Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Last Post of 2008

      Boy oh boy... what a ride 2008 has been! It was a year of many first’s... of triumphs and losses, heart ache and joy, moments of affirmation that made my head swell and timely pin pricks of humility that brought me down to earth not as gently as I would have liked. Waaaa... what an unforgettable year.

            This year I’ve become more aware of how He has been orchestrating every minute detail of my life. The details are too personal to post but the awe I felt (and still feel) cannot be contained. It is real. It is concrete. His hand in my life is the surest thing in my existence.

            I have been blessed with so many gifts, of which I count my family as the primary one. Without them, I am nothing.

            I am also so blessed to have good friends... one of whom I had the good fortune to meet just the other day, and we tried our best to cram two years worth of kuwento in two hours chitchat over coffee. I was struck by how humble she remains despite being renowned as a guitar goddess, teacher and performer. Domini dear, I pray that God grants you more success in the coming years! (As one person put it: “She’s so humble, it hurts.”)

            My book club friends have been a huge blessing to me as well. Our once-a-month meetings were a source of light amidst the tiresome daily grind. I have benefited from their generosity with books and personal experiences, and have grown wiser from their shared testimonies. Sometimes I wish I could shrink them and put them in my pocket, to be consulted in times of doubt and insecurity :)  (Christian, Rich, Nicole, Judie, TJ, Tata, Venice, Nerie... you guys are the best!)

            The Internet exposes one to many evils (viruses being the least of them), but I will be forever grateful to modern technology. Without it, I would not have been able to make the acquaintance of my “blog buddies.” I am especially grateful to have met Meewa, who has been such a good influence on me! Perhaps 2009 will bring an opportunity for us to meet face to face. I would really love that!

            In these harsh times when people are being released from their old jobs, I am very lucky to have TWO, and am luckier still that these occupations are not only challenging and interesting, but also very spiritually rewarding.

            I am grateful to have graduated on time, and to have had employment waiting for me as soon as I finished college. I would not have graduated if it had not been for the likes of Kuya Paul Aquino, Kim Feliz, Eric Ferrer, Ate Diane Catibog, and Kuya Jonaf del Fierro, who generously gave of their time and prodigious talents. Maraming salamat sa inyo!

            I am extremely blessed to have passed the entrance examinations for graduate school and to be studying in a godly environment for my M.A. studies in Basic Education.

            I am grateful for all these opportunities to learn. In 2008, I became:


·         A graduate of UP (and on her centennial, too! What a lucky batch ours was)

·         A teacher (of English, Music, Asian Civiliation, Speech and Theater, Diction, and Voice)

·         A choir directress

- A high school drama club director (yeees and the first play under my direction will be performed sometime February 2009, please pray for us!!)

·         A church musician

·         A graduate student

·        A pop singer (when I sang as one of the Dreamgirls from CMu during the Centennial Faculty Follies)


I started 2008 with a great deal of anxiety... “Shall I graduate this sem? Will I be able to get a job after I graduate? Where shall I work? Can I continue making music after I graduate?” And all my questions were answered, in ways I never expected. And I couldn’t be happier. Truly, He knows the desires of our hearts even more than we know ourselves. And despite the trials that plague all of us, deep down I rest assured that they are His way of moulding us, for He cares more for our souls than for our comfort.

            May 2009 be a year of peace and prosperity for all of us. God bless and have a happy New Year! *hug*

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 in Books

Some people keep track of the year that was in terms of major events. I’ll do that in my next post, but for now I’ll keep track by listing the books that I read this year. To paraphrase Bronson Alcott’s words, these books are associated with reality and chronicle my identity.


Here is a list of the books I read for 2008 (not including the old books which I re-read, and not including those tomes which I started but haven’t gotten around to finishing):



1.       A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

2.       Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

3.       The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

4.       Four Loves by C.S. Lewis

5.       Not Even A Hint by Joshua Harris

6.       Can Man Live Without God? By Ravi Zacharias

7.       Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald



8.       Miracles by C.S. Lewis

9.       The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen

10.    The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World by Alister McGrath

11.    Your First Job: A Practical Guide to Success by Nelson T. Dy

12.    Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

13.    The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence of the Ressurection



14.    Music Through The Eyes of Faith by Harold M. Best

15.    Equilibrium & Ultimatum (from Vol. II of Either/Or) by Soren Kierkegaard

16.    On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

17.    The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis

18.    The Princess: Machiavelli for Women by Harriet Rubin

19.    The Moral of the Story: Learning from Literature About Human & Divine Love by Paul J. Wadell



20.    Dear Jane Austen: A Heroine’s Guide to Life & Love by Patrice Hannon

21.    Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

22.    Persepolis 2: Marjane Satrapi

23.    Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot

24.    Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? By Philip Yancey

25.    Dawn by Elie Wiesel



26.    Poems & Prose by Gerald Manley Hopkins

27.    Maria Montessori: Her Life & Work by E.M. Standing

28.    The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori



29.    Mila 18 by Leon Uris



30.    A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

31.    The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis



32.    Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

33.    Captivated by John and Stasi Eldredge

34.    The Children Are Watching by Carlos Cortes

35.    Poems by C.S. Lewis

36.    Days of Reading by Marcel Proust

37.    Letters to A Young Poet by Rainier Maria Rilke

38.    Perelandra by C.S. Lewis

39.    All I Need To Know About Life I Learned From Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum



40.    The Watsons & Emma Watson by Jane Austen & Joan Aiken

41.    White Nights by Fyodor Dostoevsky

42.    The Singer by Calvin Miller

43.    The Eternal Husband and Other Stories by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Pevear & Volokhonsky)



44.    Vita Brevis by Jostein Gaarer

45.    The Shack by William P. Young

46.    Marley and Me by Josh Grogan

47.    Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

48.    Music, The Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination by Robert Jourdain

49.    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

50.    The Essential Kierkegaard by Hong



51.    How To Share Jesus by Dr. Isabelo F. Magalit

52.    Women on Fire by Lorna Kalaw-Tirol

53.    Song of Kali by Dan Simmons

54.    The Wedding Officer by Anthony Capella

55.    Augustine The Educator by Eugene Kevane

56.    Maya by Jostein Gaarder

57.    Selected Poems by Christina Rossetti

58.    The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel



59.    1984 by George Orwell

60.    The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

61.    March by Geraldine Brooks

62.    When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin Yalom

63.    Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite by Paul Arden

64.    The Authoritative Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson

65.    Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

66.    Eden’s Outcasts by John Matteson (à 2008 Pulitzer Prize in biography!! J )


Hurray! I met my one-book-a-week goal! J Though there were weeks than I would not get to read, I seized the semester breaks (and this Christmas break, tee hee) to pounce on the yummy volumes in my to-read pile.


Papa and Mama gave my sister and I two new bookshelves each for Christmas... the best gifts we received, this season! J Speaking of gifts... I swear, I’ve never received so many presents before in my entire life! Thanks to my students. They say there are two holidays wherein teachers are the recipients of a deluge of presents: Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Hehehe. The perks of the job!


So now I have my students’ generosity to blame for my bulging stomach (a lot of them gave edibles, which had to be eaten immediately to avoid spoilage). Let’s see if I can muster the motivation to go jogging (even a couple of times) this coming week.


On another topic: I’ve been delving too deeply on morose thoughts lately. And to my shame... I’ve been indulging in very un-Christian thoughts. Politicians beating up innocent civilians didn’t do anything to alleviate my year-end despondency. Hmmm... must be my December diet of books (except Calvin & Hobbes).


There are some days I don’t like myself very much. This is one of them.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Politicans Abusing Power (This made me so mad, I almost kicked something)

(This is a repost... the original blog post is here)


The world has gone crazy.

So, I just had the worst day of my life.

At around 1:30 PM today, at Valley Golf and Country Club, Antipolo City, Mayor Nasser Pangandaman, Jr., Mayor of Masiu City, Lanao del Sur, his father, Secretary Nasser Pangandaman of the Department of Agrarian Reform, and company, beat my defenseless 56-year-old dad and my 14-year-old brother to a pulp because of some stupid misunderstanding on the golf course.

This is a golf course. I have been a golfer all my life, and I have never seen anything like this. NOTHING. This is hard to comprehend. And it happened to my own father and my own brother too. Right in front of my eyes.

My brother and I were playing golf at the South Course of Valley. We were on the 3rd hole, and we see two golf carts going past us, overtaking our flight, and setting up to tee off on the next hole. My dad goes up to them and asks them why they would do that, why they would overtake us without even asking for our permission. Golf etiquette 101. One of the guys says that they're with the flight in front of us. (So what? That doesn't give them the right to just pass us WITHOUT asking.) So, we go to the 5th hole. The flight behind us catches up with us, and asks us what caused the hold up. We said that this flight just slipped in front of our flight. So we complained to the marshall. We play the 5th hole and walk towards the next hole, where there is a teehouse, and both the flights in front of us were there, talking with the marshall. The mayor of Masiu City, Lanao del Sur talks with my dad. Things get heated up. Voices were raised. But never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine that someone would pull out a punch. Apparently not. He attacks my father. His flightmates, maybe 2 or 3 of them, rush to his aid and beat up my father. My 56-year-old father. My younger brother and I could not just watch. We rushed to break the fight. My younger brother pleads to the mayor to please stop it. To not hurt my dad. To just stop. His words still ring through my head...
"Sorry na po, sorry na po...tama na...tama na po..." With his hands in front of his chest in a praying position. PLEADING. The mayor socks him in the face. My brother defended himself. My dad is still on the ground getting clobbered. My brother is the same way. I try to stop the fight, but all I can do is stop one person. There were 4 or 5 of them attacking now.

Someone breaks up the fight. I thought it was all over. The mayor shouts to his caddy: 
"Hindi nila kami kilala! Sabihin mo nga sa kanila kung sino ako!" And believe me, I had no idea who this person was. But now I know. He's the person who, with 4 other men, beat up my 56-year-old father and my 14-year-old brother. He's the person who sacks a pleading 14-year-old kid in the face. He's a person who, I am sure, is gonna rot in hell.

I lash out, but my dad held me back. I was screaming my lungs out, shouting to this mayor, telling him about what he had done. I said: 
"Nakakahiya kayo. Singkwenta'y sais anyos ang tatay ko. And kapatid ko kakatorse anyos. Anong ilalaban nila sayo?"

The mayor looks at my brother, point to his face, and says,
"Tatandaan kita!" And he tells me that my brother has a bad attitude and that I need to watch him. WHAT THE HELL?! So, my brother's bad for defending his father?!

We leave. We walk to the clubhouse to file a complaint. My brother asks for a doctor. My dad could barely walk. Their group comes to the clubhouse, sees my brother. Once again my brother pleads, says sorry, and is crying. He was CRYING, for crissakes. But no. The relentless mayor still punches him in the face, and then sees my dad and goes after my dad again. Him and his friend pull my dad to the ground, pulls at his feet, and steps on him like he's dirt. I run to him and try to hold him back, holding him back by his shirt, while this other guy and this girl tries to stop me. She tells me to just stop it. I scream in her face "they're beating my father up and you want me to stop?!" I pull at his shirt--I don't let go. All I can see was my dad being trampled on. I didn't even see my brother getting beat up.

People pull them away. I get my dad, and I saw my brother. His right ear was bleeding. I freaked out. I told the receptionists to bring my brother to the clinic. I pull my dad away. People were separating us.

My mom and my older brother come. I tell her Bino's right ear is bleeding. They both look like they could kill. My dad holds my brother off, I hold off my mom. When I finally got my mom under control, my older brother gets away and I hold him off. Two of the mayor's bodyguards pull out guns. I embraced my brother from the back, just holding him back, crying. The receptionists came to us, crying, hugging me, my dad, and my mom, whispering to us to just leave. 
"Maam, umalis na po kayo, may mga baril sila...Maam...umalis na po kayo please..."

I am pretty sure the Secretary of DAR did not take part in the fight, but he just watched all this happen. He watched two of his sons, as we figured out, the other guy was his son, too, beat up my father and my 14-year-old brother. He didn't do anything to stop it. And this person is what now? A cabinet member. A politician.

Sounds like something out of a movie, doesn't it? But this is what happened. TODAY. The day after Christmas. To my family. And all I ask for is JUSTICE. The people at Valley Golf did not seem to want to help us. None of the security guards even tried to stop the fight. Right in the clubhouse. I came back after the fight was over and talked to the receptionists. They say they did not see anything. The general manager of Valley Golf would not give us the names of the men who made my brother's ear bleed. It took him an hour. Maybe even more than that. He seemed to not want to help us. Because, we were against the SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM and the 
MAYOR OF MASIU CITY, LANAO DEL SUR. They were all scared.

The world has gone crazy. Two politicians beat up a defenseless 56-year-old father and his 14-year-old son. At a golf course. I swear to God, I thought golfers were decent people. You would think politicians were decent people. I guess not. I guess they gang up on 56-year-old men and beat up pleading 14-year-old kids.

Please pray for my dad, my brother and for my whole family. Please pray that we get JUSTICE. Oh God, please, give these people what they deserve.
~ ~ ~ ~

News articles can be found here, here, and here.
Let's pray that justice will be done! Otherwise, people will start losing hope in the future of our country.
Times like these, I wish I had POWER. To crush and kill evil men. (waaa this is my dark side showing)
But this is why I tteach. I teach... so that my students will not commit this kind of outrage against humanity.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Part 1 of O Come All Ye Faithful

Pardon the boo-boo's... this was taken after we came from hearing mass, and while our Christmas dinner was being prepared in the dining table. We had a few minutes to kill, so we decided to have an impromptu "MTV" session (no practice!!). Our brother joined in a bit, hahaha!

That's me in white, agonizing over the piano part, while my twinnie sings brilliantly (and my brother "makes epal")

Part 2 of O Come All Ye Faithful

Haha and thus our impromptu musicale concludes, with the father voicing out his hearty approval at the end, and a delighted mother's musical laugh wrapping up our humble "MTV."

Christmas Eve Mass 2008

Mama took pics of us because she said we "rarely look this good." Hahaha! :)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Cleaning Up Before He Comes

     It's funny how I spent the better part of today cleaning up my room (which I share with my twinnie), and when I posted my status online saying so, several friends responded saying, "So am I!"

     I remarked on this phenomenon to my twinnie, and discovered that this was not limited to my own circle of friends. "Seems like we're ALL cleaning up before Christmas," she said.

     And I was struck by how appropriate the physical act of housekeeping is, to reflect the inner cleansing that we go through to mark the coming of the baby Jesus.  This blog entry  on the relationship of physical and inner order had it down pat.

     I can hardly wait for Christmas eve mass later! For me, this is the highlight of Christmas... the part that I look forward to the most, even more than the simple family dinner we'll be having after, and even more than the exchanging of presents under our wee tree.

      I love singing the Christmas songs... I do think that the most beautiful songs ever composed are Christmas songs (O Come All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night, and even Handel's Messiah and Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium for that matter). There's nothing like pouring out one's heart in song, in praise and thanksgiving for the biggest miracle that occurred 2008 years ago in faraway Bethlehem.

     Here's a clip I'd like to share, which contains some of my favorite parts from Messiah (For Unto Us A Child Is Born -- Is 9:6, There Were Shepherds Abiding In The Field -- Luke 2, Glory to God -- Luke 2:14). 

     Have a blessed Christmas, everyone!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Holidays

     The past few weeks has been a blur of activity. Everyone goes a little bit crazy during Christmastime here in Manila, and I'm now feeling the effects of late nights and days spent meeting old friends and braving the snake-like cashier queues of the boutiques (I REFUSE to stress about the fact that I was not able to get presents to all the people on my list... good thing there's such a thing as a HAPPY NEW YEAR present).

      Yesterday was a typical "busy" day. I had to wake up at 5:30 to get to the school by 7, where I met with the Teatro students and blocked 8 out of 12 scenes of the high school's theatre club's play by 11 am. Ran off to have lunch with old chorale-mate and friend Denden. It was great to see her, and catch up on our lives. (Denden dear, if you're reading this, thank you for the lovely present and the even more precious note that came with it! You'll always have Tata and I by your side. *hug*) That was an afternoon well spent, and spent I was indeed when I came home! But despite my weariness, I HAD to finish the book my twinnie gave me for Christmas:

     For all the Little Women readers out there, you MUST read this book if you want a very plausible interpretation of what Father March went through when he went off to war. Geraldine Brooks knew that Little Women was heavily autobiographical, and so she drew on actual journals and letters of Bronson Alcott, the transcendentalist philosopher and educator who was father to the much beloved Louisa May Alcott. She came up with a very vivid portrait of a man who, despite committing unspeakably horrible sins out of weakness wrought by being "dipped into the fire,"  remained an idealist and a "good, kind" man.

     (Good and kind... two simple adjectives yet they are the most important attributes I think we should all aspire to be. Give me a simple, good and kind man any day over a worldly, sophisticated and charming one!)

     The book provided a darker and more adult view of the March family, and only served to deepen my ardor for the real life Alcott family that inspired the novel. I've been looking for this book in the FULLY BOOKED outlets but haven't been able to find a copy! I hope to get myself this book for Chrimastime. If you see it a bookstore, please, DO inform me where!!!

     But I digress. Here is a passage from "March" that struck me deeply (Mea culpa!!), and it serves as a timely reminder to look past the material gifts and the food-laden party tables this Christmas:

     "...I had come in stages to a different belief about how one should be in this life. I now felt convinced that the greater part of a man's duty consists in abstaining from much that he is in the habit of consuming. If I prolong my dark hours by the consumption of costly oil, then I waste both the life of the beast slaughtered for the purpose, and the clarity of mind which comes from timely sleep... If I indulge in coffee then I pay to pollute myself, when instead I could have had a cleansing draught of water at no charge at all...Further, we found that by limiting our own consumption to two meals a day, we were able to set aside a basket of provisions from which the girls were able to exact a pleasure far greater than sating an animal appetite... and that one luxury that we could not forswear; giving our mite to those unfortunates even poorer than we."

     I'm grateful that I have today and tomorrow free for reflection. Though I do not regret the wonderful hours spent in the company of good friends (what happy, golden hours they were!), there is much to be said for isolated contemplation... something I shall start on rather tardily, but better late than never! :)
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