My Top Philippine Drama List

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I’m not a fan of Philippine drama series, so it amazes me when people can actually talk non-stop about the latest episode of their favorite teleserye. Pinoy dramas have either very predictable plots – complete with exchanged children at birth, kidnapping, delayed police response, and guns – or are too Americanized, adapting Western culture when it comes to fashion and work environment, and showcasing quite a liberated interpretation of dating and being in a relationship.

Am I conservative? Maybe, but do you actually expect a woman dressed in skimpy shorts to go to the office and be treated with courtesy and professionalism? I don’t think so. And no, the Philippines does not yet tolerate a rather generous display of skin and flesh roaming around her streets.

And because I’m done with the mediocrity of our own teleseryes, it becomes such a joy when I hear of a new series that promises a story out of the usual Mara Clara twist and ending.

Here are the series that topped my list:

1. On the Wings of Love
Cast: James Reid and Nadine Lustre

Yes, I’m feeling #SepAnx right now. OTWOL is the only legit Kapamilya teleserye I have watched ever since Jericho Rosales and Kristine Hermosa starred in the original Pangako Sa ‘Yo — well, partly because the TV at my parents’ house couldn’t catch the ABS-CBN signal. 😛

No other teleserye, apart from Korean drama, has stirred my emotions the way OTWOL did — to the point that I chose not to watch for more than 2 weeks because of the extreme hate I felt for Simon, that scumbag!

I also liked the use of symbolism throughout the story — the doves, the barriers that were prominent whenever conflict arose. Pampu/Mekeni had a follow-through in the ending, which made me think, “Wow, this series was well thought of.”

While there were a lot of kissing scenes between Clark and Leah, the scenes didn’t look forced. I wouldn’t say it was Americanized, because after all, the setting was in the US, so it was natural for people there to just… go all the way.

The show also focused on the Filipino family, and that is something we have to be proud of.

And then, there was the very redundant “Pag mahal ka, babalikan ka.” Well, it served its purpose, to the doves and to the main actors. 👌

Proud OTWOLista here!

2. My Husband’s Lover
Cast: Tom Rodriguez, Dennis Trillo and Carla Abellana

This series changed the way I looked at GMA shows. Although I am not in favor of same-sex marriage, I did not feel offended or violated when I watched the show. MHL had a great way of delivering a neutral message to its viewers.

What I like best about it, apart from Tom’s smile, is the cinematography. Even the scenes that did not need any dialog but had every detail in place for the viewers to understand, or even wonder about. Its focus on the present was a relief from the obligatory flashbacks we often see on TV.

Same old stories, no matter how good the actors are, get boring over time. Sometimes, we just have to hand it over to the new breed of actors and directors – thanks to their creativity, we get to enjoy innovation in our teleseryes.

PS. Are you looking for number 3 and so on? Sorry, only 2 made this list. 😛

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Faith Lessons and Others in between

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1 Peter 1:6-7 pretty much sums up what happened to me during the last three weeks. The whole pregnancy and miscarriage ordeal sure brought to light what I’ve been missing all this time. Here are 5 lessons I have learned through this experience:

1. God has woven in me the perfect temperament, and I couldn’t ask for anything more, or less. I mean, I’ve heard of stories from friends who had miscarriages. Most of them went through mild depression, self-pity, and different stages of anger and hate. I, on the other hand, spent almost a day dwelling on our loss; nevertheless, I was able to get back up after a quick devotion and talk with the Lord. Had I been a Melancholy, I would have sulked for weeks, overthinking why I had to experience such demise. I am just overwhelmed at how God has put everything in my life in order, and how He made me just as I am – a Sanguine Choleric who lives for the day and possesses all the hope in the world.

2. In times of crisis, I can actually be strong — very strong. Most people who know me from childhood would disagree. I know they see me as a huge coward who’s scared stupid of cockroaches, frogs and rats — yep, I know that. And I don’t deny that I am scared of a whole lot of things, the future included. I’m afraid of physical pain — needles, getting fractured, getting terribly sick and every single thing that needs medical attention. Only after the day of my miscarriage and when one of my aunts told me that I was indeed very brave to deal with the situation — and the contractions — alone did I realize that yeah, I could actually forget my fears and deal with the circumstances head on.

3. I am We are blessed with very supportive and loving friends and family.

4. My ordeals develop faith in others. In the past week, I have been receiving some very encouraging messages from friends and family — most of whom I didn’t even expect to be updated about my condition. A particular message touched my heart when this acquaintance-turned-good-friend shared that like me, she was not yet ready to have a baby. After reading my blog post, she said that “[my] experience really inspired [her] a lot, especially when [ I ] started talking about ‘faith.'” According to her, “if it is in God’s time already, who are we to refuse His gift?” Her message brought me to tears, and I couldn’t help but thank God for allowing me to experience this miscarriage so that other couples and soon-to-be mothers will be strengthened through me. Truly, this faith resulted in praise, glory and honor of Jesus.

Not only that. Even people who do not usually mention God’s name miraculously did so in their efforts to encourage me, probably because they knew I am a Christian. But hey, they must have mustered all their strength just to type G-O-D! And for that, all glory belongs to Him, the author and perfecter of our faith. 🙌

5. Lastly, when on social media, many people take things at face value. They do not really take time, or might not have time, to read everything posted. They see things as WYSIWYG — and that’s quite dangerous, especially when the appropriate word to say is sorry, but they blurt out a big congratulations. 😛 Oops, don’t worry. I’m fine with the congratulatory messages, contrary to what others might think. It’s not in my DNA to get offended over simple and petty things like forgotten greetings or wrong choice of words. There is so much more to life than holding grudges. 👌

Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of His victory. — 1 Peter 1:7 MSG

Ending My 8-Week Struggle

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If there is one thing I am not prepared for at this moment, it is motherhood.

Please don’t mistake my unpreparedness for not wanting to have a child. I do want to have children. In fact, I’ve got their names listed already, just in case Jets forgets them or their spellings.

My struggle started in December when I started experiencing different kinds of pain in my body. I thought I was just going to have my period, but it didn’t come. I scratched off the thought of being pregnant, because hey, we were very careful, and I was wary enough to take note of my fertile period. No way, I said to myself, it was too early.

However, as much as I wanted not to be pregnant, all those cravings came rather frequently. I still thought it was just a sign of PMS. One time, I badly wanted a burger from The Black Apartment. I went there with the husband hungry and excited. We even ordered buffalo wings because we were that famished. Our orders came, and after finishing half of my burger, the patty lost its appeal and I just didn’t want to eat anymore. It was rather unusual because I could usually finish a TBA burger no matter how big it was.

Chopsuey, on the other hand, is the one thing I didn’t want to get near to — chopsuey from Foods ‘R’ Us, to be specific. Just the thought of it made be nauseous. Aaaargh, these hormones!

January came and I still didn’t have my period. I felt that something was growing inside me, not to mention all the discomforts that came with it. I googled everything I was feeling, and indeed, they were signs of pregnancy. Would you believe I even incurred patchy alopecia areata, and it was also a sign of pregnancy?

Oh, it was the hardest time of my life. For four weeks, nobody knew, all because I had a hard time accepting this reality.

Gradually, Jets noticed that I wasn’t having my monthly dysmenorrhea episodes and he began questioning me if I’ve had my period already. He was quite sure that I might be pregnant, so he was pushing me to take a pregnancy test. I tried to buy time and was fairly successful. I wanted to take the test when I was ready, even though I already had two PTs in my hands, courtesy of the school nurse.

Before taking the test, I wrestled with God — yes, the same wrestling Jacob experienced. My devotions in Hebrews were a constant reminder to put my full trust in the Lord, but I was still in denial. I tried to reason with God that with the monthly income that we have, we are not capable of giving our baby the best of everything. It was all I was worried about — how we didn’t have enough. I mean, we could barely get through a month’s expenses. How much more if there was an addition to the family?

The hardest part these past weeks was knowing exactly the key to ending my struggle but not being able to apply it because my fears were larger than my faith.

But God never gave up on me. He continued to encourage me through my devotions.

Jesus is the same always. – Heb 1:12

God helps His children. – Heb. 2:16

Fix your thoughts on Jesus. Do not harden your heart. – Heb 3:1,7

When the Lord makes a promise, He never changes His mind. – Heb. 7:21

Leave without knowing where to go. – Heb. 11:8

Those who have faith will enter God’s rest. – Heb. 4:3

And that was it. I was struggling because I didn’t have faith. I couldn’t sleep and be at peace because I didn’t trust God enough to let Him do His work in my life.

My struggle was not about how I was scared and unprepared for the coming of a baby. My struggle was about faith — faith that I failed to put into action. I let the control freak in me overcome my gift to move mountains. Because I was so engrossed with setting everything in place, I soon forgot that God’s will should first be in place, and everything would just follow.

I ended my faith struggle with a larger faith – a faith that allows my plans to be shaken and my life to be messy and disorganized.

On January 27, I took the test and accepted that I was indeed pregnant.

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On January 30, Jets’ birthday, we went to the doctor for a check-up. It was my birthday gift to him, because he was very excited to have a baby. The doctor suggested to have an ultrasound because, she said, she couldn’t hear the baby’s heartbeat.

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I didn’t know what to feel, but I went in anyway and had my very first ultrasound. I even asked Jets to come with me since I wanted him to get everything the doctor says.

As I looked at the monitor, the doctor pointed at the sac and the embryo. I thought I was smiling that time, seeing that tiny dot inside my tummy.

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The sonologist called Jets in so she could explain it further. I saw the look on his face as the doctor pointed at the embryo — it was priceless. That’s when I realized that I could actually go through all this, even the pain of child-bearing, if it meant seeing my husband’s incomparable joy every single day.

However, his facial expression slowly turned from hopeful to hopeless, as the doctor explained that the embryo had no heartbeat, no cardiac activity.

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My ultrasound results.

I was emotionless, but I felt the devastation that came upon Jets that exact time.

It’s been 2 days since that check-up, and it’s almost like my conscience is telling me that it’s my fault — that the baby didn’t have a heartbeat because I didn’t want it first.

I don’t know what will happen next, but right now, I am just fixing my eyes on Jesus, overlooking all my struggles, worries, and fears. Whatever the Lord allows to happen, I think He has already prepared me with a larger, more encompassing faith than before.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith… – Heb. 12:2a

PS. As of posting today, February 5, the embryo came out this morning after a 3-hour contraction. It was the most grueling 3 hours of my life, and Jets wasn’t even home. But God is good — He helped me through it.

Tomorrow, we will be going to my OB for her next advice regarding my condition. Thank you for all your prayers. God has other plans, and we know they’re for the better. 😄

My Official 2016 Reading List

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Aaand today’s Listers Gotta List challenge is… tada… My Official 2016 Reading List!

I guess there’s no escaping reading now that I am blogging about it. So here goes my list of readables that I hope to finish with flying colors by the end of the year.

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Lila ang Kulay ng Pamamaalam by RM Topacio-Aplaon

1. Lila ang Kulay ng Pamamaalam by RM Topacio-Aplaon

This is one of the novels of a friend whose wild imagination I can barely comprehend. 👌
While I have read the e-book version until the third chapter, I might even be more excited to read the printed copy.

2. Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

I still haven’t read this book which I bought two years before I got married. I think it’s about time.

3. Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata by Ricky Lee

and

4. Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog by Edgar Calabia Samar

Simply because I need to start reading fiction again, this time in Filipino. I’ve had my share of Sweet Valley High and Love Stories pocketbooks in high school, and all they left in me were Wattpad-worthy plots with barely any depth. Oops, sorry.

With 4 on the list, plus the whole Bible to work on, I think I might be able to feed my brain well this year. 💪💪💪

Of Gifts and Hobbies

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My DIY planner -- an old Usana binder covered with cloth and inserts I printed (both self-made and from online craftees).

I love notebooks! Journals, diaries, organizers, planners, notepads and colorful pens make me super happy — the same happiness and kilig ice cream gives me! I guess whatever we want to receive on our special days all comes down to one thing – our hobbies.

I am so awed at people who have hobbies that are totally incongruent with their jobs or their academic capabilities. An example is a friend from college. He was one of the smartest people I knew; he was also one of the weirdest. He loved reading books on psychology and philosophy, yet Playboy and FHM magazines were also part of his library. He had the most objective opinions and ideals. He drank; he smoked; he even smoked marijuana, but his fancy for little kids was so endearing one would think he’s already a father. 🙂

So back to what I was saying. We usually classify people according to their looks, their brains, and even their upbringings, but we can’t judge them for what they do in their secret times and places. For me, hobbies define the heart of a person – the inner personality only he/she and God know, and whatever gift we always look forward to on our birthday and at Christmas only reflects our values and belief system – who we are when no one’s looking and how we view ourselves in relation to the world and life itself.

Since forever I’ve thought of myself as a poet, a playwright, a female Shakespeare clothed in thick adipose tissue. If I had to express myself, I would gladly do so in writing — in poetry more often. I couldn’t imagine my life without words written by my calloused fingers.

The funny thing, though, is when I receive a journal or a notebook that I actually terribly like, I don’t use it just yet. I keep it on display until I grow tired of poring over it and admiring its pages. Until a new and fancier one arrives, I wouldn’t be using my beloved journal for just any writing. It should contain my best works, my best poems or stories. This was the case until September 30, 2011. I didn’t have spare money to buy a new devotional journal, but I had all those cute diaries from Korea and Taiwan that I didn’t want to use for JUST any writing. I had them for display!

Then came the voice of thunder. Yeah, God spoke to me about my pretty journals.

I came to realize that daily devotions are NOT just any writing. It’s God’s voice in a horrid and unpleasant situation. It’s His comforting embrace amidst a dark and repulsive state of mind. It’s passionate, unconditional love pouring out on a seemingly hopeless life. Why couldn’t I dedicate even one of my favorite notebooks to the One who gave His one and only, of course, favorite Son for my salvation? *bangs head on the table*

God gave His best for me. What is a notebook compared to Jesus? I know – a speck of dust in a palace of pure, untarnished gold. I doubt if it has any purpose at all. If I don’t give my best and all the best gifts I have received to God, do I have a right to claim the perfect Gift of all as my own? Not a chance.

So yeah, I like all these stuff for writing, but over the years, I learned not to buy the prettiest. Looks might mislead me to a different purpose, and I wouldn’t want that. ✌

One Word: FOCUS

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December seems to be one of the busiest months of the year, especially in the Philippines, where the holiday rush is just as normal as the next biggest SM sale, not to mention that it spans for more than a month!

Aside from December being our wedding anniversary month, all kinds of reunions are being held here and there. While I do love this month mostly because I get to spend some ‘me-time’ amidst all the busyness, I sometimes dread having time to spend at home — there are just too many things to do!

Now with only a little more than two weeks before the year ends, here is a list of the things I wish I could HAVE TO focus on:

Ultimate home cleaning. Yes, this comes first. Why? Simply put, I am not good at cleaning. Before I got married, I dusted the window screen once every two years, sorted my stuff out once a year, and rarely dusted or mopped the floor. I am not good at this stuff. In fact, I can live with clutter. However, being a good wife requires me to be excellent at it. So yep, I’ll be focusing most of my chakra on the house. 😛

My blogging career. De-cluttering my mind. Of course, I would like to spend more time blogging about all the things, God knows how many, I’m ranting about every single day, but before I could blog, I believe it is important to free my mind from the chaos inside it.

Shying away from social media. This falls under the ‘De-cluttering my mind’ category. Facebook is too loud. There are just too many things going on in the news feed alone, which makes me wonder if I’m getting enough brain exercise to keep myself productive.

Spending time with my notebooks. To effectively ditch the unnecessary, I have decided to write them off. I hope I succeed.

Strategic planning. As what has been constant in the past years, I have always started strong in planning and organizing my life. The sad part creeps in from the middle to the end. I even buy planners, but seldom finish them until the end of the year. Hence, I am dedicating my Christmas vacation to planning how to efficiently plan my life for the months to come.

I wanted to write more, but then, the word, focus, would lose meaning.

#ListersGottaList

Something New

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The husband and I have been invited to speak about Christian Dating, Marriage and Purity several times already. The fact that we got married without a baby in my tummy probably made us the perfect tandem to discuss the topic.

I got so used to speaking in front of teenagers and yuppies about dating that I have forgotten the existence of other topics. ✌

Just two weeks ago, we were invited to teach young children at church for their anniversary. The theme, Dakilang Manunubos, Ipakilala nang Lubos, was a challenge. I’ve never discussed topics related to missions — and now, I even had to teach children about it. I guess that’s what levelling up means — exploring brand new stuff with a new audience.

I simply grabbed the opportunity to speak to the children. I knew I had a lot of things going for the past two weeks, but it’s not for me to reject any chance to share God’s word, especially when this gift is not natural to me. Yep, it was only after I have developed a more intimate relationship with the Lord that I was endowed with a gift of speaking His word. 🙂

To be honest, it is even harder for me to teach with a partner. Of course, Jets and I have different teaching styles because we have very contrasting personalities. He’s the fun teacher; I’m the serious one. I guess that’s how we came up with our Junior Worship teaching setup that Sunday — he facilitated the games, and I taught the lesson.

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READY, SET, GO. Jets was instructing the kids which message to relay to their group mates in our Pass-the-Message game.

Looking back, I realized that as a married couple, immersing ourselves in the company of kids makes us more mature. It develops what is lacking in us — patience and tolerance for children.

It was also fun seeing the husband mingle enthusiastically with the children. There were times that Sunday when we were starting to panic and subconsciously snap at each other, but thank God, we managed to pull it off.

While it was tiring and challenging to teach the children, I would not miss the opportunity to minister to them if given another chance. 🙂