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.

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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.

roobee doo bee doo

“And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” John 16:22

over dinner last night, bhoy and i wondered if people would still know each other in heaven.  we  also wondered how we would look like. if the same as when we were younger, or when older. though we may have preferences, it would make no difference because apparently no one will care about appearances anymore.  everything is beautiful.  and heavenly to be more precise.

there are stories of near-death experiences where heaven was a tunnel of light where choirs of angels sing. bhoy said souls would probably look like baby angels there.  and  i pointed out that there are depictions of angels as grown ups too. like the archangels.  well, we wouldn’t really know until we get there, would we?

it’s been a year now since roobee passed away.  there’s no way of knowing how she looks as an angel (i believe she is!).  and there is absolutely no way that we can track where in heaven she is.  even if there is GPS, it would be out of range, unless someone invents an HPS (heaven positioning system), which is a remote possibility. not ever. at least not in this lifetime.  or lifetimes ahead.

but after that initial shock when one gets to learn that someone dear is gone,  the difficulty to process grief into profound sorrow,  (four times in a span of one year for me), there seemed no choice but to get it over with and move on. question is do we?

by God’s grace and mercy, i have learned to dwell instead on the precious blessing of our friendship rather than the void she left. and boy i tell you! it’s huge!

as we watched clash of the titans last night, i can’t help but smile as i recall watching the 1981 version with her when we were still in high school.  one by one, random memories of the amazing 80s come to mind.  my sharona, esavy, we are the champions, straa, campings, retreats, jewa, balut, bagets… i could go on and on.

now as i listen to Apo Hiking Society, i can almost hear roobee singing doo bidoo bidoo.  with the choir of angels singing with her.

There is Gold in Saudi Arabia

“For though I be absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.”  Colossians 2:5

He was simple, cheerful and selfless.  His name was Boeing.


Our first meeting was vague.  It was years ago at the old duty-free shop in paranaque.  I could barely recall how he looked like then.

The second time we met was along King Khalid St. here in Al-Khobar.  He was shopping for gifts to take home to his family in Pasig. 

The third time was during his farewell party at Bangkok Restaurant.  He welcomed each lady so  graciously with a long-stemmed rose.  That was what I vividly remember, because I barely knew the guests at that time, though most of them were from the same company where Boeing and my husband Bhoy worked.

The next day, I texted him to thank him for the sumptous dinner and the great time I had. prayed for his safe trip back to the Philippines and likewise, expressed sadness that we wouldn’t have the chance to know each other more intimately, because he had to leave Saudi Arabia when I just came two months prior. 

I was wrong…  Boeing came back after a few months to work  in another company.  And our friendship was born.  Thereafter, Bhoy and I began to spend Thursday nights with him and other close friends from ACEC.  Here in Saudi, that was one of the safest way to keep one’s sanity and avoid endless, lonely homesick nights.  We were then later called “Thursday group”. 

The “group” decided what special dishes would be prepared and where we would ‘devour’ them.  Aside from food and drinks, we shared stories about our families back home, work-related experiences and our hopes and dreams after life in saudi.  Sometimes, we even had videoke sessions, no matter if  we sometimes sounded like lost frogs in the desert. 


But some good things never last.  One after the other, some of those very good friends went towards different paths.  Then miguel, our son, came to live with us and study in Andalus. Thursday nights were never the same again.  The “Thursday group” was dissolved even before we could even think of a less corny name.  But the friendship remained…  and so did Boeing.

He advised me to apply for a job in the UK-based company he transferred to, but told me I had to wait.  That time, I already had two other prospects but I  trusted him to call me soon.
But a month passed.  And another.  Until finally, my patience ran out and went to be interviewed in a nearby hospital just a couple of blocks from our flat.  The offer was good enough. And I was ready to accept it.  So I called Boeing and told him about my plans.  But he insisted that I wait.

So I took the chance and waited.  But this time not for long.  He called me and took me to their office.  He was very confident that I would get a better offer.  And I did.  He was really glad that we would work together.  And for a year, we worked together… until that fateful Eid holiday.


He was first confined in Almana hospital on September 25.  From then on, he was in and out of the hospital until he finally took his last flight out of Saudi Arabia in November.  We were optimistic that he would get well before the end of his medical leave.  But at dawn on December 7, Boeing passed away.

I realized now that true friendship is never measured by moments, or months,  or years.  It cannot be described by words, nor phrases, nor eulogies.  The same profound friendship that Boeing and I shared.  He may be physically gone.  But I will always see him in every desert sand, in every date palm tree, in every bacoco fish.  And whenever I look up to see the vast Arabian sky, it is Boeing that I will see… smiling back at me.

I was told there is too much gold in Saudi.  It is true.  But I found the purest and most priceless of all.  His name is Boeing.

a RUBY by any other name is still as sweet

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for Thou alone, Lord, makest me dwell in safety.” Psalms 4:8

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one of the saddest realities of life is dying.  it comes in different forms and circumstances.  sometimes slowly, but more often than not, just suddenly.  there was a time when i see death as a possibility that can happen only to a generation ahead of us.  a remote eventuality for the much younger generation.  as i stand in the middle, i found out this glaring truth- that we are never too young to die, nor are we too old to live.

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she was a childhood friend, a next door neighbor, a classmate, a kumare.  we were together since 4th grade until high school graduation. we went to school together, played the same games, ate the same foods, enjoyed the same music, even shared secrets. we practically grew up together. our daily routine together changed only when we went to the university.  though she had a love life way later than i did, she got married long before i did.  she chose to be a full time housewife to her husband and mother to 5 wonderful kids.  but our friendship stayed on, though we no longer see each other that often.  we knew in our hearts that our love for each other remains.  but death snatched her away.

they say she was too young to die.  yet if we believe that our lives are already pre-destined by our Creator even before birth, so does the fulfillment of our life’s purpose, no matter how much time we have.  how we accomplish that with the given time, the Lord gave us free will to decide.

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last week, we were all unprepared.  Roobee passed on so quickly.   we never had time to say goodbye.  we could only stop and look back at all that we had shared together, and just imagine how it would be like to grow old with her.  but no matter how briefly we had her, in God’s eyes she had already completed her purpose.  what most mortals see as Roobee’s unfinished business, is now the life’s purpose of  those whom she left behind.   it would make her happy to see all of us to realize our own regardless of how many years we still have to fulfill it.

roobee1her first name was Rubira.  her childhood nickname was Rubie.  some spell it as Ruby.  when she got back from Thailand, she preferred to spell it  R-O-O-B-E-E.  but no matter how we call her, she remains my sweet and dear friend (actually there’s just too many beautiful words to describe her) who is always  in my heart.  she had so much love to give, and she gave it all away.  those  of us who have known her, are just so lucky to have received a piece of that unselfish kind of love that inspires us to also give a part of ourselves.  so that when the time has come for us to go,  love would still remain and live on.

coping with solitude

“He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat.”  Mark 6:31

solitude is the state of being alone.  to some it is a relief from stress.  to be isolated in silence doing nothing.  it is a luxury to those who had to deal with the hustle and bustle of life, day in and day out of their busy lives.  solitude is a privilege to hear the voice of God.  solitude gives us the chance to wait for what God has to say to us and feel his presence in our hearts.

but to others, solitude is simply just being alone.  being isolated.  being left out.  some even equate being alone with being sad.  some suggested ways to cope with it are:

1.  start a hobby.  gardening maybe, or art crafts.  they calm the mind and body.

2.  raise a pet.  maybe a dog or cat that you can cuddle or play with. 

3.  read.  a book, newspaper or magazines that would stimulate your intellect.

4.  exercise. sweat it out.  (pick up that dumbbell that’s collecting dust already) or dance around. 

5.  be techy.  surf the net, call mom and dad, chat with friends, play with the psp, blog

6.  cook.  be creative.  experiment with new recipes.

7.  watch a movie.  unable to go to the theater lately?  now’s the time to catch up.

8.  introspect.  there’s no better time to examine yourself, reorganize your life and plan your future.

9.  go out.  meet new people.  meet old friends.  see new places.

after all these have been tried and tested,  and still nothing worked, go back to the paragraph about solitude and try see it in this perspective.  listen to the voice of God.  listen. and then, pray.  praying is our way of answering back the messages that we had listened to in our hearts.  it is such an awesome feeling to know there is always someone we can talk to.  we may not see Him through our human eyes, but if we looked deeper using the eyes of our faith, we can actually see his presence in our lives. and surely Jesus is there all the time.  keeping us company. and amen! we are never alone after all.