Plans, oven and family.

I had plans yesterday for our little person’s first ever Independence Day celebration.

Ganun ka patriotic, big deal ang June 12. ♥️

I had ideas that I find cute just by thinking about them.

That day is about to end now and not a single idea was carried out.

Pretty much like during the ECQ where I would see people post left and right the new skills/talent they unlocked. If you’re like me who hasn’t started or tried anything spectacular or life changing in the past 3 months, don’t feel bad.

I only learned to confidently turn the oven on this week. 👌

Eh MECQ na. Or GCQ na ba? Ewan.

But our baby is happy, healthy and well.

So are the parents.

The thing with this season in our small and young family’s life is whether things go as planned, kind of or not at all, we are still able to find joy and with hearts that are full at the end of a very eventful day.

By God’s grace, this is all possible.

We’ll probably do P’s Araw Ng Kalayaan photoshoot some other time. He won’t mind. I am also learning not to. 😂

My great ideas for today may not have seen the light of day but I’ll share one of my big joys today – the redemption of yesterday’s palpak brownie to the moist and chocolatey version that you’re seeing.

My brother likes to call the failed version as “carbonized”. Ha ha

Today’s version gets a thumbs up from all the critical tasters in the home. “Never say never” ika nga.

It can get better but I am not buying those ready to bake mixes ever again. Ha!

That ends my bedtime blabber.

Goodnight.

Covid19 – Entry No. 1

It’s a little past five in the morning and everyone in the room is fast asleep. Including my 4 month old who woke up an hour ago to feed, to talk and to play a little.

My right boob was hard as rock. Baby just happily fed on the left. After putting him down, I told him I’ll just step out to store the expressed milk and will be back really quick. When I left the bed, he was playing with his hotdog pillows, was game for a chat (ang daldal), a clear telling that he’s not going back to sleep just yet.

I lingered for a few minutes at the sala – my me time these days. I thought of reading the book that I got from Amazon a few days ago but I didn’t feel like it.

I wanted to extend more of this downtime but just like all the times that I would find myself in this moment, I just end up going back to the room.

It was still dark outside when I went back. The night lamp at the far end of the room was our only source of light.

I went near my boys, and I was surprised to see the baby peacefully and beautifully asleep with both arms hung back, pillows on either side, lying flat on his back. Hindi man lang naka tagilid (his favorite), hindi na rin nagawa ng tatay. Mas nauna siya matulog sa bata eh. Ha Ha

I indulged into a few minutes of smelling the most beautiful smell in the world – leeg ng bata.

And a few more minutes of just staring at his face.

And then he laughed in his sleep.

A short but loud, hagikgik kind of laugh.

I love you, too, Pablo!

It is well with my soul…

I’ve heard people claim that “state of heart” many times. And often I wondered what exactly do they mean with that.

In my quiet time this morning, the suggested song on the digital workbook that I’m using this Lent is

It Is Well by Bethel Music feat Kristine DiMarco.

I didn’t realise how much reminding my heart needs on how God makes all things work for the good of those who love Him. Because as days, weeks, months and years paint a clear picture that His time is not in sync with my definition of a perfect time, I’d forget that in silence, in the absence of an answer, He is indeed doing something for my good.

And that while I wait, or what I call a period of difficult stillness and obedience, the comfort is that He is truly for me. He loves me.

He is a promise keeper, come what may.

Just like with John who when Jesus died and rose again, the AND between those two major events in history, he resorted to silence as he waits on Jesus’ prophecy of a resurrection on the 3rd day.

Photo from Abide Community (@abide.ph)

I have three things from this morning’s quiet time:

One, I pray to have that kind of faith.

Strong, unwavering and hopeful.

Second, I thank God that He made my heart love silence.

Third, that I, the people I love, those I pray for, their loved ones and those whom my heart feels strongly for, that in all of life’s trying times, will be able to say “It is well with my soul”.

Because really, whether it be here or beyond, the best is always yet to come.

Books to Remember: ‘09 – ‘19

The first time I tried reading a book that’s not required in school was through Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. I was in my early teens already at that time. Late, I know.

Of course, I didn’t finish it.

A fate shared by so many other books that I tried to read after it. I guess it’s part of the process of trial and error. Where some that are page turners and resonate with the reader are finished quiet quickly, there are some that just won’t get past chapter 1.

I’d like to believe that I’ve come a long way since my first attempt with the Goblet of Fire. Thank you to my encouragers for inspiring me to live in the beautiful world of literature – sometimes a reality, sometimes an escape.

Either way, it’s never a waste of time. And never a waste of money and effort pang regalo. Ahem…

I’ve listed 10 of my Top picks but only elaborated on 5 others which I call my Special picks. In short, hindi talaga kaya e compress sa 10 lang.

So gawin nating 10+5. Hehe

My lists are from this decad

Top Picks

Usap na lang tayo why I chose them. 🙂

1.) Sam’s Letters to Jennifer by Robert Patterson

2.) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

3.) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

4.) Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

5.) Three Weeks With My Brother by Nicholas Sparks

6.) The Testament by John Grisham

7.) By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Choelo

8.) Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

9.) Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

10.) Captivating by Stasi Eldredge

Special Picks

These are not necessarily classic works of art but they ended up in this list because they played a major role in some of my major life events in the past decade.

Senti ako, obviously.

1.) My Maid Invests In The Stockmarket by Bo Sanchez – read in 2011

– where it all started for me

– proof that investing need no rocket science

– one sitting finish

– can never go wrong with delayed gratification

– buying this book and acting on what I learned from it has got to be one of my best decisions in the past decade.

Takeaway:

You’d be surprised how many high ranking professionals are pressed on huge debts and how many rank and file/domestic job holders have more in their keep for the rainy days.

It’s not how much you earn but how much you get to keep that matters.

2.) The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma- read in 2013

– I got hold of this when I was at a major crossroad between staying or leaving my job at that time. Stakes were high.

– Not so much a favorite but made it here because a few of my takeaways served me really well in life.

Takeaway:

Every arrow that hits the bull’s eye is a result of one hundred misses.”

3.) An Abundance of Katherines by John Green – read in 2014

– Unexpected

– The reprieve that became the answer

• This was the year that Papa passed on. And when what seemed okay in the beginning started to sink in and hit me hard weeks after we buried him, I was restless to get hold of a book that will help me in my grief. I tried some of the works of CS Lewis, Mitch Albom and other authors recommended by friends, most of which were emotionally charged but none hit home until I chanced upon this.

• This was only meant for a feel-good kind of read.But the message that I was looking for as I wrestle every day with the subject of oblivion was found in this feel good, young adult book about an annagram wizard, a prodigy, a self absorbed teenager whose ultimate quest is to be someone that “matters”.

Takeaway:

The future is forever, then eventually it will swallow us all up. In another 2,400 years, even Socrates, the most well-known genius of his century, might be forgotten.  The future will erase everything.  There’s no level of fame or genius that allows you to transcend oblivion. The infinite future makes that kind of mattering impossible.

But there’s another way.

There are stories. We will get forgotten, but the stories will last.

And so we all matter-maybe less than a lot, but always more than none”.

– Colin Singleton

4.) Book of Proverbs – (seriously) read in 2016

– At one point in our friendship, Paul told me, “Alam mo okay ka na eh. Hindi ka lang nagbabasa ng bible”. Wow. No words.

– Quarrelsome wife. Haha

– Bugs life. Tularan ang mga langgam.

– And if you’re in search on how should a woman be regarded, refer yourselves to Chapter 32. Get ready to be floored.

5.) Oh! The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss – read in 2019

For Pablo. ❤️

Bye 9s. Hello, new decade.

Opposites attract. And clash.

A few days back, I saw this post on Instagram:

This was posted by one of my favorite people on soc med, @ricaperalejo.

This, too, came with a more expounded caption about looking back on how the last decade had been which then birthed to her idea of #TenforTen.

As in, think of your 10 best memories, best events, heartbreaks, lessons, people who changed your life, etc., in the last 10 years.

I live for things like this. Haha

Give me something that goes along the lines of connecting the dots, planning, major life lessons, the likes of how-do-you-see-yourself, and I will really make time and dive in. Sometimes to a fault.

Needless to say, seeing that post got me excited. I thought it would really be a great year-end activity, and I couldn’t wait to tell my husband about it. In person.

Which means it’s that important that I will extend my EQ longer than I would give myself credit for and resist on texting or calling him right at that moment. I had to say it in person, face to face.

So, as we were having breakfast the other day, with much excitement and anticipation on his take on the subject, I showed him the photo above.

His reply?

“Okay. Eh ano ngayon?”

Oh my gaaaaaaad!

I was pissed for a while (excited ako, ano ba) but also realized that this is one of those Aha! moments in marriage that is defined by the husband and wife’s differences.

I thought, well, his reaction should be a given as he is not as sentimental as I am. Therefore, things like this don’t strike or resonate with him the way they do to me. The way they overly affect me. Oftentimes accompanied by lots of reminiscing, lump on the throat and even tears – a scene that only makes him wonder, the absence of words but the look of confusion on his face asking in bold font, “WHAT’S UP WITH YOU?”. Ha ha

The stark contrast couldn’t be more clear on this one.

Just as how I was giddy in starting on my #TenforTen, Paul, on the other hand, was simply ready to move to the new decade.

He even cited that the last time he remembers where the closing and beginning of a decade became a headline was in 1989. When the year was coming to a close and ushers to the dawn of the 90’s.

It was my turn to say, “Ah okay. I was too young then”.

What he meant was it’s been 3 decades since that last memory of the same subject, now what? Life goes on. We move on.

I may not have gotten the reaction and response that I wanted (talk about expectations) but I am confident how 2009-2019 had been such a huge decade for him and me. From when we led separate lives up to this decade’s last hurrah where we find ourselves connected, forgiven, braver and more secure in God’s love. I am big on words (obvious naman), and while my husband works on being better with/at it, this is one classic example where actions speak louder than words.

One big year so far. One big decade for sure.

The best part is the better and best are always yet to come. 🙌

Who are you gonna call Pt. 2

Today started and is by far going so much better than yesterday – a rollercoaster of emotions.

While backreading my post re Who Are You Gonna Call, it came to me that I started the note in a way that was exclusive, discriminating and well, judgemental.

I mean, the part where I’m looking at people’s posts on my newsfeed about their struggles.

While some maybe true, or some an exaggerated version of reality, it is really not up to me to shove on others what for me is the right way to do things.

Also, it made me really grateful that I have a core group to talk to, confide with and just be honest when times are tough. And not everyone has this.

So, instead of judging why people seem to be so alone or just plainly wanting to attract attention with what they share on social media, I should be praying and more sensitive, because I won’t know when will someone need my openness and understanding the most.

I, at least, hope that we all have that group of friends (in church, school, work, hobby…) who will really truly care for us and bring some light into the gloominess of our hearts, and will also not give us an earful of what to and not to do, but just openly listen and pray for us.

Who are you gonna call?

Sometimes, when I look (make that judge) at my newsfeed and I see people’s posts about their life struggles, it makes me think of how deep and heavy could it really be that they need to let it out in the open. Don’t they have friends or family to talk to?

Well that’s me and my little miss perfect self.

Whichever works for you. And I really do hope that should you resort to using public spaces on the net for your issues to find a voice that they will get to the right people – the concerned target. And that it will do more good than harm not just to others but really for you.

As they say, my wall, my rules. If it bothers you that much, you can always not follow their what and whereabouts.

But I digress.

I’m writing this to remind myself that it’s when I am in deep, heavy and difficult times where I don’t really need the world to know about what I’m going through. Neither do I have to make it appear that I have everything put together. But to just soak it all in, be quiet, pray, choose the right person or people to confide with, and pray more and more.

It reminds me of that line in The Greatest Showman when P. T Barnum’s wife told him (this was when he was already drowning in fame and attention, forgetting the very reason why he dreamed and worked hard to be more than who he used to be),

You don’t need everyone to love you. Just a few good people.

Hurray of course if you are loved by many. But it’s when the going gets tough, especially with matters of the heart, where the right people to share with really counts. You know, those who will listen and encourage, agree and even point out your mistakes if need be. Honest but caring.

Personally, it’s during these times where people who will point me to prayer and positivity really mean the world.

It’s not easy to open up especially if it involves shedding light to your own imperfections. To be vulnerable is hard. I don’t know how those who find it not as difficult do it but power to you.

This is why it’s very crucial to have the right people to count on.

They may not be the most fun in in carefree times, but their hearts are big enough, their calm spirit and levelheadedness are just the right ingredients when you need them the most.

If love of all the attributes is the greatest, we must really seek to tap the greatest source of it all. Where love for self and love for others – the latter being always the harder and irrational thing to do, will runneth over, no matter how irrational it may seem.

After all, Jesus loves us irrationally enough to do what he did and continues to do for us.

Bless the Lord oh my soul.

High 5.

Around 10 or 11 in the morning this day 5 years ago, the agent who handles the memorial plan that my sister bought paid me a visit at my aunt’s apartment.

Everyone else in my family is back home. Aside from my cousin whom I’ve shared houses with for pretty much my entire moving to the metro life, I lived solo.

So this agent came to ask me to ready some documents because the plan that my sister got needed some urgent attending – I can’t remember if it was due to be fully paid or was about to lapse.

My sister bought it with our parents in mind. Because really, resources in times of grief should be the least of a bereaved family’s worries.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the documents she was asking. So I told her I’ll look for them, will coordinate with my sister, and one of us will give her a call the soonest we have the papers.

A few hours later, around 2-3 in the afternoon, I gave her a call to tell her that Papa just passed.

I can clearly remember her dropping the P.I. because she thought I called to say that I have the docs ready, least of all possibilities would be to deliver the news of our Papa’s passing.

Was her visit that morning some sort of a premonition?

I don’t know.

But moral of the story is to get you and your family caring and really trustworthy agents – kung anong service man ‘yan. Those who will not only sell you what’s in the bag but those whose care go beyond the after sales.

Papa was immediately attended by the funeral home back in our hometown – we lived some 5 to 6 hours south of Bacolod City. Yup, very far from SM and Starbucks. The nearest Jollibee is 2 1/2 hours ride away.

My notes about this specific day of the year has evolved since 5 years ago. From fear of oblivion, to endless thanks and reminiscing of how great a father I was blessed to have, to this – practical tips.

Much of the credit goes to our Mama who in her simple and short analogies of life events answer the hundred questions of what ifs in my head.

But all of us in the family will surely agree that it is our main guy, Papa himself, who has made these years bearable for all of us.

The topic of death was not considered a taboo in our family. He’d remind us that every breathing day that we are given, especially him, is a miracle.

That as Christians, death is not one we should fear. But to fear to live not knowing why. To live aimlessly and without a sense of purpose or mission. I may not have understood it then like I do now, but how Papa positively viewed the afterlife made me not fear it myself.

That’s not to put the topic in sheer triviality but to see it as it is. The only way to spend eternity the best and most beautiful way.

People didn’t know that a decade before Papa succumbed to his third major cardiac arrest, he was diagnosed of arteriosclerosis where he was advised to undergo angioplasty ASAP. With his heart condition, he was a walking time-bomb, simply put. But he lived like the most healthy man in town. No limitations (to a fault). I remember 2 weeks before he passed on, I was home for some family time.

There was one morning that we (parents and me) attempted for a jog that ended in a leisure walk because Papa was, “Haaaaay… ka hapo. Ma diet na ko.”….

But 10 years since that fateful news of a major and urgent heart problem, no angioplasty (wala kami milyones), no heart bypass (bisan shin mil wala man), 2 mild attacks, a career that gave him a huge sense of purpose, his first apo…Papa joined our creator in peace and with a smile.

Even if how I’d remember today would vary each year, one thing is for sure, I know that my father’s life, for all the imperfections and lack he had, it was ultimately one that was well and fully lived.

Man, did he set the bar so high in service, giving and compassion.

Pocket poorest but richest and most generous human I know.

A lot has happened since. But for all the good, highs and milestones that our family has had, the kind where even us would sometimes think “Papa would have been very proud and happy if he were here”, I always take comfort in the truth that no amount of celebration or winning life moment can ever measure to the joy that he enjoys from 5 years ago, now and til eternity.

But who’s counting?

Surely not someone who knows no more pain, suffering, crying, fear and disappointment.

as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I love you Papa. I can only hope that I made you feel loved when I had the chance.

Thank you Jesus for my best man.

Apir.

Prodigal Children.

Probably one of the most cited and used parables in the bible would be that of the Prodigal Son.

Prodigal, as defined by Mareng Merriam, means “characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure”. Proving that there’s a biblical basis to that line from a 90’s hit that goes “too much of something is bad enough…”.

Over the years, I have personally encountered different angles and interpretations about that parable from different people.

Yesterday, however, was more special.

Surrounded by fathers and would be fathers, together with the wives, the roles of men in the family- of fathers especially were highlighted. Specifically in the context of discipline, involvement and relationship.

If the women are to emulate Proverbs 31, men carry a huge responsibility on their shoulders, too. Huge, huge task.

Are you someone who points a finger of guilt, that uses the slap of humiliation or resorts to a fist of rejection when your child errs? *(notes from PD)

These all sound so full of action and drama. But they can also come in the form of indifference and silence. Do you care? Or do you not bother to care at all?

After the discussion, we were asked to share what struck us the most. And who else can I think of but my own father.

Talking about the kind of person my father was has never been a difficult thing for me to do. He was so present – even in the 4 years that he worked abroad – and lived a life with so much meaning that his imprint is impossible to not mention.

While I am not ignorant to his imperfections and shortcomings, I always choose to zoom in on the man that he was. He set the bar so high on selflessness, service and generosity. He didn’t sow discord, turning his back from gossip (especially within the family), and was ready to be a father to those who had none.

One thing that really struck me, however, from yesterday’s discussion was that being a prodigal child can either be any of us leaning towards the rebellious or the self-righteous side.

On both counts, Papa left us a strong mark that no matter how big we fail and how much we screw up in life, rebelling on the advice and guidance of our parents whose hearts we didn’t see were for our own good, we can always run to him and he’ll have us back with open arms and a tight hug.

No words of condemnation uttered.

He was so accomplished in the arena of service and sacrifice that even our most prized accomplishments in life won’t stand a chance. Might as well be humble.

He fell short on some areas, yes. But he raised us the way he knew best.

60 amazing and purposeful years.

On my wedding day, one of the things that I treasure the most was when we were given the chance to honor our parents. I knew it will turn very emotional but well, why not? When to best honor your parents, right?

I addressed my mom in front of everyone present and told her, “I know you’re thinking what this will be like if Papa were here today. What I know for sure if he is here – he will proudly walk me down the aisle with you.”

Oh, a waterfall of tears followed.

When my niece was born, I kept calm knowing that in the absence of her own father, she will have Papa, her Wuwu, to look up to and follow. She will be alright.

But shortly before she turned one, Papa passed on. What now?

In ways more than I can remember, God has proven in my life that He is a promise keeper. He is indeed a “father of the fatherless and protector of widows” (Psalm 68:5).

As my niece was growing up, inheriting much of Papa’s friendliness and hospitality to everyone, and the smarts, too, I would hear people say (and even I would catch myself saying this at times) what joy my father would have had to have an apo like Dayne.

But you know, just like in my wedding where I truly wished he was there to walk me down and witness me move from one chapter to another, I know that no amount of favor and success can measure up to the joy that he now shares with God.

I had some belt and stick of bayabas moments growing up. I was even placed inside an empty sack of rice for punishment.

Still, I had the best man to look up to.

Our peacemaker. Our provider. Our leader.

————–

Words are futile now. But I hope I made you proud.

For whatever we failed to do and say, we are grateful that God is truly a promise keeper, and He is a great father who restores and redeems.

It is only by God’s grace that we are in a very good and safe place in our lives now.

We are reaping the seeds that you have planted.

I love you, Papa. ❤️

Happy Father’s Day!

Slow wi-fi and cakes.

I had two active tabs on my browser before I decided to write this.

One is an online training course about leadership and the other is Youtube.

The former is the obvious priority but the videos take forever to load while Youtube seems to be, well, normal.

And since it’s Youtube that’s easy and more quick to show me videos, suffice it to say that I’ve come across lots of different contents.

From sports to talk shows to event videos like birthdays and weddings.

I clicked on the same day edit of a female celebrity’s birthday.

She had probably 3 long tables of cakes from sponsors and guests topped by a

5-tier debu-ish cake at the center.

For some reason, I thought of our wedding cake. It was a single layer of a locally made Mango Pavlova that really looked like a mango pie. Tastes really good, though. But on all counts of big day standards ours will probably rank at the bottom. No tiering. Not even a sight of your usual wedding cake topper.

And then I had some “what if” thoughts. You know, the kind that brings you to a reminiscing state to the tune of “If only I can turn back time”.

I gave myself a little time off after that. I had to pause and check my heart and ask myself “where are these thoughts that are bordering to regrets coming from?”.

Uh-huh. Light bulb moment.

There is so much power in influence. And where you invest your time and energy on affect your thinking in a way – sometimes a little, often too much.

I looked at someone’s event and saw how nice the set up was, plus the grand display of cakes (that we particularly didn’t have on our wedding).

Hence, the comparison.

As consequence, I totally forgot that my then fiancé and I prioritized on those that matter more to us like music, dinner menu and of course, lechon.

We didn’t focus on the set up. Our dinner tables were as simple as greens and tea candles can be. But in all fairness to our florist, he had a simple yet beautiful set up at our garden ceremony – just how we wanted it, only that it rained hard and we had to move to Plan B. Another story but, yeah, you get my point.

What I really wanna say is that our preferences vary.

And you can’t help but doubt your own choice especially if you’ve seen, heard and read too much in the preparation process. Or even after the event itself. Which I think is worse.

It’s over and done with yet you still catch yourself thinking about what if.

If you ever find yourself in that situation, remember to go back to WHY you chose what you chose in the first place. As with anything in life, the what, how and who are not as important as the WHY behind them. Of course, choose your WHO carefully. No return, no exchange.

I only prayed that despite our past, present and would be shortcomings, the man who I will choose to spend the rest of my life with will lead and bring me and our family closer to Jesus. Wala namang involved na cake dun. Bonus na lang ‘yon.

The best part in all this is that I am reminded that for me and my ex-boyfriend, our wedding day was always about making sure that our loved ones were present, there’s good music and good food – emphasis again on lechon, the ceremony will be as heartfelt and meaningful as possible (rain or shine), and that in all of it God will be glorified.

And I thank you.