Sentiments and Reflections

When I was growing up, the period from October 31 to November 2 was a big holiday in the Philippines. It is not a huge festivity like Christmas but people would normally take a few days off work, travel back home to be with their families to honour their loved ones, both the dead and the living. Filipinos are very superstitious and religious people you see . . . even those who claim to be nominal Catholics do pray for, and to, the dead (the image of President Duterte crying in his mother’s grave uttering ‘Tabangi ko, Ma!’’ — please help me, Mother! — is a classic example of this). Back in my day, and I’m referring to 30-40 years back when I was very young, everyone did lit candles in the cemetery to commemorate All Saints’ Day (November 1st) and All Souls’ Day (November 2nd). In our family we always had a novena (a form of worship consisting of special prayers on nine successive days) at home every night during these festivities aside from offering a mass (that is, paying money to the priest to hold a special service) for the dead family members. A lot of Filipinos still do practice this tradition to this very day. Personally though, All Saints’ Day took on a completely different meaning when my father died on November 1, 1984, exactly thirty three years ago today. Three days ago my older brother turned 50 and as I was on Skype chatting with everyone, the family gathered to celebrate his birthday, I was reminded once again that my father died at age 51 — really young.  Continue reading

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Saturday thoughts on my mind . . .

Today I want to be a discerning learner. I wonder what does it mean to be a learner who is made in the image of God? The world is full of learning opportunities for ourselves and others. And with the technology available to us today, almost all of the educational materials we need is at our fingertips. As Christians, how do we determine what is worth the cost, both in time and money, to invest in for education? Does it really matter if educational materials include the Christian worldview as long as biblical studies receive sideline attention? Continue reading

Too Close to Home

The terrible tragedy in Kensington last week caused me to once again ponder about the uncertainty and fragility of life.  It was the second most horrific event in London this month following the June 4th London Bridge terror attack and the Finsbury Park terror attack the other day.  In all three London atrocities, and particularly the blaze that ravaged the 24-storey residential building in west London, really did hit too close to home than I might want to admit, literally and figuratively, the realisation that a disaster can happen without an apparent warning. Continue reading

Winter Delights (1st of 2 Parts)

When I lost my mother shortly before Christmas six years ago, the approach of winter season took on a whole new meaning for me. Personally, the season came to represent three things: the death anniversary of my parents in November, Christmas in December, and my birthday in January. I am not stricken with dreadful thoughts about any of it. Not at all. With the exception of the bone-chilling cold days, I welcome the season with excitement, and I look forward to long walks in the park to witness the changing foliage, staying indoors to read more books, the Christmas parties to attend to, baking cookies and making gingerbread houses, and listening to jolly Christmas carols. And for all the cosy sweater, yummy pies, tarts and many other goodies.  Continue reading

Christmas in January . . . The Pine Cones

It was colder in London yesterday, very grey with temperatures in the low 40s. It felt like a blank day. In the afternoon I decided to do some tidying up. I felt burdened with the problem of the day (involving some of our young people at church), and didn’t feel like doing any reading or writing so I began to look around to see what project I could get into to relax my mind. All of a sudden my attention turned into all of the stuff we used during the holiday season that need to be put away — all the Christmas ornaments, the silver fruit baskets, the placemats and napkins that are only used on special occasion, and many other things that were scattered everywhere. As I was carefully putting everything away, the pine cones caught my attention. I picked them up from the park in early December and painted some of the edges with white nail polish. These are natural and not artificial or man-made; a rather simple but unique pieces of ornament, all in different sizes. They reminded me of God and His beautiful creation. I wrapped each one of them with plastic, and carefully laid them out one by one inside a white box. Continue reading

A Time of Grief and Joy

That’s the shadow of the tree next to my mother’s headstone. Took that picture on the fifth anniversary of her ‘homegoing’, and I thought I was fine when I visited her at the cemetery. But I blubbered all the way home. And I remember I took a walk in the woods (my brother and his family live in a neighbourhood with loads of beautiful old trees surrounding a golf course), to pull myself together before heading back for lunch with my family. That was five years ago.  Continue reading

Things I have learned about the British Culture: They love to talk about the weather (Part 1)

Let’s face it, those of us who come from far flung countries like the Philippines or Japan, have no full comprehension of the British culture even after living in the country for over a decade. If you’re like me, the first few months of living here must have brought some culture shock to your system. And I’m not even talking about any difficulty you may have encountered in trying to understand the British accent (it can be a challenge), but rather I’m referring to the British way of life; how the Britons conduct themselves and what motivates them to behave in a certain fashion.  I deem the topic of such interest that I decided to do a series of post about all the things that I have so far learned about the British culture in the last sixteen years. I’ve lived in England that long, I’m afraid! 😉 Yet there are far too many things I don’t understand about my adopted country.  But let’s not even go there, I’m here to talk about the things I have come to fully understand and eagerly embrace.  Here’s the very first one . . . Continue reading

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” – Sir Winston Churchill

There is a great difference between surviving and succeeding. Those who work to live, and those who live to work. Many people are satisfied to survive on the scraps of earnings yet they have goals that extend beyond their workplace and see their occupation as only “a means to an end.” Others are more focused on their profession and are goal-oriented people and who give their life to their end purpose. Continue reading

The Best of Intentions for the New Year

It’s that time of the year again when many of us take time out to do a review on the year behind, and with the best of intentions, draft our resolutions for the year to come. If you’re like me, as the end of December approaches I reflectively pause on the year past to count the blessings that God has bestowed upon my life. Continue reading