BIG 3-0!

Late post. I have been contemplating on what to write regarding this epic milestone for weeks already but I still haven’t quite organized my thoughts. There’s just so many things to say. But anyway, here it is, raw and not as eloquent as I wanted to describe everything that happened the previous year.

When I turned 29, I freaked out. I felt such a big pressure in almost turning 30. I felt like I only had a year left to make something out of my life, to make things right and to achieve my dreams or whatever I expected my life to be at 30. My 29th year surprisingly turned out to be the best year of my life, not in the way that I imagined it before but it was a defining year for my faith which definitely gave me the peace of heart and peace of mind. I no longer fear getting older, being 30, 40, being single because the previous year has taught me how to live in the present, how to cherish every moment, how to make my limited time on earth meaningful, how to focus on becoming the best I can be and how to stop being afraid by trusting God.

It has been a defining year because I have finally come to love the person that I am, the person who I have worked hard to be. I no longer question my worth because I have received the only affirmation that really matters and that is from Jesus. I’ve learned to cherish what I have instead of focusing on what is missing and I’ve learned how to be confident in the plan that God has for me. God has been nothing but good to me and He has shown again and again that I am special.

It has been a year of faith, healing and transformation. All thanks to all the people that God has used as an instrument. It has been the best year of my life yet. What better way to end the year and start my 30th year by paying it forward. I spent the eve of my birthday driving Yolanda survivors to their relatives until noon of my birthday and I wouldn’t have chosen any other way to celebrate it. Birthday greetings from strangers and from my closest friends and family were more than enough to make my birthday special.

When we come face to face with our creator, it’s important to understand that it’s not really about how much time we have spent on earth but how much of ourselves we have shared.

Don’t just count the years, make the years worth counting.

Cheers to the BIG 3!

 

 

Better Bones Project November Outreach

Better Bones Project will be conducting the next outreach project on Nov. 16, 2013 at the Tahanan ng Pagmamahal in Pasig City. 

“Tahanan ng Pagmamahal Children’s Home is a sanctuary for orphaned, abused, abandoned babies and children aged 3 to 12 years old. Founded on May 8, 2007; approved by SEC on July 11, 2007; duly registered at the DSWD and BIR.”

Help bring joy to these kids. Any small amount will be very much appreciated. You can also join us and share your time. It will be all worth it. 🙂

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A Rant on Patriotism

I lay last night mentally ranting about patriotism. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I kept going through it over and over in my head so I quickly brushed it off and whispered my night prayers. My rant went something like this:

I wish Filipinos could be more patriotic. How can people exclaim Pinoy Pride when someone with even the tiniest drop of Filipino blood makes it big internationally and then almost die with shame when something goes wrong in the country? How can you say Pinoy pride when you can’t even teach your children to speak Filipino, when you can’t even put your palm on your chest when the national anthem plays (I’ve seen it a thousand times in the cinema, in the opening of an event –it’s like people are ashamed to sing the national anthem or place their palm on their chest because it’s “like” UNCOOL.Whut?! ). Shame on you! And you have the guts to complain why our country is not progressing while you watch and wait for the government to do something. Have you even done anything to help alleviate the condition of our society? If only every single person in this country did something to help someone else then maybe a lot of our countrymen won’t be as unfortunate. If only you show your love for your country as much as you say you do and actually do something to serve others then we won’t die waiting for the government to do something.

“No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” – Edmund Burke

BBP Outreach August 17, 2013

It’s been a year since our last outreach. We have Joanne Ordono from Genpact Headstrong to thank for selecting BBP as their beneficiary for their fundraising.

I’m excited about this project because I miss the littel boys here. The foundling home houses 36 boys ages 3-7 yrs. old. It would be nice to see them againa fter a year.

We are open for more donations. Pls. leave a message if you are interested. Godbless!

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Salute to Preachers

Yesterday afternoon, while I was sitting at gate 24 in HK airport, waiting to board the plane back home, one of the passengers stood up infront of the crowd and opened his bible. He introduced himself as a pastor ( i didn’ catch his name) and started to preach about the Good News, about Jesus as our savior. I didn’t know if people were listening because most of them seemed oblivious to his presence. At the end of his speech, he asked who among the crowd believes that God loves them and that Jesus is their savior. People’s hands started shooting up and I raised mine with pride. Seeing many raised hands among a crowd that seemed to not care was such a validation of the presence of God and I was glad to witness it.

I admire the preachers who have so much courage to stand infront of strangers and preach about the gospel. Bless them. Some may think it’s foolish but one thing I learned, it’s ok to be foolish in the name of the Lord.

Do not fool yourselves. If you think you are wise in this world, you should become a fool so that you can become truly wise, (1 Corinthians 3:18 NCV)

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Just One Step

“Even if we’re running a hundred kilometers per hour in the wrong direction, God chases after us.” – Nick Vujicic

As I am writing this down, I still feel the unworthiness but then, if I wait until I’m worthy before writing this down then I would have passed up on the chance of helping other people. It took me a while to write about this for several reasons. First, I felt like it was too personal. Second, I felt like I still had so much work to do with myself to feel worthy of talking about faith and spirituality. I was scared about being judged by the people around me– by the people who know me. I did not want to be seen as self-righteous, preachy or hypocritical. There are a million things going through my mind right now, things I’m still trying to figure out, thoughts I have difficulty putting into words. Nevertheless, I feel the need to write this down because I want to encourage other people. If I could let a single soul realize what I have realized and fall in love with the Lord then it would serve its purpose well. Spirituality was something I was always struggling with. I was raised as a Catholic, studied in a Catholic school from pre-school up until college. I was one of those Catholics who prayed everyday, went to church on Sundays, did charity works but didn’t go to confession regularly. I didn’t really take my religion seriously. I never gave much thought about hell or the devil or about the after-life. They were mere stories and concepts. Yes, I prayed sincerely, I thanked Him everyday, I prayed for my loved ones, I seldom asked for anything for myself. I felt I was a good Christian but somehow I still fell into sin day in and day out. About 6 years ago, I felt the thing they called “spiritual hunger”. Below is a transcript from a journal entry I wrote during that time.

“It was only a few days ago that I was confronted with what they call “spiritual hunger”. I never really understood what it meant. I always thought that I was living a spiritual life since I believe in God, I prayed to Him, I went to church and I know what is morally upright. But I knew deep inside that even if I do these things and believe in God’s existence, I was feeling empty. I felt God was out of reach. I was experiencing spiritual hunger. I have always envied people who have so much faith in God and I know you’ve heard this “putting Him at the center of their lives”. I envy the people who can be optimistic in the face of adversity. I envied them because they were happy. And sad as it may, we only envy people who have what we don’t and that leaves me to be the girl who is not happy. I envy a lot of people. I even envy the man who pushes the cart along Edsa because he looks happy. In short, I envied the happy people because I was not happy. But my other self tells me “is envying other people all you can do?” I don’t know how long I have felt so empty…maybe two years. Looking back, the last time I prayed so hard to God was when I took my board exams because I knew that passing it was the one thing I can give back to my parents for all the things they have endured. It was a rough year for my family and I wanted it so badly for my father. The smile I saw on my father’s face when he found out I made it was priceless. As a father, the greatest pride he has is his children’s achievements and I wanted to make him happy. My faith and gratitude in God was teeming at that time. But slowly it was taken away. When I started to work, I was surprised by how much pessimism there was in the workplace. I came in wanting to change everything. But the positive energy was taken away with the copious problems we were facing everyday at work. I felt frustration in my job and in the people who ran the company. It was difficult to remain optimistic while being surrounded by glum. I let them beat me. I was eaten up by this manhole of destructive pessimism. I became so negative and this energy was like an infectious disease. Soon enough, everybody was talking the way I was….pessimistic, desperate, frustrated, disheartened, etc. Nobody believed something positive will happen. We were working so hard but still we remained to be disappointed. We were tired and I was miserable. I became distant from God. I still prayed, mumbling words I’ve known for years, asking for the same things over and over. The prayer felt empty, though. It was like reciting from memory and not from the heart. The work has really gotten into me. Work was demanding enough and with my pathological people-pleaser personality, I got drained. And with this exhaustion my faith also dwindled. I was able to rest for a few days and this helped me renew my energy. It gave me time to reflect. Right now, I am working on my new visions. I am better. Not extremely happy but Happy. I am positive and I want to inspire people the same way I was inspired by this girl who said she’s happy because God is at the center of her life. I am feeding on my spiritual hunger with prayer and inspirational truths. I am still scared that this can be taken away the same way it was before but I know that as long as God is with me, my faith will remain. “

Alleluia right? But, no. I can’t even remember how long I felt the happiness or believed what I wrote. Scanning through my old journal, I saw sadness, depression and sin resurface just when I thought God was my ally. I was already there but it was so easy to slide back. My spirituality was not so stable. About 2 years ago, I got an invitation by a close friend to join a retreat. I can’t even remember what reason I had for declining the invite. I was invited over and over by him and our other friends who began serving in their ministry after attending the retreat but somehow, I always found a reason not to go. Either I was busy during those dates or that I didn’t feel like I needed the retreat. And I guess a lot of people feel the same way about the invitation to let God into their lives. In some way, people view these opportunities as too preachy for their taste, too overwhelming, too religious,etc. and I admit, there were times I felt that way. I was proud. I felt like I could have a good relationship with God on my own. I didn’t need help. Over a year ago, I got myself into a big rut. Isang malaking batok galing kay Lord. So, after months of tears, self-pity, confusion, depression, etc. I woke up and took a one big look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t like what I saw and so I decided to change. As the saying goes, “be the person you want to meet”. It was a struggle. I had to start from the very small things about my habits and attitude. From simple things like trying not to be annoyed or curse while driving, trying not to roll my eyes at my boss, being patient with my sister, etc. I had to pray everyday for the grace and strength to be better. It was a test of my patience and temperance. I had to work on forgiving the person who hurt me. Slowly, I was becoming the person I wanted to be but somehow sin always found its way in me. There were still times when I questioned my worth and I still found it difficult to fight off temptations. Alas, it was time. Three months ago, I got another invitation to join the retreat. I had the weekend free so I finally agreed to go even though I had no healing concerns nor did I feel like I needed it. Nevertheless, I decided to go because I was starting to feel bad about repeatedly turning down my friend’s invitation. Anyway, on the few days leading to the retreat, I recognized that I needed a solid sense of faith. I went to the retreat with a goal of deepening my faith in God and I wanted badly to go to confession. In 12 years, I went to confession only once. I couldn’t have been more blessed to have been there during that weekend. I saw things I’ve never seen before, I experienced fear like I’ve never experienced before, I witnessed the pain and suffering of other people but more importantly, I got the validation of love that I needed from Jesus Himself. I got more than what I was looking for. And just when I thought the retreat has served its purpose on me, it opened yet another door for bridging the gap between me and my mom that I wasn’t even aware of. Two months after I attended the retreat, I was able to bring my mom there too. She has been carrying guilt over abandoning me (something I can’t even remember and something I wasn’t aware of) for so many years and it was only that time that she got it out of her system. If it wasn’t for the retreat, she would’ve carried that until her deathbed and I wouldn’t have known. It was God’s work for me and for her to be there. I believe one day it will all come into full circle. Everything happens just the way God has planned it. Remember the scene from Ironman 3 where Ironman saved all the passengers of the blown out plane? Each one was saved because somebody else caught them. Catching your own monkey as Ironman put it. I think we work in the same way. There is a reason that I met the person who brought me to that retreat, there is a reason I was able to bring my mom there and there is a reason for the specificity of who brought who. It could have been someone else but it was us for a reason. Everything is perfectly orchestrated according to God’s own timing. It took me more than a year to give the retreat a chance and I believe it was God’s perfect timing. I think I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much as I did if I went earlier. There are so many things that I have realized and learned and I still continue to learn. It was through this that I’ve learned how to really please God. Before all this, I didn’t completely understand the idea of giving myself to Him or of loving Him. When you learn to love the Lord and realize that He loves you, you will never doubt yourself and you will not question your self worth. His love, not of anybody else, is the only validation that we need. Last night, I was listening to a candidate talk. She was thanking God for the opportunity of being healed and being delivered from all her heartaches. Sometimes I look at these old people and can’t help thinking “ Sayang naman -they spent more than half of their lives missing out on God’s love”. I just felt blessed for having been called now and I feel blessed for witnessing God’s work on people. It is truly amazing. The retreat opened a door of many possibilities but it is really up to me to work on it. You only really learn when you apply what you have been taught. Everyone who gets invited to that retreat is given the same push to become a better Christian but it is solely up to each individual to do the job and progress. I, myself, still has a long way to go. I am a work in progress and I will always be. Everyday is still a spiritual warfare but I have learned to trust in the Lord, He who has armored me with a stronger faith. I’ve learned to let go of my worries and I’m now seeing life in a different perspective. And yes, now, I can finally say that I am happy because God is at the center of my life. I am aware that embracing this faith and talking about it gives me the responsibility to practice what I preach. I will make mistakes. I am not preaching because I am perfect. I can never be perfect. I am sharing my story because I’m hoping that through this I will be able to inspire other people to take at least one step in renewing their relationship with God. Just one step. Jer 29:13 ‘And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 ‘And I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD …” The Healing Missionaries of the Holy Spirit was the instrument in fulfilling a step towards my spiritual journey and I will be forever grateful to them, most especially to Papa Dads. If you are interested about the work of the ministry, please send me a message. Retreats are held monthly. if you are interested in attending, please get in touch. I’d be more than happy to hook you up with the Lord.

TNF: Rediscovering Trails

Training

I was never a fan of trail runs. My past experience with trails always brought about a feeling of frustration and almost quitting and there were only two of them. My first trail run was the Salomon 12k in 2010. At some point along the route, I just felt like sitting down on the dried grass and crying. Anyway, I finished it in 2 hours after walking half of it with fellow runners. The second run was the 5k Brave Mudders Run in 2012. Yes, 5K! I was thrilled about the obstacles but I wasn’t thrilled about walking on trail and mud. We got to the event early so I did a 12k easy run with my sister prior to the race. Wrong move! My muscles tightened before starting the 5k plus the weather was pretty chilly. Halfway through the race, I wanted to DNF. I couldn’t run anymore so I just walked but walking seemed to take forever. It was the longest 5k of my life. I finished it in 1hr 30mins.

Because of my traumatic trail experience, I didn’t join my sister Dianne and her husband last year when they registered for the 11k TNF. They finished it happy and satisfied so I thought about giving trail a chance. Kuya Ryan wanted to do the 22k last year but unfortunately he didn’t make it to the registration so we agreed to do it this year.

I wasn’t logging enough mileage since my last 21k in November and then the holidays rolled by, my training partner got lazy so my runs became a once to twice a week routine. I only started to increase mileage after Tine and I decided to run a 10k in the Philhealth run in Baguio. Come February, I asked my friend Nick to help me out with a viable training program for the TNF 22k trail run. He asked me whether I wanted to race or just survive. I wasn’t in the race mood so I opted for the latter. He gave me an 11 week program that started on the first week of February. I registered in Baguio mid-Feb and also urged Kuya Ryan to register. He said he lacked training since he wasn’t logging any mileage since after his marathon but nevertheless, he registered online.

I was able to follow religiously the first two weeks of the program and then summer came around. Lakwatsa dito, lakwatsa doon. I was skipping some workouts and even long runs. I still tried to run 4x a week and did squats and push ups every after run. I knew I wasn’t logging enough mileage and I wasn’t following the fartleks, hills and trails as per program. Short trail runs were part of the program so I gladly joined Mich and Jess when they invited me to run with them at the La Mesa Nature Reserve  mid March. However, due to time constraints I only completed a 10k and headed back home. The course was relatively flat so it was quite easy except for the mud that kept building up on the shoe.

Sir Knell, a fellow registered 22k runner, invited me and my sister for a pre-TNF trail run at Mt. Makiling early April. It was chance to practice walking on trail since I knew that it was my weakness. I did not expect the steep ascends and the rocky path but the power walks and the climb gave me the mental preparation that I needed. I wasn’t worried about the 22k anymore. However, my NB minimus proved to be slippery so I decided to wear my old NB trail shoes for the race. The last few weeks of training was a mental game. My 45 min easy runs on weekdays became 30mins. I got lazy. On the last week before the race, I ran with my sister from BHS to Mckinley and back. I was surprised to find the uphills easy despite my lack of hill training. I was feeling ready.

Finally, the race weekend arrived. My sister and I arrived in Baguio at 3am on Saturday. It was still way cooler than Manila despite the summer season.

Carboloading time. Tine, Irhys had our late lunch at Half Moon and headed to  ROX to claim our race kits. Kuya Ryan texted that he wasn’t pushing through with the race due to work schedules. That got me worried. I felt like I was the weakest among the four of us and I was hoping that I could run together with Kuya Ryan since I knew Tine and Sir Knell will probably be more competitive. I wasn’t ready to run the route alone. With just 3 hours of digestion we headed to Oh My Gulay for our carboloading dinner with Sir Knell.

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Oh My Gulay Carboloading

Race Day

I woke up on Sunday feeling so so. I put on my tights and shirt, pinned my bib, filled my water bottles with water and gatorade, stuck a bar of snickers and a pack of Orange chews on my hydration belt, put on my old NB trail shoes that still brakes bad-ass.

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Remembering Boston

We arrived at the race area in Camp John Hay at 5am. A few 100k finishers were crossing the finish line. They were really inspiring. Sir Knell was no where in sight. At 5:10am, Tine and I checked in our bibs and positioned ourselves near the front of the pack. I could sense Tine was in a competitive mode so I scanned the crowd for Sir Knell but he was still nowhere in sight. I stood there feeling relaxed with a goal to finish and enjoy. No pressure.

Countdown to gunstart. 5.4.3.2.1.. off we go. I fumbled to reset my watch to 00 and by the time I looked up, Tine was already ahead by a few meters. I tried to catch up with her but it was futile with the thick crowd scrambling to get ahead. I jogged at my own pace not wanting to get burned out early on. At one kilometer, my right leg was starting to feel uncomfortable. I stopped to retie my shoelaces hoping Sir Knell would soon catch up with me but I still couldn’t spot him among the crowd of runners.

Runners started to walk at the Paterno hill. I had a bad experience with walking uphills at the Sto Tomas Run. I knew that walking could lead to hamstrings tightening so as much as I wanted to walk, I tried to jog the hills. Emerging at the Panagbenga park we made a turn into the trail part of Camp John Hay. I tried to study the map but it was just too confusing so I just followed the pack. I was feeling really strong at this point and tried to overtake as many runners as I could before we got to the single lane part. At some point, I had no choice but to trail behind a long line of male runners. We were running at a steady pace for a good part of the trail and it gave me the chance to steady my heartbeat. I took my first Orange chews at 45mins mark. We got to a part where the view was really beautiful but I had to watch my footing carefully since the path was becoming narrow with the ravine just a few inches to our right. I paused for a few seconds to enjoy the view and resumed.

I knew that Happy Hallow was part of the route but I didn’t know exactly where and which part. I just knew from Baguio 21k run that it was a notoriously steep winding road so when we emerged at the road of Happy Hallow I braced myself. Thankfully, it was only a short one. I could see runners walking the hilly part but I tried to jog part of it and power walked half of it. We turned right into the trail again after the water station which was the halfway point. A few meters into the route, I saw the familiar figure of my sister. I shouted her name and tried to catch up with her.  “You’re fast!”, she said, surprised to see me. “Mabilis ka ba or mabagal ako?”, she asked. “Bumagal ka”, I told her because I was not expecting to catch up with her. At this point, fatigue was settling in and I was fighting a mental battle. I wanted to walk the rest of it but my sister kept running so I just followed suit and told myself I was stronger than that. We reached another water station and refilled our water bottles. My bladder was ready to pop. We resumed down the cemented road but I really had to pee. Tine suggested I pee at the bushes while she looked out for me. I was hesitant at first but she said it’s ok, runners would understand. So, amongst the cobwebs, leaves, grasses and bushes, I peed. What a relief! I rejoined my sister at the road and we continued into the trail and out to a residential part of Scout Barrio. Tine was lingering behind me at this point.  She was walking more frequently.

(…so I had to park writing this for more than a week.. what an injustice…. moving along..)

I could sense Tine was getting discouraged. At the steepest part of the route, I still tried to use the momentum to jump, climb, walk, run the hills but Tine was trailing behind in her tired demeanor. I would rest and wait for her to catch up. After what felt like forever, we emerged at a road. I was feeling energized thinking it was South Drive with only 2km away from the gate but I was wrong. Tine said we were in Scout Barrio… oops! We still had a long way to go. Tine spotted a 100k finisher at the waiting shed accross the street and asked for a water refill. The guy cheered on us and gladly offered the remaining water in his jug. We passed by a residential area that headed to the foot of another hill inside Camp John Hay. This has got to be the last hill, I thought with relief.

It was the last stretch and when Tine rejoined me, she said she was already tired. She was too quiet. I paced with her and I kept telling her we were already close. I could already hear the emcee so we must be pretty close. A few ladies were already overtaking us and I pushed Tine to walk faster. It was 5 mins before 3hours. I told her we can still make it plus sayang ang place if we let the other ladies overtake us. However, she was really feeling discouraged at that point and told me to go ahead. I told her no and continued to push her repeating “konti nalang” over and over. She knew I wasn’t going to leave her so she obliged and hastened her pace. We were almost out on the road leading to the finish line. The guy infront of us was walking and he was startled when Tine and I shouted for him to run. “Takbo, Kuya. Konti nalang!” He looked at us, smiled and started to run, us following behind him. Ate Rose, Tine’s friend, was waiting for us when we emerged at the road. She hugged Tine and cheered for us as we ran to the finish line. We were supposed to hold each other’s hand as we cross but we forgot. Irhys was waiting for us at the finish line, pointing her camera at our faces. Whooo! We clocked in at 3:04 hours. I hugged Tine and she thanked me for not leaving her.

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Sabay na sabay na sabay (unison)

Sir Knell finished 5 mins after us. He was pacing another runner and felt hesitant about leaving the guy behind.

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Special Thanks to Miss Rina for treating us to a buffet breakfast at the Baguio Country Club after the run. Thanks to Ate Rose and Ate Racquel for the cheers and support.

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Post-run breakfast at BCC

That was an amazing experience, far from my previous frustrating trail experience. I just might do the 50km next year.