Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cute Blogger Award

I would like to thank Iris of The Search for Wellness   for this award.  Sorry it took me so long to accept it. ;)

 Here are the rules of this award: 
1. Each blogger must post these rules.
2. Each blogger starts with ten random facts/habits about themselves.
3. Blogger that are tagged, need to write ten facts about themselves. You need to choose ten people to tag and list their names.

Here are the 10 Random Facts/ Habits About Me:

  1. I am a toiletries and makeup aficionado.  I scrimp on clothes and shoes but cannot resist lotions, shampoos, and everything on Watsons, Essenses, and Beauty Bar.  (I have tried to be good this year and avoided those shops.)
  2. I am bad at wrapping gifts.  I would rather pay someone to do it.  My mom always ends up helping me.  This year my sis-in-law Mommy P and nephew Miko pitched in after they saw my pile of gifts to be wrapped.  Maybe I should take lessons.
  3. I love to cook and bake but only when I'm in the mood (does that make sense?), and I make a mean baked macaroni.  My chicken cacciatore is not bad either.
  4. I have been trying to learn to play the guitar for the past two decades, probably.  I own two guitars.
  5. Patience is not one of my virtues.  This explains no. 4.
  6. I am perceived to be funny and loud, but I really prefer "alone time" at least one day a week.  I long for silence and savor it whenever I can.
  7. I am suffering from Volunteer Burnout.  It does not flatter me when people ask me to do things just because I'm supposed to be good at them.  I have been like this for the past, I don't know, two years. (Sungit Mode)
  8. My Love Language is "Words of Affirmation".  I need to hear it.  (The other love languages are "giving and receiving gifts", "quality time", "touch", and "acts of service".)
  9. I have memorized the following films' lines:  "As Good as It Gets", "The Sound of Music", "An Affair to Remember", "Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", "Pretty Woman", "My Best Friend's Wedding", and "Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal".  There is more where that list came from.
  10. I still daydream.
Now, the 10 poor victims I will tag, I mean, bestow this award to, are:

  1. Alessandra
  2. Skyjak a.k.a. BJ
  3. Abi Franco
  4. Karreen
  5. Elmer
  6. Dia
  7. Adam
  8. Jobelle
  9. Dred
  10. Sheila
Take your time, after all, it took me almost 2 weeks before "accepting" this award. ;)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

We've all read that forwarded message stating that we shouldn't postpone happiness, that we shouldn't wait until we've paid off our debts, won the battle against cancer, solved our family problems, reached 200% of our company targets, achieved a Pulitzer or Nobel prize, found our suitable partner, raised brilliant kids, or reached the Oscar Hall of Fame until we decide to be happy.

We can choose to be happy now, and when we do, we can recognize just how much we are blessed. I have been overwhelmed with the gift of friendship that God has given me. I do not deserve to have such wonderful people praying for me, taking care of me, listening to me, laughing with me, counting on me, sharing with me, rooting for me, and giving to me. It is not all about me, but about how God has placed the right combination of people so that I won't be led astray.

I am very happy now, and I hold on to the feeling with delightful bliss, for as a recovering perfectionist happy moments are few and far between (yes, despite the blessings).

The reasons for my happiness are endless.

My father celebrated his 73rd birthday last Saturday and despite the health scare last week, he is doing okay now and is even back to his usual daily routine. I am looking forward to a vacation with my family this coming January, when all of my siblings and siblings-in-law form abroad will be here in the Philippines. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, and I enjoy the planning and scheduling that is involved in anticipation of our family reunion.

I seem to be doing better in my job. After a year in my position, I am not as daunted by my responsibilities anymore, and I have learned to just give my best and let God do the rest. The formula, as always, has worked, for last month we reached our sales targets, with several team members performing way beyond expectation. Planning season is upon us and I savor it as a time to apply what I have learned the past year and to implement my plans for our products and our department.

And have I mentioned that I really do have wonderful friends? From grade school, high school, college, law school, Lingkod, parish, and office, I am surrounded by friends. This should not be, and it is not out of my sheer charm that this happened. God knows that I am a people person and I delight in organizing get-togethers and spending quality time with people I treasure.

Last night was one such happy event. To celebrate the birthday of our dear friend Fr Steve Tynan, Lingkod brothers and sisters who have come to know him through the years gathered at Dencio's for about five hours of fellowship. More get-togethers were planned, and friendships were strengthened. The conversation was life-giving to everyone. I had a personal relationship with everyone who was there and I was very glad to be sitting there, watching the people, joining the conversation, sharing the food, passing on the love.

Dencio's Capitol Hills was the perfect venue. We had a good view of the Marikina Valley, and we did not have to drive out of the city to do that. We enjoyed the sisig, the beer, the turon, and everything in between. We loved their coffee. It was surprisingly good. We definitely want to go back to that place.

It is nights like these that I celebrate, to help me survive the daily challenges of life. I am very grateful to God for all these blessings, and in response, I want to share His love to everyone around me. For His love is just abundant that I cannot contain it. I have to give it away.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Now Showing: The Women

For a woman who likes to read chick lit and watch chick flicks to entertain herself, I was extremely disappointed with the remake of the movie "The Women". 

The all-star cast did not move me.  What could they do with a poorly-written script, stereotypical characters, predictable plot, and frantic pacing?  The actresses were all "acting" as if on theater, pushing their characters to the limit, and ending up looking like they were desperately trying to prove a point, that women stand up for each other, or at least should do so.  

It could have been handled better, and I say this with additional disappointment, for this was an all-woman cast and crew (almost), and I was rooting for them to show the world the great stuff that women could churn out.  

The relationship between the four main characters could have made more sense if the audience could see why they were friends in the first place.  There was no chemistry and it looked too forced to me, as if they were trying so hard to "be their character" that they forgot how to loosen up and just let the "great friendship" flow aroud them.  

BFFs Mary (Meg Ryan) and Sylvie (Annette Bening) had to constantly remind each other that they were "best friends", when in real life this just happens to women, and this could have been better depicted by looks and actions between the two.  The supportive friends were just secondary characters whose main goal in the movie was "to be there" for Mary, even if it meant sacrificing their relationships and careers.  Who made Mary the center of the universe?  

Debra Messing looked as if she was channeling Dharma of Dharma and Greg.  Jada Pinkett Smith had the most interesting character to portray, but alas, she was not given a meatier script.  She had to act as if on a teaching video of  "How a Lesbian Should React in Each and Every Situation She and Her Heterosexual Friends Are Confronted With".  Talk about putting people into boxes.  

The confrontation between Mary and The Other Woman should have crackled with sarcasm and oozed with pain.  Instead I was just frustrated at Mary and irritated at Crystal (Eva Mendes).  It was unrealistic and unbelievable, even under the excuse that Mary was prohibited by her "smart mother" from confronting her husband Stephen and The Other Woman, and Crystal was a hopeless gold digger with no morals.  I blame the script and the direction.

Mary's behavior did not satisfy me.  It was as if she was in  a long movie commercial of "How a Woman With a Philandering Husband Should Respond".  I would have wanted a more realistic, grounded take on one of the most common problems for women.  It seemed too smooth and too easy.  Meg Ryan tended to smile too much and laugh as if her world was not falling apart.  Maybe that was the point of the movie, but again, they could have shown it more convincingly.  

There was definitely something missing and a whole lot of talking (my father could not last fifteen minutes of the film) that it got too noisy for me during some scenes.  Perhaps the people behind it were too happy that they got the rights to the remake and they had all those beautiful and famous actresses to play their boxed characters that they did not bother to look at the details and nuances that women were expecting to be entertained with.  Annette, one of my favorite actresses, gave the most textured performance of them all, but even she could not salvage a movie this predictable.

The First Wives Club handled the topic of male infidelity better - it was humorous and at the same time staggering to watch.  Or that scene when Emma Thompson held back sobs so her children would not hear her heart breaking from Love, Actually - that really moved me to tears. Even Sex and the City (which was more about Love rather than Sex, to my delight) was five stars better at showing women power, although the budget for wardrobe and accessories there was almost criminal and resulted in corrupting women everywhere to "lust" after goods and to look fabulous at fifty, "the new forty".  

Maybe I'm growing older and pickier, but this movie simply did not do it for me.  It was just one long Dove commercial and an utter waste of talent.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Favorite Chore

I wonder how many people out there de-stress by doing the laundry or cleaning the bathroom?  I prefer the former to the latter, but both chores relax me.  

The smell of freshly-washed sheets make me happy.  When I pick up my dry cleaning, I welcome the waft of laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets.  I like hanging clothes to dry under the sun and watching blankets on clothespins billowing against the wind.  It is one of my simplest pleasures.  I am like one of those housewives on the soap commercials, smelling fresh, clean shirts as if those were their greatest accomplishments on earth. 

Despite a bad back that had me taking a day off from work, I did one load of laundry today.  I couldn't stand the sight of my overflowing clothes hamper.  As I sorted out the whites from the colored ones, I was able to sort out some of my thoughts.  As I my clothes got cleaned inside the washing machine, I imagined my life getting washed as well.

Come to think of it, I am growing more and more domesticated as the years go by.  I enjoy shopping, yes, but I've also come to enjoy cooking.  Perhaps I'm just going back to my childhood joys, alongside reading and playing the piano.  

I don't like noisy malls and traffic.  I don't like parties and loud music.  I don't remember that I ever did, but now I'm staying away more from them.

So I will end this post and go back to finish my book.  It's raining outside.  And I'm glad to be home. 

Friday, November 7, 2008

This is so High School!

No, I'm not talking about that musical that was turned into a movie.  This is IT, the real thing, my high school batchmates, back in my life, alive and kicking.

We've reloaded our Manila Science High School Batch '91 (and thus she reveals her age) egroup recently, and just like an old friendship, we all picked up where we left off.  Anyone who knows me well can attest that I had loads of fun at MaSci, and that I loved my smart, witty, and creative batchmates.  I cried the most during graduation.  I had them over to my house as often as I could.  I was a walking class directory and birthday alarm.  I went to college with about 100 of them, in U.P.  Before I met the Lord through community, MaSci was my second home.

At the dawn of the Internet era in the Philippines, we had our first egroup.  Everyone was excited and we received hundreds of messages in a month.  But alas, high school tempers flared up and that egroup had slowly disappeared into oblivion.  

Many years later, we have probably matured and missed high school even more, so we tried again.  Efforts were made to organize mini-reunions.  Threads were introduced in the yahoogroup to entice members to email.  It did not pick up easily, like a diesel engine.  

But it was only a matter of time before my outspoken batchmates would enter into an online debate about health care, legal issues, and the economy.  Reading the entries, all well-written and well-supported, became a habit for almost 150 members of the world's labor force.  MaScians scattered across the globe slowly came together to support whichever side they were on.  I did not contribute to the intelligent conversations.

I was more interested in reminiscing.  And I'm glad we're on that thread now.  Oh, the revelations!  The implications.  The what-ifs and could have beens.  The resolutions and reconciliations.  We're onto something here.  

MaSci was a huge part of my life that I had relegated to the background for fear of being inconsistent with who I had become, or trying to become.  Now I can slowly see that I can be true to myself with them, for I no longer need their affirmation.

To my batchmates, I hope all 316 of us could be accounted for.  Spread the word!  Masci91reloaded.  We don't need a movie to know we have great stories to tell.  Get in touch with me and I will add you to our yahoogroup.

Campus Girl is back. ;) 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Unexpected Passengers

I was late for mass, coming from work, and I was so lost in thought, when I heard a tap on my car window, passenger side.  I was stuck in traffic along Old Balara, near U.P.  I saw two boys gesturing if they could ride with me.  

I rolled down the window, unsure if I heard them right.  

"Pwede po pasabay?" they said in chorus.  I was curious at this new mode of transportation.  I asked them where they were going.  They said they lived near the basketball court near Ayala, which was just a few meters away.  It was past 6:00 p.m. and alarm bells were ringing in my head. 

I had never allowed total strangers to ride in my car before.  I stared at the boys and asked for their names.  They gave it to me.  They were both 11 years old and were studying at "Balara Filter".  They were in school uniform, carried backpacks, and reminded me of my nephews.  

Traffic was really bad so I had time to interview them.  They said they did it everyday as they had no money to pay for jeepney fare.  

I should have been scared and just driven off.  But I wasn't.  I let them in, put the seat belt on the first boy, and carried a conversation with them.

I even forgot to lock the car doors immediately.  I was just curious if their parents were aware of that practice of riding in strangers' cars, and the boy sitting at the back (is it obvious I have forgotten their names already?  I'm bad.)  told me that his older brother taught him the trick.  I kept looking at their faces to see any mischief or malice. There was none.  They said they tried to avoid heavily-tinted vans.  They said really kind people let them ride, and they especially loved riding on the back of motorcycles.  I warned them that they should always wear their helmets and that it was not the safest vehicle around (for I had just seen, a few nights ago, two men lying unconscious along the Quezon Avenue underpass going to Circle, after the motorcycle they were riding on hit another vehicle).  

We talked about school and family, in that ten-minute ride.  The cars were moving at a snail's pace and so I was able to talk to my young passengers.  The one beside me wanted to be a civil engineer and the one at the backseat wanted to be a computer programmer.  I encouraged them to study hard as there was no better feeling than graduating with a degree in the course of their dreams and being able to help their respective families.

I dropped them off at the basketball court and they thanked me.  I will never forget their reply when I asked them how they chose the car to hitch a ride with:

"Naghahanap po kami ng matatanda at mga babae"  (We look for old [can I say older here, or would it be inaccurate?] people and women).  I'm not sure, I will take it that they chose me because I was a woman driver.  Hah.

"Takot po kami sa balbas-sarado"  (We're afraid of bearded men.)  I said not all bearded men should be feared and not all shaven ones should be trusted.  I added that they should take care and study hard always.

I did not make it to mass at all for the traffic delayed me as usual.  I went straight to my scheduled confession, as that was one of the reasons I was rushing home in the first place.  I had a feeling I encountered Jesus even way before I arrived at the Parish of St Benedict.  

In case you're wondering, I did check.  My wallet, which was lying beside my young friend in the backseat, was untouched.  My two cellphones, within easy reach of my little front seat passenger, remained intact.  I had no reason to be afraid.  They just needed a ride.

I just wished the world was a safer place for young students, and that I did not have to check if anything was taken from me.  

I wished we could trust more people, and be trustworthy.  Then oh what a wonderful world this would be.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Campus Girl

I love the U.P. Diliman campus.  I love the trees and the grass, the Sunken Garden and the amphitheater, the Oblation and the Chapel.  I love eating at Rodic's, having a picnic at Sunken, taking a walk around the Academic Oval or the track behind Bahay ng Alumni.  I love the dorms and the vendors, the College of Music and the Main Library, bbq at Beach House, chicken pork adobo at Chocolate Kiss, baked oysters at Chateau Verde.  

I love the UP Vargas Museum, the Cordillera Coffee, the plays and the concerts.  I love to sit in at English classes, listen to the students at Abelardo Hall, watch the sunset at the Admin building, and listen to the Carillon.

After studying for eight years in U.P. (business econ and then law), I have come to know its nooks and crannies, and I still go back as often as possible to experience its secrets.  

If I would go back to school, I would enroll either at the College of Arts and Letters or the College of Music.  But I don't want to study in the near future.

Instead I will enjoy the weekend walks and the occasional visits, every chance I get.  

There is probably one thing only that I missed from my college days, and that is a visit to the Observatory to gaze at the  beautiful nighttime sky.  I think I have waited too long for the perfect moment to do that.  So I will just do it.

Love is a strong word, but that is how I feel.  U.P. aking mahal. :-)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Now Playing: Remembering You

The video and the song played during Fr. Geoffrey's Youth Alive despedida, October 18, 2008.  Read about him here.

Remembering You

Steven Curtis Chapman
The Chronicles of Narnia Soundtrack

I found You in the most unlikely way
But really it was You who found me
And I found myself in the gifts that You gave
You gave me so much and I

I wish You could stay
but I'll, I'll wait for the day

And I watch as the cold winter melts into spring
And I'll be remembering You
Oh and I'll smell the flowers and hear the birds sing 
and I'll be remembering You, I'll be remembering You 

From the first moment when I heard Your name
Something in my heart came alive
You showed me love and no words could explain
A love with the power to
Open the door
To a world I was made for

And I watch as the cold winter melts into spring
And I'll be remembering You
Oh and I'll smell the flowers and hear the birds sing 
and I'll be remembering You, I'll be remembering You 

The dark night, the hard fight
The long climb up the hill knowing the cost 
The brave death, the last breath
The silence whispering all hope was lost
The thunder, the wonder
A power that brings the dead back to life

I wish You could stay
But I'll wait for the day
And though You've gone away
You come back and

And I watch as the cold winter melts into spring
And I'll be remembering You
Oh and I'll smell the flowers and hear the birds sing 
and I'll be remembering You, I'll be remembering You 

And I'll watch as the sun fills a sky that was dark
And I'll be remembering You
And I'll think of the way that You fill up my heart
And I'll be remembering You

I'll be remembering You
I'll be remembering You
I'll be remembering You

I'll be remembering You

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Greatest Woman on Earth

Since we're digging up my favorite movies already, this is one movie script that I have read over and over.

This is from the last part of "As Good as It Gets" starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. If I could write characters and lines like this someday, I would be the happiest woman on earth.

I love this because Melvin the Writer said these lines to Carol the Waitress. And he saw her greatness. Hope you get it, too.

I'm the only one on the face of
the earth who realizes that you're
the greatest woman on earth. I'm
the only one who appreciates how
amazing you are in every single
thing you do -- in every single
thought you have... in how you
are with Spencer -- Spence...

... in how you say what you mean
and how you almost always mean
something that's all about being
straight and good...

I think most people miss that
about you and I watch wondering
how they can watch you bring them
food and clear their dishes and
never get that they have just met
the greatest woman alive... And
the fact that I get it makes me
feel great... about me!

You got a real good reason to walk
out on that?

"The Greatest Woman on Earth" is also a cut from the movie soundtrack, mostly from composer Hans Zimmer.

Monday, October 20, 2008

When I Was Four-and-Twenty

From the last silly post that had me taking an online quiz and finding out that I acted like I was twenty-four years old, comes now this new entry about a song that came out when I was about that age and bawling over the movie "My Best Friend's Wedding".

I'll Be Okay
Amanda Marshall 

It's time to let you go
It's time to say goodbye
There's no more excuses
No more tears to cry

There's been so many changes
I was so confused
All along you were the one
All the time I never knew

I want you to be happy
You're my best friend
But it's so hard to let you go now
All that could have been
I'll always have the memories
She'll always have you
Fate has a way of changing
Just when you don't want it to


Throw away the chains
Let love fly away
Till love comes again
I'll be okay

Life passes so quickly
You gotta take the time
Or you'll miss what really matters
You'll miss all the signs
I've spent my life searching
For what was always there
Sometimes it will be too late
Sometimes it won't be fair


I won't give up
I won't give in
I can't recreate what just might have been
I know that my heart will find love again
Now is the time to begin


I can't hold on forever baby
I'll be okay.

Well now.  That was fun!  I bet girls who are old enough to remember that movie have also memorized each song in its equally famous soundtrack.  I think this was the only original song in that compilation.  The rest are re-makes.  But I know them all by heart.

There was a time when I couldn't watch that movie without shedding a tear.  It was a comedy, for crying out loud.  My best friend lent me her copy so I could desensitize myself, so I watched it nightly for a straight week.  I wept every time.

More than a decade later, I saw it again on HBO.  The song is right - I eventually became okay.  I survived up to the last scene without crying.  I saw how selfish Jules had been, and un-romanticized Michael, the sports writer who was going to marry a college student and ask her to give up her career, and who was blind not to see that he and Jules were perfect for each other.  I hated him for the tender moments he shared with Jules just when he was supposed to be focused on Kimberly, and for not choosing Jules.

I am okay about the movie.  As to the reality, I'm getting there too.     

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Real Age is...

I knew it!!!! I took this test and liked the result, hehehe.

You Act Like You Are 24 Years Old

You are a twenty-something at heart. You feel like an adult, and you're optimistic about life.

You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

You're still figuring out your place in the world and how you want your life to shape up.

The world is full of possibilities, and you can't wait to explore many of them.

Things to Do This Weekend

Since they are so short and I want to pack so many activities into them, I have realized that I should plan my weekends better. Before, my goal was just to do my laundry, go to the gym, spend time with family, and serve at the parish, but this weekend will be different. I am excited and just a teeny bit anxious.

I will start with an extra-long prayer time to get me through the weekend with joy and gratitude. And then...

1. Practice, practice, practice piano. Recital is tomorrow. Even if it's just for family and friends, they still deserve my best. After listening to my exhausted playing last night, I have realized that I need to exert more effort if I want my first recital in over a decade to be memorable in a good way.

2. Prepare the house for the small dinner and recital. Check the little details like hand soap and hand towels.

3. Coordinate with siblings based in Germany, Australia, Singapore, and the US so that they could watch live our mother's first piano recital in 40+ years.

4. Go to the supermarket to buy drinks and table napkins. I won't do any cooking tomorrow - too much stress - but I have to choose the right kind of beer for my Aussie friends.

5. Prepare my script. There should be some story to go with the pieces and to introduce the pianists. I have one in my head but it needs to be written down on index cards or PowerPoint, whichever I will have time for tonight.

6. Enjoy the night with loved ones. Will not drink until after my number. After that, the wine is mine. Say my goodbye with a smile to one of God's gifts to me.

7. Cook Sunday breakfast. Have not done this in a while.

8. Go to mass and serve afterwards. Thank God for a wonderful recital (I claim it).

9. Clean my room and prepare the stuff for Ella's Movable Ukay-Ukay (as requested by officemates who have been begging me to let go of old bags, shoes, wallets, etc. so they could buy them at reasonable prices). This is my personal fundraiser so that I could have a better budget for my growing Christmas list!

10. Brisk walk around UP Oval with old friends. I hope it doesn't rain. Otherwise, great excuse for a Sunday afternoon nap.

11. Get a copy of Sense and Sensibility just in time for Book Club first meeting next Saturday! One week to read the assignment. Great start, Ella.

12. Don't forget to do my laundry and press my uniform to prepare for another work week.

I love listing down things. It really gets me going. Now if only I could tick off each item as I accomplish them.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

(It's/ I'm) Not Working

Sometimes I just want to write but I cannot write about what I really want to say so I end up writing something that sounds suspiciously like what I want to avoid writing about and it leaves me exposed and vulnerable and when I review what I have written the next day, maybe even a few hours after, I want to delete it and not to be reminded of how I was feeling or what I was thinking of when I wrote it.

Like now.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Naulanan vs. Nagpaulan Atbp. Kwento

Assuming I have non-Filipino speaking readers, my apologies but this entry has to be in Filipino.  The meaning would simply be lost if I attempt to translate it.  Anyway this will be very short.

Nilalagnat ako.  Na naman.  Matigas kasi ang ulo ko.  Palaging bilin ng Tatay ko na huwag na huwag akong magpapaulan.  Kasi raw, magkakasakit ako.

Ang katwiran ko naman, bakit yung mga batang naliligo sa ulan, nagkakasakit ba sila pagkatapos?  May kaibigan nga akong hindi Pilipino, sa bansa raw nila walang ganung konsepto.  Kaya hindi siya takot maulanan.  Pero dahil Pilipino raw ako, papayungan niya ako. 

Sa maraming dahilan, sakitin ako pag tag-ulan.  Sipon, ubo, sakit ng ulo, trangkaso.  Pero hindi naman ako laging nauulanan.  Hawa-hawa lang siguro.  Baka kulang sa tulog.  Baka kulang sa vitamin C.  Baka kulang sa TLC.  Baka kulang sa pansin.

Kahapon, puyat at pagod ako, at late sa pupuntahan, kaya pagkatapos kong iparada ang sasakyan, hindi na ako nagdala ng payong.  Nakalimutan kong malayu-layo pala ang lakad.  Hindi ko napansing maulap.  Ganun talaga pag nagmamadali.  Sa dami ng dala ko, may naiwan pa rin ako.

Pagkalipas ng dalawang oras, hindi na ako makalabas.  Isang oras na raw umuulan at baha na sa kalyeng pinaradahan ko.  Maraming taong naghihintay sa may pinto nung building ng gym.  Nagtanong ako sa mamang guard kung pwedeng manghiram ng payong.  E medyo pagod siguro si bosing, nasungitan ako.  "Wala kaming payong", sabi niya.

"Wala kaming payong", sabi rin nung babaeng guard na katabi niya, kahit hindi ko naman siya tinatanong.  

Tumayu-tayo pa rin ako sa lobby at naghintay na tumila ang ulan.  Meron pa kasi akong isang pupuntahan.  At inis na inis ako sa sarili ko kung bakit iniwan ko ang dalawang jacket at dalawang payong ko sa kotse.  

Ilang minuto na, sige pa rin ang buhos ng ulan.  Yung tipong puti na ang kapaligiran sa lakas niya.  Tumatalsik kaya naglalampaso na ang janitor ng building para hindi madulas ang mga tao.  Tumataas na rin ang tubig.

At umandar ang tigas ng ulo ko.  Naisip ko, ulan lang iyan.  Hindi dapat matakot sa ulan.

Kaya, hindi ako nagpaulan.  Passive iyon e, parang wala kang kinalaman at basta nangyari na lang.

Ang tawag dun sa ginawa ko, sumugod sa ulan. May determinasyon.  May purpose.  Palaban.  Pasugod.  Maliit na tuwalya lang ang tinakip ko sa bumbunan ko.

Basa ako hanggang medyas.  Buti waterproof ang bag ko.  Dri-fit ang suot ko.  Pero, basang sisiw ako pagdating sa kotse.  Ang masaklap, hinabol pa ako ng parking attendant at siningil ng trenta pesos.  Binuksan ko ang bintana at naulanan ang loob ng kotse.

Pagdating ko sa kainan, umorder ako ng mainit na calamansi juice.  Kasi parang masarap yun para sa nararamdaman ko, maginaw na hindi ko maintindihan.

Ang masaklap, paggising ko kaninang umaga, masakit ang ulo ko, may ubo na ako, at nangangati ang lalamunan ko.  Hindi yata't totoo, na magkakasakit na ako?  Kung ganon, kasalanan ko ba ito?

Pumunta ako sa Ateneo kasi may prayer workshop para dun sa retreat na sinalihan ko.  Okey naman ako maghapon, andun ang simptomas pero pwedeng hindi pansinin.

Pag-uwi ko sa gabi, sabi ko sa Nanay ko parang mainit.  Katapat ko ang bentilador.  Kapapatay lang ng aircon.  Tiningnan niya ako sa mata tapos hinawakan sa braso, tapos sa leeg.  

Pagkatapos noon, narinig ko ang sentensya na naniniwala lang ako kapag nanggaling sa ina, "Anak, mainit ka.  Nilalagnat ka."

Mainit ako.  Nilalagnat.  Maysakit.  At hindi yata ito nangyari lang sa akin basta.  Parang... kasalanan ko ito.  

O, mabigat na salita naman ang kasalanan.  Wala naman akong nilabag sa Sampung Utos.  Siguro mas tama kung sasabihin ko na lang na may kinalaman ako sa pagkakasakit ko.  

Pero totoo nga ba iyon, na kapag nauulanan ang tao, nagkakasakit?

Paano kung hindi siya naulanan, kundi nagpaulan?  Ano'ng tawag dun?

Tsk tsk.  Baka... katangahan.

Matutulog na nga ako.  Sakit ng ulo at katawan ko eh.  Atbp.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

For Fr. Geoffrey

There's an e-mail that's circulating that begins with the sentence, "People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime."

It continues to state that when someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. When that need is fulfilled, they leave your life. Their purpose is extinguished.

People come into your life for a SEASON because your turn has come to share, grow or learn from them, or from each other. You will enjoy their company, but only temporarily, for a fixed period of time.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. I reckon this refers to friendships that stand the test of time. I have been blessed to have these kinds of friendships, and today I want to write about one very special person who has helped me to grow spiritually, emotionally, and even physically (by encouraging me to go the gym regularly in order to release stress and feel better about myself).

We often do not honor the people in our lives enough. Or at least we do it after they've gone. I'd like to honor someone who to me is a friend for a reason, a season, and a lifetime. He's leaving the Philippines by the end of this month after a six-year missionary duty. He's going back home to Australia. Even though we'll keep in touch, I know that it won't be the same. I have to thank him now. I have to recognize how good he has been to me now.

I met him four years ago, in October 2004, at the Lingkod National Leaders' Training Conference in Iloilo. I was told by my confessor, Fr. Steve, that their order of religious priests was tasked by the bishop to take care of our sub-parish (how blessed I felt, how specifically loved by God, for it was an answered prayer to find a home in my own parish). He brought along with him to Iloilo a priest who was to become our assistant parish priest. I was shy to approach him, for he was six feet tall, and spoke English with an intimidating (to a Filipino) Australian accent, but I needed someone to talk to, for Fr. Steve left that conference early, and that week I heard the Lord inviting me to give up my career as a lawyer to become a full-time missionary. I needed someone who could understand and give me wise advice.

I looked for him, introduced myself, and thus was prayed over for the first time by Fr. Geoffrey Coombe, mgl. It was a day of retreat but I could not sit in silence. I needed to speak out, to ask and express how I could be called to serve God in that capacity, when all I could see were the obstacles before me.

Thus began four years of pastoral care under him. Fr. Geoff guided me through a six-month period of discernment, through five-minute chats after the 6 p.m. mass, which I could attend regularly then as I worked a few minutes away from home. He checked up on me, prayed over me, shared his experiences with me, and discerned with me. I knew he was God's gift, for I really felt God's love through him. I looked forward to sharing my reflections and realizations with him, for he directed me gently but firmly towards focusing on the Lord and not on myself.

While I was a Lingkod staffer and was having difficulty reconciling that with being a lawyer, Fr. Geoffrey continued to be my spiritual director. I sought him out to sort me out, for it was good to have someone outside of my ministry who was objective enough to point out what I was being blind to. He taught me to discover my gifts and to share them at the appropriate time. He taught me to deal with the burnout I felt after giving to the point of exhaustion. He showed me how I could serve without losing myself.

Fr. Geoffrey also encouraged me to serve at the parish. He invited me to give my first Life in the Spirit Seminar talk in Tagalog, gave me a pamphlet about being a Lector at mass and then gave me a regular assignment, and sat down with me to discuss his dreams for the youth of our parish. This was before Bro. Daniel Strickland and Fr. Brian Steele came to take care of the Youth Ministry for our new parish.

Being an architect and an artist, Fr. Geoff had a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw from, and that was exactly what I needed to discern my career. In deciding to leave Lingkod, he prayed with me. In looking for my next job, he prayed for me. He gave me books to read and asked me to submit reflections, just like a patient teacher to a wayward student.

He is a quiet man with a deep prayer life, and it is a blessing to be one of his directees. Yesterday, the first of October, about four weeks before his flight back to Canberra, I told him I felt like I graduated from a course from the Fr. Geoffrey Coombe School of Pastoral Care. I wanted to make him proud of me but I was nowhere near sainthood and still unsure about many things.

He told me that what was important was that I grew to be more honest in my relationship with God, and that I knew how to love even if it was painful and complicated. He felt his time here, in my life, was up too, and he was happy to endorse me to my new spiritual directress, a Cenacle sister. He believed in planting seeds and leaving them to grow.

I will miss having Fr. Geoffrey a text away to pray over my concerns, from the mundane to the melodramatic. I will miss seeking his advice and hearing his voice that did not ever judge me, no matter how disobedient I had been to God. I will miss his creative homilies. I will miss his Powerpoint presentations that illustrated deep Catholic teachings in a way that young people and young souls would understand.

He is moving to a new ministry and is very excited about it. He is excited at how God's plans would unfold for me, he said. I sit here today wondering what my next step would be, but grateful, very grateful, that for the past four years I have had someone to guide me, listen to me, and pray with me. I will continue to consult, or maybe inform, him over major decisions of my life. But even if this friendship is for a lifetime, I recognize the reason he was here, and the season we shared, as one of God's greatest blessings.

I dedicate one month of saying goodbye to him, made up of despedidas from all the groups that would organize it for him, highlighted by my family's first piano recital, with him and a few friends as audience.

Fr. Geoffrey, thank you for being a part of my life, in the context of the Parish of St. Benedict, Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon, Youth Alive, the Disciples of Jesus, and the Posh. I will never forget everything that you taught me. God bless you on your new ministry. And... see you in Canberra! :-)

Monday, September 29, 2008

From Bar Ops to Beer Ops

We were invited by a faculty member, who happens to be our friend and Lingkod brother Ted, to serve in the Bar Ops mass for UP barristers on the last Saturday of February. So I went there with two lawyer-friends, Tess and Paul (with family), who both played the guitar. Although my company is a sponsor in the UP and ALSP Bar Ops, I went there as a former bar hopeful. I went there to attend mass celebrated by Fr. Nono, to listen to the Dean give his encouraging message, and to be one with the bar takers. I was once (or twice) in their shoes, and I know they need all the support and encouragement they could get.

Ahh, times have changed. During my term as Treasurer of the Law Student Government, Bar Ops was held in the country's biggest law firm. Last weekend, it was held in the hotel, with flowing food. During our time, we were a tips machinery. This time, I could not see a single printer churning out last-minute tips. Or perhaps they were just beaming the tips to the barristers' cellphones, laptops, and PDA's. I couldn't tell. I was busy eating, chatting, and singing (videoke).

I was with the LSG Treasurer after me, TSP, and we met the current LSG Treasurer. We should have had our picture together in front of this streamer. For everything becomes about the bar - all fundraisers, all efforts, all studies, all exams. You could do well in law school but if you fail the bar, you cannot practice. It's as simple as that.

I should know. I was one of the reasons UP didn't reach a 100% during my time. They say it doesn't matter in practice. They say I'll forget about it.

But every year, every September, I remember. This is not my last blog post on the matter.

To all (not just UP) bar petitioners, I am praying for you. Enjoy your well-deserved rest. Worry about the results another day, preferably next year. There's nothing you can do now but to pray and to wait.

In between, you could party. That's all right too.

What If...

What if today were the last of all days? I ask myself this question, buoyed by a growing desire to spread my wings and seek another land.

Just thinking of all that I'm leaving behind overwhelms me. Thank God for RDL and co-discerners on this journey, otherwise I'd be too scared to move. But I want to.

I can't find a nice version to upload here, but this song by Hourglass captured my feelings as I was driving to work this morning. It is good to ask these questions. It is good to know I can follow my dreams without fear.

The Last of All Days

If today were the last of all days
Would it change how you feel who you are
Would you rise for a moment
Above all of your fears
Become one with the moon & the stars

Would you like what you see looking down
Did you give everything that you could
Have you done all the things you intended to do
Or is there still so much more that you would

Follow your dreams to the end of the rainbow
Way beyond one pot of gold
Open your eyes to the colors around you
And find the true beauty life holds

Would you live for the moment
Like when you were young
And time didn't travel so fast
Be free in the present
Enjoying the now
Not tied to a future or past

Follow your dreams to the end of the rainbow
Way beyond one pot of gold
Open your eyes to the colors around you
And find the true beauty life holds

You would probably say all you wanted to say
But doesn't that strike you as strange
That we'd only begin start living our lives
If today were the last of all days
If today were the last of all days

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

If You Forget Me

Since Dred posted Pablo Neruda's "I Like for You to be Still" as read by Glenn Close, I wanted to look for Madonna's version of "If You Forget Me". As Dred said, Madonna nailed this one. I saw this video prepared by a fan on YouTube.

Here are the words so you can sing, I mean, read along just like videoke:

If You Forget Me

I want you to know one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

It's from the soundtrack of the movie Il Postino. Get the CD and accompanying book if you still don't have it in your library. Worth every centavo.

The Marriage of True Minds

I'm drinking more coffee and reading more poetry.  I'm glad they exist to help me live more fully.

In this blog, I'm moving from Beethoven to Shakespeare. There is greatness to drink in and greatness to contain. But greatness to express? I don't know. It remains to be seen.

I have loved this sonnet since high school.  Its cadence is perfect.  Its words are classic, almost biblical.  You should here it read out loud.  I cannot find a link that works tonight (perhaps because it's close to 1 a.m.) but you may want to look up the soundtrack of the TV show Beauty and the Beast: Of Love and Hope, where great poems that became my favorites are featured.

I will not attempt to interpret this.  I should go back to school to be able to do that.  Well, someday who knows I just might stop dreaming and start living.  That's what my RDL is for - discernment.  Again.

I will stop because I don't want to write about a retreat that I'm not fully taking yet.  Let's go back to the sonnet, and end with these words:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds (Sonnet CXVI)

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments.
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove: 
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark 
That looks on tempests and is never shaken; 
It is the star to every wandering bark, 
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. 
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks 
Within his bending sickle's compass come: 
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, 
But bears it out even to the edge of doom. 
If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

-- William Shakespeare

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sonata Pathetique

Frustrations out. In my head, I could play Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8, or Sonata Pathetique, like this:

Oh well. Some of us were just born to listen and appreciate.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The S Word

A term that describes my state today is "unglued".  This, despite several therapeutic lunches and dinners with my friends for the past week.
Last night, I tried practicing some piano pieces for Fr. Geoffrey's Recital but stopped after repeating the same mistakes for almost twenty times.  My piano teacher, Mama, agreed that it was probably just an off night.  "Artists and athletes have those", I explained to her.

This morning, I cried all throughout the Charismatic mass.  I was not a member of the Catholic community that sponsored it so I felt nobody would remember me sniffling all throughout, from Opening to Closing song.  God could hear me, I could sense His presence, but I just stared back at Him.  What could I say that had not already been said about my situation?  

After mass, I was at my usual post as money counter after the mass, but I felt like I was the world's worst counter.  I mean, I love the Pondo ng Pinoy project of our diocese, but the sight of all those twenty-five centavo coins made me dizzy and Fr. Steve had to repeat counting some of the rows I neatly piled.  

Then I drove for my parents and nephews to Serendra this afternoon.  I committed several driving booboos and after a third driver honked at me for straddling two lanes out of indecision, I said out loud, "Yes, I know I'm being stupid."

Luigi, my 11-year old nephew, looked at me and said, "No, Tita Ella, you're not stupid."

And just like that, I wanted to hug him, my saint of a nephew, who once said that "I think everybody should love everybody". But if everybody loved everyone else, this would be Heaven already.  That's why there are people we cannot love and people who cannot love us yet.  We are still on Earth.

Luigi doesn't read this blog so I can very well say the S word here.  That's another apt term to describe me nowadays:  Mighty Stupid. Yes I'm being hard on myself. You'd think by now I've learned. I played a game I couldn't win. I don't even like games, so what was I doing in the first place?

I'll just sing.  This ought to summarize what it's been like.

Out of Reach
From the Bridget Jones's Diary OST

Knew the signs
Wasn't right
I was stupid for a while
Swept away by you
And now I feel like a fool
So confused,
My heart's bruised
Was I ever loved by you?

Out of reach, so far
I never had your heart
Out of reach,
Couldn't see
We were never
Meant to be

Catch myself
From despair
I could drown
If I stay here
Keeping busy everyday
I know I will be OK

But I was
So confused,
My heart's bruised
Was I ever loved by you?

Out of reach, so far
I never had your heart
Out of reach,
Couldn't see
We were never
Meant to be

So much hurt,
So much pain
Takes a while
To regain
What is lost inside
And I hope that in time,
You'll be out of my mind
And I'll be over you

But now I'm
So confused,
My heart's bruised
Was I ever loved by you?

Out of reach,
So far
I never had your heart
Out of reach,
Couldn't see
We were never
Meant to be

Out of reach,
So far
You never gave your heart
In my reach, I can see
There's a life out there
For me

Thursday, September 18, 2008

He's Just Not That Into You


This is a helpful summary of the book "He's Just Not That Into You" by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. It's highly recommended for all single women. Don't waste the pretty!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

For Just a Moment

From the classic '80's bratpack movie, St. Elmo's Fire, comes this love theme that is what the power of great soundtrack music is all about.  It makes you remember the movie's essence and captures the emotions of the characters.  I like the instrumental version as well.

I must be getting old.  This song reminds me of old friends and old times.   

Love Theme from "St. Elmo's Fire" - (For Just A Moment)

David Foster

Written by David W. Foster and John Stephen Parr

We laughed 

Until we had to cry

And we loved 

Right down to our last goodbye

We were the best

I think we'll ever be

Just you and me

For just a moment

We chased 

That dream we never found

And sometimes 

We let one another down

But the love we made

Made everything alright

We shone so bright

For just a moment

Time goes on

People touch and then they're gone

And you and I

Will never love again

Like we did then

Someday, when we both reminisce

We'll both say

There wasn't too much we missed

And through the tears

We'll smile when we recall

We had it all

For just a moment

Time goes on

People touch and then they're gone

But you and I

Will never really end

We'll never love again

Like we did then

We laughed until we had to cry

And we loved right down to our last goodbye.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It Doesn't Happen to Everyone (Why Fairy Tales are for Fairies)

This was my idea for a book, and some friends even said they would contribute a chapter each. But I could not figure out a way to avoid to write with bitterness (for the subject is teeming with such possibilities), so I postponed the project until I was objective enough to face it.

The song says "fairy tales can come true; it could happen to you". Well, it could but it doesn't mean it would.  

So what to do when the fairy tale does not have a happy ending?  When Cinderella's prince doesn't look for the owner of the glass slipper and runs off with one of the bejeweled princesses scattered around his castle?  When Sleeping Beauty isn't kissed back to life?  When Snow White is left to suffer Death by Apple Poisoning?  When there are more princesses than princes in the land?

Well, real life does not have neat and simplistic endings, and they are not usually written until after decades and decades of twists and turns.  

The people with seemingly charmed lives are not happy all the time.  They could be trapped in a permanent restlessness due to a lack of exposure to failure and disappointment.  They could be brandishing their perfect lives to make up for an emptiness they cannot fathom.  Nobody has it all.

As for the pretty women out there who were brought up expecting men should recite poetry, deliver moonbeams, and ride horses, they should realize that such fairy tales are meant for fairies alone.  In the real world, things happen differently.  There may be a happy ending yet, but it may not come in the expected time or way.  This should not stop them from being the lead star in their respective lives.  

I have more to say on this subject, but I just might write a book about it.  With tenderness, and not bitterness, I hope.

We all like to wait for the prince, but we were meant to see the King.  A huge paradigm shift is needed for that to be the focus of our lives.  May we not miss out on the opportunity for that to happen to us.  

Monday, September 15, 2008

Benefits of Eating Chocolate

Sometimes we like to justify the things we do or think of doing.

Chocolate triggers my migraine so doctors have told me to take it in moderation, if at all.  My gym trainer of course prohibits my eating of chocolate.  I asked if I could eat on Sundays and she just smiled.  Well she doesn't have to know, right?

In defense of one of the two drugs I can't live without (coffee is the other one),  I did a little research on the healthful benefits of chocolate and found several helpful articles. I'm quoting USA Weekend Magazine:

Source of good antioxidants

Chocolate contains the same type of disease-fighting "phenolic" chemicals as red wine and fruits and vegetables, says Andrew Waterhouse of the University of California at Davis.

He found 205 milligrams of phenolics in a 1.5 ounce chocolate bar -- that's about the same as in a 5-ounce glass of cabernet. Two tablespoons of cocoa powder has 145mg of phenolics. Dark chocolate has the most; white chocolate has none.

These antioxidant phenolics combat cell damage leading to chronic disease such as cancer and heart disease. New Japanese tests show that phenolics extracted from chocolate suppressed cell-damaging chemicals and boosted immune functioning in human blood samples.

Boosts brain chemicals 
More Americans crave chocolate than any other food. Some explanations: chocolate's "melt-in-the mouth" consistency and mood-lifting chemicals such as caffeine and theobromine. And when mixed with sugar and fat, chocolate appears to boost "feel-good" chemicals in the brain (endorphins and serotonin), thus promoting euphoria and calm. Some women use chocolate candy to "self-medicate" for premenstrual syndrome, studies have found.

Also, researchers at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego recently found that chocolate contains anandamide, a chemical that mimics marijuana's soothing effects on the brain.

Helps lactose intolerance 
Chocolate makes milk easier to digest if you are lactose-intolerant. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island found that adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of cocoa to 1 cup of milk blocked cramping, bloating and other signs of lactose intolerance in half of 35 subjects. Cocoa stimulates lactase enzyme activity, they found.


  • Chocolate, notably dark chocolate, is one of the few foods with a high content of chromium, ironically thought to help control blood sugar.

  • In tests, some animals tend to reduce intake of alcohol when given a chocolate drink as an option.

  • Tests show chocolate contains antibacterial compounds that may discourage, not promote, tooth decay.


    Doesn't raise cholesterol 
    Surprisingly, the fat in chocolate (cocoa butter) does not raise cholesterol -- at least in men with normal cholesterol (under 200). When the men went on a month-long binge of cocoa butter or pure chocolate (equivalent to seven chocolate bars a day) their cholesterol did not rise. But it soared 18 points when they pigged out on butter.

    Doesn't cause acne 
    Giving up chocolate won't cure acne or pimples, according to a famous test at the University of Pennsylvania. In the test, 65 acne-plagued adolescents ate the amount of chocolate in 1 pound of bittersweet chocolate a day for a month. For another month, they ate a dummy chocolate bar. Their acne was no worse on the real chocolate than on the fake chocolate.

    Doesn't cause most headaches 
    Contrary to popular belief, chocolate is not a common trigger of headaches, says Dawn Marcus, of the University of Pittsburgh. In recent tightly controlled tests, she gave disguised chocolate (similar to a commercial candy bar) and carob (fake chocolate) to 63 women plagued by tension headaches, migraines or both. Half did not develop headaches within 12 hours of eating either. In the others, carob was just as apt to cause a headache as the chocolate.

    No link to hyperactivity 
    Some contend that eating chocolate (or sugar) causes hyperactivity, aggression or other behavior problems, notably in children. But several scientific studies have found no evidence of that. In fact, some research finds sweets calm many children.


    Chocolate's greatest crime is that it usually is combined with animal fats, dangerous trans-fats and sugar in high-calorie, bad-fat baked goods. Plus, it:

    Can cause heartburn 
    Chocolate is a common culprit in heartburn, according to tests by Donald O. Castell, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania. The reason: Chocolate contains concentrations of theobromine, which relaxes the esophageal sphincter muscle, letting stomach acid squirt up into the esophagus. If you suffer from heartburn, he advises, go easy on chocolate.

    Does contain caffeine 
    Most people have no negative reaction to small amounts of caffeine.

    I could justify all I want but if I get a migraine and waste my hours at the gym, it's my fault anyway.  For the taste of it, I may sometimes give in and happily suffer and endure the consequences.

  • Friday, September 5, 2008

    Reading List

    Because we all need to de-stress... As you can see I overuse the word "favorite".

    1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
    2) Italicize those you intend to read.
    3) Underline the books you LOVE.
    4) Reprint this list in your own multiply so we can try and track down these people who've read 6 and force books upon them ;)

    1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
    2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
    3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
    4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
    5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
    6 The Bible
    7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
    8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
    9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
    10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
    11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
    12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
    13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
    14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
    15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
    16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
    17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
    18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
    19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
    20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
    21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
    22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
    23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
    24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
    25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
    26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
    27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
    29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
    30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
    31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
    32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
    33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
    34 Emma - Jane Austen
    35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
    36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
    37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
    38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
    39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
    40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
    41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
    42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
    43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
    45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
    46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
    47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
    48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
    49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
    50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
    51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
    52 Dune - Frank Herbert
    53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
    54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
    55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
    56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
    58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
    59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
    60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
    62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
    63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
    64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
    65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
    66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
    67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
    68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
    69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
    70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
    71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
    72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
    73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
    74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
    75 Ulysses - James Joyce
    76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
    77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
    78 Germinal - Emile Zola
    79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
    80 Possession - AS Byatt
    81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
    82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
    83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
    84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
    85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
    86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
    87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
    88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
    89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
    91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
    92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
    93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
    94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
    95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
    96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
    97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
    98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
    99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008

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    Friday, August 29, 2008

    On Being Alone

    Yes!  I'm finally doing it.  I'm writing about this.  I'm an ordinary, stereotypical single woman in her 30's, not caring what people would think or say about me after reading this and writing some thoughts which I have been entertaining about this topic.

    I guess you could say my eyes are slowly being re-opened and I'm finding I have to claim my life or I would just waste it, noble intentions notwithstanding.  

    There are so many horror stories I refused to write about before, of insults, jokes, and demands made of me just because I was the Last Single Person on Earth.  The witty retorts that popped in my head every single time I was teased or pitied for being unmarried, I have managed to put under lock and key.  But I did reserve the nastiest unsaid replies for the harshest comments I had received.  

    People could be so cruel.  So I'm the last of five children to be married, although I'm not the youngest.  So I still live with my parents.  So most of my friends are married.  So I am the perennial godmother of their children.  So I am always asked to serve and work and give and wait, because I'm unattached and available (to serve and work and give and wait).

    Oh, the insinuations that I'm a horrible, unlovable person, are unbelievable.  As a brother, who is single for the Lord, said, for single people the question at the back of everyone's mind is, "What's wrong with you?"  

    Why were you not chosen?
    Why were you left behind?
    Who will take care of you when you grow old (as if this is the purpose of marriage)?

    And so I ask why I'm being accused, are all married people happy?  It is not the state of life per se that makes us happy, but the state of our hearts as we live out our vocation.  Please give single people a break.  God loves us as much as you married ones.   

    And these are my favorites.  I call them the Insulting Compliments.

    "You're too intimidating.  You hurt the Filipino male's pride by your intelligence, your success, and your passion."

    And I'm supposed to say thank you for pointing these things out.  Yes!  How happy I am for being called these names.  And how hard I've tried to tone down my dreams, lessen my service, hide my talents, and quiet my passions.  Now I know better.  God created me this way.  I should celebrate who I am and not let other people dictate how I should live my life.  I guess I haven't found my match yet.  I guess I could die single.  There are worse things in this world.  What matters is how I lived my life as a single person!  I want to be true to who I am.  

    "You're too choosy.  You should settle for someone who is not ideal and not perfect.  After all, you are not ideal.  Neither are you perfect."

    And so is my mascara, and that's why I never wear mascara, since I cannot afford the truly waterproof, volumizing, non-smearing brand.  I mean, since I have combination skin, mascaras that pretend to be waterproof just smear away with ugly black streaks that make me look like a raccoon on a hot summer day.  Without the perfect mascara in my makeup bag, I'd rather not wear any.  The cheap brands don't work.  Someday maybe I could afford to buy the mascara that was made for my eyes and skin type.  But for now, my life is complete even without it.

    I guess people like to poke at others' weaknesses, in an attempt to help them out of their misery.  I welcome the prayers from people who say they want to see me happily married.  I welcome the friendship of those who love me for who I am now and are not nagging me to wear revealing clothes to attract men.  

    Some of my happiest moments are driving alone on an empty road listening to my favorite music.  Or dining alone in a fancy restaurant where I could eat in peace.  Or reading a book in the middle of a stormy night.  Or serving macaroni soup to hundreds of youth.  Or going to the market with my parents.  Or having coffee with friends.  Or writing in this blog.

    Life is beautiful, and not all are called to the same purpose.  Let me discover mine, and enjoy the journey.  I just want to put it in writing, if I stay with my last name till the end of my days, I would not have lived in vain.  I'm more concerned whether I'm going to heaven after this earth.  If I'm going to meet Jesus face to face.  If I will join the saints in worship eternally.  For in heaven, we shall all be single.  And we won't be asked why.  The angels will rejoice with us.  And Love will be all around us.

    And if I am single, it doesn't mean I'm alone.  For God is with me.  I'd rather have bad, stormy, painful, challenging days with God, than good times with someone else who doesn't know Him.
    There were moments when I was weak and I almost gave in.  I almost settled.  I almost made the biggest mistake of my life.  I am glad that I was shaken out of that temporary insanity.

    It is my hope that there will be more kindness in this world, and that people will think twice before commenting on other people's civil status. Sometimes I get the joke and laugh at my own expense.  

    Other times, I just prefer to Be alone.  For that is what I am now.