Monday, April 30, 2012


Photos and artwork from
We've been deluged by The Titanic again. 

The movie's producers---using the 100th anniversary of the ship's sinking as an excuse to squeeze more cash from this tragedy of titanic proportions---relaunched the movie in 3D.

We were of course one of the first to queue. But I found its 3D effects bland compared to movies purposely made for 3D viewing---when objects almost literally fly off the screen to your face. With or without 3D, I love the movie anyway. It's been excellently produced. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio make it even more unforgettable.

One luxury liner recently retraced the ship's journey from Southampton, England to New York City; its passengers dressed in 1912 regalia to relive its luxurious maiden voyage.

And the latest from Australia's 5th richest: Clive Palmer announced his plan to build a Titanic 2 which will set sail in 2016---the same luxurious boat but equipped with 21st century technology.  

Before the original Titanic sailed, its captain, Edward Smith said, "I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder... Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that."

"Not even God could sink this ship." This famous quote has been mostly attributed to the owner of the Titanic but sources say it's from a deck hand responding to a passenger asking if the ship was really unsinkable.

Whoever uttered what is not the issue. But don't these words say a lot about our tendency to trust man-made things or systems, or ourselves?

Consider this survey released recently by Discovery News: Germany counts the most number of atheists at 52%; atheists from the Philippines are at 1%. Asked if they believe in God, 84% Filipinos said yes; Germans-8%; Japanese-4%.

History attests how rich nations have fallen flat on their faces. Once powerful countries like the US and those in Europe now face monumental economic crises. Japan literally dealt with a tsunami and a financial and nuclear power meltdown. Once powerful men who lorded it over thousands, even millions, continue to fall under the most humbling circumstances.  

So if anything must be harvested from the Titanic, let them be lessons on humility, the futility of man's ways, the triumph of faith, and the value of trusting no one else but God.

Psalm 20:7:  "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God."

Jesus said in John 14: 1: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.

Proverbs 3:5: 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding...

Several weeks back, Pastor Etienne shared: Jesus is in our boat! When He told His disciples (Mark 4:35), "Let us go over to the other side," He didn't let them cross the sea alone. He was in the boat with them! Though they faced a violet storm and feared for their lives, they arrived safe---because Jesus was with them!

The Titanic hit a gigantic iceberg. Its three million rivets didn't hold. Yet they bragged it was a titan of a ship. 

So instead of tempting God, or putting our trust in things, trust Jesus. Whatever happens, He is the Rock of Ages whom no one could come against.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


"Raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens,
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
Brown paper packages tied up with strings,
These are a few of my favorite things."

How could anyone not smile listening to "My Favorite Things?" Or "Edelweiss" and "Do Re Mi?" And who has grown up not falling in love with Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music star? 

Three generations of my family have watched that movie again and again! My daughter Lucci still croons at the top of her lungs whenever she watches the movie with her kids. First grandkid Joaqui merrily danced to all of its songs when he first watched it at age one. It's still one of his sister Charlize's (now five years old) oft requested movies next to "Annie." 

I was in second year high school when The Sound of Music hit town and my love affair with all things Broadway intensified. I honestly fantasized myself as a Broadway star, just like Julie---even styled my hair after Maria, her Sound of Music character.

Oh did I sing all of her songs by heart, including those from Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady (She did the Broadway part.) 

Was I pleasantly surprised when Julie Andrews guested recently in "The Talk," hosted by five lady hosts who chat about anything under the sun. She's the epitome of a lady---not rash-talking, gracious, modestly-attired, humble and honest, and still alert and elegant at age 77.

Come to think of it, Julie Andrews starred in movies where she portrayed women of integrity and character---roles which inspired and uplifted our spirits. Even at the height of her popularity, she behaved as a woman should. So unlike today's Hollywood celebrities who flaunt their indiscretions, their bodies and their vain efforts to mask their real age. 

She too has become an author, co-writing with her daughter Emma a series of children's books. 

"Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value," said Albert Einstein. 

Whether they like it or not, celebrities exert a lot of influence in our lives. I wish we had more role models like Dame Julie Andrews who will let us know that celebrity is not just about establishing yourself as a star---but knowing the awesome responsibility attached to being a star.

To whom much is given, much is required, says Luke 12:48.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Photo credit:

They look so teensy-weensy. Would they be of any benefit at all?

I'm referring to ants. King Solomon, always referred to as the wisest man who ever lived, was suppose to have said:

"Go to the ant, you, sluggard, consider its ways and be wise. It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provision in summer and gathers food at harvest" (Proverbs 6:6).

Well, if anybody else said that, it would just have entered my ear and out the other. But it was Solomon, the smartest man who ever lived. Could anyone take this guy's words sitting down?

So to Google anthill I clambered and found these:

*Ants live in highly organized territories. Cool, considering that they might not have brains. Imagine, no leader, yet functioning like clockwork! And we've not seen any bundy clocks or traffic lights in their routes either.

*Ants have no hearts and no lungs but have complicated nervous systems. It seems we're the ones without---at the rate we squish them to micro-smithereens with our bare fingers.

*Most ant species have poor eyesight but have antennae for detecting pheromone, their ant-to-ant equivalent of a cellphone. I wonder if they use cell sites to make them work.

*But they're gifted with strong jaws. This is where ant power lies. Ants use jaw stingers to kill prey and protect their nests.

One of the ant's most amazing talents: They know how to labor! (Which we couldn't say of sluggards or lazy folks who just want to lie around, waiting for someone to bring food to their mouths.)

Worker ants spend their first few days caring for the young and queen. More mature ants get promoted to digging and other nest work. And then a step higher once they start foraging for food.

In antland, that's a landmine of an assignment---much like being sent to Afghanistan or Tawi-tawi to battle with terrorists and insurgents. This is the most dangerous and deadly stage. Because it's when they forage that they get exposed to animals or humans who are just nasty, wiping them off the face of the earth, er, desserts. (So the next time you see them carrying a nano pinch of sugar, have pity. The colony awaits that!)

As ants search for food and meet obstacles, they explore new routes, leaving pheromone trails for the rest of the pack.

To protect themselves from flooding, ants build elaborate structures at the colony's entrance. In four-season countries, ants sleep the sleep of the just come winter time. A swell treat for a mountain of a tiny job.

I wrote about ants in my first book, "Sorry to Burst Your Bubble: Life Leadership Lessons from the Greatest Dreamer," (NewDay Publishers, available at National Bookstores) to capture through a simple metaphor, the need to be faithful with little tasks and to persevere to do good in spite of obstacles.

I started meditating on the topic again as I prepared recently for a bible study for my worshiper friends.

Come to think of it, our lives would be a real worship unto God if we faithfully fulfill our roles---no matter how simple they are. Be not only hearers, but also be doers of the Word, says Jesus.

Nano-sized ants know that.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


(Image of Clarissa Ortiz' painting--an abstract interpretation of the crucifixion scene. Clarissa is a gifted Down's syndrome child.)

Most of us will downshift our gears in the coming days to concentrate on the usual things we do during Holy Week.

Unlike when we celebrated Jesus’ birthday last Christmas with parties and eating, this time, we’re doing the reverse. Down with FB and social networks, shopping and dining; and on your knees for the stations of the cross, visita iglesia, and fasting and abstinence.

I recall my attempts at being somber during Holy Week in my younger days. I sincerely desired to internalize Jesus’ agony, thinking that would somehow make me right with God. So I fasted, suffering from migraines in the process. Could anyone top that painful sacrifice? Then I’d go to church for the station of the cross. But I quite recall that when I did that, my mind wandered to unsavory matters. Did that please God? I didn’t think that scored at all, if He kept a scorecard.

It didn’t work with Israel, either. Though God Himself taught them every single agonizing ritual so that their burnt sacrifices would be acceptable to Him, in the end, those sacrifices didn’t measure up to His standard of holiness. To make it easier for all of us, He sent Jesus, THE ultimate sacrifice since their sacrifices, no matter how bloody and tedious, were repugnant to Him.

No sacrifice in the world could equal what Jesus did. At that very moment he hung on the cross, Father God turned away from Jesus (Remember Jesus crying, “Father, why hast thou forsaken me?”). But that made it possible for mankind to be set free from sin because of the shed blood of Jesus.

He made us right with God in the process so that those who would accept Christ as Savior and Lord would have eternal life! “It is finished” (John 19:30), He said, then died. But He rose again, taking His position at the right hand of the Father.

He then sent the Holy Spirit to teach, help and enable us, because by ourselves we are unable. Because of the Holy Spirit, we can do every good thing through Jesus Christ! See how the Trinity connection operates in our lives as we let Jesus’ sacrifice cover us?

The Holy Spirit echoes for us what David said in Psalms 51:16-17,You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

You want to be right with God? Show Him how much you appreciate Jesus’ dying on the cross for you. Come to him with brokenness of spirit.

Giving up bad habits like smoking or drinking for a while, or momentarily not eating food which you enjoy what would these accomplish? Come to think of it, will these really make Him smile? Especially when after the Lenten season, we go back to our own merry ways. Instead of giving up something this holy Week, give yourself up. God wants you to be real, not just a seasonal saint. Magpakatotoo ka!

Why not tweak your tactics a bit? Seek Him earnestly starting this Holy Week. Pray, read the bible and ask, “Lord what do you desire from me?”

He is your Maker, He knows the condition of your heart. If you ask Him, He will answer. And wouldn’t He also tell you, “All I require is a broken spirit, a contrite heart?”

A broken spirit equals a repentant heart. That’s what He’s after. A heart which acknowledges, “Lord I am a sinner, I could not be righteous on my own. Jesus, I need you. Be my Savior. Be my Lord. Enable me to obey. Change my heart of stone to a heart of flesh, that I may hear and obey your instructions everyday.”

No wonder the bible says, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1Samuel 15:22).

Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. No need to duplicate that. The only sacrifice needed is to let Him be the Boss! Because if you let Him, He promises, you will be a new creation. Your Creator guarantees that.