Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘future’

Tindog Tacloban!

Me and my cameraman arriving at the Daniel Romualdez Airport at Tacloban City. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

Me and my cameraman arriving at the Daniel Romualdez Airport at Tacloban City. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

“Tindog Tacloban!”

This is the message that was written almost everywhere in the city where much attention and focus has been given after Typhoon Yolanda’s wrath. From the native tongue of Taclobanon, this phrase means, “Rise up, Tacloban!”

It is already past three weeks ago since I came to Tacloban, Leyte for a one day coverage of Yolanda’s aftermath. But the memory of a recovering city never fades away. A day is not enough for me take up every truth behind the lens.

For the first time, I’ve landed in Visayas. From the airport itself, I can’t help but be appalled, as the workers struggled back to normalcy. The city was being cleaned, and it’s good to see that no more bodies were scattered when we came. Still, there are much to recover and many are still homeless.

I was anticipating for this visit, but catching up with a day’s coverage left me dissatisfied much. I wanted to know much more, to talk to every people in Tacloban and if given the chance, the whole Leyte. I’d wish to capture everything — as in everything — the emotions and the reality behind the camera.

I felt like a wolf ravaging for a good story in a limited time. As a journalist, I wanted to feel the very heart and soul of

My interview with a Yolanda survivor, Kristine. She is a delightful soul, as she kept a light spirit despite of tears as she recalled the horrors of the storm surge rushing into the evacuation center where she and her children stayed. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

My interview with a Yolanda survivor, Kristine. She is a delightful soul, as she kept a light spirit despite of tears as she recalled the horrors of the storm surge rushing into the evacuation center where she and her children stayed. Photo by Sherwin Castillo

these people and digest every stories they wanted to share. I wanted to take time and leave them with great love, too. But the constraint at work limited my soul into a corner. In order to fulfill my mission, I had to complete it emotionlessly.

Despite of these limits, I caught a glimpse of the hope that glimmers after the storm. From the glint in the eyes of the survivors I interviewed, the smiles that welcomed us from the broken houses and ruins, and messages of hope sprawled in the broken walls, hope overcomes the trodden structures around us. I may not have seen the storm itself, and yet I am — until now — fascinated with the resilience that my fellowmen kept in their spirits all these times.

I tried to dismiss the heartbreak as I saw the ravaged cities in my one day stay. But what I would never like to forget is the strength these people kept, that caused them to stand admist the ruins. Before the day ended, I swore deep inside my heart that I will return. Perhaps, by then, it is not the devastated city struggling to rise, but it is a new city teeming with much life that sprouted from this glint of hope I’ve seen.

Now is the time. Tindog Tacloban!

Leveling Down the Contention of Words

This is what Typhoon Yolanda left in this once thriving city of Tacloban, Leyte. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

This is what Typhoon Yolanda left in this once thriving city of Tacloban, Leyte. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

“There has never been anything at the magnitude of what we are trying to do now,” Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras told palace reporters at a press briefing last Nov. 13, “Not in size, not in volume, not in even the breadth of it.”

As the national government admits being appalled at the disaster left by Typhoon Haiyan (or Typhoon Yolanda as its FIlipino name) ten days ago, the rest of the world feels mutual. It’s like watching a horror movie, except it is in the primetime newscasts. However, being in the very scene of it still feels surreal to me.

I would have loved to tag along with one of our teams assigned to Tacloban City last week. Tacloban, Leyte was one of the greatly devastated places left by Yolanda. But considering the place’s limited necesities for a woman like me, only an all-male team was sent.

As first hand witnesses to a storm’s aftermath, I tried to understand the hardships they experienced. They had no place to stay, no food and water to sustain them (as they have given their provisions to the Tacloban people), and they have to endure the stench of the dead and of human waste. But how much more I tried to feel the heart break for the people who endure the loss of what they have owned and the loss of their very loved ones. What was left was their very existence, coping with the last strain of humanity nearly being snatched from them. They try to survive in a desolated town unfit for living.

It might be easy to say that the rest of us who stayed wish to come to

The people of Tacloban almost at a loss as they have lost their homes --- and even their loved ones. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

The people of Tacloban almost at a loss as they have lost their homes — and even their loved ones. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

Tacloban just to give out a hug…or maybe a small act of kindness through food and water. But how far are we willing to go? How far would we be willing to sacrifice time and your comfort zone to feel their pain. Living there sounds too inhumane for most of us. Helpless, all we can do is sigh and speak out our thoughts and symphathy.

As I watch from afar, it’s a pain to hear criticisms and politicizing at all sides. There’s this underlying contention between the main government bodies, the private entities, and the vox populi. We can talk too much. It’s easy to give blame. But can’t we just shut up and try to feel the pain of the victims themselves? Perhaps, it’s easy to make conclusions in what goes on in their everyday life. But can’t we think of focusing at their basic needs first? These people, are just like us — human, limited, and in need of one another.

Perhaps, most of us can never understand how it is to be in their shoes. For us living far from them, we try to comprehend what flashes through our screens or what blares through our airwaves. But we can never see the whole picture. Who are we to judge conclusions, then?

Perhaps, some of us can never get the chance to reach them personally. Perhaps, most of us might never understand the whole picture of what’s happening and why it happened. But setting aside our own conclusions and criticisms might help rebuild a new future. A little grace, a little love, through our what-we-have can uplift their spirits. Behind the camera, must be a more drastic story beyond words.

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.

Why Am I Single (and Enjoying Every Minute Of It)?

“How old are you, Rhema?” A question I’ve always been asked in this time of my life.

To which I’d grin and reply, “I wish I can say I’m seventeen…”

Then I’d pause and watch them react with laughter, “C’mon,” they’d say, “how really old are you?”

With a sigh, I’d reply after my sheepish wince, “Well, I’m actually almost twenty-eight.”

Wide eyes and gasps follow, “Then, you should get married!”

I’m not greatly offended with such replies. It just bothers me how this society have stuck to the idea of getting married before thirty — some of them seemingly threatening me by reminding that my biological clock is running out of season.

By the way, I belong to the NBSB club — No Boyfriend Since Birth.

One might ask me, “Why don’t you have a boyfriend — not even once yet in your life?” When I give them my answer, most wouldn’t understand it. I’m not your conventional woman. To get into a relationship is a crucial matter…and every decision affects one’s destiny greatly.

Marriage is such a crucial matter that it does not only affect one’s inner circle but every aspect that you have known and lived from the beginning of life. To meet the one made for me and the one whom I am made for is not easy. It requires discernment. It requires confirmation. How should I know? The heart is deceitful. Yet when it surrender to the Lord and it is soaked in prayer, the Lord will reveal it…and I’m not sure how because I still don’t know. Having a boyfriend/fiance is a step towards marriage, so as for the moment, let me enjoy this gift of singleness.

I believe this is not yet my season of marriage. Age should not define the most crucial decisions in life. I have crushes, yes I do…but the Lord is teaching me that I am not worth for the second best. I am a highly emotional being. Attraction is a natural thing for me as anybody has. But I have to be careful so as not to have a broken heart and a broken life.

I believe that we are all meant for a special someone — well, not unless one has the gift of single blessedness. I do believe in match made in heaven — no, it should be the match made by the Father in heaven. For my bros and sis, let me remind you of almost every Christian youth’s fave verse, Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” From the beginning of time, the Lord has written down our life story, from the moment we were conceived up to the moment our time on this earth is up (Jeremiah 1:5). Including that is our “love story”. From the start, He only wants the best for us which only He knows. The one we are created for is one of His best for us.

In fact, this singleness is something that I should enjoy. Don’t you smell freedom, my fellow single friends? 😀 This is the time to explore people and friends. This is the time when dates are purely friendly dates and we can have all the time to ourselves. This is the time we seek our destiny like treasure hunting. Like a little kid, I’d always ask the Lord what He really wants for me and what He wants me to be. He lets me discover so much of myself, my friends, the world, and most importantly His heart. By this, I would learn and know where should I really go and what’s my mission in this life.

Also, this is the time when the Lord is refining me to the fullest. To get into marriage is to get into greater responsibility. I am not yet prepared for such a responsibility. Not that I reject it, but it is important that I must learn how to handle it well. In marriage, I will share to my future husband every aspect of my life as he will do the same for me. To our future children, we’ll both will have to share and give so much of ourselves to see them grow well. It requires a character that is after God’s own heart — the character of a good parent who wishes to give the best to their children. I would need the character of Jesus — a partner who will not be self-centered and who will love unconditionally. But in order to be like the Lord, I have to die to myself. And as I can see myself, I have so much to die from myself yet.

And by the way, it hasn’t been revealed to me if I’m meant for someone or if I’m meant to be single forever. Haha! The beauty of single-blessedness. If so, that means the Lord has plans for my life in which marriage will not fit in. Now, this reality scares my mom off as any parent would sure do. Most of our parents think that being married makes us well-off for the rest of our lives. When I asked her what if I have the gift of single-blessedness, she couldn’t answer me. But one thing’s for sure: it is the Lord who will sustain me and take care of me. His love will surely satisfy and strengthen me forever and a day. ❤

For a number of times, I’ve almost fallen victim to fatal attraction. But my Great Dad knows how to protect His Lovely Little Princess 🙂 In fact, He always remind me that the love of the Bridegroom Prince — that is Jesus — is faithful, pure, satisfying and forever. Now, what can I ask for? Yet, I’m sure you can relate with my distresses during waiting periods, as any young person would. But great is the blessing of waiting. Let me, and every single person, enjoy such a season; thus we receive the best that is from our Father in His precious and perfect timing. 😉

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