Of Misencounters, Reencounters and a Prayer for Peace

“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14

The images of the honorable PNP SAF Troopers who died on that fateful morning on January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao will forever be etched in our minds and hearts. The details of what many in our government call a misencounter had already been told and retold. The weeping of the families and loved ones of the fallen are being heard over and over within the echoes of our recent memories. And now as the continuing story of investigations and inquiry will follow through the pain that would never go away, there is one thing that we should never forget. The one thing that these gallant 44 had fought hard for, and that we should cherish so their sacrifice would not be in vain. That is PEACE.

At this moment, when the wounds in our hearts are still fresh and the strength of each loved one is still delicately fragile, there is only anger, outrage and betrayal. I must admit, as far as I may be from Mamasapano, my initial reaction is shock at the number of lives lost. They were just too many to comprehend. Then sadness…The sight of the lifeless bodies who once stood with dignity and courage were just too much for a gentle heart to handle. And finally anger… I was angry that people are capable of doing something horrific so close to home. I was furious that the President Aquino made a choice that caused the hurt already too much to bear, to swell all the more. I was like “OMG you are President and you can’t cancel a scheduled appointment? Not even for the sake of your so-called “bosses” would you spare some mercy and compassion to what they were going through at the time they needed them most?” I would have wanted to think that the Mitsubishi rendezvous was a “misencounter”. That the President went to the wrong place at the wrong time.

But who are we to judge? What good deed have I done for my country that make me consider myself better than the President or other government officials for that matter so much that I loathe every unpopular decision that they make or any grave mistake they commit? So we are all angry. Now what? Does my loathing help ease the pain of a hurting nation? Or am I just adding to the problem instead of solving it?

As prayers continue to pour for the souls of the valiant PNP SAF Troopers and for the family and loved ones they left behind, I continue to pray for peace. I realized, that as it is human to feel the way we did, there is a time to get past the rage. What good would it do if we keep on scratching the wound? It would just cause the wound to grow bigger and eventually impossible to heal.

I am still angry at what had happened in Mamasapano. I am still grieving together with those who mourn. But I choose to continue to pray. For HEALING,for JUSTICE, for PEACE…

We need not wait for deals, agreements or pacts to be signed to attain peace. We can begin now, with ourselves. We have the choice to be channels of peace. It is the only way. So that after the haze of gunfire and tears had died down, our reencounters will instead be borne of brotherhood and love.

To our heroes, rest in peace in God’s sweet embrace and I pray that your great sacrifice would be worth it… I salute you.

1. Sr. Insp. Ryan Ballesteros Pabalinas
2. Sr. Insp. John Garry Alcantara Erana
3. Sr. Insp. Max Jim Ramirez Tria
4. Sr. Insp. Cyrus Paleyan Anniban
5. Sr. Insp. Gednat G. Tabdi
6. Insp. Joey Sacristan Gamutan
7. Insp. Rennie Tayrus
8. SPO1 Lover L. Inocencio
9. PO3 Rodrigo F. Acob Jr.
10. PO3 Virgel S. Villanueva

11. PO3 Andres Viernes Duque Jr.
12. PO3 Vitoriano Nacion Acain
13. PO3 Noel Onangey Golocan
14. PO3 Junrel Narvas Kibete
15. PO3 Jed-In Abubakar Asjali
16. PO3 Robert Dommolog Aliaga
17. PO3 John Lloyd Rebammonte Sumbilla
18. PO2 Amman Misuari Esmulla
19. PO2 Peterson I. Carap
20. PO2 Roger C. Cordero

21. PO2 Nicky DC Nacino Jr.
22. PO2 Glenn Berecio Badua
23. PO2 Chum Goc-Ong Agabon
24. PO2 Richelle Salangan Baluga
25. PO2 Noel Nebrida Balaca
26. PO2 Joel Bimidang Dulnuan
27. PO2 Godofredo Basak Cabanlet
28. PO2 Franklin Cadap Danao
29. PO2 Walner Faustino Danao
30. PO2 Jerry Dailay Kayob

31. PO2 Noble Sungay Kiangan
32. PO2 Ephraim G. Mejia
33. PO2 Omar Agacer Nacionales
34. PO2 Rodel Eva Ramacula
35. PO2 Romeo Valles Senin II
36. PO1 Russel Bawaan Bilog
37. PO1 Angel C. Kodiamat
38. PO1 Windell Llano Candano
39. PO1 Loreto Guyab Capinding
40. PO1 Gringo Charag Cayang-o

41. PO1 Romeo Cumanoy Cempron
42. PO1 Mark Lory Orloque Clemencio
43. PO1 Joseph Gumatay Sagonoy
44. PO1 Oliebeth Ligutan Viernes

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Labor Pains

“Martha, Martha” the Lord answered, “you are upset about so many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

It’s the first day of the new year!!! It’s time to write a new book in our life’s story.
But first let me remember how I got this far.

If asked to describe 2014 in just one word, I choose “meaningful”.

From day one of 2014, the scene in our home where we just moved just days before, was absolutely chaotic. Except for that spot where we sat for the obligatory family photo, everywhere we look at were boxes upon boxes of stuff that were yet to be unpacked and sorted out. It took us about a month to put order into our new home.

Since I grew up where New Year’s Day is the gauge to which the whole year could be predicted to become, we made sure that on every New Year’s Eve, there was bountiful media noche; a clean house down to each cabinet drawers and shelves; pockets full of coins and bills; among other handed down traditions that somehow shape the way we think and live.

But traditions or not, regardless of the disorder in our New Year’s dwelling, 2014 was one that’s full of trials, challenges and difficulties. A year which one with a weak heart and spirit could not endure. The pain was excruciating to say the least. Though not physically, the pain nevertheless pierced each and every part of my being to the very core. But then with each surge of pain, there was always an anticipation so great it momentarily made me forget I was hurting.

Like I was in labor after months of carrying, not a bundle of joy, but a load too heavy to bear. I finally heaved a sigh of relief when a couple of days before Christmas of 2014, my prayer was answered. God once again gave me a gift of hope, like on that first Christmas when Jesus is the “gift” for our salvation.

I cannot recall ever praying so hard like I did those dark days in 2014. And when I saw the light in my answered prayer, the more I felt God’s presence in the here and now. Nothing compares, even those two times I gave birth to my children. The labor pains I had to endure became flickers of memory. The pain disappeared into the wonderful sight of a baby. Now into the sight of a rebirth to a second chance.

It never stops at giving birth. We had to nurture the life that was entrusted to us until it grows into its own fullness in Christ. So should I not stop after receiving the gift of answered prayer. This new year 2015 and for the rest of my life, I have the responsibility to follow through my promise to fulfill the will of God in me; a humble way to express my endless gratitude and praise for His unconditional love for me. I don’t expect the labor pains to go. I’d probably give birth to a new hope over and over again until I grow into full spiritual maturity. Until then, I look forward to this journey to more New Years to come with the Lord in my heart. As that first way of Jesus to the Cross, the pain would be worth it.

So please do not be discouraged. All of us has battlefields to go through at some points in our lives. God will never leave us, if we only let Him fight our battles for us through constant prayer. We have to acknowledge our weakness and believe in His power over all things and in all things.

Let It Go

“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9

My office mate have been singing “let it go, let it go” since I came to work this morning until now that work is over.  I love the song but to hear only those three words over and over (she hums the rest of the song), annoyed me. Until I realized it may be an angel’s way to get a message across.

My patience is on a limited supply usually on the first week of each month, with all the deadlines and the cramming.  God knows i try so hard to be nice.  But there’s a lot going on in my life too.  The personal stuff, if you know what i mean.  And it’s causing my patience meter to do a roller coaster on me.  So it’s hard to flash that smile.  The way to go for my face now is blank.  Like no expression at all.  Like i’m on an out-of-body trip to the nearest exit. Like i’m frozen or something.

Finally before the day is over, I get it.  Tell that to me again… LEt it go.  Let it go. Let it go.  And I say, alright! alright! alright!

This is synonymous with sacrifice because I have to part with what I have.  Apparently, no one ever lets go of what he doesn’t have. So let me see, what do I have now?  I have negative vibes. Worries. Stress. Pain. Insecurity. Sadness. Darn! I didn’t realize how much I have until now. These I don’t really need in my life. So yes, let them go.

It is probably the best way to partake in the suffering of Christ.  To let go of our own.  and focus on His Cross.

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 🙂

 

   

happy feet

“And how can men preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'”  Romans 10:15

my birth month is almost over.  as i contemplate on all the blessings the Lord showers me with day by day, the Bible passage above, prompted me to stare at my own two feet.  they are relatively small and dainty, which definitely don’t match my short and fat limbs, nor my chubby yet huggable torso.  but they apparently do the work.  and as i ponder on the value of these feet which i always look down to, i’m amazed how far they already have taken me; from baby steps to short walks to school and church, to long walks to the park, malls, work, airports even.

these same feet which i took for granted, enables me to attend birthday parties, weddings, funeral processions; join campings, hikings, engage in sports or simply climb flights of stairs.  who knows what else my feet can do for me? run for my life maybe.

i remember during high school, there were these branded clogs which were in fashion called happy feet.  they were so cool, probably because they were the classy version of the local bakya.  back then, it was some sort of status symbol.  but since my parents could only afford bantex and spartan, i didn’t get the privilege to wear one. twenty-five years later, as we stroll around the mall and bhoy saw the child-like delight on my face when i saw racks and racks of happy feet, he couldn’t help but finally buy me the bakya of my youthful dreams. but then again, other than slip my feet on them, or to some other pair of sleek, thin-strapped sandals to showcase how pretty they are, i haven’t given much thought how hard my poor, little feet have served me thus far.

until now.

days before my birthday, i had to stop working and undergo total abdominal hysterectomy.  the procedure rendered me totally incapable to do just about anything.  and when finally, i’m able to walk again, that’s more or less what my ob gyn, nurses and internet researches advised me to do. just walk. from baby steps – again, i struggled to move forward without the bend and crouch and the twitch on my face .  you can just imagine how happy i was when last week, i was finally able to walk 1km along the corniche; breath in the fresh scent of the sea and bask in the early morning winter sunshine.

as my birth month ends, life goes on.  and as i walk on through the rest of my journey, i want to share the lessons of joy and hope from my humble, little feet.  at times when we may be looked down or stepped upon; at times when we slip or stumble; at times when the burden of the world weighs us down – stare at the same feet.  they never give up no matter how heavy we are literally.  they won’t really care how sad and frustrated we can become, they are always on standyby, ready to take us wherever we want to be, regardless of the danger and how rough the road ahead maybe.

they serve… and they endure.  because that’s what the happy feet are here for.  and so are we.

trick or treat!

“Do not deceive yourselves.  If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age,  he should become a ‘fool’, so that he may become wise.”  1 Corinthians 3:18

truth hurts.  and so is the discovery that the perceived truth was actually a lie afterall. then you wouldn’t know exactly which is worse.

what can exactly make a difference is the “who”.  strangers can lie all they can, so what?  if it does not involve us in any way, it wouldn’t matter at all.  but if it is someone with whom a mutual trust we thought exists, the truth hurts even more.

all of us, at some point in our lives, experience this sad truth.  betrayed, tricked, duped, deceived, bluffed, even stabbed at the back.  what can be more painful?

but it’s okey to feel bad.  it is a proof that we are alive and normal.  because to be numb is like being dead. 

but then again, if we continuously wallow in the pool of  lies and betrayal, then we will soon drown in the negativity of our self-inflicted pain.  and we’re just as good as dead.  because we can no longer move on and see things in a different light.

let’s make our “wallow episodes” short and significant.  like boosters to help us surge upwards, consider the trickery that once pulled us down, good luck in disguise.  the beautiful lie that finally appeared as the ugly truth, would teach us painful lessons that would eventually make us better persons. 

our “trust-o-meter” may malfunction for quite sometime.  but be patient.  people in our lives who stay true under any circumstance would calibrate it again like new.  we would eventually realize our true alliances, and they would enable us to be survivors in life.  these are the ones to whom our focus should be on, to cherish and value even more.

truth is a bitter pill, sugar-coated with lies.   in the end, we decide – to swallow or not.

trick or treat!

the naked truth

“And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”  Job 1:21

funny how the word “naked” always evokes that extra interest.  basic instinct maybe?  but come to think of it.  our nakedness is basic in our humanity.  we were born naked.  and would pass on the same way too.  no matter how we would eventually be clothed in the end.

i remember when my cousin khan passed away.  she was in her early 20s.  initially, she wore our aunt’s conservative barong terno especially made for a wedding ceremony.  everyone noticed how khan’s face looked so unhappy.  you see, khan was a fashionista.  it was really awkward to see her that young and dead.  but wear that terno and that short hair? eeewww!  like she was forced by death to look 30 years older.  and we could almost hear her scream, “get me out of here!!!”  in reference to her outfit. not her coffin.

so my sister and younger cousins decided to buy her a more suitable lavender spaghetti strapped dress with a matching see-through  shawl to cover her shoulder.  the ensemble showed how pretty and young she was, yet still retained that statuesque dignity only khan could get away with.  we can always argue about this.  but believe it or not, from then on, her face glowed in serene approval and it was like she smiled all the way to her grave.

the truth is, we didn’t really care how we were dressed up when we were born.  likewise, it wouldn’t matter too when we pass on.  our life is a personal relationship with our Creator.  it will always be between ourselves and Him.  nothing more. nothing less.  whatever we had after we were born – family, clothing, shelter, riches – these are just add ons to our journey that we are trusted to enrich our lives with.  we don’t take them beyond our destination.  because in the end, our accountability is what have we done with our life.  with or without the add-ons. 

remember the story of Job.  he was an upright man who feared God and shunned evil.  he was prosperous and God blessed him with seven sons and three daughters.  but Satan was allowed to test his faith. everything he had was taken away.  even his family.  his whole body was smitten by Satan with dreadful boils.  still he persevered in his faith.  when his wife prompted him to curse God and die, Job replied “You speak as the one of the foolish speaks.  Moreover, shall we receive good from God and not receive evil?”

in the end, Job got well again, regain his possessions and had ten more children living to see the fourth generation and died in peace at the old age of 140. 

when we lose someone or something we hold dear – loved ones, job, home, money, health etc. –  let us remember that all are God’s blessings to us.  He has the power to give, yet take away in His time.  we must be resigned to all sufferings, as much as we delight in all the blessings.  not because He is God and we are just His creations.  but because we trust that God knows what is best for us.  though His mysterious ways leave us often confused and puzzled; so that we tend to ask why, and expect the answer right away.

“there is nothing permanent in this world.  not even our troubles.”  Charlie Chaplin once said.  today may be your bad day.  but from my experience,  from these bad days, the best of mine always follow. 

we may be stripped of anything and everything, but in all our humble nakedness, our Creator clothes us with the assurance that he would take care of everything.  and if we sincerely believe, we could actually feel that warmth of his love.

that’s the naked truth.

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.

sing when it hurts – a lesson from the cherubim

“He put a new song in my mouth; a hymn of praise to our God.”  Psalm 40:1:3

REPOST from Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Life is hard. Sometimes dark. There are times when troubles pile so high we fear we might suffocate under them. We are lonely. We are scared. We are burdened. These are wintry, cold spiritual seasons when there seems to be no light, no help, no relief, no comfort in any direction.  It’s at these times, when we are most discouraged, most weary, that the angels teach us what we must do. We must SING!

Angels are actively engaged in the unceasing praise of God. At Mass several parts of our Liturgy come from Scriptural accounts of angelic worship. The Gloria begins with words sung by the angels at Christ’s birth (Luke 2:14). The Sanctus is from Isaiah’s vision of God surrounded by angels who sing, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory’ (Is.6:1-3).


Some angels are called cherubim, thought to be from the root “to mount.” The Psalms describe a majestic God “mounted” upon, or riding, the exotic winged cherubim: “And He ascended upon the cherubim and He flew: and He flew upon the wings of the wind” (Ps 18:10).

This sort of ascendance imagery is also used in fifteen songs which comprise one of the most precious and beautiful portions of the Bible, the Psalms of Ascent. Sung by the children of Israel as they ascended Mount Zion in Jerusalem during liturgical feasts, their worship was an integral part of the sweaty, joyful exertion and anticipation of arriving at the summit where God awaited.

Their physical climb up the mountain was a type, model and picture of the slow upward trajectory of the Christian spiritual life here on earth. It is a glorious, sweaty enterprise that will ultimately require our very last breath, but those same Psalms of Ascent lift and accompany us, too, up the grand, grueling mountain as we sing them in the Divine Office and our hearts ascend to God in daily prayer. 
*for the complete text, go to:  http://www.catholic.org/hf/faith/story.php?id=37673 

by Sonja Corbitt, NASHVILLE, TN 8/4/2010 Sonja Corbitt is a Catholic speaker, Scripture teacher and study author, and a contributing writer for Catholic Online. She is available to speak on the New Feminism, current events and your preferred theme. Visit her at http://www.pursuingthesummit.com for information and sample videos.

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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.