First Day Jitters

This school year has begun.

On my way to class, I double-checked my big tote bag to make sure I had everything—flash drive, check; syllabus, check; work scheme, check; two sandwiches, check; sachet of three-in-one coffee, check; red pen, check; confidence, well . . . 

Jitters always accompany me on my first day anywhere. I've been teaching for ages, but first days always spook me—new students can spring unsettling surprises.

I got an amalgam of foreign students and local ones: some shy, some aggressive, some smug, some enthusiastic, some indifferent, and some with special needs. The first and only order of the day for me was to get these varied species collectively interested in the subject, English.


Budik and Ygo (and Me)

Budik is a new father. And Ygo is his son.

On Father's Day in church last Sunday, Budik made a testimony so moving it left almost everybody thinking, “I wish my father would speak that way about me.”

He spoke of gratitude to God for this gift of life.

He spoke of his joy and excitement when Ygo was born.

He spoke of a new resolve to work harder.

He spoke of giving up the spontaneous “gimik” (night out) that used to fill his carefree days.

He spoke of wanting to be with Ygo more than anything in the world. 

He spoke of his special bonding moments with him—the same quality time Ygo's mom spends breastfeeding him.

So where do I come in?


Real Vacation

Vacation is a word I rarely use. It's because I never allowed myself to have one—I mean, a real one.  

Except for the occasional weekend or holiday dinner-out/coffee or an overnight stay at Canyon Woods in Tagaytay with my family, I couldn't recall a time when I had an honest-to-goodness vacation, when I wasn't on the computer catching up on self-imposed deadlines or all over the house rustling up self-inflicted chores. 

Well, for the first time in years, I had a two-week vacation. It was unplanned, but it came at a perfect time.

As I have experienced again and again, that's how grace works—it comes even when you least expect it and when you need it most.

My best cousin, Miss B, had to come home to bury her mom, my aunt. It was a rushed and heart-breaking affair, something we thought we were ready for, but when it suddenly came, we realized we were  not ready at all. It's like the rug was suddenly pulled from under our feet, only worse. For nothing can prepare you for grief.


Doing Right

Disappointment, or even frustration, comes when you try to do something for others with the best of intentions, and you get criticized—or castigated—for doing it.

In a nutshell, that's the story of our lives.

There are always pros and antis to anything anyone does.

I once had an extra TV set which I hardly used. One day, a relatively new member of our staff mentioned that she'd been saving up for a TV set.  Immediately, I offered her my extra one. My reward for this good deed was a grateful face, all aglow.


The Forgiving Father

One of my favorite parables of Jesus is “The Prodigal Son,” which many call instead,  “The Forgiving Father.”  This story shows the depth of forgiveness fathers have in their reservoir of love for their children. 

Many stories have been spawned from this  parable, including one that I wrote, Look for the Star.  It is a tale about a couple in a remote barrio who make parol (Christmas  lanterns) for a living.  Despite their guidance and love, their only child fell into all sorts of trouble. He kept the company of the town’s rascals and scamps. 

While his parents were trying to talk some sense into him one night, he stormed out angrily and never came back.


Now Na!

These days we use a Taglish phrase to stress urgency, Now na! Translation: right this minute!

This is the phrase I use when people who desire to become published writers ask me,  “When is the best time to start writing?”

“Now na!”

Let me explain.


Mothers of Moses

The story of Moses' two mothers intrigued me when I first heard it in Sunday school.  May I re-tell it?    

When Moses was born, the Pharaoh ordered that all newborn Hebrew boys should die. But Moses’ mother, Jochebed, disobeyed the king. Despite the danger of being caught by Pharaoh's soldiers, who searched everywhere, she hid Moses for three months. 

Then she made a basket of bulrushes and placed baby Moses there. She laid this tiny boat-like basket in the bank of the Nile River.


Missing Birthday Boy

He's missing this year and we're missing him.

Adrian turned four last May 5, and for the first time, he did not fly home to the Philippines to celebrate his birthday with us.  For the past three years, his parents usually scheduled their yearly vacation to coincide with Adrian's birthday, so we had been blessed to have him on his first, second, and third birthdays. 

This year's different. Vacation leave schedules have gone haywire due to  a series of fortunate events. And so we celebrated the birthday boy's special day via the internet—through crisp and clear photos taken by his mother.  We greeted him on the phone and heard his voice, which is somehow different from the way it sounded a year ago.