Wednesday, August 11, 2010

East Asia Graduates Conference 2010 in Hong Kong

Travel light, travel with peace. This was what I put in mind with my first foreign trip for East Asia Graduates Conference (EAGC2010) held in Hong Kong. The trip was just less than two hours, same time zone, as if I was just travelling to Baguio City for a regular news coverage. I convinced myself that I need not fear despite travelling alone, because the God of shalom is in and with me.

The Philippine Delegates
The flight going to Hong Kong, considered to be the world’s freest economy, was smooth and easy. I never encountered interventions or difficulty at the immigration, which is opposite to some of Philippine delegates’ experience. Still, we met altogether at the Noah’s Ark, the venue for the 5-day conference, safe and sound. PTL! 

The conference was attended by at least 14 countries in East Asia. It’s a gathering of mix culture, a fiesta of uniqueness and diversity, indeed a real God’s assembly! Most of the delegates have physical resemblances. I was mistaken to be an Indonesian thrice, which connects me to my oriental roots, and directs me to the issue of national identity. It’s really hard to pinpoint one, particular identity for an archipelagic nation like the Philippines! But we’re not alone, other countries too!


In the session of Dr. Stephen Lee, an associate professor for Biblical Studies, he led me to re-affirm my identity in Christ, that by the grace and redemption of Jesus Christ, I am set apart, a chosen people, a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9). It is the Lord himself who called us to be who we are, to be who I am – a saint! This could antagonize some mainstream religious perspective of a saint, an issue of canonization, etcetera; but this is really who we are!

As a Christian graduate in the marketplace, I also learned that success does not equate to my significance. It doesn’t make me one when I am successful or not; my significance lies in the fact that I am a child of God.

I am struck with God’s word: “Anyone who sets himself up as religious by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion that passes muster before God the Father is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the Godless world.” (James 1:26-27, The Message) If I am a saint in the marketplace, my destiny is to be sanctified for a mission, that is, to be salt and light where I am, a pro-active, yet uncorrupted professional, despite all the temptations of the world. This is possible, and can be achieved even in your own distinct context.

The workshop “The role of Christian graduates in social movements and poverty” facilitated by Kuya Jose Silvestre Gonzales from the Philippines even enlightened the reason why the Lord puts me in the field of media. It reaffirms my commitment for social justice, truth and transparency. 

Showing the video clip of Efren Pe├▒aflorida, the CNN Hero of the Year for 2009, I was teary-eyed, not only because of the poor’s plight in their access to education, but because the Lord can work in the hearts of man, to effect change and impact the community.

Accordingly, “poverty is pronounced deprivation in well being. To be poor is to be hungry, to lack shelter and clothes, to be sick and not cared for, to be illiterate and not be schooled. Poor people live without fundamental freedom of action and choice that the better off take for granted.” But the most insidious kind of poverty is the poverty of hope. Take their hope, and the poor people become poorer as they don’t have anything to live up for.

I am a witness of this kind of poverty in my news gathering and coverage. Despite my objective approach to the reality of the scene, I am never numbed to feel what their hearts want to say. I won’t deny that more than once in my coverage, I just couldn’t help myself but shed tears for the picture of helplessness and hopelessness posed upon me. It is not easy to listen to their requests, to their pleas, as if I can do much. But I realized that it is exactly the reason why the Lord puts me where I am today.

In Mr. Mark Greene’s session, it is the strategic value of my work as a broadcast journalist that I must be grateful for. It is not mere reporting that I do, but I represent the Lord in the way I touch people’s heart, by listening, by empathizing, by triggering their dying hopes to come into full spirit. Indeed, every contact leaves a trace. 

I can therefore view my work as my ministry. This is my context where I can enhance and transform my mission, and love in action. It is true that the workplace consumes so much of our time, energy and focus; but it is also the place where we can beat the odds, develop and grow in holiness. The marketplace is part of God’s redemption where saints are sanctified for a mission.

With other tongue

My small group is composed of a cardiologist from Vietnam, a human resource personnel in a government hospital in Hong Kong, an accountant from Mongolia, a church worker from China, a once Korean soldier but now a teacher, and a former IT professional turned into coffee business from Hong Kong

We had different stories to learn from each other. But what is clear to us, I believe, is the fact that we are blessed to have work to bless others in return. Thanks for the presents and for sharing your stories!

Special Interest Group: Media

I had interesting interactions with delegates under the media group. Each country has a different view of the role and function of media in their country. For some countries, the Press is somehow controlled by their government, restricted, bounded by regulations. Others do not put high regard with the role of Media in nation building and good governance. Still quite few respect media as a powerful domain, a catalyst for social change and truth. In general and my personal POV, I regard media in the Philippines as highly respected and trusted by people. But I also believe that there is still a need to police the very ranks of the media, and guard its very essence as protected by the Constitution. (My apology and prerogative for not identifying the countries represented) 

Food, City Tour, Macau

The whole duration of the conference was like a fiesta! We were never starved of food. Even though I am not used to eating their food, I tasted almost everything. I liked their desserts, coffee and tea even more! J

In The Peak, you can see the majestic view of sky rise buildings of Hong Kong and its surroundings. It’s a picture of a First World country. But somehow in the conference, someone posed a question whether it is a reality or an illusion, because of the heightened disparity of the rich and the poor in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, it’s a blessed trip, mounted with great experiences and lessons learned.

After the conference, together with two families from the Philippines and another Philippine delegate, we went to Macau by ferry. It’s almost an hour trip. We’re blessed to be accompanied by Mr. Thomas of Macau. He toured us to various tourist and significant sites of Macau.

Macau’s grandiosity is magnified at night, with its splendid casino buildings covered by an array of lights. But of course, Macau is not all about casinos. There is much to see like the beach in Coloane, the Westin resort, Sai Van, the borders of Macau and Mainland China, the A-ma Temple, the busy, shopping streets, among others. Honestly, I like Macau’s friendliness than Hong Kong’s. J

The favor of the Lord does not end there. We experienced His grace when we were boarding at the ferry to get back to Hong Kong the day after. We didn’t have enough HK dollar for two ferry tickets, and we failed to change our US dollars at the money changer because it was still closed. I realized we’re too early for the 7am trip, but we needed that early trip because our group in Hong Kong was waiting for us. I believed it's God’s intervention that somebody had to sell his ticket for us at a cheaper price, therefore, completing the fare we needed to buy two tickets. The moment we reached Hong Kong’s terminal, I quickly searched for the money changer, and bartered my remaining US Dollars. There I felt that the money in my wallet already had a buying power! Haha

The last day in Hong Kong

My last day in Hong Kong was the shopping day! It’s innate for Filipinos to buy something for their family, friends and officemates. We call it PASALUBONG. No matter how simple the pasulobong is, the receiver will always be thankful and happy to have one. Of course, I couldn’t be gracious and loving to all by giving everyone a pasalubong. Budgetary constraints so to speak, hehe.

But I am giving those who haven’t received a pasalubong from me my stories: how the Lord has blessed my trip, how He directed my path to realize my role as a Christian graduate, how the Lord works in and through the saints from every tongue and tribe, and how every Christian graduate can be sanctified for a mission in the marketplace. Allow me also to thank those who support my EAGC trip, financially and prayerfully. Thank you and God bless you steadfastly. Pray with me as well as I continue to discern the plans of the Lord for me, regarding my work and ministry opportunities.

By the way, Hong Kong and Macau are two rich countries. But I think my heart’s beating belongs to someone of a Pinay beauty! Just kiddingJ

Mabuhay and God bless! † 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Run for a Cause

I was one of the last registrants for the 34th Milo Marathon in Dagupan City. It was only for the favor of a friend’s  friend who happened to be part of the organizing team of the marathon that I was officially registered in the 10k category. I preferred that category, first, because there’s no more available shirt for 5K that suited me, and second, I thought 10k was just enough for me.

I was so excited to run, jog, and walk that I slept late. I’ve got only 4 hours sleep before the run. I was at the assembly at 5:30am, and I felt so young surrounded by youngsters. I didn’t know where to go, where to place my backpack. Thanks to the foreigner, an Iranian I guessed, who directed me to the assembly where the 10K runners were located. I pinned my bib number 10225 quickly and looked for my place. At exactly 6am, we’re all running…

It was never my goal to win the marathon. I definitely knew that I cannot outsmart and outrun those policemen, army, and real marathoners. I just wanted to run, to participate and help give shoes to less fortunate children. I just wanted to celebrate that Sunday for a cause. And yes, it’s also my father’s birthday! (July 11)

There were funny moments during the run. Few meters away from the starting line, policemen and even, women, had to hide from a safe corner to pee along the Lucao-Pantal-Dawel diversion road. They didn’t mind the hundreds of runners passing through them. I, myself, had to catch the perfect timing and place where I could pee.

Because I ran alone, there were times that I had to be in cadence to other runners. I wanted to talk to my fellow runners. Then I came to know that some runners joined for compliance, and they were complaining for another sacrifice. I also heard the discourse of those policewomen with “clean cuts”, irritated because they were mistaken to be men by watchers.

There were people teasing, clapping, and yelling to show their support. Some were surprised to see me running, some took pictures of and with me. Some told me that I should have run together with my cameraman. But honestly, I was serious and wondering then if I could finish the 10k run. “Mukhang napasubo ata ako ah,” I said to myself.

I praised God for the hydration station where every runner could drink. Sweat all over the body was indeed noticeable to every runner. That’s why disposable cups were scattered during and after the run, and putting it at the proper place was inevitably forgotten. I think not every runner knew their purpose of running. But if it’s for the sake of fun and enjoyment, it really was.

An activity like this gives me a time for reflection. While running, I thought of completing the task the Lord has entrusted me to do. I realized I am failing, and I always disappoint Him. But I also realized the reason why I keep on running, why resting and taking it slow were sometimes needed. Because the moment I entered the finish line, I could still consider myself a victor. I finished the 10k run, and it’s an achieved goal.

It’s a reality that people have different strides. Sometimes, they take it fast, others take it slow. I believe what is important is how you accomplish your goal in life, with faithfulness, sincerity and trust.

I admire those who run fast, and finish the race still with strength and vigor.  I might be the last one running in the 10k category, but I don’t envy those who run ahead of me. I am contended with what I have accomplished because I know my goal. Besides, I’m not in a hurry. And God, in my life, isn’t in a hurry too.

(Sorry for the late posting) :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A son's salute to his father

What’s stopping my father to go home and leave his work in Saudi? All his potential years are spent working away from us. He is not getting younger anymore. In fact, he already had mild stroke causing him to be confined and nobody from among his family members, for proximity reasons, took care of him. That would be another agonizing factor for him to feel sorry and down.

But he’s so strong. I admire his endurance and sacrifices. I admire how he keeps his sanity intact. I admire his fatherhood. But I’d rather have him with us though.

Time is more precious than gold. Almost a clich├ę but it’s never been fully understood. The significance of time spent to cultivate relationship, the value of time you shared to listen, the essence of time devoted for loving, matter so much to busy people. Time is the reason why I want my father home. Time is the reason why we want him home.

I do not want to reiterate the important events in our lives, in my life specifically, where he is absent. That’s equivalent to blaming him, and how dare me if I do. We just want to spend quality time with him. Before, we’re just six in the family. Now, he has three grandchildren, innocent but longing for a grandfather’s caress.

We long for his presence. I want to enter the next chapter of my life with him giving me advices. I want him to see how persistent we are in helping ourselves, because we know that he’ll be happy when he sees us growing and improving. I want him to see life from the very comfort of his home, a place he so loves to linger and stay. I want him feel relaxed, a word I surely bet he seldom enjoys. The more I say of the things I want my father to enjoy and experience, the more I miss him. “It cuts like a knife,” if I may borrow from a song, is how I feel whenever I cite my hopes for him. It makes me sad. It makes me teary-eyed.

Today is his special day. I just don’t know how he would celebrate this day. But as a son who, I believe, grows in love and respect, I honor him. I want to salute him for his sacrifices, for his love, for enduring so much pain and sorrow. Indeed, you are a hero, ‘Pa. I love you!

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Half Year

Because of at least one person who reads my blog, I decided to scribble again online. I cannot sum up all the events of my life for the past months, but I can conclude that God has been faithful and good to me. I can declare the glorious riches of God in my life: the family I have, the gift of work, the friendship, the people I’ve met who touched my life, and hopes I shared to ordinary folks. I want to shout the works of the Lord in and through my life!

Half of the year is almost over. Valentines. Panagbenga Festival. Graduation. Birthday. Holy Week. Automated Election. Vacations! All these events were indeed wonderful. I can sense the Lord had blessed with me so much fun and adventure I almost forgot to declare it. Why do I have to? Because with a heart full of gratitude comes the realization that the Lord is alive and very much concerned with my affairs.

I had a lot of first times, too. I was not fortunate to participate in the automated election, the first ever in the country, but I still consider my participation of covering the election as part of the history. I served as a watchdog for a clean, honest, and credible election, despite some allegations of fraud. But what overshadowed the stressful election was the reality that there are still more people who hope for a better country, hungry and craving for genuine reform and transformation.

Scuba diving is fantastic. Being one with nature, underwater in particular, creates a realm so good to be inhabited. Of course, that’s just for sea creatures, unless Atlantika exists:) Pagudpud beach and windmill in Bangui, Ilocos Norte are also exceptional places to visit. Bolinao is a haven as well. The historical Corregidor Island is worth-exploring too.

So much travel, so much fun. It’s probably a wake-up call why I suffered influenza this week, causing me to be off-cam for three days. Haha. Since there is always a reason for everything, I would just accept the situation that this is my present, my now, the moment the Lord wants me to be.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Almost a Love Story

We started as very good friends. We went to the same university, we belonged to the same organization. We both studied communication, I majored journalism while she concentrated on speech communication. She’s always at the top of the class. Sometimes, I served as her sidekick, critic, scrutinizer, pessimistic buddy. I seldom appreciate her, until now.

I used to be the alaskador, the one pissing her off mostly. I deprived her of affirmation which I learned to do after series of leadership camps. Few words of endearment are not expected to come from me. But I was one of the privileged few who could dare give “sound” advice. I really wasn’t the sweetest friend she had. But I think I was one of the most concerned when it comes to her welfare and being.

We’ve been together as block mates for four years, while six years and counting as best friends. That long friendship made me wonder if our relationship can extend beyond friends. I never really told her my true feeling, until one time when I so enjoyed her company, I attempted to express my feeling. That’s one of my courageous moves, but ironically turned out to be the most coward act of mine. I failed to be true to my words, I lacked action, I was faithless. I never really pursued her. I never made efforts to show how much I cared for her. I did not win her heart.

I told myself I would wait for her. It’s my self-covenant, between me and my heart, my patience versus my desire, my faith versus pride, that no matter what, I would wait for her. But again, my foolishness! She never knew I was waiting, she never knew I wanted her heart. I assumed she knew that I cared for her. Maraming namamatay sa maling akala. Indeed, my heart died after she got committed in a relationship with somebody few months later.

My heart broke into pieces. It’s my first time to be so hurt emotionally. I realized how much I loved her, but it was too late. I became so depressed I hurt myself as well. I did crazy things, madly crazy I almost lost my faith in God. I resorted to seeking happiness with worldly friends. That was the time my drinking of alcohol perked up. It was also the time when I got into smoking, into bars, into exploring my curiosity. I was downhearted, dispirited. I missed God’s direction for me. It was hard for me to affirm my purpose and goal in life. It seemed everything collapsed with her absence and commitment with somebody else.

But I am now okay. Few months of moving on made me a better person, I believe. I never blame her for what I’ve gone through. It was my entire fault, it was all my cowardice, it was all me to blame.

Honestly, I could say I am glad for her new love journey. Kung saan siya masaya, masaya na rin ako. She taught me a lot, I learned a lot, and I know, when the time comes that I’ll be ready for a relationship, I will make sure that I will really mean it. I’ll be more careful now with my words, and so with my actions. I don’t want to practice and have some warm-ups in looking for a girl. I want committed relationship. I love to say, it’s just there, but I also believe I should make it come true. It requires effort, action, determination, guts, prayer, faith.

This is my short “almost a love story.” I’ll tell you my love story, sooner.

- From Anonymous (hehe)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Think Straight

Think straight.
Stop being a bum.
Enough is enough.
You’re just wasting your time, spirit and resources to some non-sense, impractical habits.
Remember your first love, why you exist, why you move.
Limit pleasure seeking. Be balance. Be healthy.
Be inspired. Always smile. Pray.
Be disciplined.
Achieve your goals, excellently.
Rest when tired. Take time to relax. Walk.
Think of adventure and traveling.
Be positive. Minus the vices. Grow and Multiply. End arguments and division.
Halleluiah! Lord of Heaven and Earth.
You know my name. You see my tears. You comfort me.
Your presence is like heaven, a haven.