Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I can't believe I forgot to blog about this...

The other Thursday (the 15th), The Hubby and I had a shoot by our photographer friend Tracey. She and her family flew in from Canada to visit relatives here in the RP, and during their stay here she did some shoots and meets. We took advantage of course and had our pics taken; . Here's her blog entry about it and some stills of us she took that day.

It was a professional shoot of sorts, but Tracey isn't the studio type. We just walked around the village and spontaneously posed us in capture-worthy nooks and crannies. It was pretty fun. It was kinda pricey, but we didn't mind since proceeds went to Gentle Hands mission work.


I look out and observe that the sky is a flat, pale, dirty blue. As I was about to remark that "The sky is a flat, pale dirty blue," I consider that there really is no sky. What we call "sky" is an imaginary field superimposed on the atmosphere as viewed from the earth's surface . It's an illusionary perception of color and form effected by reflected and refracted light, defined differently by observers from their respective perspectives.

So I might as well say "The sky is a vibrant pink with flaming orange stripes," or "The sky is scumbled with a neon lightshow," or "The sky is the blue-black of the deep sea, accentuated with crushed pearlescent shell," -- because I'm sure it is true, as viewed from some other latitude or longitude. It's still much more romantic than saying"The sky is a flat, pale, dirty blue," though that is what I perceive right now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

i can't get over cupcakes

I had another episode of cupcake craving.

I got over my loyalty to the usual cupcake shop that I go to and finally ventured to check out another one. Instead of snacking at Cupcakes by Sonja, I satisfied my craving for sweets at Marta's Cakes.

The first thing I noticed was the brightly-colored interior that slightly echoed Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, only without the Burtonesque edginess. I imagine that if you took out the greens and whites and replaced them with black, put in some carved pumpkins, it'd be a cute, twisted Halloween funhouse.

Marta's unique concept cakes were on display. It contributed to that overall cheery atmosphere good for cultivating happy thawts. The Hubby and I were actually tired and not-so-happy that day, but being in that shop cheered us up quite a bit.

I love those jelly-like lamps. It's like they're floating overhead, waiting to be caught.

Anyway, yeah, the cupcakes. They weren't as fluffy or as decorated as Sonja's, but that didn't bother me because they were nonetheless yummy and much less expensive. They weren't that spectacular so i forgot to photograph them, but they were good enough to satisfy. Two thumbs up.

Another cute feature of Marta's is that they sold cupcake decorating kits (and cookie decorating kits as well). For P105, you got two plain cupcakes, tubes of brightly-colored icing and candy sprinkles. It's something not only kids would enjoy but adults would too. The time we were there, a young couple was spending their date decorating cookies. I thought of bringing my discipleship group here for an outside-church session over a cookie-painting activity.

Next time, I'll be checking out the chocolatey goodies in Xocolat. Hope i like.

level up

As of last Saturday, our youth pastoring days are officially over. We turned it all over to our friend and ministry partner J, who gladly and readily accepted.

I'd have to admit that it's rather a sad thing to have to end that chapter, but I'd also have to admit that in the mix of sentiments, excitement is prominent. I'm not all "praise the Lord" in denial about the sadness that I feel, but on top of the sadness is a rich optimism that we're on our way to something bigger and better. I think of it as a level up, flipping to a new exciting chapter of our lives that brings us closer to the climax.

And of course it's not really goodbye - we are still after all in the same church, and our relationships with the kids will be forever, except no longer as youth pastors. We will always be a part of their lives and they ours. In a way it is also a level up for them; as i explained it to them two weeks ago, now that they will be under J's leadership, and now that they are grown-up and well-trained, they are no longer spiritually-starved kids who come to church to be fed but co-workers with J to feed the younger, hungry kids.

As for the Hubby and I - well, as of this point anything is a possibility. We still have no idea what to do next, so we'll be taking time the next two months to pray and think about it. We can't see ourselves anywhere in the new structure of the church - yet - but that isn't such a bad thing because it opens up our options. We know we (both and individually) are cut out for full-time ministry, that's for sure; but that doesn't necessarily mean full-time employed in our local church, and it doesn't necessarily mean now, after 5 years of youth ministry. I've been feeling like a big fish in a small pond already, and though it scares me to move to a bigger pond - maybe even the sea - I'm quite excited.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

much ado about photos

On our day off on the 28th of September, the Hubby and I happened to volunteer for a medical mission for the victims of Typhoon Ondoy.

I felt totally useless that day because I was neither a doctor nor a nurse, and I didn't think there was much need for "counselors" (at which I would have been useful) because people needed practical aid. But good thing I brought a camera.

At that little operation, we met Ptr. R - he usually does the collecting of stories and a bit of documentation. His camera got drained, and seeing I had a good camera, he asked me to take photos for him. I took a lot of photos and had a blast.

Pastor R recently e-mailed me to let me know that some of the photos I took were posted on their website, accompanying a featured story. He also sent me a link to the page of course.

It makes me glad to see my photos made a valuable visual contribution to a worthwhile website (and of a good organization at that). My camera and what I thought was my insignificant presence turned out to be my two-loaves-and-fish, like in the Bible story. ^_^ The Lord found it useful and "multiplied" it somehow.

Aside from the photos, I realize I made another little contribution. The story featured on that page was that of Mang Antonio, who I just happened to bump into while I was wandering (I thought I got lost). He was repairing his home and asked me if I wanted to see what happened to it. We chatted a while and then I prayed for him. I thought he had an interesting story so I shared a bit of it with Ptr. R. and our team leader Dr. W. They became interested in interviewing Mang Antonio so I led the way to where he was and introduced them. That of course led to Mang A's receiving Christ. His story is now posted on Operation Blessing's website.

I also smile at the thought of being somehow appreciated, particularly after we were put down. You see, a day or two after the Hubby and I volunteered for the medical mission, a certain Sister D from our home church sent an e-mail of complaint to the Hubby and some church higher-ups. She expressed her displeasure at how we volunteered at another organization instead of helping out at our home church, and further at how I shared my photos on my FB page. She might have wanted to promote loyalty to the church or something like that, probably organizational values or whatever. But the way I saw it, the whole country was in crisis brought about by Typhoon Ondoy; people everywhere needed some sort of help, and churches, organizations and local governments were urgently working toward the same end, which is to bring relief to typhoon victims. It shouldn't matter where we did the work as long as the work got done well. Considering the state of emergency, it isn't really the time for protocols and policies. I believe the Hubby and I did a noble thing, choosing to do volunteer work instead of go on with the date we planned months ago. It's a huge shame that some other Christian's legalism, narrow-mindedness and control-freakism would find fault in something good.

I must admit that upset me somehow, but seeing a few of my photos on OB's site is a vindication of sorts. It's a kind of stamp of approval - though not from the home church, but from God - that cheers me up immensely this evening.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

beads beads beads

I have several small creative hobbies that I rotate; today's current favorite is making bead fashion accessories. After having my beads and supplies gather dust for over a year, I recently had a burst of inspiration (and apparently, budget) and I started making a new batch of wearable sellables.

I like making pretty things, I like making things that make people pretty, and I like it when people find what I make pretty.

"Pretty" of course is a relative term. ;D

I'm quite proud of the new stuff I've come up with; it's the best batch ever so far.

My improvement is not only due to "practice" but also due to the fact that I've decided to invest in the prettier, more expensive materials such as semiprecious stones and stainless or rhodium-plated findings. I've crossed out plastic beads (that look cheap) from my inventory and I am currently phasing out cheap, "eventually rustable" metal materials.

I'll be updating my shop-site soon, posting my newest designs for sale. Most of the old stock were handed to a friend for selling at a bazaar. I'm hoping I get a lot of stuff sold in both places.

I hope I won't focus on making money too much though, because that just takes the joy out of the creative expression. I need to remind myself that it isn't primarily about making money; it's about finding joy in making visually appealing objects. I'm not a starving artist anyway, and I can still afford to choose to do something I enjoy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

i'm a do-gooder and i like it

It's been the past week's hot topic. Typhoon Ondoy, the massive flooding, relief operations, the various hero stories.

The desperation in the situation roused something good and noble in me. Though knowing that the problem is immense and overwhelming, it didn't matter how seemingly insignificant my contribution could be; I knew I could be part of the solution. This past week I got myself involved in volunteer work - repacking, preparing food, visiting, delivering goods.

It makes me immensely happy to love in action. I'm far from being anything like Jesus, but I feel blessed. It makes me happy to know that I'm reaching someone somewhere somehow. This is the effect that people call "better than receiving".

tragedy and the best in everybody

Whenever news about the Philippines reaches international headlines, it's often about something negative - the president's extravagant New York dinner, a war in Mindanao, a volcano acting up in Bicol, a flash flood in some province.

Friends in other countries would ask their how are yous when they hear news of some gunfight or natural disaster. I often have to explain to them that I live in the city, where it's safe, far from where most of those things happen. Since last week though, I've begun to rethink my common answer. Typhoon Ondoy (a.k.a. Ketsana) delivered six months' worth of rainfall to the National Capital Region within two days, rendering a national catastrophe. It's the worst flooding in the city ever. Murky, garbage-tainted flood waters came up to two storeys high in many areas, leaving even the wealthiest residents to escape to their roofs and submit to the wind and rain. Some were stranded for days.

We're all used to seeing squatters and provincianos suffering or losing their homes; but this time it's quite alarming because we see well-to-do people stranded on the roofs of their posh mansions with nothing but the clothes on their backs (Embedded on a lot of people's minds is the image of that model/actress trapped on the roof, drenched, crying and desperate [and even the actor who, all cavalier, came to her rescue with a speedboat] ).

Everybody is either a victim or close to someone who is. The urban poor, who have been used to demanding the "rich" for their right to be given a more comfortable life, have suddenly realized that we are all just human beings after all. Since almost everyone suffered in the same way, no one is complaining.

Despite the tragedy, Filipinos still manage to find something to smile about: joking about their lost possessions, posing in front of a passing news camera, betting on the "swimmers" in flooded underpass-turned-watersports complex. The tears are still there of course; the reality of loss and death is too real to ignore. It's just that Filipinos are so used to hardship, we're good at being survivors. Over and over people display their resilience.

What is most admirable is the spirit of community and genuine care going on. Nobodies helping out nobodies - people getting on their phones and Twitters to pass on information about victims they don't know needing rescue. Young men setting off on their jetskis and surfboards (others choosing to swim the muddy waters) to save random strangers. Plain citizens dropping off packs of food and bottles of water. In fact, all those plain citizens put to shame most government officials and organizations their in promptness to respond and effectiveness to reach. Ondoy brought out the best in everybody.

Everyday hero
stories are everywhere, it's overwhelming.
The one about the 18-year old boy who rescued around 30 of his neighbors - the last of which were a girl and her baby - by bravely swimming them across the raging flood at the height of the storm, and then losing his life in the process.
The dutiful security guard at a QC hospital who dove into the dark torrents to save a lady doctor who was stuck on the roof of her car.
The city jail inmates - the nation's "worst"- who shelled out money from their own pockets to raise a significant amount to give to the relief fund for the society that condemned them.
The families who opened their homes as evacuation centers for neighbors, even for random strangers.
The man who took his jetski and evacuated squatters who were marooned on their roofs.
The TV host who used her massive influence to get equally massive donations and assistance.
The various churches and private organizations who immediately organized operations for repacking, cooking and delivering relief goods.

It's just incredible.

Anyone who has ever criticized the Filipino for not loving his country should see what's going on now.

This is the sort of good news that should be making it to international headlines.