do not only do at the beginning. Constantly, we should receive--blessings, counsel, lessons, opportunities, which are all from the ultimate Giver.

Tonight had a way of saying that Someone already took care of the bill. All we had to do was keep our palms open and savor the feast. :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Redeemer



The ineligible status has been lifted and enrollment is only a payment away. By tomorrow we're officially geared for another semester! :D

As I waited in line early in the morning last Friday to have a word with the *whatever-the-title-of-the-person-in-authority*, I took out Tim Stafford's book called Personal God, where I learned that God is willing to go through the bureaucratic process before me. He already captured the details of that day, whether I'll be able to enlist CWTS 2 or not. He already knew the outcome of whether or not Socio 182 would be dissolved. He assigned the adviser, register assistants and blockmates I would ask for assistance from. Yet, He is willing to go through enrollment with me like a parent ushering a kid towards a kindergarten classroom. Whispering words of assurance, He watches hidden from the door, patiently waiting to have me fetched after the day and realize that His words are true. I'm sure this happens every day without me realizing it.

We emerged victorious, Lord, you and I. Let's go through second sem together! :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Delinquency

I had to try not to go "saving faces". The issue was hard to deal with, costing me much of my pride and self-confidence. I never thought in my whole college life that I'd have problems concerning academics. It was supposed to be a breeze and I know I could take on anything except mathematical equations and Chemistry. Unfortunately, it is the truth that for the first time, I earned a grade of 5 for Chemistry and Physics, and I have an incomplete grade with a major. My units last sem reached only up to 15 (after being advised of not taking another subject because of conflicts). So when I tried enlisting CWTS 2 today, I was marked ineligible for enrollment.

And then the College gave me the label. Delinquent. Or DQ.
Last year I was US. Or University Scholar.
How did the acronym change so fast?

I know for a fact that it's mainly my fault, and that's what's keeping me down right now. The "what if's" and "how could you's" and more pointing fingers to myself. More difficult it was to try to tell it to my friends, especially those who place a high value for academics. Nobody wants to receive disapproving looks aside from what you already have for yourself. I am thankful, though, for those who were comforting. Really.

I also know that next semester, and for the last year of college for that matter, I will never be negligent again. I have learned my lesson. The only thing I have to learn now is how to forgive myself.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Soul's Day Cleaning

This afternoon, I did what every good sister does--fix the things my younger brother left at home. Ral has been staying in Manila since college. In fact, the family distribution along Metro Manila is quite complicated.

Venturing through the desks and cabinets to rid of the dead batteries, dried pens and old receipts, and dust off the stack of K-zone magazines, I found his Pokemon toys that he never manages to let go (someone should watch Toy Story 3, haha), also the Magic Cards in their plastic covers, the DVDs of various animes and notebooks filled with cheats of Naruto combos in PSP. Few interesting things that I happened to fumble upon were retreat letters. Without having any interest to read them, I noticed that the letters from the family were outside the envelope. Perhaps he reads them from time to time when he's here, if he's touchy-feely like that.

After the garbage was put to the bin and the old things restored neatly on their place, it was time to hide them from sight, buried under the stuff that the "present" things have occupied.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Combined Strengths

Free Coke Float! :))
Tonight as I was reading the evaluation of the delegates of Square One, I just had to laugh in remembrance of the days that the team and their teammates were planning (especially how we had such a difficulty coming up with a theme! Hahaha!) Square One was very student-led down to the details of scouting for a venue, budgeting the collected money, formulating a food menu, negotiating for transportation, creating training materials and devotionals, securing musical instruments, personalizing promotions materials and waivers, shopping at Divisoria for the cheapest items and fixing time slots for activities. Initiative-taking was highly encouraged! :)

On a personal note, it was nerve-wracking. I was in charge of the program and I have to say that I love the job of going down the tiniest details only because I'm paranoid about them and making sure they're set in place is the only thing that gives me peace. Haha! To say I never could have made it without my Square One teammates and Program teammates is an understatement. There were a lot of times when our brains were swimming in a mental soup because of the things that we have to secure, conflicts we need to iron out, etc. Working with them was such a great experience!!! Plus we had a very powerful Teammate. :) It contributed to a great and different Square One for me. :D

Also, every delegate of Square One was willing to help. Tapping people on the day itself to help out was a breeze. Out of the blue, they even offered assistance voluntarily. This was truly our Square One. It was not an event that we would only attend and leave. We owned God's event! :)


Next week *surprise surprise* second sem starts! Now what effect will this event make? :)

First Day!

1st day: Send off ceremony
Definitely, the highlight activity of the first day was the faith walk--a Square One tradition held earlier than it used to be. It was crazy. At nighttime we all gathered around listening to music projected on the tarpaulin. So I was sleeping lightly when someone placed a blindfold on my eyes. I know the drill. I know what's gonna happen. Or so I thought. Withdrawing the details.. imagine muffled voices, suspicion, tightly clasped hands and elbows, lost slippers and hidden teammates. It was like never before. The strength was worth remembering--to have only hands and voices to lead you the way.

The first day was a light one. We had group dynamics, swimming, singing, a send-off lunch for Ate Cheng, Ate Kim, Matt as well as Ate Sarj, and S'mores. But before everything else we had a house church time, which is a time to share our expectations of Square One. These were meaningful times to me, especially that there were a lot of first-timers and freshies who felt the sense of accountability for the church. :D

What were my expectations? To be refreshed, mainly. The reason why I cried so much during other people's baptism was that I realized the year-long faithfulness of God to me. By year-long I mean the time that I first realized it--last year. My walk has been very nourishing. Like I said before, I never thought this would last. I thought it was just camp fever or something. But looking back, wow.. this is definitely not a fever anymore. It's commitment. His, not mine. From the start God has captured my whole life and continuously conquering it. There were old things I let go and new things that I value. This faith walk is exactly what we go through everyday.

When darkness falls on us, we will not fear. We will remember.

The tools in the box


Devotionals, prayer times in the morning and plenaries in the evening have begun during the second day. Same with the trainings on Prayer and Bible appreciation, which is something aimed to aide us on our personal walks with God. Our teachers were among our peers also, so the discussions were lively and conversational, more of a mutual-learning sharing than a lecture. During the prayer training, we had an activity to write our prayer concerns and post it on envelopes. I loved the idea since one would know the another person's issue, ask about it and pray for it together. This is something we often do even without the papers, as an avenue of encouraging each other.

The Basic and Leader's training were also held this day. The extremely clammy weather almost interrupted us, but soon we were back on track. We were asked to break into small groups and reveal our decision--a yes or a no for the leadership training next semester. The truth is, while this would sound nice, we had our hesitations because we honestly wanted to be the best we can for the church. I myself hesitated because I do not like to be set apart, as the reasons why someone would be called a leader is strange to me. There were people who accepted the task enthusiastically, ready to face the challenges next semester, while there were others who had to view this as a leap of faith. It was an enlightening gathering. I wonder what's going to happen in my house church next sem. But with God's grace I know that we would emerge victorious by March. :)

2nd day: Plenary

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sealed



The third day's theme was "Overflowing heart" and the song that made our whole day was Alabaster Jar. The lyrics really make a difference. This day I had the opportunity to teach in one of the training--spiritual conversations--which is something I take delight in knowing more about (this is an area that I've been working on since my struggle is that I don't like falling into stereotypes. I learned that it's not about me. Sigh. :D). The lively discussions and the material were really helpful and I loved hearing my peers' insights about the topic. Later when they engaged in their activity, I was secretly listening to them discuss. We'll be ready to do more of this next sem!

On the afternoon was the ladies and men's bonding. Tita Rachel dropped by just to be with us ladies, and to share the story of her out-of-the-ordinary life. Imagine meeting a real-life princess! :D But the fact that she lived most of her life reaching out for Christ is even more inspiring, and I'd love to know more of it. This day was filled with deep enrichment of what God promises for us in the future. :)

3rd day: Ladies & Men bonding


Friday, October 29, 2010

Much More

4th Day: Personal Vision
Day 4 was the Personal Vision training in the morning. I attended that of for those who are in-the-middle--not yet graduating yet have already journeyed with Stillwaters and started their personal ministries. Most of the delegates were leaders and leaders-in-training. This has been convicting to me. We are what the change we want to be, and this just excites me to go through the leadership training next semester. AGH. I wonder what would happen next sem!

Dinner was served in the evening as all of us were dressed up formally to celebrate our last night in the camp. This is new to the Square One tradition. We sang songs and Kuya Melvin delivered a message about craving. Definitely a great message to end the camp. The rest of the night was spent jamming, singing at the karaoke, making S'mores and staying up till dawn to write letters.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Word of Hearts


Fifth and last day of Square One was the baptism. We had eight celebrants. Every testimony was music to my ears. It really made me realize how pure our hearts can be once we let Jesus in. These people are not perfect, nor did they were in the perfect position to say yes to the Lord. But everyone prepared the throne of their hearts for Jesus. And to see that willingness was, in another witness' words, moving.

That evening we also headed home. But Kuya Viv, an alumni who is planting a church in Negros, invited us to have dinner with the students in his campus of ministry who happened to be in a seminar in Manila. I really just wanted to flop down my bed and snore the night away, plus I had no money. But I fortunately did not pass up the opportunity. We travelled to Manila with the flood waters and slippery staircases of the LRT (it was raining hard) to sit down with them at KFC. We had a little question and answer just so the conversation could get started. They were new believers of Christ, and I can still remember what they said. It never fails to amaze me that a person could make a difference to a huge group of people. I hope that after I graduate, I would be empowered to do so as well. :) We finished late and slept at Mikka's house, which is another funny story. What a great, powerful day. :)

5th day: Baptism

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

6th day: Track oval

Square One is over. Now is the time to look back, and I'm going to start on the sixth day--which is not part of the Square One program. :)) Sixth day, we ladies woke up from Mikka's house at 7AM, packed, but did not take a bath. So yes, the clothes I was wearing will be the clothes I wore the day before. We went to Tiann's condo to be with the guys before we head back to Ate Cha's dorm to pick up our stuff. We met his really cute little brother named Nico and goofed off at the kid's playground before the real kids arrived and shooed us away.

We rode the bus until Ate Cha's dorm, then headed back to UP. We ended up having a heart-to-heart conversation about family especially that Ate Rain started sharing. We can't get enough of the sharing that we delayed leaving and hung out more at the track oval and told stories of our pasts. Ate Von, Rey, Ate Cheng and I laid our blankets on the grass and spent a few bucks on food before we rode a bus home to our respective provinces.


These peeps are not from my house church, but I'm so blessed to have known their story a lot more deeply. More replay blogs the next few days :)

Snatched

Ral and I were commuting to SM MOA at 7PM for him to buy a new phone. We rode a non-aircon bus to save money. We transferred seats to the last row because there was a smoker in front of us in the middle. Passengers came by so I sat next to the window. Dad was asking where we were so I was texting him. Then a hand came over my phone, and together with it, a head of a youth on a red shirt. My wrists fought, but my phone snapped. The keypads, which are already broken, fell off. I think oyster shell-type phone's monitor broke. I happened to get the back cover. I thought I got the half. But he did. He ran away. He stole my phone which will never be in good use with him.

What a waste.

My hilarious side was screaming "Poverty!" and the night was spent joking and sour graping. We can't afford buying really expensive things in fear of getting them stolen. We can't buy a good house in Manila in fear of getting them submerged in floods. We can't stay too late in the night in fear of getting mugged. We can't wear shorts or skirts in fear of getting perverted. We can't buy a nice car in fear of someone breaking the glass just to get the bag inside. We can't ride the train in fear of getting frisked. So many reasons to stop; yet we have to go on and deal with them--if you call moving on as dealing with them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Intimate Peculiarities


Since tomorrow is Square One, I had the chance (and the $!) to shop for things I needed for the next five days of the camp. I dropped by the intimates or the undergarments section and still find it quite amusing that all the bras and panties are hanged for everyone to see. It got me thinking that a time-traveller from the 18th century would probably stare in wide-eyed horror if they witness the "utter" violation of privacy: things that are not to be seen are under the spotlight--and in rows and racks of them. Also the fact that guys seemed to tiptoe and hush when they accompany their wives or girlfriends in this section, as if begging to escape into the shoes area where they're more secure. And that it's just so...commercialized. To imagine that all my things are from some big factory with big machines producing every intricate detail doesn't make the garment feel so special. No wonder people are still crazy about handmade and organic things. There's a certain humanity to them.

Tonight I'll be loading my iPod with playlists that will by no means be a bore, from The Camerawalls and Silent Sanctuary. I only had three hours of sleep this morning, jumping from my bed to the gym. The gym is an intimidating place for youngsters. It looked like a grown-up place where what you would know as play comes with a price and big heavy metals and repetition and crunches. I am not trying to be thin or muscular. I just like the feeling of strength. Strength and softness are two interesting elements.

Monday, October 18, 2010

If you love me you should let me know



Months after receiving Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages book for my birthday, I still haven't figured out which is my "ultimate" love language, i.e. the acts that make me feel most loved and the way I express love. I know I probably have two or three at the same time, but one thing that holds true over and over again is that my relationship with people has a profound connection...with food. Which, by the way, is not included in the list.

Inquiries such as, "Kumain ka na ba?" and "Gusto mo?" coupled with sincerity, and perhaps the last slice of pizza in the box, are enough for me to let down my guard and give you the "friend" label. Same effect when someone volunteers to accompany me to buy lunch, waits for me to get my order before eating, initiates praying before meal and lets me get a free taste of their different-flavored food. It's crazy, but food is the ingredient essential for love. My love.

Now, fishballs, anyone? <3

Friday, October 15, 2010

Oh, Sembreak?

Today, my semester officially ended.

I came to my last class 30 minutes late, expecting to be doomed for the exam I never studied for (unless you count reading keywords from my notebook inside the jeep studying). A classmate smiled as I entered, the perpetually-late,-early-to-leave,-part-time-student-only. I finished in 30 minutes, with enough false humility to wait for people to go ahead of me (and honesty to admit it), so as my presence in the room could at least be felt and to make the impression that I took the exam, the whole subject, seriously. It may even sound more boastful that I asked my Prof, "Is there a part III?" Left the room without looking back. Left the first semester of third year with not much accomplishment to look back on. But enough memory to say that I enjoyed. At least.

I hope next semester would not be enjoyable. I hope it would be successful. That I'd come panting towards the month of March with drained energy and a cluttered room to prove all the labor. And when the last day of the semester comes I'd be screaming my lungs out as I run out of the room, confident with the prized grade on my CRS account. That will be the time when my semester would come in full circle. Now is the time to stop being comfortable.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Do you have any questions?"


"because this could change your life," said Tito Philip, as we ate good food in their warm home.

I could hardly digest everything he told us in the housechurch leaders' meeting. He relayed so many great news and plans.

Tito Philip and his wife Tita Rachel has devoted their lives pursuing God's work in campuses here in the Philippines. He told us of how a university excelled because of Christ; that Stillwaters is a new model of church that is being imitated by churches in other countries; that wherever God plants us after we graduate, we'll surely make a positive impact. It was hard to believe, even sounding too good to be true, that God really can change many, many lives through us, and that some of our colleagues are actually doing His changing work now! He's done it before. And He's doing it now.

In my previous blog I mentioned that I'm having a hard time trusting God with my future, with the abundance that I wanted to have, unsure if He's going to provide for that. But this abundance is way beyond imagination--an abundance of changed lives, changed generations possible within my own lifetime. He spoke to me of real abundance that I will have in pursuing His business. Yes, the abundance I wanted to have, but unsure of how. Tonight, He reassured me even more with a verse:



"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

-Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

" For what I am doing, I do not understand.
For what I will to do, that I do not practice;
but what I hate, that I do. "
-Romans 7:15


Lately God has been speaking with me through His silence. To not hear His voice and to continuously be inattentive to it has been a blow for me these past few days. There is a feeling that I'm starting to miss Him, especially His purpose for my life. I believe that it had something to do with my hesitation to trust Him with my future. I am honestly afraid of committing to Him my life because of my lack of faith in His faithfulness to me..

Please pray that all my devotion would go to the Lord--every single part of me that I am not willing to surrender, please pray that I give to Him with cheerful, willing heart!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What Those Legs are made For


Grandmothers with their handbags and reading glasses, students in NSTP t-shirts, serious health buffs who took a break from corporate work, kid-toting fathers. More than a hundred thousand of those. All together in an isolated place that is MOA.

When the event finished at 8 AM, the mall is still closed and the tens of thousands are hungry, sweaty and looking for shade. And there is none available. They could have valued the runners as much they valued the Pasig river.

Good company made it worth the grind.


Monday, October 11, 2010

A Knock at the Door at 2 AM



To you who keeps on reminding me (quite annoyingly) to sleep, over and over again, until you come back to your room in angered surrender: I want you to know that I appreciate having you around to remind me to take care of myself when I'm totally messing up my health.