Friday, January 04, 2019

25 things I have learned so far

After greeting me a happy birthday this morning, someone asked me via Viber today what I have learned so far and what I am looking forward to. Wait, that deserves a more lengthy reply, I said. 😀 

I’ve learned so many things in my 52 years of living (yup, no use hiding my age) and here are some of them:

1. Eat on time.
2. Have some time to be quiet.
3. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day on most days.
4. It pays to sleep early.
5. You don’t have to go to every party.
6. People may forget bylines but not the way you treat them.
7. Integrity is what you do when no one is watching.
8. Drink lots of water.
9. Set your priorities right: God first, then family, then work.
10. Rest. You’re not a superhero.
11. Love your family and spend time with them.
12. Read. It widens your world.
13. Read the Bible. Feed your soul.
14. Dark chocolates are healthy and a great way to cap the meal. Meiji Black is yum!
15. Make time to meet friends and listen to what they have to say.
16. Be friends with your exes (generally).
17. Eat more veggies.
18. Make friends with the watch your car boy and parking attendant.
19. Listen to your body.
20. Find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.
21. Pursue your passion.
22. Learn something new every day.
23. Sing when you feel like singing even when in the car alone.
24. Travel, even by yourself, to recharge.
25. You may not see the future, and clouds may be blocking your view (as in a video I took this morning in Tagaytay) but with God, everything will be alright. ❤️

As to what I am looking forward to, just more of some peace and quiet, as I trust God that He’s in control.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: My sister told me about this book written by her classmate's mother who is already in her 90s. I got curious and asked if the author is Lourdes Syquia-Bautista. Yes, she's the author of "Faith, Family and Friends: A Celebration of God's Goodness." I was ecstatic to have the chance to read this book (my sister lent me her copy given by her classmate) written by Mrs. Bautista, wife of our adviser in The Varsitarian when I was in college, the late Felix Bautista. She is also the mother of my editor-in-chief at The Varsitarian, Noel Martin Bautista. Small world! I'm in the first few chapters already and it's a good engaging read. Mrs. Bautista, who taught English for decades, writes very well. This book collates her articles for the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Life Today.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. ~ Psalm 23:1-3

Monday, December 31, 2018

Life lessons

In a few hours, the new year, 2019, will ring in. Looking at my planner this year, I can't help but be amazed at how fast time flies. So many things happened this year, 2018. New friends were made, old friends found again, and wonderful moments were spent with loved ones.

One of the lessons I have learned and am still learning this year is the need to make time to rest. Rest is good. Rest is refreshing. Rest is a must.

One of the country's most successful businessmen, John Gokongwei, Jr., apparently makes sure to take care of himself well. He takes hour-long power naps after lunch. He also exercises every day and is always home for dinner. More of his life lessons are in the book "Lessons from Dad, John Gokongwei, Jr." by Lance Gokongwei with Yvette Fernandez -- a little book worth reading.

What has this year taught you? May we all take stock to look back at what we have learned and ought to learn some more, and thank God for His blessings. Happy new year!

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I finally finished Nick Joaquin's "A Question of Heroes" which casts a critical eye on our history. Heneral Antonio Luna, Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Jose Rizal, and Andres Bonifacio, among others, come alive in this book and you come away feeling that history would have turned out differently had cooler heads prevailed.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Is he the one?

By Karen Galarpe

These days I'm feeling the pain of a couple of friends who are both going through something hard -- something that hits the core, the love life kind of pain.

The most I could do is listen and pray.

A few years back, another friend opened up to me and with tears asked me, "How do you know he's the one?"

Well how do you answer that?

When I was so much younger I asked this too of someone more mature than me. And she said if you have to ask that, then chances are he's not the one. Because if he's the one, you would know.

There are some couples, who when you see them, they just seem so right for each other. They're a good fit, they complement each other, and they're so happy to know they're meant for each other. It's a joy coming from deep within.

Some of these couples are our pastor Peter Tan-Chi and his wife Deonna (authors of the book "Motivate"), their daughter Joy Tan-Chi Mendoza and her husband Edric Mendoza, and our pastor Dr. Alex Marcos and his wife Dr. May Marcos.

Two of my friends have also found the one for them. I asked them how they met and how they knew the other was the one. Maybe this can help point you to the right direction.

Met at McDonald's

Vie Lising-Velasco is a ballet teacher. She is married to Rene. Let's hear it straight from Vie:

"Back in the day when McDonald's was at its peak in hiring college students, I was summoned three times for interviews and got the job! That was where I met my now-husband Rene. According to him, it was never the same after he saw me. I detected by his actions that he wanted to court me. I hesitated because in my heart I was not sure if he was the right man for me.

"After around a total of six hours of intermittent conversations, he mentioned that he is a Christian. He was exhilarated to know that I, too, am a follower of Christ.

"During our four-year boyfriend and girlfriend relationship, we broke up twice. My mother would call Rene and ask him to reconcile with me. Now that I am reminiscing that God-sent moment, I realize that God can use parents to make His will known.

"Through all the circumstances that God orchestrated plus Rene showing the fruit of the Holy Spirit of what a Christian should be, I knew he was the one.

"We celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary last July. Every year, our three wonderful daughters would always come up with something on our wedding anniversary!"

Youth pastor to husband

Anna Carlos-Alegre is an educator. She is married to Venjoy. Here's Anna in her own words:

"My story may be unique, but I think it is the best way to find your forever! My husband was my youth pastor, my mentor, and eventually, became my best friend and confidant. For 15 years! That is probably the most unique part of our story.

"To condense the impressions that God made in my heart over that span of 15 years (met him when I was 16), he was my best friend -- he knew me inside out. He was selfless; he saw me through my string of "love lives" and broken hearts (because he was my confidant), and always gave good advice -- that wasn't necessarily favorable towards him. 

"He also said, 'You need me!' as he made his love known, and in my youthful proud heart, I tried proving to him that I did not. He was loving enough to confront me when I was wrong, and he did it gently. And despite the happiest romances I had over those years, I always felt like he was home.

"When I lost him to the US and silence for 4 years, that was when I knew that he was the one that this phrase embodied: 'Don't marry the one you can live with. Marry the one you feel you cannot live without.' He was right and I had to humble myself!"

So there. If it is God's will for you to marry, He knows best. Seek His guidance and trust Him.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

BOOK OF THE WEEK: There are two kinds of leaders: the self-serving leader and the servant leader. Which one are you? According to The Servant Leader by Ken Blanchard, the self-serving leader spends most of his time protecting his status. Feedback is thus received negatively. The servant leader, on the other hand, views leadership as an act of service. He embraces feedback and sees it as a way to improve and provide even better service. To be an effective leader, you have to start with the heart.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hunter's got a new heart!

By Karen Galarpe

There is this little baby in Gainesville, Florida, whom I look out for daily. His name is Hunter Fenix.

Every day for many months now, I've been following the updates of his parents, Pastor Jonathan and Coco Fenix, on Facebook. 

Born with a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which affects the normal blood flow of the heart, Hunter has been hooked to a Berlin heart for quite some time now. That Berlin heart is an artificial device that pumps blood from a ventricle and delivers it to the aorta.

Sometimes clots form and there was a time he had sepsis. But God has delivered him from those otherwise worrisome instances. 

He has many tubes going into his body, but that doesn't stop him from enjoying cuddling with his parents and playing with his rattles and mobile toys.

According to his parents, Hunter needs a donor heart since he can't use the Berlin heart forever. And so I joined the many people praying for little Hunter to get a heart soon.

Well, guess what, God has heard our prayers! Hunter got a new heart today! Thank you, Lord!

Let's continue praying for Hunter, that his body won't reject the heart. Let us also pray for the family of the donor, that they may feel God's comfort and love most especially at this difficult time.

Join me in following updates on Hunter. Like the FB page Heart for Hunter Fenix and see this miracle baby.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I picked up the book "Perennial" by Twila Paris at Books for Less inside SM Hypermart in Tiendesitas about a year ago or so. It's a beautiful book collating her musings about life and the lessons God has been teaching her. Written in a warm, friendly tone, the book also gives gardening tips and includes lyrics to Twila's songs. Twila is a Christian singer with several albums to her name. A delightful read.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. Psalm 139:13

Friday, July 20, 2018

Leptospirosis took a freshman's life

By Karen Galarpe

More than 20 years ago, I found myself walking with someone toward a yard with a huge tree somewhere in a barangay near the yet-to-be developed Bonifacio Global City. It was a cloudy afternoon, and the skies, with its dark clouds soon to bring rain, seemed to be mourning.

Outside a simple house were a few chairs, and we were met by a woman with a sad look on her face. She was the mother of the young girl in a coffin inside the house.

Entering the house, she gestured toward the simple white coffin, and "introduced" us to the young girl. "Anak ko," she said.

We barely said a word, and proceeded to view the body. She was a lovely girl, so young and full of promise.

Her mother then bade us to sit, then told us about her.

She was a freshman at Centro Escolar University in Manila studying dentistry. One day it rained so hard, and she had no choice but wade through calf-deep floodwaters somewhere on her way home from Mendiola to Fort Bonifacio.

Then she became ill with fever and malaise. "Akala namin, trangkaso lang," the mother said. But the young woman got worse as the days went on, complaining of headache and body ache. Then she turned yellow.

They brought her to a doctor but by then the leptospirosis had already caused kidney failure. She died a few days after.

We didn't know what to say. What made it worse was that only after the girl died did my companion find out that she was his sister from a different mother.

This is a true story. It's what made me want to reach out to my own brother from a different mother.

Leptospirosis can strike innocent youth as well as otherwise healthy adults. This rainy season, please do take the necessary precautions and avoid wading through floodwaters.

And reach out to your family. Before it's too late.

READ: Even simple skin abrasion can lead to leptospirosis --doctor

READ: Infographic: What is leptospirosis?

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I am currently finishing the Left Behind: The Kids series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye with Chris Fabry after I was able to order the books missing from our collection. Yes, I read young adult fiction. :) The Kids series is the young adult version of the Left Behind series. It's Christian fiction that's hard to put down.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Friday, June 08, 2018

Thank you, and thank you again

I wrote this back in 2012, and found it my email today. Sharing because it is still a good reminder to be grateful. 🙂

Thank you, and thank you again

What are some of the first few words and phrases we teach children? It could be "please" or "mama" or "papa". Or even "yaya." After a child masters these words, don't we teach him or her to say "thank you" too?

Yet be honest with me. How many times have you said thank you today to someone or for something? Maybe less than what we hope to have done.

Don't worry; don't be guilty. I, too, need more practice in that department.

Have you ever wondered why it's not easy or it's not a default mode for adults to be thankful--even if this is one of the first things they are taught?

Maybe we have been busy. Or skeptical, or jaded, or cynical. And that is a sad thing.

Toward the end of the little book of 1 Thessalonians (I say little because you can finish it in one sitting; go ahead and try it) is one phrase--it's not even a sentence--that God wants us to do.

It says "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

If you paraphrase it, it will be something like this: Thank God for whatever happens to you because He wants you to go through it now that you are one with Christ.

When I read that, I am struck by when we are supposed to be grateful. It says "in all circumstances." Are we supposed to thank God even for the circumstances which are not pleasant, example: financial difficulty?

Yes, because the Bible says "give thanks in all circumstances" -- that means both the pleasant and unpleasant circumstances.

Now when you have only P500 left in your wallet, it might be hard and even illogical to thank God.

Or when your child or sibling or parent gets really sick, it is hard to say, "Thank you Lord," isn't it?

But God has a plan for each one of us, since this verse says God wills it that certain events happen in our lives.

So I think it's all a matter of trust. 

Let's look at what the Bible has to day further:

Psalm 34:1: I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.

Daniel 6:10: Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees  and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

Ephesians 5:20: always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The words "at all times", "as he had done before", and "always" appear in these verses, making it clear to us when we should give thanks--in both the good and hard times because God is in control.

I can be at peace knowing that God has a plan for me, and nothing happens to me without His permission. Although some things may happen that we don't like, God must have a purpose why such events happen, thus we should trust Him and be thankful that He is in control.

Aren't you glad God is in control? And because He is, we can just rest secure in His love, no matter what happens.

To summarize, let us have this mindset: thank God for everything, for both the pleasant and seemingly unpleasant events in my life. Trust Him that He is in control of everything and you are safe in His loving arms.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I'm just in the first three chapters of "French Women Don't Get Fat" by Mireille Guiliano but so far I like what I have read so far. To lose weight, go for quality over quantity (a little piece of dark chocolate twice a week for instance instead of Snickers bars), never be hungry, have yogurt (hurray!), and have a little pack of nuts as emergency food. This looks to be one diet book that doesn't make you feel deprived.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. ~ Habakkuk 3:19

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Happy happy hormones

by Karen Galarpe

Let's see... that's two Happys (by Pharrell Williams), two Septembers (Earth, Wind and Fire), two Boogie Wonderlands (Earth, Wind and Fire), one more Happy, and to catch my breath, one Can't Take My Eyes Off You (Frankie Valli).

Those were for my 30-minute workout today at home, which I am happy to report, I finished. Yay! Never mind the awkward moves (it's true, I have two left feet) but if I can stretch and move and do so without blacking out, then that's good enough for me.

I've been trying to have a healthier lifestyle since last year, and although I think I am more fit now than I was a couple of years ago, I wish I could be more consistent in working out. My mission: 30 minutes a day at least, or on most days. My vision: a flatter tummy, slimmer arms, or, if those two are unreachable, then just a body that's more fit today than yesterday.

And so I cheered myself on as I rose from the comfy armchair I usually plop into when I get home from work. C'mon, Karen, you can do it, I told myself as I set the alarm for 30 minutes afterward on my phone.

So yeah, I did those aerobic/Zumba moves or what passed for those, and although midway I was contemplating ditching the workout and just resort to singing instead (mas kaya yata), I soldiered on, lunges, grapevine steps, and all.

Soon, the alarm rang. But wait, I want one more Happy! And so, one more Happy then. Thirty-four minutes workout today as a result. Happy happy hormones!

Have you done some exercise today? Lately? This year? Go and do something, and if you need some music to groove to, try two Happys, two Septembers, two Boogie Wonderlands, one Can't Take My Eyes Off You, and another dose of Happy. Have a great workout!

BOOK OF THE WEEKI learned so many things about myself and other introverts in this book "Quiet" by Susan Cain. "The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice." Ha! Is she talking about me? 😂 

VERSE OF THE WEEKAs you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5