Lenten Season 2013

“Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.”

The Roman Catholic tradition dictates that Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of this 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting. Today, we Catholic Christians celebrate Ash Wednesday where we go to hear mass and let the priest or the lay ministers mark our foreheads with a cross of ashes.

The Ash Wednesday is observed by fasting, abstinence from meat, and repentance. It is a day of contemplating one’s life in a spiritual, meditative way. Nowadays, the abstinence from meat is only observed during Ash Wednesday and Good Friday unlike during the earlier times.

During the past years, I’ve practiced not eating meat but always fail to comply that’s why I changed it. I did gave up sweets, facebook, social media platforms and some other stuff. This year, I’m not sure what to give up or what sacrifice to make. I know there are so many things to make it on the list but I try to be practical and convincing too. I won’t give up something for now and then after a week break the pattern. I want something that I can really do for the whole 40 days.

Sacrifices need not to be something negative like starving yourself or the like. I think doing something that you don’t normally do can pass as a sacrifice too, right? Say for example you normally wake up in the morning not fixing your beddings as you go. In as simple as folding your blanket and putting in on place can be your “sacrifice“.

I’m still thinking what to do right up to this moment. I hope I can think of something by the end of the day.

May we all have a meaningful and blessed season of Lent. God bless!

A Lenten Prayer

Almighty and Everlasting God,
You have given the human race
Jesus Christ our Savior as a model of humility.
He fulfilled Your Will by becoming Man
And giving His life on the Cross.
Help us to bear witness to You
By following His example of suffering
And make us worthy to share in His Resurrection.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen.

Our Father…

MARY, Mother of Jesus,
you were Jesus’ gift for us from the Cross.
He gave you to us as our mother.
Intercede for all our needs.

Hail Mary…
Glory Be…

What’s your Lenten Sacrifice?

You can also check previous posts:
Lenten Season 2012
Lenten Season 2011

Brahma Kumaris World of Spirituality: Inner Peace, Inner Power

Late this year, before I commit myself to the Corporate World again, I joined a weekend retreat in Brahma Kumaris. In all honesty, I really don’t know anything about this retreat even though I’ve already checked out their website. It’s a bit scary at first as I don’t know what to expect but I just tried to explore and see what good I can get to it. Besides, it’s still about Spirituality.

The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University acknowledges the intrinsic goodness of all people. We teach a practical method of meditation that helps individuals understand their inner strengths and values…. - About Brahma Kumaris

The Retreat Center of Brahma Kumaris is located in Tagaytay near Leslie’s restaurant. It is just a walking distance from the Highway but I opted to ride the tricycle since it was my first time and not sure where it was located. The tryk ride was Php 25! The cost doesn’t justify the distance. Hahaha!

Brahma Kumaris Retreat Center

I rode the bus in Taft, near MRT Taft station with a signage Nasugbu or Tagaytay. You can just ask the driver if it will pass Tagaytay Rotonda and you’re safe. The bus ride cost Php 83 with a receipt similar to department stores.

Tagaytay Ticket

Anyway, as I reach the Center I was a bit scared, nervous but excited to see what I can benefit from them. I was welcomed by the sisters and assisted me to my room. It was a nice room with our own CR. I shared the room with Alison who flew from Cebu just to experience the Yoga Retreat. Like me, it was also her first time and don’t know what to expect for the next 2 days.

I will just share to you highlights of what happened during my stay in their retreat house. It was surely a different experience!

Day 1: Thoughts

On our first day, they gave us an introduction on what to expect for the next coming days. They discussed about their University and what they do. Things about our thoughts and what meditation is were discussed on our first day.

A guided meditation will be given to us since it was our first time to do it. Contradicting with what I know about meditation where people usually close their eyes and breathe deeply, this one is an open-eyed meditation. It was really challenging because I tend to get dizzy looking at the “light”.

Day 2: ME

We were asked to be ready by 6:00am to have a morning walk. Again, a challenging task for everyone but we managed to wake up that early. We went outside and walked around the area appreciating God’s creation. Our task is to find something striking for us as we walk and draw it afterwards.

early morning walk

A group sharing was conducted before our breakfast. Each one of us discussed what strike our attention when we had our stroll that morning. That moment was the start of our own self discovery.

group sharing

The day continued with talks and workshops on how to know your own self more than you though you know. Sometimes you already know it but you tend not to acknowledge it especially the bad side of you. We were guided to see beyond what we used to know about ourselves and was given time to reflect on it.

 

Anniversary Special: Medit8

On the night of our second day was a very special moment for the sisters. They celebrated their 8th year in the Philippines.

There were distinguished guests and personalities such as Tessie Tomas as the host for the night and Timmy Cruz who rendered a song for everyone. The dancers of Powerdance as well as Douglas Nierras were also there to grace us with their dance moves. Little did I know, all these TV personalities are enrolled in Brahma Kumaris.

with Timmy Cruz and Tessie Tomas

with Douglas Nierras

Powerdance

Cora, who was also one of the retreat’s participant chose to celebrate her birthday in the Center. A nice way to celebrate one’s birthday.

Cora's birthday

Day 3: God

This final day, we had our meditation at 5.45am! A total silence in their meditation room and honestly I was really sleepy. I’m sure I was banging my head because I am likely to be asleep for a couple of minutes.

The topic for the day was about God, the Supreme Being. As Catholic Christians, we have our own beliefs about God and they also have their own. They are similar to Buddhist religion since they believe in reincarnation.

A word of caution though if you’re a Catholic and wants to experience this retreat. Just respect on whatever they believe in and just get what is helpful to you. If your faith is not that solid, I think you will be trying to convert at once.

As a wrap up, a video presentation was presented to us. We ended the day meditating in their “Dome” better known as their “Babba Room”. A token of appreciation was also given to us afterwards.

Bubba Room

The final experience was for me the most amazing one. Sr. Yogini, our meditation adviser for the 3 days gave us a card that indicates qualities that we either want to have, need to have or something we have that is our core quality. As for me, that was somewhat related to what I pray every day. I tend to be strong and bubbly outside but I’m still scared of what is in store for me for the day. I am a worrisome person that gives me a headache most of the time. Thus, a prayer of faith that everything will be fine is what I needed most. And, that is what I got.

The 3-day retreat was self discovery for me and I’m sure with the others too. It was a transformation of thoughts that will help you achieve something you thought you can’t. This kind of experience is really worth sharing.

the Sisters

Retreat Participants

I almost forgot, the Center only serves Vegetarian food. I was hesitant at first but believe me the food was extraordinary! Hahaha! If I didn’t know that they were vegetarian, I could’ve mistaken them as real meat. We all thought that if there are restaurants that serve vegetarian food as good as theirs, we would most likely give up being meat lovers and be vegetarians too!

Food: Vegetarian

They also have quotes in every table in their pantry. However, I wasn’t able to sit on each table to take pictures of each quote so here’s what I got.

For 2012 Schedule of Retreats, check: Brahma Kumaris Official Website

Brahma Kumaris Retreat Center for Spiritual Learning
1020 Magallanes Drive, Tagaytay City
Tel/Fax: (046) 483 2128
Mobile: (+63) 917 502 0243
Email: tagaytay@bkwsu.org
Website: www.tagaytayretreatcenter.org

Desiderata

I was looking for a good poetry to post since I not in the mood to compose an article for my blog. Luckily, I remembered this famous poem that I think every literature class tackles this.

Honestly, I can’t remember this poem anymore and was very pleased when I read it all over again. This is an inspirational poem applicable to every one. When you find yourself going astray, you can sit down and pause for a while, read this poem, take a deep breath and then move forward.

Read on and be inspired…

 

DESIDERATA

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Reminiscing the 20th World Youth Day celebration 2005

I happened to recover my previous blog. I will repost it with minimal edits so as not to destroy the momentum. I was laughing hard when I read it because of the lack of information compared to Roan’s blog. Anyway, no time for comparison now, here’s my own version of the 20th World Youth Day celebration.

Aug. 14, 2005
Call time in UST at 8am. We have to label all the bags and put numbers to it so that it will not be lost along the trip. We had our Send off Mass at 10am in the Central Seminary Chapel. At around 2pm, we went to the airport to check in our bags and waited for about 2-3hrs for our flight to Taipei. Since there is no direct flight from Manila to Frankfurt, we had to take connecting flights from Manila to Taipei then Taipei to Frankfurt.

Taiwan Airport

In Taiwan airport, waiting for our flight to Frankfurt

We departed in Taipei around 11.30pm. We had our dinner and breakfast in the plane. China Airlines’ food was good. But I really don’t like the porridge. The plane was nice; we had our own blanket and pillows. It was in color purple that made it a lot nicer. We also had our own headsets. I watched 3 movies during the flight.

Meal

China Airline's in flight meal

By the way, it was a 15hr flight. Imagine that!

Aug. 15, 2005
We arrived in Frankfurt at 6:30am. Germany’s time zone is 6 hrs late to Manila time. We placed the luggage in the bus and we went straight to Heidelberg for the rainy morning tour! We saw Jose Rizal’s plaque and monument and realized why Rizal loved Heidelberg. He studied there and taught in a University. Everyone was in awe while we did our tour.

Heidelberg

Heidelberg Castle

We also had our Rhine Cruise before we went to Dusseldorf, Saint Franciscus Xaverius Parish to be exact where we were supposed to meet our foster family. Upon arrival, there are delegates from different countries waiting for a place to stay. Luckily, we were adopted by Mr & Mrs. Helmut Vesper and let us stay in their Garden house. I was with Dhel, Bianca, Ate Jaymie and Ms. Thelma (who was our “mom” in the house). It was already 12mn that time and we were still wide awake because of the crowd’s energy. We realized we still need to rest since tomorrow will be the first day of the celebration. A lot of activities await us and we’re all very excited.

Rhine Cruise

Rhine Cruise

Aug. 16, 2005
First day of the World Youth Day (WYD) Celebration, our color for the day would be the White shirt. We ate our breakfast at home. We had the nicest home compared to others I suppose. Though it was quite small, still very much okay because we slept well with the comforters our “parents” provided and the fridge is full with one case of beer and carbonated water on the sides. The water that flows in their faucet was also potable! We had our own garden and fresh fruits and veggies are available. Eat all you can! Haha!

Forget Me Not flower

Forget Me Not flower

I also saw a “Forget me not” flower, the famous flower that Jose Rizal was talking about in his writings. Germany was clean, fresh air, disciplined people and most of the people living there have their own bicycles. They were all cyclist. They have this bicycle lane and people get mad if you walk on it.

LTU Arena

LTU Arena for the Opening Mass

We had our morning prayers in the parish and off we go to the LTU Arena for the Opening Mass. By the way, we had our lunch along the way. No room for being picky and choosy in this kind of celebration!

Aug. 17, 2005
Our second day color would be the Orange shirt. We first had our yummy breakfast c/o Mommy Thelma. We’re so lucky we had her with us because she can cook very well. As for me, I’m not a good cook or should I rather say, I really don’t cook.

Breakfast

Breakfast care of Ma'm Thelma

We had our catechist and our speaker was Cardinal Francis of Chicago. Then we had some group dynamics and sharing with singing and dancing. We met a lot of young people all over the world. I also met a LOT of Filipinos!!! If you total the Filipinos who participated during that time it will probably sum up to 1000! We were so ecstatic when we see Filipinos based from different countries. When we see a fellow Filipino, it seems like we’ve known each other for quite some time already!

Lunch

Lunch Time

We also had a short tour of Dusseldorf, rode the train station in the afternoon and just strolled around the city. At 6pm, we celebrated the Wedding of Dra. Joy and Kuya Ivan. They met 10 years ago and also during the World Youth Day celebration held in Manila. It was simple yet very intimate. They had their foster parents as their parents and everyone were included in the entourage. Bulacan delegates were also there as sponsors and witnesses. It was nice and fun even though we were all exhausted with the day’s activity.

Wedding

Wedding of Dra. Joy and Kuya Ivan

After the ceremony, we had our “reception” in the garden area of the center. Their Filipino friends brought RICE! That time, we felt like being deprived of eating rice since the German’s staple food is bread. Well, lucky for us in the Garden house, our foster parents bought rice for us since they knew that it was our staple food. How thoughtful, right? I haven’t mentioned yet, our fridge was refilled everyday with yogurts, bread and drinks! Woot Woot!

Aug. 18, 2005
Third day color would be the Blue shirt. We had another day of catechism with the other youth. The speaker was the Cardinal of Jamaica. The one who was voted to be the next Pope. We had our pictures taken and his autograph too. One remarkable statement I got from him was “what is greater than a MASS is another MASS”. After hearing that, I appreciated attending mass every day.

Cardinal of Jamaica

Cardinal of Jamaica

We were supposed to go to Cologne, Germany to welcome the Pope. However, since that was tomorrow’s main event, some of us opt to tour the Old City of Dusseldorf. So the group was divided and you choose where you want to join. I, of course chose the latter.

strolling

strolling in Dusseldorf's Old City

It was a fabulous city with the architectures that I only see in the movies. I can’t believe I’m seeing them in my own eyes. It was beautiful and everyone enjoyed the walking tour we had. We ate lunch there (with our own baons) and tried McDonald’s too!

McDo

McDonalds in Germany

We also got to know a Filipina who is already living there. Ate Marie was there for almost 6 years already. She’s already married and has kids. We managed to stay connected thru snail mails and now thru Facebook. We were lucky to find good hearted Filipino settlers in Germany.

Ate Marie

Ate Marie, Me, Kylie and Ma'm Thelma

Aug. 19, 2005
Fourth day color would be the Cream shirt but some of us got confused so some wore their Green shirts. Haha!

Train Station

Train Station in Cologne, Germany

We were scheduled to go to Cologne and visit the Koln Cathedral. We rode the train going there and I thought I’ll die of exhaustion that day because the train was so packed with delegates. Upon arrival in Cologne, we also saw someone from the Philippine media.

Door of Koln Cathedral

Door of Cologne Cathedral

The delegates all over the world went to see the gigantic cathedral. The structure was amazing, the detailed carvings on the door, the way they designed the cathedral. It was beautiful. You can get a stiff neck looking at the ceilings and all the designs on the walls. We prayed the rosary and prayed for our intentions after the Cathedral tour.

Pope mobile

Pope mobile

Since we’re waiting for the Pope to arrive, we strolled around the area and get to meet other delegates too. I decided to walk around the vicinity without asking permission but asked some to join me. I was positive that we won’t get lost that time and that decision made our day! We managed to see the Pope mobile that afternoon. It was crazy, really! We were the ones who get to see the Pope in his mobile. Others I think weren’t able to see him because they re-routed where the mobile will pass. Everyone was jumping with joy and screaming their hearts out when they saw the Pope. We did jump for joy when we saw the mobile passing our way.

Aug. 20, 2005
Fifth Day color would be the Green shirt. It’ll be our last day with our foster family. The farewell was sad but we were happy that we spent the week with them and were treated nicely. We had our breakfast in the garden as a celebration and farewell ritual too I guess and fixed our things afterwards. We made a small thank you corner for our foster parents and they appreciated it so much. They even gave us souvenirs too when we left.

breakfast

Garden breakfast

foster parents

Our foster parents: Mr & Mrs Helmut Vesper

We’re off to Marienfeld for the Vigil. The Pope will celebrate mass the next day which will be the culmination of the WYD. We went to meet the whole UST delegation in Xavier Parish before going to the field.

Xavier Parish

Xavier Parish before going to Marienfeld

We walked 5 km from the drop off point to the field. Transportations were not allowed to enter so we have to walk. It was very tiring considering we have our backpacks with us. We were singing and laughing while walking that’s why we didn’t notice that we are almost near the area.

When we arrived, I put down my bags in post B14 since it was near the stage. However, there was no space available for everyone so we went looking for a place big enough to accommodate us all. We were set to post F11. It was a bit far from the stage but there were lots of screens in the field so we can also see what’s happening on stage.

Post F11

Post F11 with other delegates

It was a night full of music, dancing people, enjoying each other’s company, mingling with different cultures and of course a prayerful one too. You can see the faith and energy of the people around you celebrating and worshipping the Lord. It was a good feeling, an enlightenment I suppose. We really had a good time since we all slept at around 3am already.

Pope Vigil

We spent the cold night in the field. Everyone was inside their sleeping bags and curled because of the cold wind. Everyone’s strong enough to endure the night’s weather.

Aug. 21, 2005
Last day color would be the Yellow shirt representing the University’s color. Since we can’t take a shower there, we just replaced the shirt we used the day before and used the yellow one.

Morning

Morning of the WYD

This is the day everyone is waiting for, the World Youth Day itself. The Pope celebrated the Mass and everyone was so happy and excited. You can see the love of the Youth for the Holy Father even if it’s not PJP II. It was the first WYD celebration after PJP II’s death. It was the first WYD that Pope Benedict XVI celebrated with the youth all over the world. It was overwhelming and people were cheering “BENEDICTO” all the time.

going back

Going back to our bus

After the Mass, we started to walk back to the bus area to avoid the crowd walking all at the same time. While walking, we can still here the Pope’s message since speakers were installed everywhere. The Pope said his message in 10 different languages including Filipino Language. He said, “Sa mga kabataang Pilipino, kayo ang nanggaling sa malayong silangan tulad ng mga pantas upang maging mga saksi dalhin ninyo pabalik sa inyong bansa ang pag-ibig ng Diyos.”It was impressive and touching at the same time. We were so happy and were cheering at the top of our voices while walking. I can’t forget how he spoke Filipino clearly with no German accent. Truly, a gift from God.

The WYD 2005 was a great experience for me. A pilgrimage of a lifetime. It was marvelous that I saw God’s love through other people. The moments we experienced, the blessings and graces we received and everything we had there were priceless. The faith, the wisdom, the love and the energy of the people around me makes me feel alive, blessed and anew. I will never forget this celebration and will forever be etched in my heart. I will evermore thankful and grateful to my parents and friends who have helped me raise money to be part of the group.

Yes, my trip was made possible because of my sponsors who are mostly my relatives, some from my parents and my savings since elementary. It was my first international trip and I’m happy I spent my savings for a good cause. Now I really don’t know if I can still afford going to any World Youth Day celebrations in the next years. The Pope announced that the next WYD will be held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 2013. We’ll see then if I’ll be part of it.

Check out the rest of the pictures in this album:

20th World Youth Day 2005

Silence of Love

I stumbled upon my friend’s blog and saw her latest post. I was curious not only she featured it but the video thumbnail is similar to Thai’s movie “A little thing called Love“. The moment I saw that film, I admired Thai writers as well as the actors. And now, here’s another Thai commercial similar to the Extraordinary Pantene Commercial that featured deaf people too. Maybe these commercials have the same writers.

A Father’s Rule of Finding Fulfillment

I read an article in Yahoo! about a dad who died of cancer and leaving his children notes, gifts and other stuffs before he died.

One article that was published was his letter to his children about finding fulfillment. May we all find out own fulfillment in this world. You can never be in this world twice so make the most out of it. Read on as this letter inspired me and hopefully many of you will be inspired too.

A FATHER’S RULES FOR FINDING FULFILLMENT

Be courteous, be punctual, always say please and thank you, and be sure to hold your knife and fork properly. Others take their cue on how to treat you from your manners.
Be kind, considerate and compassionate when others are in trouble, even if you have problems of your own. Others will admire your selflessness and will help you in due course.

Show moral courage. Do what is right, even if that makes you unpopular. I always thought it important to be able to look at myself in the shaving mirror every morning and not feel guilt or remorse. I depart this world with a pretty clear conscience.

Show humility. Stand your ground but pause to reflect on what the other side are saying, and back off when you know you are wrong. Never worry about losing face. That only happens when you are pig-headed.

Learn from your mistakes. You will make plenty so use them as a learning tool. If you keep making the same mistake or run into a problem, you’re doing something wrong.

Avoid disparaging someone to a third party; it is only you who will look bad. If you have a problem with someone, tell them face to face.

Hold fire! If someone crosses you, don’t react immediately. Once you say something it can never be taken back, and most people deserve a second chance.

Have fun. If this involves taking risks, so be it. If you get caught, hold your hands up.

Give to charity and help those who are less fortunate than yourselves: it’s easy and so rewarding.

Always look on the upside! The glass is half full, never half empty. Every adversity has a silver lining if you seek it out.

Make it your instinct always to say ‘yes’. Look for reasons to do something, not reasons to say no. Your friends will cherish you for that.

Be canny: you will get more of what you want if you can give someone more of what they desire. Compromise can be king.

Always accept a party invitation. You may not want to go, but they want you there. Show them courtesy and respect.

Never ever let a friend down. I would bury bodies for my friends, if they asked me to . . . which is why I have chosen them carefully.

Always tip for good service. It shows respect. But never reward poor service. Poor service is insulting.

Always treat those you meet as your social equal, whether they are above or below your station in life. For those above you, show due deference, but don’t be a sycophant.

Always respect age, as age equals wisdom.

Be prepared to put the interests of your sibling first.

Be proud of who you are and where you come from, but open your mind to other cultures and languages. When you begin to travel (as I hope you will), you’ll learn that your place in the world is both vital and insignificant. Don’t get too big for your breeches.

Be ambitious, but not nakedly so. Be prepared to back your assertions with craftsmanship and hard work.

Live every day to its full: do something that makes you smile or laugh, and avoid procrastination.

Give of your best at school. Some teachers forget that pupils need incentives. So if your teacher doesn’t give you one, devise your own.

Always pay the most you can afford. Never skimp on hotels, clothing, shoes, make-up or jewellery. But always look for a deal. You get what you pay for.

Never give up! My two little soldiers have no dad, but you are brave, big-hearted, fit and strong. You are also loved by an immensely kind and supportive team of family and friends. You make your own good fortune, my children, so battle on.

Never feel sorry for yourself, or at least don’t do it for long. Crying doesn’t make things better.

Look after your body and it will look after you.

Learn a language, or at least try. Never engage a person abroad in conversation without first greeting them in their own language; by all means ask if they speak English!

And finally, cherish your mother, and take very good care of her.

I love you both with all my heart.
Daddy x

God’s Plan for us

Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, ‘Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty.’

trees

Then the second tree said, ‘Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take Kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull.

Finally the third tree said, ‘I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest Tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, ‘This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter, ‘and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.

At the second tree the woodsman said, ‘This looks like a strong tree. I should be able to sell it to the shipyard.’ The second tree was happy Because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.

When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, ‘I don’t need anything special from my tree, I’ll take this one,’ and he cut it down.

When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for.

The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end.

The third tree was cut into large pieces, and left alone in the dark.

The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.

Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.

Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn’t think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and said ‘Peace’ and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.

Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

The moral of this story is that when things don’t seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, God will give you great gifts.

Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.

We don’t always know what God’s plans are for us. We just know that His Ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.

Lenten Season 2011: What’s your sacrifice?

Lent is a Catholic tradition which is very much practiced here in the Philippines. It is a period of the Liturgical Year leading up to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer — through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial. And Holy Week marks the Death and Resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Lent starts on Ash Wednesday (March 9, 2011) and ends on (23 April 2011), which is the day before Easter. The color I usually see during Lenten Season is Purple, which I know symbolizes a Royal color, which in the case the King. (dahil favorite ko ang purple, feeling prinsesita ako! hahaha!)

Ash Wednesday is a day of obligation for all Catholic Christians. So everyone MUST attend the Holy Eucharist during this day.

Every year, this is the season where I find the most sacred/solemn especially the Holy Week. It is a season of soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection. It is the time where we can be silent for a while and remember Christ in a special way, how He sacrificed His life for us and should be forever thankful for that.

I have a personal journey every Lent. I just want to share.

Some might say I’m religious and holy but I’m afraid I’m not even close. I always find myself being sorry for my shortcomings and feels unworthy of His blessings. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I want to be closer to Him. Often times I get envious, greedy and most especially proud. I always ask Him to give me the grace not to be those. But sometimes, I really can’t resist to be tempted to think and do awful things.

In Manila, everything is fast paced. Everything seems to be in a hurry. Well, maybe for me. I don’t know why but I feel just like that. Recently, my friend and I went to Caleruega for a time off. We both felt peace but craving for more time in Caleruega.

In the past, I did forgot Him and forgot how it felt to be closer to Him. So in a way, He did something that made me come back and re-connect my relationship with Him. I promised myself that every year, I would go back to Caleruega just to have our “annual date“. I felt bad that I didn’t kept my promise but I did something to compromise it. With that, I felt I cheated him and broke my word.

Well, reflecting on my life these past few years, He blessed me more than I can imagine. I think He was not mad but still made me guilty not doing what I promised. I was happy that He gave me the opportunity this year and I made time to be with Him in solitude once again. It was Palm Sunday way back and now it’s the start of the Lenten season. It might be co-incidental but I always find this season even subconsciously a time to be closer to Him. So

Another thing about the Lenten Season is the sacrifice and Holy Week observance. In my early years of childhood, I remember that during Good Friday, we are not allowed to watch TV and even listen to the Radio. I find it ridiculous at first but as I grow old, I knew why we had to do that. Well, I think it’s just an over reaction of my parents/relatives but come to think of it, if someone special to us died, do we have time to watch the TV and listen to the radio? Most of the time we just sit and remember all the good things and memories we had with that special person. So maybe that’s how we should remember the Lord’s death at the cross. That’s why I am a bit disappointed with people who take Holy Week as an opportunity to go for an outing. However, who am I to judge people how they celebrate Holy Week? Maybe they have their own way of observing it so sometimes, I let go of it. It’s how I observe it and not how other people take it.

What about sacrifice? It is traditional that we do fasting and abstinence during the Lenten Season. As time goes by, these observance were altered. I remember the first time I learned about it, Fasting is done every Friday during the season and Abstinence is done everyday during the season. Last Sunday, the priest informed me that Fasting and Abstinence is practiced only for 2 days: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

To differentiate the two, here’s the webster’s definition:

Fasting - The act or practice of abstaining from or eating very little food.

Abstinence - The act or practice of refraining from indulging an appetite or desire.

Before, I thought that during Holy Week, it is only Meat that we are not allowed to eat. Yes, it was in the Bible but as far as I can remember, someone told me that it is not necessary not to eat meat as your abstinence but someone you think you can abstain as a sacrifice for the Lord. In the Scriptures, I think meat was their food during feasts. So as a sacrifice, they are not allowed to eat meat. (sorry if this is wrong, kindly message me for correction) Now, in the modern times, we are obliged to sacrifice something we normally do and feels like we can’t live without for 40 days of Lent and then celebrate on Easter Sunday! ^_^

goodbye chocolates… see you on Easter Sunday!

Well, last year I think I sacrificed “dessert“. However, I find myself compromising because I don’t know when a food is considered a dessert. Is it any food eaten after a meal? Hahaha! (I saw my previous post and learned that I sacrificed meat and junk foods last year). So this year I want to be specific. Since I’m a 100% fan of chocolates, I will try my best to sacrifice eating chocolates for the whole Season of Lent. I hope I can stay true to my word. I’m also thinking about FB.. hhmm.. can I keep up?

May we all have a meaningful Lenten Season. God bless us all. ^_^

Escape from the busy City

One weekend, my friend Coe wants to escape from the busy and upbeat environment of the City to reflect. She asked me information about staying in Caleruega since 2 years ago, I went there on my own for my time of solitude. Since I wanted to be back, I told her if she wants me to accompany her. True enough, she agreed.

Without so much planning, we had 1 day to check and reserve a room if not in Caleruega, some place near. Since it’s a retreat season for most of the Catholic schools, it’s no doubt Caleruega Retreat House will be fully booked. So we are left with no choice but to look for a cheaper place nearby.

We ended up in Tagaytay Haven since it is where we booked when our friend Anton and Che married last January in Tagaytay. It was the cheapest decent looking hotel I know near the area. I was thinking of MC Mountain hotel but Tagaytay Haven is cheaper. Also, it’s just walking distance to Save More and Jollibee is just 10-20 steps from the hotel’s entrance.

So here was the breakdown of our adventure:

7:00-8:00am Meeting time in McDonald’s Taft

8:00-10:00am Travel time going to Tagaytay

bus in taft

Me & Coe in Bus going to Tagaytay

We took the Nasugbu bus in Taft. We paid Php 87/pax going to Mendez Crossing Tagaytay.

10:30am Arrival in Tagaytay Haven Hotel

tagaytay haven

Tagaytay Haven Hotel

We asked if we can check in early but the receptionist told us that there are no available rooms yet but we can check in by 12:00am. However if we do that, we should check out early the next day around 9:00am. We planned to check out early so we agreed with the schedule. We paid Php1500 for a studio bedroom overnight. (Update: They do not have the 12Hr rate but instead they have the 8Hr rate for short stays)

Since we still have time to spare, we had a little grocery buying in Save More and then ate brunch in Mang Inasal. We continued our catching up session from where we stopped when we arrived the hotel. I never knew that Mang Inasal offers a free soup. Hahaha! (Coe was the one who told me it was free) After she ate her meal, she got the cupcake I brought for her from Tita Via’s Golden Party. Look how she loved the cupcake.

coekie

Coe enjoying eating the cupcake

When we went back to the Hotel, our room was already prepared and so we settled down for a while and took a short nap to re-charge ourselves. Coe had this relaxing sound in her iPhone called iRelax or Relax Melodies. It seems as if we are in the beach front while we took our nap.

tagaytay haven bed

Bed in Studio Type

tagaytay haven studio

Space in Studio Type

magazine

I save this magazine in the shelf, I brought this one home. ^_^

After an hour, I woke up and fix my things. Coe followed me and after 15-30mins, we went to Caleruega and just took a jeepney going there. It cost us Php18/pax from Tagaytay Haven to Evercrest Hotel. When we arrived the landmark, we took the tricycle going to Caleruega Retreat House. The tricycle ride costs Php50. (P.S. You should get the number of the tricycle driver to fetch you afterwards). Then as we enter the gates of Caleruega, an entrance fee of Php 30/pax must be paid.

3:00-5:30pm Caleruega Retreat House

Our time of Solitude begins. =)

caleruega

Caleruega Retreat House gate

I brought my prayer books and other materials that help me reflect in times like that. I lend it to Coe to help her in her reflections. We stayed in the Chapel for a while but when visitors/tourists arrived, our silence was disturbed. So I told her to go to my “spot” where I did my reflections before. However, the sun was up and it was too hot for us to stay there and reflect. So we decided to go to the picnic grounds and try our luck to find our perfect spot. When we arrived in the entrance of the picnic grounds, I was surprised. There was already a Cafe with a garden/plant nursery beside it. So we went just checked it and then off to the picnic grounds. Again, a new site appeared to me! There were tent rentals available in the picnic grounds. I forgot to note down how much per hour but Coe and I was laughing about it. It was like a park for us.

chapel

Transfiguration Chapel

cafe

Caleruega Cafe

tents

Tents in the Picnic Area

Anyway, I remembered during one of our retreats that there were benches in the maze like bridge in the area. So we looked for it and there, we found our spot. We stayed there for hours and talk a bit about life and all, then went to the swing like bench near the hanging bridge. However, there were lots of mosquitoes and bugs so I told her to go back to the Chapel.

coe with candy

Our spot for the first day of Solitude

swing like bench

Our 2nd spot for our first day of Solitude

On our way going to the Chapel, the guards were already going around to tell us that the place is already closed. It was the only time I knew that the gates closes for visitors at 5.30pm. So we called it a day and went back to have some dinner.

caleruega night

Sunset in Caleruega

I was thinking of going to View Site restaurant but what I told the driver was in View Point. Good thing there was a restaurant called View Point!!! Hahahaha! We ordered their famous Bulalo since Coe was craving for it and Mangga with Bagoong for dessert. We enjoyed the restaurant because of the food and the view.

viewpoint

View Point Restaurant

bulalo

Bulalo

mango with bagoong

Mangga with Bagoong

food and aftermath

Our food aftermath

9:00pm Bedtime

bed

Fooling around before sleeping

The next morning, we checked out at 8:00am since we want to attend the mass in Caleruega at 11:00am. We ate breakfast in Bag of Beans and ordered some hot choco for the morning. Coe is used to heavy breakfast so she ordered the Chicken and Pork Adobo meal and I ordered 2 pandesal from their bakery. I also ordered 2 loaves of herb wheat bread Php90/each (Andrew & I loved this bread so much).

bag of beans

Breakfast in Bag of Beans

hot chocolate

Hot Chocolate for the both of us

Chicken and Pork adobo

Chicken and Pork Adobo Meal for Coe

pandesal

Pandesals for Me

After breakfast, we went to Caleruega. Since it was still early, we finally went to my “spot” and did some morning prayers and reflections. When it was almost 11am, we went to the Chapel to get some seats since it will be jam packed after a while. After hearing mass, we looked for a good shaded area where we can do our final round of reflections and prayers. We got our spot at the back of one of the function rooms. We stayed there until 3pm before we decided to go back to Manila.

sunday spot

My "Spot" in Caleruega

All in all, we did what we came for and hopefully we’ll get our prayers answered in time. Whatever our intentions were, I know everything will be addressed in God’s time. We may be caught up with the fast paced life in the city and forgets to be silent and thank God for everything. A time for solitude is helpful to keep ourselves united with the Lord as well as to help us reflect and renew ourselves. May we all find time for solitude to shape up and re-charge our lives. The Lord is always waiting for us, we just need to learn to speak to him with our hearts and forget all the worries we have in life.

Thanks Coe, I had my needed time of Solitude! ^_^

Ten Guidelines From God

Effective Immediately, please be aware that there are changes YOU need to make in YOUR life. These changes need to be completed in order that I may fulfill My promises to you to grant you peace, joy and happiness in this life. I apologize for any inconvenience, but after all that I am doing, this seems very little to ask of you. Please, follow these 10 guidelines:

1. QUIT WORRYING:
Life has dealt you a blow and all you do is sit and worry. Have you forgotten that I am here to take all your burdens and carry them for you? Or do you just enjoy fretting over every little thing that comes your way?

2. PUT IT ON THE LIST:
Something needs done or taken care of. Put it on the list. No, not YOUR list. Put it on MY to-do-list. Let ME be the one to take care of the problem. I can’t help you until you turn it over to Me. And although My to-do-list is long, I am after all… God. I can take care of anything you put into My hands. In fact, if the truth were ever really known, I take care of a lot of things for you that you never even realize.

3. TRUST ME:
Once you’ve given your burdens to Me, quit trying to take them back. Trust in Me. Have the faith that I will take care of all your needs, your problems and your trials. Problems with the kids? Put them on My list. Problem with finances? Put it on My list. Problems with your emotional roller coaster? For My sake, put it on My list. I want to help you. All you have to do is ask.

credits to candid chatter

4. LEAVE IT ALONE:
Don’t wake up one morning and say, “Well, I’m feeling much stronger now, I think I can handle it from here.” Why do you think you are feeling stronger now? It’s simple. You gave Me your burdens and I’m taking care of them. I also renew your strength and cover you in my peace. Don’t you know that if I give you these problems back, you will be right back where you started? Leave them with Me and forget about them. Just let Me do my job.

5. TALK TO ME:
I want you to forget a lot of things. Forget what was making you crazy. Forget the worry and the fretting because you know I’m in control. But there’s one thing I pray you never forget. Please, don’t forget to talk to Me – OFTEN! I love YOU! I want to hear your voice. I want you to include Me in on the things going on in your life. I want to hear you talk about your friends and family. Prayer is simply you having a conversation with Me. I want to be your dearest friend.

6. HAVE FAITH:
I see a lot of things from up here that you can’t see from where you are. Have faith in Me that I know what I’m doing. Trust Me; you wouldn’t want the view from My eyes. I will continue to care for you, watch over you, and meet your needs. You only have to trust Me. Although I have a muc h bigger task than you, it seems as if you have so much trouble just doing your simple part. How hard can trust be?

7. SHARE:
You were taught to share when you were only two years old. When did you forget? That rule still applies. Share with those who are less fortunate than you. Share your joy with those who need encouragement. Share your laughter with those who haven’t heard any in such a long time. Share your tears with those who have forgotten how to cry. Share your faith with those who have none.

8. BE PATIENT:
I managed to fix it so in just one lifetime you could have so many diverse experiences. You grow from a child to an adult, have children, change jobs many times, learn many trades, travel to so many places, meet thousands of people, and experience so much. How can you be so impatient then when it takes Me a little longer than you expect to handle something on My to-do-list? Trust in My timing, for My timing is perfect. Just because I created the entire universe in
only six days, everyone thinks I should always rush, rush, rush.

9. BE KIND:
Be kind to others, for I love them just as much as I love you. They may not dress like you, or talk like you, or live the same way you do, but I still love you all. Please try to get along, for My sake. I created each of you different in some way. It would be too boring if you were all identical. Please, know I love each of your differences.

10. LOVE YOURSELF:
As much as I love you, how can you not love yourself? You were created by me for one reason only — to be loved, and to love in return. I am a God of Love. Love Me. Love your neighbors. But also love yourself. It makes My heart ache when I see you so angry with yourself when things go wrong. You are very precious to me.

Don’t ever forget……