Clumsy and Unforgiving

When I hear the phrase,

“Your hands fit perfectly into mine” or

“It fits when our fingers intertwine”

I look at my own and I look at yours

and I think — when do they not?

 

Each and every hand is the same

Maybe with a difference in the span or in the tan

But they have the power to hold, to touch

To feel that much

It’s amazing

And the truth is: they’re nothing special –

they’re      just      hands.

 

I know my hands will fit into yours–

even without testing it first.

I know our fingers will be one–

even without asking you to.

 

But it will never be the same, will it?

You will never feel this way, won’t you?

Maybe the phrase should’ve been

“I hope your hands will feel at home in mine”

Cause my hands find home in yours.

But yours gets homesick, always longing to be elsewhere.

Because no matter how much I beg

Or how long my eyes gaze

Into yours,

Your hands do not lie

I am not the answer to the “why” in your heart.

I am not the piece you’ve been longing to find.

I am not the home that you want.

 

I wish I could be.

If it was that simple,

I would rearrange the evening sky

And align constellations for you to trace it in my eyes.

I would make the clouds disappear

So you would see nothing — nothing but the sun.

But I can’t.

And I know, someone out there can.

And she might even be better at it.

 

But for now, my hands are only good at ruining the art piece you have right in front of you.

Clumsy and unforgiving, they wreck things on a daily basis.

They do not trust the things they hold. They are fragile when it is cold.

These hands were never good at drawing straight lines nor were they good at writing sad poetry about the other halves they never met.

 

They never knew how to sew

and that’s why I cannot patch up the stars.

They might accidentally throw the clouds away

when other people might want to glance at them.

And they’re not like hers.

And hers are not like mine.

 

These are my hands. Mine alone.

 

This is why:

I do not grieve. These tears will dry.

I do not weep. These songs will pass.

It’s a sadness I cannot prescribe drugs for because I know,

And I hold on to the hope that someday the hands that will warm up mine

Will feel safe and at home in mine.

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To be Childlike

After taking the DLSU entrance exam from 7:30 am until 12:30 pm, my family and I headed to the Greenbelt Church for Mass. I felt the need to praise God for staying with me for the first three CETs I need to take and pray for His guidance with the next test, the most important one for me. Also, I’m off to Baguio for the next four days with my class for our senior retreat. I needed to ask for His blessing for my last retreat in AC — that it won’t rain as hard as last week and that I grow closer to my God, my rock.

When the Entrance song started playing, I couldn’t help but notice a clapping sound that went along with the music. I assumed that this was one of those creative priests who had some sort of instrument to get the energy in the clergy going. I glanced at the priest. Nope. Wasn’t him. I didn’t get to figure out where it was coming from until the next song. Glory to God started playing, in a version I was unfamiliar with so I attempted to sing along but to no success, and there it was again. The clapping sound.

I looked around for the sound, almost getting to the conclusion that I was going bonkers, when my eyes spotted a small boy jumping up and down in the pew opposite mine (it was a circular shaped Chapel). This boy was clapping, to my surprise, in complete sync with the music and jumping up and down as if it’s the happiest day of his life. I noticed his mother trying to control him but he would shrug her off and continue.

It was wonderful to watch. “Talagang glory to God eh,” as my mom said. In the middle of a crowd of frowning Churchgoers with their arms crossed aged around 20s to 50s, here was a child praising the Lord to his heart’s content. Like me, he wasn’t familiar with the version this parish played but he made up for it by clapping. By dancing.

13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

“Let the children come to me.”

One time, when I was younger and a bit more mischievous inside the Church, there was a baby wailing in the Church we were hearing Mass in. The priest got irritated, stopped in the middle of the Homily and said, “Please bring your crying children outside so as to not disrupt the sacredness of the Holy Eucharist.” This didn’t mean so much to me back then but I clearly remember never stepping a foot in that Church ever again because my mother didn’t appreciate what the priest did.

With my experience with the child in Mass today, I remember how his mother was forcing him to get back in his seat and stay quiet. Why suppress the joy this child finds in praising God? Why stop him from being happy when the song was obviously about God’s never-ending glory?

For a country that’s generally an optimistic and happy one, why is it that the moment we enter a building of God, our smiles disappear? Shouldn’t it be the opposite? That the joy you find in Jesus even make it wider?

We have it all wrong. We find the Church to be a place of restrictions, of limitations, when it should be where we feel most at home. We have grown up being scolded by our parents for “singing too loud” and/or “laughing during the Homily.” Maybe our voice can’t really be tamed and maybe, just maybe, the priest just so happened to crack a funny joke but our parents were too deep in their so-called contemplation — which is really just sleep — to catch the punchline.

Don’t get me wrong: dress code, proper decorum and participation are very important for young churchgoers to learn. These are things no generation should forget, that’s for sure. The Church (the building) is and forever will be a Holy one.

Let the children come to Him as they are.

To the priests who get irritated by crying children and parents who feel embarrassed by their children’s behavior (unless it’s a totally rowdy one), do not send them away. They will grow up discouraged to express their faith in their own unique ways. They will end up putting on a stone-cold face and crossing their arms like many people we see in Church today. They will end up empty Catholics, with no praise in their heart and no song in their lungs.

The call for us all, even those who aren’t children anymore, is to be childlike. Take note: Childish isn’t a synonym. To be childlike is to strip yourself off of your excessive pride, your so-called high reputation, your image in the face of God and praise Him. To be childlike is to come to Him as you are. To run to His arms as a child would run to his/her parents’ arms after the dreaded first day of school.

A Personal Prayer from a 10-year old me

A Personal Prayer from a 10-year old me

I was packing for my Baguio retreat when I encountered the prayer booklet I kept as a kid. I opened the Love Notes to Jesus portion — and was amused by how I phrased my prayers: simple, no pretentious words, pretty illogical with my concept of family, “good luck Jesus” (best thing I’ve ever written), and my demanding attitude with Jesus.

But it was sincere. And heartfelt.

“For what else can we give to the children we meet,

But to teach them to know and then watch them all grow,

When they try and they fall, it’s no problem at all

Tell them give it their best,

And let God do the rest.”

(For When I Was A Child, 3999 the Musical)

The Demand for Happiness

 

A few days ago, I learned something pretty interesting in class. Economics, to be specific. It’s not one of the subjects I love but our current lesson made me think about something beyond resources and consumers. We’re currently in the topic of Supply and Demand — and we started with looking deeper into the concept of Demand. The Law of Demand states that “all else being equal, as the price of a product increases, quantity demanded lowers.” It’s a commonly known concept in Economics and is now taught to other high school students everywhere. However, in the middle of discussion, my mind trailed off in deep thought, contemplating on this law and if it still applies for something else than a product, if it could still be applied to something abstract. 

Happiness.

Everyone yearns for happiness. If happiness was a tangible object sold in stores worldwide, people would be lining up in queues as long as the ones when the newest version of the most sought after iPhone comes out. People generally want to be happy. People long for a reason to smile, a reason to hold on, a reason to hope. If so many people want it, why is the price still high? Why is it that it’s so difficult to gain when there’s so much people who want it? When there is so much demand?

Is it possible that happiness is an exemption from this economic law? 

After much reflection, I concluded that maybe, just maybe, it isn’t. What if the demand is for a wrong kind of happiness? What if all we were fighting for all this time was a selfish type of happiness, where we were only concerned with ourselves? We have grown overly preoccupied with going after what we think would make us satisfied. We never wanted authentic happiness. The reason? Because it’s more difficult to attain.

The temporary happiness we feel after say, a high score on an exam or a project proposal that got approved lasts for only a while. There is still a price we pay — sleepless nights and rejected dates however, those are things we could always “get back to.” Authentic happiness, being a communal one, proves tedious to gain because it takes effort from a group of people and this is even more difficult when all of them are going after their own interests. Due to the high price, people settle for the one that requires less effort and time: selfish happiness. 

If more people would genuinely believe and want happiness for all, then the price wouldn’t be as high. After all, that’s what the Law of Demand says. 

Sacrifice is scarce. Selflessness is rare. But it’s certainly not unheard of.

We’ve seen extraordinary people who went out of their ways and sacrificed their own selfish pursuits for the community. Many of them are unsung heroes, some of them now saints, and others awarded by prestige organizations. These are the people who have paid the price for everyone else — and it’s now the youth’s turn to be the one to bring the price for happiness lower. It’s up to us kids to want to change this world. 

Through little or big acts of kindness, anyone anywhere can be the reason for someone else who truly needs it to smile. To be happy. 

Assumpta Est Maria!

First off, Happy Assumption Feast Day to all of you!

It is in this day that we celebrate Mother Mary’s Assumption to Heaven and how her “Yes!” to God is acknowledged and admired.

Being an Assumptionista, I truly love this feast day. Aside from the obvious reason, it’s one of the best traditions of AC — why?

1. The iconic “Assumpta Est Maria” greeting never fails to come with a warm smile and a sincere hug. The warm and friendly atmosphere just makes you want to spread the love. Fact: Hugs with nuns are the best. Let me rephrase that: AC hugs are the best.

2. Assumption Tarts! Of course, an AC day is never complete without this delicacy! It’s a well-known story that an Assumption sister named Sr. Emmanuelle was trying to make a pie — and ended up making a heavenly tart! Complete with that irresistible jam, it’d really make you go “Hallelujah, Hallelu– Assumption Tart!”

3. The Festive Eucharistic Celebration is the best thing to look forward to because how else can the AC community celebrate unity and love for Mama M but through a Mass? With the ingredients of a quirky priest, those traditional songs (St. Marie Eugenie’s Song & the famous acapella version Assumpta Est brought to you by the seraphic voices of the student body), and the longest Peace-giving session you would ever witness filled with hugs and laughter, it will always be a party with the Lord.

4. Lastly, Adoration is and always will be the end to such a celebration. As the day started with the Lord, it should also end with Him. This is the sacred moment of thanksgiving and reflection with God as the AC community ponders on their own “Yes” to the mission given to them.

Truly, August 14/15 are two of the most memorable days in an Assumptionista’s lifetime. Now, I understand why old students/teachers would always find the time to sneak into the evening Vigil and get some of their friends to bring home Assumption tarts — AC, to them, was more than a school. It’s home.

Having spent my last AC day with Campus Ministry, friends and teachers, I sure will miss it. I may be leaving after my senior year, but two of the many things I’ll bring with me later on will be my constant “YES” to God and all the wonderful memories I’ve had in AC. So once again, Assumpta Est Maria!

What a Great Time to be Alive

After taking up Nipun Mehta’s graduation speech entitled “Miserable and Magical” in my English IV class, I am immensely inspired to do something worthwhile with my life. The feeling I had after reading that essay evoked something real, something concrete in me that no other essay or speech have reached. This is one of those rare moments in my life when I finally realized all the good I can achieve, all the kind deeds I can do, and all the hearts I can touch. Needless to say: it was an eye-opening experience.

“Give, receive and dance.” These are the three keys Nipun Mehta to overcome the millenial traits of having a sense of entitlement and narcissism. These are now the three things I commit myself to do. Simple, brief and catchy: these keys summarize everything about kindness. Kindness, as I have observed, is everywhere these days. Maybe it’s because we read it for class but I have come to see goodness in my batchmates inside and outside the classrooms: they smile more now, they greet everyone sincerely amidst the tired look in their eyes, and they don’t even think twice about doing random acts of kindness that range from paying for the next kid who wants cotton candy to leaving a cupcake for the teacher in order to sweeten their day. What a great time to be alive! If every week was like this one: I wouldn’t mind how “cheesy” everything is. Amidst all the academic stress, there is no time to be negative when you’re surrounded by such kindness.

The past few weeks have been a wild roller coaster for me – with the occasional migraines and surprisingly, a huge number of miracles.  I find myself thanking God every single day — and I find that it’s a better way to spend my time rather than wasting precious time complaining over and over again about the troubles I face.

Last week, I was quite weary after dealing with my duties as a club head and on the day of my school’s Pep Rally, I was close to losing all my energy and enthusiasm. An unexpected blessing came in the form of my new freshman friend who handed me a letter calling me “Ate” (Filipino for sister) and wishing me luck for my upcoming college entrance exams. This simple act of kindness gave me so much hope and happiness (100x more than what Coca-Cola ever gave me!) that I quickly regained my enthusiasm and going forth to cheer and show my spirit for my school.

Today was an interesting day as well: my mother and I were walking home when a van stopped near us. It turned out that it was our usual carpool we thought we missed and they stopped so they could let us ride. This saved us a number of steps going home and the bus fee. Happy that I got to rest my feet and ride a comfortable car home, I went to buy my mother roses while she stayed in the market to show how much I love her especially now that she’s been having bad days. With a spark in my heart and a smile on my face, I walked home happily and what happened next goes to show how the cycle of kindness is wonderful — my brother bought twenty drinks in his cafeteria just so he could collect coupons so he could get me something I’ve wanted for the longest time: a Coca-Cola planner.

Again, what a great time to be alive!

The kindness we give goes back to us whether or not we expected it.

Most of the time, we don’t even expect anymore. The happiness we feel when we do something good is somehow enough for us.

“A hundred million miracles are happening everyday.” We just have to open our minds and eyes to witness the goodness we overlook in the people around us. This janitor named “Kuya Tolits” would never fail to greet me with the warmest smile I have ever seen and he does not know how much difference it makes to me to be greeted with such enthusiasm and sincerity in the drowsiest of mornings and the sleepiest of afternoons. He will, soon. 🙂

“Give, receive and dance.” – Nipun Mehta.

That Kid In Me

Imagemiss being a kid.

Being a High School senior, seeing little children playing around just brings out the little green-eyed monster in me wishing that I could go back to those wonderful days. Those days when no one really cared if you wore something fashionable or not. Those days when toys were your BFF’s. Those days when you could sing at the top of your lungs (and end up singing out of tune) but you didn’t care at all because Old MacDonald Had A Farm was your jam and when having a Princess-themed lunchbox made you really feel like a princess. Those were the good days.

My parents constantly remind me that I was that kid who “said the darnest things.” Up to now, they could never forget how I openly thought that there were people inside ATM machines, giving money to those who needed it. When Former President Erap got impeached, my folks tried explaining it to me that he was a mean, grouchy man who stole the country’s money and I was passionate in saying: “We should punish him by keeping him locked in the ATM and make him give all the money back!” I remember my parents erupting into laughter and tears but I was intent on making my plan happen. (I still kind of am, so future corrupt officials, beware!)

Another thing about me as a kid was that I believed in everything my sister told me. One time, she told me that she was a half-witch that goes to school only at night when I was asleep. Thing is, I believed her. I was intent on going to this magic school with her so I stayed up all night to wait. Nothing happened. But that was the night I learned something new: how to stay up late.

I never did learn my lesson so my sister continued to make a fool out of me. She explained the day after that she was too tired for magic school. I understood. She started telling me afterwards that she got terribly sick because she drank orange juice. Apparently, she was deadly allergic to it. In another time, we went downstairs for a midnight snack and she acted as if she was about to die after drinking some orange juice. Not even minding her poor acting skills, I panicked and started crying for my sister.

The last thing about me that I can finally share without feeling all that bad about it is that I was bullied a lot. Having been the only “englisera” (english-speaking person) in the pre-school I attended, I was the target for most of the rowdy boys. I remember this one boy who kept trying to steal my Coke and pulling my hair (I think his name was Kevin) — he was always be out to make me cry. (It was revealed after I left the school that he apparently had a crush on me.) Another boy would snatch my pad paper and use it as a “skates” around the classroom. Other girls would think I wasn’t girly enough for them so they avoided me. Being me, I stayed quirky and weird throughout those painful years and I’d like to thank the 6-year old me for never changing who she was.

My childhood proved to be eventful and actually quite funny when I remember about all the things I said and did. I cried at all my birthday parties because the clowns and mascots seemed like they all wanted to eat me. I pretended to have learned Atlantean and impressed the other kids by writing random symbols. My best friend is a witness to how I told everyone that I could control the wind just by raising my hands. Looking back, I was such a cool kid. 

Growing up, I learned that no, it is impossible to punish corrupt officials by locking them in ATM  and no, my sister isn’t allergic to orange juice and wasn’t attending a magic school. The older I grew, the more I understood about grown-up things like Economics and literature. I learned about how love isn’t just about sending an anonymous valentine card to your crush. (And that cars are not psychic– the driver actually controls the arrows that light up.)

However, the older I grew, the more I forgot about the child in me. Here I am, constantly doubting the capacity of the girl who was absent for every graduation practice but still ended up shocking people with her original poem for the graduation ceremony. I find myself constantly forgetting how wonderful it felt for the 4 year-old me to finally get a baby brother — when I get impatient with my now 13-year old brother because he’s “painfully annoying.” Also, I never really got to affirm the little girl who took all her guts to high-five that horrible clown just so she could get a balloon sword. Lastly: Why do I even allow myself to feel awkward when asked to dance, when I was that girl who got the “Best in Dancing” award back in Kindergarten?

Why is it so easy for me to lose confidence in myself now when the kid in me never gave up on being loud, proud and amazing?

It is a wonderful and thrilling experience to grow up but one should never forget the kid in them that believed that they could do anything, the kid in them who wasn’t afraid to dream big. Image

Careless Mistakes

Forgetting to put a negative sign before the number, misspelling a word especially when it’s basic (i.e. “peple“), and accidentally following the wrong rule for significant figures are actually a few of the worst things that you can do. Making careless mistakes can actually drive people to mild insanity and unnecessary violence. For some reason, there will be that voice in the back of your mind trying to mimic Adele’s singing, “We could have had it all…………” (Or Anne Hathaway’s emotional cries of “But there are dreams that cannot be!!!!!“)

If anything, I could be crowned as the Queen of Careless Mistakes. I’ve overlooked negative signs, lost my sense of spelling, repeated “there” more than once, confused ‘your’ with ‘you’re’ and forgot to extend that sneaky radical sign over the whole term. Every test I answer proves this. It could be said that I’ve gotten used to it but I will never get used to that fiery rage in me every time I realize how close I was to a perfect score if it weren’t for that dumb, careless mistake.

“I should’ve…” “If only…” “Where did I even get -3 from……” “WHAT THE F IS WRONG WITH YOU”

I say these things quite a lot but I realized that I should actually assert less energy in ridiculing the Ancilla who answered the test the day before. I should put more effort into making sure that the Ancilla who answers the next test doesn’t make the same mistake. I forget that I could still be a better version. I forget that I could move on.

So the next time you make a careless mistake, don’t complain about it. What good would complaining do when it’s already there on paper? Instead, tell yourself, “Hey, you’re only human. Next time, you’ll know better.”

Never beat yourself up for these little mistakes because these are lessons you needed to learn. Learn them.