Not-so-random thoughts and feelings

  • When I open the fridge out of compulsion looking for something, though I know there’s nothing inside, I think to myself “I’m just searching for God.”
  • Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder why I chose this kind of life; to live a consecrated life.
  • During a Lenten Retreat in Tagaytay last 2015, I told my spiritual director that it doesn’t matter where I am or what kind of life I am living; for as long as I know that God will still continue to be at my side, I’m okay. He replied that I am not far from the kingdom of God.
  • I’m just on my late 20s. I don’t know if I’m in crisis or depression but I just know I get too emotional about little things. Just like the lyrics of a song, I wonder why everything seems so heavy.
  • I feel so emotional but it’s not coming out; it’s trapped inside. It’s like keeping a straight face.
  • I was so active in Facebook when I finished my novitiate except this year. I was able to browse all my posts on my profile this year with a few scroll.
  • I wan’t to hide yet I post a lot in Twitter. Then, I want to be seen too?
  • I feel like Lazarus buried in a tomb but I rolled the stone myself to hide.
  • When I am weeping, does God really weep with me?
  • As I hit rock-bottom, will the floor cave in?
  • Writing this, I remember Nicodemus in the night time asking questions about faith and being “born again”.
  • Will I ever hear Jesus calling me to come out too?
  • I can’t think of anything to write about in essay form so I just used bullets.
  • I created a Spotify playlist entitled The Dark Night of the Soul
  • Thanks for reading.

 

A journey inward

Now, school year 2016-2017 is over. Wohoo!

Since I promised in my previous post that I will talk about my teaching experience, I will try to do it here without any specific topic in mind. That means free-writing.

When I’m not writing, I’m reading the writings of my students. I as their teacher asks my students in class to practice being reflective through writing. I, as their Values Education teacher, encourage my students to touch their introspective side. And for them to do this, they must learn how to be silent. In these times that these teenagers are in (and for us adults sometimes too), it is hard for them to let them sit for hours.

But I know my students are all capable of spending time in silence. I’ve witnessed it during their recollection where they were asked by our campus ministry directress, ma’am Che, to sit down in silence, close their eyes, and imagine themselves walking through nature and encounter people close to their hearts. On the part where they encounter their parents in their imaginative journey, when the students were asked to feel how their parents are struggling in earning a living just for them to study in a good school and be provided with their own needs, it made them weep. It may be pity or guilt that they felt whenever they get mad whenever they request something and their parents refuse to provide them; those times when they fail to appreciate the goodness of their parents towards them. That time, they were able to get in touch with their own experiences and relationship with their family especially their parents. They were able to do it because it was a recollection and they really spent time in silence.

Going back to my students’ reflective writing activities, I discovered that it is not easy for some to spend time for reflection when it comes to writing. But I am happy that at least they are trying. I even encourage students to write in Tagalog if they’re having a hard time writing in English. But there are some who won’t really bother and try to even write essays. Ah, your patience, Allen!

So in the same manner, I as their teacher must practice being reflective. And I will do it through web logging. And here, I did it by just writing about my students. Woo!

Whenever I talk in front of the class, I lecture through story telling. Usually, the subject is my own life experiences and stories of people whom I have known personally. Honestly speaking, I am a such a bore in retelling stories of others when I have just read or heard them somewhere in books, web, magazine articles, or even podcasts I am listening to. Even the jokes that seems funny to me, when I retell them, because too corny.

Now that I have stopped following any television shows or anime series, my watching habit of watching basketball games has gone up because of our access to cable in our convent. I consume more time in doing unproductive things such as watching games or highlights when I really want to do is to be creative like writing, composing poems and stories, polish my handwriting (which my student said was poor), capture more photographs, play basketball or chess, or learn how to draw better.

Maybe sometimes, I will consciously spend time to feel boredom and not seek constant stimulation. But I know it will either be productive or unproductive. I need to choose the former though.

Postscript: I will be spending a week in Malaybalay, Bukidnon for the Annual Lenten Retreat of Marist Brothers here in the Philippines. I am part of the Liturgy Committee and an assistant secretary during the Provincial’s time (meeting). Within the week, we Brothers will discover our Summer assignments and our next community and ministry assignment for the next school year. And during the Easter vigil, I will renew my vows. If you want to ask me to pray for me, just write a comment below or reach me out in the Contact Form. Please pray for me too.

The courage to cry

Hello.

I’m back!

Since my blogging pledge is one post a month, I just realized yesterday that I skipped two months. And to be officially back, I must post this entry with my original style of blogging: freewriting.

I just came back from facilitating a recollection and I am satisfied with what had transpired with the prayer, reflection, and sharing. We still used the Lenten Theme just like the previous batch last Saturday. In the sharing and reflection this morning, I listened to stories of frustrations, hang ups, and lessons in the midst of sufferings. Again, I shared. I disclosed to them that it’s as if I got to review my life while I was listening to them. I must admit that I lost focus in the midst of the sharing because their stories reminded me of my stories. Different experiences, same feelings. When it was my turn, I know that they were listening to my story because they were reacting and they are breaking the rules of being silent while someone is sharing! Anyway, we know each other since they too are teachers. I won’t be sharing their stories because it might appear as a gossip and that’s not really my style. Remember I got accused of being a gossiper? 

I shared to them that I am a bit frustrated with myself this school year in terms of reaching out to other teachers. I got enclosed with my table in the Campus Ministry and my personal office here in the convent (which is inside the school too). I was deprived of not having a table in the faculty room. Though there were hindrances, it shouldn’t be my excuse but my motivation to strive more to reach out. I shared to them that I got so used with being alone that I even learn news when it’s too late. One of the news I learned too late is when I was called out in Facebook. I was called names, boxed with labels, a gossiper, and a people pleaser (the only accusation which I somehow agree upon). I was able to face Agnus (not his real name) and had a confrontation where I was crying most of the time. I went to see him and talk to him because I got a problem with him. That’s only to find out that it was more beneficial to him than to me. And that’s a great thing. It was therapeutic for both of us. There was healing. That’s love in action as Jesus taught us to do: love our enemies. This is something unheard of outside Christianity. An absurd thing to do. But that’s what love really is; like the sun shining or the rain falling on the good and bad alike. 

While I was sharing these realizations (not all of this in exact verbatim but most of it are additional details), I was teary eyed and my voice cracking. So I said that instead of holding back tears, I need to cry more often. Cry when I got hurt; cry because of injustice​; cry because I need to do something so bad I will do everything whatever it takes; or, cry when someone is crying too. Though I’m a man, to paraphrase Frankl, I will cry because it is the courageous thing to do: to face my own suffering. 

I am tired now. It’s already midnight. I’ll continue this tomorrow.

Good mornight!

Finally, school year is almost over

Hello.

When was the last time I posted something here in WordPress?

Sometimes, I am more active in Facebook and Instagram. And when I say active, it doesn’t necessarily mean I post a lot. I usually just hang around and read. Possibly because I ain’t got time for contemplation. Speaking of contemplation, I will facilitate a recollection for the school’s Science Department teachers tomorrow somewhere in Pigcawayan. But that’s tomorrow so I don’t know yet what exactly would happen.

Last Saturday, I facilitated a recollection with a group sharing portion about Jesus raising up Lazarus from the dead (which was the Gospel last Sunday). Each one had to share. As the facilitator, I too had told some stories too. Together with the school canteen staff in the midst of the cool breeze from the sea, I teared up a bit when I disclosed how I missed my family.

And a random guy, who was not part of the group, suddenly caught me off guard when he sat in our cottage and boldly declared that, “There must be a reason why your family is living apart.” But instead of becoming defensive, I responded calmly that there’s actually no problem at allbetween us family members. Made it simpler when I said that instead of discussing there’s really no bad blood between us siblings or parents and it’s just my sister’s family having financial difficulty so she had to work in a foreign country. When he responded out of the blue, I sensed that the sharing mood changed a bit from being serious into uneasy. Maybe the random guy sensed it too so maybe that’s why he left afterwards. Sometimes, when a person shares a story, like the random guy I too tend to over analyze when all I need to do is to sit, listen, and read between the spoken words. That’s why when someone shares a problem with sensitive issue, I tend to ask how she or he feels and to help her/him think for herself/himself. From that experience, I see the wisdom why a facilitator of recollection must not mix their schedule with recreation. And somehow, I had practiced open vulnerability. Maybe non-Filipinos would have difused that question by replying, “It’s none of your business.” But I too am a Filipino who says hello by asking “Where are you going?” when I really have no intention of knowing the destination.

And since this coming Sunday in the start of the Holy Week, us Filipino Marist Brothers would spend a week in contemplation with Br. Michael Green, FMS as our facilitator/speaker. I don’t know him that much. I only know that he’s Australian. Actually, I prefer a silent retreat. But that’s another story.

Oh yeah, that reminds me to prepare a morning prayer and a Marian prayer for Maundy Thursday. Also, my renewal of vows is up next April 15. Just two days before my birthday.

I’ll share next time my toxic experiences during these past three months of teaching this schoolyear.

Things worth looking forward to

Finally, a fast internet connection. I was in a hiatus just because of the slow connection in the past months. Allow me to free-write.

Last January, I purchased a Kobo tablet (an outdated model) and downloaded WordPress app and it didn’t help; I can’t even use the app. I’ve been itching for a long time already to post something here in WP and the circumstances just doesn’t help me. Another factor is that I am using a computer room with 20 plus units, all desktops. We don’t have a WiFi connection in the fraternity (our house) and I need to use the desktop just to be online. It’s even more convenient to do this than to get my tablet and go to a WiFi zone. I heard something about the Free Internet project in the Philippines this coming July and I don’t know how this will roll out. Just one of the few good news in the country since what’s happening here in the news is quite depressing. It is an issue close to my heart and not just a random rambling of a typical Manilenyo who doesn’t even know (and care) about Mindanao and its history.


I read a lot now because of Kobo. Reading is different. I miss blogging.

I’m not yet back since I’m preparing for the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) which is quite unique here in the Philippines since we have an oversupply of aspiring teachers. When I was young, I never dreamed of becoming a teacher. Just to be clear. Even if I did not aspire to actually become one, I must. I think I’m starting to like it now. I haven’t got the experience yet not even a full-time practice teaching stint in the school. I’m becoming stressed a lot now because of the LET review. Actually, it’s not a review but a study since it’s not my major in college and I just took 18 units in Education just to qualify in the PRC requirements. But let’s see how will I fare in the exam. Until next time. Cheers!

How Augustine’s doctrine of original sin made more sense to me

Just need to write this down before I forget this. Yesterday morning before I attended my first subject, I picked up a book Fire on the Earth by Kevin J Barr MSC. It is about religious life and its prophetic role in the 21st century. This is timely since it is the Year of Consecrated Life. Later, during our Moral Theology class, we talked about the Church History in relation to moral thinking. Whenever I encounter St. Augustine, his doctrine on original sin is always bloody. Our professor mentioned something about human sinfulness and the reason why priests wear white soutanes. One perspective is that priests wear white soutanes to cover the darkness of human flesh. Because deep inside is a sinful nature. And how do we explain those black, brown habits?

That moment, the original sin doctrine made sense to me. Why did St. Augustine come up with that doctrine?  Aside from his own life experience as his inspiration, he was fighting heresies particularly the Pelagian heresy which says that Jesus was a very good model for living that people can imitate to live a good life and attain salvation for oneself. There’s a lot of problem with that. This heresy is saying that even without grace, one can work for his/her own salvation. And Augustine said no you cannot do that. The Pelagians are again thinking of turning themselves as “gods” like what Adam and Eve did. It is through the grace of God that we attain salvation. A modern understand of original sin is this: we are born with original grace; however, we again commit what Adam and Eve did whenever we turn away from God, refusing God’s grace. And this makes more sense to me.

P.S.: I’m still thinking whether to attend review classes tomorrow or not. Tomorrow is my brother’s wedding and I don’t want to be late. I don’t even know yet what to wear. Of course one thing’s for sure: I’ll be there.

Bad news: starting next month, I’ll have no weekends

It’s official: our first semester in MAPAC is over. For me, it doesn’t necessarily mean to be idle this one-month long break. Now that the break (not a vacation) removes the pressure from studies, I can now shop some books for our project, plan for the next newsletter, train for the basketball tournament, and look for a LET review center. Last Wednesday, I was searching in the internet for nearby review center when I saw Mind Gym. It’s a jackpot since it’s near and not so expensive. I don’t know if their list of topnotchers for promotion looks credible. But anyway, I gave it a shot. I discussed it with my superiors and they approved it. Within two days, I enrolled there. I did it during this afternoon. So, I’m studying in MAPAC during weekdays and on the review center in weekends. That means 7 days a week of studies!

I’m not really bothered with these but what I will miss would be the urban poor kids in our apostolate. Their settlement site looks like our house. And I just blogged about their area being flooded during the typhoon and Ondoy (Ketsana). So another option for me is to to teach in the afternoon shift program students in Marist School. And that means studying in weekend mornings and teaching in the evening. I’ll be needing a lot of siesta in between these busy days. But don’t worry, this blog will not be offline. This is my online journal, right? Because I don’t like writing in notebooks; that’s too girly. And yes, I have machismo issues. I don’t like it it but I have it. That’s Spanish machismo influence still messing up with Filipinos since 1500s. That’s another story. Sorry.