Bukas Ulit

Posted: August 14, 2018 in Poems
Tags: ,

Bukas Ulit

Ilapat ang masakit na likod sa kama.

Ipagdasal ang mga problema ng, at sa, sarili.

Ipahinga ang pagod na isip.

Itulog ang pagal na puso.

 

Bukas ulit. Bukas, lalaban tayo ulit.

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Hyperbole

Posted: August 7, 2018 in Poems
Tags: , , , , , ,

When you promised me the world
And everything beautiful in it
When you counted for me the stars,
Told me you’d fetch and give them to me
One by one
When you said to me, “Look at the moon, how it shines”
And with a smile whispered,
“it shines because it knows I’m here for you”–
You should’ve heard how serious you sounded.

When you told me you’d cross all rivers
You’d ford all streams
Fend off my every nightmare
And help me reach all my far-off dreams
When you insisted to be the salve
For all my brokenness
To be the balm to soothe all my pain
When you sweetly said, “they’d all leave, but not me. Never.”

When you swore to be my Perseus,
sword at hand, ready to cut off and slay
all the ugly monster heads
to ever rear in my darkest nightmares

When you promised to be swifter than Hermes
and come running to my side at one beck and call
when you claim before all that, like Romeo,
you would only either have life with me
or have no life at all,

When you swore to God you’ll
Outwit the sphinxes,
Out-combat all of Odin’s Valkyries,
Defeat Ares and Athena combined in a war,
Outshine the sun god Ra as he makes his
trip around earth,
go through the gates of Hel and overcome
her territory’s terrors,
All for my sake–

When you convinced me there’s no one else
You can imagine to be with
Today, right now, until you breathe your last,
When you promised me you were sure
To be as the very air I breathe–
Always with me, perennially in my system–
To be my very shadow, never leaving my side
When you vowed to me, “I love you, always,”
You were exaggerating–
Weren’t you?

Irony

Posted: August 7, 2018 in Poems
Tags: , , , , ,
Bea Pangilinan

Photo by: John Carlo Cielo and RJ Fulache

White-washed, plain, smooth walls;
Halls of linear, brown, wooden doors;
Wards full of beds with identical sheets
Smelling of strong ethyl and chlorine.

I sat by my room’s only window—
Glass and sill cleaned a little too well
To protect me from the world’s harms out there.
I looked outside to try remembering
What it’s like to live beyond white walls.

They say I’m missing nothing at all—
Only threats, dangers, and my very death;
That my life is kept better within these walls so white,
with syringes, IVs, and the machine beeping at my side.

“This food will make you stronger,” they would say,
always, as they give me my silver-plated tray.
The IV fluid will fix whatever is wrong,
My two tablets and five capsules would heal what’s broken,
And so long as I stay inside these white walls
I’ll live, and the rest of the details would be rightly woven.

That’s what they say, what I’ve always been told.
And I could never say they’re wrong, but I guess
there’s just a lot of things that they don’t know.

They don’t know that every time I soak my hands
With alcohol to touch nothing after,
I’m being stripped not of my filth but of my joy.

And every time I eat my colorless meals,
My mind and heart cry out I’m being poisoned.
Every time they change my sheets with another dull blanket
I run out of breath a little slowly.
Every time the IV is inserted in my veins
My blood runs dry a little more.
And every intake of my prescriptions
Seems to be little deaths, part by part, little by little,
Capsules replacing my cells a million at a time.

Call this depression, or call it insanity,
But for me it’s just plaintively funny
how the institution that exists to give life
snuffs that very essence out of me.

[This is an edited version of a letter I’ve written to someone in the future. I realize I have been neglecting this blog for some time now. It’s not really because I have nothing new in life. Quite the contrary, life has had me drowning from all the salty waves and stormy winds it throws at me—and I could hardly keep my head above the surface. This letter somewhat summarizes the things I have been dealing with. There are way more than the things I’ve mentioned, of course, but at least I get to share in this platform the lessons God has been teaching me recently.]

 

JULY 29, 2018 | 7:05AM

Dear Future Person,

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Life had recently kept my hands—and heart and mind—so, so full these past months. I got my life turned upside down—in the work, home, church; emotionally, physically, socially… It’s like I’ve recently gone through some major overhauling. I can tell you more of what specifically happened for the first half of 2018, if you don’t know about it yet. But in this letter I want to be raw and vulnerable. I want to tell you how I’ve really been after all the sifting and shaking and breaking. I haven’t also really paused and sat down to think about my emotions and thought processes about all this. So bear with me, as I try to share to you the lessons, realizations, and revelations I have been gleaning in this season of trial and rebuke.

For the first half of 2018, I felt confused with all the occurrences around me. I started asking whether I’m really supposed to stay where I was, or if maybe God was signaling me to go elsewhere. My desire to serve God “more” has led me to thinking that maybe God was leading me somewhere else—where I can do greater acts for Him. Where God could “benefit more” from me. Where even the world would recognize me as a great servant of Christ. Because of that line of thinking, I’ve made some very foolish and rash decisions. I got involved in a group that was proven to be unhealthy and unbiblical later on. That mistake still haunts me even now.

The accumulated stress and exhaustion of my college years and my first year of teaching took a toll on my health. 2017 has been an excessively tiring year for me, especially emotionally (and that’s another story for another time). It took a toll on my health, and I had to stop working for a while. Because of the many surrounding issues of my life, I’ve intended to also not work for at least a semester, or even the entire year. But by the last week of June I found myself getting interviewed for a teaching position in the University of Makati. I started class two days after.

Where has this all left me? My current situation leaves me grasping for breath—every. Single. Day. It leaves me begging God to please give me strength to endure the day. Because, I must say—all these shaking and overhauling have drained all my human strength. I kept asking God for a period of rest. For a time to recover and meditate and regain my footing. But He out of His divine wisdom did not give me that. Instead He has foreordained that I would face more people—around 400 from my estimation—than I did last year to teach. Frankly, I am not ready for this. I am not prepared to face a lot of people again. Not yet. I need, I feel, to recharge first. To gather up courage before I could give life and its attacks a fighting stance. Because what’s happening to me right now is that I’m terrified most of the time. I’m afraid of the burden placed upon me by having to encounter hundreds of souls on a daily basis. I’m afraid of my own heart and how it might deceive me again any time. I’m afraid I’ll make mistakes again—worse this time. I have so many fears. And these fears, they paralyze me. They make me dread the mornings whenever I wake up.

But somehow, I get by, day by day. Somehow, I manage to deliver my lessons to the kids. And it is in this time of crisis—and still managing to get through each day despite the crisis—that God’s sustaining grace is actually made magnified to me. I’ve never yet in my life had as much dread on my daily life as I have today. But I’ve also never felt the need for His grace more than I do now. And yet again God’s fresh mercies every day have never yet been so strongly, overwhelmingly shown to me as they are being shown now. What I could see that God is teaching me is that I am TOTALLY RELIANT upon His grace. Literally. That I really can’t survive a day—even a moment—without His loving arms upholding me. That I am like a puddle of water in His hands—I am without form and void outside of Him. I am a broken vessel upheld only by the grace of my loving Father. And that I have to truly trust Him on a daily basis. He’s really driving me to my knees. Showing me I need Him every passing moment.

And this entire process is humbling me. Breaking me and shaking me, yes, but also humbling me and comforting me through God’s reassuring grace. And so that’s one lesson. God is making me learn to humbly trust in Him.

Another lesson I’m learning is that God has foreordained for me to be where I am right now because this is where I can serve, love, and follow Him best that results to His glory. Do you remember the parable of the talents? It said there that the master gave to one servant five talents, to another two, and yet to another one, each according to his ability. Now, I searched up on the Greek origin of the word “ability”. And the word, [du/namis], literally means “miraculous power”; the abundance of one’s innate ability/power/strength. He is showing me that whatever lot He has given me—right now I am a city college, an ordinary church member, a non-remarkable daughter, a mundane friend—is in accordance to my intricately woven design the He Himself had made. I am given my share of talents. Why do I try to bury my share and take the talents, the portion, of others? God is teaching me to fully recognize His wisdom and to trust completely His sovereignty. And you know what? In showing Himself to be in total control, God is guiding my heart to the rediscovery of the vast beauty of the lines He has assigned and drawn to be my portion. It’s like God is waking me up from my deep slumber in envy (long story. Ask me—show me this letter. I would remember.) and showing to me once more the wonders of my own God-given inheritance. And this is another overwhelming lesson and revelation. Often, this realization drives me to tears—of sorrow, guilt, and repentance because I have so lightly regarded the work of the Lord in my life. This realization often drives me to tears—tears of gratefulness and humility, because who would not be humbled before this Almighty, All-knowing, All-loving God? These realizations are painful, but all these tears are worth it.

God is yet teaching me another important lesson in my most recent mistakes. And this is, my love for the brethren was not as strong as I thought. I’ve always thought I’ve perceived the right rightly already. With love and reverence and patience. God is showing me that I haven’t loved enough the people around me yet. That, after all, I haven’t cared for the Body of Christ enough. I haven’t loved the church as Christ would have me love His people. I’ve taken lightly the Bride of Christ. I’ve thought of her members in a quite unloving manner when I felt misunderstood by them. And God is proving to me that I’m wrong in so many aspects. This one included. I foolishly thought I’ve tried hard enough in building a relationship with these people. I was wrong. And right now God is teaching me to love more. Bear more. Understand more.

This letter got longer than how I intended it to be, but the bottom line is that, I am learning so many things right now. And one of them is the fact that despite being showered by God’s mercy, grace, and love, sometimes my heart still lacks the proper, warm, deep-seated love for the brethren. And that is what He is teaching me. Love more, Bekah. But I feel like I might forget or lose sight of this lesson often. And so, if I ever forget this lesson again, I ask that you always remind me of the great love I have been given. Because my heart can sometimes forget. And it tends to love people less.

I am writing this so that you may understand what I’ve been through, because I believe some scars I have here, I’m meant to keep. I am determined to keep going, to keep walking on the Narrow Path, every step closer to Celestial City. But sometimes, I may falter and get tired. If I do, please point me back to my only Source of strength—my Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

I am keeping you in my prayers.

 

Reby

 

| 10:58PM

How do I love thee? Let me tell you in many ways. Now, darling, I don’t know another foreign language. I don’t speak Latin, I don’t know Spanish. And I most definitely have no idea how to speak Korean. But I do have my own set of languages to tell you–I love you.

I don’t speak Italian, and I won’t be as romantic and expressive as they are. But let me tell you I love you in the way that I know how.

I would give you… A tulip. Not just because you are unique and not cliche as the rose, but because I love you with a love that I can declare out loud. And call me geeky but tulip for me is the five points of Calvinism and therefore I love you with a love founded on the truth.
I would give you– a forget-me-not. Because babe I’m telling you I will never ever forget your smile, your touch, and your every word. And I just hope your heart will always remember me too, because mine will always love you with a love that’s meant to last.

I don’t know how to use Italian, but I know how to say I love you in my own language of flowers.

Now babe, I don’t know how to make poetry in Greek, and I’ll never be as half poetic as the Muses are. But let me show you I love you in shades and hues that I can draw.

For me you are my army green. Not just because army green is my favorite color and you’re easily my favorite person, but also because you keep me calm and at peace. And dear you are my golden color, the shade above all my bronzes and silvers, the color that exceeds all the others in my Life painting. And it doesn’t matter if you think the only shade you can offer at my pallette is black. Because as dark and foreboding as it may be, I love it because it’s such a strong color, strong flavor, strong personality. And I’m telling you, our love is not just red, but a deep shade of crimson–a passionate fire that will keep alight until our scarlet hearts stop pumping our equally crimson blood.

Babe, I don’t know how to write in Greek, but I know how to say I love you in my own language of colors.

And really, Love, I’m not good at this. I don’t know how to converse in French and I’ll never be as assertive as those who confess their love in the bridges of Paris. But let me show you I love you in the manner that I can.

I met you at a public performance, and that night we were way more than 12 feet apart. Strangers back then, but I realize you were simply a friend I haven’t yet met.

As I continued to look at you from a distance I find the space between us too vast. Too wide. But somehow your wide black eyes are deep pools of vacuum pulling me closer, and closer.

Closer, until we’re just four feet apart. Things between us have become more personal now. You talk about your past, I talk about my flaws, and the words and thoughts that we give and take are now more than just an exchange of witty wordplays. They’re now getting closer, and closer, and closer.

And still your deep pools kept drawing me nearer to you. Closer. Closer. Now we’re merely an inch apart. Close enough to whisper, I love you. Babe, I don’t know how to do anything French, word or any gesture, but I do know how to say I love you in my own language of space.

See, my languages aren’t that romantic. Often, you can’t even hear them. But when I tell you again that I love you, let me show you in the best ways that I know. So how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Blog Pic

If there would just be one word I could use to describe my 2017, there’s nothing else more fitting to use but the term, “transition.” It was the year that for me was the best and the worst at the same time because of the many things that happened to me. I started 2017 as a student struggling with graduation requirements, and I ended it as a Licensed Professional Teacher who makes Senior High School students struggle. It was the hardest year for me just yet, full of difficult lessons and heavy realizations. But never had I been so blessed and overwhelmed with the truths revealed to me as I had been this year. And so looking back, I can say that all the tearful nights, the exhaustion, and the disappointments of this year have revealed to me in a deeper personal level who God is, and have ultimately drawn me all the more nearer to my Savior.

2017 taught me that God, and God alone, is in control. My entire life, to the last detail, is in His hands. Not in mine. Not in anyone else’s. He holds my heart like water in His hands, and turns it to whatever direction He pleases. He has the complete hold on the reins of everyone’s lives. We all try to hold on tightly to our plans and intentions, but at the end of the day, it is always the perfect plan of God that stands. And thankfully so.

Because this year, I learned that God is a purposeful planner. I learned that my stay in this temporary world is simply my pathway to the state of glory. And everything I have to go through has a significant contribution to my sanctification. Not a detail in my story happens randomly. Nothing is meaningless. Every turn in the path, every twist of the road, every rock that blocks up my path, every pebble I have to stumble upon—each has a truth to reveal to me. And the Lord makes sure that I get everything I need to be more Christ-like every day.

This year also taught me that God is a loving God. He has a perfect plan for me, and He executes that plan very lovingly. He sees all my tears and puts them all in a bottle. He knows my every pain, and He does not make me suffer in vain. Instead, He is a God who leads me through the valley of the shadow of death while keeping me under the shadow of His wings. He is a God who will let me go through storms and wild tempest because I need to learn how to trust Him. But at the same time, while I suffer in the storm, He is a God who would cause His loving promises and means of grace to surround me, giving me the strength to endure, and overcome, the stormy nights. He is a loving God, and if discovering this on a personal level meant having to go through everything I went through this year, I would not skip out on even one of them—even the most painful and difficult ones.

And most importantly, I learned this year that God is working on countless stories all at once to weave the one that matters most: the story of His glory. What’s happening around me is not about what I feel. It has even very little to do about me at all. But everything that happens is about God and how He is best glorified through the lives of all His people. It’s about how He is continuing the story that has started from eternity past—the story of how He will sanctify His people, the story of His glorification.

2017 has been a year of transition. It was a phase I needed to go through to find myself in far greater places, in far better situations. My dark night of transition is over, and as I enter 2018, I see the glimpse of a bright morning of trusting God more, of a faster running of the race, of a more victorious fight of the faith. As the old hymn goes, I can say the year 2017 was “a well-spent journey, though seven deaths lay between.” And as I begin another year of faith lessons, I pray for my heart to have only one cry: “I am the Lord’s servant. Let Him do to me as He pleases.”

PROPOSAL IN A FERRIS WHEEL [?!]

Posted: December 13, 2017 in Journals

Flowers or chocolates? Roses or tulips? Grand dinner party or a quiet walk by the beach? Many ask the question, what’s the most romantic surprise I can ever throw at my partner? What’s that one grand gesture that would sweep my girl off of her feet? What should I do to make my guy realize I’m that one heaven-sent gift he should never let go of?

Just the other day, my friends and I went to hang out by the seaside, with the country’s tallest Ferris wheel in view. Majority of the conversations were pretty much random, but one topic did perk up my interest. The part that I caught went something like this:
“Gano’n ‘yon, gano’n dapat mag-propose,” [That’s how you should propose.] my brother said.
“Ano, anong pinag-uusapan niyo?” [What are you talking about?] asked, joining the conversation.
“Tinuturuan ako ng kuya mo, dapat daw sa ferris wheel magbigay ng proposal,” [Your brother was telling me that I should my wedding proposal in a ferris wheel.] answered my best friend.
I snorted. “Ang corny niyo.” [You guys are corny.]
My best friend looked at me for a second before answering, “But love is corny.”

SO WHAT’S THE REAL DEAL?

In the efforts to redeem myself, I tried to explain to my best friend what I meant; that some parts of the ideal love scenario may be cliché to some extent, but not corny. Yet even as I spoke, I knew something was amiss in my argument. The more I thought about it, the more I realize that my best friend was actually right. Romantic gestures—or gestures done in the effort of being romantic—are corny. They’re not just a series of cliché setups. They’re downright corny, awfully awkward, and pretty much overrated.

But somehow, some of these gestures touch the heart down to the very core. Somehow, like rightfully fitting pieces of the puzzle, they all click into place and become a couple’s perfect moments. How does that happen? Is there a specific recipe for transforming corny efforts into the cutest and sweetest of gestures? The thing is, there is no formula to the perfect gesture. But we do find heartfelt romance in the gestures that are made significant to us by fond memories and personal preferences.

FINDING SIGNIFICANCE IN MEMORIES

Gestures, firstly, become significant when you can link them to the memories you’ve created together. The idea is simple: if it can make a person remember favorite memories, the gesture becomes relevant. People make memories with one another. Do you often sing together? Do you take library trips? Do you try food from various places? Or do you, perhaps, find pun jokes at every street corner and wordplay at every line thrown at the conversation table? Calling to mind the fondest of these memories would be like cracking an inside joke between the two of you, or having a set of jargons you both can enjoy. I don’t know about others out there, but for me I’m sure this trip to memory lane is one great way to go.

FINDING SIGNIFICANCE IN PREFERENCES

Another way that gestures become significant is when you can link them to the things you love the most. The things we hold dear to our hearts will always be very meaningful—that much is clear. One who finds magic in the melodies of a song would most likely find the lost art of harana romantic. A star-gazer would find a walk through the quiet night very lovely. But things get a little tricky on this part. Every individual is as unique as a fingerprint—no one is exactly, precisely the same. In effect, this distinctness causes many efforts to get lost in translation. Often, your preferences are different from your love interest’s preferences. You may have your pool of similarities, but that is always limited. So, what do you do? There are perhaps two most important things you should do to find that click through preferences. One, widen that pool. It is always better to have a larger pool of shared preferences to refer back to. Secondly, though, know what is meaningful to the other person, and communicate yours also to him/her. This effort is something rarely done these days. This millennium has always been about the “I”. I want this genre. I want this kind of attention, this love language. Relationships do not work that way, however. It’s always a two-way learning and understanding. Try knowing what your loved one likes, and see for yourself how that road goes.

FINDING YOUR OWN “SIGNIFICANT”

So do you want to do your proposal while in a Ferris wheel? While walking through the cemetery? While having dinner under the stars? Do you wish to bring it up during one of your library dates? Or perhaps during your weekend computer gaming night? Do you want to do it before a crowd? Or perhaps just between the two of you? By all means, customize your proposal plan (and even date itineraries!) all you want. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how downright corny or awkward your moments may appear to others if for the two of you they most rightly and romantically fall into place. Remember, we cherish what is significant to us.