Monday, February 24, 2014

Counting My Blessings # 2

          Just last week, the day after my first visit to Feast Amorsolo, I was already blessed. I couldn't let the incident pass and I even wrote it on my phone's memo pad to keep the memory alive. And simply because I have bad memory. So, here is my story.

          Just last week, Thursday I think, I had money crisis. I had 250 PhP in my wallet, with some side extra money that I saved from the previous weeks. My van fee was 70 pesos so I paid 120 pesos to the dispatcher and I got a 50 peso change. The 20 pesos was from the extra stash. Well, it's not really crisis if I just stayed hungry for breakfast and pig out during lunch. But I was really hungry so I bought food from mini stop. My bill was around 100+ since I have only 150 pesos left, I used the last 100 pesos from my stash, because the rest were just 20 peso bills. It was my last large bill because I gave the other 100 pesos to Feast Amorsolo during the offering. And then I prayed to God saying, 'Lord, mukhang kulang na pera ko. Sana hindi ako maka-gastos ng bongga sa lunch.' Well, the food being served here in Jolly Jeep of Ate Tina are very tasty and cheap. I could get adobo and rice for just 55 pesos or so. The vegetable serving is just 20 pesos, sometimes 15 pesos, depending on the vegetable. Lunch time came and the head HR reminded me that I would accompany them for an ocular visit of the venue for a marketing event. And the whole lunch thing was out of my mind. I was like, okay, we'd go and then I'll just have late lunch later. I was with my supervisor, too.

          After the ocular, the three of us entered Greenbelt mall and free lunch dawned on me. I was like, lucky day! We had sotanghon soup and grilled bangus at Reyes Barbeque. After eating, the boss treated us frosty from Wendy's. So, I was a totally happy kid that time. When I settled myself in the PUV going home, I took my wallet to pay the fare. Then, I saw 150 pesos in my wallet. I was confused because I didn't know where I got this money. Then, it dawned on me: God answered my prayer. I was repeating Praise the Lord in my head all the way and it took me a while to overcome the feeling of blessedness. I only consumed the 100 pesos and the remaining 50 pesos was the only bill left for me. During the Feast Amorsolo, I learned about tithing - giving 10% of my weekly allowance for the lord. After computation, my tithing money weekly is 150 pesos and thus, the 50 pesos remaining was the one I gave to the Holy Mass last Sunday.

Counting My Blessings # 1

       Memory is never to be trusted because it can be tampered with, it can be compromised and it's definitely not good for storing long-term thoughts. The truth about those 'forgotten' thoughts is that they're like those romantic bottled messages scattered and whisked away by the waves of the ocean. When we remember them, it's akin to those bottled messages resurfacing and being found by some random and so very hot we have this illusion of being soulmates dude. But of course, the content of this paragraph is based solely on the author's irrelevant and very poor opinion of her memory, thus this should not be accepted as a postulate but as a theory it may do

          So, the rationale behind this post is basically the post's title: counting my blessings. As I go on with my one-way spiritual journey, of course I don't intend to go back, hence the adjective one-way, else I'm just fooling myself. If there is one thing that resonates from the time I was taking up CLVE classes (Christian Living and Values Education, if my memory doesn't want to embarrass me, I got the acronym correct), leading a Christian life would be hard because Satan would have to focus its influence on you more to bend your path. But of course, this will not happen if we believe that Jesus is always looking out for us. In my personal experience, I heard the Word many times before. I was inspired to the point of crying and swearing that from now on I will live a Christian life. But what a big lie that was. After about 2 weeks, I went back to my old ways and waahlaah~ back to zero. But now, it's different.

          I remembered the worst test of faith I had during the latter days of January wherein I semi-clashed with the beliefs/teachings of another person belonging to another religion. I was totally helpless because I could not counter the things the person said about my religion. The words were so intense that I was almost inclined to be part of the person's religion, but I was held back. Something was holding me back that time, because I was partly reluctant. I mean, me - I pride myself on the strong foundation of my principles and yet I could be swayed by this person, who I barely knew, who says that all those things I believed in since before was utter crap. Wait, wait, wait. That is not the way to go. Even if I didn't attend the mass religiously and I wasn't very enthusiastic on proclaiming the Lord, I couldn't just let go whatever was my leverage on my supposed faith. So I sought help from my CLVE teacher before and I was washed with relief that I had been right to stay strong. Thus, the start of my reformation.

          After being reconnected with my CLVE professor, God gave me another person (and finally, a group!) who I can depend on in times of religion conflict. Though Sherwin is a Born Again and I'm a Catholic, the way he preaches is simply the same. Although we made clear to each other that we have different religious beliefs coming from different religions, I knew I could trust him in the matters of the Bible. So every week, I attend two bible studies - Feast Amorsolo and this weekly bible study with him. I remembered my first bible study with this guy Sher, it was an emotional roller coaster for me. Simply because I'm a total drama queen and well it was hard for me to adapt to that person (the one with different beliefs) and the obvious religious attacks. There wasn't much to talk about because it was the first bible study he conducted and because he just wanted to relay the message that Love God above all and love others as you love yourself. During the second bible study, I semi-learned about my purpose in life, as I have posted 2 posts ago. 

          However, Feast Amorsolo is what really hit me for real. I remembered Ms. Rissa Singson-Kawpeng's spiritual realization: Saan ako kakapit kung pati ang lupang kinatatayuan ko nagugunaw din? Well, it was not verbatim but that's the idea. And I was like, Oh my wow. Lord is really amazing and like totally, as if I couldn't stop fangirling about Dante from Devil May Cry. But of course, I cannot fangirl the Lord because He's already my brother and best friend. I was hit by that truth and as usual, yours truly became another emotional mess. But that is to say, Feast Amorsolo really strengthened what I have been cultivating since February 6 (first bible study). It just revealed to me that the Force which kept me strong during my test of faith, the Force that turned be 180 degrees back to Him is none other than Jesus. Actually at first, I thought I would yo-yo back the way I was before after the first bible study. But I learned that if you really surrendered - totally completely to God, He would be there to support you. He would not forsake you. And this is my testament.

          So, the point of this post is to help me remind myself of God's blessings to me everyday. Honestly, He's been providing me in His own amazing ways. And everytime the realization would hit me, I could only say, 'Bro, you're so amazing.'

A-musings of Trivialities Answered

A while back, I asked myself on how to be mature

Is it to develop proper manners? Is it to be able to act cool and collected? Is it to change your point of views in a broader sense?

These are some of the questions I posed on myself. They didn't actually made sense to me at all until such time I just decided that maturity is a resignation of some sort. Though naturally, others will call it acceptance, or coming to terms with responsibility. But I recently saw a photo shared on ShareCatholic's FB page which basically answers my questions.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

On the Road to Spiritual Recovery

          A warning: This is not some scholarly post wherein I write my sentences as carefully as I would tiptoe for food at night. I'd like to release these flurry of thoughts that are being suppressed in my head lest it explodes.

God is amazing.

          As in I can seriously tell that now, with all certainty. Though in the past, I said it word for word and not really internalizing deeply the gravity of that statement. After the second Bible Study session, I have learned my purpose in life.

What is my (your) purpose in life?

          It is often too intimidating a question. I wrote intimidating not because it is difficult to answer but rather it is a question to ponder about in which the answer is not readily available, hence anxiety ensues. During that bible study, I was at a loss for words. I wanted to answer the question immediately and knowing me, I'd answer - graduate, find a decent job, help out my family and relatives and hopefully migrate to US. But I felt, that time it was not the right answer to give. So, I kept quiet and I decided to say that, 'No, I don't know the answer.' But I learned, like really learned my purpose in life is just three major things:

1. Connect to God.
2. Connect to others.
3. Connect others to God.

          While I was hearing that, I immediately thought of the transitive property of equality wherein, if a = b and b = c therefore a = c. But that's just beside the point. At first, I could not discern the meaning of those three and how could I apply it to my life. I was thinking, connecting to God means removing my bad habits and regularly going to mass. It would also mean I have to talk to Him at least every night and read the Bible. I cringe slightly at that kind of lifestyle. I mean, I am a lover of books but I don't like to read the Bible. I stay away - thinking that the words cannot be understood and the context would be too hard to decipher. I usually just do the sign of the cross before sleeping and proceeding on reading fanfictions at night. Connecting others mean reconciliation with my enemies/ex-friends. And there I really was frightened. I kept telling myself I was not ready to forgive them, or reconcile with them for that matter. I felt the buried bitterness - I mean man, I just understood how deep something was if it was buried - resurface and I just couldn't let it all go in one swoop. I mean, I take delight in talking about them with my friends and to think of giving it up, wow it was as hard as deciding which to eat first: A box of Ferrero Rocher or the huge bar Cadbury chocolate. And if those two already made me cringe at the near impossibility, the third one just made me sigh in defeat. I told myself, oh God I couldn't possibly do that. Or more accurately, oh God, I don't know how to do that. In short, I was hard for me to decipher that - especially if it was really my purpose in life. I was so lost in defeat that I just decided to hear out the facilitator regarding other matter.

          It wasn't until he said the very words - Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3). I was enlightened at that. 'Oo nga noh? I don't have to do everything alone. Ayan si God, o, hinihintay lang ako.' I suddenly became lively at that. And somehow, those three things did  not seem that impossible until five minutes ago. The facilitator also told us to pray for ourselves. To help us remove the Pride that has rooted itself in our hearts. Actually, I was reading the bible last night and I came across this verse in the Gospel of Mark which says, 'and Jesus said, whatever comes into the person from the outside will not make him unclean. If he ate bad food, it will just be digested and expelled soon after. But what makes a person unclean is what comes out from within him. Because it is from within his human heart, that evil thoughts come - greed, stealing, murder etc. All these things make him unclean.' So after the bible study, I kept in mind those three things and decided to just completely surrender to Him. I told God bahala ka na sa buhay ko. Let your will be done. Please remove the pride from my heart and help me cultivate a humble heart. Afterwards, these series of events happened to me:

1. Talking to God anytime, anywhere
2. Reading the bible
3. Not opposed to the thought of the Holy Mass
4. Stronger Faith
5. Keep temptations at bay (and not succumbing)

          I was really amazed at how I turned out to be. I am totally guilty of mocking and scorning those people before who proclaim the Word of God and I really think, 'ang corny naman niyan. I don't need to do that to be connected to God. Blah blah blah.' But I realized, it was not right. They were simply very blessed and they are sharing their experiences. The things I couldn't do before - declining temptations, reading the bible, talking to God - are now easily done as if it was a part of my routine. It's amazing to think that all it takes is real complete surrender to Him. Then the teachings of my high school CLVE teacher were coming back to me in bits and pieces and whatever I am applying in my life now, he had said before. I was just too lost in my own self-righteousness and pride to think, this is what it really means to surrender completely. Even the thought of reverting back to my old habits seemed like a far-fetch thought now. I feel at peace within myself. Although I can't say I'm well-versed in the Bible already, I am working my way into it. In retrospect, I was able to accomplish the two things that define my purpose in life.

What about the last one?

          Just this Monday night, I was thinking about how to connect others to God. As I've said, those three things didn't seem impossible, considering I was able to accomplish the two. Then we three kids were asked to fold the pile of clothes on the sofa. After which, our conversation drifted to the movie Prometheus. Having learned about the diabolical meaning of it after reading some reviews, I was surprised at how my brother was praising the concept of the movie. I knew it was brilliant and I praised the movie in the past but it seemed so wrong at that time. And then he proceeded on telling me he does not care about the religious references and other religion-related concepts that could sour the movie. And I was aghast. To cut the story short, I was able to share to my brothers how that movie was a mock-allusion of The Creation and even pointed out obvious references to the events. And I felt a surge of relief at that time, for I was able to share to them a snippet of my spiritual 180 degree turn and I hope that they, too, will be inspired. It was really amazing what Faith can make us do. Good deeds are products of one's Faith to the Lord. Because when you surrender you life to Him, your life's purpose will always root back for Him. Whatever you do, think and say, it is all for Him. Did God teach us to do bad things for Him? No, definitely we'll do good deeds. And that is saying something. Because God's sole commandment is to love Him and love others as we love ourselves - as God loves us.

          So, there. God is truly amazing. And He gives us the things we pray for in good time. And I've never been this glad to return to Him. It was like the story of the Mustard seed. A farmer was sowing the seeds. Some went on the dry ground, some went on the good soil. Some others went to the thorny bushes and some were taken by the raven swooping by. At first, I was like the mustard seeds that were on the dry ground. There was no soil for them to plant their roots, and in turn they die. Though I hear and rejoice upon hearing the Word of God, I don't last long. I revert back to my previous self. But I am hoping to be the mustard seed being regrown in the good soil.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Letting Off Steam

          Have you ever met someone so inconsistent with his words and actions it makes your head spin faster than a whirlpool? He tells you to be transparent with him - to tell him what you exactly feel about him. To be honest to him. He won't be angry. Yes, I tried being frank. And look what happens: He did not get angry - he just left. He's not preaching what he says. I've met these kinds of people disguised as my "short-term friends"- too many of them back in high school. But as Lang Leav said, 
"The things that seem to matter less, are the ones we put on show."
         It's not one of my best poems and I'm not even infinitesimally proud of it, but it exactly reflects what I feel about these hot and cold people - the Ciel way. Rough, rude, blunt, unrefined and totally not complete without a minor string of swear words. I'm so sorry I'm just talented in the field of saying swear words.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Brewing Trouble

Sometimes I Forget that I'm still a Kid

          Working at a company for an internship has its perks. I get to meet new people and hopefully find new friends. I find the environment even more refreshing than the constant drag and pull of time back in DLSU. What can I say? I've spent my entire life in those four walls of the room. Sometimes, there are five walls when I felt that the worker who was laying out the cement miscounted the corners he was happily making. And that's my problem. At least I am free to act like me. Who is me?

          Me who runs along the corridors and through all the maze made by those insensitive people who seemingly care about nothing but their sad sob story to be told - not minding they were actually very much blocking the runway, excuse my awesome self. Me who sings my lungs (and larynx) out with Through the Fire (Chaka Khan's version, puhlease) and other birit-worthy songs at the fire exit. Me who would emote to myself on a ledge while looking down the once-football-field-turned-to-Henry-Sy-grounds. Me who would talk to myself on my seat and don't give a shit about my changing expressions. My who would giddily drag my friends to Agno or EGI for lunch. Me who would animatedly talk about my day-to-day misfortunes and laugh at them like they never did affect me.

          And that's when I realized being in this world - the corporate world - is not easy. With my current self, I have to put up a front that would be expected by these people, and of course to not be overly weird. Sometimes I lose myself and my antics would come out. Man, I tell you hiding is hard. I'm not exactly the bearer of the Most Talented Two-Faced Douchebag trophy. And of course, faking is not exactly in my immediate vocabulary unless otherwise stated. This constricting mask makes it so that it's only a matter of time when I would finally snap and be used to this kind of lifestyle. I have to leave my mask and develop a different persona - fast. I mean, I only have around 36 units left before I graduate. I'll never be ready even if I have balikbayan box of excuses.

          Though I did notice that the people I'm working with are exactly the manifestations of the people I have met during my entire stay in the university. There are these people that clicks faster with me than the rest. Then there are these quiet people who tend to lose themselves more around themselves than the others. (What.) And of course, there are these mature people who feels like my parents. I love my environment. I love the people I work with. I love the things I do in the office (COUGHfacebooktwitterwriteblogyoutubeCOUGH). But I'm having a hard time catching up to their level of maturity. I find myself joking and I honestly don't know if 
(1) they get the joke,
(2) they are offended by the joke
(3) they don't know if it's a joke.
The last thing I would want is a civil war with myself (and those people). But then I realized, yes their ages are like two-digit numbers away from me and I really can't blame my birthday (or anything else for that matter). Rather, I should just man up (or woman up) and at least act like them. And this is why I so look forward to every thesis meeting we have. For a breather.

Anyway, I just wanted to let it off my chest.