Dear Disheartened One

I know how hard it maybe for you now.

You maybe wondering what went wrong. Why were your efforts not enough. Or how can someone you love chose to hurt you. When are you going to see the fruits of your labor. Or where are you going from here..

Whatever it is that’s weighing your heart down, let it go.

Lift it up to the One who holds your world in His hands.

And believe, dear one, that if God allowed it, then something good is going to come out of it.

Keep the faith.

Your story is about to change! ❤

Clouded

So a friend asked me the day before about how I feel now that I am turning 30.

I just said “Pressured. That was the struggle I had to face when we were in Baguio”.

Well, just last month I had to face my thoughts about how parts of my life are doing well and others failing. I questioned my pace, my progress, my results, my decisions, my goal.

I felt like working for so many years now didn’t get me and my family to where I wanted to take us back then. The position I was hoping for was given to someone else. I had no car, no place of my own, no good investment aside from FarmOn which had no returns as of yet, no clear goal. The only yes I can see was that the last part hurt the most.

I feel restless and lost at 29.

If I look around, people my age are achieving things, going places and being in a better position in life compared to what update I saw from them before. I can’t help but compare myself to them. Of course, I had good days when I can just pat myself on the back and whisper a “good job” sincerely. But knowing I am living 3 decades now made me think of the journey that has been.

I liked some of what I saw but doubted what’s in the now and feared what’s ahead.

For a moment I thought I was doing really good at work achieving things and getting affirmations from colleagues for a job well done. Or being asked for advice on how to respond to a guest, training newhires, being assigned with difficult clients or simply being given an important task. I feel pride in giving back to the company. Still, I can’t convince myself I am doing just fine. I am burnt out and felt I was lagging behind.

These thoughts had been bothering me for some time weeks leading to our silent retreat at the Mirador Jesuit Villa in Baguio in December 2018.

I looked so much forward to it but as it neared, I dreaded the thought of being alone in my head.

So the day came.

You enter the villa from the uphill road passing the last flight of steps leading to the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Baguio right on top of the Mirador Hill.

From the driveway, you will be greeted by a well-maintained garden with a labyrinth and a pond whose walls are decorated with different kinds of flowers I can only see in Dangwa. What’s better is the cool breeze at high noon.

However, the beauty of the place didn’t catch my wandering mind fixated on the work I left behind. I even had to submit and endorse a training plan on my 2nd day there when we were supposed to be “resting”.

My mind was all over the place and I struggled finding peace in my mind and heart despite the daily Bible readings and reflection questions our facilitator has given.

By the third day, I’m already very desperate to quiet my thoughts so I uninstalled the applications I use for work, disabled notifications from other apps so I don’t get snippets of messages if I want to search something online and kept my phone on airplane mode.

Slowly I was able to ease into the silence I was hoping for.

Nature around the villa started soothing me; pinching me with peace little by little as I wander around the area discovering spots where I can stay at and reflect.

One afternoon, I decided to stay a little longer at the dining hall after lunch. I loved the view there since it has clear glass windows allowing you to enjoy the picturesque landscape below the hill and overlooking the distant mountains and the Gulf of Lingayen. When you go out of the hall, this scenic view will be behind you as you are lead directly to the wooden patio flowing smoothly onto the St. Joseph’s Garden where there are also tables and chairs. I transferred there after getting a cup of brewed coffee from the dining hall.

I was deep in thought when I felt a cool breeze blew above my head and to my surprise, I saw clouds coming from behind me and the view at the dining hall is totally white with clouds! All the greenery I saw earlier is gone!

So I went up the roof deck and was left in awe of how everything was covered with clouds. Everything! Including us.

At this point, I honestly felt like God was kissing my cheeks. He was hugging me regardless of what I feel at that moment. But I had a lot of questions in my head.

When our facilitator who happens to be there already at the roof deck asked me what am I looking forward to in life, I answered “nothing”.

It was numbing to hear.

I remember saying how I feel like my life is not leading anywhere. How I see that the previous months of 2018 revealed a lot of answered prayers and yet I feel stuck. I don’t know what’s next and I can’t see a clue.

Ang labo, I said.

“What now, Lord?”

The question echoed in my whole being and tears flowed like a river. I feel so lost and frustrated with a lot of things in my life. And the shame of feeling this way despite being in community is also unbearable.

I am grateful that no more questions nor advice followed. Just comforting silence assuring me that it’s okay to just be. That was what I needed. To be.

That night, I was able to talk to the Lord just how I would before. I taste bitterness and sullenness when I speak in my head but I was open. He was attentive.

So I questioned Him with more what nows and whys and so much more with tears for everything else left unsaid.

When the morning came I felt significantly lighter.

And that’s when I knew that all the crying removed from my eyes the fog that hindered me from seeing how He is loving me at this time of my life. How the unclear path ahead invites me to trust more in Him whose ways are better than mine. How all this breaking was not meant to crush me but the walls I built around my heart.

Because only then can I let Him in. Only then can I start asking myself what He was trying to teach me. How in all of my questions, His answer would always be how He loves me.

What’s next? I don’t know.

I’m still not okay.

But my heart can see better now.

Mabuting Tayo

Bukas na lang bubuksan ang nakaraan

Kung kailan ang tulay patungo sayo ay di baku-bako

Malayo sa ngayon na binabayo ng unos na ayaw tumigil

mula nang makita ka

at makausap

Para bang sa nakaraang buhay naglapat ang ating mga kamay

Hanggang di na bumitaw

ang puso 

Doon nakakubli ang lihim na pagtingin

Na wari ko’y unti unting nagyayabong

Na hindi tama

Pagkat hindi tayo malaya

Sa kahapon na pilit bumabalot sa iyong ngayon

Parang alon sa munting bangkang naglalayag

Sa kabila ng unos pumipiglas

Pumapalag ang bawat piraso ng aking katawan

Sa bawat huni ng iyong salita

Sa bawat ngiti ng iyong mata

Sa bawat hiyaw ng iyong sining

Na kay ningning

Idiin.

Idiin mo sa utak kong hindi dapat

Nang ang puso ang malunod sa katotohanan

Kabaliwan ang kahahantungan ng damdaming yumabong sa dilim.

Bakit?

Bakit ikaw.

Ikaw ang itinatangi.

Ikaw rin ang nagpatangis

sa pusong alam na ang lahat ng ito ay taliwas sa aking gawi

Mali!

Ibabaon sa limot ang masasayang awit ng iyong kwento

Ang matatamis na sipi ng iyong pagkalinga

Hindi!

Ikaw ay hindi itatago sa sulok ng aking kasalukuyan

Hahawakan nang mahigpit

Malapit sa dibdib ngunit malayo sa puso

Pagyayamanin itong ligaya na sa akin ay dulot

Pangako

Patatatagin ko ang pagitan satin na kay ganda

Tuturuan ng isip ko ang pusong

nadala

sa damdaming taliwas sa kung ano ang tama

Huwag kang mabahala

Huwag ka ring lumayo

Sapagkat ang tanging nais ko ay manatili dito

kung saan kapwa natin nakikita

nang malinaw

ang mabuting tayo

Ayan.. 

Madalas natatawa kami kapag nagfafacilitate ka sa SE or gatherings tapos andami mong “ayan” sa sentences o. Fillers e kaya ganun.

Mahilig ka manorpresa sa Bellevue. Magugulat na lang kami andyan ka na pala. Balik Pinas ka na na akala mo superstar na pag nakita ng lahat e biglang pupunta sayo tas yayakap.  Tapos maghahalakhakan na lang kami. Makulit ka kasi.

Galing mo mang okray pero never syang naging offensive. At least para sakin ha. Ewan ko lang sa iba. Hahaha!

Kapag ikaw may hawak ng mike parang instant comedy bar lagi Thankful Thursdays natin. Ang galing mo kasi. Ang galing mo magbiro. Ang galing mo magpasaya kahit minsan yung jokes mo korni na. Oks lang yun noh. Ang mahalaga madami ka napapasaya. Di ba?

Pero Jun ‘tong joke mo ngayon di na maganda.

Gusto kong tumawa hoping na pakulo mo lang to pero hindi e. Wala ka na daw talaga.

May parte ng puso ko gusto isipin na nasa ibang bansa ka lang talaga. Hindi ka makauwi kasi busy sa studies.

Kaso hindi e.

Curtain call na ba talaga, Jun?

Sa daming beses mo kaming pinasaya di magiging madali tanggapin na wala ka na.  Ikaw yung inaabangan namin umuwi ng Pinas kasi may clown ulit. Kasi may makulit. Kasi nakakamiss makipag asaran sayo.

Nakakamiss mang asar ng iba sa pangunguna mo.

Tanda mo? Kuya B! Macho!!

Napamahal na ko sayo kahit bungad mo sakin lagi e kung bakit ang liit ko.

“Bakit nakauwi na ko’t lahat di ka pa din tumangkad?”

Grabe Jun. Ang sakit.

May parte pa din sakin ayaw tanggapin na totoo to.

Umuwi ka na nga talaga.

Sa ngayon di ko pa kayang sabihin yung kailangan mong marinig pero asahan mong kasama ka sa dasal ko.

Pwera biro, Jun…

Miss kita.

Ingat ka ha.

 

 

 

 

Sticks and stones may break my bones but ropes and steels excite me! #SaveMasungi

Few months before 2015 ended when I  saw a post on Facebook about that place which seemed to be an adventure park. I remember seeing lots of ropes and metal and it really got me interested. Too bad the place is not open to public until December so I didn’t try checking their website. 

Besides, my friends and I are climbing Mt. Pulag the same month so I need to focus  working these legs if want to make it to the summit! 

Thank God,  we did!

Pabebe wave from  the peak of the tallest mountain on the island of Luzon! 🙂 Photo courtesy of Bagetz Binos – December 11, 2015

Halfway through 2016 when I saw another post again about that place and my FB friend already went there. Gosh, the pictures were so nice it got me googling Masungi Georeserve to find out how to book a trip!

Masungi requires minimum if 7 persons per booking (P1400/head) and the weekends until September are already full when I checked so I got no choice but to go on a weekday.

K fine.

Naturally,  it will be hard to find people who can file a leave off work right away so I thought I’d give it a pass.

Until another friend on FB posted an invite for their trip to Masungi.  OMG! For P2000,  you get all inclusions as per Masungi website, round trip van transfers and a side trip to Pililla Windfarm! It’s the cheapest and most reasonable package I’ve seen so my sisters and two other friends went ahead with the booking.

We were coming from Tondo so we had to be in transit by 3am to be at the meeting place/pick up point by 4am.

We left home shortly before 3am and arrived at Farmers Cubao ten past 3am. Lumipad kami! #perksoftheweehours

We decided to grab a very early and heavy breakfast so we would not be so full on the trail.

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Well, we have almost an hour so..

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Yes, I can and yes, I will.

With that strong motivation in the background (literally) you could say we were ready to sleep rather than take on the adventure that awaits us in Masungi. Haha!

A few burps after, we headed to Jollibee Farmers Plaza (EDSA corner Gen. Roxas St., Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City) where my friend Jeff, the tour organizer, would meet us all. Here we met with our two other friends and bought some trail food (light snacks) from the 7-Eleven store parallel to Jollibee.

ETD from Cubao was 5am but our driver arrived a little late so we were on the road around 5:10am.

And then at exactly 6:02am (thanks to picture time stamps!), we already made it to the Garden Cottages, which you will pass through on your right if you’re coming from Marcos Highway. Not sure why we stopped for a couple of minutes here though. Sorry antok ako masyado to know why pero nagpicture naman ako neto from inside the van oh.. #sumamanakosaliwanagsorry

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More details on directions to the park can be found on the official website here.

Almost 20 minutes from there we arrived at the Masungi parking lot! Yey!

 

Surprise! Masungi staff will provide you with string bags like this:

 

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A change of clothes, poncho (in case it rains), a bottle of 500ml water, light snacks plus camera phone fit well inside.

Tip: Travel very light. Big bags will not be allowed for safety reasons and a few other ones you will know a little later. Wait ka lang.

Reminder: Bring your valuables with you.

 

Since hindi kasya sa bag ang buong bahay, kuwarto na lang ang dalhin, okay? Apir!

So onto the ropes we go!

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A pleasant greeting

A few steps down and the paved way we were asked to stay in an open briefing are called Silungan. This is where the string bags, bottled waters and safety helmets were distributed.

The local park rangers who will accompany us through the Discovery Trail asked us to use the restroom there.

Why? The next one we can use is already at the Liwasan (end point). That’s 3-4 hours interval. Okay, mental note. Very light lang  ang pag inom ng tubig!

Another surprise: ang ganda ganda ng CR nila! Ang linis and ang lakas ng flush.

All set na?

Tara!

For appetizer, we have the LAMBAT.


Those big wholes is a little scary but the adrenaline is up kaya sisiw!

Then it becomes more interesting and dangerous..

 

Masungi is said to be submerged in water for thousands of years evident on the karst terrain.

If you have been to Mt. Pulag’s Ambangeg Trail, you could say the hike from LAMBAT to this next course have similarities. There are moments when you’re on almost flat terrain but there are more when the road or rocks requires great effort to climb.

If you get tired, rest and catch your breath. It gets more difficult to breathe when the altitude goes up so just pause and get going. I tell you, the next course is ahhmazing.

SAPOT is a stable metal platform perfect for the bravest of hearts.

 

I must say this steel spider web is probably the most photographed course in Masungi.

This well engineered course ignites a chilling current of excitement down your spine!

Those who brave standing here get to  enjoy the beautiful view of Laguna de Bay and Sierra Madre Mountains in the background.

So when my turn came, all I was able to do is to keep myself from crawling as I make my way to the center of the web.

Hate to break it to you guys but when I was young, I dreamed of being Spider Woman.

Char!

I am freaking afraid of heights! Especially when I can see what’s beneath my feet!

See?

That was me convincing my legs to take a step. As in! Di ko magalaw. Ayaw nya magmove on… tsk tsk..

Good thing my younger sisters were there.

One helped me up and the other documented my triumph. Bravo!

*To Be Continued*

 

 

 

When Jumping Is Not Enough

For several months now I have been pondering on leaving the current job I have.

I pray for a good opportunity to come as I feel I cannot reach my goal of having a comfortable life if I stay. Why? The wage I am earning is only enough to sustain bills and other monetary responsibilities. And just this month, after the annual appraisal last November, we have been told that the company did not reach its target goal for the last quarter of 2015. Therefore, it is unable to give a salary increase this year.

As you can imagine, I should have gushed through the doors and left. But I did not. I cannot leave the flexible working time as it give me the chance to serve in our ministry.

But then again reality kicks in.

It is either you stay and postpone your plans to being financially stable or leave and start realizing your dreams.

Flashback to March 2015, I found myself browsing through job offers, long conversations over Facebook or Viber with my friends looking for a new team member and even lining up for an interview for a job abroad.

One of the two I applied for is for a Product Trainer position which is what I have long wanted. The catch is – a trainer’s work schedule in a BPO company is dependent on the account he will be assigned to (at least in my experience). The job offered me is for a graveyard shift but is in line with the current work I do so I thought this is it!

However, after the tedious hiring process, I ended rejecting two job offers and declined follow up interviews.

Something is wrong.

I knew in my heart that even if I get the better job I applied for, the cost outweighs the benefit.

#TugtogTuesdays (Tuesday Rehearsals for our Worship Ministry) and #ThankfulThursdays (prayer gatherings) would be no more. The thought of not being able to serve in the ministry and worship the Lord is very unsettling.

One evening when I was left at work, I thought of the time when I was asking the Lord to use me, take me out of the previous job where I have no choice but to work nights, attend mass only on weekdays and without the family, miss my loved one’s birthdays or any special ocassion because it’s either the time is off or my vacation leaves are not approved due to staffing issues.

One afternoon, He answered through a call I took.

It was my best friend Aileen telling me there is an urgent hiring. It’s similar to the work I do and the company also offers performance-based incentives. Best thing is that you’ll have regular working hours, can work from home and yes, no 8-long hours of taking calls. You call the shots when talking to the client. Email? Call? SMS? Skype? However you please. Leaves? Easily approved.

BINGO!

I will get my life back.

Since then, I have been with the company for 2 years and 8 months.

My thoughts on leaving turned to staying.

It was a scary process.

I had to jump and let my “parachute open.”

I had to go out of my comfort zone and as the saying goes, do something I have not done before to get someting I haven’t got.

And so I ventured to unfamiliar waters about 4 months ago and passed a 3 day training with flying colors. However, I was not able to start due to schedule and some departmental concerns with the new company I will be working with. I waited for months to get that approval from their office as the hiring manager that time is retiring early.

I am anxious and excited in waiting.

Finally, I am in!

I can start spending excess time productively and quite frankly, nobly.

Noble because my mission is to help people prepare for a better future – something that I am also working on now.

And it’s both heartwarming and humbling since last year my prayer petitions would include finding a better job or receiving the gift of discernment. I prayed fervently in confusion. Wrote it on my prayer requests regularly. If it’s not for me, take it away. Please, Lord, speak to me.

Well?

I just had my answer right in front of me this morning.

Today, I just helped someone.

Best part?

Tomorrow, I am writing it on my #ThankfulThursday thanksgiving.

Praise God!

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Amen!

 

P.S

Looks like jumping is not enough. You have to leap. In faith!

 

 

 

 

Almost

 

I never thought it can be so quick

the happiness your presence gives

Whatever it is, it’s meant to last;

at some point we had to let is pass.

Remember the times we talk so fast;

giggling, excited, as if time is running out?

How about the sneaking out from work to meet?

Or jumping into any conversation with ease?

I love the way I feel you are free with me.

You love the way I am free with you.

We love those silent moments when no one else matters.

They love the “us” that now.. doesn’t matter.

I never thought it can be so slow

recovering from that swift blow.

So you said you thought this could be it

Then we became the failed attempt I can’t permit.

Yes, i too, love what we have.

Boy, we felt the same, you are easy to like.

I am easy to love and hard to let go- those were your words.

I would have cried for joy but you said you might still be hers.

I wanted us to happen; with all my heart I do.

But what we had is good and now is bad.

Yes, yes, I know you want me around figuring things out.

But darling, no! Alone-that’s how you need to do that.

Of course it hurts.

So bad I wrote you this.

But if we meet again, can you do me favour?

Say hi to me please.

Promise I’d say hello and smile back

for at that time i shall remember

the love I almost felt,

the risk I dare not take.