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I’m leaving in a month…What now?

I’ve tried to dodge this for almost a year and a half. But now I’m facing the inevitable. I’m moving out.

Leaving for masters is a big thing for me. I’ve been working at the department as an instructor for almost three years now. It’s not my own liking to leave. But civil service rules that anybody teaching in college should have more than a BS degree. And my current contract is about to finish. So renewing it would require me to have more than a BS degree.

I’ve been here for 22 years. Born in the university hospital, raised in the next village, studied elementary nearby, and at the university for high school and college. I’ve practically lived with my family all my life (my brother experienced four years out even before I could).

I’m in this shell. Comfortable. I have a salary, and I contribute to household expenses. But all else, I don’t have worries here. We pay for laundry. My dad takes care of most transactions, like paying the bills, renewing licenses, etc. I have only myself to take about.

But in a month, I have EVERYTHING about myself to take about. I’m going outside my shell.

People might laugh at me. My students know how it is to be away from home. Me, I don’t. I still don’t know how that feels.

Even if I go out, I still have people around me. Dictating me what to do. Do this, do that. I’ll do the talking. I’ll do the transacting. (Like when I travel to Manila. My buddy sir Derek calls almost all the shots.)

But really, for me, this is a new chapter of my life. Lots of changes, I know. There are questions and concerns that run in my head, and I outlined them to be these.

Menial Things

I’m used to being at home where I don’t care about the little household things. Like worrying about my food, washing the dishes, cleaning the house, taking care of the laundry, managing my budget and paying bills.

I consider it a hassle. I’m an introvert. A low energy introvert who doesn’t care about the outside world. I find details a hassle. (I’ve only used at most 3 proper nouns so far.)

Ministry

I’ll be looking for a local church to join when I get there. Will I be fellowshipping nearby? Or at my cousin’s church two hours away? How involved can I get?

Family

I really have no qualms about my family. Except that I’ll miss them. I have two fun siblings to miss. And my mom and dad are so great (and not really intrusive to my day to day things, which I kind of appreciate as an introvert–just the big life concerns–yeyy! the abstract. Hooray for the introvert).

My girlfriend

This one’s unresolved until now. We haven’t talked face to face, heart to heart, and really openly about me leaving. We’re introverts. And we’re passive aggressive. We haven’t really sat down and discussed this.

But as what I understand (taking from non-verbal cues and short verbal hints), she doesn’t like the idea. And I understand. I don’t like leaving either. And it’s mainly because of this.

And we’ve avoided bringing this up ever. We just go out. We enjoy our time. We text and call. But never this conversation. And I don’t know why. It’s like, okay, let’s cross the bridge when we get there. But we’re almost there!!!!!!!!

But it’s okay. We’ll get to that. (I’ll maybe write a long letter for her.)

I don’t know. (I’m about to space out so, next…)

Space and independence

I know masters would entail a lot of things to me. When I go out, I’m on my own. But not really.

I have two buddies there, who are also on their graduate studies. There are pros and cons.

One, I have seniors who could give me guidance. They could offer insight when I need them. And maybe advice when I need to have some.

But on the other hand, I don’t want to be spoonfed. I want to learn how to cope up with masters and being independent rather independently. I don’t want to be told what to do down to the last detail. That’s not how I learn.

I want another shell where I can space out, and continue living. I want to work and cope and live at my own pace. That’s how it is, eh. I want to go out and socialize at the times of my own choosing.

I don’t think this timidity is a problem. My space and my privacy and my quiet times are where I get my strengths. Where I get my insight and my ideas. Without it I burn out.

And this post ends abruptly. (Spacing out in 3… 2… 1…)

(Ok. I’m scatter brained.)

(To be continued…) 🙂

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Nobody jokes to my girlfriend like that

‘Whatcha doin’? You must be flirting.. Flirt with me instead. It’s free.’

There must be a limit to ‘friendly jests’. There must be a limit to jokes that can be said without ‘malice’. THAT is apparently beyond the limit.

It’s not cool to joke around with that. It’s not cool. From a boyfriend’s point of view, it’s appalling. My girlfriend is not cheap. But that ‘joke’ is very demeaning. The assumption that she must be flirting is unflattering. Second, that you invite her to flirt with you (for free!) is distasteful.

I love and value my girlfriend. And whoever dares to ‘joke’ like that to her will answer to me.

Authenticity and leadership

To be a leader, you must learn to be authentic. To be great is to be faithful to the truth.

Recently, I started to tell myself I’m not good at leading. Because, leaders, they say, have good social skills. They smile at everyone, they remember names well. They are great at focusing their attention. They are good at small talk.

All of these, I’m not.

But I’ve been a ‘leader’ since I was in grade school. Ran for the school government. Ran a college publication. And so many other things. I wasn’t well-loved. But I’ve got a faithful following. And it’s not because I was socially awkward.

Because I was authentic. I didn’t pretend. I speak my mind. I tell others that something is good. I tell them if it isn’t.

I told the truth.

And I think that’s what’s important.

Leadership styles vary. But it’s always important that, to attract the right followers, leaders should trump honesty and truth at all times.

Spinning lies and half-truths can only rally troops that love to be pampered. We cannot go on saying, Hey! We’re doing great! when we aren’t. We can only live in these bubbles temporarily.

Honesty is not just “the best policy”. It should be the only policy. It’s a mark of greatness.

Candid as I am, I think it works. Those who are afraid to realize their weakness avoid it.

But the truth… sets free.

On confidence: I always second-guess myself…do I?

Today, I feel great. But no, I don’t.

Teehee. I always am in a roller coaster ride when it comes to how I gauge myself. A lot of talks and articles and quotes and Facebook statuses have been devoted to encouraging people—come on, feel good about yourself!

Is it right? Is it wrong? For me, it’s neither. It depends on the case.

I sometimes feel I’m really good. I can enumerate to you the set of skills that I have. (Ehem, look at my Facebook profile.) I can be so egoistic, I cause hurricanes.

But sometimes, I just feel so nothing. Inept. Inadequate. Useless.

Which is right?

In the day to day dealing with people and things, I believe confidence is important. To ‘schedule’ when you feel great and when you don’t is needed. You have to adjust with people around you.

I usually ‘motivate myself’ when I give talks and when I hold classes. It’s a psychological phenomenon, I believe, that you have more influence when people around you perceive you as confident (even if you’re wrong, haha!).

But I also think that we have to muster a moderate amount of ‘lack of confidence’. The Dunning-Kruger effect tells us we must feel inferior to motivate us to be skilled all the more.

James also says in the Bible that God humbles the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

There are always two options when it comes to evaluating yourself.

Are you that great? Have to think twice.

For me, uhm, I don’t know.

Why am I even writing this post? Haha. I’ll stop right here. 😛

Poverty is a mindset

It’s all in the mind.

I’ve known a lot of poor people who eventually succeed. They don’t remain poor. It’s because they know they can.

It’s really a matter of conditioning the mind. Early on, I have held on to the belief that poverty is not a binding, crippling disease. Like, if you’re poor, you’re poor forever.

In behavioral psychology, they study about learned helplessness, when people do not act on opportunities or muster the willpower to rise above mediocrity.

I feel bad about that.

I know a lot of people—though not well off—who have potential. They have talents and skills. But they do not learn and improve. They do not excel.

Because poverty is a mindset.

Facebook: The Christian Way

How to make your online presence God-glorifying in the age of new media and technology (A handout I made for Fundamental Baptist youth gathered in a recent December conference)

So you’re a Christian? Balancing how you relate with others through Facebook (and other social media) and how you live your faith is tough. Does FB have a place in our lives as Christians? How do I comment, like, post and befriend the Christian way? Let’s find out.

Writer’s note: These insights and practical tips are results of my experience on Facebook and in class. I handle a DevCom major subject called DC157: New Media and Technology, where we discuss topics like this for one semester. I talk with my students about how computers, the Internet, its technicalities and new media work.

Insight: Your Facebook presence is still a part of your Christian testimony.

Facebook is a community where people gather online. Before computers and the Internet came, people knew you from how you behaved in public. Now, they will know about you even if you sit from your computer chair. If you have a Facebook account, here are some tips you shouldn’t miss.

1. Do not post something that you will not say in public. This includes angry comments and bad words even if you won’t name the person. Private conversations should be kept private also. Facebook is a public place. Avoid making chat boxes out of comment threads, especially when the topic should be only between you and your friends.

2. Ask this before you post anything: Would I post this if Jesus was my Facebook friend? Would He “like” it if He sees my post on His news feed? Or how about my pastor?

3. Do not complain about your family, school or work publicly. There are recorded cases of family splits and employees being fired because of what they posted online.

4. Choose who could see your posts wisely. Choose only “Friends” instead of “Public”. Don’t court confusion or misunderstanding by letting anyone see what only your friends should see.

5. Only share content that are good and God-glorifying. Do not post links to articles and photos that have bad language, green jokes and sexual content (or anything worldly in general). Do not share photos of dead people ran over by trucks, or other gross content. Choose the music and videos that you share online wisely. The Bible says that friendship with the world is emnity with God. Love the music that honors God.

6. Handpick photos before you upload them. Do not upload everything from your digital camera or cellphone. Bawal ang walang ka-art-art! What I mean is, you must be careful not to share the awkward and private moments caught on cam that only you and your family should see. This includes your bedroom, bathroom, what you wear when you’re inside the house, revealing clothes, intimate couples, awkward surprised faces and repeating poses.

7. Use an appropriate profile picture. It is public and it is the first thing netizens (Internet citizens) see. Avoid making faces, or showing yourself awkwardly or in revealing clothes.

8. Do not tag friends to draw attention. The rule is to tag only people included in a photo or post. (Of course, there are exceptions).

9. Do not express too much emotion on Facebook. “I’m having a hard time moving on”, or “I’m so in love with ___”. Instead, share it to your mom, dad, Bible Study Leader or pastor. Ask for advice on your feelings and let them pray for you. Or instead, keep a diary. Not on Facebook.

10. Spell your name correctly. Do not spell it backwards or a la jEjEmOwHhN. If your name is too long (or unstylish), you can use a nickname, which is cooler. But do not murder it. The book of Proverbs emphasizes the importance of a good name. Your parents gave that to you for a reason too. What if Jesus used ‘SuSeJjj’?

11. Do not put too much information about yourself. There are recorded cases of women raped and murdered because they put their address and contact numbers on Facebook, so be careful. Do not invite stalkers or “secret admirers” kahit na. Avoid posting your whereabouts or “things to do”. You can put your birthday, hometown, school, but not everything.

12. Do not fake information. Do not pretend studying at “Harvard University” or that you “Worked as a Sniper at Counter-Strike”. Or you know how to speak “Spanish, Ilonggo, Waray, English, German, Portuguese and 18 other languages”. That is lying. Man fell into sin because the serpent lied. Tell the truth.

13. Be honest about your Relationship Status if you want to show it. If you’re single or in a relationship, tell the truth. It’s not really Christianlike to say you’re in an Open Relationship or It’s Complicated. If you’re a girl, do not say you’re In A Relationship with one of your girl bestfriends. Or, you can just hide your relationship status if you have nothing good to put in it.

Insight: Facebook can be an idol.

14. Do not spend too much time on Facebook. If you can’t read your Bible for 10 minutes or pray for 15 minutes, or take time to share the Gospel to a friend for 15 minutes, think again. Some people have resolved not to stay on Facebook (or any other website) longer than their quiet time, unless it’s really necessary. Do not skip Sunday School, Prayer Meeting or Youth Fellowships for Facebook.

15. Facebook addiction is real and scientific. Scientists say that we Facebook users are “doped”—we release a hormone called “dopamine” too much. This is resonsible for that nice feeling when we find out something new. In Facebook, there is an unending desire to know more about what’s happening to friends. Later on, we increase our tolerance to this hormone, and we will want more and more everyday. We become addicted but we deny it. We shouldn’t be like what Apostle Paul describes as “busybodies”—concerned too much with other people’s matters that we forget to work for God. Anything that takes the place of God is an idol. Like computer games, TV, music, cellphones. Your time in Facebook can rob your attention and time from God. That makes it an idol.

Insight: Make a Facebook environment that encourages you to continue living a Christian life.

16. Be discreet about who to “friend” and “unfriend”. Some people prefer to Confirm All Friend Requests. If you share a lot of personal things on Facebook, that is a bad idea. See first if you know the person. Avoid mysterious names or pictures. You have the right not to befriend them if they you don’t know who they are.

17. You do not need to add or confirm ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends. If you get hurt from bad memories, do not torture yourself. You can pray for forgiveness and reconciliation but help yourself too. This also applies to people you had misunderstandings with.

18. Do not pore over photo albums that give you bad thoughts. This incudes sexy photos of good -looking friends, or people you’re not in good terms with. The Bible says we should bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

19. Interact with friends politely. Do not argue online. If you want a post deleted, ask them in a private message, not in a comment. Do not insult people. The Bible says that our words should minister grace to the hearers.

20. Interact with Christian friends more often. Form a Facebook group for your youth group, choir or Bible study group. If you’re away, you could communicate with them there.

21. Post verses and testimonies instead of pickup lines or wordly quotes. The world is dying to hear grace and truth that only comes from Christ and the lives He has changed.

22. Do not be afraid to show your faith. But show it in a way that they will understand.

23. Hide posts from friends that you do not like. This includes gruesome photos or any content that doesn’t make you happy in God. The Hide option is at the right side of every post. If your friend keeps on sharing inappropriate content (and you don’t need to be his/her friend), you can just unfriend that friend, okay, friend?

Insight: Facebook-to-Facebook communication cannot replace face-to-face communication.

24. Not everyone is on Facebook. Your lola, a church worker, or even choir director may not be online, but you must still interact with them.

25. There are conversations that should be personal. Whenever possible, talk to real people in the real world. Say “I love you” to your parents in person, not only on Facebook. Give them a hug. Encourage a brother, shake his hand and give a good, hearty smile. These are things that Facebook posts cannot replace.

26. Don’t make “online evangelism” as an excuse not to do “offline evangelism”.

27. Do not judge people who do not want to use Facebook. They might have their reasons for not using FB. Reach out to them in other ways.

Insight: Keep your profile clean.

28. Don’t subscribe to apps that fill your profile with unnecessary posts. Do not use horoscope apps too. Horoscopes don’t have a place in the Christian’s life.

29. Review previous posts and erase those that do not make God smile.

30. For college students and jobseekers: Think of your Facebook profile as your online resumé or curriculum vitae. Future employers look at the profiles of their applicants. Sanitize your Facebook accounts of whatever can make them think you are not up for the job.

31. Do not “like” pages just so you can tag them.

32. Do not be ’emo’. Don’t use gloomy or bloody fonts and designs to make “I Love Jesus” graphics. Give formality and respect to your faith. Make it different from the world.

The Bible is the answer

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
O let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your Word have I hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Psalm 119:9-11

I haven’t been in a habit of sticking to a devotional guide in Bible reading. I have a number of devotional guides at home, at my bedroom, at my office. I only fumble to the one nearest me (or the one I feel I can relate most to at the moment) when I have my quiet time.

I’m in Hilongos at what they call the ABWE House (ABWE stands for Association of Baptists for World Evangelism…I think). It’s a guesthouse behind the school, church and hospital where we’re having our annual youth conference.

Ptr. Do, one of our church’s associate pastors and the speaker for the conference, lent me one of his Bibles. So ironic, the conference was about valuing God’s book and I forgot (my bad, sorry God) to bring my Bible. I just forgot it and I’m so sorry. (I could have all the reasons but it won’t bring my Bible 40 km away to my very hands).

But again, going back, I have this habit of randomly flipping through the Bible’s pages and land on a random chapter or passage. Then I’d start my Bible reading. (I sometimes do this a number of times to make sure I don’t land on chapters about who “begat” who, or something like that–you know, the boring ones.)

But this time, I landed on Psalm 119. Obviously, the book of Psalms is at the middle pages of most Bibles. The thing is, I found myself reading that passage I quoted there. And it’s something that speaks much of this conference’s theme.

True enough, we often neglect the Bible. No wonder we feel to far from God.

Ptr. Do said in his message today: Your relationship with your Bible is very much like your relationship with God.

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word…Your Word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.

My prayer is for daily cleansing, that my life be a worthy sacrifice everyday for God. How do I do that? The Bible has and is the answer.

More on that on my next writing (but maybe not online). TTFN.

My Greatest Day

I would not say that my greatest day was yesterday, for it would be downhill from there. I would not say that it is somewhere in the future, for I’ve always been living in the present. So I would say my greatest day is today, then it would be everyday. That is, as long as I live my life well.

A Test of Character

In a few hours, I will be going on for an interview and test for a job I’m applying at my alma mater. Earlier today (or yesterday coz it’s past midnight) I had an argument with a friend. This friend is part of the school. The argument was so intense it threatened to end our friendship.

I didn’t want that to happen a day before my job interview. I tried to ignore it but it kept on messing with my head.

But then I realized it was a test. Even before my interview, it was a test of whether I’m really qualified. Far more than aptitude, of skill, of intelligence.

It was a test of character.

And I realized what the right thing to do was. Make amends. It was just similar to what the Bible teaches about going to worship and something’s wrong:

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23-24)

So I resolved something in my heart. I texted, and made amends:

I am not going to the interview unless we are in good terms. Our friendship is more important than the job.

Crossroads

There are times in your life that you really have to choose.

Everyday we make many, many decisions. At the moment we wake up, we already make our first few decisions: if I will come to school early or not, what shirt I will wear, will I eat breakfast now or later, things like that. If you don’t decide, you are actually deciding to not decide!

But my point is, decisions are not something we just face from time to time. There are small decisions. There are also big ones. Some of our small decisions can impact us greatly. But many of them are just trivial day-to-day things to get by.

In about twenty years of living, I remember a few times when I face big, tough decisions in life. These are times when what you decide will determine the rest of your life. These are points where you can’t just wait till choices merge into one. There’s no turning back. Continue reading Crossroads