Meant To Be

Some things are meant to be. Yes, no matter how much you try to avoid them, they just can catch up with you.

Some things, too, are not meant to be. Yes, no matter how much you pursue them, you can’t seem to catch up with them.

Why? Because if things are plainly within our reach and within our plans, then there would be no need for Someone to see us through. But that Someone just wants to be a part of us. Yes, He is.

So no matter how good we are, or how excellently we can plan, a mere twist of fate can change things. Covid19 pandemic has made us realize this. Businesses, big and small, and the experts in all fields could not have thought that a small virus could stop the world.

It happened. Some things are bound to happen.

It is when unexpected things happen that we sit down and reflect. It is when we are in the abyss that we look up and see the bright shining star. From where we are, we see flickering starlights. But when we are down below, we focus on that one shining star; the tipping point.

The whisper of the coolest breeze alerts us to action. It gives us a new hope. We have to get up from where we have sunk so low and slowly rise once again. This time, we take more careful steps and we do not forget the lessons we have learned.

We need to be atuned to this Someone. We need to validate our actions against His plans for us. Yes, we have a purpose. We need to pursue that purpose; but only with His guidance. Only then can we create an impact, a legacy, a footprint; one that delights Him and one that engraves His name.

His Name is Jesus.

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She Looked Back

There was a long line of vehicles; the wait was like forever. The entire day stood still as the rains kept pouring. The wind was angrier by the minute. Everyone was confused. Murmurs became louder. Food from the snackbar became the tension reliever.

“When is the barge coming?” This question was asked by anyone to anyone. No one knew the answer.

The unclear blare from a megaphone quieted everyone. “What did it say?” No one understood completely.

But who could give the right answer when everything beyond the port was dark. Not one knew what was behind that silhouette of dark clouds and pouring rain.

Everyone was praying. Rosaries were out from the bags and pockets. The murmurs stopped. Time stood still. It was time to pray.

As though prayers were answered, the sound of the barge came through the walls and glass windows. “The barge is here!” Everyone started to yell. As if on cue, everyone stood up, pushed one another to get to the line.

“First come First Serve,” said the Port Manager. “Do not panic; we are not boarding, yet,” he continued. Then he told everyone that not all could be accommodated; only a handful. Everyone started to murmur. Many complained. The crowd became a throng of angry people. They pushed and they pushed. Just minutes ago they were praying. But they could not be stopped.

The Port Manager left and the crowd hushed.

“We are now boarding those with Ticket numbers 1 to 150,” came the loud announcement. Everyone looked into their tickets. Then hands started to be raised. “What about us? When will we board?”

The Port Manager let off a loud and heavy sigh. He shouted at the top of his voice saying, “Is it our fault that there is a storm? Did we make the storm happen? Am I a God who can calm the storm? You better continue praying instead of complaining.” The Port Manager let of his heaviest sigh; a disgust of the crowd.

So the first one hundred fifty passengers got into the line. Nenita was one of them. She was going home with her children. Nenita had mixed feelings. She was happy that she could take her children home. But she was terrified to ride the barge in the storm. She held on to her children as she continued to pray. “Lord, please ride with us in this storm,” Nenita kept repeating this prayer in her heart.

It was dark out there in the sea. The waves pounded on the walls of the barge. Everyone screamed at every beating of the waters. Everyone got hold of life jackets. “Mother, we do not have life jackets. There is none left,” said the youngest child of Nenita. “It is okay, my child, let us just sit down and pray,” Nenita courageously pacified her son.

But the storm grew worse. The barge seemed like it was giving up. The sound of steel cracking at the beating of each wave sent chills and cries to the passengers.

Nenita, shyly stood up and said, “Dear friends, is it alright with all of you if we start praying in unison?” Then wide-eyed stares looked at Nenita. One Mother shouted, “Yes, let us pray as one.”

So Nenita led the prayer of the faithful ones. Each prayer was answered by the sound of the waves and the wind. “Let us pray louder than the winds,” said Nenita.

And they prayed.

It was a miracle that the barge arrived safely at its destination. It was a strong storm. When the barge docked at the port, people were again pushing against each other. Everyone wanted to be the first to get out of the barge.

Nenita and her children remained seated. They were still praying; thanking the Lord for answering their prayers. As almost everyone had left, Nenita told her children that it was also time for them to disembark.

And one woman came back. She said, “Thank you for leading us in prayer. We are home.” Nenita smiled and replied, “Thank God for the miracle.”

Dovey’s Slingbag

It was a bright sunny day. All the birds were out. They were flying everywhere. They were having so much fun. “This is the day!” One bird loudly exclaimed; and all the birds cheered along. They went into formations following Eaglet, their leader.

Eaglet did all amazing bird dives. He flew up so high that birds could not see the exact height where Eaglet went. Then out from somewhere, Eaglet would come flying into the ocean and he would catch a fish and held it up with his handsome beak. Everyone applauded. Everyone cheered. “Cheers to Eaglet!” That was the chant that all the birds were shouting at the top of their tiny voices.

Then Eaglet did his somersaults; that was his forte. He would curl his body and flipped 360’s several times over. “Amazing, Eaglet!” Everyone cheered on. Eaglet was happy, too. On such a lovely day, everyone was there to see his performance.

It was a fun day for everyone.

But not for one little dove. She was perched on a tree that was covered with leaves. She was sitting there with her mother. She was watching all the other birds who were having a fun time. She had fun, too. She cheered for Eaglet even if she could not really see what Eaglet was doing. Her view was only limited because the leaves around her were just too thick and green and lovely.

“Mother,” Dovey said.

“Yes, my dear Dovey, what is it?” Mother Dove’s voice was always calm. It was like a song to the ears of Dovey.

“I’m sad,” said Dovey. Mother Dove looked at her only baby and said, “Why are you sad, my dear Dovey?”

“Why can’t I be like the other birds? Why can’t I be like Eaglet?” Dovey’s question was too much for Mother Dove to bear. But Mother Dovey regained her composure and got on with her most tender voice. “You see, my dear Dovey, when you were born, I praised and thanked God that He gave me a cute little baby with one leg.”

“Why, Mother? How can you thank God that I am weak with only one leg? How can I be born with one leg?” Dovey was almost in tears as she continued with more questions that Mother Dove pondered in her heart.

“You see, my dear Dovey, you are different. When you fly, I have to be by your side and hold your other wing. When you are perched on a tree just like now, I sit beside you to make sure you do not fall. When you go out to hunt for food, I go with you. We do all things together.” Mother Dove hugged Dovey and poured all the love from her heart.

“Are you happy that I am like this, Mother?” Dovey was wiping off her tears.

“Yes, my dear Dovey. You are different. You see, Eaglet is amazing and many like him. Eaglet is soaring so high because one day he has to start on his own. But you will always be with me. I will always be with you.” Mother assured Dovey as she kissed Dovey’s forehead.

“Come on, my dear Dovey, do you want to fly high, too? It is such a lovely day. Let’s pack our bags with our little seeds and share these with others. Do you want that?” Mother Dovey was already picking up their little seeds and put them in their birdy slingbags.

“Yes, Mother, let’s do that. That is what I have always wanted in all of my life.” Dovey said.

Mother Dove and Dovey busily packed their tiny little birdy slingbags with their little seeds. They were singing their beautiful song along.

“We will fly in the sky; this is the day.

We will see Mister Sun and say hello to the One.

We will say to the clouds; please let us pass

We will tell Mister Rain; please hold the clouds for a bit.

We want to fly. We want to fly. We want to fly.

We want to see the world for just a while.”

That was the song that Mother Dove taught to Dovey.

“Are you ready, my dear Dovey?” Mother Dove was checking on Dovey and she was making sure that her birdy slingbag was tightly strapped to her frail body.

“Yes, Mother, I am ready! Let’s go, Mother,” said Dovey.

Off they went. They started low and higher and higher; still gleefully singing the only song that they knew.

“Look, Mother, Mister Rainbow is out today. Can we greet him first?” Dovey was so excited to see the rainbow.

“Yes, my dear Dovey. Let’s go over to greet Mister Rainbow and thank him for this day,” said Mother Dove.

They smiled to Mister Rainbow and they bowed as they continued to fly.

They flew over places covered with Red. Mother Dove and Dovey dropped their little seeds on Red and flew by. They looked behind them and saw that Red turned into Blue; and they continued singing.

Mother Dove and Dovey spent their whole day flying; resting only on some trees for food and water. They were so happy that they have shared their little seeds with Red; and Blue was everywhere around them.

When they were back on their nest Mother Dove said, “My dear Dovey, did you see what we did today?”

“Yes, Mother, the Red turning into Blue was very magical,” said Dovey.

“No, my dear Dovey, that was not magic. It was a miracle!” Mother Dove hugged her little Dovey as she thanked God for this precious gift. Dovey will always be with her and she will always be with Dovey.

We are all born with our own uniqueness. We thank God for that. We can always make a difference even with our limitations. We are grateful for that, too.

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Psalm 139:13-14

Bruises Gone and the Heart Heals

It was already late in the evening. But the City was still awake. Zenaida and her classmates were still enjoying the night. It was after all a Friday night and as people would say, “Thank God It’s Friday!” The Karaoke singing went on and on and the boys, that included Zenaida’s husband, were already, somehow, drunk; you could tell by the way they sang. They had become bolder and more out of tune. But it was okay. The point was just to enjoy the night after that very difficult exam they had.

Zenaida was just observing her classmates and friends. She always had fun talking to them. She could relate to their happy moments. They did not know, though, that Zenaida had fears in her heart. Her greatest fear was to go home.

The bar was closing and so everyone slowly left the Karaoke room; still laughing on the endless jokes from everyone. The fear in Zenaida’s heart was starting to become bigger and bigger. How would she ride home in their car when her husband was also drunk? She also knew that he was into drugs. She was not afraid of his driving skills. She knew that he could drive home even when he was totally spent. But her fear…her fear was that her husband may hurt her again, physically and brutally; as he had always been doing this to her over the years.

They were on their way home. Zenaida kept quiet; afraid that any word may trigger her husband’s irritable temper. And BOOM! Out of nowhere, he threw his anger again. “Why are you silent?” This was his question which Zenaida did not know how to answer. “I am just a little bit tired,” she softly said. “I don’t think that is the reason why you are silent!” He demanded. Zenaida bit her lips and quietly sighed in prayer. “Come Holy Spirit, please Come!”

“Are you murmuring? Are you complaining?” He was at it again. This time, his voice was very loud that it resounded on all the walls of the car and even the tires could hear him. He was shouting at the top of his voice. He sped off and drove faster in the night. Zenaida was really afraid this time. She did not want to be in an accident. “Oh, dear Lord, please do not let me die, yet. Please!” She was praying intently.

They were still half-way through their journey home. The car was speeding so fast and it was the only loud sound that disturbed the quietness of the night. “Are you afraid to die?” He shouted and hit Zenaida’s head that hit the window of the car. Zenaida felt the pain but she could not complain. She could not even cry as she was afraid that her husband might get angrier. “Why are you not crying? Are you not afraid of me?” He was testing the limits of Zenaida’s patience. The more he shouted, the more Zenaida prayed fervently.

But he would not stop. He drove faster; twice the speed limit. Zenaida was already trembling in fear. “Please stop. Please slow down.” Zenaida was begging. But he would not stop. He hit her again on the head and the arms. His big hands were surely stronger than what Zenaida ever remembered. This was not the first time of her being physically abused in the car, in the house, or elsewhere. But this time, Zenaida felt the difference. Perhaps, she already became weaker with all the blows that she received over time. The pain that she received this time did not send her to tears. But the memories of all that she went through flashed into her mind and tears started to fall; as if to wash her pain.

Zenaida’s husband saw that she was starting to cry. This triggered another fit of anger from him. He slowed down and hit Zenaida several times on the head, the shoulders, the arms. Zenaida was silently crying. Tears did not stop falling. She wanted to stop crying; but she could not.

The car finally stopped. Zenaida’s fear was now bigger than her nightmares. Her husband wanted to hurt her more. Zenaida quickly went out of the car and ran as fast as she could to nowhere in the darkness of the night. She just ran and ran and ran faster and prayed harder. “Lord, please save me!”

The Lord must have heard her. A well-lighted gate was slightly opened. Unafraid of what she would be encountering inside the gate, Zenaida went through and closed the gate after her. All eyes were on her. They were all men inside the compound. They were working on pipes. They all looked at Zenaida and they were shocked. Zenaida said to them, “Please help me. Please hide me from my husband. Please do not let him in. Please!” One of the men approached Zenaida. He was full of pity for her. He brought her to a shed and told her to hide. Just then, everyone inside that compound heard the knocking on the gate.

“Have you seen a woman just now? She came in here.” Zenaida could hear her husband asking the guys inside the compound. The man who helped Zenaida answered, “We did not see anyone here. This gate has always been closed just like right now.” But the husband insisted, “I saw her come in. She must be there inside. Why are you hiding her from me? I am her husband.” But the man insisted that Zenaida’s husband should leave and not to disturb them as they were doing their night work. He told the husband, “If you need help, you can always call the Police. Do you want us to call for you?”

The husband left, afraid of any intervention by the Police. The man locked the gate and asked Zenaida to come out from where she was hiding.

Zenaida thanked him and all the guys there. They offered her coffee and told her to rest a bit. After some time, Zenaida asked for a telephone where she could call somebody. She was led to the Office where she made the call.

Life is always full of surprises; there is pain, there are hurts and there are tons of fun. It is the balance of those things that we want. But the memories in our hearts are always those that set us into the extremes.

Zenaida’s father picked her up from that compound. He did not ask a single question. He just kissed her and hugged her. To Zenaida, that was enough. It took away all the pains.

It was already early morning when Zenaida arrived home. Everyone thought she had a good night. She could not share her bruises, her hurts, her pains to anyone. Yes, she enjoyed the night with her classmates and friends. She enjoyed listening to their stories, jokes, and laughter. She just kept the bruises to herself. It was not yet the right time for her to get out from that mess. “It is not yet time. I will persevere,” Zenaida assured herself. She offered to the Lord all the pains she had. They seemed to heal faster than the heart. But Zenaida knew better. She knew that she was worth more than just being the object of fits of anger, of physical abuse, of verbal abuse. She understood that there is a reason for everything. “One day, I will treasure all these in my heart; and I will remember these moments.”

Zenaida took away the bitterness from her heart. She replaced it with a calm surrender. She knew that after the storm is always a calm, a serenity, a bliss. Bruises could easily be forgotten and the heart can heal; in time, with Jesus. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21).

INSTAGRAMMABLE

WE have been through a lot. No one has prepared for what came to us. Not even the Giants were ready for it; how much more the dwarfs. No one thought about it. No one even imagined it. But it did happen. Yes, it happened and we were, we are, and we may still be devastated. We all lost some things, somehow. But it is not correct to say that “we are all similarly situated.” Correctly, we can say, “we are in this together.”

Before the pandemic, businesses had one focused goal – return of investments (ROI). Who would not think of that. Unless we are non-profits or foundations or charities, our business goal would always boil down to profits. There is nothing wrong with that. To deny it is a lie.

But the pandemic has awakened everyone, the government, the private institutions, big businesses, small businesses, big and small communities, brotherhoods, religious organizations, families, and peers that the saying, “No man is an island” is indeed true. What started in Wuhan spread throughout the world in just days and months. Realistically, though, our first reaction was to close down our doors. Yes, we literally closed down our doors.

But our altruistic nature sees things differently. We opened our hearts and we voluntarily helped one another. That is the most beautiful impact that came out from the worst situation that we were in. We realized that we cannot be “an island of blessings and opportunities in an ocean of turmoil and pain.”

Today, as the effects of covid19 has slowly eased up, we are coming out as renewed “selves.” We are not going back to where we were before covid19. We are moving forward. There is nothing to go back; as we saw how devastating the effect it can be, if we still follow the same protocols as before. There is no going back. We have to move forward with a better resolve.

With this scenario, what’s best for us? With what we have been through, what’s there for us to do? With what we have been through, how can we be resilient? We always say we are resilient. But how can we be resilient? What is the deeper meaning of even saying that “we are resilient?”

CHANGE is the only permanent thing in this world. We cannot deny change. We cannot ignore change. We cannot allow change to keep us stuck where we are. We must ride with change. Only then can we become relevant, realistic, and resilient; the 3Rs.

TIME is not something that we can afford to buy. No one does; no one can. So, if we do not act now then when? Time is uncertain and we do not know what is in store for us tomorrow. What will the future bring? Covid19 taught us a hard lesson.

So, while change is inevitable and time is uncertain, perhaps the right thing for us to do right now is to review our business plans and see how our story can be retold along with change and time.

Any business plan has a story. There is a beginning and there is that happy ending that we would want to hear, “and they lived happily ever after.” What’s your story? How can you reshape your plan to ensure that somehow it is not insulated but it is amorphous, in the good sense of that word, to the change around us?

As we go along, we will tackle essential business concepts that revolve around the basic elements of any business – purpose, people, processes, and finally our desirable products/services. 4Ps.

  1. PURPOSE. We will see how we can move steadily towards our purpose by discussing on these factors – input, activity, output, outcome, impact.
  2. PEOPLE. We will try our best to understand how we can lift our people to ensure that they, too, grow with our businesses. We remember that people is the backbone of any undertaking.
  3. PROCESSES. We will touch on how our processes can be improved by focusing on what matters most to produce the desirable outcome.
  4. PRODUCTS/SERVICES. We will see how our production of goods or how our services give impact to our communities, our local governments, and the country in general.

It is wrong to presume that only big companies with defined Corporate Social Responsibilities and the activities they undertake are creating impact in our communities. It is also wrong to presume that as SMEs we do not have the accountability to look after our Environmental, Societal, and Governance business model; the ESG model. These are the pillars of building a strong business. These are the foundations of our purpose. These are what makes us “Instagrammable.” We stand out. We stand tall. We gravitate to people. Say “cheese” everyone! Click and share to Instagram.

The 4th Industrial Revolution somehow creates fear of the uncertain. The interplay of the physical, technology, and biological factors has become stronger. The best evidence of that is covid19. But keeping our feet on the ground, we see that we have a bigger challenge before us. How do we ensure that the people who are directly under our care are equipped to face the new demands of this 4th Industrial Revolution in terms of skills, competencies, and means of livelihood?

No one is left behind. That is an ambitious yet very humane goal of the SDG in 2030. But we cannot just sit down and wait and see how the world around us will bring us through so that we would not be left behind. That same question is for us. That question awaits our response; NOW.

How can we be sure that no one is left behind as we go up and achieve our purpose?

The answer is the heart of being a Purpose-Driven Leader. After all, that is what we have been programmed for, to be instagrammably like the One who created us, in His image and likeness; Jesus, our purpose-driven master, a Leader with a heart.

That Purpose

I was listening to a lecture and the Speaker said, “Don’t go around to find your purpose. You may never find it. Go out instead and cultivate the purpose that you know; your passion.”

So what is my purpose? What is my passion? It brings me back to the search for my purpose.

But that Speaker is correct. We do not have to go through all the ends of the earth to find our purpose. She is correct in saying, “You have it in you already.” That is correct. I absolutely agree. But the problem is we are so much distracted by all that we see, hear, sense, or feel. Everywhere around us seems either bliss or difficulties. We look beyond and see the horizon. But when we go after that horizon, we find out that it is not there. It is just a mirage; a neverending dream, an unreachable point.

But there is a purpose; definitely. Proverbs 16:4 tells us, “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” And if that is not enough to convince us that there is a purpose, Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

One day I was watching someone busily doing something along the beachline. He had gallons and sticks. He had gloves on. He had wide-brimmed hat. He was “summery.” He even had a small audio speaker beside him. He had that beach bench with a colorful umbrella. He seemed like he was really having a great time. He was along the path where I was heading. As I was nearing him, I could not help to stop a little and asked, “Hi, what are you trying to make?” I thought he was making a lemonade for sale. I justified my curiosity because I felt awkward with my question. “I am just very curious, forgive my curiosity.” The man smiled back and said, “Actually, I am just mixing this paint for the work that I will do over that road there.” He was pointing to an asphalted road without markings. “You see, a warning sign to protect the tourists is needed there. That’s my work.” He was looking proud at what he will be doing later as he continued gazing on that asphalted road. “Oh, I see, that is great.” And he continued, “I am only doing it here so that I can also feel the sea breeze while I am doing my work under this heat of the sun. At least I make myself believe that I am in the beach.”

Very creative man he was! He knew his purpose. But he made it sure that while he was doing his purpose he was being kind to himself and enjoy the magnificent gift of nature – the beach.

That brings me back to earth right now. What is my purpose? Maybe I have been trying to tire myself by looking for one when in fact I have already found it. Yes, I now understand what the Speaker was saying, “Cultivate your purpose and don’t go looking for it anywhere because you will never find it.” As if she was intentionally sent to prompt me, she said something that went like this, “Your purpose would always be relevant to society – your family, your friends, your community, and people in general. Social impact is what they say it is.

The purpose of my being is already within me. I am made for a purpose. It is now up to me to cultivate that purpose. I have to go back to my inner self and pray. Yes, pray! The One who created me knows my purpose. He alone would know the answer.

And so I pray, “Dear God, please let me know the purpose why you have created me. Please let me do that purpose before I even leave this world. Please make me a part of your legacy. May the footprints that I leave behind be Yours.”

Wrong Impression

Sometimes we tend to overdo things without mindful that others do not understand our actions. Worse if those who see how we acted would not ask for clarification and would rather believe in what they see.

One time I was in a Bible study and the Facilitator asked, “Why do you Catholics treat Mary as a God?” My eyes rolled in disbelief. “Oh no, that is not what we believe in,” I said. Then the Facilitator continued, “Then how come you pray to her for petitions, you ask her for favors, you wipe handkerchiefs on her images, you pray the rosary, ” his litany of religious practices that most Catholics do went on and on.

So I humbly said, “Forgive us, Friend, if we led you to believe that; but that is not correct.” It was the Facilitator this time who was surprised. I continued, “You see, we believe in Mary just like how you believe in her role in the life of Jesus. We know and we acknowledge her importance in the story of our salvation. We are very grateful for her willingness to give her unconditional ‘yes’ to God.”

The Facilitator seemed confused. “Then how come I see those practices being done by Catholics?”

Sometimes in life we tend to overdo things. Sometimes we forget the meaning of what we are doing. Sometimes we just follow what others are doing, blindly or even intentionally.

It is just like in a workplace. Proper training of new entrants dictates that they learn the right concepts, the right processes, the right ways of doing things by reading the work manuals. It is very dangerous to just let them listen and observe; otherwise, they may learn the shortcuts or worse, they learn the wrong protocols. I admire companies who are generous enough to share their Employee Handbook and Manuals to new entrants so that the latter can learn from the horse’s mouth. Thus, it is also very important that these Employee Hadnbook and Manuals are updated.

I grew up as a Catholic. I went to a Catholic school. But it was only when I started attending Christian Bible study groups when I had the chance to really read the Bible. It was only then that I internalized the meaning of the Word and how some religious practices are not written in the Bible. It was then that I understood why there are different Christian groups.

But whatever we believe in, the fact remains that Mary was the mother of Jesus. The fact of her humility and obedience to God could not be denied. Mary said “yes” and that meant a lot to us today.

However we show our love for Mary would be based on our personal relationship with her. However we are so attached to her would be in response to that close relationship with her. Whatever we do to honor her would be our personal concern. What remains is the truth and Jesus is the truth.

It cannot be denied that a mother would always have a special place in the heart of a son. Sometimes, when I want to get a favor from someone who I do not personally know, I would look for means to connect to that someone’s mother. She could help me bring my concern to her son in the most informal and most intimate way; the mother-child relationship. Most often, it works pretty well.

Mary is not a God. To believe so would be sinful as there is only One God. But Mary is the Mother of Jesus and if we have that special relationship with her, she can always help us get that access to her Son’s attention. In the story of the Wedding at Cana, Mary told Jesus that the wedding reception was running out of wine. Jesus answered His Mother saying, “My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4). But just the same, Mary told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5). And Jesus performed His first miracle when He changed water into the best wine in that wedding reception.

We may not love her. We may not adore her. We may not mention her in our prayers. We may not pray the rosary. We may not recite the novenas for her. All of these we do not want to do because we do not want to overdo things. But we simply have to respect her as the Mother of our Lord. That is a fact and we cannot deviate from that truth. Mary was, Mary is, and Mary will always be the Mother of Jesus. So if we say we love Jesus, the Son, then, we respect His Mother.

Are You Okay?

Change is the only permanent thing in this world. I fully agree with this philosophy in life. Elegant and picturesque houses, where before only the moneyed could have, have become reachable, too, for many who have sweated it out to make a home. Cars, where before only the wealthy ones could have, have become a necessity and many more could afford to get one or even two or even three for the family. Designer clothes, where before only some could afford to buy, are also enjoyed now by those who make good plans and strategies to acquire the same. Good food, where before only a few could have, is now within the reach of those who enjoy the fruits of their work.

Yes, change is something that we hope for. It is something that we aspire for. It is something that keeps us moving as we encourage ourselves to move forward even as we see the risks and uncertainties. Change is necessary because it will bring us to something bigger, something better, something that would continuously inspire us as we look for a brighter tomorrow.

But change also haunts us with fear. And if we hide in the dark cave of insecurity and doubt, change may be elusive. We need someone to hold on to or something that we can lean on. We look around and we see the lives of those who have successfully lived their lives by riding on the horse of change, gallantly and unafraid. We see them as pillars of change.

I once was looking up to a person who was strong and determined to make a change. I somehow tried to idolize that person. I followed the person’s way of thinking. I tried to live in her paradigms, too. But I was wrong. Change can also change someone. My picture of that person crumbled to pieces when I saw what happened to the people around her. I only saw the externals but I failed to see the intentions.

This sent me into thinking. Change can only start from within myself. It is the heart that would send out blood to the organs of my body that would propel me to action that would bring about change. I need to change from within if I want to see the change around me. I cannot be a copycat because change for the better tomorrow is lived today with the right set of values and attitude; those that also respect the change that people around me are striving for.

How should I motivate myself then? How can I tell myself that “It is okay; change is along the way.” How can I align myself with the philosophy that “I’m okay when you’re okay.”

Now I am beginning to understand why God is doing what He is doing. I am beginning to understand why Jesus did what He had done. I am beginning to understand why the Holy Spirit does not give up in giving signs and promptings to bring me to a purpose and meaning. God wants me to be okay because God also believes in the saying, “I’m okay when you’re okay.”

Now I am beginning to understand that change is permanent because God is the only permanent being.

Are you okay, Jesus? Are you okay with me? These are the questions that I always ask when I pray. Perhaps, this is my prayer. I will never be okay when Jesus is not okay with me and in me. I pray that as I move along everyday, I should be riding on the back of change, holding on tight so as not to fall when change charges on.

The Uniqueness of You

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: It seems a scary type of being as we look at it from the lens of a third world country like the Philippines, where I came from. Are we there yet as a country? In some ways, yes. But in more ways, no. We are the top texting capital of the world, so that would make us belong to the 4th industrial revolution. Right? We have upgraded our systems so that we can also use Gcash when we pay even when we buy from a sari-sari store. So, it makes us attuned with technology. Right? But do not forget, that our dear farmers are still using the carabaos and the wooden plows in the fields. Do not forget that some of our fellow citizens still do not have their own toilets. Do not forget that some of our fellow citizens do not even have an FB account. Yes, true. We may feel that we are technologically advanced already but there are many of our fellow citizens who are still searching for food in the heap of garbage at the Payatas grounds and elsewhere.

We belong to the third world. Yes, we may feel disenfranchised and marginalized from the world view. But no, we may see it from a positive perspective; as an opportunity to build from our strengths.

What do we have that other countries may not have? We should look at it that way. We cannot be disheartened with the fact of being a poor country. We cannot be frustrated that we do not belong to the upper rich countries of this world. We must look from within and see what our country can offer. We are our country. So, what can we offer? What can you offer?

What do you have that others do not have? Looking from a personal view point, what do you have? What are your strengths? This is the way to survive in this fast-changing world.

The fourth industrial revolution is characterized by speed of breakthroughs. The physical, digital, and biological structures have converged to disrupt our ways of doing things. Production of goods, raising and growing cattle and the like, the making of medicines, 3D printing, the new phase of distribution of goods, and such others have become significantly improved from before. Speed!

Thanks to technological and digital advances, the world has become narrower not smaller. Narrower because the gap between those who have much versus those who have little has widened.

Communication has become a commodity and more and more people have access to data and information. Transparency has become a shout-out because people now are becoming more aware of the impact of events and things to their lives. People care! People matter!

So, for the youth of this age of 4th industrial revolution, how would you respond?

If you were on a dance floor with many people and you want to be noticed, how do you think should you dance along with the music? Would you dance as the way the others are dancing? Would you just sway yourself around? No, right?

  1. If you want to get noticed, surely, before coming to the dance floor, you would have prepared an authentic dress – something not superfluous or extravagant that you could not afford, but something that stands out. Stand out!
  • If you want to get noticed, would you dance in the corner while lowering your head and cowardly hide? Surely not. If you want to get noticed, you will dance at the center of the dance floor because you are confident that you have practiced your authentic dance steps. You will stand tall because you believe in yourself. Stand tall!
  • If you want to get noticed, would you dance by making others uncomfortable with you? Surely not! You will want them to like the way you dance. Right? Gravitate to people!

Standing out. It would take a lot of planning to stand out. You have to think about your end-goal. What is it that you want to achieve? How will you do this? What are the steps that you need to do to accomplish your goal? What are the resources that you need? More importantly, assess and evaluate where you are now. What do you need to get to where you want?

Standing tall. It would take a lot of discipline, determination, diplomacy, and diligence (4Ds) to get to where you want to be. Nothing happens just by waiting for grace to jump on you. You have to strive for that goal. You must be ready to bear and face challenges. You must be ready to accept failures. You must be ready to rise after every fall. You must be ready to tell yourself, “I will not give up!”

Gravitating to people. It takes a lot of courage to get affirmation from others. But this world is about relationships and connectivity. No man is an island. You cannot be great when you feel that others are not as good as you. Self-esteem and humility would tell you that many others are better than you. But you sustain your self-resolution and self-commitment to your plan; you are born unique and never less. So, to make other people like you or whatever you are doing, you have to like them first and respect what they are doing, too. RESPECT for others is very important. It is the most basic Christian value that you must clothe yourself with. Reach out when you need help. Do not be timid. Do not be shy to ask for help. It is okay to let others know that you are in want. Who is not? It is okay to fail. Who has not? It is alright to make mistakes. Who has been correct all the time? Just stand up and let others lift you up. No one can be by himself. We are born to be with people. Gravitate.

This 4th industrial revolution may be predominantly driven by divergence of all technologies; yet, one thing remains: PEOPLE CULTURE. People with good values, people who believe in themselves, people who respect others would still be the most important factors at work, in the community, and in the family. These things remain because these are the basics of our humanity. We are after all uniquely human and no AI, no technology, no biotechnology, nothing can take that away from us. We are born with body, mind, heart, and soul. No one else has that but man.

Be proud that you are a Filipino. Be proud that you are the youth of today. Be proud of your community. Be proud of your family. Be proud of who you are. Stand out. Stand tall. Gravitate to people.

The Curtain

I was walking yesterday in the neighborhood. As I passed the beautiful houses, I tried to see how they looked and what tells one house apart from another. Some had beautiful frontages; well manicured lawns. Some had flowers which were neatly arranged to highlight the entrance. Some had garage doors that were left open. I saw how well arranged were the things inside their garage. Some windows had curtains and some had blinds.

As I was nearing our house, I noticed that it was only the window in my room that had its curtains opened like an arch. I looked again at the other houses. Their curtains were closed. I looked up again to my room; it’s odd. All this time, people who passed by may have wondered why my curtain is open that way.

Funny me! I wake up in the morning and the first thing that I would do is open my curtains. I see it as my welcome of a new day. Whether it is sunny outside, or it is raining, or it is chilly, I still open my curtains. Why?

Back then I would joke people who asked me, “Why do you open your curtains?” I would answer them, jokingly, “Oh, it means my store is open.” Some would say, “What store?”

It could be out of habit that I open the curtains everyday. But really, I am asking myself now why I am opening the curtain and to think that it is the first thing that I do everyday, unconsciously. Now, I am becoming aware that I am doing this.

But why am I doing this?

It is my way of ending my prayer in the morning and my way of saying, “Thank you, dear God, for another day.” A bonus would be if I hear the chirping of the birds. That would make me smile back.

When Jesus breathed his last, the curtain in the temple was torn into two. Accordingly, this meant the end of the old testament and the start of the new testament – Jesus – the truth, the way, the life.

Now that I am conscious that I am opening my curtain out of habit, I am grateful that each morning I can still rise and walk towards the window and say, “Thank you, Jesus. It is another day.”