The Host is Yet to Come

Last Sunday (Easter Sunday) and today were amazing. God gave me the privilege of doing one of the things I love the most: hosting or emceeing.

Last Saturday evening, I received a text message from my cousin, Miko, asking me if I can host an event on Easter Sunday, 4 pm. Immediately, I thought of the event  called Hymns Of Glory, an Easter Sunday concert at the Venice Piazza in McKinley Hill, where our other cousin, Deb, will perform as a singer. However, that event (to me at least) was “major” in the sense that it wasn’t held in church nor was it only for church members: it was held in a public place where many people can watch. Since the event was free, virtually anyone and everyone (so long as the place can accommodate it) can watch. I told myself, “Nah, it’s probably not it. Maybe it’s another event.”

So when I got the message, I replied: “What event?”

Two minutes later, Miko replied: “Hymns of Glory. Deb’s event? 🙂 call time is 3 PM in Venice Piazza.” (those were the exact words. Just copied them from my phone)

To say that I was excited would be an understatement. I ran upstairs to the master’s bedroom and told my Mom about it (Dad was asleep so he wasn’t able to join in the fun). I asked her if I could host (i.e., asked her to bring me to the venue and support us hehe), and she said yes. I immediately asked Miko the details of the event, and later that evening, I received the program via email from the event coordinator, Jamie.

Come Sunday, I was super excited. And nervous. I prayed really hard that God will calm my nerves so as not to trigger a dystonia attack. Praise God for calming nerves! 🙂 By God’s grace, even with limited practice, Miko and I performed and hosted to the best of our ability and, I must say, to our heart’s content. Moreover, I enjoyed the music played that night! Hymns of Glory was an Easter Sunday Concert launched by Megaworld Lifestyle Malls and Christ Commission Fellowship (CCF) Makati to celebrate the resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ through praise and worship, as “led” by really talented and Spirit-filled local Christian artists such as Jeff Lucas, Doki Puno, Deb Victa, and Barbie Almalbis!! 🙂 To listen to good music in a concert as an audience member is fun and encouraging in itself. To listen to good music in a concert as a host of that same concert is another story. I’ll share my experience in a bit; let’s take a quick break as you check the photos while I…chill. Haha 😀

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with THE Barbie Almalbis! #fangirl
with THE Barbie Almalbis! #fangirl
with the cousins, Deb & Miko
with the cousins, Deb & Miko

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all photos taken by my awesome father, Ferdie Talam! 🙂 

Hymns of Glory was the cherry on top of my very restful holy week even though I “worked” that Sunday. Although it was physically draining, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually the event was not exhausting at all because it was ministry: the outflow of my intimate relationship with God. Hosting was also my passion as part of my mission to be a communicator of truth. (That’s actually written in my mission statement, which I can share with you guys in another time) If Jesus did not rise from the grave, that event, Easter Sunday, and life in general would not have been possible. Praise God He is alive!

This morning until the afternoon, God gave me yet another opportunity to hone my hosting or emceeing skill. ELEVATE, the youth ministry of my home church, invited its hosts and other potential hosts for a 1-day training with a renowned local host who also happened to attend and serve in our church, Judah Paolo. I’ve been to several hosting training sessions before in and out of church, but so far, the one I’ve attended today was the best.

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Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

First of all, Judah Paolo was an amazing teacher, lecturer, and mentor. Speaking from 11 years (and counting) of experience in show business and in the church setting, he knows what he’s talking about, lives it daily, and makes a living out of it! (Next to serving God, that for me is the best way to maximize one’s hosting/emceeing skills) He engaged us without trying too hard while imparting and embedding truths in our hearts and minds. I really liked his insight on how to deal with fear. But before he shared that, he told us that, according to a survey, public speaking is a person’s no. 1 fear, while death follows in 2nd place. Imagine that! “In a funeral service, people would rather be inside the casket than give the eulogy.”

Fear and nervousness are natural responses to the foreseen fear of messing things up, stuttering, going blank, or being lame. It’s either you flee the scene or fight the fear. Fight is the better option, especially if you’re a Christian because (and here’s Judah’s insight), as Hebrews 10:19-22 says:

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us… let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

“If you can come before God with boldness, how much more man?” Judah said. David also wrote on the same line: “The Lord is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6) 

That insight on fear was just one of the many things I learned from today’s training. However, personally, when it comes to hosting or being an m.c. (a messenger of Christ as Judah put it), the one thing I always keep to mind, as hard as it may be, is this: the show is not about me. I point to the main attraction.

I’m human just like the rest of you guys, and I struggle. A lot. (Hence, a blog on grace) One of the things I struggle with is pride and self-centeredness. I want to be known. A part of me desires people to applaud at my awesomeness even if I don’t have it (at least in the measure I want). A part of me likes seeing my name etched on everyone’s minds (or at least a lot of people). I only said  a part of me because, just like a lot of people, I don’t want the “perks” or the responsibilities that go with it. I don’t like my privacy invaded. There are days (and they are many) when I want to be alone and I can’t do that when people hound me (that is, if I’m a celebrity). It’s weird, right? I’m weird! I thank God because He loves and likes weird people like me. I also thank Him for not giving up on me just because I’m proud and self-centered (because He opposes the proud, James 4:6 says). Lately I’ve been hearing from Him from one of the Gospels, which talks about the world’s (or at least the Bible’s) first ever host or m.c.  Can you guess his name?

Clue: the book I’m studying now is the book of John.

Answer?

John the Baptist.

The evidences are clearly laid out in chapter 1. John the Beloved (the author of the Gospel, the “disciple whom Jesus loved”) is described as the witness sent by God to testify about Jesus, to prepare the way for Jesus, to point others (particularly Israelites) to Jesus.

Isn’t that what hosts do?

As hosts, we don’t ramble to the audience about ourselves, although we may share some things about ourselves just like John kept telling folks he wasn’t the Messiah or the Prophet. We guide the audience, the recipient of the message, as they receive the message of the main attraction, whether an artist,  keynote speaker, or even a video presentation. The show is not about us. How would you feel if you invited an m.c. to host your birthday party, and then after introducing you suddenly shouts out, “Oh by the way, my birthday was on January 3rd, three weeks ago. Happy birthday to me!” How would you feel? I would have fired that m.c. on the spot! M.c.’s are supposed to lead you to a better experience of the event, not of themselves.

As I reflected more on this while recalling Sunday’s event and today’s training, I realized that the art of hosting is a humbling event. For people like me who sometimes crave for attention, it’s quite disappointing to find out that even if you’re given so much airtime, there’s still an 80% chance people will forget about you after the event (unless you’re Ryan Seacrest whom I remember more than the American Idol grand champion). More than that, I think the most humbling thing about hosting (which I find to be the most beautiful thing about it), especially in the church setting, is that Jesus gets all the glory. When people come up to me and compliment me after a hosting gig, I smile and revert the glory back to Jesus. When people say they look up to me, I think to myself, “Wait what, me?! I’m not even a pro! Wow, thank you! Thank You!! This voice is Yours.” God gave me a voice not only to express my views or opinions, but more importantly, to voice out His views and His will for man. I am, quite literally, God’s mouthpiece.

Earlier I mentioned Judah’s revised the definition of the abbreviation m.c. (which really means master of ceremonies) to messenger of Christ. Personally, I think this applies not only to actual hosts, but to any person who has the brand marks of Jesus, who is His legit child and servant. You are a host, leading and pointing others to Jesus. Like John the Baptist (or John the Witness as I would call him), you can prepare the way for others to meet Jesus. You and I, we’re bridges people will walk over so that they, too, can enjoy a personal encounter with the Lord. When you communicate truth and grace to people, you are, in a sense, an m.c. Of course it’s still different from an actual event host, but hey, that’s still the greatest job in the world! Not only are you enjoying in the present, but you are also investing in eternity.

I hope God will continue to use me as a host, and I’m sure He will as long as I shall live. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be an m.c. and if you feel God is leading you to become one, do whatever it takes to be good at it! Read books. Watch Ryan Seacrest. Practice, practice practice! Practice some more. Speak. Talk. Read a loud. Do your homework!

And never forget: at the end of every gig, revert the glory back to Him who gave you your mouth and your voice. 🙂

P.S. (a.k.a. plug shameless HAHAHA): If you’re looking for someone fun, relational, and engaging to host your birthday party, debut, or what have you, you can hire me ! Hihi 🙂 go to the contact page here

Jimmy Needham Concert & A Lesson on Appetite

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Exactly a week ago, April 9, I attended the concert of one of my most favorite Christian artists (and since that day, speakers): Jimmy Needham. If his name doesn’t ring a bell,  go to the end of this post and watch him sing my favorite song of his, “Forgiven and Loved.” Seriously, stop.  However, if you do know him and have heard his music, you’ll know he’s really blessed and wonderfully gifted. I said gifted because not only is his music entertaining and pleasant to the ears, but it’s also very heart-stirring and mind-activating. Jimmy (yes close kami? Haha) is currently on his “Guy, Guitar + Gospel Tour,” and I was so thrilled he dropped by Manila. The fact that the venue of his concert was at our very own church, CCF, made the event even more thrilling (because I feel so at home at that place, even with its magnanimity). To say that I was blessed that evening would be an understatement. Convicted and pierced are the more appropriate terms.

Before I continue sharing my concert experience, I must confess something. Prior to the concert, my relationship with God was pretty lukewarm. Two weeks have already passed since my second semester ended, and yet I still carried with me the habits I formed during my stressful days: an ‘okay, not-so-on-fire’ quiet time, a lack of passion and interest to pray and study Scripture, and the obsession with my self and my thoughts and desires. I promised God and myself that I would make it up to Him (to us) for the lost time and revitalize our relationship. I made up a list of things to do and goals to accomplish to keep my life in check. “As long as I remain consistent in doing these things, I will be successful. God would be happy. I’ll be joyful again, just like before.” Yeah right. On the night of Jimmy Needham’s concert, I was, yet again, proven  wrong.

One of the things I appreciate about Jimmy Needham is his love for Scripture. Towards the latter part of his concert, he shared with us his testimony, his walk with the Lord, and a passage from the Old Testament that really struck him the most. He loves the Old Testament so much, calling it the book for train wrecks. 😀 I agree with that nickname, because that was what Israel and man in general was. Stubborn train wrecks always being rescued by a loving and faithful God. Jimmy also went on sharing that the problem of most people today, especially Christians, is not a problem of doing, but of being. Within the heart, not the hands, lies the issue. Man’s issue with the living God is more than just a mere judicial problem of doing or not doing, but that of desire. How did he come up with that conclusion? Jimmy quoted the verse from which he gathered this insight, in Jeremiah 2:13:

“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water.”

“Broken cisterns that can hold no water. The problem of Israel was not that they weren’t good enough. Israel’s greatest sin was that it did not desire the Living Water. They had no appetite for God.” (Needham, 2014)

When he said this, I was shocked. It was my first time to hear the verse, but already my heart connected with my mind. Our problem–our biggest problem–is a lack of appetite for all things Heavenly. This really struck me the most because…I have a huge appetite. Caveman’s, actually. Not for God, but for worldly things.

Sure, I love God. I do. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” I show my love for Jesus by obeying Him. I don’t obey Him so that I would love Him, but the other way around. Obedience is an expression of love. I know this. By God’s grace and the power of His Holy Spirit I am applying this, albeit very imperfectly, and I am striving to love Jesus more and more each day.

However, to look at my love for Jesus from the “appetite perspective” was a totally different story. Do I desire Him? Do I crave Him like I would with bacon, peanuts, and a romantic relationship with a loving, Christian guy? (yes you read that last part right. I’m human, too,  you know. It so happened I was female.) Was I willing to go on a spiritual feast everyday just so I can savor the richness of God’s Word and the loveliness of His presence?

The answers to all my questions, sadly, was a big fat no.

I loved God and obeyed Him, but oftentimes my obedience was a mere routine, “because God says so.” Because I would be a bad leader if I didn’t. Because I would feel like a hypocrite. Because it won’t be worth it if I don’t obey Him. All these reasons are valid, helpful even. But after Jimmy Needham brought the appetite issue, I realized there was more to God than just obedience. He really, really, really wants a relationship with me. God did not create creatures that would just obey Him; He created rational and social creatures that would love Him back and enjoy Him for all eternity.

Satan knew that if he introduced something overtly evil to us we would have just laughed at him, so he used something we love the most, use the most, and crave the most: FOOD. I was talking with my discipleship group two weeks ago, and I told them of my observation, how the food industry has been so prevalent in our lives today compared to a few years ago. There are over 25 million posts for #foodporn and over 2 million for #foodstagram on Instagram (most likely that also means 25 + 2 million posts on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media sites). Food is a basic human need. God gave us food for our enjoyment. Solomon himself said that eating and drinking is a gift from God. However, we’re human, and we have a knack for messing things up. We make curses out of  gifts because we place them above the Giver. We are more than willing to sacrifice our appetite for a life of inexhaustible joy for that of a temporary life and depraved existence. No wonder a lot of us (myself included) do not get to experience the abundant life Jesus promised.

Appetite for Jesus–wanting Him, craving for Him, desiring Him–was my greatest problem. Jimmy Needham helped me realize that. Thankfully, he didn’t just end with pointing out the problem. God is a restorer, not a demolisher. He breaks down for the intent of building up again. Trying harder, being good, coming up with a better plan were not plausible options. What then? Simple.

GRACE.

To be honest, I felt uncomfortable when Jimmy brought up the subject. That was what I least deserved. I’m like most people in that I find grace hard to accept because I feel strongly about the need for reparation of my sins. I fear falling on one end of the scale,  licentiousness, abusing grace, without realizing I fell on the other end: legalism, abhorring grace. Grace, if it is to be true, demands complete surrender and total acceptance and at the same time, realizes true life transformation. Actions are important, but only after the gift has been received. For a person who loves gifts and whose second first name is Grace, I found it surprising I was rejecting grace. It really is for the undeserved. God was handing out to me because HE LOVES ME. He loves you. When Jimmy Needham started singing “If I Ever Needed Grace,” I tried hard not to cry. I failed. Grace and my tear ducts made a contract I wasn’t aware of. On that evening, as I sat there and allowed God to work His magic, I felt at rest and at peace. I was home.

Our appetite for Jesus has to be constantly fed because the enemy competes for appetite for him. We must not surrender to the enemy. Trying hard to be goo or coming up with a “new and all-improved” program won’t do the trick. Coming to Jesus and feasting on His presence will. That’s what Jimmy Needham did, and that’s how God set him free from the bondage of pornography. I believe that’s how He’ll also set me (and you) free from a life of depravity, sin, loss, and just mere existence.

Truth be told, I still struggle with appetite–both physical and spiritual. Who doesn’t? God is good; He’s always willing to take me in when I humble myself before Him. I believe He’ll do the same for you. If you ever needed grace (and I bet you do), He will always be willing to give it to you.  All you need is a humble heart and a contrite spirit.:)

 

How’s your appetite for Jesus? Craving for Him lately? You don’t have to wait for the next sale or purchase a coupon online to avail of the buffet because He’s always available for the taking. 

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” – Jesus Christ (Revelation 3:20)

 

PS: Sharing with you guys photos to the concert. I went with my brothers, Josh and James, and my cousin, Jared. My other cousins and friends were there, too. Jimmy Needham you’re the best! 🙂

With camille

With Josh_Jimmy Needham

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This 2014, I Will Be LAST

It’s only the second day of thew new year and already I can think tens of things to thank God for: good health of my family and friends. School resumes tomorrow (yes I’m thrilled). Allowance! (now you know why) My favorite sun-dried peanuts (sung song). The will to diet. Cool weather. Smell of roasted chicken. My happy, united family. Our family devotion earlier. My 1-hour nap earlier this afternoon. God’s assurance during our quiet time this morning: “You are safe in My arms. No matter what happens, you are safe.”

Those close to me know very well that I am a perfectionist (and if you’ve been following the blog you should have picked that up). In 2013, God demolished my wall of perfectionism. Part of it was my fault, part of it was His. At the start of last year, I already failed in my pursuit for discipline. In the two semesters that just passed I never made it to the dean’s list (even if I expected to make the cut). My idea of everyone in my family & extended families living to a old and gray age was dashed to the dust when my cousin, Trish, died at the age of 25, and a sister of one of my dear friends at 23. I was an erratic blogger, Gospel-sharer, and pseudo-discipler. The religious, philosophical, and ethical beliefs ingrained in my memory & heart have been challenged; some are still being tested, some were debunked, others were proven true. There’s the earthquake in Bohol and Yolanda’s unwelcome havoc in the Visayas. There’s also my hormones and romantic feels looking at the couples in school and telling me to join the bandwagon. The thing is, no one offered to ride the wagon with me. 😦 Chos! Hahahaha

2013 was the year where I learned a lot of things the hard way. I learned what grace truly means because I experienced being a wretch. I came to realize as I cried, searched for answers, groped in the dark, and shouted at God (He told me I could do that) that I have t truly experience my true state of wretchedness before I could fully enjoy grace. Everything I believed about God He shook, and when He did that I also realized that simply saying “may Your will be done, may Your kingdom come” does not suffice. Submission is key. Many times God showed me that I tried desperately and rather foolishly to control Him.

Lest I drown in pessimism, I must say that 2013 was also a year full of blessings not only for me, but also for my family, friends, and even for my country! Among the many blessings (both “good” and “bad”) I received last year were: our new house; new-found friends; tighter relationships with family and close friends; excellence in school requirements when I expected failures; 4-second appearance on a show on national TV (hahahaha); wonderful teaching experiences in Sunday school; my weight gain, this time NO LONGER accompanied by insecurity; real desire to help others; God’s looooooooooooooooooooonggggsuffering attitude towards me, and many, many more!

With my backpack full of lessons (and I have more empty backpacks to fill) and the very person of the God of Heaven and earth Himself, I am eager, excited, and encouraged to embark on a new, hopefully, more fruitful year. So here’s when the resolutions come in. For this year, I’m starting something new. I created a personal theme that would guide my actions and secondary goals for the year. Aside from grace, I crave for JOY. As I get to know my Lord and Savior, I learn that the key to His joy is to learn to be L.A.S.T.: Loving, Altruistic, Self-Controlled, and Thankful.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:36-39

“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

These were the verses the Holy Spirit used to convince me that indeed, I should aim to be LAST. Because, as the Savior Himself said, “… many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” (Matthew 19:30) Lasting joy belong to those who are willing to go last. I may never understand why or how that happens; I just know it does.

I hope you, too, will find a theme for yourself this year, or perhaps a renewed sense of vision, mission, or purpose. Forget what lies behind; reach forward to what lies ahead! 🙂 Our life here on earth won’t last for long, but our training here will, so make sure we make the most out of it!

May we have a faith-stretching, heart-strengthening, mind-opening, and spirit-soaring 2014! 🙂

Craving Grace: A Book Review

Craving Grace by Lisa

For Lisa Velthouse’s whole life, Christianity had been about getting things right. Obeying her parents. Not drinking. Not cursing. Not having premarital sex…..But after two decades of trying to earn God’s favor, she found her faith was lonely, empty, and unsatisfying. So where does a “good Christian girl” turn when she needs answers? More discipline, of course: fasting! For months Lisa managed to fast, but the result seemed to be that suddenly she was falling short in everything else. Then, one night at a wedding, she denied herself the cake but broke an even bigger promise she’d made years before–falling in such an unexpected and world-rocking way that it challenged everything she thought she knew about God and herself.

Have you ever encountered a book that almost perfectly described your current situation and feeelings? Your awkward, humorously stupid, and at times, downright sinful moments and emotions? I have. And it’s called Craving Grace.

I first read a Lisa Velthouse creation seven years ago when my cousin lent me her copy of Saving My First Kiss. At that time I was a tween, awkward, innocent, and relatively simply in every way possible, and I honestly did not understand a big part of the book, except for the fact that the author (who was the same age as I am now) made a vow to God to safeguard her purity, especially that of her lips.

In this not-so-tell-all but completely honest memoir, Lisa Velthouse described her struggle with a seeming lack of romantic activity in her life, understanding God’s grace, keeping her hands off chocolate sundaes and brownies, and dealing with failure. A whole smack of heart-crushing failure, especially for a woman who seeks to have everything in place so that she would not make God sad. While reading this, I felt joy in knowing that someone else’s reality and struggles are similar to mine, and even more joy in confirming that everything I’m experiencing now is part of God’s great, big, and strange plan.

Objectively, I thought Craving Grace was mature, intelligent, funny, and heart-tugging. Although there was no particular or singular story that was supposed to be follow throughout the book, I always found myself wanting to turn over the next page and read on (and I read even if I had a thick-load of other school readings, which were mostly boring. HAHA)  I also liked the fact that the arrangement of the stories and events was not chronological, but thematic, and the theme was, the ever-deepening understanding of a child of her Father’s amazing grace. I also appreciated Ms. Velthouse’s choice of words and use of language because it entailed going to the dictionary to search for literal meanings and looking into my heart and mind for deeper ones (which is why I thought it was intelligent). Lisa Velthouse didn’t just write her story for the sake of writing it (a mistake a lot of memoirs unfortunately commit); she wrote for the sake of change–for herself and her readers.

So why did I say I identify with this book so, so much? Because while I was reading it, I was at the point of my life where I struggled with God’s grace, love, Word, truth…and just God Himself. I also struggled with fasting (I am eating my 5th or 6th serving of peanuts for the day. :O)  I couldn’t understand how I, the professing smart, intelligent, organized, and “I-have-it-all-together” girl, could eat too much food, watch too much TV, think vain thoughts, become so utterly selfish, fail academic requirements, and hurt the people I love the most (and who love me even more). In some parts of the book, Lisa Velthouse told stories about her experiences with sheep and how much she wished God didn’t compare her with sheep, which are downright stupid, helpless, and stubborn animals. She really got me when she wrote the following lines on page 145:

My preference–and my default mode–is to go on believing I am mostly good, just occasionally misguided. It is soothing to me, this illusion that I am not small and insignificant…that I am not undisciplined and unprincipled….that the core of my character is not at all ugly or awkward or unseemly….

She helped me accept the fact that I am an awkward, stubborn, and helpless sheep that is loved, cared for, and protected by a good and gracious Shepherd. She helped me understand even better that, while God hates sin to the core, He loves the sinner, and more importantly, to those He calls His children, He does not rest nor does He get fazed by failure and trials until His kids are perfectly aligned to His will for them.  She made me crave grace and search for God’s sweetness without shoving it at my face. Grace, indeed, is beautiful. 🙂

Ms. Velthouse, thank you for sticking to God in spite of the struggle, and living on to write your story about His grace. 🙂

As for YOU reading this right now, go grab a copy of Craving Grace: the book every person who ever failed in life and searched for God and continues to seek revival and hope should read. 🙂

Special thanks to OMF Literature for publishing her book here in the Philippines! :) Our God is indeed Jehovah Jireh! :D

 

Happy Birthday, Girl in Purple Speedo

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Once upon a time, there was a little girl who didn’t know how to swim. Because of this, whenever she and her many cousins would swim, she wore floaters or salbabidas. One day, her family &  relatives vacationed  in a mansion in Laguna, and there, she and her cousins swam in the pool. The  little girl wanted to try out the new floater her Mommy brought for her  baby brother. It was a car, and swimming with  it made you look like you were driving…a car. 🙂 The little girl sandwiched her body in the floater car and  gave it a spin. In deep water.

Without her older cousins noticing her, the little girl swam towards the deep. She started kicking her legs, “steering” the car, and swimming farther into the deep. 5 feet….6 feet….she swam! everything was going smoothly until…

She kicked and steered too hard, so the floater flipped sideways, and eventually tumbled upside down. The little girl submerged in the water, and started to drown. She flapped her arms, struggled for air, screamed for help, but all her efforts failed her. Tears flowed from her eyes. For 8 seconds the little girl felt like it was the end of her world–until, suddenly….

Someone in a purple Speedo swam towards her, hugged her by the waist, and immediately plunged her up out of the deep water. Her savior calmly placed the little girl in the gutter as she continued crying. It took the little girl a while to calm down, and when she did, she faced her lifesaver: the beautiful girl in purple speedo. She was one of her many cousins.

As the years passed, the little girl learned how to swim and the girl in purple Speedo traded her one-piece for a bikini.  She and the little girl grew apart over the years because of geographical distance, but distance did not faze their love for each other and things they shared in common. The little girl found a fellow bookworm in her lifesaver, and shared her love for words. Last year,  they enjoyed watching Glee, Modern Family, SNL, and Big Bang Theory in the lifesaver’s house in San Jose. Another thing they have in common? They both have mothers (who happen to be sisters) who always reminded them to drink their vitamins and wear their “agimats” a.k.a Skalar Energy Necklaces (which they both found unfashionable). Admittedly, the little girl didn’t feel as close with her lifesaver as she did with her other cousins, but she and the girl in purple Speedo shared a unique bond. At least, that’s what she thinks.

Ate Trish, thank you for saving my life that fateful day in Villa Juliana. Thank you for handing me down your books. Thank you for teaching me to love others as they are–however different they may be. You showed your true colors even if at first I found it unnerving.  Beneath the cheetah trench coat, leather boots, and eyeliner is a beautiful & kindhearted person–a good friend and cousin who finished strong.

Thank you for the wonderful memories, Ate Trish.  One day, we’ll see each other again there in our Father’s Kingdom. We’ll hang out in each other’s mansions–watching  reruns of our favorite shows  (in clean versions), eat pizza, and write songs (for you) and stories (for me). We’ll be drinking Nikken water and wearing a more fashionable version of our agimats, aka, the Skalar Energy Pendants.

I love you, girl in Purple speedo. See you soon!

Love,
The little girl 🙂

(The eulogy I gave for my dear cousin, Trisha Jarlego Solomon, last May 18, 2013)

Belated happy birthday from down here, cousin dearest. I know Heaven is a wonderful place. I’m actually quite jealous of you. You have no more struggles to go through, no more giants to contend with, no more pain to endure, and no more sadness to deal with. I (we) still have to deal with all that. But you know what’s even sadder? Dealing will all those things without you.

We weren’t really that close when you were still here. In fact, when I saw your photos back then on Facebook, I thought to myself, “What is she wearing?!”  You were weird and eccentric. Then later I realized: your weirdness and eccentricity is what makes you beautiful.

You were kind to everyone around you. Everyone. Even to Lola, no matter how many times she pesters you to eat (para may kasabay siya. HAHA). You weren’t a perfect daughter, but you were loving, thoughtful, and grateful nonetheless. You were a really good friend. I really wish we could have become better friends, but, again, I realized, I’ll see you up There really soon, so I wouldn’t really miss out on anything now, would I? 🙂

I’m sure if you were still here last week, you would have cried at the sudden and tragic passing of Cory Monteith. You were a Gleek to the core. Upon hearing of his death, I remembered you. I remembered how much you liked Glee and the story you told me when you met some of the cast members at a bar in SanFo. I thought to myself: 2 people, both young, beautiful, exceptionally talented, and yet, gone so soon. I know God has better plans, but sometimes I wish He would take out those plans on “less deserving” people, you know? The only thing I regret even more about Cory’s death was that he died alone. But you, Ate Trish, didn’t.

Your ever-loving mother told us how your friends ushered you into Heaven with a beautiful song. She told us she was really sad at your departure, but you (and God) assured her that she would be okay and that YOU would be  even more okay. She had the strength to let you go. During your memorial service here in Manila, our cousins and friends reminisced our memories we had with you growing up. I’m sure you heard all of that. We thank you for impacting our lives in a positive way.

Never judge a book by its cover. That’s the best lesson I learned from you. I sorry I judged you, thinking you have backslid and forgot your relationship with God. Perhaps at some point you did, but regardless of what you did, I still had no right to judge you, or anyone for that matter. I have ran away from God myself. Who am I to point my finger? You taught me to be real and authentic, even if it entails bearing the demeaning looks of others. You loved and respected people in spite of them. Just like Jesus, you befriended what society would consider as “outcasts.” You saw the beauty in life, and you translated that beauty through the spoken word and through music. I have your CD, by the way. I downloaded the songs to our iTunes so that I can hear your voice over and over again, as if you were singing next to me. I’m sure the Heavenly chorale is happy with you there. 🙂

Thank you for your life, cousin.

See you soon! 🙂

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By the way, this song is awesome. 🙂 #ForeverFave