May 31, 2010

Shrek's Message

Monday, May 31, 2010 Posted by Mary , 3 comments
I just watched Shrek: Forever After last night and I'm thinking how wonderful it is that we can get such profound messages from animated movies.

For those who haven't seen it, the supposedly final chapter of the Shrek franchise tells about the ogre getting tired of life with his family and missing his old days before meeting Fiona, when people were still afraid of him. In comes the conniving Rumpelstiltskin, who offers to give him a day of his old life, in exchange for a day in his childhood. But the day that Rumpelstiltskin takes is the day Shrek was born, and in the "alternate life" that Shrek has for a day, the kingdom of Far Far Away is in ruins, Shrek doesn't exist for his family and friends, and Puss in Boots is... fat. It perfectly fits the cliché of a "be careful what you wish for" story when Shrek realizes what he's done and that this is not what he wants, after all. 

Like its prequels, Shrek: Forever After remains adorable and funny. But it's sweet in a way that it makes us think about the things and people we have and how they should be appreciated. Living in a fairy tale, Shrek was lucky because he got a second chance. Most of the time, we do not get second chances. We just have to make the best out of our firsts.

May 26, 2010

Sonnet XVII

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 Posted by Mary , , 14 comments
By Pablo Neruda
From 100 Love Sonnets (Cien sonetos de amor)

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Transformed by Trouble

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 Posted by Mary , , 1 comment
I've been meaning to write an entry about suffering, pain, and evil things in the world, and why we have to go through them. But there's no need. Day 25 of Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life says it all:

Transformed by Trouble

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
1 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV)

It is the fire of suffering that brings forth the gold of godliness.
Madame Guyon

God has a purpose behind every problem

He uses circumstances to develop our character. In fact, he depends more on circumstances to make us like Jesus than he depends on our reading the Bible. The reason is obvious: You face circumstances twenty-four hours a day.

Jesus warned us that we would have problems in the world. No one is immune to pain or insulated from suffering, and no one gets to skate through life problem-free. Life is a series of problems. Every time you solve one, another is waiting to take its place. Not all of them are big, but all are significant in God's growth process for you. Peter assures us that problems are normal, saying, "Don't be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you."

God uses problems to draw you closer to himself. The Bible says, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit." Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days--when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you're out of options, when the pain is great--and you turn to God alone. It is during suffering that we learn to pray our most authentic, heartfelt, honest-to-God prayers. When we're in pain, we don't have the energy for superficial prayers.

Joni Eareckson Tada notes, "When life is rosy, we may slide by with knowing about Jesus, with imitating him and quoting him and speaking of him. But only in suffering will we know Jesus." We learn things about God in suffering that we can't learn any other way.

God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion's den, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy pit, kept Paul from being shipwrecked three times, and kept the three Hebrew young men from being thrown into the blazing furnace--but he didn't. He let those problems happen, and every one of those persons was drawn closer to God as a result.

Problems force us to look to God and depend on him instead of ourselves. Paul testified to this benefit: "We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us." You'll never know that God is all you need until God is all you've got.

Regardless of the cause, none of your problems could happen without God's permission. Everything that happens to a child of God is Father-filtered, and he intends to use it for good even when Satan and others mean it for bad.

Because God is sovereignly in control, accidents are just incidents in God's plan for you. Because every day of your life was written on God's calendar before you were born, everything that happens to you has spiritual significance. Everything! Romans 8:28-29 explains why: "We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son."


This is one of the most misquoted and misunderstood passages in the Bible. It doesn't say, "God causes everything to work out the way I want it to." Obviously that's not true. It also doesn't say, "God causes everything to work out to have a happy ending on earth." That is not true either. There are many unhappy endings on earth.

We live in a fallen world. Only in heaven is everything done perfectly the way God intends. That is why we are told to pray, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." To fully understand Romans 8:28-29 you must consider it phrase by phrase.

"We know": Our hope in difficult times is not based on positive thinking, wishful thinking, or natural optimism. It is a certainly based on truths that God is in complete control of our universe and that he loves us.

"that God causes": There's a Grand Designer behind everything. Your life is not a result of random chance, fate, or luck. There is a master plan. History is His story. God is pulling the strings. We make mistakes, but God never does. God cannot make a mistake--because he is God.

"everything": God's plan for your life involves all that happens to you--including your mistakes, your sins, and your hurts. It includes illness, debt, disasters, divorce, and death of loved ones. God can bring good out of the worst evil. He did at Calvary.

"to work together": Not separately or independently. The events in your life work together in God's plan. They are not isolated acts, but interdependent parts of the process to make you like Christ. To bake a cake you must use flour, salt, raw eggs, sugar and oil. Eaten individually, each is pretty distasteful or even bitter. But bake them together and they become delicious. If you will give God your distasteful, unpleasant experiences, he will blend them together for good.

"for the good": This does not say that everything in life is good. Much of what happens in our world is evil and bad, but God specializes in bringing good out of it. In the official family tree of Jesus Christ, four women are listed: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Tamar seduced her father-in-law to get pregnant. Rahab was a prostitute. Ruth was not even Jewish but broke the law by marrying a Jewish man. Bathsheba committed adultery with David, which resulted in her husband's murder. These were not exactly sterling reputations, but God brought good out of bad, and Jesus came into their lineage. God's purpose is greater than our problems, our pain, and even our sin.

"of those who love God and are called": This promise is only for God's children. It is not for everyone. All things work for bad for those living in opposition to God and insist on having their own way.

"according to his purpose": What is that purpose? It is that we "become like his Son." Everything God allows to happen in your life is permitted for that purpose!


We are like jewels, shaped with the hammer and chisel of adversity. If a jeweler's hammer isn't strong enough to chip off our rough edges, God will use a sledgehammer. If we're really stubborn, he uses a jackhammer. He will use whatever it takes. 

Every problem is a character-building opportunity, and the more difficult it is, the greater the potential for building spiritual muscle and moral fiber. Paul said, "We know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character." What happens outwardly in your life is not as important as what happens inside you. Your circumstances are temporary, but your character will last forever.

The Bible often compares trials to a metal refiner's fire that burns away the impurities. Peter said, "These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold." A silversmith was asked, "How do you know when the silver is pure?" He replied, "When I see my reflection in it." When you've been refined by trials, people can see Jesus' reflection in you. James said, "Under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors."

Since God intends to make you like Jesus, he will take you through the same experiences Jesus went through. That includes loneliness, temptation, stress, criticism, rejection, and many other problems. The Bible says Jesus "learned obedience through suffering" and "was made perfect through suffering." Why would God exempt us from what he allowed his Son to experience? Paul said, "We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we're certainly going to go through the good times with him!"


Problems don't automatically produce what God intends. Many people become bitter, rather than better, and never grow up. You have to respond the way Jesus would.

Remember that God's plan is good. God knows what is best for you and has your best interests at heart. God told Jeremiah, "The plans I have for you [are] plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Joseph understood this truth when he told his brothers who had sold him to slavery, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good." Hezekiah echoed the same sentiment about his life-threatening illness: "It was for my own good that I had such hard times." Whenever God says no to your request for relief, remember, "God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best."

It is vital that you stay focused on God's plan, not your pain or problem. That is how Jesus endured the pain of the cross, and we are urged to follow his example: "Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards." Corrie ten Boom, who suffered in a Nazi death camp, explained the power of focus: "If you look at the world, you'll be distressed. If you look within, you'll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you'll be at rest!" Your focus will determine your feelings.

The secret of endurance is to remember that your pain is temporary but your reward will be eternal. Moses endured a life of problems "because he was looking ahead to his reward." Paul endured hardship the same way. He said, "Our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever!"

Don't give in to short-term thinking. Stay focused on the end result: "If we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later."

Rejoice and give thanks. The Bible tells us to "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." How is this possible? Notice that God tells us to give thanks "in all circumstances" not "for all circumstances." God doesn't expect you to be thankful for evil, for sin, for suffering, or for their painful consequences in the world. Instead, God wants you to thank him that he will use your problem to fulfill his purposes.

The Bible says, "Rejoice in the Lord always." It doesn't say, "Rejoice over your pain." That's masochism. You rejoice "in the Lord." No matter what's happening, you can rejoice in God's love, care, wisdom, power, and faithfulness. Jesus said, "Be full of joy at that time, because you have a great reward waiting for you in heaven."

We can also rejoice in knowing that God is going through the pain with us. We do not serve a distant and detached God who spouts encouraging clichés safely from the sideline. Instead, he enters into our suffering. Jesus did it in the Incarnation, and his Spirit does it in us now. God will never leave us on our own.

Refuse to give up. Be patient and persistent. The Bible says, "Let the process go on until your endurance is fully developed, and you will find that you have become men of mature character . . . with no weak spots."

Character building is a slow process. Whenever we try to avoid or escape the difficulties in life, we short-circuit the process, delay our growth, and actually end up with a worse kind of pain--the worthless type that accompanies denial and avoidance. When you grasp the eternal consequences of your character development, you'll pray fewer "Comfort me" prayers ("Help me feel good") and more "Conform me" prayers ("Use this to make me more like you").

You know you are maturing when you begin to see the hand of God in the random, baffling, and seemingly pointless circumstances of life.

If you are facing trouble right now, don't ask, "Why me?" Instead ask, "What do you want me to learn?" then trust God and keep on doing what's right. "You need to stick it out, staying with God's plan so you'll be there for the promised completion." Don't give up--grow up!

May 19, 2010

May 16, 2010

Temporary Fix

Sunday, May 16, 2010 Posted by Mary , 2 comments
Why do people get drunk?

The last time I got drunk was in September last year with close friends in Dakak. It was actually also the first time I got totally wasted. I've been a social drinker for a few years, but I've never been more than just a little bit tipsy. After having tried out the feeling of being intoxicated and having a ridiculous hangover, I swore I'd never do it again. The people I hang out with most frequently now do not like to drink as well, so abstaining has been easy. Tonight however, I write this entry with more than 10 glasses of Red Horse in me, which I drank during a friend's graduation party.

Why did I drink? I feel guilty for doing so, because I'm the one who had to drive home. When certain things are bothering me about my life however--like now--it's easy to drink. Because even for a short moment, I want to be free of my heartaches. I want to feel less, smile more, or conjure up the courage to do something I normally would not be able to do without the influence of alcohol. It's the coward's way of doing things, but it gets me there, it gets us there. For a time.

Unfortunately, getting drunk bites you in the end. Alcohol is a depressant, so when you get sober, you're going to be worse than when you started. It's also very likely that you're going to end up with a bad hangover, so who knows if it's really worth it? I might have gotten a fix for a few minutes, or even a few hours, but none of my problems got solved. In fact, I got even more problems... because it's almost 3 am, I'm starting to get a headache, and I need to wake up early tomorrow for  a 7:30 appointment. I don't know if I'll be able to wake up on time. Really, good luck to me with that!

It's easy to stay away from alcohol. What's difficult is to stay away from the reasons that make me want to drink. Basically, I need to learn not to let my heartaches get to me so much. That, is damn near impossible, though. Boo for being Scorpio.

May 13, 2010

Blast from the Past

Thursday, May 13, 2010 Posted by Mary , , 4 comments

I love the music of the 80s. I grew up to the songs of this decade, and I am constantly amazed at how the songs of this time are able to express the feelings I cannot put into words...

I am convinced this is the theme song of my life:

This is one song I really like:

And this is for the person who makes me smile so much and loves 80s music as much as I do. You know who you are... RIGHT? :)

May 12, 2010

Thank You, Gibo

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 Posted by Mary , , No comments

To my dismay, Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro, Jr. did not win the presidency of the Philippines. It's disheartening because I thought the Philippines was ready to get rid of old names in politics; but apparently not. Looking at the current results on the bid for presidency and the senate, I can almost imagine the people who will be running for president in 2016--among them Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Bong Marcos. What a scary thought! And the people will support them, for sure. Because as proven in this year's elections, Filipinos still use their sentiments over their intellect when choosing their leaders. Just when I had conjured up hope for the future of the Philippines with the inspiration brought by Gibo's platform and positive campaigning, it is taken away again.

Nevertheless, thank you, Gibo, for giving hope to the greenies and to the youth of this country. Thank you for showing us that we will achieve nothing by division, and that we have to try to fight for our country no matter what the outcome. It is because of your positive example that I am inspired to become a better citizen of the Philippines.

May 10, 2010

The Lalimar (or La Limar) Experience

Monday, May 10, 2010 Posted by Mary , , , , , , 7 comments
I spent a night in Lalimar (or La Limar, as some spell it) with friends over the weekend. For those who have not yet visited or heard of this place, it's a government-owned resort in La Libertad, Negros Oriental; a project spearheaded by Congresswoman Josy Limkaichong. La Libertad is a municipality approximately two hours north of Dumaguete. It's a town close to my heart because it is the birth place of my mother. One reason why I wanted to visit Lalimar was so that I could also visit my grandparents as a side trip.

An overnight stay in Lalimar perfectly fits the budget. Their room rates start at P1,400--good for two, and you only have to add P200 per extra person, up to a maximum of six. The cottages are spacious, with a porch outside where you can dine. Food is not a problem because you can either bring from outside, or you can order room service. Their food is not bad, and the prices are reasonable. Since the resort is fairly new, the facilities are still very good. The cottage walls are covered with banig, which adds personality to the room. The bathroom is huge, and hot and cold shower is available. There is no tv or telephone in the rooms, though.

The cottage entrance

The beds

The bathroom

Calamares - P180, Breaded Chicken - P180, Potato Salad - P60

Tuna Sandwich - P55

Baconsilog - P80

One thing I noticed about staying at Lalimar is that you cannot sleep in. As early as 5:30 in the morning, when the sun starts to shine, the brightness already wakes you up. The cottage windows are made of frosted glass, and there are no curtains, so nothing blocks out the sun's glory. This is a good thing perhaps, because during sunrise is the best time to enjoy Lalimar's beach and swimming pool. Later in the day, as we witnessed, so many people will be in the not-so-big pool, and they'll be there until late in the evening. So if you want peace and quiet or a private swim, it's probably not a good idea to go there during a weekend in the summer. 

The pool

The water at twilight

Lalimar is fast becoming a popular tourist attraction north of Dumaguete. I'm extremely proud of it because it puts the sleepy town of La Libertad on the map. Even if it's not as posh as the other resorts in Negros Oriental found in Dauin or Siaton, it has a charm of its own. But as I always say, "it's not the place but the company." And while a lot of factors make Lalimar the perfect stopover for a road trip, what really makes an outing unforgettable is the people you're with.

For more information about Lalimar, you can contact them at (035) 409-4020 or 0908-212-7683. You can also check out another blog post by my friend Lorselle.

May 3, 2010

Siaton's Treasures

Monday, May 03, 2010 Posted by Mary , , , , , 3 comments
It's the middle of summer and I'm looking forward to a beach get-away this weekend. But before that, I'm reminiscing a day trip friends and I took around the same time last year that I have always wanted to blog about but was unable to.

Siaton, a town about an hour's drive south of Dumaguete, is always a favorite roadtrip destination of mine. It's got a lot of beautiful nature spots that people can enjoy. Last year, we spent a day in Tambobo Bay, one of the town's popular attractions.

Tambobo Bay (also known as Bonbonon Bay) is a natural harbor that is protected from storms, which makes it a good spot for boats to take shelter in. As a result, a lot of private yachts can always be seen there. The bay also has a number of resorts and restaurants. One of these resorts is Tongo Sail Inn, which we were able to visit. Tongo is located on a white sand beach, and it has cottages where people can stay. The food at this resort is amazing and affordable, so it's definitely worth visiting.

Here are some pictures I took during our trip to Tambobo:

Tongo Sail Inn

A huge plate of yummy spaghetti at Tongo

The beach at Tambobo

Yachts in the bay

If you are in the Tambobo area, it's also wise to check out Antulang, one of the best beach resorts in Negros Oriental. It's basically a resort atop a beach-side cliff. It boasts of an infinity pool (saltwater), a white pebble beach, and private villas with your own pool and jacuzzi! It's definitely top-notch, but some of the rooms are a little expensive for an overnight stay. Anyone can stop by for a day trip, though, for a minimal entrance fee (last I know, it was P200 per person, consumable).

A view at Antulang

Tambobo and Antulang are like two birds that you can hit with one stone--you can enjoy both in one day. To get there, take the south national highway from Dumaguete, and make a left turn right before the marker for kilometer 32 (in the town of Zamboanguita), where they've got a sign for Antulang. Take that road, and once you get to a Y, go left for Antulang, or go right for Tambobo, and follow the signs along the way. Both locations are approximately 30 minutes from the highway.

May 2, 2010

Why Gibo?

Sunday, May 02, 2010 Posted by Mary , , 4 comments
I am not registered to vote in next week's elections. I did not care about the elections before and took registering for granted. Boy, do I regret that now, as I will be unable to vote for a person who I believe will bring the change the Philippines badly needs.

But just because I cannot vote does not mean I cannot support. That's why I'm imploring all of you to think and make the right decision on May 10. Please do not base your decision on popularity or ancestry. Weigh everything and vote for the right person. You may say that change is impossible and all our presidentiables are the same--all talk, no action. Believe though, that this year, we have a candidate who is not like the others. The Philippines would be making a huge mistake by not making him the next president.

The only candidate respected by both the administration and the opposition alike, Gilberto "Gibo" Teodoro, Jr., is my president. Please make him yours, as well. Read why the silent majority supports him here and here, and believe.