Friday, October 19, 2018

MY LAST LECTURE: WELL, SORT OF

About this same period last year, I cleaned up my locker, turned over its key, and ended 15 years of teaching in an international school south of Manila.

My last Saturday session with my MBA students was a free-wheeling discussion of their real workplace issues.

The final days of my undergrad class had me cooped up in the faculty room (students darting back and forth to ask if they passed) to check and grade their dissertation papers before they were sent to London for second marking by my British counterpart. Teaching under the British system taught me to be more thorough in my grading so none of my students' grades were reduced.

It was really just a work-work-work week—until my last sessions with my senior high students. 

While I was yet receiving their mind maps about what it would take to have a progressive Philippines, in popped boxes of pizzas, a barrage of hugs and an envelope of messages.

Today, I woke up from my nap, thinking, "That was it, teaching days over!" then frantically looked for those messages.  

Rivers flowed as I re-read them. Teaching was my calling; and those notes proved it.

(It's humbling to be highly regarded. Thank you, God! Sharing with you some of those messages not to call attention to myself but to boast of God's grace for this oftentimes frustrated teacher; and to encourage my teacher readers to persevere in their calling.)   

Some anonymous notes from a page headlined "Why do we love Ms. Yay":

"…taught us how to live."

"Inspirational, amazing, loving, funny, lively, great role model."

"Built my confidence… molded me."

"Super kind-hearted and loving, like a mom."

"An irrevocable love for God, her students and her work… Has a way of inspiring her students and making them interested in her lessons."

Derick: "I had  so much challenges meeting expectations. If I don't meet them, I feel like a cut down broken tree. (But) I chose to focus more, work harder to be better… even if my arms and brain get sore…"

Imann: "I always appreciate how you always stand up for what you believe in… and still be open-minded. Because of that, I always look up to you."

I applaud Kim for her honesty:  "I love you even if I have quite low grades in your subject. To be honest…  your subject is my lowest. I hope when I stay here for college, you will be my prof. I did my best in your subject. You're such an inspiration… my idol."

Dillon, my Korean student: "As I am Korean… English was my biggest challenge. However… I learned a lot. I appreciate your method. I am still using dictionary to write this short letter, but soon I may be better, right?"

Andrea: "From the moment you first spoke to us and had your lecture, I already knew you were fit to be a teacher. You spoke with much passion and I was motivated. Your career history and writings inspire me. Continue to inspire others too."

Aiko: "I was able to express my opinions confidently about social issues… speak English fluently while reporting. Through these reports, I learned about a lot of things because you taught me how to do proper research. I may not be in the right position to tell you, but you are a successful teacher. You have touched our hearts not only inside the classroom  but also outside. You are now one of our inspirations … to become successful one day. I feel I'm ready to think critically.  You are a blessing. Please inspire more students."

                     My youngest pupil Coco.                   
All set to go to school.
Justin: "I will cherish every minute… every workshop. Thank you for molding me and building my confidence in reporting. This confidence I will bring to my… future business. I will send you my product… to remind you that you touched me through your teachings and life stories. You are the best teacher I ever had… I hope you'll remember me."

Humbling, don't you think?

As I tuck back those messages into my stash of fond memories, I say a little prayer for all the students I'd been privileged to mentor. I've never ceased praying for them. Because frankly, it's a dog-eat-dog world out there. 

Oops, my youngest pupils call. "Na-na," says my one year-old grandchild Coco as she eyes a banana. Her sister Natalie waits her turn to play scrabble and sungka

Who says my teaching days are over?  

Saturday, September 29, 2018

I Blew It!

Image credit:/www.capitalfm.co.

How many times have you and I uttered this lineaftermath of our wrong decisions, hastily-formed opinions or careless utterances?

Some of the consequences? Missed opportunities or promotions. Even soured relationships.

Oh I could write a book about my own duh-moments and mishaps. What about you?

Why such failings? Because truly, we're all just kids!

Check yourself. Just because you're senior doesn't mean you're wise. Your gray hair is no evidence!

Appointed as king after his father David, king Solomon admitted he was "only a child and didn't know how to carry out his duties," 1 Kings 3:7.

Just like a good natural father, God loves getting involved in our lives, in whatever calling or stage of life we're at.

God was pleased that this earthly king humbly came to Him for help, 1Kings 3:10; telling Solomon further, "… since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be," v 11-12.

He's proven this same promise in my own situations.

I was appointed to head a team of 12 or so people in a job I once held in an international hotel in Manila. From managing just a staff of three, I'd been tasked to handle not just the hotel's public relations function, but sales and marketing as well.

A new and on-fire believer then, I searched the scripture for guidance, and took to heart this exact same promise even as I was close to panicking. But His peace prevailed. And though at times I felt like a camel passing through a needle, I survived, by His grace.

Some mishaps? You bet, but nothing compared to the learnings and victories our team experienced, like the hotel experiencing one its best financial successeswhile most other hotels reeled through low traveller turnouts because of martial law.

Didn't the bible promise that we will be a blessing wherever he plants us?

Apart from His wisdom, we are zilch, powerless, mishap-prone. That's the consequence of our fallen nature. That's why we need Jesus. In Him, we are more than conquerors!

The key? Fear of the Lord! "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding," Proverbs 9:10.

"You need wisdom, knowledge and understanding," I used to tell my students at the start of every term.

They can access tons of information because of the internet; but which of these are useful for sound decision-making?

Discernment comes from the Lord. That's the Holy Spirit keeping us from "I blew it!" episodes.

Lord grant me wisdom. Holy Spirit, teach me glean right from wrong and follow you in spite of contrary voices, in  Jesus' name.

Monday, September 3, 2018

THIS LITTLE BOAST OF MINE

Who's more euphoric when a child does something exceptional? His parents? Or  his grandparents?

Yes, this sense of jumping for joy and shouting alleluia, plus the urge to show these feats off. This lola is guilty as charged. 

Believe me, it takes a lot of self-control to under-boast, especially if it concerns apos. Right, fellow grannies?

Paul (Galatians 6:14) says not to boast except in the cross. Pretty please, allow me just this one boast. 

LET'S START WITH JOAQUI
Now 15, first grandchild is genuinely awesome! These soundbites should moderate the platitudes: Batch valedictorian. Champion sportsmanrecently competed in Australia's national martial arts meet as member of the New South Wales team. 

Math whiz kid. Keen on studying bio-medical engineering and nano technology. Excellent writer and public speakerrecently won first prize in his school's speech competition.

Yet my favorite grandson 😄😜 has remained as shy and low-key as ever, like her parents Lucci and Joel. 

A bit of a homeboy too. Religiously takes out the garbage. Laughs easily. Mababaw ang kaligayahan (easy to please).

His favorite toy: a three-D printer with which he's created odds and ends, outputs of his curious, design-prone and computing mind. His Instagram posts celebrate nerdy stuffquite intriguing even for his 68 year-old engineer lolo (Jack).

JOAQUI'S SISTER CHARLIZE
Grandchild number two: Excels in dancing and singing. Dancer and back-up singer in kids' praise and worship, Hillsong Southwest (in one of Sydney's suburbs). 

Courted (biased lola words)  by the bigger Hillsong church (Australia) to join its kiddie praise and worship videos. Represents her schooleither in running, swimming, discus throw, basketballin inter-school varsity meets.

She too recently made it as finalist in their school's speechfest—first runner-up, wow! But Charlize is most passionate about dance—competes in dance meets. Dreams of teaching dance as a profession. 

She can prepare a mean pizza too. 

GRANDKID 3, NATALIE. 
Just turned six, Natalie is a performer. One who'd excel in a world of words, and singing or music per se. Plays the drums like her dad. Makes reading fun by singing book texts. Draws like an Olmedo (her other lolo, Onib, on Jack's side is one of the Philippines' most celebrated artists).

Just tonight, we caught her trying to play the tuneand pressing the right keys from memoryof a song she recently learned from her teacher. And she's not even having piano lessons yet. Right there, I asked: gifted?

Her mom Opalyn has become more excited for her recently because Natalie's taken a big leap in her school performance. She's a US-born Pinoy kid. Yet, converse with her in Tagalog and you'd react, "Nagsasalita ng Tagalog?!" But she does it with a twang.  

Natalie's quite an ate (big sister), genuinely looking after her baby sister's safety. This lola's been a bit sick a few days back so I got delayed rising from bed for supper. Guess who came in with a bowl of sinigang for granny. Caring, like her mother. 

THE LITTLEST, COCO
Just turned one, this one's a charmer. Our hungry caterpillar who attacks a chicken drumstick like she had a full set of teeth—she's got only two.  

Too early to say what her gifts are. Meanwhile, she's my supervisortirelessly walking through every part of the house, checking out things and sounds like a detective would. Joaqui was like that when he was one. 

Coco definitely has rhythm. Rocks to any form of music or beat. Screams with a deep and lusty vibrato. Who won't if your house pulsates with drum beats? 

I've liveder... put upwith my son Carlo's drumming for the most part of his life so it's not surprising that Natalie and Coco rock too.

SURE FOUNDATION 
Some may dismiss the above as feel-good pre-quals for these kids' future bio-profiles. For sure, they're fodder for pridefulness. 

We've read a lot about over-achievers and gifted people. I've worked with some of them. Behaving like they're center-of-the-universe, they're quite a pain really. 

That's why these parents/grandparents pray:

That these kids will know God's purpose for them. That they'd grow in wisdom and sense of excellence and service. That even as they succeed, they will remain humble, disciplined and dependent on Him. That they'd live by the Word and shun the toxic influences around them.

This is what I boast of: Luke 1:50 "His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation." 

Raising up children is like preparing your puttanesca sauce. Armed with faith and prayers that they'll turn out fine, you relish them with love, hugs, memorable play times and fun times, reminders, rebukes and conversations, along with a hearty dose of your own good actions—because no matter how you press them to behave or shape up, your "doing" is what they'll eventually catch. 

The bible urges us to teach them in the way they should go "so that when they are old, they won't depart from it," Proverbs 22:6.

Enjoy your grandparenting moments. But more than reveling at their feats, let's constantly nudge them to be kind, considerate, compassionate, patient, etc.—that they'd behave as Jesus did! 

For more parenting/grandparenting wisdom, check out my book, "Grandparenting: Happiness and Hard Work." OMF and other popular bookstores. EBook format from Amazon.com


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

HUNGRY


My granddaughter Coco is always at it—eating! Her all-time favorite? Blueberries, yum! 

Her mom Opalyn fondly calls her "my very hungry caterpillar," referencing Eric Carle's very popular and multi-awarded children's book.  

So naturally, when Coco turned a year old recently, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" became her party theme. And as usual, all her photos showed her munching... munching... munching. 

She just wouldn't stop! Give her a chicken bone or pork rib and she'd just as happily gnaw at it. 

Always biting or chomping, a caterpillar is a persistent eater. 

What happens after all the nibbling and crunching? The caterpillar digests itself with its own enzymes, dissolving its tissues, then transforming these into body parts—a painful yet miraculous process. 

Metamorphosis! How a crawly and slowpoke worm magically turns into a vari-colored swift-flying wonder—the best friend of flowers, a boon to plant life, especially agricultural productivity, and a sight for sore eyes. 

"The very hungry caterpillar" may be an apt metaphor for a growing child who always needs to be fed so he or she develops into a healthy individual. 

I've prayed that Coco's (and our other grandchildren's) constant hunger for food metamorphoses into a craving for the things of God—that she would turn to God's Word for spiritual nourishment and desire His righteousness instead of the transient pleasures and highs found in material possessions. 

That these words would resonate in and convict her heart to do His Way:

1Peter 2:2 Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the Word, so that by it, you may grow in respect to salvation.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the Bread of life; he who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst."

Between ten to 15 days, a caterpillar is no more. Changed, totally! 

The Word of God promises us the same thing. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here," 2 Corinthians 5:17. 

Coco developing a hunger for God? She's on the right track. 

She may have started like the very hungry caterpillar. With godly parents and loved ones teaching and showing her the Way, she will soon realize that Jesus alone satisfies. 
Image credit: kids.nationalgeographic.com

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for our children and grandchildren. May they know You intimately even as they mature. May they see the difference between the "food" that the world offers, and the real riches you have stored up for them. May they walk on solid ground and glorify your Name alone. 






Sunday, August 5, 2018

STATUS: IN A RELATIONSHIP

Image credit: www.instructables.com (I Do Wedding Prop)

Our universe and earth-life are all about relationships, symbiosis or mutuality.

The sun's radiation and rotation affect not only our climates and sense of night and day, but also our health and overall well-being.  

Plantswhile giving us shade, timber and foodprovide us oxygen while they take in carbon dioxide from what we exhale.

As small as they are, bees pollinate crops for sustainable agricultural production, on the side gratifying us and bears with honey. Ants rely on teamwork to escape being trampled upon.

Human babies depend on their mothers and fathers' love and caring if they are to become capable adults.

So is it so surprising that our Creator would want to carry on a relationship with us? After all, He refers to Himself too as our Father.

And He has made known His intentions in many ways. Adam and Eve were definitely in speaking terms with Himuntil the fall. Nonetheless, He let he door open for them and their future sons and daughters  to seek Him even if they botched it.    

God gave us this awesome universe and this planet we call home. If you don't see His hand in that, you're blind indeed. How could every nano-nano, functioning and interacting detail of this amazing creation be just a random infusion of elements, or evolution, as scientists would have us believe? 

Sadder still is the fact that many have chosen to worship the createdthe sun and moon, for exampleinstead of the Creator Himself.

But God, being God, was persistent, picking a bunch of hard-headed and complaining folks to demonstrate His plan and power. By favoring the Jews, was God being unfair to the rest of the world? 

Well, He is God and He could choose any one, can't He, to prove that He is God?

Look at what happened to the Jews: forever assaulted by other nationswith the holocaust as one of history's recent nightmares; yet till today, and in spite of their neighbors and the devil's destructive designs on her, Israel thrivesa kind of prosperity and ingenuity envied even by the West. Quite a testimony of God's favor, patience and protection!

And through the Jews, God sent us His Son who became man. Ironically, they refused Jesus, the promised Messiah, save for a handful of believers. But through His miracles, and His death and resurrection, and the power He bestowed on His followers, God unequivocally revealed: I want to have a relationship with you. I will be great on your behalf. If only you'd follow Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Even if Jesus rejoined His Fatherto fulfil His role as our intercessorGod sent the disciples the Holy Spirit, first at Pentecost when the apostles gathered, after which they were  empowered to preach Jesus and perform miracles. Up to today, every one placing his faith in Jesus gets to be indwelt by the same Holy Spiritfor power to obey and preach Jesus.   

Acts 2:17"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams."

Jesus our Shepherd continues to gather His lost sheeprelentlessly. Have you come back to His pen yet?   


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

DUST AND GOD


Image result for michelangelo art images"Prove to me that there is a God and I will resign," said the President. 

We don't know God's "how" and "when" but he's in for a knee-shattering response —  if he has not gotten it yet. 

A humbling fact: He's but dirt. You and I are. We need to be reminded of that.

Think you're scrubbing scum from your body at bath-time? Partly yes, but mainly because you're shedding off a bit of your original component---D.U.S.T.  

Wait till your remains are cremated and/or buried in the cemetery. Your original form revealed.  Totally!

But I'll say it here again, as I've written and talked about in my books and seminars. You're wonderful dust. 

Psalm 139:13-14 "For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..."

We are numero uno evidence that there's a God. How could one even imagine that a thinking and analyzing being such as yourself be dust? 

Consider yourself. Are you an inventor or engineer? A strategist? An artist? Man, we're way above chimpanzees or any other created being! 

Man can design systems, manufacture goods, even channel our intelligence through computers and machines.

Think of the authors and artists who have inspired you breathless. Shakespeare. Van Gogh. Michelangelo. Your teacher who motivated you to dream and excel. Your parents who loved and nurtured you in spite of your sometimes sour attitude. 

Why is man a cut above the rest? This God  who's been dismissed by many as just a figment of our imagination — designed us in His likeness. 

"Genesis 1:27 "So God created man in His OWN image..." And breathed His Spirit in us. Genesis 2:7 "Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."

That's why man is so smart. So smart that he imagines himself to be God!

God gave us free will, but within rules if we want to enjoy peace and prosperity,  cautioning that out of bounds, we face consequences.

And to make sure we don't get lost or have an excuse for gallivanting, we've been handed an instruction manual, the bible —  much like Enzo Ferrari giving his customers an owner's manual so they can savor the full benefits of his built-to-win-the-race cars.

It's about His grace! He didn't want man to perish using his free will as an excuse for foolishness and misadventure so God synthesized His manual into one simple faith-path. His Son Jesus Christ, Himself co-Maker of heaven and earth, revealed God's fullness to all mankind when He came in human form.

God even gifted us with a planet perfectly endowed for human life, giving us front row seat to the heavens and a limitless universe. Scientists and NASA itself have proven that this still expanding universe exists because of intelligent design. 

Yet millions all over the world dismiss the concept of God.

Dust shaking its fist at God? Who do you think wins in the end?

"The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled)," Isaiah 3:12

A natural father knows when to make his child face the wall —  or whack his behind —  if he misbehaves. Couldn't He who created and breathed life unto dusty us do the same? 

He craves our repentance. James 4:6 "But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble."

Something to think about: Will His grace run out?

Friday, June 29, 2018

THE POWER OF WORDS


Image credit: Second Life Marketplace
We get inundated daily by a torrent of words some plain gibberish, others informative or inspiring, a lot of them we wished we never heard because of their crassness or irreverence.

Words it seems have life. 

Because their meanings or implications fuel our imaginations and emotions, words can send relationships down slippery slopes. Just look around us. Broken marriages. A divided nation. Because of hurtful, stinging words.

As a bible-believing Christian and as someone who's built her career on disciplines (broadcast, advertising, public relations and marketing) requiring sound communication strategies, may I offer my two-cents worth on the business of words words and concepts being the foundation of any sound communication:

1. Words are powerful because they come from the Creator Himself.

Genesis 1 tells us how God spoke creation into being. "Let there be light," were just the first of these words.  

Jesus Himself is the Word. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." (John 1:1-3)

It's interesting how many businesses and products built their successes on words or principles which  marketing and advertising people refer to as business strategies or unique selling propositions like Disneyland building itself to be "The Happiest Place on Earth", Nike inspiring ordinary athletes to "Just Do It", or Apple following its "Think Different" philosophy, be it in company culture or product design.  

2. The higher the authority of the one speaking, the weightier the words.

God used words and still uses the Word the bible and Jesus per se to teach us how to live; with millions of lives transformed by the truths they've started to believe.

"The Filipinos are worth dying for," spoken by the exiled Ninoy Aquino who challenged the Marcos dictatorship, has continued to reverberate through several generations of patriotic Filipinos.

Martin Luther King, Jr., champion of Negro emancipation in the 1960s, still inspires Americans today with "I Have a Dream".

In his 1961 inaugural speech, John F. Kennedy exhorted his fellow Americans, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."  

How weighty indeed were Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf and his fiery speeches which inspired an entire nation to say yes to the annihilation of the Jews!  

Which brings us to the last point…

3. Words spoken by those in authority or positions of power take a life of their own.

Especially nowadays when information is quickly accessible with just a push of your smart-phone app,  politicians and celebrities' words get uploaded or broadcast in real time without much chance to edit or window-dress their carelessly-uttered thoughts.

Words build up. They also destroy. So those in leadership positions must be extra careful of their words and actions. Those on top of the totem pole speak louder than anyone's words or actions.

My main point: As audiences and responsible citizens, how should we respond to the words and behavior of our leaders especially when they wantonly lie, curse, take pride of their shenanigans, or use their power for their own ends?

"Pray for them," says the bible, even as we obey the laws. They too are our duly-elected representatives, so they are accountable to both God and the citizenry. They need to be warned if they exceed their bounds, for they certainly face God's wrath.  

"But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul, Ezekiel 3:19.

God's Word is powerful. He does not lie. He is God and is in control.

We are Filipinos. We have a soul. Just giving up and allowing someone to abuse and divide us is a disservice to our nation and our God.