Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Night in Ayala Road

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' -- Matthew 25:40

He tosses some files over the dashboard as he slides into his car. His head aches. But the reports need to be in his boss’s desk by 8 o’clock tomorrow, sharp. He sighs, and starts the engine. Glancing at the car stereo – 9:30PM – he pulls out a cigarette and lights it up, puffing a cloud of smoke. This is going to be a long night, he is saying to himself.

The streets of Cebu City are a little quiet than usual. Perhaps, because it is April, summer vacation or perhaps, because it has rained, although lightly, the whole afternoon. He couldn’t make up his mind nor did it occur to him that it was already late in the evening. He heads to Starbucks in Ayala Mall.

From the mall about twenty minutes later, he takes a left turn to Ayala Road. As he stirs to the middle of the road he grabs a muffin, and takes one big bite. His saliva wells up, his tongue feasts on the familiar taste of chocolate. Down below, his stomach can hardly wait. The aroma of the hot Caffe Latte filled his car.  

Right at the crossing of Juan Luna Ave. going to F. Cabahug St., the traffic light turns red. He stops the car.

He pressed on the stereo tuner button looking for a more upbeat music. He wants to stay awake.  Once I get that promotion, can I only be happy, he is saying to himself as he imagines the things he would buy. He can’t afford to sleep on this job.

Tok-tok-tok! Please give me money, sir. A boy around 8-year old in tattered, soil ridden sleeveless t-shirt knocks on his window. The soil and grease from his unwashed hands leave stamp marks on his just-washed-this-morning window. Since the window is lightly tinted, the boy cups his face using both his hands and pushes it against his window. Both their faces are now only a foot apart separated by the window.

Just my luck! He steals a glance at the boy’s untended face, and then looks straight ahead, hoping the light will turn green soon. Why can’t the city government keep these kids off the streets; they just use the people’s money to gamble or buy drugs. The boy keeps knocking against his window. Without looking at the boy’s face, he waves him off. But the boy persists as if driven by something intolerable. Frowning, he turns to the boy without really seeing his face – Go away! I have no money to give you – without opening his window. 

With head bowed, the boy returns to his place in the street. 

Sensing that the boy is already gone, he looks around to see where he goes. There near the gutter, in a dimly lighted patch of the still wet pavement, the boy squats cradling a little boy, much younger than him, in his small arms. They are alone. The light reflects the tears in the boy’s face as he looks far into the distance. 

He turns his gaze away wondering if he has done the right thing. His eyes suddenly catch the box of muffins in the passenger seat. But before he could act, the traffic light turns green. It’s time to go. Slowly his car moves on.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

What is a Mother?

Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her. -- Proverbs 31:28
Her pleasant voice sang me to sleep,
When I was afraid to close my eyes,
She stirred the pork and vegetables over the pan,
As I looked upon, on stool, tall as a man.

Her angry eyes flashed my mischief across the screen,
A projector showing a movie I wish I couldn’t see,
But despite the boy I used to be,
She graciously shared her heart to me.

Now that I have diapers, milks and bills to mind,
And a woman who hums against clatter of dishes,
The mother who once upon twinkled only across the sea,
A little unknown star, now is clear to me.

Ah, a mother once saw only her face in the mirror,
Her mind was once a basket full of clothes, bags, shoes;
Who enters a gate cheered by familiar faces,
Knowing not, her path ahead was a thousand guesses!

Then she hears the cry of the first baby,
She floats around like a butterfly,
Squeezing and admiring the life that’s from her,
Saying ‘ugh’, her pooh she almost couldn't bear.

Then she heard another baby’s cry.
And then another. And another!
She forgets the days of the week,
That familiar face in the mirror she now couldn’t seek.

Then the baby coughs, her temperature high!
The fragile girl who once could only sigh,
Now springs about like a seasoned soldier,
It's clear no mountain's too high for a real mother.

Yes, she’s still afraid of the dark,
But she is very brave.
Yes, she couldn't lift a big bottle of mineral water,
But she is very strong.

Yes, she could turn around to her carefree past,
But she wouldn’t.
Yes, she could look at her mirror ‘all’ day long,
But she didn't.

Why I know what's a real mother?
Because I was with one. And now I am with another.
They are made of stuffs that could only come from above,
Different they maybe, yet they both are made of LOVE!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What is The Truth? (Final Part)

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." – John 8:32

In part 1, we learned that the truth is naked, but the lies and deceits by us and by others keep it hidden from plain view. It is simple, yet our fears, wrong beliefs, prejudices and biases make it difficult for us to see it.

In part 2, we learned that the truth is absolute. It doesn’t change over time. It is not dependent on us; it doesn’t sway to the direction we want to go. Therefore, it is important for us to find out if our reality aligns with the truth.

In part 3, we learned that the truth is usually bigger that our ability to perceive. No one can tell exactly what the future will be – yes we can make a guess or projection, but that’s it. But there is a way for us to be assured of the future without actually perceiving it all.
In part 4, we learned that there are physical and spiritual truths, and that for us to flourish we must know and obey both truths specially those governing the spiritual realm since we are engaged in a spiritual battle daily. For us to be victorious, and navigate our way towards the right path, we have to read The Book.

In this final part, I will touch on the power of the truth.

When I was in grade 5, I had terror teacher. She was around 40 to 50-year old, dark brown-skinned, chubby and taller than any of us. Everybody was terrified of her specially me. Why?

First, she was a math teacher. There was something about math that quickened my heartbeat. Maybe because I still employed all my fingers and toes to add and subtract, and I still wrote a lot of sticks on a scratch paper to help me multiply and divide numbers. My only consolation then was that I wasn’t alone.

Second, she wore a long dark green skirt that did not only serve as her lower uniform, but also as a dungeon for those unlucky students who got called to do a board work but failed. Yes, she would literally push an ‘unlucky’ student into the inside of her skirt – I once saw my best friend disappeared in there for a few seconds after he made a mistake in his board work. It was scary. I couldn't imagine myself going down there.

So you can imagine my greatest fear in grade 5. I was terrified. I was miserable. Because I was dumb in math.

Fast forward six years later. I was already a freshman in an engineering course. I was vibrant. I was having the time of life; I was so happy. Because I became good at math and my teachers recognized me it.

What happened between my grade 5, and freshman year in college? Did I drink a ‘math’ potion or did I take brain-enhancing vitamins or did I have a brain transplant? (Yes, the difference was that BIG.)

The answer to those questions is of course no. But I can give you three reasons to my dramatic change.

First, I found a good reason to study math; I wanted a better future and a profession in the field of engineering was my chosen ticket.

Second, I had a teacher who helped me understand math. Plus my math teachers in college were great teachers.

Third, I studied really hard.

Now I can say that the main reason why I was terrified and miserable in my ‘terror’ teacher’s class was because I hadn't learned some crucial lessons math. There were so many learning gaps that I couldn’t grasp and appreciate her lessons. I missed out some truths.

Are you terrified with the future? Is your life miserable right now?

Maybe you have learning gaps in the subject called Life Living. Maybe you haven’t learned yet those lessons that could have helped you avoid the mess you are in right now. Maybe you're missing out some crucial truths in life.

I didn't do well in math until my learning gaps were filled in. Unless the void in your life is filled in by truths that comes from our Creator, then you will not have peace and joy in your heart. Like the grade 5 version of me, you will be afraid, miserable, and uncertain of what will happen to you or your love ones. And oftentimes without you knowing why.

As the Holy Bible has said, the truth is that it will set you free from the fear, misery and uncertainty of life so that you can start living, instead of dying.

PS: Special thanks to those who followed me and supported me in this series, What is the Truth?