Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘blessed’

Fixing Up the Culture of Giving

It has been instilled into us the nature of giving. With our Pinoy characteristic of being thoughtful, we take the chance of

The promotion of joy in materialism has left our culture marred with greed...but should we dwell in the false joy it brings?

The promotion of joy in materialism has left our culture marred with greed…but should we dwell in the false joy it brings?

showing our appreciation and love to friends on Christmas. However, the adverse effect of the commerciality of the season caused us to expect…and want even more.

One tradition that has been going on in years is what we call “pamamasko“. Kids would come and visit their ninongs and ninangs (godfathers and godmothers), expecting that they would be given an aguinaldo (gift). So comes the saying, “Christmas is for kids”, as they get most of the treats of the season.

Every 25th of December, you can see families going around visiting houses, not only of their ninongs and ninangs but also of other relatives and friends. It’s a good bonding moment for the parents and their kids, and instills a good memory from a visited godparent or relatives. I remember my niece collecting quite a huge amount of money in a day of her pamamasko when she was about three or four years old. But through the long run, one adverse effect of this tradition is the loss of thoughtfulness for one another.

Children are taught to expect instead of giving to their elderly. Actually, some of their parents complain when they don’t

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

find the gifts given to their kids appealing. It’s not only once that I hear such a case whenever I take a public ride in this holiday season, which I believe teaches kids not to be grateful at all.

In turn, their ninongs and ninangs, as well as the other relatives and so-called relatives think of these visiting families as money-grabers. Thus, they lie by laying quiet in the house, pretending no one was there.

It actually causes stress to the one being visited. My mother, though a very generous person, always felt anxious when there’s this usual person who kept on asking if she can come on Christmas Day especially when she needs something. Now, in the Filipino tradition, even if you got nothing to offer, you cannot tell a visitor, “Go back, I have nothing to give you.” But sadly, some people have the tendency to abuse one’s kindness.

The funny thing is that some families not only bring along their kids but also their nieces, nephews, very young siblings, a friend and his kid. Now, most of the mentioned “extra kids” are unfamiliar to the godparents of the kids. It’s very embarassing for a Filipino when these other kids are not given gifts, for some of them had readied gifts only for their godchildren. So, the godparent had to shovel from his savings just to give these other kids an aguinaldo. This happened to me and my mom when one of her inaanak brought a bunch of kids surprisingly at home, and she had to borrow some money from me just to give those who she did not know at all.

When I was younger, my mother taught me when I visit  my ninongs and ninangs, I have to give them something. Usually, I’d bring with us a tray of cream mango cake (made by myself) for each godparent. She taught me never to expect from them, as I should be the one to make them happy by giving back to them. Indeed, there is more joy in giving than receiving. But because my godparents were so fond of me, they can’t help but give me gifts when I visit them (which I would sheepishly accept).

It’s a joy to receive gifts but it’s a bigger joy to give. Usually, there’s a deeper sense of fulfillment when the one you give is grateful for what you have given, no matter how small or affordable it has been. When one says, “It’s the thought that counts”, it’s not only the gift that matters but how the giver remembers you. I hope we change the expectancy of pamamasko into a tradition of giving. I hope we can visit our godparents, relative, and so-called relatives on Christmas Day to give — for this is a good way to remember and honor them. When we do, we are blessed back. The joy and gratefulness we receive back would surely be more fulfilling than the money or toys we get. Besides, you would get out of the notoriety list: from money-grabber, you will be well-remembered as a thoughtful giver. 🙂

And before the day ends, let us remember that we can never take and take as long as we want. The greedy who took more than a day’s supply of the manna given to Moses’ camp were disappointed it got wasted after 24 hours. We are blessed to give away for many other need more than we do.

Merry Christmas everyone! May heaven’s gate be opened over you! 😀

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Habakkuk’s Empty Strings

It has been almost three years. But I did not know him until now.

Habakkuk's Empty Strings

Habakkuk has been a faithful friend to me. Actually, he has been my baby by the time I bought him. My first guitar, I bought him days before I resigned from my first job. All I wanted was to learn how to play a guitar, know a few worship songs that I can sing during my quiet times, and know how to play at least one instrument in my entire life (for I was not too successful in the violin and in the keyboards).

Just recently, one of his strings broke. Playing with one string missing sounds odd, especially now that I have been asked to play at two Christmas parties at Malacaňang. This time, I realized that I should pursue this hidden passion in music (and once-denied talent), not to impress anyone but to take care of this skill given to me.

Three years later, I’m still a beginner.

But this time, I’m determined to learn and know a few tips. I kept on asking questions from a friend whose father is a guitar virtuoso (and hope to meet and learn from him myself). I kept on watching tutorial videos this past week to learn and try to adopt new playing styles. I’ll never be perfect though, but it’s good to accelerate from where I am now.

I was determined to buy new strings and a capo, as well. Imagine, three years and it is only now when I realize I have to change a lot from Habakkuk. And it’s only now I realized how my baby needs some make-over and a clean-up.

Yes, you read it right — a clean-up. Poor baby…I’m so sorry.

While changing his strings and wiping dust off the fingerboard, I realized how I neglected him even though I’ve been bringing him out most of the time. I saw his bruises and his tarnishes, and I felt foolish how I called him “my baby” without really caring much about him. It took me so much time to realize how to remove the old strings from these pegs (which took me hours to discover how to remove them and bring them back) and wasted so much time from removing the tiny balls from the old strings (because I thought that they should be used by the new ones :-O ).

Ah yes, today was a major trial and error moment. Though I lost much time, I felt fulfilled when the new strings were in place.

This is another lesson of good stewardship. We don’t buy things to fill up our houses. We buy them because they are made with a purpose in our lives.

When I was looking for another guitar last Friday, my friend told me that I should not only check everything from it but feel from it. It’s a weird concept, as she added that things also “feel” their masters. It’s like looking for a life-partner — one has to make sure that that guitar is “meant for you”.

I guess she’s right. There are things that are “meant for us”.

I’ve heard of friends who prayed for the things they’re buying. I thought it was totally awkward, but when they gain wisdom from the Lord to buy it or not, they find a blessing of not wasting their money over the “second best” of their choices. Even in gaining things, one should never be impulsive…being a spoiled brat over materialism can never give us any gain; only added trash in our houses and our lives.

And as Habakkuk rests on my bed with the new strings in place, I wonder if he was complained at all. I felt that we are both rugged kids trying to stick together for a reason. He loved me anyway, for he did not break away from despair of not being cleaned at all. Besides, we have tagged along each other during intercession nights. He sang along with me most of the time. We had some little adventures at times. I wonder if he has been tired when tucked away in the dark for days…or even weeks.

I know, it’s weird. It’s like how my friend can love her pet dog, or how a guy can love his car by investing so much from it. Loving something can cause one to invest time and money to bring out the best from it. Now, little by little, I realized how I need to invest new things not only for my dear Habakkuk but also for this gift and skill in music. By this way, I do not waste what was lent to me and I will sow to make it grow, making sure that it will not be a waste.

As I take care of Habakkuk, it’s also taking value to the One who gave him to me. I remember how I had been joyful when I brought Habakkuk home, being thankful that even with a small salary, I was blessed to have him. Indeed, it is the Lord who gives all our heart’s desire. Taking care of Habakkuk is my way of thanking the Lord who has given him to me. Only now I realized that Habakkuk, before he was mine, had been my prayer and my heart’s desire. 🙂

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