Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Hopeless Romantic

Once in a while, art does imitate life.

Presenting... "A Hopeless Romantic" by Harriet Evans. A friend told me about this book and we got so curious that she finally bought it. She's reading it now. I'm next in line.

The book is about Laura, who fell for her friend, who happens to be, IMHO, a jerk.

To cure her heart, she travels with her parents and goes on a vacation trip.

Oh stop, the similarities must end there!

I'll read it first and then tell you if I still need to write a book about my life, or if it already had been written in London.

Check out the synopsis from


The warm and enchanting new novel from the bestselling author of "Going Home". Laura Foster was a hopeless romantic. It was her greatest character flaw, for it was the one thing that genuinely got her into trouble! Her friends know it, her parents know it - even Laura acknowledges she lives either with her head in the clouds or buried in a romantic novel. But what's wrong with seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses, even if it's not delivered her a real-life dashing hero yet? But when Laura's latest relationship ends in disaster rather than a glorious sunset, she swears off men, and particularly hopeless romantic fantasies, for good. With her life in tatters around her, she foolishly agrees to go on holiday with her parents and grandmother (combined age nearly 200!). After a few days of traipsing round Norfolk craft shops and National Trust properties, Laura's ready to tear her hair out. And then, she meets prickly but sexy Nick, estate manager at Chartley Hall, one of the country's greatest stately homes. She swiftly finds she shares more than just a sense of humour with him - in fact, she starts to think she could fall for him. But is Nick all he seems? Or has Laura got it wrong again? Will he be the one who makes her enter the convent permanently or is he The One who could thaw her frozen heart?

The author's other novel is entitled "The Love of Her Life".  Chick flicks and chick lit are such a guilty pleasure these days. Makes me want to write me own and give those London gals a run for their money.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Grass is not Necessarily Greener on the Other Side

"If you were bleeding before, you're gushing now."

Astute observation from another person, if I may say so.  At least I felt validated in my feelings of panic and depression when he gave that comment.  I had reason to go mad, and I could blame it on the series of circumstances around me.  Or I could stand up, walk, and live.

I had coffee with a good friend in between a busy day for both of us.  I looked up to this friend, for she had it all - beauty, brains, talents, husband, career, kids, community.  While I could not even figure out where I would be nine years from now (a question I had to answer for an insurance agent).  I was poised and ready to pour out my heartaches to this trusted, dependable friend.

I was surprised that she had her fair share of woes.  I said how could she complain when she, let me repeat it, had it all?  I used to sing "I just want to be where you are" to this girl (instead of to God, I know, idolatry).  I told her she should be thankful she had someone to share life with, her triumphs and failures, her dreams and miseries.  I reminded her that single people went through life insecure and alone at times.

She said that when you get married, your problems are multiplied.  Aside from your own family's concerns, you absorb your husband's family's issues, your yaya's, your helper's, your driver's, and it would seem as if no one would eat in your household if you don't wake up early enough to make the decisions.

Just when I was falling down regarding my own troubles, this friend of mine also wanted to rebel against everyone and to be irresponsible for one second.  We both could not afford to.

The bottom line was that we were no longer young and we had to face our responsibilities as adults.  We were each on the side where the other thought that the grass was greener, and we reminded each other that it was not.  We did not give in to hopelessness and despair.  As sisters in Christ, we remembered that we could go through life - however broken or broke we'd become - in Him who strengthened us.

My circumstances have not changed but bit by bit, I am gaining acceptance of it all.  

By the way, do visit the blog of another friend of mine,  Her entries are both heartwarming and funny.  Her outlook in life is both fresh and refreshing.  She lives up to her name:  Gay.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Stretched to the Limit

I received news today that rendered me speechless. The person's decision caught me off-guard and I was too stunned to respond. It was one of those Mondays when I felt nothing was going right and I could not take any more bad news. Surprisingly, I did. I had to.

I shared it with some people who all encouraged me that things were not as bad as they seemed. To me who had to suffer the consequences of that person's decision, it almost made me feel hopeless. The only thing that kept me sane was the thought that nothing was impossible to God. He could turn any boat around. He would not let me drown.

It was one of those days when the world seemed too big to conquer, when nothing I did seemed enough, when little steps towards growth and progress were negated by huge mistakes that made me fall down - big time. I remembered all the things I was supposed to be doing but never got around to accomplishing, and guilt washed over me again.

As a Christian, I reminded myself that I should not be so depressed. God will make a way. He must have seen my efforts. He must know how hard I tried. My heart was an open book to Him. He was the only one I could lean on, who could completely understand how lost, alone, and scared I felt.

Perhaps others would not be able to tell that I didn't have anything figured out. I emceed our company anniversary last week and even performed. I served in our parish ministry for several hours last Saturday. I created PowerPoint presentations of the songs for mass and the gathering. I was happy to be with my loved ones over the weekend. Those memories should be enough for this very challenging week.

I don't know if I'll survive this one. I was playing injured, to begin with. If ever I do wake up one day with the clouds gone, I would be more than glad to proclaim God's victory in my life.

For when we reach our human limitations, and things turn out fine, then we know that God was at work all along. I am glad for my powerlessness and helplessness, then, for they cause me to see God at work in me. Sometime ago, St. Paul already went through his thorn in the flesh, and he shared his discoveries:

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, 
for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, 
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 

10 For the sake of Christ, then, 
I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, 
persecutions, and calamities. 
For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Cor 12, ESV)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Welcome to a Press Release Life

A blog is a press release about a person's life. In this blogger's case, the individual posts do not make up the whole of what life is about. There are omissions and additions everywhere. Language is tempered. Frustrations are controlled. Hurts are simplified. Even joys are minimized. Not that this blogger advocates lying, but there is a time and place for everything.

A blog is not supposed to be a repository of all things ugly, or private, or secret. It should not just be about perfectly sunny days, either. What you get when you are deprived of the naked truth is a press release version. Just because it's blogged doesn't mean it's grand. And just because it isn't blogged about doesn't mean it didn't happen. Probably, it's still being processed in some corner of the blogger's mind. Or being hidden and tucked away, never to be viewed by the public.

There are days when Life doesn't make sense, and this blogger wants to type, to speak to the world in general, and no one in particular. Thankfully, these days don't come often.

This is today's press release:

Sometimes, when the very things that are important to us do not seem to be
important to some people who are important to us,
we begin to doubt our importance in their lives.

We don't feel important at all.
But who cares, right?
Not the people who are important to us.

It's not important to be important to all people,
and our importance must lie on God alone.

Sometimes, what we deem to be important
Is not so important at all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I didn't mean to get to this place.
I was going somewhere else -
Somewhere far away, and distant, and different.
But a familiar song made me look back.

And I fell again into the hole I'd just gotten myself out of.
The hole is dark, and musty, and I hate it.
I hate it.
I can't blame anyone this time, for I walked right into it.
I wasn't prepared for the light, maybe.

I wanted the light, but was accustomed to darkness.
I wanted to change, but was stuck with my patterns.
I wanted to move on, but was scared to stand.

I am sorry to The One who rescued me before.
Many times before.
I am down here.
I have not learned anything after all.

Don't lower any ropes.  
Don't call the rescue team.
They are not enough for the willingly chained.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wise Words I Should Heed

I had a conversation with my favorite Tito in community, let's call him Tito M.O.W. (Man of Wisdom).

He motioned for me to sit beside him and then asked, "Kumusta ka na?"

"I'm fine," I replied, which really meant "ask me more" and was an invitation to probe deeper.

We've had similar conversations before, although we didn't see each other often.  He knew what to do.

"Are you happy?"  came the dreaded question.  I paused before giving my standard reply for the past year:

"Happy is such a big word.  I'm OK lang."

"So you're not happy then."

"I'm not happy yet.  There's so much pressure at work.  And I'm still in transition, from missionary life to corporate life."

"Ang hirap mo namang pasayahin (It's so hard to make you happy).  My question is not about work.  It's about your life."

"Well, there was something I asked God but He didn't give it.  That's why I'm not happy."

Tito MoW replied, "There you go again, defining your happiness by one thing.  You are limiting God."

One elusive thing, I said to myself.  It's one elusive thing after another.  I focus on what I don't get.  I gloss over what I already have.

There was no point in arguing with him.  I concededly said, "I don't know how to be happy."

There it is.  This is not news to anyone.  It's been blogged about here for many years.  

"Happiness is a decision.  You have to want to be happy; to choose it," he said.

"But how does one want to be happy?" I asked him.  I really wanted to know.  I thought I knew many things, but I didn't know that.

"I'll tell you why you'd want to be happy.  It feels good to be happy!"  he told me with a serious face.  He looked like he had decided on the matter and was practicing what he preached.

I didn't know what to say.  Who could argue with that?  And why did I always want to argue, even with a man who was helping me to find happiness?

I tried to search my  memory for the last time I really felt good and was happy.  It was always during retreats  or parties.  Big events.  It was hard for me to be happy everyday.  I reckoned it was hard for everyone. 

It was time for us to leave and so he told me in parting, "I'll ask you again."

I said, "I hope my answer will be better next time."

"No, you can always say, 'I still choose to be unhappy.'  It's your choice."

I wondered when I would see him again.  I could cram my answer then.  

Or I could choose to be happy now.

Where do I begin?

Monday, April 07, 2008

FIRE Weekend at Anawim

Last weekend, I was once more reminded that I was serving a God for whom nothing is impossible.

For about a couple of years, the Youth Alive members and Core Team have been praying for a weekend retreat, or a leadership seminar, or, dared we dream it, a youth camp.  But funds were low and schedules were tight.  We waited on the Lord, for in His time we knew our plans would be fulfilled.

Enter Bro. Alex Nolasco, mgl, who was sent here to assist Fr Brian in preparing the delegates to World Youth Day from Youth Alive.  
He was tasked to organize FIRE Weekend, and with his contacts at Anawim, and the overwhelming support of Fr Steve, Fr Brian, and Fr Geoffrey, he was able to accomplish what we had only dared to dream of - he organized a youth camp at the most ideal place possible.

We had a retreat AND an outing AND a youth camp AND an outreach (with the lolos and lolas at Anawim).

I came with little expectations of spiritual rest, thinking I was there to support the youth and to get a breath of fresh mountain air.

But I was happily proven wrong.

The youth went far beyond the usual singing, dancing, and laughing.  They were disciplined, following their chore schedule.  The girls washed the dishes while the boys fetched buckets of water.  They mingled outside their choirs and areas, and made new friends.

Most of all, last weekend, I heard their voices in praise and worship like I've never heard it before.  The Holy Spirit so moved and empowered them that they filled the chapel with their songs.  They danced not anymore to impress their friends, but to give glory to their God.  They yielded to the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  They were able to sustain three hours of worship and prayer.  It was a foretaste of Heaven - from the peaceful silence while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, to the exuberant air of worship they released after they were prayed over.  

I do not remember the last time that I prayed like that.  The youth had grown up before my eyes.  I was also ministered to.  Tears washed over me while Fr Brian was praying over me, because that night, the light of Jesus rekindled the fire in me.  

It may be a tiny flicker of light at this time, but at least it is back.  To God be the glory.

During the FIRE weekend, we reflected on this Word, which is at the heart of the spirituality of the Missionaries of God's Love:  

Jesus cried out: "I have come to cast fire to the earth,
and how I wish it were blazing already..." (Lk 12:49)

This was a great start for the Youth Alive Summer Program, to be held Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, 9a.m. to 12 noon, at the Parish of St Benedict, Don Antonio Heights, Quezon City from April 8 to May 24.  Donations in kind or cash for snacks are accepted at the parish office.  Email me at if you want to help.  Thanks.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Another Wrinkle in Time

I carelessly threw my bags inside the cab and slumped on the backseat.  I turned on my iPod to drown out all the noise when the driver asked me which route I wanted to take.

I wanted to tell him that I couldn't care less if we took EDSA or C5.  It was a Friday night, everybody was out for the long weekend, and I was just coming home from an emotionally draining week in Cebu.  My flight was delayed and so I met Metro Manila rush hour traffic.  All I wanted to do was not to think and let the world take its normal course.

I politely told Manong Driver to try C5 and returned to my confused thoughts.  I had planned to attend the First Friday Mass at Lingkod QC tonight.  There was no way I could make it with the way the traffic was going, however, and I had to accept that.  I didn't want to call attention to myself by walking in late in the middle of Homily or Consecration,  with my black-and-pink luggage in tow.  I texted the people I was supposed to meet there that I was sorry to miss the mass.  I asked for prayers.  I didn't specify for what, as my intentions wouldn't fit in one text message.

The familiar beeps of replies from friends, the driver's music from Friday Magic Madness, and the song playing on my iPod, which I wasn't paying attention to, all failed to distract me.  I wanted a retreat so badly but could not fit it into my schedule.  I wished I could go to an island spa but it was not in my budget.  I sorely needed to talk to a spiritual director, or a counselor, but could not contact anyone on a Friday night.

I counted all my failures this week and got more depressed.  Perhaps I just wasn't cut out for my job.  Perhaps I should have done more, given more, been more.  I could not bear the thought of all the work I had to face on Tuesday.  Even the youth camp this weekend at Anawim did not seem so exciting, and felt like punishment.  I knew I wasn't thinking straight anymore.  I was simply exhausted.  I didn't need to tell anyone about it, as my friends would just say that this too shall pass, and that my God and I had been through worse crises before.

I needed to write about it though.  So write about it I did.