Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where do we go from where we are?

For my study, I was researching on Freddie Aguilar's worldwide hit song, Anak. It was such a huge success, being released in 56 countries and translated into 26 languages, and making it to charts of various other countries, still incomparable to any Filipino song or artist today. The song was highly autobiographical, it speaks of a rebellious child who ran away and took life into his hands. Freddie Aguilar was not able to finish college. Barely a freshman taking up Engineering, he quits to pursue music and run away from home.

Now for some reason I ended up in Steve Job's 2005 commencement speech in Stanford. And then Oprah's in 2009, and then Ellen deGeneres at Tulane University in 2009 (so you could see how productive "researching" online is) and then realized that all three said, "This is as close as I got to graduation. I never graduated from college". It was ironic, if you think of it. After they finished their degrees, someone wildly famous comes at their graduation and say, in a sense, that they didn't have to graduate to get where they are. I had a good laugh hearing Ellen joked, "I never went to college... at all. I'm not saying that you've wasted your time and money... but look at me, I'm a HUGE celebrity." Crazy, but true!

No, I am not about to abandon my course and ditch college altogether because of that, but I just realized that school may not really capture your purpose in life. You get all these high grades and lessons that feed your brains, but it all really boils down to what you are passionate about, to what God has written in your heart long before and whether you follow it or get lost in the linear processes life offers. Our dreams are really hard to ignore and such a grief it is to spend your life not liking what you do. After all those videos watched I prayed that I would continue to do things I love, things I'm passionate about that don't sound like work (there are several). I have heard that everyone has a single mission, and that is to love. But each one gets to do different ways of loving. In business, it is by bringing the best products or services to people, for law, it is making sure that people will exercise their rights, if it is medicine, it is that people would be informed and healthy, in entertainment, it is that they would be uplifted. These careers are the fingers of the same hand. I just hope that my own destiny, my life, would belong to something just like that, something wilder than my imagination. Fulfillment is what I'm aiming for.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Out of the ordinary mid-1990s photos, I saw this picture of me with a very fangirl-ish smile (no I'm not crying LOL). I don't know why I did that! That guy is no celebrity, he's my cousin Alvin whom I haven't seen or talked to in YEARS. He migrated with his family. Not the most adorable image. But pink gown and flowers on my head y'all!

Today Mom woke my brother and I (Ral was home!) up saying that we'll be leaving for Caloocan... para maki-fiesta. I shuffled out of bed and kind of looked forward to visiting relatives. I've been living for eighteen years yet I still have not memorized the names of my relatives. And the case isn't even that they are many. But, you know, the family tree is more of a web to me. Haha.

I spent the first months of my life in Caloocan, which is my mother's hometown. When my parents got married, they didn't have the money to buy a new place. But when I turned one, we left to live in Cavite.

Caloocan is a very urban area. Think of the streets you see along Recto when you ride the LRT. We lived close to the old railroad tracks. The houses are very closely situated next to each other. The streets were more of eskinitas. Two cars could never make it in what should be the main road, with all the kids running to and fro and tables of adults playing cards and makeshift toldas.

After eating, I explored the house that we used to live in. It was still cramped, but prettier--brightly colored walls, wooden floors and tiles replaced the gray cement that it was years back. A lola took out piles of tiny photo albums. I'm usually disinterested with seeing faces I don't recognize. But today, I dug into them like some precious artifact. I realized that I have a lot of photos here!! Photos I've never seen before, photos of me I don't even remember. On a dress usually, which debunks my theory that I was raised as one of the boys. As well as photos of people in 80s fashion, which is actually very close to what is "in" today, except the baginess--florals, knee-high socks, minidresses and loafers. I especially enjoyed browsing through the older ones, the sepia batches. Haha. Sepia pictures had a "memorable" flair among them.

I love photos. Everyday should be a photoshoot.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

As they are

I just watched this video over and over again. It's been getting lots of views now. Can I just say that little girls with big potential put a big smile on my face? They say that the world wearies people out and drains all the idealism from their heart. I hear it a lot when I was young and think that is completely ridiculous. How can you let go of your dreams? But it can be true. Sometimes I ask myself if spending too much time in front of the laptop typing away is worth it. I know that there has to be something more than this reading and studying and attending classes. I know that God is never a miser when it comes to His plans. It just makes me itch to go out and do something great. Precious things are scarce. Hard to find and even harder to keep. I'll be holding on to them despite the disillusionment.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Photo by Aaron Q., the doodle boi :)

This is the sweetest day of the month, probably. And I feel equally jumpy with it. :) On Valentine's day, I will be outside La Salle Taft with my groupmates handing out survey forms to girls for my major subject. I welcome this break from the routine of going to school and back home. I like going to this new place with a mission, just in time for people who are in love to celebrate. I could imagine tomorrow perfectly--sunny skies, windy weather and teenagers. I'd see roses and heart-shaped balloons on the streets that used to be dull and murky. I'd see couples hand-in-hand, going on dates. I'd get a glimpse of cupid's dreamy eyes on store windows and hear mushy quotes and love songs.

I have a huge smile on my face because some of friends are really happy this season!! Like, really. One has found his Monster :) One has found "Ms. Right", much to my curiosity! Three couples close to me will celebrate their first Valentine's Day together, another will celebrate it for the first time as husband and wife. My parents celebrated theirs in advance with me and Ral. And I know the guys from the church is planning to surprise us as much as we will! Shhh. :) This is a season that I'd like to last for long, just like Christmas. It doesn't have to feel like "Single Awareness Day" (which is an acronym for SAD, I realized), I think that concept is passe. I feel just as giddy as the next blushing girl and grinning boy sitting on a candle-light dinner. :)

Graham and Marsha! From the last S'mores Party :))

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Best songleading experience so far :)

Disclaimer: this isn't about talent. Haha.

The lights have been turned off. Everybody's eyes set on the screen. Our lips were moving in tune of praises, instruments were playing, hearts were communicating. And I was singing. Song-leading. It was not my first time at all. But it was the first time when fear threatened to overtake, it failed.

Wednesday, the day before the service, I lost my voice after practicing the songs I picked--songs I've been wanting to sing if only I have the opportunity to lead the songs, which is not much, because I usually have class during service time. One of the songs I chose was my favorite, Devoted, from a contemporary band, Citipointe. It has not been sung yet. In fact nobody in the housechurch probably knew about it yet. It was a magnificent song the first time I heard it at their concert, and I can finally introduce it! But the voice simply would not cooperate.

That night, the voice was but a whisper, or if I really tried, a sound of screeching tires on the pavement and a furious hissing cat. In short, night before the service, it has to be acknowledged that I couldn't possibly lead the songs in this kind of situation, no matter how I want to. It would hinder in song leading, and pushing for singing when you're voiceless will not be beneficial at all, if not selfish. I had to let someone else lead. I would have to wait another week when there would be no classes, and I wouldn't be able to sing Devoted. Some things you have to give up. So Kayla was set up to do the songs that night. It will be her first time. She agreed and asked me to meet her the next day for tips. Finally, at peace.

The next day, I had the voice of a teenaged boy who underwent puberty as I barked my destination to the jeepney driver. Not very good, but at least the exchange was made. Safe. When I met with Kayla for the tips, we realized that I had a voice already, that though there are squeaks here and there, I could probably do it. But most of all, for her first time, I didn't want her to sing songs she didn't pick. So after that 15 second meeting, a unanimous decision was made: I'll lead the songs that afternoon! I desperately asked those who are good in singing to help me by raising their voices to mask my own. Though none of them was familiar with Devoted.

15 minutes before the service started, the music team practiced. The voice was getting better, in fact it sounded good, only there was a necessity to gasp for air when it was too much. When the lights were out, I knew that this could not be about me anymore. There should be nothing to think about, not the "performance", not the voice, not the shaking hands, not the impressions. My past experiences in song leading didn't provide a good "aim-for-the-night". There was a time when the whole song stopped because of a missed chord. The song leader was not supposed to stop, but I did. There were mixed arrangements, miscommunication between the songleader and the instrumentalists, and many times when prayers were blurted out confusingly because of nerves. And too much care. In fact a split-second as I was praying a thought came: You're going to blow it, as usual. But the voice, creatively, in the form of lyrics, sung No and proceeded.

Lights turned on, the back of my neck was sweating and I had to soften up my frozen cheeks with a smile. To me, it sounded great! And it wouldn't sound great if I was too bothered about blowing it up. When I heard that some people were blessed with the songs, I knew the message was communicated. What an opportunity. Gave me a real high. :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Dangerous" Questions

Sociologists aren't the best people to engage in a spiritual conversation with, Ate Karla said earlier this afternoon. I really have to agree. At school, I sometimes struggle with hasty generalizations made about Christians and Christian beliefs from social issues ranging from "monopolization of spiritual goods", to patriarchy, to being "the opium of the people". And I can't just walk away from it because it is exactly what I'm taking up in college! In writing papers, it is always so easy to make Christians (although more often, Catholics) scapegoats of inequality and irrationality. After all, anything that is not from "science" A.K.A. the rational, the measurable and the value-free, is considered not believable (without actually considering that the sciences work on the assumption that current findings can be disproved, so the question is would you base the way you live your life in something that can be disproved the next decade? Well, anyway...). Safe to say that "disenchantment" as in Weber's terms are very common inside the classroom, every single day, from the mouth of some professors. And honestly, I don't think it is necessarily bad.

I had this really meaningful conversation with Irish last week. She's an intelligent girl, a member of a debate-oriented organization, an English-major freshman with a fluent manner of speaking. I truly admire her. With a frustrated-confused knot on her forehead, she asked about my views on homosexuality. I laughed because I kind of know where this was leading. She has a sociology subject and a "radical" professor who points out on abolishing the family and losing their virginity. The conversation flowed from homosexuality, to virginity, to atheism, to the role of women, connecting what we know from the social sciences to the Bible and from the Bible to the social sciences. It was a platonic conversation where the minds meet and ideas freely flow. It helped that both of us had some sort of a "liberal" streak (think feministic, socialistic, all those things) because we knew where the other is coming from. And we are also Christians. In the end, both of us are enlightened and energized by the long and non-stop question and answer portion, thanking each other for what has been exchanged. I think all those questioning made our faith stronger, contrary to common beliefs, not by defending but by exploring a wellspring of information. It helps to seek answers.

Friday, February 4, 2011

February Affair

HOHOHO It's February. UP Fair is right around the corner and I can't even bother to think about it. So is Valentine's Day. Right now, I'm focusing on finishing three papers. Two on the same subject, Readings in Sociology (pre-requisite to the big T), one in Qualitative Research, which really gives us the feeling that hey, We are sociologists now. We are researchers. We're not babies anymore. If you think this makes me feel weighed down, you're wrong. :) I'm actually thanking God for this, even though I haven't accomplished anything yet. Thank God for the desire for my course, which took six semesters before I recognized.

Honestly, I don't want to graduate next year yet. I know it's a fearful thought, but most of my blockmates, not me, are delayed because of transferring. I'm not doing this out of fear. I just wanted my big T time to consume an entire semester than let it compete with electives. Also, I really wanted to take a break. If I pursue graduating on time, I'll have to take summer classes again. Two years of nonstop studying. Might end up rushing everything. Graduating on time, but disastrously. Summer is also something I'm not considering this April. Hopefully, I'd make it to CCC's summer project in Indonesia, my passport interview is not until the end of March (day before my birthday actually). And I wanted to study driving (again) because Mom's buying a car. Really, I don't see myself rushing towards graduation. When Law school comes, there's no way to stop it.

Law school? Yes. I think so. I really am just praying that I'll take Law in UP. But my parents aren't up for it (even before I have passed the LAE! 6% chance! Could I even make it?) because in San Beda I'll have a scholarship. And in terms of passing the Bar, both are equally good. But again, UP is my hooooome.

By the way, it's not all work, no play. Haha. We watched A Percpep Combination, which is the first time I saw the UP Pep Squad not in their uniforms, doing different routines. They're truly versatile performers: doing all sorts of pilates-ish streetdance-ish, folk dance-ish dance. The Perc Squad (percussion, the drums and everything) took on the spotlight as well with exhibitions that screamed Talent. Please let me stay in this school! Haha.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Delayed Gratification

What do you do when you are so frustrated with love? Hohoho. Since Friday night I've been processing a lot of things in private, not telling anyone anything, which is quite dangerous if you ask me. Dramatic as it may seem, I cried myself to sleep for a few nights, always asking God, "Why do you give me a 'no'? I told you who I liked and you said "no", I picked whom I think you should like and it's still a "no", when will you agree with me?" Then I realized that I needed to rephrased the question, which no longer became a question addressed to God but to myself: "When will I agree with You?"

And so I remember the memorized verses of 1 Corinthians 13:4 onwards, which is the "Love is patient, love is kind" series. I'm sure you've heard them. It was so cliche that the timing was the first day of February. When I searched into the passage, I found then tenth verse of 1 Corinthians 13, which I think is the best part now, but was often overlooked before: "but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away" (ESV).

In other translations, it says the partial, or that which is incomplete, will no longer be necessary when perfection or completeness comes. The incomplete will be useless, done away with.

I am seeking this perfection. (don't parallel this with being a perfectionist because I'm not the one planning the details!). I guess I wouldn't be complete if I preempt things just because of frustrated impatience. Or taking the bread out of the oven too early, or growing the plants by themselves (see poem below). I'm looking forward to that wellspring that will completely satisfy, never settling for what is attractive but partial nonetheless. I do not know a single element of God's plan, but I am aware how His plans have worked in invisible, organized and unexpected ways. I have heard of and experienced His faithfulness and it always makes sense of what I go through in the past. Running the race is easier said than done, of course. Please pray that I keep my eyes on the prize.