Teks, Komiks at Iba pa

“He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3 
 

I’m blessed with a happy childhood.  It always brings me joy to remember.

My Tata Sixto has such meztiso features while my Inana Eya was more exotic.  They  had ten children, one of whom died during the war.

My Daddy was third among these children.  Being the eldest boy, he had shared responsibility in raising up his younger brothers and sisters.

My Mommy is a beauty from the north.  Being ten years younger than my Daddy, there was some sort of generation gap between them.  But they survived forty-four years of marriage, because according to Mommy there was no expiration date on their marriage contract.  Thank God.

Aside from two spinsters, my Daddy’s siblings all have families of their own.  With this huge clan, my brother, sister and I grew up with learning to drink beer before we were even teenagers.  We also learned how to play mahjong, black jack and lucky nine like it was a family membership requirement.

But note:  this was only during fiesta of Patron San Marcos … and Christmas … and  New Year … and some Tito’s or Tita’s birthday.

During these celebrations, the third generation to which I belong had the time of our lives.  We get to stay up late until dawn.  We played habulan, taguan, and patintero.

We read komiks rented from the store in the kanto.  We played teks and goma.  We climbed trees.  We collect flowers for Flores de Maria in May.  We invade Inanang Mary’s store for kornik and chicharon lapad.

Above all these, we were taught values that would be our guide when we grew up.   Inana Eya was a devout Catholic.  And though she did not impose, we were taught how to practice our faith by her example.

We were taught how to “mano po” to show respect to our elders.  Say “po” and “opo”.

In Manaoag, during our vacations to Mommy’s hometown, we even experienced how at 6pm, when the church bells rang, every one stopped to pray the angelus.  Even if they were on the middle of the street, people would stop to face the church and pray, in reverence, until the church bells stopped ringing.

Those were the days when our grandparents lived and loved.  Those were the times when all we did was laugh.  And if we must cry, it was because we yearned to laugh some more.

Advertisements

What Easter Means to Me

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. ”  Luke 24:30-35

Today is Thursday after Easter Sunday. In the Middle East, it was a working Easter. That day being also the deadline for submission of month end reports, I struggled to keep my focus on the image of the risen Christ as I battle emails and phone calls, in between entering data to finish the tasks at hand. To top it all, my colleagues were on holiday and so my work load was multiplied like the bread to feed thousands.

By end of business hours, I was really exhausted but nonetheless, the Holy Spirit helped me through the day. So it happened that we were able to attend the 7pm Easter Mass. The smell of tires being burnt on the road leading to where Sacred Heart Church was located, dominated the festive atmosphere. That did not stop the hundreds who were inside the church compound to pray and praise God. And that was my Easter of 2015.

If the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a one day affair, I would really, really feel bad that a great number of hours on that day was taken up by my earthly duties. But as I continue to “follow” Jesus after He left the tomb, my eyes were opened.

Easter is our daily reminder that Jesus is alive and one day, we shall see His face when He comes again. My eyes were opened, that it is alright to fulfill our earthly duties when it glorifies God and the greater good comes out of it. My eyes were opened, that as we go about our daily lives, the Holy Spirit is ever present. Just like Jesus was, with Cleophas and his companion on their way to Emmaus.

Between life and death, we choose life. Easter is the life after Jesus Christ suffered and died on the Cross. We also died from our old selves during Lent and were renewed on Easter, forgiven of our sins when we repented sincerely. So therefore, let us celebrate Easter everyday so that the sacrifice of Jesus, the sign of His infinite and eternal love will ever be worth it.

The Greatest Announcement

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:30-33

Who doesn’t love surprises? I’m sure I have had my share in the 48 years of my existence. But as I try to recall which one had the most impact, not even one comes to mind. Now that surprises me!

Let me see. Well, a wedding proposal might have surprised me. I would have loved to be in the receiving end of one. But sorry for me. Because during our time, it was not necessary. Not because we were less romantic. It was just that the wedding and marriage were already being discussed over the courtship stage that it was in itself, already a proposal and a yes.

And yes, a diagnosis from my OB once surprised me. But in a negative way though. So I would not want to count it in.  And the proper term should be “scare” instead of surprise. If scare is the word, then I have a lot stored in my memory.

So let us go back in time with Mary; when the angel Gabriel announced to her that she was going to be the mother of God, and she will call Him, Jesus. Now that was a big surprise to her. Imagine, in her simplicity and meekness, she found favor with God. Imagine her wonderment. Imagine a life-changing surprise in all her innocence.

But what differs us now, with Mary then when she received God’s word?

Mary was young and inexperienced, while we are older and “matured”, so to speak, and have years of religious instruction in school and the church. Yet when she got the greatest announcement of her life, she trusted God wholeheartedly and believed in His grand plan for her absolutely. She humbly went on with her daily life, even with the knowledge that she was (and still is) most special.

How about us? How do we accept the big surprises that come our way? It may be an unexpected promotion, a huge bonus, a love life that’s long overdue, healing for our ailments, maybe even winning the lottery. Do we receive them with humble and grateful acceptance? Or do we get drunk with self-entitlement that we fail to see the hand of God in all the merriment? And do we even remember to thank Him?

Like Mary, the greatest announcement we could ever receive in our lives is Jesus. Let us be innocent like Mary. Ever trusting. Ever thankful. Because whenever we least expect it, Jesus will continually surprise us with His everlasting love.  And it would be pleasing to Him if we respond exactly like His Mother.

The Journey Continues

“But take care, as you value your lives! Do not forget the things which you yourselves have seen, or let them slip from your heart as long as you live; teach them, rather, to your children and to your children’s children.” Deuteronomy 4:9

On February 27 of this year, our Christian Life Seminar was finally over. The “travelling angels” from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and from San Diego in California, USA noted that it was the longest CLS in the history of CFC-FFL.

Tito Cris and his wife, Tita Poochie began with the first talk in March 2014. They went home to the Philippines in summer. Thereafter, they encountered difficulties in securing visas to enter Bahrain. So that it was only in early November that we were able to meet again. In February of this year, we were introduced to Tito Froy who was temporarily assigned to Bahrain. And before our dedication, came his wife, Tita Belle. During the Feb Fridays that we gather in Jesus’ name, Guadalupe, a two month old baby girl, together her parents Bro Seneth and Sis Joy, joined our family, Bhoy, Megan, Miguel, and Mac in our praise and thanksgiving to God. And so our CFC-FFL family was complete, just as the CLS was completed.

That was the chronology of the CLS events as I recalled- one year summed up in one paragraph. Yet the substance of each single moment that we have shared together in the love of God is so profound that it will take a lifetime for me to share. It is pure joy to know God and love God. It is divine to share His love.

As the purpose of the CLS is evangelisation and spiritual renewal, it is now our life’s purpose to fulfill the will of God.

We will be forever grateful to our “travelling angels”, Tito Cris, Tita Poochie, Tito Froy and Tita Belle, for their valuable time, perseverance and effort to enable us know God and love God better. May the Lord continue to shower his blessings upon them.

Our CLS may have come to an end, but the journey continues. We, who are called, together with Bro Seneth and Sis Joy, have a lot to do. May we not be weakened by the world’s distractions. But rather, call upon the Holy Spirit day by day for the constant renewal of our faith, while we carry our own crosses together with our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the path towards the eternal kingdom of God.

 

 

 


Doing the Math

John answered and said “No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said I am not the Messiah, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine is complete. He must increase; I must decrease.” John 3:27-30

I was never good at Math. I disliked it. In fact, I feared it. I cringed at the thought of it.

After high school, I wanted to be an architect. As a child, I fancy recreating home scenes especially with mahjong tiles. I remembered waiting patiently for my Mom and aunts for their mahjong breaks when they had coffee and snacks. I would build rooms upon rooms with matching furniture and appliances, all of mahjong tiles. Imagine how amazed I was with the introduction of Lego.

So I was determined. I would design houses. Much to my Mom’s disappointment. She wanted me to take up AB English. She believed I would be a fine journalist or a great teacher. But then no, I was a stubborn girl. I followed my heart’s desire.

But reality showed its ugly face… I flunked College Algebra, then Analytic Geometry and more. I loved designing, but I refused to see that I have a weakness. Because I thought I can do anything, reach anything, achieve everything. Then slowly my dreams fell apart, like mahjong tiles that were stacked up in a rather crooked manner. It took two grueling years to wake me up from my most dreaded nightmare. The dream was gone. I would never be an architect.

There is nothing wrong with having to dream. In fact, it is the stuff that success stories are made of. But if our dreams cause us to be insanely proud and self-righteous, then we are doomed for disaster. If our dreams become the vessel that separates us from the innate kindness and innocence from within ourselves, then our definition of success is meaningless.

Yes, I should have listened to my Mom. My case is one example when the statement “Mothers know best” holds true. It is too late for me when I have proven that. I was young. I was proud. And I was a fool.

I was raised Catholic. I studied in a Catholic school. I prayed. But I never really acknowledged God’s presence in my life. All along He was there. Patiently waiting to catch me the moment I fall from my own folly. But I was too busy looking at myself proudly. Not because I was seeing the beauty of God’s creation. But because I was blinded by the vision of a false image of success. I was blinded by myself, I failed to see Him.

It didn’t stop there. My journey was a series of unfortunate events. It is a painful process. But if it would take that to keep my eyes open, then I would take the painful path over and over again.

We are not kings of our selves. The Creator is always greater than His creation. Only God rules over us. He knows the way, because He is the Way. And if Jesus Christ humbled Himself as a man to show His perfect love for us, then why can’t we, in our lowliness, be humble like Him?

Our pride and ego are formidable structures that are difficult to break, a potent combination for self-destruction. So it is truly essential that we keep our feet on the ground while reaching for the stars. Lest we shoot for the moon and get burned by the sun. We must decrease. Jesus must increase.

Never Empty

Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.” Acts 3:6

It was a great disappointment  that i gave in to my weakness on Good Friday.  Fasting was totally deleted as i hesitantly (with guilt that almost choked me), downloaded that salmon carpaccio and tonno. thanks to vapiano.  being in an Islamic country is not an excuse.  In fact, there are no excuses at all. The Muslims fast for forty days during Ramadan and I cannot, even for just one day.  Shame  on me!  God forgive me.

Yes I know if I prayed  hard enough, He will.  And maybe i can forgive myself too.  But not before I could sincerely ask for His forgiveness, do penance and make up for the grave sin that I committed.

So how do i do that?  I need the Helper, the Holy Spirit to get me through this.  Grace to sincerely ask for forgiveness.  Humility to do penance.  And charity to make up.  All these three, I need. Big time.

The first two is between my God and me. The third, I had to reach out to my brothers and sisters.  Be generous and kind.

There is a grave misconception about the word charity for me, that charity is an exclusive exercise for the rich.  So that it becomes synonymous with letting go of material  wealth or possessions.  Until I took into heart what Peter said.

I was waiting to get rich to be charitable and generous.  But i realized that even if I am not, I will never ran out of opportunities to be kind and giving.

My cup of blessings are full and overflowing.  And so does yours.  It  may not be quantified with monetary value.  But our cups are never empty.

IMG_2240

In the same way, that the recipients of charity should be restricted only to those who need money or things.  There is another class of poor in our midst.  There are those who may have all the riches in the world, but think they have no more reason to live for.

Even those who  are in dire need of someone who will listen in times of distress. Who will lend a hand in moments of weakness. Who will offer a smile when the whole world frowns upon him.  Rich or not, we need others to fill in a void in our lives.

God sends us to fill in that void.  Let us be that angel.  Let us be that someone.  Let us be that friend.  Because if there is anything that we will not be short of, it is ourselves.  we will always have something  to give.  Because the Lord fills up our cup.  And refills it each time we pour ourselves to others.

All The Sweet Moves

“For it is God’s will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” 1 Peter 2:15

Holy Monday, and here in Bahrain it’s business as usual.  I’m unable to go to Sacred Heart church all by myself,  yet thanks to technology, there is no lack of literature and videos that could somehow remind us of the importance of this week.  Not to mention the Holy Bible.

I’ve been distracted the past weeks.  Had recurring respiratory ailments, was busy with the tender , still concerned with Miguel’s pending leap from a career in films to a life in the kitchen, excited about Megan’s graduation, and worried about the hot weather when we come home for vacation in Pinas.

In similar situations prior, I vent all my perceived helplessness by binging on food.  They say sweets are great stress busters.  Especially chocolates.  But somehow added stress goes with the end result of having to lose the extra pounds later.  So eating just for the heck of it, is just a temporary relief.

8479_4589536180653_1048133137_n

Now I found another sweet way to battle my way out of  the “insanity” of  it all.  Who says only the young can play candy crush?  It’s calorie free, but it’s bad for my eyes.  And it makes my back ache.  Yet for some precious MY moments when I reach home, I transform from a middle-aged, tired, sickly, corporate lady to a fresh and vibrant girl again.  All because of candy.

As I play it over and over, I learned that no matter how I try, if I am meant to stay on one level for a period of time, my jellies won’t get crushed, even if only one has to remain.

It’s not about the candies. It’s how they fall on my favor.   Because even with candy crush, someone wiser designed them so.  I just have to persevere. But not lose the enthusiasm  to play the game.

IMG_2187[1]

Do you feel stuck where you are now? That you are heading nowhere despite the effort?  Do you instead get negative results after all the hard work and late hours? Do some obstacles block the plans that you so long prepared for?

We don’t have five lives.  But we have infinite chances to learn. We just have to try and try.  Even if all options seem exhausted.  We just need to wait. Try once more.  Until we got all the right moves. And everything falls into place.

When Free Means You Pay

“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.  So by their fruits you will know them.”  Matthew 7:18-20

The freedom of expression is an inherent right of a person.  When it is suppressed or taken away, the normal human reaction is to fight for it,  just like any other person would, when his other rights as a human being are threatened.

Expression of one’s self can be manifested in a variety of means and form – in his speech, his manner of dressing, in art.  Whereas, there is no hard line rule on the “how”, indeed there lies in our sensibilities as civilized human beings, norms that dictate when one breaks the universal, though unwritten law where freedom ends and respect begins.

Expression of one’s self means to convey a message to another or a group for whatever purpose he intends to. One does not exercise that right just for the heck of it.  Aware or not, expression is communication.

What we choose to wear is a message about how we want to be perceived.  Such as, we don’t wear provocative dresses and expect others to think that we are conservative.  The same when we speak.  We don’t expect others to regard us seriously, when all that comes out from our mouth is rubbish.  in both ways, we communicate to others what our preferences are, and from that, inference about who we are is derived.

Journalism and visual arts are no different.  But there are instances when the freedom is used and abused.  And the right to freedom of expression is invoked like a safe hiding place for anticipated negative reactions. That is where trouble begins.  Responsible freedom of expression does not necessitate the invocation of a right.  That safe refuge of effective communication is handed on a golden platter without hesitation or fear.

Yes, there are ugly truths and gruesome realities that need to be known and shared so that the beautiful and the good could be achieved.  But if the expression of the ugly and the gruesome is done just “for the sake of art”, then freedom becomes a scary right to invoke.  when it is done to express oneself without purpose and without regard to the sensibilities of one person or the collective perception of one culture, race or faith,  then it is reduced to self-indulgence and selfishness personified.

To Christians, the art works of Mideo Cruz are offensive and sacrilegious.  To him, it is art, his freedom to express himself.  Our  humanity gauges how much we can tolerate. we need not see or hear more, we’ve had just enough. And to most, enough is way beyond tolerable level.

Let the forum at the CCP exhibit on “Politeismo” be an eye-opener not only for artists and writers, but for all of us.  We, who in the course of our daily lives just talk before we even think.  We who often just do, before we even consider to whose benefit our actions bring forth.  if our self-expression will bring pleasure and fulfillment to ourselves, yet cause the pain and anguish of another, or sow anger and hatred… Please stop!

Self-restraint for the good of the majority is a choice.  It’s time to exercise the freedom to choose.  And pray, our choices be wise.  For by their fruits, we shall know them…

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

He stirs my venti!

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”  Rend your heart and not your garments.  Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.”  Joel 2:12-13

after my surgery,  from the recovery room onto my hospital bed where my kind kabayan nurses gently laid me, my anaesthesia started to wear out.  the images were still a blur.  i could hear them vaguely, but the tone of their voices were clear.  they were amazed at how i could still smile despite the pain.

it was not an inherent trait of mine.  i was a cry-baby.  as a girl, i was impossibly stubborn that my pout has been my trademark long before angelina jolie became mrs. smith.  then as a teener, my temper kinda mellowed when i began to read about personality development books.  that was when i learned that a smile matters.  that it could actually set the mood for the day.  and that the smile that you give away is contagious.  and it is free.

practice makes perfect.  now, even when i cry i still have that tendency to smile when someone else sees me.  smiles lighten burdens, hide the pain, ease suffering.  now even when trouble is way over my head, or when longing for my children almost kills me, no one would ever know.  because if there is anything else that i don’t ever run out of – guess what else? smile, smile and some more…

among many things that could bring a smile to my face, a cup of coffee is definitely on the list.  or should i say, cups of coffee.  i love coffee so much, that it is what i gave up this season of lent.  since ash wednesday, i tried my darn best to refrain from having my usual early morning cup, as well as the other cups throughout the day, and that final cup just right before i sleep at nights.

the best part of the coffee ritual for me is after i stir it. that is when the aroma and the flavor is at its peak, it almost takes over my senses. 

so do i miss my coffee cups?  yes i do! yet i still manage to smile.  because the Lord never runs out of ‘sugar’ and ‘cream’ to pour on my cup of life.  He also continuously stirs my heart, to prevent complacency from setting in. 

my coffee sacrifice is nothing compared to the Lord’s sacrifice when He gave us his life for the forgiveness of our sins.  as i feel the pain from the consequences of my own sins, i surrender my cup of life to Him with complete trust and utter submission. 

for as long as i live, i know He will go on stirring my cup.  but i won’t mind.  the Lord blessed me with a venti 🙂

 

   

spring cleaning for body and soul

“Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning;  and rend your hearts, and not your garments.”  Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and repents of evil.  – Joel  2:12-13

spring cleaning is the season of the year when we focus all our energy into cleaning our house, top to bottom, room to room, corner to corner.  the purpose is to put order where there is disorder.  simplify the complicated.  eliminate clutter. give up excesses.

the first step is to stop and take a closer look of what had accumulated over the year.  then plan up a strategy on which stuff stays and which should go.  organize whatever is left.  then it’s time for the main task.  

to execute the strategy, it’s helpful to assemble an army of tools (vacuum, dusters, rags, trash bags…) and products (baking soda, vinegar, polisher, glass cleaners…) to carry out the job easier and faster.  after all is done,  it’s almost like you just moved to a new and better home!  and we all know how that feels like, right?

our body and soul need spring cleaning too.  and today, ASH WEDNESDAY, is the best day to begin.  stop and take a closer look at ourselves.  we would find beneath the surface all the negativity that had accumulated over the year – anger, frustration, despair, jealousy, envy and more.  they are the clutter that need to be eliminated.

deep inside we also find dreams, hopes, drive, anticipation, compassion, inspiration.  these we need to organize and put into their rightful perspective and at healthy doses.  in this process of introspection, we discover what we had become.  and to what extent we need to clean up. 

when the home is clean and clutter-free, it is always fun and refreshing to live  within.  so with the body and soul. 

today is the first day of Lent.  Ash Wednesday reminds us that By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”  Genesis 3:19

and because we are just guests in our earthly guesthouses, might as well make the stay worthwhile and the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross for our salvation worth it. 

Albert Pine once said “what we do for ourselves die with us, what we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.