Flunking and Still Going

I recall my first article for the year:

CAUTION: 2010 is Very Hot and Exciting.

Indeed it is. It’s like a dish of hot Thai noodle soup with a hint of chili on the side and mixed with fishballs, ground beef and kenchai. The first sip stings, but the taste satisfifes. As you consume and enjoy its delightful tastes, you experience “small stings” due to the chili and the temperature of the dish. Eventually, you get to enjoy and “bear the pain” of the stings, and when you take that list sip and gorge down that last piece of beef, you are satisified. In fact you enjoyed so much you ask for more.

For the past 4 months I have been experiencing “small stings” due to the problems, tests and temptations that come my way. I hate to admit it, but I’ve flunked already. I get discouraged at times and think that if I keep on committing the same mistake, how could I ever emerge victorious? Sometimes I feel like there’s no hope for me to improve because I fall time and time again.

Then I went to camp. April 6-8, 2010 were by far my best days of the year. Daddy met me in my awful state, whispered, “I love you with an unfailing love”, and lifted me up. Thinking again about Him and our relationship was productive. Until I left camp and returned to my “world” in Manila.

The following day, I was still doing fine. Well, sort of. I was not “sinning” as much as I used to. Then come Saturday.

I do not want to elaborate on the details, but I did something pretty nasty. So nasty that one of the people closest to my heart cried. My heart broke, I cried a river and I thought that this person had finally decided to give up on me after knowing each other for a very, very long time. But this amazing person did not. Moments of silence filled the gaps during our heartbreaking and heartwarming conversation that early Sunday morning. Moments that gave us time to think and think again. And it was ll worth it.

Whenever I fail and get discouraged, I am reminded of my Savior’s love through the song “By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North. I recommend that you listen to it as soon as possible. Many times I try to win His favor, and everytime I do, He constantly reminds me, “Don’t try. You are already favored.” I can never earn His grace because He freely gave it.

With all the flunking I did for the past 4 months, am I still looking forward to an exciting year? Of course! I may be in the midst of a “small sting,” but I’ll always end it with a final gorge of my personal beef and joyful smile on my face. 😀

The Sun Never Sets on High School

March 24, 2010. 0930 hours.

This was the day I would either hate the most or love the most. This is a moment so trying, nerve-wracking and spine-tingling that only five people are allowed to witness and be part of it inside a hollow, warm room. Only the fittest  and the strongest shall survive and surpass the nostalgic stage.

This was the moment of truth. The declaration of the top 3 honors  for the graduating batch of school year 2009-2010.

Okay, maybe I was exaggerating a little, but to tell you the truth, this was how I partly felt. The other part of me was scared and relaxed altogether because I know that things can change by just a small factor of one decimal point. The healthy competition I had with my other two competitors, Deuel and Abby, (who happened to be my two bestest friends in our batch) was a really tight, exciting one. Our scores and averages were so close that 8 or more teachers are required to meet together, calculate and decide who receives which. Although it was quite obvious that Deo (Deuel’s nickname) would be our class valedictorian, double, triple, and quadruple calculations and ‘checkings’ are required to avoid biases, miscalculations and other mishaps. To tell you the truth, it seemed like the competition was just between me and Abby. Not that we did not strive for the first, but our averages compared to Deo’s were as far as the distance a person travels by car from Makati to Ortigas on a Friday night. It’s possible, but it would take a heck a lot of patience, determination, diligence and perspiration. For that reason, I only had my hope on the second place.

So there we were–the three of us–inside our memorable room together with our adviser, Ms. Abarca, and  another high school teacher, Mrs. Cayanan. After a word of prayer, Deo, Abby, Mrs. Cayanan and I sat on our unusually cold and plastic armchairs while Ms. Abarca remained standing. She explained how the deliberation process took place yesterday evening and a past session with all our subject teachers. They made sure that all the papers and grades were quadruple checked and calculated. She pointed our attention to the set of grades she wrote on the whiteboard earlier. Our final grades were written, but our names weren’t. This added tension. Ms. Abarca then wrote our names on the board. As expected, Deuel ranked first. The question now is, who’s second and who’s third?

It was an unexpected result. Abby and I tied. Our averages were exactly the same. To the very last decimal point.

If our ranking would be based on our scholastic grades alone, then our batch would have two salutatorians. Thus our school created a system for ranking graduating honor students. The 70% would be our academics, 20% extra-curricular activities and 10% character (since our school is a Christian institution). As for the extra-curricular activities, Abby ranked 1st, Deo 2nd and I third. As for charater, Deo ranked 1st, I ranked 2nd and Abby ranked third.

The question is not who ranked first since it was quite obvious that Deo aced the competition. The question is, who will be called the salutatorian?

Ms. Abarca did a mathematical evaluation with each of the three parts of our grades (academics, extra-curricular, character) to arrive at the weighted rank. The person with the lowest number is the 1st and the person with the highest number is the 3rd. (This is because our final averages were multiplied according to the factor indicated. Our final grades in academics were multiplied by 7 [70%], extra-curricular by 2 and character by 1)

Deo had 12 points. Abby had 19 points. I had 22.

As I saw those numbers, my world nearly crashed down. I thought I would emerge victorious. I thought I would land at a “Heavenly place.” Sa Tagalog, masayado akong nag-akala. Nakalimutan ko na lahat ng akala mali. Sobrang mali.

I can feel the tears about to rush out of my tear ducts and pour profusely down my face. I chose to reserve those tears for my alone time with God. I kept a firm yet happy countenance as we opened the dividers and let our other batch mates in.

We proceeded downstairs to head to our school-church’s auditorium. I wore my black, filtering shades because I realized I could not hide the tears any longer. I chose a path not-so-distanced from my classmates to avoid empathetic questions. I only had one question and it’s directed to God and myself. Why?

I took my iPod and wished I had the song “Just Once” so I could sing to the first verse and relate. I sung it in my head.

“I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough. ‘Cause here I am back where I was before….”

Here I am again, back at #3.

Later that evening, as I knelt down in prayer, I burst into tears, the tears I have been trying so hard to control. This time, I can cry all I want and the Person I was gonna cry to would never push me aside nor be judgmental towards me. Once again, God humbled me. He made me realize that I had even more potential and diligence to pour on my education; I wasn’t just seeing it yet. It was not impossible, but it’s certainly difficult. I would rather win third in the most challenging and difficult race in the world than first in the race I know I would ace so easily. When I read the Bible that day, I was encouraged and amazed by the strong and courageous leader, Joshua. An astonishing and seemingly impossible story about him and the Israelites could be found in the 10th chapter of his book. After hearing how Joshua and the Israelites defeated the kings of Jericho and Ai and how the Gibeonites made a peace treaty with them, five Amorite kings conspired against the Gibeonites and attacked them. By doing so, they actually planned their own tragic demise. God used Joshua and the Israelites to help the Gibeonites defeat the evil kings because the Gibeonites were the only foreigners kind enough to God’s chosen nation. As the battle waged, Joshua did an astonishing thing. He commanded, in the presence of God and Israel, the sun to stand still and the moon to stop moving. As a result, “the sun stopped in t he middle of the day and delayed going down about a full day!”

Scientifically, that is impossible! To me, it is very astonishing and amazing! I am also encouraged by the story and Joshua because I know what kind of God I am serving and entrusting my whole life to. Not because we’re sinful, He no longer listens to us. In fact, He delights in answering our prayers, as long as they are aligned to His will.

I may have landed third place in high school, but that is not the end of everything. In fact, it’s just a taste to what the real competition looks like: COLLEGE. I thank God because He never bases His love and acceptance and my worth on medals and other earthly achievement. As long as I performed the best way He wanted me to, I know He’s proud of me. I can see Him smiling.

The sun has not set over my time yet. It’s only beginning to rise.

Hair Click: A Click Salon

Girls, agree with me: Next to pimples, oily skin, dry skin, blackheads, dark eye bags and dark underarms, DRY, FRIZZY, UNRULY hair is one part of our body that we hate the most. No wonder most of us, if not all of us, resort to quite expensive but lasting treatments, namely, rebonding and relaxing. I’m one of those girls. I was dying to have my hair rebonded, but I wanted one that would yield a voluminous shape. The “straight as a broomstick” treatment was too obvious and common.

Thankfully, my mom knew a salon that offered a VOLUME rebond at a discounted price. It wasn’t very far either! I fell in love with the salon immediately.

Hair Click Salon is a Korean salon located at Polaris St., Bel-Air along Kalayaan Avenue in Makati City. It faces a Spanish restaurant called Alba. Although its location is not as exposed as another Korean salon located along Jupiter Avenue, Hair Click is renowned for its quality service at an affordable price. In fact, local TV personalities underwent services in the salons themselves and advertised the  salon on their respective shows. Among them are Kuya Kim, weatherman of ABS-CBN’s “TV Patrol”, Donita Rose, Sam Oh of QTV and Susan Enriquez, host of GMA7’s “Kay Susan Tayo.”

Allow me to share with you my personal experience. Upon entering their gorgeous infrastructure, friendly Filipino employees greeted me and my mom. We told the receptionist our respective choice of service. Treatment began immediately. I started ahead of time since rebonding takes more than 2 hours. The interior design was very modern, bright, appealing and adds a “relaxation” ambiance that most local salons fail to give. (Most salons have posters of strangers with colored hair and weird hairstyles.) After several minutes of medicine application and color application to me and my mom respectively, we sat on comfy chairs and read the latest issues of OK! and YES! magazines. While reading, we were offered iced tea. When I sipped my just-the-right-sweet iced tea, I decided I adored this salon. But that was just the appetizer. After a few minutes, we were given a plate of soft bread sticks with chocolate sauce. YUMM. 🙂

The volume rebond was a success! Here are some photos of the process and the results:

It had a very natural and soft finish. The senior stylist, Rain Choi, did a superb job. Although he doesn’t understand much English, he understood what I wanted and after 2 hours and several minutes–Voila! The hair of my dreams.

So if you’re like me and you are dying to get rid of your dry, unruly and frizzy hair, drop by at Hair Click. Right now, almost all their services are on a 30% discount, so you better hurry! Prepare PhP 3,000-5,000, but prices depend on the length of hair. It’s super fun and worth the pay!

Hair Click

TEL: 896.7000

EMAIL: info@hairclick.co.kr (though I think it would be in Korean!)

PS! I also want to thank my mom for treating me to this amazing salon. She discovered it and shared the news that brings tidings of great joy. I’ll pay you soon, mom! When I get a job at a prestigious company. 😀 That’s 4 years away! I love you!

CAUTION: 2010 is Very Hot and Exciting

If two thousand and ten was a beverage, it would be a glass of rich and thick cocoa served very hot before sunrise. One of my favorites. It’s a drink that I enjoy sipping gradually–sipping  its sweetness and tongue-prickling sensation in every drop. As I sip, my tongue dries and taste buds hurt, but I bear the minimal pain as I look forward to more sipping. It takes several minutes to finish the whole glass; when the mug is half-empty is the only time I realize that the enjoyment this drink provides will only get better and better. The heat died down, but the flavor is still strong.

The beginning of 2010 is just as hot as a glass of boiling water and rich cocoa. It’s new, exciting, nervous, and certainly one that I look forward to. There are so many NEW resolutions I resolve to do, so many blogs to type, new people to meet and say goodbye to, places to visit, food to eat, lessons to learn, clothes to wear, challenges to face, problems to endure, and memories to make. Such a smorgasbord of activities may and can be overwhelming, but I am rest assured that the journey is worth taking. Because I know Who’s waiting for me at the end–my Master Chef–my Savior, Best Friend, Comforter, Disciplinarian, Lover. Jesus Christ.

I take a deep breath.

This year’s gonna be HOT and EXCITING. 😀