Empty

Life is short, let us not make it shorter.

My travel to Iloilo reminded me on what really matters in life.

Love and support from friends and family, a lot of food, great laughter and tons of fun memories to remember.

Emptiness

“One man scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars; and the world was better for this”. – Don Quixote, de la Mancha

When the news broke that a successful businesswoman committed suicide due to depression, I felt numb.

You may have all the money and fame in this world but emptiness creeps in everyday.

A ‘big’ battle not seen by everyone.

Are you thinking, “I feel empty and alone?” Remember that other people are going through the similar emotions that you are struggling with right now.

Here are some tips from BetterHelp.com to keep you on the right track:

How To Set Life Goals That Establish Meaning

An important part of getting your life moving again and finding meaning is setting goals. A lot of the time we flounder and feel lost because we haven’t set goals for what is important to us. Without a plan, we could do nothing. Here are some steps that will move you toward finding your own meaningful goals and accomplishing them.

Feel Your Feelings

Many people who are suffering from emptiness are trying to avoid or disconnect from their feelings. They started feeling nothing because they reached a point at one time where their emotions became overwhelming and caused them anxiety. The first thing you will need to do after acknowledging your emptiness is to start reconnecting with your emotions; allow yourself to feel again. Your feelings may come out inappropriately at first, such as sadness being expressed through anger, and that’s okay. No feelings are wrong or bad, as long as you continue making an effort to recognize them and grow.

Start thinking about how you might feel about your life if it did not feel empty; it’s not a trick. Logically look at your life, since you cannot emotionally respond to it. Do you have an excellent job? Have you spent enough time with your family or friends? Did something happen that you want to forget about? It’s time to look at the various aspects of your life and whether they are related to positive or negative feelings.

Do The Things You Used To Enjoy

Right now, you may not feel like doing your usual hobbies or rituals but do them anyway. This is a part of taking care of yourself. Pay attention to how you feel when you are doing these things. You may be able to connect with some of the joy or peace you used to feel, or you may find that it is time to replace this activity with something else. Either way, doing things that are just for you establish the self-love you need to escape emptiness and find meaning.

Don’t Avoid People

You may not be ready to actively plan a time to hang out with friends or family. But if you get invited somewhere, go ahead and accept the invitation. Isolation will make your emptiness more. Your existing support system cannot support you if you alienate them. If you find yourself spending a majority of your time at home, go somewhere where other people gather. You don’t have to interact with anyone. Just put yourself amongst the crowd, whether that means going out to see a movie or making a trip to the coffee shop.

Make Lists

Start writing down potential goals and divide them into four categories: health, relationships, career, and personal growth. You can write down as many goals as you like. You aren’t going to focus on all of these at once. Some of them may be removed from the list later, but for now, you need to come up with ideas, so don’t be afraid to write down anything that comes to mind.

Once you have several goals under each category, divide those goals into short-term and long-term objectives. Some of the goals will be able to be completed within a few days or weeks; those are short-term goals. Other goals are larger achievements that may take a year or more to accomplish.

Ideally, your short-term goals are moving you closer toward the big long-term goals you have set. For instance, if one of your long-term goals is to become a personal trainer, a short-term goal may be to be able to complete twenty push-ups or to memorize the names of all the major muscles in the human body.

At the top of these lists, write down a simple one-sentence statement about where these goals are taking you. It is the reason why you are working toward them. The goals themselves are steps, but this statement of purpose is the real motivator behind them.

Prioritize

You can only complete so much at once, and having too many goals can overwhelm you to the point that you revert to an old habit of doing nothing about your feeling of emptiness. Now that you have a list of some short-term and long-term goals for the most important aspects of your life choose the top three from each category that is the most important to you right now. Looking at your statement of purpose can help you in narrowing down the top priorities.

Once you have these new shorter lists, you can rank each of the three sets of goals by order of importance. The top-most important goal in each list is your “gold” goal, the next is your “silver” goal, and the third is your “bronze” goal. You can work towards your gold goals pretty much every day, taking small steps toward these meaningful priorities in your life. When you have extra time, you can work towards your silver and bronze goals.

When you achieve a goal, move the others up in priority and add a new goal to the short list. The new goal doesn’t necessarily have to start at bronze level; it’s okay if you change your mind about what is most important at the current moment. Make sure you stick with any goals that have made it to your priority list. The worst thing you can do with goals is to get into a habit of dropping them when they get difficult.

Whenever your emptiness starts to rise and makes you feel like what you’re doing isn’t worthwhile, take out your list of goals. These are your reminders that your life does have a purpose and you do have a sense of direction. If you’re finding it difficult to take steps toward your goals, or you feel stuck, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Wealth

During our gospel reflection today in the Diocese of Imus servant’s training, I reflected on this message, is it hard for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God?

The rich young man was an upright Jew who obeyed the commandments of the Lord all his life. Yet was attached to his wealth and could not follow Jesus as a disciple.

Wealth

Saint Paul tells us that nothing can outweigh the knowledge of Christ Jesus. But in this man’s case in the gospel, he had allowed something else to outweigh Christ. Comfort, security and material things beat the invitation of Christ to be perfect. Attachments lead to sadness; there is no room for God in a heart that is already full of the things of this world. Only detachment leads to true joy. God gives himself to the one who seeks him without any strings attached.

Wealth, if earned through honest means, is not intrinsically evil.

In fact, wealth can be used to do much good for others. Jesus does not demand that we give up all our wealth before we can become his disciples.

Jesus cautions us against attachment to our riches which limits our freedom to go where the Lord bids and do what the Lord asks of us.

I was inspired by the story of Sis. Siony, she was 84 years old, a retired public school teacher and chose to serve God more together with the senior catechist of the diocese.

They opted to serve God more than anything else and share the catechesis with children.

The Bible readings remind us that as Christians, we are called to go beyond just keeping the ten commandments to the point of being willing to surrender all that we have as we face trials and tribulations in order to follow the Lord Jesus.

We, too, are asked to do what is humanly impossible, but with GOD’s help is possible – to surrender our lives for the GOoD of others.

Let us be faithful to our calling to be disciples of Christ as we face the trials we face as His followers.

Let us also be willing to let go of our possessions so we can both follow the Lord Jesus more and also share with those who have less than us.

For us, it is impossible to love at all times, but not for God. All things are possible with God. If we ask the Father for forgiveness and lean on Jesus and seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit, we become more loving. We become more heavenly.

Joy

On the eve of our 5th church wedding anniversary, Sis. Jude and I would like to thank you for your love and prayers in our journey.

Amidst difficulties, hiccups and challenges; there were so many blessings.

Bishop Camilo Balin once said that adversities and trials means becoming more closer to God.

Take courage!

Indeed, courage it is!

My wife is in Riyadh now, I would like to ask for your prayers for the security and protection of everyone in KSA.

Grief

A selfie on the location of my new mission area in the coming days. The beautiful Our Lady of Remedies Church in Malate. In today’s Gospel, Jesus too was preparing His disciples for an awesome phenomenon they were about to witness – the Ascension. He knew that when He ascended to heaven, life as they knew it with Him in their presence would all of a sudden go dark with no apparent explanation. He reassured them: “You will grieve, but your grief will become joy” (Jn 16:20). The Son was hidden for a time, but the darkness gave way to light.

I had a chance to visit today Our Lady of Remedies in Malate, Manila for a thanksgiving mass and also to meet Bro. Edward Centeno for our weekly Light Group (LG) meeting.

Adorned in pristine white orchids, the church was a sight to behold- there was a wedding before the 6pm mass. The priest reminded the couple to have a heart of gratitude. Marriage life is a marathon and never a sprint. Enjoy the journey!

Fr. Michael Martin shared this meaningful verse:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” John 16:20

Grief, mourning and even weeping is a part of life. Children will often weep at the slightest difficulty, but all of us face grief and sorrow throughout life.

In this passage above, Jesus informs His Apostles that sorrow and grief will be a part of their lives. This is a very sober but realistic statement on the part of our Lord. It’s an act of love, on His part, to be up front with His Apostles about the coming hardships they will face.

The good news is that Jesus follows this statement with the hopeful news that their “grief will become joy.” This is the most important part of what Jesus says.

The same is true in our lives. Jesus does not promise us that our lives will be free from hardship and pain. He does not tell us that following Him means that all will be easy in life. Instead, He wants us to know that we will follow in His footsteps if we choose to follow Him.

He suffered, was mistreated and ultimately killed. And this would be tragic if He did not ultimately rise from the dead, ascend into Heaven and transform all prior grief and pain into the very means of the salvation of the world.

If we follow in His footsteps, we need to see every bit of grief in our lives as potentially a means of grace for many.

If we can face the hardships of life with faith and hope, nothing will ultimately keep us down and everything will be able to be used for God’s glory and will result in great joy.

This verse spoke to me a lot. Do not despair when suffering is placed before you. Surrender all things to our Lord and let Him transform it into the joy that He promises in the end.

Lord, I surrender to You all suffering in my life. My grief, hardships, sorrow and confusion I place in Your hands. I trust that You are all-powerful and desire to transform all things into a means of Your glory. Give me hope in times of despair and trust when life is hard. Jesus, I trust in You.

Mock

Have you heard of smart-shaming? This Holy Tuesday, let us reflect on how we treat others.

“Ikaw na magaling!” and “Edi wow!” was a popular catch phrase among young people.

These are just some of the common Filipino responses when someone gives too much information specially in casual conversations.

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Do you have a friend who respond with “Ang lalim oh!” to people who give deep insights on on-going conversation?

Or respond with a “Dami nitong alam!” to people who give interesting information while getting engaged in a conversation?

What supposed to be just a casual exchange of ideas suddenly turns into one party getting shamed because of providing insights, opinions, beliefs and interesting facts.

A fellow blogger Cynthia Ap shared why should someone be stigmatized for thinking differently? Or for being more perceptive or well-informed? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t stupidity, ignorance and stubborn rejection of new ideas be frowned upon instead?

She added that Filipinos live in a world encompassed by love for ignorance. We celebrate mediocrity and lack of insight like they are grand things to be proud of. I have often told my non-Filipino friends, “Filipinos are genuinely warm and friendly but most are not very bright.”

Some of you might take offense but take a look around you. What does the common Filipino watch on TV?

What does the common Filipino post on social media?

What does he talk about in social gatherings?

What does the common Filipino read?

How many of us even read?

Take time to reflect on those questions.

Now, when someone navigates from these ordinariness, we look at his deviation in a negative light. That instead of encouraging him to continue his pursuit of knowledge and his sharing of new ideas on social media or in real conversations, we shame him with responses like, “Eh di wow. Ikaw na ang matalino.”, “Wow! Talino! Sorry ha, bobo lang kasi ako.”

Faced with such comebacks, one can no longer continue with the conversation. What else was one supposed to say? It is the same when a religious person tells you, “Because God said so” which can be translated to, “I don’t want to think anymore.” What else can be said?

Why? Why must we have this mentality?

Is it because we equate being smart with arrogance? Do we find their intelligence offensive in some way, especially when they show it?

She emphasised that what most Filipinos do is, since they are too lazy to widen their knowledge either in theory or in practice, they’ll discredit those who do.

Instead of being curious, they will attack those who are. This is sad and embarrassing at the same time.

Smart-shaming is an effect of anti-intellectualism where people mistrust intellects and intellectual pursuits.

Isaac Asimov once said: “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

People who present a different way of thinking, and are perceived as a danger to normality are considered as outsiders with a little empathy to the rest of the population.

Hence, the birth of the idea that people who have a contradicting point of view are considered as elitists, arrogant, matapobre (anti-poor), and aloof.

One of the countries who values high-quality education among its people is the Philippines but ironically has an alarming increase rate of “smart-shaming.”

Why is this so? Filipino are not aware that smart-shaming is actually happening around us.

Smart-shaming continuously increase and happens every day due to lack of awareness among the public.

Sadly, the act of mocking smarter people than us is becoming a norm.

Whatever rationale or personal reasons people have behind it, smart-shaming has to be stopped.

Smart-shaming stops a person from pursuing intellectual growth fearing they might be mocked because of it. Knowledge and intelligence is power and people should not be teased because of the knowledge they have gained and learned.

Acknowledging their achievements will encourage not only the person to quench his/her thirst for knowledge but also would encourage others to be smarter.

Nowadays, information is readily available by just clicking on buttons in your computer screen. I personally cannot see why people stop learning when we have all the means to gather information. Life is, after all, a continuous process of learning.

As much as it stops intellectual growth, it also hinders people to express themselves freely.

Because of the fear that people will mock someone when their views and opinions opposes the other party, people tend to “just not talk”.

This causes a lot of great ideas and interesting opinions to be kept and slowly be forgotten.

The fear of being dubbed as a know-it-all hunt everyone.

But bear in mind it is better to be a know-it-all than to know nothing at all.

FuGen

Exactly four (4) years ago, Future Generation Philippine International School (FGPIS) in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia invited me to be their commencement speaker.

I was glad Facebook has an “on this day” feature to always look back at your special memories in life.

My wife was beside me when I received the plaque of appreciation.

FuGen

“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”

I shared the value of finding true joy, accepting one’s limitation and loving your parents to the graduating students.

True joy doesn’t result from things or circumstances. Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.

Jesus never promised trouble-free living. In fact, He predicted the opposite, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

To quote C.S. Lewis, “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” New things may bring a temporary sense of happiness, but alas the newness wears off.

Lasting joy is not tied to material things but to a vibrant relationship with the one who is our source of joy! So take time to rediscover your joy, and learn to enjoy the journey.

Surrender to the existence of your limits. This is the only place from which you can truly start the journey of adapting, and when you accept and adapt, you can find a new way of living filled with a lot more peace – when you accept your limits, and when you accept reality, it’s then that you can discover what is still possible.

Love your parents. We are so busy growing up, we often forget they are also growing old. Appreciate your parents. You never know what sacrifices they went through for you.

FGPIS is one of the leading Philippine schools overseas committed to the holistic development of its graduates with special emphasis on science and technology.

They have a high culture of excellence imbued with personal discipline and multi-cultural consciousness.

The school was founded through the collaboration of the its owner Sheikha Bareah Bint Sabah Salem Al Hamoud Al Sabah, Kuwaiti princess and the group of seven dedicated, intellectuals, and efficient Filipino teachers headed by Mrs. Marie Con C. Caro, school principal and Mrs. Zenaida C. Meren, school assistant principal.

Battalion

I would like to share this picture taken 24 years ago during our Citizen Army Training (CAT) days in high school.

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“Be an Encourager: When you encourage others, you boost their self-esteem, enhance their self-confidence, make them work harder, lift their spirits and make them successful in their endeavors. Encouragement goes straight to the heart and is always available. Be an encourager. Always.” Photo credits to Batch Lima (1996) Adjutant Joseph Delgado. 

I was the First Battalion Commander back then.

CAT (Citizen Army Training) was part of the fourth year high school curriculum in the 90s.

To be at the top, my fellow CAT officers endured all the physical, mental and emotional trainings.

Just like the military, we have to go through the drill and formation.

Our CAT uniform was the fatigues or battledress, a military suit.

I was part of Batch Lima (1996), our corp commander was a lady who stood tall amidst strings of challenges.

We were the triumphant group who took home the Championship trophy for the Best CAT Platoon of the Division of City Schools Manil held at Araullo High School.

Our training was spearheaded by the Naval Reserve Command (NAVRESCOM) officers.

We have continually exemplified that honor is not a medal pinned to our chests but a way of life embedded in our hearts.

We were always encouraged to have an overflowing love for service and integrity.

We thrived in the spirit of volunteerism and bayanihan.

“Champions are those who never quit,” this quote inspired us to never give up easily.

We were required to memorize this poem by heart.

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won if he’d stuck it out.
Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are –
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

Indeed, quiting was never an option before and until today.

Whatever life throws at you, remain grounded, head held high and never give up.

Confidence

During the SFC “Relentless” 25th International Conference, I finally met Bro. Donnie Ray Aquino, a fellow member of PICPA Riyadh Toastmasters Club (PRTC), a passionate communicator, a dedicated brother in SFC and a very talented fellow OFW from Oman.

I never had a chance to mentor him in toastmaster and he was full of wit. His charisma speaks for her gift of gab – a natural charmer.

He was a prominent humoruos speaker.

He joined the famous game shows like Game Ka Na Ba and Pinoy Henyo.

Recently, he joined Tawag ng Tanghalan as one of the contenders from Mindanao. It was an uphill battle but he fought hard. He did not win but the experience taught him to never surrender.

Confidence

To feel truly confident, you need to really believe you are capable. The best way to get that belief is through using your skills and talents — by learning and practicing. Bro. Donnie did that with love.

I lauded his efforts to showcase his God-given talent whenever the opportunity arised.

Bro. Donnie, thank you for being fearless. Your self-confidence was an inspiration to many.

Win or lose, we are here for you. We are looking forward to your next endeavor. All the best!

Bro. Donnie’s confidence emanates from a place of truth.

Believing in yourself is the fire starter for success of almost any measure. But how do you develop that self-confidence?

According to the Dalai Lama, it’s simple: “Love brings self-confidence. Anger brings fear.”

Self-confidence, he says, comes from generosity, from thinking and caring about others.

If you live your life with a genuine concern for the well-being of others, you will feel better about yourself, and in turn, feel more confident.

This is who Bro. Donnie is.

Full of love and kindness, a true brother and a servant of God.