Wednesday, December 31, 2008




As 2008 ends...

I declared 2008 to be a learning year (see previous blog here).


So did I learn anything? I did. A lot!


I learned that…


… my mind can be stretched (12 months of translating, and still going!)

… I have a Father who takes care of me (my travels in Europe and US attest to that!)

… I must dare for surprises await me (ex. got the recent Batterson book for free!)

… I need to always immerse myself in God’s presence, otherwise I’d fall

… I can live on my own (technically, not really alone but without my real family)

… I missed reading (so much!)

… I can still be a little more patient (learning still!)

… my beloved country, the Philippines, is really beautiful (Bicol & Davao attest to that!)

… friends are necessary for my sanity (Thank you for listening to me!)

… I have become more courageous (I can make a stand in the office.)

… I can now let go of things, people, places I thought would be hard to let go

… God (and life) really works mysteriously (more responsibility in the office, etc.)


But most of all, I have learned that God is the Rock of my life. The past year has been full of crazy and challenging changes. There are many things I could not and cannot understand. All I could do was to have faith that He is in control.


The year will soon end but I know that learning is forever. I am learning new things each day. Now, I wonder what 2009 would bring? 

Picture from :

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Highlights of the I Love Philippines summer special

Highlights of the I Love Philippines summer special 
Updated December 26, 2008 12:00 AM
Click here for the link.

I Love Philippines Summer webspecial

Explore the Philippines

Travel the Philippines

Love the Philippines!

The sceneries of the 7,100 islands of the Philippines have yet to be discovered. There are other places to explore and that was what our six contributors found out when they embarked on their own journey around the country.

“If I want to promote the Philippines, I would emphasize on the beautiful places. Kung meron mang negative, overwhelm na siya on the positive,” says Emmanuel Balmes who went on a road trip in Northern Luzon.

Jennifer Legaspi who shared her stories about Bicol and Laguna saw the opportunity to write a topic which she finds interesting. “I love writing and the topic was interesting; writing about the Philippines. And so far I’ve been loving more and more the country because of the trips I’ve been doing,” she says.

“Diving is a must there,” shares Marlies Bosch who wrote about her adventure in Coron, Palawan. “This is a place that is not talked about, not written a lot unless you google diving which would stand out.”

“I post my articles on Facebook and Multiply. I’m thinking of featuring other places and letting them know through the internet,” says Ari Luis Halos when asked how he can promote the country. Halos, who wrote about his El Nido experience says the country has so much to offer and should be highlighted. 

“Nature untouched,” is what Frances Billano described when asked about her trip to Mt. Pinatubo. The volcano, which erupted in the early nineties, is now visited by Filipinos and tourists through hiking and riding a 4x4 truck to see the crater.

“Bangui and Kaibigan falls is a must see. The short trek to the falls was worth it upon reaching it. You feel a sense of calm and serenity. Bangui of course was a sight to behold, you get to ask yourself, if this is possible here why are we not implementing it around the country?” says Win Marcella who described the windmills that powers the municipality.

For Emmanuel, Jennifer, Marlies, Ari Luis, Frances and Win, their adventures in the country shows that there is so much that we can offer. If we love our country, love its history and love the people, those all over the world will see the beauty the Philippines have to share. So come and journey with us. Explore, be mesmerize and shout to the world “I Love the Philippines.” 


I Love the North

by Emmanuel Balmes

“The reason why I chose not a specific location is because I've been to not just one place up north but different places and all of those places amazed me. My Name is Emmanuel Balmes, and I am an Engineer by profession and a motorcycle rider by heart. Me and my riding buddy are now looking forward to conquering Visayas, particularly Leyte and General Santos in Mindanao. I will never tire of exploring my own country, the Philippines. Now, if only the prices of gasoline can go down, that would be better.”


A taste of Bicol’s treats

By Jennifer B. Legaspi

"The sun has already set when we reached our next but real destination, Donsol, Sorsogon. We rested for a while and then headed on to the first activity offered to us: firefly watching. We settled in our little banca and two minutes into the voyage, we were swallowed by total darkness. It was only disturbed by intermittent flashlights as boatmen warned each other of their presence. It was eerie at first. Complete darkness, still waters, unknown destination, boatmen stranger to us. But the darkness became beautiful when we looked up. Hundreds of stars were twinkling in our sight. I sensed my trivialness as I gazed at the immensity of the skies. As we breathed the cool air and heard the constant sound of the motorboat, we became aware of the twinkling lights of the fireflies. For a few minutes, we just gazed as they danced among the trees to music only they could hear. The voyage and the visual experience were enough to make us forget our physical hunger and instead filled us spiritually. It was a perfect set-up for contemplation or prayer. And I did both.”

“I was a half-Bicolana who barely remembers my one and only visit to this region more than a decade ago. This trip was much more than an adventure. It was a discovery of my roots.”

Finding Paradise

By Marlies R. Bosch, M.D.

Club Paradise, Dimakya Island, Northern Palawan

“Club Paradise is also a well-established and well known Diving Resort.  The Dugong Dive Center has equipped itself with credible, courteous and professional instructors and divemasters with very high safety standards.  You can enjoy diving in the house reef which is home to a wide variety of marine life.  You can relax on the boat while it takes you on a diving trip to Apo Reef or Tara Islands.  You can have a once-in-a-lifetime experience of swimming with the Dugongs during Dugong Watching.  You can explore the numerous ship wrecks and relive history in your mind.  Or you can go to Coron Island and dive in Barracuda Lake where you can take pleasure from experiencing the extremes of a thermocline.  No matter which adventure you choose, it will definitely be worth your while.  And I assure you, you will surface with elation.”

"Club Paradise... a place where you can enjoy both the beginning and the end of the day... a different sunrise and a different sunset each day...a place full of smiles... a place full of good people with interesting stories to tell, stories that you'll never forget, stories that are unique to paradise... a place where the bats fill the wildly colored sky and migrate to the mainland at sunset... a place where deer and monitor lizards roam... a place that is home to the turtles who come to the beach to lay their eggs... a place where the baby turtles hatch and feel the sand for the first time and soon enter the sea after being taken care of for a month or so... a place full of enchantment where love blooms and families are built... the place where people dread the day they have to leave..."

El Nido - The Nest of Swiftlets and Jet Setters

By Ari Luis Halos

“El Nido, it seems, is the destination of choice of those who live to live on the edge and yet stay in touch with nature. Jetsetters pay an arm and a leg to ride in small planes for a low flight one and a half hour flight from Manila to a dirt and gravel air strip north of the town. Even landlubbers have it hard, they go ride a bus or a shuttle for a 6 hour long trip through rough, narrow gravel and mud roads from Puerto Princesa. Others, notably foreign backpackers, go for 5 hour long banca trips through sometimes rough seas from either Port Barton, Coron or even Sabang. If half a day doesn't seem long enough, one can opt to take the 30-hour long boat trip
from Manila to here via a small ship called a batil. However which way you get here, the trip is well worth it.”

"The El Nido airport is really just an airstrip located at the edge of a white sandy beach and mangrove fringed river. At the north end, you will find a small wooden pier jutting out to sea, affording a great view of Cadlao Island. The terminal consists of large cogon roofed huts where one can while the time reading, buying stuff from the souvenir shop, eat puto (native rice cake) and down it with either iced tea or coffee. As you make your way on board the plane, a group of singing women will bid you goodbye, wishing you pleasant memories of this place appropriately called El Nido, or The Nest, where one could find your second home." 

Mt. Pinatubo - My take on the beauty of the Philippines

By Frances Billano

“The 45 minute - 1 hour trail going up to Mt. Pinatubo's crater was a tricky obstacle course of loose rock, ash, and cold fresh water.  In fact, the trail was really a running brook.  I had to wear special "amphibious" shoes just for the hike.  But the hard walk was worth the destination.  Wild green growth everywhere, conquering even the ash from the 1991 eruption.  Fresh air blowing through your hair.  And the water!  The color of the water is even more amazing in real life:  a milky light blue which can only be described as "opaline" (like opals).”

“The volcano itself was grey and barren, spewing poisonous fumes.  How would it all become fertile again?  Vulcanologists were saying it would take about 70 years or so before full recovery.  But as more and more tourists have discovered, life in tropical Philippines insists on growing, even on ash.  Sort of like the resilient Filipinos.  Mabuhay ang lupang hinirang!”

Pagud but not upud!

By Win Marcella

“Pagudpud, coined from two words in the vernacular - pagud (tired) and upud (worn out), which they say is how you would feel upon reaching the place.

My wife Kat and I went to Pagudpud for our 2nd Wedding Anniversary, we just picked up our backpacks, searched the internet for directions and went straight to the nearest bus station. We were tired alright but definitely not worn out. It was the first for the both of us to that far north, 560 kilometers or so if I remember correctly. Taking the Florida Bus (near UST), the trip was a 12-hour bus ride from Manila, but upon reaching that northern town, it was worth the wait.”

“ If you want a place were you can just wind down and feel that your in the Philippines but outside the troubles of urban life, Pagudpud is definitely a must for you to visit, you'll definitely want to give your wife a kiss!”

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Celebrating this Day

May you be blessed by this song :

I Celebrate the Day by Relient K

Friday, December 05, 2008

Planning things through

I wish I could say that I always think things through. I don’t. I know how to plan and organize and to take into consideration potential roadblocks ahead. But just like anyone else, there are things that I don’t analyze inside out. Take for example Pretzel. When I took in this playful cat, all I could think of was “Poor kitten, it would be put to sleep if no one takes it in.” I forgot that he is going to be another creature to be taken cared of. But this is just an easy example. There are other aspects in our life that are harder to process. Prayer requests that we are not sure we want. Dreams that we question if we really want to happen.


Then at the other side of the coin, I sometimes make specific plans. I start off with plan A, then plan B, and so on and so forth, reaching until plan E. I make them based on what is happening in my life and what I think might happen in the future. Sometimes, a friend or a relative has the same plan. The funny  thing though is that we really cannot make plans. My plan B, a friends plan D, can suddenly dissolve into thin air because circumstances have changed. 

I am glad thought that there is God who plans my life. True, it can be frustrating sometimes when I feel lost and do not know where I am heading. But there is also a sense of excitement in wondering where He will bring me next. He has been faithful so far, bringing me to journeys I never imagined I would travel. 

So I continue with my adventure. I sometimes plan. I sometimes decide on the spur of the moment. I know He will guide me.

*image from  :

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Twilight and Dawn

Twilight. I’ve only read a short synopsis about it in the web. But I’ve heard of it from (younger) friends who were unable to stop reading it. I just saw in the newspaper that its movie adaptation raked in a lot of money. So why do people find these stories appealing considering that they follow the same formula? Good vampire against bad vampire. A girl and a boy in love with each other are caught between the struggle. And they have to deal with the fact that they only become alive when the sun has hidden its face.


My generation was reading something similar to it: the Vampire Chronicles of Anne Rice.


Many authors (like Rick Warren) have talked about how the human heart has been planted with the longing for eternity and completion. No wonder we find appealing stories about creatures who live forever and who continuously try to find the ecstasy of love. Because we have souls that will live forever and will only find meaning in the enveloping love of God.


In my younger days, I had found these stories so riveting. One day though I realized that I had to stop filling my head with stories that mix eternity and savagery, love and cruelty, happiness that end with the dawn. I know that real truth can stand up to the brightness of the light. If vampires need to hide from the rising sun, then I am sorry but I can no longer read their stories. They cower in the misery of the dark. I want to stay with the sun which brings the promise of hope and a new beginning.

image from

Monday, November 24, 2008

Awesome generosity

I am used to spending holidays at work. With a 24/7 service all over the world, my previous office trained me well. There is no such thing as holidays. And being single made it easier for our bosses to assign me for Christmas or New Year work schedule. 

It is almost the same in my current work. Working for a foreign agency, we normally do not follow local holidays, except for the official ones (like Christmas, New Year and Independence day). It has always been like that for the last 4 years. There was no use complaining about it. It's just the way it is. 

Imagine our surprise when we received an email last Friday that we can claim the December 1 holiday as ours! So off I peacefully go to a 3-day week-end retreat. And what else? We also get 3 free days during the Christmas break! And all I could think of is that this is a miracle from God. He knew I didn't have enough vacation leave to cover my long trip. He knew my colleagues were also running out of vacation days. And I even get an extra day to cover a planned vacation leave early next year. 

I am glad that I have a God who works out the little things in my life. I never uttered them loudly but He knew I hoped that we would get at least two half-days free. But in His generosity, He gave me four whole days!

Awesome God!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gifts of grace meme

 Grace. A word imbued with elegance and mercy. Christ gave it to us and thus, it is only right that as His followers, we do the same to others. But what about looking at how other people have been gifting us with grace? 


Learn it from the third book of Grace Chong’s series Gifts of Grace. It was launched last night at Marajo Tower (Fort Bonifacio Global City). I left the event encouraged and thankful for the gifts of grace in my life. Carrying home the bookmarks with the words “You are my gift of grace,” I was determined to give them to someone whose life has touched mine.


Let me share a short story. I met Madame Cecilia in my French 30 class. She already encouraged me then with her discipline to come to school everyday and her patience to teach. For walking is not easy for her. Stricken with polio, her legs are supported by metal braces and her hand holds on to a cane for support. I later realized that she didn’t need to work. Her family is quite well-off. But she chose to teach in public university.


I met her again when I went back to school. We somehow share a similar experience (I had to learn how to walk again) and thus we were able to talk about serious stuff despite our busy schedules and educational demands.  Often, she would gloss over her many trials (including two falling accidents that left her on a wheelchair for a time). Later I understood. It was her great faith in a God who works mysteriously yet purposely. Her greatest gift of grace to me so far is her willingness to work with me as I tried to finish graduation requirements. She patiently read and corrected the long documents I submitted. I knew that there was nothing in it for her. She was about to retire. But again, she chose to help and guide me.


So today, together with the first book from the series, I gave her the bookmark. I just wanted her to know that her life has touched mine.


I dare to start this tag. (Ate Grace Chong, I hope it’s okay with you!) so that we can celebrate the gifts of grace in our lives. The rules?


1. Put the logo in your blog.

2. Share a short story of someone whose life touched yours.

3. Add a link to the person who shared it with you. 

4, Tag at least 3 other persons with blogs. 

5. Leave a message on their blogs. 


1. Beng 2. Gina 3. Abaniko 4. CJ 5. Jojie 6. Ptr. Jessie

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Pink Sisterhood Meme

I was tagged by Gypsy for a good cause, that is--focusing on Breast Cancer Awareness and how important it is to catch it in the early stages. So here it is...

* One in eight women or 12.6% of all women will get breast cancer in her lifetime. 
* Breast cancer risk increases with age and every woman is at risk. 
* Every 13 minutes a woman dies of breast cancer. 
* Seventy-seven percent of women with breast cancer are over 50. 
* Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women between the ages of 15 and 54, and the second cause of cancer death in women 55 to 74. 
* Risks for breast cancer include a family history, atypical hyperplasia, early menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after age 55), current use or use in the last ten years of oral contraceptives, and daily consumption of alcohol. 
* Early detection of breast cancer, through monthly breast self-exam and particularly yearly mammography after age 40, offers the best chance for survival. 
Facts taken from Women’s Health 

And now here is the tag and the rules: 
1. Put the logo in your blog. 
2. Add a link to the person who shared it with you. 
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs 
4. Add your link to the list of participants below 
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog. 
1. Beng 2. Gina 3. Liza. 4. Edsie 5. Carla 6.  7. Ate Abie 8. YOU!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Father’s Love Letter by Barry Adams (1999 )

A Father’s


My Child,

You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother's womb. Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me.  John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalm 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29



Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted,  I am close to you. Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4

And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. Luke 15:7

I have always been Father, and will always be Father. Ephesians 3:14-15


My question is…

Will you be my child? John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you. Luke 15:11-32



Your Dad Almighty God

The promise of the first step…

  • The chick pierces through the egg membrane, grows up and becomes a soaring eagle.
  • Beniah stepped into the pit, killed the lion and led David’s army.
  • The caterpillar breaks through the cocoon and a beautiful butterfly emerges.
  • David took the sling stone, killed the giant and became king of Israel .
  • Michelangelo hammered into the unformed marble stone and fashioned the masterpiece statue of David


Nature, history, art, life… they all bear witness to the fulfilment of the promise.


Just dare take the first step…

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Omnium-Gatherum (Random Thoughts 6)

There is beauty:

  •        in the grace of a street cat running along a old school hallway
  •        in the sound of an innocent and boisterous laughter of a three-year old child
  •        in the kindness of a stranger who sets stepping stones on a flood-filled street

 = = =

Is it even possible ?

But how does one know ?

What to do? What to do?

 = = =

It was an act of self-defense. To survive. It was painstakingly ministered to. It might have gotten too far though. No wonder it is being assailed. It must be corrected. How does one find the balance between the before and the now?  

= = = 

Crazy time...

Monday, November 10, 2008

I believe in destinies

A colleague shared to me her thoughts about destiny. She was so convinced that each person could only be what she/he is destined to be. That one should be contented with what one has. That there is no use running towards a particular direction since one can only go to where one is meant to be. That there is no use crying over impossible things that could never be.

Is there such a thing as destiny? Can we only achieve things that the stars or the gods wrote on the palms of our hands? Is it possible to go beyond what is supposed to be engraved in the annals of destiny?


Yes, I believe in destiny. I believe that God has destined us, His children, to live glorious lives. For in the book of destiny of my God, there are no boundaries, no impossible things. As long as I walk in His will, my destiny takes me to endless journeys of surprises and dreams. Yes, I can be contented. Only because He is more than enough. Yes, there is no crying over impossible things. Only because, nothing is impossible with Him.


I allowed her to speak and said not a contradictory word. Instead I heaped many prayers on her head. That her eyes would be opened. That she would come to know my God who can grant immeasurable destinies.


Those who limit their lives by the smallness of their vision of God have destined themselves to have confined lives. 


Those who know the truth that God is bigger than any human imagination will have indescribable destinies.  

*image from

Saturday, November 08, 2008


I like this word. 

What does it mean? The dictionary gives the following...

  1. [child, animal] timid, shy;
    [adult] unsociable;
  1. [look, warrior] fierce;
  1. [enemy, hatred] bitter;
    [adversary] fierce;
    [supporter] staunch;
    [will] iron.
  2. [adj] wild (untamed)

English: shy - wild

I think it describes me. I am definitely timid and shy, sometimes unsociable. For the right causes, I can be fierce and staunch supporter. And when I know something is right, see my iron will stand. Sadly, there was a time that I have become bitter over friends who betrayed me. But I have learned to forgive them and be free. And yes, I have the tendency to be wild... in the sense that my thoughts and actions can sometimes be unpredictable. I cannot always follow the norm. 

In a word, I am shy-wild.


I like this word. 

I have a dream (Mamma Mia)

I have a dream
A song to sing
To help me cope
With anything
If you see the wonder
Of a fairy tale
You can take the future
Even if you fail
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I'll cross the stream
I have a dream

I have a dream
A fantasy
To help me through
And my destination
Makes it worth the while
Pushing through the darkness
Still another mile
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I'll cross the stream
I have a dream
I'll cross the stream

I have a dream
I'll cross the stream
I have a dream

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Art and soul

From the ashes of a life of broken vows
Into the world of art
To find deep within it
Pieces of junk put together
And created a beauty called art.
The lesson is there.
Take what was broken and build a better life.
Let your heart be healed.
For real art mirrors the wonder of nature.
And nature calms the soul
Plants hope
Waters the future.

Let art heal your soul.
Let God complete your story. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Eye-candy in action!

The new American president just got elected. And here I am posting about James Bond. It is not that I do not care. I do. A lot. I knew and know that there will be changes (whoever got elected) ... in their country... and the rest of the world. A lot of changes about environment policies, trade agreements, military decisions, etc, etc.  

But since many of those in the blogger world (the whole world, in fact) posted about today's result, I decided to just post an eye-candy in action. Today was Quantum of Solace's opening day in Manila. And I bought tickets for friday! 

Happy watching! 

Lion Chaser Manifesto

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshiping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.

Chase the lion.

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson (