“I am the master of my fate

I am the captain of my soul.”

These lines come from a classic poem, Invictus which I memorized for my English subject in high school. I used to like this poem as much as I liked the ideology of self-love.

osmena 4

Now that I have lived more than two decades of my life,  I realize I am not the best architect of my own life.

I have no control of the people I meet, the opportunities I have, what people think, what people feel. I may control time by setting a timetable or deadline but I cannot freeze moments, delay aging or speed up things in my life. Some things just happen, like storms and sickness. I have no control over many things but I can only control how I respond to given life circumstances. I can control how I feel and how I react, and how I would like these changes or lack of changes affect me.

I come to a conclusion: “You can only plan your life to a certain extent but there’s always a hand of God that leads you to where you should be.”

Destiny is real and it is inevitable.When I was younger, I thought believing in destiny was for people who were lazy and complacent. I refuse to believe in destiny because I do not like to feel defeated.

Destiny does not mean surrender. It just means humility and having awareness we have limitations. By learning to accept destiny, we become more forgiving to ourselves and  to others. If you can’t make it, forgive. If others choose to break you, forgive.

I am still optimistic about freewill and fate but now I believe fate is only kind to people who are kind to themselves.

osmena 3

I like nature trips because they help me realize how small I am in this universe and how narrow-minded I am to think that pieces of my life are not synchronous.  The hymn How Great Thou Art best describes how I feel:

“When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze….

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art!

I guess when everything is against your will, go to the mountains, wilderness, forests, not to meditate or not to be a monk. But go there to ask yourself, how can there be so much error in this world, when the trees, the skies, the mountains are perfectly colored, arranged and built as if there were too many engineers, architects, and artists who are responsible for these? There must be invisible hands working to make everything seamlessly beautiful. We are too small to fathom the mysteries of the world. Who are we to say something is wrong that the universe conspires to make us miserable?We need to be invisible to appreciate the divine plan set before us. There is always a plan unforeseeable.

We need to be invisible

We need to be invisible

Life events are like converging lines. They will lead you to one point someday.
Every long lost dream is like a Northern star leading to where you should be
Life is messy
Cupid is clumsy
For in chaos, there is calculation (Lorde, 2013)
For in battles we fail, there are newborn victors
For opportunities we miss, there are threats we dismiss

Similarly as what spoken word poet Ben Norris:

“For everything that crumbles, there are monuments erected in defiant celebration.
For every slip and broken bone follows four score epic baseball catches. It made the sky a place to aim for, made Buzz Aldrin and Felix Baumgartner not just normal blokes. It made a hundred kids look at the moon wanting nothing but to try it.

We need the speed of our flying dreams; we need gravity to defy it.

This is not about destiny. It’s  faith over fate.

All my life I sailed the sea of reason, I was captain of my soul…there was no need of my Savior, I tried to do it on my own…
Then I heard him speak the language of compassion, words of healing..for broken lives...

(From I Choose Jesus lyrics)

And we know:

“... that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8: 28

“God has made everything beautiful in its time.”  Ecclesiastes 3:11




Reflection on the Magic of Washing Machine

Just sharing my reflection paper on Rosling’s talk on the Magic of Washing Machine for one of MA classes

When we think of development as a means of acquiring desirable change, the only change we can see is through the Western eyes. Hans Rosling’s metaphor of washing machine reflects a simplistic yet ethnocentric view of development. Rosling presents a good case that industrialization and modernization are necessary for improving the lives of many women. But is industrialization the only means to an end?

Technology is arguably considered gender blind and elitist. It is often debated whether it is friendly or harmful to many women. But the bigger question is: Who has access over technology? Does it favor a chosen few? Who enjoys the benefits of technology such as washing machine? Many women would like to have washing machine and other machines to improve their daily chores but does it dissolve the disparity between third world women and first world women?

Rosling sells his idea on industrialization, the way capitalists would sell their washing machine. He points out that through the invention of washing machine, women can have more time for themselves to learn, and more quality time for their children. His points are very valid and persuasive. Any woman would want to have more time. But washing machine is not a basic need. Education through reading and studying is secondary when we think of food, shelter, clothing. Food security is the primary concern of every household. People prioritize what is urgent and beneficial at a given time. Making more time for children to read books does not resolve their immediate needs. The world does not need more scholars,or academicians. The emphasis of education is overrated by which the value of manual labor is under appreciated.

Rosling is also selling a capitalist idea on individualism. He looks at the benefits of washing machines to individuals but it is only one part of the picture. Modernization can be good but it will take time for third world women to benefit from it. To a first world woman, a washing machine brings magic, but to a third world woman, it takes a lot of work for her to fully realized the wonders of magic machine. It is not a simple trick at all for most women.

Indeed, technology helps a lot of women have a convenient life but technology is not readily available to most women in the world. What do we do with women with limited resources? Does technology fills in the gender gap? Instead of selling washing machine, we can sell the idea of better social and gender relations at home because technology is not the only means to an end.

Nonetheless, Hans Rosling shows that an industrialized society can still work for our advantage. It is a matter of stewardship of resources and not necessarily technology alone. We can still work on sustainable development in a consumerist capitalist society by changing behaviors.

The traditional definition of development sees people all over the world homogeneous. Practices and culture vary from one place to another but there are some things that remain universal such as food security and reproductive work. People from different parts of the world can find their own ways for survival. As what Hans Rosling said we should not give advice on what to do and not what not to do.

Please reply

DSCF0112I never used the phrase, “Please reply”

It sounds too bossy, demanding, improper, impolite

Please reply once you get this message
Please reply as soon as possible

For every request, for every note, for every missed call
there’s a sense of urgency
that even if the chances are slim
you want a reply
even if a reply means closure
even if a reply means death
even if a reply means “no more”

When you slip a message in the bottle and send it to the sea
you still want a reply

When you write to a rock star
and say ” I’m your greatest fan”
There’s this parenthesis of please reply

Of course we look forward for a reply of victory
reply from the stars
sweet replies
like when the shore finally meets the coastline

Sometimes when I end my prayer
I have that tiny voice inside saying, “Lord please reply”

I wish no one invented the word “reply”
It drives expectation to waste
and you never seem to understand why your phone gives you an option to reply
when the messages you sent never received replies

When you check your mail box and no new mails
spam mails are so thoughtful
but they are never replies

I am obsessed with replies more than I am obsessed with ambitions
reply is so synonymous with waiting
It is the stamina of hope
and measurement of faith

When you say “You don’t have to reply”
you mean I prefer a reply

When you say “I love you”
there’s always a parenthesis of please reply

Even if you are not asking or inviting
you want a reply
reply is efficient
reply is sufficient

Replies are better than silent smiles, qualifiers, intensifiers
Replies save time, kill wishful thinking

Sometimes replies fall like rain
You never know when rain will pour

Jesus (Fill in the Blank) Women

Is Jesus sexist? I have often read that religion is misogynistic and oppressive.

I read a blog addressing to Christian women: feminism is not your friend. I also read a blog of a pastor, entitled Ten Women Christian Men Should Not Marry. The list included: The older woman, The Divorcee, The Feminist, The Gossiper/ Slanderer, the Immodest Dresser.  If I have to make my own list of Ten Men Christian Women Should Not Marry, one would be The Judgmental Guy.

It disappoints me that this is how they see women basing it on their Christian faith. It also saddens me that through these views on women, people who do not belong to Christian faith fail to appreciate the good news. Why?

Because this is not how I know Jesus

More than quoting and memorizing Bible verses, I think what is worth examining is how Jesus lived his life on earth and how he treated women.

Jesus was radical on how He treated women in His time. He showed importance to women in the time that they weren’t much of value. Author Dorothy Sayers, a friend of C.S. Lewis, wrote:

Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man—there had never been such another.

Jesus made women special and relevant. Jesus let women join his ministry and traveled with him as written in Luke 8:1-3. Also he first appeared to a woman after his resurrection.

Most important to note is that Jesus challenged laws and norms that were not in favor of women during his time. I have often heard this criticism that the conservative Christian beliefs encourage women to suffer in unhealthy marriages because of the Bible verses pertaining to marriage and divorce.  Matthew 19 states:

 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.

But if you read the entire chapter, you will understand that Jesus’ idea of marriage and divorce is intended for the protection of women. Women were disposable and dependent during his time. Men can leave their wives for any reason.  Jesus deviated this norm when he said to the Pharisees that men could leave their wives only on the grounds of adultery. (Matthew 19:9).

I was reading a book  Discover your Inner Beauty Queen , Godly Secrets to True Beauty. While I appreciate the author’s attempt to inspire women, I am bothered by the some degrading descriptions of women. On her book:

“When I first met Issa, her looks mirrored immoral lifestyle. Her tight clothes exposed her voluptuous curves. Her skirts, barely made it past her buttocks. Her hair hung seductively across her face. She exudes a lustful, almost indecent aura.”

I’d like to give the writer a benefit of the doubt for loosely using “seductive”, “lustful”, “indecent aura”, and “immoral” but I’d also like to reflect on what would Jesus do.  What would Jesus say? How would Jesus react if he met this woman?

In the life of Jesus, he had met a lot of women who were not well liked but he welcomed them with forgiveness, compassion and without prejudice. Remember the woman who was caught in adultery and everybody wanted to cast stone on her but Jesus only said to the woman “ ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’”



Jesus accepted women who were considered outcasts in the community. Another example of a woman who initially received prejudice was the woman who anointed Jesus’s feet with perfume (Luke 7). Jesus was pleased by the gesture of this woman and told her that her had faith saved her.

He talked to a Samaritan woman. It was not appropriate for a Jew to talk to Samaritan woman (John 4:4-30, 39-42). His help extended to foreigners and that was not conventional during that time. Jesus also helped a Canaanite woman, another foreigner, in Matthew 15:22-28 by healing her daughter who was demon-possessed.

The greatest proof that Jesus has always been egalitarian, is written on Galatians 3:28

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28


As what President Jimmy Carter said you have an “ option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women.” We can cherry pick Bible verses to oppress women but I’d like to note that treating women with dignity and value is also Bible-sound.

A Message to All Women

You can also read:

If you fall

If you fall in love with people like me

I will take you to museums parks, and monuments

Pinto Art Museum

Pinto Art Museum

I will take you to every place that promises permanence
Hoping that in every place you may find forever in those brief moments
we share

On my way to Pinto Art Museum

Pinto Art Museum

McArtthur Park at Palo, Leyte

Macarthur Park at Palo, Leyte

Temple of Leah

Temple of Leah,  Cebu

for we encrypt histories in monuments
and every piece of art adds value to collector’s items

Baluarte, Vigan

Baluarte, Vigan


I want to freeze our stories with those artifacts you see
and when your eyes can no longer find beauty in me
you can always look back at those paintings
for paintings outlive my youth
hoping that the details of my face are crystallized
in those paintings you see

Pinto Art Musuem

Pinto Art Museum

I will take you to places born with stories
so that even if you choose to forget our story
You will never forget the heroes and artists
whose lives and works outweigh our story

Juan Luna Shrine, Ilocos Norte

Juan Luna Shrine, Ilocos Norte

Panday at Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte

Panday at Sand Dunes, Ilocos Norte

I will always like to take you to museums
I will always want to be with you in museums
because in those places we make an illusion of forever


Pinto Art Museum

This piece is inspired from Caitlyn Siehl’s poem, “Do not fall in love with people like me”


When a grown-up reads The Little Prince

11749875_10153346225557906_1700189197_oMy ex-room mate once told me: As you grow old, reading The Little Prince becomes more profound. So I pick up my 10-year old copy of The Little Prince and read all over again. When you gain more life experiences, you can find yourself in one of The Little Prince’s characters and in the book’s philosophies. I appreciate the book now, in my mid twenties. I guess when you’re a little older, you strangely get insights from the innocence of a child which The Little Prince symbolizes. Here are some of the things that The Little Prince remind me of:

We love numbers but numbers are just numbers

Our world is governed by numbers. For instance, we measure the country’s progress by GNP or GDP but it does not reflect the quality of life of most people. Money, school grades, salary, check, number of likes in Facebook are just numbers. Numbers cannot tell how happy you are.

We have to dig deeper to know its value

One of the most popular quote: “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” “ And another quote from the books says: “What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well” It’s easy to measure someone’s worth based on face value.  Often we pattern our lives with what society expects, what advertising sells.  Always choose substance over form. What holds value to you does not necessarily hold value to to most people.

Facts are just “good-to-know”. Life is not about facts but a collection of experiences.

I always thought that by reading more books, by studying, by listening to experts and scholars is enough to make me more knowledgeable. But experience is always irreplaceable. Thanks to technology, knowledge is accessible. It’s good to know the world through web pages but it’s just a small portion of our reality.

The obsession of power, status and accumulation are all meaningless. 

I have a similar blog post related to this. The Little Prince  cannot understand the obsession of  the king to rule, the fascination of the businessman to buy more stars. We do resemble some of the characters  he met in different planets. We may be the geographer who does not travel the places he records, and the lamplighter who is too useful but has no time to rest.

We choose the people we want to be part of our lives

We keep looking for the best set of people to be our friends. They are not unique people just like the rose of The Little Prince. He has a sad realization that his rose in his planet is just like the other roses on earth.  But when we “establish ties”, the way The Little Prince tamed the fox, we make them special. This reminds me of random question I shared with my friend: Do you think you marry the best guy in your life or the right person?

“There is no shop where you can buy friendship”

Period.   the littlpr Relationships are important

Relationships add zeal and meaning in our lives as explained by the fox to The Little Prince.

“My life is very monotonous,” the fox said. “I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…”

We love the difficult people

The rose of The Little Prince has an attitude problem. She always complains and she is pretty demanding. Not to mention, she is fragile and vulnerable but The Little Prince has been devoted to her.

People have different values and priorities

We choose what gives meaning to our lives. Yes, we can choose what drives us everyday to work, what makes our lives worth living for, what inspires us, what motives us, what makes us happy

“All men have stars,” [the prince said.] “but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You—you alone—will have the stars as no one else has them—” “What are you trying to say?” “In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night… You—only you—will have stars that can laugh!” (26.18-20)

Looking forward to watch The Little Prince movie

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