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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I'm not turning this website into a photoblog, believe me

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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.)