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The Passport to Introduction

I bent to the floor to grab my passport that fell out of my bag.  Just as soon as I rose, a gentle voice suddenly  sprang from the aircraft luggage compartment side, confidently threw conclusion about my nationality, “So, you are Filipino!”

“How did you know?”, I asked in awe.

“Your passport…” he replied, diffusing warmth with his smiles.

I looked at the front page of the thing in my hand, and it read, “PILIPINAS”.  I just smiled and asked him back, “And you? Can I know where you’re from?

He held his passport before my eyes so I can read.  Then, I knew he was Norwegian. We introduced ourselves to each other and comfortably began a warm-up conversation.  He was on a connecting flight in Bangkok from Vietnam, flying back home to Oslo, Norway via another connecting flight in Dubai. He visited his wife who at that time was based in Vietnam on a teaching mission. They have been happily married for two years, although they were not together the whole time because of the nature of her job. He was still in the university taking up nuclear (something-like-it-course) engineering and will be graduating soon.

Meanwhile, I was on a 5-day leisure trip in Thailand and that time was already flying back to Dubai. Every year I see to it that I visit new places, meet new people, immerse myself into new culture and discover a lot of new random things.  This is my way of relinquishing from all the not-so-good events that tend to shake me up during the year.

Thailand was magnificent! I was for several times mistaken by Thais to be their fellow.  They said I look like them. In my travels, I was always mistaken to be somebody else’s race, but not Filipino. Well, some said, I look like Thai, others- Indonesian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese – all these guesses are obviously because of my chinky eyes and nothing else.  Why do nobody mention Russian, British, Lebanese or European? Obviously again because my chunky, cute nose and brown skin are not predominant characteristics of these races.  That’s why when this new friend of mine concluded on my being a Filipino, I thought he was the real deal! How could he guess it right? Well, my Philippine passport did give him a quick guide to the correct answer!

What was so sweet was when he delivered a fine compliment on me, “You seem nice and very friendly and your English is really good.”  You bet, my smile fixed permanently on my face, clamped through to my ears. I responded the most grateful “thank you”, of course.  He further said, “All Filipinos are really nice and friendly.”  Then, you can imagine my thoughts…”hmmmm those compliments are actually generic!”

I asked him, “Have you been to the Philippines?”.  He said, “Yes!”.  Then, his story went on about his wonderful experience in the Philippines and his great admiration for the Filipinos.

First time in Camiguin Island

He told me about a certain Norwegian who went to Camiguin Island for an eco-tourism mission and who later organized their local ministry in the place.  They built a hotel that later housed tourists coming to visit Camiguin.  By word of mouth, the organization promoted the place in Norway and encouraged their people to spend their vacation in this beautiful island.  Since then, Norwegian tourists flock to Camiguin and stay in this resort.  Apart from indulging themselves in this place they call paradise, they were also swayed to volunteer in the mission. And, my new friend was one of those tourists who was mystified by the beauty of this island and its people.

He relayed his almost tragic first trip when he had to take the long land travel from Davao due to flight cancellations, weather was at that time uncooperative and there was this threat of Abu Sayyaf too.  Although he spent two long excruciating days to get to the island, what he saw on arrival was refreshing!  He adored the island so much that he fell in love with it, he had to look forward to coming back already. He stayed immersed in the place for some time and experience living with and like the locals.  He met these fisher folks and farmers whom the organization were in mission for.  Everyday he would roam around visiting families, meeting the men and women and children of every household.  He was amazed at how good the locals are conversing in English contrary to his experience with the Vietnamese who challenged him for a charade-like conversation.   He admired them for their resilience. He was in awe  at these people  who wear permanent smiles on their faces despite their somewhat miserable situation.  He added that they have strong faith in God.  They go to church relentlessly and trust in God’s providence for every day. They look content. They even know how to say grace over a plate of camote served on the table for their day’s meal. And, they love their family.

Norway on the contrary…

Norway is a rich country.  They’re one of the major oil suppliers in the world.  Because they are rich, they have zero-crime – no robbers, kidnappers, carnappers, killers, etc.  You leave your wallet anywhere, nobody will be interested in it. Children go to school for free – their government sustains them.  They are trained well in school and get a job as soon as they graduate.  Money is never a problem. They can afford to travel each year to other countries.  Life is generally easy. We perhaps thought that they are one bunch of lucky people on earth!  They are, indeed!

But wait!  Well, the truth is, they are all complicated individuals who don’t know and sometimes hardly appreciate the meaning of life. Suicide  rates in rich countries usually register higher compared to the poorer ones.  As a general observation, those people who lived easy are usually too weak to handle problems, they’d rather end their life than face them squarely.

Of course, they also have religion – predominantly Christian, but most are non-practicing. While this friend of mine believes in God and goes to church regularly, he said that in their country, mostly only old people patronize the church. He further added his realization – that apparently, when we have everything in life, we forget to call on God because our situation do not prompt us to need God in our life. He cited the Filipinos for their faith. They may be less fortunate but it is their being underprivileged that made them cling tightly to the grace of God.

I have great admiration for this Norwegian friend of mine.  He has exceptional love for life and showed a deep sense of social awareness.

My realization

We perhaps think that the wealthy are the luckiest and happiest people on earth, perhaps they are in some respect.  But, as I gather my thoughts after our instant sharing,  coming from one wealthy tourist, I can honestly say that we, who have less in life are in fact those who have so much heart to celebrate life.  We have been made rich by our experiences, from  the real challenging roles we play as we journey along real people, trusting in our real God.

Examining myself within, I began to feel great zest and appreciation for my life and my being a Filipino. Looking back, I felt affirmed by my own challenges too which I had to go through at a young age. I come to a realization that all those hardships in life were my secret weapon to my sweet success.  It strengthened my faith in God.  And, perhaps things would be different had I been born with a silver spoon in my mouth. If I had, I perhaps lost sight of the deeper meaning of life and easily give up on the hardest trials in my life.

I am always proud of my country, but now, I am prouder than ever!  How many of us acknowledge our greatness? I think, we should always be as even other nationalities look at us with great respect and beyond fortunate to live in this beautiful paradise.

His commitment to come back

My new friend plans to go back to Camiguin every year to keep up with his little mission together with his other fellow missionaries.  Meantime, he continues to promote Camiguin, Philippines to the Norwegians.  This way he could also share his wonderful experience in the Philippines and the amazing Filipino spirit.

We have discussed a lot but we were still half-way through to our destination.  We agreed to cut-short our sharing of thoughts because our physical body need some short rejuvenation.

Finally, before I rested, I recognized a different feeling of elation.  I feel rich and happy. I was so blessed that I met my new Norwegian friend.

And, by the way, his name is Kristian and he is a Christian!

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I always look forward to Holy Week each year. For me, it is one complete  season in itself – full of emotional ups and downs, a truly perfect moment to reflect on our own individual Passion too. 

Easter of 1997…..and this is my reflection….


Our life is…..

Like the leaves of a tree that placidly sway
Dancing with the wind in its sweet melody
They die and wither, they fall to kiss the earth
Returning to rest in the grounds of its birth.

Like the water in the river that gently flows
Branching-out from the sea, tracing its route
Rushing, surging, overflowing the trails aligned
Emerging to its home, conquering to reunite.

Like the grain of rice that’s sown to grow
Conceiving life, from the seed it holds true
Some dried up and pounded to sustain life
Some buried and sprouted to offer another sacrifice.

So, let it be that…..

The source of our strength is the Big Branch
That holds us tightly and from Thee we attach
Though we stumble, until existence perishes
Delighted are we, to meet the root that nourishes.

The source of our strength is the Boundless Ocean
A journey with the wellspring, a mending of vision
Sketching challenges, overpowering downfalls
And from a long quest, to Thee we plunge to repulse.

The source of our strength is the Risen Christ
Was once born, live with men to give light
Suffered, died on the cross, a Living Sacrifice
Rose on the third day to let us see eternal life.

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lalaki sa bintana

An amiable spirit, that’s what you are
Imbued with stirring thoughtfulness
My frail soul yearns for moments with you
And the warmth of your consoling embrace.

Upon the sights of romance around unfolds
I draw your gentle face in my imagination
Your eyes that follow mine seems in revere
I feel this sudden thrill! My heart’s in celebration!

Everywhere I face, I look for only you
I struggle to find you even in my dream
Through all the pages of my book I scan
Deem I might have missed you in the stream.

But I know one day you will be mine to hold
I shall just linger with the promise of my fate
For The One who knows what’s best for me
Had surely wrapped this someone as a gift.

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I see you and me

For my Best Friend, Mare, on her birthday!


I draw a lot of visions on my mind

I paint my dreams on a canvass

I see a lot of good promises unfold

I hint some not so good to pass.


In all those dreams I see you there

Chasing more dreams with me

Waiting for that bright star to come

While enjoying each other’s company.


I see you and me grow old together

Laughing over our sagging faces

Our knees may no longer be strong enough

But sure our spirit will be ever restless.


In my life, I see you always there

Because you are my only one true friend

I even thought we are really sisters

Just born from different wonderland!

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How will I know you really care

When distance between us is not so near?

But it seems that my memory never falter

The thought of you keeps us closer together.


How will I feel your tender touch

When we are both afraid to express it that much?

I am even afraid to look at you through the eyes

To hold your hand, I guess, would be unwise.


How will I know you love me too

When nothing so serious we talk about and do?

I could not further assume a mutual affection

I wish to hear you say your firm declaration.


But how can I say that this feeling is true

When your absence tends to get me down and blue?

I got to admit that I feel a little emptiness

Without you, my dear, this life seems a mess.

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(a poem of life’s reasons and our journey in faith, hope and love)


What’s with the clouds that make me smile?
It’s the soft feeling of a white cottony imagination
It’s the joyful formation of random visual characters
That actually signals the day’s truly bright aspiration.

What’s with the clouds that make me cry?
It’s that thick, heavy assembly blocking the light
Along with the racing lightning and roaring thunders
The rain releases all the tears of my aching heart.

What’s with the clouds that make me believe?
It’s that predictable image of a season to anticipate
The amazingly beautiful arrangement of nature
Just released my doubts and strengthens my faith.

What’s with the clouds that make me hope?
It’s that view I encounter flying close to its bed
That reminds me of the pain of leaving someone
And the assurance of a reunion joyfully anticipated.

What’s with the clouds that make me love?
It is the promise of bright days for a blooming flower
And the liberating, sparkling rainbow after the rain
That tells me, we all deserve second chances at forever.


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Lopota Lake edited-7

A lot of questions have been asked

Still hanging, still searching.

Life is really full of mysteries.

Each day’s a challenge

Yet each morning

Relinquishes new discoveries.

We meet people, befriend them

And with them,

We see life in its dramatic change

We experience God.

We learn to listen from within,

To touch and to reach out,

To open up our whole senses.

We learn to gratefully share.

We love.

Together, we witness

The unfolding of life’s mysteries.


Life is an endless journey.

Opt to journey with love

And life would be endless.

….just as Christ did.

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08Nov2014-19A recount of my unforgettable near-hit-and-run experience on January 28, 2010…

After one movie relaxation at the comfort of my bed, I decided to head down to Al Ansari Exchange to deposit money to my account and drop by the grocery –my cupboard was in a state of famine that time so I really have to drag myself out of my bed to do this task. It was a cold Thursday night but I thought of just packing myself with a warm shawl as when I walk I know I’d be burning calories and be feeling a little warmer, so a jacket was no longer necessary.

Walking alone had never been very boring for me. As I tread on my way, I usually engross myself with the usual sights and sounds of the things that I pass by. Walking keeps me re-connected to my surroundings – I notice a lot of things, analyze a lot of behavior, discover new subjects for my self-nurturing photography sessions and render some smiles to a number of people along the way. So, you realize here that this activity keeps my mind indeed so pre-occupied.

That night, I crossed the pedestrian lane in my usual route. I reached the far opposite end of the lane without so much hassle. The road was all clear! I have this fear of crossing the street and to me a clear way is already a big blessing. A lot of my friends could attest to this proclaimed phobia of mine. There, I was already standing on a pavement looking at the right side, waiting for those two cars to evaporate so I can cross another street again heading to the supermarket. That moment, I was completely unaware that at my left was a service road where vehicles are turning right to my direction. So, I took a step down the pavement and moved a little forward when suddenly I felt a side mirror swept my right hand holding my shawl. I felt the whooping pressure of the wind as the rushing Toyota Prado cut me. Truth is, I was literally 2 inches away from getting crushed on the road by that huge car! I missed to turn my head to the left so I did not notice that big car coming which I supposed the driver also overlooked the pedestrian.

I was stunned! I stood in the middle of the street for quite a while, my feet trembling, my hand that was hit, in pain. I realized that I was still alive! From 10 meters, the car stopped in hazard. I supposed he was looking at me, making sure that I was alright. When I noticed him, I kindly gestured that I was okay. I signaled him to go on, then. Driving away like 50 meters, he was still moving slow. Later I saw him, his hazard lights still on, stopped again and as if still gazing at my floating body walking towards the opposite road. There, I stopped and again signaled him to just go until he vanished from my eyesight.

Standing there, already safe at the opposite walkway pavement, I began to tremble and cry. I felt my tears. I tried to pinch myself to see and feel if I was really alive. “Yes, it’s not my ghost-self! “, I told myself. “God! I almost died tonight!”, I thought. That was quite a delayed reaction. I realized how close I was to losing my life because of one stupid decision I made. I acknowledged that it was generally my fault. But, that moment, still trembling, the only words I can utter were “Thank you Lord, thank you gid Lord!” I had never uttered anything else but just “Thank you Lord”.

I still continued with the task for the night. I walked through to Al Ansari and the supermarket, then, finished what was intended for me to do that evening.

Along the way again, I pondered on that traumatic experience. And as I thought about that near-death moment, I began to realize a lot of things:

  1. I believe, I have a Guardian Angel who never fail to protect me always. During that near-hit-and-run-possible-death moment, I felt something halted my feet to step forward. I was for a while frozen and nailed on the ground. That’s why, I was amazingly un-hurt!
  2. I was not really prepared to die. Everyone of us may see death as a natural thing to happen but it’s obviously human instinct to still hold on to life given the situation (well, at least for me). Then, I thought and prayed, “Not now, Lord”.
  3. When it’s not your time, it’s not your time! And, it was not my time yet! However, I still consider this my second life yet. I feel this deep gratitude to my God for protecting me in his arms against all harm. I’ve never been this thankful all my life!
  4. Looking forward, aside from the lessons and the refreshers on safety precaution, I sensed a more worthwhile perspective of life. I felt that I need to choose to be happy and kind always. I thought that I need to make other people happy to make them remember some good things about me when I die. For me, it is important that you leave a positive legacy and let people remember you for your good deeds when you’re already gone. So, I asked myself, have I been planting good deeds to others? Have I been a blessing to them?
  5. After that incident, I remember my loved ones and realize how I love them so much. I felt that sense of deep appreciation of their presence in my life – my family, my best friend, my friends and the one who calls me Pudayka (hehe!).
  6. When you are at the brink of death, what matters most are your relationships, not your money, nor the material things you have, but your loved ones – they are your reason for living.

And a lot more….

I was so tired that night. I felt like my whole body was fighting against the gravity of the earth.  But keeping the lessons of that experience, I shared that story with my housemates. And to ease the stress, I sat with them and shared nice conversations.

It was such a day! But, with so much gratitude in my heart, I thank you Lord for another life you extended for me to still enjoy and appreciate!


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Smiles that pull us close in shivering proximity
Inviting our spirit to dwell in each other’s company
Stares that strangely scan our deepest emotion
Feelings that leave us both in self-deception.

Cares and concern you show and accord
They touch our hearts, they leave us cold.
The stories, the laughters, the sentimental views
Conceiving instant guesses for our minds to subdue.

Many define it as mutual understanding
Inherent in both of us but absolutely uncertain
A matter of friendship, a qualified companion
Too much involved, with not much exaggerations.

Look at us now, we are deeply hurt and troubled
Trying to display the feeling but we’re still baffled
To hope is to wait, to wait because of love
Even if loving means waiting until the very bound.

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(A sweet escape on December 30, 2000| Mambukal Mountain Resort)


Both have been discretely on to expend their own clock
Theirs is a tragic, self-possessed and somewhat illicit affair
Yet sustains a no ordinary adventure
They call it Love Life!

So, once was a busy day for obsessions of social endeavors
A glimpse of weary souls flashed in their gloomy faces.
Truth was, they’ve been used up by anxiety
And stress of hiding from their own senses.

T’was like a plot, their way to get loose.
Taking every minute slowly, turning humidity to mountain breeze
They got up there, hoping to capture a leisurely pacifying view
Wishing to exclusively celebrate their temporary independence.

But surprise! There were the familiar visage of people
That told of their story and put a bet on unfounded suspicions.
That’s why, they’re back to their consciousness again.
But they’ve no way out, except to find their way in.

So, they escaped from their original destination
Keeping their feet to be masters of the route.
Wherever, whatever directions, they followed.
Together, they stride and traced those un-plotted sketches,
Taking every extraordinary view as account of their splendid adventure.

That was perfect! Things they really longed to happen.
At least they were alone with themselves.

Music was natural and sweet.
Rushing clear crystals, chirping of the birds in joyful jubilations…
Clashing of the bushes along with the whooping winds…
From a long walk, they could hear their heartbeats, competing with their busy steps.

At least, it was necessary to take a break.
However, they were trapped in the midst of thick greens
Both starved and needed a stopover.
Lo! A head-turning sight of a towering tree gently caught their senses.

It was a Firetree!!!

She wanted to see that and in her lifetime, she simply found it there!
And lo! They enjoyed a breath-taking landscape of the Lord’s hands.
So marvelous!!!

Most of all, they dwelt on the moment discovering a romantic panorama of each other.
He followed her eyes.
She melted at once but not long to wait for his gentle smiles again.
Their love manifested in the strong and solid bark of the Firetree fencing her back.

It was like fantasy!!!
They wished it wouldn’t end.
They prayed for love’s eternity.
Save it then, coz to choose is tough.

Time was up. Perhaps time was short yet memories drove them to forever.
At any moment the Firetree will disappear from their eyesight.
Hopefully when they come back, it will still be there.

Perhaps in years more, they’ll be strangers again as the Firetree would have already spread her wings.

She may go, he let’s go.
She will go to let go.
In letting go, they both grow in the end, in faith, in hope and in love.
Love will forever reside in their hearts because love found its home there
Both may journey separate lives
But in their lifetime, their finest remembrance is the Firetree.

You are my Firetree!

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Lopota Lake edited-3

I decided to stay late last night since I get weekend off anyway

I squandered every moment I can get to delve into my curiosity

Consumed by empathy in unraveling the unreal characters I watch

I tried to just fantasize a super frenzy escapade from out of scratch.


It’s Friday and I was supposed to relish lounging at my comfy bed

Suddenly a buzz halted my dream , my sleep was instantly disrupted

Now, I feel annoyingly lazy again and could no longer get back to rest

The whole day I rolled myself into the sheets, hoping to revive my zest.


While I hoped I was doing myself a favor, I thought of reinventing

What if instead of looking abstractly at the walls, I start daydreaming

That could be more fun, but i thought, I want to make it productive

I begin to rewind my real-life movie and found myself overly compulsive.


Then, huge questions begin to pop-out, challenging instant answers

What do you really want in life, what can make you extra happier?

I know happiness is a choice but is my choice giving me happiness?

Where are you heading to, how do you want to end your madness?


I crack on my bold and brewing issues, I acknowledged my vulnerability

But here I go again, afraid to confront the truth, denying every possibility

I squarely faced the consequence, I defied gravity while in this condition

I thought, I did great then, but today, I realized I’ve got a lot of questions.


It’s amazing how daydream works as I imagine a rich life ahead of me

Yes, I want to be rich, to buy whatever I want, to be totally debt-free

Some worthwhile things to do, I see myself doing for my community

Perhaps things could easily be done also if I certainly have lots of money.


I want to own a big farm where I can totally relax and settle down

I love the idea of lush greens and wonderful things growing around

To wake up in the natural scent of freshness and sweet sound of nature

These I think are God’s best gifts ever that mankind should be thankful for.


I am amazed by the thought of flying and being away from my home

I travelled to some places already, and I can tell, it’s a great diversion!

I want to travel around the world, to see life in a different perspective

To experience its real beauty and to become profoundly appreciative.


But in all these things I daydream, I imagine someone to spend these with

I see him beside me, he’s the one I choose to share this frenzy escapade

I can watch him already play the lead-role in my exclusive drama feature

Finally, my fairy tale story will end with “…and they live happily ever after”


Now, I know that my questions will be answered ‘til my dreams come true

I realized that in the end, all things don’t mean anything to me without you

So, I pray that God grant me the serenity to decipher his complicated will

To move on and live the wisdom behind the things that’s going to happen still.


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