September: Life in Snapshots

Here are some photos of how September flew.  I think the song with the lyrics that say “Wake me up when September ends…” is somehow apt to describe how fast this month passed by.  It came like a dream.  Quite.a.rush.

But one good thing about being busy these days is that I’ve been busy studying, meeting up with long lost friends, cousins, bonding with my nephew and niece and good friends.  It was worth the full sched. 🙂

One Friday evening with my cousins, Joan and Ken {the one who took the photo} at SM City Cebu
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My sister Happy {the one beside me} and I had lunch with J., a good friend of ours from Manila. She tells me it’s been 8 years since we last saw each other. Surprisingly, it felt like it was only yesterday since I last saw her. That’s how you know you’re with a friend. 🙂
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Had a great time playing “Breakthrough” with M, a good friend & now-cousin-by-marriage, at Cafe Caw. :))
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One Sunday evening after our family dinner at my sister’s place, we played dominoes with the kids. Losers get lipstick streaks. Boo! The three of us lost to my sister {their mom} and my bro-in-law. It was a hilarious and fun time with family! Precious moments.
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This is how the Marvel dominoes look like.:) The cause of all those lipstick marks on our faces. ^_^

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I look forward to spending one hour with them every Sunday afternoon. Our church has scholars and as part of their scholarship privileges, we also have bible studies with them. I am blessed and privileged that God allowed me to be a part of their lives in this season. 🙂

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Where art thou, Lady?

I thought it was only August that brought with it its own rush.  Also September.  What with all the Long Tests and projects of my tutees plus my mom’s birthday’s surprise {Her birthday is on the 22nd.  That’s Saturday here} and two weddings on the same weekend! Wooh!  Just thinking about ’em is enough to keep me busy.

But what’s actually keeping me busy these days is that I’ve started my self-review for the coming Teachers’ Board Exam this coming March or April.  It’s actually a face-your-fear turning point in my life.  I am baring my heart out here.  You see I’ve dreaded taking this exam since it’s been a looong time since I’ve faced major tests/exams since I last graduated.

Today, my motto is “I’ll study, do my best and GIVE God the REST.”  I’m actually excited as I’ve been studying almost everything from Math to Science to Professional Education subjects.  I study whenever I can.  And tonight, I’ve de-cluttered and rearranged my study table to give way for my reviewers and my notes.  I kept and phased out my teaching stuff from the two years that I taught preschool and put my reviewers and books on the limelight here on the table.  🙂

As I went back to studying Principles of Teaching, Teaching Methods and Strategies, Educational Assessment and the nitty-gritty details and technical stuff, God taught me one very important thing about teaching through my tutees, M.  I will write more about it when I’m not pressed for time and their LTs {long tests} are done.  He reminded me again that more than techniques, strategies and critical thinking activities, LO.VE is still at the heart of teaching and what’s really at the heart of His Kingdom.

Surely, surely, “Perfect Love casts out all fear.”  That verse became so clear to me tonight as He was talking to me about how to handle, encourage and just plain love my tutee…AS IS.

There’s got to be more, Teacher

As a nation, we need a curriculum that demands more from our students than the mere memorization of facts, and a move toward a curriculum that supports deep and meaningful understanding of content, creative and critical problem-solving skills.

from Janet English quoted in “What is a Good Teacher Worth?

I think her sentiments are not only what’s needed for American education but also for the Philippine educational system, too.  As we are now implementing the K-12 program, there is still a need for teachers to focus on critical thinking and, I think, the more important quality to be developed – a love for learning – in the students.

I think students who are inspired to know more, learn to ask and probe issues and matters at hand rather than students who just memorize are the ones that will go on to invent new stuff, come up with new ways of doing things and shake the prevailing mindsets.

We must teach kids and students to think, dream and connect the dots instead of settling for just parroting us and what they read in the books.

one of my practicum classes in a public night high school 🙂

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 🙂

Quite an August Rush

August 1 came and I remembered a very good friend posting the line “august rush” on Facebook.  I clicked on the “Like” button not knowing that August would not only bring a rush with it but a “deluge” of stuff as well.

The floods in Manila, the death of a relative, an open door for volunteering (tutorials, I’ll write about this in a separate post), Secretary Jesse Robredo’s death – our Department of Interior and Local Government secretary, and the highlight of the month:  my first ever quarterly exams with the kids that I’m tutoring.  I didn’t know that would be a tough one.  Good thing we made it unscathed and with a lot of A’s. 🙂

What do I write about first?  I told my sweet blogger friend, Lydia of lifeloveandlydia that the right words still escape me on how to write about an uncle’s death.  This post will be an attempt to do so.  Tito R was my mom’s second cousin.  Her father and his mother were cousins.

He was only 44.  He would have turned 45 this September but one Sunday during the first week of August, death suddenly came creeping and he collapsed while he was biking in the recently held Ironman Triathlon here in Cebu City and was DOA (dead on arrival) at Chong Hua hospital.  The autopsy report attributed his death to an embolism that affected his lungs.

As soon as my parents and I got hold of the news, I was in denial.  “Maybe they just got the name wrong” to “No, his name is not here on the official list” as I was scanning the athletes’ names on the web.  All those “they’re wrong” denial stuff went into my head.

His family and our family were close when my sister and I were pretty much younger – school girls age.  We would spend Christmas and their birthdays at their house and we’d dance and sing for them and their parents.  We had fond memories of Tito R because he was boyishly handsome, warm and very nice to us kids.  They were a very close-knit family and Tito R and his siblings were always nice to us kids even when they were all grown up and working.

When we grew up and went to Manila for college, I guess we drifted apart.  We no longer had a chance to bond with them and the rest of the family.  The last time I saw Tito R was almost two years ago when I had a trip to Manila and he was there at the check-in counter overseeing the luggage check-in.  He was a load controller at Cebu Pacific.

When I got to my sister’s house for our Sunday family dinner we were still hoping the news that our family friend told Daddy was wrong.  It was only until my sister Happy read my Aunt J.’s (his sister) status update that the news was confirmed, “We will miss you, R.”  Shucks, it was him.  No amount of willing that it was wrong could not make it untrue.  He really was gone.

So many questions were running in our mind but the foremost and the biggest question was, “Why him, Lord?”  It was only when my dad, mom and I got home after our dinner and I was all alone here in my room that I finally got the chance to cry and pour out my resentment and my questions “Why did it happen?”

Now, I understand that we don’t really know when our time is.  That incident made me realize how frail life is and how someone we know can actually be taken away in a moment, in a blink of an eye.  As my dad put it, “you can be having breakfast with a person one day and the next hour or in the afternoon that person can be gone from your life.  There are things that are beyond our control.”

Yes, only God really knows our times and seasons.  One thing we can do though is ask ourselves “Am I ready to face my Creator and my God when it’s my time?”  “Have I repented and made peace with my Savior, Jesus, knowing that because of his death and resurrection I can live throughout eternity?

A photo snapped by a friend of Tito R before the incident

Tito R’s burial gave us the chance to reconnect with family whom we haven’t seen for a long time. We finally saw one of my aunts (the one in white blouse) after almost 20+ years after her wedding

While we were reconnecting with family, these two adorables (my nephew and niece) also had a whale of a time running around the memorial park and hiding behind and between the tombs. I couldn’t resist snapping a pic or two of them enjoying their time there just before the heavy rains fell.

Overwhelmed by Love

The love of God is so overwhelming.

It is the kind of love that transforms sinners into saints and calls back the prodigals home.

Nothing we’ll ever do will make Him love us less. It’s as perfect as perfect can be.

It does not love during the good times only but remains steadfast even when we’re at our lowest point, inspite the failures, wrong choices and what-have-yous.

Jesus continues to love.

He’ll whisper it to you while you’re walking, show it to you as you share His Word with someone in need of healing, He’ll write it in BIG letters up in the sky for all the world to see.

But the greatest demonstration of Christ’s love was on two pieces of wood, shaped as a Cross.

He didn’t only say it, write it, sing over us, shower us with gifts as lovers are wont to do, He did all those and beyond that…

Jesus gave His life. Willingly. With joy.

That, my friends, is what real love is.

Today, as His love overwhelms me that it just almost makes my heart burst, I feel myself loving Him more and more.

We love because He first loved us. 🙂

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Color my World

I’ve been scouring the net for watercolor techniques, inspirations and tutorials and stumbled on an interesting post about Life in Color.  The pictures they posted on the blog were grouped according to color and I did not know there were a lot of pictures from nature that did not consist of blue skies, green mountains and the cliche-d colors of nature.

For someone who lives in a country where there are only two seasons and the color of the leaves here consists mostly of those of the green kind, seeing the red and yellow leaves was a treat for me.  That’s probably one of the reasons why I’d like to travel to the U.S., Europe or Canada someday.  To see the different kinds of nature landscapes in various colors so different from mine here. 🙂

I was inspired to paint just seeing the burst of colors in the images.

yellow leaves strewn all over, covering the earth.

an umbrella of red leaves

warm orange skies looking over gray-colored waters

purple-andpink skies melding into dark blue mountains

all images via underworld magazine

In my mind, I imagined how God must have painted these wonderful scenes when He made the earth and when He did so, He wasn’t just limited by the primary colors in the wheel.

It’s amazing that like our world and nature, our life, can take on different colors as we go through different stages in it.

The colorful changes do not diminish its beauty or worth, instead they give it a different perspective and another side of its beauty.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. – Ecclesiastes 3:11