Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Warrior

“When I become a warrior?”

“A warrior is not something you become, Dan. It is something that you either are, in this moment, or something that you are not. The Way itself creates a warrior.”

One of the joys of reading is that it provides a mirror for our own lives and our relationships. I just finished reading Dan Millman’s “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior”. I could have much appreciation of the book had I read it 10 years ago. But it was nice to look back and evaluate myself every now and then. It would be pathetic to know that I’ve been opinionated to a lot of things but myself.

One of my close friends had told me that I seemed so calm and serene despite the amount of burdens I’m facing. She couldn’t believe the things I have gone through and yet managed to laugh it all away. Having been thoroughly tested in every possible way, even when I temporarily failed, I always find myself picking up the pieces and starting all over again. I don’t believe in regrets and nothing happens by chance. I realized you’ll always be at peace with yourself as long as you know how to step back and always ready to think of new solutions without carrying the burden of the past. That’s how I maintain my balance. Over the years, I had build up a faith that is as solid as a rock that stands through life’s wind, be they calm or stormy.


I’m so bummed about my Dentist appointment this afternoon. I was expecting it would be my last (monthly) Dentist trip. Ah, it’s just one thing after another. They found that the post (root canal) is fractured- leaving a small space on my tooth for the bacteria to build up. That explains why I get swollen gum occasionally. Then, they’re gonna do a tooth implant or a bridge. The hardest part is that it’s right next to the wisdom tooth. Bummer! Geeee, I couldn’t believe spending 15grand for my teeth. On the brighter side, I’m just grateful that I’m healthy all these times. Yes, I’m sound and whole but my teeth problems.

Well, it is what it is. I guess, I should just be counting my blessings^-^

Bored Rebel

The most baffling motivation I always hear with the neighbors when another neighbor got a new TV or any new appliances were these: “Rich people are crooks” or “Money is grubby and evil” or “I am poor but clean and good” or “I don’t want to have money and be stuck up”.

I just can’t understand why they say those things instead of being happy for them. Envy is very common in a close neighborhood, I guess. Or should I say, very prevalent in our culture especially in the political arena. As a kid, I kept thinking that if I get prosperous someday, I will be one of their topics. It’s either good or bad. You’ll be good if you feed them or give them drinks and in return, they’ll give you enormous sweet talks.

After years of working abroad and understanding another culture, I felt so free for the first time. I realized that a lot about my culture and beliefs had stayed so much and had prevented people to prosper. Even when opportunity knocks on the door, they still refuse to acknowledge it somehow. There has been a lot of these old, limited thinking. Perhaps these mentalities were developed during the Spanish-era where most of our ancestors became slaves. Yet, those days were 100 years old!

A cousin sent me this email telling how poverty is killing our country, etc.
"Sometime in November 2008, near ten o’clock in the evening I passed by a hill of garbage. I saw a father and two kids shoving over the piles of trash. They were able to get plastic containers and some metals. It was dark and soft rains were beginning to wet the grounds.

I greeted them, “Magandang gabi po.Kumusta po kayo.” (Good evening. How are you?)
“Magandang gabi po ma’m. Pasensya na po kayo.” (Good evening ma’am. We apologize.)
“Hindi po ako ma’am. Kapwa –tao rin po ninyo. Bakit po kayo nagpapapsenysa. Hindi naman kayo gumagawa ng masama” (I’m not a ma’am. I am your fellow. You do not need to apologize. You are not doing anything wrong.)"

It’s pretty common conviction in our culture that people don’t deserve to prosper. Or they’re not good enough to make money. Or they just let their environment control them by saying “My parents were poor and I will be poor”. I mean, it’s sad. It’s very depressing to know that most people are jammed and imprisoned by that belief. They are like eagles who forgot that they have wings and that they can fly as high as they wanted to.

To me, prosperity is the choice to do what you want to do. It is not about the amount of money but a state of mind. It is all about exploring God’s given talent and skills and enjoying it to the fullest. And with that note, you are giving it back since we cannot posses anything and it will pass on eventually. That’s the reality and natural flow of life- things come and go. And when something leaves, it’s only making space for something fresh and better^-^.

Monday, April 27, 2009


I’m happy with my diet plan. I’m not starving or struggling with being hungry all the time. I wake up early in the morning to cook breakfast and lunch. It’s a good thing that my husband is sticking on his diet too. Although this time, I’m not weighing myself. I’m trying to build some muscles and so I just measure myself. It has been two weeks and the result is all the more motivating. No, I’m not talking about 10-20lbs. It’s just the stubborn 6lbs. that makes myself size 1 from size 0. I’m very stingy when it comes to shopping clothes. I just love wearing the same jeans until it’s worn out. So, I know when I need to shed off some weight coz my jeans are uncomfortable. Besides, summer is approaching. We are planning to have a vacation in Hawaii for our wedding anniversary and more bikini moments in the river or Lake Mead soon.

Anyway, we had a blast last Friday night at the bowling alley right after a hearty dinner at Blue Water Grill. As you know, anything that moves in the sea- ah, I love those, lol! I did eat more than I’m supposed to but that’s fine. And we had a wonderful time bowling. I never had a strike but had spare a lot of times. You know, I’ve never been to a bowling alley like that before. It’s a very interesting place, looked like a club where the balls and pins had those disco lights. It’s both lane and a lounge. It’s surprisingly pricey though. I can just recall those times when we go bowling in college as part of our PE. Everything is so manual from scoring to putting the pins back, haha! Gone are those era.
Last night, Lu taught me how to do the “mosaic clay”. It’s a pretty neat hobby. The hardest part is making the fimo clay soft. I’m hoping to make some frames to put in the bedroom and offices and perhaps some jewelry too. Ah, I can’t wait to get out of work and grab some more beads, clay, paint and rubber stamps at Michaels.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Invasion

According to Anthony Burgess of New York Times Book Review, C.S. Lewis “Mere Christianity” book is the ideal persuader for the half-convinced, for the good man who would like to be a Christian but finds his intellect getting in the way.” I must agree.

CS Lewis is popular for his powerful and rational case for the Christian faith. He had always been quoted for most of the books that I have read. Unfortunately, I can’t find any of his books in our bookstore. A day after I arrived here, my husband brought me to one of the oldest missions in California. Ah, you just don’t know how happy I was to finally able to get hold to one of his books in the mission’s tiny bookstore.

Until now, I kept glancing into the books that had helped me and gave me some sort of deeper insights on a lot of things. Here's a simple glimpse of that:

“Very well then, atheism is too simple. And I will tell you another view that is also too simple. It is the view I call Christianity-and-water, the view which simply says there is a good God in Heaven and everything is all right—leaving out all the difficult and terrible doctrines about sin and hell and the devil, and the redemption. Both these are boys’ philosophies.

It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all real things are not simple. They look simple, but they are not. The table I am sitting at looks simple: but ask a scientist to tell you what it is really made of—all about the atoms and how the light waves rebound from them and hit my eye and what they do to the optic nerve and what it does to my brain—and, of course, you find that what we call seeing a table’ lands you in mysteries and complications which you can hardly get to the end of, A child saying a child’s prayer looks simple. And if you are content to stop there, well and good. But if you are not—and the modern world usually is not—if you want to go on and ask what is really happening—then you must be prepared for something difficult. If we ask for something more than simplicity, it is silly then to complain that the something more is not simple.

Very often, however, this silly procedure is adopted by people who are not silly, but who, consciously or unconsciously, want to destroy Christianity. Such people put up a version of Christianity suitable for a child of six and make that the object of their attack. When you try to explain the Christian doctrine as it is really held by an instructed adult, they then complain that you are making their heads turn round and that it is all too complicated and that if there really were a God they are sure He would have made ‘religion’ simple, because simplicity is so beautiful, etc. You must be on your guard against these people for they will change their ground every minute and only waste your time. Notice, too, their idea of God ‘making religion simple’; as if ‘religion’ were something God invented, and not His statement to us of certain quite unalterable facts about His own nature.

Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have. So let us leave behind all these boys’ philosophies-these over-simple answers. The problem is not simple and the answer is not going to be simple either.”
--- CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Funny Recollections

“There are people who will come around anytime to pick kids and sell them to the Muslims”, an Aunt had warned us. We were silent for a while but we started screaming and running around again after few minutes.

One time, my Mom came home with sad news. She said, it’s going to be the end of the world and the “666” or the Devil Cult will ruin the world. Somebody broke the news in their office and had presented some horrible evidences. I didn’t quiet comprehend the story but I was definitely bothered. I was so scared to die at that time. She said, we have to be prepared all the time and repent our sins.

One morning, my friend cried when we were going out on the streets, pointing and shouting at the plane on the skies. She was so nervous and restless, looking for a place to hide. Planes seldom appear in our skies. So we had to scream out loud, hoping that the plane would hear us. Most of us were happy but my friend. Her parents told her that if planes are around, there’s going to be a lot of bombing and the war will start.

When we were kids, we always hear the older people telling us not to go far away from our house. There are humans and fairies that will kidnap us. And so, when a neighbor happily announced that a huge truck full of Muslims was stranded on the mainland, I was jumping for joy. I thought we had won the war! He said there were tons of guns on the truck too. The Muslims are coming to visit and tour the island but when the coast guard saw the guns, they refused to let them board. I had thought we are living in a safe haven and nobody can conquer our island!

Looking back, I can just laugh at all those ignorant observations of our elders. I don’t blame them. My husband would call it verbal abuse though.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


My husband called me this afternoon at the office, a little disappointed. His best friend invited us for a dinner. It’s their wedding anniversary. Jim insisted that maybe we can reschedule it coz Idol is on tonight.

“Dude, my day off is only Tuesdays and Wednesdays. You’ve been declining my invitations for months now because of Idol!” My husband relayed the message to me on the phone. I could hear his distress. I couldn’t help but laugh- to both of us. I was speechless too when he asked me if I want to go.

Okay, they’re very nice couple. We have been planning of inviting them for a dinner. We’ve always been invited for every party they have in their house but since I arrived here- I don’t remember inviting them over. Yes, I’m guilty of that. My husband and I are not that party people though. We neither drink nor love any of those “fine dining”. We’re pretty much casual and ordinary people. Anyway, we owe them big time now.

I have been suggesting him to get DVR for times like this. He thought it’s a waste of money. We even have HBO, TFC, etc. but never really had time to sit and watch movies except on weekends. I’m not a TV person either and so it doesn’t matter.

Okay, better get going. Still it's blazing hot today. We're still on the 90's... argghhh! I had a little sunburn yesterday from spending too much time outside. We went to get some empty balikbayan boxes from LBC with friends :)

Unsung Hero

Wow! It’s cooking in the office today, lol. We had a wonderful weekend driving on the Pacific Coast with the bike. It was just too hot to stay at home.

Anyway, my husband sent a video to me. I thought it’s extraordinary. And so I did a little research about Irena Sendler’s life. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 but lost to Al Gore’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (slideshows). Sendler's story was brought to light in the United States when students of Kansas found it described in a magazine and popularized it through their play, Life in a Jar.
According to Wiki:
Irena Sendler was a Polish Catholic social worker. During World War II in German-occupied Warsaw, Poland, she was a member of the Polish Underground and the Żegota resistance organization.

In December 1942 the newly created Żegota (the Council to Aid Jews) nominated her (by her cover name Jolanta) to head its children's section. As an employee of the Social Welfare Department, she had a special permit to enter the Warsaw Ghetto to check for signs of typhus, something that the Nazis feared would spread beyond the Ghetto. During these visits, she wore a Star of David as a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people and so as not to call attention to herself.

She cooperated with the Children's Section of the Municipal Administration, linked with the RGO (Central Welfare Council), a Polish relief organization that was tolerated under German supervision. She organized the smuggling of Jewish children out of the Ghetto, carrying them out in boxes, suitcases and trolleys. Under the pretext of conducting inspections of sanitary conditions during a typhoid outbreak, Sendler visited the Ghetto and smuggled out babies and small children in ambulances and trams, sometimes disguising them as packages. She also used the old courthouse at the edge of the Warsaw Ghetto (still standing) as one of the main routes for smuggling out children.

The children were placed with Polish families, the Warsaw orphanage of the Sisters of the Family of Mary, or Roman Catholic convents such as the Little Sister Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary Conceived Immaculate at Turkowice and Chotomów. Some children were smuggled to priests in parish rectories. She hid lists of their names in jars in order to keep track of their original and new identities. Żegota assured the children that, when the war was over, they would be returned to Jewish relatives.

In 1943 Sendler was arrested by the Gestapo, severely tortured, and sentenced to death. Żegota saved her by bribing German guards on the way to her execution. She was left in the woods, unconscious and with broken arms and legs. She was listed on public bulletin boards as among those executed. For the remainder of the war, she lived in hiding, but continued her work for the Jewish children. After the war, she dug up the jars containing the children's identities and attempted to find the children and return them to their parents. However, almost all of their parents had been killed at the Treblinka extermination camp or had gone missing otherwise.

After the war, she was at first persecuted by the communist Polish state authorities for her relations with the "capitalist bourgeois" Polish government in exile and with the "reactionary" Home Army. She was imprisoned, she miscarried her second child, and her children were denied the right to study at Polish universities.

In 1965 Sendler was recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations, which was confirmed in 1983 by the Israeli Supreme Court. She also was awarded the Commander's Cross by the Israeli Institute. It was only that year that the Polish communist government allowed her to travel abroad, to receive the award in Israel.

In 2003 Pope John Paul II sent Sendler a personal letter praising her wartime efforts. On 10 October 2003 Sendler received the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest civilian decoration, and the Jan Karski Award "For Courage and Heart," given by the American Center of Polish Culture in Washington, D.C..

On 14 March 2007 Sendler was honored by Poland's Senate. At age 97, she was unable to leave her nursing home to receive the honor, but she sent a statement through Elżbieta Ficowska, whom Sendler had saved as an infant. Polish President Lech Kaczyński stated that she "can justly be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize" (though nominations are supposed to be kept secret). On 11 April 2007, aged 97, she received the Order of the Smile as the oldest recipient of the award.

She died May 12, 2008 at Warsaw, Poland.
"Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory".
—Letter to Polish Parliament


Friday, April 17, 2009

A Blissful Gratitude!

As far as I can remember, I wrote small notes to myself about everything. They were simply reminders, passages that glitters in every book that I read, some are observations and unripe thoughts or collection of cropped newspaper’s articles. This way, I could recollect and identify the feelings and mixed thoughts at the instant.

I carried the same attitude until college. And life seemed to work closely as I planned. I was expecting enormous hardships. I had trained my mind and heart to hang on. Perhaps that was the easiest part. I don’t have to complain and I just go with the flow. It worked pretty well and so naturally for me.

I had written a lot of famous quotes, unrefined emotions, movie snippets, and friend’s favorite lines all over my notebooks and even on my test papers, lol! One of my college instructors had noticed it one day. And with those simple notes, born a connection. It is as if he knew me all along. I just assumed he can relate. We probably had the same thing in common. I was too shy to ask. He’s been there, done that- I just guessed. He never goes out of the class without opening my notes and would ask – what that certain phrase means to me? It was strange at first but later on, I get it. He unselfishly shared some pieces of wisdom and continues to inspire me to never give up. One of the unforgettable phrase that had retained in my mind until now is this metaphor of him: “Math is like Basketball. At first, you thought it’s easy to play yet when you actually play it- you’d be surprised to find out how difficult it is. However, with persistence and practice, you’ll master it”. Later years in college, I had found that metaphor so simple yet so true.

I had collected numerous bits and pieces of wisdom over the years. It is like breathing to me. I had shared a lot of those in this blog and if you’re a regular visitor, you probably noticed it. Most of it came from my favorite authors whom I considered “Modern Prophets”.

Hence, the birth of this blog a year ago because of exactly the same attitude. Okay, I didn’t stop collecting. It is a mixed bag of my thoughts, reflections, insights and some of my personal stories. Half of it is passages from books that might convey joys, inspirations and comfort in one way or another.

Yay! It’s been a year of blogging and counting! I’m grateful for all your support all these time and for taking time to read or leave some comments. Although some of it I don’t really agree with but hey, it’s free! It’s all so true that we may see the same thing but looked at it in different ways. And truth is an endless path just like real diamonds- it glitters in various directions depending on how the light shines. Sometimes, all we have to do is set aside all our assumptions, put away the entire mind’s clatters and listen… then and only then, can we appreciate the true power of listening.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Quiet Self

Without solitude of some sort there is and can be no maturity. Unless one becomes empty and alone, he cannot give himself in love because he does not possess the deep self which is the only gift worthy of love. And this deep self, we immediately add, cannot be possessed. My deep self is not “something” which I acquire, or to which I “attain” after a long struggle. It is not mine, and cannot become mine. It is no “thing”—no object. It is “I.”

The shallow “I” of individualism can be possessed, developed, cultivated, pandered to, satisfied: it is the center of all our strivings for gain and for satisfaction, whether material or spiritual. But the deep “I” of the spirit, of solitude and love, cannot be “had,” possessed, developed, and perfected. It can only be, and act according to deep inner laws which are not of man’s contriving, but which come from God. They are the Laws of the Spirit, who, like the wind, blows where He wills (John 3:8). This inner “I,” who is always alone, is always universal: for in this inmost “I” my own solitude meets the solitude of every other man and the solitude of God.
---Thomas Merton, Choosing to Love the World

Island's Timeless Life

When I was a kid, time appeared at a halt. I always find myself being impatient. I couldn’t care less of the present situation. Yet, as I thrust myself onto my middle years, time seemed reduced. I was trapped looking for justice and peace at some things that’s really disturbing me while growing up. No, I’m not talking about mysticism or holiness. I’m talking about the distinctive implication of a “timeless life” has for Kamigingnons.

To my neighbors and married relatives, “timeless life” is waking up with the chicken’s clucking so early in the morning and doing the laundry while watching their favorite TV shows in the afternoon. To my father, “timeless life in the island” is going to his farm in the morning and a “karaoke” time with friends before dinner. To my mother, “timeless life in the island” is eating sea foods, leafy vegetables and surrendering herself at the balcony on twilights while talking loudly to some neighbors that passes by. To Kamigingnons, “timeless life in the island” is a reunion with neighbors along the streets before sunrise and after sunset. To the innocent kids, “timeless life in the island” means playing on some empty roads, screaming endlessly in the fields, and swimming eternally on the blue seas. To tourists, “timeless life in the island” is exploring the paradise within.

So, why do “Kamigingnons” choose to stay in the island where life seemed so slow and opportunities don’t come so easy? Why do they prefer to come back after finishing a degree from popular universities in the country? Why do “Kamigingnons” love to retire in the island after saving so much money from working here in the US? Why do “Kamigingnons” decide to live in the island where there’s only one small theatre and no big shopping malls? Why do “Kamingingnons” opt to reside in the island when there’s not enough medical assistance available?

And for just a simple reason: life in the island is worthwhile. We love knowing our neighbors more and care for each other like a big, intimate community. We’re just happy knowing that eating a healthy meal is enough to worry about. And asking for some leafy vegetables, a small amount of rice or grain of salt from a neighbor is tolerable. We are assured that when we cry for help in the middle of the night, neighbors will be swarming around and are always ready to help. We’re not bothered so much about our health problems and wished to die not knowing the scientific terms. We relied so much that our faith will heal us. And if there’s no way to survive, we’re certain that life is worth living.

We don’t have to put through all the traffic jams and heavy pollutions. We may not have the largest productions/industries and highways but we enjoy our natural resources- the cold, hot springs, the two- smaller white islands, clean beaches and the breathe of fresh air. We take pleasure in its serenity.

All of these that I had enjoyed while growing up in a tiny island. The simple things that only simple and ordinary people can appreciate and if you’re grateful enough, you’ll learn to discern that living within your means is like living in paradise.

"Camiguin is a small island province of the Philippines off the northern coast of Mindanao.It is composed of 5 small towns and a population of 81,923. The main occupation of the people is fishing and farming, with copra providing the greatest income contribution. Other plantations are rice, mangoes, lanzones and other fruit trees." ---Wiki

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Increasing Obstacle to Maritime Trade

We have been following the news about the first American ship that was captured in a wave of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia. Indeed, very interesting circumstances that turned out to be a successful process. A heroic move of Capt. Richard Phillips who had saved the lives of his crew and above all, his own life. It was such a great act of faith. Oh, I can’t wait to watch it on the movie soon, lol!

You know, it always scares me whenever I hear piracy (hijacking) news. Most of my high school friends worked as a sailor or it’s more popular to us as “seaman”. I can just recall how they dreamed of becoming a sailor someday just to tour around the world. In fact, my baby brother is now on his last year in college and worked as an OJT in a shipping company (Interisland) in the Philippines.

It’s quiet a lonely job but they’re paid better. Even two of my close friends were married to sailors. They seemed prepare for the long separation and the absence. And if they’re lucky, the wife can get pregnant whenever the husband takes off to work.

Well, I hope this piracy issue will soon be stopped and resolved. I just can’t help but worry for my brother and some other Filipinos who are most likely to encounter such situations. The majority of the ship, if not all had some Filipinos (crew/captain) and then few other nationalities working on it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I was so excited to find out that we have an early mass come Easter Sunday at church. I mean, not as early as 4AM just like at my hometown but it's quiet close. It is a sunrise outdoor mass at 5:30.

One of the fondest memories I had on Holy Week is the Easter’s Alleluia. Angels will be singing “Alleluia” on a 10-foot high man made stage. It’s always a blissful memory as our Dad will carry us to the location so early in the morning. There’s this particular little girl who sings like an angel, touching our hearts and leaving the whole crowd in great admiration. I can’t help but imagine the Easter story to be so real, so amazing! I’m always so mesmerized about the Easter story our Mom had told us. The superb story that until now had captured my heart with so much ecstasy.

“The next evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased burial spices to put on Jesus' body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they came to the tomb. On the way they were discussing who would roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb. But when they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone - a very large one - had already been rolled aside. So they entered the tomb, and there on the right sat a young man clothed in a white robe. The women were startled, but the angel said, "Do not be so surprised. You are looking for Jesus, the Nazarene, who was crucified. He isn't here! He has been raised from the dead! Look, this is where they laid His body. Now go and give this message to His disciples, including Peter: Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you before He died!" The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, saying nothing to anyone because they were too frightened to talk.” (Mark:16)

The message of Easter is simple and clear: Life is stronger than death. Death has lost its sting and that we are all bound for glory. "But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them." (Luke 24:11)

Christians believed that the resurrection of Jesus happened in a time and place in History. It is the core of each and every teaching of Christianity. Either we believe it or not, Jesus is risen! Death is a great mystery. If we believe it, then we can trust that every death will lead to a new life. It is in Easter mystery that we are reminded time and time again that the two things over which we have no power- sin and death- are not invincible powers. Jesus has broken the bonds of sin and disperse the darkness of death. It is in the beauty of Easter that we are reassured that life conquers death.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Reflections

The angels had a problem with pride. That’s where Lucifer went astray. He attributed all the gifts God gave him to himself. And so, as a result, no one could be greater than him. He didn’t particularly mind that the Most High was above him, but no one else could be next to the Most High, ‘to find out that human beings, a man and a woman, would be above him was more than he could take. So he said, “I will not serve”. This is happening today. Pride of the intellect, pride of will, and pride of spiritual gifts are everywhere.

In the Gospel, Our Lord is very lenient on those who have moral failings. You have the woman taken in adultery, the prostitute, the thieves, the tax collectors- pretty big sinners. Jesus had great compassion for these people. They all suffered from sins of weakness, physical and emotional weakness. The sin of pride is a different matter. He seemed to have no compassion for the Pharisees. When we arrive at that great pride that says, “I will not serve,” we have essentially denied the existence of God.

All falls are gradual. Man is not like a stone rolling downhill. Man falls very slowly—almost unconsciously. He slips gradually over a long period of time. We are creatures of habit, and if we have acquired a habit of goodness, it is difficult to fall quickly. The fall usually comes bit by bit. It’s like daily prayer. Things crowd in on you, so you cut it short. The next day something else comes up. The next day you skip it. You keep this up for days, and weeks, and months, and the first thing you know you have stopped praying altogether. It has been so gradual, and now you have so many things to do, and so many places to go, prayer is a torture. If it isn’t practiced regularly, sanctity can slip away in the same fashion.
---Mother Angelica, Little Book of Life's Lessons and Everyday Spirituality


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Winged Heart

The rebirth of which Christ speaks is not a single event but a continuous dynamic of inner renewal. Certainly, sacramental baptism, the “birth by water,” can be given only once. But birth in the Spirit happens many times in a man’s life, as he passes through successive stages of spiritual development. A false and superficial view of Christianity assumes that it is enough to be baptized with water and to observe certain ethical and ritual prescriptions in order to guarantee for oneself a happy life in the other world. But this is only a naïve view of Christianity. True Christianity is growth in the life of the Spirit, a deepening of the new life, a continuous rebirth, in which the exterior and superficial life of the ego-self is discarded like an old snake skin and the mysterious, invisible self of the Spirit becomes more present and active. The true Christian rebirth is a renewed transformation, a “Passover” in which man is progressively liberated from selfishness and not only grows in love but in some sense “becomes love.” The perfection of the new birth is reached where there is no more selfishness, there is only love. In the language of the mystics there is no more selfishness, there is only love. The perfect illumination is then the illumination of Love shining by itself.
---Choosing to Love the World, Thomas Merton

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Road to Via Cruzes

The weather is so warm today. It made me think of my hometown. The Holy week had just started. I missed going on a procession and the Stations of the Cross as early as 4AM. The ritual and reflections of Jesus’ passion is very much felt in our culture.

It is pretty busy in the island at this time of the year. A lot of local tourists go for a hike all around the island. Devout Catholics from all walks of life undergo penitence by walking the island’s 64-km circumferential road. I can only remember having so much fun staying at the roadside counting all the groups of people walking. All of my cousins would love to spend the Holy Week in the island to join the fun. I don’t recall it being so solemn. I even wished (as a kid) I can join the fun too! My Mom won’t allow us to go with some of our older cousins. She detests the idea of that yearly devotion called “Panaad”. She thought it’s a senseless sacrifice. We should just stay at home and go to church all throughout the Holy Week instead of going somewhere else.

Well, she maybe right. I had experienced it only once. I don’t want to leave the island without knowing what it really means. The whole journey was fun for the first 5 hours. We arrived at the highlight of the whole activity which is the Stations of the Cross around midnight. It is an uphill walk. Boy, I felt like I wanted to give up half-way. It’s unbelievably so exhausting. Who told me to do this? I thought. We slept on the grass on the roadside together with some other people with just our backpacks as our pillow. After a couple of hours, we started trekking once again before the sun comes out.

It was definitely hot and humid. The heat had worn us out. We never talked anymore. We even go ahead and far from each other. We’re just catching up later on. The dust is very exasperating. The backpack felt so much heavy. My feet were already swollen and I was walking with a stick for a few miles. If we stop, it would take us days to get back home. We walked as much as we can and try to rest for few minutes to eat.

Some residents were so nice to prepare free water and snacks. We wanted to finish the whole trek for just 2 days and one night. In fact, we did. It was quiet an experience. Whew! I would never do that again:)

Have I Told You Lately that I Loved You?

That’s the theme of the Holy Week. The gospel last Sunday (Palm Sunday) was one of my favorites of all time. It’s quiet long but very surreal to me. In fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 62:11 & Zechariah 9:9), Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The crowds lined the street shouting "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." (Psalm 118:25-26) They placed palm branches and robes in front of Jesus. This was particularly disturbing to the Pharisees who were jealous of Jesus. They insisted that Jesus silence the crowd, but he replied that even if the crowd were silent, the stones would cry out.

For me, the part that’s very remarkable was when Jesus told His disciples that it would be the time when their faith will be shaken. True enough, Judas betrayed Him for 30 silver coins after the Last Supper and Peter denied Him three times.

And the part that’s very confusing to me was this: “But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born." (Matt 26:24)

Even His close followers did not really understand the events of Palm Sunday and Holy Week until after Jesus returned. There are things that are still unanswered but I gave up on that; instead, I started living with the questions and there I have found the answers. I can’t really fathom with the depths of my understanding but I felt it in my heart. And that’s where I will nurture it. And that is enough for me.

As what St. Vincent Ferrer had said, “Christ, the Master of humility manifests His Truth only to the humble and hides Himself from the proud.”

Day by Day To-Do-List

I have been missing that strong part of me: being self-disciplined. As a kid, I had already set a pattern of doing things according to my to-do-lists. Well, up until I slowed down a bit few years ago. Now, I felt like it’s time to reclaim that attitude. Be more aggressive and in control of the things that I have the power with.

I’m reading this book regarding “how to successfully drop those last stubborn few pounds” in 30 days. It talks about macro nutrients and well, more willpower. Keeping a to-do-list is one of the strategies- the thing that I had mastered for a long time. So, it sort of tests that practice once more.

Being in my early 30’s, things had changed considerably and had warned me to be more careful. I’m a person who’s very petrified with surgeries (knock on the wood). I’m such a chicken when it comes to physical pain. I take care of myself as much as I could.

The book is very educational and I liked the part where I have to follow the patterns (meal plans with recipes and exercise) according to my body type. I refused to get a personal trainer because it’s way too expensive. I’d rather do it in my own pace and I believe I can. Hmm... Jim and I decided it’s going to start this Monday.

Okay, I have to start making my to-do-list^-^.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another Weekend

My husband had a cold last Saturday. It was weird coz it didn’t last long. We were so panicked. Last year, I had the annoying cough for almost a month. I even went to the doctor but he never found any infections at all. Two weeks later, Jim got it. It was worse though coz he had it for so long, almost 2 months! It was so strange. We both never had that kind of cough before.

Anyway, my Momma guppy gave birth to another set of babies last night. Geee… we didn’t even noticed she was preggo. I thought she’s only getting fat (like me, lol!). We just unconfined her first set of babies – a week ago. It’s getting out of control now. There maybe 50 or so fish in my 8-gallon tank. She did eat some of her new babies. I felt so bad. I didn’t have enough time to put her in her breeding box. Somehow, that took care of the problem though. Poor baby guppies:( I really had to bring back the Momma to Pet Store.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lens of Peace

I was so excited to finally able to see and discover the place my close friend has been talking about. I only met her for few months. Yet, the brief encounter had opened up a whole new perspective and candidness. Most of our conversations would always go back to our deeply-rooted past in the indigenous era. Both being born in a generation where everything seemed so primitive and basic; we definitely had a spur of connection right away. We were so much thirsty of the new challenges and adventures and yet, we kept coming back to old, golden memories in our home town.

I was so amazed at how slow; quieter, more remote her place had been compared to the island where I came from. She told me we’re going to walk 2 miles to get to the river and hopefully we could catch the small boat that would take us to their locale. I don’t even see any houses along the way. Oh, this is something fun, I thought.

We arrived at the river and apparently, it’s only a 10-meter wide and probably deeper. There were only few houses in the neighborhood and it’s covered with coconut trees. It’s pretty stimulating and very peaceful.

Her Mom was so excited to see us and quickly introduced us to the relatives. The kids were swarming around us a few minutes later. They were all so excited to go diving in the river.

“Are you coming with us tomorrow?” one of the kids asked. “It’s going to be fun!” they all shouted cheerfully.

Oh, that was so striking. I couldn’t believe B’s friends are all so excited to see her. She was asking for some updates and they were talking like they had established a closer bond and her being their Master. The kids most likely were only 8-11 years old!

I awoke the next morning with the roosters’ cock-a-doodle-do and the kid’s laughter outside the house. I haven’t checked the river and so I was so thrilled to be part of the group. Although it was a little awkward going out with a bunch of kids. Much to my dismay, the river is a little muddy. There were a few Moms doing their laundry, some clothes were dried on the rocks and a few carabaos lying sluggishly in the warm water. I felt like I don’t want to get in the water, looked so nasty to me. But I don’t want to insult my friend nor ruin the kid’s excitement.

They were all screaming while they do their tricks and talents on diving from the high cliff and from the trees as they stretch themselves unto the river. They did some acrobatic sling on a rope that bounces back and forth before they free themselves and jump with the matching yell like Tarzan or madman. I thought that was so amusing!

“Oh, she doesn’t know how to swim”, my friend told them hysterically. “What? But she’s already big, she should know how to swim!” one kid said sheepishly.

All of a sudden, I forgot all about the dirty water and the smelly carabaos that are swimming a few meters away from us. I was so embarrassed by such innocent comment of a 4-year old who evidently can do better things than me.

And if there’s one thing so memorable about that summer vacation, it is the experience and the immersion as I engaged myself to a different standpoint, unique lifestyles. I had developed a lifetime appreciation of looking beyond. I have come to understand that people sometimes act or behave according to what their environment had trained them.

My friend is one of those intelligent, classy and brilliant persons I’ve met and it’s a little sad to know that her parents didn’t seem to realize it.

Meet Kingsford

My husband sent me this video of a piglet called, Kingsford who thinks he's a pup. He knows that I’m such a pork-eater. In our culture except for Muslims, pig is pretty much a food to us than an animal or a pet. We eat almost everything on it. So, when Jim told me that Chelsea, my sister-in-law’s pig died of old age, I was so shocked. He said Chelsea has been around for over 10 years. Wow! It was unbelievable. Actually, pigs don’t live that long in our culture. They’re roasted and eaten as early as 3 month-old; otherwise, it won’t taste as good.

Anyway, the video is so cute and I replied my husband- telling him how lucky Kingsford is! He responded “Maybe you didn't know but "Kingsford" is the name of our most popular BBQ charcoal. LOL”. Ouch! Then, after a series of emails he then told me this: “Does your boss know you’re playing with emails?” Okay, he’s at home right now and he’d be around to sign some checks. Back to work for me:)

Oh, I forgot. Here’s that video. Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Book Lovers

My in-laws were at the office last Tuesday for a Family Partnership meeting. It was sort of a family reunion. I was so glad Judy brought a box full of new books. We have asked her about it before but unfortunately, they were in Australia for a vacation. She owns a children’s bookstore and sells it to a lot of schools around LA County. I was so glad she spared me some. I know she gives to charities too. She said they were fairly new but with a little damage on it and they can’t sell it anymore. Most companies just want them to keep it and so it goes to the box and off to the Philippines. Yay!

I was so impressed talking to my niece on the phone last week. I heard her speech which she delivered in school during their recognition program. She’s only 5 years old and she’s so fluent. It’s amazing how she’s able to memorize a 4-paragraph speech. And now that she can already read, I’m sure she can appreciate all the children’s books (something I don’t have when I was a kid). My Mom told me she’s like me- really loves reading.

Hopefully, we can donate some of it to the public day care too :) Good thing Judy offered to send more books every 4 months. Awesome! My sister-in-law had the reputation of being so nice and sincere.

Don't Forget Some Humor

So, how’s your April fools day? A month ago, Jim already planned on freaking B at work. He’s been stressing out so much of the sales lately and the fiscal year had started good. He needs to keep up with the sales from last year. Being said that, Jim is determined to give him a prank mail from 2 of our major accounts. A letter that says they’re going to cancel/drop our products (which is a real bummer- knock on the wood). I’m not quiet sure about the idea. I know B would be very devastated with that news. So, I kept the old envelopes and had all the plans rolling. The moment my husband arrived at the office, he gave the envelopes to B. He was so panicked, cussing and depressed. The next minute, he knew it. Oh, he’s so slick and that’s why he got the job!

We all need to add a generous amount of humor in our lives if we have to cope up all the odds. Having a sense of humor is an extraordinary talent. If you can laugh away all your struggles and pains, then you’re golden! Yes, that’s one thing I liked the most about my husband. Although I admit that sometimes they’re way too much. I mean, all the boys at work. I remembered hearing them laughing because B found out the video that I make for some kind of sponsored post few months back. I uploaded it on YouTube and saved it on B’s computer which obviously, I forgot about it. My software doesn’t work at that time. Anyway, my husband (on the phone) was telling me that the video was so embarrassing and worse, it made it to yahoo that day. Geeee, I was so panicked and I could hear B playing the video over and over again while A was laughing so hard. “I didn’t know you believed in alien!” Grrrr. Those guys, hmmmp. I just don’t get sympathy from them. I’m glad if Lu is around then they can’t pick on me too much. Oh well, it’s fun though.