April 14, 2017

Forgiveness

Good Friday is about a lot of things to different people. For us Catholics, it means a day to be silent and to reflect. For people who are working, it means double pay for every hour spent in the office. But for us Christians, this holy week is all about Love. Love stronger than a hundred Valentine's Days combined altogether because this is about the strongest love in this world, God's Love.

Jesus died on the cross and suffered not for Himself but for all of us. Even for people who are sinners, even for people who doesn't know Him, He died for them. It is the highest and most amazing act of sacrifice just to forgive us all from sin.

April Sunset over the Manila Bay

What is forgiveness really all about? We ask forgiveness whenever we humble ourselves if we do something wrong against another person. We offer forgiveness when people ask it for us to clear out the wrong things that they did against us. But do we really have to be the wrong party, for us to ask forgiveness?

It takes a lot of guts for some people to ask for forgiveness, or, especially to forgive. Pride is the main reason why it's usually hard for us to forgive or much more, to even say sorry for the things we did wrong. Personally, I think forgiving is a powerful act of love. It's like clearing up whatever wrong or misunderstanding that was done and just moving forward together with the other person. You don't really forget, I mean, you don't have to, but what we do is to take it as a lesson and move on, I assure you, it's a great feeling!

Asking for forgiveness on the other hand, I think is an act of bravery. It's like going to war and taking off any outer armor or protection and just fighting for something with just your bare hands. It's humbling yourself, accepting and owning any wrong, and asking for a chance to make up to whichever mistake you did to somebody.

But then again, back to the question, "Do you really have to be the wrong one to ask for forgiveness?". My answer, personally to this one is No. Asking for forgiveness is like clearing yourself from all hate and grudges just to save up a friendship or any relationship. This is probably the best possible way of showing how you can be a better person than the situation. In the end, it doesn't matter if the person you are asking for forgiveness actually does forgive you, he or she may or may not, but at the end of the day, it will all be about yourself.

It will all be about how clear your heart is, no excess baggage, no heavy feelings. It's like letting go of all hate, grudges, and feelings of discomfort towards the other person and just moving forward with a lighter, happier heart. I assure you, it feels a lot better after saying sorry. Honestly, it's like passing that heavy ball out to the other person. You may have done something so bad to him/her or just a little misunderstanding, but what's important is you let go of that heaviness out of your system. Whether the other person forgives you or not, will be their own different journey. Also, don't forget to pray for them, and wish them well - for a good and meek heart is one's ticket to a happy travel through this journey of life.

No matter how long or how hard we reflect about forgiving, it all comes down to remembering how God gave His own son to forgive all of us and until now, He is still forgiving our every wrong. If God can forgive us, so can we forgive, so should we forgive.

***

Never Stop Forgiving!
Steve

This post is part of Skywatch Friday that features different views of the sky around the world. Visit Skywatch and go on tour around the globe seeing sunrises, sunsets and so much more than the sky that you know at http://skyley.blogspot.in/

April 13, 2017

"They Say" Episode 3: What I Miss Most About The Philippines


Though the heat of the summer here gets very excruciating (especially for me, ladies and gentlemen), no Filipino can ever deny how amazing it is to live in the Philippines. Despite the poverty, the corruption, and all the many problems of the world that this country has embraced for quite sometime now, someone who lived here can really say that 'It's More Fun in the Philippines'

Whether it be the comforts of your very own bedroom at home (which I really longed for while I lived in San Francisco for 2 months), your Mom's very intricately slow-cooked Caldereta, hanging out with your childhood friends every weekend afternoons, or just simply whatever, leaving our country for somewhere else to live gives us more meaning to the saying 'There's no place like Home'.

With all of that said, this episode of They Say is all about the things that Filipinos miss about living in the Pearl of the Orient. Aside from their families (of course, we know how closely knit Filipinos are with their Family) here are the things that my students and friends who are currently living abroad, yearn for in this land:


Joylyn M
Arezzo, Italy

"What I really miss aside from my family and friends, is the Filipino culture. Our culture is very different compared to foreign countries, most especially the manners we learned from our ancestors. Here in Europe, given that it is the center of Catholicism, people here are liberated, even if they are still minors. Unlike in the Philippines, at young age, they know how to say 'po' and 'opo' and respect not only the elderly, but people of all ages. Also, I adore how filipinos treat each other as family even if they are not really blood related. Even if I go to many different countries, or stay here for long, I'm still proud that I am Filipina"

Jailah R
Auckland, New Zealand

"FOOD! Nothing beats filipino cuisine! From main dishes to merienda to street foods.. especially when you go food tripping with your barkadas."
Ralph M
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

"One thing I miss in the Philippines is the freedom to roam around anywhere and anytime. Here in Saudi Arabia, gasoline is very cheap but I can't enjoy that privilege because I don't own a car. Buses and taxis are expensive unlike in the Philippines where I can ride a Jeepney and/or a tricycle to save more money. Plus, there's not much to see here in the place I'm at right now. Maybe it's just me or maybe because this is where I grew up but life here is pretty simple. Go home after work. Sleep, go to work and go home again. And that's what I miss in the Philippines. The kind of freedom where I can visit Baguio, Palawan, Tagaytay or just hang out with some friends at the mall without having problems on how to get there without owning a car. Speaking of friends, hanging out with friends here is very difficult because girls and boys are not allowed to be together unless you're a married couple or a family. To make the story short, we need a married couple to come with us if we want to hang out with our girl friends."
Jhun B
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

"One of the things that I miss in the Philippines is Filipino Food. My love for Filipino food will never be forgotten. Sizzling Sisig, Taho, Crispy Pata, Tapsilog and so much more. It's also best to share with the people you love like my family and friends. My family also makes me miss the Philippines. Sometimes they are the reason why you are weak because you miss them so much and that is what many OFW called "homesickness" but they are also your energy booster to face your everyday challenges and problems. Aside from that, I miss also the holidays in the Philippines because when you're abroad you will not feel the same feeling of celebrating Christmas and New Year in the Philippines. These are the few things I miss in "Pinas". At this moment, I'm not sure when am I going come home again but I'm sure that when I'm back to the Philippines it's going to be fun and memorable again."


Paula O
Seattle, Washington

"A thing I really miss besides my family in the Philippines is that 'Laid Back' type of feeling all the time. It's like you don't have to set alarms in the morning but through out the day you'll get a lot done.. or you can just be like "hey, I wanna go to the beach." And with some friends you can make it happen there and then. here in the states the lifestyle is all about "Time is Money" so you live by minutes and hours with no time to sit back and relax and appreciate the things around you.. and THE BEACHES! how can you not miss the gorgeous beaches!"

Marvin B
Siem Reap, Cambodia

"One thing I miss about the Philippines is food. I think its common for most of OFWs like me. Cambodian dishes are healthy and delicious but I still prefer Filipino food because I've been eating them since I was young. Yes, it is good to try something new, but at the end of the day, you'll end up craving for the food that you used to eat most of the time. Good thing that Cambodia is also a tropical country so it shouldn't be so hard to find the ingredients to cook Filipino food. It is not surrounded by water so, I would say I also miss the salt water fishes of the Philippines because most of the fish here are found in lakes."

Now there you have just some of a million reasons as to why it's more fun to live in the Philippines! I for one may be a citizen of the world, a lover of different cultures and traditions, but I can really say that it's the best feeling to know and be reminded everyday that I am a Filipino! And to everyone who is not, we just have so much love to give and we welcome you to our beautiful country filled with delicious food, colorful traditions, and a heart full of warmth, joy, and much much of love! See you in the Philippines!

***

Never Stop Being a Filipino!
Steve

THEY SAY is a segment on my blog which features a little survey where I asked a few of my friends and readers about a certain subject. A Topic is started and they would respond in the way it applies to their lives and experiences.

April 11, 2017

Caru-Caruhan de Malabon 2017

Saint Longinus - Caru Caruhan 2017

On it's second year, the General Trias Caru-Caruhan has been successful with more Saints and camareros (Saint Caretaker) that have participated not just on the City of General Trias but from other parts of the province of Cavite. It is a Palm Sunday procession depicting miniature Saints and images of Christ's Passion in remembrance of the beginning of the holy week.

Last year, on it's first procession, there are a few people who participated and joined the  procession but this year was bigger and much more grand thanks to our Organizers led by Mr. EJ Tiglao and his team. If you wish to see photos and my article from last year's Caru-Caruhan 2016, you can click on the link.

Here are some of the photos from this year's procession. Some of the photos were taken by EJ Tiglao and his team, credits to them and their kindness.

Saint Veronica - Jethro Elca

Sorrowful Mother - EJ Tiglao

Saint Andrew the Apostle - Fr. Jun Poblete

La Pieta - Mark Anthony and Melissa Mugol

Agony in the Garden - AJ Negrosa

Ecce Homo - Wilson Que

Saint Peter the Apostle - Erson Que

Saint Longinus - Stevenson Que

Saint Mary of Cyprus - Aaeron Daluraya

Saint Mary Jacobe - Franz Pulido

Saint Matthew the Apostle - Resty Mangalindan

Saint Thomas the Apostle - Resty Mangalindan

Saint James the Great - Charles Lamadrid II

Saint Nicodemus - Jameer Olimpo

Me and Saint Longinus' Friend Stephen

My Twin Nephews Chad and Chualeek

This post is my entry for this week's "Our World Tuesday" where family-friendly bloggers share images of their world and tell us a little bit of the story about the place. If you wish to see more amazing stories from different parts of the world and do a virtual tour from their side of town, Click on the image link below:

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Never Stop Praying!
Steve

April 9, 2017

"They Say" Episode 2: Childhood Ambitions


I am just so excited for this second episode of They Say! They Say is a segment on my blog where in my closest friends, family, and students would have to share what "They Say" about a specific topic that would be best to be shared not just by myself.

On this episode, we will be talking about childhood ambitions. We will never forget that moment during our Kindergarten and Prep Graduations as we present what we want to be when we grow up. A large pool of kids wanting to be doctors and engineers and nurses line up and wait for their turn on the microphone to proudly tell the world what they will be working on in the next two decades at school.

I for one wanted to be a doctor when I was a little boy. I can remember doing check ups with my stuffed animals with my plastic stethoscope and giving them vaccinations for their fever. Then I realize, I did not really enjoy being the doctor, but I had fun writing up details on their respective index cards and asking 'them' about their vitals. Yes, I enjoyed being the secretary.

Then I grew up wanting so many things at once until university application came. I listed three degree choices and guess what, there was no pre-med nor a secretarial course on it. To be honest, I really did not know what I really want that time. years after, I was marching on my graduation with a degree in Computer Science and worked for half a decade a s a college instructor and now, a Deduction/Balance Associate for a multinational manufacturing company.

Well, enough about me and let's listen to what my dear readers about their childhood ambitions and what they end up with right now. Did they follow their early dreams, or did life led them to somewhere different? Here's what 'They Say'

Mary Anne R
Application Development Analyst, Accenture
Childhood Dream: To be a NURSE

"When i was a child, I see my future self wearing a white uniform, taking care of injured and sick people. I wanted to be a Nurse. My childhood dream is to travel the world carrying medical kits with my doctor husband. 

I did not pursue my ambition because of the movie "Wag Kang Lilingon", a horror film. I'm about to enroll in a Nursing school but after watching that movie, I got scared. I got scared of ghosts in hospitals. I'm afraid of the dark and of all unknown spirits that lie within. I know it sounds weird, but that's the real reason why I did not pursue my ambition.

Yes, I still want to be a nurse, still want to wear that white uniform, still want to help sick people. I still want to attend the oath taking ceremony and I still want to wear a nurse's cap. I still want to make the world a better place. I still want to be a Nurse but I am enjoying my life now as a developer"

Eunice L
IT QA Test Lead, GMA Network
Childhood Dream: To be a WRITER

"At my parents’ insistence, I took up Information Technology. For a while, yes I did regret that decision. I’m very idealistic, you see, and back then I believed that people should be given the freedom to do whatever they wanted. But as I grew and matured, I learned that life isn’t always black and white. There are many, many good things in life – things that will make you happy – and they’re not always what you expect. I learned that sometimes, there are no right or wrong decisions. For instance, I did not make a wrong decision when I chose IT over creative writing. Why? Because I also found happiness in IT. Not the one I imagined when I was little, but happiness nonetheless. And who knows, what if I chose creative writing and ended up not happy at all? I guess what I’m trying to say is, the best path is not always the most obvious one. You just have to take a leap of faith and make the most of everything. And of course, pray."

"Yes. The writer inside me is very much alive. But as I see it, there’s little possibility that I’ll pursue a full time writing career in the future. I love what I’m doing now, and I am very much settled here. I still write though, and sometimes when I feel a little brave, I submit my writings to online blogs or websites. And some of them do get published. See? Dreams don’t stop just because you chose a different path. Now I am able to pursue two dreams. One in IT and one, during my free time, in writing. And so can you. So can anyone."
Miko A
Analyst Programmer, Insular Life Assurance Co. Ltd.
Childhood Dream: To be an ARCHITECT

" I don't have any regrets cause I personally decided to take I.T. (second option to Architecture) and no one forced me to do so. Just to share, my third option was HRM (remember the spam rice with chopsticks na nilike nyo sa IG sir?) 

Math subjects [made me changed my mind]. I passed the Architecture exam, interview and already paid for my tuition until I saw my registration form full of math subjects. Trigonometry, Calculus, etc. I thought Architecture was more on drawing and designs that time. Never thought that it's full of Math. I still wanted to be Architect Jose Miguel B. Alhambra! I still enjoy planning and designing houses during my spare time. I really want to personally design the "dream" house for me and my family. But architect or not, I know I can and I will build that hopefully soon. (Sabi nila tiwala lang hahaha) 

 I don't want to compare my life as an I.T professional with the life I will have if I'm an architect. Cause it's not about the profession you choose but on how you make your life meaningful whatever path you take."
Kenneth G
Software Engineer, E-Science Corporation
Childhood Dream: To be a DRIVER

"Back when I was a child, I wanted to be a tricycle driver (real talk) but my parents did not approved. 


As I grew up or before going to college I wanted to achieve more in life and my ambition changed, that’s why I never got to pursue my childhood ambition and definitely I didn’t had any regrets. If I pursued my ambition I wouldn’t be like this right now providing for my family and traveling the Philippines (hopefully the world soon!)."


Ira G
Email Specialist, Security Bank
Childhood Dream: To be an ARTIST

" I wanted to be an artist. I was really into arts and writing back then. I remember having colouring pencils and watercolours to keep me company after school. 

 I have no regrets. All my decisions in life shaped me into who I am and led me to where I am today. Plus I can still do traditional art on my free time. Sometimes, it's not about just pursuing your ambition, you know. I believe that it's about holding on to it like a heart on your sleeve. 

Somehow. I mean, it doesn't change my love for art but today I am very happy with what I'm doing because my job allows me to combine writing with design so it's all good!"

No Matter what ambitions they have before or now, it goes to show that whatever lives they have at the moment, they are enjoying it and living it to their fullest! And for that, I will forever be proud of my dear students. I may not be teaching anymore but seeing them grow and succeed in the paths that the Lord had given them, makes me feel very lucky I was once their mentor.

Cheers to you my dear students!

***

Never Stop Dreaming!
Steve


THEY SAY is a segment on my blog which features a little survey where I asked a few of my friends and readers about a certain subject. A Topic is started and they would respond in the way it applies to their lives and experiences.

April 7, 2017

Paradise that is El Nido

Panorama of the view by the shores of Las Cabanas, El Nido, Palawan

“You never really know what's coming. A small wave, or maybe a big one. All you can really do is hope that when it comes, you can surf over it, instead of drown in its monstrosity.” 
― Alysha Speer

From Manila, you can reach the majestic town of El Nido via Puerto Princesa City on a 1 hour flight (Cebu PacificAir / Philippine Airlines / Air Asia Zest) and another 5 hour van ride up north.

Popular for people enjoying solitude and finding their inner selves, El Nido gives you a sense of serenity and peace that would be a best place to facilitate you soul search. This place has so much to offer. They call it The last frontier, The Nest, Palawan's Gem; I call it Paradise.

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Never Stop Searching!
Steve

This post is part of Skywatch Friday that features different views of the sky around the world. Visit Skywatch and go on tour around the globe seeing sunrises, sunsets and so much more than the sky that you know at http://skyley.blogspot.in/

April 2, 2017

Travel Photos - Why are they important?

Whether you are sitting on the grass waiting for the sun to rise above the Angkor Wat, or swimming with a Whale Shark in Cebu, we never take those moments for granted. And what better way to freeze those moments and take it with you, not just home but for a lifetime, than taking a photograph of it. Here are a few reasons why taking pictures are one of the most important aspects whenever we travel, whenever I travel.

It's the best souvenir you can take home with you.


Forbidden City, Beijing, China - January 2013

We love taking home keepsakes and mementos whenever we visit a foreign place. Usually we bring home and collect the touristy stuff like Keychains, Fridge Magnets, Metal spoons, and Postcards. But nothing beats photos as souvenirs because you don't just get it for free, you actually are in it as well which can be the best reminder or proof that your experience was not just a dream but you really were there.

Also, a wall in my room is dedicated to my travel photos. I print them out cut them all to uniform squares and stuck them beside each other one by one until I have this giant 'instagram' travel photo wall. Maybe you would want one in your rooms as well?


It makes you more aware of the place.


Ta Prohm, Siem Reap, Cambodia - January 2014

Whenever we arrive at an attraction, we take in everything that we see to our minds! How different it is from the pictures that we saw on the internet during the planning stages of this trip. It's like distinguishing how amazing it is by seeing it as it is, without any filters or post processing and truly appreciating how amazing God created this world and how gracious He is for blessing you to see it for yourself.

By taking pictures, you look for the best angles or compose the best framing for your photographs. And for this to happen, we breathe in the beauty of that very place at that exact moment. We become aware of how beautiful the place is, the smell of the plants and flowers nearby, and even how we can perfectly capture the actions and events that are happening on that place as well.

It gives you a chance to relive that very moment.


Wansaka Matsuri, Kariya City, Japan - August 2013

When we get home, we become so nostalgic of how amazing our experience was during the whole adventure. Admit it! It takes days or weeks, or for me, even months to really get over that magic of the place we just conquered. Well, okay, I don't really get over on all my amazing travels so whenever I need a doze of this magical moments, I just grab my hard drive and stick it in my laptop to view photos of my trips.

Not just sights but the people we meet on our travels, the best way we can remember our adventures with them is by snapping a quick selfie with them. I have met quite a few amazing people on my adventures around South East Asia and yes, I never forget about them especially we have pictures together that I kept until now.


It's a great way to share your experience to your loved ones.

Ming Tombs, Beijing, China - January 2013

In these times where everything is on social media, most of us love to share our adventures with our loved ones. Friend and family who are excited to see what's happening or where on earth you are at that very moment becomes much happier whenever they see your pictures at that very moment. I mean, not everyone loves seeing your feed of travel photos unfortunately but hey, most people do! So it's really up to how much and what you will be sharing on Social Media.

Yes, you don't have to post it all, you don't have to post anything either - it's your choice! But pictures are greatest enhancers of every adventure as you talk about it. Most of all, pictures are stories in itself. It speaks of a thousand words with just a single shot so just keep on taking those selfies and groupfies with your friends on your vacation and these will be treasures that will last beyond a lifetime.

A few tips before taking that camera out of your backpack


Make sure you learn about the place that you are visiting especially before taking pictures  because there are sacred places that have special requirements on taking photos. Just like this photo of me in Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya, Thailand. At first, you will think that it is just a photo of me and a buddha statue on a banyan tree. But it is important not take the photo with your head higher than that of the buddha because that is a sign of disrespect to the Buddhists.


Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya, Thailand - March 2011

Sometimes, it's not about the camera, it's about how you shoot it. Even if you own the most expensive and highest graded camera in the universe, that doesn't mean your photos will turn out maagazine-worthy. Experimenting on different angles and perspectives on taking that shot of the beautiful temple or a photo of your cousin by the forest will definitely do wonders. And hey, don't laugh at those people lying down to take pictures, their photos might just make it to the next National Geographic Cover!

Don't just take one photo of something. We're not using film anymore so just take lots and lots of frames of the same subject as much as you can and when you get home, just chose the best one once you load it on your laptop.

This may sound funny but Be mindful of what you wear. Well for me, it is very important to pick the perfect clothes for that perfect place. It doesn't have to be expensive like what models wear when they visit the Great Wall or Rome but you don't want to look left out on that beautiful background wearing something that is not that appropriate. Especially nowadays that photoshop can do just about anything like using your photo at your backyard and processing it just like you're at a beach in Rio de Janeiro. Trust me, you'll be much more amazed to look back on your photos wearing something nice and appropriate. Here's one of me and my friends during our visit to Cebu last 2016.

Cuartel, Oslob, Cebu, Philippines - June 2016


Avoid replaying the photos every after attraction. This is something that gets into my nerves when it comes to travelling with my friends! They love viewing and reviewing all the shots every after we get back to the van or car or bus! They don't realise how much battery life they are wasting! It won't hurt explaining them that more battery means more pictures so just tell them to wait, besides, there's usually a fast setting of a quick preview right after every shot so you can be quite sure if the photo went well or not.

And most importantly, Don't forget to appreciate that very moment at that very place. People nowadays travel just for the pictures, not realising how much they are missing. They focus so much on taking those pictures, forgetting how much time they would have appreciated just feeling that very moment you are on that very place.

Snoqualmie, Washington, USA - July 2015

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That's it! Start planning your next adventure and think about how amazing your travels will be after taking better pictures! With this, the adventures doesn't stop when you arrive at home but the magic stays within every single photograph you took home with your best travel buddy, your camera.

Never Stop Capturing Moments!
Steve