Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Are you ready?

"Kung wala ang puso mo sa pagluluto, bumili ka na lang sa karinderya. Nalalasahan sa pagkain ang puso ng gumawa nito." - from Litsonero, 2010

That was a line taken from the movie Litsonero where a young aspiring chef learns how to cook lechon and has to ensure that he cooks it well and that it tastes good. His future depended on it.

There is a line in the movie that asks "handa ka na ba?" on the eve of his cook-off. And the same question echoed in my mind when I was in Lyon, France this weekend.

I partook of a pilgrimage to install the replica of Nuestra Senora de La Naval Manila in the Notre Dame de Fouvrière in Lyon. Desiring to catch a glimpse of the Virgin Mary as she made her journey to the crypt where she would be kept and where devotees can come visit her, I ran to see her face. Not successful, I followed the mob taking her to her final resting place. I had not planned on going so far. I had nothing with me, no bag, no camera. I had left it upstairs in the main body of the church with a friend of mine.

Before I knew it, I was at the front of the mob, standing next to the president of the foundation that maintains the statues of the Virgin Mary from all over the world - India, Poland, Portugal, among others - the Philippine ambassador, the archbishop of Lyon, the entourage of diplomatic personnel and many more. I had no camera!!!

All I could do was take mental pictures. And I know how those mental negatives tend to fade over time. The colour wears out and sometimes, the picture is totally erased. It depends on the age of the human camera and if has a high resolution and high memory capacity.

This had happened to me before. Pope John Paul II was so close and I didn't have a camera on me - at least that one could decipher the Pope. I had my low technology phones which could only give you VGA-quality images.

There's a saying "where two or more Filipinos are gathered, there is picture-taking". Our culture is one of no show no tell. Show me the picture and I will believe you.

And I had nothing to show for myself after standing there amidst everything.

Handa ka na ba? echoes in my ear.

Readiness is a state of being and a state of resources. It's difficult to be ready for everything. Sometimes, we're caught off guard and don't know how to react to certain situations. What if it was Jesus who had come that day instead of the image? Would I go back to my bag and take a picture of Him or would I try to be at the front of the queue so I could finally see this man they called Jesus.

In Litsonero, what if he didn't learn under the tutelage of a master lechonero? Would he have triumphed and achieved his dream?

Going back to the quote, consequently, how much heart do we put in into the things we want to do? Can anyone who comes across it feel your heart in it?

How often have we been unprepared, just winging it? Does the expression "Bahala na" ring a bell?

What am I trying to say? What if God came today, would I be ready? Would you be ready? Could God see how much heart we put into Him??

happy birthday papa.

i put a stop at the end because papa is no longer with us in this life. today, he would have been 54.

i don't know much about my father except through the stories that his siblings have told me. i knew a different side of him. i wish i had known him when he was younger so that i could see what he went through.

i feel that my father went through a lot of hardships. mamu said he started working at the age of 7 and subsequently became a scholar of the priests. he was able to finish school and even enter law school. it was there that he and mamu met.

and they both had to stop because our eldest sibling was conceived.

my knowledge of papa was limited to his anger, his paranoia and the abuses he had done to us. but i also reflect on the sweet moments when i would go fishing with him. i love fishing and he did too. it was what we shared in common. he was also a great disciplinarian and we have him to thank for our good manners. papa was also our biggest fan during his moments of sobriety. he would scream at the top of his lungs at mcdonalds at the end of every term that his children were the best and he was proud of us and we were top of the class. i loved it when he treated us to mcdo and made us feel like we were the best children in the world.

i think we have him to thank for great faith too. i always thank God that papa had that effect on us. and i hope because of that, papa would make it to heaven. his life on earth was very difficult. although we tried to share in the journey, he preferred to go on his way alone. i hope that he is now resting at the lap of our Papa in heaven.

happy birthday papa.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesdays with P.A.?

I once read a book called Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. It spoke of a man who was slowly dying of a terminal illness and he asked a former student (Mitch) to do his biography. The major lesson of the book is that at all stages of our lives, we will need people.

The other day, I was suffering from muscle spasms on my left arm. I've been having muscle spasms on my arms lately. In my line of work, it is expected as we use our hands all the time. It is our worthiest part of the body. Another colleague from another section commented before that if we should ever break a fall, we should never use our hands because that would mean we couldn't work.

If you are wondering what we do, we are text processors. We treat text all day long on the computer, bashing out corrections, dictations, proofreading, etc. Mainly, we use our hands as an extension of our brain.

So back to my aching left arm. I love working with my hands and it pains me to not have the use of both of them. Imagine trying to go to the loo (or toilet) with only one hand? If you are Filipino, you need both to clean yourself. One holding the dipper (or tabo) and the other ... well may be you already know what it would do.

It was difficult enough to try to put up my pants by myself after using the toilet, let alone, trying to prepare food with only your right hand. I was very thankful that my roommate helped me open a packet of youghourt and assist me in eating it. Otherwise, I would have gone to sleep hungry.

This brings me back to Morrie's Tuesdays with Mitch recounting how at every stage of our lives, we need people. This is so true. No matter how independent you think you are, at one stage in your life, there is bound to be an occasion where you would need another person to help you, whether to hold the elevator door open as you get in, give you a hand if you fall in the middle of the street, lift your heavy luggage so it can fit into the overhead cabin and many more. No matter how mundane the task, when you're unable to to accomplish it because you don't have all your faculties with you, it becomes a Herculean effort.

It is a humbling experience to be needy and all the more when you don't have all your faculties around you. I am thankful that God has given me good and kind people around me so that if I can't move my left arm to help myself, He would give me a human representation of His hands to help me.

And for this, I am truly thankful to Him, who not only gives me His hands but His life so that I may live.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sacred Tuesday

Last Sunday, I attended a retreat that said to protect that quiet time with Jesus because it is the time you communicate with Him. I must admit, I have been remiss in having quiet time with Him or even with myself for the longest time. It is so easy to get caught up in the running and routines of the day that the only memory you have is waking up and sleeping - in between seems like a blur like you were on auto pilot.

An opportunity presented itself when Tuesdays opened up for me and it became my sacred time. My roommate Boots said that I had not written for a while and that it was talent wasted and since my Tuesdays was my freest day, I should make it my quiet time. I confess that I have not written here or anywhere else. A year ago, I was a prolific writer with two to three entries per day and now, I have been a desert of words. I've missed it and even feel scared to write. I also neglected that sacred hour before bed to commune with God and read His Word.

I have left my craft untended for too long. And it wasn't easy to get this time to write. I had just decided to have and it almost didn't come true. I had a meeting today but it was rescheduled for Wednesday and I already had another training on Wednesday sot that would mean I was double-booked. I had forgotten that there was another meeting I was supposed to attend today but after consultation with a friend, I was reminded that I should guard my quiet time and I did. So I decided to stay at home and try to sit down and have that moment where I can just let go and let God. Part of that exercise is writing here because it is here where I've written most of God's messages and where I can see the stirrings of my heart and mind on virtual paper. It almost didn't happen as we had a visitor who came unannounced. It was a blessing in disguise as our friend brought us dinner meaning neither of us had to cook and I could have my quiet time soon. After dinner, lo and behold, I find myself in the kitchen looking at my plants and watering them. I couldn't sit down. I told myself that I need to get cracking at my keyboard if I were to write anything at all. It is so easy to get carried away.

So on Tuesdays when my time with God becomes sacred, I also take time to unleash the passion that God gave me. To paraphrase Boots, I will let the paper bleed from love of its pen. She said that when paper is written on, it is true love as it lends its pristine self to be penetrated by the pen.

Today, blood is spilt and transfers from pen to paper and in communion they give birth to magical words that tell of the Wanderer's Tales.