[2011 Recap] Highlights Part 1

(Belated) Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!

Please do pardon my inactivity the past several days. Christmas and birthday parties, meetings, and shopping activities left and right flooded my schedule. My body clock also changed drastically to the point that 2 AM is the new early (because sleeping is too mainstream :D). Oh and don’t even get me started with the food. I don’t think our refrigerator was never not brimming with delicacies and viands the past several days. Christmas has gotten the best of us!

Can I just say how grateful I am? Truly, truly grateful.

This year was super. Nah, I didn’t feed a hundred hungry children with my  money or located one’s missing pet. But through grace and the working of my Lord Jesus Christ, I was privileged to feed spiritual food to hundreds of people and lead them to Jesus. I myself was fed and found by my Savior when I got sidetracked more than once. More than twice. Yep, lots of times.

2011–my 2011–was super.

Here are the top 7 reasons that made it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.  🙂

“It ain’t the end of the world!!!”

Although I’m not a huge fan of Jay Sean, I shared his sentiments in his song “2012” last May 21, 2011. Lest you have forgotten what occurred (or did not occur) on that Saturday, then maybe the name Harold Camping would jog your memory. How about Doomsday? End of the world? Turned out it wasn’t the end of the world…well, not yet, at least.

I was so thankful that I was blessed with more time to invest for eternity. 🙂 Although “the world is full of tribulation,” as Jesus said, I am thankful to Him for giving me more time to grow as a person–and you as well! So whoever said that the world will end sometime 2012,

I still plan on graduating. And I will. Hopefully by 2013 or  2014. 😀

Hate-and-love relationship with my body and with food and ended up loving both

There was never a year in my past 17 years of existence when I have struggled intensely with my body than 2011. However stressing this struggle might have been to me, I still consider it a blessing for three reasons:

  1. I drew closer to my Heavenly Father and bonded with Him in the process.
  2. I experienced His grace. I finally learnt what other people meant when they said that God’s grace is awesome. And it is! 🙂
  3. I learned to love food the right way and the food I should prioritize: the spiritual.

Frankly, I still struggle with my body and food.  Jesus never promised me a bed of roses after all. I am doing my best to keep it fit and in good shape by making healthy food choices and exercising regularly. If I put my guard down, I can be overweight, but I don’t think I will ever be anorexic or bulimic because I just love food too much! 😀 (Never lost my appetite even when I was sick) Because I also discovered a passion for cooking (another blessing!), I get to prepare meals healthily and enjoy them with family and friends. 🙂

New school, new relationships, fresh new insights and knowledge

The main reason I transferred university was time constraints. We–Dad, Mom, and I–thought that our family would migrate to the United States of America by the end of my 1st semester.

Clearly, God had other reasons because after a semester and 2 months, we’re still here. 🙂

I believe one of those reasons is that I could meet new wonderful people whom I can establish relationships with and go through an okay semester. People I can listen to and vice versa; boys and girls who, like me, are perfectly imperfect and in need of heavy doses of grace.

Thank you for making me laugh, smile, study hard (so I can teach others, haha), and sharing meals with me in and out of class. You may not know this, but you taught me a lot on dealing with people from diverse backgrounds and with differing personalities.

Another reason I’m thinking God allowed me to transfer schools is so I could face realities I was good at running away from: accounting, basic law, school uniform, and evening classes. (6-9 pM, twice a week–waddup?!)

More hosting and storytelling opportunities

Tron motif hosting

at my high school friend, Camille’s debut

telling about Naaman’s story during Summer Adventure (May 2011)

hosted with my cousin, Miko, during our high school’s talent night

a short spiel with my cousins at our aunt’s birthday last December 13

The gift of speaking is one God-given possession that I take seriously, use correctly, and ameliorate constantly because I know lives are at stake–mine and those around me. More importantly, I want to be able to hear from my Lord and Master, the words every servant is dying to hear:

“Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

So if you’re in Metro Manila and you are in need of a host for your party or a storyteller for your outreach program, contact me! talamjenny@gmail.com 😀 chos biglang nag plug

Jedi

If you chanced upon my blog around September, you would have probably met my gorgeous, then 2-month old puppy and prince, Jedi. He is a bundle of joy to our family even if he was the primary cause of my mom’s asthma.

When he was brought to us by mom’s friend and her husband, he fit perfectly in a small box. He was about the size of a small pillow and, if you’ve got well toned biceps and triceps, can be carried with one hand. My brothers and I huddled quietly around him as he slept peacefully in his basket or underneath our sofa. I delighted whenever he ran and slipped, then rose to his furry paws and ran again. To say that Jedi was cute was an understatement.

Although he spent most of his days at my grandmother’s house (his official master), I watched Jedi grow, and boy, did he grow quickly. I smiled when he smiled at me (or at least that’s what I thought he did). Whenever I used our Air Climber, I saw him bark at me angrily and run far away from me because (I learned later) he disliked vacuum sounds. Even if he peed and pooped wherever he wanted, I still loved him because I knew he is still naive. And even if he’s doing absolutely nothing, one look at him makes me smile and gush about his adorableness.

Only lately have I realized that in some ways, what  I have felt for Jedi is what I believe God feels about me as His daughter. He watched me grow–and made me grow! He smiled whenever I smiled at Him and especially if I caught up with His commands. Instead of looking at me condemningly because of my sins, He sees His Son’s righteousness in me and smiles, confident of the fact that I belong to Him. He knows my weaknesses; He remembers that I am dust. 🙂

But just as I undergo training, I believe Jedi must also undergo dog boot camp. And I’ll be needing the help of Cesar Milan. Haha!

Let’s take a breather. I fear overwhelming you with words and photos! o___o

Part 2 coming right up. 🙂

Where Will Happiness Strike Next? Coca-Cola Phils’ The OFW Project

In case you don’t know, I am a marketing student–a business administration-majoring-in-marketing-management student to be exact. We recently concluded the preliminary portion of  all our classes but I’ve already learned a lot in my marketing class. My professor, Dr. Leonardo Garcia or Dr. “Nards” as we all called him, taught at a fast pace and I am getting the idea that I need to do a lot of speed reading and mental running if I wish to pass his subject with flying colors. 🙂 One of the main topics of our discussion is about the corporate social responsibility or CSR of companies. Gone are the days when marketers are only concerned with producing goods and selling them to customers who don’t know what to do with their money. In fact today, customers set the tone and trend for products that marketers must keep up with them! This reality calls for speed, innovation, creativity, and resourcefulness, as well as ethics and social responsibility.

In connection with CSR, I want to share with you guys this video/project that Coca-Cola Philippines created. I believe other countries are doing the same thing, but of course, no other campaign on happiness would touch your heart the best than one that involves your fellowmen. The first time I saw this, I cried. 😉 Somehow, even for just 4 minutes, I heard what overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) really, really wanted and felt even a tinge of their emotional burden. I bet if they’re earning here in the Philippines what they are earning abroad, they wouldn’t want to fly to distant countries. For parents, it’s heartbreaking not to witness the growth of your children (my Dad himself said it; he’s glad he witnessed ours). For young single children, it’s just as heartbreaking not to live beside your old, and sometimes, even sick, parents and also witness the growth of your younger siblings.

After watching this video, I embraced my role as a marketing student all the more. If this is what I am tasked to do–reconnecting separated families and making Christmases memorable–then I’m game. Living the line with joy is what I aim to do, after all. 😉 (naks may tagline din ako hahaha)

 

Sembreak Part 1: Classic Boracay Vacay

It wasn’t too long ago when I first watched Sound of Music. My Dad bought a DVD of the said film and told me I should watch it because it was a classic. Without  completely understanding what a classic movie is, I obeyed. After being completely engrossed with the Von Trapp family and Fraulein Maria and learning the basic musical notes for 2 hours, I distinguished a classic movie from all the other types. A classic movie was one with an intermission. 😀

At first I was surprised. What was an intermission? Why can’t we just rush headlong to the rest of the movie? And of all the scenes to disrupt with an intermission, why the climax? My Mom who watched beside me then told me it was a pause because the movie was actually a musical play  turned into a movie and in plays, intermissions gave the actors and actresses an opportunity to rest and the audience to go to the restrooms. My immature mind did not process the pause pretty well, but somehow I managed to wait patiently in our sofa. (My immature mind also failed to remind me that I was not inside a theatre at that time and our DVD player had a fast forward button. Oh well)

For now, I’ll put aside my Sound Of Music encounter and introduce a new one with breathtaking nature and sights in the beautiful island of Boracay. Five years lapsed since I last visited the island in the mid-eastern part of the Visayan area.  A lot has changed since my last trip, especially my memory, so much so that all I remember was my braided hair, our island hopping, and me bringing home a sample of the white sand (as well as the memories stored in photos). Thankfully God gave me the opportunity to make new memories with family and relatives (our balikbayan from Australia).

As much as I enjoyed our three-day vacation, I cannot attest to its perfection. Like there’s a perfect getaway, really. Setbacks were inevitable. Our outgoing flight from Manila was delayed by forty-five minutes. As for outgoing flight from Kalibo, Aklan, it was moved two hours earlier than the appointed time so we left Boracay early in the morning. 😦 I learned to take it all in stride and with a grateful heart, not allowing these circumstances to dampen my joy. Indeed, I experienced a vacation devoid of city noise and full of nature and delicious (albeit quite pricey) food–a vacation I’ve never had in months.

see, I’m smiling? 🙂

Admittedly, I expected Boracay’s quality in terms of cleanliness and splendor to be diminished because of the rumors I heard that the sand and the water was not as clean as they used to be. The thing about rumors is, they are 99% fiction and 1% imagination which is usually vain and fictitious in nature. The water was anything but murky and trashed. In fact, it was crystal clean and blue. The sand was white, soft, and pillowy and the sky blue, clear, and embellished with fluffy clouds. If I brought a printer with me and printed the photos my Dad took, I would have made several postcards and people who bought them would think the photos were Photoshopped. The people who posed with nature needed editing, but not the background. I appreciated the sky more than ever during our vacay–its seeming “nearness” to me, the way it reflected orange, yellow, red, pink, and white lights, and its purity (free from city smoke).

Then of course, there was the beach. This time, though, I needed not to take home a sample of the sand because the memory of the sand’s texture embedded itself permanently in my brain. Of all the parts in my body, my feet enjoyed the sand as I walked barefoot most of the time. Who needs a foot spa when you can relax and exfoliate your feet at the same time as they come in contact with Boracay sand?

And who could forget the food we ate? They were not extraordinary or expensive, but since I ate out of hunger and enjoyed happy conversations with a cool family, they became extraordinarily delicious. I ate a mozarella and mushroom burger (after several months), squid adobo, pork kare-kare (the first time I ate quite a good portion), tempura, sweet-and-sour squid to name a few. On our second (and last) night, my cousin, Jaemie, craved for buko (Philippine coconut). With my classmate, Gemma, who happened to be staying in the island on the same days as ours (her holiday there was longer, though), Jaemie and I drank about 2 glasses of buko juice and ate the buko‘s meat.

One of the best moments I spent in Boracay I spent alone with God in the early morn. I read Psalm 19 prior to my walk, and I felt the psalmist David speaking directly to me. 🙂

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. They have no speech, they use no words;  no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

(Psalm 19:1, 3-5, NIV)

The sun indeed behaved like a joyful and nervous bridegroom watching his bride walk down the aisle; its rays were diffused by the giant clouds hovering in the sky so the temperature was not warm. The best man was also present: a short but noticeable rainbow. As I slowly scanned the scene around me, I thought to myself: how beautiful and indescribably gorgeous Heaven must be! My heart once again longed for Paradise, but then, as I stood on the shore and felt the cool breeze wrap my face, I breathed a thank you to the Creator of Boracay and all things beautiful.

Just like the Sound of Music, our Boracay vacation this year was a classic, and even more than that: it was an intermission in itself. As I meditated on intermission, I learned of its purpose. The intermission does not detach the audience from what they have already seen. As a matter of fact, it helps a confused child (such as yours truly) connect the dots, identify with his favourite characters, make meaning out of a wise saying, or ask his or her parent what they will be having for lunch or dinner. The intermission somehow makes the viewer ready and excited for what’s coming without spoiling the grand finale.

And today I realized, my 3-day vacation in Boracay served the same purpose: a preparation for what’s coming. A breather. A momentary period to eat voluminous amounts of food without counting the calories; to  swim under the morning heat even if I end up two shades darker; to gaze at the stars at night and count them without dozing off; to have a Godly reminder painted on my arm, pose for the camera in scenic backgrounds, and experience the joy of flying even domestically. Most importantly, my vacation provided me an opportunity to reconnect with my Creator and Father in a relaxing and awe-striking way. 🙂 I don’t boast about my country having a beautiful island such as Boracay; I gladly boast about my Creator, Savior, and Lord Who knows exactly how many grains of sand dot Boracay’s shore and the names of every star in the sky and every galaxy named and unnamed. This is my God.

The classic vacation shall be resumed in several hours…or days. 😐

Part 2 coming right up.

In the meantime, do The Lifeline jump!

Watching God Be Awesome

OLA! 🙂

I know I have some explaining to do for my absence for more than a week, and it is this:

FINAL EXAMS. o________o

Surprisingly, the ill-treated “hellweek” did not seem like hellweek at all (at least to me) because I went out almost everyday with family and our balikbayan relatives from Australia. (For foreign readers, a balikbayan is a true-blooded Filipino who currently resides in a foreign country but goes home every once in a while–usually every few years–to spend vacation) The arrival of our relatives, the Dela Peñas, is the surprise news my Mom told me about 2 weeks and I shared with you guys in this post. Their vacation and my finals week falling on the same week is no coincidence and would teach me how to balance my time well.

Saturday, October 8,2011

Our relatives, the Dela Peña family, arrived from Sydney! The parents of both families are making the most out of the Dela Peña’s 2-week vacation and our (that’s me and my bros) 2-week sembreak so I’m stoked! Since our balikbayans arrived at night, we all reserved our extra energies for the next day.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Apparently the Filipinos abroad are more eager to watch noontime shows than most Filipinos living in their native land. Or maybe that’s just our family. Actually we do watch noontime shows (in fact our day won’t be complete without laughing to the antics of  the famous triumvirate Tito, Vic, and Joey and an emerging trio Jose, Wally, and Paolo) so obviously I’m talking about the show of the opposite network. 😀 For the sake of our balikbayans who are avid TFC fans, we went to the studio of ASAP Rocks for a live show.

Luis Manzano ❤ hihi, Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 4th Runner up Venus Raj, Kim Chiu, and Jericho Rosales

Kitchen Musical stars Christian Bautista and Karylle getting their groove on

Robi Domingo and Enchong DeePrincess of All Media Anne Curtis-Smith

Biggest Loser Philippine Edition grand finalists. Larry, the guy in the middle, is the grand champion. He lost about 114 pounds, man! 🙂

Birthday boy Erik Santos

the Dela Peña fam–Tita Melissa, Tito John, Jaemie! (Jed’s not seen here though)

Androgyny

Although the show wasn’t finished yet, we left at exactly 3 PM, prompted by our growling stomachs. 🙂 Dad (who took all these beautiful photos–thanks Dad!) drove us to Rockwell. A balikbayan escapade would not be complete without savoring scrumptious Filipino meals, so we opted to eat at Cafe Via Mare (which did not disappoint). The food was truly worth the wait.

the adorable Jed

Later that evening, we brought the Dela Peñas to Greenbelt while our fam headed to CCF to attend the evening service. 🙂

Monday, 10 October 2011

The following morning, I attended my last lecture in Finance class. By the way, last Tuesday (October 4) we went to the Money Museum at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) which was fun. The trip inside the museum was not the funnest part; rather, the 10-minute walk from Harrison Plaza to BSP Gate 6 under the scorching 1-PM heat with my classmates. Thankfully I brought my Dad’s old iPhone with me that day to document our adventure. Again, thanks to my ever doting Daddy for bringing me, Chynna, Ate Jen, and Shai to BSP! I love you Dad!

that’s our professor right there levetating. Did I tell you he was the Vice President of his bank? 😉

(last 2 photos c/o my professor, Ron Reyes)

After the tour, I walked to Dad’s office located across CCP. Good thing I remembered the way there from the route of the Manila Bay Clean-up Run (only that time I wore rubber shoes. Heels aren’t so comfy to walk around with especially in Roxas Boulevard asphalt). Since I hadn’t taken my lunch yet, Dad treated me to Pancake House in Harbor View! Yay! I was so hungry I forgot to take a photo of my bacon and asparagus pasta, but I did take a photo of the yogurt with sliced walnuts. 🙂

Dad was such a gentleman that day (well, he always is). After treating me to lunch, we walked back to his office where he parked his car then he brought me to school since I still had one class in the afternoon. After my class, he called me and told me he’ll pick me up so we can go home together. 😉 Thanks, Dad!

Going back to  Monday, I received the 1st awesome news of the week. After accounting class, my professor called out a few names, one of which is mine, and ordered those people to remain. As the uncalled people left, I noticed that the remaining classmates of mine were the smart ones in accounting. I can’t believe I’m actually part of this group! When the last uncalled guy classmate left the room and closed the door, we remained silent and waited for our professor to speak. He broke the silence with these 6 sweet as honey from the comb words:

“You are exempted from the finals.”

I COULD NOT BELIEVE MY EARS. Accounting–of all subjects! 🙂 Although I did not get a flat 1 (but not lower than 1.5), I was overjoyed. I won’t get to take the final exam and still pass the course with a high grade! It was the break I prayed for. With the activities that surrounded me upon the arrival of our balikbayans, I did not know how to fit Finance + Accounting + Programming + Psychology + Statistics into my schedule in less than 7 days! But thank God He removed one subject of my list, and that was good enough for me. 🙂

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Allergic rhinitis attack! From my experience, only a 1-hour sleep either in the morning, afternoon, or both cured my incessant sneezes. Last Tuesday, however, my remedy did not seem to work. So from the moment I woke up until we and our relatives went to Star City that evening, I sneezed, wiped and pressed my nose, and sneezed again from time to time. 😐 Nevertheless, I enjoyed riding the roller coasters with Jaemie, but I wished the rides were as extreme as the rides in Six Flags in the US.

the My Binondo Girl-inspired ride 😀

Finally Dad had a photo! With Tito John


with Colo the iguana

After doing some shopping, screaming and laughing through 2 horror houses, laughing some more in the various rides, and posing for hundreds of photos again shot by my Daddy, we hungered for FOOD. 😀 KFC it was!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

I missed Psychology class because we relaxed ourselves in the newly opened ACE Water Spa in Kapitolyo Pasig. I enjoyed every minute of our relaxation! The facilities were clean and pleasing to the eyes. I especially loved the rainfall acupuncture. It did not hurt at all! What you do is you lie face down on the “bed,” placing your neck on a wooden pillow. (The facilities, by the way, are pools so we wore tight bathing suits) After pressing the button, torrential waters pour on your back and hind legs for 2 minutes. Jaemie and I also spent some time in the heated pools and the sauna after which we splashed our bodies with ice cold water. Unfortunately we were not permitted to bring cameras inside the spa so weren’t able to take photos. I do recommend ACE Water Spa for those of you who are looking for fun ways to relax! (There’s also one in Quezon City)

Later that evening, I hosted a talent show in my high school with my cousin, Miko. The talent show was inspired by Pilipinas Got Talent so my cousin and I were tasked to host ala Luis Manzano and Billy Crawford style. Since we hosted inside a church–Baptist to be exact–I don’t think we could not completely do justice to the superb hosting of the male celebrities. Nevertheless, we did well. Praise God! 🙂

Yesterday I took a break from the events and focused more on reviewing for pending final exams (I still have one exam this Saturday). Next week, sembreak officially begins! I cannot believe my parents would let me go to Boracay with them and my retreat in one week. Since the supposed vacation to the Visayan island fell on the same dates as my retreat, they let me choose: Bora or retreat? That was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, but I knew I had to put God first so I the retreat. This week, however, my parents rescheduled the Bora trip so that I can go to both trips! Woohoo! 🙂

While I spent some time alone in ACE Water Spa, I thought about everything I have been receiving this past week. “Lord, You are so good to me. I don’t deserve any of this.” Truth be told, there were days when I set aside my quiet time with God, thinking He’ll understand. Yet here He is, blessing me in ways I don’t expect. Why?

Because of Who God is. He is gracious. Also, He fulfills His promises to my parents when He said that He’ll bless them when they walk according to His ways, a command my parents are faithfully keeping. God is a lavish Rewarder. When the parents are rewarded, expect the children to receive some of the blessings as well.

I knew I had to change my response. Earlier this morning, I recommitted my heart to Jesus, letting Him take all of me. Peace and joy instantly filled my heart.

I look forward to the coming days not just because I’ll be having fun and spending time with family and friends, but because I’ll get to see God work marvelously even in the simple things. I’m always on the watch for His awesomeness. 🙂

Called To Account

Writing has always been and will always be my passion. When I was younger, I wrote inspirational essays and short stories on several pieces of A4 bond papers and afterwards stapled and shaped them into my own “book.” Back then I was my own publisher and my parents were my most avid readers. Today they still are my avid readers and I still dream of getting published (if only I can get my thoughts and ideas rearranged). The pen, as well as the keyboard, was my best friend, the English grammar my instructor, and choice literature my mentors.

Possessing a brain with a possibly larger right hemisphere, I have not grown to love numbers and analysis. I’ll admit that I’m pretty slow when I am tasked to correctly supply the proof with the rules of inference in syllogism. After struggling with geometry and logic in high school and 1st year of college respectively, I thought I was relieved from hurdling countless rules, postulates, and concepts relating to analysis and numbers. Unfortunately,  my struggle has just begun.

I knew from the moment I enlisted for that subject that I would experience difficulty liking and befriending Basic Accounting. Pardon my harshness, but I always viewed accounting as a boring and dull subject and field of expertise. In spite having this distorted misconception, I highly esteemed (and still esteem) accountants because they really are people who have the right to be called professionals thanks to their hard-earned licenses. However, I saw myself in a career which continuously pursues innovative and creative write-ups and projects–a feat accountants do not usually do. Thus, my resistance to the subject.

Yet no matter how much I tried to avoid analysis and accounting (I opted for health instead of accounting as an elective in high school), they just kept coming back to me as if to say, “Knowledge of us even in the lowest level is a must for every employee in the corporate world.” For real?! Unfortunately for me, I have a mom who thought the same way. She voluntarily accompanied me during my enrollment so that she could choose the subjects that I would be dealing with. If only she enrolled in the MBA program….

In my cranial shelves, accounting definitely belonged to this classification. It took me two weeks before I partially understood debit and credit and their effect on assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity. As I listed entries onto my journal last Thursday, I suddenly appreciated the numerous writing assignments and exercises in UA&P and MICA (my present Alma mater). I’d choose writing a handful of essays over journalizing,  posting to the ledger, and trial balancing anytime!

As I penned each digit in the rightmost columns of my journal, I realized something. There must be a reason why God allowed me to take accounting. As a matter of fact, I don’t have any English or communication subject this semester! “Okay, Lord, what are you trying to teach me?”

one of my most favorite reblogged Tumblr photos

At present, I am undergoing what I call a “knowledge and experience stretch.” What I have been running away from for so long I now have to face and conquer. I learned that in  God’s training program, He does not stop until each man (or woman) successfully completes a challenge he or she finds repulsive. It is one’s response to what he thinks is not good or proper for him that determines the depth of his character and spiritual maturity.

That Thursday evening, I braced myself for the next four months of nosebleeding, brain bleeding, and understanding accounting as well as principles of finance and law on obligations and contracts (yes, I am taking those subjects, too). Analysis is not just for accountants, bankers, and lawyers. Writers and artists need it, too. I know I do. 🙂

Images courtesy of Google Images