Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Lola of Great Faith

“Tama na yang TV, magdasal na tayo.”

Nobody moves.

“Magdasal na tayo.”

Still, nobody moves. Eyes fixed on the tube. Ears as if plugged with giant cotton balls.

“Magdasal na tayo. Hindi natin dapat nakakalimutan ang Diyos.”

Much as I want to go on with the pretend-I-didn’t-hear-anything drama, I get up from my seat and turn off the TV, to the dismay of my cousins. Being the eldest in the bunch, I herd my cousins in front of the altar, where Inang had already been waiting for us.

This was how everyday family prayer would start when I was a kid. It was a struggle. Like gulping a spoonful of Tempra when you’re down with fever, you just want it over and done with.

But Inang seemed oblivious to the groans and sighs of her grandchildren come prayer time. She would ignore the dragging feet and the lousy answers to “Hail Mary” and would remind us that God is more important than TV. She wants us to value prayer and to always follow Jesus’ example in everything we do.

For that, I loved and respected Inang–for her faith, her wisdom, and her great love for family. But a greater testament of her faith was revealed in that day after my Tita Lyn was laid to rest.

It was mid-day. The whole family–Inang, my parents, aunts, and uncles–was gathered over lunch. We were talking about Tita Lyn’s death. We lost her when she was run over by a speeding bus. Pure hatred was the only thing we felt for the driver, and we were ready to avenge her murder.

Silent in the midst of the very emotional discussion, Inang suddenly uttered, “Hindi ko pa man sya nakikita, pinapatawad ko na ang drayber na ‘yon.” All eyes were now on her.

I thought, “How could you say that? Didn't he just kill your daughter? Didn't he just run over her several times, ignoring her loud cries for help? Didn't he just rationalize what he did? Why are you being like this? Isn't she important to you?” He had no remorse. He never asked for forgiveness. For that, I will never forget his face. His menacingly proud face will forever be etched in my heart.

As if she had read all the thoughts in my head, Inang burst into tears, "Ipinahiram lang ng Diyos sa akin si Lyn para alagaan ko at mahalin bilang anak, pero sa Kanya naman talaga sya. Kaya pinapatawad ko na yung drayber, dahil parati rin naming tayong pinapatawad ng Diyos."

That left me silent. I felt my eyes start to well up. She was right. Tita Lyn was, first and foremost, God's daughter; He must have already needed her up there. And true. If the God who made all heaven and earth could forgive sinners like us, how could we not pass on the forgiveness to others? Inang felt the pain of the loss, but she saw the bigger picture.

After that memorable day, I loved Inang even more and grew more respect for her. She is more than a daily Mass-goer, more than a prayerful lola, more than a forgiving mother. She is a true servant of God. And I pray to be like her, to be of great faith.


Me and Inang, my lola of great faith

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Decisions. Decisions.

"Obey the Lord not out of fear but out of love."

When I was a kid, I hated going to mass. Waking up at 7 in the morning on a Sunday wasn't really my cup of tea. Who would like to pull away from snuggle pillows, get up from a comfy bed, and take a shower that early? I don't know about you, but I definitely wouldn't.

But being the only minor in the family, I always obliged. That or I endure continuous poking from my dad to wake up. "Mainit na bato sa kalsada," he'd loudly say, you'd think he had a megaphone in hand.

As a teenager, my going to mass wasn't as wholehearted still. I remember being eager to complete the nine dawn masses during Christmas season just because I had a crush on one of the altar boys. Very good motivation, right?

Now, on my twenties, I voluntarily go to mass. Not because my parents told me so. Not because I like one of the altar boys (at my age, isn't that already child abuse? haha). But because I love God and I decided to grow in faith and love with Him.

As single adults, we are at the stage where we can do absolutely anything. We choose our paths. We design our lives. We make our own decisions. Yes, there may be people who give directives on how to run our lives, but each decision still lies with us.

Last Sunday, I saw more than 40 single men and women who decided to respond to God's call. Though only a simple gathering and meet-up session, the Singles' Huddle was an initial step toward realizing a single life anchored on God. On the next Huddle, I hope to see more single people making the same decision.


You are no longer a kid. Not a teenager either. You are a single adult with a decision to make, not out of fear but out of love for your God.

So, what's your decision?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Just School Stuff

She opened the candy-colored paper bag and brought out the fillings one by one. Out went a box of crayons, a sheet of stickers, and a notebook, to which she immediately said "Ah, I'll use this as scratch paper instead." Then, there were a mini notepad, a bookmark, a few colored pencils, a pencil case, and a small stuff toy.

After littering the bed with everything the tiny paper bag used to hold, she turned to me, "Ate Osy, you should give me more of these. Just school stuff. Like the dozen of pens, crayons, and colored markers you gave me last Christmas. Don't give me toys. I've grown tired of them anyway."

I thought she won't appreciate the birthday gift I had for her. But as I see her leave the room, paper bag in an embrace, I knew I was wrong. She loved the gift, however simple it was, and she knew she wanted it.

My 8-year-old cousin Maraj knew what she wanted: Just school stuff, Ate Osy. Whereas, there I was, not knowing what I wanted for myself.

For the past weeks, I've been haunted by a thought that has grown consistently since that day I met the Idol. Did I make a wrong decision? Did I just let go of my biggest dream? Did I really ditch the job I've always wanted?

I was offered an editorial job in the magazine I so wanted to be a part of since I joined the community. But I refused. Why? Because of proximity, the possible financial decline, and the lifestyle change. I could think of a million other reasons to justify my weird decision, but lately, it has just boiled down to one: comfort zone, and how I don't want to get out of it.

I wanted the job, but I feared my lack of expertise. I wanted the working environment, but I feared the unfamiliarity. I wanted the fulfillment of the dream, but I feared the changes it will bring.

Fear got in the way. Fear overcame the dream.

God, is there any other way to remedy this? Did I really make a wrong choice?