Tuesday, September 30, 2008

mirror, mirror on the wall - i'm not the fairest of them all ...

how many times have you looked into the mirror and thought this to yourself? how many times do you wish that you had a different set of teeth, curlier locks or straighter strands, a taller nose, angelina-like pouting lips? when were you last satisfied when you looked in the mirror?

i sometimes think to myself, what if i had this and that talent? wouldn't it be great? i said that out loud once ... and i was reproached! a friend told me, "that would be too much! you would've gotten everything!" i thought to myself, i'm being selfish and greedy. and i don't rejoice enough in the talents that God has given me. i might not even be utilizing them all and i'm already asking for more??? it's really selfish!

there are times when we think to ourselves - what is my worth in this life? am i making a difference? what if i had this, i could! you can make a difference now! you are that one unique person in the world.

when you go shopping, do you look for that shirt that everybody else has? NO! you wouldn't want to be walking around town to see that someone else had something on like yours. so, why are we sometimes hoping that we had the same personalities, talents, skills and what-have-yous that the jones', the dela cruzes' and which ever neighbour, friend, lover, idol has?

you are your unique superstar! even if you don't believe it, you serve a particular purpose in this world. you are short, you are tall, you are pretty, you are special, you are you - 1 in 6 billion! i remember the movie simon birch. he was small, he had a deformity and he was to die young. but he had a certain skill that little children listened to him. when a field trip went awry and the children plunged into the icy cold water, he being a small person could fit into the little school bus window to help the children escape to safer ground. and with his authoritative voice he calmed all the children so that they could make it out. he saved everybody but his lungs didn't recover from the water exposure. but that was his purpose. God was so wise to make him as small as he was, as authoritative as he was and he always wanted to be a hero .. and he was.

and because we are essentially all equal in our uniqueness, there is also no need to be judgemental of others or to think one is more superior than another. if we look at a big jigsaw puzzle, all pieces don't look alike. they are different shapes and it's in these different shapes that everything fits because if everything were square, it would be confusing to tell which piece belonged without first seeing the big picture. but if we are oddly shaped, even without seeing the big picture, we know it works because it fits!

i was talking to my friend the other day and she thought that she never thinks of anyone as inferior to herself. i congratulated her because that was the right way of thinking. there is honestly something different everyone can offer. we can make a difference. just look at an impressionist painting. the same scenery would never look alike. monet, manet and all artists rejoice in their differences. why can't we?

so let's not try to best each other ... let's just celebrate each other's differences and glorify the Lord that He has made us so different that we've become the spice of someone's life - be it lover, friend, family, as father, mother, brother, sister ... even as a stranger.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

free will - which door will you choose?

There are three doors. Each one marked accordingly and has a time limit to reach your final destination.

Door No. 1 - Eternal happiness laden with troubles, possible lion capture, tiger bites, malaria, physical beating, other hardships may arise, such as broken hearts, broken spirit and loneliness. Length of time: 70 years.

Door No. 2 - Eternal damnation but road is comfortable, no possible physical injury, rose petals on the road, comfort, relative ease of living, worldly love, no effort to live, a limousine will take you there. Length of time: 20 years.

Door No. 3 - Crossroads that lead to eternal happiness and eternal damnation. May lead to a comfortable life or not, could experience thorns along the way as well as sunny patches. Length of time: 100 years.

Which would you choose?

Life is not as simple as choosing doors. Neither is it as easy as finding doors that are accordingly marked. It's more of a guessing game really with subtle clues whether we are going the right way or not.

During the past week, that's been the topic of conversation, between friends, and a even the message at Church this Sunday. We all have a choice to say "yes" or "no" to God because He always says "yes" to us. His resounding "yes" was the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross to save us from all our sins.

He has also given us the power to choose. A friend of mine related to me that last Sunday's message at her church was that God was the Great Orchestrator. I asked her what that meant. She pictured an orchestra and God had the score sheet. Each musician had the choice to follow the conductor or not. The strings could move up, the wind could go down ... it could be a cacophony instead of harmony. I said wouldn't it be nice to see the score sheet so that we'd know what to do. She said that it could be complicated and harder if we saw the Great Plan. She has a point, it could be confusing ... When we see a map, do we actually know where to go? It's not as easy as that. She said, that we have to look at the signs. I said what are the signs? She said it could be the Bible or experiences or people. I would like to quote another friend who says that God is His GPS. God Positioning System. Even if we stray, He's still there at the end of the road leading us back to the right path.

Going back to the possibly cacophonic orchestra and to what my friend said, each musician has a choice whether to follow the conductor or not, to play or not, to rise with each beat or to go softer. Here lies the freedom. Some of us have a rough idea what the music is supposed to sound like but when we play on our own, it doesn't seem to be as majestic. It actually may sound wrong. But when put together, the harmony becomes an intricate web of music that is not only pleasing to the ears but revelationary for the musician. "Ah, that's why I had to play that way because it could only be played a certain way to achieve that effect." But oftentimes, we don't see the big picture. In our own decisions, we think we are alone. We don't realize that it's more of a Domino Effect.

Sometimes, it's easier to say that "We didn't have a choice". There are instances where this is a true statement but unless somebody has a gun to your head or threatens your life, we all have a choice whether to open doors 1, 2 or 3. Sometimes, we say that life is short so why not take Door No. 2. Afterall, we're all bound to die, we might as well have it easy in our earthly life. Door No. 1 seems to be a masochistic life and who would wilfully suffer to gain eternal life? It's a crazy idea ... Isn't it? Or is it? (Jesus did it!) Door No. 3 are those that like to sit on the fence. One day on the road to Door No. 2 and sometimes Door No. 1. It takes 100 years because there's a 50 per cent chance of reaching both doors.

There's no real easy way to decide. It's sometimes easier just to sit and watch life go by. It's tiring too. But much of life is dictated by us. We can be born into a poor family but we have a choice to make an effort to rise up from poverty. We can have wealth but choose to not give. The effort it takes to discern and to plan and to see the signs that God gives us along the way is life-consuming. We have a choice to make something of our lives. A choice that is not clear-cut from the get-go but at least allows you to move from place to place. Whether it's to Door No. 1 or Door No. 2 is the risk we take. Let's just hope the signs lead to the right way.

The choice is ours.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A man and his fruit

(written 8 March 2001, in the outside kitchen)

I walked onto a field and saw a man crying. I asked him, "Why do your tears pour?" He held a rotten fruit in his hand then said, "This was beautiful once." He buried his face into his hat. The sun was high in the sky. The wind blew without apprehension, raising the emotion of the man to the gods above. His grief was complete. He stops crying and nostalgia strikes. "I planted a tree. I took care of it and gave it my love. As it grew, so did its beauty. It had become awesome. Every day, I stood and watched it. I was careful not to touch it for it might be disturbed."

Meanwhile, the tree bore fruit. From its buds it promised a bountiful and beautiful harvest. The sun would sometimes strike it and it glistened like a phoenix out of burning ashes. "I had become afraid to pick it", the man said. But the fruit had matured and was tired of hanging and not being consumed. The fruit would be so inviting to eat at times. But the man refused the urges and was just happy to watch. The fruit thought to herself, "If my beauty should lead to mere admiration and no consumption, I shall die a decoration and not live up to my purpose." She grew weary.

As the fruit season ended, the man took to his farm chores. But when he returned, the fruit, once so beautiful and inviting, had withered like a prune. He was devastated. The fruit, lifeless, hanging by just a fiber of a stem somehow new her admirer had arrived. She can now fall. As she did, the man rushed to catch it.

This is the man that I chanced upon a field, a sunny day in May. He was the farmer who was content to see but not to get the fruit. His admiration has rendered both him and fruit useless. No fruit to harvest, no taste of his hard work. The fruit had rotted in vain. The man had cried too much. The sun was setting. "I shall not see another beautiful fruit, nor shall I raise another. I will eat only of another's and remember the one so beautiful and awesome."

brotherly advice

i was in a state yesterday and had been very hurt by a conversation i had with a loved one ... but my brother came to the rescue and offered me these pieces of advice. i would like to honour him by putting it here.

1. laughter is the best medicine
2. i can write wherever i am
3. exercise 30 minutes a day
4. devote two hours a day for my writing
5. write my book

to my ever-loving brother, attybuff, thank you!!! thank you for supporting my passion. love you very much!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

grapes of wrath: dolma!

i ate dolma again yesterday. it's an iraqi dish consisting of rice with meat, tomato sauce and other arabic herbs and spices wrapped in acidic grape leaves.

i first had the taste of it when i went to iraq in 2001. i had just recently graduated from college and my mom said that i was going there for vacation! two months later, i was on an internship which she had arranged at the UNOHCI (at the Canal Hotel, the UN offices bombed in August 2003). i was outraged, i felt duped, i felt trapped. i wasn't ready ... i wasn't happy. i had been as sour as the leaves of the grapes ... that wrapped the dolma!

but the exquisite and different taste of rice wrapped in something sour is palatable. so, just like my stay in iraq, there was some good to it ... thus being the rice ... the meat, the good part of the dolma ... i had gained international experience on my first job. despite being the youngest staff at the UNDP, i was a consultant. it was glorious except that i ddin't feel at home. i bawled my eyes out every chance i got and at one point was almost ready to run away. (that's childish youth for you ...!) but i didn't. i spoke to my mom, after staying a year there, that i had had enough and that i would go back to study (which partly materialized a year later) but actually, i just missed all my friends and the philippines and of course my family.

being in baghdad though thought me a lot ...

1. you should always make time to do the important things in life, before it's too late. i never got to see the national museum which housed 2,000-year-old relics which my brothers did when they spent a month there. i had put it off so long that i had come home to the philippines in 2002 without seeing it and finding out that it had been bombed by the careless americans during the iraq invasion, i was crushed!

2. cherish your friendships ... wherever you are ... it was only the kilometric letters that i wrote to friends and those that my friends wrote to me that kept me sane. they encouraged me and told me what a blessing it was and how lucky i was to be working there. i had made several friends there and had gotten involved with some men. two wrote me poetry and one asked my mother for permission to date me. another one, i can't count because he was married and wouldn't give up until i had dinner with him. he gave me plastic flowers (he said so that it would never die) on our night out. i had to stop my laugh. that same night, we met up with other UN colleagues and laughed the night away. whether high or low, i always cherished the memories of my friends and look back at them when i feel down.

3. always strive to meet new people ... it was there that i learned to be confident. on my first day as an intern, my supervisor "held my hand" and ate lunch with me and showed me around. the following days of course i had to be on my own. so, i devised a way to sit in empty tables and waited for people to sit next to me. then i would strike up a conversation or they would. or ... i would sit next to people and strike up a conversation. there, everybody was equal ... it didn't matter if you were a PhD, or a Professional or a General Services, or whatever ... we were all migrants far away from our land, and it was bearable because there were people around and it was less lonely. i also joined the afternoon rush to the pingpong tables after office hours at the Canal Hotel. i had to wait some minutes before getting picked up because my brothers needed to be picked up first from school. this is where i met one of my friends who did computational linguistics. i was sad to know that he had been badly hurt in the bombing but he's okay now after years of recovery.

4. be thankful for what you have ... i was getting a salary higher than most entry level jobs. it helped when i repatriated. i was also very glad that some of my family was there, helping me get through. i got to know my little brothers more even if we ended up rolling and fighting on the floor. i got to play pingpong and billiards with them whenever we wanted. i also got to spend some time with my mom. although at that time, all i wanted to do was run away. i was happy that she didn't stay too long in baghdad after the war erupted. we couldn't sleep thinking if she was okay or not.

5. there's always something to do if you make an effort ... some people thought that because baghdad was under saddam's rule and UN sactions, it was horrible, it wasn't as such ... for us UN workers there, it was more like paradise (if you chose to look at it that way). although, it was sad to see the hardship of the people and the inflation. we carried iraqi dinars in black plastic bags in 1,000 dinar bundles of 100. 1 dollar was 2,000 dinars. there was a beautiful saturday market in al-mutanabi, where people sold their old books. we were able to get some there. there were also the weekly gallery openings. you'd think that since it was under sanctions, it should be dead. but the cultural life was still as high as it could get. we got to see the symphony at the opera house. we were able to visit ur, abraham's birth place and babylon and nineveh. the walls are still there. basrah in the south is home to the infamous lemon! there was the wood roasted fish from the mesopatamian rivers: euphrates and tigris. there were a thousand and one things to do.

6. make the most of what you have ... i once went to a dentist who had the honour of removing both my wisdom teeth (in a span of 6 months!!! uber ouch!) and he had a passion for the arts ... he combined this passion and his dentistry by using his drill to etch out figures and designs on a mirror. it was amazing to see. the dentist artist!

7. don't forget to smile ... because it's not as bad as it seems.

all in all, baghdad was a beautiful place. we could play on the piano inside the house that had two gardens - something i long to have now (i love gardens). i started taking violin lessons again (but my teacher decided it was better to talk during lessons and i had been remiss in my hand exercise that i couldn't extend my pinky ... hehe) ... he always gave me a nice glass of juice which had been fermented a year before, something they learned to do during the many wars that had passed the country.

i was amazed at the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the iraqis. you would never think there were any sanctions, the way the night life was ... wonderful restaurants, especially the Qasr Al-Abiad (White Castle) ... Woods ... and many more. The ice cream parlors open till midnight in Ar-Rassat, the "high street" of Baghdad. it was heaven. just like the dolma ... sourness that wraps something tasty forming a delicious and exquisite taste that melts in your mouth.

Monday, September 22, 2008

words in my blood

you writhe in my veins waiting to come out, you urge me, prod me, write me ... i follow your beckoning as i strike the keys, my heart pounding as words come out of me, i don't know what to say but it has a mind of its own, i am a mere instrument, i am a medium ... the words come alive and tells the story ... it moves me, it makes me crazy, it tells me what to do ... i am enveloped by its being, its beauty, its prose. its rhythm, its time, its magic in quotes ... i am its slave as i write these words in my blood.


the infamous adage goes: no (wo)man is an island.

the question is, if you're not an island, what type of landmass are you? are you a plateau? are you connected to a mainland that goes out to the sea or into the sky bordered by a landmass on each side except for that part which lies exposed? are you a delta? are you that little or big piece of land that rivers meet at? you are formed by their endless deposits? are you a mountain, do you jut out into the skies and hope to touch the heavens? are you a desert, dry and seared by the sun's heat? what type of continues part of land are you? are you a continent?

from where you are, how do people reach you, by boat, by plain, by bridge, by land, by bike, by foot, by any means of transportation? are you near, are you far, are you here are you there?

what am i getting at?

each person is inevitably going to cross paths with another, thus the premise that no man is an island is true. but what about those times that we close off ourselves and push people away? are we not de facto islands? are we not in that moment in time an island that sits out on the sea, waiting to be inhabited again? human existence is defined not just by the mere nativity of each person, but by the relationships each person has. sometimes, one finds meaning in the purpose of being in a community, in a family, in a group, in society, in the multitude of people divided and multiplied by one. i see a permutation table until that prime number is extracted at the bottom when divisibility is no longer possible. when at last, one is one, undivided, singular, alone.

sometimes, in times when we most feel unappreciated, when we need to heal, when we need some time, we retreat into our personal islands. we tend our gardens alone, we play alone, we bloom alone. but then we feel lonely. there's no one to appreciate the beauty, the fruits, the garden, for what is this all for?

can we move the islands closer? can we have land bridges? can there be volcanic eruptions to connect these masses? must there be such a violent formation? must we have the paratroopers on call to descend on the island?

sometimes, i feel that i'm all in between landmasses, easily accessible at times, hard to reach at times ... i'm also reflecting ... am i a permanent island? do i just let people visit me but never really inhabit me? am i afraid? do i keep people at arm's lengths because i get uncomfortable when people get too close?

but talking to my colleague ... she said ... isolation is not good. do you really want that for yourself? i think ...

i want to be an inhabited island. (CALL IN THE PARATROOPERS!!!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

lorenzo's oil: a tale of struggle, courage, persistence and unconditional love

what would you do if someone told you that nothing could be done? that there was no hope? would you stop dead in your tracks, accept fate and just leave the fight?

"Life has meaning only in the struggle. Triumph or defeat is in the hands of the Gods ... so let us celebrate the struggle!" (Swahili Warrior Song)

this was the thought-provoking opening line of the movie lorenzo's oil.

a tale of a vibrant six-year old boy ... about to start his life in this world, weighed down by a rare neurological illness called Adrenoleukodystrophy or ADL begins his life instead with a struggle ... a struggle that would leave him literally speechless, almost paralyzed and condemned to a death sentence. the doctor who diagnosed him said that usually children suffering from ADL die two years after diagnosis.

his parents could only shed a tear at that moment of truth and later put on a brave face to hug their young son.

but the parents didn't give up. they looked up all of the literature to be found on ADL. they sought out doctors who were working on therapies and enrolled lorenzo in clinical tests only to be disappointed. "this isn't how science works" they said when asked by the parents if the process could be sped up or stopped. they needed to follow a protocol. for parents with a dying child, protocol goes out the window. what kind of process would help ease the pain of imminent death?

the father augusto odone played by nick nolte describes to his wife, michaela, played by susan sarandon to treat the disease as if it was coming to a new country ... trying to understand it ... knowing it ... they conducted their own research ... nolte and sarandon found under heaps of books, finances taut, they took out a first and second mortgage on their house, but never let any ray of hope pass without taking a chance. anything, anything, there was no price they wouldn't pay to ease the pain of lorenzo, to fight this unfair battle for him.

lorenzo never gave up either. as he struggled against suffocating even from his own saliva, he grew to be 30 years old before he died in may this year.

but most of all the struggle was a collective fight. it was lorenzo's parents who never wanted go give up. sarandon portrayed to be a mother incessant in making lorenzo's life "not silent" as he promised him showered him with her love, sometimes neglecting her own health, happiness and her own husband. she made sure that lorenzo was treated with dignity by all the people surrounding him even if he lay in his bed only able to move his eyes and pinky. she egged him on, like a real mother to "tell your brain, to tell your hand, to tell your pinky to move". she gave voice to the muteness of his spirit caged in a body that was alive but almost unhuman as he was fed by tubes. his father, a "simple man" as he described himself searched for any possible lead in all that he could possibly consume in books, experience and people. their passion was infectious. his aunt who was a carrier was lorenzo's hope in testing the controversial oil (oleic acid and erucic acid - found in olive and rapeseed oil, respectively). it was his friend amori who came from the comoros who relived their youth in singing songs and just being a friend in time of need.

augusto and michaela fought against information monopoly, scientific protocols, cowardice and ignorance. when accused of arrogance, augusto defined arrogance by going back to its latin roots "to claim for one's self" as he claimed not to give up on his son as parents as the ADL foundation refused to disseminate information about the effects of oleic acid.

there was no hurdle high enough ... michaela has since passed in 2000 but augusto lives on. he plans to write a book giving tribute to the struggle of his son. he lived 30 years, 20 years more than the doctors predicted.

struggle, like pain is difficult. it's discouraging and often tiring. it's easier to give up than to keep at the fight. at what cost? for some, there's no giving up. there's only the will ... the will to live, to fight and never lose hope in the face of desparation.

i would like to salute and celebrate lorenzo's struggle and his victory. i call it a victory because his experimental treatment of oil patented by his father has improved the quality of life of so many boys suffering from ADL. it is evidence that battle was not fought in vain. that even in the face of death, there's hope.

let's celebrate the struggles of life. let us wear our battle scars proudly just to say "i made it out alive".

the value of love

it's you that give me courage to do the things i wouldn't usually do ...
it's you who makes me feel that i matter in this world ...
it's you that makes my life worthy of living ...
it's you who i can share to the world without wanting anything in return ...
it's you who give me purpose for being ...
it's you that i come to understand ...
it's you LOVE that healed me ...
it's you that makes me love so much ...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"what are your plans in life?"

boom! anna asked me one of the toughest questions in life! if i was asked that question years ago, i would have enumerated all my aspirations. i was so sure of myself then. now, that i'm older, i had a different answer. none of my "plans" materialized as i had hoped but i think they were also for the better. God had other plans. i never knew i was going to switzerland but i don't regret the fact that i did. if i had stayed in the philippines, i'm sure all my plans would have changed too.

the answer i gave was: me ... to lead the life that God wants me to ... i don't have specifics yet because i don't really know ... but i let Him drive

anna: i don't really know to what are my plans. that's the reason why i asked. hehehe. maybe i was the only one still undecided on what to do ... hahaha.. cguro kasi we are undecided kasi we have lots of possibilities. unlike others lalo na sa pinas ... yung iba even though they would like to continue studying ... they can't kasi they have to help their family ...

she was so right! i never thought of it that way. before i would just complain or come up with 1001 reasons why i couldn't do this and that ... why i had no real plans ... but the truth of the matter is ... I DO HAVE A CHOICE ... THERE IS A LOT OF POSSIBILITIES. i'm just too chicken to pursue any of them ... i'm afraid! sometimes, it's easier to stay as a victim and blame the world.

going back to my answer ... it doesn't mean just because God is driving, i'm just sitting idly by in the passenger seat either! no, i have to help navigate because i have free will. i have a choice which way to go. i have the freedom to choose.

most people like to blame God. i really regret that. most of the times, we are suffering the consequences of our actions or the misjudgements of other people. but God only has the good at heart for us. He shouldn't be some kind of whipping post. but even if we relegate that role to Him, He doesn't really curse us back.

so how do i let God lead? i try to pray about it ... and discern ... because it's difficult to tell ... i try to be responsible in my choices and act on what i can control like what job i'll apply for, which friends i should hang out with, which school to go to, what to read, etc. things i have control over.

i still don't have real concrete plans for the future but i do have short-term goals. goals i'd like to see improve in myself: i.e.

1. lose some weight!!! yes, all the pounds i lost have come back, thank God not all of them. (i would joke that i couldn't help the food coming into my mouth ... i thrust it there! hehe)

2. improve myself by reading the books i want to read or reading books that i should read. i have a pile at home just waiting to be read.

3. i'm trying to bike more ... i finally sold my little bike which was a source of insecurity every time i drove up to the office. i'd bike in a flurry to avoid people seeing my insy winsy bike. it has found a home with a dear friend who is very much happy with the state of the bike. i'm glad it has a good home.

4. learn french! - rather SPEAK IT!!! i've been here for four years and i still can't carry on a fluent conversation. it's a real shame! so, i engaged one of my friends to do a "tandem" as he likes to call it ... we exchange. he learns filipino and i learn french. one hour for each and the rest in english. three hours on a tuesday evening. i am still enrolled in french class at the office. thank God i passed the last exam. :D

5. say NO! - as i wrote earlier, i had a real problem saying "no" and it made my life so hectic that i would be so stressed out and for what? for the few praises that i would get? not worth it! i'd rather do the things i'd like to do and be happy with myself and not get an aneurism in the process.

6. continue to live life to the fullest ... i signed as a witness to a last will and testament today. it was my colleague's. death is also a very potent mover.

7. learn, learn, learn - from every possible medium - people, books, experience. as anna said "there are so many things to learn in every day life". i said "as long as we're open to it".

8. LOVE - my friend danny keeps repeating this over and over and over again ... that i just can't keep it to myself. he asked me "why are you here?" i said ... "what? here, in your office?" he said, "here in this world. wasn't it that your parents loved each other and created you?" i think so. hehe. i also bumped into the guy i was dating yesterday who danny was talking to... he felt sad for me when we "broke up" because he said that we were put on this earth to love. i think we should grab every opportunity to show love. what if you die tomorrow and you never told a loved one you loved them? or a person you admire so much? or your children, or your friend? what is the use of keeping that love to yourself? you reap what you sow. so, i try in all earnest to show love when i can. i may not be successful sometimes but at least i tried. i may not be rich but i am rich in love. :D

9. make the most of every situation - i think it was in high school (abu dhabi) that a teacher would drill in me that i was very lucky to be where i am. i didn't know if i was lucky but i think i was privileged to have moved from place to place. i suffered a lot losing friends and opportunities but i grew to embrace change. it's not so painful anymore to leave. it's still hard to say goodbye but with technological advances ... who can be far away? at a click, you're connected. (not that i'd prefer the computer version of anyone ... maybe that could work to my advantage though ... just joking) and everything can be a learning experience. once i was packing and my brother was biting my head off why i didn't come home early and pack and blah and blah and blah. i said "what good is it for you to scold me now? will it help me pack? why not just help me?" 10 per cent of what we go through is the situation itself, 90 per cent is the attitude we take to solving the problem or dealing with the situation. in retrospect, you are probably better off than most people.

that's all i can think of for the moment.

what are your plans in life?

Monday, September 15, 2008

purging ...

i think i got what she meant by purging ... it's only when we've experienced all the pain and take it out of our system that we can change ... that we are somehow cleansed by the experience and going through some kind of "refiner's fire".

i was talking to a friend today and we got on the topic of pain ... because we were talking about Hope for the Flowers and relating the parts of the book that we liked. she said that it was when pain became necessary for change.

i wrote a piece on pain in my blog before about pain being a catalyst of change ...


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Change of hair ...

They say that when a girl drastically cuts her hair, there's something that's caused it ... I've not had any real life altering experience but I did want to have a change ... a change of hair that is!

Laarni Lozada

She sang, she cried, she cried some more and she won ...

When I heard her audition, I think I shed a tear ... When I saw her enter the Pinoy Dream Academy, I shared in her tears. She was so broken, there were only pieces of herself to put back together again.

She wasn't ashamed to show her emotions, neither did she care. She was ashamed that she was making the others feel bad but they didn't understand her. All she needed was love but all they thought about were themselves.

I could empathize with her because I was once like her. I lived in the prison of my mind. I looked myself as an ugly being, unworthy and without talent. IT took a lot of people and a lot of love to cure me. But it worked. If it weren't for the many people who always told me "you look pretty when you smile, smile some more" ... or the other signs of building up, I will not be where I am today. I thank everybody who never lost hope in me. Who believed that I could be a better me.

I hope the same for Laarni. Now that she's the Grand Star Dreamer, I hope she will have more confidence in herself. That in her brokenness and in her imperfections, she is perfect in God's eyes, just like everybody else ... I hope that she will begin to love herself for who she is ... a very talented and blessed person, full of emotions, and full of love ... that even in the ugliness of the world, she can still be beautiful if she can only see with God's eyes.

I'll refer again to Bo Sanchez' book "7 Secrets to Real Freedom", that sometimes, we are locked in into our own prisons ... our own created limitations ...

I would say we should break out of the prison in our minds. I hope that will happen for her.

Congratulations Laarni!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Down time

Today is Jeune Genevois ... there's no work. I took this opportunity to just take it easy. The rainy weather made it easier to just sit back and relax. So that's what I did. I read a book and finished it. I've not done that for a long time. My mind was blank except for the book's content. I read Bo Sanchez "7 Secrets to Real Freedom" and couldn't put it down. I started reading in the kitchen and all the time, I was wondering whether I should go to the UPSA workshop at the Church of Latter-Day Saints. I didn't feel compelled. I had gotten up early and had readied myself early. I washed my hair, made myself up, ate lunch, did my French homework and started to read the book during lunch.

I was moved and there were times when I cried. I was worried for my makeup especially because I had put mascara on but I didn't worry, I was overtaken by the book that I didn't care.

The book talks about addictions and how we are sometimes hiddenly addicted to things and are unaware of them. Addictions according to Bo are signs of a bigger need - the need to be loved because we have empty love tanks.

There are the compulsive people pleasers - the approval addicts. There are the workaholics - who even at the failed attempted suicide of a daughter continued to work. Eventually, the daughter successfully committed suicide and the man died estranged from his wife and children. There are the porn addicts. There are all sorts of addictions that cover up for a bigger need and as what my colleague Danny always emphasizes "We are all put on this earth to love." We all need to be loved. When we don't get it from ourselves, the people we love, we try to get it from our addictions.

Love. That's been the message of this past week. And so I took time to love myself. Yes, you heard it right ... it's not bad to love yourself. Because you can't give of something you don't have. It's not being selfish, it's just making sure that your own love tank is full. You surround yourself with things that make you happy and people that lift you up. So that's what I did.

I used to be a people pleaser. I was defensive and crushed when people didn't like me. I would excel at school because I got patted on the back. While all the while, my family life was falling apart. My home was in ruins due to my father's alcoholism. It affected all of us. My mom was emotionally inaccessible, my brothers were lashing out or apathetic, I would pour all my attention towards school. I never wanted to go home. I didn't want to face the pain of what was happening. I never spoke about this until I went to college and what a liberating feeling it was when I did.

Slowly, I opened up and accepted our situation. I accepted that I came from a broken family and that it wasn't anything I should be ashamed about. It was not a scourge. That it happens. That it didn't define me and that I wasn't abnormal.

The book talks about accepting ourselves as both sinners and saints. That we don't need to batter ourselves with blame or panic, because we are two sides of the same coin. That God loves us for who we are and that God is not a vengeful God who exacts revenge everytime we forget our prayers. He wants us to be happy.

There is also toxic faith, where we rely fully on faith without concrete actions. There is also the instances where religious leaders become abusive and we have the choice to be not victims of abuse because we can take charge of our lives.

We need real faith ... The believe that God will heal us but we have to make an effor to take charge of our lives because after all, He gave us free will to choose our decisions. Stop the blame.

So that's what I did today. I had time to reflect and read and it was a wonderful feeling. I wasn't panicking as I usually do when I have nothing to do or when I don't have any where to go. I felt at peace to just sit in the kitchen, reading a book and having time to myself ... something I hardly do ... because I choose to run around like a dog chasing its tail. I'm tired of running around ... I want to see life for its beauty ... in all its slowness or fastness ... but at my pace and not the world's. I want to be me without feeling guilty or gauging my worth in the eyes of others.

This is my prayer ...


Reading this book opened up my eyes and made me believe that truly I'm a child of God - worthy of love. I pray that every day I will be able to accept myself - sinner and saint alike and love myself. I hope that I will be a light to others and not help them bask in their own darkness. Lord, let me be your instrument of Love and Peace - for you are the source of both. Let me not have toxic but only real faith - the belief that you alone are God but that we as intelligent human beings can take charge of our lives. That we as your children can be your true disciples. And I pray that whatever I do in life, I will be a source of love and joy for you and others as well. This I ask in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

Which came first, inspiration or action?

"We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action." - Frank Tibolt

It's like who came first, the chicken or the egg. Does one actually affect the other? Or does the former pre-exist the other?

Can one think up a bright idea without a stimulus?

As I was reading Bo Sanchez's book on "7 Secrets to Real Freedom" that was the quote that struck me. Have I been waiting for that great inspiration to start living my life? When have I had my moments of inspiration?

I'm thinking of a car and the steering wheel ... is it easier to steer when the car is moving or at a stand still? Can we produce energy if inertia is at rest?

My greatest moments of inspiration usually occurred when I was observing people, if I happen to be in a jeep, watching people pass by, watching the world, walking, thinking, amidst a crowd, even at SM when the salesladies start filing in for closing time ... I often get my ideas when I'm in the middle of something and I have to stop what I'm doing to write or to act on that idea that I just got.

But sometimes, I just wait there ... sitting. Waiting for heaven to descend on earth. I'm not doing my part. I'm waiting for inspiration before acting. Like writing my book. It's been something I've wanted to do since forever. I've had many beginnings but I never really finished. My mind takes me off target and I lose heart and I wait for another burst of inspiration. But in reality, I could write about many things. I just need to sit down and collect my thoughts and find the courage to put down all that I'm thinking on paper without fear of what other people will say.

What about you? Are you waiting for inspiration to start acting?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"they don't like nice people"

i was just in the toilet (yes, i go frequently ... hehe ) and there i met one of my arab colleagues. she said "they don't like nice people ... people with good hearts". i was stunned ... what was she talking about? she was talking about all the controversies enveloping her life right now as she is applying for a promotion. she was speaking french, arab and english and i could barely understand everything. she is on her way to retirement but they don't want to promote her and she has collated some of the bad things that's been said about her. i only know her side so i cannot make a judgement. but she said, "just because they think i'm so nice, i will not fight back". i could only encourage my iraqi friend and said to ignore them, after all, she was near retirement. she said but it hurts and she points to her heart. she comments "look what happened to iraq, do you think i care about that measley little francs!"

it's true sometimes that we don't care for nice people when we want to put our agenda ahead. it happens that good people are walked on. coming from a school where oppression is not tolerated, i feel pity for her. i do hope she fights back. but she said herself that she doesn't want any trouble, not now ... it's near retirement.

why does it happen?

i used to work in a government office and i had a friend who was in the same job for 10 years. he wanted to get the promotion that he so badly needed. instead, they gave it to someone less qualified. he suspects because it was because he knew too much. it was awful because even his boss didn't stick up for him. the office was divided. it became a hostile working environment. was it wrong for him to be capable and nice, to be able to do his job competently? why are good people punished sometimes? there's a joke that says "don't do your job too well or else they will never let you go". sometimes it's true. but at least now, when the office was reorganized his post was reclassified. he was able to get the promotion that would affirm his capabilities. he deserved it! he was doing tasks for an assistant director and he was only planning officer I.

i hope that people will continue to fight for injustices that are happening around them, to stick up for what is right and to put a stop to oppression. we are all responsible in making sure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect for their human rights.

consumatum est ...

yes, it's finished! so far, the last of my commitments have finished! today is the UPSA concert and i'm glad. i didn't have to do much but it stresses me sometimes to be in information services. yes, i know i finished journalism ... but sometimes i just feel like i don't want to do it anymore. i want to write for pleasure and sometimes, i want to retreat into my own world. i don't want any more complications.

when i was asked to become publicity coordinator for the concert while on vacation in mexico, i thought many times before saying "yes". my mom already told me to say "no" because she knew it might stress me but when i saw the terms of reference, i thought, it didn't sound so bad. when i finally got down to the nitty-gritty, i started panicking as to how i could come up with the press release and contact the media in such a short time. i got back 16 august and the concert is 10 september. i had other commitments and national conferences to attend to beforehand. but God is good. i received an already prepared press release in french no less and through the help of google, i translated it into english and just edited it after. i sent it to the media and only one responded ... abs-cbn. at least we got one coverage.

bo sanchez is right ... sometimes you just have to say "no" so you can say "yes" to the more important things of life. nobody forced me to say yes. i did my responsibility and honestly it may not have been my best. but now, i'd like to take a break and just live.

i have a standing commitment with a church group that i belong to ... but i hardly get tired doing that so i continue. when i commit, i like to give my 100 percent. if i can't give that, it's not worth saying "yes".

now ... i will enjoy my freedom and just meet up with friends and see life!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

if you die tomorrow ... what would you do?

tomorrow is supposed to be the end of the world as forecast by some people ... the black hole will appear ... a friend of mine asked me the question above and i said ...

i'd live.

yes, i'd simply be myself. because i try my hardest to live as if everyday was the last day of my life.

it's okay ... if i die then i do
if i don't then i'll live
life is short so why worry
do what you can today
if tomorrow never comes
then no regrets will there be.

an extra Special birthday

love. that was what i felt today. i was surrounded by so many of my closest friends here in geneva and also that i've just met but even then, they still made me feel special. we were 25 people fitting in a cramped studio and each one telling their stories and laughing and smiling and making everybody feel welcome. i wish i didn't have neighbours today so that everybody could continue in their boisterous laughter. it was so infectious and i didn't want it to stop. i felt so much joy and love in my heart for everyone that came and made it special. i felt the love even from distant lands. when i received my phone today (which i left in france during the weekend), i had 21 greetings. it was so touching. some people tried to call. some sent messages twice thinking i didn't receive it the first time. sorry guys, i didn't have my phone. for the pictures, here's the link.


again, thank you to everybody.

love you guys.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

i'm allergic to dust

when my doctor told me that i had allergies and that he needed to give me some tests to determine as to what, i became curious. today, i got my answer. 25 pricks from t- to t+ i was like a pin cushion. the test was done in the morning. first, my forearm was cleansed with alcohol and numbered from 1-23 with polar ends at t- and t+. after the pricking, i was to observe which number would look like a mosquito bite. after a few minutes the t+ prick was the itchiest and was the most visibly mosquito bite looking bump. when the doctor saw me he said "you have big reactions". i don't know what that means. what he said definitely was "you're allergic to dust". i had to come back an hour later to see the second reaction. he wrote down number 14. next monday i will be going for the second series of tests to determine which pollen i'm allergic to. i wonder if it will be the same or will they actually hold up pieces of pollen up to my nose and see whichever one makes me sneeze. we'll see...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Youth and leadership creating possibilities

I was inspired by my brother's topic for his oration. So this is what I wrote.


It was the great Dr. Jose Rizal who said that the future is in the hands of the youth. Why did he say this? Because he believed that the new generation, whose minds are still full of idealism with hope running in their veins, were the agents of change. A change for the better. A change that could lead to a better future.

What does it mean to be a youth? Who are these people whose minds are impressionable yet full of ideas for a better tomorrow? They are us. They are the teenagers who go to school, they are the young professionals who strive to carve out a career, they are the people who are on their way to adulthood. We are being moulded but we can also mould.

How can the youth embrace leadership so that we will become responsible adults preparing the way for the new generation of youth? Leadership is foremost not just being the head of a team or a captain or a leader. The greatest leader was Jesus Christ. But He never wanted to be the head of the table, He was foremost a servant. To be a great leader, you need to be a great servant. It is in the spirit of service and love for others that we create possibilities of leadership that is not self-seeking but self-giving. When a leader gives of himself, he creates a world that is not selfish and looks out for the good of others. He does not seek fame or glory for himself. He fears God and seeks to be like Him, humble yet willing to stand up for the oppressed, to stand up for what is right. He is a servant-leader.

We the youth can believe that even in our short years of existence, we can make a difference. One person can make a difference. The great leaders believed that they could and they did. It didn’t matter the great sacrifice it would entail. Jesus died on the cross to save our lives. He created the possibility of living a life without sin where repentance was an option and death of the spirit could be averted.

In our young age, we can make mistakes but we can learn from them and we can learn from the mistakes of the past so we don’t repeat history’s tragedies. We all have a choice. Do you want to be a mediocre youth floating along with no sense of direction? Or do you want to be an agent of change paving the way for a better future? It’s your choice.

Our lives are intertwined and whatever one does, it creates a ripple effect. So what kind of ripple effect do you want to impart to the world? Do you want to be a source of sorrow or joy? Do you want to be a giver or a taker or both? Do you want to love or to hate?

The possibilities are endless. You just have to make the right choice! As the slogan says, “what better time to start than now!” Let’s create the endless possibilities of youth and leadership. Let us be the agents of change. Let us be the change that we want to see in the world.