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.