Thursday, September 28, 2006

Flowers ...

My wife arranged that: Fruits and flowers in a basket. She’ll give this to her ailing aunt who’ll be arriving from the US today.

“Flowers are words which even a babe may understand.” – Bishop Arthur Cleveland Coxe

Not many years ago, when my wife was still my girlfriend, I was so hesitant (and even now) of giving her flowers. I knew she loves flowers and can beautifully arrange a bouquet or a basket of them. Flower arrangement seems so natural for her. But I was not sure if she would like the arrangement done by the flower shops. So I tried my best shot and gave her a bouquet of three pink roses from the best flower shop in the city at that time. To my surprise, she said she loved it, and even kept it for weeks.

The second time I gave her a bouquet was a disaster, but she appreciated the effort.

For me, nothing compares to the wonders she does with the flowers. I enjoyed watching her arrange them. Imagine, she even made her own wedding bouquet, bought the flowers herself, and directed the arrangement. She arranged flowers at friends’ weddings and at our church on most Sundays. I heard the “Wows” of most church-goers as they expressed their admiration.

It’s been years since I gave her flowers. I am gathering enough confidence of doing that again soon!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

He who never quotes is never quoted

More about Spurgeon is here.

The above is the first quote noted in my mini collection of quotes. I guess I started it sometime in 1994 or 1995, but my tickler has no indication of any dates. Perhaps it could be earlier. But I remembered that it was in a library that I started all this. I remembered that year when I frequent the school’s library, and that was in 1992. And it has become my daily routine to spend my time lazily at the library. No! I was not there to study my lessons. I was there to read newspapers, magazines like the Philippines Free Press, Time, Newsweek, and Readers’ Digest. But it was only later that I scribbled down some of those quotes that fascinated me.

I was first introduced to appreciate quotes when I was in high school. It was in literature class that our teacher required us to submit one quotable quote a week. She then asked some of us to explain the quotes, and why it caught our attention. There were some funny quotes, and I joined in the laughter. But deep inside, I shuddered at the thought of being asked to explain my piece. I really had a hard time sourcing my quotes, and didn’t even realize that the Bible, wherein I memorized plenty of verses by heart, was a very rich source. I barely passed the subject, but it ignited a spark in my brain to appreciate such beautiful passages.

But there was also another reason for the collections (and I bare it now): To add flavor to the love letters I would supposedly write. No specific object of desire then. Just the romantic side of me anticipating what was about to happen.

I still have my tickler now in my office and the list stopped at number 301. But only a few are about love, and most are about life and other human experiences.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Two rainbows in one sky...


Have you ever seen two rainbows in one sky? What a sight to behold really! It’s so amazing, beautiful and refreshing. I seldom have to chance to get out from the office these days. I don’t have a nice outside view too. The pollution in the city must have kept rainbows away. But a trip to the nearby mountains produced one of my most memorable experiences. I took photos but surprisingly, not one appeared in the picture. Sayang! There were three of us who saw it, my wife and a close friend of ours.

The double rainbow is a rarity. How can I forget it! I personally took it as a sign of a wonderful promise of God’s guidance in my life.

Monday, September 18, 2006

So who's insensitive?

Did someone ever tell you that you're insensitive? Like you don’t care for their feelings and not noticing their resentments towards you, etc…

I received a few direct remarks, as in, 5 in my lifetime. Not too many I suppose. I was about to dismiss it as a minority’s comment. (Am I showing my coldness again?).

Some of the common lines that I’ve heard from these few are the following:

1. You’re so insensitive, you continue on smiling even in situations like this.
2. You continued to mock me even you noticed I’m not in a good mood.
3. You don’t care how others feel.
4. Others noticed your insensitivity too.

So what’s with a smile? So what if you’re in a foul mood and I’m not? Am I to frown and rant with you? Mock you? Was it just by just letting out a grin without saying anything? Why would I care how you feel right now, when if I were in your place, I would act differently and perhaps sensibly? Others noticed my insensitivity? When? What situation? How did they react afterwards? They let it pass?

But then, it made me into thinking, that somehow, it’s just a matter of differing perspectives. Many times, I strike back saying, “Yes, you’re sensitive, sensitive of your own feelings only. Why? Do you care how I feel too?” The reply to my last question was also negative.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The $37B gift

…and Warren Buffet, the world’s second richest man, gives it away.

The complete article can be read here. Five foundations will benefit from the gift, the bulk of which goes to the Gates Foundation.

What a HUGE amount! But it seems so logical to him. He just wants to give it back to society. The amount is 85% of his worth today, and he says he’s given his children more than enough already.

I wonder what to do with the money if given the chance to run the beneficiary foundation. So here’s my partial list of priority projects:

1. Education and literacy projects for Africa and South East Asia – $8B ($2B for RP)
2. Global Health Projects including Stem Cell Research – $8B
3. Establishment of a medical research foundation in Asia - $2B
4. Agricultural Development for Africa and South East Asia - $5B
5. Poverty alleviation projects for Africa and South East Asia - $5B ($2B for RP)

I won’t mind spending a life-time working on these projects, and not just issuing checks to grantees. But for now, it’s just my dream. If I were Mr. Buffet, I'd quit Berkshire Hathaway and concentrate on running my foundation. Just like Mr. Gates did.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – The Prophet

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Blowing my cover

I always have this difficulty of opening up. If you ask me why, I’d automatically say, I don’t know. Automatic, in a sense that I do not want to give an answer at that moment. I can give ready answers about facts but not about how I feel.

Friends and family attempted to explore my thoughts. But they only got a portion, and a smile. My youngest sister came closest, and I accepted the fact that we both have the same line of thinking.

There was this seminar in college handled by a psyschology professor. I felt very uneasy most of time. He asked questions I was not comfortable with. In the end, a friend who also attended that seminar, got confused with my answers and sought further clarifications from me. We just agreed to forget about it rather than explore further.

Perhaps, it's because of my personality – something that is very difficult to understand and alter. There were many times when I went to a corner and sat on the floor. When asked, I’d just smile and reply, “Nothing.” But there are plenty of whys and what ifs hovering on top of my head. Sometimes I asked my self these questions: “Am I just too selfish to open up? Do I have something to hide?"

I have nothing to hide, but I just wanted to be invisible. Through this blog, a part of me is opened up to the world. I may not be noticed or people may not care at all. I am just me. To know me better, one has to be with me for long period of time.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Koreanovelas and Koreans in the City

4 hours last night was spent watching 6 chapters of the koreanovela “Love Story in Harvard”. It is currently showing at GMA 7 but I missed too many episodes prompting me to buy a DVD of the series instead.

Love Story in Harvard

image from

My wife and I sat comfortably in front of the TV. We kept smiling on some of the scenes. Ah, love story! I must admit that Kim Tae-Hee (Allison) is cute. We’re about to finish chapter 6 (out of 16) when the images started to blur. My wife jumped on her seat and blurted out “Sayang! We’ll ask for a replacement of the disc tomorrow”.

“Ok”, I told her. I’m excited to continue my indulgence on the series tonight.

My mind spun a little bit. Why do we like to watch Korean soaps? The Jewel in the Palace was also a hit in the country. Maybe, just maybe, we are tired of the locals. The only local TV soap I watch is Majika.

So what about the Koreans in the country? We have so many of them in our city. Do we welcome them with arms opened wide? Or are we just forced to accept them coz of some tourism drive? I can list a few of the locals’ impressions on them:

1. Koreans are very stingy. They won’t give extra tip. (from taxi drivers)
2. You can’t mix them with Japanese guests (hotel worker)
3. Arrogant (from a co-worker who complained to a radio network about his parking experience)
4. Hot and wild (from a colleague who got to date a Korean girl whom he met in a disco bar)
5. Wild and noisy (in a restaurant)

My wife is very friendly to Koreans. She befriended one who look lost when she took the IELTS. I remembered her name, Samantha, divorced at 26, and planned to migrate to Canada. She’s a very pretty and bright woman. She thought I was Japanese or Chinese. I told her that there was one who mistook me for a Korean. She laughed and seemingly agreed.

My wife also brought to one of our outings, her Korean CGFNS review mate. Jae-yun (or similarly sounding) was all I remembered of her name. She’s afraid of direct sunlight, but nevertheless, joined us in our boating. I wonder where she is right now.

Recently, my wife even discussed to me about the newspaper ad looking for families/couples willing to house a Korean student as part of their cultural exposure. I laughed but did not give an answer.

The misunderstandings are perhaps due to the fact that we lack knowledge or appreciation of each other’s culture. I certainly welcome these Koreans. But ironically, I live in a province who murdered its first tourist almost 500 years ago.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Good Monsters

I just came across with this interview of Christianity Today with Dan Haseltine of my favorite band Jars of Clay.

“The gospel never calls us to live our lives privately, but the idea of individualism and isolation has worked itself into our idea of what a good Christian life looks like—that it's full of quiet times where it's just us and God. But for me, when I get into that scenario, the only voice I'm really hearing is my own. And when I'm trying to wrestle with some truth of the gospel or some new element God is trying to teach me, it's just me using my own knowledge base rather than living that out in community with other people. So it never really works. The kind of maturity that I hope for, the kinds of things I want to have freedom from, they never come, because it's just me working it out by myself.”. – Dan Haseltine

Indeed, there are plenty of contradictions within, and monsters to battle against. We put up a nice fa├žade and wear a smiling face, yet there’s half-honesty to all of these. We tried to appear “good” in the company of the good and of the Pharisees, while also acting maniacally when inside those dark places with pretty women. Some seemingly good people also do bad deeds. I know how Dan feels about keeping up with a seemingly clean image, then exposing himself one day.

So, who’s guilty of hypocrisy? Am I talking about myself?

These contradictions are not bad per se. I am not perfect anyway. These are part of the daily struggles, and of one’s character build-up. What have I done when inside those dark places with pretty women? Hmm…..God saw it all, and I can say that the “fear of the Lord” prevails. But what am I doing there in the first place?

I grew up in a Christian family, and made that important decision to make Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was still a child. But as I progressed, I cannot avoid being exposed to many of the “good and bad” things. I encountered many people whose perspectives are different from mine. I can talk their language and some even thought I’m one of them. But I cannot follow their deeds. Someone inside of me tells me to behave and be a light to those around me.

Even in some internet chat rooms, I am tempted to explore what others experienced - playing games with willing victims. But nah, I can do better things than that.

Sometimes, I questioned about free will, and about open-mindedness and the relativity of everything. It’s easier to do things without certain rules and standards. Some may even say that I am just bound by my upbringing or tied to my beliefs. So what’s wrong with being on God’s side?

Again, I am not perfect. Just like a jar of clay molded by the potter, I am a work in process. So what do I do in battling the monsters within? Keeping God’s words in my heart, that way I kept my heart pure. And at certain times of failure, I asked for God’s forgiveness.

Friday, September 01, 2006

When September comes....

There is something different about September. I just can’t help but write it in my blog.

When September comes:

1. It’s my wife’s birthday next week. How time flies so fast! She’d be a year older but still looks 21. I want to surprise her and perhaps, celebrate it with close friends and families. (Any wonderful ideas?) I’d also like to take a leave of absence from work just to be with her on that special day.

2. My own birthday is fast approaching. In the next few months I’d be on the last day on the calendar. Whew! I feel too old already. Gone are the days when I enjoyed being the youngest in class, in the office, and among the middle executives in the company.

3. Though still more than 3 months to go, I felt the spirit of Christmas moving in my veins. Gift-giving, parties, holidays, etc…

4. The hope of another new year never fails to amaze me. Counting blessings and looking forward.

Ah, thank God for September! I feel so good today!