Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Archive for June, 2015

Breathing Adventure: The Doggie Trail to the Top of Mt. Balagbag

Meet Heidi, our reliable tourist guide...er, tourist dog

Meet Heidi, our reliable tourist guide…er, tourist dog

In every mountain adventure we’ve had, there were always dogs trailing along with us. I always wonder if these dogs are the mountain’s watchdog, the forest’s secret agent, or a fairy disguised by walking on fours (be nice to them or they’ll turn you into a dog, too!). For whatever their doggie reason is, I find it cute having them with us. Sometimes, their presence is worth the furry adventure we would be looking for.

Leaving the noisy, crowded, urban atmosphere in Manila, we crossed two rustic provinces to take the trek on Mt. Balagbag. Standing at more than 700 meters above sea level (some say at 777 masl), this mountain stands in the boundary between the provinces of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan and Rodriguez, Rizal. In that two hour ride from Cubao, Quezon City, the roads became more isolated as they winded along the mountainous pathway painted with green hills and lonely huts and houses.

Alighting from the bus at Tungko, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, we took a jeep going to Licao-Licao, Rodriguez, Rizal. Almost alone in the road, it skirted along a long, winding path patched with that seemingly endless, foresty scenario. It gave me a feeling we were going to a point of no return. It was a packed ride. Passengers only began

Part of Sierra Madre can be seen along the trail to the peak of Mt. Balagbag

Part of Sierra Madre can be seen along the trail to the peak of Mt. Balagbag

alighting at the end of the journey where small communities were thriving and sari-sari stores were mushrooming quietly.

The tricycle ride from Licao-Licao to the Veterans was really an intensely rocky one. In no more than twenty minutes, we arrived at the baranggay hall to register our names and give a “donation” for the mountain. At that point, I was expecting that they had tourist guides ready to assist us.

But there was not one tourist guide.

We decided to trek on our own. The trek was easy as there was a trail already made. The only hostile thing against us was the fierce heat of the sun. In order not to make the same mistake again, I had brought myself two liters of water and spread

Heidi grinning at me at one of our breaks

Heidi grinning at me at one of our breaks

sunblock abundantly that my skin turned white.

As we were breathing heavily on the slowly steepening trail, a dog suddenly jumped out of a hut and followed us. We first thought that it was only walking with us up to its destination. Soon enough, it became our friend. And we named her Heidi.

Why Heidi? My friends were reminded of somebody who was not of an appreciable character to them.

But we liked Heidi very much. She instantly became our tourist guide…or tourist dog. She was the one leading us, marching the rising pathway easily on her four legs. She’d even arrive first at a shade as we were pondering on taking a break. And then, she looked at us with those beady eyes when we pulled out our canisters and biscuits…

She was a lovely dog, even though she seemed to be an aspin (short for “asong Pinoy” or Philippine street dog in English). This kind of dog is a mixed breed of sort. But whatever she was, she was dependable and adorable. And I could say, she knows the area better than us.

A few meters toward the peak, we passed by another sari-sari store, an open gate, a tractor seemed to be used for

The gate going to the peak of Mt. Balagbag

The gate going to the peak of Mt. Balagbag

clearing the path (and new pathways on the mountain), and a lonely house on bare fields. That was the second point where we had to register and pay the “registration fee” at twenty pesos. There, we met another mountain biker going up the peak. Mt. Balagbag is recommendable for mountain biking as the path is wide and clear for this kind of activity.

We did not discover the shortcut to the peak though the lady at the second registration area said that it comes at the point where three rocks stand. Rocks? They’re everywhere! We might as well take the long cut.

IMG_20150626_103814What we did not realize was that Heidi was already showing us the shortcut, as she ran between big, odd rocks before us. But seeing us take the long cut, she followed us. That’s the desperate thing between humans and dogs. She did not have the human language to cry, “SHORTCUT!”

At last, we came at the helipad, the peak of Mt. Balagbag. Again, we met the mountain biker who no sooner became our friend. There were no extreme activities at our trek, but what was worth was the view, the cool air, the fun chatter, laughter, and new friends to keep.

An enchanting stunt for our "magic image"

An enchanting stunt for our “magic image”

Add that with the fun of making magic image with our phones.

Heidi again looked at me with those beady eyes. I was horrified when I realized that my bread was made of chocolate. While talking at the dog, I pointed at my friend. Heidi then turned her beady eyes to my friend who gave her some of her lunch.

Beyond the peak, we could see the mountains of Sierra Madre. Mt. Balagbag is just one of the peaks towering along this mountain range. But the disappointing sight was that a few mountains were being quarried. On the hindsight, to develop land for housing and every commercial industry might help for the town’s economy. But I believe that we can develop the land more by tourism and preserving nature. Adding urbanity on such environment can made one forget what nature and real beauty looks like.

At the top of Mt. Balagbag

At the top of Mt. Balagbag

We stayed on the top for hours, enjoying the crisp, clean air. Unfortunately, the phone signal was bad (we had to add each other on Facebook when we got home). We left the peak by taking the shortcut, trailing the wide and dusty road, and back into the foot of the mountain.

Surprisingly, Heidi automatically returned to that same house where she jumped off to meet us. As we were calling her name and saying goodbye, the owner of the house called in a loud voice, “HEIDEEEEE!!”

We were stunned. Now, we know why the dog kept on turning at us whenever we called her Heidi!

Towards the end of the our journey, we eased our tired feet by dipping ourselves IMG_20150626_115538in a pool at an almost empty resort at the foot of the mountain. We soon trudged the pouring rain in order to catch up the last ride to Tungko, which was supposedly at 6 pm. Fortunately, we took a jeep by 5 pm. Upon reaching Tungko, the sense of urbanity returned upon us. The roads were packed again with countless buses and jeeps; the city was flocked with those popular and affordable fast food restos.

At the end of the day, I realized that my prayer of having a tour guide had been answered. In a humorous turn, it turned out to be a dog. More faithful than I expected, Heidi kept a close watch at us, making sure that we human visitors enjoyed her mountain. But I guess the trip became more enjoyable because of her charming canine company in it. And oh, whether you might have a chance to trek Mt. Balagbag, don’t be surprised if Heidi jumps along the hike. 🙂

IMG_20150626_110507

My Father’s Smile

20150622-174253.jpgWhenever I see daddies alongside their children, there’s always this tiny pang of jealously from within. I have had this love-hate feeling against my dad, who at most times seemed absent even though he was still with us in this abyss called life.

It has been eight years since he passed away. Complications due to kidney disorder was the medical conclusion. He had lived a life of excessive smoking, and then drinking towards the end of his life. He had done this to ease himself of muscle pains and to drown himself from the depression he plunged himself into. His life was marred with self-pity, not knowing that his loved-ones were suffering for his self-redemption.

I’ve tried to be distant from my dad as he was always distant from his children. I would admit that I had this secret fear against him. At the back of my head, I sometimes thought that he could assault me anytime. Perhaps because he did not love us…or perhaps he really did not know how to express his love toward us. He had been a victim of countless rejections since a child, and he carried this spirit of defeat until his last days.

But for a short season, I had shared a time of laughter with him. That was when I was a small child, not knowing the pains he was bearing in life. Months before he was confined to the hospital, I tried to create light moments with him. He himself did not know how to reach to us, as he tried to hide his pride in his robust but frail stature.

And suddenly his time was up. Away from home, I broke down when I received a text from my sister-in-law. My mother was too frantic at what happened she could not reach me. The burden was gone and so was the chance to see him change.

But his change only came at the last minute of his life. He had turned back to the Lord days before he passed away, my mother said. But we children never had the chance to witness it. Until now, he remains distant to us.

Every Father’s Day seems like a blur to me. I never had a clear picture of my dad except the one where I was sitting on his lap when I was about four years old. He was not smiling then, and until the last days of his life he tried not to smile at anyone. No one thought of taking pictures of him as he did not want to show his almost lost teeth. Not one of us ever had a grown up picture with him. Perhaps, we never thought that he could grin at all, or think of us that we can be his closest friends.

He is now free, shackles now broken off his hands. We are also free, from the misery that he had been carrying all along. The choices that we had made were a struggle, as we tried to link each other’s understanding. That smile, rarely seen in him, might now be seen everyday in heaven. Perhaps, he is a man I never imagined, as he leaps with joy at our Heavenly Father who watches over us.

Breathing Adventure: Highly Challenged at Mt. Pamitinan

IMG_20150615_144344A lump in my throat rose when I saw the seemingly endless trail of massive, jagged rocks. My water canister now empty, all that mattered to me was surviving this whole ordeal. I struggled along this trail that challenged both my balance and my ego. One misstep could cost my life. Looking at my legs, they now bore wounds and bruises. But until the trek had ended, I never thought that these would become my marks of accomplishment for this day.

IMG_20150615_101340

Mt. Binacayan inviting us to come touch its grounds next time 🙂

That’s how Mt. Pamitinan made me remember its steep and challenging trail. Rising with the height of 426 masl (meters above sea level), it sits along with other giants in Sierra Madre. Relatively small compared to other popular mountain peaks in the Philippines, it is not too easy for beginners. But, I’m not here to scare you. Instead, I’d like to share to you the challenge I gave myself on my first visit.

Standing before Mt. Pamitinan in this simple, rural village in Montalban, Rizal, I did not expect that it would be already steep right at its foot. Huge rocks were already bouldering before us along the pathway. I had to catch my breath as I exerted extra effort to take every step towards the top.

IMG_20150615_103519But that’s just halfway to the peak.

These rocks were more merciful compared to the ones toward the peak. Once we got to the middle of the trek, the rocks became edgier and more jagged in form. They can give you a lot of scratches and wounds if you are not careful. Thick gloves are necessary to wear at this point of the hike. A strong grip and a good balance is what you need to cross the rocky pathway.

Photo courtesy: Lans Macwes Scrambling up the trail

Photo courtesy: Lans Macwes
Scrambling up the trail

For the first time, I had to do rock climbing. I had the trouble of carrying my own weight so I was the slowest in our group. Another dilemma I had was my short stature. I had to force myself to reach some of the safest steps. Also, I had to battle my own mindset of falling over. As the narrow pathway revealed steep ravines, I knew I had to come out here alive.

IMG_20150615_123051

Mt. Binacayan inviting us to come touch its grounds next time 🙂

If we had come earlier, we could have climbed Mt. Pamitinan’s twin peak, Mt. Binacayan. I am reminded of those stories in my elementary student years of a legendary hero who held them so they would not bump each other. Named as Bernardo Carpio, he was said to be enchanted by his enemies or punished because of misbehavior – whatever legend tells you. Whenever Bernardo moves a shoulder, an earthquake occurs and the mountains move. Glad he did not feel an itch, then. Just look at the size of these rocks that might fall on me.

When we reached peak 1, we knew we had to bask in the glory of staying on top. Right before us was the whole of Montalban, Rizal, where its greenery was mixed with urbanity. Ironically, singing from various videoke stations echo can be heard from the foot of the mountain. Oh, well, that is also part of urbanity.

At our side was Mt. Paminitan’s twin peak, Mt. Binacayan, also a steep and jagged peak. Perhaps another time? Maybe soon.

Peeking at you from Mt. Pamitinan's first peak :)

Peeking at you from Mt. Pamitinan’s first peak 🙂

We could have reached peak 2, which was, I believe, higher than peak 1. But one of our friends did not wish to go further the steeper trail. Well, I could have challenged myself as well. But I guess I’d like to bask in the Wawa dam by then.

It was 2 o’ clock in the afternoon when we were almost at the foot of the mountain. Water and other replenishments were being sold at that part of the trail (talk about urbanity on its sides). For once in our lives, that cold, cold bottle of water became gold for us. Even that cold, kiddie orange juice was something I could have died for at that moment.

Our exhaustion was washed out by the warm, soothing waters of the Wawa Dam.

Photo courtesy of my friend, Tina. Refreshed in the relaxing current of Wawa Dam. :)

Photo courtesy of my friend, Tina. Refreshed in the relaxing current of Wawa Dam. 🙂

Although it is not used as a water utility supply system for the public, people can still enjoy its waters by bathing in it. For about an hour, we waded in its shallow currents and let its relaxing waters pour over us. It’s like our reward after that strenuous trek.

The sun now about to retire in the orange, Western sky, we knew we had to return to Manila. I realized that not all mountains are easy to trek. Even in this challenging journey, I knew that the Lord had a powerful revelation for me. With that difficult and heart-pumping trek, I am reminded that I never have to give up whatever I’m treading on. Once I am already in such a difficult path, the only way to get out of it is to move on. I had the realization that for a long time, I had been a couch potato. Now, it’s time to get out of the comfort zone.

Even those rocks were used to teach me a lesson. Although rough and dull, they mirrored much of my own personality and the changes I need to make for myself to become a better person. So, I guess, it’s time to move on to another mountain. Let’s go! 🙂

Breathing Adventure: That Brief But Wacky Trip to Mt. Manalmon

IMG_20150611_113249The sound of water splashing beneath the bridge welcomed us after that long, rocky, brain-jarring tricycle ride. The air that blew on our faces was getting even more sultry and humid. The sun was already glaring high above the cool shady trees. It was already late in the morning for we had left late from Manila. There were already other hikers who came before us. But I guess we were quite on time. I was glad to feel the countryside again, far away from my home yet close within my territory.

Welcome to Mt. Manalmon, one of the mountains belonging to the rocky terrain of Biak-na-Bato in San Miguel, Bulacan. An

The river at the foot of Mt. Manalmon

The river at the foot of Mt. Manalmon

easy trek to go through, it would only take about thirty minutes to get to the top (almost an hour if you have countless rest periods. So, better eat a banana first). It stands at 196 masl (meters above sea level ). It may not compete with the other giants we have conquered, but as always there’s having the price of having a good view, a memorable experience, and an achievement after getting to the top.

I felt like a stranger in my own province. Living in another town in Bulacan, I did not know this little piece of adventure myself until a friend recommended it to me. From my hometown in Sta. Maria, it would take about an hour and a half to three hours to San Miguel. However, a bus ride from Cubao is faster, taking only about two hours. Since there is no direct transport system from my town to San Miguel, going to Cubao would be my best option. Just drop by Baliwag Transit or Five Star Liner and take the bus going to Cabanatuan. Bus fare is only P117.

My friend and I took the trip on a weekday since most tourists flock in at weekends. As I watched out for the road signs, I felt like being transported in time. The roads took us to quaint little, farming villages, knowing that the air outside was scented with newly planted palay (rice) and fresh soil. But our destination is more than rice paddies and farms. We got the first knack of adventure when we had taken that bumpy tricycle ride from Camias, San Miguel which was supposedly at P240. But, we were given a deal of P180 on this ride.

Given the name, Biak-na-Bato, or “split rock” in English, is a valley-like terrain divided by a long winding river. Looking at the crystal clear waters, one might think that these are too shallow. However, this tourist spot is notorious for the sudden rise of its currents during rainy days. It would be better to arrive here on a dry, summer season to enjoy more of its place.

Once we treaded the path to the peak, I suddenly had to battle again the feeling of falling over. Although most parts of the trail are easy, there are some really steep places. Most of these areas are covered in limestones, which spike out on the edges of the mountains. I always had the difficulty of getting a good footing on such trails, but I took them slowly but surely.

The peak of Mt. Arayat in Pampanga saying "Hello!" :)

The peak of Mt. Arayat in Pampanga saying “Hello!” 🙂

The sun was already getting a bit harsher on us. We had to stop occasionally for water breaks and banana snack time (still a lot of them in my bag). Upon reaching a smooth rock on top, we reached the first part of the peak. At that point, we could see the peak of Mt. Arayat in Pampanga inviting us to give her a visit sometime soon.

Mt. Gola on the other side

Mt. Gola on the other side

A few minutes more, we moved on and reached its top. The sight below was a treat. On the other side, there’s the peak of Mt. Gola, another mountain in Biak-na-Bato. Way down below is the Madlum River, winding all the way through this terrain. But from beyond, the rain clouds came and loomed over us.

The rain approaching the peak. See how the other side is not showered upon :O

The rain approaching the peak. See how the other side is not showered upon :O

It’s funny how we had to open our umbrellas as we descended down the mountain. I advise you to bring raincoats all the time when trekking. It’s better to keep your hands free so you can hold unto rocks on steep portions. The weather is even more moody than our emotions; it can suddenly change in a minute.

It was not a dangerous downpour, but the mud heavily stuck on our shoes and sandals so we had to walk barefooted. Our tour guide knew where the rain would fall, so he led us to a safer route. Fortunately, it did not rain upon the Madlum River, so we spent the time washing our shoes and feet upon the clean, crystal clear waters.

The clean waters of the Madlum River

The clean waters of the Madlum River

We initially planned to go into the Bayukbok Caves since we’ve heard that there are more activities in it. But because the

Into the Madlum Cave

Into the Madlum Cave

rains had fallen on that portion, our tour guide said that it might not be wise to go there at that moment. The path in that cave, riddled with more jagged limestones, can become dangerously slippery, especially for my round, little feet.

A stalagmite at Madlum Cave

A stalagmite at Madlum Cave

Instead, we explored the Madlum Cave. From the Kapampangan word, the Madlum Cave, which means madilim or dark, is eerily dark and silent inside, save for the tiny screeches of the fruit bats living there. Even if I tell you that this cave became a production set for the television fantaserye, Mulawin, you will not find any superstars in there. This small cave has nursed glittering stalagmites, stalactites, and history. From its hushed walls, I learned that San Miguel was once a part of the province of Pampanga. And from this cave, the image of their patron saint was found. Thus, this was how San Miguel was given its name.

So much for the history and the little magical chant that we had inside (I won’t tell you because you have to discover that). We had to try one more escapade before going home: the monkey bridge.

To cross the other side through merely two thick wires suspended over water might seem to be a horror story to you. Don’t.

Want to join me to the other side? :)

Want to join me to the other side? 🙂

Think of it like you’re playing monkey bars in a playground. One wire balances beneath our feet and the other is held by our bare hands while crossing it sideways. I’m sure this looks familiar to you if you’ve seen that milk commercial of two small children crossing such a bridge while going to school.

And our tour guide was right. That crossing over was the longest ten minutes of our lives. Scary? Not anymore when you get to the middle. The wires can become wobbly in that journey, but I’ve been fascinated by the river and the view before me. I love the idea of being suspended on air, while being cautious of myself and being conscious of the water and the rocks below me *gulp*. It was very

See you there! :)

See you there! 🙂

exhausting though, because I exerted my weight on both my hands and feet while balancing myself. Besides that, my friend and I did it with bare hands. (Whew!) It’s an achievement once you get to the other side. Go, monkey, monkey, monkey bars! (Now, where’s that banana? Gimme more, gimme more!)

The afternoon sun was cooling down a bit. It was a short, fun-filled,

My friend, Lans, and I had a fun time with this equally wacky and trustworthy tour guide, Michael. I assure that you can rely on these guys. :)

My friend, Lans, and I had a fun time with this equally wacky and trustworthy tour guide, Michael. I assure that you can rely on these guys. Never go alone in your trip to the top. 🙂

and wacky trip (add it up with those silly anecdotes from our tour guide). If we have stayed a bit longer, much more could have been explored. Still, it was very meaningful, knowing that this tour is just right for our budget. I’d suggest don’t go alone on these trips and

have a trusted tour guide with you. That would make P300 for the tour guide and P200 for every cave visited. The bigger you are in a group, the better you can budget and share in these expenses.

If you’d ask me, I’d like to return to Biak-na-Bato. It’s ironic how rare I’d get to visit this part of my province. After this third visit I’d like to add more, and drop by other portions of Biak-na-Bato that I’ve not explored yet.

See you again, Biak-na-Bato? Of course. 🙂

IMG_20150611_153012

The Magic of Dinner Over Movies (Seventh Bite): Banchetto Night!

Right after a powerful worship and time with God at the JRev Night last Saturday, all you must do is go home, right? Wrong!

Spend time with friends and…eat!

IMG_20150606_210646It’s very important that we strengthen our fellowship and bond with the friends that we love, don’t we? Besides, this is what the Lord wanted for us to be in: a community! And when we are in a community, there are people who help us with our walk in faith, who will pray for and with us, and who will love us, too.

In the Filipino culture (even in every culture in the world), food is the binding source of relationships. You spend your time together not only talking much, but eating and appreciating together what’s in your plate.

In order to satisfy our cravings, off we went to the banchetto at Araneta Center. In Manila, you can find a lot of banchetto

Isaw (barbecued chicken intestines)

Isaw (barbecued chicken intestines)

food centers especially in the urban areas where workers are highly concentrated. Here, you can find different cuisines at an affordable price.

Although stalls here were not as many as those in Ortigas or Makati, it’s appreciative to find a lot of street food here. I can assure you that they are clean and well handled.

Crablets

Crablets

So what can we find here? As usual, there’s the isaw or the barbecued chicken intestines, crablets, kwek-kwek or quail eggs coated with flour and my favorite: cheese sticks.

Cheese sticks! Only P30 per cup. <3

Cheese sticks! Only P30 per cup. ❤

For about P30 per cup for these treats, it was enough to kill off the hunger.

These are your typical Pinoy street food that you can buy in places like this. Hmm…I just wonder why there’s no balut?

But the best is finding friends in the banchetto. While my friend and I were looking for a place to sit, there were another group of friends who called me. Instant seat for both of us and an instant reunion with old friends.

Usually banchettos in Manila go overnight. I am not just sure if this one in Araneta goes until midnight or beyond midnight. But staying until 10 pm is not bad for me as long as there is still a bus trip going home.

If it were not too late in the evening, all of us would have stayed longer and enjoyed the night with more food, and more reunions.

Perhaps, it would happen in another banchetto night. 🙂

Banchetto in Araneta Center

Banchetto in Araneta Center

Republishing: “Her Father’s Treasure”

From time to time, I love to look at my old works and “achievements”. I’m not bragging here. These are only to remind me that I can do better from where I am right now. I found this old clipping from 2005 (*gasp* it is about ten years ago!). I just couldn’t remember exactly if it was October or December 2005. All I could remember was that I did not expect my submission to be published.

When I was in college, I submitted an entry for My Favorite Movie in the Entertainment Section of The Philippine Star. My Favorite Movie was being featured weekly every Sunday as an avenue for readers to voice out their fandom on featured movies. Because The Philippine Star is a popular broadsheet, I was aware that my entry would just go beneath piles and piles of entries. If my memory is right, I had submitted my work through email either January or February 2005. I would not have been aware that it was already published if not for a college friend who texted me that Sunday afternoon.

I rushed out of the house after receiving that message. As the number dailies sold were already dwindling that afternoon, my heart was thumping as I rummaged through the remaining copies in the newspaper store. When I got one, I even had to check if the Entertainment section was there. Once spotting it, I paid for it and ran back home.

I never thought that looking for your published article was distressing. I even thought that page was missing until I saw it covering about a third of a page. Whew! All I did was cut it out and keep it.

I did not mind if the newspaper did not inform me or gave me compensation for it. What I was glad about was when the whole department heard about it and posted a copy of it on the community wall. *tears of joy*

See, college was a good era in my study life. I encourage you to pursue your dreams as well. Here’s the copy of my submission for The Philippine Star. I tried to make it larger for you to read. Hope it can be read well. 🙂

IMG_20150604_104438

Graduation pictures, fancy medals, and rediscovered treasures

IMG_20150604_104245

My ID when I was a trainee at a government radio station laid beside my medal when I won 3rd for interpretative reading for a speech contest.

One of the blessings I’m having in this resting period is the huge chunk of time I have for clearing my closet. If it were not for the need to look for my transcript of records and my college diploma, I would not have unraveled a lot of nostalgia from those crazy college years last week.

If my contemporaries loved high school more than college, I’d rather not rally with them. I hold on to my conviction that the college years made the best out of me compared to those high school days. Maybe because those four years in high school only ignited my insecurities. Those college years were more exciting and challenging. This was when I discovered that I can challenge myself and go beyond the classroom chair. I never thought I’d have the chance of joining contests and even having a work published in a newspaper. These were the years that I don’t get to be a teacher’s pet, a topnotcher, or a heartthrob just to be a contestant. Oh yes, that was my golden era of my school life.

My picture album and other invites for events

My picture album and other invites for events

I am a natural-born shy girl…and I don’t know why I wanted to get into the mass communications

My one and only picture from the PRSP competition when I was in 3rd year college. See the pimples? :)

My one and only picture from the PRSP competition when I was in 4th year college. See the pimples behind my Ceshire cat grin? 🙂

department so badly, which I gladly did. Masscomm students have inherited the saving power of voicing everything out loud. Without it, it would disprove our reputation of being worthy in this department. I, on my part, loved the idea of working behind the television production, taking video shoots, writing scripts, and just be as creative in media. I had even experienced – and learned – outside the classroom by watching theater plays (which I dearly love), documentaries, and exhibits. But I will not deny the stress and emotional despair experienced in every projects and exams that go way above my head. There were terror professors, true, but we also had inspiring ones who encouraged us to go beyond our limits. I had a lot of interesting friends and worked with fascinating colleagues who are simply go out-of-the-box. We had entered exciting competitions outside the university. The best maybe is have some of our works aired on television.

One of my…ehem…achievements in college was when I had a work published on paper. But I guess I won’t re-publish it now. Just watch it out on the next blog. 🙂

IMG_20150604_104846

My graduation picture…one of my, well, prettiest 🙂

Looking at the pictures, I looked plain…except for that wide Cheshire cat grin that pushed those dreaded pimples off my cheeks. I am just fascinated how my trademark grin had not vanished from these plump cheeks of mine, which usually flashed automatically when I see familiar faces.

Despite presently not being challenged, these memorabilia remind me that I can go beyond from where I am right now. I don’t have to be a somebody in society to reach my dreams. Besides, heroes come from being zero.  It would be good to see these hidden treasures from time to time…especially when you thought you just lost your diploma beneath the pile of papers and folders.

The Hole On the Wall (Short Story on Twitter)

My first attempt to write a short story on Twitter. But not as good as those made by the British novelist David Mitchell. I was inspired by writers like him to put into social media creativity in literature. I was inspired by the gloominess of the weather and the silence in the kitchen. But I think what I’ve done could not keep the momentum I’ve placed on the first tweets for the story. Oh well, I’d be glad to have suggestions and tips on writing a good story on Twitter.

The ChairThe skies outside was becoming gloomier, covering the last hope in her frail, gaunt physique. #storytime

Lauren’s colorless eyes looked beyond the window, hoping for a knock on the door. Instead there was a scratch on her wall. #storytime

She turned and saw nothing, except for a pair of two glass-like eyes through the hole behind the chair where she was sitting. #storytime

As the pair of eyes glistened in the faint light of the dusty, yellow bulb, Lauren clutched the table beside her in shock #storytime

“Why are you afraid?” the voice coming from the hole asked. “I am your friend. I have been watching you.” #storytime

The elderly woman, now trembling, shuddered even more as the cold wind blew through the window. She braved herself to look closer #storytime

“Who…who are you?” Lauren asked, her raspy voice rising from her parched throat #storytime

The eyes drew away from the light as she tried to come near to see them. “I am…a friend.” It answered, its voice almost hallow #storytime

The thunderstorm roared outside. But Lauren’s attention was drawn to the strange hidden creature. “Come nearer.” She pleaded #storytime

“I have seen your tears and your fears.” the voice, hallow just like the hole where it was hidden, echoed in a bizarre tone #storytime

Lauren can’t shove off her attention the strange pair of eyes. Her fingers,like needles hanging loosely on a sewing machine,touched the hole

“Why are you here?” Lauren asked, trying not to hold her breath in her weakened lungs. #storytime

“To set you…free.” The creature said. “I have seen your struggles as you have nothing to pay this house. But I have a deal” #storytime

Oh, yes.Lauren has too old and weak to pay for this old house. They want her out so they can have her house and sell her property #storytime

“What is the deal, then?” Lauren asked, eager to hear the deal she might get. For the sake of freedom #storytime

The voice answered, its voice becoming more eerie, “Give me your reflection.” #storytime

Lauren laughed, struggling for breath in every snicker, “I won’t give youy relection. It’s too beautiful for you to have.” #storytime

The voice snickered in its eerie, hallow tone. “That is the best that you can give. If not, they will come and get your house.” #storytime

“I ain’t got money, I ain’t got anybody, so don’t get mine only face.” Lauren said. But then the pair of eyes slowly vanished. #storytime

“Wait a minute!” She cried, desperately trying to catch the creature as she plunged her fingers into the hole. #storytime

“The deal is done!” The creature said, vanishing from sight. Desperately, Lauren grabbed the kitchen knife. #storytime

For years, Lauren kept care of this reflection admired by the men around her. She would not let anybody have her reflection #storytime

Old as she was, tried to break down the wall as the pair of eyes sunk into darkness. She must force it for a better deal #storytime

But when she tore open quite a large portion of that wooden wall that housed the hole… #storytime

…not a pair of eyes but a piece of a broken mirror, reflecting a sagging, sad, bitter reflection she did not realize to have #storytime

The voice that she had heard was her own. And the eyes were the eyes of the unknown creature she had become. #storytime

At last the knock came upon the door. It was the lawyer she was waiting for. The only hope and salvation to save this house. #storytime

And when the lawyer entered she was nowhere to be found. All that was there was a torn wall and a broken mirror. #storytime

Never Letting Go Of the “One Thing”

Quiet TimeSunshine creeps into my room. Little birds called maya perch by my window to awaken me with their mischievous but sweet chirping. I breathe in the morning air despite having a stuffed nose, a daily sign of having allergic rhinitis.

Still, I sit up, meditate, and pray. When I open my Bible, revelation overflows, an encounter with God occurs. This is the One Thing I want to live up for. This is the One Thing I cannot trade with anything else with the world.

In this season of waiting, I am restored back to His presence and His intimacy. Like the psalmist in Psalm 27, I learned to pray: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” (verse 4).

I’ve lost this when I was working. I’ve been focused too much on the thrill of being a part of daily news events that I’ve lost focus on the God who is sovereign over these events. I forgot that there is more worth in His presence than being among congressmen and senators. I struggled with my daily prayer walk with God. I tried to seek him but ended up exhausted and stressed. But deep in my soul, I am thirsty; thirsty for the Living Waters that can refresh me.

Most of all, I was hungry for an intimate fellowship with the Lord.

The experience of encountering God was all I desire. To hear, see, and know Him was all I could ask for. After the moment I resigned from my job, my empty cup was filled to the brim. Day and night, I sought for His presence. For the first time after all these years, I stayed locked in my secret place to wait upon the Lord for hours. I never thought I could experience what I used to envy the routine great men of God were able to do.

All that four years of prestige, ambition, and achievement can never make up for that moment of staying in God’s presence. I felt that every reward this world has given me was nothing compared to the sweetness of intimacy with the Lord. Oh, I my dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

But in all these, this waiting moment is my time to pray for the coming days. Oh, that God would guard my heart on the moment I return to the competitive world. Let me not make the same mistake of worrying as I wait for a new job. Let me keep on pushing in prayer, trusting in the Lord after I have done my part to apply for a new job. But, I pray that this fellowship would not stop the moment I go back to work. May it flourish not only in my life but in the life of many as well.

The blanket of darkness now hovers over my little village. Silence cloaks the dusty roads that were once invaded by the sound of playing children and roving motorcycles in the morning. Once again I am alone in my room, having nothing but my pen and notebook, my Bible, and myself. Come again the silence. Come again the longing heart. And upon my waiting, I hear His voice once again, breaking me into tears, tendering my heart to heart His heartbeat once more. This is the One Thing I am to live for. This is the One Thing that can never be compared to any other prestige in this world.

Redeeming Broken Promises

broken promiseI wonder what makes people break their promises. For a number of reasons, I have been offended by so many friends who were not true to their word. I have a list of those significant ones who had gravely offended me. But the deeper offense was they callously walk away from it. I must admit these have greatly disappointed me, reason enough for me to get even.

Who wouldn’t be disappointed when a friend did not pay for your fare after he said he would when you to accompany him to enroll in a university? Or when somebody disregarded the farewell gift he promised you before he goes abroad or before you resign from the company you both worked in? How about when a really special friend did not take you to the special place he has been telling you from the beginning? Perhaps, these things are small and unimportant to the ones who released these vows. Yet, it means a lot to those who had received these promises.

Words are very significant. They should not be taken lightly. They are not made of thin air, but of power that can bring life and death. If sticks and stones can hurt us, words can hurt us more. How much more words that have been withdrawn from our trust, not having any closure on the matter? Most in this generation have lost the sense of commitment, watering down perspective on the power words can bring.

Broken promises can destroy relationships and unity, signifying that the promise-bearer is not a person of honor. Every promise released is a binding thread between lovers, friends, family, and master and student.

I am not being proud here. I have my share of delayed promises, but I’d always make sure that I keep my word, no matter how long it had taken.

So, how about the list of broken promises? I leave them into the hands of my promise-keeping God. He is the One true Promise Keeper. His promises to look after you, to provide for you, and love you has never failed, generations after generations. What did He do to that list? He burned them up. He wanted me to show that His grace towards the promise breakers is wider than these broken promises. That I have to follow His example of giving them a second chance. He has given us endless chances to turn away from breaking promises while He waited for us.

I’m so glad that there are always second chances given to us who are never perfect in every way. But we have to learn how to forgive, let go, and begin anew. The Lord has been that graceful. There are times that I feel so ashamed that He can be more faithful to me than I could ever be.

Perhaps, one day, these broken promises will be redeemed. It might not be the same as before, but given another chance, they can be mended along with the trust that has been ripped with it.

Tag Cloud