Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Biggest Newsmakers in 2013

Happy New Year everyone! It's early dawn of 2014 in the Far East now, blasting of firecrackers are everywhere kinda scary!

As the dawn of another year breaks, a new wave of excitement and hope for a better life in the world surfaces. Despite the tragedies, calamities, chaos, scandals and political and economic tension that the global community had experienced in 2013, still there are plenty of reasons to be thankful for. Life itself is a gift and it should be cherished. Let's be thankful that we are alive and able to witness the grand entrance of 2014. God is so good and never abandoned His people. We only need to strengthen our faith in Him to see goodness and beauty in the environment.

The year 2013 was by far one of the challenging periods the world gone through as far as peace and order is concerned, but not all events in the last year were marked with tension and conflicts, there were few news also that gave us inspiration and hope. News that came out last year ranged from wars, natural disasters, global crisis, political tension, technological innovations, scandals, controversies and of course election of the new head of the Catholic church.

Here are the top newsmakers of 2013 that caught global attention:

POPE FRANCIS

The first non-European to become the Vicar of Christ and successor to the throne of St. Peter in over 1,000 years, Pope Francis brought a new light of inspiration to the dark side of the universal church which had been marred with controversies from all aspects. The Pope easily won admiration from many people, believers and non believers alike, with his deep humility, humble life and simplicity. His commitment to maintain a poor church and his renouncement to luxury and grandeur lifestyle traditionally associated with the Roman Pontiffs earned him respect and across the globe. His unique compassion to the poor, effort to reform the Roman Curia and pledge to address the scandals and issues within the Roman Catholic church won him the accolade Person of the Year for 2013 of TIME magazine.

BENEDICT XVI, Pope Emeritus

A scholarly, conservative pope who had been the Catholic church's top Theologian for the past three decades, shocked the world in the beginning of the year when he announced his impending resignation, a surprise papal decision which had not been heard since the Middle Ages. The Pope cited his frail health as the mean reason of his resignation. The Pope's renouncement to the throne of St. Peter highlighted the legendary secrecy of Vatican City which never divulge sensitive information about the Catholic church to the media. The Pope Emeritus, who still officially wearing a white cassock traditionally worn by Popes, is presently living in the former convent of Mater Ecclesiae within the Vatican wall. 
The two popes greeting each other on Christmas day

Just before the year ends, the world saw an event which never happened before and thought to be impossible until recently, the meeting of the two popes. After his election in March, Pope Francis visited Benedict in his former home, in Castel Gandolfo. They met again last Christmas when the reigning Pope made another visit to Benedict and recently (December 27) when Pope Francis invited the Pope Emeritus to share lunch with him at the papal apartment in Domus Sanctae Marthae.

EDWARD SNOWDEN

The most celebrated whistleblower in 2013. Snowden is a 30-year-old American computer specialist who made headlines through out the world when he divulged sensitive information of the National Security Agency to the media. He worked for the Central Intelligence Agency therefore had access to the classified information of the agency. His disclosure threatened both the national security and information privacy and many people doubted how far can we protect our privacy in the world of advanced technology especially around the web. Snowden was charged of espionage and theft of government properties by the American authorities and considered a fugitive. He went to Russia to seek for an asylum. Many people considered him a hero but for the American government he is a traitor and a spy. It's up to the public how they would look Snowden. He is a runner-up to Pope Francis as Person of the Year of Time magazine.

NELSON MANDELA

The death of this great South African leader last December 5, 2013 revisited his long walk to freedom after leading the anti-apartheid movement in 1950s. Mandela earned a global status when he fought courageously against apartheid in his homeland. He served 27 years in prison. In 1994, four years after his release, he run and won for South African presidency and became the first black president in South Africa. He was globally admired for ending the apartheid regime in his country. His funeral in Johannesburg, South Africa, drew several world leaders including three American presidents. He won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

CHEMICAL ATTACK IN SYRIA

Who was not horrified with the news of a chemical attack in Syria last August that left thousands of Syrian dead? The graphic videos that made its way to the internet showed people gasping for air and bodies lined up in the ground were intensely gruesome that people from all walks of life condemned the Syrian government for its supposed involvement. The U.S made an ultimate warning of a military strike if the government won't dismantle its chemical weapons production facilities. Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, however agreed to destroy the production by 2014.

HAIYAN DEVASTATIONS

In what would have been the worst natural disaster to hit the Philippines in recent memory, Haiyan typhoon (Yolanda) left nearly 8,000 dead and several residents homeless. Millions of properties were destroyed in the Visayas region especially Eastern Samar and Leyte. Considered the strongest typhoon in the world, Haiyan spurred a storm surge in Leyte and Samar making the sea water rose to an alarming level and slammed at the coastal areas of these provinces. The devastating incident caught the attention of the public and the whole world and pulled together to help the victims recovered by sending donations and all forms of assistance.




The Highlights of my Year 2013

Today is the last day of 2013, last night to be more specific! Oh, time really flew so fast.

Right now, I am alone in the house. My sister went to Makati to spend New Year with some friends and since I am afraid of the explosion of firecrackers in the street I chose to stay here in Caloocan and officially, this is the first time in my life to welcome the New Year alone!!

While waiting for the midnight to strike and witness the grand entrance of the year 2014 in my room (laugh!!), hearing all those awful blasting of dangerous elements everywhere and contemplating how to pull enough courage tomorrow to wind off fears of explosion on my way to the church (tomorrow is so significant, not only New Year, but a solemnity of the Virgin Mary, first Wednesday of the year! An important day of obligation for all Roman Catholics), I made another trip down-memory-lane to look back at the most important events of my life in 2013. I just feel this is a good way to end the year with great anticipation. From now on, I want to bath myself with positive thoughts, positive affirmations to attract happiness, success and fulfillment.

According to consciouslifenews.com "Positive affirmations are just like mantras. They have sacred and spiritual forces in them. Our brains adopt thought patterns and direct our organs to act accordingly". 

My year just started so good. Finished my masters degree, made one foreign trip, visited a world-class island and boarded a plane seven times.

I went home on the 26th of December (2012) to celebrate New Year with my family in the province. I really enjoyed being at home because it felt like happiness is all over the place. I was able to visit my maternal grandmother too who, at 93, has still a very active memory, she instantly recognized me upon arrival. I went back to Davao on the 4th of January in  time for our scheduled Christmas recollection on the following day.

January 5, 2013. I joined my colleagues in Eden Nature Park for our Christmas recollection, it was a very fulfilling spiritual activity, we had a good facilitator, Rev. Fr. Russell Bantilles. The rest of the afternoon was ours to explore the area. On the 7th of January it was back to work in the university.

April 25, 2013. My MBA graduation at the Ateneo de Davao University. A liberating day for me, at last finally, I was through with all those sleepless nights, stressful weeks of making assignments, oral reports and case studies. 
With my classmates, Janice, Dory and Gerlie

May 27, 2013. Had a good time meeting with old friends, Pinky and Helen, we spent dinner at Sushi Dito, Kathy joined us, and we talked so many things, laughed on top of our lungs and reminisced our good times and bad times back then in the campus. Then we're off to La Verna to visit Juvy who had just given birth to a healthy baby boy. I went home past 11:00 in the evening.

May 31, 2013. Left for Clark, Pampanga with friends in the university for our Hongkong and Macau leisure trip.

June 1-5, 2013. Boarded a plane for Hongkong! It was my very first trip abroad, so many discoveries and lessons I learned along the way. Got to test my courage of going to another land without any anchor except determination and sense of independence. Trip to Macau was another thrilling escape, lots of memorable encounters, the opulence of Casino resorts, the glamorous boutiques and the atmosphere of being in a place where a strong influence of Europe is still alive.

June 7, 2013. Got accepted as an affiliate for a Hotel Travel Agency (link of the hotel search box is in the uppermost of the right side bar of this blog) and been receiving monthly payments ever since.

At the Avenue of Stars, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hongkong

June 14, 2013. Just as I experienced a rapturous first week of June, the second week was a devastating one. Towards the end of the week, an unexpected event happened. My all time favorite boss, Engr. Reynaldo Deypalubos, who had served the Engineering Program of UIC for 10 years as associate dean, died unexpectedly. Shock as everyone in the campus, I had a hard time accepting his untimely demise. It was so shocking and dreadful that it took several months before I came to term with the distressing truth of his death.

June 29, 2013. I left Davao to start a new life in Manila. Unsure what path would await me, I rested everything to God. On the night of our arrival, we went out right away, chillin at the Klownz, a comedy bar in Quezon City owned by celebrity, Allan K. I and my sister lived for a while in San Andres, Manila. My good friend, Anelyn Arcon, is one of the kindest people I ever encountered in life, she made everything easier for me as I started establishing myself in the new environment. Thanks to Anelyn's overflowing generosity. God is really good in so many ways, He used other people as instruments to channel His great message of hope and care to everyone.

Our banana boat adventure in Boracay, stopping at the famous exclusive resort
of boxing legend, Manny Pacquaio, the West Cove.

July 2, 2013. Traveled to Boracay with friends. Anelyn sponsored this once-in-a-lifetime getaway, so grateful with her immeasurable benevolence. I had a great time while at this breathtaking world-class island, enjoying every minute of our stay. It was awesome!

July 5, 2013. After our arrival from Boracay, we went to Tagaytay for a night road trip. Yaaay! That was so incredible. We had lots of laughter and teasing while inside the car. We visited Sister Rachel of the Charles Borromeo sisters then traversed the Aguinaldo Highway to do sightseeing, dined at Mushroom Burger then unwind at Starbucks Coffee.The environment was so cool!We got back home at early dawn.

July 7, 2013. Went to Laguna with Rowie Tagaan and stayed at Southwinds Resort in Pansol, Calamba City. Another relaxing weekend! We also visited Sister Nenette Laus, RVM at the Betania Retreat House just a short distance from the resort.
Visiting some of the most dazzling destinations of Christmas ornaments in the 
metropolis Ayala Triangle in Makati (above) and Trinoma in Quezon City (below)

The succeeding weeks were equally exciting and fun. Visited so many landmarks in the city, attended birthday parties and joined friends in countless outings.

September 2013. Got my first job in the metropolis! And my agony began. The reality of rushing, heaving through the thick crowd, commuting everyday thoroughly gotten on my nerves that I wondered if I made the right decision to come to NCR, months passed until I finally learned how to grasp the fast-paced life in the metro.

And the rest of the story is, well, history worthy of a book. Just as exciting as a representation of a New Year.

December 29. I started to get back working on my three non-fiction books I neglected for the past two years because of my masteral studies. Hope to sustain the momentum of my appetite in editing the manuscripts and hopefully my laziness would not get in the way haha!

I am also preparing a full-blown business plan for a small business. I will be reviving the organic soap business I neglected a year ago, and will be adding two household cleaning products. Got so inspired after receiving so many orders from different clients.

It's high time to take the business principles I learned from Steve Jobs seriously and reignite my entrepreneural passion.

Alright! After hours of waiting, finally! The clock stroke at midnight and the explosion in the surrounding worsened waaaaah! Felt like the roof of the house is under attack of a nuclear bomb. Oh God protect me and make me safe here!!!

Happy New Year everyone!Cheers to a good life in 2014!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas 2013

It’s Christmas season!
Christmas eve with Archel and Lea in Makati City

How's everyone doing after the celebration? It's always nice to hear beautiful stories about holiday's fun and how others celebrated their Christmas with their loved ones. Always inspiring and a little bit...well, nostalgic. 

It's a bit distressing when the whole world is swathed in excitement and family reunions are happening everywhere, yet you're alone in a strange place, feeling empty and just wrapping thoughts with warm memories. 

I lived in the bustling metropolis away from my family so the celebration was not quite awesome. Excitement had gone totally. 

With no particular way to go, I went to my former boardmate (back in Davao), Lea Maika Bulfango, in Makati City on the 23rd to spend Christmas. 

On the 24th we agreed to visit Luneta Park and Intramuros, not that we wanted to forget the joy of preparing foods and other stuff for Christmas eve, but we just felt it was the best time to go back to history lol!

We just walked along Taft Avenue from Pedro Gil, passing through the Philippine Normal University (where we heavily criticized its poorly maintained surroundings and ancient buildings ^__^); UP-Manila, Supreme Court, NBI and PGH (Philippine General Hospital), until we reached UN Avenue in Ermita where Luneta Park is located. 

It was a loooooong, tedious walk and by the time we reached Luneta, our limbs felt so extremely wasted hehe! But it was a fun-filled experience because we had lots of laughter and giggles while walking the street. 

Luneta Park

It was terribly hot! The temperature slightly roasted our skin, but we enjoyed our little adventure, exploring the area, looking around and visiting different souvenir’s shops and food stalls. We crossed the street to visit Quirino grandstand and Manila Ocean Park.

At Lapu-Lapu's monument
Rizal's monument in the background :-)

At 4:00 pm, we left Luneta and started another long walk, crossing Taft Avenue to Manila City Hall and headed north to visit Intramuros. While entering the Walled City, Lea expressed her anxiety over the place because it was so quiet and calm and only few people were walking. I just convinced her that Intramuros is really a sleepy place with no unnecessary sounds to hear. 

We slowly entered the huge gate, passing a guerilla-looking guard wearing a Spanish-time uniform, then scaled the cobbled pathway to reach the top area. We just looked around and did not go down to the small garden because we’re so scared bad elements (snatchers, drug addicts) might bounced on us!

We just looked around and took pictures. Then walked towards Lyceum of the Philippines. We're amazed to see the 7-11 store transformed into a Spanish-era atmosphere with its gothic design wall and door. I wanted to roam around but Lea felt so creepy with the place so we decided to leave early.
                                                      
For visitors who wanted to visit Fort Santiago, there are on-the-spot tour guides that would take you there. Not sure how much to pay, we did not ask them.
Inside Intramuros. Just imagine the anxiety you would feel
if you pass this area which looked like haunted prison cells? 
That was exactly what my friend, Lea, felt hehe!

After our leisure walk in Intramuros, we went to Pasay City to catch an MRT ride for Ayala. We passed at the Makati Shangri-La and viewed its lively display of Christmas decorations, then went to Landmark to meet Lea's cousin, Archel. We bought one bottle of non-alcoholic beverage and ingredients of Carbonara before proceeding to Ayala Triangle to view its splendid display of Christmas Lights. After taking photos, we left the area and went home to prepare foods for our noche buena.

 At the Ayala Triangle, Makati City
 with Lea
and Archel

Christmas in the metro is a bit scary than in Davao. Lots of blasting of firecrackers! The booming sounds of the explosion tore the holiday season mode and turned my happy appetite into displeasure. In Davao, firecrackers and all forms of dangerous powders are strictly prohibited so the celebration of Christmas and New Year there is more peaceful and safe.

We had a quiet Christmas celebration in the house anyway, I prepared Carbonara and Archel prepared Mango float, we gathered in the table at 12:00 midnight and feasted on food. I went to bed after eating because I could not endure the blasting of firecrackers in the neighborhood, felt like my ears were about to explode.

READ MORE STORIES in my TRAVEL ADVENTURE


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wedding Plan of Direk Lino Cayetano

My ultimate crush is marrying! :-P

Irresistible. Smart. Intelligent. Blindingly handsome with stunning soulful eyes. Who would not be smitten with Direk Lino Cayetano? Nakks!

The gorgeous TV director will be “out of the market” soon. He is set to marry his girlfriend for just 3 months, former volleyball player of Ateneo Lady Eagles at UAAP, Fille Cainglet, 13 years his junior. The wedding details remained ultra secret, “It might happen this Christmas or New Year”, according to his brother, Senator Allan Peter Cayetano. The wedding will be held outside Metro Manila anytime this month and very exclusive to direct family members only.

Direk Lino Cayetano now the representative of the 2nd district of Taguig
 in the House of Congress. He has been so secretive with the details of his wedding.

Lino Edgardo Schramm Cayetano in real life, the former resident TV director of Kapamilya network is the youngest brother of Senators, Pia and Allan Peter Cayetano. He went to the US for a while to study Filmmaking at the New York Film Academy and joined the roster of young directors of GMA network and co-directed, the now defunct talent search, Starstruck. He later moved to ABS-CBN and directed Star Dance, Little Big Star, Silang Mga Sisiw sa Lansangan among others.

The public caught a first glimpse of him in 2003 when his father, late senator, Renato Cayetano, became ill and had to go to the US to undergo a liver transplant. Weeks later, Lino was interviewed on TV showing his abdomen with stitches indicating he had just donated part of his liver to his father.

And oh, yes, it was also my first time to see his poetic eyes that seemed lurking when he smile. By then, he was romantically attached to Diana Van Walsum, a Malaysian-British born model he met while studying Filmmaking in New York City.

He temporarily left the entertainment world to join politics and won a seat in the House of Congress last May 2013 representing the 2nd district of Taguig.

I am an avid follower of Direct Lino isn’t that pretty obvious?

In 2005, I was slightly surprise when he dated TV host Bianca Gonzales, whom he met in the set of Star Dance (she co-hosted the show with Archie Alemania, JC Cuadrado, Marvin Agustin and Vanessa del Bianco) because judging from his past girlfriends, she seemed not quite on the ranks. Anyway, they looked happy and besotted with each other, Bianca reportedly got along well with his family, especially Senator Pia Cayetano, but a year later, Bianca astonished half of Filipino viewers of Pinoy Big Brother (where she was one of the celebrity housemates) when she displayed extra sweetness to fellow celebrity housemate, Zanjo Marudo.

The controversy appeared so outrageous that I wondered how Lino took the whole thing manly watching his girlfriend cuddling, hugging and kissing another man. The speculations that there were cracks beyond the sunny façade of their relationship surfaced several months later when they broke up.

Lino became involved with KC Concepcion after Bianca, however the relationship lasted only one year. Since then, no news had been reported about his love life until last year when he dated celebrity stylist, Liz Uy, but the two denied the issue telling reporters they’re just friends. Okay, fine…

Did I not tell you I am tailing Direk Lino’s life constantly? hehe! I followed him on Twitter and regularly read his tweets and got few tidings about his everyday activities and thoughts. He is just like any other regular guys who loves ordinary stuff like, uhmmm, drinking coffee in the morning. He would tweet about his new café business venture (Luna Specialty Coffee) in BGC (Bonifacio Global City), but no hints of new love life!

Or did I miss anything? Fast Forward December 18…

It’s all over in the celebrity columns! The handsome solon will be tying the knot this December!Geeeeez!!Why so quick? And who’s the lucky girl?

Fille Cainglet, former Team Captain of the Ateneo Lady Eagles in the UAAP,
 is set to marry Direk Lino Cayetano this month. 

Fille Saint Merced Cainglet, one of the most popular volleyball players in the 75th season of UAAP playing for Ateneo Lady Eagles. I saw her played at UAAP (I watched it on TV), she’s charming and lovely, but not awesomely pretty if I would scale her down to the lines of prettiest girls in the country, but she looks kinda cute with fabulous slinky eyes and lean figure. Cainglet was born in Bacolod City.

The most surprising fact is that they are just into a relationship for 3 months!

Three months?! Everybody’s eyes widened perhaps, but not Lino’s brother, Senator Allan Peter Cayetano, who revealed his identical situation in the past. He and Mayor Lani were having the same length of relationship when they got married. Now, they're married for 10 years and revealed “very happy”. According to Senator Allan Peter when he asked his younger brother if he has no anxieties marrying a girl he’s been dating for only three months, Lino’s answer was also a question “Were you sure?” referring to Allan Peter’s decision to marry despite being in a short dating period with Lani.

…Oh there, that’s where the motivation came from…there’s no such thing as short or long engagement, afterall, the length of time doesn’t define the success or failure of marriage. So if you feel you already found "the one", finally understood the entrenched connection of your soul, aware with what you’re getting into, where you’re heading, financially stable and already mature in all aspects to handle the huge responsibility, then why wait for eternity to take the plunge?

Lino is just so quiet about his wedding plans, very secretive with details, maybe he doesn’t want the public to pry on his personal life and just want everything to remain private. The only clear hint that the wedding is already set is the twitter photo post of Cainglet of a wedding gown sketch. It looks like she will be gliding down-the-aisle in a satin sheath dress with a lace top overlay.

Whatever the truth behind the secret wedding plans, only the couple can tell, but one thing for sure, everyone is getting hitch, everybody is scrambling to find “the one”, yet my soul remains drifting in the dimension of obscurity unable to figure out how to unearth the mystery of the 21st century -- the “waiting” game of stumbling on “the one”. It’s so incomprehensible to discern and I don't want to rake my brain with questions only God can answer, so I’ll just continue my journey and enjoy the scenery of life.

But isn’t a nice thing to hear that someone you admire enormously from a distance has finally found his “significant-other”? It’s always inspiring to hear people fall in love so instantly and recognized God’s gift so easily, it makes my eyes roved in amazement.

Best wishes and congratulations to Rep. Lino Cayetano and Fille Cainglet!

UPDATE: January 3, 2014

Rep. Lino Cayetano and Fille Cainglet tied the knot last December 27, 2013 in Mactan, Cebu with just direct family members present. The couple however announced to hold a reception for their friends around this month, January. Based on the photo shared by Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano in his instagram, the wedding location is at the beach.


TV director turned congressman, Lino Cayetano, 
and former Ateneo volleyball player, Fille Cainglet
tied the knot in what could have been a beach wedding 
in Mactan, Cebu, last December 27, 2013. The affair
was very exclusive only to direct family members.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Gifts come in Different Packages

Despite the brutality of the world and all those catastrophes that hammered many parts of the universe, I still believe God has never abandoned people, His love for humankind is eternal,  we only need to recognize the beautiful things we see in the environment to feel His presence.  

I felt God's presence in so many ways, in the morning when I wake up and see the beautiful horizon, in the afternoon after work when I feel the soft tang of the air, in the evening when I drift to sleep and feel the stillness of the surrounding and when I go outside and come home very safe. It's amazing how I feel so at peace and calm despite the chaotic life in the Metropolis and that's grace which only God can provide. And with that, I am truly grateful.

As the year 2013 prepares to bid goodbye, I want to reminisce all the heavenly gifts I'd received this year and how each blessing inspired me to carry on amidst occasional blues. I thoroughly found my balance in life.  You see, each year, God gave us so many chances to experience the wonders of the world and feel His goodness through the kindness of people in our surroundings.

GIFT OF RECONNECTING

In life, sometimes we have disagreements and arguments with the people closest to us, which at times become the root of apathy. From trivial to massive disputes, these issues often gotten to our nerves and triggered ire and resentment. Though clashes are normal (the only people who don’t argue are dead people according to American Psychologist, Dr. Leo Buscaglia), it becomes unhealthy and injurious to our relationship with others, especially to friends, if we allow it to remain unsettled. Gift of forgiveness and being able to forgive genuinely is the most honorable duty a true Christian should practice.

I am glad I was able to reconnect with a friend whom I had a row at the first quarter of this year. Being able to re-establish a connection and forget all those petty squabbles is somehow relieving, making the end of the year very peaceful. It offers an enduring sense of importance and worth. I cannot thank him enough for being so nice to me through all these years, despite my stubbornness at times, he always put up with me.  Thank you so much!

GIFT OF FREEDOM

Singlehood offers an immense freedom and independence, isn’t that enough to consider a precious gift from God? Being able to explore the other side of life, establish individuality and recognize important things that matter in the long run, are the roses of being single.

While it echoes so many advantages, stereo-typed individuals--you know those people who are still breathing the ancient creed of the middle ages that men and women with normal heartbeats must, by tragedy or by ecstasy, get hitch or suffer the humiliation of the society—perceived it the other way, they stupidly thought that being single for so long is a curse rather than a blessing. I don’t share their gone-with-the-ages belief though, I always look things on the brighter side of life and recognize it as part of God’s grandest plan.
Explore. Dream. Discover. ^____^

Once, I'd read a beautiful book, Confession of an Impatient Bride, of Rissa Singson-Kawpeng, Editor-in-Chief of Kerygma magazine, about the value of “waiting”, where she illustrated clearly why at a certain point, God let us wait longer than expected, it helped me understood clearly God’s omnipotent will. “"Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses". (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11), my friend would pronounce it more assuringly “His (God) time is always perfect” :-D

GIFT OF FRIENDSHIP

I made so many friends this year, enjoyed their company and widened my perspective in life. When I decided to move here in Manila some months back, I was uncertain what I would be getting, what disasters (laugh!) await me and how to handle the risks and challenges I would encounter. When I got a new job, despite the costly living, difficulties of traveling and the huge amount of adjustment I adopted, I felt lucky to be blessed with another experience to count and new people to meet. 

I moved to the bustling avenue of Taft, just across De La Salle University, and shared a two-storey house with five colleagues: Maam Cindy, Fe, Aida, Ate Anette and Ate Liza. They're very supportive, accommodating and extra generous. They treated me so well as if we've been friends for years! I enjoyed being with them, laughing and sharing stories about our work at the end of the day. We had a nice dinner last December 18, Maam Cindy distributed a gift to each one of us, so touching! Thank you everyone for the gift of friendship!

With one of my colleagues, Maam Cindy Joaquin
from Maam Jemma Rubite 
(Authentic Honey Soap & Massage Oil, exclusive products from Ilog Maria Bee Farm-Tagaytay, and Victoria Secret body spray)

GIFT OF COURAGE

For decades, I’d kept myself very safe in one corner, never tried anything that might compromise my welfare and never plunged myself into ambiguities, afraid I might ruin the significant thread of my life in despair. When I read a thought-provoking quote “A life that is put on a safer side is a life that has not lived by”, I began reassessing my purpose and existence. Why not try to get my hands dirty and cross the ocean of uncertainties? I might discover something eventful and extraordinary on the other side of the shore.

By then, I had pondered on the memorable line I read from the eulogy delivered by Mona Simpson for her brother, Steve Jobs:

"Steve was never embarrassed of working hard even if the results were failures".

I figured, it’s better to encounter failure and defeat than let years passed without even trying, I might be spending the golden years of my life in regrets and "what ifs" if I would never try at all which is more remorseful than the idea of failing. So I closed my eyes and made a brave decision to leave my comfort zone while there's enough time to seize opportunities.


Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds. Explore. Dream. Discover” - Mark Twain

GIFT OF DISCOVERY

I discovered so many things beyond my station this year.

I was able to take a memorable adventure into beautiful places and discovered the grandeur of life outdoor. Hongkong, Macau and Boracay are some of the most stunning holiday getaways I'd visited this year. 

At the Avenue of Stars, Victoria Harbor, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hongkong
We only discovered this area while strolling around Hongkong Museum
of Art. Had not for our curiosity and eagerness, we would never discover this spot.

I discovered that I can walk through the thick crowd without being intimidated or feared someone would “assault” me. I’ve learned also that traveling alone is not scary as long as you’ve a clear sense of direction. That fears of everything are only in our minds and none of it will ever come true if we have a strong faith in God.

I also learned that the things that can truly make me happy are the ones I often ignored in the past—going home to the province during the holidays, quiet life in the countryside and a good laugh with best friends.


There you go! The greatest blessings I received this year. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pope Francis is TIME's 2013 Person of the Year



For several decades now, TIME, one of the world's most prestigious magazines, is annually honoring individuals from diverse cultural background, group or even idea and object, that has done the most to enormously influence the world in a year.

It has some shares of controversies though.

In 1982 the public, and even the whole world, expected STEVE JOBS of Apple to be named Person of the Year due to his revolutionary innovation on personal computing but the magazine named "COMPUTER" as the winner instead, and in 1936 when a commoner woman, Wallis Simpson, whom the British royal family extremely detested, won the accolade.

Simpson, who was never fully accepted by the royal family during her lifetime and was never granted an official style of Her Royal Highness (eventhough she legally married the Duke of Windsor), stirred the mystical world of British monarchy and created an almost constitutional crisis when she formed a romantic relationship with King Edward VIII (paternal uncle of Queen Elizabeth II, who later abdicated and deserted the Kingdom to marry Wallis. He was created Duke of Windsor by his brother and successor, King George VI). Simpson was everything the royal family despised, she was a commoner with no aristocratic background and twice divorce with one living husband, divorce people during those times were not allowed in the presence of royalty and commoners were never considered suitable to marry royals.

More decades later, TIME magazine's choice of Person of the Year, often met with mixed reactions from the public, but whatever misgivings people sometimes thought of the winner, still Person of the Year is the most anticipated feature of TIME and the most awe-inspiring issue of a magazine at the end of the year.

This year (2013), with most nominees coming from politics, TIME chose a man from the religious sector, POPE FRANCIS, the current head of the Catholic Church. As a devoted Catholic, I am very happy with the news, the pope is such a great inspiration.

According to TIME's managing editor, Nancy Gibbs, on why the Pope bested other finalists (NSA Whistleblower, Edward Snowden, gay rights activist, Edith Windsor, US Senator, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad) to take the honor as Person of the Year for 2013, " He really stood out to us as someone who has changed the tone and the perception and the focus of one of the world's largest institutions in an extraordinary way"

Pope Francis is the third Roman Pontiff to be named by TIME as Person of the Year. Pope John XXIII (Italy) won the accolade in 1962 followed by Pope John Paul II (Poland) in 1994.

An Argentinian with Italian heritage, Francis is the first non-European in over 1,000 years and the first Jesuit, to be elected as Pope. Upon taking office in March 2013 he assumes the following titles: Successor to the throne of St. Peter, Primate of the West, Bishop of Rome, Supreme Head of the Universal Church, Vicar of Jesus Christ, and Sovereign Head of the State of Vatican.

Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pope Francis has been known with his deep humility, simplicity and divine commitment to maintain a "poor church". According to his official biography published in the Vatican's website, the 76-year-old Pontiff "often traveled by bus on a subway and cooked his own supper,  and when he speaks for social justice, he calls people to pick up the catechism".

" If you follow Christ, you understand that “trampling upon 
a person’s dignity is a serious sin”
-- Pope Francis 

Pope Francis: TIME's PERSON OF THE YEAR

For several decades now, TIME, one of the world's most prestigious magazines, is annually honoring individuals, group or even idea and object that has done the most to enormously influence the world in a year.

It has some shares of controversies though, just like in 1982 where the public and the whole world expected STEVE JOBS of Apple to be named Person of the Year due to his influence in the world of innovation but the magazine named "COMPUTER" as the winner instead, and in 1936 when a commoner woman, Wallis Simpson, whom the British royal family extremely detested at that time, was named Person of the Year.

Simpson, who was never fully accepted by the royal family during her lifetime and was not granted an official style of Her Royal Highness, stirred the mystical world of British monarchy when she formed a romantic relationship with King Edward VIII. She was divorced and a commoner, qualities that were unacceptable for a wife of a King.  Edward abdicated and married Wallis and lived in a lonely exile all because of an inappropriate marriage.

More decades later, some of the magazine's choice of Person of the Year, often met with praises and even disdain from the public, but whatever misgivings people sometimes thought of the winner, still it is considered as one of the most anticipated features of a world-renowned magazine in a year.

This year (2013), with most finalists came from politics and controversial headliners, TIME chose someone from the religious sector, POPE FRANCIS, the Vicar of Jesus Christ and Supreme Head of the Universal Church. The pope was chosen because he changed the perception of the public about the Roman Catholic church and his move to refurbish the Roman Curia (central government of the Vatican).

The pope bested NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, gay rights activist, Edith Windsor, US Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, and Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad.

According to TIME magazine's managing editor, Nancy Gibbs " He (Pope Francis) really stood out to us as someone who has changed the tone and the perception and the focus of one of the world's largest institutions in an extraordinary way".

His election in March 2013, after Pope Benedict XVI surprised the world with his resignation, offers a new breather in the Catholic church. He rejected special treatment and abundant lifestyle often associated with Popes and maintained he wanted a poor church, he is often seen hugging pilgrims outside Sistine Chapel.

With his liberalism, fair religious treatment, simplicity and devotion to Christian principles, the reigning Roman Pontiff quickly endeared to the masses. His advocacy centers on the "church to be poor", he also declared he would "overhaul" the Roman Curia to establish credibility within the church hierarchy.

Pope Francis, who came from Argentina, has been noted with his deep humility and devotion and concern for the poor, he is often compared to the Blessed John Paul II with the same advocacy, charisma and mass appeal.

Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pope Francis has lived only with one lung since his teenage years due to an illness. He graduated as a Chemical Technician and later obtained his Master's degree in Chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires, he entered the seminary of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1958 and was ordained priest in 1969 as a Jesuit, he also finished a degree in Philosophy and Theology in Colegio de San Jose.

As with the rest of Jesuits, Bergoglio traveled to Spain to continue his educational and religious training from 1970 to 1973. He traveled again to Germany in 1986 to finish his doctoral dissertation. It was a Cardinal from Buenos Aires that ushered Bergoglio's fate in the Diocese ministry. Cardinal Antonio Quarracino wanted him to be his close collaborator, so Pope John Paul II appointed Bergoglio a titular Bishop of Auca, eleven years later, he was made Cardinal.

Pope Francis is the third pope to be named by TIME as Person of the Year. The first was Pope John XXIII in 1962 followed by Pope John Paul II in 1994. He is the first non-European pope in over 1,000 years and the first Jesuit ever to be elected as pope.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Memories of Generosity


Tied in compassion and wrapped in the warmth of sweet-scented memories, a poignant recollection of generosity sometimes is the best comfort to cling to this Christmas.

Have you ever thought of remembering people in your circle at Christmastime whom you no longer see because of distance? How about the people who have been so generous to you down through all these years? Are you still relishing those heartwarming gestures?

Well, I am...

Despite my unsuccessful attempt to reconnect with the missing dot, so to speak, I am nevertheless very grateful that at one point in my life, there was a very generous person allowed by God to cross my path, who never failed to delight me comes the holiday season. Though what is left now is just an obscure puzzle of what ifs and buts, and none of those ifs could possibly turn into an extraordinary sparkle....still I am very thankful to be blessed with such kind of encounter.

Since some people often associate Christmastime with the excitement and joy of gift giving, I am reminiscing the moments where I became a lucky recipient of someone's generosity. Journeying back to the good old days of thrill and delight, I mused over at  the most memorable presents I ever received, not only during the holiday season but on some occasions like birthday and even ordinary days.

I must admit, I am a little bit difficult, edgy and can't be pleased too easily, I have a hard time blending with people, especially new associates, because things get too quickly on my nerve--the boring conversation, the loud people, the rowdy and uninteresting scene, the contrasting lifestyle. It would take eternity before finding myself so at ease at anyone's company.

Not all my friends easily get what I truly desire or yearn at the moment, some of them will keep on asking what I prefer which I find slightly annoying because I simply don't like to be badgered with the things I prefer as a present.

 But there's one person in my circle who really know the real me and every time he give a present, it is always perfect and timely, he seems to know exactly what I want, felt like he had read my mind and scrutinized my needs. All the gifts he gave were exactly the stuff I love. So touching!

They say, you've just meet your duplicate---someone with the same character, when that person easily gets what you want, quickly grasps your likes and preferences and immediately recognizes your wishes. Someone who understands the real you better than anybody else.

From trendy bags to journal/book to apparels and countless
food treats, he seems to know exactly what I want. This Christmastime,
nothing more is heartwarming than reminisced those touching gestures of generosity.
At times, when he found my demand too pushy and no time to ponder
on my stubborn request, he would just give me money so that I can buy the things I want, e.g Pierre Cardin's blouse and Rusty Lopez's footwear ^____^

Oh how I missed those wonderful times, not only receiving gifts but wrapping my presents too, but as what this beautiful quote would put it: "Some of the most beautiful days come completely by chance, but even the brightest days eventually have their sunsets", fate intervened, everything changed and life has never been the same again.

In this season of joy,  hope, remembering and sharing, I am wishing nothing for him but wonderful graces from heaven and may his generous heart continue to shine to give light to every room he would enter and make the people closest to him happy, full of perfect bliss. I cannot thank him enough for being so generous whole year round.

“The simple gift of giving becomes an elaborate rich aftertaste 
of a natural blissful feeling, lingering endlessly in my lifetime.”
- Wes Adamson

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”  
-Steve Maraboli