Disappointment is HisAppointment

Which hurts more: not getting what you expected to receive or getting something you did not want and expect to receive?

Last time (the post before the most recent post) I mentioned about my exemption in my Chemistry finals. Well, guess what?

I wasn’t  exempted after all.

When my professor showed me my real grade this afternoon, I was shocked, devastated (though I hid my feelings pretty well or else I would have bawled in front of him) and…regretful. I did not realize until I saw my grade that I was flunking chem (at least in my standards, which are pretty high). I cannot believe I performed poorly in my favorite science. Now I’m starting to think maybe chemistry and I never really had…well, chemistry. 😐

By the power vested in me by the Holy Spirit, I was able to keep my cool and saltwater intact in my tear ducts as my friends came up to me and made sure I was okay. Thankfully I did not complain, but at that time and even a few hours later when I got home, I was on the verge of complaining about my sudden misfortune and blaming my professor for misreading my grade. I am still thinking twice if I should take the finals because I need to reach my 93% cut-off mark or more in order to maintain or slightly improve my grade. The fact that I’m already in summer mode and that I still have 2 finals left to ace (although I’m surprisingly exempted–for real–from the other exam, which is Math).

When disappointments come my way, I am always reminded of these 3 Biblical principles:

  1. Your response is your responsibility – Whenever we face something difficult, we can respond in one of two ways: remain bitter and allow it to sink in our system or surrender your hurts and burdens to God and allow Him to work for you.
  2. Romans 8:28 – God is in control of my life no matter what happens
  3. What you sow is what you reap

The last point was the most difficult principle to accept because it involved my past mistakes. I knew that I slacked off this semester and cut several classes. I spent more time studying my Facebook wall than my chemistry lessons. I may blame about anything such as the professor’s teaching style and personality, but I would never win because I fought unprepared. The second semester was an avenue for hard work, and when judgement day came, I failed.

Whenever we face difficult and unexpected situations, we feel tempted to complain, nag and harbor bitterness so much so that we quit the task, subject or work. After what happened to me today, I realized that the only cure to this kind of struggle is surrender and humility. Letting go does not mean letting it flutter until you can’t see it anymore; letting go means loosening your grip on loose and lifeless living and taking hold of quality life. Let God, because the power and the values itself come from Him. “Without Me, You are nothing.”

When the negative expectations come your way, remember that God must be calling you to have an appointment with Him. God speaks to those who take time to listen. Are you going to meet with Him? 😀

The Showroom

“Father, where are we going? I should be going back to my paper.”

Silently, He kept on walking until we reached a white bungalow surrounded by a vast  garden dotted with red and white carnations and  various colors of roses–my favorite flowers. Although I was glad He intervened in my hysteria over my paper that I cannot seem to write perfectly (which I always do), I was anxious about visiting another person’s showroom. Upon adopting a child, Father made him or her a showroom where He hammered away the nails, painted all the right, beautiful colors, exterminated all pests and embellished the entire house at the right places until perfection emanates from all its [showroom] angles.  Once He took me inside an extension room of twin brothers (they each had separate showrooms) where I learned how shallow my life was in my own little world back in “the real world” and how I was victimized by the world’s low expectations of me. I got mesmerized by the beautiful, exciting, disciplined and different lives on display across the red walls of the room that I vowed to step in the “rebelution” myself. Right now, though, all the passion and zeal contained in me two years ago slowly faded away as I encountered tough challenges. Maybe–just maybe–I wasn’t made to be that different at all. Father fumbled for the key in His  bag, and having found the right one, He unlocked the showroom and opened the door. “If I were you, I would forget about that paper for a while and enjoy this showroom. Leave your bag by the porch.” So He heard me after all. Although He did not intend to comfort me (or maybe He did because His tone was gentle),  for some reason His words brought consolation to my weary soul. I removed my heavy backpack and left it on the porch. I walked to the showroom frowning, but when I entered inside, I smiled. Make that beamed.

“This is my dream design!” The thick cement walls were painted white with a wooden design like old bungalows on a private beach. Vintage and femininity marked every item, painting, furniture piece, appliance and object that were neatly and correctly designated in different areas. A large, square colorful sketch on a canvas of my family of five–Dad, Mom, Josh and James–hung on the wall facing the door. “I always wanted a family painting in my house.” Below the gigantic picture were two pictures half the size of the first one which showed the beaming faces of my relatives from each parental side (the maternal side seemed smaller from afar, though, because we had to squeeze in all 20-plus of us while on the paternal side, we are only 11). I continued tinkering with accessories, toys and other objects that I had back at home which reminded me of my elementary and high school years: the glass plate I received in grade 4 for having the best-looking cubicle (only this time, the plate was marble and my name was engraved in Old English font) and the many 1st-place medals I won for Poetry Recitation, Storytelling, Singing with 3 other girls and memorizing and reciting five books of the Bible. My favorite part was the diploma display above all the other medals and certificates in a staircase style–the first one back in preschool was on the lowest stair, followed by the elementary diploma then the high school diploma. The empty case above the high school diploma inspired me all the more to work hard in college because I was only 3rd best in high school. After a minute passed, I walked to the adjacent area near the dining room where pictures attached in strings hung from the ceiling. Memories flooded my mind as I held each photograph: my firsthand experience in government under the Arroyo administration; the various retreats I’ve attended and enjoyed, my evolving style and physique (from “What was I thinking” to “I’m in my right mind now, thank you very much”); receiving my gadgets from my Dad; birthdays in hotels and fancy restaurants; roles in different plays, performing at the Araneta Coliseum during our church anniversary and so many other memories. After what seemed to be an hour or two of beholding this showroom–my showroom–I heard that deep yet gentle voice calling me from a not-so-distant room. I totally forgot about Father.

I followed the path of His voice and arrived at a small room. “Do you remember this, honey?” What He showed me awed me. I held a 3D and 4D LCD replica of my church’s previous architecture back when the main auditorium was smaller and was situated in the 4th floor. Inside the hall, it was dark, but light emanated from a stage where I saw a familiar man speaking.

“Oh, it’s Kuya Ryan! He used to be Jzone’s youth pastor.” His voice sounded exactly the same as if today was five years ago–February 25, 2006 to be exact. “I remember this very much Father! This was the time I became your daughter!” It was indeed a glorious time for Him and a comforting moment for me as I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart that day. Father hugged me tightly and at that moment all the stress, fear and anxiety I stuffed inside me vanished. Finally, I was free. I cried in His arms, mumbling sincere confessions and breathing deeply every once in a while. After a few minutes, I let go, wiped off my tears and smiled. I looked up to Him and saw that He did exactly the same. He cried when I cried. I couldn’t be any more joyful.

“I saw a while ago that you’ve enjoyed My design for you. But that’s not the best part.” He closed the windows and shut off the lights until the room was pitch black. He switched on the light and suddenly, stars appeared on the ceiling.

“The dark room!” I exclaimed. It was indeed wonderful. The pictures floating in midair seemed to be generated by some highly advanced computer software where the people in them moved. I watched the photos intently as they passed before me. Each passing scenario flashed a moment when I encouraged someone in one of many ways: staying up late to help a brother with his homework; nursing my Mom when she was sick; listened to a friend who was burdened with so many problems; or simply smiling to a child along the street.

“Don’t you ever dare say you are insignificant, child, because if it weren’t for you, these people would have missed out on the most important person in their lives: Me.”

“But Father, you were the one Who sought them out. I mean, You  died on the cross,not me.”

“But you let yourself be used by Me. I want people to be members of my team. You stepped outside your comfort zone and bravely shared My Word to broken people in spite your fear and own problems. You depended on Me every step of the way. And I commend you for that.” Immediately Father switched on the lights and the images disappeared. I looked past Him and saw an unpainted wooden door with  “Progress” written on it. “What is that room, Father?”

“That needs yet to be furnished. If you continue to trust Me, this showroom–and in the future, a house–would grow more beautiful than it already is.”

Wow. More beautiful. Anything far more beautiful than what I just saw exceeds the capacity of my imagination. “But why is the door different? I mean, it’s so shabby and holed.”

Father looked at the door, then at me. “Everything you saw a while ago and the things I plan to do in the future are all made with joy. Once the termites set in, they start corrupting.” I looked down and knew exactly what He was talking about. Why didn’t I think of that? Worry should have no place in my life.

Before I could even ask Him more questions, the house vibrated. I wished it didn’t, but I knew that we had work to do. This was Father’s workplace. “It’s time to go back now, my child. Do not be troubled. I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. I love you.”

“I love you too, Daddy.” The showroom faded into black and then into my room. I stopped my vibrating phone and looked at my word-free paper in front of me. Finally I can write a creative narrative of my life–perfect, just the way I like it. 🙂


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.

Twice Rejected

“God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.”

– o – o – o – o – o – o – o – o – o –

When a student steps in his senior year of high school, he usually hears 2 prominent questions being thrown at him:

  1. “Where are you going to study for college? &
  2. “What course are you going to take?”

I am no exception. Whenever people ask me these questions, my answers are ready and “overscratched” like old CDs.

“UP Diliman or Ateneo de Manila. Course? BroadCom [Broadcast Communication] in UP, AB Com in ADMU.”

Sometimes I would include “UA&P, course Integrated Marketing and Communications.” I rarely verbalize La Salle. Not that I find it bad, but not as good as the former three. (In spite of my bias, I hold great respect for all current and former students of La Salle, especially my friends and relatives.)

With a heart set for what its master wants, I applied for all four schools and took all four tests. Ranking it from 1-4, 4 being the hardest, I would say: La Salle, UA&P, UP, ADMU. Because of my “personal rank,” (which I realized later on was soo foolish of me to do) I was quite confident I would pass all four. Not to mention I indicated quota courses in all schools.

The months pass, the good times roll. I was doing great in school (I was 2nd honor last quarter–first ever in my entire life!), ministry, family, and friends. Christmas was awesome, vacation was awesome, I got lots of money. Then the new year kicked in. News of entrance exam results spread like wildfire. Students flock computers and websites take ages to load (or maybe it was just Ateneo! :D). The first two weeks of January were still okay because DLSU and UA&P results came in early. In fact, UA&P sent me a personal letter on Christmas Eve. I passed both schools! Yes, praise God indeed! But I was not too ecstatic. I begin to get nervous. I was still awaiting the two heavier, better universities.

The Ateneo Admissions Office released the ACET results at exactly 1 PM last Saturday, January 16, 2010. I nervously typed my 4-worded name. Thanks to the busy server, I had ample time to inhale all the air and exhale all the anxiety.


“Sorry, your name is not on the list…….”

I refreshed the page. To check if this was indeed the 2010 result, I typed my classmate’s name. Then….boom.

He passed.

Did I tell you I was fasting that day? By God’s grace and constant reminder, I did not harbor jealousy against this close classmate of mine who also happens to be my best friend in school since second grade. I can say, with a smile on my face, that I was genuinely happy for him. He deserves it.

But since I did not pass, I felt differently. Suddenly I realized the gravity of the test results. Questions race in my mind. “Does that mean I’m not that smart than people say I am? Did I go bonkers on my essay?” Unfortunately, answers were unavailable. I could only take a deep breath, let it go, and accept the hard facts. My hopes for passing the UPCAT waned. And just as any non-“passee” would think, I thought of facts that would justify my failure to pass. “Malayo naman ang Ateneo at UP. Ayaw ni mommy na mag-commute ako ng ganun kalayo. Mangangapa ako sa kaka-commute. Mas mabuti nang sa UA&P kahit mahal, o sa La Salle kahit….hindi ko gusto.” 😦

Then another week passes. This time, more results. More bad news.

My name was not on the UPCAT passers too.

Thankfully I’m not the other desperate and dedicated seniors who really mope over the “destruction of their lifelong dreams,” but I was just as sad. I can remember my dad, coming home from work, excited to view the results. I can also imagine the gloom that covered his face. Although he didn’t mope (none of us did!), I can tell they were sad. Somehow, as the eldest daughter whose known for making her parents proud, I felt I let them down. I felt sorry for my dad. He patiently and lovingly accompanied me to all the 4 schools when I took the test, skipped work just so I can apply, and even treated me to a delicious meal afterwards. He wanted me to go to Ateneo. I did my best to hide my sadness that day by laughing constantly and watching other more intelligent kids play their instruments. :)))) (Bio channel–world’s greatest musical prodigies)

The following day after the not-so-shocking revelation of me not passsing UP, I cried out to the LORD. I cried not because I didn’t get into my dream school or that He didn’t let me in. I cried because I realized how awful the stench of my character really is. God opposed my pride. He opened my eyes by closing the doors I believe to be opportunity. People always tell me, “Kaya mo yan! Mapapasa mo yan.” Not that I blame them, but this statement led me to believe I can actually pass all four tests without working up a sweat. I mean, I did not attend review classes (even if I knew I should) and I did not take reviewing seriously. And again, I was mistaken. No pain, No gain.

In spite of all the failures and mistakes I’ve committed, I praise my Savior, Jesus. I can hear Him telling me, “I don’t want to oppose you! I want to give you as much grace as you need, but you won’t let Me. You know that your pride and I don’t get along.” I thank Him for sparing me from the more painful chastenings I can undergo have I not realized my mistakes early on.

Lord Jesus, thank You. Right now, I still got problems. I like UA&P over DLSU, but not as much as ADMU or UP. I have two reasonable reasons:

1. UA&P is 5 times more expensive than my present school. That’s the annual fee. Multiply that by 5 again, and add thousands of pesoses. That’s my entire college fee.

2. I’ve never really dreamed to go to La Salle. Reasonable enough. 😀

So now I’ve got a new prayer. Lord, if you want me to go to UA&P, please provide the finances we need, and please teach me to be content with whatsoever I have. If you want me to go to La Salle, please give me a heart to see your grace and hand in it. Even if mine are not so in to it. And of course, give my parents wisdom and understanding.”

Farewell Ateneo. Farewell UP. Guess we’re not meant for each other.