Monday, December 26, 2011


Every year, it’s the same boring news towards the end of the year:

Health authorities and the police warning the public to go easy on firecrackers and the firing of guns.

Hospitals getting ready for firecracker victims.

Yet, they still come in droves---adults and young alike rushed to hospitals for firecracker burns, mangled hands or legs, or because houses were burned, due to their fondness for fireworks.

The media will of course exploit these incidents in their usual soap-operatic fashion, getting these boys and so-called men on camera as they wail in pain and promise to no longer have anything to do with these stuff. Of course they’ve learned their lesson.

Orthopedic surgeons, trauma teams and TV audiences could only shake their heads in dismay or amazement.

Aren’t we just one big nation of revel-seekers who will risk everything for a few minutes of entertainment and fun. Mga pasaway! We know how bad it is yet we persist in doing it because it feels good.

Let’s pray everyone heeds our authorities’ appeals: Be content with the fireworks displays by your municipalities or the big malls. Besides, you can put your money to better use by donating to organizations doing relief work for victims of typhoon Sendong.

But here’s my personal challenge to you: Instead of being out there singing Auld Lang Syne and making noise as you count down the minutes to end the year, be alone or invite like-minded individuals to join you in a room.

Praise and worship God and pray for the Greater Fire to rain down on you.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Act 2:1-4)

The only fire that works, which doesn’t mangle or destroy, will surely put you on track for the bigger challenges of 2012.

Stop putting your trust on firecrackers to ward off evil, or round fruits and coins or polka-dotted dresses to usher in your good fortune.

God is the giver of every good thing! He will bless and make your life abound if you put your trust in Him. Trusting Him means doing things by the Book. That’s why we need the Holy Spirit to give us His wisdom in time of need.

Jesus said, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). The disciples’ lives were never the same after Pentecost day.

Now that’s the only Fire we need to keep us going and going and going in 2012.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


photo from
The unthinkable happened again in Mindanao. This time, in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, flash floods recently devastated whole communities, leaving almost a thousand dead and hundreds missing.

Seen at the scene: Logs washed off by unrelenting rainfall.

Hold it right there. Didn't the President's EO 23 declare a total log ban February this year, with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at the helm of a multi-departmental task force---with muscle from the Department of National Defense, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police---to stamp out illegal logging?

One of the Executive Order's objectives is to suspend the harvesting of trees in natural and residual forests, including those of legal tenure holders.

It sounds eerie and ironic then, when DENR reported after the Mindanao tragedies, that people died and infrastructures were damaged because of flashfloods bringing down logs---attributed to illegal logging.

Let's get the facts straight: If our forests are severely guarded, why the cut logs? For 20 years now, no natural and residual forest logging should have been happening in Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon. DENR even reports massive reforestation programs in the area. Where are the trees and where has all the funding gone?

This brings us back to the main issue: Is total log ban the solution? Or did the total log ban open the floodgates for more illegal loggers and kaingeros (the biggest culprits, by the way, for the disappearance of our forests) to have their field day in our once fully-protected and scientifically-managed legal tenure forests? Why this in spite of supposed efforts to guard our forests?

Mr. President, we once had robust and productive forests, at least those under the care of legitimate investors. These forests will soon be gone too if EO 23 is not amended to distinguish between legal and illegal forestry---since these parties and their partners-in-crime are loyal only to their pocketbooks.

On the other hand, legitimate foresters invest and provide employment in the countryside, pay their taxes, replenish their cuttings and ensure the sustainability of forests under their care, and abide by DENR regulations. This kind of arrangement has worked well in many countries which apply scientific forestry---the route we must seek now to avert the massive degradation of Philippine forests.

It's funny that while legitimate forestry is banned, the Philippines continues to import wood from other countries. That gives you an idea that they're managing and we're not. Faithful stewardship is the key!

Illegal logging must be stopped by all means. At its helm is the Big C. Corruption involves collusion. We recall this administration promising to put the brakes on this national malady.

It is pretty clear when God commanded Adam (Gen 2:28b) to "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it," He meant for man to manage and not let God's creation be subject to abuse or irresponsible use. Global warming has been one of its increasingly worrying consequences (la nina and el nino)---one which must be addressed too by all governments.

But in the case of taking care of our forests, let the facts be now separated from fiction. Let the noise of debates and blame-throwing give way now to sober consultations based on scientific and real evidence, and not emotional, deceitful and one-sided arguments.

Without WISE leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers. Prov 11:14

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Let's eavesdrop on this conversation between the creators of "Superman," "The Twilight" saga, and "Batman:"

"Superman is the greatest of all superheroes. He's super strong, cuts through air as a bullet and pierces one's being with laser eyes," says Jerry Siegel, echoing his partner Joe Shuster's argument.

"He may be that, but he's far from possessing the charisma and powers of my immortal vampire," counters Stephenie Meyer.

Bob Kane remarks, "But your characters are not human. Batman is flesh and blood, yet he triumphs over evil because of his passion for justice, sheer intelligence and because he is rich and tinkers with technology."

Which super person appeals to you?

I once swooned over Superman because his movie persona in Christopher Reeve simply behaved heroic. I hate vampire stories so I've never attempted to read them. Batman seemed human and vulnerable, yes; but he just had an ax to grind for the murder of his parents.

Well, we view these super beings for their entertainment value, a temporary escape from the conundrum of our earthly woes.

But come to think of it, we too identify with them in a big way---this need to be needed, validated, elevated, exalted, immortalized. That's why Hollywood has flooded us with sequels and prequels of the same. Why do millions of young people all over the world clamor for more of Robert Pattinson's vampire or Harry Potter's Hogwart School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?

Could it be because it is in our nature to crave power and soar where no one has gone before? To want to be in control and have no one lording it over us?

Very reminiscent of this garden scene: Eve biting into the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She didn't do it because the fruit seemed yummy, but because she imagined she could be as wise as God.

"For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:5), Satan tempted.

It does sound like: "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." (Famous words from William Ernest Henley's "Invictus"); or Frank Sinatra's "My Way." Precisely my motto in my younger days when I didn't have Jesus in my life.

I felt I didn't need to answer to anybody or needed help from any one. "
Kaya ng powers ko, kasi magaling ako!" So much like Eve, aspiring to be like God.

It's that "SUPER" in me! Super-sized ego says, "I have to fight my way to get what I want. I am my own man."

How many of us have sung "May Way," only to discover that motto was leading us to hell? Jesus is the Way!

"Apart from me, you can do nothing," Jesus says in John 15:5. "I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit."

Either He is Lord or you are Lord. He is Il Divo, the Mega Star; and we're just the back-up singers.

It's sobering to be reminded that we're not the main act. More to the point, we are but dust.

"The Lord formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into His nostrils the breath of life, and man became a human being" (Genesis 2:7).

I've very recently witnessed the remains of a loved one cremated in just more than an hour, his ashes packed in a bag no larger than a purse which then went into an urn, the ashes' permanent resting place.

Our cemeteries prove that once robust, healthy and strong individuals meet their end somehow; and what remains testify to their mortality. Life is a breath, here today and gone tomorrow.

A dictator, once powerful and feared, met his end while as a rat he hid in a foul sewer---hunted down by mobs.

What's sobering too is, in spite of us being dust, He breathed His life unto us. We are alive only by the grace of God. The Great Potter is everything; Harry Potter is nothing.

So even if our dusty being returns to earth, we are assured of one thing: our spirit, made alive through our faith in Christ, goes back to Him---for the super (note, in lower case) in man to dwell with his Creator forever and ever.

Power? That's the least of our concerns. Part of believing in Jesus comes empowerment anyway. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." David and Joseph and Peter and Paul, as well as those who follow the Way today, have proven this to be true in their lives.

That's power greater than any human power combined!

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15: 7-9)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Tragedy of Form

"I look so nifty and shiny," Ms. Wrapper said one day.

"Oh, yes you do," replied Mr. Ribbon. "Wouldn't it be lovely if we joined forces? We could make so many people happy!"

"But first we should have a box," continued Mr. Ribbon. "And the gift to fill the box, of course."

"Na-ah, why do we need a content for? We'd look just as lovely by ourselves," replied Ms. Wrapper.

And so Ms. Wrapper and Mr. Ribbon became one, to the delight of many. Of course no one knew their secret.

Form. That's how a lot of people in the world celebrate Christmas year in and year out.

It feels good to see all the giant Christmas trees, bedecked with lights and ribbons---and Christmas carols playing in the background for the intended emotional high, befitting the season.

But even as we speak, "Christmas" is being taken off Christmas by those concerned with political correctness---so others would not be offended.

Christmas, as I've originally been taught since childhood is about Jesus. I for one had been clueless about Him for years, but since that fateful night that I confessed Him as my Savior and Lord, he became more real to me on a daily basis. Christ has been my daily bread.

And I look forward to Christmas as Jesus' big birthday bash. A birthday celebration like that could not help but attract attention, as it should. So flaunt it, all of you who confess that Jesus is Savior and Lord of all! That's the reason we celebrate Christmas, nothing more!

It's about shouting from the housetops that Jesus was born that first Christmas day to seek and save the lost. It's about God's love for sinners like you and me who could not save ourselves by our own good works. It's about His grace demonstrated when Christ hang on the cross for the sin of mankind, saying: "All is finished."

Jesus paid for everything, all we need to do is believe and obey. Christmas is all about Jesus!

That's why I'm offended that the big party's original intent is waylaid by party-poopers dictating that the Christmas tree should from now on be called a holiday tree, or that the correct greeting should be "Happy holidays!"

Or that the spirit of the season comes from the putting up of trees and tinsels and twinkles; or the indulgence in food and booze and lewd presentations in supposed "Christmas parties."

The Christmas Spirit is the Spirit of God who for the joy set before Him (our salvation) sacrificed His Son for our lifetime of Christmas.

But I don't want to be a party-pooper either. Go ahead. Buy your gifts, prepare a feast, enjoy your family reunion. Jesus wants us to enjoy His party.

Just don't forget that in His party, Ms. Wrapper and Mr. Ribbon should not have their way. It would be a complete tragedy to celebrate Christmas without unwrapping the gift, beholding the best gift ever, and enjoying a lifetime of Grace.

The only gift that matters this Christmas is Christ.

If Jesus has just been a name to you (as He was in my head for many years), the gift He offers you this Christmas is Christ in you! A personal relationship with Father God through His first born.

Have you received this gift yet?

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, and proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion---to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness, instead of mourning, and a garment of praise, instead of a spirit of despair... (Isaiah 61:1-3a).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Speak N Spook

A senior's spooked car at the parking lot

One of my daughter Lucci's most prized toys when she was four or five years old was Speak N Spell, gifted by her Uncle Vince.

Whipped up by Texas Instruments, it was probably one of the first "intelligent" speaking and interactive toys, along with Speak N Read and its math counterpart. "The reason why I became a spelling bee champion," wrote one Speak N Spell die-hard.

That's the nature of kids. They pick up fast, absorbing and orderly filing every word, image and experience in their minds---to be accessed when the need calls for it.

Recording and retrieval somehow slows down as one matures, pretty much like a Betamax* tape gathering soot and gnarling from too much heat or use or under-use.
*(For the sake of my young readers, you ought to know that there was a time in the history of mankind when recording sound or video involved an actual tape rolled in a plastic case, OK?)

And so those in mid-life find themselves constantly spooked, finding themselves more and more in this hearing-but-not-recalling, seeing-but-not-remembering, or wanting-to-speak-but-words-escaping state of calamity.

It's not really tsunami-level calamity but it's the type that sends you in crisis mode once you realize the frequency or immensity of your forgetfulness.

"Senior moment," we justify; then having a hearty laugh about it with our friends as we recall our own embarrassing incidents.

Ruben, one of our bible study members, shares his hilarious senior moment experience in a mall. (Ruben, please excuse the inaccuracy but since you told us this story close to 12 midnight, I was in pretty deep senior moment malaise myself.):

"My wife and I went down the parking lot but didn't find our car. We searched and searched but really couldn't find it. We felt miserable, and came to the conclusion: 'Our car has been stolen!'

"We must report this to the police, we decided.

Patay ako! (Woe is me!)' the police chief cried, upon hearing our story. 'Mag-re-resign ako!' He came close to panicking, apparently because he never had any record of carnapping in his territory. And he took pride in the fact that he had kept his record clean. Until now.

"It was now my turn to assure him everything would be alright. He really felt bad about the incident.

"With the full force of the police back with us in the mall, the search and investigation started---which brought me to another level of the parking building.

"Lo and behold, our car!"

I figured that because Ruben is such a jolly, friendly and good natured person, the police just laughed off the incident---though I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted to gang up on him and even hang him upside down, for the commotion he'd caused.

I've had loads of senior moments too. I bet you do too, if you're above 50.

I turned 60 recently. The more I think about it, the more I realize that whatever strength I have now is divine health lavishly poured on me by God. Come to think of it, in spite of some memory lapses, I can still write, teach, hold seminars---and remember the things I need to remember to teach or write with all the energy I can muster.

"Duh..." "uh..." and "er..." moments rarely happen when I teach. It's as if the Holy Spirit takes over as soon as I stand in front of the class.

Didn't Jesus say He will give us the right words to speak when we need to? Because He empowers through the Holy Spirit.

He continues to prove Himself true to His promise: "I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me!"

Seniors' creatinine, cholesterol, triglyceride and sugar counts may rise from time to time; thank God for doctors who help us with our ailments through medicines and wellness aids like food supplements and age-old solutions like malunggay and ampalaya.

But God's grace is still the daily pill which we could not do without. The same grace that He poured on us through Jesus Christ is the same grace that will sustain us through moments of forgetfulness and frailty---and enable us to be joyful and even laugh and not take ourselves too seriously if once in a while we blow it.

Ruben can laugh it off because He knows the one who sustains Him will never leave him or forsake him. He may have caused pandemonium among the police because of his temporary mind-shut, but Jesus will always be there, forgiving, encouraging, upholding, giving him a second or third or nth chance.

The Lord upholds those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; he hears their cry and saves them.(Psalm 145: 14; 17-19)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thoughts at Sixty

Look at how God has brought me, Jack and our kids thus far!

I approach the coming days with mixed emotions---excited at the prospect of enjoying 20% discount at every eat out or movie date, offered a seat at the supermarket while waiting for my groceries to be totaled, not to mention receiving my pension; yet perplexed that I'm now officially "senior".

Well, because reaching 60 means I've sort of crossed the threshold. I'm a bit closer to the revolving door. Just in the last few weeks, some friends---and they were younger---went ahead of me!

Tomorrow, I might still wake up to familiar surroundings---the smell of tuyo frying in our kitchen; but the very next day be looking down at my very rigor mortised or smoldering self inside the cremation chamber.

But then again, how could I not be thrilled that, with my curtain call, I would instantly be in the presence of my Maker, walking with Jesus streets of transparent gold, and maybe once in a while making chika with my mother or father or David or Joseph and other biblical characters whom I'd only known superficially as I read about them in the bible.

"Sixty" also floods my heart with thankfulness for His unceasing grace:

"When I think about the Lord, how He saved me, how he raised me, how He filled me with the Holy Ghost, how He healed me to the uttermost.

"When I think about the Lord, how He picked me up and turned me around, how He placed my feet on solid ground.

"I just wanna shout! Thank you Jesus!"

This song constantly resonates in my heart as I meditate on His faithfulness all the years of my vapor-like life!

All along, it has been His amazing grace enabling, healing, protecting, strengthening, empowering and providing my needs and my family's. It is the very same grace which will sustain Jack and me as we grow older. And who knows how many more grandchildren will call me "Wowa"? Only a few hours back, our son Carlo and daughter-in-law Opal joyfully confirmed that our third apo is definitely making his or her grand entrance June next year! Another apostolic mission.

So who's afraid of 60?

If the Lord delights in a man's ways, He makes his steps firm; though he stumbles, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand. I was young and now I'm old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. (Psalm 37:23-25)

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Wikipedia photo
Did you know that at one point in history, aluminum was more valuable than gold?

Aluminum bars took center stage in the 1985 Exposition Universelle in France, and Emperor Napoleon III was said to have gifted his honored guests with aluminum utensils and the lesser ones with gold.

Well, today, we know that that new standard is gold, priced at US$1,787 an ounce. Wow, that's a whopping P77,393---that much moolah to jet me Down Under for a grand vacation with Joaqui and Charlize!

In the old testament, God instructed Moses to have artisans hammer gold into sacred objects for the altar. God manisfested His presence in the tabernacle, made of acacia wood, but overlaid with gold, befitting God's glory.

Jesus talked about a time--which is now---when God would no longer reside in a tabernacle or temples made by human hands. This became a reality when at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, filling them with power to live victorious and preach His Word with conviction.

Imagine that! We are like that acacia wood. Too ordinary, too prone to decay, but once overlaid and sealed with heaven's gold, the Holy Spirit, have become priceless!

No wonder Job said (Job 23:10), when He has tested me, I will come forth like gold!

Gold cannot be formed into fine jewelry unless it has been subjected to extreme heat to remove its dross or impurities, pounded, pulled, and subjected to the acid test---to ensure it's gold indeed.

Have you been going through difficult times lately---issues or problems which seem to pull and pound at you, pressing you against the wall and you can't see a way out?

Precepts, ordinances, statues. Whatever you call it, His Word is the only solution to take us out of any crisis.

Psalm 19:10- "They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold!"

Because the Word is Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. The Way the Truth and Life.

We strive hard to possess gold and all the other trappings that gold can buy---power, popularity and all the obagi treatments, liposuctions, plastic surgeries and implants your desire to make you look eternally youthful.

But all of these treasures perish!

The standard today may be gold. It may one day be replaced by coal or copper or aluminum again. That's how unstable the world's currencies are.

I'd rather invest in the most stable currency of all: His Word which will never change, or perish or fail. He's the inheritance I'd be proud to hand on to my children and grandchildren and the ones after them. Because Jesus is the same---yesterday, today and forever!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Life's a Marathon

Jack (right) in his 42-km marathon

It's Sunday morning, jogging time. Not mine, silly, but Jack's.

Me? I'd rather curl up in bed, savor my no-rush day and drink in Pastor Charles Stanley's living-water-teaching on TV.

Sunday morning jogs are pretty much cast in concrete as far as my husband is concerned. Since he could not walk or jog on weekdays because of work, he makes sure that Sunday AMs are his and his jogmates' alone.

He's done this for the past 29 years and will probably do so until he finds himself walking heaven's streets of gold. Oh, wouldn't that just be the day for all of us?!
Araw runners in 1984

You can call Jack a certified marathoner, having finished his 42-km with his Araw Running Club mates when he was as light as a feather. He still runs with the very same folks every Sunday, capping each run with breakfast either at Tropical Hut Hamburger, another restaurant in BF or a member's house.
Araw runners today
Jack is also one of our teachers in our 20-year bible study group. And you guessed it, one of his favorite topics is Life Being a Marathon, based on Paul's encouragement to, "Run with patience the race set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).

So let me summarize his lesson here:

1. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Life is not a 60 or 100-meter event but a long drawn-out race which can turn into tiresome and painstaking plodding--- a discouraging experience if you don't pace yourself as you go through the entire 42-km route under the extreme heat of the sun, battering rain, gusty winds, or suffocating smog from vehicles plying the streets.

So take it easy. Life has its challenges but life is also about triumphing over adversities, those daily disappointments which nibble at our spirit to make us want to give up. God's plan is for us to achieve our purpose. Trials are there to strengthen us, testing our faith so we can cling on to Him for wisdom and strength.

2. Wear light. Marathoners are advised to wear singlets
(polyester, not cotton), sandos so light your body is constantly aired as you run---unlike heavy jogging pants and jackets which are just too much baggage, making you perspire a wee bit more, resulting in dehydration and even fainting.

Our lives can be like that too. We carry way too much weight we just could not move on. I used to be this way, walking around without joy in my heart, until I encountered Jesus as my Lord and Savior. He also removed the brick-like heaviness in my heart caused by years of worrying and fears, resentment, unforgiveness, anger and hatred.

3. Hydrate yourself. A marathoner knows that his immediate objective---once he starts running---is the next water station. As you run and perspire, take advantage of every water station placed along the entire 42-km route so you can replenish your body fluids, especially the electrolyte which sustains you for the entire run.

In my book, "Going Up," I wrote about filling ourselves up daily with "spirelyte". We need to be filled with the Spirit of God to sustain us through a day. And it doesn't come from any form of drinking water which you pay for. It's offered free and even to overflowing as we seek Him daily through prayer and studying His Word which is life and light!

4. Huwag makinig sa mga kantyawero. Be deaf to voices that will discourage you. These are the bystanders who poke fun at slow runners, saying, "Hey, fatso, you cannot make it. Sumakay ka na lang! (Take a ride instead!) Jack tells me that this pambubuska or taunting happens only in the Philippines, but not in races abroad like the Boston marathon.

Didn't we at one time or another hear these voices?:

"You cannot make it." "You're bobo." "Ikaw ang pinakamahina sa lahat!" Walang mangyayari sa yo!" You will amount to nothing!"

Well, that's the enemy saying, "God has abandoned you!"

That's a total lie, because Jesus says, "I have come to give you life and life more abundant." He is the author and the finisher of our faith. He is the great I am who created us and breathed His life into us---mere dust whom God has chosen to manifest His love.

The great I AM who's also the beginning and the end, He therefore holds our life and everything about us in His strong mighty hand!

At the end of their 42-km marathon, the Araw members awarded themselves each with a trophy, sort of high-five-ing themselves, "We've made it!"

"You've made it!" That's probably what we'll hear too from the Father as He welcomes us to the finish line, that eternal divide which spells eternal joy and peace for those who believed in Jesus.

Then we will receive our reward---not just a trophy but a crown of life which will never perish and or be eaten by moth or stolen by any thief.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Adobo-Yummier by the Day

I had adobo for dinner.

That was the other day. And the day after. And for breakfast today. Burrrpp!

This pork (sometimes chicken or a combination of both) dish, seasoned with just the right amount of vinegar, soy sauce, pepper, a few laurel leaves and garlic---proportions vary and other ingredients are added depending on the region where you come from---is probably the Filipino's all-time favorite viand.

And everyone will agree:
adobo gets better by the day! Reheating further infuses those flavors on the meat, making it yummier still until it finally shreds and crisps and finds its way into your pandesal for baon.

Adobo just takes on a life of its own! Replicating itself in the lives of our children. It's my son Carlo's favorite and my grandson Joaqui's most-requested.

Joaqui always beams his happy face at the mention of adobo. I bet you, even if he migrates to other countries from Australia, adobo will eventually find its way into his would-be kids' tummies.

That's pretty much like the Word of God, especially if you get to eat its juicy parts.

"Jesus did not preach the gospel of heaven but the kingdom of God," said Ray An Fuentes as he led us in a bible study recently. "That's why he taught us to pray, 'Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven'."

He added, "This means that if we are in Christ, our lives should operate under heaven's systems. 'The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power (1Cor.4:20),' but a lot of Christians' lives are not aligned with it."

I've been savoring and meditating on these words many days hence.

"I have come that you may have life and have it to the full," said Jesus (John 10:10).

Then Ray An let us chew on this verse further, word for word, meaning by meaning---like those bits of adobo shreds, using the Greek translation of the word "full":

Perissos (in the sense of beyond). To superabound (in quantity or quality). By implication, excessive, meaning exceedingly abundantly above, more abundantly, advantage, exceedingly, very highly, beyond measure!

"We must experience His words---not only be hearers but doers. Heaven does not operate on a budget of lack but of abundance!" Ray An added.

2 Peter 1:3-4---His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through this, he has given us His very own great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world by evil desires.

"Eternal life therefore is not just about making it to heaven, but a quality of life for those who put their trust in Jesus Christ," Ray An emphasized. Now that's some Word to chew on and live on!

Too bad
my adobo runs out today, soon totally out of my system with all the brushing and flossing and the digesting and eliminating.

But the Word of God remains embedded, in our hearts and in our souls---changing us from glory to glory with each taste of His Heavenly bread. It gets yummier by the day!

And by the way, He too said that these same promises---the Word which He feeds us with daily to nourish our spirit---are for our children and future generations as well. Some food, huh.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Put It On!

Today's a brand new day! What would you put on as soon as you get out of bed or to jump-start your anticipated busy day?

Hmm, let's see. Maybe grope for you slippers to dash to the toilet? Or your denture if you took it off last night?

And after shower, maybe a dash of anti-aging (with SPF 18) facial cream to somehow ease the crows' feet and smooth the creases off your face; plus dollops of ultra-moisturizing cream to restore life to by-now-sheenless arms and legs.

The latter, plus your cologne, of course promises to make you smelling fresh-out-of-shower the rest of the day.

Last of all, you don your clothes and shoes, socks or stockings, or your pair of glasses, and rush to your destination.

Tonight, I'll bet you'll even check your closet before retiring.

"Which jacket would match these blouse and pants?

"Will I wear pearls or that new turquoise necklace I bought last week at Southmall?

"My goodness, I need to buy a new pair of shoes to match my new bag!"

I know of someone who wakes up very early in the morning for a fresh coat of nail polish to match her chosen wear.

So many things to wear and put on! All to make us feel good, look good; to put up an image of being together, polished, smart and professional.

Ooops, we almost missed it: NEED to put on Christ! (Galatians 4:26)

How could I even make the day without the one who promised to give us abundant life?

How could I even survive in a day filled with news about contentiousness, fighting, hatred, selfishness, corruption, poverty, violence; and people mostly feeling more and more insecure and uncertain about tomorrow?

"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes," says Ephesians 6.

It further explains, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

No wonder in spite of our efforts to put it all together, to persevere, and to look good and project an air of being in charge, we most of the time catch ourselves struggling, as if caught between powerful forces.

That's why we need Christ!

More than our physical morning rites, we need to put on the full armor of God, so we can stand our ground especially during these evil days.

(The more of the news I watch, the more the end-time prophecies seem to take bigger proportions. But take heart, God promised to never leave us or forsake us!)

Put on His belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, with our feet ready to bring the gospel where He leads us. Then take our shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God!

Before springing from your bed tomorrow, put on worship, praise, thanksgiving.

Acknowledge God and His power over your life. Believe, me, if you do this, He'll prove Himself bigger than any challenge or problem you'll face any given day. He's waiting for us to kneel down, so He can exalt us and prove Himself great on our behalf.

So pray, read His Word, ask for His anointing. Put on Jesus and never be caught without Him.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Anybody There?

Not that he suspected something was missing, but he wanted to be sure it was there. Really there!

So I went for a CT scan - what my neurologist ordered to make sure all's well at my control center.

Chronic headaches lashed out stronger and more frequently recently so my doctor asked for a CT scan. If his prescribed meds were not working, something else might be at work and he needed to find out why.

So I had my 2 pm CT scan yesterday at the Asian Hospital. Took anti-allergy medication12 hours, then another tablet two hours, before scan. (A dye, which might cause allergies, apparently had to be injected to obtain a contrasting picture of my brain. Wow, chiaroscuro effect! Would they behold a Rembrandt?)

I had to fast five hours prior. Coming from teaching at school, I decided to head straight to the hospital's radiology reception area, sit zen-like, force myself to snooze, and banish all thought of food glorious food from my mind. That helped! I didn't feel any hunger pang or tinge of headache.

"Lord," I prayed, "please don't let me feel hungry so as not to offset a headache." And He listened.

Lance, a young, handsome male nurse - a through and through English-
ero - walked me through the method while he attached the needle for the dye injection. "My daughter in-law is also a nurse," I made chika, as I imagined him pursuing his calling in another country which paid nurses more equitably.

He was so efficient and kind I figured it won't take long for a recruiter to spot and lure him to either the US, UK or Australia.

With the preps over, Lance led me to a room with a narrow long stretcher and a huge globule-like end with a hole in it. And this was the real ordeal.

The order came: "Don't move!" Twenty minutes seemed like a century. So Rizal must feel this way, standing rigid in the middle of Luneta Park forever.

How could I even move when my body felt like pinned down and stretched in a barbeque stick; and that any wrong move would be a Humpty Dumpty moment for a great fall.

My head seemed stuck forever between two immovable bricks so my only entertainment came from memorizing the details of the rotating tubular gadget above me. I thought I stopped breathing too! Then the whirring sound came, as if I was being beamed up to outer space. Sorry, no flashing lights and extra-terrestrial visions there. Just audio effects.

Twice it happened, the second time with the dye injected for contrast effect. "Please raise you hand or move or say something if you feel any itchiness, hardness of breath, or anything at all," said Lance. Having felt none, I just continued praying and breathing. I never realized breathing was this wonderful. I felt alive!

"Is it still there?" I asked after being freed from that prison-like vise-grip. Unsure of what I meant, Lance's face contorted. "I meant, is my brain still there?" Then we had a good laugh.

Prognosis: No intracranial hemorrhage. Small chronic lacunar infarct, right temporal lobe - which may be from an old stroke which I didn't even know about. Lastly, cerebral atrophy, which my doctor explains to be a loss of some brain cells; also related to a stroke, explains Wikipedia.

Doctor's orders: Watch your cholesterol. Diet. And don't be such an A personality. In other words, slow down. You're not a spring chicken anymore!

Well, come to think of it, this whole experience just affirmed that in spite of my atrophied brain (I'm turning 60, and I rejoice that I still have it up there!) and an infarct (a stroke actually) which I never knew I had, my grey matter still functions as it should.

Yes, I get forgetful once in a while, especially with people's names. But I can still teach. Still pray and worship God in song. Still write and create concepts. Still be a wife and mother and wowa and sister-in-law and friend to my friends.

To what else could I attribute all of these but God's amazing grace?

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. If God is for me, who can be against me? The life I now live I live for Christ. I have the mind of Christ!

I believe in these and His countless biblical promises. He is able to do wonderfully in spite of my weakness and my atrophied brain.

That's why I will continue to rejoice in Jesus! He's my strength, my peace, my salvation, my wisdom, my everything!

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves, from the sovereign Lord comes escape from death." (Psalm 68:19)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Concern for People: Workplace Mentors 3

At every stage of our professional growth, God sends us bosses and peers who may not pontificate much, but through their example, help us walk the straight and narrow path.

Here’s my last installment on the workplace mentors who have strongly influenced my life:

Amading Veloso, my first boss at the San Miguel Food Group, was a kind soul who valued integrity and honesty.

I remember the time he agonized about firing one of my most promising staff who was caught with a padded reimbursement. Though he really liked the guy, Amading let him go anyway because he did not want to set a precedent for would-be cheats.

I was secretly looking forward to retirement when Pet Bautista, my second-to-the-last boss at the San Miguel Food Group, insisted I take up the Asian Institute of Management’s (AIM) management development program (MDP).

Other bosses would just have saved the money and rationalized that I was an old fogy anyway. But Pet valued his people and their need for continuous learning.

He also seriously practiced MBMA or management by moving around, often visiting far-flung company facilities, dealers and contract suppliers, and spending time talking to our farm and factory workers.

Pet sincerely listened to their concerns and encouraged feedback, motivating his managers to take immediate action.

Pet went back to his previous multinational employer after his San Miguel stint, after which he became managing director of one of the country’s biggest food manufacturing concerns.

My workplace spiritual mentor? Cyd Latunio-Esquivel.

She genuinely showed concern for her co-workers. She became light and salt to me at a time when, career-wise I flourished, but my heart floundered because of inner turmoil.

Cyd introduced me to Jesus who at that point in my life was just a name I prayed to. Cyd invited me to a balikbayan’s concert where for the first time, God’s love became real and I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Cyd, with her husband Gerry, eventually became full time missionaries of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC). While pregnant with her baby, Cyd’s kidneys started to malfunction. Suffering through years of dialysis, a kidney transplant, and a number of near-death crises, she continued to persevere in her ministry until she passed away.

Old ties last. I came full-circle with CCC when, after dedicating my recent book in memory of Cyd, I found myself holding a writing seminar for CCC missionaries.

My dear friend Che Solijon—who heads CCC’s communication unit, commented, “You have the CCC DNA in you.”

I believe this is true too of the mentors who figured in our lives.

Wherever they are Lord, I pray you will continue to keep them and strengthen them, and exceedingly bless them so they can continue to be a blessing to others, in Jesus name. Amen!.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Joaqui's First Draft

Guess the author:

“There was a blinding flash of light! After the huge flash there was a tremendous gust of smoke with a thundering roar like a tornado.

“Soon after it started to clear up, only to reveal that she was in an ancient ruin with weird symbols all over the cave walls!

“She tried to climb up the path she fell into but it was no use. Suddenly, there was a tremendous roar! She tried running away but there was no escape! She desperately looked for a way out but no luck.

“Just when she thought it was hopeless an arm came out from nowhere and dragged Elizabeth out of the way, out of the ruins just before the monster could grab her.

“ ‘That was close,’ Elizabeth said. ‘It sure was,’ said the voice that had saved her.”

This piece was written by our eight year old grandson Joaqui. His teacher, Ms. Berrell, noted in her class blog: “This was the first time we've written a narrative independently and students were required to pick up the story from where the 'story starter'—containing a little girl opening a box that she wasn't supposed to— left off.”

She wrote further, “As a teacher I am regularly blown away by the great work my students present me…This is Paolo's (That’s how he’s called in class.) first draft! He has informed me that in his next draft there will be a twist as another problem will arise. I for one, cannot wait to read the next installment!

“I encourage students to tell their parents about their stories, and parents to ask their children about them. It is through discussion of our ideas that we develop the detail and expression to describe these initial ideas, and produce such creative pieces of work!”

I naturally got excited so I promptly shared the above piece with my author friend Grace who responded, “Saludo ako kay Joaqui! Such an excellent command of the language at his age! He should really be a writer when he grows up.

”Saludo din ako sa teacher. She seems to be a very conscientious, sincere, and dedicated teacher—very affectionate, too. I wish we could all be like her!”

I asked Lucci if she had in any way helped Joaqui write this article. “I didn’t even know about it, he did that in class,” she replied.
Joaqui and his sister Charlize grew up with books—reading having become a bedtime habit and books always figuring in their play. So Joaqui never fails to go to bed without a read. They frequent the Campbelltown public library like they visit malls.
I’m really thankful to God at how He’s enabling our grandkids to grow up in the wisdom of the Lord. I’m grateful that their parents are Godly and loving and sensitive to their needs, and that they decided to send them to a Christian school whose teachers love and encourage their pupils like their own.
And I’m thankful, most of all for the grace of God in our children’s lives. His wonderful promise of blessings—pressed down, shaken together, running over—applies from generation to generation of those who love Him!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No Boundaries: Tribute to Workplace Mentors 2

I’ve been so blessed to have worked under bosses who mentored their people so that everyday work became an adventure of sorts.

They opened my eyes to fresh concepts and new ways of looking at things. Two of them pushed me to my limits, even if at times the process became traumatic or painful.

Winston Marbella, one of my former bosses in San Miguel Corporation, was my marketing guru. A once-upon-a-time physics student tutored by one of Eistein’s former students, he started his professional life as a journalist, moving later to public relations, marketing, then business management.

His legacy: “Think strategic. Think differently. Challenge ideas. Do not accept them for what they are.”

One of my most loved superiors was Eli Pinto-Mansor (she went to be with the Lord a few years back), my boss at the (once mighty, now history) Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP).

She showed how, with an eye for detail, minutest things could be incorporated into concepts and designs, turning the ordinary into spectacular.

Eli saw potential in people. She pushed us to our limits, even to the point of hurt. I would not have known what lay dormant inside if she didn’t demand excellence and my best and most creative effort.

She believed I was a writer even if I doubted that. I didn’t even consider myself a good enough writer. But she let, rather made, me write—feature articles in our corporate newsletter—until I discovered I really had it in me.

She gave me leeway to play around and have fun with the company’s stockholders’ meeting audio-visual presentation (AVP).

So I went ga-ga with my ideas and for the AVP’s opening spiel, used the “Pink Panther” theme music, replacing its lyrics with, “Your company has reached a billion mark, taran-taran!” Imagine the mixed reactions from the audience of mostly spiffy investors. It merited a comment from the Asian Wall Street Journal!

While producing this particular AVP, I made a very expensive booboo which I thought was unforgivable, so I offered to resign.

”It was costly,” Eli replied, but if that’s what’s needed to learn, so learn,” and assured me of her confidence. I never hesitated to work for her again when she asked me to join her later in another company. (Sorry to Burst Your Bubble, p.45)

Eli made such an impact in the Philippine design industry, when in a latter job at the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM, where I worked with her for a year), she took up-and-coming Filipino designers under her wings to develop world-class fashion and home accessories using indigenous Philippine raw materials.

Fearless, protective, passionate, but a mothering type, Eli helped define the course of my professional life: No boundaries.

After CITEM, a former colleague convinced me to move to Manila Hilton International (after which I went back to San Miguel). Having served three expatriate general managers in the hotel—an Englishman and two Germans— I sort of concluded that European bosses were objective, fair, professional, and gave their workers due recognition.

They taught me how global managers must behave. While respecting the culture of their host countries, they equally demanded professionalism from their staff.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tribute to Workplace Mentors 1

We all have our mentors, those who’ve left some indelible imprints on our character through various stages of our lives. Before my mind gets fuzzy, let me run through some of my workplace superiors and the lessons I learned from them:

Frankie Evangelista, kind-hearted and funny boss

The late Frankie “Ka Kiko” Evangelista. Quite an institution as a veteran TV news and public affairs anchor, he was my boss in Channel 13, my second job. He never flaunted he was “boss,” treated us like family and felt secure with his subordinates being such a bunch of extremely talented people. Among my colleagues were gifted writers Danny Javier, member of then up and coming singing sensation Apo Hiking Society; and Gemma Nemenzo, a scion of the brainy Nemenzos of UP (University of the Philippines).

Frankie treated us all equally and was generous with his praises. He knew how to motivate just by a tap on the shoulder or a humorous off-the-cuff comment—most of the time said in his disarming Tagalog accent. He referred to Gemma and me as “my girls” in a fatherly way.

The late Bren Guiao, my boss in RFM Corporation before he became Pampanga governor. We had a pretty tense incident after our head office inauguration. I don’t remember how it started, but our conversation grew into a shouting match. Probably piqued by my stubbornness, he told me to resign, so I did—and walked off. That was the last he saw of me.

It took years before I could muster the courage to tell him how sorr
y I was. He welcomed me with no recriminations, just like a father would. When he became Pampanga governor afterwards and I occasionally visited him with some of his former staff, he made it a point to see us even briefly even if he had hordes of politicos and kababayans waiting in line. He would then treat us to the best restaurants in the provincial capital, and send us back to Manila with loads of Kapampangan goodies.

Bren Guiao (top photo) and Bert Pasquin (bottom photo, extreme right), my PR mentors

He and B
ert Pasquin, his then right hand man in RFM, whose path I crossed with in three other companies, patiently taught me the rudiments of public relations and news writing—even if I hated disciplined writing because I was more at home with creative writing.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lose to Gain: Gems from The Biggest Loser and More

"Loser!" Someone naming you that might ordinarily spark a whack attack, a word war or worse, a fist fight.

It's one of those killer words bullies or those with illusions of grandeur or power heap on those they perceive to be weak or unable to fight back.

But thanks to its image-handlers, "Loser!" seems to have taken on a new spin---plucking it out of rehab and giving it a total make-over.

Television's reality show, The Biggest Loser, has grown into such a worldwide franchise that it tops viewership ratings wherever it broadcasts.

Recently, we became a church-ful of rah-rah folks for someone we prayed for to be this season's biggest loser. Eboy one day texted that he would be incomunicado for sometime; and asked for prayers while he competed in The Biggest Loser. At 481 pounds, he needed to act to avert a heart attack.

A gifted musician (he sings and plays the keyboard and drums plus other musical instruments), artist and budding entrepreneur, Eboy must have been born with humor hard-wired into his DNA.

We are alternately guffawing, snickering or stiffling our chuckles whenever Eboy manages a banter or pun in between songs during praise and worship practice. This is how we've always seen Eboy---mega-man inside and out. Note his Facebook remark re his photo with family and friends: "Team Tarre, Pata Team and Jabba."

Eboy realized he needed to whittle himself down if he wants to live to a ripe old age. So it was all systems go when he passed The Biggest Loser prequals. He may have been eliminated from the competition earlier than the others, but he continues to gain---his health, longevity, and yes, his handsome good looks, and definitely fans---as he loses more body mass.

I'm one of those believing Eboy will make a comeback in The Biggest Loser.

A few days ago, I felt even happier for Eboy---that things are working out for him as he had prayed for---after seeing a TV documentary about the super obese.

It featured a lady so overweight she had to either always be in bed or or pushed around in a giant wheelchair because the big mass from her legs started to fold under her heels. Big slabs had to be removed from her thighs and legs to enable her to walk again. After her operation, simple things---which we normally take for granted like being able to shop in the supermarket---had become such liberating experiences for her.

How about that---Eboy runs regularly today!

"I'm so fat!" I'd always complain whenever I faced the mirror while attempting to shrink my insides (by not breathing!) to fit myself into a dress; followed by this self-deprecating remark: "I look like a refrigerator."

Well, not anymore---since these above images. What am I complaining about?

Exercise, reduce your intake if you must; but never belittle and be thankful for the body you were born with. Genes and heredity have a lot to do with it too. That's why some people are bigger or smaller than others.

"I'm fat!" Said a young lady so reed-thin, she could easily be knocked over by a faint afternoon breeze. Then she would constantly fidget, believing that her eternal shaking would burn her calories so she could be thinner. (I think I read this too somewhere.)

Actually, for most of us, the battle is not really with the bulge. Call it low self-esteem, insecurity, discontent. We may exercise or ballroom-dance till we drop or diet till our cravings die but that's no guarantee we'd be happy with that vision in the mirror.

Some seemingly perfect-bodied and good-looking women (and men!) still have their lipo, lift and tuck. Lips get thickened. (A popular singer looks awful today because of her too out-turned lips. Whoever told them belles they could be next Angelina Jolies?!) Noses receive a trim or get cantilevered, while wayward ears are sewn closer to the nape. Good thing, I can only afford a facial, and even that is just once in a blue moon.

Fear. That's the underlying issue. "I look fat." "Look at my wrinkles." "I'm ugly." Most of these express our concerns about how others may look at us. But surely God did not make a mistake when He wove us so wonderfully in our mothers' wombs.

I'm glad Eboy is on his way to health, and that once super-obese lady now functions as a normal human being. Thank God for scientific advances, opportunities and people sent our way to help solve our health problems---in spite of our genetic predispositions or neglect or abuse.

But after the long and short of it, our daily dose of joy comes not from having gained all these but in knowing that our lives are in the palm of the one who shaped us into being.

In Genesis, God created an awesome universe and saw that it was good. After crafting Adam and Eve, what He saw thrilled Him so, because it was "Very good!"

We are His piece de resistance. And He must have added, "Lovely."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Seeking Shelter

I hang on to every word, every promise, as we pored over Psalm 91.

This I did (with our bible study group of nine) while Jack painted metaphors of Jesus being our fortress and our place of safety in our prayer meeting last night.

And this while typhoon Mina---said to linger for about a week and therefore cause more damage---threatened to batter northern Luzon; and hurricane Irene endlessly analyzed by CNN to bring havoc in New York and neighboring cities just like Hollywood would portray it in a disaster movie.

Psalm 91 is such a shelter for hearts constantly battered by fear. But to experience peace in the middle of the storm is not as easy as psyching yourself to stay calm, "Peace, all will be well."

Experiencing peace is a big IF. The key is not our prayer or trusting that prayer can move mountains. (But yes, we must pray because He desires humility, signifying our faith and dependence on Him.)

The answer is: Jesus, Lord of all creation.

"If you make the most high your dwelling---even the Lord who is my refuge---then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." (Psalm 91:9-11)

For He is the most High (v. 1)! The most high God is our creator, the great God, the Almighty!

So if Jesus is our dwelling place and shelter, we can rest under His shadow.

"I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust (v. 2).' "

Dengue, HIV, H1N1, cancer, diabetes, coronary disease. You name it! If it's not dreaded disease, it's earthquake or hurricane or tsunami. Or drought and famine, like those decimating Africa where thousands die of hunger and malnutrition daily.

Add to that the wars and rumors of wars experienced right now in Syria, Libya and other middle east countries; and shades of those as Israel and more developed nations contend with almost invisible terrorists from the left and right of the political spectrum---those who inflict damage and sow terror with their lightning speed bombings or killings in seemingly well-guarded or policed urban areas.

Because of these, people's hearts are fainting! Panic pervades though unseen.

"Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

"You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday." (v. 3-6)

If we love Him, promised the Lord, He will rescue us.

"I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my SALVATION." (v.14-16)

How is this so? The lyricists of this song assure us:

"You are God alone
From before time began
You were on your throne
You are God alone
And right now
In the good times and bad
You are on your throne
You are God alone

That's what You are!"

Jesus. Who can come against Him?

If God spared nothing to save us---to the point of Jesus dying on the cross to give us eternal life and reconcile us to the Father---will He not freely give us all things including the safety and peace we so crave for everyday?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Flaunt the Truth

"If it doesn't bother them, why should it bother us?" Commented a talk show host on the topic of having not just one but more housewives or partners.

Backtrack to Genesis when the world was still young. "Am I my brother's keeper?" Shot back Cain when the Lord inquired about his brother Abel whom he murdered.

The shrug. The cold shoulder. The "I don't care, it's none of my business!" routine.

That's how we normally respond even if we sense a wrong or when someone is in hot water. Because we'd rather not be involved. Their life is their business, we reason out.

It's as if the whole world's become a stage and we're content to be an audience, a bystander or one who gawks, amused at how people are able to entertain us with their multi-season soap operas.

Of course we couldn't meddle in other people's lives. "Pakialamera" is how we usually label those who stick their nose into other people's affairs. I couldn't tell my neighbor how to live his or her life. Judge not so you will not be judged.

But we must certainly be uneasy and speak out if the lie is flaunted as the truth, or the wrong declared right.

Why has the truth been muffled in the hoopla about same-sex marriage or relationships outside of the sanctity of marriage?

Can it be that more and more young people are believing what they're believing now because right-believers' voices have been stymied by this overpowering truth-is-relative tidal wave---that truth is what one makes it?

For example, in more advanced nations like Australia, it's no longer politically correct to say "husband" or "wife." Use "partner" because live-in couples must not be offended.

It helps, of course, that popular gay celebrities have a long time ago come out of the closet. Elton John proudly announced recently that he and his husband, er, wife(?) are now proud parents of a cute baby.

The same-sex-marriage movement has been rumbling across the USA like the deadly tsunami, pressuring more and more state legislatures to enact laws favoring gay relationships and families. Politicians, eager to please their constituents (read voters) have no choice but to give in to popular thinking.

Hollywood purveys sexual promiscuity like a casual "hi!" and "hello!" handshake. Our own TV celebrities openly talk of their fleeting relationships which sometimes result in babies out of wedlock.

How can we afford to keep quiet when the truth as we know it is now talked about as archaic and jurassic, with no use in our modern techie world?

The truth, as revealed by God all over the bible, and very specifically in the ten commandments, has not changed, and will not change in spite of our grumblings.

"Too old-fashioned!" "Very severe!" "Encroaches on my freedom!" "I have a right to choose and if I suffer, I suffer!"

Suffer hell? Frankly, yes. Disobedience---the bible calls it rebellion---merits nothing less than this.

And those who insist on following their own "truth," are unwittingly taking a roller-coaster dive to that place of eternal fiery punishment. Unless!

God is not willing for any one to perish or be in a constant state of waywardness! That's why He gave us Jesus.

He loves (Yes, His love goes on and will never be diminished in spite of our continuing rebellion!) us all so much that He was willing to send His Son to take the penalty of our sins. Only the saving grace and love of Jesus can open our eyes to the monstrosity of sin and our sinful nature, and enable us to walk obediently.

So in the same way that God was motivated by love, may His love also motivate us to speak out against sin and its eternal consequence for those who continue to scoff at truth as we know it.

I write not as one without sin. I too am a sinner saved by His grace. I once believed my life was my own and that I was accountable to no one. Jesus reoriented my confused mind and gave me a new heart to believe that His was the only way, and His way would lead to life, not condemnation or hell. Someone loved me enough to pray for me and let me know Jesus cared.

We are to be our brothers' keepers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Polaroid Eyes

My heart raced a bit when I saw those blooms.

Blue-violet, bright blue and blue-green flowerettes crowned some shrubs and bushes as I drove home from school yesterday.

"I never saw that before," I mused.

So I did a double take, lifting my sunglasses, and stopping for a while to soak in this rare sight and double-check if my eyes saw what they really saw. "Hey, where did the flowers go?" I thought.

Putting my shades back on and looking at the trees again, those shooting buds were back! And the bigger trees had their leaves in varying shades of deepest greens and blue green. Were my eyes playing a trick on me?

Then I realized: my new polaroid glasses!

I remember the SM saleslady salestalking me into it, "Use this ordinary sunglasses," she insructs. "Now, with these polaroids, look at that same object." I got hooked. The colors behind those polaroids really seemed different and easier on the eyes.

Those "flowers" were in fact just leaves trumpeting their loudest and deepest hues under the sun. Passing by more shrubs and trees, I was a kid again, reveling in the beauty of creation.

But it was not just my polaroids. The sun had a lot to do with this most unusual exprience. Without the bright rays seeping through the atmosphere and highlighting those trees, I wouldn't have seen the hidden colors.

It must have been a million-fold breathtaking when Jesus created the world and He commanded His Alpha and Omega palette of colors to permeate every tree, every grass, every flower and every bit of His creation!

Recall that it was with His own burst of heavenly colors that God promised He would never send the great flood again to destroy the earth. The rainbow sealed that covenant of His grace.

Oh, that we would view everything not just with polaroid lens but with His eyes.

More than this, I pray that we would understand the things happening around us with His wisdom and treat one another with His love and compassion.

Because God didn't stop with just giving us this earth. Jesus himself came down from His exalted place in heaven, became man, died on behalf of sinful humanity, "that those who would believe in Him may have everlasting life and have life to the full."

Now, that's seeing things through His heart!

(Photo credit:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Words to Sink a Ship

"Words! Words! Words! I'm so sick of words! I get words all day through; first from him, now from you. Is that all you blighters can do?"

I'f you've seen the Broadway musical, "My Fair Lady," eons past (some of you may just have been a figment of your mom or dad's imagination then, circa 1960s), you'll recall the main character, Eliza Doolittle, played by legendary actress Audrey Hepburn, ranting about her male admirers' propensity for talking and not acting.

That's what we all are--- talkers first, performers second.

Because words come easy. You can promise, you can wax romantic or poetic, and tickle one's ears with words. But sometimes we spill out words in the same way we burp or pass air or yawn or let out a sigh.

We go careless with words like, "You're stupid!" "What a jerk!" "Oh, s__t!"

We most of the time don't mean it, but words like these can mince and dice and cut through our core, enough to separate one's juice from his pulp.

"My son will not amount to anything," I heard a father speak of his son in the presence of guests, and in the hearing of his son.

"As a man thinks, so is he," says the bible.

I wonder how the father's careless words were reinforced many times over in this young man's mind. I'm not surprised at all that he turned to drugs, never finished his education and led a wayward life.

Words are powerful. God used words to speak the universe into being. "Let there be light, and there was light."

So it is a choice---to use life words that will either build up and bring light to a situation, or killer words which can cut one's spirit to shreds.

And it is words we use everyday to put our country down. I'm guilty of that too.

"Wala nang mangyayari sa bansa natin, hindi na tayo magbabago." "We don't see change happening. Our country will continue to be like this because of graft and corruption." We hear this like a song's constant refrain, during breaktimes, in our tete-a-tete with friends. As a nation thinks, so it is!

If words could kill, and our nation were a boat, then we are now shipwrecked and at the bottom of the ocean because of the killer words we've spoken about our nation and our situation.

We're commanded to pray and speak only of what is noble, true, kind, just, uplifting. Nowhere in the bible are we told to complain. In fact, God hated complainers so much, He caused an entire generation of Jews to die in the desert, letting them go round and round and round in the wilderness for 40 years. And they were His chosen people!

But what about the shenanigans, the corruption? Should we just keep quiet and let the law-breakers do their own thing?

God has appointed leaders and governments to enforce the law. We need to pray for them, and definitely expose corruption and help bring the guilty to task.

Let's pray for our president, our lawmakers and those who need to enforce the law and prosecute the guilty.

But let's cease complaining and let's start obeying the rules which we ourselves are guilty of breaking: bribing municipal officials because we could not wait for our papers to be processed (padulas), crossing the street where we shouldn't, driving through a red light or counter-flow, cutting through a queue, etc., etc!

All of us, not just our government officials, need a change of heart. Unless we all realize this, we will continue to point fingers and complain and be fearful of our children's future in this country.

The people groan if their leaders are corrupt, says the Book of books. So instead of complaining, let's be down on our knees praying, and obeying the law as well.

Blight---anything which destroys, frustrates or causes anything to wither, like a plant.

Eliza Doolittle chirped that those who use, "words, words, words," are blighters. It's a choice we need to make daily to destroy or build up, speak life or death.

If we believe that God is in control, then He is in control. If we believe---especially collectively believe (evidenced by our complaining)---that He isn't, then He'll withhold action.

Come to think of it, our prayers get cancelled out because of our complaining. Faith and fear are like water and oil. They can never mix.

So let's act as if He is in control. Let's be careful with our words and obey His Word.