The Storm Has Passed, His Glory Shown


May 2013 when Dad had his first operation, cholecystectomy—removal of gallbladder. Four months after, he has undergone his second surgery—removal of colon mass. We all thought everything was getting better until the devastating news hit the family January this year. He was diagnosed with colon cancer, stage 4.

Maybe it was denial that made me live each day as if everything’s fine, and I’m not standing on the thin line between his life and his death. My heart was callous; it was really hard to release forgiveness when someone hasn’t asked for it. I rarely go to the hospital during his chemo sessions. I didn’t make an effort to text him every day. I can’t stand seeing him like that. For the past three months though, because of God’s grace and work in my heart, I have moved from apathy, to anger, to pity, to loneliness, to compassion and finally, to love and forgiveness. I had to tell myself everyday that I love him and I forgive him. Then, I was able to say it to him—that I love him and I forgive him.

Each day, I dread having to take his place as the provider. With weak arms, I knew, there would come a time that I have to take up all that he’s going to leave behind. With feeble knees, I’d have to rise up for my mom and my sister. With fragile heart, I’d have to make it through this storm.

Even the wind and the waves obey You, oh Lord. With just a word from Your lips, I know this storm would come to an end. But my question is, will we make it to the other side complete? You never let one of your disciples fall off the boat. Like us, they were terrified. Yet you never have forsaken a single one of them. Can you do the same for us? Will you let us see Dad alive, after this raging storm?

I never asked Him why. All I did was ask Him how, and who. How can I show him my love? How can I make sure he’s going to heaven? How can I make him happy, and proud, and comfortable? Who will be my Dad when he’s gone? Who will walk me down the aisle on my wedding day? Who will teach me driving and firing? We haven’t even tried eating ramen at a fancy Korean restaurant just the two of us; never learned shooting techniques from the three point line; haven’t even experienced trekking up that small property somewhere along Sierra Madre, he and his siblings inherited—the one he boasted to have a nice waterfall.

But then, I looked back to what I’ll miss—the ones I, at least, got to experience with him and because of him. I do believe it’s from him my out-of-this-world sense of humor came from. These are the lines that will always pinch my heart and make me smile.

“Kahit ano man ang gusto mo maging, okay lang sa’kin. Kahit pa gasoline girl.”

“I-ispoil ko mga anak mo tapos sasabihin ko sa kanila na may toyo ang mommy nila.”

“If you smoke, you’ll die. If you don’t smoke, you’ll die also. Better smoke.”

“Ang ganda ganda talaga ng ate ko, sexy sexy tapos tali-talino. Love mo ba si Daddy?”

“Kumain nga kayo ng tutong. T for tutong means T for talino.”

“Kelan ka pwede magboyfriend? Gusto mo pagbabang-pagbaba mo ng stage after ng graduation mo e.”

“Sige, kahit 500 piercings pa basta yung kasya lahat sa tenga mo.”

“Anak, maikli yata yang shorts mo?”

I’ll miss how he bragged about me—my high school awards; the university I graduated from; that at the age of 20 I’m already working; and my voice and how he would ask me to sing at parties, and at church.

I’ll always wonder why he never got angry that one time he fetched me from a friend’s party stinky as vodka. I’ll remember all my high school days having him as my grooming specialist—the one who loved cutting my toenails and fingernails, cleaning my ears and even scrubbing my elbows and knees.

I’ll regret those times I let him wait at my dorm’s visitor’s lounge just because I had a date. Those moments I argue with him and tried to make a point that my generation is different from his. The words of wisdom I let pass my ears, those times I never said ‘I love you’ when I should have. And all the days I’ll never ever get just because he’s gone now, for good.

He said once that one day, I’ll be able to say to myself, “Dad I’m proud of you.” I guess, that time is now. He has fought a good fight. Until the very last minute he was thinking about his family, especially my sister. He was able to make right was has been wrong for the longest time. Seeing him cling to Mom like that broke and at the same time mended my heart. All he ever wanted to stay beside him was her. All he needed should only be attended to by her. And the care that ever satisfied him was from her. And I have never seen her like that before. I can’t remember that exact last time I saw them like that—Mom resting her head, sleeping, on his lap, hands clasped onto his; and wakes up every time he groans. I’ve never seen both of them this strong. My photographic memory isn’t that good. I wish it is, I wish I could freeze that moment. I wish I had taken a picture of it. The feeling, however, would always be remembered.

God is sovereign. He is good. He is really good. He has provided us with everything we needed, and with people whom we never knew we needed. His favor was upon us—from finances, to the doctors, to the hospital, to his medications, everything. I thank Him for allowing this to happen at a time when I’ve already finished school, with my faith established and security anchored on Him. I thank God for letting me see the side of my parents’ marriage I have never seen before. He calmed the storm and so Dad’s suffering. It’s selfish to want him here just trying to bear his hardship. But on His side, there’s now no pain, tears and discomfort. The different kind of relationship that has been built in my family; the love and care that we shared; the boost of faith and dependency in Christ; the great testimony—all of it, because of what this season has brought forth, is worth it. And I thank God for making us stronger people. I don’t have the right to complain. Unlike Job, I never lost properties, friends and my whole family, all in one day. I just lost my Dad. And I’ll cling on to God more than before that Satan would be so disappointed we (my family and God) made it.

 

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And my heart sings:

If my heart has grown cold 
There Your love will unfold 
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand 
When I’m blind to my way 
There Your Spirit will pray 
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand 
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand 


Oceans will part nations come 
At the whisper of Your call 
Hope will rise glory shown 
In my life Your will be done 


Present suffering may pass 
Lord Your mercy will last 
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand 
And my heart will find praise 
I’ll delight in Your way 
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand 
As You open my eyes to the work of Your hand

Choose Like You’re Shopping For Shoes


I always hear this analogy: Choosing a partner is like buying a pair of shoes. To find the perfect one, you have to try all your options. Now, let’s put stress on the words “find” and “try all”. Typing them again makes me tired already. Doing them—finding and trying all—oh, don’t mention it. Where do you start the search? How much time and energy do you have to spend trying all? And after all, how can you be sure you’d pick the best one?

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Fourth of January, year of the wood horse on the Chinese calendar, I went to Divisoria to do some after-the-Holidays shopping. I was expectant because I’ve tried it before. All goodies are cheaper at the start of the year; they are trying to dispose all that’s left from the holiday sale. My two thousand five hundred pesos had quite a great deal. Clothes, accessories, and…. what could be more exciting than four new pairs of shoes?

I went there expectant, but clueless. Clueless of what I’d be buying. I just need new shoes, flats to be specific. That’s all. Now, let’s talk about love life. We, women, venture out into the world in search for the perfect one hopeful, but clueless, or maybe indecisive, or…has the forget-standards-he’s-so-cute-and-sweet-he’s-the-one attitude. There’s a failure to see that the biggest mistake in this treasure hunt is that we’ve no idea how the treasure looks like, or where to find them or how to find them. We just label “treasure” anything we find “good”. We ditch our own rules and standards. I want a gentleman, someone who can lead a relationship. Well guess what, I’ve gone for the projects—those guys who needs rearing, mothering, nursing, thinking I could change them. How ridiculous. And then, I would always find myself drained.

Going back to the four new pairs I bought, wouldn’t you believe that the sum of their prize is only PhP880.00. Yes, that’s right. Girl, it’s self-explanatory. It’s so easy to acquire them ‘cause they’re cheap. Cheap. I didn’t even think twice. I asked the lady for a size the moment I saw them. And by the time I slip it off my foot for a try, I went straight to the cashier and handed out my payment. Ask me now, do I wear them? Uh, not often. In fact, I won’t use them at parties or special occasions. I use them on “normal” days when I don’t have something special to do or special people to see. I found each pair after another. And I always thought that the new one is better than the first one. So does that mean the last pair is the best one? Nope. They all look the same to me. And the word is, again, cheap. The good thing about having them is not regretting them for that they’ve cost you. PhP880, that’s like five Starbucks frapuccino only.

The next is always better than the one before it. Really? If this is how the treasure hunt would look like then you’d be collecting junk after junk all your life, until you find him. Or in this manner, would you really be able to decide? Will you ever run out of something to label “the one”? I’ve stopped, two years ago. I would pick the best one, no. God would pick the best one for me. All I have to do is wait. I don’t even have to bother asking Him to tell me how that perfect pair looks like, where to find him or how to find him. He will deliver it right at my doorstep. I just have to make the house clean and presentable first.

This is how I would want this “choosing-a-partner-is-like-buying-a-pair-of-shoes” thing to go:

I’ll clean up my house, prepare meals, beautify myself inside and out and sit at the feet of Jesus, every single day of my life like a single penny is dropped inside a piggy bank at the end of each day. A piggy bank whose savings God will use, at the proper time, to buy that pair. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that you “work” to earn it. He’s already got it for you. You just have to make sure you’re ready first. And I know one day He’ll come home with that present I’ve been waiting and saving up for. And that treasure, that perfect fit, that final pair is a combination of comfort, elegance and durability.

For All I’m Worth


There’s a valid reason for my being agitated one morning as I recalled and told my friend everything that happened the day before. If a gossip about me breaks out, I’d be dead. Dead.

~

The scent of my perfume still lingers on my nose hours after I clumsily sprayed some to my chin. It’s late in the afternoon and if I haven’t found the lecture to be interesting and helpful, I could have snored all day!

The room was small but just about the right size for twelve to fifteen people who were in it. At the back-most row is where I was seated, right across the white screen where the lectures were being projected at. Grateful was I that God reminded me to bring my blazer earlier that day. But even with that blazer on, hands folded and occasional sips from my coffee, I was still feeling really cold—which quite added up to my struggle on staying awake AND alert.

No one’s talking but I could see non-verbal gestures from the people seated in front. Yawn. Straightening backs. Tugging of hair strands. And you know the caffeine has already kicked in when you could notice these little things. I was about to take another sip from my Louis Vuitton inspired mug when I heard a swooshing sound of a notebook as it glides across the table in front of me. My seatmate, whom we shall call “Kael”, finally broke his silence.

On the back page he wrote something like this:

Kael: “Ang haba, 50 slides na.

(Long lecture; that’s the 50th slide already.)

In my mind I thought, finally, something to do. So I grabbed the notebook the moment the speaker looked away and wrote:

Brr. Anlamig.” (Brr. So cold.)

Then the conversation continued:

Kael: “Kaya nga kanina ko pa hinihiram blazer mo e.” 

(That’s why I was asking you to lend me your blazer.)

Me: “E di ako naman ang nilamig. Hindi sayo ‘to kasya!” 

(I’d be really cold, then. Besides, this won’t fit you!)

Kael: “I-hug mo na lang ako.

(Just hug me, then.)

*BOOM! JAGGER MOVES*

The notebook had to wait there, right in front of me, for minutes, so much longer than it usually takes for me to write back. At the corner of my right eye, I could see him fidgeting, worried that my pen won’t hit that page again.

That’s when it all came to me. Oh Lord, why was I so careless? Why did I let it get this far? I could have just cut the conversation short. What should I say now? God, give me a statement that would neither slap him hard on the face disrespecting him (though, somehow that’s what he did to me), nor would make him think that I’m being too lenient to just let the offense pass. By the way, that was our first conversation–ever.

Finally, I cleared my throat and grabbed the notebook and wrote:

Me: Baka may jumombag sa’yo TITO ‘KAEL’.” (You just might get spanked by someone, Uncle Kael.)

Ramon Bautista surely would be proud of me for calling this guy “Tito”. I slid the notebook towards him and in a few seconds, it was back.

Kael: Ay, oo. Baka jombagin ako ng BF mo”. (Right. Your boyfriend just might spank me.)

I have been single for almost two years, the longest and happiest season of my life, so far. And when I say single, I mean every letter of the word. At that time, I didn’t want to be too-good-to-be-true, and though he might be aware that I’m not really in a relationship, I didn’t take that statement back nor did say I do not have a BF. Not telling is different from lying, so sayeth my mind. Besides, I’d like to believe that Jesus is the BF he was referring to.

Back to my work station after that seminar, I felt relieved and at the same time uneasy. I will never tell this to anyone. Never. To my surprise, Kael even emailed me the link to our scanned conversation. Yes, he had it scanned and uploaded to the office’s database. Oh my goodness, can he not? You can just imagine me freaking out because helloooo—that’s accessible to everyone. Yes, everyone. He thought it was cute, and he said it’s nice to have a remembrance of that conversation. Crazy things ran inside my head like he would show it to his guy friends and tell everyone it was me he was writing to. Oh how I cringed at the thought of it!

~

There’s a valid reason for my being agitated one morning as I recalled and told my friend everything that happened the day before. If a gossip about me breaks out, I’d be dead. Dead.

Friend 1: “Dapat kasi ‘te hindi ka na nakipag-usap.”

(You shouldn’t have talked to him in the first place.)

Me: “Hindi ko naman kasi alam na hahantong sa ganun.”

(I never knew it could lead into something like that.)

Friend1: “Next time, mag-ingat ka. Putulin mo na agad yung conversation.”

(Alright. Next time, just cut the conversation short.)

Friend 2: “Akala nila siguro pang-chics ka at basta basta. Ganda mo kasi ‘te.”

(It’s because you’re pretty and maybe they think you’re an easy-to-get chic.)

Me: “Sa ganitong pagkakataon, hindi ko nafifeel na compliment ang pagiging maganda. So bastusin ako? Ano bang ginawa ko?”

(I don’t think that being pretty is a compliment here, not at all. Do I look cheap? What have I done to look easy-to-get?)

Friend 2: “Masyado ka kasi palabati. Soplakin mo din kasi minsan.”

(You’re just too friendly. Sometimes, you have to set boundaries, or just put up walls.)

Friend 1: “Establish mo muna yung respect. At mag-ingat ka. Baka machismos ka kahit wala ka ginagawang masama.”

(Establish respect first and be careful. You might get into trouble even if you aren’t doing anything wrong.)

~

I never experienced this in school. Why am I experiencing it now? The perils in the real world are worse than I have imagined. Now it’s not having good grades or having friends with good reputation. It’s about building your own reputation, making your own name, keeping your integrity and acquiring credibility—more individualistic. I’d like to think my future husband isn’t one of my officemates, or someone working in the same company. That way I could stay focused on my season and avoid encounters that might bring surging tidal waves that would break all the walls I have worked hard to put up for two years. I seriously hope he’s not like Kael.

Akala nila siguro pang-chics ka. That’s the thing that hurt me most. “Chic” or “chics” nowadays has this negative connotation. And I don’t want to be classified as such. Pangchics lang ba ‘ko? Cheap, easy-to-get, someone who shouldn’t be taken seriously—is  that all I’m worth? Bell no! I’m a royal diadem, a precious Jewel for the man who died for me 2,000 years ago. And if the God of the Universe took me seriously and carried the cross to prove His unfailing love for me, why on earth would I settle for a human being who has the guts to go to Starbucks, sit, take a picture and post it on instagram, play with his ipad and then leave without even buying? That’s just ridiculous. b55e9e6fff012b158588365680fe70e1

One does not enter Tiffany’s “just window shopping” or “just looking” at the diamonds. People respect the name and know it for what it’s worth. Any man who wants to go in should have the intention and the means to buy one.

A man who deserves you, oh woman of noble character, is a man who does not only know your worth, but is also willing to pay the price. Never ever settle for a man who slips his feet into a pair of shoes to see if it fits and would hand it back to the sales person once he’s seen the price.

As for me, I’m “all in” to the man who walked on water, and never to any man who just wants to test it.

Pieces of Advice to Teenage Girls


  1. Honor your parents. It’s a commandment with a promise (Ephesians 6:1,2). Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive or Uninvolve type, love them, honor them, obey them. Most of the time, they really know what’s best for us. Let’s not rebel against them or blame them for what we’ve become. Remember, forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. We never had the chance to choose our parents, nor the way they would treat us, but we can always control our response.
  2. Take your studies seriously. Elementary, High School, or College—each is equally important as the others. The number one reason you’re in school is to learn. Yes school can also be a playground where you get to find a best friend, but school is never a shop where you get to choose the hottest or most popular kid and have him as your boyfriend. Never waste your parents’ money by cutting classes or not giving your best. The school trains you for the real thing in the real world. Make sure you’re getting equipped.
  3. Choose your friends. I’m not saying that if you’re rich you must hang out only with the rich kids, or choose the weirdos just because everyone thinks you’re geek or something. Sorting out won’t hurt. Pick the ones that would make you a better person. Friends who’ll contribute something good to you. It’s not about being in the popular group; it’s about being in the right group. It’s not about the social or economic status, or class ranking; it’s about accountability, credibility and sincerity.
  4. Master a craft. Practice shooting, or perfect strokes. Learn to play an instrument. Ask your mom to teach you cooking and baking techniques. Grab your camera and go for a photowalk. Blog, sing, compose. Come on, life is meant to be enjoyed. Have an inspiration, a motivation, something you can call “your thing”—a thing you could use to magnify God in your life. I consider myself a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. Hm, a bit contradictory to my advice, but I guess I’m able to use two of my good seeds (singing and blogging) to glorify God and be so much joyful about it.
  5. Inspire people. You don’t have to be a celebrity, an ambassador, or a politician to do this. Be honest, live a life of integrity and with clean conscience. Help your friends in need. Greet the guards good morning. Commend the school janitor for being faithful to his task. Have a positive outlook in life. Radiate good vibes. There’s nothing more fulfilling than being able to make people smile. Share what you know, share your experiences, share your dreams.
  6. Never stop dreaming. Have at least one dream per season. Let it be your motivation. Seek God’s will, pray and give your best. Let faith and grace fuel you to make it. And when you finally do, thank God and have another dream and let the cycle go on.
  7. Appreciate the little things. The rain poured the moment you stepped inside the house. You’re not late in school today. Your professor commended you for a good recitation in class. You were just craving for pizza when a friend asked you out for lunch at yellow cab (her treat)! You caught a glimpse of the sunset while traveling back to Manila. These little things are also miracles. But because they’ve become too common, we rarely notice them. Believe me, those things are never accidents. They’re God’s small presents. He wants to protect you, He knows what you like and He delights in surprising you.
  8. Live healthy. Your blood slowly turns into coffee and your WBCs and RBCs are drunk with caffeine. Come on, use some of those minutes you spend on Facebook and go out for a jog, have a good music on your ipod and see the sunset. Drink plenty of water, eat on time, eat the right food. Have enough sleep. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and you must not abuse it. Manage your time so you won’t have to cram for deadlines. Not going on line for a couple of days until you’re done with your projects won’t hurt.
  9. You are beautiful. Yes darling you are. You might have been bullied before, or maybe until now; you might not have the perfect vital stats (a standard made by man); your complexion is dark, your hair is curl; you have pimples or freckles—it doesn’t matter. In God’s eyes you are beautiful. And that is not a consolation or pampalubag-loob. Remember you are made after His own likeness. God’s beauty is bestowed to us women. And that beauty goes beyond what the eyes can see. Be secured for what you are and how you look. God knows you look best with those features. I know it’s hard to believe for I have been there. Okay, if you appreciate the beauty of the sunrise, or the intricate details of a butterfly, or the fluffyness of the clouds, the flowers in bloom—well, I tell you, you are more beautiful than those. You are most beautiful because He made you last. You are Eve—the crown of creation, the masterpiece, the finishing touch. Without you, the beauty of all He has made is incomplete. So stop your pity party and focus more on beautifying your soul.
  10. Future husband is someone you’ll meet at 25. Not literally, though. But the point is, he’s far far away. He’s in the future. Never ever have someone mistaken as him. Been there, done that. Believe me, hear what your ate has to say. Teenage relationships will only leave you frustrated, badly beaten, and struggling to have your own identity. But as long as you anchor your security and significance on someone as if you can’t live without them, dear that’s impossible. I know how we women long to be fought for, to be loved, be cherished, but the question is, can we really keep the relationship for real? You might be happy when everything seems to be perfect and he gives you feelings you’ve never felt with anyone before. But how sure are you that he’s gonna stay for good? You might be happy but you’re still unsure, you’re still afraid. In God, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Perfect love drives out fear, right? Don’t make memories you don’t intend to remember in the future. Have you ever looked at one of your ex and say to yourself, “What on earth have made me crazy in love with him before?” That’s the funny thing. More often than not, you’ll regret it. You’ll laugh about it and then you’ll realize, you should have spent those wasted times on something better than dating. You don’t have to experience all of it to learn. Listen to my counsel. I ran after lovers who never satisfied me. I have disobeyed my parents, never took my studies seriously, turned my back on my friends, quit an application for theater, stopped learning to play guitar and sing at church, and all the other stupid things, all because of love. Love that only left me broken and frustrated. Don’t make the same mistake I made. Ask God to be your lover. I promise, He won’t fail you. For now, focus on becoming the right one before asking God to give you the right one. Don’t dwell on the thought. Just live for the moment. Don’t miss all the first nine things just because of this 10th one.
  11. Persevere to preserve and protect your purity. I have danced on the thin line of temptation only to find myself struggling to keep my balance. God is gracious, He delivered me from that trap and changed my heart. I believe you are already at the right age to know this: Sex is a package and it starts with a kiss. God wants us not to have even a hint of sexual immorality. Save your first kiss for someone who deserves it, for that day you exchange vows and wear your rings. If you’ve already given it away, it’s never too late to have a change of heart. Ask God to heal you. Repent and turn away from ungodliness. You are a precious gem, even worth far more than rubies! Never ever throw your pearls to pigs. I like this illustration from the book What to do until love finds you: No one goes inside a diamond store “just looking” or just “window shopping”. Everyone who goes inside of it has an intention to buy. They respect the value of what’s inside that store and they are willing to pay the price. That’s what you are. A diamond, precious and expensive. Any man must be willing to pay the price to take you and that price includes preserving your purity, respecting you and protecting you. An ungodly man can promise you the whole world just to get into your pants. But the Godly man, the one the Lord has reserved for you, will endure all the mockings of the world just to please God and show you how worthy of respect and worthy of wait you are.
  12. Keep God at the center of it all. You can never go wrong with this, love. Nasa Kanya na ang lahat. Your family, your friends might hurt you one way or another. You’ll get sick, you’ll have failing grades. Someone will break your heart. These are the things God will never ever do to you. Trust Him. Just trust Him, even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, even when it doesn’t make sense. All the trials you’ve been through, you’re going through and you’re gonna go through are all part of His great purpose in your life. Hold on to Him. Always pray for stronger faith and for more of grace in your life. Left on our own we can’t do it. Even I won’t be able to say these things to you if not for Him who taught me how to cling onto Him. God bless you darling! You are His princess. Never settle for anything less. Should you have any prayer concerns, or you just want someone to talk to, feel free to contact me! God loves you, deeply and passionately. 

PS: Happy birthday to my one and only dearest little sister Maia Genina. I was inspired to write this because of you!

Love,

Ate.

YUPPIE (Poems of a Working Girl – July 2013)


July 23 – First Day at Work

In a tall red tower

There I sat by the corner

Room 4 of the highest floor

Bed’s right side of the door

Never absent was uncertainty

But Grace granted me humility

Tough and tedious could be my labor

But faith shall I anchor on my Savior

July 24 – Second Day at Work

Today I woke up asking for one last sign

At Malate must I stay or to Fort be assigned?

Singles or Youth

Which soil will yield me more fruit?

Everything was laid perfectly

People in the office treat me kindly

I looked back to months ago

Realized that BGC’s always been what I’m praying for

Workplace is a mission field

Where relationships I must build

Winning souls for Christ

Is this new season’s price

July 25 – Third Day at Work

Coping up pretty easily

At work I started to feel comfy

Spent the day doing simple tasks

Glad I’m learning quite fast

About lunch time I was reminded

Heartfelt to me it sounded

The reason I wanted that work

Is to show my family what they’re worth

MY NEW MINISTRY


Two years ago (2011), whenever someone asks me, “What’s your ministry?”, I would readily reply, “Music”. Two years later (earlier this year, 2013), I find the question difficult to answer since I no longer sing in youth worship services. Instead, I considered discipleship and leading a life group as my ministry. Fast forward to the now, I dread hearing that question anytime soon. What will I say now that I no longer lead that life group? Statements like “I used to be a part of the Music Team”, or “When I was a student I used to lead a Life Group” could be misleading. They might even have a negative connotation. I guess explaining the real thing would be difficult—that God prompted me to transfer from VCF Malate to VCF Fort and transition from youth to singles (which is another story). And I’m still in the season of asking Him why and for what do I have to.

In churches we usually classify ministries according to tasks or specialty, and we join them based on the skill or talent God has bestowed us. There’s music ministry, ushering, KIDS or Sunday school, technical and admin support, performing arts, stage design, et al). And if people would want to hear any of these as my answer, well, I would be sorry.

Ministry came from the Greek word diakoneo, meaning “to serve”. It is our service to God, any activity done out of devotion with genuine concern, love and humility towards His people, believers and unbelievers. So really, ministry could be anything as long as it is done for the purpose of honoring God and serving His people. And I believe, it can be done even outside the church. Also, it is not for chosen people only, it is for every Christian. One does not need to be a pastor or evangelist to be called a “minister”. As Christians, we are all ministers, Christ’s ambassadors. Our ministry outside the church is this: we are full-time missionaries to wherever we are.

If you’re a student, you are a full-time missionary in your campus. If you’re a parent, you are a full-time missionary to your family, in-laws and other relatives. And if you’re a working fella like me, you are a full-time missionary in your workplace! But hey, you don’t have to stand on tabletops to proclaim the Gospel. By arriving at work earlier than your official time; by working diligently and with integrity; through being faithful to your job and obedient to your superior; by not overextending your breaks or wasting your time gossiping with an officemate; and by finishing each task excellently, you are setting a good example—you proclaim Jesus through the way live. We, who belong to a ministry outside the church, are in an avenue of greater influence. Though our ministry is not inside the church, our calling is equally of high value for we are the ones closer to the people who do not know Christ yet. We are the ones sent out to do ministry. We bring the church to people even if it’s just being a light and salt to wherever we are.

God placed you there to impact people, build relationship and share Christ and the good news of the Gospel. You are not a student, a parent, a worker, an entrepreneur, or a doctor who happens to be a Christian; you are a Christian who happens to be there for a purpose.

THE STORY OF BEZALEL

31 Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—

Bezalel, meaning in the shadow of God, was in full-time ministry at his workplace. He was an excellent craftsman whom God has given the ability to work with precious metals and masonry, and was widely recognized by his peers. God chose him to be the principal designer and chief builder of the holy tabernacle. He was not a preacher, or a priest but he was filled with the Spirit of God. The phrase “I have called” also means “I have especially designed, appointed, and set apart Bezalel to do this task”. Now, repeat that sentence and replace “Bezalel” with your name. Yes, that’s right. God appointed no one else but you. You are especially designed, appointed and set apart to be a light and salt at your workplace, to impact people and lead them towards Christ. That’s your mission. That’s your ministry. God has prepared you through the trials and seasons you’ve been through. And like Bezalel, you are building God’s temple in your school, home, business or workplace.

POST SCRIPT:

There’s no such thing as “lie-lowing in your ministry” because you could still serve God even outside the church. In fact, that is where you will be able to shine brighter and apply everything you’ve learned from church. And yes, this is my new ministry. J

References:

http://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-ministry.html and Day 1 of R. Larry Moyer’s 31 days to walking with God in the workplace devotional.

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT AFTER GRADUATION


It wasn’t waiting for the 2008 UPCAT results to be released, neither my last few months in college trying to come up with a study which will serve as my ticket to crossing the academe’s finish line at the age of 19. The most difficult time of my life, so far, was that season between the last day I saw my college barkada complete, wearing black graduation toga; and the first day I entered an office filled with unfamiliar faces wearing high stilettos and pencil skirts.

Ninety-four days to be exact, and it seemed like a year already. My hope and confidence were dying. Every single job application I had (I already lost count of them) fell at one of these three great misfortunes.

*I believe most of us fresh graduates have experienced these:

  1. The company you’re eyeing doesn’t have an opening for the position you’re applying for. And the only time they’re going to tell you is when you’ve already wasted days taking exams and undergoing series of interviews when in the first place you indicated it on your cover letter.
  2. The company seems to like you (or maybe wants to take advantage of your being a fresh grad) and offers you a tiny mini cockatooey salary that won’t suffice considering you’ll be renting a place to stay at; travel; eat three square meals a day; buy clothes, shoes and bags occasionally; and of course, give back to your parents. And oh, if I forget, you would never be convinced that that’s just what you deserve even if you’re just a fresh grad because (HELLO?) you came from the most prestigious university in the whole archipelago. Yeah, I had that subtle pride.
  3. The recruitment officer who promised to call after one to two weeks didn’t contact you. It’s frustrating because you thought you’re almost there.

It hurt, really. Believe me that was the ugliest feeling in the world. I felt rejected, frustrated and incompetent. That was more painful than being friend-zoned, I think. Pity party once in a while and I always regret those college days I spent unmoved by deadlines; oversleeping when there’s an upcoming exam; and playing candy crush when I had integration papers to polish. I even blamed myself for picking the wrong professor—my friends who took the same subject from a different professor got an uno, they exerted as much effort as I did. If only things turned out better for me back then, maybe I didn’t lack .03 and I graduated Cum Laude, maybe I got hired already, and maybe I wasn’t discouraged.

UNDER TRAINING

I had always blamed something or someone for my hardship. I failed to consider what God might be working in me through those things. With a bruised ego and beaten heart, I started complaining and asked Him even when I already knew the answers. I thought God was too busy to notice me. Yes He was busy, but He noticed me. In fact, His attention was on me. And He was too busy molding my character, preparing me for a new season and a new set of responsibilities. The training (a.k.a. Character building) I took under God’s supervision included: walking on flooded streets of Makati wearing high heels, asking Him earnestly to protect me and help me find my way home; waiting for a job interview six hours later than my schedule, without eating lunch; wearing my best smile and best tiis ganda clothes just to find myself walking somewhere in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) at the height of noon, because the taxi dropped me at the wrong building; and all the other ubos-pasensiya circumstances God helped me manage.

At the end of each day I would travel back to Nueva Ecija for three hours, hug Mom and cry, apologetic. I would say sorry for wasting my time and her money, that I still ask them for allowance and I’m of no help to the family. Of course, like any mother, she would cheer me up and prepare my favorite food for dinner. For her I’m the best, but not for those companies, as well as for me.

THE REAL THING

I was just about to give up when the climax of the season flashed before my very eyes. It was like the first rainfall on May or the jingle bells you hear at the start of -Ber Season.

One afternoon at BGC, after an interview in a company that had no vacancy in HR, I had lunch with a college friend who’s working nearby. It was to him I blurted out all my sentiments and disappointments. Then he told me about this job post in the company he’s working at and convinced me to give it a try. A try—that was what it’s worth and everything else was history. Thanks to my friend and thank God for the blessing. It was confirmed to me several times that indeed, the job and the company is God’s best for me.

PRU Life UK gave me a job position with a salary fair enough for me. It is the best not just because it’s the highest among the offers I had, but because of all the other benefits they give. Though the nature isn’t related to my undergrad course, I find myself satisfied and grateful for having friendly, funny and easy-to-get-along-with workmates. God removed my fear of being not enough and replaced it with confidence anchored on Him. I’m learning and adapting quite fast.

Every single day since July 23, 2013, I never failed to thank God for this blessing. Maybe if I never experienced those awkward months I would never be this grateful; I would never praise Him all the more and I would still be the old impatient and proud Mycha I knew wayback college. He even provided a nice place to stay in—affordable, clean, comfy, and a walking distance away from the office. I love mornings and late afternoons when I would walk to the office and walk home, seeing bars open and close and smiling at unfamiliar faces which are now becoming familiar. I like greeting the guards “Good Morning” and “Good Bye”. I enjoy talking to my roommate at night before she goes to the office. We share bible stories, our testimonies, and recently, our share of orthodoxy or knowledge about God. See, He even blessed me with Godly people around me that even I’m far from my church family in Malate, I’m still thriving and growing in depth with my relationship with Christ. Now I regret complaining and grumbling before God, but at the same time I’m thankful that He showed me His faithfulness and I’ll always be grateful. I don’t deserve all of it, but God gave it anyway. And I’m humbled.

GOD’S BEST

God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2). You’ll know it is if you are at peace. He knows the plans He has for you. Plans that are meant to prosper you, and give you hope and a future. Whatever situation you are in right now, never doubt God’s promises. Surely, the best will come out from your seemingly bad situation. Just keep your faith, no matter how blurry things might get. Put your trust in Him. Wait upon Him with joy and hope. He is faithful even when we are faithless. Be secured for He has already gone ahead of you. And because He loves you, He has the best in store for you!

POST SCRIPT:

If you are experiencing or you have experienced the same thing, I’d love to hear your story as well! I’d like to thank my leaders Ate Revs, Ate Anna and Ate Danna.

Ate Revs, thank you for passionately answering my working life-related questions. You are God’s instrument for opening my mind into a new world and instead of feeling hesitant, your encouragements sparked excitement in my heart.

Ate Anna, thank you for the love life-friendship advice. I’ve learned not to be one step ahead of God, not just on that area but in every area of my life. Thanks for reminding me to be obedient to God and to always ask Him first, before making any conclusion, decision and action. I really enjoyed our Raviolli date.

Ate Danna, thank you for your patience, assistance, and genuine concern. Thanks for channeling me to one of your friends in VCF Fort. I really appreciate it. Thanks for believing in me all this time.

To everyone who prayed with me, thank you so much! I miss you all. Hope to see you soon. God bless you! ♥

Dumbell, Sink & Character


Three sets of triceps workout done. Now, let’s go abs!

I’m staring at my reflection in the mirror. My pimple marks haven’t lightened up much since I used that brand my derma prescribed. And my hair looks boring. I’m dying to have it dyed but Dad won’t let me.

Why am I doing this? What is my real reason behind this tedious self-improvement? Is it just “to be healthy”, or there’s something deeper and unseen? Is it wrong to want to look good? No, it’s not. What drives me to want to look good? What’s in my heart? Aaaaah. There it is. That’s it—insecurities. BOOM!

Words like sexy, hot, gorgeous, stunning, pretty—these are the very words women crave, or should I say die to hear from their friends, family, fans, or even twitter and instagram followers. Of course I’m not excluding myself. In fact, I’ve over-exercised my legs once and I wasn’t able to walk for two days. Bottom-line: it’s all about how you “look”. If you look good, you’re fine.

This morning, together with my sister and I, my Dad had to fix the sink. Minutes of pumping revealed the sink’s murky soul and stinky secrets. You can’t imagine how thankful I was it wasn’t our toilet which got clogged. It was a mess in our kitchen, our cute homey little kitchen. Well if not for the stinky smell and dripping water pipe, it would’ve looked just right. Why not, the chairs were well arranged, the dining table was clean, and the fruits on it looked so yummy from their floral trays. And then it hit me.

A well maintained kitchen is what matters more. Cleanliness shouldn’t just be tile-deep. It goes beyond the sink, down to its plumbing. Your brand-new fridge, 12-seater dining table and expensive silverware are useless if your sink is clogged; plumbing drips and stinks every time you wash the dishes. What’s “good” is something beyond what the eye can see. What’s “good” starts from within and then radiates outwards. What’s “good” isn’t just about how you look; “good” and “beautiful” should be the attributes of your character.

I guess I have to take MORE time cleaning my stinky sink than just wiping the dining table. Like what my mom always reminds me of: Ang babae, hindi lang dapat maganda. Kung ano ang nakasanayan niyo, yan din ang ituturo niyo sa anak niyo. (It’s not enough for a woman to just be beautiful. The values you grew up with is what you will pass on to your children.) And I won’t make a good home-maker, wife and mother if I snap at petty grievances.

I WONDER HOW MY FUTURE HUSBAND IS DOING

Abs and biceps won’t make me fall, either. I guess that’s just the standard the world is imposing on us, to care more about what is “seen”, to be sexy, and flawless. Abs and biceps won’t increase my faith in God. Yeah that’s funny, but seriously, no amount of attractiveness can lead someone’s wife closer to God. It’s not his looks that would make me see and feel God’s goodness. It’s his character. So to all my brothers (and sisters) out there, I’m not telling you to quit hitting the gym after school or after work. What I’m saying is that, character is waaaaaay more important than how you look. (This is not an excuse not to want to look good, either.) And as you lift some pounds or grab your boxing gloves, please don’t forget that inner beauty matters too! And it actually matters more. Also, don’t forget to include turning the pages of your bible and kneeling in prayer to your healthy daily habits. :)

To My Future Partner


Actually, I have already written several notes for you but most of them are private–I’ve put them in a blog where only you can read, in the future. The only reason I’m making this one public, though it might contain some cheesy lines and itchy phrases, is for my friends who would read this to remind me to stay focused on God first, and to not be consumed by the thought of having you.

Okay, as most people know, I’m graduating this 17th and 19th of April and Dad said he’ll be allowing me to have a boyfriend the moment I step down the stage, holding my college diploma. *bittersweet* But I know it’s not as easy as that. Why? Duuh, kasi wala ka pa. (plus 1 ganda point! hehe)

I’m saddened by the fact that I wouldn’t be able to put your name on the acknowledgement page of my under grad thesis, but just in case I’ll be pursuing grad school, which is more likely, and if I already met you by then, I’ll just make up okay? (Oops, that makes 2 ganda points! :D)Another thing that saddens me is that, I won’t be able to celebrate with you on my graduation day, but that’s okay. We’ll have a lot of holidays to celebrate together, right? (Sweet, 3 ganda points!)

I’ve been single for 429 days today. Single meaning no boyfriend, no suitor, no textmate or whatever, but I do have a crush. I’m so sorryyyy. Okay minus 1 ganda point. :( 429 days are not enough to change and be better and I’m quite sure I’d be needing more. Though I know I’ve changed a lot, through His love and grace, I know I still have a bunch of virtues to pick up and live out; and packs of bad habits to throw into the fire (that reduces my ganda points into 2).

My college diploma is not a ticket to a train ride to wherever you are, nor a free pass into the world of hearts and roses coupled with playful butterflies that tickle your stomach and give you sparks. It’s a door to a whole new world where you, my future husband, shouldn’t be at. This season after I graduate is very vital because what its finish product would be–the Mycha it would make out of me–will be the very woman you’re going to marry. And this thought makes me cringe, every single time. I’m not a patient person, I’m a crybaby, I can’t hold my temper, I’m too loud and noisy, I’m a dominating type, I’m poor at handling money, can’t go to the bathroom without my girlfriends, spoiled-brat, impulsive buyer, lazy, procrastinator,…and all of these cancel out my one last ganda point. You see, I have nothing. It’s zero.

I need this time, badly. To be alone with God, to spend more time with my family, to have fruitful friendships, and to make Christ known through sharing my life to other people. I want to honor God with what I would become. I want to bless you with a wife that’s worth far more than rubies; a woman who is clothed with strength and dignity, who speaks with wisdom; a woman who brings you good and not harm all the days of her life–and that “all the days of her life” starts now, not later, not when I finally meet you, not after we’re married; and finally, a woman who, even would have grown old and weak in her 60s, would still turn out to be a beautiful woman because of her Christ-like character, a woman who’s not after the standards of this world, but is after His heart–always wanting to bring Him praise. That even by then, she would still be passionate to share Jesus and His finish work on the cross.

Right now, I have nothing, nothing you could be happy or proud about. Pardon me, I badly need this time–for God, for my family, for His people, for me and for you. And I’m praying that you’re doing the same thing too. Guess I’ll see you not too soon. :) BE FRUITFUL. AND DON’T MISS ME TOO MUCH :p

Love,

Your uber gorjaaas and forever cutipie Princess. :)

Kwentong UP by M. Antonio (Part 4)


SORO AT FRATS

Nauulinigan ko na takot ang ilang magulang na pag-aralin ang anak nila sa UP kasi baka daw makasali sa Fraternities o Sororities. Huwag po kayo mag-alala. Hindi sila masama. At lalong hindi kayo kailangan matakot dahil nakasalalay naman sa anak ninyo kung sasali sila o hindi. Dalawang sorority rin ang nanligaw sa akin noon pero dahil matibay ang desisyon ko na hindi ako sasali, hindi talaga ako sumali.

ORGS

Kung ayaw nila mainvolve sa mga Greeks, e di sumali na lang sila ng academic orgs or cultural-orgs or service oriented orgs. Huwag lang sosobra kasi nasa UP ka para mag-aral hindi para maging career ang organizations na sinalihan mo. Marami namang orgs e, siguradong makakahanap ka ng swak sa taste mo.

OBLE

May myth na hindi daw gagraduate on time kapag may picture with Oble. Hindi totoo yun. May picture nga kami together e. Though hindi pa naman ako graduate at this time. Promise hindi totoo yun. Nakasalalay pa din kay God kung anong will niya para sa’yo. Basta gawin mo lang yung best mo.

OBLATION RUN

First year at fourth year lang ako [intentionally] nanuod. Pero  nabigyan ako ng rose ako nung second year at fourth year. Kasi nagtago ako nung mga time nay un plus busy kami sa paggawa ng project sa DBS Hallway e dadaan din pala sila dun. Nakakagulat kasi nakasalampak ako sa floor, tapos may hihinto sa harap mong APO fratman at magni-kneel para mabigyan ka ng rose. Nakakaloka.

KUYA GUARD

May mga times rin na susungitan ka ni Kuya Guard. Dati nga nakikipag-away pa ako. Eventually mutual naman ang feeling na magkasundo na kami ng mga kuya guard. Kaya naman ngayon, binabati na nila ako ng “Hi Mycha” at “Bye Mycha, ingat”. Minsan din kapag walang ID napapalusot na. Basta be patient. Ginagawa lang naman nila ang trabaho nila e. Saka ang character ng tao, narealize ko, makikita yan sa kung paano niya pinakikitunguan yung mga taong tingin niya ay mas mababa sa kanya.

CRUSH

Marami ako niyan. Hmm sa CAS tatlo. Sa White Colleges dalawa. Haha! Yung isa friend ko. Yung isa, nakakausap ko sa chat minsan. Yung dalawa nakausap ko na personal at narinig ang boses nila. Yung isa, bakla pala. Well, mahina talaga ako sa mga ganyan. Nung first year din naging crush ko si SRguelles. Kilig na kilig pa nga ako. Pero ganun talaga. Ang mga lalaki sa UPM, either taken na or bading pala. Pero masaya pa din humanga kahit ganun. Inthpirathyon mo na din yun.

PROFS

Maraming lovable profs. Mayroon din namang isusumpa mo. Pero kaya nga UP e, mahirap. Enjoy mo lang yung hirap. Cherish mo lang yung mga ituturo nila. Kasi kahit nakakainis yung iba o feeling mo walang naituturo, mayroon pa din. Yun ay ang matuto ka magsikap sa sarili mo.

TIBAKERS

Mahilig daw kami magrally. Pinaglalaban lang naman namin ang karapatan natin. Pero ako, isang beses pa lang ako nakasali talaga. Yun yung gusto lang naming mawalan ng Math class kaya sumama kami sa rally. But anyway, hindi naman sa stoic ako or apathetic pero I have my own way lang siguro. Pero okay lang naman maging tibak basta alalay lang sa acads mo.

UP KONG MAHAL

Dati, bukod sa lagi silang talunan sa UAAP, hindi ko naman ganun pinapansin ang UP. Ateneo talaga ang gusto ko kasi bukod sa andun ang mga crush ko, palagi pa sila panalo sa basketball. Marami rin nagsasabi na huwag daw ako mag-aaral sa UP kahit pumasa ako kasi baka daw maging aktibista ako o kaya makasali sa mga sorority at mapariwara. Yung iba naman nagsasabi na mahirap daw dun, puro paper works. Di daw ako mag-eenjoy. Pero alam mo, wala akong pinagsisisihan. Sa lahat ng natutunan ko, sa lahat ng ginawa at hindi ko ginawa, sa lahat ng taong nakilala ko, ayos lang. Sulit lahat ng pagod. At kung mabubuhay man ako ulit, at papipiliin ako, gugustuhin ko pa ding mag-aral sa UP. Mag-uUPCAT ako ulit. At kung papahintulutan ulit akong makapasa ni God, syempre dun pa din ako mag-aaral at sisiguraduhin kong mas sulit ang apat na taong pamamalagi ko sa pinakamamahal kong Unibersidad. Ang UP kong MAHAL.

Kwentong UP by M. Antonio (Part 3)


BUHAY PAG-IBIG

Nako, isang mahabang kwento ‘to. Saan ba ako magsisimula? Hehe. Technically single ako nung nagpasukan. Nakilala ko siya nung Freshie orientation at mula nun, May 14, 2009 hanggang sa nagpasukan na, nagkakatext kami, kinikilala ang isa’t isa. Bagamat may ilang sumusubok sumungkit sa akin, siya naman talaga ang gusto ko. At hindi niya siguro alam yun hanggang ngayon. May sparks talaga. Pwede pang Overheard pero sobrang saglit e. Biglang nawala. Sabi daw niya sa mga nakapagsabi sa akin, may guy daw kasi akong naiwan pa sa Nueva and unsettled pa. Ang version ko naman, nawala siya bigla bukod sa nagseselos ako nun sa mga babaeng nagiging close sa kanya. Yung iba naman noon akala kami na kasi madalas din kami nagkakasama. Hanggang sa isang araw, nawala na e. At ang kwento namin ay nagtuloy na sa dalawang magkaibang kabanata. Magkaibigan naman kami ngayon at balewala na kung anong nangyari noon.

Ang ikalawang kabanata ng buhay pag-ibig ko ay magbubukas sa titulong: Isang beses pa lang ako sobra sobrang nagpakatanga sa buong buhay ko. Sabi ng barkada, ‘sa maling tao pa’. Naaalala ko umiiyak ako nun sa klase pati sa Karate Kid at si Kuya waiter ay binigyan na ako ng isang dangkal ang kapal na tissue at pinapatugtugan ako ng ‘Only Reminds Me of You’. Nasaksihan ng barkada lahat ng iyon. At hindi lang yun ang unang beses na sinamahan nila akong titigan ang basag kong puso. At ang marami pang kabanata ng buhay pag-ibig ko ang may sala kung bakit hindi ko na sila madalas makasama noon.Sa pagpapatuloy, akala ko noon big girl na ko. Akala ko siya na kasi college ka na e, ang alam mo seryosohan na. Seryoso naman ako. Siya, ewan ko lang. Tanga kung tanga. Asar na asar sakin si Mommy kasi bakit ko daw hinahayaan na ganunin ako. Sabi ko naman, “Gusto ko pag sumuko ako, masasabi ko sa sarili kong : Susuko na ako kasi alam kong nagawa ko na lahat”. Ayoko kasi pagsisihan e. Ang tagal ko nakamove on dun. Anim na buwan ko yata iniiyakan yun. Kasabay ng ikalawang kabanata ay ang kabanata ng isang mapanakit na Mycha.

Pinrisinta niya kasi ang sarili niya na tutulungan niya ako magmove on. Ayokong sabihin na rebound yun. Siya ang pinaka ‘bet’ ni Mommy, ng kapatid ko at ng UP barkada ko. Sabi sakin ng pinsan niya, ako daw ang pinakagusto niya para sa kanya. Mabait, maalalalahanin, magaan kasama, isama mo pang hindi talaga maikakaila na gwapo siya. Pareho kami music lover pero kumplikado kasi talaga. Hindi kami pwede. Sa akin na lang kung bakit. At para sa akin, mas mabuting magkaibigan kami. At pagkatapos ng apat na buwang panliligaw, hindi naman niya ako napa-oo hanggang sa siya na mismo ang nagdesisyong hayaan na lang muna ako makamove-on sa sarili ko. Nagsara ang ikalawang kabanata sa pagkakaroon niya ng kasintahan isang linggo lang pagkatapos ng naturang pagsuko sa akin. Magkaibigan din kami ngayon, at sa pagsasabing kaibigan, kaibigan talaga.

Ang ikatlong kabanata. Isang taon at kalahati. Maraming pahina. Maraming saya. Maraming luha. Maraming leksyon. Iyon ang pinakamasaya sa lahat. Pinakamasayang humantong sa isang trahedya at ang tanging nais ko lang bitbitin mula doon ay ang mga hindi mapapantayang aral.

Sa kanilang apat, yung una lamang ang mula sa UP. Bukod sa mga magagandang leksyong natutunan ko sa loob ng tatlong taon, ang mga nangyari sa buhay pag-ibig ko ay mananatiling isang bagay na gusto kong ikwento sa iba bilang aral, ngunit hindi isang bagay na aking maipagmamalaki.

At ang ikaapat, ang kasalukuyang kabanata, ay nagbukas sa isang durog na pusong malamlam, halos walang buhay. Salamat sa Kanya na humilom ng bawat sugat, dahan dahang hinawakan sa Kanyang mga kamay hanggang sa ito’y natutong muling tumibok ng normal. Sa lahat ng nangyari, isang bagay lang ang aking natutunan: Walang ibang makakapagbigay sakin ng pagmamahal na gaya ng sa Kanya. Christian naman na ako dati pa pero alam mo yun, hindi lang halata at hindi lang kita sa buhay ko. Isang taon ang lumipas at ni minsan hindi ko naramdaman na hindi ako mahal o hindi ako mahalaga. At kahit noong mga panahong durog ang puso ko, hindi ko naramdaman na mag-isa ako. Ang sarap lumingon pabalik kasi naging madali ang pagmomove on noon. Hanggang sa napakarami ng nangyari at mula noon wala ng sumunod. Walang manliligaw. Walang kasintahan. Walang katext. Wala na. Siya na lang.Siya lang sapat na, o higit at labis pa. Salamat rin sa mga taong umalalay sa akin.

Hindi ko isinara ang pinto para sa pag-ibig. Kinailangan ko lang talaga muna hayaan Siya na ayusin ako. Kasi wala namang ibang aayos sakin kundi Siya. Siya lang, hindi isa pang relasyon, o lalaki. At sa puntong ito, isa lang ang gusto ko. Sa kanya muna ako hanggang sa maging maayos na ang lahat sa akin. Nasasabik ako sa marami pang papakita, paparanas at paparamdam Niya sa akin, habang hinihintay ang tamang panahon, at ang tamang tao. At isa lang naman ang gusto ko para sa kinabukasan ko, iyon ay ang isang mabungang relasyon kasama ang isang taong mas mahal Siya kaysa sa akin. Isang relasyon na Siya yung nasa gitna at magtatagal hindi dahil sa effort namin nung partner ko pero dahil sa Siya ang aming pundasyon, at dahil hindi lang kami nakasalalay sa “sparks” kundi sa “commitment” namin sa isa’t isa. Sa ikalimang kabanata ng aking buhay pag-ibig, inaasahan kong doon na maisusulat ang happily ever after. 

For PART 4 Click Here

Kwentong UP by M. Antonio (Part 2)


PAALAM HIGH SCHOOL, HELLO UP

Hanggang ngayon nahihiwagaan pa din ang mga tao kung ano ba ang Behavioral Sciences. Siguro unang beses lang yun narinig ng ilan sa telebisyon, matapos ang insidenteng nangyari kamakailan. Tinatanong nila, “Ano yan parang psychology?” At dahil pagod na akong magpaliwanag, sasagot na lang ako ng “Oo” para lang matapos na ang usapan. Para na rin sa kaalaman ng iba, UP Manila, DLSU at UST lang ang meron nito sa Pilipinas (sa ngayon) bagamat iba naman ang approach ng DLSU at UST. Mas more on industrial sila. Ang BA Behavioral Sciences ng UP Manila ay pre-med at pre-law. Masaya ako nung malaman ko ‘to kasi pwede ko pa din ituloy ng abogasya. Bukod dito, Psychology, Sociology at Anthropology ang majors namin. Transdisciplinary siya kaya naman well-rounded ang mga estudyante. Pagkagraduate mo maari kang magmasters ng kahit alinman sa tatlong majors na nabanggit sa itaas pero kahit ang tatlong ito ay marami pang sangay gaya ng Social Psych, Med Anthro, Economic Anthro, pwede din ang Lingustics, Forensic Psych, at marami pang iba! Kung instant trabaho after grad ang hanap, mag-apply sa Human Resource ng mga kumpanya. At dahil UP ka, may irrational bias (term na ginamit ng propesor ko sa Pilisopiya, si Sir Tius) uunahin ka, o di kaya mas prioridad kasi UP. Ewan. Di ko pa nasubukan e. At pwede ka ring maging researcher, guidance counselor, propesor, o magtuloy ka ng abogasya o medisina, bahala ka. Kung hindi ka pa desidido sa kung ano gusto mong maging, eto ang kurso na para sa’yo!

ASSUMING KA PA HA

Alam mo yung pakiramdam na akala mo matalino ka kasi Vale ka nung High school tapos pagpasok mo ng UP maiisip mo, “Shocks, ang bobo ko pala”. Galing ako ng private school, spoonfed. Sa UP walang libro libro, bahala ka humanap ng readings mo. Walang oras ng pagkopya ng notes. Isulat mo lahat ng sinasabi ng prof mo, isama mo na rin sa notes mo pati mgacorny jokes, lalo na yung mga prof na hindi nagbibigay ng powerpoint at readings. At may tinatawag pa lang yahoo groups. Inosente. Hindi ko yun alam dati. Ang internet para sa akin noon ay Friendster at Wikipedia lang. Tapos sabi pa ng isa kong propesor, bobo man’s source daw ang wiki kasi pwede i-edit ng kahit sino. Halaaaa hiyang hiya naman ako. Seryoso. Shocked lang ako. Bukod pa dito, nagulantang talaga ako sa Math. Tumatagaktak na 2.75 sa Math 1. At bitter na tres sa Math 11 na kinuha ko ng summer pagkatapos kong i-drop ng second sem dahil natakot akong bumagsak. Sa UP mas okay na idrop ang subject kaysa hayaan mong bumagsak ka. Kasi pareho lang e, kung babagsak ka, uulitin mo din. I-drop mo na kaysa namumulang singko ang marerecord sa transcript mo. Bitter, kasi yung ibang kumuha ng Math 11 sa UP Diliman ay naka line of 1 pero parepareho lang naman kaming hirap. Bad trip. Sabi nila mas madali daw ang Math sa Diliman. Sayang.

Natuto akong gumawa ng powerpoint, bumili ng maraming highlighters at iba’t ibang kulay ng ballpen, desperadang makabisado bawat importanteng detalye sa mga reading. At ang nakakaloka, ang kakapal. Grabe. Parang coverage ng periodical na ang kapal ng isang reading na para lang sa isa hanggang dalawang araw na diskusyon. Tapos tatakutin ka pa ng propesor mo. Kainis.

BAKIT PA BA AKO PUMASOK NG UP?

Mahiwagang buildings. Ang second floor ng RH, karugtong ng third floor ng GAB. Yung totoo? At nabiktima rin ako ng TBA at ng samu’t saring UP linggo. Mahilig kami paikliin ang mga bagay. Photox, Caf, RTR, AS, etc. Ang liit ng campus. Hindi maganda ang facilities.Walang gym. Ang panget ng cafeteria. Nitong huli ko na lang napag-alaman na maling paglalaan ng budget ng gobyerno ang may sala nito. May mga Pinoy na nagsasabing ang kakapal daw ng mukha namin kasi tax daw nila ang nagpapaaral samin. Totoo naman yun, pero sana sinasabi rin nila yun sa mga taong ibinubulsa lang ang tax nila. At least para sa amin malaki ang pakinabang ng buwis nila, ginagamit namin para mag-aral hindi para sa kung ano pa man. Saka nagtatax rin naman ang magulang namin, at kami. Ano pa ba ang walang tax ngayon, e ultimo fishball kahit hindi nagmamahal yun, may tax yun.
Pagiging resourceful ang itinuturo nito sa amin. Kung maliit ang kumot matutong mamaluktot. Nasa unibersidad pa lang, mulat na agad kami sa realidad ng buhay kasi ganito sa tunay na mundo. Walang unibersidad na nag-ooffer ng lessons tungkol sa “diskarte” o ang pagiging street-smart, pero dito sa UP matututunan at kailangan mo itong matutunan sa iyong sarili.

KAIBIGAN. KATROPA. KABARKADA.

Hindi ka agad agad makakahanap ng mga taong makakasundo mo. Yan ang karaniwan pero sa hindi maipaliwanag na ikot ng mga pangyayari, wala pang isang buwan nagsisimula ang taon, may barkada na ako agad—ang TP o Team Pilipinas. Nabuo kami dahil sa History 1 class. Blockmates ko rin sila at nagtuturuan kami lagi kasi naman kada meeting may short quiz kami sa Histo. Kaya Team Pilipinas kasi History of the Philippines yung Histo 1. Ang natatandaan ko July 7 ang anniversary namin kaya sa taon na ito, apat na taon na kami.

Syempre dahil may barkada ka na, may mga kabagang ka na sa mga gimik, kasiyahan, problema at kalokohan. Hindi naman ibig sabihin na BI. Masaya magkaroon ng solid na mga kaibigan kasi sila ang dadamay sa’yo sa mga panahong gusto mo nang magshift o lumipat na lang ng eskwelahan. Yung kasama mo sila nagpupuyat, kumakain, nag-cCR, natutulog sa klase, umiinom after exam. Oo, umiinom ako noon. Dati nung high school kami lang ni Daddy ang magkainuman. Nung college, kami kami na magbabarkada. Hindi naman yung inom na basagan, yung sakto lang. At hindi sa bars, sa mga bahay bahay lang para safe. Baby pa kasi kami. Nito lang, huminto na ako. Umiinom lang kasi ako, lalo na noon kapag brokenhearted.

For PART 3 Click Here

Kwentong UP by M. Antonio (Part 1)


Wala na. Walang wala na akong chance na makapag-aral sa Ateneo, ang dream school ko. Nabasa yung app form ko kasama na rin yung recommendation letters at ang deadline ay kulang isang linggo na lang. Hindi ko na sinubukang ipilit. Hindi na ako kumuha ulit ng form o manghingi man muli ng recommendation letters. Tinanggap ko na lang, baka hindi talaga ako para doon.

Lumipas ang apat na taon, napag-usapan muli namin ng aking ina ang insidenteng iyon. Nilagay niya kasi sa attaché case yung form kasama ang ibang gamit niya: pencil case, libro at…alcohol. Ang salarin. Naiwan niyang maluwag yung takip. Yung takip na hindi di-ikot, yung di-click na ididiin mo lang, ayun. Pineste ng alcohol ang lahat. Kaya naman paalam Ateneo app form. (Binasa ko yung recommendation letters! Hehe. Nakakatouch.)

“Kasi kung naipasa mo yung ACET, for sure sa Ateneo ka nag-aral”, wika niya isang gabi habang kumakain kami ng hapunan.

“Oo naman. Dream school ko yun e.”

Tinanggap ko na noon na UP, FEU at UST na lang ang pagpipilian ko. At hindi naman din kasi ako nag exam sa DLSU, at alam mo na kung bakit.

ANG MAGANDANG BALITA

Lumabas na ang resulta ng entrance exam ng UST. Pasado. Accountancy at Political Science. Ayos. Parehong pre-law. Sa panahong yun alam ko na rin yata na pumasa rin ako ng FEU sa parehong mga kurso. Papasa kaya ako ng UP?

Linggo ng umaga naliligo ako. Magsisimba kasi ang buong pamilya. Pakanta-kanta lang ako. Naulinigan kong kumiriring ang aming telepono. Pinatay ko ang shower. Huminto sa pagkanta. Sinagot ni mommy ang tawag at pagkatapos ay lumakad palapit ng banyo. Sa hindi maunawaang kadahilanan alam ko na ang tawag ay para sakin. Hindi ko lang sigurado kung tungkol saan. Kumatok siya sa banyo at sinabi, “Tumawag si Rhoella! Pasado ka daw sa UP Manila, BA Behavioral Sciences!”

Muntik na akong madulas kakatalon. Dalawampung segundo yata ang haba ng sigaw kong vumivibrato pa. Siyempre proud ka, pero mas proud ang mga magulang mo. Kaya naman kumalat na parang epidemya ang balita at kahit saan ako mapunta binabati ako ng mga tao. Gusto ko lagi lumubog sa kinatatayuan ko. Hindi ako sanay sa mga ganung papuri. Mahiyain talaga ako, kahit hindi halata.

ANG DESISYONG NAGBAGO SA TAKBO NG BUHAY KO

Isang ekis para sa FEU. Sorry. UST o UP? Hindi kami Katoliko pero wala namang prejudice.Kaso lang, yung totoo, Accountancy? Eh kamote nga ako sa Trigo. Sa lahat ng subject nag eexcel ako pero sa Math pang pito yata ako sa klase sa subject na yun kahit sa iba ako ang nangunguna. Sabi ni Tita Sel wala naman daw XY dun. Debit credit lang daw. Pero kahit na, di ko bet yung uniporme ng Accountancy sa USTe. Eh, pero sa UP wala namang uniporme. Ubos damit ampeg? Nung high school pagkat bihira lang kami magcivilian clothes, never ako nag-uulit ng damit. Alam kong hindi na pwede sa college ang ganung klase ng kaartehan.

Si kuya Aldrin na Tomasian ang nagsabing mahirap sa UP, isama mo na ang mga isyu ng posibleng pagkakasangkot sa sorority (ito ay dahil may negatibong konotasyon ito sa karamihan, ngunit para sa akin ngayon, hindi naman dapat na pinag-iisipan ng ganun kasi hindi naman sila warfreak at tulad ng ibang org may prinsipyo sila na nagdidirekta ng kanilang pagkilos sa kabuuan), o ang pagiging aktibista (na hindi rin naman masama pagkat naninindigan ka lang sa kung anong tingin mong tama at kinukwestyon mo ang status quo kasi alam mong may mali).

Sina Daddy at Mommy naman at pati yung ibang kaibigan ko, UP na daw. Mahirap daw kasi pumasa saka iba ang UP. Tatlo lang kami pumasa sa school namin. Isang Elbi, isang Baguio, at ako sa Manila. Mapalad lang na ang first choice kong campus at first choice na course ang pinasahan ko. Pero, hala. What on earth is BA Behavioral Sciences? Never heard. Ang nakakainis pa hindi alam ng iba sa aming probinsya na may UP Manila. Sa tono ng boses nila mukang hindi sila naniniwala na nakapasa ako ng UP, na para bang gumagawa lang ako ng kwento kasi wala naman talagang UP Manila. Alam daw kasi nila UP Diliman lang.

For PART 2 Click Here

Harnessed


When my sin is all that I can see
Your grace remains the shelter that I seek
And when my weakness is all I can give
Your gentle Spirit gives me strength again
And oh, the beauty of Your majesty
On the cross You showed Your love for me

I can’t even say the words. I can’t sing. My eyes are closed. Teardrops rolled down my cheeks, like a dam just collapsed. It was wetting my collar already. I can’t stop them. I sobbed, bit my lips, hesitant to make a sound at first. Then I finally blubbered, with no restraint. What have I been doing? 

harnessed

I walked passed the cross, relying on my own strength. I uprooted all my guardrails and throw them off to the waters. I was walking, not near, but on the edge itself and there was nothing to stop me–that’s what I thought. Believe me, I even tried jumping but He didn’t let meHe didn’t let me. How could He be so mindful of me?

Last week was…indescribable. Tuesday night I was crying over something I shouldn’t be. I was so hurt, and it all boils down to one thing–my heart, I wasn’t able to guard it well. It was filled with longings, assumptions, sparks as they call it. And then someone just turned all the lights off. The rest of the days past and I wasn’t mindful about anything. All those convictions didn’t seem to matter at that time. To get even, I entertained calls, texts, and I almost went out to see someone. See how wrongly I handled that situation? Someone had my heart broken (without him even knowing it, because he was just being a friend while I thought there was something going on between us) so I was trying to look for someone else who could patch it up. And instead of going to Jesus, I relied on myself. I even ignored Him and His love. I was ashamed. The thought of “sinning” makes me ashamed to approach His throne of grace.

Thankfully, I didn’t slip off. Before any damage happened, He pulled me back. He actually postponed all my plans. He had actually left me with no choice like it was a dead end and there was nothing but Him.  And there was this thread around my waist. He pulled my back.

Came Friday, when that song by Leeland was sang in our worship service, it’s like I was slapped hard on the face, not by Him, but by the realization that I was so not worthy to be pulled back. I realized God could have let me fall, He could have let me. He could still save me when I fall and drown anyway, but He never wanted me to be that far from Him. Falling into the water means starting over. Falling means drowning in shame and guilt, again. That feeling of being too far from Him. 

And there I found grace, I found out that I have had this something I don’t deserve–His love. He cares for me too much. He cares for me too much. I can’t really put it into words but I’m really grateful for what happened. It had opened my eyes and I now see Him more clearly. It makes me say God, I choose You. I’ll pursue You. And I’m so sorry. 

We (God and I) are putting up the guardrails back now, making sure they’re stronger and taller this time. Never again will I walk near them. Never again will I even dare look at them nor test them.

I will fix my eyes on Jesus, even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, even when there are uncertainties, even when nothing seems to make sense, even when I’m single and alone and do not feel loved (sometimes).–> No, that’s a lie.

I am loved. And I am not alone. God loves me so much. And He cares a lot. :)

Please pray for me. :) How are you? Are you battling the same thing? Let’s stand together! I’d love to pray for you, too :)

Grateful


Grateful

She’s one of the few people who knows my past. And detailing it out would be tedious. There were a lot of things that happened back then and those are the things that I’m sure I’m not proud of. But of course, God has been so gracious that He taught me great life lessons through those experiences. Ate Cielo and I haven’t seen each other for a long time–or at least talk about our current season. The last time I remember, we were at a coffee shop. I was confessing my wrong doings, and was so guilty and ashamed of all of it. She counseled me with so much mercy and kindness, and that somehow gave me a glimpse of how merciful and kind God is. I knew she believed in me and the destiny God has for me.

Now I know God has changed me a lot. And looking back at everything that’s happened, I can’t help feeling amazed. I’m so grateful that God has brought me this far. It was never an easy walk but He was with me, He empowered me that challenges were like bowling pins struck by the power of His hands. Tomorrow’s another milestone. A reminder that from that day I’ve decided to obey Christ fully, I was never the same. Not again. :)