Look-alikes

I’ve pretty much grown up hearing comments like, “You really look like your brothers,” or “You really look like your brothers, but your nose is just flatter.” I had no qualms about those. After all, we’ve come from the same gene pool—my brothers and I. It just so happened that the Lord didn’t give me a more prominent nose bridge.

But I still praise God for who I am—and how I look. After all, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” as David puts it in Psalm 139:14. I really think we should have the same conviction that David had: if the world doesn’t publish our faces in the front covers of Vogue or, uhm, Liwayway Magazine, then so what?

Anyway, I decided to have a haircut a week ago. The barber asked me to remove my eyeglasses, which left me clueless as to what was happening to my hair because I couldn’t see my reflection clearly. When the haircut was done, I put on my eyeglasses and eventually realized that my haircut was actually shorter than my usual. Blame it on myopia.

From then on, the comments I’ve received suddenly became more numerous and diverse. My friend, Paul Velasco, thinks I look like Boy Abunda. He has asked people, “Sino’ng kamukha n’ya (referring to me)?” And then their imaginations would drift to places. When these people couldn’t think of anyone else who could possibly look like me, he would say, “Di ba, kamukha n’ya si Boy Abunda?”

Surprisingly, however, these people would nod in agreement and mutter, “Oo nga, ano?”

A couple of hours ago, Migs Cunanan told me, “Lance, may kamukha ka.”

“Sino?” I asked. “Parang kilala ko na ‘yan, ah.” I thought he thought that I looked like Boy.

“Huwag na lang. Baka magalit ka.”

“Hindi. Okay lang. Other people think I look like Boy Abunda, you know?”

“Mas may kamukha ka pa,” Migs said.

“Who?” I asked.

“Si Mahatma Gandhi.”


(Do we look alike? You decide.)

First time to use Picasa



I've been introduced to Picasa (a photo organizer program) ages ago, but I only used it now.

The orange was given to me by Schubert during his birthday. I was waiting outside the physics laboratory when I heard my stomach grumble. I texted him, "Schubs, happy birthday. Bring me some food. Thanks."

Rey, my roommate, referring to this exquisite piece of fruit, later that night told me, "Ang sarap, Lance. Saan n'ya (Schubert) binili 'to?"

I asked Schubert the same question when I saw him the next day. He said, "Di ko alam. Binigay lang din s'akin 'to. Haha."

The quest for the orange tree has begun.

Snow in December




I just got back from class. My roommates have gone home for the long weekend—there’ll be no classes on Monday because it’s May 1. It’s supposed to be celebrated as the Labor Day, but there’s something weird about the first day of May that makes the street protesters extra hysterical. But this is a democracy; and while they expose themselves to the cancerous heat of the sun, I may just find myself lying in bed, dozing off to Dreamland.

And so, let's talk about the heat.

Without the blazing tornedo from my electric fan, my room would feel like a huge teapot. It’s so hot that I’d find myself sweating profusely. To rescue myself from heat stroke, I’d take a shower, but the moment I’d step out of the shower cubicle, the painful streaks of heat would assail me once more. The cycle would repeat after, say, four hours, depending on how much water has escaped my pores.

The moral of this entry: make the Philippines the 51st state of America. That way, we’d have snow in December.

They are in Bacolod while I am stuck here

The rest of the family has gone to Bacolod as part of the “post-graduation tour” while I’m stuck in front of my PC, wondering why my room has suddenly become as hot as a teapot. Tita Mimi, one of my mother’s closest friends back in dental school, has invited them and offered to tour them around the island. I’ve been receiving SMS’s from my brothers who told me the moment their ship had arrived that they absolutely like the place and that they’ve been properly accommodated. I can only surmise that their stomachs are now full of chicken inasal, which is a delicious Bacolod specialty.

And the reason why I’m writing this?

This is the second time I’ve been left behind. The SECOND. The first time was two years ago when they went to Manila. I was in Iloilo then, participating in some contest, while they were all strolling around the polluted streets of the capital. When we had all gone home from the places we had been to, my brothers were all talking about what they did there and the things they saw in such and such a place.

But I’m not bitter. Really.

How do you do that again?


While we were strolling around Baywalk in Roxas Boulevard, Manila, my brother decided to relieve himself of waste liquid matter, so we all accompanied him to the nearest rest room. While waiting, I was shocked to see this sign posted near the door. What a sign.

My brother's graduation and my nineteenth birthday

I mentioned in a previous post that I’m going to write a longer entry about the many things that have happened for the past few days. I want to accomplish this with as few words as possible, but if I don’t quite achieve that objective, then please, dear readers, bear with me. To constrain oneself from speaking loudly after all—or, in this case, writing a very long entry—is constipating.

My family has come all over from Koronadal to attend my brother’s graduation last April 22, which happens to be my birthday and, yes, the Earth Day. By “family”, I mean Tatay, Nanay, Sean, and Auntie Netnet and my cousin, RR. Manong is the eldest, and by all means, should be the first one to graduate. He has, in fact, graduated on time, and the Lord’s grace, unmeasurable as we know it is, has even sprinkled added bonuses—his graduating as magna cum laude in English Studies and his having passed the interview for the UP College of Law where he will be enrolling next semester.




The morning after the night they had arrived, I had a nice chat with my parents who kept telling me that I should get fat, that my education is rendered useless if my health is failing, that I should not skip breakfast, that I should regularly observe the intake of multivitamins and milk and Sustagen—that I should eat a lot more than the usual because, according to them, I looked emaciated. I told them I had good eating habits, but I don’t think they believed me.




I toured my brother, with RR tagging around, in the UP Campus. “Sean, there’s where I eat.” “Sean, this is the FC.” “Sean, someone got killed here—you saw that on TV?” He was even allowed to enter my room. I introduced him to friends who, when we had arrived, were in the lobby trying to pass time, and was shocked to hear him speak in fluent Filipino. He never does—unless of course, when he recites in his Filipino class.



After the college graduation ceremonies, we ate at a restaurant in Katipunan with some dormmates and family friends who happened to be in Manila to celebrate—both the graduation and my 19th birthday. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am 19—though I may not look like it (reading this, I’m sure I will sense intense shock waves). So maybe 19 isn’t old enough, but it isn’t young enough either. I just hope I’m learning to think and feel like my age and not my shoe size.




I just thank the Lord for adding another year, once again, into my life. I’ve learned much of Him, indeed. My birthday wish is that in the years to come, when my hair will turn to grey, when my eyesight will worsen, when my knees will refuse to support me, I will find myself in inexplicable joy, knowing fully well that the Lord has been with me for all the years I’ve lived on earth.

Graduations and birthdays

Today is my brother's college graduation. Also, it's my birthday. I've turned 19. There are a lot of things to praise the Lord for. I will write longer entries about them.

Just to summarize: we attended Manong's graduation ceremonies, and had dinner with family friends and some dormmates thereafter.

* * *
Not in any particular order.

Rey Tugade. Hazel Sobrepena. Shean Chiva. Jacquelyn Libatique.

Vanessa Gumban. +639266102634 (sorry, the number's not in my phonebook). Schubert Malbas. Willie Loyola. Irene Lluisma. Manong Ralph. Sean. Iris Duhaylungsod. Golda Cainglet. Ate Lavinia De Velez. Angeli Borbe. Andrea Salvador.

Wegs Pedroso. Charlene Yamat. Jaylord Tan Tian. Auntie Netnet. Kuya Arbie Magno. Kuya Caloy. Glenda Garcia. Razeru Tomacder.

Paul Balite. Paul Velasco. Yakal Christian Fellowship. Ate Joan Romero. Kuya JD Dasmarinas. Loulou Halong Gid Zamora.

Thank you for the greetings. Sorry, I haven't been able to reply to all of you via text, but suffice it to say that your greetings warmed my heart indeed.

Law school

Manong Ralph has told me time and again that he has always wanted to be a lawyer since time immemorial. I’d always tell him, “But law is boring. I just can’t imagine myself being bothered with other people’s legal woes,” and then he would shrug his shoulder and smile like a horse. Last year, he took the UP Law Achievement Exam, which happens to be—as they say—one of the toughest law school admissions exams in the country, if not the. By the grace of the God, he passed the first round and was scheduled for an interview.

Weeks before such interview, he would call home to tell my parents of his anxieties, to which my parents would respond, “The grace of the Lord is sufficient, Ralph.” This is not surprising at all since we’ve all heard people tell of the inconceivably inconsiderate panels of lawyers that often make the interviewees shed buckets of tears in front of them. And only a small number of aspiring students could actually get into the colorful world of law school.

But he did manage to get in. The results were posted this afternoon.

My point is simple: Manong couldn’t have done it on his own. I share in his joys. But more than my joy over his having been able to pass the rigorous interview is my joy over the words he uttered, “It’s all because of God. It’s not I, Lance. I couldn’t have done it on my own.”

Random photos


A shot of my Bible cover which my brother took during the pre-plenary talks we had with other campers.

Mealtime. Sarap ng food.

The campers. Not all of them though.

Cell group discussion.


I've just finished washing my face (in the photo, I'm carrying my yellow towel) when I heard someone playing the violin. I was so engrossed with the music that my consciousness only came back when I saw a white flash of light of the camera. Another stolen shot of me.


While they were looking for their group assignments, I accidentally turned my back, and saw, to my utter delight (look at my smile), a camera. Again.

Hand in hand, we walked to find the next clue. Our group--cleverly named Jewels in the Palace in honor of our team leader, Joel--was a klutz in doing this kind of thing. It took us ages to move from one place to another because either the human chain was cut or someone slipped.



There's the Hulk.



We are joyful because of Christ, the Real Treasure.

Christ, our treasure

More than the fun I had in Kuya Don’s house in Pasig was the Church’s Youth Summer Camp I attended. For the first time, I’ve been to Tagaytay, with some 80 other young people. The camp theme was Finding the Real Treasure based on the Parable of the Hidden Treasure in Matthew 13: 44.

I’ve realized finally that Jesus Christ is the real Treasure. His worth is untraceable and unfathomable, because human intellect cannot fully comprehend Him (Eph 1:18). I suppose we shall spend eternity unfathoming the riches of Christ. Christ Himself is the unsearchable wealth! He is the source of true wisdom, especially that which leads to salvation (Ps 112:7). He is also the source of our righteousness. Without Him, we’ll never be able to stand before a holy God (Job 9:2). He has also given us the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us to holiness and Christ-likeness (Gal 5: 16 – 17, 1 Cor 15: 51 – 53). Aside from these, He is the source of life (Jn 6:25), rest (Mt 11:28), peace (Jn 14:27), joy (Jn 16: 24), contentment (Phil 4: 11 – 13), and an imperishable inheritance in heaven (1 Pt 1:3 – 5).

This fact is also worth meditating: the man bought the field and not the treasure. The value of the treasure was infinitely greater than the value of the field. In the same manner, depraved men can never earn their salvation through good works. Men are saved only by the grace of God (Eph 2:8).

The man also sold all he had to buy the field. I’ve come to realize that when we sell all to Christ, we’re actually repenting. Repentance is a 180-degree turn from sin. We must not only sell our sins, but our self-righteousness as well (Mk 10:31).

Zach, my nephew

I spent most of the short summer break I had in Kuya Don’s (my cousin’s) house in Pasig, with Ate Ann Mae, his wonderful wife, and the cute, little baby that goes by the name of Zach.

In their house, I watched TV, read (finally!) Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, and slept rather comfortably during lazy afternoons. On certain occasions, though, I’d find myself cuddling my nephew (Zach is my second-degree nephew, right?). He’s only nine months old, and while he seemed to have mastered the art of crawling, he has yet to master the art of spoken language. I determined to teach him a few things. I thought it exciting that his first words should not be da-da or ma-ma or any of those repetitive mononsyllabic combinations.

I wanted him to say, “Ignorance of the law excuses no one.”

That was what I’ve been telling him, and everytime I’d utter those words, he would beam with a smile that can melt the icebergs in Antarctica.

Finally, after the lull

I had told myself, while packing my things into those large, brown boxes, that I would refrain, as much as possible, from straining my eyes for the duration of my ten-day break. Now, while writing this entry from an internet shop in EDSA Central Mall, I know I've eaten my words again: I've been breaking such resolve.

Cable TV, Steinbeck, the computer.

When summer class starts, there'll be no more TV. And CSI Las Vegas.

One of the long emails I write

Dear Jef,

I attended HR's Tagalog Service which started at 6:30. Manong and I came in late because we woke up late. How un-glorifying to the Lord that is. We should really endeavor to come early during Sundays. Our attitude towards punctuality reflects our attitude towards worship.

Pastor Bob is in Bohol, speaking in a special service of one of the CCM (Communion of Christian Ministries, of which HR is a member) churches there. So it was Pastor Bong Bulusan from Batac, Ilocos Norte, a senior pastor from a CCM church there, who was requested to preach. He's in Manila for medication and for his sabbatical leave. Ang galing n'ya!

He talked about how Christians ought to respond to the trials and tribulations that come their way. The text was Job 1. And it was wonderful, Jef. Oh, if only you were here, you would've loved the preaching, too.

The Lord spoke to me deeply in this verse: "The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Imagine, Jef, how rooted Job's faith was in God's sovereignty! He had known all along that it was the Lord who gave Him all of his possessions, and that the Lord could take it away anytime, if He pleased.

When his properties were destroyed and his children killed, he was grieved. He must've shed bucketfuls of tears. He shaved his head. He tore his robe. But you know what amazes me, Jef? It was that "he never sinned" in his anguish. Oh, how I wish I could be like him.

I wish I could sing songs of praise even in times of hardships. I wish I could glorify the Lord in my weakness. I wish I wouldn't forget the amazing Doctrine of the Sovereignty of God during the times when I'm in circumstances beyond my control.

Jef, one important lesson I learned, among others, is that we are totally undeserving. I mean, who are we to complain and tell God, "Lord, I don't deserve this" ? Who are we to even gladly receive good, pleasurable blessings from God's hand and yet refuse, when time comes, to receive chastisement from the same loving hand? I often forget this, Jef.

How then should we respond then to Job's example? I suppose the generic answer remains to be the best one: we should follow it. But of course, we couldn't do it on our own. We need the guidance and the urgings of the Holy Spirit. We need Him to spur us to action, because, if left to ourselves, we will choose to slacken off.

I should really like to tell you a lot more, but it's not my goal to turn this letter into one, long Tolstoi novel.

In Christ,
Lance