Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year 2009:Bringing Hope in the Year of our Lord in my Life

In the Philippines, it is still 9:00 O'Clock in the morning of the last day of 2008, December 31, 2008. Few hours from now, all Filipinos from various sector of the society, rich or poor families,whether living within the country or abroad are desirous of gathering in a Spirit of Joy as they welcome another Year of OUr Lord bringing in their hearts new hopes and aspiration, in whatever forms of communication they can.Unlike Christmas which is predominantly given meaning into by Christians all over the world as the celebration of the birth of the Son of God, perfect God and perfect Man, who chose to live among His Creations to give us gift of salvation, New Year is celebrated even to those who do not profess the same faith of a Christian, because whatever one believes or do not believe, the idea of welcoming another year brings everyone to a Spirit of Joy!
Despite the economic crisis that affects everyone's life and the terrorist acts that plagues the world today, all of us is possessed of power within our hands to choose HOPE and LOVE for the year to come. That we are all empowered to be the beacon of hope and spread them to every people near us, first our husbands/wives, children, parents, grandparents,sibilings, nephews and nieces, aunties and uncles, in-laws, relatives, friends and neighbors and the different communities we choose to belong and feel more associated, most productive and get our talents more useful.Personally, the year 2008 passed really so quickly for me. I get myself involved in so many things. First of being a wife trying my best to become a mother with my husband whose public and political life changes the once so private minor services and volunteerism I made as a young university student, as a young law student and as a professional extending myself to others in communities, a person who makes all my knowledge into income potential, a loving daughter to senior citizen parents, a loving aunt to my nephews and nieces, a good aid to my brothers and sisters in their married and single life, a niece showing love and affection to aged aunties and uncles and giving honor to those who already passed away, a daughter and sister-in-law trying to get myself loved and belong to these families whose culture are so much different from mine, a worker of the Parish where I belong, a loving elder ("ate") to children in the neighborhood,a first lady trying her best to be known not as a mere wife to an honorable elected official but to get myself known as I am including the not so good things about me and get myself one of them despite the distance that people tend to place on me as a wife of the man they respect. I only want to convey love to them and show them all that despite my imperfections, I am willing to extend myself whole free from pretense and not as a mere symbol and illusion. And of being an active advocate to a global work of God in Gawad Kalinga and the Couples for Christ where both me and my husband are involved as a couple. And there are still many, many things I want to do and I want to be and people want me to be. The pressure is hard and difficult. I messed up too!But today is such a beautiful day as I started a reflection with my husband on how to make our marriage work better. That we are able to truthfully expressed things that we do not want each other do and only do the most constructive ones. I feel like I am starting it right because I cannot do many other things if I am unable to do things right with the husband to whom I choose to be in this marriage vocation.So the New Year 2009 is full of hope for me. I want to be better, if not best, in the many facets of my life. And just as what I had asked my husband to do, that he will lead me everyday in prayer to God together as married couple bonded in this great Sacrament of Marriage. I do not want to take the lead anymore, I asked him to lead because every husband must bring his wife in adoration to God and lead his children and family into Him.And I asked God too that I may be able to fill things that I failed to do and refrain from doing things that could hurt and destroy him. I feel like I started it right and I choose not be bothered by the preparations of external things like food in the table, parties to make, round fruits on the table to present and only with very simple celebration.
I want to offer myself to God and make the New Year the most happy as it can be as I choose to wait for it with the Lord in the Holy Eucharistic Celebration filled with reflections and resolutions.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Christmas

It's Christmas time again!

Peoples from all races celebrate Christmas in many ways. But I am most inclined how Christmas is celebrated in my own beloved country. Although a very good friend and mentor of mine who is a foreigner now living back to his country after sharing his life with the people from Mindanao for almost twenty (20) years, Fr. Michel de Gigord, MEP, described that most of his countrymen celebrated it away from the true essence of Christmas by alluding the celebration to Sta. Klaus instead of Christ Himself, the commercialization of the celebration makes people shy away from giving real love to others if they are not able to give gifts, all these and other activities misguided the people of who and what we are celebrating for. It could indeed be alarming but it is a reality in most First World Countries. He further supposed that Philippines is still celebrating it with grand sharing of love with families, friends and small various organizations despite the few and cheap foods found in the table.

Then his observation and comparison brings me to reflect as to what is actually happening here in our country. Has his observation that we Filipinos celebrate it with much love remains the way we celebrate Christmas? Then, I begin it myself, with my own experience of Christmas celebrations. And in so doing, it brings me back to my childhood and all the years that follows.

I was born on Christmas eve to parents who desires for the gift of a child of their marriage of five years. Being born into that circumstance gave me the privilege of a being a child surrounded and raised with love. Every Christmas was a joyful occasion of the family, my birthday added to the bonding of love, not just to my family, to my relatives but also to the Catholic faithfuls in our little chapel, who for lack of priest, do it by "Katilingbanong Pag-ampo". There are years when money is available but when my father became jobless, we celebrated it very,very simply but the most important ingredient remains felt, the sharing of love to one another, the deliberate effort to make others feel that he/she is very much love despite shortcomings as a family member. It has always been a time of showing unconditional love. I remembered the hugs and kisses from my parents, my sister and brothers, my aunties and my uncles. All these made my birthday and Christmas celebrations a beautiful time for love.

When I grew up, I learned to make it my own too! Despite lack of finances, I always try to find ways in making my love expressed to all my love ones especially to my parents who as I observed had so much difficulty and trouble in their married life together. I always make it an opportunity to make them aware how deeply grateful I am, that amidst difficulty they stayed together as married people and continued to show to us their deep love and concern. It was also a time to call on all my brothers to stay together in our house at least for one day just to feel one another's presence. And all of us are looking forward to it!

Time flies and all of us are married except my fourth brother. Although I am the eldest, I married late so there was a time when my being single brings a lot of opportunity in uniting the entire family, my brothers and sister, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and this time I am already a "Tita" to new members of our family. All the same, with or without much food in the table, it always feel good to be with one another's presence. I always bring my niece and nephews to sing a birthday song to Jesus. And it feels good knowing that the reason why we gather is because we are remembering Him who created us all, on the day He made Himself like one of us.

But my own marriage seems to almost change it all. I do not share the same ways of celebration as my husband does. To him, all this food matters, the system do matter. It's not that I cannot appreciate it, but if all these replace the essence of my Christmas, replacing LOVE with food availability in the table, then it could make me utterly miserable in my Christmas and my birthday as well. All Iwant is to spend it with my love ones.

It brings me back to my reflection: It is not the outward celebration that matters. If I have no finances to bring food to my table on Christmas, then only the spirit of love could make the celebration of Christmas truly an occasion of joy that comes from Christ. He who is God and became our Savior born in a manger of Bethlehem can only be the reason why Christmas is here! Oh Holy Night!

Tomorrow, the Misa de Gallo will start. I have a special intention to pray for. And most of all, I pray that everyone will come back to celebrate Christmas centering it on Christ alone and a veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mother who so willingly made herself a Mother to this God becoming man and to the chaste Spouse St. Joseph. May the image of this Holy Family brings all families together in their knees in joyful coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mindanao: From My Point of View

Last month has been full of many surprises for the people in Mindanao, particularly in the place where I am currently residing, Iligan City and some towns nearby of Lanao del Norte.

Our Land Mindanao is supposed to be called a Promised Land,a big island of the Philippine archipelago, with vast natural resources, comprising of peoples from different cultures and religion, particularly the Christians, the Muslims and the Lumads. Development is sprouting from various provinces but now and then threat to its peace is constantly made.

Although born in Cagayan de Oro City, I grew up in a far away mountain of Taparak, Alubijid, Misamis Oriental here in Mindanao. I have spent the first 12 years of my childhood in that place. I have enjoyed immensely the vastness of nature within my reach. I have swam the river especially when there's big flood with my playmate cousins defying safety warning of our parents; I have climbed trees, the mountains and most of all I enjoyed the thought of making that place the only world I had known. To me, it was my own, I was part of that nature! Nonetheless, I knew there's a world out there, where proper education and hard work would allow me to explore.

Then in my quest for knowledge, I have to be in places that's not just there in that one small barangay. I have finished my high school education in Cagayan de Oro City where my father used to work. Since my parents could not afford to send me to private universities in Cagayan de Oro City, I grabbed the chance of being a scholar in a state university in Iligan City. Way back then, for us Kagay-anons, Iligan is a dangerous place, especially that it is near to Marawi City, most especially for me because the only time I have visited Iligan was when we attend the funeral of my father's first degree cousin who was killed in the campus of Mindanao State University in Marawi City. Then the next time I came,four years thereafter, was when the father of that killed uncle, the brother of my father's mother, was killed in same university. They were both university professors. My father had many apprehensions in my quest for knowledge in that place. Although I have many relatives in Iligan city, I opted to live in a boarding house near the university.

As a university student living away from home at such a young age, chances of being into wrong company and places are high. But I made a decision to choose the people I interact with. My growing love for God which has started in my childhood has now grown into a desire to a deeper understanding of His will in my life, to a growing effort of knowing Him theologically and more importantly in how to translate this faith in me into an authentic living of a Christ-centered life.

It was in those years that I have come to met many people from all over provinces of Mindanao. We are all away from home, away from our parents, but most of us decided to finish what we came there for, a good education. I had dirscovered and embraced variety of culture, variety of people, intelligent classmates, intellectual professors, good workers, socially-involved people and of course we had the chance to meet and experience the local culture of Iligan people.

During my stay in Iligan City, I cannot help but always include the presence of the person who has made a significant change in my general attitude towards life, towards my faith and towards people. He is a French priest missionary, Fr. Michel de Gigord, whose founding of chaplaincy dedicated to the nurturance of the youth of the university made an impact on many students lives, that includes me. Being a daily communicant, everyday I heard his homily challenging us young people to be good leaders, to dare to make a difference, no matter how trivial our work seem to be. He would often coach us to be passionate about God, about people and to have the courage to make a stand for the truth. His powerful words probably prompted by the Holy Spirit heavily entered into my soul and I made a decision that I shall always love God, always do things for His people, and that no matter how seemingly insignificant I am in a society, carrying God's truth, would guide every decision that I make. These learnings are things I carry wherever I go.

Thus, after finishing two degrees in the state university,I found myself leaving the city as it lacks opportunity of employment for me. I worked in Manila and stayed there for five (5) years. I made every learning I had in a place much more away from home. There a new culture entered into me. But this time, I was bombarded with many questions, of a seemingly wandering life, of no purpose, driven by guilt that I seem to just survive and not truly live. I have met a many beautiful and good friends especially in an orphanage community that I joined into. The experience of reality of how harsh life could be and how one could possibly lead a different life from what you had always believed as the truth was very present. I seemed not to care anymore of the place from whom I have come to know God, I have come to know nature and I have come to know many people I truly care about.

But fate led me back here in Iligan when I married my former closest friend in the college of law, the then first time incumbent Barangay Captain of Kiwalan, Iligan City, Roderico Y. Dumaug,Jr. I had few adjustments on lifestyle, on dealing with people, and most of all the place. There is much difference of Iligan City from Manila. But I made an extra effort to go back again and immerse myself once again in the culture that raised me up. I understood how places influence the way people behave and in viewing life in general. I am no exemption to it.

Day by day, I met people, active people both in politics and in the church. Then little by little I seem to understand why I am back here. This is the place where I am most productive, where I don't spend much of my time in a traffic jam, where I inhale fresh air everyday, where seas are within my reach, where water is cheap, where people are concern of values and relationship , where a lot of people really needs help, where I grow to be truly concern and show love and compassion for each.

But then, the recent thing that happen here in Lanao del Norte and even here in Iligan City created a truly devastating effect on the people's lives. And I have to admit, I too, was disturbed of the occurence. I could not help but feel insulted, trampled upon on my right and truly felt a sense of indignity of the inclusion of 82% of Iligan City territory in the aborted Bangsamoro Juridical Entity(BJE) which was supposed to be signed in Malaysia last August 5, 2008. The ruling of the Supreme Court against the signing prompted the MILF Forces to attack innocent civilians in the towns of Lanao del Norte, beheaded them and leaving women and children in shambles. Military troops arrived seven hours late since the attack occured.

Now and then Senators and Congressmen, Cabinet Secretaries arrived in this city to see the effect of the attack on the people's lives and some various organizations especially the church made an effort to resolve the conflict, trying to do it in God's way. There remains a constant threat from the MILF to take over the city and the municipalities, leaving people unable to do productive works save those who choose to be productive.

However, I have always believed that nothing will ever destroy people who have deep believe in God and by constantly praying for peace. We have no other recourse but to place ourselves in prayer. Now that the feast of the Patron Saint of Iligan is coming, September 29, 2008, people of Iligan are hoping that once again, St. Michael the Archangel, will protect us all! That people from various cultures and faith, may stay in peace once again. And I still really pray that our national leaders and selfless bandits will come and pray in reverence for Love and Peace. May they be truly enlightened and know that God never aspires for our suffering, through relentless killings and violence. And that may they aspire real dialogue, which can only come from a truly peaceful and loving heart, free from desire to power, money and dictatorship.

I stand that those who made those attack against the innocent civilians be brought to justice and until they are surrendered, then harrassment can always occur now and then. Military offensives against their camps are on going and I hope that along the way, no innocent lives would still be included. I pray for our military forces, especially praying for the wisdom of our leaders, enlightenment to our President and may selfish leaders start to be the leader that God would have wanted them to be!

Meanwhile, we can help a lot by praying for Iligan City,in Mindanao and the whole country! Let's continue to believe that Someone Greater than all of Us is up there believing that we'll all come to Him, as He is God and our Creator, regardless of faith or way of life we adhere into.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Volunteerism: Is it still here?

Volunteerism.... What does it mean? They say this spirit is already gone. Has it truly gone. Are volunteers within reach?

For me the spirit of volunteerism is the one that ignited my passion to do things for others. I was truly amazed at my teachers in religion, called the catechists, who would endeavor to teach us things about God and His works, without being paid in return! They were the ones that inspired my young mind, thinking that when I am already at the right age, I will do the same for the next generation. Priests, nuns, missionaries and many others that I met in my growing up years in college and even in my young professional years, all the more enkindled that passion. How I admire them giving up personal ambitions just to teach young minds in preparing for their future.

How I love it surrounded by people who selflessly devouted themselves in service of others. I met many of them when I was still a student leader of Catholic Center Campus Ministry, a Chaplaincy founded by a very dear friend priest, Fr. Michel de Gigord, MEP. I met some of them while I was still in the Singles for Christ; I met them when I was once a catechist in Redemptorist Church in Iligan City; I met them when I was a volunteer of TULOY orphanage in Alabang. Thus, it is no surprise that volunteerism is a quality that moves me into making major decisions in life. It is deeply embedded in my soul.

And I am fortunate enough that even in my stay here in Iligan after my marriage, I got the chance to meet a lot of them getting involved in activities that I got myself into. I also had the chance to meet volunteers of Gawad Kalinga, from Global Exchange, both Filipinos and British nationals, who made themselves available for others and despite their potentials to seek personal vainglory in their young careers, opted to set it aside, by trying to make a difference.

How I truly admire them! And now that I am married, although things in my life have changed, it was quite a refreshing experience for me having the chance to speak with two British volunteers, all women at that, about their views in life. Plus the fact that last August 10, five of us all females made it as the first female team to join in the boat rowing competition using only bare hands in the Kilawan Festival in Kiwalan. Well, unfortunately it was our first time to practice when we are already on the actual competition. And good for me, I managed to fill the boat with waters, that made the boat sink. It was hilarious! But I truly,truly enjoyed it! I have missed a lot of true volunteers! And whenever I got the chance to meet them, I would certainly know who they are. They are people who transcends their culture. They are people who are oblivious to the world because they think that no matter how seemingly trivial their tasks are, they know they make a difference. They are people despite the absence of adulation and applause are willing to traverse the difficulty they encounter as a consequence of their decisions. They are people who amidst differences with people they work with continue to finish the goal. They are people who wants to accomplish the end but an inner peace and joy is likewise achieved.

Perhaps you too have the same aspirations at heart. And whether you have joined in an organization of volunteers or not, it doesnt matter for as long as you do things for others even of others do not recognize them, then you are already a volunteer! Find that volunteer in you! God made us all volunteers in various ways: for our spouse, for our family, for our friends, for our love ones and for various communities!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

An Interesting Book on Personality!

It's been such a long time since I got a time to pick up a book and read it cover to cover, until a week ago and its refreshing to be transported back again to new learning.

Well, its not that the concepts are totally new to me since I am a graduate of BS Psychology, somehow many terms have been familiar to me especially the discipline and the field itself.

What interest me about this book is perhaps its relevance to my present status in life as a married person. Since the time I got married, I have been preoccupied with many peculiar adjustments about myself to the point that reading seems the last priority. After long years of continuous study, my mind seemed to explode in many things that I learn and I find emptiness if I am unable to apply them in practical situations of life. And so when I finally got the chance to take hold and read a book, I felt refreshed. And I am seeing it from the point of view of a married woman.

The book I am talking about is the "Personality Plus" written by Florence Littauer. In the book she discusses four basic types of personality. Although I have encountered more types in other psychological theories, I find her description simple and easy to remember.

Before I read the book, I took the Personality Profile Test related to it. Thus, prior to reading it thoroughly, I have already identified what type of personality I got. Somehow the results truly show basic characters of me. I got the combination of the two types. What inspires me more as I read through it is the fact that the author who is a woman, has the same combination of personality type that I got and the man she married is possessed with the same personality combination that my husband got. So I can truly relate to her experience.

She pointed out that the four basic types of personality are the following: Popular Sanguine, Perfect Melancholic, Powerful Choleric and Peaceful Phlegmatic. Each of these personality types has its own strengths and weaknesses and although she discusses only four types, she recognizes that at any rate, each individual remains unique, only that he has certain inclination and methods of understanding the world around him.

Popular Sanguine are extrovert, talker and optimist. They have appealing personality, life of the party, sincere at heart, always a child, cheerful and bubbling over, wide-eyed and innocent, physically holds on to listener, good sense of humor, good on stage, changeable disposition, lives in the present. These are basic emotions of a popular Sanguine. At work, a popular sanguine volunteers for jobs, thinks up new activities, looks great on the surface, creative and colorful, has energy and enthusiasm, inspires other to join, charms others to work and starts in a flashy way. As a friend a popular sanguine makes friend easily, loves people, thrives on compliments, seems exciting, envied by others, doesnt hold grudges, apologizes quickly, prevents dull moments and like spontaneous activities. These are basic strengths of a Popular Sanguine.

Then Littauer also described the second type of personality, the Perfect Melancholic.Emotionally, Perfect Melancholic are deep and thoughtful, analytical, serious and purposeful, genius prone, talented and creative, artistic, philosophical and poetic, appreciative of beauty, sensitive to others, self-sacrificing, conscientious and idealistic. At work, a Perfect Melancholic is schedule-oriented, perfectionist, high standard, detail conscious, persistent and thorough, orderly and organized, neat and tidy, economical, sees the problems, finds creative solutions, needs to finish what is started and likes chart, graphs,figures,lists. As a friend, a Perfect Melancholy makes friend cautiously, content to stay in the background, avoids causing attention, faithful and devoted, will listen to complaints, can solve other's problems, deep concern for other people, seeks ideal mate and moved to tears with compassion.

The third type as Littauer discussed is the Powerful Choleric. On emotion, he is born leader, dynamic and active, compulsive need for change,must correct wrongs, strong willed and decisive, unemotional, not easily discouraged, independent and self-sufficient, exudes confidence and can run anything. At work, a Powerful Choleric is goal oriented, sees the whole picture, organizes well, seeks practical solutions, moves quickly to action, delegates work, insists on production, makes the goal, stimulates activity and thrives on opposition. He has little need for friends, will work for group activity, will lead and organize, is usually right and excels in emergencies.

The last type is the Peaceful Phlegmatic. The Peaceful Phlegmatic are introvert. They are low-key personality, easygoing and relaxed, calm, cool and collected, patient, well balanced, consistent life, quite but witty, sympathetic and kind, keeps emotion hidden, happily reconciled to life and all purpose person. As a worker, he is competent and steady, peaceful and agreeable, has adminsitrative abilit, mediates problems, avoids conflicts, good under pressure, finds the easy way. And as a friend, Peaceful Phlegmatic is easy to get along with, pleasant and enjoyable, inoffensive, good listener, dry sense of humor, enjoys watching people, has many friends and has compassion and concern.

Those are just the basics of each personlity type. If you are able to read the book in its entirety, you will see how we can improve and complement in each other. After reading it, one will realize that God after all created us with our own strengths and weaknesses. We are indeed unique. All of us has something to give and must be willing to receive.

And if you are to know how did I score in the self-examination test: I scored in almost same figures of a Popular Sanguine and a Powerful Choleric. And I suppose that my husband is a Melancholic and a Powerful Choleric. You can only imagine how both of us struggled in our marriage. I would like to achieve in things but I want to do it in a fun way, not serious. But my husband would also like to accomplish things but he does it very seriously. And since we both want are ways done, we ended up imposing on each other what we think is the best approach.

When I was done reading the book, it somehow enlightened me. And instead of suffering for my husband's melancholic character, I try to understand that its how he is made by God. In that fashion, I would be able to minimize the duel in our household. (By the way, he is starting to read the book now. I am hopeful it would help him understand my nature too. :-)

In all these, I have come to realize that truly all of us is essential for each other. Sometimes, we find it hard to understand our own brothers or sisters or mother or parents or siblings or children or friends, relatives, people in the communtity we got ourselves involved into but if we also take a look at their basic profile, we shall also unburden ourselves for the pain they have caused in us which in truth and in fact, they do not mean to cause. It is just their nature.

And indeed the journey to personality improvement is a constant effort and having read such a book at this point in my life, have greatly aided me.

But then again, we must always connect all this to One Who made us. Human understanding is a mere tool. Understanding God Himself and listening to Him remains to be the solid foundation as to how we look at other people and how we understand ourselves.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008



Perhaps there is no word in the world that best describes the essence of every man than the word LOVE.

Love is first and foremost the very definition of God when we say God is love. And since all of us comes and is created by God, then by Divine Right, none of us are exempted to this great meaning of Love.

Every human person born, whether wanted or not by his parents (unfortunately many children are born to parents who do not want them), are made to be loved and to love in return. In many psychology books I have read, every single person wears an unseen word "Please give me attention" and this unseen words are displayed in various forms of behavior just so other people would notice them especially from people who are significant to them like their parents, siblings, husband, or wife or even in friendly relationships. Sometimes the displayed behavior are done appropriately such as a childing wanting his parents' attention would excel in school, behave accordingly and other kinds of appreciable behavior. Nonetheless, there are those who display these unseen words in a catastrophic manner just as when a child does violent things, engaging into drugs, creation of unhealthy relationships, just so they are able to get the attention of the significant persons in their lives. But in either of these two different patterns of behavior in getting attention, one thing is certain, they are all translated into the need of a person to be loved.

This is because we are designed by God to be nurtured and to nurture in return. If there is anything we must never give up in life, it is LOVE. It is the essence of our existence. No one can live without it. We are made to show love. Whether we are raised abundantly with it from people who has touched our lives or none of it, we are nonetheless always wanting it and must give it.

Other people would probably say, how can I do that, I have never experience being loved in the first place? And how can I give something I do not have.

Well, its simple. Just know how much God loves you. He has created you in His own image and likeness. That truth alone suffices. However, from a psychological point of view, it is not achievable unless the person has underdone into counselling and therapies, and these services are not easily available nowadays and are not even within reach. As such, I suggest that one must get himself involved in communities. It could probably just be the beginning. All of us are wounded in our lifetime, some greatly, some lightly... but we must move forward. And the greatest vehicle of which is FORGIVENESS. Withour forgiveness, we are at loss. We are bound to suffer pain by our own doing. And although forgiveness is a difficult thing to do, one must deliberately choose it. Forgiveness is the only vehicle that can effectively give us love even we are also wounded by the people from whom we expect to be loved. If we are in a community trying to attain a common goal of creating change for the betterment of this world and for the rest of mankind, then little by little, healing comes. And this is what is called the ability of each one of us to become wounded healers for the others.

Apparently, love is a choice. It must be worked out. It is hard. It's really hard. But which is harder to live in suffering? Or to work it out now and eventually reach the fullness of our being, the essence why we are here in this world, why we are born in the first place, why we are where are, why we are doing what we do.

God is love. And so we are love.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

On Being Childless

I have been married for more than two years already. It's not a surprise if oftentimes I hear people asking me why don't I have a child yet...

You cannot imagine how to difficult it is to answer such question. Sometimes people assume that my husband and I deliberately refuse to have children. But there are some too who seriously are emphatic on our predicament and even offers prayers helping me and my husband storming the heavens for the gift of a child.

Several times, I have been a principal sponsor to weddings along with my husband and all those whom we sponsored are now raising their infants and kids. I have seen friends who have been married later than us and are now rejoicing in the fact of pregnancy.

Well, at first my husband thinks it was alright for us not to have children. He said he marries me for me and not because of the children I begot. But as time flew by, with all much effort and medical help we sought, and we remain childless, I could somehow sense that he too really wants to have a child pretty soon. And that only the two of us living in our home simply lacks an important person to fill our home: the gift of a child. It doesnt matter to us that we both make ourselves available in service to other people just us both of us are gifted with it. It doesnt really matter of how many people comes to us for help, or how well we find in wisdom in every situation. In all truth, we lack something. And it is not hidden from the people.

Just as I feel genuinely happy for the children born from other mothers, as I consider every child a gift from God, I cannot help but continue to hope and pray that one day,my time to experience in receiving the greatest gift a woman is possesed: that of being a mother, can actually come true.

Somehow, it cannot be denied that the faith in God that I carry inside helps me so much in staying in tranquility and at peace, carrying the truth that God's Omnipotence is greater than anything and that He knows best for all of us. In all these, I choose to keep my faith, hope and love.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Growing Up in Politics...

The world of politics is a thing that I have always abhorred.

You see I was raised by a family who are heavily involved in politics especially on my mother's paternal side where I spent the first 12 years of my life. Majority of the relatives that has created a significant role of my life during childhood are from my mother's side. Way back then, I thought it was a family's role to always lead people, to organize them, and to make them feel part of us. Well, it was none of such a huge political clan but it operates on the level of a barangay, a remote barangay at that, where my grandfather used to rule. But to my young mind, I thought that being looked upon is a natural-given role that the best among my kins should play. Even within our nuclear family, my parents endowed in my hands the chance to discipline my own siblings, being the eldest child; it doesnt matter if I were a girl, at least during the first twelve (12) years of my life. Even when I was already away from home studying in a city only enjoying frequent visits from my parents and younger siblings, my parents continually instill in my younger brothers and sister, respect to my decision. It went on and on and I thought the role is a thing that naturally belongs to me.

Nonetheless, my natural need to always put God in my life, seem to pave a way in molding me on how it is to be a servant leader like Christ. I had that chance to learn them. It was a painstaking endeavor to extract away from myself the thought that leadership is actually not a thing I can demand on others but a thing that I must continually work for. I was introduced to a new concept of leadership. I learned to reach out to others but always and always, it keeps on coming back to me how I was raised. And admittedly, it always show in my demeanor. Most of the time, I tend to speak more fully when I am among good and intelligent men because I could sense that I can relate to them in many things. And I only keep very few female friends. I can count them on my fingers. And this attitude creates a negative impression about me especially within the context of Filipino culture. It is not a normal trend that a woman imbued with delicate features could actually relate in mind towards the male psyche. And for many times I thought that if I didn't possess such a very feminine nature, I would not be subjected to such negative impression. This struggle is a constant experience. And I would always attribute it to the fact, that subconsciously I carry the thought that there's no dileanation between a man and a woman as far as leadership is concerned. I am still a product of how my family raised me despite the various learning I received.

But I find myself in dichotomy at all times because I still carry an antagonism and bias against many people in politics. I do not like the way they behave and think about other people. And most probably because, I do not like most of them heavily engaged in corruption, in lousy public service and in mediocre moral values. Or maybe because I felt that my own kins are also into it. And I did not like them acting like little politicians and not bringing any improvements in their personal lives in many aspects. And I wanted so much to evoke change and bring God's values into their political lives. My kins wanted me to carry the yoke of carrying that aspect of going into the realm of politics. I just turn them down thinking that service is a thing I can better do among people who keeps low profile, people who works even when no one gives them public acclamation, only living in the hidden thought that their service are rewarded when they shall finally be rewarded in Heaven.

That has always been my thought. But on the other hand, I kept asking myself, should I allow evil politicians to dominate in governing the country that I love? I was always looking for an answer because I really have real concern for the country of my birth.

And then I met a man who is heavily engaged into politics who eventually became a well-respected friend. His works are truly marked by exemplar public service, free from corruption and he has the ability to work with the downtrodden just as he gains the respect of many good people in the society. This man somehow created light and new perspective that good people can actually have a way in governing this country. That for so long as there are still many good and selfless people willing to cast their votes for this kind of politician, then this country has still hopes because deep in my heart I still have so much faith in the heart of Filipino people.

Well, in many years, the man I talked about, married me a couple of years ago. And so, I now find myself being part once again in the world of politics, brushing elbows with many of them, some I truly like, some I can never like, some I still try to like.

The politics that I abhorred becomes mine and my hopes are high that this man continues to bring his idealism into the real world. And more than anything else, I pray that his talent should not be attributed mainly as his own, but a gift coming from God, hence, should be put to good use and in the end God's glory shall be manifested in his humble service. And I pray that I would continue to be a woman, a wife, and hopefully a mother, faithful to life of service in whatever form,taking my strength from the One who made us all.

In the end I'd say... I had experience growing up in politics, abhorred it but is now married to a politician. God's way is totally beyond me. And I have no right to find explanation. I just make myself His own and follow every step that comes along the way. It's no easy road, its no easy task, but I must do my share as God directs it. And so must all of us, however God molded us!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Filipino Women Today: How are They?

I find it really an interesting issue to discuss about Filipino women today. Almost two decades ago in one of my English class requirements, I tackled on the issues of Filipino women comparing them from the women of past generation and the generation of women at the time I made that paper. Way back then, internet was still a year way to its operation in the world. Mobile phones and text messages were not yet available. And in the university where I was schooled, at MSU-IIT in Iligan City, in Mindanao, the past time of the students were just the chances of meeting each other in personal social gatherings. Students used to connect to each other in a personal manner. It was also at that time when changes of women's perspective have changed and how Filipino men viewed them.

At that time, I thought I already made a significant impression of the differences in women as I compared them to the past generation, how they behave, how they interact with the opposite sex, how they handle courtships, how they view family and how they value the essence of being a woman. Little did I know that there would be a huge differences in all aspects when the age of internet arrived, a year after I made my paper on Filipino women.

History tells us that women as far as how they are viewed by society varies from culture to culture, from generation to generation, but here in the Philippines, women have relatively evolved depending upon the people that colonizes her country. As stated by most history book writers, before the Spanish Era, Filipino women were made equal to that of men, as maternal and paternal lineage were recognized at that time.And because of this bilateral kinship system, women were given great power in their own clan.

But with the Spaniards' arrival bringing the Catholic faith and introduced them to the Filipinos, it has made women on secondary position. And so women were left mostly in the house, taking care of the household and played no relevant decision in the unfolding of the society.

With the arrival of Americans, doctrines of self-improvement and empowerment have been upheld and that paved a way of making women professionals in various fields acquiring esteem in their own right.

Consequently, it is clear that there is truly an evolution of Filipino women nowadays, especially with the advent of latest technology and gadgets. It changed people's lives, it changed many systems and it also changes some basic psyche of Filipino women.

Nowadays, Filipino women are more exposed to variety of options, whether she lives in rural or urban areas, it doesnt really matter; the technology has gotten into her.

And now you can see Filipino women attaining respect and created niche in various fields. You can see them in the fields of law, medicine, politics (although at a limited extent), business sector,technological advancements, scientific contribution and some helped in the building of communities whether in social service or in their own church's service and there are also women working abroad employed as nurses, doctors, engineers, skilled workers, domestic helpers and some in the field of entertainment in almost all part of the world.

Due to this changes, Filipino women nowadays are generally regarded highly by society caused by the important contribution and impact they have made in their respective families, which up to this day remains the main and basic value of a Filipino women.

Nonetheless, I am also alarmed by the fact that just as women have significantly changed over the years, it has somehow created confusion in the psyche of their male counterpart. They seem at lost on how to treat women and how do they place themselves in the significant Filipino women in their lives.

Just as I value women being given equal dignity in all aspects of life, I am also concerned about the well-being and ability of men to develop their own sense of pride, a natural gift entrusted to them by God as men and I cannot afford seeing them helpless and unable to function in decision- making and I would really like them to keep the dignity they have always carried attributed to their natural ability and talents.

Although I have met many of men I highly admired and regarded with respect, I also found a growing number of men who are utterly confused and who are already comfortable seeing significant women in their lives run things for them.

It would be more pleasing to see women attaining a good sense of dignity and pride for their own gifts and virtues and value but nothing is more pleasing if along this change, men also attain greater pride for having women like them and not to fail in seeing their own contribution too.

At any rate, this is a stage of adjustment to both of them and I am seeing signs that Filipino men can greatly improve in this respect. I am positive, awareness of possibility greatly aids in improvement.