under the magnifying glass

watch me as i journey to another time and place...

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I'm saved by grace. I have nothing to boast except for the fact that I have the greatest Being on my side.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

the year ends with an ellipse...

This is going to be my last entry not only for December, but for the year 2006 as well. Wow! So in just a span of less than eleven months, I have composed twenty-four blog entries. Except for the month of May, I have managed to write an entry for each month. Whoopdedoo!

I'd prefer writing my last entry on New Year's Eve, but unfortunately that's not going to be the case. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day itself will be spent in fixing up the new house that we bought. Talk about a stressful way to start the new year. But hey! It's the perfect symbol to represent my family's start at a new God-blessed life. We start the new year living in a new house. I'll not be going online for the first few days of 2007 because we're going to move our internet cable connection from our old place to the new one.

This year moved incredibly fast. Too fast, I think. So much has happened in just a span of twelve months. 2006 became a real turning point in my life, especially since I look back at it as the year when I graduated from college. There are also memories that I just love to play back in my head, memories that I'd rather not remember, and memories that...well, just make me think. (Again with the thinking! Aargh! Thanks a lot, Gardner!)

Let's evaluate the year 2006, shall we?

This year, I've grown up. And not just because I left my teenage years already. I've grown up in other aspects of my life. Sure, I can still be childish and immature at times, but only to a certain degree. I'm constantly bothered by things that have never bothered me before, I can't wait to get a job, I'm faced with making major decisions almost every time, and I always feel myself yearning for a closer and more intimate relationship with my Creator. Now, I'm definitely looking forward to 2007, especially the month of January for a lot of reasons.

Any good things that came up this year? Definitely. I've met more people, made more friends, got involved in Sunday School ministry among others. And I discovered the beauty of UNLIMITEXT.

Any regrets for 2006? Absolutely! I'm no stranger to the statement, "It would've been better if..." And believe, there are a lot of them. I always feel that there could've been things I could have done right...and if they were already right to begin with, I feel that I could've done them better. Do I want to change things that have happened this year? I'll be honest. Yes. But then again, I just look at the events of 2006 as things that continue to shape me to be the person God is raising me to be. And I'm hoping that's the case also for other people out there.


I wonder...
Oh, I dunno...
Maybe it's just a thought...
Unless God has impressed it upon my heart...
I'll give it three months and then I'll make the decision...


I got this from a Berenstain Bears book.

"What about questions? Did God create questions?" - Sister Bear
"Yes Sister. Mostly questions." - Papa Bear

Pretty insightful, don't you think? I believe God creates answers too though...


2006 ends, not with a period, but with an ellipse. Every year does I think. Good bye 2006!


Monday, December 11, 2006

thoughts during a rain...

It's raining. It has been for the past two nights. But hey. At least the weather's gotten a lot cooler these past few days. I had been dreading a warm Christmas time, but I guess mother nature had other plans. And once again, the rain comes crashing down heavily...the same time as La Salle's finals week. Again. Not that it bothers me though. I just sort of pity all those other people who have to trudg through bad weather while I'm at home relaxed in a comfortable bed with my favorite book in my hands. At least, that'll be the case until January 2007.

I don't know why I'm blogging at this time. I guess I really just don't have anything else much to do. Haven't actually had a lot of things to do for the past three weeks, with the exception of The Question, a couple of singing opportunities here and there, and a few trips to the mall either with friends or by myself. What I've done most of the time is to eat, sleep, and use the computer. And of course, think. Reflect. If you want it in Tagalog, nagmuni-muni ako. Yes Ading, you're right. I think too much sometimes. But then, we always said that I'm dominantly intrapersonal while you're interpersonal, right?

*Okay, the rain's just gotten a bit stronger.

The past few months has left the Philippines staring at the face of typhoons left and right, leaving several families homeless or without loved ones. Tragic. You can't help but feel sorry for your countrymen who just seem to be struggling with one storm after another, asking themselves, "When will the storms end? When can we start rebuilding our lives again?" Hmmm. Again. Makes me think about life storms. Always about life storms. I wonder though what is more difficult. The storm itself or the pursuit to repair and restore the damage brought about by that storm. It's food for thought, isn't it? When Milenyo struck the Philippines a couple of months back, it only stayed for a brief moment. But the damage it left was so severe it took days before things were restored in Metro Manila. For other regions, electricity and the like were restored weeks later. Not to mention that rescue parties had to be deployed, bodies had to be found and buried, trees and debris had to be moved...oh, I dunno. You be the judge. I'm not really in the mood to think. I'm giving my brain a rest from any higher order skills found in Bloom's taxonomy.

*Well, well...the rain's finally calmed down. I think. Hmmm. But it could just be pulling my leg. It could be powering up just like that bunnyboo character that Dino and I know so well, complete with its fist-shaking motion. (What on earth am I saying?)

What else? Oh yeah. Saturday. Arneil and I went out to Southmall to do some network gaming, something that we haven't done for a long time already. I tried out DOTA for the first time with him coaching me from the other computer. Of course, I didn't really put my whole heart into it. I was only trying it out, and besides, I was more in the mood to play Generals, which we did play right after. I haven't beaten Arneil yet (I wonder if I ever will), but I did improve a lot in the way I play the game. Even Arneil admitted being threatened. He may have been sarcastic, though. My army always looks so puny compared to his. I can't figure out why. Maybe his tanks reproduce asexually? Who knows...
Wait, I'm not done yet with Saturday. After my three-hour escapade with Arneil, I went to church for the youth Christmas party since I hadn't gone to youth for two Saturdays and also because I did promise Micah I would show up. Which is probably just as well, 'cause aside from winning around 30 bucks from the "Merry Christmas" word formation game, I also wound up getting invited to Iya's birthday celebration. Many thanks again for inviting me, Iya! May God continue to bless you in every part of your life-- school, family, ministry, and of course, your relationship. ^_^

*Hmm...I guess the rain did give itself a rest...

Mau won the title of Philippine Idol, which is just fine with me since she's probably one of the best singers I've ever seen and also one who possesses a singing ability that could be pitted against international singers out there. Don't underestimate what the Filipinos can do. Ask the pastor himself who talked during the Hillsong United concert. He said, and I quote, "Filipinos are the most talented people I've ever met. They can do anything!" Well, isn't that a pat on the back for us, right? We've got a gold mine of talents in this country, waiting to be discovered.

*Okay, I spoke too soon. I can hear the rain coming back.

I think it's about time I really thought about what I want to do...or rather, what God wants me to do. I'm not just talking about my career path. It goes deeper than that. I've lately been thinking about where God is leading me, because it's hard for me to figure out whether He's put a wall between me and some things or whether I've built the wall myself and He's prodding me to climb that wall and get back on track. (Okay, mukhang bumalik nanaman ako sa pagmumuni-muni.) I suppose that's why reading about King Amaziah in 2 Chronicles and also reading Jim Cymbala's explanation about listening to God really struck something in the recesses of my brain. Am I still sensitive to what God is telling me? I really just don't know.

*Okay. So just like that...the sound of downpour has disappeared yet again.

Right. In case this is to be my last blog entry for December, let me just already go ahead and say Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

the grace awakening...

I just came from "The Question" seminar conducted in CFAC this weekend and...man! Did it change my life! I knew I would come out of it feeling released from the many things that have been burdens in my life for so long, but the overwhelming presence that God showered during the two days still caught me by surprise. Indeed, if there's one thing that was emphasized throughout the whole experience, it was that God's grace is definitely sufficient even for those who feel that they've thrown their life away for the pleasures of the world.

Because of the agreement of secrecy that I took, I will not share in detail what my group went through. Actually, I don't even wish to, especially since many sensitive issues were taken up and we found ourselves really humbling ourselves before God and asking Him to really take control of every single aspect of our lives. Let me just point though out that God blessed me through the members of my small group. Though I met several of them only on the first day of the seminar, somehow the unity that was brought by the grace of God and our love for Jesus Christ just took over each one of us and a strong bond of trust seemed to exist within our group. Even if I know that the selection of the group members was really done at random, I can confidently say that God handpicked these people who not only became my friends but also my prayer partners. And even more so, they are people who will join me in fulfilling the destiny God has planned for each of us.

To Ptr. Alberto, Tito Dan, Paolo, Kit, JR, Allan, and my cousin Nico: Thank you so much for your prayers and your encouragement. Your words carried so much power from our God on High that I can only stand amazed at the goodness that He continues to show in my life. Thank you so much! Keep in touch guys! And let's live the life that God has called us to live. My dear brothers in Christ, let's fulfill our destiny.

JUCO (from Hugo)- "clear-minded; wise" [Isaiah54:14]
ANTONIO- "priceless" [James 3:17]

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

walls have ears, doors have eyes...

What have I gotten myself into?!

Suddenly, the weight of being a teacher seems to press down on me even harder after realizing just how big an impact I can make on my students. Don't get the wrong idea though. I love teaching and even if people would often hear me fuss about the Energizer bunnies and invisible sound amplifiers that exist within each of my students (and in addition, complain about a certain student who seems to be blacklisted by all the Sunday School teachers), I actually enjoy sitting down with my students and sharing what I know with them. Last Sunday was no exception.

Having finished the story of Joseph the previous month, I started my students with a new lesson: Moses. To get them started, I had them do a treasure hunt. I taped several miniature pictures of rabbits all around the room and told them to find and collect as many as they possibly could. I ended up giving two prizes to two of my more enthusiastic students. Afterwards, I got the kids engaged in a drawing activity and also storytelling activity...for about ten minutes. Eventually, things began to get a little more difficult. One of my kids began crying because another kid scribbled over his drawing. Three other boys began running around and shouting and making an unbearable din and knocking down the chairs. Eventually, I gave up finishing the story and announced that they could eat: something to distract the kids and keep them trouble for the next five minutes. I thought the worst was over. I was wrong. I was surprised to just find one of the girls in my class lying on the floor, clutching her back, and crying out in pain. Thank God she wasn't seriously hurt (the way I see it, the game she was playing with the boys got a little too rough), but I was inches away from panic mode. Sigh. It's a good thing Patty was there to help me out.

Okay, I'm just stating what happened in actuality. This is not to give a negative view about my life as a teacher. In fact, I am about to tell you what happened that same Sunday that made me appreciate the joys of being a teacher even more.

Still remember the crying kid? His name's Jed. While I was trying to comfort him because of his ruined drawing, one of those who won in the treasure hunt (his name's John) gave Jed his prize instead and said, "Here Jed. You can have this instead." You could have blown me away when I saw that! A simple act of kindness demonstrated by one of my students and yet, it got me full in the face. After comforting Jed, I gave John a hug and told him that I was so proud of what he'd done and that I would give him another prize next Sunday instead. John just nodded and asked if he could play with my cellphone. I gladly obliged. He more than deserved it. Later, when I went to the church sanctuary, Jed saw me and told his father, "That's my Teacher Nino." Bang! Did he just say "my Teacher Nino?" Whoaaaa...

For some of you out there, you might think I'm being very shallow about all this, going all dramatic just because of an act of kindness done by my student or the fact that one of my students said that I was HIS teacher. I assure you that I'm not. When you begin to see yourself through the eyes of the younger generation who look up to you and imitate everything that you say and do, you begin to see that you form an essential
part of their development.

The walls have ears and the doors have eyes. We usually fail to realize that there are a lot of ears listening to what we say and eyes watching our every move. Last Sunday, while I was giving out instructions for the treasure hunt, Jed told me that I "just said a bad word." Immediately, my mind went on rewind. When? Where? What did I say? As far as I knew, I was just telling them, "There are still several pictures left. Look around. They're just somewhere in this room." Well, I never got to figure out what the "bad word" he thought I said was, but I told myself that I'd have to be more careful. He may have heard wrong, but I didn't want to give him the impression that it was okay to say what he thought he heard. Mark 9:42 seems to be the verse that fits this entry: "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck."

Puts me in mind to what my 10:30 group discussed during the Sunday School Retreat a few weeks back. When Nanay Tess asked us to share our own thoughts about being teachers, I answered, "We shouldn't be telling our students to do what we ourselves cannot do." I don't know why I keep doing that: giving answers and hitting myself in the process. For some apparent reason, I'm fond of self-inflicted injury (someone tell me if that's even normal!). But I really meant what I said. And let's face reality. You tell your students, "Don't lie." when just yesterday, you told your teacher that your pet camel ate your homework. You tell them, "Keep quiet so that the others can listen." when you yourself can't keep your big mouth shut when your group is done praying and another group isn't. You tell them "Don't fight." when you have a very long hit-list written in flowery stationery hidden deep inside your closet. Do this, do that, do this, do that. One word: hypocrite.
I'm doing it again--self-inflicted injury--and I'm using my blog as a medium.

Right. For my readers out there, you may not be teachers. Chances are, though, you are group leaders, older siblings, parents etc. In other words, you are people that those younger than you look up to and imitate. Be very careful. You are shaping the next batch of people who will eventually take your place in this world. Watch your words. Watch your actions. Watch your thoughts. It's not a pleasant experience to be a hundred fathoms under the sea with a millstone tied around your neck.


Was just about to sign out of my Yahoo! messenger yesterday when Jade went online and gave me something that I badly needed: a hugging emoticon and a bunch of encouraging messages. Thanks Jade! Once again, you've managed to make me feel better. It's just too bad that I can't get in touch with you quite as often nowadays. Hope to catch you again soon though. Our last conversation was left unfinished. I miss you so very much! ^_^


I'm left with the question: "Now what?" Lord knows I really have to start somewhere now, otherwise it wouldn't amount to anything at all.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

malls, memories, and menagerie...

Here's a rundown of my activities for November 17, 2006:

I. Location 1: SM Bicutan
I went to buy a dark green polo for the anniversary celebration. After almost an hour of searching, I finally found a lone dark green small-sized polo in SM Hypermart. At 350php, it was definitely a bargain. To add a little happiness to my day, while I was queued at the counter to pay for my shirt, the woman in front of me told me to cut in front of her since I only had one purchase while she had a cartload of goods. I thanked her gratefully, paid the cashier, thanked her again with a smile, then walked away. It made me happy to think that there still are some good people out there...

II. Location 2: Alabang Town Center
Nuel went out on his first official gimmick with his friends and so, being his beloved older brother, the task of watching him fell on me. I had been planning to hang around in Powerbooks as soon as he and his friends met up. Lo and behold, as soon as Nuel and his friends got together, Steph appeared clutching her tripod. I ended up hanging out with her for the time being, which was just as well because it spared me an extra hour of boredom and lonesomeness. Never mind the fact that I stopped by Olympic World three times in a span of an hour. Haha! Later on, Steph and I met up with Alex and JN. Then, when all three of them left, I met up again with Nuel and his friends at Timezone. (By the way, I also bumped into Anton, Philip and some other people from SCTC, a co-teacher from my practicum days in Seton, a fellow English major, and Kuya Mario.)
Mrs. Garcia, the mom of Nuel's friend, talked to me today about working in her learning center as an assistant supervisor until I am able to find full-time work in the school that the Lord wants me to be in. Although I'd very much prefer to teach in a conventional school, I immediately saw that her offer was one worth taking. Why? Well, first of all, I was a student under the A.C.E. program, so I don't need to undergo any training since I already know how the whole thing works. Second, I badly need a source of income since I really don't feel like I should be leeching money from my folks now that I've graduated from college. Third, this short experience as an assistant supervisor adds meat to my resume. I didn't need any more convincing. I told Mrs. Garcia I was interested in her offer, but working in her learning center would have to wait until my family moves to BF Homes on the 15th of December (hopefully). While I am not sure yet how this whole thing is going to turn out, I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to leave my bum life soon.
After what seemed like forever, Mom finally showed up to bring me to church and take Nuel home...

III. Location 3: Bread from Heaven
This became my fourth consecutive day in church for anniversary practice. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent for hand-mime, Thursday for praise and worship. This time, it was the general rehearsal for the hand-mime. Just when I thought that the mime was going to go smoothly, I wound up leaving the church more confused since I was given something different to do at the last minute. So I completely messed up during the practice since the new hand formation I had to do hadn't sunk in well enough to completely erase the old one from the recesses of my memory. I wonder if I'll still have time to clean it up before the performance. Oh well...


It's frustrating that I had to give up the Silver Quill Awards night for my practice. I wouldn't have minded if it hadn't been for the fact that the article I wrote for The Menagerie last January entitled "Making the Cut" was among the four nominees for Best Short Feature. Did I win? I don't know. I'll probably find out on a later date or something. I'm not counting my chickens, seeing as the others competing for the same award are really good writers. It's good to know though that what I wrote and how I wrote it was appreciated by my own peers, and that's already an honor for me. It just sucks to know that I couldn't be there to find out for sure. Kinda makes me wish I had the ability to be in two places at once.
Just a thought on writing. I started writing around the age of six, imitating the way books were written. At six years old, I had no knowledge of paragraphs and quotation marks; also, my grammar and spelling were still developing. However, as time passed, my love for writing grew along with a big improvement in my writing style. When I bagged the gold medal at the first Jr. Students Convention for short story writing at the age of eleven, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I really know that writing is really going to be a central part of the plans God has in store for me.


Chatting last Wednesday was different. I did not put a smiley in any of my chat windows. It didn't matter whom I was talking to. The fact remained that I did not use any smiling emoticon at all. This is highly unusual for me, but there it is. Was there a reason? Yes, of course there was. Because I just made a difficult decision that day, one that I had been pondering on for several weeks. Hopefully, it was the best one. I've tried everything else.


Adding quotations from different books will be something I'll be doing quite frequently in my blog nowadays. Here's the latest one on my mind, still from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson.

Ms. Wormwood: Calvin! Pay attention! We are now studying Geography! Now which state do you live in?
Calvin: Denial.
Ms. Wormwood: Sigh. I suppose I can't argue with that.

If Calvin really lives in the state of denial, maybe he and I are neighbors...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

life needs upgrades...

I'm exhausted-- both physically and emotionally. And spiritually, my life needs work.

Okay, let me first tackle physical exhaustion. I've had a completely jam-packed schedule this week:

Youth Overnight (Oct. 31- Nov. 1)
Anniversary Practice (Nov. 2)
Sunday School Retreat (Nov. 3-4)

Although I can definitely say that being present for all three activities was well worth it, I cannot deny the fact that I finally reached the limits of my physical strength. So as of last night, when I got home from the retreat, I came down with a really high fever and fell asleep hours before my usual sleeping time. I feel better now, but I'm not yet in a condition to go anywhere. Besides, my mom has made it clear that I'm not to go anywhere until I'm completely well. Oh well, who am I to argue with Dr. Mom, right? I hope that this doesn't disrupt my scheduled practices for the anniversary. I've already missed two vocal practices and I'm scheduled to start practice for the hand mime soon. Talk about busy. And now, my singing voice is strained as well. My voice was already cracking yesterday, and I told Kuya Bobot that I'm going to have to limit my singing until my vocal cords have been given time to rest. The last thing I need right now is to lose my voice completely.

Upgrades needed:
stronger immune system, application of steps for vocal care, more sleep

Why am I emotionally exhausted? Because right now, something about my feelings that I'm struggling with is eating me alive and I already feel exhausted battling it out. Actually, truth be told, I feel like I'm on the losing end especially since it's been something I've struggled with for several months now. It doesn't help that circumstances kept popping up that have made it even more difficult to fight it. It was only very recently that I finally got to confess to one of my best friends what my dilemma is. I suppose, given the amount of time I've already spent with her over the years, she could easily read me and it didn't take her long to get me to talk to her. I'm grateful that she did. At least now, someone I trust knows what's going on. I'm left with some decisions to make in my life and a lot of prayers to pray before I can get my life back to the way it once was...or better than it once was.

Upgrades needed:
counseling, immersion in God's word, a male accountability partner, prayer, relationship restoration

Spiritually, I know I can do better. One look at Micah's blog regarding walking by faith has told me that I should be seeking the same thing. I know that I should always be pursuing more out of my Christian life each day, but this is always not the case. I usually find myself spiritually dry or too lazy to pick up my Bible, meditate on it, and pray. Other times, I am able to read my Bible but I feel like nothing is entering my mind. Other times, having my quiet time becomes more of work than privilege. What makes it more frustrating is that I'm the one who tells people to find satisfaction in God, and yet I can't even seem to find that same satisfaction that I'm talking about. Worship leading is definitely not as easy as one might think. It's difficult.

Upgrades needed:
deepened prayer life, deeper relationship with God, worship team devotions


This is the current song in my life and also the prayer of my heart. I need someone to rescue me. And not just any someone. The only Someone Who can help me is Jesus.

Don Moen

You are the source of life
I can't be left behind
No one else will do
I will take hold of You

'Cause I need You Jesus
to come to my rescue
(Oh/Tell me) Where else can I go?
There's no other name
by which I am saved
Capture me with grace
I will follow You
I will follow You

My heart is Yours for life
I need Your hand in mine
No one else will do
I put my trust in You

(I will follow You) This world has nothing for me...
(I will trust in You) This world has nothing for me...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

october thoughts, part 2...

i. Tonight is the annual overnight youth service at church, and I will be part of the praise and worship team again this year for the third straight time. Time does fly extremely fast. I can still recall the praise and worship two years ago when I sang with Micah, Tina, Kim, and Janine, all of us (or at least, Micah, Janine, and I) jumping to the beat of Romans 16:19. Speaking of which, it was during the practice for this particular overnight that I got to meet Jade, Erica, Dino, and Anton for the first time.

ii. I've still got cough and colds-- souvenirs from my very full schedule last Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. During those three days, I didn't even sleep at home. Come Tuesday early morning, as I was about to sleep after saying goodbye to Erica and Jade in NAIA, I felt the ever familiar and dreadful itchy sensation in my throat. I dunno, but I think I have this tendency to get sick during overnights for some reason. Yikes! Anyhow, my condition's gotten better so I'll be able to sing tonight. I've got to have tissues ready though.

iii. I'm finding myself battling different thoughts gnawing through my head. They're pretty disturbing to say the least and they're almost always there before I go to bed at night or even sometimes during the day. Okay, I won't say anything more because I'll be forced to say names. Just lifting it all up to God now.

iv. To all those who sent me testimonials in my Friendster this month, thanks! Hehe! Opening my account and reading what you wrote about me made me smile, and I definitely mean that. May God bless you in the same way that you have blessed me!

v. Still waiting for the payments for the house to be completed. I'm not sure if the worst is finally over, but the fact that my parents were able to acquire a vast sum of money to pay for the house keeps me reassured that God is in no way abandoning my family in our time of need. From the very start that the decision to move house materialised, we all knew that it was going to take a miracle for us to leave our present house and move into a new one. Well, no doubt that we've already got the great miracle-worker with us 24/7. Thank you Lord.

vi. Leo, Lakan, and I finally got to go out again--something that we hadn't done as a trio for about six months or more. We went to the arcade (I got hooked on a particular versus game, but I can't remember what it's called) and then hung around in Starbucks where Lakan challenged himself to drink one shot of pure caffeine. After drinking it, it took awhile before he could speak tangibly because it seemed as if his mouth was just shooting off everywhere whenever he tried to talk. Ah, the wonders of coffee...hehe!

vii. Ever notice how I don't seem to have one fixed style in the way I blog my thoughts? Haha! Hmm, not that it bothers me though. It's just interesting.

viii. Church anniversary practice is coming up really soon. This time, I won't only be participating in the praise and worship (this is going to be my 4th year!), but also in the hand mime production of the Children's Ministry a.k.a. the Sunday School Teachers. Oh, and speaking of Sunday School, the retreat is this Friday and Saturday. I'm looking forward to having a rather interesting time.

ix. Time to start looking for a school to teach in! Although it's going to be several months still before I'll be going to full-time teaching during the start of the next school year, I feel the need to already begin scouting for the school that would give me a decent pay, a decent workload, and of course a beneficial teaching-learning experience. In addition to this, I also need to brush up on world literature in preparation for the LET which I'll be taking next year along with Micah and Ate Madel. And I've also got to review again my lessons in FOUNED 1 and 2 as well as CURIDEV since the theories aren't concretely in my head yet. So much to study for.

x. Well, I suppose this concludes my October thoughts. Goodbye October, hello November!