To A Friend I Lost Along The Way

 

When someone will ask me how you are now, I really don’t know what to say.

Because I don’t really know anything about you at all.

Well, I used to know everything about you.

I used to be the first one you tell every little things that happened to you to

Or the things you want to do

Sadly, that’s not the case anymore.

It was a three-hundred-sixty-degrees turn.

We used to walk the same road

Until we decided that road was already too narrow for us

And we went our separate ways.

The everyday conversations became once or twice a week

Until there was none anymore

I used to be part of the scenes in your life story

And now, I’m just on the outside.

I can’t enter those scenes anymore

Other people already took my once special role in your life

You chose to take a bow and have your final exit in my life’s scenes, as well

And I can’t force you to stay.

Maybe I’m still mad and sad at what happened between us

And it hurts that while I’m still in pain,

You seemed ok about it

You seemed fine without me

I never stopped caring for you, you know

But without you noticing it, you stopped caring for me

You stopped knowing who I was

One day, maybe one day I can accept it also the way you do

I hope one day I can also learn to accept that there’s no more us

And that this friendship has already came to an end.

We’ve already said our goodbye

But I do hope that when you remember me (if ever you will have the time to do that)

You will still smile and remember all our good times and not our sad ending.

I will always pray for your good life.

I will always love you, my once special friend.

Until then…

 

 

That Morning I Heard From Him…

“And don’t pray to God, ’cause He won’t talk back”

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As much as I like the soundtrack of Begin Again (one of my favorite films, by the way), this part of one of the movie’s soundtracks, A Step You Can’t Take Back,  somehow bothers me and makes me uncomfortable whenever I listen to it. Maybe the writer of this song was referring to some other god or maybe it’s a metaphor or something. I only love music but I’m not a music and lyrics genius so I can’t really tell. Nevertheless, one thing’s certain here: this statement is in no way the truth.

I strongly disagree. Because God does talk to us. And I’m saying this not because I’m a Christian, but because God really talks to us. In many ways. In many forms.

And I personally experienced that. God talked to me. In one of those days when I felt I was not deserving of His presence.

It was the fifth and last day of the annual prayer and fasting time of our church. I was supposed to do my morning devotions but I woke up late so I decided to do it during lunch break instead. But that wasn’t what God wanted to happen.

It was 10 minutes before 7am and my work starts at 7am so I should be going already but that task was very important so I had to message my co-teacher that I will be late for work that day. I finished the task just before 8am so I actually could head on to the school so I won’t be super late. Then my eye caught the Prayer and Fasting booklet and my journal on the table. Then there was the prompting to do my quiet time that very moment.

Admittedly, I was a bit hesitant to do it since the P&F material this year is too extensive (at least for me) and requires more time than usual, with the spiritual exercises and all. And it meant I will have to call my school and tell them I had to go half-day.

I know I’m not a super Christian and oftentimes, I don’t walk the talk. But there were some moments in my walk with God that I could really feel when He wants to tell me something. And that day was one of those moments.

The topic that day was about how to hear from God. And that’s something that really interests me, although I have to admit that it’s not really often that I hear from Him. While reading the instructions on the spiritual exercise, crumbs of doubts started filling my mind and heart. I just felt that I’m way too insufficient to hear from God that time. Imagine, I couldn’t do my morning devotions because I would be late for work but I could call in late when there’s an urgent task from my online work? I’m definitely not a model Christian. I mean, why would God talk to me?  I felt undeserving and unqualified to hear from Him that time.

But He did. And the scene’s still very vivid in my memory. These were the very words He spoke to me with:

“I’m the one who created the situation that caused you to be late from school. Because I missed you. You are so busy with your life that we only talk for a bit most of the time. Like a mother waiting for a call from her daughter living far away, I long for you to call Me and talk to Me and spend some time with Me. Yes, you are late for work today but you don’t have to worry because I will take care of it. I am more important than your job. I tell you, you don’t need to worry about your 2017 because I have it all planned perfectly for you. I am in charge of your 2017. You don’t have to worry. All your fears, anxieties, stress, cast them all on Me. I will take care of them. Just believe that I am with you.

There are times when you think you are insignificant. There may be times that you feel you don’t matter, that you are just a small piece of a puzzle. But I tell you, you are significant to Me. You are highly favored. You might not realize it now but I’m storming heavens to pour out the abundance of blessings and love on you. You are so much loved. You are very important to me. Never doubt that even for a second. I have loved you then and I will continue to love you till the end.”

I was crying the whole time I was penning down those words as I hear it. I didn’t expect that actual moment to happen that very morning. It was just so surreal.

I had to pen those words down because I want to read it over and over again. It was one of the remarkable encounters with God that I will definitely go back to whenever I feel down and unqualified. I’m not the highly spiritual type and I failed Him a lot of times but He still loves me and gives me that much importance to actually talk to me and let me hear His voice.

And I’m not psychotic (hello Dr.Gregory House!).

God actually talks to us. He is never busy for us. It is actually us who usually veer away from His presence when we get too busy with work and other things. And I’m guilty of that. I felt undeserving of His love but He still gives it to me in so much abundance.

You may have not experienced hearing from God yet but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t talk to you. Oftentimes, you just have to lock yourself from the world and really spend enough time seeking Him. Take time to enjoy His presence. He can talk to you through a friend, a Bible verse, a situation and promptings. You just need to be sensitive of His voice and believe that He really can talk to you.

When He seems silent, don’t be discouraged. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t care. According to Oswald Chambers, when God is silent, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible — with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. Silence can also be a sign of intimacy. God wants you to seek Him more and He wants more of your time.

Faith. Never doubt. That’s the paramount point. You have to trust Him that He listens even if He seems silent.

 

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It’s been a long time since I last posted an item in this particular category in my blog. Not that I backslid with my faith or something. And no I didn’t fall away. Perhaps I became too busy with work, with other stuff in my life and even the ministry that I wasn’t able to pen down my thoughts about God and my journey with Him. Seems like I actually have time for myself because I can go out with my friends and do different stuff but I don’t really have time for myself. It’s confusing, I know, but I’m sure you can get the picture.

I became so busy with my life and “worrying” about life that I felt I got lost in sync with my writer self. I could still write for my clients and other writing requirements from work, but I just found myself taking a long while before I could write something from the heart of late. I felt like I don’t have ‘it’ anymore. I was afraid that I lost it because of the busyness and other things occupying my day to day life now.

When I had my staycation in a hotel during one of the holidays here in Vietnam, I even brought five different books to inspire me to write again. But I ended up going home without even a simple entry to my blog.

Before, I could write a blog in just one sitting. Nowadays, it will take me hours staring at a blank page of my blog. And usually, I just end up clicking the X button and hitting ‘shut down’ just because I couldn’t start it at all. I became insecure and incapable.

I prayed about it to God. I laid it down to Him and asked Him to give it to me again because writing is something I’m passionate to do. I want to write passionately again. I want to string words together again with so much passion that the people who read it could actually feel it and perhaps, relate to. I want to write again without thinking of what some people will say about it.

No, this is not a matter of life and death. But it’s something dear to me that’s why this post deserves a spot in my blog.

I think same goes for the songwriters and the singers or some actors. It will frustrate them at one point when they can’t do their craft passionately anymore like they used to. And writing is my craft. It’s something that God blessed me with so I want to use it to inspire people and to tell them stories about my journey with life and with God. That’s why I feel frustrated that I can’t do it comfortably as I did before.

But now that I’ve already reached over 500 words and I’m already near the end of this post, and it’s not a blank page anymore, I know God is already working in my brains. It’s a great start to welcome me back to the world of words. And it’s not because I’m a writer that I can do this, but it’s because God is my God even with my simple frustrations like this. He answered me like a father helping his daughter open the stuck zipper of her bag.

This is not a blank page anymore because God helped me fill this page with words. I know I have it again because of Him:-)

Dear you: I’m the one that got away.

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I did like you, but she loves you. And for that, she deserves you more.

I met you at such a time when I least expect that feeling to knock in my heart again. Yes, that’s cliche. And yes, that’s true. I traveled miles away from home not to feel that feeling again, but to find another piece of home in a foreign land and to pursue my passion  and calling. And then you happened.

Life has a series of firsts. And in some of the many firsts in my life, you were there. You were in that scene when I first experienced the felicity of singing a particular song just because it was about us. I’ve kept a good number of memories with you. How you made me feel on a high without you realizing it just because I’m very good at pretending they were just usual stuff for me. But believe me, they all made a mark in me.  I’d say those were lovely to keep in my memory box.

No, we were never together. There wasn’t any label at all. I’d say we were like those ‘almost’ stuff we usually see in movies.We just didn’t end the way they ended in movies. It was a sudden end. You know, those types where the other one will still keep on thinking why everything ended.

And it was me who WAS left wondering. While you went on creating new chapters in your life, I was left thinking why the sweet days had to end.

For a while I thought the pain will take a long time to heal. Surprisingly, it didn’t. Yes, I still think of you. I still remember you whenever I hear those songs or pass by those particular places. I did spend a couple of months trying to move on from where we left off. But seeing you again after almost a year, I just know that that was the closure that I needed. That’s what I needed to finally end this delusion that we still have it.

I like you. But that won’t be enough to make me compromise my standards and my beliefs. You were almost perfect for me. I almost darkened all my checked boxes when I met you. But that one thing that is very important to me and that would help me determine if you are ‘the one,’ that’s the only box that was left un-checked. And I wouldn’t dare give that one up for the thrill of having someone.

We don’t share the same love for Jesus.

You may say I’m too righteous and I’ve set my bar too high. Yes, I do. I’ve waited long enough for God’s best for me and I wouldn’t want to play along the curves just for that ‘in a relationship’ status.

We’ve lost that bond. But I’m happy to keep my principle. As you’ve told me before, you admire me for being able to keep my standards and keeping firm about it. And I will still keep that until that rightful person comes along.

If there’s one thing I feel sad about losing us, it’s the friendship. We weren’t able to save it. I knew we tried but it just can’t be the same again.

I’ve been seeing your photos with the girl. You seemed happy. And being happy for you was the decision I’ve made that night we met again and you talked to me about her. Yes, I did like you, but she loves you. And for that, she deserves you more.

I’d like to believe our episode already ended. You are happy creating new memories with her and I’m happy and contented waiting for God’s rightful one for me. I don’t know until when the waiting will be, but I trust God’s process and timing. As for you, I wish you well. I do hope you will not forget me wherever you will go. Well at least, I hope you will keep me in your memory box as well as I’ll be keeping you in mine. You made me happy for that particular episode of my life and you deserve that spot.

Until we meet again. Maybe in one of the streets of this city. Or maybe somewhere in this world.

Saigon Coffee Scene

Saigon Coffee Scene

Before I went to Vietnam, I’ve done quite a few researches on what to expect in this country. I tried to find out how life is in Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh city since I’m planning on staying there. And one of the top things that enticed me more into coming to Vietnam is its vibrant coffee scene. I didn’t know then that Vietnam holds the second spot in the best coffee-producing countries in the world. I didn’t even know how Vietnamese coffee actually tastes. But I must admit that just looking at the interior shots of those coffee shops in Ho Chi Minh city is already enough to make me want to go there.

And they didn’t fail me. Having been in Ho Chi Minh city for almost 9 months now, I could say that the coffee scene in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city) and in Vietnam as a whole is really vibrant, fascinating and so chic. I love how coffee shop hopping is such a fun thing to do here. My fondness for chic and thematic designs is being indulged in this country, especially in Saigon. I love how the ambiance of each cafe is different from each other.

I must admit, I’m really impressed. And surprised. Never had I imagined and expected that Vietnam has this really huge, vibrant and artsy cafe scene. I thought that these kinds of coffee shops can only be seen in South Korea or in Japan. Not in Vietnam. Definitely not in Vietnam. 

And yes, I was totally wrong. Man! I don’t need to travel all the way to South Korea just to have that chic coffee shop scenes I’ve always imagined myself to be in. I am actually having those scenes here, right in the heart of Vietnam — Saigon!

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Ngoi Nha So 7 Cafe, District 3, HCMC

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ID Cafe, District 3, HCMC

 

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Fig Cafe in Phu Nhuan District, HCMC

The styles of the coffee shops in Saigon range from traditional Vietnamese designs to chic, artsy, and modern ones.

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Vung Oi Mo Cua Cafe,  District 3, HCMC

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Cafe Coi Xua, Phu Nhuan District

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Cosmo Cafe, District 1, HCMC

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The Morning Cafe, District 1, HCMC

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She Cafe, District 1, HCMC

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Koneko Cafe, District 2, HCMC

Plus,there are also garden coffee shops that are nature-inspired to add a more relaxing, calming feel.

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Du Mien Cafe, Phu Nhuan District, HCMC

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Mien Dong Thao Cafe, Phu Nhuan District, HCMC

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S Cafe, Phu Nhuan District

These are only some, and I mean just SOME of the most fancied coffee shops in Ho Chi Minh city. There are still a LOT more! Believe me, my 8 months here is not yet enough for me to visit all those charming fascinating coffee shops in the city.

And yes, these coffee shops are one of my top reasons why I’m enjoying my stay here in Vietnam. I always feel like I’m in a K-drama whenever I’m in a coffee shop here.

Yes. That is weird.

Aside from having really eye-catching cafe designs, Vietnam also boasts off its world-renowned coffee taste. It is just so addicting-ly good and definitely for the win!

Being a self-proclaimed coffee lover, this city and this country is really satisfying my coffee taste bud and my love for chic designs. I just know that I am exactly where I should be at this moment of my life.

Thanks for the awesome coffee, Vietnam!

Crossing Cultures in Vung Tau

Crossing Cultures in Vung Tau

Living in Vietnam for more than 8 months now, I could say that this country is not done yet surprising me with its stunning and charming places. I could honestly say that I have never expected Vietnam to be this lovely.

Just last weekend, a Vietnamese colleague and friend, Rosie, invited me to her hometown in Ba Ria – Vung Tau province. This place is just two hours away from Ho Chi Minh city and could easily be reached by bus, van or even motorbike. And yes, even though it’s just near the city center, I didn’t have the luxury of time to visit this small province before. Not until last weekend. All thanks to my good Vietnamese friend who was kind and hospitable enough to invite me to her place.

On the road to Vung Tau

When the clock struck 6:00 last Friday, me and my friend  hurriedly turned off our computers, got our stuff and went straight to the ground floor and waited for a cab that will take us to the bus terminal going to Vung Tau.

It wasn’t actually a bus but a van that brought us to Vung Tau. A smooth, comfortable less than 2 hours ride for only VND 80,000. There was one stop-over on the way for those who want to go to the comfort room or buy something to eat.

We left Ho Chi Minh city around 7pm and we arrived at Rosie’s house in Vung Tau around 8:30 pm. While approaching the town proper of Vung Tau, I kept saying to my friend that that was not how I imagined Vung Tau to be. Before I had my eyes laid on this small town, I imagined Vung Tau to be very rural — like grass fields on both sides of the road, traditional wooden houses, not much people on the streets, and all the countryside images you can think of.

But the Vung Tau I saw last weekend was way different from what I’d imagined. The town is more like a small city within the suburbs but very vibrant and full of life. You wouldn’t even feel you are away from Ho Chi Minh city, except for some areas where you can only see the sea and mountain.

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For a starter, my friend’s house is really gorgeous! It’s the type you usually see on TV series. It’s a modern Vietnamese house with really yummy colors. I even joked Rosie that her house is like a big ice cream for me.

The next day, my friend and her parents toured me around the town and tried various types of Vietnamese food I fondly call “Vung Tau hits.” I tried Banh khot for breakfast and Rosie’s mom’s special version of mon cuon  or rolled in rice paper dish, and cha ca or fish cake. Then for dinner, we had seafood hotpot that’s really ngon (delicious in Vietnamese)! And before we capped the night off, Rosie and her friend even let me have that Turkish ice cream and the banh bong lan (cheese cupcake) I’ve been raving to have! It was such a tummy-filled night!

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Banh Khot

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Enjoying my Turkish ice cream:-)

 

A memorable trip

The whole day might not be enough to see all the wonderful tourist spots in Vung Tau and experience swimming on its beach waters, but nevertheless, it was a tour worth having. Aside from the fact that it was a free tour– all thanks to Rosie and her family — I was able to see Vung Tau from the local’s perspectives. I actually felt not a tourist that time but more of a visiting relative from another part of Vietnam. That was what Rosie and her family made me feel that time. They were so welcoming, warm and hospitable. Perhaps, that was what made this trip really memorable. It might just be a usual tour along the countryside of Vietnam, but the people who welcomed me there made a lot of difference.

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with my Vietnamese friend, Rosie:-)

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That short Vung Tau trip made me appreciate Vietnam more, especially its people. It made me see the Vietnamese people in a different light. It was also a good chance for me to really get to experience the local’s way of life and how the local family treat each other. I realized that the Vietnamese and Filipino families are not really very different when it comes to how they value their families. Both countries give high value to family relationships and have a really close ties among the members. If not for the language difference, I would have felt that I’m actually just spending time with my close relatives.

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with Yen while buying my favorite custard cupcake:-)

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Vung Tau may not be as stunning or as famous as the other tourists destinations in Vietnam, but it definitely charmed my heart with its simplicity and laid-back feel. Moreover, the people who welcomed me there and let me in their humble abode made me realized how blessed I am to be able to experience another culture and be treated like I’m actually a part of the family. This trip is definitely one for the memory box:-)

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Nap Time Thoughts of A Preschool Teacher

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Nap time. One of my favorite parts of the day in school right now. A lot of random thoughts usually run in my mind during this time as I watch my students sleep beside each other,

I wonder how many of them will actually meet again maybe 15-20 years after their kindergarten days and fall in love with each other? What are the odds? Probabilities?

I wonder if they will ever remember that they once slept beside each other during nap time in preschool before. Will they ever remember that they once shared a spoon of ice cream just because the little boy still wants some ice cream and the little girl was kind enough to give him a spoonful of it? Will the little boy remember that he once grabbed the toy truck from the little girl just because he thinks trucks are just for boys? Will the little girl remember that she once cried so loud because of that little boy or will she just remember how she laughed at the funny antics of the little boy when they were playing with the wooden blocks at the construction corner? Will both of them remember how they made a good team trying to build a tower with those blocks and not letting their other classmates join in on the fun just because that moment was exclusively theirs?

How many of these kids will have their hearts broken before they even reach their puberty stage? The kind of heart ache that seemed just a tiny piece of wound but could actually give so much effect in his/her growing up years? The kind of wound that you thought you have forgotten already but could actually haunt you and make you remember that pain once you meet someone again and try your chance on falling in love again. I wonder who among them will end up best friends for life? Or who will end up as “just friends” just because they tried it but they realized they are better off as friends?

I have more than a dozen young, innocent souls in my classroom of happiness now. Each of them has a distinct personality that makes them different from one another. Each is special in his/her own way. Each of them amuses me in their own lovely way. Sometimes while waiting for them to close their eyes and fall asleep during nap time, I just can’t help but imagine how the romance part of their lives will turn out to be. Who will fall in love with who? Who will have his/her heartbroken by who? Who will end up getting married to each other? Will there be someone from that class who would actually try to look for his/her classmate after so many years just to let him/her know that he/she once a had a huge crush on him/her? Will there be someone who will be bold enough to confess his/her feelings?

Maybe I am just a plain hopeless romantic that even at those down times when I can just rest my body from half a day of extensive work in school and prepare myself for the next half to cap off the day, I just can’t hold off my mind from thinking about those random stuff.

Or perhaps, deep inside my heart, I just want all of them to experience the kind of wonderful love they all deserve. Because they all deserve to be loved in a special way. No matter how they piss me off sometimes with their rowdiness, I have to admit that I’ve grown so fond of each and everyone of them. And yes, I do love them. I love the fact that I am their teacher and they think of me as their mommy in school. And like a real mommy, I want them to find the love they all deserve in the future. If only I can shield them from heartbreak by teaching them about the Dos and Don’ts of falling in love, but even me myself is still a student of that lesson. I am still learning. I haven’t mastered that yet, and perhaps I never will. I just hope that no matter how many heartbreaks they will experience or how deep the pain they would experience in the future, my little angels will still continue believing in love and that they will not lose hope that they can also find and experience true love. I hope that when they get their hearts broken, they will remember how they were in Kindergarten — cry so loud and then move on like as if nothing happened. I hope they will not dwell too much on the pain but instead, use those pains to become a better person in life and in love.

If only I can tell these to them. But I’d rather not spoil the mystery of life and love to them. I will let them discover on their own how wonderful it is to live, to find love, to fall in love, to lose it and find it again. Anyway, they are still too young to fathom the complexities of it all. For the meantime, I will just let them play and enjoy the simplicity of life in their little perfect world.