Blast

With high school classmates

Last Saturday Manong Ralph and I arrived in Koronadal.

The plane ride was eventful. There were so many familiar faces at the airport that I couldn't help but wonder how many of us from Marbel now study or work or live temporarily in the wide, colorful, and dangerous metropolis. There was Katrina, who sat between Manong and I, and who kept asking my brother about law school, the tuition fee increase in UP, the charter change, among others. We were a noisy lot. Kuya John, JP Asong, the Kuya Jasper and Norman Dagang, and the Suenos, were there, too.

We got back home just around dinner time, but we had to wait for Nanay to finish uprooting a patient's tooth before we ate an absolutely hearty meal. I told my family, "Grabe, pati tubig, na-miss ko." I also told them that I was now a voracious eater, and that the reason for my weight problem was my hyper-fast metabolism. I knew I didn't sound convincing because my father still insisted that I eat a mouthful of bananas and thereafter drink my vitamins. Plus, Manong kept on repeating that I was missing my breakfast. In my family, that's considered a cardinal sin.

After eating, my brother Sean toured me around Alunan Avenue which was lined with colorful Christmas lights that made me wonder: who will pay for the electric fees? "There's a contest, Manong," my kid brother told me. We took pictures, walked all the way to Notre Dame Girls, and hailed a tricycle to go home. All that time, he sounded disappointed: he still hasn't grown taller than me. So much for expectations, Sean.

Sunday. We went to Church together. My, how I missed Pastor Guilbert's in-depth exhortations. The Church is now having a pulpit series on 1 Peter.

I also met with my high school classmates (Michelle took great pictures with her phone). We played bowling, talked, reminisced the good ol' high school days in K-N, and we laughed like crazy. What surpised me was that either they were now involved in romantic relationships, or that they had just broken up. They told me how unimaginable it was to see me holding hands with somebody, and I said in return, "Not in my wildest dreams have I even thought of that."

God has been so gracious as to give me this most wonderful time with my family for Christmas. There are still many things to do. I will get a voter's registration card at COMELEC (yes, I'll be voting next elections!), have my ATM card changed, visit my grandparents, go to a high school reunion... and finish four lab reports due next year.

Isn't this bloody exciting, or what? Do tell me what you've been up to.

Great year

Shadow

(Some of my blockmates and I, resting atop the sewage line spanning the field beside University Avenue.)

After almost a year, I'm finally going home. I should really be packing now instead of composing this. But there's just too much to tell that I can't stop the urge. But then again, I realize that words fail me. Praise be to God for this great year!

You can also view my Last-Day-2006 Photo Collection here.

Thankful

Three down, one to go.

I’ve been taking exams for three days in a row—MBB 110 on Monday, Geol 11 on Tuesday, Chem 40 on Wednesday, and there’s Stat 101 coming up tomorrow. Please don’t imagine me writing the previous sentence with all smiles and no worries. On the contrary, those academic requirements have left me breathless. But lest I make the impression that I’m complaining—throwing emotional fits at others, ranting like the rest of the citizens of the blogsphere—I’m actually thankful.

For now, I’ll abruptly end this blog post and return to my notes. May God alone be glorified tomorrow!

TAGGED AS:

When we come to the end of our strength

Last Tuesday I woke up feeling weak. I could hardly stand up. With only two hours of decent sleep, I was exhausted. I had a sleepless night marked by frequent trips to the bathroom, cold chills, and nausea.

With only 30 minutes to take a quick bath, change clothes, pack my things, read my Bible, and pray, I figured I couldn't make it to my seven o'clock class. Either I'd risk my health coming to class (I had the fear of collapsing, however theatrical that may sound), or I'd spend a couple of hours more to rest and fill my empty stomach.

I then found myself in earnest prayer. I searched the Scriptures and was reminded of familiar passages. I knew it was God's way of reminding me to trust in Him.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6.

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled. Psalm 6:2.


My point, friends, is this: whenever we come to the end of our strength, we must humble ourselves by trusting in God. By so doing, we become joyful because He will give us His peace that "surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7)."

The backseat

I tell my brother I'm going ahead. He nods his head, smiles, and says okay. The Church's family day isn't over yet, but I rush out of the building anyway, hail a taxi amid the dark skies and the pouring rain.

"Sa UP po," I tell the taxi driver, his hair stained with remnants of a brown-black dye he had probably applied months ago.

"Sa loob?" He asks. I say yes.

I settle at the backseat, close my eyes for while, and eventually find myself looking out of the window. Past the buildings, the cars, the pavement, and the horizon is my home, miles away.

Salvation is born

Listening to:
Salvation is Born
Gregory L. Tulenko © 2005 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)
featuring Shannon Harris

Join with the angels proclaiming to earth
Join with the shepherds in awe of His birth
Join all creation rejoicing this morn
The glory of God-become-man has been born

Come, let us adore Him
Jesus, the hope of the world
Come, worship before Him
Christ, the Messiah has come
Salvation is born

This song, playing in my room since I had downloaded it, reminds us that Christmas is all about Christ. Anything less renders our celebration pointless. You can listen to a free sample of the song here.

Blast from the past

My friend, Zcharmaine Yumang, whom I've met in Baguio five years ago during a convention, lent me her photo album just this morning. I saw two pictures of myself which she took of me during the awarding ceremonies. I was amazed at how small I was then, and how I've become so grown-up, so mature, and so bloody handsome. Do click on the two photos to see bigger portraits.

"Do I still look the same?" I asked a friend.

"I see pretty much the same smile."

Still small

In Baguio

I sound, but don't dance, like a professional cheerdancer

How they do it

This is how the professional cheerdancers do it:

1. First they arrange themselves according to their weight. The greater the weight, the lower the altitudinal position. It is observed therefore that the lightest (though not exactly the smallest) creatures are the ones being tossed and carried, while the bigger ones serve as support.

2. The second step involves careful planning of the formation. This entails formulating free body diagrams, where summation of force and torque must equal to zero such that equilibrium is obtained. With equilibrium comes poise, and with poise, the assurance that nobody will crash on the ground and break his/her bones. This still depends, however, on whether the fallen creature has excessive cushioning (can be read as: ...is fat) or the apparent lack thereof.

3. The final step is the most glorious one, as it involves not only all the strength one can muster, but also the ability to display excessively joyful emotions through the flashing of newly-brushed teeth, partly-raised eyebrows, and delightful sounds of laughter.

---

Two thumbs up for NIMBB for winning the overall championship crown in the recently concluded College of Science Sportsfest. Please see this photoset to view pictures during the competition.

Arcade computer games with Manong and Sean

Years ago, when computer games were more popularly played with joysticks and tokens bought for give pesos apiece, my brothers and I would find ourselves falling prostrate before our mother's knees, begging her for money so we could go to the mall and play Street Fighter. She'd give us a generous sum of money which we divided among ourselves equally.

But it wasn't fair; I should've been given more. After all, my brothers Ralph and Sean were excellent video game players--they still are. I was the exact opposite. It was as if they had hands whose chief purpose was to turn the joystick in all directions, while mine could only press one button at a time. Their mind-eye-hand coordination was inexplicably amazing; on the other hand, it took me minutes to realize that I had to jump or move to the left or go forward or use this and that power combo.

A sore loser I was.

Brothers dear

So picture this: I would wait for hours for them to finish playing because even before Manong and Sean actually lost in their first game, I would have used up all my tokens in all ten games. I'd sit on a monoblock chair beside them, my ears drowned with the familiar noise of children shouting at each other, of that manly voice in the computer shouting "K-O!" when someone was finally defeated, and of exclamations of pride because someone had beaten the master antagonist.

Treat me to the arcade one of these days. Through a miracle, I might just prove myself wrong.

Give me fin!

Everything was unplanned. A spur of the moment--yes, you can call it that. After the YCF core meeting this morning, I told Es, "Let's watch a movie, Happy Feet. They say it's fun. And I happen to like penguins." She beamed at my suggestion. Though hesitant at first, she agreed to go with me. We invited some more friends, but they either had classes or other academic things to do. After lunch, we barged in to SM North Edsa, bought tickets, and decided to eat lunch after the movie. We had fun. On our jeepney ride to UP, I said, "Sana maulit pa 'to, no?" Praise God for the most wonderful time of relaxation. It was truly a break from the hustle and bustle of academic life.

Gimme fin, Es!

The discipline of a shut mouth

The realization came to me as a shock. I was jolted when it finally hit me, and the feeling was too overwhelming that I had to go out to breathe a sigh of relief, to utter a word of silent prayer, and to remind myself that things happen because God allows them to.

"The volition [to sin] comes from something more deep-seated than the volition itself," Kuya Butch said when he talked about sin. I've been talking too much and too loudly, to the point that the words that come out of my mouth no longer glorify my God.

The realization? I should shut up.

Extended fellowship at Philcoa

It was supposed to be called "Wednesday Dinner Date With Kuya Derf," but he didn't come because he had a masters class at the Asian Theological Seminary. So it came to be known as the Extended Yakal Christian Fellowship at Philcoa. We all had a great time, laughing, eating, and sharing one another's burdens. But it was "laughing" mostly.

YCF in Kung Food

From left, clockwise: Riza (in pink), Ate Lavs (Ate Lavs for those younger than her, Lavs for those who are older), Paul Velasco, Jaylord (the small Chinese guy with the glasses), Shean, and Paul Balite.

Razel, YCF, citrus sculpture

Razel; Kuya Butch, Jason, Paul Velasco; the citrus fruit sculpture that defied physical laws.

The Green, Green Glass of Tea

Epileptic fit

People who are close to me know that I have near-zero tolerance for romantic talk. I cringe at the mere notion of hearing people in close proximity to one another (so close, in fact, that they can smell each other's breath) mutter, "You are my life, and I am not the same without you." My system would, under ordinary circumstances, fail to tolerate the increased dose of corniness. (It's not that I hate it. On the contrary, I think it's all normal). When people begin talking about their romantic lives and pursuits, even heartbreaks, at my presence, I would try my best to pay close attention; and I somehow manage, because these people are my friends--and what do friends do to each other but to listen and care? And though I sometimes find it hard to relate to them, God would be so good as to enable me to give them sound advice: "beware of the deceitfulness of the heart, be mindful of God's will for you."

But when people begin asking me things alluding to romantic relationships only for the sake of extracting valuable information about my past--who were my crushes and who are my crushes (none, I tell you)--I would either abruptly change the conversation; or, if they still pursue with the topic despite my obvious allergic reactions, I would direct the questions to someone else. And it usually works that way. Most of the time, at least.

It's not a wonder why my friends, for the sake of making me uneasy and uncomfortable, would, out of the blue, tell me, "Lance, iba talaga 'pag may minamahal, no?" I would normally dismiss the thought, and talk about something else. But my friends would laugh at me, as if to tell me, "I got you there, Lance." Well, they got me there. But because of prolonged exposure to conversations like this, I am led to believe that my tolerance has somehow increased, though still not enough to help me survive cheesy Tagalog romantic film episodes. If you have romantic problems to share, I say with Boy Abunda (my doppelganger, I'm often told): Kaibigan, usap tayo.

And better have an ambulance ready, or you might just see me have an epileptic fit.

MBB lab, the first time around

Click on the photos to view full size.

I still don't have much to say about my first MBB laboratory class, except that it starts from 1 pm and ends at 7. That's six hours of labwork.



The trio, breathing sighs of relief after hours of looking through the microscope.



The Group of the Older Ones. Except for Dianne, they're all past their fifties.



Taking a break from work.

The Group Three

My group, exhausted after the exercise, but still as fresh as the green grass in the morning.

Light laughter break with Wegs

A moment of light laughter with Wegs.

Now who says we don't have social lives?

Impressed

I hope I'm not giving anyone the impression that I am not patriotic, that I do not love this country, and that my heart beats hatred for Manny Pacquiao, especially now when he has just knocked out Morales in their recently concluded battle a couple of hours ago. Please. Don't think of me that way.

I also hope that by writing the aforementioned paragaph I'm not giving the impression that I have become a Pacquiao convert. You still won't find my name in his Fans Club roster of members. You won't find me queueing to get his autograph. You won't probably even hear me call him "the new Filipino hero."

But, even if I rooted for Morales (to the dismay of some of my friends who think it absolutely unthinkable for someone so brown-skinned and flat-nosed as I am to support someone from another country), I think Pacquiao did a great an awesome job.

Member

An official member. That's what I am now after finishing my application for the UP Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Society, which, in this blog, shall hereunto be referred to as The Org. After the interview, the sig sheets (which I had to do all over again because of my irresponsibility), the tambak, the talents night, the fun day, and many other things in between, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Finally, it's over.

Special thanks goes to Ate Richelle, The Org's membership committee head; Jade, who spearheaded the talents night preparations; and to Coy and Arielle, for going the extra mile of sharing their stacks of newspaper during the times when I badly needed them. Just yesterday, I was wondering how I could possibly gather 7 kgs--seven!--before this Saturday morning. I thought of buying old newspapers from newsstands, even buying new ones, for the sake of meeting the quota required for application. My desperation, in fact, led me to ask for the phone number of the kind "magazine lady" at SC.

Still, it's over.

The long jeepney ride

The jeepney was eerily quiet when I hailed it. It was about 7:30pm. Except for the para po's of the few passengers, everyone was silent.

When we passed by Bio, the jeep halted. Then came two women whose faces I will forever associate with the cool, wood-paneled lecture hall and my experiences during the last two semesters in UP. I smiled at both of them upon greeting them good evening.

"What are you doing here, Mister Catedral?" Dr. Jacinto asked. She was my Bio 11 zoology lecturer. I explained that I had been detained at Albert Hall for a choir practice.

"Are you still very movable?" Dr. Amparado, my Bio 12 zoology lecturer, asked. I said, "Yes, Ma'am, I'm still as movable as before, but I'm eating a whole lot more now." She seemed pleased. We used to discuss the unequal distribution of energy throughout the earth's ecosystem when the topic of malnutrition came up. She was engrossed with talking about it when she singled me out from the rest of the class, and said, "O, ikaw, malnourished ka." She made a deal: if I could fatten myself before the end of the sem, she'd give me an uno. You can read all about it here.

"My husband used to be very thin before. But when he got older, oh no... he now has trouble contolling his weight. But you look better now," Dr. Jacinto said, to my delight. The last time she had seen me was two sems ago. I was must've been a whole lot thinner then. It's a comfort to know that my efforts to stuff food into my stomach have not been in vain.

"Ma'am, I'm finally done with Bio." I told them. They smiled back. They asked me many things: what has been keeping me busy, how I was with my studies, where I lived. I was surprised when Ma'am Jacinto told me she would see me frequently walking along Yakal. It was a delightful conversation altogether, but something that had made me slightly uneasy, considering that they've been my professors.

"Sino nga ba 'yung ka-sparring mo dati?" she asked.

"Ah, si Juanchi po."

'Ah, yes, si Mr. Juanchi Pablo. Nagdadaldalan pa rin ba kayo?" I told her, yes, sometimes, followed by jerks of laughter from all of us. I told her how we would talk about how she told Juanchi to transfer to another row, away from me and Wegs, so as to stop all of us from talking. Those were the days. She laughed when she heard that.

The jeepney finally stopped at Yakal. I bid them goodbye, to which they said, "Good night, Lance. See you around." They still remembered my first name. Bio professors do have superhuman memory powers.

From Yakal and back again

Click on photos to enlarge.



Yakal grounds. Everyone passes by the green lawn to get to Shopping Center, where readings are photocopied, snacks are bought, and meals are eaten. I know of some friends who'd rather take their food out and eat in their rooms instead of squeezing their way into the small "restaurants." These are the people who have the ATP and the zeal to wash their dishes after a fulfilling gastronomic pursuit.



Still green on the opposite side of the road where the notorious dorm (do I hear Jac and Luther protesting?) called Molave is erected.



The way.



I'm not sure about this, but I guess a chivalrous group of artists, probably from Fine Arts, painted these nice graffiti on walls, electric posts, and public surfaces. (Well, yes, public surfaces isn't that bad a term, is it? You should read Kuya John's coinage of "elevating to a higher semantic pedestal." I love your blog, Kuya!) Now back to my point: Chairman Fernando should contact these artists and recruit them for a paint-the-city project. I've not heard of anyone impressed with the MMDA art, despite its pinkness and geometric regularity. These UP students are the people for the job.



And that would be me, refreshed after a good night's sleep.

Expanding connections




A typical night in my room:

I’d be in front of the computer. Splattered on the table would be scraps of paper inserted in the pages of thick books. Al would be at his desk, reading history books. Mark would be lying on his bed, tinkering with his laptop, waiting for me to finish so that the lights would be turned off, and he could go to sleep.

And then, just when the clock ticks to 10:30, Art would come rushing in, tired after classes, org meetings, and church involvements, carrying his stacks of books, his backpack, and sometimes, food for all of us. He’d throw his things on his desk, wash his face—take a bath even—and then tell me, “Lance, anong oras ka matutulog?”

“Mga 1:30 na siguro, Art,” I’d reply.

“Pagising naman, o.”

“Sige ba. Any exams tomorrow?”

“Oo, may thesis pa akong tatapusin. Tapos, may take home pa,” he’d say, followed by his incessant reminder for me to get enough sleep because I shouldn’t tire myself, otherwise I’d get even thinner.

I’d tell him, “Art, I’m okay, don’t worry. Sige, Art, one of these days, mag-jajogging na ako, magbabasketball pa. Tatalunin kita. Maghanda ka na.”

Now that the sem has just started, Art is no longer around. Last sem, he finished BS Business Economics in three-and-a-half years, considering that he shifted all the way from Polsci.

For about two years of living together with him, I’ve seen how he has grown in faith and love for God. He’d often tell me of his concerns, praise items, among others. During my low times, he would remind me of God’s faithfulness and goodness, and what a blessing he has been.

I saw him a couple of days ago, hanging around in the dorm lobby. He’s applying for a coveted post in Globe. He’s on the last leg of the interview, and we’ve all been praying that, if God wills it, he’d get the job.

“Art, ‘pag nasa Globe ka na at may cellphone na ako, don’t forget to send me free load, ha?” I said.

He gave me his famous grin (something that ladies dream of looking at forever), cracked one of his bloody corny jokes, and gave me a tap on the shoulder.

Si Baste


"Lance, ilagay mo naman ako sa blog mo," Baste tells me, wiping the sweat trickling down his face after a long basketball match in the dorm's court.

"Bakit?"

"Para naman sumikat ako."

I laugh. I tell him that my Sitemeter doesn't give the actual number of unique visitors that have come across this blog--90% of it is because of me. "Pero sige, ilalagay kita."

"'Yan ang gusto ko sa 'yo, Lance, eh."

So there, Baste, aka Sebastian Julian, you're in my blog now. Hehe.

The Catedrals. Bow.

I thought I shall never see
Noses as flat as these three
Noses that smell the cool, clean air
As the breeze that enters the Catedral's lair
The first is Ralph whose passion is law
And whose face only Nanay can draw
The second is handsome, whose name is Lance
He talks aloud but can never dance
The third is smaller and is called Sean
Run fast and shoot the ball? Oh yes, he can!
These three brothers, they live and play
Under the hot, stifling summer day
At the end of the day, what do they say?
"Thank you, O Lord, this we pray."

Quiet



Still about a week to go before enrollment.

So far, I've spent most of my time in quiet retreat. I'm usually at home, reading stacks of good literature, editing and proofreading the August-October issue of the Torch (the church youth ministry's quarterly magazine), sleeping, eating, and watching cable TV.

I've just read William Golding's masterpiece, The Lord of the Flies. It's a novel so gripping and moving it would lead you to ask fundamental questions on the evils of this world. Golding accurately gives an answer, albeit a subtle one: that the problems that plague society are caused not by the present system, but by the innate nature of the people who run the system.



I'm now reading The Foxe's Book of Martyrs, a Christian classic that tells of the sufferings of martyrs for the sake of Christ. God has used this book to show me how I ought to live: to live for Him alone. These martyrs have thought of Christ to be their sole treasure whose value is greater than their lives.

During quiet mornings, I would read 365 Days With Spurgeon. A couple of days ago, this is what I've learned: that we should be grateful to God when we are chastened. Who are we to deserve so great a privilege of being disciplined by the Father Himself? I've never thought of God's chastening hand that way, until I read all about it.

My prayer is that my friends will not find themselves wallowing in excessive pleasures like sleep or watching TV or malling or surfing the internet, but will use these refreshing moments of sembreak to fill their hearts with the Word of God in quiet retreat.

New template finally!

I had to change my template, not so much because Manong and Kent and Jef have changed theirs lately, but because there was a problem with the Blogger commenting service. The comments, for weeks, did not get published at all.

I thought, perhaps, the problem was due to my switch to Blogger Beta [I made the bold move because this new interface (or program, whatever) allows me to organize my entries into categories]. I waited for the Blogger Team to do some tweaking; perhaps, commenting was the loophole of this innovation, but my waiting proved futile. I figured that the error must be inherent in my blog template. Thus, the radical change.

Nevertheless, I hope you find this template--I'll call it Bottle of Olives--convenient. The links can be accessed by clicking the "Pull" icon in the upper right corner of the blog; a drop-down window will cascade before your very eyes, much like an avalanche or a stampede that will crush you at your wits' end (I'm being too metaphorical here, but really, I had to write this because some friends visit my site for the links, so much so that my blog has become the portals to the blogs they actually read, which is okay. Haha.)

I've also updated the links. I've removed some of my friends' blogs that have remained, uhm, dormant for the past few years, and added quite a few (Jade's and Jeric's) that I've enjoyed recently.

So there.

The mosaic of God's immeasurable grace

Despite the enormous clutter lying on the floor, I think I'm done packing. And after finishing this wrapping-up entry for the sem, I will bring my taped boxes, my set of dirty clothes, and my stack of books to Manong's place in Kalayaan Avenue.

If the semester were to be described in the fewest words possible, I'd do it this way: I've learned more about God, proven His faithfulness to His promises, and enjoyed His presence.

Right in the beginning of the semester, I had prayed that the Lord increase my faith in Him (Luke 17:5). I had felt that this semester would be just like the others that have come my way: they would practically just "roll over you" (as a good friend put it) before knowing they're finally over. God's grace has enabled me to look up to Him when troubles assailed me. On my own, I wouldn't choose to trust Him; but His Spirit had created in me--and in all His children--the desire to trustfully seek Him.

I took up Chemistry 31 (Organic Chemistry). I was privileged to be part of Dr. Irene Villaseñor's class because I had learned a great deal indeed (and my blockmates will agree with me). Of course, who will ever forget "resonance" and "sterically hindered" and "move your arrows!"? Everyday, on my way to Chem Pavillion, I'd find myself praying for help that I would not be lost in the discussions. Praise be to God because my seatmates had been kind enough to help me out at understanding things when the going got tough. And yes, we had fun.

I also took up Biology 12. This was a subject that God had used to check my pride. I was most certainly humbled. The subject matter was very exciting, and Dr. Edna Amparado and Prof. R. Roderos have handled the course excellently. But the exams were another thing. There were times when I'd find myself in despair because no matter how hard I studied, my scores only remained as they were. But these moments of desperation have led me to a deeper understanding of the outworking of God's mercy. And yes, the reason why I passed the course is not so much because I worked hard for it, but because God willed it to be so.

And now, my lab classes.

Sir Gino Martin Canlas, a fresh graduate and only a year older than me, handled what I would call one of the best chem lab classes I've ever had. He was thorough in his lab discussions and was generous in giving bonus points, especially in the hard quizzes we had almost everyday. I thank God, too, for my classmates, for making labwork such fun. Needless to say, I have to thank my lab partner for being patient with me and for reminding me that it's always better to work "sloooowly but surely."

Ma'am Regielene Gonzales, my Bio 12 lab instructor, was also wonderful. My classmates and I would jokingly refer to her as "scary" because she knew every single family and genus of a particular plant we showed her. She knew her subject matter, yes, and she always made it a point that we did, too. Never was there a idle moment in class: either we would laugh at her jokes (she can sound like Ruffa Mae Quinto, but only with less "nasal-ity") or we'd be busy looking at the prepared slides, wondering where the tadpole's tail was.

This sem, I've had the opportunity to take up three GE's.

I took up Comm 3 under Prof. Melanie Leaño, now pregnant but still beautiful and blooming. She taught us a lot of important things, just when I thought I knew everything about public speaking and communication. Our activities were fun-filled. I praise God, too, for the opportunity to speak about the Gospel in class during my final speech.

I also took up Art Studies 2 under Prof. Marilyn Canta. The class was very small, but we had fun. We went to art exhibits (the Upuan at the Met Museum) and field trips. My classmates were a cheerful lot, always laughing and talking about something hilarious.

Finally, I took up Araling Pilipino 12. Tunay ngang marami akong natutunan sa kursong ito, hindi lamang sa wika, panitikan, and kulturang Pilipino, kundi sa lahat ng bagay na may sangkap ng pagka-Pilipino. Magaling ang ginawang pagtuturo ni G. Mary Jane Tatel-Rodriguez. Alam niya ang kanyang pinagsasabi, mahusay ang halimbawa at mga ilustrasyong binigay sa klase, at naging makwela at nakakaaliw. Hinding-hindi ko makakalimutan ang Lalolalorar!


I thank God, too, for the opportunity He gave me to know my blockmates who are all brilliant, determined, and friendly. Checka wrote a heartwarming entry on this. I also praise God for the blessings He had extended to the ministries of the Dormitories Christian Fellowship, especially in Yakal and Kalayaan. It's such a privilege to work with godly people who are ready to rebuke, pray for, encourage, and support you when the need arises.

The events that have shaped this semester to be what it is all form a most glorious mosaic that radiate the sobering theme of "God's grace." Indeed, the "voice of the Lord is full of majesty" (Psalm 29:4), His "grace is sufficient", and "His love endures forever."

All glory to Him indeed!

CS Idol: The audition and the interview

My friend Paul dragged Jason and I to the College of Science (CS) Idol auditions. He was to represent NIP (National Institute of Physics) after his friends forced him. Yes, Paul, that's called compromise: you should demand a million-peso payment from the APAPF.

So anyway, we saw a little less than ten people perform their pieces in front of the screening committee. There was Carlo Timbol, my pseudo-blockmate (NIMBB) who sang Larawan, his original composition. Made my spine tingle. There was the lady from Biology who sang a heartwarming song whose title I've forgotten. And then there was Paul. "If I could put time in a bottle..." Pass me the Kleenex.

The best part of it all was the interview thereafter. Jason and I were privileged to listen to Paul being grilled by the panel. Here's an excerpt.

* * *

"Introduce yourself."

"Hi, I'm Paul. Paul Balite, from the National Institute of Physics."

"And what is your edge from all the rest of them [referring to the other contestants]?"

"My edge is nineteen years old."

Insert laughter. And epileptic fits from the audience.

* * *

"May province ka? Or are you Manila-based? Kasi, during sembreak, magkakaroon ng pictorials (sic)."

"Manila-based? Uhm, 'di po ako isang organization."

* * *

So anyway, I wish all the contestants the best. Of course, I'm rooting for my friends, Paul and Carlo. May your dream of becoming the next Pinoy superstar come true.

Bottled photo in the works!

The glorious habitation

The early morning fog oozes its way inside the room, from the window that's still ajar because my roommate must have forgotten to close it the night before. I stir awake, yawn, and pause for a brief moment with my head still lying on my soft pillow. I then take a short trip to the rest room, wash my face, and gargle with water from the faucet. I slowly head back to my room.

It is 5:30 am.

I switch my desk lamp on, open my Bible and the book, 365 Days With Spurgeon, a collection of the man's early preachings that have so far guided me in the meditation and reading of Scripture. I begin praying, and suddenly, all the cares of this world--big or small--vanish at the mere conscious thought of God, He who is sovereignly in control over creation and over the affairs of man.

I realize what a wretched sinner I am compared to an infinitely holy, loving God. How many wrong thoughts have come to mind for the past week? the past days? the past hour? How many unloving, careless words have sprouted from my lips? How many ungodly actions have my hands performed?

I realize, too, the awesome kindness and mercy of the Lord, that which is renewed every morning. How undeserving I am of these blessings. I often do not even thank God for the breath of fresh air, the light moments of laughter with friends, the food set before the table, the answers to the simplest of the exam questions... What an ungrateful man I am, indeed, that, despite all these undeserved provisions, I'd still find myself in the mire of complaint.

I open the Bible to Psalm 90: Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. I further read 1 John 4: 13-16. Upon careful study of these passages, I read what Spurgeon has to say:

'Will you take my master's house on a lease for all eternity, with nothing to pay for it, nothing but the ground rent of loving and serving him forever? Will you take Jesus, and dwell with him throughout eternity, or will you be content to be a houseless soul? Come inside, sir; see, it is furnished from top to bottom with all you want. It has cellars filled with gold, more then you will spend as long as you live; it has a parlour where you can entertain yourself with Christ, and feast on his love; it has tables well stored with food for you to live on forever; it has a drawing-room of brotherly love where you can receive your friends. You will find a resting room up there where you can rest with Jesus; and on the top there is a look-out, whence you can see heaven itself.

"Will you have the house or will you not? Ah, if you are houseless, you will say, 'I should like like to have the house, but may I have it?' Yes; there is the key. The key is, 'Come to Jesus.' But you say, 'I am too shabby for such a house.' Never mind; there are garments inside.

"If you feel guilty and condemned, come, and though the house is too good for oyu, Christ will make you good enough for the house. He will wash you, and cleanse you, and you will yet be able to sing with Moses, with the same unfaltering voice, "Lord, Thou hast been my dwelling place thoughout all generations."


The orange rays of the sun are now sprayed across the skies, the birds begin chirping, everyone is stirred awake. It is a new day.


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We did a paper on MMDA as a tool for the aestheticization of Metro Manila as final requirement for Art Studies 2. By God's grace and by His grace alone, we were able to pass it today. That officially ends my semester.

I am still wondering whether it'd be wise to still take the final exam in biology. I have the whole night to pray about it. "Lord, Thy will be done."

You can view more photos of this and all the other pictures I've taken for the past weeks here.

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Knowing the wonders of His grace

I was hanging around in Paul Balite's room, conceptualizing what to do for the powerpoint presentation for YCF's Kick-off Fellowship that night. My hands felt extraordinarily itchy at the very sight of his extensive book collection--CS Lewis, John Piper, and other lit classics--and so I grabbed one of them, something whose front cover had been removed. There I saw the words which rang true in my heart, which made me pause for a while:

"Now knowing the wonders of His grace."

Indeed, Lord, Your grace has sustained me thus far. And what an amazing grace it is.

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More pictures now.

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Kuya Jordan, Ate Estella, and Art: we'll all miss you. Awww.

And here's to my eat-while-awake feeding program, due to the wonderful incident a couple of days ago, which you can read about here.

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Speaking the Good News

Two hours before I would go to my class, I was inside my room, rehearsing my opening lines. It was something like this:

"I used to be a dead man walking around town. Yes, I ate, went to school, partied with friends; but I was dead--and sadly, I didn't know I was. I didn't have a decaying body, but I had a decaying soul. My soul was dead in sin and there was no other way to revive it. This is what I will tell you, friends--my life story, others may call it--and this is a story of love and grace and mercy all poured out to that rotting soul of an underserving, sinful man. I want to tell you of the message of the Gospel that has radically changed my life. And why should you spend the next five to seven minutes listening to what I have to say? The answer is simple, friends: because you may just find out that you are like me, a sinner, and that this message is all you will ever need."

I've been to many speaking contests before, and I'd feel anxious--even nauseous--before my turn to speak, despite the rigorous practice. But my preparations for this Comm 3 extemporaneous speech was different. I was given more to prayer and the meditation of the Bible rather than to actually going through my outline and thinking what to say next. After all, I was about to reveal my inner person to unknown people--I mean, people I've only met during the semester. The message I was to share had eternal impact in their lives as well: I was to show them the inevitable choice they have to make--to die to themselves and therefore follow Christ; or to continue living for themselves, satisfying the desires of the flesh.

I'm not going to write in full length my entire speech in this entry. But I did share the Gospel to the class--and it was never I, but God who enabled me to. I told them about the holiness of God and the sinfulness of all mankind; the penalty of sin which is eternal death; Jesus Christ who paid this penalty to save us from the punishment of sin; that this substitutionary, atoning work of Christ was because of God's grace alone (and therefore is something that cannot be earned nor deserved); and that living for Christ means living like Him.

I'll end this post with the same closing lines I said in my speech:

"The more I remember what Christ did for me on the cross some two thousand years ago, the more I grow in love with Him; and the more I am encouraged to live for Him alone. The question is, 'Will you'?"

The wind was so strong it blew the trees away

I've never grown up with storms. In fact, the first time I've actually experienced one was only two years ago, during my freshman year in UP, when classes were immediately cancelled, followed by a power blackout because an electric post had been knocked out. (Two years later, I would tell my friends that back home, classes were never cancelled because of storms. "Awww, kawawa naman kayo Lance," they'd say, to which I'd reply, "Not really. They were cancelled because of, uhm, bomb threats.")

So it came as a shock to me to see outside my window in Room 125 the wind howling with such a brute force that it was able to uproot huge trees in front of Yakal, destroy some lamposts, and transform the University into a vast jungle full of twigs, branches, and debris.

Milenyo.

In a brief moment of peace--we were guessing the eye of the storm was passing by--some friends and I walked out of the dorm to see the damage. My, it was overwhelmingly tremendous.

milenyo bottled

We walked around the Academic Oval, took some pictures in hope that we could sell them to GMA 7 and therefore earn money, and went home to a dorm that was eerily dark. The brownout, we were told, would last for days. I took a shower--my feet was soiled leaves and dirt and twigs--and thereafter, went to my desk. Despite the darkness, I leafed through my Bible: Ascribe greatness unto our God. I closed my eyes, meditated on the passage, my heart fully trusting in God who is in control.

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(The wind practically made a parabola-opening-upward out of my umbrella while I was headed for SC.)

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(The scenes of devastation made me wonder: hmmm, this will usher in an ecological succession. Whoever said our lessons in biology are hardly applicable in real life?)

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(The roads were closed, so classes were suspended.)

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(Sure, sure, they've always beaten me in arm wrestling; but they had better be warned. They ain't seen nuthin' yet.)