The love I lost

When I was fourteen, I remember falling in love.
I felt so alive that time, I was so in love with the God of the Bible.
I don’t know what happened to me after that… I just lost that love.
Wandering with no direction, just drifting.
Took me years to revert back to the faith;
I even joined the Marist Brothers.
It was like Saul’s encounter Jesus on his way to Damascus;
Have to see again with eyes anew what the Bible is all about.
Again, reading it once more, loving it book by book;
Now I fell in love again.
Once more, I get lost within the world of the Book;
There I find who I really am in losing myself.
Now I know I just got lost;
I never really lost that love.
It was there all along carved in my heart.

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One question that changed my life

This is the draft of my Opening Remarks for tomorrow’s Career Celebration 2K18: Millennials Shaping the Future here in Notre Dame of Cotabato.

January 22, 2018

Good morning everyone,

One reason why I was asked to give the Opening Remarks is because I am a millennial. I can still remember that I once was a high school eleven years ago. We don’t have these model ramps that often before in Marist School, Marikina where I spent my high school. As an exclusive for boys’ school, we only have the Mr. Marist contest every two years during the Marist Fair. (For the record, I did not join.)

Given my surname Timola, which is a cause of being bullied sometimes, I was always asked to seat at the back of the classroom and mostly at the corner beside the window. There, I spaced out; stared outside the windows and daydreamed. Sometimes I draw doodles on my notebook or write a list of my favorite songs. In the early 2000, there was a famous song by Switchfoot with the title Only Hope. The lyrics would haunt me until now.

The lyrics go like these : “There’s a song that’s inside of my soul. It’s the one that I tried to write over and over again.” 

(Sing this if I have the guts to sing in front of these 2,000 students)

That song is a constant companion of my restlessness during college. It took me years to decipher the meaning of that song. We all have that song inside us. That song inside our soul is our personal mission. It is a God-given personal mission. How do we discover that mission?

The short answer is that we discover our mission in life by discovering about ourselves. High school life is a perfect time for us to discover about ourselves. It starts with discovering your talents.

Who are those good in Math? How about English? How about Science? How about basketball? How about computers? How about painting? How about singing?

But still, even discovering our talents will still leave more questions about our own selves. That is the question we have to live the rest of our lives; that too, is the tension we have to live the rest of our lives. And this tension will only end when we stop living. Thank God we have that tension; it means we are still alive. It’s okay if we try to write that song inside our soul over and over again.

It will be an unending search for an answer. To paraphrase Maria Rainier Rilke, let us live the question.

I hope that the Grade 12 students will learn the most from this Career Celebration. Grade 12, I dare you to ask questions about college, about work, about your future. Start asking us—your advisers, your teachers, our guidance counselors: Mrs. Casiano, Mr. Ade, and Mrs. Sobrepena.

Dear students (yes, all of you), I dare you to ask questions. Curiosity is an evidence of one’s willingness to learn. Learn by asking questions.

Before I end, I’ll leave you with a question that changed my life: “Sa paghahanap-buhay, mahahanap mo ba ang buhay mo?”

Good morning everyone.

Br. Allen Timola, FMS

A joyful Christmas to everyone!

  1. A joyful Christmas to everyone!
  2. I arrived here in Marikina since December 24. I did not ride a taxi to save money. Instead, I took the bus/train/van/tricycle route which costed me only 99 pesos in total compared to the 500-800 price of a taxi ride. So imagine how have I been thriftty these past two days including Christmas time.
  3. Every time I go home on Decembers since I entered the Marist Brothers last 2011, I play NBA 2K. This year, I stopped because I don’t feel like playing it. Besides, I have to graduate from NBA 2K13 that I played since December 2013. I already won two championships there with the Oklahoma Thunders (sixth man) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (starting Small Forward).
  4. Instead of playing video games, I played Spotify. Currently listening to the Tides by The Ransom Collective. I am hooked with Spotify that I even curated some playlists. Maybe you can search one of my playlist, New Pinoy Alt Rock and Indie.
  5. I am now sleeping here at the extension house adjacent to our original house. I drank two Heineken beers and a Crabbie’s (a ginger beer). Beer is alright for me. I passed on the Jack Daniels though since it’s really strong. I always follow what the television ads tell us to do: drink moderately.
  6. Actually, I am going through a lot of pondering these days even before coming here at home. During this vacation, I am reflecting on my vocation (rhyme intended). I’ll re-evaluate myself in terms of prayer life, apostolate, and community living. I’ll write that and try to put some of my reflections in my application letter.
  7. It’s been almost seven years already with the Marist Brothers and I plan to stay a little longer maybe until perpetual profession.
  8. My goodness, I think I have been so self-centered. Am I still answering to the call of leaving everything behind and following our Brother?
  9. I plan to visit chapels and churches here in Manila later alone. During this feast day of St. Stephen, I have yet to attend a Mass since I was not able to get up early.
  10. I remember the vision of Saint Jerome with the infant Jesus during Christmas.
  11. The venerable scholar was asked by the Child, “What present do you have for me?”

“I have left everything and given them up for you. What more can I offer?”, replied Jerome.

“You still have something more to give me”

“What is it?”

“Give me your sins.”

Truly, it is better to give than to receive

  1. While checking the examination papers, I am surprised with the profoundness of one student. It seems that she is not fourteen years old; she is way ahead of her peers in terms of maturity.
  2. Last Tuesday, accompanied by her sister, she was the only student who gave me a gift as her appreciation. I learned later that she also gave gifts to her other teachers as her Christmas presents. I got a tumbler from her.
  3. This gesture, though it’s simple, warms the hearts of teachers. Truly, it is better to give than to receive. As a teacher, I realize that I am giving more than what I am supposed to offer to my students. It is more than the lessons and grades I give. What is it then? It is my presence.
  4. I hope that more than anything else, my students will treasure my presence the most. I am priviledged to be able to share my life with them inside and outside the classroom. I am blessed to be able to witness their blossoming to adulthood.
  5. Now, I am thinking of writing a draft of a goodbye letter to the NDC community: all personnel, parents, GIA scholars, and specially the students. Before the school year ends, I usually write a letter to the people who have touched me and made a difference my life.
  6. I’m teary eyed right now. Yes, I am a such a sensitive man. Because the school year is almost finished, I have to leave people behind here in the school. Good byes are real and I am leaving next April.
  7. I know I have my failings throughout this year. I admit that. Mea maxima culpa. And if ever I have offended people even if I did not mean it, I am sorry for that.
  8. Today is my brother’s birthday today, it’s almost Christmas and 2017 is about to end. It’s a year of hellos and goodbyes.
  9. I will attend a recollection on December 31 to thank God for all the blessings and ask pardon for my shortcomings.
  10. Thanks for reading my streams of thought. Goodbye.

How I take responsibility for my actions

In the film The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, there was a dialogue that stuck in me when Bilbo Baggins saw Smaug about to fly off to Laketown. He said, “What have we done?

I remembered this line because it talks about accepting one’s fault even though a one did not intended the consequences of one’s actions. For example, acting in good faith. I may have the best-est of all intentions but if I end up messing up, as a cliché says, the end does not justify the means.

While I was playing a video game, I remembered my recent interactions with some subordinates. I think I’ve done something wrong and they hinted it through a passive-aggresive remark and until now I am still wondering what exactly I did wrong. When I assume leadership, I admit I sometimes tend to overlook some people in the group particularly those who seem to be so sensitive. I never intend to do so but whenever I do overlook some people, I see now the pattern how these people react. And four out of four of them happened to have some father issues.

Maybe a family problem? Probably transference? Seeing me as their father figure? Am I too intimidating? Or maybe I’m just overthinking or rationalizing. I have to stop seeking the fault outside myself now.

I have to remind myself again that what’s done is done; I can’t bring back the time; I am not fail-proof; I am failure-prone; I cannot do it all; I cannot control the results. And sometimes even if it’s not my fault, I cannot make everything feel alright. It’s out of my reach. Or maybe it’s because I’m just a people pleaser. But I’m bound to fail because I can’t please everybody. And as the lyrics of a song goes, I did my best but I guess my best wasn’t good enough.

This is were humility comes. I now let St. Catherine of Siena to remind me that I am not who I think I am. I may have done something wrong, so mea culpa. So I now let it go and let the Lord do His work. I’ll try again next time and let tomorrow worry about itself.

And this is how an introverted and intuitive thinker perceives his interactions with others when he sees something’s wrong and he thinks he’s the problem though he’s not (or maybe he really is the problem).

Breaking for the Weekend

Hello WordPress,

Allen here.

I’m late with this writing challenge. Today is the start of famous Filipino Catholic devotion, the Christmas novena known as the Misa de Gallo. It literally means the Mass of the crow because it’s a tradition of the Filipino farmers to go to Mass early in the dawn before going to till their lands in the morning. To be honest, I skipped it today. My last year’s experience in the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral was horrible. I ended up standing for more than an hour. In my experience, the first day has the most attendance in church. If I was in GenSan or in Marikina, I would dare to wake up before 4 AM. But yeah, I’d skipped the first day and attend the remaining days.

Some believe that if they complete this nine-day devotion of going to church, their wishes would be fulfilled. I don’t have any wish and I don’t wish anyway since attending the Mass is not about that. Besides, my devotion is a whole-year round. I attend daily Mass at 5:30 AM (mostly if I’m not oversleeping). Enough of the rationalization. I’ll just wake up early this morning and I expect to get a seat in the pew.

So today I woke up around 6:15 AM, and got ready in joining the Grant-In-Aid scholars for the general cleaning of the school around 7 AM to 11 AM. I asked some to buy some merienda for us to eat since some of them haven’t had their breakfast yet. If you were following this blog, I mentioned that I was assigned as the coordinator of these scholars this school year. I usually join these scholars during Saturdays in cleaning the school if there are no classes or if it’s Intrams. In total, there are presently 27 GIA scholars. Actually, there are 10 of them out of the program for some reasons so that makes 37 scholars I handled during this school year alone.

We had our merienda in the convent dining room around 9:30 AM eating some cheese breads and drank some juice flavored by orange powders. While eating, we circled around asking about our wishlists for our Christmas exchange gifts. And since almost all of us are present, we decided to have our meeting there in the dining room. After that, we resumed in cleaning the school grounds.

Around 11:15 AM, we occupied the library to practice our Christmas presentation during the Christmas party. I played the guitar and asked some suggestions which songs to play. So we ended up choosing the Pasko na Naman caroling medley and Star Ng Pasko. I hurt my fingers a bit due to my rusting guitar-playing skills. While waiting for the chosen songs to be printed out, we sang some Ed Sheeran’s songs. So we sang and most of the singers were females. I told them we’ll meet again for practice on Tuesday before the Christmas Party.

After the practice, I took a siesta. I was tired from the whole morning cleaning and the guitar playing plus singing. I slept around 1:15 PM and I woke up around 3:45 PM. Then I decided to go out, go to the mall, and buy all the gifts for the upcoming Christmas parties I’m going to attend. That drained my pocket. Then I arrived in the convent around 6:15 PM with a Hello Kitty stuffed toy, a polo shirt, and a perfume.

As I hear a band playing Prinsesa by Teeth and Sunday Morning by Maroon 5, that signals that the school’s Alumni Homecoming Party has almost started. It’s a joint alumni homecoming of the Notre Dame of Cotabato (Marist Brothers) and Notre Dame of RVM with Batch 1992 hosting the event. Just like how I skipped the first day of the Misa de Gallo, I opted not to attend the event as well.

So I just spent my night alone in the library, browsed the internet, listened to some Spotify-streamed music, played NBA 2K13, and wrote this blog post.

So this is my Saturday.

Bye for now.

The Sound of the Alarm

Hey WordPress,

I have a new schedule now: to write before I go to sleep. Now, I am 13 minutes late with my writing time since I planned to write for straight 30 minutes from 10 PM to 10:30 PM. I’ll just write about anything. The city alarm is my signal. We had that alarm ever since the Martial Law was started here in Mindanao. I cannot really comment that much on the Martial Law extension since Cotabato City was on Martial Law since May 2017. Marawi is just a four-hour ride from here. Sometimes, I need to bring an ID every time I re-enter the city. But I just go out of the city once in a while and not that often like when I assist in the recollection giving to our high school students. The usual destinations I go to are Pigcawayan, General Santos City, Kidapawan City, or Davao City.

At times, I think of a possible city invasion from the zealots, my term for you know what caused the Marawi siege. I don’t like to call them the labels that the media gave them. It’s misleading and generalizing and unfair to those who are radical and extreme in practicing their faith since it also applies to those who are peace-loving people.

Cotabato City is generally a Muslim-dominated city but my estimate is that it’s more or less like 60 percent of the population. It’s an old city with historical scars that the current generation are almost unaware of. And one of the many scar is the effect of the Martial Law last 1970s until the 80s. The result? The Liberation Front groups. I’ll stop there besides our Philippine history is a testimony of this and even until now we can still feel its effect. It’s not the golden age just like what my fellow millennials called it. I don’t really know how their family stay relevant up to this time. Maybe us Filipinos have a collective amnesia of what they have done in our country. A result of wealth and propaganda probably.

In my two years of stay here, my encounter with fellow Filipinos who are Muslims has been very positive in general. I am speaking of my encounter with little children, parents, rich ones, poor ones, teachers, government leaders, barbers, vendors, etc. There have been some not-so-good encounters but I think it’s normal since it is just a result of our cultural and religious differences.  All I can say is that they are Filipinos too. They need better visionaries in our local government and the autonomy has to stay out of the equation for the mean time. I really feel ambivalent about that autonomy. In the national level, I think the Freedom of Information Bill can help this city’s bid to boom. Transparency will cut down, if not totally eliminate, the anomalies in the government.

Gee, I’ve been very political in this post. I was just writing about the alarm. At least my free-writing has a bit of coherence and not just a random stream of consciousness. I have lots of stories to tell but I have to sleep now.

Bye for now.