Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘freedom’

Growing Up Late

imageI couldn’t wait to come home on a Friday. I’ve missed my mom over the week since I moved in to a friend’s boarding house last Monday. For the first time, I gathered my courage to live a life of independence. I consider this as another breakthrough in this season of change…and, just so, it’s a beautiful breakthrough.
I am already 31 but there are just normal things for grown-ups that I couldn’t dare face. It was at this stage that I realized that I need to workout and I need to have a regular dental cleaning every six months. It was also at this stage that I have to get out of my comfort zone and live independently. I have to do this as I begin to work at a new company in the heart of the busy Ortigas suburbian jungle, where monstrous traffic choke EDSA endlessly and expensive UV express rides drain our wallets ridiculously.
I need to move in to a nearer place to keep a clean slate from tardiness. I have wasted enough time travelling and sleeping in the bus while missing my social life. I don’t have to wait until sixty to know how I have missed so many dates on my calendar.
But the first day of independence was quite a dread. Without a mom who would cook for me and nearly having nothing except clothes for the next four days, I was nearly battered with homesickness.
I missed my own room, I missed my stuffed toy Eeyore, and especially my mom and this place I call home. I tried to sleep at my first night despite hearing the mosquitoes buzz tauntingly at my ear. I tried to dream the night away while wondering what to eat the next day.
My mornings became easier during the following days. I familiarized myself on how to get to the office easily, kept myself neat and tidy at that short travel time, and shared my breakfast time with the other trainees at the office pantry. My mind began to plan on what I need to buy and looked for a zumba class at a nearby mall.
Here I stand as a late bloomer. Still, I enjoyed my first week of independence and I’m getting used to it. But as much as possible, I need to get home on weekends so I could bring all my dirty clothes to the laundry. Now, that’s a good reason to see your folks.

A Penny For A Thought

Ever wonder if the King of kings is fascinated with the cheerful laughter of an innocent child amidst the formalities of a Sunday service?

Or the silence of the winds on the trees while the drums blare wildly?

Do you ever wonder if these unnoticed signs say more than those we think say already much?

When are we going to communicate with our inner being that can secretly reach the Almighty without rocket science?

Once we do, would we be surprised if we discover new treasure folds of wisdom more amazing than the most mysterious of galaxies?

Breathing Adventure: Friendships and Sunsets for the Lone Trip (Benguet Tour Part 2)

My two-day Baguio getaway was brief yet blissful, momentarily pulling me away from the reality that nearly freaked me out of my sanity. What came after my first BenCab Museum tour was a visit to a missionary friend I have not seen in years, a short walk in the night-cloaked city outskirts, and a moment of fellowship at my friend’s church the following day.

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The city lights glitter on the hilltops at night. Baguio is just one of the places where you can safely stroll at night

I emerged once again in the homey ideals that these lovely people hold, while vainly trying to understand Ilocano dialect. Competition was unlikely to begrudge the existence these people delve in; too far with what we Manileños strive for everyday. Little by little, urbanity has been setting in Baguio City for years. Yet, the unyielding purity of the city’s outskirts is just one of the million things that amazes me in this place.

The main reason for going up alone to Baguio was a small mountain my friend was telling me days ago. On the day I was to leave Benguet, I had the chance to go on a short trek on what they named as Mt. Jumbo. It was located at La Trinidad, a city beside Baguio, also best known for its strawberry farm. We planned to start the trek right after lunch. But due to the slow, incompetent service of a diner we came upon, we were able to leave for La Trinidad at past 3pm, a few hours before the sunset kicks in.

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Part of the view while going up to the summit of Mt. Jumbo

It was an easy trek, but my legs became easily strained after ascending a number of those small but steep man made steps. This is the consequence of not jogging for a long time. The cloistered trees, fresh air, and clear blue sky refreshed me though. Upon coming near the summit, the trees became fewer and the air became crispier.

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Going upward

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Racing towards the sun

I was surprised to find a few tourists clamoring upon the nearly bare, green, rolling hills of Mt. Jumbo. Some of them had tents set up, anticipating a clear, star-studded sky soon. A group had even taken horseback rides to the summit. We walked passed them as we clamored to the west side of the hill. The vast, industrial fields of La Trinidad opened wide before us, the golden sunshine painting it in bright orange.

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Beyond the rolling hills was part of the view of La Trinidad.

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The sunset gleaming over La Trinidad. This area once called the “salad bowl of the Philippines” as it used to be an agricultural area. Now, it is replaced with houses and industrial buildings, striving with the urban shift of the country.

I did not mind my short stay on the summit. In an intense moment of freedom, I did not dance, I did not run. All I did was flap my arms to feel the wind beneath them and watch the sunset descend behind the mountains in awe. But that moment of awe was broken when we tried to catch the sunset with our cameras.

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The sun giving us a final breathtaking view for the day.

The sun’s majestic exit was interrupted by the thick silver clouds that canopied over the mountains. Still, the view was breathless, for a sea of clouds surged over the adjacent mountains. It was a phenomenon that no city-dweller could experience everyday. Twilight was not far behind by then. The first sparkle of stars began to blink the moment we left the spot.

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The sea of clouds just behind me

It was a breathless moment. Though part of me knew I had to go straight to the bus terminal right after that trek, I strongly felt that my Baguio experience would not be complete without experiencing a known restaurant at Session Road. With that, I capped my stay with dinner with friends at the fine but affordable Solibao Restaurant. Should you end up hungry at Session Road, this is one of the places you should you drop by.

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Capping my trip with a great dinner with my friends Lans, Marian, and Angie. This Pinoy/Chinese group meal at Solibao Restaurant was too much for four ladies and yet it was very affordable.

The bus terminal was jampacked with people leaving for Manila. I was one of them. With me were jars of lengua, choco flakes, and strawberry wine — just some of the Baguio goodies I can’t leave without. As I waited at the line, I just realized that I have the capacity to travel somewhere far without a definite plan and still enjoy good memories of this place. Next stop? I won’t plan it up. All I know it would sure be better. 🙂

Hanging In the Balance

Today, I have the tendency to walk-out of my job.
For the first time in my career life, I have lost my vision and my dreams. The stress and pressure in my present job has now gotten to my nerves. I am beginning to abhor making content for television. I felt I had the right to lay back and just take in what’s being fed into me.
It’s not easy being a producer. And it’s not easy reaching your boss’ standards.
Truth is, I want freedom. No bosses, no competition, just freedom of expression. However, I am limited by the modes of practicality: the need for work, the need to earn by working for other companies.
But in my five months stay, I feel I am not growing. I am doing the same mistakes.
I am now confused whether to continue in this job or leave and look for another one. I wonder how can I know that this job that comes my way is for me?
I have a few days to decide where to go. I hope this New Year carries a new beginning in my career.

Breathing Adventure: Why Is It A Mistake Not to Wear Raincoats at Pico De Loro?

At the base of Pico de Loro

At the base of Pico de Loro

Hikers flocked at the registration area at the base of the mountain. While the other tourists had their raincoats, I was convinced that we were insane enough to trek this mountain in our summer gear. The strong rains had forced us to take the beach as our Plan B. But we later had second thoughts as the tricycle drivers assured us that many hikers had already gone up to Pico de Loro.

You read it right. We hiked Pico de Loro on a Sunday while a storm was brewing in Philippine shores. In a desperate attempt to bring all our friends on a weekend, we met on the day rains were raging in an isolated province two hours away from Manila. Still, it was a memorable hike, as all our other adventures were being unique in its odd fashion.

The rainforest along the trail

The rainforest along the trail

Pico de Loro became immensely popular these months as yuppies in my generation have dared to take hiking travels not found in Manila. Rising at 664 masl (meters above sea level), this mountain sits in the boundary of the provinces of Batangas and Cavite. The Spanish conquistadores who came to the Philippine Islands named this as such for its peak looked like a parrot’s beak from afar. For one to get there, we had to take a bus to Cavite, drop off at a remote point in the town of Ternate, and take a long tricycle ride to Pico’s base.

In every hike we took, we made sure that we had enough budget to survive. The tricycle ride, which was at 200 pesos, was more expensive than the approximately 80 peso bus ride. Registration at DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) at the base was only at 25 pesos. But since we were first timers and the weather was bad, we decided to have a tour guide with us. If there are five people in the group, the tour guide would only cost around 1000 pesos. Even though a tour guide is not mandatory, I’d really recommend that you should have one whenever you visit this mountain. Especially when trekking on a slippery road to the top.

They lent us walking sticks. I felt miserable not to have a raincoat in my baggage but I was relieved to have a walking stick with me. This helped me have a good balance and it kept me from skidding down the trail. I purchased trash bags to cover my bag and my head and shoulders. Although I tried to hike with an open umbrella, I tucked it back to my bag so as not to disrupt my balance in this rainy trail.

Our tour guide, Marvin, as he held on to the bamboo shoots and sturdy trees against the slippery trail

Our tour guide, Marvin, as he held on to the bamboo shoots and sturdy trees against the slippery trail

No matter how I tried to keep my feet dry, I was compelled to sink my feet into the cold waters as we crossed the currents

The creek near the base of the mountain

The creek near the base of the mountain

of the rocky creek at the start of the trek. We were walking deeper and deeper into the foresty path. The tall, flourishing trees were covering the skies. The rain kept on pouring and the winds were howling loudly. I came to the point wondering what we were doing in the heart of a rain forest in this rainy season.

The guide, named Marvin, helped us to keep from slipping on the steep and slippery parts of the trail. The rains had made the trail even more dangerous, as mud had already made it quite precarious. I commend him for being gracious enough to make sure that none of us would have accidents in this journey and for carrying my immensely, heavy bag. Unfortunately, he had slipped on the trek a number of times when we descended back to the base.

IMG_20150705_112318Fallen trees, steep trails, and bamboo groves. These littered in the forest, giving us an enchanted feel. Add that up with torrents of rain, we looked like going into a jungle war zone. But coming upon the bamboo groves near the first peak, it gave me the feeling of entering an elfin kingdom. A sudden change of scenery mystified us for a while. But the heavy mist held back the wonderful scenery which everybody was talking about and posting in social media.

The elfin magic was demystified by stalls and stores that were set up near the

A few stores sat on the peak offering for tourists coffee or food

A few stores sat on the peak offering for tourists coffee or food

peak. Plastic bottles and other non-biodegradable trash thrown by irresponsible tourists littered near these stores. Marvin told me that authorities are going to take action to remove them from the site. It was already mandated that these were already banned in order to avoid trash on this mountain. I just hope they would take this action soon. I just even hope that more tourists would be considerate enough to bring home their own trash.

No one dared to climb the monolith at the very peak. That was supposedly the “parrot’s beak”. Although there was still remaining trail to reach the top, we decided not to go through it, since the sightless view would just be equally disappointing.

That structure beyond the mist was where the famous monolith sits upon

That structure beyond the mist was where the famous monolith sits upon

Instead, we posed for pictures in the cold, cold rain.

The trail going down was becoming more perilous as the rains would

The slippery trail going down

The slippery trail going down

not stop. The plastic bags on my head and shoulders were slowly being ruined so I ended up being drenched all over. We had to climb down carefully, holding on to trees and our walking sticks with care. At that point, I appreciated our trek on this mountain even more. Perhaps, because I became quite faster in trekking mountains despite of this unsafe path. Maybe because I was confident to put my weight on this walking stick. Or maybe because I had trekked a few mountains already.

When we came to the creek, I knew it was almost over. I felt like I’ve conquered more than the peak or the monolith. I guess, I have conquered my fear of losing balance over a perilous trail. I have survived a dangerous trek in such a bad weather.

See you again soon, Pico de Loro :)

See you again soon, Pico de Loro 🙂

But because we have not been on the top of the monolith, I swore to myself that I will come back again the parrot’s beak. I knew it will just stay and wait for me. But, let me wait for the sun to shine again.

We had to eat something hot before taking a shower in an apartelle quite far from the mountain. We wanted clean, warm water to wash with but we ended up having cold, tap water. At almost 7 pm, we were able to take a bus back to Manila. The rains still have not stopped even as I got home.

Back at home, I wondered if I could ever dare to climb that monolith when I return. I tried to imagine the scene that I might find at the top of the peak. But at this moment, I had to enjoy that warm cup of coffee and let my feet bask in that hot tub of water after surging through that long, chilly ride home. 🙂

From Selfies to Frontpages

I was caught in a surprise this morning when a fellow reporter tagged me with this frontpage photo from a prominent newspaper.
Miriam Selfie
This was when I was attempting to take my own selfie with Sen. Miriam Santiago. Right after her press conference, the reporters flocked around her for pictures. I thought of taking a chance to have my own memoir. Pushing through the crowd, I did not mind the photogs and the other journos who flocked for her attention (and were taking our photos!).
I have always looked up to Sen. Santiago as a respected, outspoken politician. Fearless, she’s never hesitant to criticize or to be criticized. And she made sure to remain as sharp as iron in mind and heart despite of her condition. Her announcement that she had stage 4 lung cancer was a shock to most. But despite of this, she appeared undaunted as she took her time to pose for a smile with the media.
I have always been careful to take pictures with popular personalities. I don’t usually ask for a pic with them though I personally interview them. I try to be discreet much as I can. Though it is not against ethics, I as a journalist should remain my distance to ensure that the image of fairness is not discredited. Pictures can betray even a group pic has no deep, background story.
But there are times when we journos can sense that taking pictures with them is ok. For me, it is to remember them, the respectable and interesting people who earned a reputation for who they are.
And one of them is this brave senator. She has made very rare public appearances nowadays. Right after the reporter in her left finished her own selfie with her, I took the chance to have my own selfie with the senator.
It’s a bit blurred though, but I’ll cherish it. I tried to take another but I became too shy because the other reporters wanted to take their turn.
Yes, even reporters can become shy when taking pictures. 🙂
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Wandering Connection

A quick poem…while waiting for a press conference:

We are silent among them
Trying to indulge in our existence
With longing eyes we look for friendship
The empty desks force us into silence
They move around with hands full
Occupied in senseless goals to frailty
Living in oblivion they restore their ego
Not sensing we are in their region
Make me speak and pour my heart
Would I not bring this place to life
Open those ears and hear me out
Until we make a connection
And a world full of life

To Dance in the Maddening Rain

Dancing in the rain
Such is what the weary keep in vain
For the sake of this silent hope
To water what remaining passion
Gagged by stress and pain
Silenced by pressure and competition
Strangled by envy and fear
Pick up these cluttered papers, I plead
To forget what was mauled by empty wisdom and vanity
Do endlessly throw them up in the air
So I can dance in the maddening rain

We Live Not To Work

Sometimes, I wish I were an ordinary worker. I’d have so much time out with the people I want to be with. I can have my own time and schedule. No one can bother me once I log out.

But being a journalist is a special job. It requires you to be in tuned with the latest news and updates. Once you set it aside even for a day, you might never catch up.

There are times I feel so depressed in this kind of job I am in. Some of my fellow contemporaries in this industry would not have enough time for themselves. A senior reporter gave a joke that there’s no lovelife in the media industry. Most of the older reporters remain unmarried, tragically.

But it’s not about the job itself that hinders one’s personal issues (lovelife, namely). It’s just one’s outlook in life.

When we focus too much in our jobs, truly, we might never find time for ourselves, our families, and our friends. Yuppies at their early twenties and near my age (the nearing 30’s) live an idealistic mindset, most of us believing we can change the future through our jobs. True as it is, but we must never let our profession eat us up.

We have the tendency to become too workaholic, we live within the bounderies of our work cubicles. We loose our social and family life. We don’t mind the family problems that linger about us. We forget the real essentials in life, unconsciously. For most of us, we might not realize that this job we have is only appointed for a season. When we realize that, it’s too late.

Who says that only journalists go through this? I had the same dilemma when I was a BPO agent (a night shifter, mind you). I guess every worker would have the same dilemma, our outlook in life being out of focus.

We can try to be heroes in our profession but we should never be martyrs. Our professions are not the very foundation of our lives, but to discover the essentials that uplift our lives, we must learn to slow down and set aside work awhile. 🙂

War of the Unseen Worlds

I live in two worlds. One seen and one unseen.

I can’t believe how my world changes when I go out into the field, when I mingle with people whose perception are not the same as mine. It’s hard to fathom and to explain to them, and I always have a hard time explaining what I see from what they see.

The world’s perspective is never the same as those who had seen the light in Christ Jesus. I can’t force you the truth. No, I don’t want a debate. But my heart always ache when people tell me that this is how things should be — when the world tells you to plan this way without seeking the Lord.

I can sense how free it is to be with people whose hearts are hungry for God; who in their longing to see the truth and righteousness, see the Lord; and whose surrendered lives exhibit pure love to others.

This is the world that I love to be in, when eyes do not look at others with lust and when voices are raised in one accord to worship the Lord. This is the world of freedom.

But once I leave such a place, I see a desolation. Here, I find people whose perspective are trapped in the “normal” course of life; in such a place, hearts have become calloused with the degradation that sin has caused into this world.

This is the plain where I find people dying around me. This is the field where hope and vision are stolen from mankind.

How I ache for all to know how great God’s plan is for everyone.

From the beginning, even before we are formed in our mother’s womb, He knows what’s the best for us. We’ll be surprised that maybe our ideal age to marry does not match His, and even our dream career is never the same as He has in store for us. For most of the time, we tend to follow our senses, thinking that this is it. But what we don’t know is that our identities and destinies can only be known if we surrender to the Lord what has been instilled into us. In the beginning, the Lord has already planned the best for us. But we have been deceived by a blinded world, telling us to follow a “normal” pattern of events (which mostly lead to a dead end). Yet until now, even the people of the free are trying to grasp their true identities. I myself is in progress to know who I really am. But God, in our quest to know who we are, show us little by little. And with this, we are surprised with the truth He shows us day by day.

Yet, I can hear people in the dying plain tell me to use lucky charms to find “the one”. The people in the world of freedom use the Word of God to fight with “the Victorious One”.

The people in the dying plain tell me to fall out of love and catch the guy I like. The people in the world of freedom encourage me to fall into His steadfast love and be caught in His everlasting faithfulness.

The people in the dying plain do not walk in wisdom. The people in the world of freedom walk in freedom and light.

But this is not a reason for me to hate the people in the dying plain.

The Lord has longed for the people of the world of freedom go out and give life to the people in the dying plain. Their perspective is never the same as mine, unless they encounter the heart of God whose love is beyond human passion. Most of the time, I wish to stay in the church for the rest of my life. But what use is my light if I don’t go out into the dark world to guide the people of the dying plain. Besides, it’s not me who gives out this light, but it is the Lord who radiates through me.

Most of the time, I am afraid; I fear the mob that will fixate on me. But what reason should I fear? Don’t I have a great God who will defend me?

I am on training. Yes, I’m no mighty preacher or any famous televangelist. That’s why in this season, the Lord tells me to rest in His presence that is in everywhere I go.

Yes, His presence is not only in the world of freedom. His presence is also in the dying plain. All I have to do is let go of my anxieties, open my eyes, and see Him set the captives free.

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