Friday, April 24, 2009

I did this blog while in Mambukal Resort but could not post it immediately because there was no internet signal there. So here is the belated posting.

April 15, 2009

Thank God for the beauty of nature that surrounds me. Thank God for dear friends and relatives, and the new technology that connects me with them even when I am far away. Thank God for the passion He has given me towards my apostolate with youth. Thank God for His words which opened my heart during the past Lenten season. Thank God! You have indeed provided me with armour to defend me against the onslaught of sadness that could have devastated me again. Thank God I have overcome it.
It is my birthday today. In the morning when I woke up, I had hoped that my husband would give the first greeting for the day. But nothing came or so I thought. At breakfast, my teammates gave me their well wishes and that was the time he gave me a kiss and greeted me. Did he forget? I carried this resentment until the afternoon when there was a heavy downpour and we were all drenched to the skin (our team building activities go on rain or shine). I felt the heavens were with me in my sorrow. After the activities, we went to a local improvised drinking hole to celebrate and warm us. Again thank God for giving me the courage to confront my husband, while walking along the way, about his forgetfulness. Well, he insisted that he wished me happy birthday as I woke up but claimed that I ignored him. I would like to believe him even if human reason tells me otherwise. And so I am pushing aside doubts and give him my trust.
I pray to God to strengthen this fragile trust. I pray for total and complete healing. I pray for my husband, as well, that we both grow stronger in love and that he would help me heal by being healed himself. May we be taken away from any more temptations. May God give us hearts that can truly listen and understand, tongues that can utter the words that the loving heart would like to convey, hands that would soothe and arms that will hug to drive the left-over pain away.

April 14, 2009

This is the second time this year that I have had the privilege of working with the youth. Last time was with the Ayala Young Leaders Foundation and, this time, with the Filipino-Chinese Catholic Youth headed by Fr. Peterson Tieng,LRMS. The convention site is at Mambukal, Resort, Bgy. Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental, which lies 1200 feet above sea level. It is located at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon where the youth will get the chance to go trekking upwards towards its seven falls, the last of which is more than 1000 feet above the resort (or more than 2000 feet above sea level). My team and I went there this morning to check out the place, set up our activities and take note of danger areas. I can say that the trek was both a treat for the eyes and the spirit although physically exhausting. Since Kanlaon is a forest reserve, the almost three hours journey, including rest periods and time spent for picture taking, was a witnessing of the forest’s various life forms - from crawling vines , to flowering plants to towering trees – and of the transformation of the falls into rivers, brooks and springs (and vice-versa). Walking amid small and large rock formations and thick vegetations, and along river banks, I cannot but reflect on God’s great generosity by gifting us with these wonderful creations. We are but nothing amid this magnificence yet God has allowed us to be its master. What have we, as people, done in return? Within the forest, we passed by Kaingins which literally devastated large portions of the forest. Thank God for concerned citizens who lobbied and help make Kanlaon a forest reserve thus stopping the further prostitution of this beautiful place. Thank God too for proactive individuals who pick up trash left by soulless tourists even without prodding from anyone.
The resort itself is a configuration of cottages, dorm type lodging houses, big and large swimming pools, dipping pools and medicinal (sulphur ) pools, a butterfly garden, bat watching area, camping sites, and an adventure sports area. Since it is at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon, an active volcano, we can see here and there boiling mud that had to be enclosed to keep guests out of danger. The accommodations are simple (no heater! no television! no internet signal!) but comfortable. The sumptuous meals are provided by the FCCY sponsors so I cannot tell whether the meals served by the resort are as good as the ones we are having. The restaurants (turo-turo style) within the resort though serve very good inasal na manok, sandwiches and a unique concoction of halo-halo (made of fresh melon, mango, avocado , gelatine and tapioca). Once I ordered the halo-halo and bacon/egg sandwich while my husband ordered a large glass of melon shake. I was surprised at the large serving of the sandwich with chips on the side at that. The shake was a disappointment, but the rest was yummy and for the three orders I only paid P150.00! One sorry note: because the resort is being managed by the local government, one can just imagine the poor maintenance of the older cottages. Luckily, we are housed in one of the better ones and so I am not complaining.
I said earlier that I feel privileged to be working with the youth. With their young minds and great enthusiasm, they bring forward a strong message that there is hope in this country. I feel privileged because I am given the chance to work with future leaders who give me a vision of a better tomorrow. In the convention of the Ayala Youth Leaders Foundation last March, focus was in servant leadership. Today, in the FCCY convention, focus is “Witnessing the Word to the World”. Coming from 25 provinces , some 340 youths ,young adults and more mature coordinators, gather and submit themselves to the ministration of their spiritual elders, desiring to learn how to become true witnesses of the Word to the world , how to become leaders in society and the Church, and preparing for the responsibilities that come with leadership. Celebrating the year of St. Paul, these delegates reflect on the life of the saint (journeying with St. Paul is the theme of the trekking activity) and his kind of leadership. St. Paul, by his fanatic defence of the written law, became a sinner. Until his personal encounter with God, he was a persecutor of Christians. But once touched by God, he became a true defender of the faith. I believe that these FCCY youths have already been touched by God. And so now, they want to learn how to be true defenders of the church, they want to know how to harness their individual gifts and charisms to make this world truly a world of God, to make the word of God not only heard and celebrated but a guiding light towards a fervent commitment to serve the society and the church. I am glad I am part of them.
Today, I am really blessed.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April 12, 2009

“One must empty himself in order to receive the grace of God.” This message had been repeated in various forms , in different words during the Lenten season. It is a very strong message, a very important one that even Christ himself had to show His followers it must be done. As a person, Christ showed us that it can be done. This total emptying of oneself – in Jesus’ case, the perfect humility expressed in the absolute obedience to God’s will even to the point of death on the cross –is the only way by which God’s blessings can flow. Abraham received God’s blessings when he proved his unwavering faith in God. He did not question God when he was asked to sacrifice his only beloved son Isaac. Yes, as Bishop Tagle said in the recollection at SM Megatrade last Holy Wednesday, the grace of God cannot enter our lives if we are so full of ourselves, full of pride, full of worries and anxieties or self pity. God is telling us through the bible that dwelling on our worldly problems will not help. We should only focus on what is essential. He said “ Oh, come to the water all who are thirsty; though you have no money, come! Buy corn without money and eat and, at no cost, wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy? (Is 55)” But we, having inherited the sin of Adam, want more and in wanting more we begin to see ourselves only in relation to what the others have, materially or otherwise. In our self absorption, we fail to recognize that we are but a small part of God’s greater scheme. Why did God command “Love your neighbour as yourself?” In loving, we invoke love in return. In loving, we lose ourselves leaving room for all the goodness of the universe. So why do we focus only on what money can buy? God created the world full of goodness. When He created the world He saw that “everything was good (Gen 1). “ Everything is ours for the asking. It is easy if we put ourselves into it because we are the inheritors of the earth, God’s royal heir. But the devil has corrupted us. We sin. We lose God’s beautiful plan. We lose the gifts that come with the plan. Yet God is faithful to His covenant. Despite our sinfulness and for the sake of His holy name , He said “I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleanse; I shall cleanse you of all your defilement and all your idols. I shall give you a new heart, and out a new spirit in you. I shall remove the heart of stone in your body and give you a heart of flesh instead. I shall put my spirit in you and make you keep my laws and sincerely respect my observances. You will live in the land which I gave you ancestors. You will be my people and I will be your God. I shall rescue you from all your defilement. I shall summon the corn and make it plentiful, and no more bring famines on you. I shall increase the yields of the fruit trees and fields so you will no longer have the ignominy of famine among nations. (Ez 36) He sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to accomplish this promise and Christ, ever faithful and obedient, took unto Himself all our sins. Let God take over our lives then. Let us lift everything to God and remove the pride that misleads us into believing that we can be in control. Let us empty ourselves and allow the goodness of God and His creations to engulf us. Christ, as he took the human form and dying on the cross, proves that it can be done.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

I have decided to post all my blogs in this site so I can easily manage them. This one was created last September 2008 and was posted in another site.

Everything is not what it usually seems - a happy face that hides the gloom within, an exuberant pose masking defeat, the serene waters camouflaging tumult underneath, the ravaging storm disguising nature's loving hand, the whip of wind heralding God's life-giving breath - that living should always be a journey to discovery and understanding. We have lived our life to the fullest when we find ourselves , at the end of the journey, in happy communion with all creation and God who is the source of all.
April 7, 2009

I just came from a recollection sponsored by our Parish Church and the speaker was a very young apologist, Caloy Palad. He is 26 years old and single, but his topic was about the Filipino Catholic family, marriage, and the recent congressional moves about contraception and population control. I wondered about his qualification, he being young and single , but he spoke well. He was well informed ( he would not be an apologist if he were not) and was able to answer questions thrown by the audience convincingly and with much authority. Having attended and conducted similar talks before, however, I was almost tempted to dismiss this one as just “one of those talks” which would not offer anything new. Indeed, most of the information I heard I had heard many times before but there was one topic which, for me, made the night truly a night for recollection and reflection. He said ‘ women are meant to become mothers.’ He then offered a lot of explanations and sited Papal letters/encyclicals to support this position, even covered those who enter into single blessedness and sisterhood.

Women are meant to become mothers...... I remember at Grade four when our teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grow up. I wanted to answer “to be a renowned doctor” because in my mind I really wanted to be one. But when I stood in front of the class, I was impelled to say “to become a good mother.” What made me do that? I almost died of shame when I heard my classmates laugh. And so that episode in my life stuck in my memory like glue. In retrospect, I can offer a lot of explanations for that unexpected answer. But what is important now is the affirmation that being a good mother is as good as being a well known surgeon, or a successful business man, or a fantastic career person. I am meant to be a mother and it is my primordial duty to become a good one. Am I a good mother? I have raised my children to be good children – they know their responsibilities, they are respectful of their elders, they have ambition, they are well mannered. I can enumerate countless qualities of my children which can tell me that I have been a good mother. In the end, though, the only measure I need to satisfy is if I have led my children towards God. I sincerely hope that I do.