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Showing posts from 2008

Haven't I told you yet?

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My brother won a flat-screen TV.

Blood-curdling romance . . . unbelievable

This sounds silly, but, yes, I went out to see the blood-sucking vampires in Twilight . Contrary to popular belief, it’s not such a waste of money, especially when you consider the low, low price you pay to watch it in this part of the country—a whopping Php 30! I watched it with friends from UP SOX after our regional quiz show—which was a huge success, by the way. Now I can understand why it’s causing a fever, especially among people who don’t usually read. It’s simple, cheesy, melodramatic, and downright predictable. But, to its credit, it’s new. Vampire stories are usually violent, erotic, and complicated. Twilight, however, doesn’t fit in any of these descriptions. It’s tailored-fit for the young. Parents need not worry when their kids go and see this. I have a couple of friends who’ve read all the books in this series by Stephanie Meyer. (They didn’t actually buy them; I’m told you can download a softcopy in some dubious sites.) As is often the case, they report that the bo

We sleep on Christmas Eve

Yesterday I've been with my father to do Christmas grocery shopping at KCC Mall. As in Manila, the mall was packed with people rushing to buy fruit cocktails, pastas, and hams, just in time for the noche buena that night. Tatay and I were on my mother's strict instructions to buy the tried and tested ingredients she'd use for her salad. My mother doesn't cook (and seriously, you don't want her to), but her salad is something we anticipate annually. In my family, I can only remember a few instances when we stayed up late and actually celebrated Christmas Eve. We'd usually sleep on it. My mother gets migraines when her sleep is disturbed. My father spontaneously dozes off. And because sleep is infectious, we kids curl up in bed, too. I mean, what do we do? All the lights are out, and everything's quiet, except for the dogs who squeal when the neighbors' fireworks explode. But that's not to say we don't, uhm, celebrate. We just do it earlier,

Orhan Pamuk's The Black Book is a must-read

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Orhan Pamuk doesn't mince with words; he plays with them. In what many people call "his masterpiece," The Black Book weaves the story of young lawyer, Galip Bey, and the mysterious life of one newspaper columnist who happens to be his cousin and his wife's ex-husband. Pamuk, among the best of Turkey's writers and winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature, employs rich imagery, unique story lines, and unheard-of plots. It's not an easy read, this book, because it is so overwhelming that many times I had to pause in between paragraphs to swallow what I had just read. Galip Bey finds out that his wife, Ruya, had left him. Except for a short note written in green ink, Galip didn't see that coming. He searches for her, until he realizes Ruy a may have gone to Celal, her ex-husband. The story is set in the backdrop of political chaos and financial instability, problems plaguing Turkey in the 1980's. Pamuk shows his ingenuity when he intersperses t

What I plan to do this Christmas

1. Rest. I resolve not to bring any academic-related materials at home. I wouldn't read them anyway. 2. Meditate. I have more to study and meditate on God. 3. Share the gospel to my classmates. 4. Party. The family is usually swamped with Christmas party invitations, so much so that at one point, we weren't eating dinner at home! 5. Read. In my reading list are The Black Book (Orhan Pamuk), Franny and Zooey (JD Salinger), The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (Rainer Maria Rilke), and Why I Am A Christian (John Stott).

When studying gets hard

One last exam for the year. Studying is hard when you all you think of is the Christmas vacation.

Connected again!

For a moment, I actually contemplated going back to Windows. Last night I couldn't connect to the internet. New fiber optics cords were being installed in the dorm's internet facility. As part of this change, the administrators decided to change our IP addresses, as well. For 99% of the Link Yakal subscribers, that wouldn't have been a problem. But for me, the lone Linux user in the corridor, it was a nightmare. Previously I had deleted the "Network Manager" icon in the upper panel because, well, it just didn't look nice. I figured I could always put it back. I spent the entire morning tweaking with the codes, which looked more like an incoherent display of letters and numbers that the aliens emailed from outer space. Now I'm glad I have it working, thanks to the great guys at Ubuntu Forums. The reason I'm sticking it out with Ubuntu is that there are so many good people willing to help out. So yes, I'm not deleting any of these icons any ti

Encapsulating Christmas

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Lenny Magalit, recently diagnosed with breast cancer, sang at the YCF Christmas party at Kuya Dave's this evening. Her song? A musical version of John 3:16 , one of the verses that best encapsulate the meaning of Christmas. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. I'm thankful for Christ-centered Christmas parties. Yes, they still exist, but it's sad that not everyone gets to experience them. With the popular unbiblical notions of Santa Claus and his reindeers, the celebration has lost its meaning. Instead of proclaiming Christ's message of redemption to sinners, people highlight “giving” as the central theme. But it is God giving His only begotten Son for us that must be given the most importance, not us giving material gifts to others. Christmas is a celebration of Christ. Take Jesus out of the picture and all these lights, trees, and carols lose their meaning. (Photo:

A monk's life. And death.

Among the best suspense novels I've read thus far, The Name of the Rose isn't just an ordinary detective story. Set in the 14th century, in a rich Franciscan abbey in Italy, the novel is told from a viewpoint of an old Benedictine monk, Adso, whose memories of the past events form the backbone of this literary masterpiece. For seven days, heinous crimes are committed in the monastery. But just as notorious as the crimes are the underlying motives for them—greed for knowledge and power, pride, and lust. Umberto Eco , the writer, weaves a powerful picture of these events. Instead of chapters, the book is divided into Days and Times: matins (2:30 – 3 am), lauds (5 – 6 am), prime (7:30), terce (9 am), sext (noon), nones (2 – 3 pm), vespers (4:30 pm, at sunset), and compline (6 pm, before the monks go to bed). The book is a heavy read—it combines philosophy, logic, history, and language. Interspersed in Adso's narration is the conflict between the Emperor in Rome and th

Scientia - Second Issue

I'm the news editor of the college magazine, Scientia, and I write the column (Parenthetical) . Here's the second issue just released last week, in case you don't have a copy.

MBBS wins first prize in College of Science Carolfest 2008

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We won! We hardly mastered the dynamics, barely ran through the choreography—and here we are, bright and shining with our first place distinction. For three years, I've been joining the CS Carolfest. I've been a part of the UP MBBS Star Activity (a fancy name we call our org choir). MBBS placed second in 2006, third in 2007—and my batchmates and I felt that, before we graduate, we should at least win a gold. This year... ... was an answer to our wish. We sang two songs: the standard piece, Ano'ng Gagawin Mo Ngayong Pasko (Ryan Cayabyab), and The Way You Look Tonight (Frank Sinatra), which we chose in line with the theme, romantic love this Christmas. Minutes before the contest, Jana Mier, our graceful and gracious conductor, reminded us to sing for greater purposes—not just for ourselves. I'm thankful for that searing reminder to offer the song to the Lord who is the reason for Christmas, to begin with. Our presentation probably went smoothly, but

NaBloPoMo is almost over!

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The National Blog Posting Month is almost over! The challenge to write at least one blog entry a day was daunting, but it was worth it. November has taught me to value each day that comes my way. I thank God for each lesson and experience He's allowed me to go through. This month has been soaked with His mercies. For the one last time, let me recap the entire month: Nov 1 Lafug v.2 --changed the blog layout Visiting the dead --Undas entry Nov 2 Eyes Most frequently used words from September 18 to November 2 --discovered a website that makes word clouds Nov 3 A countdown of lasts --well, because graduation is the end of many things. Nov 4 Obama vs McCain, and the great American debate --I got involved in politics Nov 5 I tell people I know how to ride a bike Nov 6 The new presidency will usher changes that are set to change the world upside down --again, politics Nov 7 All because of God's grace --overwhelmed by the fact that this is to be my last sem in UP Nov 8

You're never too young

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“I came from my mother's womb” was his answer when we asked him where he came from. Adam Hussey , a young missionary affiliate with Action International, spoke yesterday at the Youth Fellowship in Higher Rock. He first shared this life testimony—how he went to church only for the sake of attending it, how he broke his knee when he played tennis, and how he was called by the Lord to go to Uganda. I was amazed at God's miracle in preserving his life. While working in a remote town in that African country, he got sick with cerebral malaria—the deadlier form of the disease. And yet, by God's grace, he came back to America alive. Now he's in the Philippines for some work to be done at Action. There's no age requirement in doing missions. All Christians, young and old, are called to spread the gospel. What a timely reminder.

Pastor Bob

Except for his tooth that perpetually shines when he is at the pulpit, my pastor looks like any other guy. But once he speaks, Pastor Bob Amigo of Higher Rock Christian Church speaks with authority. I'm thankful for him because he has shown devotion to the study of God's word. He never preaches human wisdom but speaks truth from the Bible, even if it means hurting our egos, our self-esteem, and our pride. He's serious about his job—and that is, to shepherd the flock of Christ entrusted to him. He does not tolerate errors in doctrine and teaching, and has never once lacked to remind us to obey Christ and follow Him wholeheartedly. His teaching is soaked with spiritual insights, jampacked with Biblical truths, replete with concrete applications—and all these balanced with a good sense of humor—so much so that every Sunday, it's always a feast for the soul. He is patient in disciplining us, devoted in praying for us, earnest in leading us to Christ but never to hims

Transforming ideas into real businesses

We pushed through with the business pitch at the Ayala TechnoBoot Camp , and I think we did quite well. We got the people interested and received pretty good comments from the mentors. Their advice: get patents and establish our own company. That was solid. Aside from us, various teams—mostly from Engineering—presented their business concepts, too. I was amazed at the sophistication of the ideas, ranging from a machine that prevents laptop snatching to devices that predict landslides. The mentors were insightful. They gladly shared their thoughts, keeping in mind that we—the people they were talking to—did not have a clue of how to run a business. They were generous in giving compliments but never harsh when they saw something wrong. If there's one good lesson I learned from the TechnoBoot Camp, it is this: that scientists and engineers need to learn the skill of creating a link between their inventions and the market. That's lacking in UP. Undergrads cook up amazing ideas

Filthy rich

There is not a single business gene in my body. This I realized while writing a business plan for the Ayala Technoboot Camp tomorrow. My team (Kino Aquino, Isabel Nabor, Zi Laqui, Ate Xy-Za Oro, and my thesis adviser) is pitching to a bunch of successful businessmen, and we're here trying to sound business-like. Don't ask me how to market my product because my answer would be: "Oh, I'll hire someone to do it for me." But here I am, doing just that--thinking what my "competitive advantage" is, who my "target market" is, whatever that means. I realize some people like doing these things. Hands up to them. To be in business, one must have the intestinal fortitude to overcome failure, to rise above one's self. I'm even surprised because the speakers we've had so far do business not because they have to but because they want to. They derive a kind of satisfaction, probably of the same kind as, say, getting good experimental results

Reminder for today

Mouth control is a clear evidence of self-control.

YM conversation during cramming time

Me: Kumusta ang A2Q [Answers to Questions], Ti? Titus Tan : Heto, kinukumusta ko rin.

On toothbrushes and why I like photography

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I experimented with the camera's super macro settings one night when I should've been studying for Immunology. If you've fallen in love with photography, you know it's a worthwhile distraction. It takes your mind off things. The experience of capturing memories and images clears one's mind and offers a different perspective altogether. When I still had my camera, I used to go out into the wilderness alone. Somehow, photography was a means of escaping, even momentarily, the pressures of student life. During those solitary walks, I would pray and marvel at the beauty of God's creation. It's always humbling to see that no matter how sophisticated our cameras have become, they still fall short of capturing the real things. I don't shoot as often as before because I only borrow camera from my friends. And it's hard to squeeze my hobby into my usually tight schedule, which is mainly my fault because I didn't plan which subjects to take and when. Bu

Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom: lessons our country badly needs to learn

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I RECALL watching that familiar video clip of Nelson Mandela coming out of prison after 27 years. I had no idea who he was, of course, but from the look on his face and the people's reaction, it wasn't that hard to think that he was a man who shook the world. Since then I've heard his name mentioned everywhere—in Oprah, in CNN, in the papers. They always described him as a good man, someone who gave his life for the freedom of the African people. I've read his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom , recently. It is a detailed account of his life, starting with his childhood at the Transkei, his coming of age at Johannesburg, his joining the African National Congress (ANC), his battle against the oppresive apartheid system, and his eventual imprisonment for three decades. The book, 800 pages thick, is dotted with lessons written by a old man ripened in experiences. Unlike the other autobiographies I've read, Nelson Mandela does not exaggerate—he even downpl

Overheard by Boom

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Arielle asks, “We have quiz today?” Gelo grins, has nothing to say. Polo shouts, “No! Please, I pray!” Yeyen thinks, “Do we have to stay?” “Ang chaka naman!” Cheeze complains. “Di ko 'to nagets!” Angeli exclaims. Monchi looks up and feels his tummy. As Wegs cries out, “Oh, help me mommy!” Richard confesses, “Man, this is scary.” Agz wonders, “What's happening to me?” Carlo says, “Quiz daw? 'Di tuloy 'yan, pare.” Dianne , unimpressed, answers with “Anubeh!” Jean stands up, “Guys, huwag masyadong i-internalize.” Isabel panics, “Di ko 'to memorize!” Patrick blurts out, “Oh, what the hell.” As Tin , in a corner, wishes everyone well. “Kasama pa ba 'to?” asks worried Jana Melay replies, “Hindi—oo—ay, teka!” Titus explains, “Nakatulog ako kagabi.” Anna relates, “Ako, pagod, mouse duty kasi.” “Whaaaat?” is Hazel 's helpless cry, While Kino claims her brain is dry. As Juanchi scratches his shiny scalp, Jaimar tears the blank paper pulp. Lance

Why I spend hours inside National Bookstore

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Notebooks. I spend hours looking for the perfect set--which brand? what size? how many pages? how much? Acid-free paper, firm binding, and professional cover pages excite me. I hesitate to spend too much on clothes but never on notebooks. I guess that makes me . . . a notebook addict.

Books! Books!

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My impulse is to start a book, read the first five chapters, leave it unfinished, only to start reading another book. I guess I don't have to rush things. I'm finishing Nelson Mandela's A Long Walk to Freedom . Still on my To Read list are: The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco) The Black Book (Orham Pamuk) Night (Ellie Wiesel) What books have you been reading these days?

Hearty laugh at a wedding

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Chippy Leo, Chippy Leo!

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JP Asong is in town, arranging his papers to resume his studies in UP. He's currently teaching at Ateneo de Davao, his students just about the same age as he is. He's flying back to Davao tomorrow and will return here next year. JP is one of those who made dorm life more exciting that what it actually is. I couldn't imagine Kalayaan without him. We had so many things in common—books, movies, food, and friends. It was because of him that I got more interested in the classics. I borrowed his copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula which I never returned. He introduced me to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, lending me his copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude. And he liked old movies, having watched To Kill A Mockingbird ahead of me. When I had nothing else to do, my default was to go to his room or Jef's. I'd bother him with my kakulitan , and he'd igladly indulge me. Many times he's crazier than I am. Tonight he treated me to dinner at Chocolate Kiss. If there's s

Restful sleep

From my private journal which I felt like sharing: Lord, thank you for this day! I've had a restful sleep last night; thank you for the rest. Not everyone has a bed to lie on, a blanket to keep them warm, and a roof to protect them. Thank you, Lord, that nothing troubles me--I have no problems to wrestle with. Thank you, Lord, for the peace that transcends all understanding. And thank you for the bright sunshine that greeted me this morning. Not everyone is given a new day to live.

Singing with the choir

As far as I can remember I've always been in a choir. In Sunday School at Marbel Baptist Church, I'd join my brother Ralph in practices for the Christmas cantata during Saturday afternoons. I was about five. The youngest among all the kids, I simply tagged along. During the actual performance, my brother sang ( lip-synched being the more appropriate term) one solo part—was it Silent Night?—while I stood in the background, mumbling words I didn't really understand. But I think Ma'am Dorcas, the Sunday School teacher, liked me because I smiled a lot, especially on-stage. In grade school, I joined the Graders' Choir. It would become the Graders' Theater Guild soon after. I sang soprano because little boys sound like girls—and I think I was exceptional because I'd even beat some girls at singing the higher notes. At the Theater Guild, I learned a lot from Teacher Perlyn Enriquez, my favorite music teacher at Notre Dame . She taught me how to use facial

Kalesa

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Upgraded to Ubuntu 8.10!

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I'm weeks late, but it's better late than never. I've upgraded my OS to Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex. So far, so good. Ubuntu has exceeded my expectations. The new features include: 3G Support Writing and Installing Ubuntu using a USB stick (instead of the more laborious CD method) Guest Sessions (this one's for added security. If a friend wants to borrow my computer, I can just click on "Guest," and I'm automatically protected from anything he might do to my system.) And many more . I've read wonderful reviews about the new Ubuntu release. Here's one from Lifehacker who writes: Ubuntu 8.10 leaves all previous releases standing in the dirt. Most applications that come with the package have also been updated. A notable improvement is on GIMP, now upgraded to the 2.6 release , which uses a single taskbar for all its windows: It features a dedicated document window (the layer, brushes etc. windows are now referred to as docks). To be blunt, I

You have got to see Citizen Kane

I'm a big fan of old movies, especially those in black and white, with special effects that kids my age now like to make fun of. They have an enduring quality, a timeless message, and a deep portrayal of humanity—things that are hard to find in today's Hollywood flicks. Citizen Kane ( 1941) is one of these movies. Directed by Orson Welles, it ranks number 1 in the American Film Institute's (AFI) list of 100 Greatest Movies of All Time . And unquestionably so. The feature film details the life and career of Charles Foster Kane, a newspaper tycoon who wanted to change the world. At the opening scene, he struggles with death and utters the word, “Rosebud,” before he breathes his last. But who or what is “Rosebud”? The answer is ultimately the key in unlocking the mysterious person of Mr. Kane, a larger than life figure of American society in his time. The movie centers on finding that answer. It traces his beginnings, his rise to power, his ruthlessness, and his death.

Handwritten

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Nothing beats a handwritten letter. My friend, Paul Velasco, sent me this postcard from Wellington, New Zealand about a month ago. It bore his familiar handwriting--strong, calculated, and shaky strokes--that gave it more personality, something an email can never accomplish. When it comes to letters, I prefer analog to digital. Call me a tree-destroyer, but I'd rather have them in paper and pen. Don't you? My blockmates are bound for Baguio City. I'm not going because my parents didn't give me permission. I should take a rest. If Paul were there, he'd tour me around, even cook something for me in his amazing kitchen, which, I imagine, is just a couple of minutes away from where I'd be standing.

What would you do if someone spat at you?

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I hailed a jeep on my way to a church meeting. Just as I was about to alight, I heard a spewing sound, followed almost instantly by a warm oozing feeling on my right hand. Yep, someone from the jeep spat at me -- unintentionally, of course, so I never took it against the boy. That started movies of bacteria and viruses playing in my head. Later I learned it wasn't just my hand; my Bible -- at least, the denim cover -- was also partly . . . wet. I was amazed at how I reacted. "Yuch! Yuch!" were the only ones I said. I didn't get mad, just a bit irritated at why people find the need -- and pleasure -- to spit in public places. I mean, they could swallow "it" for the meantime, until they could find a decent lavatory. Throughout the ride, I thought of two things: first, handwashing; and second, Christ. I was reminded that sinning is like spitting on Jesus' face. It's a mockery of what He has done on the cross. So I thought, when I looked at my righ

What will I do after graduation?

The only time I didn't want to be a scientist was when I dreamt of being a doctor. Now I want to be both. Will I do research? Will I proceed to medical school? Where will I study after? These are the questions bugging me these days. College graduation, after all, is just a couple of months away. But instead of being overwhelmed, what I should be praying for is God's will for me. I'm encouraged because although the future is unclear, the Lord never confuses. Instead, He gently directs, guides, and leads His children to the paths that are best for them.

Joe and I had dinner with Hazel's mother

Hazel's mother invited us -- Joe and I -- to dinner tonight at the Mall of Asia. We had a great time. Her mother was very animated and didn't run out of topics to discuss. I can't forget the funny moments when she talked about her childhood experiences in Cebu. Here are a few things I was reminded of: 1. Do not covet other's properties. Be thankful for what you have. 2. Strive hard to reach your dreams. 3. Live within your means. It was a night to remember.

Sen. Miriam Santiago is here to stay

I recall going to the marketplace with Tita Ging when Miriam Defensor-Santiago emerged out of a van and waved her hand at us. It was the first time she was running for a senate seat, and she spoke of the Philippines of our dreams—aside, of course, from cursing President Ramos who she has since claimed to have cheated her in the 1992 presidential election. She has since been in the country’s political limelight, and people have followed her with unwavering interest. Either you like her or you don’t. Since then I’ve looked up to Miriam as a larger-than-life personality more than a political figure—someone you don’t mess around with . . . but someone you’d want other people to mess with. I hope I’m making sense. Her statements—in senate speeches or interview excerpts—are extraordinarily quotable, with words that you thought were non-existent until after she blurted them out. Her outbursts of anger merit news stories in prime time TV. It’s because of people like her that Philippine p

Who'd be the first person in heaven you'd shake hands with?

During the Isabela missions trip , we frequently had time to kill -- especially after a heavy dinner when it was hard to walk around. We'd gather in one corner and muse about things. To make the conversations more edifying and useful, we'd play games. This time, the drill was that one person would ask a question; the rest should answer. It was an unstructured getting-to-know you game, and I learned many things about my old and new-found friends. As far as I can remember, the questions and my answers were: What is your favorite verse in the Bible? Galatians 2:20 -- "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me. And the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me." That's from the New King James Version. What is your favorite book in the Bible? All of them, of course, but I like reading the book of Philippians best. It's a book of joy -- an irony, really, beca

Why I can’t bring myself to read long e-books

1. My eyes hurt. 2. The icons distract me. 3. I end up chatting online. 4. I don’t feel or flip through anything. 5. I scroll so fast I don’t get the point. 6. I can’t smell the pages. Call me old-fashioned, but I still prefer the real ones.

All because of God's grace

I'm off to my last sem in UP.

The new presidency will usher changes that are set to turn the world upside-down

Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States. His election is set to usher changes in policies that will turn the world upside-down. After all the excitement of the recent election, it is sobering to read Albert Mohler's thoughts : Given the scale of the Democratic victory, the political landscape will be completely reshaped. The fight for the dignity and sanctity of unborn human beings has been set back by a great loss, and by the election of a President who has announced his intention to sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law. The struggle to protect marriage against its destruction by redefinition is now complicated by the election of a President who has declared his aim to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. On issue after issue, we face a longer, harder, and more protracted struggle than ever before. So much was at stake in the recent election, including how the issue of abortion must be dealt with. In this, Albert Mohler urges Christians to come to God in p

I tell people I know how to ride a bike

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. . . but the truth is, I still don't know how to make a sharp U-turn. (Zi Laqui drew this for me on my birthday.)

Obama vs McCain, and the great abortion debate

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It's the height of the American presidential elections, by far a landmark in democratic history because, for the first time, a colored man is vying for the most powerful seat in the land. So far, Barrack Obama is leading John McCain in the Gallup Polls, and political analysts, at least those I've heard, are almost unanimous in declaring a landslide victory for the Democratic candidate. In recent history, I've never seen people express support for a political candidate with the an overflow of hope and love as they have for Senator Obama. That's understandable because he not only has the brains, he has charisma. American election should serve as an example In this election, it is an encouragement to see that people have finally transcended their racist biases. America, a mature democracy, should serve as an example to the Philippines in terms of how an election must be carried out: policies first before personalities . That's hardly the case in the country w

A countdown of lasts

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Today is the last time I’m enrolling as an undergrad in UP. As I look back at some five years ago and the years that would follow, I see a miracle—my shifting to MBB, CRS’ extraordinary kindness, and the lessons God has taught me in the process. The easiest thing to do in UP is getting there. After the UPCAT, one has to contend with exams, papers, and, yes, horribly long queues of people waiting for their turn—earning the timeless joke that UP is actually “ University of Pila. ” I can’t agree more. You haven’t experienced UP if you haven’t lined up for hours.

Most frequently used words from September 18 to November 2

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Eyes

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I was 14 when I started wearing glasses. People never looked at me the same way again. Now it's different. I look weird, like a three-eyed monster (instead of a four-), without my pair on.

Visiting the dead

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Here's my first entry for the NaBloPoMo. For each post, I'll be posting my sketches, scanned using HP 1315. I was highly inspired by Austin Kleon. Around this time, the family would be off to Banga , some 15-minute drive away from Koronadal, to visit my mother’s side of the family—my grandmother, a number of my aunts and uncles, and my noisy cousins. November 1 has always been a mini-reunion. It’s not an elaborately organized party, as some families are prone to doing, but it usually comes in the form of a simple lunch, coupled with hours of talking and laughing at Lola’s backyard. Auntie Cecille would slaughter native chicken from her collection of poultry animals. Uncle Dotdot would order and arrange flowers for Lolo Mauro’s grave site, while my mother would whine at why Lola decided to cut this or that tree down. “You need the shade; it’s too hot these days.” Later in the afternoon, when there’s not too many people, Auntie Netnet would accompany us to the cemetery to

Lafug v.2

Finally got the chance to do a blog overhaul, just in time for the NaBloPoMo this November. It's the first time my blog is having two opposing sidebars. I personally handcoded the CSS codes, with a lot of help from Firdamatic . The color theme I used was borrowed from ColorCombos . The photo above is Cagayan River viewed from Cabagan, Isabela.

Sign up for NaBloPoMo!

Got nothing else to do this break? Sign up for the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) . It's simple: post a blog entry every day for the month of November. I just did.

Isabela

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The trip to Isabela was 12 hours long, and I embarked on it with a bag loaded with clothes, a thick study Bible, and a pair of shoes. The goal I was part of the UP DCF Missions Team. The missions exposure trip is an annual event of the DCF to spread the gospel of Christ, and to equip the local churches, especially the youth. This was to be my second exposure to the mission field, after having gone to Sibalom, Antique last year. Pastor Ollie and Ate Telling When we arrived on October 22 after a bus ride that seemed like eternity, we were hosted to delicious brunch at the house of Pastor Ollie and Ate Telling, his wife. We would live in their home for the next week or so. Pastor Ollie is the senior pastor of Sta. Maria Bible Community Church. Gifted in music, he has composed and translated Christian songs in Ibanag, the local language. His preaching is God-centered, and he's not hesitant to talk about Biblical truths, even those that are hard to understand and swallow.

Off to Isabela

At 10 pm tonight I’m leaving for Isabela. God has been so gracious as to give me an opportunity to be part of the DCF missions team this year. I’m excited to see how the Lord will do wonders there. He always has, and it has left us all amazed, our lips overflowing with praises. Please pray: 1. That the people there be responsive to the gospel. 2. That Christ’s name be ultimately exalted and lifted up. 3. That we in the missions team be filled with the Spirit as we speak God’s truth. 4. That we may not lack in anything, for the Lord will surely provide. My next update will be in, what, 10 or so days. Isabela, here we come!

Morning snapshots

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Manong's law readings clutter much of the floor's surface area. Here's his trusted Macbook that I borrow once in a while, especially when I have presentations to do. Ate Pie Sobrepena is Renan Laruan's niece who regularly visits the apartment, usually with a meal idea in mind. Here she's reviewing for the board exam this Thursday. Kuya John Dasmarinas is on his way to an art exhibit in UP. Later in the day, he's buying a kiwi drink. It's a weekly ritual. My brother. You won't miss the nose. This break I plan to finish these books: 1. The Journals of Jim Elliot, given to me by Kuya Caloy. I've started reading the first few pages, and it's already been a blessing. What an encouragement Mr. Elliot is. Each page is just soaked with God's truth reflected in man's thoughts and prayers. 2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I have no idea what it's about, but I hear it's really good.

A time to rest

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It’s the stillness after the storm. As far as I know, yesterday marked the end of my sem. A lot of friends, especially in MBB, think this has been the hardest. And it’s been hard, considering our academic load, lab internships, and org responsibilities. I’m just relieved that, at least for the moment, I won’t be thinking much of them. Right now there are awkward moments when I feel I should be doing something but in reality there isn’t. All these sleepless months have conditioned my body to a state of unrest, so imagine the weird-ness of it all when I found myself alone last night in my brother’s apartment, without an exam or a meeting or a deadline in mind. Rest is a precious gift. Thank you, Lord, for the chance to get hold of that.

The troubles of losing something

To declare someone (or something) is missing, 24 hours should've passed since the time that person (or object) was last seen. The last time I saw my personal journal was Sunday afternoon . It doesn't take a genius to understand that it's been more than 24 hours. I remember leaving it on my desk beside my mug when I went out of the dorm. I didn't bother bringing it—it was a matter of great importance. Private things should remain in their private places. Now I'm having second thoughts if I'm remembering things rightly. Memory—at least mine—has its way of messing things up. I've looked at my bed and under it, I've asked my roommates, I've created a mental movie of what I did that Sunday afternoon. It's still missing. Otherwise, I wouldn't be so desperate writing this. What if someone reads my journal? Well, it's personal, for one—and it shouldn't be read. At least, not by everyone. There are many things I've written there

Death

Two days ago Shean texted me the news that Herman's father is dead. Herman was our high school classmate who's now teaching part-time at Ateneo de Davao while taking up his Law degree. I called him this morning to express my condolences, but I was at a loss for words. This was history repeating itself. Reinier's father died last year, too, and I had nothing else to say, except for a text message telling him I would be praying for their family in the time of grief. Why do words desert us when we need them most?

Jogging reminded me of my heavenly home

Today was the first time I jogged in a long time. It felt good—the first few hours after my first and last round—and right now I'm not too sure if, with all the lactic fermentation going on, I'd still be able to walk tomorrow. Jason knocked at my door at 6 am. Coming from Yakal, we (Jason, Jaylord, Remrick, and myself) walked to the Grandstand where we met Luther and Arnold. Rashel and Steffi arrived soon after. We warmed up—not with stretching, as Rem so vehemently insisted against—but with taho and a good dose of laughter. Then we ran. O, it was fanstastic: seeing all those people in jogging pants, sweat pouring down their faces. At the last quarter of the distance before finish line, I had a panoramic view of the crowd, running, never looking back. And then I remembered what Paul said in Philippians 3:13b-14 , “But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead; I press toward the goal for the prize of the

And now: my 500th post

For my 500th entry, I was trying to piece up all the things that happened since 2004, the year I started this blog. And I couldn't think of anything else but God's greatness and goodness.

I find rest in Thee

I'm so full of myself—my worries, troubles, desires—that it's hard to look on to Christ. As I write this, Be Still My Soul is playing in the background. Was it Augustine who said, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee”?

Lakbay-aral sa Bundok Banahaw

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After more than two weeks, I still wish I were in Banahaw, in that crazy field trip we had for our PI class. Most of the time, we didn't ride inside the jeepney; we rode on top of it. Imagine the thrill of getting slapped by tree branches. The three Americans with us had the time of their lives. After we arrived at the ministry center of the Rizalistas, we toured along the compound. Just when I thought I had escaped from all the academic pressures in school, I saw "MBB" written on top of the Teachings of Jesus. The place was full of candles. In that trip, we lit more than a hundred. Maybe we should consider getting a candle-making company to sponsor the trips in the future. I saw this beautiful gasoline station just outside the Santoyo compound. After a day of hiking on mossy rocks, the prospect of getting to the end of the journey excited us all. Here's our PI 100 class. I'll miss those guys. Here's Rochelle, about to take a dive. I