I listened to you, and I felt sorry

Dear Classmate,

When it was your turn to speak for the extemporaneous speech in class, I listened very attentively. As soon as you mentioned the word "religion" with such sarcasm and hate; I gripped the armchair, and deep inside, I was hoping that you weren't an atheist. While listening to you, I had to bow my head, cover my eyes, and pray.

You told us that, as a child, you didn't grow up knowing God nor practicing religion--you didn't even know if you had one. Your parents, you said, were of different backgrounds: your mother was Catholic, your father was Buddhist. You went on to say that you were "lost in the light;" your family never attended Church services; you never prayed together. Perhaps, you never even talked about God.

In my heart of hearts, I felt compassion for you. It is never religion that saves us, after all. It is Christ. And so, I felt the need to share to you the Gospel message, that which has radically changed my life, that sweet, old message of grace unmeasured and love unparalleled: that Jesus died for the sins of underserving sinners like us. I'm praying for that opportunity of telling you about God, about Jesus, about the Holy Spirit, about Biblical Christianity. You may find yourself lost in the light because the people who are in darkness prefer to hide under the shadow of the dirt and grime of their sins. But I challenge you, Classmate: come to Christ, the true and living Light, and you will find Him.

Let me rephrase


Woke up at 4:45. In the morning. Took a freezing bath. Donned my red shirt. Packed my malong. Ran all the way to Quezon Hall. Saw people with banners and props and regional costumes.

Thought: "This must be it. The Araling Pilipino 12 Challenge: Suroy-suroy, Vochong, at Lalolalorar."

Approached my groupmates. Practiced the cheer.


Sugod, sugod
SOCCSKARGEN
Dili ta magpapildi


Program started. Marched to the Arboretum. Yes, from the UP Oblation to U-Ave to Philcoa, then finally, to Arboretum! Chanted. Set-up the Challenge Stations. Hungry.

The challenges: wika, panitikan, at kultura. Interesting highlights: the challenge food, the message relay (lines from the T'boli epic Tudbulul), the literal blind map.

Rained hard. Wet all over. Still hungry.

Ate lunch at FC. Received dole outs from Regions 2 and 5. Sarap ng food!

We were challenged. Ate raw shrimp (CARAGA). Swallowed durian. Solved puzzles. Ran. Walked. Sighed. Almost collapsed.

Finally, awards night. Then this entry. And then, sleep.

Readers, especially to my groupmates under Professor Fabros: more photos posted here and here.

Talentado ka!

A normal person who’s had a terrifyingly long and arduous day would—normally—throw himself on his bed and completely black out of reality as soon as he gets home. But I guess I don’t belong to that category. Here I am, writing this entry, when I should be tucked in bed already. Mind you, I have to wake up at four o’clock tomorrow morning for a major class activity, and I need all the sleep I can get. But there’s too much to tell, that if I don’t write everything down, my experiences may as well get thrown in the wastebasket of forgotten memories.

I spent the whole day in class. While listening to lectures, my mind drifted to what remained to be the more exciting part of the day: the Yakal Open House. My roommates and the rest of the people in my dorm wing—except me—spent the whole night decorating the corridor. It was a shame I didn’t get to help them. I was stuck with Campbell, the oh-so-wonderful Biology book that’s sometimes more effective at lulling me to sleep than the average sleeping pill.

When sleep got its grips on me around 2 am (everyone was still awake, believe me), I decided to postpone the reading of the three chapters of genetics. “Bukas na lang, maaga na lang akong gigising,” I thought. I did wake up early, but my sleep wasn’t enough, because the moment I opened my eyes, there were still remnants of sleepiness hovering about me. I cleaned my room, removed the dust off my monitor, and prayed.

I asked the Lord for strength. I was at my wit’s end; I realized that my strength wouldn’t be enough. I needed Him.

So off I went: to Bio lecture and lab in the morning, to Yakal with Dianne Deauna (we reviewed for the exam; she had these brilliant ideas about long and short day plants that blew me away), to the actual dreaded Bio lecture exam at 5:30 in the afternoon. I’d rather not talk about it, but suffice it to say that God has been so gracious as to even allow me to answer some of the problems. Ma’am Roderos is a genius at making exams that make our noses bleed—and I say that lovingly.

Immediately after the exam, around 7:30 pm, we rushed to Albert Hall for the Talents Night which I’d be hosting. I had no idea what to say, and I was thankful for Ate Tetet who, surprisingly, showed up onstage as my co-host, and who seemed to enjoy the entire stint. Together with the rest of the applicants, I sang Finale B, a song in the musical, Rent. There were wonderful performances, too (all were exceptionally good): Coy, Monchi and Ielle; Carlo, the man with the voice that could melt Antarctica, and Checka—di lang pang-isports, pang-perpormans lebel pa; Kuya Fabs, who did an a cappella, among others; the MBB research assistants, some members, and many more.



Thank you, Lord, for sustaining me.

Renting and crashing

It started with a joke really, but the moment Wegs began planning at the back of her mind how things were to proceed, everything was sealed. With her spearheading all the planning, the MBB '09 Block Movie Marathon finally came to pass. I think everyone somehow needed the break; the previous week had left us all breathless, our shoulders heavy with academic load, our neurons distraught with lab reports and what-nots.

Juanchi was kind enough to host us for the night. We ate dinner at Bento Box, proceeded to his house which was nearby, and watched the musical, Rent, whose melodies still ring into my ears--it must be the proverbial Last Song Syndrome. Do they have medication for that? We also watched Crash, a terrifyingly, shockingly good movie, on racism, justice, and, yes, readers, world peace.

In the morning, we packed our things, and rushed to McDonald's for breakfast.

Out of the blue, we decided to do something creative. Here's our version of "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."



More pictures: the block at Juanchi's; and the breakfast.

It was such a delightful time to unwind, and I did get a decent sleep, with chattering voices humming in the background of my dreams.

A sobering thought

Two days ago I was confronted with a question that dug deep into my heart: do I study to glorify myself or to glorify God?

My Comm 3 instructor was rattling off instructions and guidelines for the impromptu and extemporaneous speeches, while my mind was far away, looking beyond and inside me, all at the same time. We had been asked to submit a topic for the extemporaneous speech during the previous meeting, and I actually had the entire weekend left to myself to think about it. And I did.

The instruction was that we’d talk about ourselves—anything and everything under the sun, really, as long as it was about us, and as along as we could keep it interesting. I had many options: I could speak about the central dogma of molecular biology and how it applies to university students like us, I could talk on blogging and the joys I derive from it, I could even talk about literature and how effective it is at lulling most people to sleep.

But Tuesday came and I still hadn’t finalized anything. What topic would best describe me? What topic do I want to talk about?

So, dear readers, picture me there, inside the classroom at the backseat, looking outside the window, praying to God for wisdom even in matters like this. And then it hit me: why not speak about the Gospel?

I really wanted to, but I had many concerns: the teacher may brand it too religious, and therefore inappropriate for a secular institution like UP; my actions would be limited, and I wouldn’t be able to use my creative juices in making props and other stuff; my grade might plummet because the audience’s interest may not be sustained.

So I had to reevaluate myself: do I study to glorify myself or to glorify God? It was essentially a choice between the two. Do I speak for Him or for the grade and my classmates’ approval?

By God’s grace, I was able to make the right choice. I wrote down in a piece of paper the title of the speech, Life Through Death, and the specific speech purpose: to inform my Comm3 classmates of the Gospel message that radically changed my life. I figured, if the teacher disapproved of it, I still had a back-up topic which was on blogging.

So there I was in the queue, waiting for my turn to give the teacher the piece of paper bearing my topic. When it was my turn, she read both topics, pointed to the first one, and said, “Is this your first choice?”

“Yes, Ma’am, it is.”

She smiled, encircled it, and affixed her signature. Approved. To God alone be the glory. May He sustain me as I prepare the speech plan, the outline, and my heart.

bottled file