Monday, August 29, 2011

When we're hungry, love will keep us alive

Sitting at the edge of the old, wobbly, and familiar bed, we talked through the night about life, hopes and dreams. About our parents, about our future, about the confusion in it all. Even about God. Finally, I was able to share the Gospel to him, and he prayed with me, for the first time. I've always looked up to him being an older brother, though I tried to deny it before. Tonight, there was no place for sibling rivalry. Tonight, there is nothing but honesty and vulnerability.


"I'll be delaying graduation for two reasons," I confessed. "One is because I'm scared. Don't think I'm ready yet. I can't imagine myself filling out application forms, even wearing corporate attire, job hunting. I don't even want to be employed. Two, it's because I want to learn the skills it take to be what I wanted to be--to learn exactly that: journalism and business administration. Take courses and learn to start a business and write This extra year in college will be some sort of retreat for me. A retreat while at school, simulating what I'm supposed to want to be doing and then decide. I really need time to think. I need time to learn."


"You don't understand, Sam," Kuya said softly. "You have what it takes. College will not teach you everything you'll need in the outside world. You can learn those skills on the spot, while working. If I were you, I would work too. It's just that I had to choose Law. You don't know how sad it is to still be dependent on your parents for your expenses at age 22. If I had the choice, if I didn't have a scholarship, I would work. You are at the point of your life when there are so many windows. And you have the talent. You can write, you can manage a business. You're even doing those even before you graduate! What makes you think working will be any different? You have to stop seeing yourself as if you're an inadequate ignorant. Don't let that undermine the independence you already have."

Earlier over dinner, Dad and Mom have been convincing me of the same thing, but I remained steadfast with my decision. I am NOT ready yet. I will NOT graduate yet. But the way my brother said it, it was different because it came from someone who has been in the same situation recently. I sat there quietly. Here he is, telling me of his loneliness, the way his ex girlfriend left her, the way his bestfriend recently got married, leaving him feeling all alone. Here he is, seemingly hopeless yet having high hopes... for me? "You are strong and you can stand up for yourself," he said, "the way you stood up for your faith. God will be there for you until the end."


Wow, God. Thank you so much for giving him as my brother. You know we had the nasty fights and shameless brawls in our childhood. But to be supported by him through both of our tough times and confusion is everything. It's just what a brother means.

I still have no resolve over the direction I'll take. What a relief to know my family is there supporting me.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Survivor


Mixed martial arts got me hooked!!! No way can you say I'm even a fraction good. See, when I woke up the morning after my second day at training, I thought I really needed neck braces.

But consistency counts right? All this jui jiustu is done for the sake of physical health and disaster preparation. It's such a physical game that it bothered me to be so close at first. That is, to be sitting on the opponent's belly and then like cubs start wrestling tactfully. My only consolation is that during the time I would actually need self-defense, situations would be worse than that. Growing up, I never really wanted to be stereotyped as "a girl" a.k.a. soft and fragile. So there's no problem about the nature of this sport, really. BUT. I'm not ready yet to spar with guys. Nooooot yet.

Cheesy corned beef. I made it!
 Three exams and zero class absences or turn-down from responsibilities later (hell week), I am about to enjoy a LONG weekend. At my hometown. With my family. :)


On a serious note, is this moving on?
Instead of addressing notes to "you", you address it to "him"
Seeing the same familiar face as if it was a stranger's
Not having emotions attached during encounters
A loss of desperation towards knowing how he is
Actually believing that you could live your life apart
Accepting that it may not work
Trusting that life will work, but maybe not with him
Not really caring how it would work out
Just knowing it will
And carrying on with unusual certainty.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Street Food, All Good

Last year was my first S'mores party and I never got to taste one. This year, like a good comeback, I had three! :D Lots of things changed. I can't say if there was more people. Lyka said there was. But there sure was a better energy this year because everyone knows another person, and even though I don't know a lot of people, there is something about them that is already familiar even though they are new faces. :)

S'mores 2011!
This year, the theme is street style, so we had street food, street dance, street...er... group names. Street games? Not really. Haha! But it was nice to go to my second S'mores party realizing that the younger people are in charge this time. I'm so amazed by their dedication to the church. And more amazed by the growing numbers. I have an album of last year's party and this year's. It somehow showed who chose to commit after a year!

These girls are AMAZING :)
Best part is always the after-party. The dancing, singing and rapping. Church could be fun. :) There were tears the past weeks, but it never goes uncoupled with joy. It didn't end there, though :))

Taken by Wesley

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Isaacs


Things I believe in:

-Not letting circumstances define you
-Not letting "handicaps" or lack discourage you
-Not catastrophizing events (I am X therefore I'll be Y)
-Not playing the helpless victim
-Hoping
-Holding on to what you believe in
-Knowing you always have choices
-Carrying on

What was difficult for me just tonight was carrying the weight of my conviction.

I came to God as a brokenhearted woman, and overcoming it has not been very easy for the past few years. Until now I am still prone to thinking about it.. thinking "What if?".. to entertaining thoughts that I could tempt myself to choose the other one. The choice was inexplicably HARD. It throbs and overwhelms on some days... like tonight, after I thought I was over it (One can never be too un-careful).

And tonight, I'm blessed by the story of Abraham laying his son to the altar. It reminded to keep trusting God's promises. To endure these tests. To surrender, by faith, even the person that used to own my heart. I won't let this ruin anything or to make me doubt. His plan would work better than my own.

Monday, August 15, 2011

When All Else Fails...



New shirt! My closest cousin sells 'em online.
Yay for sisterly cousins!
Yay for entrepreneurs!
And yay for praying.

Today, I was slammed on the mat, trying to learn Judo.
Difficult, but necessary. I can feel my learning on my neck.
Today, I met with my cousin and realized how ambitious the two of us are.
Surprised when she said she was proud of and looks up to me. Wow..
Today, God improved relationships between the leadership team.
Though bogged down, our HOPE for each other was renewed.


Today, I feel eager to face tomorrow. :)
(though there's nothing that special)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Films of Fancy

For the past three weeks I've been frequenting the Film Institute watching these indie films from Cinemalaya, and the one hosted by JMA: Ligo na U Lapit na Me, Patikul, Ang Babae sa Septic Tank and last Friday, Senior Year. My favorite? Senior Year!


I liked how Senior Year portrayed a very natural setting. Contrary to what commercial series or films would have showed, it featured real-looking students who do not necessarily fit stereotypes. In teenage films, it's really a lot about who's The Jock? The Queen Bee? The Loser? But, really, high school personalities are fluid.


I guess it really made me appreciate college more. High school was totally fun. My high school friends and I are still closer than what is expected after four years (WOW). But to me, college was better, even without the  flings, drama, advisers, year-long classmates or easy subjects. 


In college I think I became more open about myself. I wouldn't say I've come out of my shell. As John Mayer's song puts it "I'd like to think the best of me is still hiding up my sleeve". But here, the years where you're supposed to have already figured out your life, I have more or less an idea of what I want to become. What I'm becoming.


"Wisdom".. minimum identity crisis.. experiencing the "outside world" (that is actually just the world). Wouldn't trade it for the past. The best years of life is now, and still to come. :)


Friday, August 12, 2011

Ensayo de Esperanza



Yo he estudiando la lengua Espanol por cuatro semestres en colegio, pero yo no muy bien en hablando todavia. Ahora, yo estoy escribiendo para decirle que yo estoy en mucho pena recientemente porque los gentes que yo admiro estan ausente desde este semestre, y yo no se por que. Nuestra equipo estamos cansado emocionalmente y espiritualmente. Yo creo que nosotros estamos buscando para los hermanos que conduciran la iglesia. Pero aunque nosotros estamos en una situacion dificil, yo estoy esperando todavia que nosotros quedamos fuerte durante este tiempo... Ojala que sobrevivimos!

Una trivialidades: el palabra de Espanol, esperar, significa "to hope" y tambien "to wait".

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Grace






Lemme just share an awesome experience today that I still have a hangover tonight :)

After lunch, Charina and I were supposed to have our second follow up, but she had to practice for her Speech subject with her partner. Now, Charina's other classmate in another subject, Joe, was also at the tambayan. When the partners went away to practice, Joe was left alone with us, so we introduced ourselves and talked. He's a freshman not allowed by his parents to join organizations. His block is not close. He was the only one in his high school to be in UP Diliman. He's sort of left to himself for this sem.

When Charina returned, she asked if we could still have our Bible study, even though there are only 30 minutes left before Joe's and her class.

"You sure you want us to have a BS?" I asked Charina.

"...BS?" Joe asked confusingly. "What's that?"

"Bible study," I said. "You want to join us?"

Now, Cha (not Charina, but our housechurch head) was also there. I was cluing him in to share to Joe. At first, separately, but then we stuck to having a group sharing. So we stepped away. I let Cha lead the sharing because I believed he will speak better for a guy, for Joe. He ran through the Bible verses about the Spiritual laws as we all listened. In the end, Cha asked if they wanted to pray to receive Christ, saying, "Does this prayer express the desire of your heart?"

Joe hesitated, "I think I am more living in the short term pleasures. I don't think I would be the one to commit to something long-term like God."

Cha went back to the verse at Ephesians and explained how it was not out of our own effort, but God's. Then, he asked again if they wanted to pray the prayer. They said yes. In my heart, I was afraid that he only felt compelled to pray because their classes are about to start.

Cha asked them to repeat after him as he prayed, ""Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be."

"Amen." We all said.

To our surprise, Joe asked, "Can I continue praying?"
"Uh, sure..."
He prayed so earnestly, so honestly, it surprised me. "Lord, I know that someday I will stumble and fall... But I pray that you would sustain me as I journey with you."

Can I just say that I almost wanted to cry tears of joy? He agreed for Bible studies this Thursday. So now, Charina and Dje, my follow-ups, will have Bible studies with Joe. A coed Bible study! Why not. Probably will share this one with Cha. The feeling after we said our second Amen was unexplainable. I was floating as I returned to the tambayan.

What happened was so, so amazing. It reminded me of how relevant God is to everyone.. Even with the person we least expect. Even with the guy we met just one afternoon. In under 30 minutes. Joe said he didn't want to commit to something long-term like God. Today, he just did.

Again, it feels like the first time. Leaves me breathless.

Friday, August 5, 2011

20 UPCAT memories

1. Not knowing what UP was until the month I was to take it - I really favored Ateneo back in high school, but I was destined to study in San Beda because I would have a scholarship if I do because of my mom.

2. Having only two choices for college: SBC or UP - I never took any other entrace exam aside from the two. To me it made me focus: I realized that the UPCAT is my ONE CHANCE to change my destiny. Haha.

3. Begging my parents to let me take an UPCAT review, even volunteering to pay for half of it - It was quite expensive and a bit crammed. My head would float by the end each 8am-5pm review session

4. Studying so hard to not wear uniforms in college - Ignorant of the so-called reputation/academic excellence/liberalism/cool stuff about UP, what I really was after was free clothing or the lack of uniform. My prime motivation actually!! The SBC college students have just started to wear uniforms and I didn't want that.

5. Filling out application forms as if making the biggest decision of my life - And in many ways it was. There were tons of choices. I felt insecure at how I even had to choose, instead of knowing exactly what I want. Oh the courses unheard of. I remember choosing Theater Arts and Communication Arts... and asking Mom what Sociology is!

6. Sleeping extremely late at night, hoping to review as much as I could - Mom stepped into my room the night before my UPCAT date, catching me reading page after page. "Hey, go to sleep! You need to be up early tomorrow" I ignored her and said, "No... I have to do this..." /You can call it desperation.

7. Waiting for a classmate's car at 5 in the morning with my other classmates - So thankful for that classmate! That time I felt so independent having no parent to accompany me, and so scared as well

8. New place - Staring above the windshield in Katipunan, at the canopy of trees, absorbing the feel of the campus, getting goosebumps passing by the Oblation

9. Long and winding roads of UP, not knowing where we are - They dropped us off an unknown place. My most memorable landmark was the metal cylinders at FA saying "You think you're in control? Ha ha ha! Bless your soul!" that my friend and I started chanting while walking briskly so as to not be late

10. Lengthy lines, strangers and familiar faces - Seeing former high school schoolmates, the dark rooms and seating arrangement, the proctor and the snacks beneath my chair. The thrill of it all

11. Not following instructions - Going ahead of the test even when we're not allowed to. Guilty.

12. Thinking what items to leave blank and what items to take a chance on - 40% right minus wrong rule

13. Panicking upon seeing some of the items in the Math and Science part written in the Filipino language - GOSH. I forgot the Filipino word for square root, but it was the first time I really encountered them!

14. Breezing through English and Reading Comprehension - Forte, or genes ;)

15. When I finally left the exam building, I left the results to its own, knowing that I did my best - There was no slight hint of worry or regret. Whatever answers I gave, I left with my test paper.

16. Eating my first UP food - Devil's food cake at ChocKiss!

17. Getting the results so many month after - I took SBC's entrance exam, but the result I was waiting for was really UP. When I learned I passed, I didn't even check!

18. Mom texting me "I'm so proud of you!" - We did not have Internet then, so I didn't get to check the UPCAT results the night my classmates did. Nobody told me till that morning. There were little tears of joy, grateful laughs and hands trembling.

19. Reading "Ayoko talaga ng Beda!!! Go UP!!!!" in big, red crayon marks at the back of my review book - I even took a picture of it and made it my phone wallpaper. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I dislike Beda, I just like UP better.

20. Knowing that life will never be the same again - And seeing that proved correct :)

It's one thing to pass. It's another to survive.
I'm yet to struggle through the latter! :)



Good luck, UPCAT takers!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dad's Birthday at Home

Last weekend, I went back to Cavite to be with Dad on the day of his birthday. Took some time to take pictures (below: gift from a poor girl. Haha)


My parents are not separated, just physically because of their work.



I only get to see Dad whenever he visits us every week, but I always feel like a princess when I'm at home.



Rizal is the place I consider home, although I have only lived here for about four years (a year in Laguna).



One time someone asked me, pointing at JJ, "Are you into photography?"
Without hesitation I replied, "No,"

Then stopped to think at how funny that was. ~Why did I buy a camera then?

Right now my definition of being "into photography" is being serious about improving photo outcomes, like buying accessories, post-processing... or someone who has attained a certain level of awesomeness/tricks. I don't think I have. Although I'm willing to learn. Haha. It's just that I just see it as "Iiking taking pictures".

Oh well, definitions.

Why hellooooo there, August! :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Always Fresh



For some reason, sharing the Word to someone feels like the first time every single time.

Two weeks ago, I shared with Charina, a freshman I met through five words. She was very excited for Bible studies that she immediately signed up for the next follow up (how amazing is that?). Cha was involved in a Christian community before, but when she left, she felt she was left alone in her faith.

At first I thought that I wouldn't share the Gospel to her anymore since she's probably familiar with it. In fact, we were sitting at the corridors with me carrying the FU 1, when something hit me: to get back to my bag and dig the Truths booklet, regardless if she already knows it or not. It proved to be right move that day.

She had TONS of questions as I go through the verses. "Why did Jesus have to die?" "How do you differentiate what's wrong from right?" and more. Did I mention that she was a Philosophy major?

I answered these questions eagerly. For some reason, I liked it when people seek answers, really. I like discussing and teaching. My faith has always been an intellectual experience for me, unlike what most people would say. Jesus had to die because we have to pay for our sins and we are not enough to pay for another person's sins. Christianity is not a democracy but a monarchy (as what I heard from Kuya Melvs). We don't define what's wrong or right... not culture or tradition or social change. There is an objective reality, an objective truth that God upholds and that is our guiding path.

Eyes pondering and with a smiling meaningfully, she accepted Christ. I told her that while God is intellectually enriching, he is more than intellect. I told her there may come a time when I can't answer her questions, and that she should not think that my wisdom parallels that of God. I haven't figured it all out, and thinking you know all the answers, I told her, is actually dangerous. The real challenge of faith is when it does not make sense.

I realized after I shared with her that God asked us to love him with all our minds... but not minds alone. There is the love from the heart when life becomes painful, from our strength when we are kicked to the dirt, from soul when the temptation is intense. Sharing the Gospel was as meaningful to her as it was to me.