Time Will Tell

(Day 3 – Your First Love. Okay. I strayed a little and made it into a “What is Love” piece. Minus points if I’m doing this as an actual assignment. But I did write about “him” in the end. ^_~)

Should I go all spiritual and say that God is my first love? Or should I go all philosophical (namimilosopo in Filipino terms) and say that my parents are the first human beings that I have ever associated the “L” word with? Perhaps I should go all artistic and say literature and arts were the first to truly capture my heart.

I know I would drive you all crazy because I assume you want to know about the romantic kind of first love.

Should I indulge you?

Yes. No. Maybe.

I belong to the club of NBSBs (No Boyfriend Since Birth). I’ve had crushes and crashes (with more crashes than crushes) but I’ve never really allowed those mere obsessions to be more than that. In high school I was picky and the guys I liked didn’t like me back. In college I was pickier still. Some of the guys I liked seemed to like me back (I assume too much, yes) but I realized that I wasn’t prepared to be in that kind of relationship at the time. And I really wasn’t so sure if they could handle me, or if I could handle them.

I’ve come to believe that love isn’t just you liking me or me liking you or us liking one another. And it isn’t just having giddy and sparkly feelings. I go for all the fireworks. I go for the magic and euphoria. I’m all for those things. But still. Love is much, much, much more than that.

Love is acceptance. When you love somebody, you love that person for the person he or she is. Not for the person you want to force him or her to become. Not for the person you imagine him or her to be. But simply for that: for whoever he or she is. You accept that person’s past, you accept who he or she is at the moment, and you accept the fact that person may change and you’ll have to remain firm in the decision to love that person through and through.

Love is understanding. There’ll be times when the person you love will drive you crazy (in every negative sense) and instances when circumstances around you and between you two will make you go insane. But you’ll just have to… understand. To strive to get where the other person is coming from. To do your best to not let aggravation, impatience, or exasperation rule you. To find the meaning in the things that are happening. Or if that can not be, to simply just find the silver lining… in everything.

Love is commitment. A commitment to work things out. A commitment to communicate. A commitment to trust and persevere. And a commitment to – once you both have decided that you’re in it for forever – make sure that you see the whole thing through. You can’t just give up somewhere in the middle. Because love just doesn’t work that way. Yes, I’m idealistic. But if that love is true, I believe it will last until eternity is through.

And love is a choice and a decision. I’m open to the idea of “love at first sight”. “Falling in love” is a phrase that I use all the time. But love involves your will and not just your emotions. Because feelings come and go. And you’ll need more than feelings when acceptance, understanding, and commitment are involved.  Eventually, it would all boil down to you and your decision to love and keep on loving no matter what.

With such high standards on love, you’ll understand my affiliation to the NBSB club.

But I’m supposed to be writing about my first love, aren’t I?

Well. I believe my first love is a person exemplifying love as I’ve written here and more still. He’ll be a person who’ll accept me despite my many flaws. He’ll be one who will understand when real or imaginary storms rage all around me. He’ll be someone who will commit to communicate, to trust, to persevere. My first love will choose to love me even at times when it gets so, so hard.

He may feel that he will – or does – fall short on these things. But he’ll be someone who I know would be willing to learn to love in this way anyway.

And he’ll be real. He won’t be a figment of my idealistic imagination. He will be a genuine person with a past, present, and future I would choose to accept. He will be somebody I would decide to understand. He will be a tangible being whom I would be committed to work things out with. He would be that person I would make that decision to… love.

If these “he will be” lines seem to contradict with my statements saying that “you don’t love a person for what you imagine him or her to be” or “for the person you want to force him or her to become” – well I have faith that he is, or willing to be, these things. I won’t force him. And I’m not simply just dreaming those aspects of him up. I know that this “first love” is an imperfect human being. Still, as long as I know he has the heart to learn, I’ll accept him anyway.

So. Time will tell who this first love will be. : )

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Called by Name

(Day 2 – Nicknames)

Mariding (aka Marimar/Marilou/Maria/Mariposa/Maring/Mareh/Jang) smiles and her eyes immediately crinkle into tiny slits. She’s the cheery friend who wants to bring a light mood to everything. She’s the girl who thinks and processes in song. She’s the melancholy writer who pours her heart out into letters and animated chronicles of her more than occasional (mis)adventures.

Madishu (aka Jeli/Madi/Mawi) knocks on her cousins’ door and returns the novel she borrowed two nights ago. She stops, crouching to pet the cat that has started to rub its head against her feet. The door opens and it’s her aunt who greets her. She grimaces as she gets her cheeks pinched but laughingly hands over the book and says goodbye and thank you.

Anggolik blinks as sunlight enters her room. She can hear her mother exercising in the living room. She can also hear her father heating up water in the microwave oven. She looks at her watch. 7am. Her brother is probably getting ready to fetch and send his girlfriend off to work. She snuggles deeper under her warm comforter. Five more minutes.

Pangging sits prim and proper but has her hair tied up in three ponytails. She’s well mannered and well behaved but has that streak for the uncanny. She finds herself predictably unpredictable, childlike yet mature, an old soul but with a heart of a youngster still.

Uncanny.

I read these lines and find myself amazed at the complexity of humans, our souls, and our roles. We can be different things to be different people while remaining true to who we are. Still, privileged are those who see not just one aspect of our personalities but have an encounter with all.

But only one Person truly knows us. Only One has a knowledge and understanding of everything we are.

1 You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Psalm 139:1-3, 13-14

Yet parts of us still remain undiscovered. But upon looking into the heart of our Maker, upon asking Him what was in His mind when He created us, it is then that we begin to truly discover.

1 But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.”

Isaiah 43:1

We go by different names. Different people refer to us in different ways.

But only He can call us by our true name.

Are we brave enough to hear it? Are we humble enough to respond to it?

Hear Him. He is calling us by name.

About the Author – The Challenge Begins

(Day 1 – Introduction and 15 facts about yourself – I’m not sure if I came up with 15 but by my way of counting, I’m pretty sure I did.)

I could start this story by saying that I’m a renowned writer with hundreds of bestsellers under my name. But you would say that that’s an outright lie. I’ve never written a full-fledged book. And I have never published anything save for a few scientific journal articles and a huge number of blog posts. But haven’t you ever heard of “prophesying and declaring”? It’s when you proclaim something to be true, to be real, even though it may not be so at the present. Because you believe and know that it will be – in the distant or not so distant future.

So with that cleared up, let me start again.

I am a renowned writer with hundreds of bestsellers under my name.

I can see the about the author section in one of my books already:

Insert photo into book jacket.

Mari Anjeli B. Lubrica is an educator, web developer, and of course, storyteller.  She writes code but at the same time types out prose and poetry during her free time. She fell in love with writing at an early age and was known to have churned out very creative pieces during her primary school years. Her favourite piece, entitled “Stranded in the Middle of Nowhere”, is a fictitious tale about a nine-year-old girl who becomes separated from her family on a road trip to Central Australia. She inherited the writing gene from both maternal and paternal parts of the family. She believes, however, that the love for the literary arts was awakened and cultivated by all the reading she did in her younger years. She thanks her mother for forcing her to read classics (“Little Women” and “The Secret Garden” for example) early because, at the time, she was only interested in reading “Babysitters’ Club” and Roald Dahl books.

 

Mari also pens out songs when inspiration strikes. She mostly writes worship songs and is yet to write a love song that is not full of cheese and mush. Mari’s instrument of choice is the acoustic guitar. She was taught by the “School of the Holy Spirit” but she still doesn’t know how to read tablature. She probably needs formal instruction for that.

 

Other things about the author that the reader may or may not like to know is that she will eat anything put in front of her. Okay, maybe not anything. She will munch on frogs and crickets though. But she might have second thoughts when she’s served with a dish containing a big fried rat.  This proves that looks can be deceiving because most people will not assume her to be adventurous with food. But then most people’s assumptions are wrong because most would presume her to be quiet. Yet that would be wrong because on the contrary, when one is able to get her talking, she’ll talk, talk, talk, talk, and talk one’s ear away.

 

Talking comes in handy though because she loves to teach. She loves inspiring the youth and imparting knowledge that she knows to them. She also loves pushing the youth to become catalysts of change and has involved them (and herself) in several volunteer and outreach programs.

 

When she’s tired teaching the youth, Mari turns to educating kids. The author loves children and has taught Sunday School for several years before she retired from the profession. The profession, however, apparently hasn’t given up on her yet. She still interacts with kids. Truth be told, Mari sometimes prefers watching cartoons with them to hanging out and doing grownup things with adults.

 

 The last and most important thing that the reader should know about the author is that she loves Jesus. She trusts that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one can come to the Father apart from Him. (John 14:6) Because of the Cross, she has been redeemed and has entered a world full of abundant life. She believes that the invitation to life is also open to anyone who wishes to accept it and all one has to do is repent, confess, and believe.

 

I doubt that there’d be any publisher or editor who’d allow an “about the author” entry that long though. Five hundred and thirty words.

On second thought, that doesn’t seem too lengthy to me.

Because when you’re a renowned writer with hundreds of bestsellers under your name – the length of that section shouldn’t be a problem.

Diba? ;)

Writing Challenge

Hello Words

Hello Words

I’m going back to writing. Back to getting my creative juices up and running. Back to living out that intricate love affair with letters, words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. Back to doing this thing that I honestly, well, miss doing.

Over the past days, I’ve realized just how far back I’ve buried that desire to really write. I’ve apparently tucked it into the back pockets of my heart, forgotten about it, and let dust and lint gather all around it. How and why that became so – and forgive me for rhyming here – I truly don’t know.

But do you know what that feels like? To have something that you truly enjoy doing get so overlooked that even you would forget that that thing has been one of your greatest passions since the beginning of time? It leaves a strange feeling of emptiness, an unusual sense of ache in your heart. A friend of mine asked some time ago if I wrote poetry. I fell silent, trying to remember if I did. He took the words out of my mouth. “Oh. You used to,” he said knowingly.

I used to.

While it is true that I’ve apparently just shifted from poetry writing to song writing (and I’ve forgotten that songs are still poems), I still can’t get over the fact that I was only able to answer him with that uncomfortable silence. What if he had asked me if I wrote stories and the like? Would I be able to bear it if my answer would turn out to be the same silence and the same “I used to” feeling would in turn linger in the air?

I used to write.

No way is that going to happen.

My desire to write has been rekindled. The fire has now returned. I’m going to start writing seriously from this point on – I’m starting to see those books again and I’m beginning to visualize all the touched lives once again.

I’m starting with this. It’s a 30 daw writing challenge shared by Kay Four but I’m being flexible and won’t necessarily stick to writing every day for the next thirty days. But I will write whenever possible. And I will finish the thirty items on the list. And after this, I’ll write more things and take on other challenges as well. Oh. And I’ll try to keep it interesting as well, flexing up these literary muscles that I have long underused.

Who knows, by the end of the year, I might even get a book done.

Our senior pastor released a word that this 2012 is our year to build. I agree with him wholeheartedly.  There are several important things that I am set on building this year and this – the art of writing – is one of them. I’m ready to face the empty spaces head on with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other.

So here I come, trowel in one hand and a pen – the writer’s sword – in the other.

More fun in the Philippines

Tourist. Dependent. Master’s Student. OFW. I’ve been to different countries under different travel visas. I’ve lived in two other countries under different travel visas. But despite my extended leaves of absence from the beautiful Pearl of the Orient, I’m like Dorothy who, in the end, would say that “there’s no place like home.”  I may not be living in my home country at the moment, but I love the Philippines. And, despite its imperfections (hear me rant about the traffic and LRTs) I’ll keep loving it until the day that I die.

My family spent two years in the beautiful land Down Under back when I was a kid. My father was taking up his PhD in the University of New England. And you know how awfully lonely it gets, being away from family. Thus we spent the time that we could spend with him there, in Australia.

I remember being so proud of my home country that I may have annoyed my playmates to bits with my “In the Philippines…” lines.

“In the Philippines, we had this wooden ‘hanging bridge’ that would rock back and forth when you’d try to cross it. And it’s not just a bridge – there are holes and it’s way, way, way high up and there’s this huge river under it.”

“In the Philippines, they already taught us long division in the third grade.”

“In the Philippines, our whole clan would go out to the beach on my birthday… and guess what? The sand at the beach is black.” (I’ve never been to Boracay and I haven’t been to the white beaches of Pangasinan and Batangas yet, during that time of bragging).

Twas a good thing my friends were polite enough and didn’t abandon me when they got an earful of all those lines.

However, in 1999, my mom, my brother, and I went back home because circumstances called us to do so. We had to leave Dad behind, but I was so, so glad to be back home. Glad to be back home with the rest of the Lubricas, glad to go back to my old elementary school, glad to actually see jeepneys once again, and glad to walk over that much publicized hanging bridge.

And taking the cue from the Department of Tourism’s new tagline, I was just so glad to be back because, indeed, it’s more fun in the Philippines.

It’s more fun in the Philippines because when you step out of your front door, your whole neighbourhood becomes an extension of your family room – all your cousins, extended cousins, nephews, nieces, what-have-you’s are all already there, just one holler away.

It’s more fun in the Philippines because most elementary school kids go through a folk-dancing, poetry-reciting, declaiming, slogan-writing, poster-making, or an all-of-the-above stage.  (High School kids get in on the fun as well, but eight-year-olds  would always be the best kunday-kunday dancers.)

It’s more fun in the Philippines because journalism and sports events enable kids and teens to hone their talents early and allow them to travel from Luzon to Visayas to Mindanao.

It’s more fun in the Philippines because seven people can fit into a five-seater car and twenty seven can fit into a jeepney that’s supposed to hold only twenty.

And it’s more fun in the Philippines because only the typhoon Ferya could bring down an unofficial tourist attraction like Balili’s hanging bridge. (And okay, I’m not saying that typhoons are fun. Okay, maybe they are, compared to the predictable Malaysian weather. But you have to admit, as students, you’ve looked forward to those days of no-school. And, as professionals, you’ve seen the humour in trudging through knee-length water just to get to the workplace. Admiiitttt ittt…)

So what on earth am I doing here still in Malaysia? 

Sabi sa Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) na kinailangan kong daluhan noong nilakad ko ang mga papeles ko sa POEA, ang mga OFW daw ay gumaganap bilang “ambassador of goodwill” sa mga bansang pinagtratrabahuan nila. Lubos akong sumasang-ayon sa pahayag na iyon. Nandito ako para itaas ang bandila ng mga Pinoy! Hindi ako umalis ng Pilipinas dahil hindi ko ito mahal. Subalit, isang dahilan kung bakit ako’y nandito pa ay dahil sobra ko siyang mahal. Sa aking mga taon ng pag-aaral dito sa Malaysia, napansin ko na may maling kaisipan nabubuo laban sa mga Pilipinong nagtratrabaho dito. Gusto kong mabasag ang kaisipang iyon. Nawa’y sa aking pamumuhay at sa aking pagtratrabaho dito, makikita ng mga tao na sikat at kakaiba talaga ang Pinoy.

Gusto ko ring makakuha pa ng karanasan at kaalaman na maibabalik ko pa sa Pilipinas, pag bumalik na ako doon. Hindi ba’t tumira si Pepe sa mga bansang banyaga ng ilang taon din? At tingnan niyo naman ang naging epekto ng buhay at mga kasulatan niya sa bansang Pilipinas.

 Marami pang ibang dahilan kung bakit kahit na madalas ay uwing-uwi na ako (at kahit na madalas ay pinaglalaban ko pa ang pasaporte ko), pinili ko parin na manatili dito. Kaibiganin niyo ako at mag-usap tayo ng masinsinan at malalaman niyo rin. Pero wag niyo sanang isipin na lumabas ako para lumabas lamang. At hindi ko rin sinasabi na ang Pinoy ay lumalabas para makalabas lamang. Marami akong kilalang mga Pilipino na saludong-saludo ako, subalit dahil sa kanilang sakripisyo, nabubuhay, napapaaral, at nagkakaroon ng masmabuting buhay ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay. Inuulit ko, hindi madaling tumira sa ibang bansa, lalo na kung malayo ka sa mga taong importante sa iyo.

So. I just chose to write all my reasons for staying here in the Filipino language, because it seems ironic that I’ve been writing a whole post about how much I love the Philippines in English. But for anyone reading this blog who’s from outside the Philippines, and for those who wouldn’t understand a word in Tagalog… Well, I am promoting my country to you. Google translate if you will (it’s inaccurate, by the way), but I hope that everything else I’ve written shows the sincerity of my love for my country.

We have our imperfections. But it’s a fun country and I love my homeland nonetheless.

I’m proud to be Pinoy. It’s more fun in the Philippines! :D

It's not as witty as all the other ones spreading in the net, but it's a start. ;)

Welcome Back

I’m back. Back in Malaysia sweet Malaysia and – after two months of silence – back in blogosphere sweet blogosphere. So bring out the confetti, turn the music up, and let’s paaaarrrteeeey!!!!

Really. My returning to Malaysia deserves much celebration after what happened with my passport this December. Long story. Let’s just say that a whole new chapter has been added to “Mari’s Adventures with the Immigration”.  One day, I’ll write that book out. One day, one day.

But for now, let me just pour everything out into this blog once again. Last Monday, I met up with a friend and his colleague for dinner. The colleague mentioned that she read this little ol’ blog (huwaw!) and sorta asked why the latest entry was dated two long months ago.  I laughed and admitted that this blog has been in hiatus because so much was happening in my life in those 11 weeks of silence. Some things have been too personal to share to the Internet world and all other things rendered me too harried, leaving me little time to write and contemplate upon each extraordinary event.

I want to do justice to those events though. So here goes a riveting entry for all you netizens reading my blog out there. *wink*

These two months have been filled with a lot of things related to life, love, and everything else that starts with the letter “L”. Haha. Like LRTs, labour (and employment), longsuffering, and long distance stuff, to name a few.

Lemme start with the LRTs. I was in Manila during the last week of December. I was also there this first week of January. And it’s strange. I always get this immense “I’m lost” feeling whenever I’m in my homeland’s capital city. And when I’m in the city LRTs (or MRTs), I in turn get this “I’m lost and I’m stressed” sentiment. What with all the lines, the checkpoints, the people, the lines – and oh, did I mention the lines? – well, I just salute all my friends for having the patience to take these means of transportation everyday. I’d probably die if I were them. But then again, I may be exaggerating. I may just be in a state of culture shock and I may be missing my handy touch n go card way too much.

But hey. I survived Metro Manila! With minimal bloopers at that. Minimal. Meaning there were still some. Haha.

So now, what about labour and employment? Gosh. Labour and employment. Contrary to what some of you may be thinking, I wasn’t in Manila for a pleasure trip. I was there to settle matters with the Malaysian Embassy and with the Philippine Overseas Employment and Labour Association (POEA). Ugh. And here’s where much of the longsuffering comes into play. But I am thankful. I am thankful for the grace and for the favour. Amazingly, the process was swifter than I expected and I was not left cramming at the last moment. (Although I had to resort to a lot of flight rebookings because the “cramming at the last moment” thing did happen. See my side comment on “Mari’s Adventures with the Immigration.”)

Longsuffering indeed.

But of course, the trip had some “cherries on top” (quoting a friend). I was able to catch up with a lot of friends living around the area. According to www.travelmath.com, Kuala Lumpur is 1,532 miles away from Manila in terms of flight distance. From Baguio, it’s 1,575 miles away and from Los Banos, it’s 1,533. I have no idea what flight distance is, but these miles are far enough. True, today’s technology bridges gaps like never before, but nothing compares to honest to goodness face to face interactions. I am grateful for those few hours spent with those special people. And… long distance as those relationships may be… well… the miles in between make me treasure the uniqueness of those friendships all the more.

: )

I’d like to write more, but all other insights about all other things that happened in November and December (and this first week of January) will be saved for another time. I do hope this entry made up for the weeks of silence though. Oh, and as a follow up on the entry before this one – I did pass my exam and I will get my P License soon. Yey!

And as a final word that I’d like this entry to speak out… Well, God is good. He is good, He is awesome, and He is able. The past two months have drawn me closer to Him. There were certain points when the process became too painful but He always came through. And He always provided people who helped me come through. And through all the “Ls” I encountered… He was always with me, in them.

Even in the LRTs. Haha.

Party people!

I'm still so glad to be back in Malaysia. :)