Monday, June 11, 2012

How to Deal with Past Pains

Photo courtesy of Sister Rose of Glistening in the Grass

Do you like everything in your past? Are there things in your past that you do not want to look into again or happen again? Was it so painful that just the thought of it gives you enormous pain like your heart is being pierced with a lance?

All of us go through pain. And the good news is no one is exempt.

It may be the pain brought by other people in your lives. You might have been given up by your parents as a child. Or you came from a broken home. Or you have absentee parents. Or you have been beaten up or molested as a child.

 But it may also be the other way around - being the one inflicting pain to people, especially people you love. And the guilt and shame brought by it is painful. And you realize that too late.

You want to move on with your life and forget all about it. But you can’t forget about it because you have a memory. There's no escaping the past. But you’ve got a choice and the best choice you’ve got is to deal with it.

Now, how to deal with past pains. This is no guarantee though that you will feel no pain anymore. But I guarantee that if you apply the following steps, you will feel inner peace like you have never felt before. It worked for me. It can work for you also.

1. Forgive those who have wronged you.
Someone said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping that the other person dies. It actually does more damage to us than it does to the other person. This is especially true if you are holding grudges in your heart. If you are the kind that hold grudges, stop drinking that poison. Open up your heart for forgiveness. Pray for the other person. And slowly, little by little, you will open up yourself for the chance of forgiveness. And one day, you will be free. Let the lance that pierce your heart touch base to the poison that might be killing you inside. And let the poison ooze out like blood.

2. Forgive Yourself
Here’s another good news. No one is exempt from human weaknesses. All of us sin. All of us fail. Guilt and shame is the natural consequence of sin. And to compensate, one might have the tendency to punish himself.

Don't be too hard on yourself. Stop punishing yourself. Learn how to be humble enough to ask for forgiveness. Let go of that invisible whip that you use to flog yourself and allow yourself to be happy. Ask God for forgiveness. If you are a Catholic, turn to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and free yourself from that burden.

3. Let God Heal You
God saw you when you were hurt. Abandoned. Offended. Neglected. Miserable. Dejected. Wretched.
God understands you more than anyone in this world. Go to Him. Turn to Him because healing is in His hands. And His love is unconditional. He still loves you no matter what.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Powershot Gone

Repost: written by Divina Joy Ayungo on Monday, 28 February 2011 at 16:52 ·

Photo courtesy of Canon

It was 6:00 in the evening. I was in the taxi heading home. The traffic was heavier than usual because it was Panagbenga. I took out my camera. I was pleased to view all my shots from the street parade to the floats. I liked the floats the most. It was amazing how they did it. It is amazing how they put the flowers together to form one theme. At a glance you cannot recognize that they are flowers but they are. I liked how they arranged the red roses to form a very huge strawberry, and the orchids and the trees, how they put them all together to form a forest-like scene, etcetera, and etcetera. I was going to show them to my mother and brother who were at home at that time. I was excited.

At last, I reached the taxi’s turning point. I went out of the taxi. While walking home I was still thinking of the beautiful shots I had. Then a little boy was shouting “Wala na!” Wala na!” It was like he was shouting at me. But I didn’t know the child so I just went on. Then I put my hands in the camera bag which I just held in my shoulders. The camera is gone. The smile on my lips is gone.

I got home frustrated. My mother and my brother would comfort me. I asked the Lord how could this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? I lay at the sofa. I just wanted to sleep and forget all about it.

As I lay in the sofa, I remember what my Cousin Melanie said when I lost my cell phone when I was still in College. "It is just God's reminder for us to be more careful next time". Perhaps it is. And also that God is teaching me the virtue of detachment from material things. Perhaps I was so fixated at my camera, I have put so much value in it than what is more important-that is enjoying my mother's company and my friends.

So I just charged it to experience, as my mother would always say.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Is There a God?

Recently, I encountered a blog post where the blogger tried to give a proof that God does not exist, hence, I thought of coming up with this post.

Have you ever got to the point where you questioned whether God exists or not? I can relate with you if you have because I have. After reading my past posts, one might conclude that I have always been “religious” or a “Spiritual Person” as some of my readers commented. The fact is this: there was a point in my life where I doubted.

Before I continue, I want to ask how many of you believed in Santa, wholeheartedly, as a child – with all the reindeers and North Pole thing and stuff like that?

I asked because I sincerely believed in him when I was younger. I received gifts from him in my socks every Christmas. I have waited every Christmas Eve for him and watched the moon for a sign that he passed. When I turned eleven, I was disappointed to learn that “Santa” was my parents.

"I have waited every Christmas Eve for him and watched the moon for a sign that he passed."
Someone even told me that I was too old to believe in Santa and laughed at me. Since then, I considered everything like the Santa episode as childish. Even without intending it, even the stories I learned as a child, mostly bible stories, I also treated as childish. Yes, it was a careless and hasty generalization.

I got to the point that I considered believing in the existence of Heaven and Hell as childish. I even thought that they do not exist. I almost fell to the pit called atheism. I almost believed that when I die, I will cease to exist. Those days were dark for me. My life had no meaning and direction. I was very confused.

I lost the Supernatural outlook I had when I was a child. I believe every child has that Supernatural Outlook. No wonder Jesus had a special mention of children in the bible (C.f. Lk 18:15 -17; Mt. 19:13-15; Mk 10:13-16). It’s because when we grow older, we usually lose it, especially at these times where fantasies are appealing and scams are widely spread; it is hard to tell which one is telling the truth.

But like anyone who has gone through that state, I had a pivotal point in my life. One evening when I was a graduating student in college, I attended a testimonial dinner with the new CPA’s from Saint Louis University, the school where I studied. Almost every one of them mentioned prayer as one of the factors why they passed the board exams. One even said that she offered a short prayer for every item in the exams. That incident led me to ask "really?" So when it was my turn to take the board exams, I followed their advice. During my review, I went to mass, said a prayer before I sleep, and really surrendered myself to God. While taking the exams, I kept saying a little prayer in my mind. I’m glad I took the advice of that new CPA in the testimonial dinner. If I didn’t, I might have failed. I credit my passing of the board exam to God, because honestly, I did not feel like I’m the most deserving. It’s true that I studied up to 16 hours a day that time but I still felt like it was not enough.

I go back to my question, is there a God? Yes, definitely. My experience is enough proof for me. You might ask me, “But Divine, that’s your experience. My experience tells me that there is no God.” Well, every person has a different story of how he encountered or will encounter God. Yours will be different from mine. But I won’t argue with scientific proofs and the like. I will leave you instead a phrase that my mother repeatedly told me when I was in doubt. “Where reason ends, faith begins.”

Praying for you,


P.S. By the way, I was shocked recently when I learned that Santa was real! He is Saint Nicholas de Bari! Well, he might not have a long white beard and reindeers and does not live in the North Pole but, hey, he lived! (I don’t know how his image evolved to the present Santa). The tradition of gift giving during Christmas came from him. Isn’t that amazing?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Three Reasons Why You Should Have a Mentor

Photo courtesy of Minna of M1nna.s Photostream

For a long long time, I have dwelt in the bottomless pit worthlessness. And the only way I got out of there was when someone have put a trampoline somewhere in the middle that caused me to bounce back and see the light. I have written a part of it in my post Moving Forward.

After reading my post Moving Forward, my dear friend Val sent me a personal message. I want to quote a part of it. 

“Your experience is really something so precious. Suddenly, the world is a world of possibility again.  With God's hand holding yours, you can do anything. You can achieve all your dreams.  Everything you want. He will show you how. Continue to bask in His Light, oh child of God!”

She is right. When I rediscovered that, yes, I am a daughter of God, I gained back my confidence. Suddenly, I knew He will always be at my side and guide me every step of the way. Suddenly, I have direction. I never felt alone.

Even after regaining that confidence, there were times when this feeble child of Him turned away. But He was always at the door waiting for me to go back. When I realized that I can’t do well alone and went back to Him, He just smiled and welcomed me.

This has been my experience. It can be yours too.

As I have said in my previous post, I have met friends along the way who helped me gain back my confidence. Some of those friends also became my mentor. And this I encourage a dreamer must have. That trampoline which God has put in the middle of the pit where I was were my mentors.

The first mentor that I had introduced me to the World Youth Day delegation, which I joined last August 2011. The World Youth Day played a great role in confirming that I can do many things and that my dreams are achievable.

One of the perks of joining the World Youth Day is having a “life coach”. I think this is unique to our delegation. Each of us was given a life coach who dealt with us personally.

The life coach was someone whom we could trust, someone who does not tell everyone what you told her and someone who keeps your discussions confidential. The life coach is someone who listens to you – your fears, your problems, your joys, your sorrows, your disappointments; and someone who does not laugh at your mistakes but helps you grow personally. She gives suggestions but does not force you to carry them out. She leaves the execution all up to you.

This was important to me. Just having someone who “wastes” her time on me was a treasure. It gives me the impression that I am a valuable person, not a good-for-nothing person. This helped me gain my confidence back and the rest was history.

And so, I give you my list of why you too should have a good mentor.

1. Even Pope Benedict and all the Popes before him had a mentor or a Spiritual Director.

2. Most Saints became Saints because of good mentoring. Some famous saints who were mentored are Saint Josemaria Escriva and Saint Augustine.

3. You will grow personally and you will gain a friend. My mentors are also my friends.

This is not an exhaustive list so maybe you can add.

Always Praying for you,


P.S. If you find it hard to find good mentors, go to your ultimate mentor - who is God.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Remember Ice

Photo courtesy of Sister Rose of "glistening on the grass"

"Old people think about death. But for young people like you, you don't think about death. You think about life," said Father Cenzon in our monthly recollection one Saturday. I think it's true. I can say that I'm having the time of my life now. But what if one of your peers suddenly died? Will you not think about death?

Ice had been fighting Lupus since she was 11. At the age of 28, she joined hands with the Almighty.

I've known her  for only more than a year but for the short time that I have known her, I have already admired her strength and her cheerfulness.

She's supposed to be joining us in the World Youth Day last year but just a few weeks before the World Youth Day, she had brain surgery so the doctor did not allow her.

The preparation for the World Youth Day was intense. In fact, we had to prepare for more than a year, attend the monthly meetings and team building and other activities. If she was not in the hospital or if she was not sick, she would attend. And I have never heard her complain about her sickness.


I still remember having fun with you when we sang and danced in our "Bel-air's Got Talent" even if we didn't have practice and we lost.

I still remember the time when we walked together in the World Youth Day Fun Run. I wish I walked longer with you.

I still remember seeing you in the hospital after one of your operations. You still had that cheerful disposition even if, I'm sure, you were in a lot of pain.

I remember you joining our monthly meeting even if you just had dialysis that same day.

I remember you smile. Who would have thought that you were in a lot of pain with your sweet smile?

You are beautiful as a butterfly. I liken your life on Earth as the process of metamorphosis. It was painful. But you were patient and strong and cheerful. Now you are free and soaring high.

Pray for us in heaven that we may be cheerful and patient and strong just like you, and that we may be wise in all our undertakings; that we may savor life as you did, remembering that every moment of our lives is important.

We miss you... Til we meet again.

“They whom we love and lose are no longer where they were before. They are now wherever we are.”
St. John Chrysostom

Saturday, May 19, 2012

How Taming Your Weaknesses Can Make You a Saint

Do you know your weaknesses? Do you throw your temper easily at the first sight of an unpleasant thing? Are you a number one procrastinator? Are you overly self conscious?  Is it difficult for you to be organized?

It has been hard for me to focus. For instance, I wrote a lot of drafts in the past days, but for some reasons, I was not able to post. I'm scatterbrained and practicing the virtue of order had been my struggle since the day I was born. (Okay, that's an exaggeration.)

My family and my friends know this: I always start things and never seem to finish. It's a miracle that I'm keeping up with my blog. *wink*

Later on, I learned that my personality, being a sanguine-choleric type, has something to do with it. Impulsive, Enthusiastic, Talkative (I'm still having a hard time admitting that even if almost all of my friends tell me that I'm talkative. haha), Forgetful, Frequently wrong, etc.

I learned that one of my friends has the same predicament. She, too, is overly enthusiastic. She lacks focus and is scatterbrained - like me. But her situation is worse because aside from having a sanguine-choleric type of personality, she also has ADHD. Her doctor prescribed that she drink brewed coffee to help her focus. So I drink coffee too to help me stay focused.

Okay, this post has nothing to do with coffee. I just inserted that to justify my addiction for coffee. Sorry. :D

Anyway, before I make my point, I want to ask an important question. Is our case (me and my friend) hopeless? Will we remain scatterbrained or talkative or overly enthusiastic and unrealistic for the rest of our lives? Were we born this way and stay this way forever?

My answer is no. Of course we will still lean to our natural tendencies but we can tame our weaknesses.

For example, Saint Peter was sanguine-choleric. He was impulsive, enthusiastic, protective, talkative, frequently wrong,  - yet a heroic and passionate leader of the flock. He impulsively declared that he will go to prison and die for Jesus but after a few hours, he denied that he knows Him. He impetuously jumped out of the boat to walk on the water but then he begun to sink when he looked down at the water and became afraid.

But he was amazingly transformed. His weaknesses were tamed. And he has contributed significantly to the growth of the Christian faith through his passionate leadership, openness and generosity, and love for people.

Knowing that there are Saints and famous persons (like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton) who had the same weaknesses as I have gave me hope. Who knows, someday, me and my friend will be Saints too.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dear Ma

Dear Ma,

Today, I served as a member of the chorus in the PICC Feast afternoon session. I'm sure you do not know what that is but it's like the happiest place on Earth (according to Bro. Bo Sanchez). A little boy sang the song "Iingatan ka" and I thought of you. I was not able to give you a gift today so please consider this as my gift for you. Please watch.

It's the first time I did this. I always thought I had a nice voice and people tell me that too. But I only sang in the bathroom or in the house when the windows and the doors are closed, or in a chorus where my voice is blended among others so my mistakes are not apparent - because I'm afraid of ridicule. So consider this as me, stepping out of my comfort zone.

I love you Ma, and I'm not at all ashamed of that. I'm proud of you as my mother and I'm thankful for all the sacrifices you did for me and for my siblings. I am proud of your strength and fortitude amid trials. I am proud that you gave birth to me, enduring all the pain just so you can give me life.

Happy Mother's Day to you and to all mothers reading this post.

Your daughter,


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Pope Benedict XVI

Photo credit: Children dressed in traditional Bavarian costumes dance for Pope Benedict XVI during the Pontiff's 85th birthday celebrations in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican April 16, 2012. REUTERS/Gregorio Borgia/Pool

Do you have someone in your life you consider your hero? I have plenty of them. But today, I will write about the person to whom I dedicate this blog – Pope Benedict XVI. I came up with this blog because of his call (see the About page). It is but proper to write a post about him.

I couldn’t keep myself but to reminisce the experience I had during the World Youth Day. Truly, the experience is without measure. It is priceless.

One of the perks of joining the World Youth Day is seeing the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Since then, I became his raving fan.

To me, Pope Benedict XVI is very humble. If you went to the World Youth Day, you can tell that.

Before the World Youth day, he wrote to us – the youth. He already kept us in mind (I bet he still is). He wanted to reach out and show that he cares, even if we are still young and inexperienced.

During the World Youth Day, he did not mind the extraordinary summer heat of Madrid. We could have easily understood if he did not pursue with the Papal Mobil Parade if he wanted to because he is already old and his body might not be able to take it. But he pursued even if he turned pinkish and it was obvious that he got very tired. (The youth who complained will be embarrassed).

He did not complain when it rained in the Cuatro Vientos Aerodrome. He stood strong even if the wind almost knocked him off. He even sincerely thanked the youth for praying with him.

He knelt in front of the Blessed Sacrament like a Child of God.

To me, he is an epitome of strength, of great faith, of a true leader. I see Christ in him.

If ever I get the chance to go to the world youth day again, I will still shout with all my heart. Esta es, la juventud del Papa. We are the youth of the Pope. I am a youth of the pope.

Belated Happy 85th Birthday Papa Ratzi!  We, the Catholic Youth love you!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I'm Sorry :'(

Father, Forgive them for they know not what they do. This is the first of the Seven Last Words of Jesus before He died on the cross. In relation to this, I’d like to relate my personal experience on the Holy Week.
After the mass of the Lord’s Supper last Thursday, I went to the confessional to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Because there was a long line of penitents, I was able to think and reflect. As I waited for my turn, my thoughts went back two years ago – the time when I again went to the Sacrament after ten long years.

2 Years Ago...

I was accompanied by a new found friend to the chapel where I approached the priest in the confessional. I was scared to go but I went anyway.

I so longed planned to go to confession that time but for some reasons, I was not able to go. Perhaps I didn’t know where to start. It was then that I met this friend whom I believe God sent as an instrument to help me.
It was timely because at that time, I was carrying something heavy in my heart. It was the effect of sin. I was guilty and ashamed and I had low self worth.

Guilt causes shame. Shame is bad for the confidence. Shame is bad for self-image.
Photo credit

When it was my time to go, I inhaled deeply and entered the confessional. I told the priest everything. After which, I was liberated. I was not condemned by the priest. Instead, I was forgiven. He was compassionate.
That brings me to the event in the bible when the Pharisees and the teachers of the law brought an adulterous woman to Jesus. Jesus did not condemn the woman, rather, He showed compassion. It was the start of her conversion. Somehow, I felt like the adulterous woman in the bible. I knew that my conversion started after that confession one faithful evening.

I also felt like the Prodigal Son who, after squandering his father’s wealth and realizing his mistakes, went back to the father. He expected to be rebuked and condemned but he was not. Instead, he was welcomed by his father with open arms.

That’s what Divine Filiation is to me. That’s what I meant in my last post entitled Moving Forward. Because of His grace and great mercy, I was able to go back to Him. My past sins were forgiven. All my guilt and shame were washed away. I regained my confidence. Suddenly, the world is bright and my future is bright. I no longer dwelt in low self worth. All because I know that I am a daughter of God.

He loved me first. As a result, I loved Him back.

I'm adding this post to Sunday Snippets

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sunday Snippets – A Catholic Carnival

I am writing this post because I was invited to join the Sunday Snippets – A Catholic Carnival. It is where catholic bloggers gather to share their best weekly post. It’s my pleasure to be invited. To learn more about the carnival, click here.

I only have two posts the past week. One is about Asking for wisdom instead of a sign and the second one is about my moving to another company where I also talked about the confidence that the Divine Filiation brings. Although the picture in “Give me a sign” is cuter, I think that “MovingForward” is better because it highlights how everything is possible with God. It talks about how my world became a world of possibilities again because of Him.

To read more about my two posts, click the link below.

1.       Give me a sign
2.       Moving Forward

Thank You Rann for inviting me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Moving Forward

Time moves so fast. Three days from now, I will glance at my desk no more. I will sit in my chair no more. I will see my work station no more.

Three days from now, my contract with the Finance and Administration Office of The Philippine Foundation for C.E.D. will end. No, I was not fired. I tendered my resignation last February 13 but my superior requested me to extend my stay until March 30 and I agreed. I admit that since February 13, I have waited for March 30 to come. I was anxious and excited and talked about my bright future to my friends. I know my colleagues in the foundation understand why I am leaving. Being a CPA, they know that I still have many things to discover and to learn and to apply that I cannot do in the foundation. They are happy for me, yet, it was inevitable that some of them were saddened. Somehow, I developed a camaraderie among them and a some kind of an attachment was formed.

I was saddened too. I worked for the foundation for more than two years. It was my first job. I grew a lot during my stay there and I learned many things. But perhaps nothing is really permanent and we have to be open for change. I am moving forward to an Art Outsourcing I.T. Company where I hope to grow with too.

I don't know what is in store for me in my new job. But it's the risk I want to take and the challenge that I accept.

As a child, I have always been a dreamer. I have imagined many good things that can happen to me. I was very confident. I believed that I can achieve everything that I can ever think of.

Somewhere in between my childhood and now, I experienced a drop in confidence. I have counted the years. For eight years, I had low self esteem. For eight years, I forgot the dreams I had as a child. For eight years, I looked at myself as a good for nothing. I thought I everyone else was better than me.

I was wrong. Little by little, I have gained back my confidence with the help of some friends that I know the Almighty has sent me. Slowly, I have realized my self worth with what is called the "Divine Filiation", the confidence that comes from the fact that you are a child of God. The dreams and the confidence that I had as a child came back.

Now that I look at the eight years of my life that has been  "wasted" in low self worth, I want to make up for it. I still have my fears of failure and rejection but I do not want to grow old or to die doing nothing about my dreams.

Yeah, that illustration is creepy. I myself got chills when I was drawing that. But that is not meant to scare us. It is just an invitation for us to move towards our dreams. Let us not bring our dreams with us to the grave.

What are you willing to take in order to achieve your dreams?

Live Fully,

Friday, March 23, 2012

Give Me a Sign

As I was browsing in Facebook one afternoon, I saw a status update of one of my friends. She said “Give me a sign”. And below that status, another friend commented “beware, the devil hears you too.” It took a moment for that statement to sink in to me. How do we really know if the sign we just asked for came from God or from the devil?

As I reflected, my thoughts went to the wise King Solomon in the bible. He was a young king. To the standards of their time, “young” means na├»ve – inexperienced. As a young king though, he did not ask for a sign on how to rule his kingdom. He asked instead for wisdom. To this day, he is known as the wisest king who lived. (I’m not of course comparing him to Christ the King.)

My thoughts wandered through time. I remembered the times when I asked for signs. An example of a sign I asked was “Kapag dumaan yung truck sa harap ko, ito ang gagawin ko…” (When the truck passes in front of me, this is what I will do…) I know it might sound silly but I did ask for that sign when I was younger.

How do we know, really, if the signs are devil-planted or God-planted? My thought on this one is this: God embedded in the universe natural signs.

These natural signs are like symptoms
Four days ago, my brother and I experienced food poisoning. After eating our food, we suddenly felt sick. We had headaches, fever, and rashes all over our body. The headaches, fever and rashes are signs that we have taken something that our bodies did not want.

Signs can be as simple as that.

You might be telling me now, “that’s common sense. Of course, everybody knows that. Buti sana kung ganyan din kadali sa totoong buhay” (That would be good if it’s as easy as that in real life [literal translation])

My friend, I don’t know what you are going through right now. You might be going through an intense pain, confusion, and you do not know what to do.

But here’s what I learned from my life. We have to listen to those natural signs. For example, if you are being abused by someone, physically or emotionally, it might be a sign that your relationship might not be working. (Yes, I’m talking from experience). If you are unchallenged with your job, then it might be a sign that you need to explore other opportunities. If you are still broke despite your many economic activities, it might be a sign that your strategy is not working.

On the other hand, if you are doing well in your relationship, if you are enjoying your job and if you are seeing good fruits of your economic activities, then congratulations, you have just found your winning formula. It’s a sign that you have to continue what you are doing.

It’s a case to case basis of course. But what I’m trying to point out here is this. Do we really need to ask for signs like “hit me baby one more time”? My answer is no. Signs are already present. Look around. Look deep within. Reflect. And ask for wisdom instead of signs. And as a priest once said, "Look for the signs in the secular events with the eyes of faith."

P.S. Did you notice the Facebook "Like" Plug-in in my sidebar? Please like my page. Thanks.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Lesson From the Dead Sea

There are three main bodies of water in Israel – the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea.

Are these bodies of water familiar to you?

Of course. The River of Jordan was where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. It was in the Sea of Galilee that He preached. And the Dead Sea is often referred to in the bible.

The River Jordan is so full of life. There are a lot of fish and living things there. It’s the same with the Sea of Galilee. Peter was able to draw a lot of fish from it. But as the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee is so full of life, the Dead Sea is so dead. It is so salty that people become buoyant in the Dead Sea. Because of the saltiness, no animals can flourish in it. Even amoeba and bacteria can hardly live in it. That’s why Dead Sea soap or Dead Sea salt are popular. They can kill the bacteria that cause your pimples.

Why is that so?

Here’s how the three bodies of water are stationed geographically. The Sea of Galilee provides water to the Jordan River, the Jordan River provides water to the Dead Sea and the Dead Sea provides water to none. Because of that, the Dead Sea is so salty, all the chemicals gather in it, thus, the saltiness.

If the three bodies of water are characters of a story, we can say that the River Jordan and the Sea of Galilee are generous but the Dead Sea is selfish and stingy.

What happens when you are not generous? Bo Sanchez puts it this way. “If you don’t give, you die.”

This could mean a physical death. For example, if you just inhale and never exhale or if you just eat and eat without going to the toilet for the next seven days.

This could also mean Spiritual death. If you do not give, you will miss the joy of giving. This can be as simple as giving your time to someone you love, spending time with the less fortunate, giving little but frequent contributions to your spiritual family or practicing the acts of mercy – clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, sheltering the needy.

Give out of love, not out of obligation. In that way, you will reap the full rewards of giving.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tap on the Shoulder

I jumped out of the bed this morning looking for my cellphone to check the time.

Am I already late?

It was 6:27 in the morning. I let out a sigh of relief. Having only four to five hours of sleep in the past days, I was worried that I might oversleep and not hear the sound of the alarm. I was fortunate because I was able to wake up 3 minutes before alarm sounds.  We were going to visit the poor children in Delpan, Manila so I didn't want to be late. The outreach is a program of L.I.V.E. (Life Improvements through Volunteer Experience).

As I was sipping my coffee, I wondered.

What will happen today?

Looking back to our past visits to the poor children at Delpan, I remembered the time when I didn't know what to do because one girl was crying. She was punched by one of her classmates. Then the girl wanted revenge so she pulled her classmate's hair. Then they started fighting.

Really, they gave me headaches.

Many times I asked myself. What is the purpose of all of this? Why am I still joining the visits to those children?

There were times when I would get disappointed because even if we have planned the activities "perfectly", at least I thought the plans were perfect, there seemed to be something wrong. We couldn't organize the children!

But I was a little child once too. Like them, I was adventurous. I also asked many questions, sometimes too many questions. I bet, I was annoying as a child. I bet I was a headache to my parents like those children were to me. So I just smiled. I gave up on trying to fix them. It was a moment of surrender to me.

I finished my coffee then prepared myself to go to the outreach.

While travelling to the outreach site, I expected it already. I envisioned the children pulling each other's hair, pushing each other, crying, shouting, and, you know, makulit (What's the English of Makulit?).

When we were at the site, we proceeded with the plan. Our topic was on the "Creation". We taught them how the Almighty created all things, and aside from that, how we can also be co-creators of God by taking care of the environment and all creatures. And so we let them unleash their creativity by doing creative things.

To my surprise, the children were more orderly. They sat down in circles while the volunteers taught them and made friends with them. When it was time to distribute gifts to them, they lined up orderly. When it wasn't their turn yet, they waited patiently. (By the way, the gifts we distributed to them were given by donors, not from the volunteer's pockets.)

I was surprised by the improvement. I was happy for them. I still am.

It proved that if we have perseverance and patience, and if we have charity in our hearts, miracles happen. Change can happen even if some of those children were once rugby boys or girls, even if we might have thought that it is impossible for some of them to learn because they never went school ever since the day they were born.

Just when I surrendered, the thing I so longed for to happen happened.

So today, I want to give myself and the volunteers of the outreach a tap on the shoulder. And I want to give a double tap on the shoulders, left and right, the volunteers of VIDES Philippines because it was them who visited the children every Saturday.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Work in the Home

Today, I spent the whole day at home. My day was quite different from my Saturdays for the past weeks. I did not go out with a friend. My appointments were cancelled. The only thing left for me to do was the household chores. I looked at the pile of laundry in my room and another pile near the bathroom. I was tempted to watch TV all day but I knew I had to wash our clothes. The sun was rising high and it would be a waste.

I dragged myself to do the laundry while listening to music and some audio seminars. While washing our clothes, I looked back to the days when I was younger. I did not like washing clothes. My older sister and my mother did it for me. When I was old enough to wash my own clothes, my parents purchased a washing machine. It’s almost like I worked with washing machine all my life. Hand wash? What is that? But today was different. I washed our clothes with my own bare hands. It has been like this since I came to Manila to find career opportunities. It would be impractical to purchase a washing machine because my brother and I move from one apartment to another. Besides, I couldn’t afford one yet, not now, maybe later. The cost of living in Manila is very much higher than in Baguio and the Mountain Province.

Our Improvised Window "Sampayan". We placed a bar on our window to serve as clothesline because we do not have a laundry area in our apartment.

I would bruise my hands once in a while when I do the laundry. I could say that I learned the hard way. But I do not like to complain. In fact, I learned to find joy in doing the laundry. I would be reminded of the words a friend once told me. “80% of the apostolate is done in the home.” I believe her. Making the home pleasant for the family is noble. I would like to think that Mary, the mother of Jesus, also did a lot of work in the home. Perhaps she also washed the clothes of Joseph and Jesus with her own hands. Perhaps, I am almost sure of it; she cooked for them and cleaned their humble home in Nazareth. Perhaps she even developed muscles for doing all the work in the home, not only for Jesus and Joseph, but also for her extended family like Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Perhaps, she even baked Jesus’ last supper. And she did all these with joy and simplicity. Of course all of these were not written in the bible but we know that Mama Mary worked silently, passing almost unnoticed because she wanted to stay hidden so that only Jesus will shine in the limelight.

Because of this, my perspective about work in the home changed. I salute all the housewives, especially my Mom, who dedicated their lives for the work in the home. And I have great respect for the maids who take care of the home, making the house pleasant for the family.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Taking a Peek at the Future

Have you ever thought about death?

Don’t get scared with my question.

It’s just that it is the surest thing about our future.

 It is so hard to take a peek at the future because we are so caught up in the present. We think that we will never get old. We think that we will always be as strong as we are now. Some even think that they will never die.

What does it feel when we are nearing our death? When we are nearing the age when our parents or grandparents died?

I invite you therefore to join me to take a peek at our future. What will we be 20 years from now? 30 years? Or  50 years from now? Will we be like the groovy lola Nanay Dionisia? Or like the vendors in the street of EDSA? Or like the elderly we visited in the Home for the aged in Pasay?

This morning, we were privileged to visit the elderly in the Little Sisters of the Poor San Lorenzo Ruiz Home in Pasay. I joined the outreach simply because I was curious about what brought the elderly in that place. I only wanted to be aware of what is happening in my society, and of course, I wanted to look at how my future can look like.

There were 44 abandoned elderly living there. Each of them has their own story. Each of them had different circumstances when they were younger but they ended up in one place. Some of them were abandoned and neglected. Some of them were picked up near the shores of Manila Bay living everywhere. Some lucky ones just chose to stay there because they had no family.
An elderly tending the plants in the Little Sisters of the Poor San Lorenzo Ruiz Home, Pasay.

An elderly proves that he can still sing and be entertaining

Groovy Grandpa sings Pitong Gatang

One particular elderly caught my attention. She was so quiet in her wheelchair. My friend Sonia said she doesn’t talk so much so I just approached her and sat beside her. I caressed her back. She looked at me, smiled and then she looked down again, like she was sleeping. So I just sat there beside her. Gosh, I even was not able to get her name. Let’s just call her Lola Patti. Then I engaged in a conversation with an elderly beside her. While we were talking, Lola Patti gave me a sign that she wanted to go to the restroom. When I tried to help her, it seemed she didn’t want to be helped. But then she kept on looking at me. So I pushed her wheelchair to the restroom. Surprisingly, she was receptive to the help. I pushed her inside the restroom. She could not carry herself so I carried her to the toilet bowl. At that point, I smelled something different. It was disgusting that I was tempted to go out of the room. But I came to my senses and got ashamed of myself. What was I thinking? When she finished her thing, I again helped her get back to her wheelchair. Then she looked up at me and smiled. It was the sweetest smile I have ever seen in my whole life. It was a smile of gratitude, a smile that showed how much she appreciated the affection and the love that I showed her. It was a smile that can melt one’s heart. I smiled back at her and pushed her back to the dining room.

While I type, I can still smell Lola Patti’s odor that lingered in my clothes and in my skin. But I am not disgusted anymore. In fact, I think that it is the sweetest smell ever. It is that smell that showed my future. Perhaps, when I am as old as Lola Patti, when I cannot take care of myself anymore, when I  cannot take a bath, when I cannot put lotion on my skin or put perfume on my clothes, I will smell like soil. Then, when that time comes, I would also appreciate anyone who would not show disgust to me, accept me despite my condition and love me unconditionally.

Is there any Lola Patti in your life right now? Show affection to them. Sure, it will make them happy. But I believe that it will make you even happier.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

One Face, Four Places: Our Lady of Lourdes

Since the World Youth Day, doing a Marian Pilgrimage became one of my favorite things. I couldn’t help but have a special devotion to Our Lady. In particular, I have a special devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. And because today is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11 is the first apparition of Our Lady to Saint Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year old peasant girl from Lourdes), it is good to talk about her. I will not elaborate on the story; rather, I want to show you the shrines I already visited which are dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes.

First, I want to show to you the most recent shrine I and four other friends recently visited. It is the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Baguio City. Before reaching the top, we had to climb 252 steps. While climbing up, we were reciting the Rosary. It was awkward for some of my friends. But it wasn’t for me. Perhaps I developed a thick skin on that matter because during the World Youth Day, we recited the Rosary anywhere, even while we were on the bus. I guess reciting the Rosary while traveling is the best way to spend the time. Of course, it should not be so loud so as not to attract attention.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Baguio

Doing a pilgrimage on a Marian Shrine can do many great things. Even if you consider it only as a tourist spot (like one of my friends said), something wonderful will happen inside of you, even if you may not know it. For me, I experience enormous peace whenever I do a pilgrimage. I also gained a lot of favors through the intercession of Our Lady. For some, the result could be healing. Let us listen to one of my friends who was with me in the pilgrimage in Baguio.

“ I joined the pilgrimage because I see it as a good opportunity to start the year right (though it's already late January). You also know that I'm having emotional problems that time so I consider going on a pilgrimage to lighten my burden. I don't know how it works, but it did. After the pilgrimage, I'm feeling better. Maybe because I knew that I did something good that day, or because I prayed, or maybe because while on a pilgrimage I am also relaxing. I forgot about the extra baggage  that's torturing my mind and focused on the rosary. In a way, it has healed me.”

I see it as a miracle. We don’t know how or why. We do not even know if we deserve it. But that is grace. It comes overflowing. It is a gift that we receive from God.

Next, I want to show you a shrine of Our Lady in one of the Churches in Tagaytay. We passed here when we were on our way to climb Mount Batulao in Batangas last May last year.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Tagaytay

Then, the  miniature of the original shrine located in Bulacan. It is almost like the original, only it is smaller.
Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Bulacan

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, Bulacan

And finally, the original Lourdes Grotto in France where Our Lady appeared to Saint Bernadette. I will say this again and again. It was a blessing that I was able to have a pilgrimage in the original Lourdes Grotto. It is truly a holy place. I recommend that if you have the opportunity to go there, grab it.

Our Lady of Lourdes Church, France

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, France

Today is the birthday of my Mom. You may include her in you prayers. Her name is Bernadette. Happy birthday Mama! I love you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Broken Resolutions? That's Okay.

There was a little girl named Nina who just came from her first ever retreat. During the retreat, she was filled with the Holy Spirit that she made a firm resolve not to fight with her younger brother Luis ever again. As she rode in the bus while going home, she even took out her little notebook to review all the wonderful things she experienced in the retreat and to review her only resolution. Finally, she arrived at their house. She rang the doorbell and voila! Luis was the one who opened the gate. She smiled at her younger brother. Her younger brother smiled back and remarked “Andito na si holy holy!” (Here comes holy holy!) Nina’s smile was still on her face but one of her eyebrows raised. Then she swung her bag toward her younger brother almost hitting his head. Luckily Luis was a fast runner.

Was there an event in your life similar to Nina and Luis’s story? Have you ever made a firm resolve then after a few days (or even hours) you break it?

You resolve not to eat fried chicken but after a week you found yourself in Mcdonald’s.

You resolve to exercise everyday but after a few days, you’re too lazy to do it.

The list can go on and on. But don’t worry; you are not the only person.

Last January 1, I took out a planner which I bought last New Year of 2011. I opened it and decided to write my 2012 New Year’s Resolution there because there are a lot of empty pages I can write on. On the first page was my 2011 New year’s resolution, which I almost forgot I wrote until I saw it again. On the number 1 list was “to be orderly”. (Now you know why I bought the planner in the first place.) I smiled when I read that because I wasn’t so orderly in 2011. Worse, my new year’s resolutions in 2011 are similar to those I was planning to write for 2012.
As I looked back at the year 2011, I was reminded of the many resolutions which I made and the disappointments I had when I did not seem to have the capacity to fulfill them. Then one friend told me that your failures are not important. What matters is that you start all over again, even if what you do is to start again and again.

Persistence. To start again and again. Your persistence will eventually pay off. In fact, there are many stories of success of great people because of their persistence.

Colonel Sanders, for example, faced 1008 rejections before he was able to sell his secret recipe, which is now known as the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

Sylvester Stallone experienced hunger and poverty, even had to sell his dog before he reached his dream of becoming an actor.

It took years for Albert Einstein to formulate his theories before he came up with the formula E=MC2.

The level of our resolutions might not be like that of Colonel Sanders or Albert Einstein or Sylvester Stallone. But if we can start small, we can grow big. If you resolved not to eat fried chicken because of your health, but today you were not able to discipline yourself enough, then start again tomorrow. Renew your resolutions again and again until fried chicken does not appeal to you anymore. Then you can step up to a more ambitious resolution.

Recently, I watched the finale of the Biggest Loser Season 7. While they were replaying the videos of one of the finalists, I recall her saying “I’m determined to change my life.” I’m amazed by her determination. She faced many challenges but was successful in the end in losing weight.

Be like her in her determination. Be persistent. Work Hard. And maybe, someday, your story of persistence will echo all over the world.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

World Youth Day Saga Part 3: The Eternal City

Rome, the Capital city of Italy, is truly an eternal city. It was my dream city and going there was a dream-come-true for me. I'm glad we included it in our itinerary.

We went to the eternal city just after the World Youth Day in Madrid. The highlight, of course, of our pilgrimage to Rome is going to Vatican. In Vatican, we were awed by the gigantic St. Peter's Basilica. (When I got back to the Philippines, honestly, I thought all our Churches were small, including the Cathedral in Baguio and the Mini Basilica in Quiapo.)

There was a long queue of visitors and we had to line up and wait. But it was worth the wait. Inside, there were many Chapels and we heard Mass (in Italian this time) in St. Joseph's Chapel. We also saw the Pieta there and we went down to recite the creed in the tomb of St. Peter and the past Popes (the tomb of St. Peter is buried underground) It is a tradition of the Catholics to recite the Creed when we take a pilgrimage to the Vatican. I believe that it is a good tradition because it gives honor to the first Pope who is St. Peter and it reminds us of what we believe in.

We went around the place taking photos. Later on I left my group for a while to meet my Aunt. Yes, I met my Aunt who resides in Rome. It was a wonderful opportunity for me. She tagged her cousin along, who is also my Aunt in the second degree. For thirty minutes, we talked, laughed, took photos of each other and really had a wonderful time together. Oh, thirty minutes was such short a time to be with my beloved Aunt. How I wished I could spend more time with her but I had to be with my group or else, they will leave me and my VISA would expire. On the second thought, I think I should have had stayed with her. What a regret. But I promised her I will go back sooner or later.

With Aunt Vicky and Aunt Elie
Of course, when you go to Rome, you should not miss trying their gelato.  Their gelato is really good, especially if the weather is hot.

While we were in Rome, my friend (my rosary buddy) and I were reciting our Rosaries when we came by a gelato store. It was so hot that it was tempting to go inside. Our other friends opted to go inside to buy gelato for themselves but we opted not to because we were trying to finish our Rosaries. But as we prayed, we saw our friends enjoying their gelato. I was envious and I kept on thinking about gelato. I thought, after our Rosary, I should buy myself one too. I look at my Rosary buddy and I knew she was thinking of the same thing. Then I looked at the gelato again. I was going to ask her " Gusto mo? Tara!" (You want gelato? Let's go.)  But she paused. She swallowed. And said, "We offer our sacrifice of not eating gelato for the souls in Purgatory." 

I laughed. Whaaaaaaaat? Are you offering my own sacrifice also? Why did you not say "I"? Does it have to be We? Does it mean I don't get to have my gelato? Well, that was only in my mind, of course. (And I do not regret that she included my little “sacrifice”) But that moment, my friend taught me of the meaning of sacrifice. It was only a little sacrifice - not eating something we really wanted to eat. But she turned it into something Supernatural. I admire her. Even if I did not get what I wanted, (she didn't get what she wanted too), I feel happy. 
The Italian Gelato

I had wonderful time in the Eternal city of Rome. We stayed there for two days then we went to Milan for  our take off. From there, we bode goodbye to Europe. "Til we meet again."

The World Youth Day is so meaningful to me that I had to share my experience with you. It is indescribable. I'm still trying to live World Youth Day every day. But it is not easy, really. But it's okay. Nothing is really easy in this world, isn't it?

Oh, before I forget, it is my Rosary Buddy’s birthday today! Happy Birthday Mimay! I’m Happy I met you!

P.S.2. Read previous post related to World Youth Day

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