Saturday, August 22, 2015

"The storm that shook thy nest taught thee to fly"

A friend sent me this over two years ago, when I was going through a difficult time. I just thought it might give comfort to anyone who's dealing with anything heavy right now.
As an eagle stirreth up her nest. (Deut. 32:11)
God, like the eagle, stirs our nest. Yesterday it was the place for us; today there is a new plan. He wrecks the nest, although He knows it is dear to us; perhaps because it is dear to us. He loves us too well not to spoil our meager contentment. Let not our minds, therefore, dwell on second causes. It is His doing! Do not let us blame the thorn that pierces us. 
Though the destruction of the nest may seem wanton, and almost entirely come at an hour when I do not expect it, though the things happen that I least anticipate--let me guard my heart and be not forgetful of God's care, lest I miss the meaning of the wreckage of my hopes. He has something better for me.
God will not spoil our nest, and leave us without a nest, if a nest is best for us. His seeming cruelty is love; therefore, let us always sit light with the things of time.
The eaglet says, "Teach me to fly!" The saints often sit idly wishing that they were like to their Lord. Neither is likely to recognize that the prayer is heard when the nest is toppled over! 
The breaking up of a nest an act of God's benevolence? What a startling thought!
Yet, here is an old writer who makes it a subject of praise; blesses God for it; declares it to be the first step of my education! I can understand praising Him for His gifts to body and soul; but I lose my breath in surprise when I am asked to make the first stance of my hymn the adoration of His mercy in loosing the ties of home!
Nay, my soul, it is to strengthen these ties that my Father breaks up the nest; not to get rid of home, but to teach thee to fly! Travel with thy Teacher and thou shalt learn that
The Home is wider than any nest!
He would have thee learn of the many mansions of which thy nest is only one. He would tell thee of a brotherhood in Christ, which includes, yet transcends, thy household fires. He would tell thee of the family altar, which makes thee brother to the outcast, sister to the friendless--in kinship to all.
Thy Father hath given thee wings in the breaking of thy ties! 
The storm that shook thy nest taught thee to fly!
God spreads broad wings;
And by His lifting, holy grace,
We find a wider, fairer place,
The freedom of untrammeled space;
Where clearer vision shows us things
The nest-view never brings.
The wing-life is characterized by comprehensiveness. High soaring gives wide seeing! (J.H. Jowett)

I got this after my nest wasn't just shaken, but had pretty much been toppled over. It was the most painful experience of my life. Each day, I would wake up wondering if things were ever going to get better, if the hurt was ever going to end, if I was ever going to be able to say I was OK. (I wasn't even gunning for "happy"--OK was good enough for me.)

After my world was turned upside down, I went to a friend's place, and I just cried and cried and cried. "It was the worst night of my life," I sobbed. After I had a good long cry, friend wisely said, "Well, if you say it was the worst night of your life, then the good thing is, it can only get better."

And things have gotten better. I've learned how to fly. I can't say I'm soaring, but I'm getting there.

So if you're going through something right now, have faith--you're going to be just fine. You'll even be more than just OK.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Best Musical of the Year

My friend and former colleague Carlo Vergara (of Zsazsa Zaturnnah fame) penned a one-act play called Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady. It was turned into a fantastic musical that has received such rave reviews. Watch the video below to get an idea of its awesomeness.

Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady - THE REPEAT!Na-miss mo ba ang unang run namin? Wag nang mag-alala! Ito na ang pagkakataon mo! Catch the most awaited re-run of the Musical to end all musicals! "Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady The Musical" runs at Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1 from July 3 to 26. Wag nang magpatumpik-tumpik pa! For tickets, call ticketworld at 891-9999 or visit #KPANLL #LeadingLadyTheMusical #KPANLLOnstage #KPANLLTheRepeat #DalanghitaProductions
Posted by Dalanghita Productions on Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Video courtesy of Dalanghita Productions

You can catch the show on its second run tomorrow night (July 11), 8 pm at OnStage Greenbelt. Tickets are priced at 1500 for orchestra center, 1200 for orchestra side, and 800 for balcony. More info below. Carlo will be there to sign books. :) See you!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Talking Body

After day 6 of my 30-day yoga challenge, I took off my shirt, stood in front of a mirror, and frowned at what I saw. Recently, I had accepted that I could not out-exercise the way I eat, so I've been trying to make better food choices (and not necessarily always succeeding). I know this is a great opportunity to build up the virtue life keeps prodding me to acquire again and again: patience. Sure, I've been working out more consistently and eating a bit more mindfully, but real results aren't going to come in a week or two.

After turning away from the mirror, I thought, "Life is too short to spend in a body I'm not happy with," and resolved to step up my efforts. I was tired of hearing people tell me that I "have such a thin face." (It happens a lot more often than you'd think.)

But maybe this yoga challenge is making me more enlightened, because immediately after that thought came another: "Life is too short to spend being ungrateful."

My body, for all my perceived flaws, has served me well all these years, and I realized that I hadn't even thanked it for all that it has done for me. So, body, THANK YOU.

For allowing me to keep dancing, and for remaining fairly flexible.

Photo by Felix Angue

For letting me finish a half-marathon, even without sufficient training.

For letting me keep playing the sport I love.

For carrying a child for nine glorious months, and producing enough breast milk (with equal parts difficulty and determination) for 22 and a half months before my son self-weaned.

Photo by Sara Black. Makeup by Omar Ermita.
For being able to do pull-ups, something I haven't been able to do before--not even when I was younger and lighter.

For allowing me to bear the weight of a toddler who's growing fast and seems to be all about the gains.

This gratefulness doesn't mean that I'm about to let myself go--it's just enabling me to see my body in a whole new light. I want to work out and eat right not (merely) because of vanity, but because I know my body deserves to retain its strength and its resilience and its beauty (in spite of--or because of--everything it's gone through: childbirth and breastfeeding and just plain getting older). It deserves to be treated with respect, and it deserves to be loved and nurtured. Just like the rest of me.

Photo by John Paul Santos

Monday, April 13, 2015


Today was tough.

A's yaya resigned last week, and it was our all-around helper's day off, so it was just me and A. Like all toddler boys everywhere, he found numerous ways to give his mother a heart attack--jumping from the top of his slide, climbing halfway up our steep stairs by himself, throwing things in the air that could possibly hit me or, worse, him on the head. He also stubbornly exerted his will and threw a couple of tantrums (he's two, after all, so all par for the course).

At some point, I was so tired from chasing after him, and saying no no no, and (shamefully) even raising my voice. I was in a foul mood and desperately wanted reinforcements. But I reminded myself of two things: 1) full-time moms everywhere had to do this every day, and 2) these days--of spending one-on-one time with him, of him wanting mommy's attention--are going by all too fast.

I stopped looking at all the things that were going wrong, and instead decided to relish this magical time in his life. That change of mindset did the trick. It turned my frustration into gratitude. 

I took him out, so he could expend some of his boundless energy. At the toy store, he spent so long in front of a keyboard with a microphone, and I just laughed as he put on a show for me. 


He wanted to be carried around for the most part, and though my arms were tired, I figured he's only going to get heavier, and I resolved to carry him for as long as he'll let me. When we got home, I set out some dinner, and he uncharacteristically sat in his chair for the entire meal. He finished all the food I  prepared for him, and even managed to feed himself (and the floor).

Later, after he asked me to sing and dance my way through Hi5's house hits (his version of a lullaby), we were lying in bed in the dark as I waited for him to fall asleep. Out of the blue, he said, "Mommy? Love you!" It was the first time he ever said "love you" unprompted. I don't know if two-year-olds even know what that means, but my heart just melted. It made this--this day, the doing-it-by-myself, the exhaustion--all worth it.

Today was amazing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Prayer for Rosemarie

Walking back to the office from dance class, I would normally pass beggars on the street. Shamefully, I've somehow become inured to street kids, blind people holding out cups, mothers cradling babies on a sidewalk. Perhaps it was a conscious effort to put up a wall, because if I don't, I would just feel so incredibly helpless. When a kid knocks on my car window, or a man in crutches holds out his hand as I make my way down the MRT stairs, I feel my heart closing up. Sometimes I even close my eyes. Because I can't take it. I often think that what little I give can't help anyway. Or that if I help one, I have to help everyone else. Or that they're just part of a syndicate.

Maybe this is what happens when you've lived in a developing country all your life.

But tonight was different. As I hurried along on the sidewalk, I stopped dead in my tracks. There, right by the bottom of the stairs of the Boni MRT station, in front of 7-Eleven, was a mother holding a kid in her arms. This kid had an enlarged head due to hydrocephalus (a condition wherein fluid accumulates in the ventricles of the brain). And I don't know if it's because I'm a mother now, or because I recently hung out with a real-life good Samaritan who always does random acts of kindness (hi, Mark), or because I was still on a high from dance class and my defenses were down, but I felt compelled to help. I fished out a bill and put it in their bowl filled with coins. But that just felt useless.

I bought them some bread and water from the convenience store, then I crouched down and talked to the mom. The child's name is Rosemarie. She's 9. The mom (Rosalinda, if I remember right) can't work because she has to take care of her kids. "Sinasabi ng iba na ginagamit ko lang ang anak ko," she said, "eh paano naman ako magtatrabaho?" The noises from EDSA would drown out her voice, but from what I could gather, they would go to National Children's Hospital whenever fluid had to be removed from Rosemarie's head. There are plenty of people who are willing to help (in fact, while we were talking, quite a few handed Rosalinda some bills), but it's the doctors who don't want to operate on the little girl. So there's nothing that can be done. All I could do was meekly offer to pray for them.

I cried the rest of the way back to the office. I kept asking, why does this kid have to suffer? What is the point of it all? Being poor is hard enough without throwing an incurable sickness into the equation. I just cried and cried. And kept asking why. And I hated that there was nothing I could do.

I remembered a book I read a long time ago. It was about a man who didn't believe in God because of all the suffering in the world. A monk took him to see a gorgeous mosaic picture, and the monk explained that there are dark tiles and there are light tiles, but if you put them all together, it is a thing of beauty. The atheist scoffed at the idea of comparing suffering to a dark tile.

I felt that way as I walked and cried, walked and cried. Was this all just part of a bigger picture?

Then I remembered the little girl who asked Pope Francis during his Manila visit, "Why do children suffer?"

And if the pope doesn't have an answer, what hope do I have of figuring it out? He's right about one thing though. I've learned to weep again.

Say a prayer for Rosemarie please. And her mother.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

First Love

For the past few months, life has been more hectic than usual. My workload increased significantly because my mag went through a revamp (keep an eye out for it next month!), we were working on two issues at once, plus I was editing two books on top of already demanding magazine work. A typical day would have me leaving the house in the morning, and going home to spend a bit of time with my son in the evening (whether it was to have dinner with him, give him a bath, or just say goodnight), then heading back to the office and working until late. I was working 12- to 16-hour days. Even on my trip to Vietnam, I was in front of a laptop every chance I got. After weeks and weeks of this, I was starting to burn out.

So I went back to my first love. 


It seems counterintuitive, but I really believe that the busier you get, the more you need to pay attention to yourself. But who has the time? I've come to realize that moms never have the time—so you have to make time. The kid will always be there, needing your attention. Work will always be there, with an endless to-do list. And if you let these rule your life and you forget about you, well something's gotta give. You have to shut off the mommy guilt and believe that a happy mom is a better (more efficient, less harassed) mom, and the people around you—your kids, your co-workers—will benefit from that.

The minute I started dancing again, I felt happier. Dancing is the only thing in the world that can make me forget about everything else. I'm so focused on memorizing the choreography, and then on mastering the nuances, that for an hour there are no deadlines, there is no stress—it's just me, the movement, and the music. And the effects last well beyond that one hour in class. I go back to work or go home on a high, and the anticipation of the next class helps keep me afloat.

What's one thing that you want to do for yourself? Even if it's just an hour a week? Think about it. Then go out and do it.

Lots of people have been asking—I take dance classes (usually jazz funk) at Acts Dance and Arts Academy (Unit B Messanine GA Tower 1, EDSA cor. Boni Ave., Mandaluyong City), which is a short walk from my office. Join me!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fear of Flying

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about dreams. It started when a friend told me about his amazing goals for the year, and I was so impressed by how he seemed so driven and confident that he could check them all off his list. And then (and this is going to sound kind of ridiculous), I caught The Princess and the Frog on cable, where everything Tiana did was in pursuit of her big dream of owning a restaurant. It hit me that I don't have that—a dream that I relentlessly pursue, that serves as my North Star. Of course there's my son, and my dream of a great future for him, but I don't have a dream that's purely for me.

When I thought about it, I realized that the last two years of my life have just been about getting my bearings. (When I met an astrologer, he asked for my sign, looked at his chart, and said, "Well, you've had a shitty two years.") My thoughts were on recovery and on just getting through each day, working hard and raising my son, and just keeping everything steady despite whatever inner turmoil I was going through. But now that the dust has settled, I'm starting to wonder: What's next?

I've always been afraid of dreaming big, because the "hows" get in the way. I want to travel the world! (But how will I fund it?) I want to be a children's party stylist! (But how do I even start?) I want to teach a dance class! (But how can that happen when I'm not a certified anything?) That last bit is also telling of another barrier that I've erected for myself: Before I get serious about something, I want to know as much as I can about it. And when I get so overwhelmed thinking about the skills I need to develop and everything I (feel I) should learn, I end up being paralyzed. Often, I can't just jump in and do it

For the longest time, I held on to just one dream. And when that came crashing down, it not only added to my fear of dreaming, but it also left me without direction. Where do I go from here, after all my heart desired is no longer possible? And what's the point of dreaming when, even after giving it my all, it still crushingly doesn't come true?

Maybe the point, I've come to realize, is for me to be redirected towards a new path. Maybe the point is for me to have the courage to dream again, despite failing spectacularly the last time I allowed myself to do so. Maybe the point is to dream a bigger dream.


It's an interesting place to be. It's a scary place to be. But I feel in my heart that it's exactly where I'm supposed to be.