Heartwarming

I missed watching the Federer-Sampras matches when they were shown on cable last November. Too bad I had no tv. But thanks to Youtube, I got to see some of it anyway.

Yesterday, though, their Seoul match was aired on tv. Man, I miss Pete Sampras. His hair’s receding now. He used to be the Roger Federer of his time, the world number one of tennis, winner of numerous grand slam titles, before he resigned five years ago.

Roger Federer was great in court, too. Commentators call him the best tennis player who’s ever lived. He’s quick, smart, strong—and he’s just as passionate and soft-spoken as Pete.

Federer beat Sampras, of course: 6-4, 6-3. But it wasn’t an easy win for the Fed. Clearly, he had to improve his service receptions. Sampras scored a lot because of aces—he still has got it.

The match was amazing. Two of the best tennis players in history played each other. Surprisingly, there was no pressure—only hearty laughter from the crowd and the two of them. Sampras looked like the older brother teaching Federer some moves he needed to learn.

O, it was good, heart-warming tennis.

UP SOCCSKSARGEN Quiz-mas Challenge for High School Students is, like, tomorrow na!

If you're in Koronadal City, feel free to drop by FitMart Mall on December 22--my, that's tomorrow!--at 1-4 pm, for the UP SOCCSKSARGEN Quiz-mas Challenge for High School Students. Schools throughout Region 12 will compete for amazing cash prizes amounting to Php 10,000. Categories include Math, Science, English and Literature, and History and Current Events with focus on Region 12.

Support your schools and support UP SOCCSKSARGEN! See you all there!

A Christ-centered Christmas

1. We in YCF ministered to the street kids in UP more than a week ago. We had games, food, and gospel sharing sessions in Sunken Garden. The kids were very participative—some were harder to control, but they immediately listened the moment we asked them. The kids in my group asked relevant questions like “Lahat po ba ng simbahan ay tama?” (Are all churches teaching the truth?). We later handed out colorful bracelets whose colors represented an element in the gospel message. We were certainly blessed.

2. In Higher Rock’s Youth Fellowship, we ministered to kids in Barangay Payatas. We also had games. We presented a skit that was related to the gospel, which Kuya Lito followed up with a brief message. Meanwhile, a lot of us were able to share the gospel to people there even before the program started.

3. We had our Family Day in Higher Rock. The presentations were awesome! We in the Youth presented a choral medley. We sang songs like “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” “Raise Up an Army, O God,” and “We Have Seen God’s Glory.”

4. My friends invited me over to the Diliman Campus Bible Church’s Christmas Cantata. It’s something I look forward to every year. The title was “One Choice, One Voice This Christmas.” It was an exhortation to choose Christ and to worship Him with one voice, especially this season.

5. Koji Bulahan, a friend from church, wrote this inspiring entry about how he shared the gospel to people while he was stuck in heavy traffic. It's must-read!

Why did I write this list? To exhort you to celebrate Christ this Christmas.

God be with you, Glenda

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Jaylord had this as his primary headshot picture (himself, Jason, and myself) in his Friendster account, one of the most visited, most commented, and most viewed in the network. The caption read: "Mga pinakagwapong lalaki sa Yakal."

True, oh so true.

Then Glenda wrote an entry, Yes, Jaylord, in response to the photo. Glenda's just thoughtful like that. She writes about anybody the moment a person pops out in her mind.

Thanks for the kind words, Glenda. And yes, we dearly miss you, too.

Koronadal, here I come

The date is December 19, a Wednesday. I don’t know if it’s going to be sunny or cloudy—or if it’s ever going to snow in this part of the world—but what I do know is that I’m coming home for Christmas.

My kid brother Sean is down with chicken pox in his rented apartment in Davao. He’s probably stuck in his bed with all his bed covers on, his skin covered with itchy red and black sores. I hope it’s going to be over when he comes home. I’ve never had a chicken pox, and I can’t afford to look like someone has drawn black dots on my skin while I was sleeping.

My older brother Ralph is in his apartment two jeepney rides from where I live, also detained with his inch-thick readings that never run out of supply. If trees are being cut down for paper production, blame it on law schools.

And then there’s me, writing this entry as a petty excuse not to start reviewing for a Monday exam. I will, believe me, but in the near future. Exams have a way of distorting my schedule. I resolve not to be bothered this time.

Nanay already gave out instructions to buy gifts for this-and-that, part of our Christmas kringle tradition with close family friends in the city*. I said I’ll try because I’m still not sure if I could squeeze shopping (and my allowance, of course) in my itinerary for next week.

I’m also excited for the upcoming Quiz-mas Challenge 2007. It’s a regional quiz show for high school students that UP SOCCKSARGEN is organizing. It’s on December 22. So if you’re in Koronadal, feel free to drop by FitMart Mall, 1-4 pm, second floor, at the area near the cinemas.

I get awfully giddy thinking I’ll be home in less than a week. I thank the Lord for providing for the trip and for Christmas, which is really all about Him.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketCalling Koronadal a city still makes me uncomfortable. To my mind, it will always be the quiet town where I grew up, where everybody knew each other and those who didn’t acted like they really did.

Christmas party at Kuya Dave's

Kuya Dave and Ate June Griffiths give one of the best Christmas parties in the world, something I look forward to each year.

The Christmas decors and lights are fascinating. The food is unmistakably and deliciously English: bread and butter, trifle (gelatin with custard and fruits), and well, some Filipino additions, too, like pansit.The games always seem new and fresh, even if they're the same ones we've played for the past hundred years.

In YCF's Christmas party this year, Kuya Dave invited three foreigners to speak about Christmas in their country and what the celebration means to them.

Pastor Nnamdi from Nigeria spoke on the increasing materialism in his country's Christmas celebration.

Pastor Vishna from Cambodia told us that there are very few Christians in his place. The celebration is mostly confined to the churches.

Pastor John from Papua New Guinea shared a good news to us: the materialism that's prevalent in Western (and our) society is not found in their celebrations. It's not in their culture. In fact, only few know about Santa! Ang galing!

And the meaning of Christmas for all of them?

It's a celebration of God becoming man, in the person of Jesus Christ. He came to this world to die for and save sinners. Take Jesus out of Christmas, and the season loses all its meaning.

Next year ulit.

Ten minutes

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I just boarded the jeep, then she did, after a few seconds. She sat in front of me.

During the 10 minutes of travel, we had a good chat: on life, on career, on faith. It was all so refreshing, like a glass of cold water after an exhausting jogging session.

We talked about how fast time flies: who'd have thought it's been four long years since we first enrolled in UP? We talked about God's faithfulness, and how He has, never once, left us nor forsaken us.

"How are you?" I asked.

"I have peace--I can't explain it--because I'm sure that where I'm going is where God wants me to be," she said.

I hope we could all say the same thing.