Monday, December 31, 2012

White CHRISTmas

Last Christmas(2012) has been one of the most quiet Christmas celebration I ever had. First Christmas away from home, where my heart finds all the reason to be jolly. First Christmas in Singapore, the land where God brought me. [Why do I sound like poet here] Anyways, yes it's lonely. In fact, lonely is an understatement. It's miserable! Spending Christmas alone for the first time.

At least that's what I thought of before.

Until God brought me to a deeper understanding on how I should view Christmas, not only on how joyous it sounds in greeting cards but how I experience it first hand.

Peaceful night.

Perfect time to reflect on how I've treated life lately. How I spend the greatest resource God has given me. Time it is. How I communicated love to others.  

And though I maybe 3000 miles away from my family and loved ones, spending time with God this Christmas gives me that gentle peace that keeps me through the night. Brought smile to my face as I go to bed expecting for a good night sleep.

Grateful heart.

After all the Christmas lights were dimmed.
After all the parties were over.
After all the sumptuous food were consumed.
After all the gifts were opened.
After all the Christmas carols were sung.
After all the Christmas tree were put down.
The love and grace of God remains the same. Forever. That is more than enough reason for me to be thankful. For His blessing never runs out.

Were you in the same boat just as I am? Do you feel alone and trapped in your solitude? Don't be. Take your time. Listen to the quiet. Stare at the limbo.

Most people may find these absurd because it's a waste of time. Surprisingly it gave me a little extra time. To bridge the gap of mere existence and life with purpose. To make a distinction that Christmas more than an event, is a state of the heart.
"May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" --Romans 15:13
Belated Merry CHRISTmas everyone!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Life Collage

"Time is God's gift to us. What we do with our time is our gift not only to God but to ourselves."
2012 has been a roller coaster ride of events, people, emotions and dreams. Something I can look back and appreciate its ripple of joy. A brave attempt to confront anxiety and say 'Back off!'. A declaration of God's promises, favor and abounding grace. A reflection of gratitude. A picture of growth and freedom. 
A breath of life. 

2012
A year of beach bumming escapades

Nagsasa Cove, Zambales
San Juan, Batangas
A time for new adventures and tons of #myfirsts

Archery
Lazer Tag
My First Curls
Opportunities to give back and serve God only by His grace

CCF NxtGen Kids' Church ministry
New challenges, work and expanding borders

New workplace, new company, new cube, new country
Lots of experimenting and cooking :)


New books. Weee! Oh books from Philippines not yet included :| Would have been great if I can see "The Morning Rush Top 10" Book 1 and 2 in this post too :)


A moment of farewells and till-we-meet-again.

Exist colleagues
Thursday DGroup
Meeting new friends and cultivating old ones.

New Sunday DGroup
(left-right, top-bottom) Exist colleagues, College friends, VISA new colleagues
Answered prayers and fulfilled dreams.

"Then they said to him, “Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.” The priest answered them, “Go in peace. Your journey has the Lord’s approval.” --Judges 18:5-6

A time with generous flow of random thoughts and ideas for blogging -- 70+ blog posts for the year. Yey! 

Thank you 2012! Thank you for the good-job-pat-on-the-back boost, fresh adventures, quiet times, surprises, escapades, new acquaintances, even for the awkward moments, frustrations and not-my-day instances you made me go through. Thank you for reminding me that God knew my deepest desire, that He listens to the quiet prayers of my hearts.

Thank you for encouraging me to dream, to push myself harder, to enjoy every stretch of life, to believe in miracles, to run again, to speed up when needed, to stop every once in a while and to invest especially in relationship in all its sort - family, friends, colleagues and for every random person you'll lead my path to. Cheers!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Miss Universe 2012

Miss USA Olivia Culpo, 20 crowned Miss Universe 2012 today at Las Vegas, Nevada after 89 most beautiful ladies from their own countries compete for the title and the Diamond Nexus crown.  Among the top 5 were first runner-up Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon, 23; 2nd runner-up Miss Venezuela, Irene Sofia Esser Quintero, 21; 3rd runner-up Miss Australia Renae Ayris, 22 and 4th runner-up Miss Brazil, Gabriela Markus, 24.
Image taken from http://www.theage.com.au
In the end, Miss Philippines and Miss USA were head to head as they wait for the judge's decision.
Image taken from http://www.theage.com.au
I could not argue more with the judges, I could only appeal on what is obvious. 

In the Q&A portion, Miss USA was asked with the question, "What is something you have done that you would never do again?" 

Her answer: "Ok, well, first I would like to start off by saying that every experience, no matter what it is, good or bad, you’ll learn from it. That’s just life." She added, "Something that I regret would probably be picking on my siblings growing up. Because you appreciate them so much more as you grow older, you get closer to your family, everybody fights with their siblings, right? But you don’t regret it."

Miss Philippines' question was "As an international ambassador, do you believe that speaking English should be a prerequisite to being Miss Universe? Why or why not?"

She answered: "For me, being Miss Universe is not just about knowing how to speak a specific language. It's being able to influence and inspire other people. As long as your heart wants to serve and you have a strong mind to show people, then you can be Miss Universe."

She obviously knocked that out with an out of the park answer. 

Pessimists may say that first runner-up is the first loser. Oh yeah? Well we say that first runner-up is the 2nd grand winner. Its all a matter of perspective. 

Anyhow, we're all proud of you Janine! For being the 2nd most beautiful, sexy and intelligent woman in the face of the universe. Thank you for sparking hope to the Filipino people and for empowering every Filipina with your beauty and wits.

Mabuhay ka Janine! You made us proud! :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mass Shooting at Connecticut

Another shocking mass shoot-out happened yesterday, December 14, 2012 that killed almost 30 people including 18 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut by a mad 20 year-old guy.

Horrifying. I couldn't even think how a person in his right mind could blast bullets to sweet young kindergartens.

Alarming. Now we'll never know, we maybe extremely cautious with our lives, with our loved ones. But here comes some unreasonable person who carelessly takes away that precious life.

Heartbreaking.

Such ungrateful events are difficult to comprehend by our finite minds. Why it has to happen... Why the innocent children... Why my child.. Who should be blamed... What could have been done to control the situation... What should be done moving forward... How should the bereaved families seek justice...

So many questions waiting for answers. Hopeful that getting answers could somehow lessen the pain.

Images takes from http://www.dailymail.co.uk
We may never know what the gunman has been through, his life, his troubles, his thoughts because he buried all the answers together with his death. We never know, but we can definitely do something. More than an issue of morality, this is a family and community issue, where each of us is a part of.

Care about people, because they matter most.

We were all once a child, sometimes a rebellious one who taught that everything is about ourselves, that parents doesn't seem to understand, that siblings are rivalry, that we are alone, that no one seem to care. But thanks to people who did not give up on us - to devoted parents and their nurturing love, to family who makes are there when the world turns it back on us, to siblings who comforts, to friends who listen, to neighbors who share. To all the people who showed that they do care.

Whether we like it or not, we are all connected to one another.

We can make a difference. We can show troubled teenagers that they are special. We can save lives. We can encourage others and show that there's more to life. We can show compassion and utter prayers for the bereaved families. We can share a helping hand.

My sympathy to all the affected families who lost a child, a parent, a loved one. Praying that you would find comfort and strength in this dark hour. As God heals your broken hearts.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

OEC Online Appointment at Philippine Embassy in Singapore

14 days before Christmas!!! Just like the shopping rush in malls, Filipinos here in Singapore who will be going home to spend the holidays with their family( lucky you! bitter lang ang peg :D ) are also rushing to the Philippine Embassy to secure their Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).

An OEC by the way, exempts an OFW in paying the Philippine travel tax and terminal fee(Php 550.00) when going out of the country.

Now as an OFW, ( yes! feel na feel ) I took my part in visiting our embassy to get my OEC for my January vacation (excited?!) My friend and I found out from their website,

http://www.philippine-embassy.org.sg

that the Philippine government had already launched the Balik-Manggagawa OEC Appointment System. Sounds cool! The link would direct you to an application form where you get to select a preferred Date and Time for the appointment and also the OFW's personal and employer information.

Since the embassy is closed during Saturdays, we took the Sunday, December 9, 2:00PM schedule. Going to the embassy is a bit complicated for a first-timer, so I took a cab going to Philippine Embassy which is located at 20 Nassim Road.

Having online appointment will keep you from queuing to get a number. I go directly to the left side of the embassy where requests, contracts and payments are processed in each respective windows. The place was jam-packed with Pinoys trying to accomplished their documents. You can feel you're back home.

Here are the documents that you need to bring:
- original passport
- employment pass card
- OEC online-appointment form
- OWWA certificate

In my case I forgot to bring my OWWA cert, thanks to the friendly service of the woman from window 2A where she verified my file from their database. Life-saver! :)

I paid 9 SGD for the 3 OEC I requested (3 SGD each), which is now cheaper compared to its previous price of 5 SGD. Another good news there! Requesting multiple OEC is practical, as it is valid for one year from the date of request. Then I was required to pay another 5.50 SGD for the HDMF contribution. Overall I only paid 14.50 SGD. And got my OEC in more or less 45 minutes considering the hassle of not bringing my OWWA paper. Not bad huh! My friend got his OEC in less than 20 minutes. Great!

I couldn't argue enough. I had a good first-time experience at the Philippine embassy. Good job on this Appointment System initiative guys!