My own encounter with the Pope would also be considered a leap of faith. I have never been a person who goes with mass hysteria. I did not pass such a phase where I would get so star-strucked with someone that it becomes an obsession, following a popular person’s itineraries and whatever news that comes out about him.

In high school, when most of my classmates were busy buying wallet-sized photographs and magazines of Keempee de Leon, Manilyn Reynes, Jennifer Sevilla,  Sheryl  Cruz, Romnick Sarmenta among the local showbiz personalities (there goes my age!) and Phoebe Cates and Brooke Shields among the Hollywood stars, I was just contented with listening to their stories and poring over magazines from classmates. I might have read showbiz magazines but that was because we were selling them.  And I would also have wallet sized photos of these young stars because we were also selling them in our stationeries store.

So, I was pretty much surprised when I was able to catch on with the “Pope Francis Fever” and experienced the “Francis Effect” myself.
Photo of Pope Francis belongs to my friend JOM ILAO



Here in Manila, my brother, sister and I decided to wait on for the Pope’s motorcade. We do not have a definite plan or strategy as to where we would position ourselves. All we have was a copy of the itinerary and route and advisory of closed roads.

We went with our gut and said a prayer. I asked to be led to where we would  be able to see the motorcade with less challenges.

The bus we took would just take us to the nearest drop-off point at the De La Salle University.  We decided to have an early lunch so we walked our way to Harrison Plaza.  Harrison Plaza was a place that brought so much memories to us and we immediately immersed ourselves to a throwback. Seeing the chapel, my brother candidly said that it gave a big contribution to his eagerness of being a priest.
We were supposed to go to Malate Crown Plaza where my office was so we could stay comfortably while waiting for the time to go to Roxas Boulevard where we decided to wait for the motorcade. 

My brother and my sisters


Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my keys and identification cards. Along Manila Zoo, I was hesitant to go over the other side of the street to Adriatico because of the notoriety of the snatchers in that area. 
A woman sitting in one of those seats in the sidewalk talked to me and told me to stay there if we were to wait for the motorcade. 


There were just a few people there except for some policemen directing the route changes. I was hesitant to stay because I could smell the stink from Mali the Elephant’s area in the zoo. But then I saw a TV network’s van so I thought the woman could be right.

A few moments later, the human barricaders were marching down the street towards where we were going , heading to Taft Avenue where the Apostolic Nunciature (the place where the Pope was staying) was located. I was so happy about our position because there was not much of the crowd and we were able to buy souvenir t-shirts. A bit later, the crowd started to thicken, but I was glad we were already there before them and got the best view.


The policemen and the volunteers were all having light moments when it started to drizzle. As soon as the convoy of the Pope passed by it started to rain. No wonder he chose to stay inside the black limousine and the Pope mobile tagging along empty.

Luckily, he had the windows rolled down, I was able to see him even for a second and that was enough for me.  After the convoy passed us by, the rain stopped. As a little boy was saying, it was a blessing. So worth it!




Back in Tacloban, my sisters started their Pilgrim journey on the eve of the Papal Mass in Tacloban on January 17. As early as 12midnight, they already started walking to the airport, almost 7 kilometers from where they were staying. They were able to get into their quadrants at 4 am because security was tight. There was a public storm signal #2 for Typhoon Amang. Braving through the storm, they stood their ground and never left their place. It was a good thing that the Pope’s schedule was moved earlier. The plane arrived Tacloban airport  at 845 am, earlier than scheduled.

My 2 sisters were pilgrims in Tacloban.

Shivering and cold, my sister said that the experience was all worth it. The mass was so touching that the people beside her were also emotional. 

Reflecting on everything that happened to us in the past 5 days that the Pope was with us, I’d say that it really was more of a leap of faith for most of us. In a way the events that happened in this 5 faith-renewing days were more than surreal for most of us, it was also very symbolical. The rain washed away the tears from our eyes and cleansed them anew. It made us see that there is hope in the Catholic Church after all the controversies and scandal it has been facing over the past years. 

Photo: AFP/JOHANNES EISELE for Channel News Asia

The rain was more symbolical for the people of Tacloban. It washed away the pain, the anger, the torment and the uncertainties of what Typhoon Yolanda has brought to each family, including me. It cleansed our eyes and made us see into the future with a better perspective and renewed hope. It was indeed a blessing. More than anything else, as the Pope himself said, it was for him to experience what every Taclobanon felt and had endured.

Photo: CBCP


This is the faith of the Filipino people. It is waterproof, shockproof even. No typhoon nor earthquake shall separate us from our God. It is only when we are down on our knees that we learn to get up and rise above the ruins and debris of life. It is only when lost everything that we find our faith, because when we are left with nothing,  it is the only thing that we can hold on to for our survival and redemption. 

Still hoping you'd keep the faith,

Mei




This is a post-birthday blogpost, 2 days to be exact. Yes, another year for me, another chance to be better, and I am still having a huge Papal hang-over. I am still hung-over with the Pope’s Apostolic and State Visit. And I cannot put down exactly into words how I am feeling right now although I may try to put my emotions into words.

I am a proud Catholic. I studied in a Catholic Chinese School run by priests and nuns from Kindergarten to High School. I also did some college time in a university run by SVD priests. I memorized every prayer taught to us in Catholic School, both in English and in Chinese, not to forget in Filipino (Tagalog) and in my native dialect  Waray.

A week before the Papal Visit, somebody asked me about my take on the Pope and if I liked him. In all honesty, I wasn’t  able to answer it without sweating over the question. I likened the question to those asked in a beauty pageant. Well, because it really is so difficult answering something like that. I like him from what I read, what I see on social media, but I have not really had a chance to know the Pope from my own observations. And I always try to give a balanced and logical answer. Maybe the person who asked me would think that I really have a hard time expressing feelings, which I guess is true sometimes. I wanted to give a safe answer. Safe, but sometimes stupid answers.

I was supposed to be in Tacloban for the Papal Mass on January 17. I have fixed my mind on that since last year but I never really did some action. I changed my mind the last minute when I saw how the airfare rose. And learning that Jan 17 would be a no-fly zone to Tacloban, I realized that I might be forced to stay there for longer than 2 days and I can’t do that because of my kids. So I decided to follow the Pope’s activities on TV.

The Mass in Tacloban was the most touching moment for me because I felt for the people of Tacloban. I was there when Yolanda hit. I was just luckier than the others. Seeing some of my friends on TV drenched and soaked under the rain made it more real for me.  My two sisters were with the Pilgrims. I was supposed to be with them too.

Photo by: Jom Ilao

Pope Francis’ homily pierced through my whole being. Just the thought that Tacloban was one of the reasons why he came to the Philippines made me feel so very blessed.  When he ditched his original homily and spoke from his heart in his native language Spanish, even though it was the translator who we heard last, the moment he said that when he saw in Rome the catastrophe in Leyte, he had to be here (in Tacloban), it send me crying and the tears just won’t stop flowing. And everybody cried, the people in the Tacloban mass as you can see them on tv, and the people glued to their tv sets.

“Some of you have lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silence and walk with you all with my silent heart.”-Pope Francis

His message gave me the answers that have been hanging in my mind. To be honest, I have not been inside a church nor heard mass after Yolanda. Maybe once, just after we arrived Manila.  In the aftermath of Yolanda, as I was walking home one dark night, knowing  there were corpses on the street buried in the debris , I kept talking to God and asking Him why it happened. I was asking if He could see what His children are experiencing that time. And that was still the questions I had after many failed tries of getting in one of those C130’s that I thought was our salvation.

Arriving Manila through a different way, I was disappointed when one person that I looked up to, wasn’t able to give me the comfort that I was expecting his presence would give me. And I carried the hurt without telling anyone about it.

This is my favorite photo of the Pope taken in Tacloban. This shows how real his happiness was in seeing the people. So candid!
Photo source: Yahoo Philippines. 


The Pope’s homily and messages gave me the answers to my questions. As much as I would like to fathom how and why I say that my questions were answered, I can’t. It’s more of a feeling. I just felt a sense of peace of mind and spirit and I know that I don’t need to ask those questions again.

“We have a Lord who is capable of crying with us, capable of walking with us in the most difficult moments of life.”- Pope Francis

I am not alone. I have someone who walks with me during tough times.

I want to answer to the Pope’s call to the Filipinos to be outstanding missionaries of faith. It’s not easy, it is sure to be very challenging, but it is doable.


So to give a much better answer to the question if I like him- like is an understatement. I love him! I love his humility most of all. His smile is pure and real. He took away my fear of old men (this is due to a bad experience I had in my childhood). 

Let's keep the faith stronger,

Mei

Notes:

More photos of the Pope's Visit in Tacloban here.


To view file in Dropbox, click here



Falling in love is never easy. but we all want it. Many people will do anything to hold on to it, sometimes losing their hearts and their minds. Tsk.Tsk.

But who am I to judge? It happened to me more than once.





Love is a wonderful feeling, and it can be so addicting! Because when we are in love, it somehow gives us some sort of a power, of being invincible. And this is a feeling that we all wanted to feel so much.

I am a self-confessed love addict. Or was. I learned my lessons in love the hard way and I am still in the process of rehabilitation a.k.a. moving on..I thought that I couldn't live without someone to love and love me in return. Boy was I wrong! But sometimes, no matter how many times I failed in my love relationships, or felt stupid,still I want to go back to the feeling. And there are times more than once that I wanted to feel the rush of adrenaline, that heady, giddy feeling of being in the presence of your amore.

So just like any addict, I craved for these feelings and have me throw all my cares to the wind.

But that was a long time ago. I am now starting to rehabilitate myself. But, I still get my relapses. You can't really go cold turkey on love, can you?  If only for the feeling, I divert my emotions to something manageable, like doing different thing yet gives me the same results. And that is listening to music.



Music is the language of the soul, and it is the best way to convey your expression of love.

Lately, I've been reintroduced to my inner songstress. I've always loved music, but I do have a very different taste in music. And they do not really satisfy my cravings for love, sometimes.So I searched over the internet for some love songs that would somehow express what love is. And I found quite a few, and made a list.

Since love is universal, I also included songs that speak of the other languages of love, of other sources for love and whatever love can be.

Here's a sneak peak of what I have. This is my fix for my love cravings.

I gotta say that I am in love with Elle Goulding right now. She just got that distinct vocals and it isn't hard to recognize her style. Adele too, her voice is one that I won't fail to recognize. Both these artists have very impressive vocals,at different levels and I love their songs.

How Long Will I Love You? -Elle Goulding


"...How long will I love you
As long as stars are above you
And longer if I can
How long will I need you
As long as the seasons need to
Follow their plan

How long will I be with you
As long as the sea is bound to
Wash up on the sand..."


Love Me Like You Do- Elle Goulding



"...You're the feel, I don't care
Cause I've never been so high
Follow me to the dark
Let me take you past our satellites
You can see the world you brought to life, to life


So love me like you do, love me like you do

Love me like you do, love me like you do
Touch me like you do, touch me like you do
What are you waiting for?.."


Make You Feel My Love- Adele



"...I could make you happy, make your dreams come true

Nothing that I wouldn't do

Go to the ends of the Earth for you
To make you feel my love..." 
(okay this is somewhat pathetic already)


How Long You've Been Waiting- Love Revolution

This is a song about a different kind of love, true love from the real source of love. This is a song from the 70's , an Original Pilipino Music (OPM) performed by a Fil-Am singer Love Revolution. The music and lyrics is so simple but it speaks too much about love and the source of love.


"...How long you've been waiting 
for somebody to love you?
How long you've been waiting 
for somebody to care?.."


Check out the playlist Songs for the Rehabilitating Love Addict.

Love is not easy to find and that is why some people hold on to it for fear that they might not find love again. But not me, this time, I need to be rehabilitated first from my bad love habits.

For the most part, when I miss the feeling of love and being in love, I listen to music. It is also therapy for the soul. Or, I go out and get a massage. :) Gives you the same feelings anyway.

So dear love addicts, too much of anything is dangerous. Take everything in moderation.

Keep the faith,

Mei



Do you remember the saying "home is where the heart is"? I do. And you know that it is very, very true.

I've been nostalgic lately quite often and it started during the Christmas season. I don't know why I always feel that way every time the season is here. Blame it on childhood memories. Most of my best childhood memories was that of Christmas, and that was when I still believed in Santa. I don't know how I discovered that Santa has been dead for quite sometime and that I finally solved the mystery of the Christmas morning gifts and how Santa would fit in the chimney though we didn't had one, but with that, Christmas somehow lost it's magic for me. Maybe it's what you call growing up.

More so lately that I've been feeling homesick because of the upcoming Papal Visit to Tacloban. It is a hype that I want to be a part of. Yes, Tacloban is one place I call my home. I was away from Tacloban for almost 10 years, but my heart really belonged there. I grew up and studied and spent most of my childhood in that place. You can never imagine the sadness and grief that washed over me and the people of Tacloban when our beloved City was washed out flat by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), drowning a lifetime's worth of memories.

Circumstances brought me home but the supertyphoon took me back here in Manila. I know that in as much as I want to go back, because of the uncertainties that I would face there during these times, I content myself with the stories from friends and family members who have gone back to face life in Tacloban amidst the fear of experiencing another super typhoon.

I have my reasons of not going back yet, but it doesn't change the fact that I am missing my home, the simplicity of life, the laid-back attitude of the people, the friendly smiles that greet me as I get out of the house, the dry humor that seems to be innate in every Leyteno that can sometimes be mistaken as sarcasm by non-Leyteno ear,

I miss the "tuba". "Tuba", stress on the second syllable- is fermented coconut wine. What makes our tuba different from other tuba sold here in Luzon is it's color and of course, the taste. Until now, I haven't decided whether Coke or Pepsi makes a better chaser. I miss lechon, If you have tried Tacloban's lechon, you would agree with me that it is the best lechon there is. Eat it with some root crop called "gaway" or yam. Missing my "suki" or my favorite lechon stalls in Sagkahan. Has anybody seen a "palawan" here in the Metro?

Thank goodness for photobloggers from Tacloban, because through their lenses, I could see a glimpse of what's happening in our place. Here are two photoblogs that I recommend you to take a peek.

1. Walk With My Camera 

This is a black and white photoblog by Orlando Uy,  or at least about 95% of the photographs are in black and white. Everytime I visit this site, I could not help feeling mixed emotions mostly sadness and homesickness. Mr. Uy captures emotions and effectively conveys it to his audience/readers.

2 Dave Martinez Photography

Dave Martinez is one person that everytime I saw him, has a camera slung on his neck. He captures emotions of people in his subjects and effectively bring the viewer to the exact moment the photo was taken. One of his posts really brought me to tears. Maybe because I could feel the same pain the subject felt at that certain moment.

Yes I may be biased in my observations because I knew these persons from school. But I think you would also agree about the raw emotions captured by these photographers. Most of the photos in their respective photoblogs are not set in a studio but rather on the streets of Tacloban. Looking through their recently uploaded photos of Tacloban, I feel closer to home.

I invite you to please see some of their photos, I am pretty sure that your perspective in life will change as well.

Keep the faith,

Mei

It’s that time again for making new goals, resolutions, intentions or whatever you call it. I am not in the habit of making one for the sake of sticking to some sort of a plan, but I make it for the sake of making one, because it’s New Year’s.  And because I have this notion that resolutions are made to be broken. Or am I the only one who really had a hard time following through.

pixabay.com


A quick throwback to a year ago, I blogged about my essentials for 2014. And…well, what’d you know, I was able to fulfill at least about half of that. I was able to travel (for free although locally), I was able to continue writing, through this blog, and some others that I maintain, learn a skill /gain knowledge (getting ADWORDS Certified by Google), attended the most number of seminars and workshops I ever did in my entire life, and I was able to earn more through freelance projects and also with my ongoing online job.

The thing that I wasn’t able to do though is.. to find love.I’m not complaining  because it is not a priority. I am contented with how much my children love me and I do not feel empty.And if ever someone does find me, then it's just a bonus for being a good girl. Sure there are nights that can get lonely, but I see it as an invitation from God to communicate with Him. So I pray and talk to Him instead and my loneliness just disappears.

The other thing was having the freedom to do things my way. I unintentionally got myself tied up with something that demanded more time from me than I initially thought it would. But it provided me with the free travels, although locally, and it gave me a bit of a sense of security of having health insurance and other benefits.  And I was put in a situation, that I needed to produce results because the position was given to me and that I felt pressured because I wanted to prove that I was worthy of that.

It was also a year full of emotional highs and lows, as I was getting used to the idea that I am now officially a single mom. I've been single for quite some time, but the idea didn't really stuck with me yet because I was still emotionally attached to him and there will always be that common interest, our kids. And if that wasn’t enough, this year, I also found out that our “extended family” is growing. Both my exes had new babies. Not a big deal I thought, until one of them told me he couldn’t give more than the support he was giving my children because he got a new baby to feed. Oh well. 2014 indeed was one hell of an emotional roller coaster ride!



So, for 2015, I just wanted almost the same things, plus I am planning to start living healthier and simpler.  I still want to write some more, travel more ( international travels) and earn more of course. God has never fallen short of blessing me. And also I promise to do something more for myself.

  • -          To work on a new business venture (mostly online)
  • -          To work more diligently on both my existing jobs
  • -          To continue learning ( I enrolled in a verified online course in Psychology through Coursera)
  • -          To continue creating great content for my blogs
  • -          To be able to go on trips more this time either by myself or with my family
  • -          My ultimate goal is to spend a holiday vacation with my family either locally or in an international destination come Christmas 2015
  • -     To start a health regimen.
  • -          To help Mr. Right find me.


What about you? Have you made your Resolutions?

Allow me to share this poem that should resonate most of what our resolutions for 2015:


To laugh often and much; 

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; 

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; 

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; 

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; 

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. 

This is to have succeeded


-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lastly, here is a piece of another important advice that should be in your list of resolutions: 


Do something that makes you feel alive.








Still keeping the faith? 

Lets,

Mei

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