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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Harry Potter is my son!

“The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before me empty-handed.”  Exodus 34:20

SPECIALIS REVELIO! This is a spell which causes an object to show its hidden secrets or magical properties. One of many in the Harry Potter series. Maybe, the very spell which causes HP followers to yearn for more.

When the first film was shown in movie theaters years ago, my children were then 9 and 6 – old enough to understand the story despite the accent, but young enough to be bedazzled with its awesome special effects.  From then on, our household increased by three – Megan, Miguel plus Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.  My kids loved their new-found siblings, and in Hogwarts, they would meet new friends with whom they would grow up with in time.

My kids indeed have grown now.  So did Harry, Hermione and Ron.  It is amazing to note the physical transformation.  But it is more noteworthy how their bond grew stronger through the years.

10 years, 7 books and 8 movies after, JK Rowling did a great job to steer our kids’ imagination towards a love affair with books.  Such that national bookstore was like a candy store to them.  The significant influence is written all over our children’s chosen career path.  Megan is a prolific writer with a passion for creative production layouts.  Miguel, on the other hand, dreams of becoming a filmmaker.  Thus, Harry Potter casts his spell .

We knew someday our kids would go and follow their own calling.  But Harry Potter had to go too, and we are sad that it all ends now.

On the contrary we are blessed, that in our time, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, their masters, friends and villains, came to life. Our household had been stupefied by their presence, and like a son, Harry Potter would live on in our hearts.

Thanks to GOD who is ever greater than magic and the creator of JK Rowling, Harry Potter would triumph over all evils for ages to come.  EXPECTO PATRONUM!

life is a sentence

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25

today is supposed to be my dear friend roobee’s 45th birthday.  but we all stopped counting at 43, because she died almost two years ago after a fatal seizure.  last week my nephew Banjo, who is in his early twenties, passed on due to a lingering illness.  and just this week, my son’s former schoolmate and good friend, Kent, suddenly died in iligan because of a car accident.  he was still in his teens. 

in daddy’s case when he battled the big C,  he was given an estimated time when he was expected to die.  but nobody could really tell. he too, could have figured in an accident long before that.  then the doctors’ estimate would have been a gross mistake. and our family, unprepared and devastated. or there could have been a miracle, when the mistake would be most welcomed.

it is unbelievable when death cheats his way and no one else is looking.  it leaves everyone stunned and numb. unable to comprehend what is going on.  long after we moved on, the sadness lingers. 

at school, we were taught that “a sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete idea and includes a subject and a verb“.  in life we learn that it is. 

life is a sentence.

life is sentence whose subject is us.  and the verb, what we do with “us”.

 “a sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark.”

our life begins with a loud cry.  and when it ends, only God knows.   but certainly, it will.

life usually ends with a period.  this is when life ends how and when most expects it to end – live a full life, die naturally and happily at old age.

life sometimes end with a question mark.  when someone who is young and full of dreams gets sick and die, we often ask what if and what could have been.

life, on rare occasions, end with a punctuation mark. we all get this shock and disbelief when one dies from an accident, a crime or a suicide.

in between, we may pause with a comma or a semi-colon, to give order to our compound or complex lives.

and when we finally reunite with our Creator, our sentences end with a . . .

for with the Lord is unending joy and love.

but for us who are still under construction, let us always be thankful for all the other sentences that we connect with, whether the past, present or future tense.

together and in harmony, we could create a paragraph or a novel even.  a love story that would highlight God’s glory in all our lives. and punctuate it with  : )

my amnesia girl

“Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:8

something funny happened while we watched “my amnesia girl”.

first of, the movie was about Apollo and Irene, who were in love with each other that they decided to finally tie the knot.  on the day of the wedding, Apollo got cold feet and chose not to go on.  Irene was deeply hurt and heart-broken.  but on one fateful day, their paths crossed again.  Irene pretended she did not know Apollo and just asked “Sino ka?” as a way to protect herself from being hurt again.

it was a typical romance movie except for corny but kilig similes and metaphors that Apollo and Irene used throughout the movie.   my husband and i were amused at how we could relate to the pick-up lines… considering our age.  in fact, we were so amazed at how romance could be old-fashioned and yet so updated. 

here were some:

“ulan ka ba?  kasi lupa ako. at sa ayaw at sa gusto mo, sa akin ang bagsak mo.”

“alam mo, bagay sa yo yang damit mo.  pero mas bagay ako sa yo.”

“para kang pustiso, i can’t smile without you.”

“Thank you Lord, pandesal lang naman ang hinihingi ko sa inyo.  hamburger binigay Nyo. me fries pa!”

we were like having too much fun with the lines that we totally forgot something!

our son barged into our bedroom, and asked if we were cooking. that was the time we remembered the beef.  my husband and i rushed to the kitchen.  it was already filled with smoke. like we were enveloped with clouds.  i wondered if that was how heaven looked like.  it didn’t smell like it though.

my husband immediately turned off the stove and removed the pot cover.  there it was, our dinner totally scorched and charred.

LOL! somebody had amnesia! 

they say forgetfulness is a sign of old age .  i sometimes wonder about how i would become when my memory would finally fail me. good thing is, when that moment comes, then i would never know.

on hindsight, it could have been a tragic experience if our son did not find out soon enough.  but thank God!  we lost our dinner, but not the lesson.  it is one thing i’d probably remember for the longest time.

there are plenty of things that keep us occupied throughout the day.  and there are times when self-inflicted amnesia brings us to another dimension. to some kind of out of body experience. like a whole new world of triviality.

it is best to stay alert and focus on the essential which only the heart can see.

and which the heart would never forget.

UPCAT and other admission tests

“Because He himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.”  Hebrews 2:18

as graduating students this school year, Miguel and his batchmates have prepared really hard for college admission tests months ahead.  for UPCAT, he attended Brain Train review classes instead of enjoying his summer vacation.  for the test, together with other families, we travelled four hours to Riyadh and stayed overnight to prep the kids for the early morning schedule the following day at the embassy inside the Diplomatic Quarters.  the same for USTET and Mapua exam, just minus the travel time and overnight stay, but equals the stress, and excitement – or anxiety, depending on the level of preparedness for each student.  and the months of waiting for the results were just as heart-pounding as the exams themselves.

The Oblation

sadly, Miguel did not pass the UPCAT.  it’s human to feel so. but he did Mapua and we’re happy about that.  now we’re still waiting for USTET results.

when Miguel goes back to the Philippines after graduation, i can just guess how many more college admission tests he will take, and which university he will eventually enrol in.  at the end of the day, it’s really up to the Lord. our absolute trust is in Him.  His will be done…

it is understandable for the children, and for us parents, to be excited and hopeful about exam results.  although the outcome will not define their future, it is a crossroad where our children would inevitably have to decide on; to which direction they would take.

as parents, we too are given tests on and on.  some are easy, some are agonizing. some we pass.  but there are those that we fail miserably.  and when we do, it looks like we reach the end of the road and all we want to do is stop.   wouldn’t it be a shame to give our children that example?  that instead of us being their guide when they reach that crossroad, we, ourselves, drift away in our own road to perdition. 

Jesus Christ is the Son of God who became man.  and because he became man, He was subjected to tests.  like we are. no exemptions.  and He passed each test, to show us that we can too.

so next time we are given one, don’t hesitate to take it.  because if we pass, then we move on straight away. but if we fail, we will be given our second chance, and review where we went wrong.  both ways, we learn our lessons and become better persons. if we remain steadfast and constantly strive to be the best that we can for God, then we would surely pass the HAT – heaven admission test. 

when the time is now

“Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” 2 Peter 3:8

we’re now ten days into 2011, and i still don’t have a list of new year’s resolutions.  not that i even plan on having one, but it has been tradition that before the old year ends, the list should have been done and must be followed from Day 1 onwards.  but since it’s a bit late already, maybe my new year’s resolution is to not have any new year’s resolution at all.

before Christmas, Megan was giving slight hints here and there about what gift she really wanted-a canon 550d camera.  since it is quite expensive and we don’t have the money to buy one just yet, i told her that patience is a virtue. wittingly she responded that time is goldhaha!  that camera might as well be gold!

aah youth! –  carefree, always in a hurry as if there’s no tomorrow.  but only with age will they realize that time is just a passing fancy.  and i sure finally did. in fact, as i grow older, i perceive time as a curse.  especially when life is defined by the years, months, days, hours, minutes, seconds, nanoseconds… 

when i was younger, i used to believe that time is really gold because our culture dictates our life in terms of the years that we live.  like when at 12, one has to finish grade school.  one can vote or date at age 18.  by 20, one has to finish college.  by 30, one has to have established a career already, earned his 1st million and settled down.  between 30 to 40, one should already have a family, built a house for them, sent kids to school…

between 40 to 50, one would be preoccupied with advancing with that career, take care of seeping health issues and playing on retirement plans.  at age 60 onwards, one should then enjoy the fruits of retirement, then eventually die of natural causes or old age.

imagine the frustration when one doesn’t catch up with the hands of time.  i won’t be surprised if that expensive rolex, that cheap wall clock or that annoying alarm clock can be as deadly as a butcher’s knife.  these timepieces may actually be the number one cause of stress.  and stress as we all know is the number one cause of any illness, or the reason some diseases get even worse  for that matter.

 it’s been two months since my surgery, and i’m still stuck here in my room. since i felt stronger, i think that i should be elsewhere doing something else, which “culture” expects of me.  but God put me exactly at this spot at this very moment. just as He planned.  building up my patience, strengthening my faith and bolstering my confidence in what He has in store for me.

we should be defined by the moments we live. not the hours we spend catching up with the future.  not the minutes fighting off the ghosts of the past.  we are in the here and now. and whatever we think or do now, will shape up our tomorrow .  or change how we look at our yesterday.

if you want a taste of hell, go ahead.  stare at that clock as it excruciatingly tick-tocks your life away.  waiting for that something that may just happen only after a century, or worse, may not happen at all.  do whatever you can wherever you are-NOW.

remember that in heaven, there are no clocks.  no calendars.  no new year’s resolutions. only moments of everlasting joy and infinite bliss with our Lord.  so savor each moment like you’re already in heaven.

big mistake, the captain’s “major, major” wrong decision

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath , for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. says the Lord. On the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 

Do not be overcome by evil, OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD.” Romans 12:17-21

we are still in shock as news on the bloody hostage taking in Manila continues since it happened two days ago.  the police officer Rolando Mendoza, who appealed his case not in court, but in front of the world, definitely had his voice heard.  but at what cost? and did it achieve his purpose?

“rolando mendoza was a good man”;  that was what his family, his colleagues in the police force, neighbors and friends who knew him personally say.  what made him do such violent acts which do not conform to the qualities of a “good man” is still in question. 

his demand to get his “life” back which he equated with the retirement benefits that he ought to receive was a sad cry for help.

nobody is in a position to judge him.  but in my own point of view, there is more to life than retirement benefits.  bad things happen even to good people.  even if you strictly do everything the right way, sometimes some things happen beyond our control which cloud our judgement and force us to do things against the moral values within which our characters are built.  this is because our lives are connected with one another.  whatever happens with one, affects another human being’s life.  the rage that the hostage taking incident sparked is a sound proof that all of us are intertwined regardless if we knew each other or not. 

rolando and the hostages didn’t know each other.  but when their paths crossed,  the journey would never be the same again.  it is sad that lives were taken in a futile attempt to win a personal battle.  if only rolando trusted more in the power of the Lord, rather than the word of the ombudsman or the promise of a negotiator, he wouldn’t have conceived that plan in the first place. 

what we do is not necesarily who we are.  we, as human beings made in the likeness of God, are basically good.  but somewhere along the paths we take in our lives, we come across dangerous potholes and humps, and interact with different types of people along the way.  they either make our journey is easy, but sometimes cause us troubles and hardships.  but if we stay in God’s grace, his everlasting love and light would guide us until we reach our destination.

as we go along our way, let us not depart from who we really are.  we are God’s children.  we are brothers and sisters, regardless of color, race or religion.  if we care for our brothers and sisters, we would never feel  threathened, even if everything will be taken away from us.  we will always be taken care of.  if we just believe in God’s promise.

it is written in Matthew 6:25-26  “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  Is not life more than food? Or the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth much more than they?”

if only rolando remembered this, he should not have made that big wrong decision.  he would not have made that big mistake.  and he could have prevented all the others from making their own.

the tale of two friends

And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? – – `My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him.  For the Lord disciplines him whom He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.’

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather healed.”  Hebrews 12: 5-7, 11-13

i remember this story about two very close friends.  in fact, they were too close that they already treated each other as family.  one day, the other friend left and worked away from the other.  before he left, he asked his friend to take care of his mother while he was away.  he also entrusted his business and savings to him not wanting to bother his mother with finances.  on top of that, he also sent part of his earnings monthly.  his main concern was for his mother to be well taken care of.

two years after, the friend who went away came back.  only to find out that the friend he left behind betrayed his trust;  his money gone, the business went bankrupt and his mother neglected.  when he confronted his friend, this friend who betrayed him simply said he needed the money, but never asked for forgiveness nor did he show any remorse nor shame for what he had done.  he was even proud to say that he can pay him back anytime.  that was the last time they saw each other.

after some time, the friend had to leave his mother again.  but this time he made sure that he trusted the right people to care for her.  not long after, the friend who betrayed him was caught stealing from his place of work.  he was forced to resign without any benefits from his thirty years of service, or else the company would file charges against him.  he left the company empty-handed.  because of his lavish lifestyle which his salary alone could not sustain, he was also neck deep in debt with personal loans from other people which he could no longer pay.  his childred stopped going to school.  his house foreclosed by the bank.  and because he was already getting older, he started to get sick. 

it was time for vacation again for his friend.  during one of his routine visits to his doctor, he saw the friend who betrayed him in the hospital corridor, seeking treatment for his heart ailment in the charity section; pale, thin and weak.  but this then sickly friend was still hardened with pride.  he said he was supposed to pay back what he owed, but he got sick.  and yet, not a single sorry was uttered.  his friend who had long forgotten what he had done, simply said, “you know, my friend,  all our sins each have their own punishments.  maybe this is yours.”  and the friend who betrayed him, still proud and enrelenting answered back “you know what you said really hurts me.”  and the friend who betrayed him walked away, never looked back, not realizing the hurt he had caused the other.  now this friend who betrayed the other, has nothing.  no money, no family, no friend. 

when bad things happen to us, we associate it to God’s punishment for our past wrongdoings.  because i see God as a loving and gentle God, i refused to see him in this perspective especially when i was younger.  but when i grew older, i believe i also grew a bit wiser.

because by now, i know that everytime i sin, God calls my attention because he loves me and he wants me to change.   in subtle ways first.  but when i don’t listen, he jolts me.  like lightning in the middle of summer, i would be caught by surprise.  then, he gets my attention.  and i learn my lesson.  the hard way.

that does not mean that God is not a loving and gentle God.  He is.  it’s just that, i’m a stubborn sinner who needed something more than a push to make me understand. 

we can be the friend who trusts or the friend who betrays.  in which case, we can be forgiving like the other.  or really, really mean and proud, like the one who betrays him. 

the point is, when God does punishes us, let not foolish pride get in the way.  acknowledge that we had done something wrong.  ask for forgiveness.  resolve not to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.  or else, we would end up with nothing.  no love.  no friend.  no family.  no home.  and sadly, no soul.

a boy named CJ

“And He said:’I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself  like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’  And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.”   Matthew 18:3-5

once in a while, i stumble upon stories of real people that deeply touch my heart.  even after the stories end.  this morning, i met a beautiful child named CJ.

his father, benette, who works abroad and was about to celebrate his birthday, called home and talked to his son, CJ.  he asked his father to look for his gift when he comes home for vacation in his ‘aparador‘. father and son also talked about plans to celebrate his sister Camille’s birthday and CJ’s becoming an altar boy, and eventually a priest someday.  the conversation was really sweet and touching, as detailed by benette in his facebook account.

that same night, tragedy struck. CJ was ran over and back by a ten-wheeler truck.  half of his frail body was crushed. he was with two of his cousins, Melai whose right arm was seriously injured and Melvin who was pushed by CJ to save him.  this happened three years ago.

it’s really hard to lose someone we love.  but to lose him unexpectedly and in a really gruesome way is even harder.  i recently lost dear loved ones recently too – my daddy, my childhood friend and best friend roobee, my aunts: tita fortune, tita estela and auntie bebeng, dearest friends boeing and eugene.  though really painful until now, i draw strength from the sweet memories they left behind.

but now, the parents of this little angel are still grieving, not only for the loss of their precious son.  but also for the elusive justice that they seek.  indeed as Catholics, we are taught to forgive.  but what is there to forgive, when the sinner does not repent? and where is peace, when there is no justice? 

i write this by God’s grace, so that readers may join hands in prayer to find justice for CJ and his family… to hope that this tragedy would never happen again to any family… and that  a boy named CJ would finally rest in peace.