Clique: Time for the Annual Barkada Shot

I guess there are just some things (well, maybe lots) that we’ll never outgrow.

One thing I’ll never get tired of or outgrow are the barkada (clique or group of friends) and family pics. Hahaha!

So forgive my penchant for nostalgia as I post some photos of our high school barkada’s dinner and “reunion” last Friday evening. I consider them God’s blessings. We practically grew up together and have been friends through thick and thin (literally and figuratively). Our friendship go a long way back – wait, let me do the math. I think at least 20 years now. Hmmm, grade six until today. Go figure.:)

I still remember my dad fuming mad at us during our HS prom as we were all very late for the event as we got tangled up at the Colours Photo Studio along Mango Ave. beside Rustans supermarket then just to have our group pic taken. He was the one driving us to the event and he waited for us for a loooong time. ;D

Guess the younger kids don’t remember that place anymore. Now all they have is a smartphone + Instagram or Facebook and instant upload. Then we had recopies and negatives. Ooh la la! So old, I am!

Among the times we’d get to reunite and bond again are Annabelle’s birthday (August), her son N.’s birthday (October) and Christmas when our friends who are living and working in Singapore come home to spend the holidays here.

Here’s our latest pic together minus half of the group. Two could not join us. Two are in Singapore and one is based in Manila. So it was just the 6 of us but oh was it a noisy, fun and “bulabog” (unruly) 6. Hah! I dare say these are some of the times when I keep forgetting I’m in my 30s already and no longer in high school. ;D

My first time at Dolce last Friday and oh how I loved the interiors and the lighting! The place is one-of-a-kind.

Okay, now I’m going to post some through-the-years group pics that we’ve had every time we bond. As always, no matter how fun it is to catch up and update each other about what’s going on with our lives, the talk almost always goes back to our high school crushes, the fun that we had in school and the fond memories of old classmates and teachers! As if! We’ve been friends for so long that we’re already used to each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies and yet still discover new things about each other every now and then.:)

Thank You, Jesus, for friends who are like wine. The older, the better it gets. 🙂

UZ at Annabelle’s pension house last year – August 2011

Baby Eya’s birthday (Diya’s daughter) Diya is the sexy mommy in purple. 🙂

Nathan’s birthday, October 2011 with Aaliyah, our honorary member 🙂

our annual Christmas get-together, December 2011

Annabelle’s birthday, 2010 at Cafe Laguna

August 2010

Dinner with the hubbies, January 2009 🙂

UZ THEN…Brace yourself for some really geeky and old school pics. Hahaha!:)

Pics courtesy of our friend A.’s FB album

Look at them then 🙂 hahahaha! funny!

Senior year field trip at Philippine Dream (this is UZ with our male barkada counterpart) hahaha! so cliquish and childish that time! (That’s me at the rightmost side) hahaha

high school graduation 🙂

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My happy thought: Teaching :)

There are a lot of things I don’t want to admit.

One of them is missing those teaching moments in a classroom and another one is missing the kids I taught.

I’m not teaching in the classroom set-up right now though I’m still “teaching” as a tutor. The set-up is quite different from the classroom thingy but I have to admit that the fun and the challenges of imparting what you know and understand to these kids are the same.

The “I miss ’em” syndrome hit me last Sunday when I attended a bash {quite a bash} of a former student who turned 4 years old. Most of the kids I had taught last year were there and it was such a joy and a privilege to hug them and talk to them even for just a minute. The hugs and the innocence and the refreshing candor of kids are just one of the many things that a preschool teacher misses.

Teacher Kha and I with E during C’s birthday bash. We had our photo taken since he’ll be leaving for the US for good. 😦 No smiles from E here. 🙂

Last night, I got to sharing what was in my heart with my dad and my mom about missing my former students and wanting to open a preschool. That is the second thing I have to admit. I want to start a school. Something that never crossed my mind in the last 12 years I’ve been a teacher.

I’d like to have a preschool or a daycare where children from less privileged families can go to school by paying a minimal fee of P300/month. How I will manage to operate in those figures will take a miracle from heaven.

For two years, I taught in a preschool that catered to kids who come from very affluent families – expat kids and children of businessmen and politicos. It was a delight and so much fun to teach in that environment where we had a lot of resources {papers in all colors, all kinds of art materials, educational toys and manipulatives and every learning resource necessary to catch the kids’ attention and inspire them to love learning}, meaningful learning experiences and good facilities but oftentimes I would catch myself dreaming and thinking “God, how do I make this available to those kids from the slums or from the streets?” I am praying and waiting that I’ll have wisdom and the answers from heaven to make this a reality.

It hit me then that God has a purpose why I’ve handled all four levels. In the past, I’ve looked at it as signs of not knowing what level I should be in but this time I am starting to see that God set me up. Now, it is a privilege for me to have taught 2.5-3.5 year olds, high school students for a practicum stint, college students for the most of my teaching life and now this new level, teaching or tutoring elementary students.

I’d like to confess that the times that I look forward to most when tutoring is that time when we’re done with all the assignments and it’s what I call “laughing time” where we horse around, they ask the funniest questions, goof around with my camera phone and just enjoy that time with each other. That is also one of the times that I miss with my college students. Me just sitting on a bench, them approaching me and talking…talking about everything and anything under the sun. I think it’s the humanity factor and stamp that we teachers enjoy the most. It’s relating and connecting with your students and enjoying that moment that leaves an imprint on you.

So as I enjoy this season of my life where I am teaching in a non-classroom set-up, I’d like to share some snapshots that always, always make me smile or laugh out loud when I look at them remembering those times I spent with young people. One of my regrets though is that the first five years I taught, camera phones were not that nice plus the fact that I didn’t have one so I didn’t have a lot of pics from my early teaching years. Still those moments are forever engraved in my heart and they will always be one of my happy thoughts.

Unforgettable photo walk aka exercise along Colon with my Philippine History class 🙂

Super loved this batch!

Practicum in a public high school 🙂 ’twas such fun and challenging!

My Abellana High {evening class} students, DPE Practicum

This City that I love

There have been a LOT of times that I wish I could write and fill my blogs {I have three other blogs scattered all over the net} with just happy, cutesy and all things “crafty” and delightful but I never got around to it because somewhere in between the things like poverty, child trafficking, hunger and homelessness and a heart that’s crying out for the Philippines to be changed and to see God’s rule and reign overtake the desire to make a lifestyle blog out of my sites.  So I guess I’ll just have to say goodbye to that “lifestyle blog” desire and really stick to writing about the things that keep burning in my heart.

You’ll find a lot of Cebu and the Philippines stuff here.  This burning love for the city where I belong to is part of the DNA from both my physical and spiritual fathers – my dad and our senior pastor, Pastor Joe Di.  I’ve never met anyone who so loves the Philippines more than these two people do and from them I will always be grateful that the love for this nation and to see it change and transform was imparted.

Pastor Joe Di, last year, got a dream that turned our direction as a church as he received a burden from God to speak out and pray against the child/human trafficking problem in Cebu.  It has been an amazing thing to see a lot of child trafficking rescues by IJM and more children and women rescued from trafficking dens.

It just blows your mind to see what God can do through a people who partner with Him in declaring His desires and dreams over a city.  It will change the atmosphere.  It will open prison doors and bring healing to hundreds and thousands of lives.  I am excited for what God has in store for us this year as we continue to pray, listen to His leading and seek His face for this fight against child and human trafficking.  There is so much favor! Doors just keep opening and people are listening!  Thank You, Jesus!

Will you be a voice for these children who have no voice?  Will you be their champion?

It is time to speak out.  It is time stand up and cry out for those who cannot. 

Silence is injustice.  Indifference is a crime.

What can I do?

I was browsing through a blog today and stumbled on this graphic designer‘s book cover design and this title immediately got my attention.

What can I do? by David Livermore {published by Zondervan}

Isn’t it amazing how God speaks to us in so many ways and not just once?  I remember Him asking Peter “Do you love me?” three times and Him answering Peter “Feed my sheep” thrice, too.

Today was the third time God spoke to me particularly about something this week but one’s that been burning in my heart for years now.  I’ve been meaning to blog about, ponder and plan about but never got around except to praying about it which is the first step, actually.

I’m talking about homelessness and poverty.  For years, I’ve always teared up or felt so down whenever I see a child or families sleeping on the sidewalks.  I’m teary-eyed because I don’t know what to do or where to start from.

The closest thing I’ve ever done to help them was almost 7 to 8 years ago when I required my Rizal classes in USC {University of San Carlos} to go out to the streets and help someone in need as their final exam requirement.  We went out distributing food like sandwiches, food packs like noodles but it was only a one-time thing.  What is in my heart is a long-term solution to this, something sustainable and one that can truly uplift and change the lives of the people in the sidewalks.

The first thing that God used to remind me of this desire and dream of mine was a video posted by zerothreetwo in tumblr about this certain, middle-aged man in his briefs washing his shirts in dirty, canal water in the middle of the streets with nobody even approaching him to hand him a shirt or do something to help him.

What should we do?  We must do something.

Second wake-up call was last night’s prayer during our cell group meeting.  Tita Nene, my cell group leader, shared how she noticed more people and families sleeping/living on the sidewalks.  We prayed that God would give us solutions and answers to this social problem.

I was crying last night because I didn’t just want to stop at praying.  I was asking God for a clear-cut solution to this.  I know our prayers were already moving the hand of God but I’m asking that God would awaken individuals, organizations, businesses and politicians to look at them through the eyes of compassion and DO SOMETHING.

I did not write about it last night when I got home even when I’ve been meaning to until this afternoon when I stumbled on this book cover and I knew – without a shadow of a doubt -that God was again reminding me of this.

The book was the third and last wake-up call.  Yes, I will continue to pray but starting today, I am going to write about it, discuss this with my dad {for the nth time} about what we can do and I’m going to start talking about this with my friends.

I don’t really know what to do but my eyes and my heart are on God because I know He has the answers and I know that He loves these homeless people and has great plans for them.

The world is groaning for redemption. Fatherless children long
to be loved. Trafficked women hope for freedom. Hungry families
crave food. There’s something desperately amiss in our world, but
there’s hope. A global perspective combined with your God-given
interests, relationships, and experiences is a part of how Christ will
redeem the world we share. – David Livermore, What Can I Do?

12 IN 2012

1.  Continue to paint. Hmm like every day.  Today I did four and found only two to my liking.

2.  If only I had the time I would like to write a children’s story and do the illustrations.  I’d like to write a story about Jesus, His love and His Kingdom in childlike terms.  Kinda like what Max Lucado wrote but more on the simple side like honoring parents, obeying God and Daddy and Mommy and being kind to cite a few themes.

3.  I’d like to start making  birthday or greeting cards regularly {handmade in watercolor + Sharpies}.  I’m thinking of making one for my sister for her birthday this July. 🙂 Cards that celebrate God’s faithfulness and mercy for you and for me!

4.  Make or paint artworks, bookmarks and note pads of flowers {‘coz they’re easy} and landscapes with Bible verses or quotable quotes about God, His love, His goodness and faithfulness!

5.  Go back to learning how to play the piano.  As soon as my schedule and budget will permit me, I’ll start to enroll in piano lessons. 🙂 tee hee!

6.  Ask my mom to let me do the laundry, rather, teach me how to use the washing machine.  Why?  My mom is an OC when it comes to washing clothes.  She never and I repeat never wants any other hand than hers to touch our clothes.  She does not trust anyone to do the laundry.  Well, I understand.  IMO, she’s the best laundrywoman there is.  Our clothes always smell fresh and clean since she washes them two to three times with soap before rinsing.  Imagine the hours she puts in, huh.

7.  Continue to write and do research about Cebuano history.  Just tidbits and pieces just to keep my historian-side-of-the-brain sharpened while I am on hiatus as a History teacher this season.

8.  Pray and Wait. 🙂

9.  Finally come up with a project plan or a framework for that daycare dream that’s burning in my heart.  Okay, the secret’s out.  I still dream of starting that daycare where parents who cannot afford the more expensive preschool setup can send their kids to school.  My friend and I are thinking of charging them like P300/month for 10 months.  The miracle here is to keep that rate and still come up with a good facility, resources and supplies for the kids.  That said I’ve yet to go to DSWS or the LGU where I’m part of to ask for the requirements.

10.  Pursue or enroll in graduate studies in Education next semester.

11.  Write my Jeepney Chronicles consistently.  Say like every week, perhaps?

12.  As early as now {June to July}, I’d like to scour the city particularly in Freedom Park for something I can paint on or decorate so I can give ’em as Christmas gifts.  Still thinking and looking at this time.

Wow, thinking about what to do is something but I think writing and stating them is a different thing altogether.  It makes it doable just because you finally see it in visible terms instead of all these ideas just up in your head.

Habakkuk 2:2-3:  “…Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.  For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie.  If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” – ESV

Jeepney Weird 101

Lately I’ve been taking more jeepney rides than taxi rides.  Why?  Way cheaper.  And since there’s a need for a lifestyle change {or more specifically, a budget change}, I’ve subscribed to riding in jeepneys than hailing a cab though the latter is always too tempting for me.

Just to give you a comparative “study” of the great fare difference, this is how it costs when taking a jeep vis-a-vis taking a cab to that part of Talamban.

Jeepney fare from Echavez to Petron Nasipit, Talamban – P9.00 at the cheapest.  Some drivers don’t give me change whenever I give them P10.00 or P11.00 like I did today.

Taxi fare from Echavez to Petron Nasipit, Talamban – minimum fare which means not including the traffic jam factor:  estimated fare = P140-150.00

In my almost two to three weeks of riding a jeep to and fro somewhere in Talamban, I’ve seen and heard people from all walks of life.  I’ve fashionista jeepney-mates {that’s what I will call the ones I take the jeepney with}, noisy, brash and rude jeepmates, the cute guy with the boy-next-door look or the artsy gutsy type of guy who always seems to look mysterious.  Then there are the middle-aged women lugging their heavy plastic bags filled with vegetables and, sometimes, meat fresh from Carbon.  Or the yayas with the kids in their care in tow dragging their humongous bags behind them.

Then there was this weird thing I saw last night.  Maybe to me it was the weirdest incident I’ve ever seen but maybe to the others in that jeepney it was just something out of the ordinary.  Their eyes did not even blink when it happened but I could not hide the shock and the surprise on my face.

As I boarded the 62C jeep last night, a girl across me looked at me and I looked back.  I then looked at the kinda cute guy beside her but there was something unsettling about her.  Too much makeup and a too tight blouse.  Too many excesses.

My gaze went next to the girl seated beside her, near the entrance of the jeepney.  She had a haunted, glazed look on her face that I could not explain and something about her – to be honest about it – really frightened me.  Her straight, relaxed hair was plastered on her head and some strands covered her forehead and there was just an air of anger or something dark in her expression.

The girl with the too tight blouse leaned forward and for a moment it dawned on me that they were a couple.  I was shocked.  I tried to hide it by looking away.  It was the first time I saw something like that so closely.  Like across me.

The jeep was already infront of Gaisano Countrymall, its driver calling out to the people at the jeepney stop when suddenly everything happened so fast.

The girl with the plastered hair suddenly puked and threw up on her left side, her vomit hitting a man in his 40s standing near the jeep, trying to get in.  I was so aghast and did not know how to react.  But what was worse was that the people across and beside me did not even react visibly.  Maybe they were like me too – trying to hide my shock.

I looked at the man who had been “hit” and our eyes met and I saw that he knew I sympathized with him.  She did not even apologize or acknowledge him.  She just kept right on looking at us across her as if daring us to say or do something.

I felt like a coward for not rebuking her or for not saying something.  My fear of being attacked by a weird person like her overcame the urge to say something.  As for my jeepney mates, silence was the order of the day.  I don’t know if it was just nothing to them or they, like me, also pretended to ignore it.

My mom said, when I told her about it today, that maybe she was an addict or a drunk and that the ones beside me might have already known that fact and did not want to interfere.

I was just grateful the man didn’t get the full brunt of her “puke”.  But for me the whole thing really weirded me out and scared me.  I have had a lot of amusing jeepney stuff happen almost every day but that was the first time I encountered something gross and upsetting as that incident and without remorse at that.

So there, this probably isn’t something shocking to you, my dear reader, but to me it was. 🙂

Snappin’ as I wait…

This season I am learning to wait.  I’m not talking about marriage {though I’m praying and waiting for that too} but waiting everyday.

Since I’m in a “new routine” in this time of my life, I’ve learned to wait for people I need to meet.  Learning to wait beyond my comfort zone.

And as I wait, I get to see different people each with their own stories to tell, paths taken and full schedules.

There’s the jeepney that’s always in a hurry.  Biyaheng-langit {Heaven-bound because its speed looks like it just wants to crash and burn} we call them.  Almost as if a cop or a rocket launcher is after them.  Always in a hurry.

A sharp contrast though to the rushing jeepneys are the passersby walking  – not on the sidewalk but on the main thoroughfare – without a care if the rushing jeepneys bump them or not.  Okay, I’m exaggerating.  Man, sidewalks were meant for walking.  But in this area where I often stand and wait, the sidewalk has become the hawker’s stall – where students from the public school buy a candy or two, a pack of junk food after class.

It’s an interesting scene.  There have been many times that I wished I had a point-and-shoot or a DSLR to snap photos of the varying facial expressions that pass me by every afternoon as I wait.

Most of them walk by – mothers with toddlers, a teacher in a hurry, two or three students on their way home.  A few smile.  Some look at me strangely as I go about taking pictures of the cars, shadows, the leaves and everything.  The picture-taking is probably a sign of boredom to them. 😉

But for me I am learning that one must enjoy the time of waiting and maximize what I can learn and get out of it.

I snap away.  I read an e-book on my phone.  I do some last minute reviews.  Once, I talked to the strangers who offered me a seat.  They probably took one glance at my heels and offered me the plastic chair.  The topiary and the beautiful potted plants catch my eye and I can’t help but feel happy and blessed, wondering how uniquely and intricately they were made by a loving God.

I continue to wait until I see the familiar car come out of the driveway and I rush into the car happy to have the waiting over.

But waiting time was surely not in vain. 🙂