Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stillwaters Church


Video by Hazel Guevarra

Stillwaters is the name of my church. It is an on-campus Church in UP Diliman, though it also started in other universities, but not yet thrived. We do not have a "church" or a place to gather per se, but we are a group of Christians made up of students and young professionals. The church basically survives on voluntary students' tithes and the help of our ministry partners (For more info, check this blog). We are currently divided into two housechurches, the Tuesday and Thursday, based on the days we hold our praise and worship services. This is basically made so that a big group may not overwhelm new people, and to keep a personal relationship with each other.

Right now, my housechurch, Thursday, is facing a challenging semester. Our leaders stepped down obediently according to God's prompting, and we, quite honestly I consider "the kids" in terms of age, stepped up. This was very intimidating for us, starting last semester when one of our leaders graduated and we took leadership over the Music team. It was never without the feeling of inadequacy because of the skills we have to develop, but God kept teaching us that He's more concerned with our hearts than with our hands or voices. Now He has given us a greater challenge.

Without a student-preacher, our praise and worship services are put on hold. I believe that this was a heavy blow for us because everyone looks forward to our weekly gathering as a family, and this is when we see how much our church have grown. We revived the fellowships instead, so we can have the opportunity to meet. At first, people probably expected this to make up for the praise and worship services, thus failing to meet our expectations. God also pointed out that the first two fellowships have been too light, in the sense that we are missing the intimacy that we have with Him (fellowships are mostly made up of activities, we called it MaRTY'S standing for "Be Matchless, Be Recognized, Be Transformed, Be Yourself, Be Satisfied". We are covering the gifts of the Holy Spirit). We responded by centering the activities not on bonding, but on reflecting on His peace. On our third fellowship, it was a real blessing to go back to the Real center. I felt like the big circle of friends turned into a big circle of children of God. We celebrated a birthday afterwards! =D

Last Monday, the leaders also had a meeting, redefining and refocusing the objectives and the program flow of the fellowship for the next week. The whole experience was a blessing because instead of being nervous about meeting expectations, we enjoyed ourselves as we gave fresh ideas for our MaRTY'S. Looking forward to the next weeks! The songs are back. =) And one more thing!

Square One, Oct '09. Has it really been a year? Soon!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hair Dares


Hair extensions have helped me go through many important "life events" as you may call it. At first I thought that lengthening your hair is a stupid an idea for the liberal--it wasn't for me. But after I first used it publicly, which is at my friend's debut (almost exactly a year ago, a friend surprised me with hair extensions and said, "You'll be using this tonight!" ... *gulp*), I felt more at ease and convinced that hair extensions can be for everyone who wishes to alter their looks almost completely in a few minutes. Of course, hair is the first thing people would notice from a person!

Lyka's debut August 2009
It fits my lifestyle because I'm usually not one to brush my hair every minute, so at daytime my short hair is kept and during parties, it just blooms! However, I've had my own misadventures with the accessory. Biggest mistake was trying semi-permanent hair extensions. They took 8 hours to be attached, with micro rings and all on my hair, the length was a crazy 26", and it wasn't long (four days to be exact) before I woke up with a rat-shaped bundle of hair on my head that CANNOT BE FIXED. Good thing our helper removed the micro rings completely before my class started, and that was the end of the story. I'm now convinced that clip-ons are way better than either fusion or semi-permanent extensions since you can remove and attach them in a snap. Much easier when I discovered one-piece hair extensions. It receives my highest recommendations because it only takes less than a minute to attach them, and I can do it myself without bothering if it's on the right place, without looking on the mirror and without having more than five clips on my head.

Eighteenth birthday March 2010

I used hair extensions for my own debut! And lots of other events. Last summer my friends and I started to pursue a business with it as the product. Our first batch went well, and our second batch is going on. My love affair with hair extensions is extended to our clients. I hope that other girls with different personalities will also give it a try. Visit us. We have video tutorials on different hairstyles. This is not for the faint of heart. But trust me, once you try it, you will continue using it. It's also a good practice for not caring about other people's opinions. Just "own" the hair and you're good to go. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Institutional Tragedy

I've been reading about the Luneta hostage-taking two nights ago. The Philippine institutions have not been efficient in handling this situation. It was a global concern in our own land. Rolando Mendoza surely have not imagined it to go that far, not only to kill eight innocent persons (as stated in the news article, he was initially calm), but to endanger the employment of thousands of OFWs in Hong Kong, to internationally shame the newly-elected President Noynoy, to highlight the shortcomings in terms of weapons and tactics of the Philippine police, to question the legal system of the Philippines, to blame the ratings-war by the media as the source of the lack of the media black-out when it was needed, and to inflict damage to our country's tourism for the next months.

Hong Kong and the Philippines are on the same side: we are against terrorism. The process of how terrorism was fought is what's being questioned. The said institutions have failed right in front of the world's eye, and now our names as Filipinos is "bloodied" when it shouldn't have been. We should remember that this incident, while motivated socially and gave social effects, is work of but a single man. The Philippines should improve, and I believe that this incident puts a good pressure on institutions to improve. But the condemnation our country receives is too much that I think it is some form of abuse and discrimination. Some newspapers attacked the news foully, putting emphasis on passion instead of the rough details, and some experts saying "what could have been" and then passing judgment after the gunman dies. What is the use of pointing fingers I ask you? Will the victims get their justice by trampling on an entire country's dignity by criticizing their people? Is this incident enough to say that the Philippines is not a safe place to live? Thousands of people die in street crimes everyday. We should make it a point to fight that. This issue has been sensationalized entirely because the victims have been foreigners, that the outcome has been to put the blame not on Mendoza but on the Filipinos. Who knew that eight persons would hold an entire country's wrath? And that a single person could put the blame on a nation?

When the firing stopped, the Philippines should realize that they have to educate, train and equip themselves in handling dangerous situations, and other countries should realize that some countries also need help in fighting terrorism, instead of deeming them completely incompetent in handling it. Although the Hong Kongnese and even some Filipinos are infuriated by the incident, they should come to their senses that what's done is done and eight people have been part of the statistics. Grief could only stay in one place and point fingers. Help could build bridges and strengthen defenses.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

CATS Now and Forever Musical


If there's anything I'll love until as an old lady, it is watching plays. Movies tend to bore me to saying "forgettaboutit!" or putting earphones on, but plays keep me tuned from start to end. More so with a musical that casts Lea Salonga! The Filipina talent that could never be overrated, as Grizabella the Glamour Cat in this musical. I've seen her first in 2008 at Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, and now, with my mom again at the CCP Nicanor Abelardo Theater, in the internationally famous Cats composed by Andrew Lloyd Weber, the 4th longest-running show in musical theater history based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939) by T.S. Eliot. There are no local productions probably because of the royalty, so seeing this is once in a lifetime!

Cats bowing to the applauding audience

No part of the musical included a speaking script--purely music, lyrics, dance and lights. The eyegasm is what you pay for. It is, however, basically about the Jellicle cats introducing the various cats they've met in the past (Victoria the White Cat, The Old Grumbie Cat, The Cat About Town, The Railway Cat, The Mystery Cat and my favorite Magical Mr. Mistoffelees who did spontaneous turns for a whole minute!). At first it was difficult to catch the lyrics, to understand the songs because of the accent barrier. Soon, the play made us feel like we're part of the musical, cats ourselves, listening to each other's stories, especially that part when it was dark and a spotlight dramatically illuminated the audience. All cast seemed to be an acrobat, a tap dancer, a gymnast, an opera-singer and a ballet dancer rolled into one! Notable were their postures and purring, and at the half-time break, they lingered at the seats near us, allowing photographs, like felines.

Up close and personal with a cat

Those weren't the high point of the play at all. The most memorable part of the play was when Lea sang "Memory" (no pun intended). TRULY. WORLD. CLASS! Her articulation was so smooth, her voice so soft ranging from low to high, the loud and powerful part gave me goosebumps. The audience gave a standing-slash-dancing ovation at the end. When we left, I heard a little girl singing la-la at the tune of Memory. Cute!

With my Mom

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Where my Party peole at


A piece of Stillwaters. I'm the girl with the glasses
The S'mores party had terrible cases of overpopulation, food disappearance in-an-instant, loud live band music, hands-in-the-air type of crowd dancing and unstoppable photo-taking. If you like it quiet, you probably won't like it there because it was a blast!

I came late for class and really worried about what's happening with the program, but upon entering, with the decorations now complete and the crowd already present and engaged with the games, there was a sigh of relief, and a smile on my face. It was party time!

Lots of new people came; there was an aura of openness even to strangers. Everyone might as well get to know each other. :) The guys were really helpful, I noticed. They helped with the food preparations and the clean-up. Some of the girls danced "I Believe". They really put on a show! And the after-party was loud. At 9 p.m., when we became conscious that they neighbors of Student Center might be bothered, pack-up was announced. The funny thing was, everybody stayed. Kuya Melvs had to turn off some of the lights and put away the chairs. But the people stayed outside until it was late enough to say goodbye.

This is my first S'mores Party. I was unfortunately not able to eat s'mores but helping out at the backstage scene was memorable enough. The next year, when I attend this party, it will be that with full knowledge that God is at work with the details of everything that is going on. We hope that this party was able to bridge the message of Jesus to other people! We glorify Him through friendships formed. :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

None But Jesus



If you check my tags, you'll find that lots of my tags are about "love", but is there an object of love for me right now? Actually, there's none. Really. Even though I have a crush and there are people who seem to show interest, no one has really captured my heart greatly. NO ONE. Except that first-sem-second-year ex-crush, no one else came close to my heart. And I don't see that as a handicap at all.

Cliche as it may sounds, as a Hillsong song goes, there is none but Jesus. I currently see myself as pursuing and being pursued by God. I see my singlehood not as a status to get rid of but a status to serve God full-time. With everything. With all the time in the world. With all my resources. He will never leave me thirsty for love. He satisfies and sustains me every single day.

Tonight I had a really nice chat with Ate Toni over dinner after we decorated the Student Center for tomorrow's event. She's a great girl with bright ideas and the same love for writing as I do. She is also the leader of the S'mores team. I love her. I'm thankful that she's my sister, and I know that we'll spend more time talking about platonic things like love and idealism. CJ also decided not to take part of our hair extensions business. Wow. That's a big decision. He's like the future hair extensions mogul. But he decided to stop because it has been his idol. He's been chasing hair extensions for a long time. I'm afraid for his decision, quite honestly, selfishly. What will we do? Could we survive? But I know that this decision means a lot to him, and it is God's desire for him. Can't argue with that. Now, God may be using his decision to my growth.

Tomorrow will be a BLAST! I'm sure of that now! Because as we were decorating, when they turned off the lights, everybody seemed to be on party mode already! I can clearly see what will happen tomorrow. Oh my gosh. I'm so excited!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Close to Home


Flaired Hair Extensions is going to re-open really soon! CJ and I had a shoot last Saturday for the promotion materials.

Today I went to the Student Center to attend several meetings. First off, our housechurch met for the finalization of the fellowship tomorrow as well as for the next week, called Marty's (it's actually an acronym, because it's on Martes/Tuesday!). I haven't been able to contribute properly to these fellowship meetings because I simply lack ideas. Haha. Now, just wonder what kind of program head I make? Just kidding. :)

Then I met Lyka, my high school Buddy. We have had "spiritual" conversations before, at two Friday dinners at Kenny Roger's and Shakey's. We've been planning to meet so that I can share things to her, and this Monday has been the day. God has been calling her.. Many circumstances of her life have been touched by God despite she not knowing how to respond yet. She's also making efforts to communicate with God, speaking to Him! Chatting with her about God, school, family, love life and career has been like whoa. I'm hoping to meet her every Mondays from now on (though I don't have classes) just so we could explore more the words of God and catch up with each other. Our lives has been interesting. I can't wait to see what kind of testimony my buddy could have. :)

Afterwards, the Square One team had a meeting with Ate Flo. It was very rewarding and God really worked with us. We had so many ideas! We already have a theme: Pursuit of God, and a central verse, 1 John 4:19, which says "We loved Him because He first loved us". The topics we came up with, the needs we think the church has, is something to look forward to--very personal, very apt. The team is to meet every week to plan the sem break event. Hmm... I think I'll attend UP CCC's LTI on the break too. It'll be my first.

Even the moments at the jeepney as I listen to worship songs as I go to and fro Katipunan and home has been a blessing. I'm looking forward to Wednesday--S'mores Party! Please be there! :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Paghanga kay Rizal

Ito na ang pinaka-una kong post na sa wikang Filipino, at iyon ay dahil buong araw na akong nagbabasa ng "Rizal: Makabayan at Martir" ni Austin Coates at sinalin sa Filipino ng propesor kong si Nilo Ocampo. May eksam kami sa Martes at unang beses ko palang sineryosong basahin ang buhay ng pambansang bayani.

Bilang Pilipino, kilala ko na si Rizal. Ngunit habang binabasa ko ang mga detalye ng kanyang buhay--mga liham, rekord sa talaarawan at mga paglalarawan ng ibang taong nakakilala sa kanya--habang mas nakikilala ko ang taong pinagpapaguran nang aralin ng mga estudyante ay mas lalo akong humahanga sa aming pambansang bayani, lalo pa at napaka-produktibo niya sa mga panahong estudyante pa lang siya. Nakakamit siya ng maraming parangal sa iba't ibang larangan na tulad ng isang Renaissance Man na parehong left-brain at right-brain ang matalas, at sa kanyang paglalakbay sa Europa bilang isang batang estudyante ng medisina/optalmolohiya, talagang lumalapit siya sa mga taong tanyag sa larangang gusto niyang aralin. Hindi nag-atubiling mahiya o magpaka-mediocre kahit pa hindi siya laking mayaman. Sa tagal niya din sa Europa, hindi nawala ang pangunahing layunin niya na buksan ang isip ng mga Pilipino sa pagmamaltrato sa praylokrasyang naghahari sa Pilipinas, kahit nais na niyang umuwi, magtayo ng sariling klinika at magpakasal. Minabuti niyang pagsikapin ang kanyang espesyalidad. Sa kanyang pakikilahok sa mga organisasyon, pagkokontribyut sa mga lathalain, pagtatalumpati kasama ang mga kapwa-estudyante, nakakagulat lang na sa buong pananatili niya ay hindi nagbago ang kanyang layunin, hindi nadala ng hangin habang siya ay naglalakbay at nagpapaka-dalubhasa.

Gusto ko ring mabuhay na tulad ni Rizal, sa totoo lang. Gusto kong makaapak sa kanyang mga paa at matuklasan kung ano-ano pa ang meron sa kanyang pag-iisip. Ano kaya ang magiging silbi ko para sa ibang tao? Sana ay matulad din ako sa kanya, na sa halip na panay personal na buhay ang inaatupag ay may mas malaki pang misyon na buong-pokus na sinasagawa. Ayoko sa buhay kong nagsusurbayb lamang habang maaari.

Ginaganahan pa akong mag-aral ngayong gabi.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Confined


Last weekend was spent at the hospital with my parents, with tubes on my veins and hourly blood pressure check-ups and nurse shifts. I was sick with UTI and some respiratory problems that made me miss school for a week. It was really hard. I tried to go to school last Friday, and every 10 steps I had to pause and pray that I won't vomit on the way and spend too much cash on cab rides. This week I'm thankful that I'm okay, and I really appreciate the people at school. Missing an exam, my blockmates were really the one worried for me. I never considered them close friends of mine but they were still concerned and they are even the ones telling me to fix my excuse papers. I love them now.. My churchmates really showered me with reminders of prayers, and most of all, my Profs have been (so far) understanding of the situation.

Right now there are a lot of catching up to do in terms of academics, and I guess I was re-motivated to do better at school after being away for a few days. That's good.

S'mores will be on Wednesday! And I was tapped to be the Program head of Square One, which is an annual sembreak thing. Square One was where I became a Christian so to me this is a big deal-type of endeavor. More exams on the way, but I'm clearly enjoying life at this point. :)