Saturday, December 24, 2011

Celebrating the True Meaning of Christmas with a Hymn

Merry Christmas everyone!


Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav'd a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev'd;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believ'd!

Thro' many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis'd good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call'd me here below,
Will be forever mine.

- John Newton, Olney Hymns, 1779 -

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On Taking Control of Our Future

For far too long I have been a victim of myself and my choices. Being powerless to change past circumstances and mistakes, I mistakenly let feelings of hopelessness take over me. Thankfully, recent painful events have jolted me out of my cycle. As my therapist said, it is only when the pain of the now outweighs the pain and fear of change that most people ever change at all. No matter how much pain I had and have to go through, I'm truly thankful for it because I know that it has helped me move forward in life.

One of the best advice about the past I've read is from Mort Fertel. Here's a snippet of what he said about how to get over your past (and past your hurt). If you're also hurting right now, I hope this somehow helps you see past your hurt too.

" don’t have to change the past in order to get over it. What you have to change is the MEANING of the past.

Think for a moment. Was there ever a time in your life when something horrible happened and you thought, “Why is this happening to me?” But then a few years later you looked back and you could answer that question. In retrospect, you understood why it happened. At first, it seemed like the world was caving in. Later, it all made sense.

In fact, very often, we eventually realize that bad times are part of a process that leads to something good!

It’s the events that FOLLOW bad times that determine the ultimate meaning of those times. In other words, it’s your future that determines your past; not the other way around. And since YOU are in charge of your future, then YOU determine the meaning of your past."
Here's to the future, second chances, and the power to rewrite the meaning of our past!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Looking Back for Hope

I find myself looking back to a moment that gave me hope during the darkest nights of my life. Little did I know that worse things were coming, that my faith in me, in the world, and all I believe in and hold dear would get shaken to core in ways I never dreamed of.

Yet 6 years later, changed in ways I could never have imagine, both songs still resonate in my heart. One brings tears to my eyes, making me wonder if the changes in me have come too late. The answer eludes me, but what I know is the water hasn't run dry in me. It still has not.

The other song continues to inspire, making me realize that in this moment of brokenness this for me really is a chance to return to innocence, a chance to return to myself.

"If you want, then start to laugh
If you must, then start to cry
Be yourself, don't hide
Just believe in destiny
Don't care what people say
Just follow your own way
Don't give up and use the chance
To return to innocence

That's not the beginning of the end
That's the return to yourself
The return to innocence"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Take On James Soriano's Controversial Article

I just read James Soriano's controversial article (finally!), and I have to hand it to him for being honest. That doesn't mean though that his words "it is not the language of the learned" sits well with me.

While it is true that English is the language used in our schools and board rooms (I was asleep while being operated on so I have no idea what language they used in the operating room :p), his conclusion that "it is not the language of the learned" is simply false, even downright stupid. It also irks me that he considers the English language to be a "tongue of privilege", and to which he even partially attributes his success in life, thinking that as long as he has mastery of the language he will always have his "connections".

Forgive me if I get a bit prickly, but the snob in me is aroused every time I encounter people (or at least the writings of people in this case) who deem themselves well educated when what they are doing/saying/writing is proving them otherwise. I'm not saying James Soriano is a total idiot, nor that he didn't get an education. What I am saying is that he hasn't educated himself enough in this particular issue to arrive at the proper conclusions, and more importantly to school himself to conquering his biases towards the Filipino language and his fellow countrymen.

I say he arrived at the wrong conclusions because what he might not realize is that some of the best minds in the country do use Filipino as their medium for creating art. The use of the Filipino language is not relegated to art alone either, with professionals using the language to converse everyday not just to communicate with the "uneducated yayas and drivers" but simply because it is their language of choice. Masarap pong mag Filipino. I can think of more examples, but what's the point?

Another thing that I think needs pointing out is the fact that the lack of mastery of the Filipino language actually indicates a lack of learning on our part. Yes, myself included. It angers me that we Filipinos put a premium in learning other languages (not just the English language), but do not applaud those who have mastered our very own language nor count it as a sign of an educated man. That is truly crazy because language is just a tool we can use to be able to understand concepts and ideas, communicate with more people clearly, and ultimately to broaden our perspectives and get a real education. Hence, the more languages we learn, the more chances we have of learning new things. There is no one language of the learned. What Mr Soriano said is plain and simple hogwash. To believe that there is one such language, is to have a shallow understanding of what education is really about.

On another note, what truly frustrates me is that Mr. Soriano is not alone in his dismissal of the Filipino language as being irrelevant in this day and age. Parents and teachers alike are still sending wrong signals to kids these days with their English-only rules. I know that in most cases that is not the intention at all, but what else will kids conclude if they are being banned from speaking Filipino? Like James Soriano, kids are apt to think that it is because English is more desirable than Filipino, and God forbid, that the Filipino language is only for their yayas. Without even realizing it, kids are being taught to treat their yayas differently and to be condescending towards others. Ask yourself, is the early mastery of the English language worth teaching kids wrong attitudes towards our own language and their fellow human beings? Or maybe there is another way of helping them get ahead in this world without having to sacrifice their respect for the Filipino language, while teaching them to truly connect to other Filipinos on a human level. I say, just let them learn what language they will. After all kids are like sponges and will likely learn both the English and Filipino language (even more) if you just let them. Teach them to appreciate both, and even more importantly, pass on to them a real love for learning. Not just the learning you will get from reading textbooks to get a high salary, but the kind of learning that would make them aspire to never stop growing.

In the end, I think this issue is even more pressing than whether Filipino is for the learned or not, and whether Mr Soriano is offensive or not. You can even say that he is to be thanked for his candidness because it inspired (hopefully) productive thought and discussion in our country (or at least in Facebook). The question is not whether he and Manila Bulletin (their taking down his post was a stupid move) learned something from the big hoopla, but if we learned something from his biases and shallow thinking.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Turning Into Mark

My reading list is starting to look more and more like Mark's reading list, thanks to my current workload. A quick look at my Google Reader will show more subscriptions to SEO and Internet-related blogs than any other blog category. Gadget and tech blogs are also catching up, with almost daily visits to Techmeme, Techcrunch, Techradar, and now...Lifehacker. Its crazy because these are the very blogs I found so utterly boring even as Mark found them fascinating(?). I am pleased though with what's happening because there are lots of upsides to the forced evolution of my reading habits...

  1. I'm learning a lot of new things.
  2. I'm actually starting to gain interest in tech stuff!
  3. It will hopefully give me and Mark more common interests (or at least I'll understand what he's talking about more).
Who knows, I might end up being a techie yet? Not!

My SEO daily reads by the way are:

Google Webmaster Central Blog
SEO by the SEA
SEO Book
SEOmoz Blog - Don't bother much with YouMoz since the excellent posts there are upgraded to the SEOmoze blog anyway.
Yahoo! Search Marketing Blog

So many more blogs on my reading list, but these are the ones I find myself visiting most often. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Good Job Sam!

After every therapy session, Sam's OT writes down the list of tasks they completed along with remarks like poor/good compliance, easily distracted, "minimal/moderate/maximum" assistance given, difficulty performing this and that task, and so on and so forth. With more obstacles than triumphs, reading his notes can sometimes get you down. I'm so used to them by now and so I didn't really expect to see anything different when I scanned the notes for today. I was pleasantly (understatement) surprised to see entry number 5 for today. It says...

5) Sorting animals and mangoes


While sorting toy animals and cardboard mangoes might not seem much for a 6-year old kid, it sure is one big achievement for our Sam.

Way to go Kuya Sam!!! We love you and are so proud of you!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Number 5 for Hannah Grace

Feeling a bit narcissistic, I decided to Google my name. Turns out I rank number 5 for the search term "hannah grace". Woot! Considering how common my name is, I'm quite happy with that. Not that it does me any good in terms of traffic. After all, no one really uses hannah grace for their search term. Still, I'm doing my happy dance. :p

Monday, August 08, 2011

Giving My Blog Some Loving

Finally got around to changing my blog's template. Removed most stuff on the sidebar, and switched up the rest of the elements.

To my last two readers, who I happen to know just reads my blog via aggregator, do check it out!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Late Night/Early Morning Musings on Life Lessons

I couldn't sleep.

This time though, what kept me awake was not my own problems but that of two people I dearly love. I've been trying to wrap my head around the two very different situations they're in, but I just can't. I want to be supportive. Do the right thing. Help. Be accepting. Point out their mistakes. Shake them. Make sure they get the lesson they're supposed to learn. Fix things.

In the end, all my thoughts and emotions just left me confused, tired, and in a state of grief. So I turned back to the one thing that has never failed - prayer.

And that's when I got it. There may be lessons stored for them, but right now what I should bother with are the lessons in store for me, the first being not to resort to prayer last! Why in the world should I keep on figuring out ways to help them fix their lives when I myself keep on forgetting the simple formula? Yes, I should learn to be accepting, loving, a real peace maker, and an honest person who can support but rebuke in love. But most of all, I should learn first and always "cast my burdens upon Him". To grow close to Christ and reflect the love He has graciously given me. Then and only then will I have the peace of knowing that He will never let go of me and these two people I hold so dearly in my heart. I may not be able to fix things, but I can rest in the knowledge that just as God never failed me so will he continue to love and seek the rest of His bullheaded children.

So the key to peace is something my mom has been telling me for ages. It's something I've known for so long and just keep on putting off the way I keep on trying to ignore my sinus attacks when I fully know how a few minutes of using a steam vaporiser can do wonders. Faith and trust is still the key to peace.

As for the other lesson I learned today... If I don't want to end up being like the judgemental and self-righteous people I truly dislike, then I should always look at things in the right perspective. Instead of thinking about what, how, and why people got into the situations they're in as well as the supposed life lessons for them, I should wonder about the lessons I can learn from them. Every single thing that happens in life is after all an opportunity for me to learn something. It's not about being self-absorbed, but learning to have the humility that there truly is so much I need to learn and re-learn.

And with that, I think I might yet squeeze in another couple hours worth of sleep. Back to bed for me.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Blogging for Elijah and Sam

It seems that the only time I remember to blog is when I feel nostalgic. Despite repeated promises that I'll be blogging more often, I haven't gotten around to actually doing so. Tonight though, after seeing Sam's old pics, and how this rusty old blog has helped chronicle his life, I just had to post again. After all, I want to be able to look back 6 years from now and reminisce not just about Sam's journey, but Elijah's as well.

Here's a few pics to start me off...

Elijah's first day on earth. Feb 16, 2011.

Kuya Sam and Eli's first gimmick together. Pagpapa-araw sa Bago Bantay.

Three+ months and smiling really widely.

Four+ months. Standing really well and learning to take care of Kuya already.

That's it for now. Since may netbook na ko and internet sa bahay, I should be able to post more pics more often.