I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness-- Jeremiah 3:3

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I wish I was not a teacher.

It all came  like cold water pouring on me on a seething hot day. I thought all was all right until I had to help Kiny practice her writing letters A and E the night before her big examination day. Maybe just maybe, it is unfortunately inherent for teachers like I am to pound on students what is ideal and what is required or at least what is expected. But for a three-year-old like my daughter, whose hand control is yet to be developed, doing those slanting lines and vertical lines that consist in what appear to be letter As and Es to me in her small doodled paper is calvary. Worse, her self-appointed tutor,  that's me, whose brows remained twitched at a letter E that looks like an antenna of a television, had to sometimes raise my voice just to tell her that a letter E has but 3 horizontal lines and not 4 which would virtually make her E a TV antenna not to mention the lines that could never stick to blue and red lines. Of course, in all these things, I was aware that her psychomotor skills are yet to be developed. But there's just something in me that drives me to go for more even if I noticed that she has gone far too stretched already.

Then I noticed tears welling up in her eyes looking up at me as though pleading for the insensible torture to stop. It was then, after my head swirled in ache after finding ways to have her hold her pencil  THE RIGHT WAY that I needed to rest my teacher-stature and come back to being a mother.

The next day after feeling guilty for being too hard on my tiny tot I bought her favorite crayon set. And what met me when I was about to brandish the crayon set was a shrieking, "Look, Mommy, I'm making nice As and Es. It's not antenna anymore, right?" She stood looking at me waiting to celebrate my approval. Needless to say, my heart sank. I had to hug her. I did not wait for a second to go by to give her the confirmation that she needed from her mom.

 As early as now, I don't want my daughter to go through what I went through as a kid. I was an achiever all right, but I was only achieving because the approval that I wish to get from my mom took a long time in coming. It did come, all right. But I wished it came just when I badly needed it.

Being a teacher and getting all the techniques, strategies, and approaches right in the classroom do not necessarily manage a family well. But I intend to be good at these two tough acts to my wonderful little girl.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Bugnaw ang akong mga lutahan
Dugay nang wa mag-alindasay
Sa matag hagsa sa
Ritmo sa garay-garay.
Kung mahimo pa lang
Gitukmod ko na palayo
Ang kabugnaw nga galiyok-liyok sa
Nangamig nakong alimpu.
Kanus-a pa kaha
Mupuli ang dilaab
Sa gakuray na  nakong mga laray
Aron unya,
Sa pagkabanhaw,
Mudagayday na usab
Ang dugay nang nabagtok nga

Thursday, June 14, 2012


It's amazing how God can make all things grow--even men.

I remember him when I was 9. Three decades have allowed me to see his growing pains including mine under his tutelage, under his ministry. 

In those years, somewhere there, I thought I snapped; I thought our friendship and "sibling bond" have snapped. I thought one more shove, and things will graduate from brittle to broken. But the great Omnipotence, the healer of all sores is good and perfect in using time to blur what used to be excruciating.

Now I see him preaching tonight in our midweek service. He stands there like no one has ever stood before preaching about Jonah and the guy's lack of humility in the forefront of God's order to go to a place of people whom Jonah thought are abominable, now considered forgiven, loved again by his own God, by his own commander.

But in his sermon, I'm seeing a lot of things so differently. Now I see the man preaching clearly without even trying. I hear the sermon because finally the man I'm seeing now is my brother again. The minister I'm seeing now has become a real father to me, a real pastor of an often-time confused sheep like I am. 

For the first time, my eyes are welling up--too overwhelmed of so much respect--respect for this man who could equally say with me, "God is not finished with me yet." He might be under construction before and he might still be now. But I am amazed at how much wisdom and God's blessing have made him grow to be a man whom I can call father.

Boy, am I so glad Pastor Nats came to Banawa Church in 1995 when we needed a father. Most of all I am so glad he never gave up on the church! Not on me, not on us!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Coming home to my Man

I used to hear clamors from married women that men are silly and childish. As to how men can be that preposterous despite their swagger and relentless pride just escaped me until I married one of them.

I am not in the position to hammer this on any man, much more on my man, so to speak. Yes, men and women are created totally different from each other in strengths and weaknesses. What my women friends say about men may have sprung from what they presume as proper for a man.And as to how men behave in crucial moments of decision or indecision compared to how we, women react may be less impressive as I myself have witnessed one of them dealing his own crisis as well.

I think of how my husband often reduces himself to a helpless sheepish pesky child each time he's at my mercy. As to what case does this normally occur, I couldn't let slip for now. But in moments like this, instead of berating him, deep inside I pity him. Initially, I get exasperated. I would think men are too self-absorbed not considering a woman's day's predicament. Then I would think he needs me to understand his needs and needs me to be there as I need him to understand my need as well. But I tried to forgo necessary remedial actions! I would say "later," I'll fix that one.

Then he texted me one morning while I was in the mix of things in a national seminar. He said he misses what  I used to be to him before. This summer vacation I have been absent. He has been alone in his emotions when he needed me.

Right there, I was jolted. I knew even before then that I was quite of a slack as a woman, more so as a wife. I might have been an A++ as a mommy but not as a wifey. And unexpectedly, in his unpredictable quiet way, my husband has beaten the crap out of me.

Time to go home.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Author Willingham's thoughts in his book Crumbs for the Would-be Christlike Christians were staggering. They struck a chord that drives my appetite for reading crazy. 

He said,"I try as much as possible to steer away from talking or from preaching heavy doctrines" like that one where the Armenians and the Calvinists differ.  I got a little bit flabbergasted when he wrote that confession, coming from a Nazarene veteran professor, writer, and preacher himself.

 I admit I kind of found a home in what he said. Contrary to what younger generations expect from us theology graduates and literature teachers, we have some things that we remain uncertain about.  And I'm not in any way embarrassed to say "I don't know" at times. For what we call knowledge here on this   planet of seemingly all-knowing guys are nothing but dung to him, the Wise of the wise. Paul, one of the most learned Jews in the New Testament time, has spoken in 1 Corinthians 13:12:

                    Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face 
                    to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully 

What we have at hand is but a portion of that vast reality we are not privileged to know as of yet. How true of Paul when he thought he knew everything that was moral and upright and then he met the Lord who changed his outlook of what he thought he already knew!

Just as I am tempted to gather my wits and forget my regular sleeping hours to research on stuff I am expected to be good at, here's this almost-a-century-old guy who brandished a new thought to me."It is okay to say I don't know about a lot of things. He went on to say, "This one thing I know. It is not wisdom that saves me. It's faith!" Faith even in the middle of stark uncertainty.

The dark almost always scares children. The unknown is like a faceless monster to us that prefer treading familiar pavements. Hence, we prepare for the uncertainties ahead. We study. We train. We search for answers. Unfortunately not all answers are visible. Hence, the fear. But faith says, "I believe." And it's not blind faith as some would tend to label this passion to trust in the God that is seemingly unseen and detached. It's faith in the heart of the Father that I always come home to at the end of the day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


There's not much air to breathe right now. I'm awed, that's what! Awed at how little we know of the depth and breadth of God's possibilities for each one of us. Maybe all this is because I really am a worm.

At a worm's vantage, he can only see a portion of God's universe. In the same manner, he doesn't see what goes on in the heart of his creator that causes every force, friction, and motion in his world. It remains the same heart that stoops to every worm as I am and in his tenderness pulls us to where his sun and provision are. He secures us to where safety resides.

This summer, which I fervently hope (summoning all the positive powers of his possibilities) not to end soon. For while the restless summer beach waters sleep, I'm seeing God so big in the littlest details of my life, quite far better from what I have hoped for.

So, summer, drag me to your endless glorious heat!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Lunhaw ang bulok
Sa imong lamurok nga aping.
Samtang nanghuyatid pa ang kalibutan,
Miabi-abi na ang mga bukton sa imong

Ang hapuhap sa imong tubig
Mao ray akong pangitaon
Inig suong na unya
Sa langob sa mga kwaknit ug

Sa mga agay-ay
Sa mga lusparong kabatohan
Mahabilin ang akong

Mupauli ako nga adunahan
Mupanaw ako,
Gabitbit sa tinipik sa imong

Sunday, March 25, 2012


God does love me.

Truly, there are good reasons why some unlikely changes have to take place in my life.  To a human who in his vantage point is capable of looking at things in his capacity as a rational being will naturally repel to the idea that goes against what is normally comfortable to him.

There are moments I get to feel small when I begin to compare myself with my other colleagues who have stayed well-compensated in a place where I used to hug as my work hall while I’m here in a small corner of a public school earning just barely enough for a family of three.  But moments like these are my unguarded times where I am free to spill my bare humanity to my creator, who while listening to my confused cries, remains understanding. And in his seeming silence, I deem it best that right after crying I remain in the posture of waiting and trusting.  I would not say this comes easy. It’s a long journey in the desert, I tell you.  I have no other means of surviving but through this.

And then all of a sudden, the old dreams that I dreamed came all at once not in drizzles but in torrents at a time when I don’t expect them.

I always thought for a dream to come true I have to have the cash, the connections and the courage. I don’t have the three, especially the third one. But now that I’m a Journalism teacher in an institution where I’m only content to work in a classroom with my 34 teen-agers eager to see how life turns with a new weird teacher, things simply began to fall into place. You do your honest day’s work and you get some surprises. Mine came in the form of me being snagged to coach a radio broadcasting team bound for the National School Press Conference.

My boss came up to me and told me to prepare no less than P10,000 for the travel and registration to the Palawan stint. I was thrilled with the thought of going to a dream world called Palawan! But I had to decline as I don’t have the money. I couldn’t produce the money needed even if we were promised a refund from the city local funds.

I told God that if He really wants me to go He would make me go come what may but if He has a better idea for me this summer then I wouldn’t mind. He’s God and remains God even if the sweetest of dreams have to crumble to pieces.

And then last Monday, March 20, my boss came up to me after the nth time and told me, “OK, prepare your things. You’re coaching the team with me, with or without your 10,000. You should not decline this offer to come with us. There are others who are dying to come. But you’re going with us!”
I was dumbfounded. But I heard him right. God does love me.

You bet, I’m going to Palawan with the team!

Monday, March 12, 2012


Ang imong mga balak

Mao ang mga higot nga naghugpong

Sa mga lipak-kawayan

Sa atong bungbong.

Ug ang imong mga tinutukan

Mao ang kisame nga musagang

Sa atong atop-amakan kung kini

Unya magabok, mahunlak.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How Can I Tell You About Love?

(To a three-year-old wonder who is tossed between what love is what is not)

Will I begin with drizzles of kisses and couplings?
Of prince charmings and bits of glass shoe sequences?
Should love be all glitz to your eyes or sweet pastel looks,
Or whisperings of the mush when the sky's blue?

Shall I not tell you of Scarlett and Rhett who darted wars and guns
And yet moved the hand of time,
While their chests minced Romeo and Juliet's rhyme?
Or that of death's woes of Jack and Rose?

But how can I make plain the craggy mountain that stood strong
Embracing his sky despite the jealous sun's glare?
Or the tear in a mother's cheeks upon seeing
The tiny finger that wraps hers for the first time?

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Can you imagine yourself staring at the walls for like eternity? I just thank God for the lull times. Times when the walls of the office or classroom ceilings are just there waiting, unmoving. These bits of free time come in spurts. So I hallow each one of them. Often they come during examination times when I am tempted to drool to sleep or think back of things of the past. 

Lull times such as this recharge me. Brings back youth to my weary bones. I used to look at these idle moments as the most boring part of any day. But I figured, God actually allows this nothing-to-do times because we need them. And believe it or not at one point, we ask for them. Have we not blurted out familiar litanies such as "Ahh, these paper works are killing me. Can't I have one moment of rest for once?" or "Work is giving me no space, I need time for myself, blah-blah" and so on. That's right, as staggeringly accurate as God can get, He does answer prayers. At the right moment with perfect precision and timing.

Right now, I'm watching these kids taking their chances on these pieces of papers they put their carefully thought of answers to this nail-biting entrance examination. Their brains are busy. They seem to need some lull time as soon as this is over. As for me, I'm taking mine, savoring every second of it. I'm embracing this boring time. I may not have this again for the next grueling days.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Abir, pakan-a kunu kog gugma
Kanang kagumkom pa ha
Mas maayo kung init-init pa 
Kanang gikan pa gyud sa abuhan.

Sugot ra pud ko anang dukot-dukot.
Kay mas lami baya ning lugit-lugiton
Ingkit-ingkiton labi na kung magkinamot
Kauban nimo.


Sa pagka karon tuhuan ko ang mga bakak sa gugma
Dawaton ko ang mga pulang rosas sa kanhiay
Unya, humulan sa baso
Patidlumon sa tubig, unya simhut-simhuton.
Magdahum, maghulat nga mugamot, mamunga.

Sige, pasagdan ko ang kabuang ni Kupido nga
Magbuot-buot sa badlis sa palad ni Inday.
Paminawon nako ang mga ngiyaw,
Ang mga hamag-lamba sa biga
Sa mga iring sa among atop.

Sa makausa, magpailad na pud ko
Sa kagilok sa mga hapyod-boladas
Sa mga bag-ong manag-uyab.
Sa mga hunghong--
Kaluha sa imong mga gitik-gitik.

O, karong adlawa magpakarung-ingnon ko nga
Kining akong mga tiil wala bug-ati
Sa nagsaguyod nga kadena.
Sa makadiyot,kalimtan ko nga hangtud karon
Pabilin ako, nakondenar gihapon
Sa imong mga saad kaniadto.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Will you look past the cracks
That form in the splatter of paint
As you wield your brush
In the cold of that canvass?

Will you take the colors that scatter
And forget the smudges of
This pixelated paint

That I am?


I gasp for the old days that bind;
Gape for the fullness
Where the splinters once were;
Pant for the fragments
That were once You and I

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Ako ang kwerdas
Nianang sistang
Sa imong bungbong.

Kay kunu musimang na
Ang kada til-is
Sa mga nota.

Mao na lay nagpabiling
Nangaw-it ang mga abog
Sa sungugan nga

Diin ako
Naligo sa kakiat
Sa imong mga

Monday, January 30, 2012


Joy oftentimes comes unbidden. At times it is shrouded by simplicity and then it just turns things magical. But joy doesn't come easy. You can't just get them from the racks or counters of stores. You probably can purchase some forms of it but what you get is a transitory version of it, hence, what you actually get is not joy in its very essence.

As for me, seeing joy forms at the corners of my three-year-old's mouth is magic. Things like a Ben 10 watch, a 7-peso noodle pack, a 10-peso ice cream, a 2-peso chocolate, a 5-peso street popcorn, and seeing her mom at the end of a day's work are nothing but close to heaven for her.

It is, I must admit, draining to a day's tightly budgeted allowance to always bring popcorn to a kid like mine on an everyday basis. But seeing her shriek and spill out tons of "thank-you's" with little mushy hugs every time is worth wading in financial distress again and again. Hah, just to hear her "Wow! Yummy! Thank you, Mommy! Thank you! I love you, Mommy!" I'd give up what I have all ready given up long time ago in a heart beat again and again. No questions about it.

In a world where it's more like a territory of misery,I'd jump the gun at every teeny-weeny opportunity of joy. And why not, it's only in real pleasures like this that keeps me above water.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


                                                              kang Joe Marie J. Panes

Kung isumpay-sumpay

Ang mga gutlo ug adlaw,

Bisan ang kawanangan

Dili paigo sa paghakop

Sa mga higayon

Nga ikaw mitadlas

Sa akong panumduman.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Unsaun ba pagdakop
Nianang mga aninipot
Kung ang panan-aw
Gibabagan na sa
Ilang kahabog?

Kung ang mga kamot
Lupigon sa kaidlas
Sa ilang pag-ipsot?

Unsaun ko kaha
Ikaw pagkab-ot
Kung ang katalaw
Sa akong mga tiil

Kung kining katalaw
Mukuyanap na,
Ug sa lain nang mga kamot 
Ang akong nag-inusarang 

When I Wept Twice

When I wept twice, 
I bathed thrice;
For tomorrow 
I shall hoard the sour
And then the salt
From the waters
That drenched and
Blanched the crimson 
Of my then afterglow.

Capturing Eternity Slipping By

A morning dew's visit 
To a lone wayside flower.

The scatter of forgotten papers, crumpled.
Then a young leaf falls, joining the fray.

Like, by chance, when your shadow 
Touched my paneled walls--

Friday, January 6, 2012


So who the heck is Araceli?  Like I care.

All right, in the mid 1990s, I saw her as a girl unmindful of the complications in a college life. She saw herself through college oblivious of the usual teenagers' issues--trendy clothes, psychedelic hair clips, and updated cool school gadgets--oblivious and unaffected, I should say. 

And yes, a bunch of girls at a distant hallway would just laugh and look her way every time she sported that jet-black shiny long hair which was normally screaming for a comb (but surprisingly charming in that unkempt way) with her enviable lithe body in her normally unpressed, fuscha-pink plaid uniform. In her bulky baggage of a shoulder bag, one would always find two or three books in their torn or dilapidated but readable state. 

But when you check out her poems and write-ups in her usual "intricately difficult to read" penmanship, you would forget what century you're in. She so loved the Shakespearean age and Britain that you could imagine her kissing England in her lines. Never mind if she was too unmindful of what was the fad or forgetful in pressing her blouse or clip her nails, she was beautiful. And that radiated in her poems and prose.

We laughed together. We submitted projects together, although hers were always wanting of order or structure but we were there together. And I love her for that. To me, that was normal of her. To me, she was real. I was the eccentric one. Oftentimes too eccentric for my own good.   I wasn't the most popular. My name became known only because of the scores my trying-hard stance could produce in those days. But I was always away from the crowd. And this Araceli took me in despite that. 

After graduation, we seldom saw each other.  We both became passionate literature teachers. She, being the most colorful and well-loved in a peculiar way; I, being the more introverted but emotional.

Then she lost her father. Right there, I saw a more grown-up woman in that lithe figure of hers. But she was still the same funny Araceli who didn't seem to know what to do first in crucial intimate moments with loved ones. I didn't see her cry but I know she was more than crying. That was her very intimate time with herself. That loss had allowed some gravitas surfaced from inside her. I let her be.

Then we found our men. And I giggle a bit every time I see her with her man in her photos. I could say we were very much alike. Our men may not be the expected choice but we chose well--perhaps, not necessarily in man's standard but this is borne of our very unconventional, perhaps eccentric way of looking at things. (At least this is how I personally look at two very different girls but very much alike at a painful distance.)

Yes, and miles away, I miss her. I miss listening to her thoughts. I ache to listen to her wanton descriptions of the lives of British nobilities and how far from our "reality" their lives are. Maybe I just love how she pours her dreams in those stories. 

But more than these I admire her for her courage to face the unknown and relentlessly dig for those dreams there. To Araceli, the undaunted little beauty, I wish my daughter will take the same step of courage that you took--one that she may never take from me.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Ang among probinsya
Dili na makamaong Mupahulay
Lupig pa'y kwago,
Ni bisan sa pagtagpilaw
Sa tungag gabii

Mas balehon pang
Muduyog sa
Mga gakidhat-kidhat ug
Gadayak-dayak nga
Sugang langyaw.

Ang among probinsya
Dili na gani maigpot
Inig dan-ag
Sa bulalakaw
Sa kalangitan.

Ang among probinsya
Gilalin na.