Brave Goals

I learned cutting classes as early as six years old. 😁   I was a transferee then in St. Mary’s and so when I arrived in school earlier than usual one day, I decided to explore the whole compound (all four buildings, I guess. Even the garbage dump of the school!).

It was too late when I realized that classes were already starting! I was gone too long that recess has already passed! What will I do? I was afraid to go back to my classroom where my teacher was already discussing the lessons. Will I pretend that I just came out from the comfort room? I don’t know what and how to explain to my teacher.

Peeking through the door of our classroom, I decided to just roam around the school that day. But when I turned around to run away, my teacher caught me, scolded me and asked me to go inside. 😰

Seven years after that incident, I found myself crying towards the gate of the same school. My classmate embarrassed me in front of our classmates. She accused me of so many things just because her cousin who is in senior year asked me a favor instead of her. I did not do anything wrong but I remained immobile while listening to her insults. I couldn’t defend myself.

This is me; I am always too afraid and never brave.

If I could spend a day to think of the many instances where I wasn’t brave enough, maybe I could fill this blog up more with similar situations above.

But then remember when someone wise says that whatever we focus on grows? And so instead of magnifying my mistakes and not-so-brave moments of the past, I resolved to focus on what more I can do today. Specifically, what brave thing I can do from now on. ☺(OMG, this is fun! This should be fun!)

So far, I listed down four brave things for me to do. Wah!!! Here are they:

  1. Travel Alone

I have never loved traveling so much than today, I mean this moment of my life. (Big thanks to my job and to my boss! :D) When I was younger, I get motion sickness and so traveling never excited me. But growing up, I was able to conquer each motion sickness after the other. Suddenly, I found myself to be a travel addict! I love seeing new places, talking to locals and eating their delicacies.

Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.

-Francis Bacon

For my brave goals, I decided that I will travel alone soon. I wish to visit Vigan or Bohol later this year and maybe South Korea next year? Hahaha! (Lakas ng loob oi!)

 

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Stride through the Haji Lane (SG)

 

 

I CHALLENGE YOU: For this brave goal, I am also challenging people who have been through a break up recently (though I didn’t… OR maybe I did! :D) and the people who are in search of meaning (well, you can read Viktor Frankl, but travel should do you good). Maybe for the longest time, you have always been with someone – dining out, playing sports, watching movies, eating ice cream with that someone, then suddenly, the moment’s gone. TRAVEL ALONE too! (And tell me about it! Maybe I can blog you! :P)

 

 

 

  1. Go on Fasting even when it’s not Lent

Catholic teachings dictate that Catholics aged 18 to 60 should fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday while people aged 14 and up should abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. Yes, Catholics are just asked to fast twice a year and yet most of the time, I fail here.

My brave goal from now on is to be faithful in fasting in these two important dates of the Church calendar and to fast more often to acknowledge that God is supreme above all my earthly desires. (Takot kasi akong magutom lagi.)

 

The purpose of fasting is to loosen to some degree the ties which bind us to the world of material things and our surroundings as a whole, in order that we may concentrate all our spiritual powers upon the unseen and eternal things.

– Ole Hallesby

 

I CHALLENGE YOU: For this brave goal, I challenge the people who are seeking God’s answers or those who have special intentions. Deny yourself to yourself and witness how God will reign over your circumstances. 😉

 

  1. Lead a Light Group/Disciple Group/Caring Group

I have always evaded leadership posts ever since I can remember. In school, I would usually be selected as a leader and I hated it. That’s why in situations when I have a choice, I choose to just follow and not lead.a22f6f6ece3f206d4e8f5c2defdb711b

Now that I’ve grown up, I want to blend the wisdom I gained over the years to a braver version of myself. And I want to do this while glorifying the Lord through leading a light group.☺

I CHALLENGE YOU: For this brave goal, I challenge everyone to belong to a light group! C’mon! You can’t do this journey alone, you need friends. 😉

 

  1. Fall in love

Just a heads up before I proceed further:

  • Putting this item on this list is a brave thing for me already. But I know you won’t be all convinced if this remains to be on the list forever. Hihi!
  • It’s actually and supposed to be ‘walk in love.’ I read somewhere that we don’t fall in love because everything that falls breaks. We walk in love. 💛

This brave goal was not forced on me by anyone else, much more by myself. I put this here on my own will after my own decision. Haha!

Seriously, when I think about allowing a person other than myself to know everything about me, stick with me through thick and thin, and grow with me, I feel daunted.

But it dawned on me that as long as I’m doing every step out of faith and out of reverence to the Lord, it is not impossible. If the Lord shall put me in another season, I realized, I can only thank Him for bringing me here, for molding me into what I am today, and for continuously working in me to fulfill His grand plan. And as you may know, if He puts us in it, He brings us through it. Right? 😉

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I CHALLENGE YOU: For this brave goal, I challenge everyone to give love every single day – to your family, friends and even to strangers. I believe we all have a love in our hearts that can accommodate the world. Whether it’s a sandwich for a street kid or a smile to a fellow commuter, give your love away. ☺

Once I’m done with each brave goal, I promise to share them here, so you better return on this site! Haha! If you want to create your own brave goal or if you want to suggest a brave goal for me, please let me know through the comments below.

Let’s be brave? ☺

 

 

 

Another ‘F’ arrives in CAMANAVA

No classes. Will there be an announcement of ‘No classes?’

The rain poured hard the previous day and so my classmates and I were exchanging text messages inquiring if there will be suspension of classes. After all, our university is no foreigner to floods and inaccessible roads. However, no announcement came and we all knew what it meant – we still have to go to school.

In school, a short conversation ensued between me and my friend:

Catherine: Kumusta Nerisa? Binaha ba kayo? (How are you, Nerisa? Was your house flooded?)

Me: Hindi kami binabaha, yung ibang barangay lang na malapit sa ilog ang binabaha sa’min. (We do not experience extreme flood in our area, only those areas near the river get flooded.) How about you?

Catherine: Well, hindi naman baha sa bahay namin, duon lang sa dinaanan ko, hanggang bewang ang baha. (There’s no flood in our house but on my way home, I got to traverse to a waist-deep flood.) But there’s this cute guy who assisted me to get through (giggles).

Me: (Though I want to be interested with the cute guy, I have to ask first -) Waist-deep flood? Is that even real? Where is your house located again?

Catherine: Valenzuela.

 

My good friend Catherine was the one who introduced me to extreme flooding in Valenzuela and in its neighboring cities, Caloocan, Malabon and Navotas.

Collectively called as CAMANAVA, the cities have low-lying flat terrains and are frequently affected by interconnected rivers like the Tullahan River. The cities are also located in the northern part of the Metro Manila Bay. All these factors contribute on how CAMANAVA is almost synonymous with the word flood. However, there are some other good things that can be found in CAMANAVA.

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A bus braves waist-deep flood in Marulas, Valenzuela, after the nearby Tullahan River swelled due to heavy rains brought by Storm Maring. PHOTO BY MARK CAYABYAB  (Photo and caption from Google: valenzuela.gov.ph)

I no longer remember the occasion, but an officemate went to work with large pizza-like boxes one day. (It wasn’t her birthday, maybe she got a raise.) When I opened the box, I thought I was going to see slices of pizza. But what I saw is a rice cake swirled in circle and has different colors! I ate it and it tasted good as its looks!

If you’ve tasted it already, you know that I’m referring to the delicious and colorful Dolor’s Kakanin of Malabon!

My officemate introduced me to ‘Dolor’s’ which happens to be my favorite already ever since I was younger, I just didn’t know the name. haha!

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Photo from Google (casaveneracion.com)

CAMANAVA does not only have the famous Dolor’s Kakanin and the pansit but also boasts of famous nooks for food lovers like Phetron Restaurant in Navotas, Little Beijing Chinese Cuisine in Valenzuela and the City Cake Coffees and Pastries of Caloocan.

Nonetheless, CAMANAVA does not and will never begin with floods and end with foods just like that. Something bigger and better will invade this densely populated area of Metro Manila.

 

Starting September 3, 2015, The FEAST, the weekly Catholic gathering of The Light of Jesus (LOJ) Family, will be embracing CAMANAVA to bring inspiring talks, lively worship and God’s joy.

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With this additional family added to the LOJ community, I can’t help but reminisce the first time I attended the Feast in our town in Bulacan in 2010. (It was also the first day of The Feast!)

It was July 2010, more than a year since I finished College and also a year since I started looking for a job. I just also came out then from the hospital, physically, emotionally and spiritually drained. I felt hopeless after so many job interviews and job hunts. I felt helpless that I was already jobless and yet incurred another expenses to our family.

The Feast helped me get through my situation, little by little. As every series ended, I kept on asking a servant if there will be another series. Will there still be a Feast next week? was my question to the servant e-v-e-r-y Saturday. And the servant just keeps on saying yes. The Feast in our town keeps on coming every weekend until I was able to stand on my feet again and earned my first job.

The Feast introduced me to Jesus more. From then on, my life, no matter how hard it can get at times, remains beautiful and worth living. 😊

I was jobless then and it seemed like no company would like to have me. An insurance company even rejected me twice! (I applied again after six months because I thought they made a mistake. I mean, how can they not take me? Hahaha! I forgive them now. haha!)

Today, I work for and with the topmost official of a corporation, as in President and CEO. How is that for a story? 😉

 

I am excited to hear and write more stories of victory, love, joy and mercy with The FEAST CAMANAVA at SM Sangandaan!

I am excited to witness how lives will change in these cities!

C’mon everyone, let’s taste and see how the Lord is good and faithful. See you on Saturday, 5:30 pm at Cinema 4 of SM Sangandaan.

Spread the news!

 

 

 

Why do you worry?

A few days from now, it will be another month and it will be the start of the countdown to Christmas already. And I haven’t written anything yet for this month. The truth is I have been writing and deleting paragraphs for a few weeks now. I wanted to tell a messy and ugly story but I don’t know how to make it appear organized and pretty. (haha!😁)

The dawn of a new administration in the country came with a huge probability that my boss will be replaced with a new chief. Change, after all and as they said, is coming. This would mean that my officemates and I, who are the persons of confidence of my boss, (the President of the corporation) will have to look for other jobs somewhere else. Maybe someplace where politics don’t exist. (haha!😁 joke lang)

Although I have an option to stay in the corporation with an environment-friendly position (in our Watershed Management Department. Haha! I’m not complaining, you know. I could really use my skills for the environment!), I still felt uneasy.

This is when the ugly part came – I worried and worried a lot like a madman.  😳

I tell you it was really ugly. It was as if I was sentenced to death, deprived of hope and the will to move on and blind of the many good things that happen around me. The moment was too low that it blinded me of my purpose and path! Gosh. (Thanks to my friends who kept me in their prayers.)

Today, though I feel lighter and better, I ask myself this question, ‘why do you worry?’

 

Control

In the long weeks that I was worrying, I was also hastily looking for other jobs online. I wanted to be in control in every detail of my life. When I say every detail, I wanted to be able to tell myself what and where I will go next. I wanted to plot each day of my life from where I was standing. I guess you would agree with me when I tell you that there’s nothing wrong with what I was trying to do. Anyway, we should really be the ones to be in control of our lives.

My mistake, however, was that I forgot about my sovereign God who is in control of everything. And if He could just rebut my thoughts, He would probably say,

When I say I control everything, I mean all of my creations from the smallest dust to the biggest galaxy, from your smallest zit to the biggest detail of your life, from where you are in my thoughts before you were born to where your soul will be after this lifetime.

This is when I thank God for not being sarcastic but always loving. I thank Him for reminding me this truth through my heart and not with pushing me to the stairs just to drive home His point.

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Certainty

I was also worrying because I am stubborn and I wanted to see the entire journey and not just the next step. I wanted to be certain about every direction, bumps, and crossroads of my journey. But I realized that if I would know everything about my life, I will no longer be allowing God to be my God.

If I knew about every details of how my days will unfold, God will lose His place in my life. I would be doing things based on my own capabilities which are limited and I would be depending on my own confidence which will never suffice.

I realized that God is teaching me to trust Him more. I realized I was being taught on how it is to totally surrender and look at God’s grace with expectant gaze.

 

Concrete Plan

Lastly, I was insane and worried because I wanted to create a concrete plan and plot it on my calendar. And I wanted to make this plan work so bad.

Then again, I recognized that though I may have plans for myself, I should create a space for the grander plans of God in my life.

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There you go. I worry because I wanted to be in control, I wanted to have certainty/clarity and I wanted to create a plan.

But I realized that worrying will never ever do me anything good. It just steals my good sleep, healthy appetite and wonderful mornings.

As Baz Luhrman said in his famous Sunscreen speech,

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.

 

I no longer worry today. I am going ALL IN to the Lord.

I may not have control, clarity and a concrete plan. What I have today is far more meaningful and essential – my Sovereign King, trust in Him and to His majestic plans in my life.

 

P.S.

Indeed, HE alone can turn messy and ugly things to order and beauty. Galing no? 😉

My Ten Takeways from The Achy Breaky Hearts

I wanted to treat myself for a movie but much as I wanted to catch Me Before You, it’s no longer shown in the cinemas near me and so I settled for the romantic comedy film, The Achy Breaky Hearts. Haha! I just laughed writing that! The movie was hilarious and full of hugots [hugot is a Filipino word which means to pull out or to draw, but it is now widely used as a slang word which means sentimental or emotional. Example: Sana isinusulat na lang ang feelings, para madaling burahin. (I wish we can just write down our feelings so we could erase it.) Boom! Daming hugot! Ganern.)

As I also write this, Janella Salvador’s Pumapag-ibig song is still ringing in my ears. Haha! (I wanted to say sorry for being so jologs now. Haha!) Here’s the song, let’s watch it before I share with you my thoughts/realizations about the movie. Haha! “Teka lang muna, wait…lalalala..” haha!

(You have to watch the video first! haha!)

Now that you’re also in a trance because of the song, here are my top ten takeaways from the movie. Mind you, these are written in order, meaning, as the movie was unfolding, I was having mental and mobile notes on what to write after. Haha! Enjoy!

  1. SCENE: In the beginning of the movie, the main character Chinggay (Jodi Sta. Maria) is shown having lunch with her three girlfriends. The girls were convincing themselves that it’s practically okay if no one arrives in their lives. Chinggay was even convincing herself and the others that they will be fine, ‘magiging okay naman tayo, di ba?’ (We’ll be okay, right?) Then they all drink their iced teas together as if wanting to regain composure after fainting.

TAKEAWAY:    Ladies, it’s okay to express your desire to find the right person and get married! No need to pretend or hide your true feelings towards relationship and marriage.

 

  1. SCENE: Chinggay feeling lonely on her bed, maybe imagining hugging someone.

TAKEAWAY:    I am talking to both men and ladies here: You don’t need anyone to complete you! God made you complete already! As I’ve said in one of my previous Facebook posts, whenever we feel like we’re looking for something, we almost always find the answers in ourselves. We just have to dig deeper within us. That’s how we are made – full and complete, lacking nothing.

 

  1. SCENE: Chinggay feeling lonely again. (I actually can’t remember anymore the scene that made me realize this third point.)

TAKEAWAY:    Singlehood is the perfect time to pursue our dreams and work to be the best versions of ourselves. Ladies, while we wait for the right person, why don’t we work to be the right person ourselves, right? 😉

 

  1. SCENE: Chinggay was already half-asleep when she got an SMS from Ryan (Ian Veneracion): Bahay na ako, ikaw? (I’m home already, how about you?) Chinggay went kilig to the bones after. (Kilig, a Filipino word recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary, means the excitement one feels during a romantic experience. Example: He’s so good looking I can’t help but feel kilig. Char!)

TAKEAWAY:   I will specifically talk to the ladies about this because we are the ones often get trapped with the snare of sweet words (uy, hugot!). Never assume, never jump into conclusions. Haha! Never!

For the men out there: Never ever ever make a woman fall in love with you if you’re not willing to catch her. Wag ganern!

 

  1. SCENE: Chinggay’s friends weigh in on who’s the better man – the ‘changed’ ex-boyfriend or the dashing new man who seems to have a hard time getting over her ex-girlfriend. Friend 1 votes for the ex, friend 2 votes for the new man and friend 3 grants her vote to the person who’s not going to hurt Chinggay.

TAKEAWAY:    Ladies, we need this kind of accountability group. We need true friends who will tell to our faces that we are being insane or being ridiculous.

 

Now this reminds me of my Light Group from The Feast. 😊 You want to join an LG? Come to The Feast! (Ask me how here. Haha.)

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my light group 🙂

 

 

  1. SCENE: Chinggay just said: I am so over my EX. Then her phone rings, ex is calling. She answers the phone and volunteered to accompany the ex in babysitting his nephew.

TAKEAWAY:   Ladies, know your worth! You are not an item from the grocery store or a spare tire for someone who gets a flat tire, not even a super glue to cover up holes. You are worth more than gold. Scripture says that you are beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made! (Psalm 139:14) You are worth more than the rubies! (Proverbs 3:15)

Never give your heart too easily as well! You know, sometimes I find it strange when we take good care of our gadgets (cellphones, laptops, cameras) or our other treasures (toys, books, gifts) more than we take good care of our hearts. Take care of your hearts, ladies. The Bible says, ABOVE ALL ELSE, GUARD YOUR HEART, for everything you do flows from it (emphasis mine). (PROVERBS 4:23)

Max-Lucado

 

  1. SCENE: There’s no more scene I could think of on this.

TAKEAWAY:   THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL. Never wait or put your entire trust to a man who you think will sway you off your feet, carry you through the dark abyss and will complete your happiness. Instead, give your entire trust to the man who gave his all and died with arms outstretched on the cross for you! 😊 😍 (Sobrang sweet Nya! As in, wala akong masabi sa pag-ibig nya!)

Here’s my life verse: Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need (Luke 12:31). Let us seek God first and everything shall be added unto us. 😍 That’s a promise!

 

  1. SCENE: Chinggay finally booking a flight to her dream destination.

TAKEAWAY:  It all starts with loving ourselves. J When we love ourselves, accept ourselves for who we are, nourish ourselves and take care of ourselves, that is when our heart grows. When our heart grows, we love better and our joy becomes double.

 

And there you have it, my thoughts and reflections on The Achy Breaky Hearts. I know I said in the beginning that it’ll be ten, but turned out it was only eight. Haha! Maganda lang kasing sabihin Top Ten. Char!

 

I hope that by the time you are reading this part, you are feeling better about yourself. Life is sooo good in so many ways and love is not about romance alone. It is my hope that you get excited from now on, on how the Lord will surprise you with His written story for you. In the end, He’s the best writer of all! (Trust me on this 😉)

Deep breaths and Doodles

Sunday. The sun was out and so it was hot but my new found friends and I were comfortably seated inside Aliw Theater. We were listening to our Feast Builder, Bro. Migs Ramirez deliver the talk of the week. Migs loves telling stories and on that particular day, a gripping story was unfolding right before us – a story that made me literally grip the arm rest of my seat and forget to breathe for about five or more seconds. Good thing, Migs asked us to take a deep breath or else I’d die right there.

Iiinnnnhale, exhale. Breathing is automatic but deep breathing requires a little bit of effort. Deep breathing is breathing deeply into our abdomens, three to four seconds in, three to four seconds out. It is the kind of breath that cleanses the lungs, clears the mind and strengthens the body.

I cannot say that Bro. Migs taught me to take deep breaths but it is apt to say that he reminded me that deep breaths are necessary whenever I find myself in gripping situations or when my back is against the wall or when resources seem scarce… or when I am going to have an interview with famous people like Migs himself.

Butterflies were fluttering in my stomach on the day of our meeting. “It’s okay if it’s going to be postponed because something happened,” I said to my friend Madz who went with me for the interview to make sure I’m not going to faint even before I could introduce myself to Migs. (OA ako minsan)

My friend just laughed at me the same way Migs laughed as I recall the scene to him later in our talk. You see, I love talking to people and asking them questions. It’s my job for the past five years to ask, take notes, and write something worthy from the conversation. But in my past interactions with people, I have reasons for asking them – my boss told me so or the government needs it. This is the first time (I guess, though I am chatty to anyone even with street vendors) that I have asked someone for an interview for my, well, for my blog.

So pag-papraktisan mo ako?” teased Migs when I told him it’s going to be for my blog. I said yes and thank him for his generosity and kindness. We all laughed.

 

No Accidents

As what our favorite panda movie taught us, there are no accidents (Kung Fu Panda, 2008). That is why Migs never called it an accident that from being a 12 year old lector in their parish then, he grew up today to be a teacher and Feast Builder.

“My dad was an officemate of Bro. Obet [Cabrillas]. Umuwi si Papa one day [telling me] meron akong training, public speaker’s training, umattend ka,” Migs recalled.  “Ininterview ako only to find out na hindi sya public speaking course, it’s a leadership training course, so from there, it was all God –incidence.”

Migs remembered how shy he was then during the course since he doesn’t know anyone from The Feast. And so when the time has arrived for a demonstration in their public speaking session –

Ang sabi ni Bro. Obet, piliin ninyo yung pinaka mahiyain sa grupo ninyo, so obviously the choice was me. Tumayo ako sa harap, I gave a talk and that’s when Bro. Obet invited me to accompany him to LSS (Life in the Spirit Seminar) when he would be invited by communities,” Migs related.

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From there, Migs was tapped into Campus Missions then found his way leading worship in Feast Manila. Last year, he became the Feast Builder for the Singles and Youth in the Feast Bay Area.

I have seen a lot of preachers both inside and outside The Feast and there are a lot of times when I notice these people’s distinct characters in teaching the Word, in relating to their flocks and in touching hearts. And so I had to ask Migs on his brand as a preacher.

“I realized, una sa lahat, ako yung preacher na may audience participation, facilitator’s style. Gusto ko yung mga taong kasama, may ginagawa ang mga tao,” he answered.

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The second thing he wishes to be known for is the creative or innovative preacher. Migs shared that his brand is like an offspring of spirituality and creativity.

“For example the book (his book – Imagine This!), it was born out of innovation, creativity. Who has done a book that has doodles and talks about spirituality? [The book] is something that resonates with me, gusto ko laging fresh ang mga bagay.”

 

Imagine This

It was difficult to put down Migs’ book when I started reading it. ‘Imagine This’ is light yet deep, fun yet thoughtful. I finished it right away including the areas for doodling about my life, plans, name and all. (I left two doodle areas blank though, to allow myself more time to think about it.)

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I am sure that the people who have read the book would agree with me when I say that the book deserves to have a part two. And so I took the liberty of asking Migs if there will be a second book.

“I hope so, I want to expect from myself. But in my mind, tatlong libro na ito. The first book is about [your] self, the second book is how to relate with others and the third book is relating to God,” Migs shared.

One thing I liked about the book is its authenticity and honesty. It was written in the perspective of God’s light and so no matter how vulnerable Migs presented himself to be in the book, the readers can only accept him and love him more.

In the book, Migs shared about his feelings of being inferior when he was younger. I think this is a common experience to a lot of people including myself. I asked him as an educator on what can be done to stop having this feeling among our children today.

“It starts at home, it starts from the parents, with the family. We still need love.”

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My copy of IMAGINE THIS! Catch your own copies here.

 

Although Migs shared that he never wanted nor dreamed of being a writer, I still asked him tips for aspiring authors like me.

“Hmm. One would be keep writing which you are already doing. Second would be, this worked for me in a very intimate way, write for one person. Imagine one person who really needs what you are writing about,” he answered.

That’s the word imagine again, dear writers! Remember when Albert Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge?

 

Free Fall

As our conversation went longer, more questions and stories poured over. Knowing Migs’ discernment for his vocation and having difficult times myself in decision making, I asked him, “What were the greatest lessons that your decisions have taught you?”

Ang lalim ng mga tanong, pang Miss Universe,” Migs managed to say. And just like a scene from a question and answer portion of a pageant (less the drama though) he said, “pakiulit yung tanong?

We learned in high school Physics (or maybe even earlier?) that free fall happens when gravity is the only thing that influences the motion of an object. Migs’ answer to the question was the same except that the sole influencer of his actions was not gravity, but his faith.

“Right now, the greatest lesson is to trust. As in the biggest, having gone through so many things. Ibang klase pala yung tiwala, pag naranasan natin sya, it gives you a sense of helplessness. Para kang lumulutang [or] free falling pero alam mong may sasalo. It’s very disturbing at first but it’s very peaceful in the long run,” Migs said (don’t worry, not yet in between tears! Char!).

He then related how he has taken the time to be still and pray for his vocation since last year. Will he return to the seminary? Will he get married and have his own family? These were the things he prayed about. These were the prayers that sent him free falling, trusting and waiting for God to catch him.

One day, God finally laid down His divine hand and caught him. He was brave to make a decision and say it out loud – I’m going to the seminary.

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We can imagine a drum roll after that and expect an ending for this blog entry right here, right now. But I still had one final question: What is your message for single people?

“I would always notice na yung mga kwento nila, kwento ko. Na yung mga issues nila, at one point, it reflects who I am, pinagdaanan ko na rin or pinagdadaanan ko or there’s a part of my life that would connect what they are telling me. So probably the first message I would have is, I am going through the same thing that everybody is going through, all of us have our own struggles, and all of us has a way of dealing with it. I am no better than anyone,” Migs said.

His second message is this: “Most of the time, yung mga sasabihin ko sa kanila, advise ko rin sa sarili ko. Kasi narirealize ko, a lot of our issues come from this longing to love ourselves and to really be at home and at peace with who we are.

[In the past] ang dami kong self doubt, ang dami kong issues sa sarili ko, ang dami kong gustong gawin, pero hindi ako naniniwala sa sarili ko. But I had to accept the fact that I have everything that I need for me to become successful and all is stopping me is myself. If I want to be successful, I just need to do it. And it starts with loving myself. So I think that’s one the biggest things I want to share to all the single people in the world and all the people in the world, actually.”

 

Wow! Let’s take a moment to dig that in. Take a deep breath.

It starts with loving ourselves – our dreams, our healing, our relationships, our passion, our faith. And it is my fervent prayer that we all start loving ourselves more and more, not in a selfish way but in a way that expands our hearts to accommodate more people in it. The bigger our hearts, the fuller our lives. The fuller our lives, the more we glorify the Lord.

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Before we parted ways, I did not waste the chance on having Bro. Migs sign my copy of his book. I purposely did not look while he was on it. I wanted to be surprised. On my way home, I peeked on the front page like a kid sneaking a hand in a cookie jar. I smiled to myself to what I saw – doodles in red, blue and yellow inks. 😊

 

Bro. Miguel Ramirez is a preacher, singer, composer, teacher and most recently, an author. Bro. Migs has also founded the BIG CATCH Creative Training Co., which aims to unleash people’s creativity and motivation. He is the Feast Builder of the Feast Bay Area Singles and Youth in the Name of Christ (SYNC). The Feast,  which is one of the happiest places on earth, is a weekly Catholic gathering of the Light of Jesus Family. 

Seven Things About Me

Today, I chanced upon that video of Calysta Bevier performing on America’s Got Talent with Rachel Platten’s Fight Song.  If you haven’t watched that wonderful performance, you can watch it here.

I got teary eyed watching the video because her statement on ‘chasing dreams’ resonated so much to me. But that’s not this is going to be about. 😊

After watching her video five hours ago, the song has been on the loop in my Window’s Media Player and has probably played a hundred times now. My officemate seated next to me claims he has already memorized the song. “Like a small boat, on the ocean, sending big waves…” he sings.

Since, I’ll be gone for a couple of days to go to the beach, I thought of sharing some weird things about me like 1. playing a song over and over and over until my phone or computer explodes out of boredom to the same song. Or until my officemates walk out on me to plug their earphones and play their own songs.

Ready for the rest of the list? Here it goes:

2. I still have a milk tooth on supposedly my right fang. My dentist and I failed to figure out where my fang went. She said that it’s supposed to grow (inside my gums) even if the milk tooth didn’t fall out. But x-ray reveals no right fang anywhere.

3. I am naturally curly like that instant spaghetti that became famous on TV (oooohhh, that rhymes). When I was younger like in grade school, my mother would always ask my hair dresser to get me a pixie cut. I remember being teased in school about it. They say my haircut is for boys only. Today, screw those brats!

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that curly!

 

4. I am utterly (sorry for the adverb, allow this for emphasis) terrible in Math! I would always get a zero in our Math quizzes during high school. In College I got 2.5 grade in Algebra, can you believe that?! Haha! But maybe, I am not that bad because I got 1.0 in Statistics. Just don’t ruin my numbers with letters, okay? 😊

5. I don’t know how to swim, therefore soaking in the ocean or the swimming pool scares the hell out of me. I am afraid of the waters ever since I was younger. I remember I would skip washing my face for the fear of drowning. Haha! Weird. But recently, I got to float in the ocean without gripping onto anyone. Let’s see if it will still work on the coming days (remember, I’m going to the beach again). 😉

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I got to swim alone!

 

6. I daydream a lot. Some of my fantasies are: singing on a stage before an audience (hahahaha!), attending my book launching, going to places around the world and sleeping, yes, I am day dreaming of sleeping longer. 😁

7. Lastly, though I am a writer, I would admit that I am not good in spelling. Haha! I would check Mr. Webster whenever I am uncertain about the spelling of a word I am going to use like occasion, accommodate and rhythm.

 

Years ago, I wrote a blog about how stupid I can get at times. I included there my being terrible at Math and how I put the word ‘underscore’ in my file names during high school when our Computer teacher told us so. 😹 Some of my friends who read the blog was shocked to find out those things about me. They thought I was so smart that I never had those dim-witted moments. But the truth is, just like everyone else on this planet, I am not perfect too.

I guess that’s the reason for my sharing today, to remind myself that people are not perfect and that we are all a work in progress. And I am sharing my imperfect self to you so that I can also allow you to be just the way you are.

Let’s celebrate our uniqueness! Cheers! ❤

 

Dearest Tatang (A letter to my long departed paternal grandfather)

(I wrote this a few days before my birthday last February. I did not share it then because I feel this is so raw and it is still raw today. I could still improve this in terms of construction but that would take time when all I want to do is to share something personal and true this Father’s day. Happy father’s day to all!)

 

Dearest Tatang,

In a few days from now, it will be exactly 27 years since you first held me in your arms and bragged to everyone that I look like you. It’s almost three decades and here I am this morning, crying like a baby as if you were gone only yesterday. Crying is not even the word to describe it, maybe wailing is a more appropriate word. Why do you have to leave so soon? Why did you have to leave me without a memory of you or a lesson or at least one bonding moment? Can you please ask God to send me answers to my questions? I was barely a year old when you left and I didn’t even know your voice. Why?

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They say this is one of your favorite poems. They say you would recite it once in a while, maybe after getting occupied with your woodworks. Now that reminds me of the table where I am currently writing this, you made this and that’s why I so love this table. I even refurbished it with your bunso (my father), if you saw us that day.

If you only left when I was a bit older, say six or seven years old when I can already speak. Maybe you could teach me the poem and watch me recite it in front of you. You know, I was already reading English at five! We were already reading the Come and Play book at school.  You could have also taught me other poems or read short stories for or with me. You know Tatang, I adore stories today. I love reading and has in fact just finished reading four books this month. You will be proud of me.

They say that you’ve been also in the army. My father would tell me the anecdotes you told them when you were still in the battlefields. And I would imagine you, young, wearing commando’s clothes and fighting in the fields. If you were alive today, you would be happy that I am working with the government too. With the stories I hear about you, I know you loved our country too. You’re a father and a patriot.

They say you’re the best encourager ever. You would push your children to pursue and chase away their dreams no matter what. I remember when Ate (my aunt, the second eldest among the brood of six) would always recount the story of her taking the Licensure for Teachers’ Exam. You were always there for her – providing money for the exam and providing tons of encouragement. She passed the exam and started teaching in a private school. Now with your wisdom, you pushed her to transfer to public school where she can be more appreciated, both morally and financially. That’s what she did and she always tells us it’s one of the best decisions she ever made her entire life.

If you were alive today, I am sure that you will also be my number one fan. You will be my bank of good words and love whenever I feel lonely or discouraged. You will hug me each time I cry and I know you will teach me how to fight again.

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One of two surviving photos of my grandfather. I thought there’s a photo of us together but I found out that I only fabricated that photo in my mind after hearing stories of him saying I was his favorite apo.

 

They say you were a diligent carpenter, good husband and provider. You work with much concentration and precision. I think that’s one of the things my father got from you because whenever he works on my project, it’s really taking him long! He makes sure all the measures are correct, all the lines are ‘pantay’ and all the materials are complete. You also loved Inang and the kids with all your heart. I know that from the tales I was told.

My birthday is coming and I also miss Inang. You know, she would be the first person to greet me every time I celebrate my birthday. She never fails to be the first greeter, believe me. She would go downstairs first thing in the morning and greet me and of course bring me cash gift. haha! 😁 Please send her my love and greetings too in heaven.

I dearly miss you Tatang. If there is a time machine where I can travel back in time to see and meet you in person, I would trade anything for it. But maybe all I can do now is write you letters and read them out loud for you to hear. This is the only thing I can do now, to wait for my spoken words to dissolve in thin air until it reaches heaven.

Lots of love from your favorite apo,

Neris