All The Way To Tagaytay

Another long overdue article here. 😀

I did mention in my previous articles I have quite a pile of article drafts for editing and publishing and I am in a rush to publish them all (hopefully) while I am in a period of waiting and time is still on my side.

The summer escapade for me and hubby along with his family for this year was in the cool breeze of Tagaytay. We just had to take advantage of the summer season before the rainy days start to fill the last quarters of our calendar. It was a short holiday break thus the rest of the family members were all free to have this short family time and get-together.

It always is a privilege to spend some quality time with the family despite the busy schedules and varying demands of priorities in life – something that is far too precious to waste. My parents are in Bicol which is a 17-hour land travel to get directly to our hometown. Now that is something that I don’t have the privilege to do. Going to my hometown meant allotting 1 day for travel time then another day to rest which, after doing the Math, requires at least a week if you want to make the most and the best out of your family get-together. Simply put, visiting my family in Bicol is synonymous to careful planning ahead of the scheduled visit.

But well, this is the part where I need to thank God for technology. Skype made the term “homesickness” just a term. Again, family time meant quality time and this requires we set aside time for this despite the busy schedules. If most of us have the same free time, my family and I are able to Skype with one another once a week. And Skype-ing in the family means this – the minimum talking time is 4 hours starting at around 9 or 10pm.

Wuhaaat?!?! 😀

Yep, you can already hear the rooster crowing and we’re still on our “high” conversing with one another. Well, that’s for us, women in the family. For the men, 2 hours is the maximum and they bid their “goodbyes” in the middle of our conversation. The ever popular difference of men and women, eh? 😀

Anyway, going back to the Tagaytay escapade, we tried the Pamana restaurant with its awesome overlooking view of the Taal Lake and the food was superb too. I only captured shots of some dishes though, the long trip sure made us all pretty hungry.

I also loved the interiors which exude the ambiance of an old Hispanic house. Indeed, the concept of the restaurant matched with its name “Pamana,” a Tagalog term for heirloom/inheritance.

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Captivating, isn’t it?

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We also scouted for anything new in the area which includes this food park called “StrEat.” We didn’t get to try the food stalls though as it’s flocked with a huge crowd when we got there. The next day, there was no plan where we will have our summer escapade. We’ve been traveling without a destination actually and we came to that point of giving up and just head back home because all the resorts we’ve inquired were fully booked. Well, it’s summer so we kind of expected that.

When we were on the verge of turning back, voila, God gave us one resort that’s not so jam packed with visitors but the place was nice (and budget friendly) enough to bond with the family. Hotel Monticello was indeed “heaven sent”  hubby and I actually thought it’d be perfect for a wedding reception too. We couldn’t spend overnight though as we’re only geared up for a day tour. When we arrived, we had all the pool to ourselves which means this – LOTS OF SELFIES! Hahaha 😀

Nope, don’t get me wrong, I seldom take selfies. You can actually check my Instagram account for that. I just choose moments best for selfies and those moments that are not. And I only take selfies when nobody’s around, not even my hubby. 😀

Hotel Monticello

Selfie moment. My ever seldom selfie moment. 

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But really, when it comes to moments, there are just those that a camera snap isn’t enough to capture them all. I guess that’s the reason why God created our memories, an infinite storage at the back of our heads where every single memory is captured and safely stored.

So this one article is up in the memory of my head, but in case I have amnesia days or years from now, I have WordPress to retell and rewind them for me. Ah yes, the joys and perks of blogging – your online journal indeed. 🙂

P.S.

WordPress, please don’t ever shut down. Like, EVER. 😀

Oh and check out this amusing video of my hubby and sister-in-law. Reminds me of my brother and I – siblings moment, they are. 😉

 

 

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My Kind of Summer Swimwear: Nonconformist

So you must be wondering why I am oh-so-fueled with energy to write more than 1 post for this month. 😀

Answer: I am making the most of my idle and waiting time lest I become busy the following months – again. We can never tell so I am letting those ideas out in the open. Oh and yes, before I forget them. 🙂

Anyway, this is a late post since summer is already over and the rainy season has welcomed its way already here in the metro and some provinces. Last summer getaway with my husband and his family, I was thinking about what to wear for my swimwear. I sure have a lot of two-piece swimsuits but I am not sure if I could wear them and swim without nothing on top.

While the rest of the world during summer is revealing too much skin with its very daring two-piece swimsuits (praying for a change), I can only be grateful to God for fashion designers who opted to create a swimwear that will preserve the dignity of women and not be treated as sex objects with their skimpy outfits by coming up with a comfortable and yet fashionably elegant outfit.

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I personally LOVED these swimsuits because they are made from a swimming material so they easily dry up, they are light-weight, securely padded, have an undershorts/bikini attached underneath, and they’re made of silky fabric that glides and never sticks on the skin even when sweating.

Of course, who likes to change outfits often right after swimming if you don’t like to walk around in your two-piece swimsuit?

I can wear this around comfortably, no cover-up needed, which can serve as a dress for a lunch date too at the resort without the whistles, the catcalls and the “heavy” stares. If you know what I mean. Oh and yes, it’s very convenient too if you want to travel light for your summer getaway – a swimsuit and a dress in one, no shorts and no cover up as added extras in your baggage. 🙂

P.S.

I purchased these swimsuits at SM Department Store and Farmer’s Plaza (Cubao) flea market at almost the same price (a reasonable one) – 500 php. I saw similar swimsuits being sold online and they tag them as three-piece swimsuits.

[Paul said,] “I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes.” – 1 Timothy 2:9

Holiday Gift Ideas: Shop Early!

Hello, lovely readers! 

Bells are ringing, children are singing.

Oh wait, did I hear that Christmas is coming?

BER months are indeed fast approaching. 

Now, what are we buying?

Buying for gifts, you’re asking.

Never worry about anything because here is a little something. 

So there went my futile attempt to be a poet.  😀

Seriously though, holidays meant a lot of things but it is synonymous to this word as well – rush. Everything is in a rush. How do we avoid this so-called “rush” ? The answer is this – prepare and shop early.

Buying Christmas presents in advance and scratching them off your long list is such a life saver. I usually do this often during the holidays.

But first, who are our recipients of these awesome gifts? On top of the list is our families of course, followed by relatives, friends and coworkers or bless someone randomly.

Then again, another dilemma is this question – “What will I buy for each of them?”  

Honestly, thinking about choosing the right holiday gift ideas can be cumbersome and overwhelming. But allow me to make choosing a lot easier for the lady recipient: How about a tote bag?

Very simple, eh? BUT this isn’t your ordinary tote bag. These are custom-made from photographs of anything and everything by yours truly. I love to share so I am sharing these for you to have for keeps. No art is ever called art without the artist’s individuality showcased in it, as they say. These printed tote bags carry each in itself a particular story – a memory so to speak. So, I am sharing to you a bit of my life’s journey in each item. Do bring me along in your journeys too – wherever they may be and whatever it may be. 😉

This one tote bag for example illustrates a photo during our first summer vacation as a couple in Zambales, Philippines. If you were enamored by the pristine waters and pure, white sand, you can actually plan a trip and head on over there to see the beauty for real. You don’t just have a photo as memorabilia, but also a bag which will remind you always of the beauty of the place for as long as you often use it.

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Another in the memory lane is this precious red rose (which I preserved for sentimental reasons) symbolizing an everlasting love – the first I received when hubby and I were still dating. Thought about editing it to make it look more rustic and not look like your typical red rose because it’s a special one for a special you.

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These are also some of the bags featured in this recently created collection which is a variety of different kinds of themes and concepts from black and whites to macros and landscapes:

If you want to browse for more tote bag designs, you can check out more of the collection in this website:

http://shopvida.com/collections/christine-lailani-ginete-rome

Oh, and if bags aren’t that alluring, the other collection I am starting might capture your interest like these awesome sleeveless tops:

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Happy shopping and wishing you all a VERY advance happy holidays! 😉

P.S.

I’d like to thank VIDA for this one great and wonderful opportunity and most of all to God for bringing in people to share what they can share and help the community. This is also in support of the Literacy Programs that VIDA offers to their makers to learn to read, write and do basic Math skills.

Stay tuned for more upcoming designs, my dear readers. Let’s continue sharing our God-given blessings and bless others too! ❤

Much love,

Tin

Hidden Paradise: Bicol’s Virgin Beaches

If I will be allowed to be proud of something, that I will reserve for the beautiful beaches that my hometown offers. I grew up in the province and as a kid, summertime with family means scouting local beaches and nature hopping from rivers, falls to springs and mountains.

It is through this that I got to appreciate nature at its best in its original beauty. Yes, that kind of beauty that is not tampered by man or any modernization. I have somehow developed this kind of appreciation when it comes to what is beautiful and having gone to commercialized beaches such as Boracay, I must say that I wasn’t fascinated that much at all compared to the ecstatic feeling I get every time my eyes lay upon the sight of paradise in its original state – how God created them and not how man created them.

It was this appreciation that taught me to love nature and care for it as if its part of me. I actually wanted to promote in our province, in light of this, an advocacy to tourists and locals alike how to enjoy nature’s bounty and yet at the same time, preserve its natural beauty. Commercialization of beaches as tourist spots means a flock of tourists which is also equivalent to more use of resources as well as more litter. The latter is what becomes far too common in all commercialized beaches.

I do not mean to be selfish and enjoy the luscious and diverse beauty that nature can offer just by myself, and yet it saddens me to know the fact that not all tourists have the same kind of appreciation and concern as I do. Seeing a single trash along the seashore is enough to make me furious and the first thing that goes into my head is this – how irresponsible the person who threw this trash is. Now this is something I should not do, for it is not right – judging and thinking negatively about any person. It is similar to committing a crime in God’s standards.

Instead of that accusing thought though, I might as well divert my thoughts how I could partner with the local government units in preserving local beaches which include but is not limited to informing the public (tourists and locals) about a policy that will implement stricter discipline when it comes to taking good care of nature. And I mean STRICTER DISCIPLINE.

I told my husband that this summer, instead of going to commercialized and expensive hotels and resorts (being the practical me), I suggested we visit my family in the province, celebrate Mother’s Day there and scout for local beaches which is what my family would usually do during summertime. So we went to this beach which is a 30-minute drive from home and we usually spend our family outing there during the summer and once during Christmas. What we saw next was the ultimate paradise deal.

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Mt. Bulusan in the background, the province’s active volcano.

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Combination of patches of seaweeds and sand.

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This beach is an inlet rich of diverse marine ecosystem and at the end of the reef is the Pacific Ocean. Pretty deep this ocean. So if you are not a swimmer like me, better stay a little closer to the shore. My husband is adventurous and yet when we both saw the different sea creatures we found in the reefs, we were fascinated and yet a little scared at the same time. He started joking that there might be a great white which somehow got inside the shallow reefs as there were plenty of other sea creatures to feed on.

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Something pink underneath.

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There’s the edible seaweed.

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My foot was here.

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Funny hubby with his signature wacky pose.

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There’s me introducing the rock.

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Well, it is a possibility, I told him and yet it should not hinder us from exploring what else does that inlet could offer. Besides, my family and I have been there a couple of times already and we never encountered or heard any incident about shark attacks or a jellyfish sting even. Although we saw this jellyfish-like sea creature which we could not identify whether an eel, a variety of a jellyfish or a sea snake. It looked harmless as local kids were poking it and covering it with sand. We tried to uncover it after they left but we couldn’t find a solid object to remove the heavy sand away. Besides, it is heaving so we know it is still alive.

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Local children covering the slimy sea creature with sand.

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Low tides are a great opportunity for me to explore what is on the ocean floor. Being a lover of Science (probably because my Mom used to be a Science teacher), I love exploring everything most especially when it comes to nature. I even thought that maybe I would’ve ended better if I pursued a degree in Biology. But that is not God’s plans for me. Or maybe it is, I just don’t know. Yet.  *smiles*

For me, the sea is a huge exploration ground. Very ironic because I do not know how to swim. Now you must be wondering how did that ever happen. Well, I am wondering about that too. *wink*  But I never let anything hinder when it comes to pursuing things that I am interested about.

So back to our seafloor exploration, we found a live snail, a small one and hubby and I enjoyed observing how it attempted to raise  “himself” up back to its crawling position. I didn’t know that a snail has a tiny claw/hook of some sort and it is fascinating to know that that hook is strong enough to lift itself up considering the hardness of the shell. We wanted to take a video of it but unfortunately we left our cameras already as we decided to swim and explore and we didn’t bring any waterproof camera case with us.

Oh and this edible seaweed. We eat them raw and just dip it in lime juice. It is a perfect side dish for barbecues or grilled fish. We call it as  “lato.” We saw local fishermen harvesting them during low tide somewhere before the reef ends and big waves from the Pacific Ocean hit the side of the reef or the wall of the continental shelf.

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The Pacific Ocean and the continental shelf.

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Our harvest.

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Harvesting a big one.

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We got to the beach about lunch time and after 2 hours, the tides begun to rise. Hubby and I waited as each small patch of dried seaweed start to be submerged in water again. We did swim nearby when the water level became high enough but because it was late in the afternoon approaching night time, we decided to take our leave and let nature have her rest too – it was feeding time for the sea creatures. Yep, we don’t want to be part of their food chain so out we went and just took photos around.

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High tide is finally here.

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White sand it is.

Indeed, right they are when they say that in order to keep things balanced with nature, you have to know your limits. Hubby usually is the adventurous type and is always on the go. But this time, it made me smile when I saw him learn to have this respect and love for nature out of awe and fascination. This was the same kind of awe and fascination that I first had when I was a kid which made me love and care for nature because I have learned to understand our relationship with it. We felt guilty though when we showed some locals the seaweeds that we were able to harvest and they said it was the right one but they usually pluck the stems out but leave the roots so it could reproduce.  *insert sad face here*

But it made me smile still. It means that they already know their limits as to the proper use of nature’s resources and how to take good care of her and this will be very essential in informing tourists like me about the limitations/boundaries between man and nature. 🙂

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God’s awesome creation, including him. 😉

The Christian From Bicol

(This is an excerpt from this post I have written back in November 2013 during the Typhoon Yolanda. I thought this particular content deserves to have it’s own separate article with a different title this time.)

Wherever God would take me, whatever God would give me, I will bring with me two identities: first, I am a Christian and second, I am a Bicolana.

I can never be more proud of anything I have and whoever I have become other than those two I have mentioned above.

Why a Christian? I am nothing and nobody without my God, first and foremost. My identity is in Him and I believe I need not say more as it is what it already is. 🙂

Why a Bicolana then? Ahh, this is most likely where I’ll be explaining more.

I grew up in the province. I spent more than half of my life there. As of writing, that is. There’s no other place that I could ever call ‘home’ except Bulan. Yes, that is my hometown, a small town in the city of Sorsogon somewhere in the southernmost part of Luzon.

Sorsogon City is a coastal area surrounded by beaches of all sand color from white, pink, to black –  you name it, we have it. Rich of natural resources, fishing and farming have been the sources of livelihood with almost all the Bulanons (that’s how we generally call ourselves).

Fishing

Fishing

If there is one value that being a Bicolana has taught me, it would be this – knowing your roots. In other words, learn to look back from your humble beginnings. Bulan is the one thing that has taught me how it is to be humble and to be grateful. Humility bespeaks when the heart is in awe of the mediocre. I know you are going to agree with me right there.

I came from a family of farmers. My parents, my grandparents and the parents before them all came from humble beginnings. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. Gratitude is what I could offer to my ancestors for the sacrifices and hard work that they have invested in providing the best for their families.

I came from a generation wherein I don’t have to go to the fields and do the farming myself and go home with sweaty clothes covered in mud just to pay for all of my expenses and supply my needs. An experience I never had to go through and yet something that I would want to go through.

CIRCA 1980s: My mom, aunts, uncles along with my grandparents.

CIRCA 1980s: My mom, aunts, uncles along with my grandparents.

They say that for someone to appreciate the value of something less than its market value and more of its sentimental value, you have to work hard for it and have it like how it is usually done and achieved. You have to sweat it out, so to speak.

I was listening to the podcast of Pastor Christian Flores regarding Victory’s new series entitled “It’s Not About The Money” two Sundays ago and he mentioned about the story of a farmer and how this farmer has invested his earnings in acquiring an even bigger barn where he could store more which actually resulted to his own destruction.

That made me thought about our farm, our farmers and what do we really get from it. For starters, our farm house did not change though how many years and decades have passed. We are earning just enough and we are still living frugal lives though we have acquired some possessions through time – still, I think it is not about the money. Money, for us, is something that has to do with survival but never to accumulate great wealth and live grandiose, rich lives.

I might be speaking out of righteousness here but if you will personally ask me, that is how I think it should be. I do not wish to dwell on this matter then and will just leave all the explaining to our Pastors as they lead us on with the series – a reason for you to stay tuned for our upcoming podcasts or better yet visit a nearby Victory church: http://victory.org.ph/. (Sorry for the shameless plugging, but I felt you would understand it better if the explaining would come from our church leaders).

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This is the season of harvesting and when I went home during the holidays last November 1 and 2, I chanced upon the last harvest in our farm. I have skin asthma and as much as I should be staying away from hay, I know it would not stop me from going along with my Dad. I suffered the consequences later on – cough got worse and itchy rashes came out that last for usually a week leaving black spots on my skin which then stay on for about how many months.

The last time I have been with my Dad during harvesting was when I was around 6 or 7 years old. I could still remember how our parents would ask us (not really me as I was way too young, but my sisters and brother) to help in drying the “palay”  we have harvested so they could be sold to the millers for a good price before they then sell it to the market.

Yes, how could I really forget all the scurrying here and there, to and fro when dark clouds come and heavy rains start to pour. It only means sweeping the grains, piling and covering them up as FAST as you can to prevent them from getting wet, thus lowering the chances of getting a low price as “palay”  buyers measure the moisture content of the rice grains. The drier the grain is, the higher its market value.

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Threshing of palay.

My Dad is not a farmer per se. He is a civil engineer who juggled two occupations at the same time – that of a farmer and a superintendent at the National Irrigation Administration in the Bicol region (officially at San Ramon, OIC in Masbate and Sorsogon City). He is now 74 years old, retired from his engineering career and yet a continuing farmer. I have always admired my Dad how at his age still manages to do what he would always do at the farm despite his arthritis, gout attacks, hypertension, cataract and other illnesses of the aged. Although we don’t dry the harvested rice grains anymore to lessen the stress level of all the scurrying and hurrying, tending the farm is still a busy and a lot of work to do.

I went to the farm with my Dad not to harvest the grains myself and have them threshed out but witness how it is usually done. I have to get into the particulars as to how to do this and that. Well, I might consider farming as my job someday. Yes, “Tin”  the farm girl. *wink*  I think I heard my Kuya’s sarcastic chuckle back there again. Haha Yeah, right. And yes, I wanted to observe how our farmers do it – our trusted and loyal workers. I admired them more than I have admired an office employee (no offense to office-based workers). But hard labor is no easy job. Exposed in the heat of the sun, bending over for hours either planting rice seedlings or harvesting them, soaked in mud or inhaling the itchy hay dust when threshing are, for me, among the most challenging tasks.

I closely looked at all of them. I saw Tio Digoy and Tio Kadog – they are the oldest among all of them. They have been working for my Dad since I was a kid. Now, their sons are working for us as well. I have learned to love them for all that they have put up for me and my family. I am praying that through us, their sons, daughters and grandchildren will one day have a better future because of their parents and grandparents’ hard work. Though that means we might lose workers in our farms, it would also be equivalent to giving everyone the chance to have better lives than what they have now.

I am praying too that someday there will no longer be a need for manual labor and everything will be run by machines operated in a clean office from planting to harvesting rice. That goes as well for harvesting coconuts and converting them into copra. The team of Tio Digoy also does them for us. Skilled, they really are. My family and I will always be grateful to them. We will always be grateful to Him for any blessing that He has bestowed as well as for His guidance and protection not just to me and my family but to our skilled workers and their families as well.

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Coconuts being made into copra.

So if most think this is what I do in Bicol:

Nope, that’s not it because this is what I usually do:

"Tin, The Farm Girl"

“Tin, The Farm Girl”

Quite the opposite, right? Well, aside from washing the dishes, cleaning the house, feeding the pets, etc. and having a little vacation time actually. We have no helpers or house maids back home and here in Manila, by the way. As it is written in the bible:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” – Matthew 10:45

Let’s all live a life of servitude, shall we my dear brothers and sisters? 🙂

#Goal

 

Dahil kahit sira ang aking laptop, wala pa ring nakapigil sa akin na mag-sulat sa blog lalo na’t ilang araw na akong natengga sa pagsusulat ayan na’t puro drafts sila at kahit pa tinatyaga ko ang mabagal na pag-type nito sa aking phone. 😉

Madalas kong maalala ang nabasa ko sa libro ni Pr. Joey patungkol sa buhay mag-asawa sa libro nyang pinamagatang “The One Thing That Saved My Marriage.”  This was what he shared about remembering an incident where he learned that one lesson that changed their lives as a couple:

We were visiting a church in snow-covered Washington, DC. Though it happened in 1988, I can still remember the moment vividly in my mind. The pastor said, “At the end of your life, you will find yourself in a hospital bed somewhere and the people surrounding your bed will not be your business partners and associates; they will be your wife and children. The saddest day of your life is when you look into her eyes and both of you realize that you did not love her and your children the way you should have.”

Kung interesado kayong mabasa ito, married or not, you can download this sa website nya (joeybonifacio.com) and you just have to subscribe and look for the book in the e-books bar section.

Parang tulad din ng sinabi ni Pr. Dennis sa seminar on careers sa Singles’ Getaway noong 2012 kung saan ako nagkaroon ng altar call. This was about his wife noong ito ay nagbabalak i-pursue ang pagme-medisina para maging doktor at pinapili nya kung buhay may asawa o pagdo-doktor pipiliin nya. He told his wife na kaya ba syang damayan ng kanyang medical career sa mga gabing naiiyak o nalulungkot sya dahil sa isang problema. His wife chose to prioritize him and the family.

I met my husband nasa katapusan na ako ng masteral ko. Ngunit pinili kong unahin ang pag-aasawa thus we got married kahit ‘di ko pa tapos MA ko. Now I jokingly asked my husband, “Hon kung matapos ko MA ko and pursue my PhD, papayagan mo ba ako?”

He seriously answered/asked: “Wala ka na panahon ‘nun sa amin ng mga anak mo. May gusto ka bang patunayan sa sarili mo, Hon?”

And I was silent. Smiled. Then laughed. It was really a joke.

Oo, tama sya. Para saan pa nga ba ang pag-pursue of “greater” things when God wanted us to be content with what we have taking into consideration things that really matter – if you are married, it is your spouse and family. When we claim for greater things then it also means greater responsibilities which as we all know requires these – more time, more effort, and more resources. I guess we never really can have the best of both worlds thus we have to choose and prioritize. Ngunit sa mata ng Dios, what comes after Him if you are married is not your career but your spouse.

Tama sila Pastor na sa pagtanda mo o kapag ikaw ay naaksidente o nasa ospital, it is not going to be your co-workers, your friends or your boss who will be there to stay with you 24/7. Lahat ng iyong kaibigan ay magkakaroon din ng mga sarili nilang pamilya ganun din mga kapatid at kamaganak at ang mga ka-close mo sa trabaho ay magre-resign din ‘di kalaunan.

Though it is nice to get achievements, it will become of no use when you get home and you have nobody to share it with who is there with you cheering you all the way from start to finish. There is a possibility though that your spouse will leave this world sooner which would prove that indeed, things of this world are only temporary.

Yet this will prove too that because life is short and everything is temporary, it is a must we give the necessary kind of love to the significant other that God has appointed to us if it is our calling to be married.

Maybe the best question we should ask ourselves now is to whom or to what are we investing most of our time now here on Earth? Are we using it to forge meaningful relationships living out the greatest commandment of God which is loving someone with a Christ-like attitude and preparing for life in eternity or we are just living the life within this world and conforming to its patterns?

Isa sa mga goals ko ang mabuhay ng simple, working to live and not living to work. I need money for survival and yet I rely on God for the rest of my needs. If we are getting everything we need and want thru our own efforts then we would become lukewarm in our faith thinking we don’t need Him to supply our needs.

Now this is contrary to what God wants from us dahil ang gusto lang Nya is for us to seek Him with all our hearts. ‘Yun at ‘yun lang kung tutuusin ang only goal natin in this world dapat.

With this in mind, I contemplated about not finishing my masteral. I prayed real hard about it and got an instruction from God to finish it in His perfect time. Plano kong mag-shift ng courses noong college at itong Special Education na course sana lilipatan ko. But I was advised na ituloy ko na lang undergraduate course ko and i-pursue na lang as master’s degree ang Special Education kung plano ko mag-aral ulit.

Matagal na panahon na ang lumipas pero hindi pa rin ako makausad sa masteral thesis ko to the point na tinanong na ako ng Kuya ko kung ito ba talaga gusto ko. Sabi ko oo, dahil gusto ko tumulong sa mga batang may kapansanan o special needs. Nararamdaman ko na dun malapit ang puso ko. Kung ‘yun daw ang purpose ko ‘di na kailangan ng master’s degree dahil marami namang paraan para tulungan sila.

Sagot ko naman hindi lang kasi ‘yun. Plano ko magtayo ng isang Special Education school at magiging maganda credibility ng school na ito kung alam ng mga magulang na ang may-ari ng school ay may alam sa Special Education. Plano ko rin maging hands on sa school na ito kaya dapat may alam ako sa Special Education, training at experience nang sa gayon masubaybayan at magabayan ko rin ang mga SpEd teachers na magtuturo sa aking school.

At hindi lang dito nagtatapos ang layunin ko dahil kasabay ng school ay plano ko magtayo ng isang foundation/therapy center na mangangalaga ng libre sa mga batang may kapansanan ngunit kapos para makakuha ng sapat na serbisyo sa kanilang mga needs doon muna sa aking hometown sa Bulan, Sorsogon sa Bicol region. Alam ko na sa mga plano na ito, malaking effort, mahabang panahon at malaking pondo kailangan kong bunuin.

Ito ay isa lamang sa mga long-term goals ko kahit pa ngayong ako’y may asawa na. At palagay ko magpapatuloy ito hanggang sa pagtanda ko. Alam ko malapit ang puso ng Dios sa mga bata at alam ko rin na ang Special Education ay isa sa mga paraan ng Dios para matulungan ang mga batang nabuhay ng may kapansanan. I know the Lord sees the challenges, the frustration and the pain that these kids, who are innocent, go through pati ng mga magulang nila. Ngunit sa kabila ng lahat ng ito, ito rin naging reminder ko:

“Many are the plans of man, but it is the Lord’s purpose that will prevail. (Proverbs 19:21)”

Sa ngayon patuloy akong nananalangin for the Lord’s instructions, guidance and provision. And yet I have faith na saan man ako dalhin ng Dios kahit pa sobrang kabaligtaran sa mga plano at pinapangarap ko ang mangyari, buo tiwala ko na it is for my own good at ‘di lang para sa akin, kundi para na rin sa asawa ko at sa mga magiging anak namin. Nagtitiwala ako na hindi man matupad itong pangarap ko in my lifetime, I have hope na nariyan ang opportunity na ang magiging anak ko ang posibleng mag-sakatuparan at tumupad ng mga pangarap na ito kung ito ay alinsunod sa will ng Panginoon at kung ito rin ang kanyang calling o misyon.

Sa ngayon, binigay sa akin ng Dios ang asawa ko. This means that whatever happens, sya ang pangalawa sa priority ko after ni God.

Ikaw kapatid, anong mga plano mo sa buhay ang inaalay mo sa Dios na bigyan ka ng gabay? Continue praying, God hears and answers. 🙂

“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

A More Appreciative 2016

Ahhh, yes. FINALLY. 🙂

It feels good to be back posting my thoughts in this special place I call “blog.” It’s been a month since I last posted as I’ve promised myself to keep the holidays as solemn as possible – an opportunity to spend quality time with me and my husband’s families and loved ones which equates to less social media interaction and doing the actual interaction with people. Yes, I still believe forging stronger relationships can only be done through meaningful conversations, moments of laughter, of just sitting there, reminiscing and just being with people you love.

Honestly and personally, the beginning of this year didn’t start well for me and my family. An incident during the New Year’s eve wherein my niece had a bad fall while we were using sparklers and a disagreement with my hubby made me tell him that this was the first New Year’s eve that didn’t go right and as happy or perfect. I thought of it as a sign or a meaning that is not just what the circumstances obviously portray.

I was too fearful back then and it was this fear that held back my freedom to try enjoyable and good things. But since I got saved, I channeled these fears of mine through prayers and relied on to God for courage. And what I will share are more like God’s answers in a visible way – a way in which we, humans, can relate. Although faith is the assurance of something that we do not see, and yet God also makes us feel His presence in ways that we can relate.

The first of these was a very visible sign – a rainbow. I know as a kid what rainbows meant, they appear after a storm. When I was in high school, Science have taught me how rainbows were created, it’s called prism. But it is God who taught me now what they really are for – to give hope. When my husband and I went to my hometown in Bicol which was struck by the typhoon Nona, the worst that was listed in the history of the town, we saw the devastation it brought upon my townspeople.

As our bus was getting nearer our hometown, I struggled to hold back the tears as I felt a piercing in my heart from what I saw – every house that we passed by was destroyed, completely roofless or blown away, electricity lines were all down, and the once luscious greenery was now leafless, brown and lifeless. I so felt the heaviness inside my heart that if given a private moment at that time, I want to drop down on my knees and weep. I know I have every right to ask God “why?” but I know God has a good reason for everything and I just have to continue seeing the good in every situation. Thus, I prayed silently in my heart – that God would give us hope.

We arrived home and was glad that my parents and my sister were safe and was extremely grateful that not one of our properties near our home was destroyed – not even our tree house! Which really was, for me, a miracle. It also survived super typhoon Yolanda  in 2013.

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Though it lifted my spirits up, I cannot stop thinking about those who will celebrate the holidays without shelter, without clean clothes, without electricity, food and jobs.

It was still early in the morning so my husband and I took the opportunity to go out the balcony at the second floor of our house which faces the rice fields and some houses. Lo and behold, our arrival was greeted by a rainbow in its full spectrum – colors as complete and as bold as they are from one end to the other. This was the first rainbow appearance that I have gazed in my entire life that is so complete. Both my husband and I were amazed, so he decided to capture the moment.

Since that day, we often see rainbows, sometimes two rainbows at the same time even. And my husband and I would just gaze up with a smile. Until came the day for us to leave my hometown. It was my sister’s birthday and to our surprise, an electrician came up to our house and informed us that they are now reinstalling electricity. Wow! We weren’t expecting it to be that soon as reports said it will take about 4-6 months to put up electric posts and lines. We teased my sister that she got the best birthday gift ever from God – electricity. 😀

And on that same day, as my husband and I boarded the bus and we were slowly leaving the town, I saw yet another rainbow in its full spectrum. As close as before even though we were in a moving vehicle. I tugged my husband’s arm and pointed the rainbow to him, that’s when I realized what God meant by rainbows. The power lines and electricity being restored were just a few of the many promises that God will fulfill and the rainbow was His sign of that promise. 🙂

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The second was during the Prayer and Fasting. My hubby and I were having disagreements about future goals that it came to the point wherein emotions were escalating. I went ahead and grabbed a stick note that belonged to my sister to better illustrate my point and started flipping its pages to find a new one when out fell a very old piece of paper. I could tell by the corners of it turned yellow by old age. I was still explaining while picking up this paper until something caught my eyes. The paper was a very old calling card and the most interesting thing about it was the name printed on that calling card, the name of a clinic – God’s Way Diagnostic Center. It looked too old that I was not even sure if the clinic still exists. 🙂

I have long given up the notion that everything happens coincidentally. Nothing happens by chance, perhaps by choice and yet there is this idea of the Grand Plan – God’s will. So I stopped talking, my husband also followed suit. I looked closely at the calling card and scrutinized every detail in it. I laughed. I smiled. My mood changed and here I was just savoring everything that was there in the calling card. Take note of what I have discovered: “God’s Way,” “man,” “United Nations,” Noe Lordan,” and “Sure ka dito.”

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I interpreted God’s message as this, if my husband and I continue to insist what we both wanted which is different from one another, we will be disappointed, we will be furious, we will have a fight and there will be no peace. BUT if we choose God’s way, then man will be united through the Lord and we will be sure of it.

I shared this to my husband, and we both agreed – God will give us the wisdom and will guide us in making the right decision in His time and at the right place. We have decided then to just include what we were disagreeing about in our Prayer and Fasting, which are now among our faith goals and settled the matter in peace. 🙂

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Last but not the least is the color “orange.” Yes, I am supposed to write this article 2nd week of January but I haven’t felt the urge to do so. And now I realized why. My sharing of testimony/revelations won’t be complete as some of them will take place just the 2nd week of January. Yes, everything in God’s time indeed. 🙂

So what about orange? Well, during the holidays I have received gifts from my loved ones and not that I am materialistic but because I am a keen observer, I was able to piece everything together. Or maybe God intended I find it out. I used to own a pen from my brother’s wedding, a green one. Somebody borrowed it and forgot to return it. I loved the pen so I asked my brother if he has spare ones. He said yes and circumstances aligned in a way that the only free time he can give it to me was over the holidays. So I got hold of the pen during the holidays and he asked me to choose from 3 colors – orange, green and blue. Blue is my favorite color, but this time, the orange pen attracted me in such a way that I chose it over the blue one. There were only two left of that color.

Then, when I opened my brother and sister-in-law’s gift to me, it was my favorite Paulo Coelho planner. Now this planner also has a very meaningful part in my spiritual journey as a Christian. And maybe that is the reason why for 3 consecutive Christmases now, I have been receiving this planner from my brother. To which I am very grateful. Nothing is ever meaningful than to write over something that God has meant for you to write on. And guess what the dominant color is in the abstract design of the cover? It is orange. 🙂

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I still wasn’t amazed by the orange thing until I remembered our Prayer and Fasting manuals, the dominant color is orange amid the black and yellow. So now…..I am beginning to wonder. There is no coincidence with God, right? 🙂

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I thought, there is something that God wanted me to find out with this orange thing. I shared this to my husband and told him, I still can’t decipher what this orange means but I know God wanted to tell me something or He wanted me to know something. This was 1st week of January. We finished the Prayer and Fasting already and yet no clear answers.

Then 2nd week of January came. My sister from Norway arrived and she brought with her gifts from her travel to Prague in Czech Republic. She made my husband and I choose between gold and bronze key chains with the engraved names of Praha and Ceska Republika. My husband chose the gold one and I happily settled with the bronze key chain. And while I was taking a macro shot of it, I noticed that bronze has a similar color to orange like tangerine. Except that it is darker. SO the orange thing was there again even from far, far away like Prague. 😉

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Now I believe God has intended I come to the conclusion of my findings. Something within me spurred the thought that I forgot to read all my devotion in Our Daily Bread since December 20 until December 31 so I did my backlogs. And voila, here’s the finding. In the December 25 devotion, the title is “Christingle.” It’s just like my name Christine, without the “g” and the “l.” Well, the reason why my Mom named me Christine was because I was born on December 22, Christmas time. 😉

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Christingle

AND here’s what I found out about Christingle. Do read along the devotion in the picture and be amazed. 🙂

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Here’s a definition of the color orange as well:

Orange is the colour between red and yellow on the spectrum of light, and in the traditional colour wheel used by painters. Its name is derived from the fruit orange.

In Europe and America orange is commonly associated with amusement, the unconventional, extroverts, warmth, fire, energy, activity, danger, taste and aroma, the autumn season, and Protestantism. In Asia it is an important symbolic colour of Buddhism andHinduism.[1] – Wikipedia

In other sources, orange also means joy and creativity. I was just fascinated to find out one of the meanings of “orange” in the Wikipedia definition which is Protestantism – the religion I grew up with as a child through my grandmother, the daughter of one of the pioneers of the Protestant church in our hometown.

My grandmother is for me the epitome of a woman of faith. No other woman have I encountered who has as much devotion in faith as she has through the 91 years of her life. We were able to visit her during the holidays and when I saw her, tears came running down my cheeks as I hugged her. She was bedridden from a bad fall and yet we can feel that her spirit is strong. There came a moment when she told us that she is already tired and she does not want us to live as long as she did. But my eldest sister assured her that God still has a purpose why she has to live that long. My only prayer to God for my grandmother is that she will have the peace in her heart that her family will always be guided by God and that her prayers were never unanswered. 🙂

So now I would like to end this article with the question from the theme of our Prayer and Fasting this year:

“Would you dare to believe?” 🙂

And also with this official soundtrack from the movie Prince of Egypt which I know has something to do with me planning to name our first baby boy with Zaphen, from Joseph’s Egyptian name Zaphenath Paneah. 😉

Though Whitney Houston died a tragic death, this song will always remind me of my memory of her and what this song aims to instill in our hearts – how to believe and have faith even with the impossible.

And it has now become my tradition to include a prayer in the very first article that I will write for the new year here in my blog. Please pray this prayer with me my dear brothers and sisters:

“Dear Father,

Though we do not see the future and though fear may start to creep in our hearts for the many trials and challenges, the “giants” that will come our way, we pray that You give us the courage and the strength to overcome them all. Please guide and protect us as we continue to tread along the journey that you have set out for us to accomplish. 

We are rest assured that You are and will be with us in all that we will go through. We claim that in the name of Your Son, Jesus, we will will not just be conquerors but we will be game-changers and leaders in spreading Your Word and Your Love.

Thank you for the many things and the many ways that You have assured us of the Grace, the Love and the Hope. We will continue to seek for Your Name and we will give You all the glory and honor that You deserve.

Please teach us how to be more appreciative of the things that we have through what You have given, to be joyful despite the storms and may You continue to be our source of Light despite the darkness around us. 

We send this prayer from our hearts with all our love and through the mighty name of Your Son, Jesus,

Amen.”

Let’s have a more appreciative 2016, everyone! 🙂 ❤

Here Comes Blogapalooza 2015!

Hey, hey, hey! It is that time of the year once again. 😀

If you are curious about the what, the where and the how, Blogapalooza 2015 is here to rock our town. YES. The country’s biggest blogapalooza event where bloggers and businesses converge nationwide to share and connect is now ready to once again give us the newest and the latest trends in the modern world today.

If you are a blogger or a business interested to join in this awesome event, sign up now by visiting our Blogapalooza 2015 website here: http://blogapalooza.ph/.

See you there! 🙂

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On Civil Weddings and Believers

I’d like to start this article by saying that my civil wedding posed a lot of interesting questions based on two grounds:

  1. I am a devoted believer.
  2. The assumption that I am yoked to an unbeliever.

The following two questions are the frequently asked and I believe it is just right that these questions popped up for a lot have been under the cloud as to what really is what, causing some to stumble in their faith which, as believers, we are not supposed to do to others. I admit I, myself, am being corrected each and every single day. And I mean, each and every single day. So these questions and the answers to them are a breather to me as well. 🙂

First question:

“If you get married through a civil wedding, does that make your marriage unholy or a sin?”

Second question:

“How would you know if your future spouse is a believer or not?”

For the first question, we were already informed during our Engagement/Wedding Preparation seminar in church by our pastors that there is nothing wrong being married through a civil wedding. Tradition, which is cultural, and social norms (which can be a misconception) imply that a couple be wed in church with all the grandiosity of the entourage and the reception. I intend to share this in another article for I did find a lot of blogs of unhappy brides during their grand, dream weddings.

I cannot claim expertise on this matter and our pastors only shared a few insights as to why it is okay to get married through a civil wedding but I did find this article on one of my favorite websites when it comes to dealing with familial and relational issues Christian-wise.

I highly recommend you to read this article and read more related articles in their site as they were all insightful:

http://family.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/26434/~/a-christian-view-of-civil-marriage

And also this one:

http://family.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/26208/related/1/session/L2F2LzEvdGltZS8xNDQwODM3MTQzL3NpZC9BNVI2TDZ2bQ%3D%3D

For the second question, I honestly admit I struggled with this in the early stages of my relationship with my husband back when we were still dating. And I believed I made two common mistakes that believers do unknowingly: judge and condemn. Reading this article came as a rebuke. And if you are to read my previous articles too, you will know that the Spirit also made the rebuke through the Scripture and selected bible verses that are truly answers to questions and doubts I have been brooding over for a time. I hope to share this article with you as again, I cannot claim any expertise on this matter as I am no minister or theologian, I am just a writer who writes from her soul. 😉

This is a very long read but please do take time to carefully read through the important points:

http://www.concordant.org/expohtml/TheEvangel/WhatIsABeliever.html

And since I have posted articles here written by people I do not personally know, I’d like to post a disclaimer that it is best to read through all of them with the guidance of the Spirit. And by the end of the day, it is still the Scripture that we should rely more for Godly wisdom. But these articles were written by people who also composed the body of Christ and I believe they were also called to do the mission/task that God has appointed to them. As my brother would always say,

“It is always a matter of faith. It has been and always will be.”

And for my personal advice as a sister in Christ, I recommend consistent praying and undying faith will lead you to where God would want you to be. I had a lot of fears, I used to, had a little bit now but this is what God particularly assured me for my relationship with my husband now (shared this revelation in my previous articles):

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18

Tin Ginete

08/17/2015 – Sealing The Commitment

Hold on to God, hold on to His Word, seek His counsel and as one brother in Christ of mine advised, “overload yourself with prayers.”  What matters is the commitment – honor the commitment, honor the decision you made out of love for your partner, honor your God-given free will when you used it to make that decision, then you honor God.

Of course, I am looking forward and very much excited to have our church wedding next year wherein all our beloved families and friends are complete to witness our re-affirmation of wedding vows to God officiated by a minister this time. 🙂

P.S.

What was so funny during our civil wedding ceremony was that we were told by the clerk that our signatures were almost similar. When we looked at the marriage certificate, we can’t help but agree.

AND I really wonder why I decided, decades ago, to use this signature of mine which is so, so far from my initials. It doesn’t look like a letter “C” or letter “L” or even a “G.” My husband’s signature looked closer to his initials though. Oh well, the wonders and the mysteries never end, do they? 😉

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13

Imperfect But Keep Trying

My sharing the gospel is intentional. It is not for popularity nor to appear as the good, blessed, perfect girl. I am not that. Because my Fb, Instagram and Twitter accounts all serve as a testimony of my walk in faith through ups and downs. Not just the good stuff. 🙂

Bible verses and quotations on faith rarely get people’s attention. That is our culture and that is why the more that faith should get a voice on social media.

If you are a believer, share your faith. What we are afraid of is that when we make a mistake again, we might not be credible enough in sharing the gospel anymore.

But here is my challenge:

Did God tell us that our mission is to back down when plans fail and things go bad? Would God want us to hide behind the sins of our past and live in fear and condemnation? What if our failures are the work of the enemy to hinder us from fulfilling God’s mission for us? Who will we give the glory, God or the enemy?

 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”