Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘society’

Breathing Adventure: Travelling Back In Time At Las Casas (Bataan, Philippines)

I think I have fallen in love. No, not with some Prince Charming or some knight in shining armor. I have found basking myself in the glory of history. It’s a place where the past is immortalized through houses of grandeur, their stories resonating in my pure, Filipina soul. By the time I have stepped back into reality, I was never the same again. I think I have just left a piece of my heart in Las Casas.

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan is a place owned by Jerry Acuzar, one of the most succesful and richest men in the province. It was built in 2010 but it is continually being developed until today. 

To get there, one has to take a three to four-hour bus ride from the Genesis bus station in Cubao going to Balanga (that would be Php200) and about an hour’s jeepney ride from Balanga to Bagac (Php50). Then, take a Php50 tricycle ride to the very site. I recommend you to leave at around 7 am even if the check-in time is at 2 pm. We were very lucky because our jeepney driver had agreed to take us straight to the resort while charging us only Php80 per person.

Stepping through the gates of Las Casas is like stepping back in time. It embodies everything Filipino, right from the building structures, the camiso de chino and the baro’t saya the staff are wearing to the true blue Pinoy values they are exemplefying. Their friendliness and hospitality are very welcoming for us. I even felt a little embarrassed when they have asked us to carry our bags to our room.

I couldn’t contain my excitement because everything is overwhelmingly IG-worthy. By the time we have entered our overnight abode, I screamed. With that, I was ready with my OOTD. I have to make sure I’d jive well with the place.

A jeep would carry us from the reception, to our quarters and to the little village where las casas (yes, the place literally means “the houses” in Spanish) stand. All houses, which were restored or remodeled, have story to tell. Some of them are linked to our national heroes, some had horror stories but others will just simply bring childhood memories of your old grandma’s house where the smell of burning leaves waft in the morning air. I assure you one day is not enough for all of these tours and activities.

One of the tour guides demonstrating some of the most curious things that could be found in an old house.

A room full of curiosities

Many statues like these playing children are placed in the village

Murals that replicate the works of great Filipino artists in one of the houses.

It would be good if you spend an overnight stay on the weekend because they have cultural shows on Saturdays and special activities on Sundays. One of them was the carabao race, which we have missed unfortunately. Still, we were able to watch a play at the end of the tour, which is about the value of the Filipino.

The carabao parade! We should have followed them to see them race. 🙂

Nighttime at Las Casas is very romantic. I don’t mind not having a date because the sound of the singing violin from afar is enough to melt my heart. If you’re wondering where that sound came from, that was from the open Italian restaurant in the village.

I warn you the food in this place is quite pricey but I can also assure you it won’t disappoint you. You just have to choose whether you like Filipino or Italian cuisine. We have chosen Filipino food because it is good for sharing (one viand costs around Php300-Php500 but a cup of rice is Php50). It is very fulfilling because it is tasty and it is really heavy in the stomach.

Ginataang langka

Liempo

Breakfast is just as good as dinner. Oh, the breakfast buffet is part of our overnight package so we can have as much bread and coffee as we want. I would say again the food is satisfying and superb. It’s enough to keep us going through the rest of the day.

That’s daing na bangus with eggs and fried rice, paired with lomi, fruits and coffee, along woth bread and jam. Who says we’ll be hungry the whole day?

The sea was not swimmable because the waves were dangerously strong. Don’t worry, there’s a small pool near the beach where you can waddle for a morning swim. 

Even after check-out, we can still tour the place in the afternoon. We did not miss the kalesa ride (about Php75 per person) but we were not able to take the balsa ride (which should have been at Php250) because it was beginning to drizzle. We’d rather horse around the rest of the day.

Meet Makisig, the strongest horse in town. I couldn’t imagine him carrying six ladies around town. 🙂

As always, we took a visit at the souvenir shop. I would have loved to take a picture while wearing a traditional Filipino dress at their Photography studio but the minimum price is Php800 to Php900! Nah, forget it. It’s not my pre-nup yet. 

Surprisingly, we only remembered to take a bite at around 3 pm (I told you the breakfast is superb!). Let me remind you that puto (rice cakes) at their snack bar costs at around Php110 for every five, small pieces. Kikiam (a type of Filipino dumpling) costs at around Php90! Oh well, we’d be willing to try it for the sake of experiencing them.

We ended the tour (and the picture taking) past 5 pm. If you don’t plan to bring a car at Las Casas, advise you not to leave the place around that time because there would be no more jeepney going to Balanga. The last jeepney trip would be around 4 or 5pm. The tricycles did take us to Balanga but it’s a bit expensive. 

The gateway to the beach.

We all had our hangovers when we had left the place. If only we could stay longer. The place and the experience Las Casas offers are very satisfying. I’d recommend you to take a room for six if you’re going with a large group because that only costs Php10,800 or Php1800 per person during the weekdays (rates are more expensive on weekends). It would be great to visit the place with your best travel buddies.

From the left Tina, myself, Lans, Ross and Ritz…all aboard to new adventures.

What I love most of all in Las Casas is its tag, “Pride in the past, hope for the future”. Such houses are rarely found in the cities. It is sad many modern Filipinos do not have a sense of history. I admire Mr. Acuzar for keeping the Filipino spirit alive by rebuilding these houses. I hope it is not only the experience the visitors would bring home. I hope everyone who visits Las Casas would also carry the vision Mr. Acuzar has in preserving the Filipino heritage.

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Pressured To Marry

She’s nice. She’s cheeky. She’s bubbly. She’s your typical story-filled housewife who got some good cooking. Until she blurts out. “What a beautiful girl! Does she already have a husband?”

Ok. I’ve encountered this question a hundred times. This time, she was asking my mom while she was eyeing me whose head to toe is donned in my favorite yellow, flowered dress. “No.” My mom replied as a matter-of-factly.

“That can’t be,” she gasped, just like any typical gossip-obsessed housewife. It came with that typical warning that never failed my irate eyebrow rocket towards my hairline, “You’ll grow old a spinster. You should have children.”

With that sympathizing look, she made me look like another human casualty in the evolution of genetics. Fine.

If I would point out my argument in the middle of that dusty, rural street she would never understand. Just like hundreds of married people who have asked me that same question.

I just couldn’t understand why they have to pressure me with that farcical question.

Our Asian culture dictates women to marry at a young age. Women at their thirties are considered too old to marry, more so get a boyfriend (I’m sure I’d be fatally labelled a “leftover woman” in China). As time and culture evolves, women are becoming more empowered, independent and are given more choices to challenge themselves outside the confinement of motherhood.

I am one of those women who have chosen that path.

Of course, that does not mean I don’t want to marry. I would like to fall in love and be loved. I would like to see myself wearing a wedding gown and kiss the man who is destined to be The One. But I am not in a hurry. Why should I marry if I am not in love and no one’s in love with me?

Just like many modern women today, we are given a wide range of choices and paths to take. Be the CEO of a prestigious company. Go into extreme sports and adventure. Explore the Mariana Trench. Manage fifty lucrative businesses. Achieve the Air Force with flying colors. Claim the Miss Universe crown. Win a presidential race. Save the world.

This is the viewpoint of women (and even men) who live and work in the metropolis. But not those who live in the rural life.

I would honestly never forget my chagrin when a member of the Badjao community had told me I should get married so I can have kids who would bury me when I die. Girls as young as 13 are marriageable to this group of people while 18-year old ladies are considered a spinster among them. I could not believe the limited perspective these people have nurtured throughout generations. 

This line of thinking is almost similar to the people living in my community. Partly rural and partly urbanized, most residents living here are below middle-income earners. Some were not finished in schooling. Basically, their choices are limited, as well as their resources. This leads them to the pattern of living-eating-marrying-working-have kids-die.

Ok, it does not mean one dies immediately after giving birth. But my point is most of them believe this is the same pattern everyone should go through. And every women should marry in the age history had dictated on man.

Or maybe, the age that our ancestors have dictated on man.

“Thirty! You’re too old to get married.” Rolls eyes.

“I’m married at 18 but I’m happy.” That’s your happiness, not mine.

“Would you like me to recommend somebody?” Shows me a picture. Throws up in the trash bin.

“You should marrying –” Shhhhh!! I don’t have a boyfriend! You mean I’d marry my toenail?!?!

I have sighed endless of times at those sickening questions. Gentle warning, some would say. But for me it’s the gripping reality on how limited a cultural perspective could be. 

I am not in a hurry to get married. I don’t worry about not having children. Too many marriages are broken because they have served their own selfish urges or followed the dictation of society without testing it through wind and fire. Marriage comes with careful consideration, prayer, commitment, and refinement. 

No one could ever understand when one is different among them. A single lady living among married contemporaries is as odd as the house of the Mad Hatter standing among the same tattered houses. Society dictates us to go through the same path they have gone through. They call it normal. I call it boring.

One’s destiny should not be dictated by the majority who knows no other way out of the box. Our age and status is not the basis of our purpose in life. Man’s judgement is not the fulfillment of things. No one has the right to taint the purity of our choices as only we ourselves can understand why we have chosen this path that’s different from them. Only God knows the best for us and society can never grasp that for our sake.

Capturing the Broader Perception

May bayad po yung bata (Is the seat for the child paid)?” A pregnant lady asked another bus passenger rather loudly, her voice sounded quite scandalous in the fully loaded bus to Manila.

Sitting comfortably with a little boy beside her, she said “Oo (Yes).” I was ignoring them until an older lady sitting with the boy and mother began to retort.

Kaya nga nakaupo yung bata kasi binayaran (That’s why the child is sitting because his seat has been paid)” She said in a croaked voice. Now the pregnant lady was already given a seat by a younger man. She heard the old lady’s loud murmur and answered back. “Nagtatanong lang naman po (I just asked).” But the old lady kept on murmuring and even called the pregnant lady crazy.

Now, I wondered to myself, if she, a grandmother herself, had she not been into the pains of childbirth, too?

Besides, all the pregnant lady wanted was a seat, as she was already heavy with a child.

But instead of offering her a seat, she was shunned away…maybe offended at the tone of her voice or her seemingly strong presence. The woman was trying to be strong though I’m sure was feeling uneasy.

But sadly, the grandmother seemed to have lost the broader perspective.

I understand they have paid the child’s seat, and the boy deserve it in place of that payment. But should these people have had the broader perspective of understanding the pregnant lady and her condition, I guess, they would have been even more blessed.

Most people have lost the broader perspective and have only focused on themselves. We have the right to for their rights, to shun off every offense, but we don’t see the need of others.

The Bible tells us to regard others better than ourselves. The call of humility is easy to scream at, but the endowment of this trait into our system is not that easy.

We have been taught to get our rights, but our culture has not taught us to open our eyes and be sensitive to the needs of others.

Thus, we fight against each other to get our rights, like dogs eating each other for a piece of stale bread.

How should we get a broader persepective? Only when we silence our own selfishness, try to get into the shoes of others, and sacrifice even a little bit of ourselves for them.

I admit, I’m still at this battling stage. And with this society, the need to learn humility, as my fellowmen also has the same needs and rights as I do.

And as a fellow human being, I must not disregard to my fellow man their needs and rights as I do have.

But it’s a long road before everyone in this society, even me, to capture the broader perspective.

But let’s begin that journey now.

Vetoed

Pres. Aquino at the media press conference after his inspection of public terminals, Mar. 26, 2013. Follow-up questions on the Magna Carta of the Poor were released to him, following his confirmation of vetoing the law yesterday

Pres. Aquino at the media press conference after his inspection of public terminals, Mar. 26, 2013. Follow-up questions on the Magna Carta of the Poor were released to him, following his confirmation of vetoing the law yesterday

Pwede kong pinirmahan itong batas na ‘to, pogi tayo, pero alam ko hindi mami-meet ng gobyerno. (I can sign this law. I’d look good but I know that the government cannot meet this).”

Such was Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s honesty when he was asked yesterday on why he vetoed (or “voted against”) the Magna Carta for the Poor. He straightforwardly told us reporters that the law sounded good, but the government still does not have the means to meet its demands.

I’ve appreciated his stand on why he vetoed it. As he said, he did not do it because he was anti-poor. He cleared that the law was good, as it is his administration’s priority to look at the welfare of the poor. Only, he said, this law lacked “progressive realization.” Let me explain his take.

As the Philippines is a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic Culture and Social Rights of the United Nations, this treaty realizes that the government, if it can have the ability, to meet all the rights of the poor.

While leering over his copy of the Magna Carta of the Poor, the president read to us Section 4, which states:

“The poor shall have the following rights, the enjoyment of which is an essential step towards poverty alleviation:

a) the right to food

b) the right to employment and livelihood

c) the right to quality education

d) the right to shelter

e) the right to basic health services and medicines.

The government shall, as a matter of duty and obligation, provide the requirements, conditions, and opportunities for the full enjoyment of these rights of the poor and which the poor can demand as a matter of right.”

There’s just one problem — our budget cannot meet all of these rights. At this point, about 26 percent of the 95 million San Juan City-20121226-00480Filipinos belong to the poverty line.

In order to meet the right to housing and shelter alone, the president cleared that the government would need P2.320 trillion pesos to build housing units to every poor families.

This estimate is larger than the very national budget itself, which is at P2.006 trillion.

The president added that if he had signed it, it might end up government agencies being sued due to lack.

As I read and reread the transcript of his ambush interview, I appreciated how he had saved our fellowmen from another felony and from dire consequences.

Talking with fellow palace reporters, we agreed how this law would have been another burden to both government and the people. One of them said that government should not just give away “perks” to the poor easily to spoon feed them — it’s better to teach them to work for it.

And so, the saying goes, “Give a man to fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This is not just said in schools. This should be true in our society. It’s easy to give to please anybody, but it doesn’t help all the time. Giving out these basic rights sounds good. Yet, there are setbacks in just distributing them without teaching society how to be good stewards of these rights. My fellow reporter even said that it would have better if the government uses the funds to focus on the education of every men. I agreed, adding that the mindset of many today is to depend on the feeder without getting off the table to get his own food.

Besides, what are your rights if you do not know how to use them? It’s like giving an extremely expensive, brand new toy to a reckless little kid who would just wreck it completely after a few hours. It would be a waste. Until all in society is ready to be responsible to these rights meant for them, the government should not succumb to the thought of giving it away.

After the vetoing of the law, the president ordered a social cluster group to study and come up with a substitute law for the poor.

A law may sound good, but it should be balanced with the realization of the targeted needs. The law is not meant to label one a hero, without realizing it would be a liability to many.

I just hope that the substitute law would be realistic and would be more strategic in meeting the needs of the poor without plunging anybody to the gutter. To make such a law is complex, and it would take a thorough study for an absolute poverty alleviation in our society.

Society Construction

I wonder why there are a number of roads that are being fixed a few months before elections? I wonder what is there to improve, if in the first place, the road is ok and nothing needs to be fixed on it? Perhaps, the “lawmakers” did not know how to make use of their PDAF (priority development assistance fund) or pork barrel before a new congress emerges?

If that’s the case, shouldn’t they look at other factors that need more focus? Don’t we find that there are more schools that need fixing? More backlogs in education that needs to be addressed? More of unemployed people needing jobs? More assistance in our macro-business in every region? Let me say that the improvement of a society is not made through “re-fixing” our roads. It only happens when each people in society live in prosperity and fulfillment. Besides, the society is not made up of roads, it is made up of people.

"Road fixing" at my hometown that began just last February. Until now it's on-going. I'd accept it if what they're doing is a road widening project. But it's not. They're just wrecking a well-fixed road then making a new one again. The result? A good long traffic queue...

“Road fixing” at my hometown in Bulacan that began just last February. Until now it’s on-going. I’d accept it if what they’re doing is a road widening project. But it’s not. They’re just wrecking a well-fixed road then making a new one again. The result? A good long traffic queue…

The same "road construction" at Bagbaguin in Bulacan. With this project, it has caused inconvenience to the riding public. Besides, there is no given explanation to the public why this road should be "fixed" when we don't see any need to be fixed at all. We hold the right to know!

The same “road construction” at Bagbaguin,  Bulacan. With this project, it has caused inconvenience to the riding public. Besides, there is no given explanation to the public why this road should be “fixed” when we don’t see any need to be fixed at all. We hold the right to know!

Courtesy of my friend, Joash Bermejo. This "road construction" at Hipodromo St., Sta. Mesa, Manila has no start and end date for this project. A big no-no! Aside from bothering the normal flow of traffic, we should at least inform our citizens the timeline of this project. A waste of time and money, especially when this project is left unfinished after the elections.

Courtesy of my friend, Joash Bermejo. This “road construction” at Hipodromo St., Sta. Mesa, Manila has no start and end date for this project. A big no-no! Aside from bothering the normal flow of traffic, we should at least inform our citizens the timeline of this project. A waste of time and money, especially when this project is left unfinished after the elections.

 

 

Deafening the Political Word War

Noisy, crowded, brightly colored, and tense. That’s how I can describe a kick-off campaign rally. Yesterday, marked the beginning of the campaign season for this year’s elections. As mono-

People flood Plaza Miranda for the Team Pnoy Kick-Off Campaign

People flood Plaza Miranda for the Team Pnoy Kick-Off Campaign

colored groups poured into the rally site, so did the huge tarps and placards bearing the names of the senatoriables. It was a tense moment…maybe because of the atmosphere of the crowd hype then.

I was assigned to Team PNoy, the admin block. I felt like being drowned in a sea of yellow while the giant tarps tried to block our view.

All twelve candidates were given eight minutes to speak to the crowd. Some laid a glimpse of their platforms, some their dramatic life story, and some, as expected, gave their enemies some good bashing. One called the past administration as thieves, the other ranted on him being cheated in the past elections, and another emphasized on not to believe the “others” who were “pretending to ride with their platform”.

But during the days before the start of the kick-off campaigns, the word war between parties was already at bay. From “new opposition” claims to “racist” remarks, the media noted them all. Not one from both sides missed to answer the rant of the other.

It was sickening. The battle of politics has turned into a sour word war. And for me it’s a dirty game.

When I talked to a spokesperson of an election-regulating body in the Philippines, he mentioned that they cannot stop these parties or candidates from making personality-bashing at their campaign. Nothing in our law prohibits such campaigning. Besides, our constitution itself upholds the freedom of expression as we belong in a democratic country. He warned candidates to be mindful of such a campaign strategy. Not everyone buys it.

True enough, in all the five or more people we interviewed from the public, nobody likes the idea of personality bashing. All talk but no work, one of them says.

The dangers of negative communication. I wonder how far will such a war of words go.

It’s easy to criticize. It’s easy to show the ugly side of your enemy. It’s an effective way to make the crowd see you’re in the right standing while the other is not. But such a strategy is the downfall of both sides. Not only will his rival get a bruise from his words; the one who threw will get a bad score from the public.

Such a strategy is as immature as kids who fight back when being teased for having a bad hairdoo.

How desperate can one become just to get into power? This is how far we have gone in our brand of politicking. Aside from empty promises and dramatic stints, we’ve resolved to picking a fight through words and ego-lambasting. But by doing so, it does not uplift who a candidate really is. Besides, one should be campaigning for himself, not embarrassing another.

I just hope that the public would realize that words alone are not the basis for choosing the best candidate (or the “lesser evil” as someone called it). Words do not make up who are worth to lead this society. Besides, while it’s still election season, all voters must choose who are fit to execute the roles a government position demands. Does the personality of that candidate fit the role to be a senator, a congressman or a local government leader? Do they have the skill, wits and political will of a lawmaker and leader? Do they have the heart to lead the public through their unique roles in the government?

Those word wars can’t reveal the answers for those questions. I hope every candidate will just be honest in their works. No more personality-bashing, please. It’s time to prove integrity by works and character alone.

A Look Back at My 2012

After all that grueling news yearender that we’ve done for our news, it’s time that I take a breather and reflect at my 2012. It has been an exciting year, not only in my beat, but also in my seasons.

Unforgettable coverages: 

Now, most of these I did not include in my blogs. Since they are memorable to me, I’ll share some of my experiences in these covereges in bits and pieces 😀

Jeremy Renner while waiting for President Aquino at "The Bourne Legacy" Courtesy Call in Malacanang last February 22, 2012

Jeremy Renner while waiting for President Aquino at “The Bourne Legacy” Courtesy Call in Malacanang last February 22, 2012

“The Bourne Legacy” in the palace: Yes, Jeremy Renner and some of the film’s executive producers made that courtesy call with the president after their Manila film shooting that lasted for more or less a month. As a protocol, Renner has to wear barong and yet matched it with light brown cargo pants (which was not much obvious). It was a short meeting, just like any other courtesy calls with the president, and he and his team immediately left as the president has to attend to other matters.

Sec. Jesse Robredo's remains carried into the Kalayaan Grounds in Malacanang on August 24, 2012

Sec. Jesse Robredo’s remains carried into the Kalayaan Grounds in Malacanang on August 24, 2012

 Sec. Robredo’s death: Just like the rest of the nation, I was dismayed at the death of such a humble public servant. I’m always comfortable meeting him personally, as he would take time to talk with mediamen without intimidation. At the day the piper seneca he rode crashed into Masbate waters, I hoped along with thousands that he and his missing companions would miraculously be retrieved alive. But two days later, the miracle did not happen.

As an honor to this humble-mayor-turned-cabinet-secretary, the palace grounds let his remains stay for two days at the Kalayaan Hall. Wakes in Malacanang Palace are only given to men of honor.

In honor of this man who served the nation humbly, I will not erase his number from my phone…just please don’t text back, sir…

Children playing at the flooded Recto Underpass. Taken on August 9, 2012

Children playing at the flooded Recto Underpass. Taken on August 9, 2012

Post-habagat monitoring: Once again, Manila was devastated not because of floods, but because of a phenomenon called “habagat” or monsoon rains. After intense raining for days, it flooded much of Luzon, mostly the National Capital Region (NCR). Because it was no typhoon, it was nicknamed as “Habagat”. The incident was said to be a replay of Typhoon Ondoy. Upon interviewing one local government unit (LGU) leader, they remarked that the damages were a bit lesser than that of Ondoy’s. He told me how they learned to be prepared for such a flooding after Ondoy damaged much of NCR last 2009.

We thought that such a tragedy ended here…until this November, Typhoon Pablo came and greatly damaged much of Mindanao and some parts of the Visayas area. President Aquino, though he did not blame our weather system for not giving the exact location of typhoons (as it is understood that such weather disturbances are unpredictable), hoped that we’ll learn from these tragedies until a zero-casualty is reached when another typhoon comes. Until now, let’s pray for the continuous recovery of the residents there who

Dolphy's final resting place before his remains were brought here. He was laid to rest July 15, 2012

Dolphy’s final resting place before his remains were brought here. He was laid to rest July 15, 2012

were greatly affected.

Dolphy’s Passing: As one who grew up in Dolphy films and antics, I’ve loved the man. Well, not as one of his ladies, but as one of his admirers. Although I was not an exact ardent fan of his, I gave him a hats off when he gave the curtain call at his burial. But what amazed me was how Pinoys in a number of generations were emotionally moved with the passing of one man, who had influenced so much of our consciousness though they don’t know him personally.

Queen Sophia of Spain, upon her visit to the Escuala Taller in Intramuros, July 3, 2012

Queen Sophia of Spain, upon her visit to the Escuala Taller in Intramuros, July 3, 2012

State visits of Foreign Dignities: President Aquino have had a number of visits from foreign dignities this year — for the administration, this is a sign of increased trust from our foreign partners. One of those I’ve missed was the visit of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. I was looking forward to see her personally but couldn’t because I had a scheduled leave. My most unforgettable was that of Queen Sophia of Spain. Though she had been here in the Philippines a number of times, it was in one of her photo opportunities that I almost had been up-close and personal with her…yes, believe me, I was awestruck with her because she was a real queen.

Last Days of the Corona Impeachment Trial: From it’s prologue up to its epilogue, I did not dare to miss the Corona chronicles…much more the emotional heights at the Supreme Court. I was really convinced of the strong support he garnered from the SC people as they’ve staged a number of masses and interfaith

Former CJ Renato Corona with some of the religious representatives at the interfaith prayer rally on May 22, 2012

Former CJ Renato Corona with some of the religious representatives at the interfaith prayer rally on May 22, 2012

Corona supporters don in red at the interfaith prayer rally at SC Compound last  May 22, 2012

Corona supporters don in red at the interfaith prayer rally at SC Compound last May 22, 2012

prayer movements for the former chief justice who was accused of misdeclaration of SALN and other cases. When the “guilty” verdict was given by a vote of 20-3 in the senate last May, the whole rukus in the SC seem to die out suddenly. I wondered how these same people who backed-up the former CJ now looks at its new CJ, Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

West Philippine Sea: Much of my stories this year focused on the drama over the West Philippine Sea. I’ve never missed out a beat when talks of the disputed islands would be raised in the palace briefings. From the height of the standoff at Scarborough Shoal to its continuous diplomatic moves, they filled much of my paperwork. This segment was one of the most detailed in my news yearender. But beside the transparency this administration gives on this issue, still this is a very sensitive topic. It revolves around differences of territorial principles, arguments for the inclusion of international laws are being raised. Though this has been raised in ASEAN summits, even by President Aquino himself, solving the dispute is never easy, for a country’s difference in law and culture can never be easily construed into a polished solution.

So much for national issues. With these, I’ve only realized for now how my year had been an exciting one. Now, let’s turn to personal issues.

My Life’s Minor Look Back Portion:

I cannot detail some of my own grueling emotions, disappointments, pains, and questionings. These I keep in my own personal itinerary. But here’s my word for the season, since last year:

Romans 5:3-5 (ESV), “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Only lately, have I received revelation that these rejoicings is to worship the Lord and be joyful because of my fullness in Him. I am His daughter and I have nothing to worry, for He has blessed me much. Because of Jesus’ blood, I am set free and I have eternal life! I have nothing on earth to fret on, for this is just temporary…why should I complain?

I saw my weaknesses. There are many of them. Yes, the Lord is teaching me to worship but I did not heed Him. I warred with the world in my own terms. I rebelled deeply against authority. I countered attacks of “smallness” in a way that does not glorify my Father. Yet, I did not know He was already teaching me that I should never complain, but rejoice in Him. It took me to turn this verse into a prayer…and such is the power of His Word when as a prayer, it turned out to be a rhema into my life.

From my perspective to the “smallness”, it was shifted to the rejoicing of my Father’s greatness. And yet, He needs to refine more of my character, I need to learn so much more.

Declaration for next year:

With this look back, I’ll join it with an expectation of looking forward.

I declare new things, new life, new season, new borders and territories, and new breakthroughs in my life and the path where the Lord is leading me. I expect that more fire and testing will come into my life, but just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego I will stand in it strong with the Lord. And when I come out of the fire, the glory of the Lord will shine through me, and my character will be like His. 🙂

I continually pursue my dreams. I claim the nations! My true identity is revealed to me. I will not go on wandering anymore, for I will have found my purpose, destiny, identity and revelation in Christ who continually changes me. I declare I will continually die to myself, I will continually lay down and not rebel, I will sow the culture of love and honor in this secular society and reap righteousness for His Kingdom.

With this 2013, I am ready to face new challenges. Because the Lord is my light, my salvation, my refuge and my strength, I shall not be put to shame! 😀

Let’s go, fellow sojourners! A blessed, prosperous New Year to everyone! 😀

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