Friday, February 29, 2008

My Dad's 14th Birthday

I have the best dad in the world. Bar none.

On his 14th birthday, Papa drove all the way to Quezon City from Paranaque (after a long, exhausting day at work) to pick up his three children (a.k.a. the Tres Muchachos) so we could all have dinner at home as a family.

When people first meet Papa, they are awed at his presence. "Iba ang tindig niya," they say, "When you look at his eyes, you immediately sense his great intelligence." Others go straight out and ask, "General ba siya? Kakaiba yung aura niya e!"

This man gave up a lucrative, money-making career in order to be a hands-on dad. He was always THERE, without fail, in every major (and minor) event of my life. I can go talk to him about anything and everything, from trivial matters such as crushes to deep conversations about one's raison d'etre, and though we may not always agree, I always benefit from his wisdom and penetrating insights.

That's the kind of man Papa is. A great many people look up to him and admire him, and with good reason, too! He is one of those rare individuals whose integrity is without question, who overcame all sorts of trials, never making excuses for himself despite his impoverished childhood... fighting tooth and nail to attain his goals.

He is my standard when it comes to men. I decided long ago that I would marry someone like my dad. I may end up becoming a spinster because Papa's act is certainly a tough one to follow. ;)

A loving father, a loyal husband, a wise mentor and an ardent patriot with the soul of a poet and the heart of a warrior... Papa is all these things and more. He is my hero, and what motivates me and drives me is this burning desire to someday make him proud of me.

It is a privilege growing up under his guidance. Happy 14th Birthday, Papa! Four more birthdays (16 more years) to go and then you'll be of legal age! ;)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Blessed Day

Feb. 24, 2008, Sunday: A Date to Remember

Yesterday, my friend Miko and I got invited by Sir Eudy (WHAT AN HONOR!!) to perform during the Traditional Service at the Union Church of Manila. We performed Vivaldi's "Domine Deus, Rex Coelistis" from Gloria during the offertory.

It was my first time to attend a service outside the Roman Catholic tradition, and it was really an eye-opening experience. I was able to appreciate the difference all the more because I heard mass later on in the afternoon, in our usual church, with my family. The service at UCM was almost two hours long but no one minded. The whole thing was soooo "blessed." There's no other word for it! The sermon, the speakers, the music (they have THE Sir Eudy handling the choir and THE Ali Consolacion as organist... what a lucky, lucky church!)... EVERYTHING! There were so many times I was moved to tears by the music, and by the words of the speaker. And it wasn't just because I was a newcomer. I spoke to some regular parishioners afterwards (such gracious, warm people!), and they said it happens to them every time as well.

I will always remember how welcome they made us feel. There's this almost tangible sense of community in UCM, and it's really refreshing. Also, there wasn't any feeling of the service being "rushed," which sadly sometimes happens in Catholic masses (But this isn't because of any inherent flaw... as my dad pointed out, it's because of the sheer number of Catholics in our predominantly Catholic country. Churches have to increase the number of masses in order to meet the needs of millions).

After the UCM service, Papa treated Miko and I to lunch at Pancake House (where I stuffed myself on tocino and golden brown waffles, my favorite!), before dropping me off at the Philippine Opera Company studio so I could attend the second half of the Evelyn Mandac masterclass (Evelyn Mandac is the first and only Filipino to have sung at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York!!!).

What a great lady! And what great singing by sopranos Ana Feleo and this very slender lady named Mary Osbourne. We couldn't believe what a HUGE voice she had since she was very willowy, we were literally blown away.

Too bad I missed the morning session. Soprano Jennifer Uy performed in the first half.

Afterwards, my family picked me up and we all heard mass. We had time for a quick dinner at Mong Kok, one of our favorite Chinese restaurants with reasonable prices and delicious cooking, and a movie.

Guys watch THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES if you have time! It was surprisngly good. As Tata pointed out, it was "a modern retelling of the temptation of Adam and Eve." Tata and I were crying during the end, haha, won't reveal why. You have to see it for yourself. ;)

A blessed day... a perfect day. Am recharged to face the week ahead.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

On being a "girly" girl

I was never a 'girly' girl. Papa believed that his daughters should be exposed to the same things as his son. Instead of pink tutu's and ballet slippers, my sister and I had martial arts and competitive swimming. And instead of caring for the fairness of our complexion, my twin and I spent the better part of our lives a dark brown chocolate-y color from all those hours in the pool (sunlight + chlorine = a skin whitening regimen nightmare).

I'm feeling the effects of an unconventional upbringing now. You see, my role in the upcoming opera is that of a vivacious coquette. The way it's being blocked, I do a lot of seductive poses and flirtatious walking. Ideally, that is. My problem is, I'm way too clumsy and uncoordinated. I got told off by our director for moving like a guy. Heck, even gays are more feminine than I! Or so I was told.

It's so bad, I was expressly told to wear a skirt and was forbidden to wear rubber shoes during our rehearsals. Hopefully, it will help me move in a more feminine manner.

I wore a long blue one today, and discovered that wearing a simple skirt can have big effects. For example, I had an easier time crossing the street. Cars actually stop and allow me the right of way in the pedestrian lanes. It's all the more surprising since I'm used to playing cat-and-mouse with vehicles when I'm in my usual get-up (polo, jeans and sneakers). SKIRT POWER!!!

Hehe. Will work on this post another time. I shall be wearing skirts more often, that's for sure. At least until my recital's over.

(tries best to sashay off)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Moments of Joy

Amidst all this piling of academic workloads, accumulation of papers and lesson plans to be written and humongous preparations for an opera recital only a month away, I'm grateful to be allowed to have time to recharge even in little ways. :)

Moment No. 1

I went to photocopy a few pages from this ancient book in the Filipiniana section of the MainLib (specifically a chapter on "fan language," as our opera director wants me to use a fan... very "Pamaypay ng Maynila," haha!). The xerox lady was aghast at the pitiable condition of the book, and took time to apply scotch tape on the crumbling pages. I exclaimed, "Book lover po kayo, no?" to which she replied in the affirmative. "Sana po lahat ng librarians, may ganyang pagmamalasakit sa mga libro," I said. "My dear, I'm not a librarian. I'm only a xerox lady. But I own the business," she said matter-of-factly, with a warm smile. We had a short conversation, I was sorry it couldn't be longer since I was in a bit of a rush. She then handed over the two pages I had photocopied, and stapled an orange sheet of paper on it. "What's this?" I said, and she told me it was a copy of the Student's Prayer. The last part goes: "Master, show me the treasures of Your wisdom. Enlighten my mind and expel from it all darkness of sin and ignorance. Give me a diligent and obedient spirit, a quick mind to grasp ideas and a retentive memory. Above all, assist me with the light of Your Holy Spirit so that I may apply my studies for Your honor, for my salvation and for the good of others. Amen."

That made my day! And I had a warm fuzzy feeling inside of me several hours after that short but blessed encounter with a stranger.

Moment No. 2
Ever get those inexplicable urges that make you go inside a certain store, only to find something that you've been searching for, for a long time? Or only to see your crush? Hehe. This happened to me. Not the crush part. The "oh-my-gosh-what-a-huge-find-and-to-think-it-was-just-sitting-there!" part.

Following my gut instinct, I entered the SC bookstore yesterday and found the rare sci-fi. trilogy by C.S. Lewis, consisting of "Out of the Silent Planet," "Perelandra," and "That Hideous Strength." They're quite rare, and it's more astounding because I found ALL THREE AT ONCE. And I had just the exact amount of money left over from my allowance to buy the set. Wheeeeeee!!!

Moment No. 3

This is in connection with Moment No.2. In between typing papers, I crammed reading "Out of the Silent Planet," the first book from the series, this morning to prepare for our monthly org meeting later on in the afternoon (pics to follow!).

To my amazement, my orgmate Richard showed up WITH THE SAME BOOK for our booksharing session.

What were the odds, right? A-m-a-z-i-n-g, indeed!

Moment No. 4

My family and I were FINALLY able to set foot inside the much-acclaimed FULLY BOOKED flagship store in Bonifacio High Street, Serendra. But before that, I happened to bump into my friend Keith who was out with HIS family, who flew in all the way from Cebu. :) What a pleasant surprise!

It seemed to me that the toffee nut latte from the Starbucks inside the bookstore seemed so much more delicious than usual, as I lazily sipped at my drink while allowing my gaze to alight on all the beee-oooo-teeee-ful tomes prettily arranged in the shelves.

We browsed to our hearts' content for over an hour, and although I was quite impressed with the massive collection of books they had for sale, I must confess that it was their classical music CD collection that had me feeling faint and weak in the knees.

THEY HAD 5 ANNE SOFIE VON OTTER ALBUMS AND 4 IAN BOSTRIDGE CD'S!!!! Needless to say, their collection was the biggest one I've ever seen, probably the most expansive one in the country.

I also remember seeing a boxed set of J.S. Bach's entire WEIHNACHTSORATORIUM (which I WILL save up for), as well as several opera recordings and rare albums.

Hay naku. If only I was a millionaire. Haha. I would have bought everything in their classical music section.

I was also very happy to find yet another book that came highly recommended, "The Practice of the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence. :)

Moment No. 5

This afternoon's booksharing session was the highlight of the week, for me. Each session just keeps getting better and better! (I'd say funner and funner but my English-teacher-of-a-twinnie would only correct me, hehe)

Two hours zipped by so quickly, we were amazed when our cellphones started beeping to remind us that it was time to adjourn for the day. Time really flies when you're having fun! And what fun we had. There's nothing like spending time with good friends, bonding over delicious coffee drinks and excellent books. Tata even brought a deck of Talecraft, and we had a grand time listening to TJ's impromptu tale of a congressman who had two sons by an encantadia, and how he had the power of persuasion because of a magical talisman: a lock of hair. He wouldn't tell us how it would end, grrrr... next session na lang daw. BITIN!

So there. My To-Do list is a mile long but I don't mind. I'm not half as stressed as I think I ought to be, hehe. I thank God for these little rejuvenating moments. I hope you have such experiences in your own week, amidst all the hustle and bustle of our fastpaced lives.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Month of Love

Came across this hilarious song that makes light of the "plight of the singles." Hehe. It made me crack up.

MABUTI PA SILA (Words and music by Gary Granada)

Mabuti pa ang mga surot, laging mayroong masisiksikan

Mabuti pa ang bubble gum, laging mayroong didikitan

Mabuti pa ang salamin, laging mayroong tumitingin

Di tulad kong laging walang pumapansin…

 

Mabuti pa ang mga lapis, sinusulatan ng papel

At mas mapalad ang kamatis maya’t mayay napipisil

Napakaswerte ng bayong, hawak ng aleng maganda

Di tulad kong lagi na lang nag-iisa

 

Ano bang wala ako na mayron sila?

Di man lang maka-isa habang iba’y dala-dalawa

Pigilan niyo akong magpatiwakal

Mabuti pa ang galunggong nasasabihan ng mahal.

 

Kahit ang suka ay may toyo at ang asin may paminta

Mabuti pa ang lumang dyaryo ay yakap yakap ang isda

Mabuti pa sila, mabuti pa sila

Di tulad kong lagi na lang nag-iisa.

 

Mabuti pa ang simpleng tissue at laging nahahalikan

Mabuti pa ang mga bisyo, uma-asang babalikan

Mabuti pa sila, mabuti pa sila

Di tulad kong lagi na lang nag-iisa.

 

Pigilan niyo akong magpatiwakal

Bakit si Gaby Concepcion lagi na lang kinakasal

Mabuti pa ang mga snatcher, palaging may naghahabol

Ang aking luma na computer meron paring compatible

Mabuti pa sila, mabuti pa sila

Di tulad kong lagi na lang nag-iisa.

So much for this humorous take on a universal, human need. Over and over, the psychology/ guidance text books I've been scanning for EDCO 101 all say the same thing: "The primary human need is to love and be loved."

It's a pity how the media influences us to a large degree to focus only on one kind of love, and that is eros. But there are other forms of love, and the Greeks had different names for them.

There's affection (storge), which is the most "natural" kind of love because it is a direct result of familiarity. Then there's friendship (philia), which exists between people who share a common interest. And there's the purest, most beautiful form of love which is charity (agape). This is unconditional love, the love that God has for us, and the love that all of us are called to have in turn. The difficult thing about this is that we are called to love our neighbors AS THEY ARE... dislikable traits, bad vibes and all.

This coming Valentine's Day, let's not be distracted by the twelve inch roses (and matching twelve-inch Toblerone's... I kid you not! I saw them for sale in the supermarket!!), the barrage of special events, and ubiquitous romance movies. Romantic love is all very well and good, but as C.S. Lewis pointed out, "love begins to be a demon the moment it begins to be a god."

For all the couples out there, I think it's a good time for them to renew their relationship with the necessary Third Party... He who is the "Augmenter of all our loves."

And for us singles, let us rejoice in our blessed state! :) And be thankful for the vast opportunities that singlehood allows us to have. Let us be happy in expectation, and keep our eyes focused on our heavenly lover... He who proved his love for us by no less than suffering torture and death... and wait patiently for the time when our partners will be revealed to us. :) I am soooooo excited for that day!  But in the meantime, there's lots of things to be done... so much preparation to do!

Have a wonderful Valentine's, everyone!

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