3 of 31: Plug Out

I had a lot of firsts last week. One was my first time to travel in long hours without an earphone plugged in.

photo source: kulturistra.hr

My family loves music. I used to wake up each morning with my father's cassette tapes being played. I grew up listening to Pinoy novelty songs and there were the classic oldies sang by Engelbert Humperdinck, Matt Monroe, The Platters, The Carpenters, Abba and more artists to mention.

We also love karaoke. From minus-one cassette tapes to Magic Sing, from a solo karaoke practice to birthday parties and from being young to getting old. In fact, one of the precious memories I had with my late father was the time he was karaoke singing and he’s having a hard time to read the lyrics on screen but still he continued to sing his heart out. He was recovering from mild stroke back then and his having crossed-eyes. Talk about his passion on singing!

Our family is used to play music while doing random activities. Well I could not even stand reviewing for my exam and finishing my plates without background music.

I got my first cassette player when I graduated elementary. It’s my brother-in-law’s and he gave it to me because I got an award. Also, my other sister usually bought me blank cassette tapes for me to have my own mix tapes. I remember the first albums I bought with my own money (from Christmas Aguinaldos actually), it was Madonna’s Ray of Light, The Corrs’ Talk on Corners and then there’s Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time in cassette tapes too.  And while in college, I received a Sony CD player as a gift and then I started to buy several CDs until I was able to buy my own MP3 player with 128MB memory ;) Oooh those were the early days! And we were allowed to listen to music during our drawing and painting classes.

So an earphone/headset plugged in my ears while I travel and do something is a necessity until today. I can hardly work without my favorite music. I grew up listening to AM stations for my father liked to be updated about the news. While I usually listen to 702 DZAS, a Christian AM radio station and at the Edge Philippines via Positively Pinoy online. I seldom listen to FM radio but I learn about the latest hits through Youtube or music charts. We know that music can help us in so many ways such as to help us focus, imagine, feel the moment, uplift, be happy or sad or just let time pass by.

My headphones are like my own personal "Do Not Disturb" sign.  ~Anon.

But since my HTC One+ phone got stolen, my ears can now rest every time I travel. Lately, I was able to get through my backlog of books to read, finish and review. But of course, there were times I felt so irritated when I can’t have my own music while commuting and there’s an awful music played inside the vehicle. Errr…

But congratulations to me for surviving a no-earphone/no-own-music of six and a half hour trip to Lucban, Quezon province to experience Pahiyas festival and visit my mother. And another six and a half hour going back to Manila the day after. I slept a lot during the travel though hahaha and also read a book from time to time. But what made me glad was I had some moments to reflect about what I’ve just read then to daydream to appreciate the view to observe people to watch Manny Pacquiao’s documentary played in the bus and to pray and count the blessings from the good Lord. I can’t believe that I could have a quiet time such that inside the bus.

The quieter you become, the more you can hear. ~Anon.

I was reading Connected Ka Ba? How to Pray Kahit Lo-Batt Ka Na? book by Rei Lemuel Crizaldo when I felt that the Lord was talking to me through it. Perhaps that was the only time I was actually vacant to have a conversation with Him, finally. I could feel His presence while I was thinking about how blessed I am to have wonderful loving and hard working parents. He made me remember that I took advantage of so many things and people in my life. I forgot that life is actually short and there’s no room for ungratefulness. It’s just by His grace that I am still breathing and living by my own will at times.

Prayer is when you realize and take God as your environment. He is always there, always speaking. It is a matter of paying attention. ~Dr. Melba Maggay

And so today, I just shared a plugged out moment of mine. I'm not promoting a headphone-less generation here for I do love to hear music most of the time too but we also know when it's already replacing our priorities. We neglect living in authenticity. There are tons of things that steal our focus and our time, not just with our "own do not disturb sign item" But we can still do something about it, start by plugging out. Engage on what and who matter most in our lives. 

Sometimes, do yourself a favor. Plug out!


P.S.

What I wrote above, consists of 800+ words, is part of My 500 Words Daily Writing Challenge by Jeff Goins

2 of 31: That Dot

One thing about me that I'm delighted to share with you dear readers is how I always feel joyful whenever I see the first shining star every sundown. Is it Venus? You know as much as I'm always falling in love with beautiful sunsets is also how my heart happily skips a beat to see a star as a tiny dot on an indigo sky. It's like waiting for your crush to come around and give you a bright smile... sweet moment indeed!

Sometimes a small dot can make or break anything. We can either frown if there is a black dot on a flawless paper with your art on it or grin because we can always create a new idea or maybe just ignore that tiny thing and let the dot stay as a memory of imperfection. Just like a wall that is newly built but someone had noticed that there's a small hole somewhere, not knowing that the small hole can actually bring a person peeking through it to discover such beautiful paradise, an inner spontaneous escape it could be. Maybe there is a man from the outside who is now finally able to gain new friends from the other side, aspiring community growth perhaps.

And that small dot is like the .01 which was an extra in my general average way back in college that caused me not to graduate as cum laude, totally heartbreaking. I thought that these little digits were stealing an exciting future from me. I knew I worked harder but I failed to reach the required grade. I felt worse and worse as days passed by and scratched my confidence until bitterness poisoned my young heart. I looked down in myself a lot and this became a (old) habit in fact. But thanks to God for His wonderful grace that I'm still breathing and writing up to this moment. He pulled me up while I was drowning in my own darkness. His promises that were made known to me and my people's kind words slowly comforted me and removed the hatred to myself. My ambitious self saw a small light at the end of the tunnel at last. I became free.


Even a drop of clean water is very important to the people in Africa. We know that they seldom drink water because of unavailability and they treasure much whatever they have now. It’s a small drop yet it extends one’s life. That small dot of any feeling can always grow inside of us. So let’s be careful to take care of our own emotions. Make sure not to raise daughters of anger, hate, envy and pride for this will result to an unhealthy you.

A phone call made in a tiny second before a deadline to save someone’s death at hand is a miracle granted. And to share even the smallest time to somebody who needs us is as precious as waiting for their own wishing star. We live a short life but we can live it fully and faithfully. Our days in this world are just a small dot to our Creator’s timeline.

That dot, we should not just ignore it because it might be the only thing we need right now, as significant as what we are looking for so long and seen as big by others.

That dot. I am a dot. You are a dot. And we are not too small to get noticed... just like the first shining star every sundown.

P.S.
What I wrote above, consists of 583 words, is part of My 500 Words Daily Writing Challenge by Jeff Goins. And yehey, I'm on my second day... 29 more to go!

1 of 31: To Keep Writing


The challenge: 500 words a day… alright! Let’s get started!

The Word warns to be careful of what we think about because our thoughts run our lives.1 Hence, I should keep in mind that whatever I write and post online should not just to raise the number of visitors of my blog but to make a change in someone’s life, my reader, even with my short random ideas. To practice being a responsible writer is actually tough and so writing with a purpose too. That’s why my character, my habits, my interests and my goals in life should also be aligned to what I want to share to the world.


And so I took this 500 words for 31 days challenge by author Jeff Goins.2 I’m always inspired not just by his articles on writing but also on self-improvement. I believe that the deepest meaning of your writings that the readers understand is what you also have in the innermost of your being. I learned about him some time ago through Tyler Ward of Noisetraide Books while Kuya Mighty Rasing, the author of May Powers Ka To Be #SuperEpic (checkout my book review here), also recommended Goins, in our recent writing workshop, for inspiration and reference.

Writing is a lifestyle, passion, hobby, habit, commitment, breather and a friend to some people.

I remember I started BetterCurly as a very personal blog to develop a habit of posting something for 21 days initially. My goal then was to release my strangling thoughts from my crowded mind through typing words and putting photos. This helped me become and feel better through the journey: it was a strong commitment to myself. From then on, I continued writing because I enjoyed it and post some photos with until some reader from everywhere sent me some encouraging messages and page visits became more often.  I also gained friends through blogging and I’m really thankful for that. I also treasure my blog posts about my spiritual journey because like my journal – I can always go back to what God had done for me and hold on to His promises.

But even before I created this blog, writing was already close to my heart as much as I love drawing. I wrote essays, stories, and poems since I was little; maybe because I also love to read variety of books, comics and newspapers. I travel with my ideas. I daydream a lot. I doodle most of the time. I always take down notes. And feel happy writing and reading love letters.

It’s also amazing that people never stop writing. More and more books are published every day and I dream to write my own book some day. Last December, one of the Pastors I look up to who is also a Professor was so glad to know that I blog and he asked me what I usually write about and before he ended the conversation – he told me that he believes that it’s very possible that I’ll get to publish my own book so I should continue what I’m doing. I will never forget that overwhelming moment.

And so here I am again, taking up a challenge and hoping I’ll be successful again in developing another writing habit. As Ma’am Grace D. Chong once wrote, “keep writing till it hurts to stop”.3

“Keep writing till it hurts to stop."

Okay, tomorrow’s another day and another blog post! Maybe you're also interested to pursue writing - My 500 Words challenge can also be helpful to motivate you so let's go, let's try and let's write.


Proverbs 4:23 NCV

POEMATIC 05.09.15 Kasama Naman Kita

Papunta sana ako sa aking pinaka-unang Bible Study sa mga kabataan namin sa San Mateo nang naisipan kong dumaaan muna sa Supermarket upang mamili ng pang-merienda namin. At nang bago ako lumabas ay biglang may humawak sa aking balikat, paglingon ko ay ang aking kaibigang si Joy pala! Ngayon lang ulit kami nagkita matapos ang halos isang taon. Alam kong may pinagdadaanan siya ngayon at sandali kami'y nagkumustuhan. Kaya't labis akong na-encourage na kahit mahirap intindihin ang mga nangyayari sa buhay niya ngayon ay lalo pa rin siyang naniniwala na may ginagawa ang Diyos sa panahong ito. Isa siya sa mga inspirasyon ko pagdating sa spiritual life, sa kanyang faith. Marami na syang "amazing life testimonies" tungkol sa kabutihan ng Diyos. Nagpaalam na rin kami agad sa isa't isa at ako'y nagsimula nang mag-abang ng masasakyan pero lumipas ang mga minuto at wala pa rin akong masakyan hanggang sa abutan ako ng pag-ulan sa kalsada.

Hintay pa din baka sakaling may dumating na jeep/fx patungong San Mateo pero puno lahat at mas nababasa na rin ako ng ulan kaya nagpasya ako sumilong sa katapat na saradong warehouse. Lalong nagalit ang langit, kumulog, kumidlat at bumuhos pa ang mas malakas na ulan. Naalala ko tuloy yung finale performance ni Gerphil Flores sa Asia's Got Talent, "she reached the extremely higher than the higher notes" ng Impossible Dream song. Wow!


Ala-syete na nang mas tumindi pa ang buhos ng ulan,  sumabay ang malakas na hangin at nag-brownout. Kadiliman ang bumalot sa paligid parang sa Genesis 1:2 lang. Kapag may dumaang sasakyan lang muling nagkakaroon ng liwanag. Kinausap ko pa si Lord, sabi ko pa "Lord, kung di mo kaloobang magsimula ako ngayon, e wala po talaga akong masasakyan at hindi basta-basta titila ang ulan". Mayroon na rin kasing dumating na tricycle driver dala ang sasakyan nya upang sumilong din. Mas tumatagal ang pagdilim sa pagdalang nang dumadaang sasakyan.  Ayos pa ako hanggang sa onti na akong kinakalabit ng takot, nagtext na ako sa kapatid ko para sabihing stranded na ako. Mga kinse minuto pa ang  lumipas at nagpasya ang lalaki na sumugod na lang sa buhos ng ulan. Nanatili pa rin ako sa pwesto ko, patuloy akong nag-pray for protection and peace para sa akin at sa mga sinasalanta ng bagyong Dodong sa oras na iyon at hanggang sa mag-alas otso na ng gabi ay kumalma din ang kalangitan. 

Umalis na ako sa kinasisilungan ko at nagsimulang lumakad sa kadiliman at nakahanap ako ng tricycle na masasakyan pabalik sa aming tahanan. Ukulele + kape + walang kuryente = not so bad. Sinubukan ko rin magbuklat ng librong "Connected ka ba?" ni Rei Lemuel Crizaldo, kaso masyado madilim at masakit sa mata magbasa sa liwanag ng kandila. Nagligpit-ligpit na lang din ako sa kwarto. Tumagal ang brownout hanggang bago mag-alas onse nang gabi. At sa wakas, may kuryente na! "Yeheeeey!" sigaw ng aming mga kapitbahay sa tuwa.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:3)

At matapos ang lahat ng ito ay isang tula ang muling nabuo. Salamat sa Diyos dahil napaalala Niya sa akin ang story na Jesus calms the storm sa Mark 4:35-41

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. (Mark 4:39)

Sa kadiliman at kalakasan man ng ulan
Hindi maitatangging kasama pa rin Kita
Naaalala ko ang mga nakasulat sa Biblia
Pati malakas na hangin ay Iyong kayang utusan

Nag-iisa ako ngunit wala akong takot na nadarama
May kapayapaan sa aking pananampalataya
At sa bawat minuto ako ay puno ng panalangin
Maipagpatuloy ko nawa ang aking lakbayin

Katulad ng alon ng pagsubok sa aking buhay
Tumataas ang tubig at maaari rin akong matangay
Ngunit sa bangka ng pag-ibig ako ay hindi mapipinsala
Lubos na makapangyarihan pa rin ang aking Bathala

:)

Ingat po tayo mga kababayan! Alam kong waterproof ang Filipino spirit, lalo na kung yan ay ang Holy Spirit! God bless!

Poematic 04.03.15 Sa Ibabaw ng Tubig

photo: Bruce Almighty movie
Sa ibabaw ng tubig niyaya Mo ako lumakad
Ngunit ang kalooban ko ay puno ng pangamba
Sa malakas na alon ako ay napatumba
Napagod akong tumuloy at piniling magkasala

Ngunit kahit sa ibabaw ng lupa kasama pa din Kita
Kailanman ay hindi mo ako pinabayaan
kinalimutan na Kita, Inagaw na ako ng sanlibutan
At halos mapunta na ako sa aking hangganan

Sa apoy ng pagmamahal Mo ako ay laging napapaso
Ngunit imbis na ako ang masugatan ay dugo mo ang dumadaloy
Sa bawat kawalan ko ng pag-asa na kaya ko pang magbago
Paulit ulit ko namang naririnig na mahal Mo ako

Muli akong sumubok maglakad sa ibabaw ng tubig,
Naririnig ko ang sigaw ng pagtawag Mo sa akin
At hinarap ko na ang malakas na ihip ng hangin
Hindi ako tumumba sapagkat ako ay nanalangin

Nagtagumpay ako at sa Iyo ay nakalapit
buhay ko ay Hiniling kong Iyo sanang dugtungan
Sa Iyong puso akala ko ay maraming malalim na sugat
Ngunit ang sabi mo iyon ay wala na dahil Ikaw ay nagpatawad


Isang tulang naisulat ko noong nakaraang Good Friday, April 3, 2015 habang ako ay nasa labas ng prayer room sa Touch of Glory Antipolo. Inspired by the 700 Club Asia's Special Holy week Tanikala movie na "Sa Isang Iglap" na ginanapan ni Glaiza de Castro base sa tunay na buhay ni Abegail Mesa. Isang babaeng anak ng mga misyonaryo ngunit napariwara dahil sa naipong galit sa mga taong tingin nya'y umabuso at gumamit lamang sa pagmamahal ng kanyang tatay sa paglilingkod sa Panginoon. Kung pagkakasala niya ang bibilangin e talagang bi-bingo na siya pero marunong siyang humingi ng patawad sa Panginoon tuwing siya'y nagkakamali. Ngunit sa dami nang nangyari sa buhay niya ay umabot na din siya sa kapagurang mabuhay pero may maganda pa ring plano ang Diyos sa kanya kaya noong panahong akala niya'y katapusan niya na ay doon siya binigyan ulit ng bagong buhay at bagong pag-asa. Matindi ang ginawang restoration ni Jesus sa buhay niya; na akala mo'y imposible na ay naiayos pa rin Niya. At muli siyang ginamit at patuloy na ginagamit ng Diyos para maging isang living testimony ng kapangyarihan Niya. Sa kasalukuyan, si Abegail ay isang OJT Pastor ng Church of God-Imus at Inspirational and Motivational Speaker din.

Glaiza de Castro with Peter Kairuz and Abegail Mesa
photo source: the 700 Club Asia


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