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.

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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.

Please do not forget me. Not for so long, because I know that perhaps after some time you’d have your hands too full already, and you’d have no more time to not forget the mundane. That in time you’d have to let the insignificant memories like me fade and disappear. But please don’t forget me. At least just until I become someone significant enough for you that you would start to think of me.

Please remember me. Not necessarily the entire me, nor does your memory of me have to be with such clarity—I can deal with a little vagueness. But please at least remember just enough things about me, so that when you see me again you’d be able to say, “Hey, haven’t I met you before? What was your name again? It does start with an R, right? I’m so sorry, I’m so bad at names. But I do remember you. Would you like to have some coffee and help me recall your name?” And then that you be the start of you not needing a reminder of who I am. So please remember me in bits and pieces, until I become a whole character you’d gladly know by heart.

Please let me not fade from your memory. You don’t need to have me distinctly imprinted in your subconscious. But at least let not your brain forget that at one time you’ve met a certain college girl, and that at one time she ate pizza and drank Coke with you after an eventful, poetic afternoon. And please, please, do not let your impression on that girl as someone “so amazing” ever fade away. Because I’m hoping that someday we would meet again, and with that memory still intact in you I could hope that you would say, “Hi, it’s been a while since we were last able to talk. How have you been doing? I’ve watched you perform some of your poems—how do you find it? I knew you’d be good at it. What did I tell you? You’re so amazing.”

See? I’ve already imagined how we would be really, really good friends. How we would turn out to be two people having so much more in common than our plight in poetry. How you’d talk me into running with you every morning, and how I’d convince you to go hiking with me every term break. How we’d go and promote so many advocacies together. How we’d be staying up so late at night, talking on the phone about a wide range of topics—from Physics to Philosophy to history. To allusions and analogies and to a whole lot of other things that totally don’t make any sense.

I’ve painted in mind a clear, distinct picture. I am that flower with blue and purple petals, planted by the way side, pleading very quietly that you forget me not. That you not let me wither away from your memory, until one day I grow into a full-bloom flower that you would admire. Until one day I would become significant enough to earn your friendship. But until then, please do not forget me. And until then, please, remember me—even just in bits and pieces.

You are the first poem I’ve memorized.

And believe me, I’ve written hundreds of stanzas and lines, and I’ve never been able to decently remember any of them. But you, you are the first ever to get stuck in my head, like a song played repeatedly, over and over, for the entire week.

You are the first poem I’ve memorized. The first image I’ve painted on my blank canvass that I’ve never forgotten a detail of. The picture that would eternally burn in my mind, embedded. Stamped. Imprinted upon my eyes forever.

Well, okay, perhaps you’re not getting the picture of how seriously weird this is. To give you an idea, I was never good at remembering things. I often forget why I have to log into FB, or what I had to buy in a grocery store. That’s why I always had to have a list at hand, so I won’t forget. And whenever I had to answer an algebraic problem, I always had to have a formula card with me—I wouldn’t have been able to answer any item otherwise. Not just that, but one time I even flunked a major exam in Advanced Chemistry because I couldn’t recall a single molecular formula of the organic compounds I’ve studied for that quarter. I simply couldn’t remember.

But you? You are… a set of formula I’d never have to hold a copy of. The only periodic table I’ve come to fully know by heart. I didn’t need a list to remember your name, your middle initial, your number, your smile, your laughter, your likes and dislikes, your pet peeves, your insecurities, what pisses you off, what makes you smile even if you’re not in the mood—your awkward posture? I didn’t need a prompter to memorize all of that.

I didn’t need anything to remind me of how your uneven footsteps approach the door, how your greeting would sound in the morning if you are in the mood—or how your silence would make me feel when I knew you were giving me that cold treatment. With just one look in your eyes I knew if you have your tales to share, or if you wanted to avoid me altogether. With just one glimpse at your face I knew if there was something wrong, if you were tired and exhausted, if you needed help and encouragement, or if you simply just wanted people out of your way. If you simply wanted me out of your way. You are the first poem I’ve come to fully know, to the last word, letter, punctuation.

But years passed, and as our only photograph started to fade as it lies in between the leaves of my journal, so you started to fade from my daily existence. Very subtly we have reached that forked road, and before I knew it you started walking towards the other direction, every step taking you farther and farther away from me.

But that’s okay, really. I mean, I understand. I completely understand that sometimes two people are really called out to tread entirely different paths. I understand that you have to follow yours and I have to follow mine. That’s alright. We were hardwired that way. Anyway, I told myself, I didn’t need to see you every day. I’ve known you by heart, remember? I’ve memorized everything about you, remember? Every preference, every weakness, every detail of your tone patterns, even the sound of your slightly uneven footsteps. Your entire being is a stamp branded permanently in my mind, so much that when one day our paths cross again, I know that despite all the beard and wrinkles you’d probably hide behind, it would take only a second for me to know it was you. So there I was, watching your figure get swallowed up by the darkness, content with the thought that when we meet again, I would still recognize you in a heartbeat.

And I did recognize you in a heartbeat. You now wore thicker glasses, your tone a little gruffer, your expression was even a little more serious. But looking past all the added layers of coats and ties, it was still you. I smiled radiantly and almost as a kid skipping and jumping with so much excitement, I approached you. “Hi! It’s so good to see you again after all this time! How I’ve missed—oh. I’m sorry. My name is Rebekah—umm, your classmate? Back in college? Fellow debater? And no, my name is so not spelled as R-E-B-E-C-C-A. It ends with K-A-H. Yes, of course, it’s alright. It’s been years anyway. You could not have remembered that. Yes, it’s been good to see you too.” And then you started walking away, without giving me so much as a second thought. Or even a second glance.

Of course, how could you have remembered how my name is spelled after all this time? How could you have remembered that we’ve used to share the same sentiments and insecurities, the same limitations in our capabilities, a couple of years back? How could you have remembered that we had so many things in common, you even started calling me your girl version? It’s not like we were fated to be similar—we were simply a coincidence. I realized that now. And it’s not like a coincidence would make so much of an impact.

But the thing is, I do remember you, and I do remember everything. I distinctly recall all the conversations we’ve had; no matter how seemingly insignificant our topics were. I do remember quite well all the times you confided to me and shared to me your deepest thoughts, your deepest fears. I do remember you and everything about you—to the last stanza, to the last word, to the last punctuation. And it’s just sad and anticlimactic, that the only poem I’ve memorized—doesn’t know me at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prodigal

Posted: July 8, 2017 in Poems
Tags: , , , , ,
Wanderer
I used to stand tall and mighty
Defiant as a sturdy tree
Against all odds and cares
Against all currents out there.
 
And I was confident–
A puppet proud of its motions,
A clay proud of how it’s molded–
I thought I was strong on my own.
 
And I left, like ship without rudder I left,
Wandered too far from the sun
And then wondered why it’s too dark
I left, and now I just have no strength left.
 
I used to think I’m well equipped
To win my battles and wars
But instead of holding gold trophies
I’m here full of wounds and scars
 
Because I left, like ship without rudder I left,
Wandered too far from the sun
And then wondered why it’s too dark
I left, and now I just have no strength left.
 
And I left, wanting to prove myself strong I left.
But now please take me back to the fold
Bring me back to my life, my joy, my home
I left, but now let me return to the joys I’ve left.
The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. (Psalm 126:3)
I recall my four years of stay in PNU with such fondness and tearful eyes. If every milestone is a framed painting, I would like to believe college is a completed masterpiece, now with added highlights of gold. But the painting isn’t all happy colors. There were hues of purple and gray, of wicked green and pitch black. There were moments of self-doubt, confusion, and plain heartaches. In my limited perspective, there were those I-don’t-get-why-this-should-happen times; the “times that try men’s souls”; the painful times of failures and losing battles and letting go.
My masterpiece wasn’t all gold. But if there’s just one thing I’ve learned in college, it’s that I am being painted by the Best Artist ever, One who doesn’t just want a great work of art but loves the painting very dearly, too. I’ve learned to thank Him for the happy colors, and to trust Him as He paints the darker hues. I’ve learned to entrust my heart to Him, and to wait for Him to gather me back into His arms when He, in the process of teaching, breaks me into pieces.
College taught me to lie still as God turns my dull existence of a canvass into a picture-story worth telling.
College taught me to not be afraid of going out of my comfort zone, so long as God is the one calling out to me.
College taught me that, yes, life will have an abundance of heartbreaks–but all will be beautiful ones with God securing me under His wings.
College made me realize that life paintings will have various shades of painful reds and insecure greens, of confusing grays and sorrowful blacks. And that’s okay, because my life-picture needs all those colors to be my loving Painter’s masterpiece, along with all the silver linings and golden highlights.
And more importantly, college taught me that people come and go, but there are those who are meant to stay–in our hearts, forever. These are the people who matter. These are those souls who hugged yours tight when you weren’t in your best state to be hugged. These people are the strokes in my canvass that made all the difference.
The past four years have been a series of mental, emotional, and spiritual crash courses for me. I learned, I taught,  I laughed and cried, I broke my heart, and again learned a lot in the process. As I look back to see the kind of masterpiece God painted of me, I can only say, “Jesus led me all the way.”
When all thy mercies, O my God, my rising soul surveys, transported with the view, I’m lost in wonder, love, and praise. (Addison, 1712)