Two sides of the bottle

My friend Wegs' sister, Ate Kate, tagged all the blogs listed in her sidebar because, as she put it, "it's cool like that." I've never met her personally, although I've commented in some of her entries, to which she answered back. I guess that makes us acquainted. I look forward to seeing her personally, though. I might just tell her how horribly talkative Wegs is during class.

So here's the meme:

Thanks to blogging

I allow the other hemisphere of my brain to function, the part that's supposed to be artistic and linguistic and poetic. Most of the time the writing I do is for my scientific paperwork--in other words, my lab reports. I'm not allowed to be expressive, I'm demanded to be straight to the point. I'm not allowed to be verbose, I'm demanded to fit everything into a 200-word abstract. I'm not allowed to imagine, I'm demanded to recall all the experimental steps in sharp detail. I'm not allowed to be humorous, I'm demanded to sound like the narrators in Discovery Channel. So when the rigors of schoolwork get into me, I write about some other things. That way, I preserve my sanity.

I get the chance to glorify God. Through what I write, I'm able to illustrate the faithfulness of our Lord. I'm also able to reflect upon His goodness and thank Him for everything. In my first podcast, I said that I want this to be my own version of the Psalms. Of course, my blog pales in comparison to the Bible, but it allows me to write for Him and about Him. Many friends have also emailed me as to how they've been edified by the things I've written about. It gives me great pleasure to know how God has used my personal experiences to minister to their own spiritual lives.

I connect with friends. I don't have to send them individual emails. By updating my blog, I'm able to give them a picture of the ins and outs of my so-called bottled life. In the same way, blogging has allowed me to know what's been happening to them.

No thanks to blogging

I waste my time. Instead of praying or studying or sleeping, I'd sometimes blog first.

I hurt my eyes. Too much exposure to my monitor's radiation due to prolonged blogging destroys my eyesight.

I hereby tag the following:

Jef Sala
, Paul Balite, Katrina Alvarez, Ralph Catedral, Rapunzel Tomacder, Jacquelyn Libatique

Signs of a hyper-active lab life

Sign 1: Tendency to move out of the lab, give someone a cake, and pose in the middle of the hallway, thereby blocking human traffic.

Biochemistry

Sign 2: Inability to suppress laughter while working.

Friends

Sign 3: Detainment of a a lovely lady (who's busy culturing her bacteria) for a brief moment of a photo shoot.

With Checa and Juanchi

Sign 4: Indiscriminate posing.

Thorn

Sign 5: Forceful coercion, original choreography, and exquisite photography. Yes, I'm in that photo. (More here.)

Rock star

TAGGED AS:

The Durian Story

Durian

Four years ago, I dropped by in Manila to see Manong Ralph, who was in his freshman year in college then. Over the phone, he told my parents he wanted durian, that glorious-smelling, scrumtpuous, pulpy, milky fruit which happened to be his favorite. Until know, he still has the uncanny ability to finish off one fruit entirely on his own, without ever getting sick of its taste.

So before I went to the airport, my parents stuffed more or less seven seeds into a plastic container, which I had to handcarry so I could give it to him the moment I'd see him at NAIA in Manila. It was as big as a normal lunchbox, sealed with layers of packing tape and cellophane wrappers. This was a necessary precaution so as to lock in the smell. People inhabiting Luzon, after all, find durian the most disgusting, awfully smelling, and ugliest fruit ever created. Their noses can detect even the slightest concentration in the air, and the smell would immediately repel them as if it were a biochemical weapon of some sort.

I was confident that no smell had leaked out because, in the first place, I was allowed to board the plane, and nobody complained during the flight. Upon disembarking, however, I overheard comments like, "Ano ba 'yan! Ang baho?" and "Ay, ano 'yan, durian? Ang baho!" "Pano nakapasok 'yan dito?" The Luzon-people-durian-alarm-system was visibly at work.

I thought, "Is it possible that the smell came from my bag?" I was tense, I was irate, I was nauseous. They could have me imprisoned, or worse, shot, for having brought an alcohol-free, illegal-substance-free, love-filled gift to my brother.

So you know what I did?

Without batting an eyelash, I joined the cacophony of complaint. I said, "Ay, oo nga, ang baho! Amoy durian! Yuccch!"

Minutes later, I saw it, like an apparition: a scene of a man carrying two huge durian fruits stacked on his baggage, which he dragged around the arrival area with his trolly.

It wasn't me, after all. The smell didn't come from me.

Drudgery

It took me three weeks before I had finally realized that my pleasurable Christmas break days are over. The transition was gradual: the first two weeks saw me lagging behind, perhaps sagging in idleness at times, my thoughts filled with the after-effects of too much rest I had acquired at home. Making my lab reports, among other academic matters that needed careful studying, somehow created that sense of being in UP, of being far away from home, but it never managed to erase the aftertaste of fun and the familiar scent of home that still clung on to me.

You could say I was jolted out, with a shock comparable to the numbing feeling one gets after coming into contact with a live electric wire. Just today I had realized that I've awakened from that deep Christmas slumber--that I should be studying again, that I should be spending sleepless nights in front of the computer to beat deadlines, that I must always be standing on my own two feet, especially now that nobody prepares my breakfasts and washes my clothes.

But I write this to remind myself that I should not be consumed by drudgery, since the monster called Daily Routine can easily swallow a prey who does not enjoy what he's doing. Schoolwork can be tiring, yes, and there are those times when I'd rather bump my heat onto the cold, hard walls than to finish what I have to do. The temptation to complain about my academic struggles, my sleeplessness, and my lack of colored HP ink can be overpowering. The urge to "eat, drink, and be merry" can sometimes make me turn my head in the wrong direction. And the seemingly innocuous habit of thinking myself worthy of the good things I receive often transforms my perspective into something cloudy, such that I fail to see the Lord's providence in all the things I do.

The harder thing to do now--the time when I'm saturated with busy-ness and work--is to rejoice. It's hard, yes, especially when things don't seem to go my way. But when I come to think of it, I have every reason to have joy in my heart: I have my God, the source of my supreme joy, who loves and keeps me. I should not do things for the sake of just doing them, lest I fall into the traps of Routine. But I must, as always, endeavor to do things "heartily not as unto men but as unto God" (Colossians 3:23). After all, I exist for His greater glory.

Gone are my vacation days, indeed. But despite the looming academic requirements I have to accomlish, the many roles I need to perform in my ministries, I look forward to that day, to that marvelous transition that this world will necessarily undergo, when I would see Jesus. I would probably fall prostrate before Him, my head and my body lying on the ground, with ceaseless tears welling from my eyes in thanksgiving and worship. It will take me an eternity to realize everything He has done for me--a worm, a wretched sinner whom He had saved.
TAGGED AS:

Dinner

Glenda Garcia, that beautiful, savvy, carefree friend of ours, took us out to dinner. It was supposed to be her post-birthday celebration with us, her KalCF (Kalayaan Christian Fellowship) buddies. I asked her, "When was the last time we all ate together?" Seriously, it was too long ago: more than a year has passed when we had our Kalayaan Brigade planning at the UP Arcade. We weren't even complete then--Luther wasn't there, and so was Jef who had, during that time, recently relocated to Texas.

So anyway, it felt pretty much like the good ol' days in Kalayaan, when we'd usually gather together and eat like a family. The evening was marked by frequent outbursts of laughter, quotable quotes (which I'll be publishing pretty soon), raining of food on the table (like manna from heaven)--thanks, Glenda--and some serious talk.

While waiting for Paul Velasco, Paul Balite, and Jaylord who were all so dreadfully late we nearly collapsed waiting for them, God gave me the privilege to talk to Luther. He's been to Bacolod to attend the National Youth Missions Conference during the Christmas break. I asked him what he learned there, and he told me so many important things that made me really think.

Luther told me how important missions is. As Christians, he said, we ought to leave our comfort zones and preach God's Gospel to the nations. And it's not the kind of Gospel that promotes prosperity or financial reward or temporary worldy gain. But it must be a Gospel that brings glory to God. The problem, he said, is that the objective of missions has become man-centered. It should be God-centered. The glory of God must come first and should not be obscured by any other.

I didn't have to ask him the question whether he plans to become a missionary someday. He immediately said, "Whatever brings God the greater glory--sana 'yan ang mangyari." (Or something to that effect). There were many more things we talked about, and it was such a refreshing, joyful experience.

We headed back home afterwards, hoping that this will happen again sometime in the near future.

Are your diamonds conflict-free?

Are your diamonds conflict-free?

Right after the core meeting, I informed some friends of my decision to watch a movie, a reasonable treat for myself after having finished a 14-page lab report. Having had no idea what to watch, I asked around. I figured I didn't want to any of the MMFF entries anymore. I've seen Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo twice: the first was with my cousin, the second with Paul. In both instances, I felt like melted agar; it was too cheesy, but the script was humorous, I tell you. And I had fun.

So anyway, we had a hearty dinner at KFC in the newly constructed annex of SM North EDSA called the Block. There were seven of us: Jaylord, Paul, Shean, Es, and Al. Of course, there was Kuya Dave. He had just arrived after ministering to PMA in Baguio, and he decided to spend the afternoon with us. We had a nice chat about what we did during the break, the things we have to finish for school, among others. Fifteen minutes before the start of the film, we bought our tickets. We were that early because Kuya Dave is Welsh. He's never late.

The movie we watched was called Blood Diamond. It's a moving story about the conflict involving the diamond industry in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The theme revolves around fatherhood, friendship, violence, pain, and love--and that much I can say because I don't want to spoil it for you. I think the script was exceptionally written, the actors really played their parts, and the cinematography was not fancy at all--the movie looked very real. And yes, it's definitely not for the faint-hearted. I had to endure Es' frequent outbursts of shrieks whenever violent scenes were shown. Paul kept grabbing my arm when something horrible came up.

When I arrived here a couple of minutes ago, I immediately messaged my online friends, urging them to watch Blood Diamond. It's something you don't want to miss because if you do, it's like letting a perfectly wonderful opportunity pass.

Christmas Break 2006

I had the most blessed time last Christmas. I spent it with my family mostly, but I also got to meet my friends back home. Though I was not in the least deserving of all these blessings, God chose to shower me with His goodness. And what a better time to have this realization than during Christmas, the season when we remember that He gave His us His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins.

---

mga kapatid ko

This was after the Sunday worship service. We immediately posed in the living room, grabbed the trusted digital camera--and, well, you decide for yourselves who among us look the best.

---

And now:

Christmas 2006 Photoset at Multiply!

Humility

Dear Bottle,

You've been through much last year. You got scratched. Parts of you have been broken and cracked after you bumped into some cold, hard walls. It was all too painful. I remember that you groaned in pain. With tears overflowing, you asked to be delivered from where you were because you thought you no longer could endure.

How much hurt does one bottle have to feel to learn and re-learn its lesson? It definitely took you more than once, Bottle. You were proud. You thought you were sparkling with glory. You thought you stood out from the crowd. You thought you were polished enough. You thought you were far better than others. Yes, you thought of a lot of these, but you didn't think enough.

But you must be eternally grateful, for the Bottler has never once left you nor forsaken you. When you looked like a bottle fit to be thrown into the garbage bag, you still boasted. But instead of breaking you into pieces, he picked you up. He placed you in the blazing furnace, but never once did his hand lose control of you. Yes, at that very moment, you were crying in pain, for every second that passed saw your gradual deformation. But do you realize, Bottle, that it was all for the better?

New Year 2007

House

(Didn't get to take any gloomy picture, but this will do.)

Outside my window the sky looks gloomy. It has been raining since last night. So much for welcoming the new year.

Everybody looks tired. And sleepy. The blood shot eyes, the croaky voices, the heavy eyelids. But I remember that while pretty much the whole world celebrated last night with a frenzy so characteristic of the New Year’s Eve, I stayed peacefully at home. We had a quiet dinner—my family and I. I remember how my mother prayed and thanked the Lord for the year that was to pass and the year that was to come. I could still recall how my father, in frequent intervals during the meal, told us that without God in our midst, we’d be nowhere.

The realization that God has been faithful despite my sins, my imperfections, and my pride overwhelms me. Year 2006 has been a year of learning. I remember how I rushed out of my parents’ bed room where everyone was, went to the dining table, and there opened my Bible. Then, it all made sense to me. The pieces fell at their proper places. Like a puzzle. The trials I’ve gone through, the people I’ve met, the verses that ministered to me—and the design was God’s enduring love to His children.

I wonder if anyone at home has tried opening my Bible. Inserted between the cover are the pieces of paper where I wrote my prayer in red ink. It was full of thanksgiving. And yes, there was a petition, too: that the Lord will prepare my heart for 2007, that I be used by the Lord for His glory alone.

In the best and highest sense, I wish you all a happy new year.

TAGGED AS: ,