Should I be scared to travel alone?

Dear Lord,

This fast few months, I’ve been preparing myself for my transfer to a new community and ministry. I am in the midst of processing my papers for travelling outside the country. Thus, I would be leaving my first apostolate (after MAPAC) which is teaching here in Notre Dame of Cotabato. I’ve been teaching now for three straight years and I don’t know how what to feel once I stop teaching and start learning a new language and be a student once again.

Though I was briefed what’s about to happen, of course I have my own what ifs and other reservations. Like what I said to a fellow brother, I don’t know what will I do there specifically so I’ll just stick to what I know: live as a brother in common life, pray, and even work while studying the language of that country. I know I will travel alone outside the Philippines but there are brothers anticipating my arrival there in my new community.

I admit there is a part in me that doesn’t want to leave asking, “What’s going to happen to me there?”. The prophet Jonah’s travel to Nineveh comes to mind. But unlike him, I feel no hate towards the people I will encounter. I don’t feel like turning back and take a ship going the opposite direction. It’s just that I don’t feel like going out of the Philippines for a long time. I am anxious but I’ll still go and follow what I am told to.

What I am experiencing now humbles me. To some extent, I can influence what I can do in this future apostolate but of course I don’t have the total control of what will happen to me and my future community. It’s a risk I’m willing to take and I entrust my future to my superiors who decided on this.

It’s a different kind of advent for me.

I don’t know where I am going to but in faith, I surrender.

Let Your will be done, not mine.

And let this be my prayer.



A long, winding, but grace-filled weekend

I forego my plan to run 5 kilometers this night just to prepare for a week-long lesson plan. But here I am writing this post. So there.

This semester, I’m a busy person. These are my responsibilities:

  • Teacher to eight classes (six sections of Christian Values Education 8, one Christian Religious Education 11, and one World Religions and Beliefs 12)
  • Homeroom adviser to a Grade 12 section
  • Campus Ministry staff
  • Table Tennis coach
  • Grant-In-Aid coordinator

I miss my free time since I was just teaching part-time to five sections last school year. I got all of these because I agreed to take these responsibilities. So just bring it on! Also, I realize that this might be my last year of teaching to high school students. I will be sent out of the country next year for my next assignment. Getting my teaching license renewed would be harder whenever I get out of the country because of the recent law which says that I should get professional development modules/seminars/workshops sanctioned by Professional Regulatory Commission. I really hate that law because I actually get a lot of modules and workshops on administration here in Marist and teaching though they are uncredited because PRC is not involved there. Our Brother Provincial’s future plans for me would be working in foreign mission and/or teaching in college. I’ll save my worries later once the school year is almost finished.

Yesterday was a funny day because I did a lot and most of them are unplanned. I started the day by attending the daily Mass for spiritual strength. Next, I encountered a GIA who doesn’t have a Daily Time Record though it’s already mid-June so I gave away twelve copies to be used for the whole year because I am such a passive-aggressive type of coordinator and I never scold. Then the same person asked me the key to our office because they left the key inside. It’s just six o’clock so I just take my time before eating breakfast. I prepared for my almost two-hour class after the brekkie and got some Fudgie Bars to give away because I promised my Grade 8 students to give them some price. Until now, it still surprises me how I can sustain teaching for that long.

At 9:50 AM, I had to rush to the library because I got to meet all the working students since it’s our monthly meeting. After the meeting, I read the book Jesus of Nazareth by Gerhard Lohfink. I once bragged to my Grade 11 students that it is the best book I read on Christology. Possibly because of running 7 kilometers the previous night, waking up at 5 AM, percolating at a good book, proper ventilation of the aircon in my room, or because I just worked straight for three hours, I slept. I woke up around 12 PM and opened this laptop because I haven’t prepared for my next lesson with the Grade 11 students. I spent some good one hour on it and I went down to the dining hall to eat my lunch.

When the bell rings at 1:20 PM, that’s the time I will teach for another one hour and forty minutes. Again, I still wonder how I get to talk and tell stories I never told before in front of a crowd. If it is experience or reading books or both, I cannot tell. It also helps that there is a talkative student sitting in front that I get to engage with him and make my teaching dialectical or in a dialogue form. Then I had to go back to our homeroom afterwards to check the cleaning. The class president and the vice president collected the relief goods for the victims of war in Marawi City so they endorsed it to me and we delivered it to the Community Extension Services office but it was closed so I suggested we leave it in the convent.

Since I forgot to get the attendance sheet in the classroom, I had to go back and get it. On my way, I noticed the smoke from a fire somewhere near the Rio Grande. I heard firetrucks had a hard time entering there. Then I saw a student using a cellphone in the hallway so I had to approach him and confiscate it since they’re not allowed to bring it in school. While I was talking to him, there is someone calling my phone so we were talking while my phone is ringing. That was a bit awkward. He doesn’t want to hand it over to me and I do not want to argue so I got his I.D. and brought him to the Senior High School Coordinator. I slipped away afterwards to finally get the attendance sheet. I was actually in a hurry because it was almost 4 PM and I have to pack up my things for a trip later. Then I checked my phone only to find out it was Ms. Wilma, the aunt of a working student who got hospitalized due to acute ulcer. They needed the money I collected yesterday because I told her I “begged” some money from school personnel when I went around the school in between classes. I realized I had a talent in begging money. No, that was only a joke. Sorry if it was not funny. The amount? Sorry, it is confidential.

After packing my clothes and necessities, I went with our teachers/coaches to Belle’s Farm, Pigcawayan for planning and an overnight recreation. So there’s the usual drinking and singing either with the rented karaoke or with coaches playing the musical instruments brought by Mr. Dequiña in the venue. I skip singing ballads because I suck when I sing them and enthusiastic whenever we sing alternative rock songs especially if they are local songs. Filipino karaoke culture, represent! I only drank a bottle of San Miguel so I wonder why I got a recurring hiccup. Around past 1 AM, I sneaked to our booked resting house and was able to secure a resting place in a hard sofa-like furniture made of bamboo in the sala. I don’t know what it is called in English but I just know it gave me a hard time getting a good sleeping position because I don’t have a pillow and the sofa doesn’t have a cushion. Probably, it was already 2 AM when my body just got tired of searching for a good sleeping position. I then woke up at the usual 5 AM thinking of helping in cooking breakfast particularly the rice because that’s the only skill I know in cooking and I know how to cook rice for a lot of people because that’s what I learned from a fast food chain.

And I slept again around 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM today. Because of sleeping and waking up late, I feel a little bit of restless so here I am writing.

Today is Father’s Day. What’s my gift to my father? I’ll just present him with my own presence. Besides, I’ll be visiting home in Marikina this Tuesday to attend my youngest sister’s college graduation. I’ll be seeing my mother too whom I haven’t seen in almost two years because she went to Japan to work.

Thanks for reading and have a blessed weekend everyone.

The waiting game

It has been a long and tiring travel to Sri Lanka. Yesterday, we missed the plane. This was the sequence: the flight was delayed, we got a bit lax in the coffee shop waiting for the announcement, the plane crew announced our names (according to them) but we never heard it (funny that we can hear the call of other airlines and they were even looking for the passengers in the restaurants), the plane crew did not search for us, we got offloaded, was told our tickets were cancelled, plane officer in the check in did not even bother to help our misfortune, and was helped by Singapore Airlines by letting us check available flights even to other carriers (just giving credit to their kindness). Now, it has been a day and we are still in Kuala Lumpur. My stomach is aching, I’m sitting near the boarding gate, our connecting flight is delayed, and we’re about to lose some sleep since our conference is in the early morning. These past two days has been very unfortunate to us but my head is still up. I won’t let my blood pressure up just because some incompetent crew did their job poorly (paraphrasing Anthony de Mello). Maybe the complaint report will come later next week after the conference. Still not naming the airline. Not gonna join the mob mentality that people do in social media. Peace to all. Cheers!

One day as a tourist in Manila

MARIKINA, May 31, 2014 – There is a saying in Filipino which states “Do not be a stranger to your own land.” We, the first year scholastic Brothers, as new residents of Metro Manila (excluding myself), toured around to familiarize ourselves with the place where we will stay in for two years and a half (from May 2014 up to October 2016). As tourists of the National Capital Region, here is the list of our destinations in our one day journey:

1. Intramuros

Inside the walls, we visited three sites: San Agustin Church, Manila Cathedral, and Fort Santiago. As tourists, we were not alone as some foreigners, Caucasians, Chinese, and Koreans walked along with us taking pictures.

The Manila Cathedral, renovated and closed since 2011, opened to the public at the start of the month of May.

Me with the Our Lady of the Philippines

Me with the Our Lady of the Philippines

Manila Cathedral

The scholastics and the Manila Cathedral

Fort Santiago is a Spanish citadel preserved and dedicated to keep the memories of Jose Rizal, our national hero.

The Illustrados

The Illustrados

Jose Rizal

Jose Rizal

We skipped going to Luneta Park since it’s already noontime and the temperature is getting hotter.

2. Bonifacio Global City

It is already lunch time and we are heading towards the urban district of Fort Bonifacio. We parked in Market! Market! and we were free to choose where we would like to take our lunch. As for me, I just ordered some Chicken Inasal in the food court.

Fort Bonifacio

Traffic in Bonifacio Global City

After eating, I decided to bring along some of my new friends to SM Aura just to see the San Pedro Calungsod Chapel. Located in the 7th level, I wonder if it is only in the Philippines where we have chapels and churches inside the shopping mall. I heard there’s a chapel in NAIA but I have not seen it.

San Pedro Calungsod Chapel

San Pedro Calungsod Chapel

American Cemetery and Memorial

A rest in the American Cemetery and Memorial

Afterwards, we headed to the American Cemetery and Memorial, a site honoring the heroes of World War II. It was a refreshing site and a breathe of fresh air for our polluted lungs and tired eyes.

Before going back to MAPAC (Marist Asia-Pacific Center), Br. Romy asked us if we still have the energy to walk through our last destination. Though it was optional, we decided to continue since it will be the first time for most of us to see the biggest pair of shoes in the world.

3. Riverbanks Mall, Marikina City

Here, those who purchased items were given paper bags instead of the plastic, one thing I really appreciate in the effort to cut the pollution in the region. I think it is an ordinance now for establishments to give paper bags as a replacement for plastics.

I remember reading in a newspaper quoting Jessica Hagedorn, an American author, who was here promoting the book Manila Noir when she said that Manila is a mysterious woman. For us new student Brothers, Manila’s mystery is something that we need to discover. And we have two years just to do that.

When your grandmother forgets you

One day, I revisited a Home for the Aged. I went there every week, doing it for almost 5 months. When I saw one old lady whom I fondly call Lola, I ran straight after her since she might tampo (closest meaning is sulk) that I ignored her since attention matters for elders here because they regard us as their grandchildren (talking about transference).

“Good morning, Lola! Kamusta na? (How are you?)”
“Okay lang. Anong pangalan mo? (I’m okay. What’s your name?)”

Nothing to write much about for the 2nd Internet Day

  • The 441st founding anniversary of Manila coincides with the celebration of the birth of St. John the Baptist.
  • Our dogs are joyful, my stomach is bad – An Ode to Our Cooking Assignment
  • A lot of people are mistakenly thinking that I was training to become a pastor, priest, or even a monk. Of course, I tell that I’m going to become a brother.
  • Before, I have a lot of questions about religious life. Now, I’m slowly getting the answer through direct experience
  • Mokong, The Scented Dog a.k.a. The Useless Dog – a title to the old dog named Mokong
  • Since April, I’m now wearing corrective spectacles for my poor eyesight.
  • It’s two years of contemplative life here in the Novitiate. Two years of self-examen and discernment for my true vocation.


The Classroom

I’ve been away for two weeks and I’ve not been online that much since I left our home. So getting some inspiration with my two weeks teaching exposure here in a remote community, this is a short story about my experience earlier this day.

There’s the big boy again.
Restrain and gain composure, I tell myself.
Attention grabbing, classroom noise… why does he always start this?
Is there something wrong with him or it’s just his boyish nature?

Since it’s my last day here, I’ll smile outside even when I’m really boiling inside.
Before we leave, there’s a program to formally end our stay in this remote school.
After the singing and dancing, the boy approached me in his usual self.
Just like what I do with the rest of the kids, I piggyback him.
Now, the tots are crying but the boy is smiling while hugging me.
Later, I noticed that he became silent and I felt from my back that my shirt getting wet. I couldn’t believe he’s crying because I’m leaving now.

This boy is not that tough. Maybe I am not too. I was touched.


Photo prompt via Madison Woods.