Am I dreaming?
The Eddie Garcia, best actor of the 55th Asia Pacific Festival and the only hall-of-fame Famas awardee for three categories, materialized in front of me, spoke in basso profundo, and we would have dinner together.
It was for real.
He was actually one of the few invited guests to a Christmas dinner (the first we attended this year) that my friend ALB hosted in her spectacular home. A more apt description of that structure with luxurious interior in an inclusive enclave in Makati is: royal palace.
Through the years, miles and miles of news have been written about Eddie Garcia (now in his 80s), he who has won more awards than any other Filipino actor, and whose name is synonymous to great character acting—all of them well deserved.
Innocent children slaughtered.
This gruesome news shook the world in recent days. A lone gunman massacred 20 schoolchildren in the affluent town of Newtown, Connecticut, considered a very peaceful and safe place in the US.
This was exactly what happened in the small town of Bethlehem in the year that Jesus was born. The first Christmas was not festive nor luxurious as it is today. It was awfully dark. The woeful sound of weeping mothers competed with the gusty sound of the winter wind.
Our Biblical history tells us that the magi went to Judea in search of the newborn King of the Jews, having "seen his star in the east." They were directed to the small village of Bethlehem, and King Herod asked them to let him know who this King was when they found him.
The first Christmas was the beginning of a world saved from sin. Hope was born, and every man—no matter how deeply mired in sin—can now receive the free gift of forgiveness and be a child of God through Christ.
Jesus said in Luke 4:18 (NLT), “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free . . .”
Now we can see. We've been released, we've been set free.
Warm Christmas greetings from a family scattered in the year 2012. Our card this year tells the story of the grace that came our way through various milestones in various parts of the world.
"Merry Christmas," says Attorney . . .
. . . and so do Earl Grey, Chai and brood
The rumor had been rife; it persisted for days.
Many people believed it—to their peril and embarrassment. It occupied huge spaces and frequent mentions in social networking sites and newspapers: The world will end on 21 December 2012.
That was yesterday in our part of the world. That's today across the seas.
The greatest Gift—and the only one that should matter on Christmas—is the birth of Grace. God made Himself poor so that we may be rich and have eternal life.
If we played by man-made rules, Christmas gifts could really get us into trouble.
A neighbor was so furious because she spent time choosing a beautiful towel for her exchange gift at a Christmas party. What did she get in return? A cracked mug. “I will never participate in any exchange gift again!” she swore.
The phrase “four-letter word” refers to words with four letters that are considered profane or vulgar. It is a euphemism for the many English swear words which are four-character monosyllables.
Among all these four-letter words, I believe that the worst of them all is . . . more.
More has caused the downfall of great men in history. It was the cause of the first-ever sin committed by Eve in the garden of Eden. She wanted more than what she already had in paradise.
More is the core of every addiction (drugs, gambling, alcohol). It means, not being able to stop.
Unlike my friend Malou who can echo, word for word, other people's speeches just by listening to them, and knows all her friends' cellphone numbers from memory (she doesn't use her directory), I am a synthesizer.
In my own words, I jot down ideas and concepts I hear, simplifying them as I see fit along the way. That means I am also a simplifier.
One part of the sermon I heard last Sunday made me squirm in my seat. I want to share a part of it with you by synthesizing and simplifying it (the words, not the content), especially because I think it was grace particularly meant for me.
Pastor: Are you a grumbler? A griper? A growler? A whiner?
To escape the horrifying headline news on the deadliest calamity that ever hit Mindanao wrought by Typhoon Pablo (over 500 deaths to date), I turned the day's newspaper to the inside pages and got mesmerized by the Lifestyle section.
Splashed on several pages were tall, beautiful ladies and dashing young men garbed in the latest fashion. I drooled over how they carried their clothes, bags, shoes and accessories with flair.
My thought balloons:
Ooooh, I wish I were one inch taller . . .
Ooooh, I wish I were as well-dressed . . .
Ooooh, I wish I had those accessories . . .
A blogger's all-time natural high is caused by her number of hits, even if the hitters miss reading a word of her blog.
I've been quite happy, extremely happy, when my average of 30 hits per day suddenly surged to 200 since May this year. I can't explain the unusual spurt. But I won't question it either.
Not too many people know this fact: AIDS has reached epidemic proportions in this country. I was shocked when my physician friend, Luis, who has made AIDS prevention his pet advocacy, rattled off statistics I wish I didn't hear.
He directed me to the AIDS Society of the Philippines website, and while there, I discovered one startling fact after another.
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the final stage of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) disease, which causes severe damage to the immune system. The virus attacks the immune system and leaves the body vulnerable to life-threatening infections and cancers.
Common bacteria, yeast, parasites, and viruses that usually do not cause serious problems in people with healthy immune systems can cause fatal illnesses in those who are found to be HIV positive.
To someone whose blood sugar is always precariously at high-normal levels, ice-cream is taboo. There are sugar-free flavors, but they're a poor copy of the original.
So if you can't eat them, hang them.
These ice cream cones were painstakingly made by three pairs of hands: Ate Vi's, Analou's (her niece and now her adjutant), and mine.
The idea was suggested by my friend G, an art director whose mind traverses the universe and back looking for beautiful things to do and behold. She sent me photos of various kinds of ice-cream, but I chose the model that is easiest to make.