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January-February 2014, Boracay: Diniwid, Nami + Going Home

BoracaySo on the day before we were to go home, my parents and their friends went off exploring. I begged off from this trip because I knew there would be a lot of walking, and I didn’t feel fit enough to be confident that I can finish the trip without complaining. Good thing my dad brought my camera, though, because he did capture a gem of a place in Boracay, the part definitely less traveled by people – Diniwid Beach.

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My 2014 Valentine’s

How did you spend your Valentine’s this year? Yeah, I know… “seriously, you’re asking me this question one month after Valentine’s?!”

But you see, that’s because I want to share mine:

DSC_82001) beautiful young girls; Continue reading

Disappointment. It Happens.

So unlike the usual travel posts that has been dominating ze blog lately, this is one of those rare, melodramatic-moment posts where I just pour my heart out. Partly because it’s healthy for me, partly because I’m reminded of the perspective I should have while writing this, and partly because I hope this can encourage someone who’s going through something similar. 🙂

Anyway, here it goes.

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If you’ve been following this blog, you would know that starting the past year, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to go back to China again – in fact, to places I’ve never been before. With the exception of Beijing which was for study and training purposes, the rest – Guilin, Nanjing, Hainan and maybe some? – are all because of some volunteer work I’m doing with our church, CCF (Christ’s Commission Fellowship).

I’d be lying if I said that I only cared about the volunteer work I’ve been doing. To be honest, after our first time – which I believe was Guilin – I started enjoying the travel part of it as well. Howeverthat enjoyment remains an insignificant part. Yes, I get excited about going somewhere new, but as soon as I meet the people we work with, that excitement is superimposed by a bigger one, which is the pure joy of being able to see and work with those people again.

With that context in mind, we had another trip coming up this end of February, extending to March – it was going to be our longest trip so far, spanning eight days. Not only that, we would be in three places during those eight days – Xiamen, Shanghai and Suzhou. Xiamen’s the only place I’ve been to previously, but I was equally excited for that as well because it meant that I might have time to go visit our relatives, who live there. Shanghai, of course, is a given – if only for less than a day, I was excited to see what “the New York of China” actually looked like. And then there’s Suzhou, which I happened to have taught my Chinese class about mere weeks before. The place has stunning scenery.

And then – shoot. I had to go renew my passport. Due to the no-travel-on-the-six-months-before-expiry (whew) policy, it meant that I actually couldn’t travel any more starting mid-February. I started beating myself up already because since January, I had already thought to go and renew it in preparation for upcoming travel, but forgot about it in the whirlwind of school activities that followed. However, we decided to go ahead and renew, crossing our fingers.

To make the long story short, I was absent from work for two days (yes, I care about salary deduction quite a lot haha), ran to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila and back, and all for nothing. When we left the DFA building for the last time, knowing that there was no way we were going to be able to make it, that’s when I broke down. Broke down and cried.

Actually, we were inside a McDonald’s at that time, so I just grabbed a tissue to cover as much as I could of my ugly crying face and just left the eyes exposed. Much less dramatic and attention-grabbing that way…

But that incident really humbled me. In reflection, I realized that I had actually gone quite a long time without any major disappointments, the type that would really twist your heart and hurt you again every time you think about it. Without realizing it, I had really come to enjoy travelling, and this really hit the gut. For a long, long time, the closest to major disappointments I had were – well, I couldn’t think of any. This incident made me think that, man, have I really been pampered these past few months – heck, this past year – or what?

And you know why I got the feeling that I was pampered? It was because God was infinitely good to me. And you know what they say – count your blessings. And so I did.

God gave me a smooth school year so far, with minimal bumps here and there. On the whole,

my students have been really behaved, sweet even. I love them to pieces. Of course, I got to travel to places I have never been to before, and they just seemed to happen every two to three months. Guilin, Nanjing, Hainan, Siargao, Boracay… was I fortunate or what? I was able to save an amount of money I never thought I could have ever saved, and now I’m on my way to buying the laptop of my dreams. (Off with you, crappy Compaq! LOL)

And so, so, so much more. In no way is this boasting – ticking off these things and more in my head just made me realize that: yes, not making the trip and all is still disappointing. However, it’s a hiccup in the otherwise steady stream of undeserved blessings that I have been receiving.
For me, though, the most important take-away from this experience was how God spoke to my heart. Prior to this incident, there were a lot of problems with me, my personality and my treatment of other people that I was too stubborn to correct. This disappointment, though, was something like a painful spank God gave me – as if He was saying, “It’s time to change. Listen to me.” And so while I can’t say that now, I’ve changed and like this like that, I’m on the road to changing – and that’s important, too. Without this incident, my pride would have swelled to bigger capacities, and pretty soon I would have been unreachable.

Does it still hurt? Yes, but there’s no crying about it any more. In fact, I’m writing this with a smile on my face, and – believe it or not – right now, I’m telling God, “Father, Your timing is absolutely perfect. Truly, Your ways are better than my ways.”

God 9Claiming this promise!

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Rhoel & Johan (March 16, 2013)

…which happens to be my mother’s birthday as well. Haha!

DSC_3206DSC_3210Birthday celebrations can always come second place, though, to an event where two people come back to God and make things right with Him. This was the case with my uncle Rhoel and his soon-to-be wife Johan, and while part of my excitement comes from my giddiness at actually shooting an event for the first time, most of it is happiness bursting out for both of them. Couldn’t be happier for you both!

DSC_3222DSC_3249We were also very privileged to have Dad and Mom’s (among others) disciplers, Ptr. Desmond and Ptr. Robert, around to officiate! The event was supposed to be a wedding in itself, but their marriage certificates didn’t come out in time, so they just went with a thanksgiving and engagement party. (refer to tarpaulin. Haha)

DSC_3261DSC_3324DSC_3370A professional orchestra is always nice, but nothing beats “homemade” music with people you know as the talents! 🙂

Afterwards, Uncle Rhoel shared his testimony of how he got a second, no make that third, lease at life. It’s amazing to hear direct from him how God was completely the One who turned his life around. Reminds us that, yes, we should continue making efforts to reach out to the people around us, but it’s ultimately God who changes and transforms lives. 🙂 So happy for you, uncle!

DSC_3268DSC_3287DSC_3288He kinda ran out of breath quite fast, though, due to his health condition. Tita Johan soon took over, but got emotional real quick as well…

DSC_3293…so there had to be a third person to read the testimony for them. 😀

DSC_3379DSC_3356Expectantly waiting for the next big event, the simple but meaningful wedding. 🙂

DSC_3424DSC_3400DSC_3423DSC_3443There are a million captions I can think up for this picture LOL. I’m just glad that I got the settings right for this night to capture moments like these!

DSC_3497DSC_3446DSC_3507Presenting: the lovely Ng Tio ladies. ❤

DSC_3524It’s quite rare to capture the family matriach smiling… mostly because right after she’s aware you’ve taken the shot, she instantly glares at you. 😮

DSC_3500DSC_3498The night quickly turned to a somewhat dysfunctional karaoke session where we had a talented violinist, a talented but shy singer, a self-confident singer, and a confident but rusting pianist. 😀 Cracks me up!

DSC_3523Ending this post with a lovey-dovey shot with one of my favorite couples. ❤ All you need is love! (yuck, cheesy)

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On the Road

Literally got off the car and got my closest for this.
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Behold, le portrait of Mr. Cow. LOL 😀 Funny thing was, he was actually looking the other way. For some reason, when I got down and started shooting, he literally looked at me, like, “you want my picture, huh? Here you go…” LOL my imagination.

Through the course of our frequent trips along the provincial highways, what always makes me stop and stare out the window are the vast number of plains and farmland just along the way. Sometimes, we see them cows and other pure, untouched aspects of nature that we take them for granted.

DSC_2815That day, I was reminded that the beauty of God’s creation is always around me, and they should never be taken for granted because they remind me just how awesome and mighty He is.

DSC_2818Next time, I’ll get a fantastic zoom/macro lens and take good shots of these plucky herons. 🙂

P.S. I haven’t gotten around to fully customizing the blog yet so as to make my posted pictures appear bigger, but you can always click on them to view them in their (almost) full-sized glory. 😀

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Mag & Gab

DSC_1334DSC_1336DSC_1338DSC_1339DSC_1341DSC_1343DSC_1347DSC_1344DSC_1345DSC_1356DSC_1358DSC_1357Originally, this post was supposed to be written with excitement and happiness, as I couldn’t wait to show you my unexpected Christmas blessings – how they brought so much cheer and learning experiences to my life, how they brightened each of my days as I knew they would. Now, however, these two blessings are buried below our calamansi tree… yup, Mag & Gab are dead. 😦

How ironic that this should be a milestone of sorts, being my 250th post and all. And how ironic is it that, on the day that I’ve scheduled to post about them would be the day they leave me?

Things happen according to God’s will and purpose. I’m sad, yes, but not devastated as if I lost, say, Coconut & Pudding, because my time with Mag & Gab was still quite short. However, losing them like this always makes you reflect: am I as experienced a pet owner as I thought? What could I have done better? Those things, in my opinion, is what I (and you!) can focus on instead of the negative aspects of this situation.

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B1G #follow – Hotel Stotsenberg, Pampanga

One fine November weekend, I was blessed to have been able to attend the yearly singles’ retreat of CCF, B1G (Be 1 with God). Oh yeah, the word “single” and not “student” is starting to sink in now. But anyway.

It was held at Hotel Stotsenberg in Clark, Pampanga, which was a nice & decent place overall, but just not as perfectly lovely as I expected. Oh well, who cares about that when you’re having a jolly good time with the nicest and fun-nest (LOL) people on earth? I had so much fun, I forgot to take decent pictures! :p

DSC_0168The awesome stage. Those were ropes pulled and stretched up to behind the stage to create that cool design! 🙂

DSC_0135DSC_0126DSC_0122Me with the 5 other fabulous girls in my group. Sure, the range wasn’t what I was used to, but that’s more fun, right? I learned so much from each and every one of them. Love you girls to death! ❤

DSC_0169DSC_0115DSC_0124DSC_0130During the retreat, we were so blessed to have amazing people come talk to us about God’s love and how we can be better children of His. I mean, Ptr. Peter Tan-chi himself!! Edric Mendoza, just to name a few! 😮

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Neat room, just like how the girls roll. LOL anyway. As a bonus, we got to have Dawn Watch (early prayer time first thing in the morning) the next morning. It’s always different altogether when you spend time with your Father the very first moment of the day.

DSC_0133DSC_0132DSC_0153DSC_0154Okay, so I got a little distracted… but look at that gaggle of waiters behind! Wala lang (nothing doing), they were just fooling around. :p

DSC_0149DSC_0144We also had this awesome Amazing-Race like type of challenge, the B1G Challenge. Believe me when I say I ran my legs out like there was no tomorrow. Feel na feel ang pagiging contestant! 😀 (I felt like a real contestant LOL). My usually inactive body complained a few hours after the race, though, so future exercise is definitely in order.

DSC_0170Baptism was also held that afternoon, and it was truly touching to see how hundreds of people dedicated their life to Christ and publicly proclaimed their faith in Him! Kaiyak lang ng slight (it was a little touching). Among our group, Kaye got baptized – congratulations, Tita Kaye! We love you. 🙂

DSC_0186DSC_0181DSC_0182DSC_0183Okay, there’s a reason why I put these photos. 😀

DSC_0164DSC_0160I can say something cliché like, “I really enjoyed this retreat; it was such a blessing to me” blah blah, but that’s exactly how I feel right now. For something I was kinda hesitant to attend at first, it turned out to be an experience I totally enjoyed. (So you see, my ending words ended up totally cliché anyway LOL)

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