Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fly High

I would like to reproduce portions of the message I was privileged to share yesterday with the graduating elementary students of the Perpetual Help System in Biñan, Laguna:

Let me tell you a short story about an eaglet named Norman.

“Norman, would you like to fly? You can try,“ pleaded Norman’s Mom. Her name was Betsy.

But Norman was just too happy and content playing with his toys. He too was afraid to go out of his nest. Oh how soft and comfortable it was! Besides, if he wanted food, Mom Betsy just gave him a delicious wriggly worm.

One day, Mom Betsy brought home some twigs and small branches. “Aw, that hurts,” complained Norman whenever he bumped into them. Later on, the nest even had rocks and other rough things.

“Fly, Norman?” Mom Betsy tried to convince him again, pushing him little by little to the edge of the nest.

Oops, Norman fell! “Fly wings, fly!” He commanded his wings, panicking. But his wings would not obey. Oops, they’re opening, they’re opening. Oh no, I’m dead!

Mom Betsy caught him just in time before he hit the ground. Supermom saved fearful Norman, just like Superman!

“I can fly, I can really fly,” thought Norman after he realized what Mom was doing. His wings did flap, even a little. “Mom, let’s do it again,” he bravely said.

So Norman practiced flying. Mom Betsy would scoop him, bring him up in the air, then drop him, forcing Norman to open his wings and fly.

Again and again they did it, with Betsy dropping Norman from higher and higher heights, so he could fly longer and farther.

Now he was enjoying the wind and gliding in the air just like a real pro. He became such an expert and excellent flyer he became known as “King Norman.”

In seconds, he could shoot up high in the sky, spot his prey like a rabbit or a monkey with his powerful eagle eyes, then just as quickly dive for it.

An eagle is meant to fly.

Let’s come down to earth. To this beautiful country we call the Phiippines.

Here, a young Caviteño named Efren Peñaflorida decided in his heart that he would help children learn to read and write and dream like himself, and therefore help them escape poverty.

Efren was proclaimed by CNN last year as “the hero” besting nine other heroes from all over the world. He received a trophy and a huge amount of prize money in elaborate ceremonies in the U.S.

In our country too was born years ago, a gifted woman named Cecile Licad. Discovered later as a child prodigy, she was soon hailed by concert masters worldwide as a genius at the piano, bringing our country honor wherever she played, a model of perseverance and discipline.

I am proud to say that, last Sunday, I was one of those who lined up to get her autograph and take her picture after her free concert in a mall near our place.

You see, even before the world proclaimed Efren and Cecile great, they were great within themselves first. They are everyday people just like you and me. But like Norman, our eaglet, they discovered their gift, used it and soared with it.

Thank God for parents who lovingly push you to study, study, study; and practice, practice, practice. Some of you need to be pushed harder but that is for your own good. Because they could not forever baby you.

You must fly. You must soar. Because that is God’s plan for you. You are His wondrous creation, made in His image—that is why you can do wonderful things, just like Efren and Cecile; and not to forget Norman, our mighty eagle.

So what is your gift? Is it in the arts, science, math, writing, teaching, in computers, in building things? Better yet, what is your dream? Never face life without it because without a dream, it is so easy to give up when problems come.

Here’s your challenge: Be an everyday hero. Be the best in whatever you do, everyday. Be honest, be decent, be concerned, be committed. Always think that someone is looking up to you.

If you see people around you cheating or going through the red light or giving a bribe, don’t be like them. Be great within yourself even in un-great situations.

One tiny light will make all the difference in the world. Jesus did just that and changed our world and our lives entirely.

Monday, March 15, 2010


I’m a great fan of Johnny Depp, not because he’s such a looker but because he brings such freshness and quirkiness into each character he tackles onscreen.

He did it again in Alice in Wonderland which my daughter-in-law Opal and I watched recently as part of our bonding time.

“You’ve lost your muchness,” his Mad Hatter character told Alice, sort of rebuking her for stubbornly believing that whatever she was going through in Underland was a dream and that its problems didn’t concern her.

The statement struck me—on top of all the delightful scenes and effects ingeniously created by director Tim Burton.

I suppose the kid in us accounts for much of this muchness.

We can think fantasy, just like author Lewis Carroll whose “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” inspired this movie; or wonder, like Johnny Depp who approaches a role like he were treating us to candy ready to be unwrapped then slowly savored, leaving one clamoring for more, with some shrieks and chuckles besides; or other-wordly, like Tim Burton’s take on most of his movies (Remember Edward Scissorhands and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?).

I would love for me to think like a child again—for muchness.

Then I would not be so dense to reject others’ point of view, or judge them or consider them less than myself.

I would be more teachable, like Alice learned “why” when she went to that place in her heart where she became a child again.

That was when she understood and took her mission to heart.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Gay, Lord!

Are you gay-proof?

How do you react when you see gay people on television, walk into a beauty parlor full of them, or sit beside them in church?

With aversion or amusement? A lot of us really don’t care. Wala lang.

And are gays really gay? Having accepted themselves for who they are, are they now freer to celebrate life and do what they wish to do? Are they happy with their new-found freedom?

Not really, says John Zulueta, executive director of Bagong Pagasa, an organization which counsels and trains homosexuals to rebuild their lives on the basis of God’s love and perfect plan for them.

Bagong Pag-asa recently held a seminar (Citygate Christian Ministries, BF Homes) on homosexuality and the Church’s response to it.

Zulueta and his co-facilitators assert that homosexuality is an identity and relationship problem. And in the process of dealing with it, gay people shield their inner hurts with their celebratory tactics—carefree lifestyle, partying, colorful lingo or slapstick behavior.

And they’re not nursing those wounds either. They just get sucked into a downward spiral, making us believe that life is rosy when in reality they’re just groping in the dark.

Zulueta’s team managed to slowly unmask the seminar participants’—supposedly “normal” people’s—deep-rooted bias against homosexuals which all the more drives them into a world diametrically opposed to ours. It was a big eye-opener for me.

Co-facilitators Carl and Francis testified of their journey into homosexuality and back into the mainstream—because of those who invested their time and unconditional love into their lives.

Put it all together—condemning words, confused self image because of faulty modeling by parents and others close to them, abusive treatments, molestation during childhood—and you have a pretty explosive recipe for gay-hood.

To say that homosexuality is inborn is like saying God made a mistake in creating us. We—supposedly normal people—with our self-righteous indifference, must have unwittingly caused some of them to refuse help.

It's time we see things in a new light.

The good news is, God is still in control. No matter how seemingly irreversible one's situation, He sends those who are willing to turn Gay into Jay.

For more information on Bagong Pag-asa, go to

Monday, March 1, 2010

Grace to Write

I’m probably one of the most undisciplined writers you can find.

I teeter between being passionate about it one time, then lazy the next. Pretty reminiscent of my menopause years when hot and cold, hot and cold seemed to be the order of the day.

That’s why I like hanging out with my writer friend Grace. She’s like Paul to his disciple Timothy—but in my case, Grace may feel she’s coaching a stubborn procrastination-bound mule.

I got caught in a gentle avalanche of Grace’s writing wisdom again in the recent OMF writers’ fellowship. She talked about developing a writing habit; and there it was again, boom! God’s loving entreaty yet stinging poke at my wandering heart: Take your writing seriously!

Grace confesses to spending 80 per cent of her planned writing day, writing. And she does it prodigiously, like her deadline were yesterday.

I woke up today focused on two writing jobs—this article and another essay. Last night, I planned, for the nth, and hopefully the last time, the structure and flow of my next book, noting down all interviews and materials that must be gathered.

No excuses this time. I’m turning a new leaf. All by God’s grace! And my obedience to His will.

So write, Yay.