After reading Papertowns, here’s what I thought or felt (whichever):

All of us wanted to be found. Whether we are ready to be found or not is yet another question. And there’s a beautiful difference between finding yourself in the process and being found by others afterwards. And that’s why we needed to take a day off and go to our Osprey’s (John Green reference, using this as metaphor: the place where we can be ourselves and think through life and stuff) just to gain enough courage before we head on to a journey which will require us leaving – temporarily or for good – or staying. In the aftermath, we’ll know if we’ve picked the right or wrong decision. In the aftermath, we’ll realize that getting it right or wrong was not really the whole point. This is our lives, we had been given choices. And we can make mistakes. Terrible ones. But we had to live this life in the hopes of moving forward into a future where our mistakes and our continents of Good and Bad experiences contribute significantly to our growth and humanness.

Maybe this whole ride is meant for us to enjoy the drive, the Bluefins, the GoFast bars, the fourth food group which does not include Crackers but Apples, the friend-peeing-in-beer-cans-inside-the-minivan-before-throwing-the-bottle-on-the-side-of-the-road because that has been his role all this time: the “needing to pee” friend, the Metaphysical I Spy and (all) the John Green references you wouldn’t care about because you have not read the book and how it explained that we should be careful in choosing metaphors because it matters.

The amazing thing about being broken is the truth that you are not the only one who’s falling apart. Everyone comes to a breaking point. And the breaking point allows us to see each other as they are. Not as what we imagined them to be. And the breaking point allows us to find ourselves. And it allows us to find others. And sometimes, that’s enough. The moment of getting found was enough. And when you look back, it’s not like you’ve figured everything out. It’s just like you were allowed to breathe. It’s just like you allowed yourself to breathe. And that you are still broken but you are breathing.

We got this whole life and I bet, it’s not gonna be enough to understand everything, but at least we go out there and keep trying. Even when we’re broken, kind of stupid, overly optimistic and very human.

Like, each of us starts out as a watertight vessel. And these things happen — these people leave us, or don’t love us, or don’t get us, or we don’t get them, and we lose and fail and hurt one another. And the vessel starts to crack open in places. Once the vessel cracks open, the end becomes inevitable. But there is all this time between when the cracks start to open up and we finally fall apart. And it’s only in that time that we can see one another, because we see out of ourselves through our cracks and into others through theirs. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.

-John Green, Papertowns

Montello is Our Adventure

I know my friend, Shiela, is an amazing writer. I just never thought how insanely awesome her mind is in making stories.

About two years ago she started, with all the courage that she had, to put down on paper (or a writing platform aka Wattpad, at that) the very stories her mind had woven. I was already proud of her for doing so because very few people have the guts to follow their instinct, to pursue their dream, to just go ahead and bleed their purpose. Very few people will choose something crazy, will choose all the inconvenience over comfort, will choose all the hard work together with whatever they have going on in their lives at the moment. And I know, the other three of our friends (we’re five in our group) believed in her so so much. So there goes the story of Montello High: School of Gangsters.

I’m not going to nag on you to read that story over Wattpad here. Because if you haven’t experienced how a story can make you feel different sorts of feelings and bring you to places you’ve never been and open your eyes to things you might not yet seeing, then, you have a bigger problem. Haha! Kidding. But please, you know ninety-five percent of what I just said is true. I’ll never force you to read the story because I never forced myself to read it. And you know, people don’t need forcing to do something good for them, sometimes. There are other cases for that.

I never read it before because Shels (this is what we call her ((and for her fans, I don’t really know the origin of her pseudonym ‘Siel Alsreim’ but I think the ‘Siel’ part is short for Shels haha whatever))) haven’t finished writing it yet. Yes, I’m that kind of friend who doesn’t wanna read a friend’s story until it’s finished because I’m not very brave in the department of Hang in There for a While, I’ll Give You Your Updates Soon unlike most of her readers. And I love these readers who continued the support for over a year until the completion of the book. Grabe guys, iba kayo. #PUSO It shows that people appreciate art and people can connect their souls to a genuine art if it’s something really very wonderful and sincere. And Shels achieved what every writers should: only connect. It makes us prouder for her even more. Just to clarify though, we (us friends) are already proud of each other and believe in each other just because of who we are, individually. It’s just that how everything turned out for this adventure Shels had was super overwhelming beyond what we imagined. It’s amazing, God is superkaduper awesome!!!

I just read Montello yesterday and I can’t put it down despite my household chores and other things I needed to do. I read it til almost sunrise of today lol. And I was just mindblown. It IS a beautiful work of art. Just. Wow. I witnessed every single shift of events and I was awed. Who can think such story? It was very lovely. It is indeed full of adventure, teenage angst, young love, violence (please be guided when reading it, there are a lot of cussing and violence ((we don’t tolerate that outside the book just so you know lol))), hot-guys-who-read books-and-are-so-full-of-substance (this we tolerate), friendship, death, loss, letting go, acceptance, love and self-love.

When I was younger, I secretly wish to be a gangster too and be all that invincible; reading Montello is like reliving that dream. Haha. I know. Lol. Also, I’ve always wanted that “young love” but that never happened to me (boooo); I meant, the young love that I felt back then was not something that was reciprocated to me. If you are like me, it’s okay. When you love someone, you don’t lose, whether that love was reciprocated or not. Please remember that. (That’s why I adore MHSG’s Jin Cast. It takes one brave soul to love one-sided love. #oopsspoilerthere) Please also remember, High School and College is not the end of the world, if you haven’t given a love story then, something better is coming your way someday. Hold on tight, it’ll be a wonderful ride. Hold. On. Tight.

I will never leave my two cents on Montello without giving credit to our other friend, Mari, who became Shels’ confidant and editor in the whole process of MHSG. Whatever they say, she will be the first editor who ever touched this treasure and no one will ever be compared to the dedication that she put at stake in there. No one will ever dare question! MHSG was a tag team of Shels, editor, readers, fans and all those amazing people who kept being amazing to the story and to our friends.

Thank You Lord, for showing us how limited our minds are because You certainly can do Your works and we will stand in full amazement and praise! Thank You that Montello High: School of Gangsters will be published as a book! (!!!) Yup, you heard it right. It will be published by Summit Media (one of our dream companies to work to, before). This book – Shels’ story – will be available for you to read in hard copies just so you learn the Art of Waiting. If not, I gave you the link earlier and you can start reading if you want to. But it’ll defs worth owning, so start saving up! Lol.

For all those who loved, lost, loved again; those who value friendship; those who cherish their family; those who made mistakes, been so desperate, but learned to hope and get back on their feet… Montello is our adventure. And yes, I’ll keep it.

Connected Ka Ba? #afterthoughts

Despite the heavy rain and traffic, I braved Ortigas last Tuesday because I needed to get my hands on this new book written by one of my coolest OJT Supervisors back in ISACC days: Sir Rei Lemuel Crizaldo! Woot woot! Yes, my dear friends, I’m one of the firsts to have had witnessed this book in flesh before the Manila International Book Fair 2013 opened yesterday and before this book’s formal launch on Saturday at 1pm at OMF Literature’s booth at MIBF (make sure you’ll have the time to go there because the author will be there to sign your very own copies of his book)!

Several months ago, I heard that Sir Rei would be writing a book about prayer. Initially, I thought: why prayer? I honestly think that this wouldn’t be something that most people my age might be interested in, unlike love stories, sci-fi, novels and such. But kudos to his courage, I definitely salute what he had done in the book!

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The book is entitled Connected Ka Ba? (How to Pray Kahit Lo-batt Ka Na) which only contains 93 pages worth of read. It is very light that you could finish it in a matter of 1 (if you’re a fast reader) to 2.5 (or a slow one, like me) hours. The number of pages and the hours you’re going to read it doesn’t equate to the insights that you may gain or may be enlightened about as you go through the book. Not only that, I promise you that it’s enjoyable. I never thought Sir Rei had this sense of humor. Haha! There were parts that made me laugh and say to myself: Oo nga, noh? In all fairness with this book, #mahusay.

At the early discussions in it, I was glad to see a familiar name being quoted. I mean, it’s not everyday you see a Marshall McLuhan being quoted on a particular book outside your readings back in College. As a Communication Research graduate, McLuhan played a vital role in all of my exams back in my very first year-first semester in College. So, seeing him in the book gives me a jolt of joy like bumping with an old friend across a street in a city you haven’t been to. Lol. Babaw.

Anyways, according to McLuhan: We shape our tools and then our tools shape us. Technology has unleashed its power of changing the way we view our world, especially when it comes to social media. Nowadays, everybody gets connected easily. We are the children of the digital age where Facebook comes second after brushing our teeth in the morning. The book tackled the reality of how convenient we think it would be for us if we were to find God in these social media applications we are so hyped about. Maybe then, praying would be easier. Maybe then, we could not just guess what God is telling us since He could directly comment on our status or PM us whenever He wanted to say anything or whenever He wanted to answer all our questions and requests. E di sana, ang dali ng buhay!

I love how the book reminded me that prayer is always personal. That each of us got different styles when it comes to praying – some sing it, dance it, write it, talk to God about it, being silent, staring at the ceiling like gazing stars at the top of a mountain, etcetera. It varies for every person. The book integrated how our culture as Filipinos somehow affects the way we behave when it comes to praying. Since we Filipinos have this ability to comprehend non-verbal actions impeccably, we also express ourselves non-verbally – if we can’t say what we want, we act it out. And yet, no two Filipinos pray the exact same way. It is a beauty to witness that even when we’re very similar, we are also very different.

“…Alam niyang sapat na kahit ang buntong-hininga para maipa-abot sa Diyos anuman ang laman ng kanyang kalooban.”

And even when we are different, the Lord just understands each of us perfectly. I love it! Shows you that the God we serve is not a puny God., right?

The book is honest in a way that it says how our motives and actions have consequences in our prayer life. You know how sometimes we harbor sin in our hearts and that hinders God from hearing us? This is one of the things I fear, that God won’t hear me because I let myself be covered with sin. That doesn’t mean to say that God is angry at us when we sin, He is angry at sin and He loves us so greatly that Forgiveness is always waiting in the wings. We just have to choose it. When we confess and let go of our most treasured sin, He is faithful and just to hear our petitions.

“Don’t worry. Hindi naman maramot ang Diyos sa pag-scan at pag-delete sa mga kasalanang nagagawa natin.”

What’s more overwhelming is that not only He hears us when we call but God wanted His children to call Him, Father. Nux, close na close!

“…Sa madaling salita, hindi ka basta-basta lalapit sa Diyos na makapangyarihan at kabanal-banalan. Pero binaliktad ito ni Jesus. Sabi Niya chill lang tayo. Let’s call the Lord, ‘Dad.’

Therefore, if He’s our Dad and we are His children, we don’t only ask from Him, we also need to listen to what He has to say about whatever it is that we are going through, right? Prayer is communication – we speak, we listen. Most times, just like many of us, I tell the Lord all I wanted to say and I intentionally forget to listen to what He has to say about me. It’s like He hasn’t responded yet but I already put the phone down. We work that way, we are creatures of convenience. Sometimes, we think that the Lord is not giving us answers, that He’s just not there when we need Him when we were the ones who can’t bear His answers we could find in silence.

“Prayer is when you realize and take God as your environment. He is always there, always speaking. It is a matter of paying attention.”

I love that the book doesn’t just discuss how we pray for ourselves but the need for us to pray for other people. It is called interceding for others. I liked how the book said this:

“Sa mata ng Diyos, hindi rin tama ang manalangin para sa sarili lang natin. Dahil ang lahat ng bagay ay magkakaugnay, mararapat lang na ang lahat ng tao ay marunong makiramay.

There are a lot of insights that I got from the book but my ultimate favorite was the realization that prayer is our life, it is the way we live. When we pray more, we depend on God more. Thus, our relationship with Him grows intimately. Whatever we do could be an act of prayer, an act of full dependence to that Someone we call Father. I think it is super nice to know that even God is an Almighty, He desires a relationship with us – a nobody. And for that, I am grateful.

Prayer is, indeed, an exciting journey after all. :)

I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A Review of Some Sort

Today, we will talk about Love. Yes, I’ll go straight to the point. This is what happens when children grow up, they talk about love and stuff. Haha. Anyways…

Few weeks back, I finally read Joshua Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

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I’ve seen this book being read by my blockmates back in College; I knew then that it would be something worth reading. But at that time, I got this very little patience when it comes to “practical” books (those that give suggestions on what to do with your life and all that), I’m only fond of reading fiction novels ergo I read no Joshua in College Days. September last year however, when I went to a book fair, I finally decided to buy the book. Oh, please don’t judge if I just read it three weeks ago. ;)

The book got my attention in the first few chapters. A lightning struck; I got hooked. Joshua shared his convictions with regards to dating – if he is not ready for intimacy, for marriage, he will not commit to be in a relationship with someone (even giving hints when there are times that he already got a prospect in mind). He is very ideal. The reason why he decided to choose this path is that he believes that this is what The Lord wanted him to do: to develop intimacy with God and to value relationships with the people surrounding him (not leading them to something that will become confusing and messy, but taking care of them like brothers and sisters).

Joshua considers the plans of The Lord in stored for him and he is willing to wait while he is in the season of singleness in his life. He’s willing to sacrifice the good now in order to get the best later. While in his current season, he wanted to grow deeper in his relationship with God; exploring and obeying where The Lord has placed him to go, to reach out, to serve.

When I was eleven years old, even when I got silly crushes, I was ideal as Joshua’s. While in the middle of reading his book, I found out, ten years after that I made myself vulnerable to compromise. I haven’t been in any relationships ever since although I got this certain person that I really really like and I always thought that if this guy will pursue me, I might say yes. As Joshua says, God placed in our hearts the desire to be in a relationship, to be in a commitment, but we should only do so at the right time, at the right place, with the right person.

I always thank God that He never made this guy that I like pursue me. For one, thank God that the guy doesn’t like me the way I did for him; second, The Lord knows how deceiving my heart can be and I know that He’s protecting me. God will grant my desire of being in a relationship when he knows that I am ready. He doesn’t want me to settle. And I also know that I shouldn’t be equally yoke with an unbeliever. It is hard, yes, but focusing on God will make it easier for us. And I need, like Joshua and all of us Christians, to grow deeper in love with The Lord first and everything will just fall in its right pieces of the puzzle.

I hated that the book revealed my petty desires for the things and persons that I wanted now. Dyahe. Haha. It is also the same reason, however, that I loved it because it speaks of the truth, of what we all should pursue of if we wanted to honor God in our relationships.

I liked that Joshua pointed out our selfish tendencies when we like a person; how we always wanted to know if our feelings are reciprocated and if it were, we feel good. Most times, we only think about what good we can get and love is not like that. Love is thinking of what is best for the other person, it involves wisdom when to know the right timing to be with each other. Of course, it is easier said than done. But we always have to start with our choices. As the old saying goes, nothing worth-having comes out easy.

Hustle while we wait! Lets not just stand here and do nothing. Lets serve God with all our might, focusing our undivided attention to him, seeking to pursue the joy of obeying our Master. Ladies, lets behave like a queen to attract a king. Don’t ever settle. And while we’re here, lets make the most of our time!

As for me, I’m renewing my vows to relationships and commitment, bringing back my eleven to my twenty-one year old self. ;)

Bookmarked!

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