Looking back (2005)

I want start a tradition in my blog. I want to end each, single year with a Looking Back entry, like the one I had written a year ago. Humans, after all, are forgetful people—I am not excluded—and chronicling significant events of the past year through blogging will definitely emboss these seemingly insignificant embers of history into my brain.

And just how forgetful are we?

Forgetful to the superlative level. To illustrate: whenever the teacher asks, “What did we discuss yesterday?” I’d have to dig my brain’s dysfunctional memory card—what did we talk about last time? What? WHAAAAT?—and find it blank. But that’s a very shallow example, so here’s a deeper one: we hardly even remember the Lord’s goodness for the past year. We are so comparable to the Hebrews, God’s chosen people forgot God’s great miracles—like the Parting of the Red Sea—after only a few years. All they ever did was complain.

These are the events that have happened to me, events that the Lord has used to mold me into Christ-likeness, events that have taught me greater lessons than calculus:

1. Moving out of Kalayaan Dorm and transferring to Yakal

I've written about this a lot of times. It pained me to leave. I have developed such great friends in Kalayaan, and a greater fraction of the people I know in UP are my dormmates. What the Lord taught me was that nothing is permanent in this world, not even closeness or friendships or roommates.

Moving into Yakal wasn't that hard, but I needed an entire semester to adjust. The people treated me differently because they were not the same people I had used to live with in the first place.

2. From English to MBB

When I saw what Jef and Schubert were studying when we were still freshmen, I knew their course was interesting. It ocurred to me: why not shift to molecular biology? It was hard leaving English behind. I love literature, grammar, writing, and reading, but I also like learning new things, like DNA.

I asked the Lord about it. I studied His Word. I've always lifted it up in prayer: "Lord, what is it that you want for me?" After quite a lot of trials (which you will read about in the June 2004 archives), He brought me to MBB.

Not unto me, Lord, but to you be the glory!

3. Lance's grades are falling down

The Lord has also humbled me after I had shifted. You see, my head easily balloons with pride whenever I sense that I've accomplished something. Sometimes, it's not God who is glorified; it is my proud, sick, sinful ego.

So, good as God is, He burst that ballooning balloon. My grades during my freshman year were rather high. Apparently, I had a hard time in my first sem in MBB. There was just too much pressure and a lot of things to study. The sem ended with me so exhausted that I told my parents that I had to go home during the break. I did. And when I had reflected on how the Lord disciplined me because of my pride, I am so overwhelmed. He is just so merciful!

Now, I'm enjoying this sem better than the last.

4. My blog pretty much says it all

I am sorry because this is such a lame summary for so great and meaningful a year. But one cannot put everything in a capsule of an entry, can he?

All the honor and glory be to the Lord Almighty!

About Christ and Him alone

Maybe it's just misinterpretation, if not downright ignorance, that plagues the world, including some supposed parts of Christendom, during the Christmas season. What bothers me is that people have developed a wrong sense of the celebration and have perhaps forgotten the real reason for the rejoicing.

Christmas is not about Santa Claus nor the gifts he gives to children. It is not about freezing water or the drowsy air from Siberia nor the existence of red-nosed reindeers in the North Pole. It is not about Ethel Booba making amends with another Gwen Garci in Startalk nor about Kris Aquino crying tears of joy after a 15-year old high school senior won the million in Game Ka Na Ba. It is not about going to mass and making sure that one's attendance is complete for the entire Simbang Gabi. It is not about the sky precipitating cool, white bits of ice. It is not even chiefly about giving, forgiveness, love, happiness, family, friends, and goodness.

So what is Christmas then?

It is about a holy God sending His only begotten Son. It is about a Child who deserves a birth fit for a King, but who, in His humility, was born in a manger. It is about Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, whose dainty hands were to be pierced with nails, whose little head was to be crowned with thorns, whose soft flesh was to be lacerated and bruised, and whose heart was to be grieved by all the sins of man. It is about God, in all His might ang glory, stooping down to the humble state of man, His sinful enemy, to save Him from the burning pits of Hell.

It is about His free offer of salvation, both to the Jews and to the Gentiles, and of new life with Him.

My point is simple: Christmas is about Christ and nothing else.

Prayerlessness is deprivation to the soul

I wanted to know if prolonged failure to update my blog would give me hemorrhoids or temporary insanity, or, worst, a pimple in my nose so huge it looks like a ripened tomato. No. It doesn't.

However, experience tells me that a prolonged failure to have a daily, quiet prayer time with the Lord makes me terribly pained. It is a feeling that something is wrong--that something could go wrong. After all, not being able to pray is not being able to rush to the comforting arms of my Savior and be comforted by His timeless promises amidst the conflicting anxieties of my soul. It is to deprive the soul with the very air that nourishes it.

Do we take time to pray? Do we immerse ourselves in intimate conversation with God rather than talk about the latest gossip in town?

Prayer is to the soul as blueberry cheesecake is to the body.

Listening to molecular carols this Christmas. Part Two.

And I continue:

The CS Carol Fest ended with us smiling widely. After all, the MBB Choir wowed the audience: they sang with much fervor that it made our mammalian fur shiver. In singing competitions, that’s always a plus.

Anyway, I proceed with my tale. This time, the victory party. Still filled with the rush-hour excitement of winning, I heard people shouting, “So, saan ang victory party?”

“Sa Albert na lang. Malapit.” [Albert Hall is the home of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology].

“Sino’ng may gusto sa Eastwood, sa Libis?”

Opinions were varied, and so were the voices that made them. And so, after quite a few minutes of debate, they’ve decided to hold it in Libis.

And so, like a chaff that’s being dragged by the wind, I went with the group. After all, we were supposed to be treated to a sumptuous dinner by Sir Carlo, one of the instructors I think. I was hesitant at first because of these two valid reasons: 1.) I am not a member of the choir and 2) I am not a member of the MBBS. I told these to my blockmates (the people I shall be graduating with four years or so from now, God willing), but they still nudged me on.

“Just go with us.”

And off I went with them, some forty or so MBB students, mostly upperclassmen, and some of the other instructors. The party was in Gerry’s Grill, a superb restaurant in Libis. We ate omelet, sisig, fish and many more—one of my weaknesses is naming the food I’m eating; I even find it difficult to differentiate pork from beef—that made me feel so full that, for a moment, I imagined that I was getting fat. In dreams, man.

In dreams.

Listening to molecular carols this Christmas

When Angela and Juanchi sounded so terribly convincing, I knew that I had no other choice but to join them. I asked myself: Why not sacrifice a few hours of my time watching the CS Carol Fest at Aldaba Hall? Why not contribute my presence to support my fellow MBB (Molecular Biology and Biotechnology) majors? And oh, why not take a breather from lab reports and quizzes and exams to listen to comforting Christmas music?

"Why not? Sige, I'll go with you," I told them.

It wasn't really a hard decision to make: since I had shifted, I've never really involved myself in any of the College of Science's (CS) activities.

We first dined with Ciara at Lutong Kapitbahay, walked all the way to Yakal because I needed to brush my teeth and get a decent jacket, then proceeded to Aldaba Hall where we saw groups of people who wore the same attire and carried colorful props around.

The show started promptly, as soon as the hall was opened. Nine CS organizations competed for the prize, and they were pretty much (I like this term; it reminds me of my MBB 10 classmate, Patrick) prepared and in high spirits.

The MBB Society Choir was the last to perform. When they began singing the Eye of the Tiger, I knew they were going to win it. The arrangement was wonderful, the singers were great, and the choreography was amazing. It didn't surprise me to learn that they gained an average of 91 %, followed by the UP Chemical Society (77 %), and the UP Pre-Medical Honor Society (75 %).

But this is only half of the story. Afterwards, we were treated to a late, late dinner -- almost like an early, early breakfast -- in Libis, but that's another entry.

Scissorhands

More than ten years ago, Tatay gave us new scissors. Mine was yellow, Manong's was red: or perhaps, it was the other way around -- I'm not really sure now. History has a way of deleting precious colors from memories.

My father didn't exactly know that deep inside his two cute children -- I was the cuter, and still am -- were terroristic tendencies to cut anything that could be cut. And so, Manong and I, with our scissors, cut pieces of paper from books, Nanay's flowers in the garden, etcetera, etcetera, until our options were exhausted.

"Why don't we cut this?" My brother pointed at his hair. My eyes glowed with excitement, and my fingers couldn't resist the urge to trim it, like a bush that has grown uncontrollably for ten years. You get the feeling.

"SIGE!"

Then, we were giggling with immeasurable delight, and eventually found ourselves cutting, bit by bit, strand by strand, each other's hair. We saw bundles of keratin-rich cells fall to the floor, and yet we still continued with our barbaric activity.

"Lance, won't Nanay get mad at us?"

"Why?"

"We're making a mess -- O, wait, let's hide it beneath the bed."

I don't exactly remember what happened next, but I'm sure our parents were shocked when they saw us with haircuts so obscene, so not aesthetic, and so horrendous that we had to be rushed to the barber as soon as was possible.

From then on, we had to live with short hair -- I, Manong, Sean and even Tatay. It was not until my brother decided to grow his hair when he stepped into college that the family tradition of everyone (except Nanay) going to the barber shop for a haircut ceased.

I can't imagine myself with long hair. I'd probably die.

December na!

It suddenly occurred to me that the temperature air has gotten cold with fresh, crisp air, a sure reminder that Christmas is here!

While I do appreciate the cooler temperature in the morning, the one thing I necessarily detest is the icy water. Of course, that’s never a problem if you don’t have classes or work early in the morning. But for students like me who need to wake up day after day, whereupon encounter the refrigerated feeling of H-two-O in the process of showering, it is always a difficulty. When the water is frigid, the time it takes for me to take a bath is prolonged. In scientific terms, temperature is inversely proportional to the time of bathing. The cold makes me rather unproductive.

Upon undressing, I would gently twist the shower knob. Tiny drops of water would squirt out of the shower head, and then slowly, slowly, very slowly, I would draw near the trajectory of water: first, my head, and then my arms, then my feet. Lastly, I would drench my torso, my upper body. I always make it a point to do that step last because then, I would have to muster all my energy to jump and utter howls like AAAAARGGGGH, a few of my adaptations to sudden fluctuations in temperature.

As soon as the rest of my body becomes acclimatized to the glacial cold, I would resume to normal modes of bathing: shampooing, scrubbing, rinsing, then towelling. When I would check the clock, the time it had taken me to do all those would be 1.5 times the time it would take under normal Philippine conditions.

Don’t get mad at me, though. During mornings, cold water is never a plausible excuse for late-ness in school.