The Game-Changer

It’s my first day off from work for 2015 (as my boyfriend [yes, whuuut] has astutely pointed out), and I finally have the time to sit down and (try to) put into words something I have reflected on quite a few times the past year.

I’ve talked to a lot of friends about 2014 and how truly amazing it was for me. I’m not sure if it was because I had a so-so 2013, but 2014 was just really full of blessings upon blessings I couldn’t even wrap my head around. This, of course, doesn’t apply to all my friends, although most of them agree it was also fantastic for them. But anyway, whenever I find myself thinking about what I have done to deserve such blessings, I just end up totally dumbstruck. It was today, though, that I did a Zedd (found my Moment of Clarity, LOLZ).

I’mma let you in on a little secret: I’ve only started counting “awesome” years since my second birth date (i.e. 2010). Don’t get me wrong, my school days were also fantastic, but I feel now that I really wasn’t myself then, if you get what I mean. Funny story, I had just recently revisited my high school LiveJournal and (unfortunately) shown it to the boyf without first reading it thoroughly. What I reread totally caught me (and him, I’m sure) off-guard. Well, no, not really, but I didn’t expect my high school self to be THAT bad, at least. I obvi have selective memory. To give you an overview: cursing, ranting, and more cursing and ranting. Hahahaha. Hahaha. Haha. Ha. Hmm. But yeah, seriously, I was such a drama queen. I made issues out of non-issues. #immaturity2005

ANYWAY.

First birthday, 2011, was fab. Went to New York and met Dan Radcliffe and all. But it was also the year of transition. It was then that I started and left my first job.

Second birthday, 2012, was the year I tried to find myself. I took up a vocational course in Web Design and Animation and joined a community that helped me know myself by first knowing God.

2013 was a bit blah. It was a year of trials and tears, but also a year of reaping and rejoicing.

Now, 2014, this is the year to beat. I got my dream job, a surprise blessing, the opportunity to serve the Lord through song, and the chance to visit my dream destination. The learnings have not stopped since then.

But seriously, why? I CAN NOT UNDERSTAND. What have I done to deserve this? Then again, today, I thought, maybe I’m asking the wrong questions. Maybe the right thing to ask is what has changed? What have I added or subtracted in my life for me to come to this point? To this, I could only think of one answer: GOD.

Of course.

In all this time that I have started giving importance to the life I have been blessed with, I have been most conscious about God — His goodness, His mercy, and His great hold on me. The past few years? They weren’t sh*t. Actually, even if 2014 was crappy, I’d probably still think it was okay, because I would still hold on to the hope that things would eventually get better.

That’s it. HOPE. If I were to be thankful for anything, it would really be HOPE. The promise of hope community has taught me that could only come from God. Hope He has given me to create dreams to chase after, hold on when trials abound, trust that unselfish love exists, and see the good despite the haze of oppression. I think 2014 was by far the best because I have experienced so much hardships in my 2013, and it was the year after that His promise of prospering and not harming and giving us more than we could ever imagine came to be. It was in 2014 that I realized the magnitude of God’s grace, mercy, and love. Grabe lang, guys, can I just say? IBA SI LORD MAMIGAY. O.A. SIYA.

And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. (Deuteronomy 28:1-68)

(More quotes on ABUNDANCE, guys. His promises are wonderful and I am a witness to their fulfillment.)

Sigh. My faith has been tested many times the past year and I have honestly felt disconnected from Him. But despite all these, He always gives me the opportunity to come back. Once even, through my Intercessory shepherd, He sent me a message. My shepherd said, “What you’re feeling now isn’t disconnection from God but rather, increased consciousness of His presence in your life.” Like, since my relayshe with Him is deeper now, whenever I miss out on reading the Word for the day, I end up thirsty. And this shouldn’t be mistaken for disconnection. That was such a beautiful message. One that I needed to hear. Thank You.

Reflecting on it now, I’m not really sure how my life would be if I hadn’t found God. I’d probably still be lost, purposeless, trying to find meaning in worldly things.

In 2015, I resolve to further strengthen my relationship with Him. Now that I am not burdened with regularization-related stuff, I can go on focusing again on things that really matter. This is going to be a big year for the Philippines, what with Pope Francis coming to visit. It’s going to be a big year for our community as well as we celebrate #ServantLeadership2 in July. Plus, there’s the annual Singles Encounter Weekend where I’ll be serving again, yay. :)

My prayer for you in 2015 is that you would be able to establish a connection with Him as well. I hope things work out for you in all aspects of your life. Keep dreaming and keep praying! Claim victory! Believe that you have received what you’re asking for and it shall be done for you. (Mark 11:24)

Have a blessed 2015, my friends! Hope to be able to interact with you more this year. :)

The future looks bright. :) [Millennium Bridge, London]

The future looks even brighter. :) [Millennium Bridge, London]

Here Lies Love

Dear People of The World,

I would like to interrupt our regularly-scheduled programming of non-blogging with this, gasp, spazz entry about the recent musical I just watched entitled Here Lies Love. It is currently playing at the Dorfman Theatre in London and features our very own Mark Bautista and a bunch of talented actors I got the pleasure of seeing perform.

Lemme just say that I went into this without a solid background on what the musical was about; all I knew was that it narrated Marcos’ reign in the Philippines. When I saw the poster, though, I was all, “Wait. Imelda?”

Yes, Imelda. Party version.

hllukHere Lies Love is a concept album and rock musical made in collaboration between David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, about the life of the former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos along with the woman who raised her—Estrella Cumpas—and follows Marcos until she and her family were forced to leave the Philippines. ~ Wikipedia

I did not expect any of the things that happened that night. Like, at all.

Let’s start off with Lea Salonga. Yes, Miss Saigon herself. Purser and I were waiting for return tickets to come our way (’cause damn it, the place was sold out) when I turned my head around the room and spotted a familiar face. OH MY GODS LEA. Me to Purser: OMG SIR PLS TAKE A PIC OF US PLS PLS. Him: STAHP. (Not verbatim, lol) Unfortunately, my phone’s battery was already depleted so hohoho Merry Christmas to me.

Anyway, scored last minute tickets and when we went in, people in neon pink jumpsuits greeted us saying, “Welcome to Club Millennium!” OHKAE. Apparently, the tickets we got were for the standing room. We were all huddled up on the ground floor close to the stage when the “club DJ” welcomed us and laid out some house rules. Basically, we were instructed to follow the people in pink and move with the stage. Didn’t really understand why until the actors came out and performed for 90 minutes non-stop.

Oh my gosh, how am I to even articulate what had transpired in those 90 minutes? It went by so fast and everything was so fun, I couldn’t even. All I can say is that it was a feast for the senses! The beats were sick and the songs were so modern — something seriously new to me, especially when you say “musical theatre” (like, srsly, am I in a club or…?). The choreography was SO cute. I loved the precise movements of their hands, especially while Imelda was singing about her role as First Lady. The costumes (and the costume changes) were FABULOUS. Ninoy, in his crisp white suit; Imelda in her vintage-meets-modern dresses. Super love the one shown in the poster! Looks amazing in real life! Loved loved loved her white and red gown as well. CAN I HAVE IT.

I wouldn’t want to be the stage manager for this show ’cause the timed movements of the platforms and safeguarding of the actors who went down from the stage to break the fourth wall would have given me a heart attack. So seriously, KUDOS TO YOU, STAGE MANAGER. KUDOS TO YOU AS WELL, MR. DIRECTOR AND ALL YOUZ CREATIVE MINDS BEHIND THIS PRODUCTION (hello, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim). EVERYTHING WAS PERFECT. I loved the lights. I loved that I was given the opportunity to sing, dance (the “Filipino Square Dance”), and jump up and down (beside Lea, omg). I loved Natalie Mendoza as Imelda, with her killer voice and dance moves + amazing nuances. (So fierce, this woman, I swear!) I loved Mark Bautista as Ferdinand Marcos! Super nakakakilig! (Lea spazzed [TO ME OMG] how kilig she was when Mark came out on stage.) I loved Dean John-Wilson as Ninoy Aquino; his crooner voice and smooth moves. I loved Gia Macuja-Atchison (Lisa Macuja’s sister!) as Estrella! (I plan on covering Why Don’t You Love Me because of her and Natalie, lol). I loved the ensemble! Ang galing lang talaga eh! T_T I loved that, although the musical was conceptualized by Europeans, it still very much showed and captured the Filipino culture. I was so kilig when I heard Filipino pop cult references, modern lingo (“KALOKA!“), and swear words (yeah, haha) in the middle of the songs. It was one of the moments Purser, Lea, and I shared while in the audience, ’cause we were the only ones who laughed when these were uttered (especially when Imelda said P.I. HAHAHA).

I loved the ending so much. The artistry in depicting Ninoy’s death, Imelda and the strobe lights, EDSA Revolution, and KARAOKE! I loved that I got to learn new things about Imelda’s life and their reign as rulers of the Philippines. I seriously did not know that Ninoy used to date Imelda. :| Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned, indeed.

Guh. If any of you are in London (or New York), do catch this musical. You won’t regret it.

In the meantime, hello and goodbye! Back to the rock I’ve been living under for 6 months. LOL. (Follow me on Instagram and Twitter!)

Love, Abby ♥

LET GO Day 3: Relinquish

HAPPY EASTER, EVERYONE! REJOICE FOR THE LORD HAS RISEN!

Just to share, this Easter feels particularly different for me. While we were at mass awhile ago, singing praises to the Lord, I really felt overflowing joy in my heart. Maybe because I know my God better now and not just superficially? Maybe because of the Lenten Recollection we attended? Maybe because I really felt Jesus’ rising and His taking the death away from my body? Whatever the reason, I am grateful. The gladness I feel is inexplicable.

This was me, le cousin, and le niece at church today. <3

This was me, le cousin, and le niece at le church today. <3

Anyhooz, yesterday was the third and last day of the Lenten Recollection my parents and I attended. Day 3’s topic was very, err, apt. I felt like God really allotted this day to tell me something. Hardihar.

Here are some of the quotable quotes from yesterday’s event:

“God gives hope to those who dream, but He gives miracles to those who trust and believe.” So PRAY and CLAIM that your dreams will come true! :)

“2 & 1/2 years na kayong nagtitiwala, ngayon pa ba kayo susuko?” A couple shared about their struggles with their toddler daughter’s heart problem. They said something about a growth that was removed through open heart surgery but, after 6 months, came back with a vengeance. The doctor said the only way to remedy it was to perform another surgery. It was then they decided to just let go and leave it all up to God. They had done so for 2 & 1/2 years, until one day, their daughter started experiencing chest pains. This had gone on for a week when they decided to finally bring her back to the doctor to be checked. The couple stormed the heavens with prayers. When the doctor checked the girl’s heart, they saw that the growth was gone. The doctor couldn’t believe it and claimed they had probably misread the 2D echo the first time they performed it. Chyeah right. Anyway, basically the girl was healed already and she stopped feeling pain. Waah. <3 “The absence of what the doctor could not see in the 2D echo was the presence of God.”

Like I said, I felt like God really wanted to send me a message. I’m having my MRI done this week for my annual remission check-up. TBQH, I haven’t been taking very good care of myself since I started training. Max of 5 hours sleep every night + knowledge cramming + exam stress + emotional stress? Sigh. So you could only imagine my anxiety. But, yes, I was once again reminded to TRUST in the Lord. Never fear and never doubt, just have FAITH. 3 & 1/2 years ka nang nagtitiwala, Abby. Ngayon ka pa ba susuko?

“God does not play dice. He does not leave anything to chance.”

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This was the focused reading for Day 3. Bro. J Yogawin said the mat symbolized one’s COMFORT ZONE. Imagine, the man had been hanging around the pool for 38 years, never even getting healed, because he decided to just stay on his mat instead of making the effort to get to the pool.

Bro. J said we shouldn’t fear moving on and he asked the question, “Do you always have an excuse to go after your dreams or follow God’s plan?”

“All the signs have been given to you but you’re not doing anything because you don’t TRUST.”

“God will always do SOMETHING.” Not just something, but SOMETHING.

“When God says you are healed, YOU. ARE. HEALED.” AMEN!

And then he goes on talking about finding The One. (Lord, strike 2 ka na! Hahaha!) He said that it would be difficult for us to find The One if we don’t RELINQUISH ourselves. If we don’t SURRENDER.

“That’s what love does. It surrenders.”

“Love does not settle for the same. Love will eventually change you.”

“When God tells you to move, He knows where He is bringing you.”

“All He really wants is US.”

Moar quotes! This time from Fr. Dave Concepcion:

“To relinquish is to make a conscious, deliberate choice to hand over.”

“God acts before we act. God acts after we act. But God will not act if we ourselves don’t act.”

“DECIDE that you will make things happen.” To this, he gave the parting of the Red Sea as example. “The sea was divided only when the first Israelites stepped on water.” BECAUSE THEY DECIDED TO DO SOMETHING.

“To be poor is to be free. If you can not relinquish it (stuff), then you are possessed by it.”

“Do not blame the past for what you are today. Do not be the person who waits for something to happen rather than making something happen.” Indeed, not moving on from the past will do you no good. We have to learn how to do something to change our stories.

“Faith does not make things easy, but it makes things POSSIBLE.”

“If you can not say it to another human being, there is no truth in saying it to God.” – Fr. Dave shared something about his inability to say I LOVE YOU out loud to people he loved before (aka his pre-seminary fiancé). He now exhorts us to learn to say I LOVE YOU to our fellow men, God’s physical representations here on earth. :)

“The moment we love, we give the person power to hurt us.” It’s hard to RELINQUISH control to someone else when we fall in love. But, like what Bro. J said, LOVE SURRENDERS.

“Your sickness has no power over you. Yes, I have cancer, but I. HAVE. GOD.” Infinity AMENs to this statement pls.

“Allow Good Friday to happen so you can have your Easter Sunday.”

“God does not need anything from us. If He asks and there is a risk, it’s because He has something greater in store for us.” Infinity AMENs to this as well.

“You don’t GROW OLD, you BECOME NEW.” Kasi nga naman, when you turn a year older, you get a new number as age. LOL. But no, seriously, this is a good way of looking at our growing old. :)

“If you have problems, it means God wants you to relinquish something.”

I will bring a better camera next time.

I will bring a better camera next time.

Sigh. Have you been blessed? ‘Cause I sure have. Some of these quotes may seem out of context, but I tried. This is, of course, one of those events wherein “you just had to be there” so… maybe next year? :)

Till then, Happy Easter! Share God’s love with the world! <3

LET GO Day 2: Reconcile

Day 2 of 3 of The Feast Alabang’s Lenten Recollection focused on FORGIVENESS.

Now, this isn’t exactly a new concept. It is, however, a very difficult one to do.

Today, Bro. Arun shared a story that I could totally relate to. It was about him being appointed leader in his ministry during his young adult years. Back then, he shared, he was so strict and on-point with all his ministry members. He was deemed as brilliant and effective. He felt like he was on top of the world. And then one day, something happened that stripped him of his title.

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It was then that he posed this question to God: “Lord, who am I if I am not a leader anymore?”

The story goes on with him having a chance encounter with Bo Sanchez and being told that that wasn’t going to be his last stint as a leader. But anyway, long story short, God’s answer to his question was, “You’re not a leader anymore. Now, let Me love you as a son.” Beautiful.

The reason why I could relate to this was because my most recent encounter with forgiveness had something to do with leadership. General leadership, conflict within a group, having a title stripped off. They named it, I related to it. It’s like Bro. Arun was doing a Bo Sanchez on me by telling that story. Guh. #PayItForward much?

Anyway, that encounter was a true test of my character and resolve as a supposedly renewed daughter of God. Forgiveness and humility were things I knew I should have done, but had so much difficulty doing due to the trifecta of offenses committed against me. I found it so hard to strip myself down to sheer nothingness to ask forgiveness for something I knew wasn’t completely my fault. I found it hard to swallow being condemned for something I did not do or say. I found it difficult to accept the absence of an apology for getting my pride hurt over something I was right about in the first place.

But, alas, this all goes back to the focused gospel reading for today — the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. I have no right to hold on to this hurt or not let go of the offense when my Father in heaven has let go of all the hurt I had caused Him and the many offenses I have done against Him. I have no right to not forgive when my Father has forgiven me on the infinite number of occasions I have wronged him. I have no right to condemn when my Father has chosen not to condemn me for all my wrongdoings.

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Just so you know, I have already forgiven. It is, however, very difficult to forget (sometimes, I feel like there are still traces of it on the faces of my offenders). But I have learned from it. And today, I have resolved to completely let it go. Nailing this at the foot of Jesus’ cross and allowing Him to take it with Him to heaven.

“As fast as they offend you, let it go.” Difficult, difficult. But someday, I will learn how to do this in a snap of a finger.

“Forgiveness is as essential as breathing.”

“When you have unforgiveness in your heart, it breaks you down.”

“There has to be an expiration date to your anger.” Bro. Mike Viñas said it should be at 5:59 PM. Why? Because it says in Ephesians 4:26 — “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

“Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.”

“In every relationship, you will always be called to forgive and ask for forgiveness.” There can be no truer words.

“To whom much is given, much is required.” I have been given by my Father the wisdom to know and act better. I have not been renewed for nothing, and each day is an opportunity to start anew. With this, I must learn how to forgive people who know not what they’re doing.

“That is the way of the Lord — you don’t get to select your memories.” Father John Paul Del Rosario was the one who gave a talk on COMMEMORATION. He said:

“Commemoration is an ought. Not a choice.”

“To remember is to see the creative power of God.” Remember the tragedies in your past? Have they not shaped you to be the person you are now? “We need to remember the tragedies to see the creative power of God.”

As Christians, we are “pressed to see the good in Good Friday.” Meaning, if I’m not mistaken, that the focus of Good Friday shouldn’t be the tragedy of Jesus’ dying, but the fact that He did all that to save us because He loved us.

“It’s not your wounds, it’s how I heal your wounds that can truly set you free.” Something God wants us to always remember. :)

Today was therapeutic. I teared up while exalting Jesus’ name through song awhile ago, as the crosses passed us in procession. At that moment, it hit me just how much He truly loved us; to give up His life for unworthy ones like us.

Lord, salamat. Please help me become more like You.

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