Empty Shells

I saw this photo by TheIphoneArts when I was checking posts in Facebook which led me to an article written by Anna at WeAreJuxt on an interview he had with the artist, Egmont Van Dyck.

I am not sure whether it’s the texture, the shell, the b/w, but it made me reflect on this photo.

As I mentioned on a post somewhere, at first glance, one readily see an empty shell.  But if one could just take a step back from yesterday, you would probably see the joyous fiesta from squirrels gathered together enjoying a joyous meal.

The rough exterior textures of the walnut shells may not be exactly the best sight to see but it provides a protective cover for something that might be a source of life for someone else.

Sometimes, we don’t know we have something to share because we look at the lowly exterior not realizing that we have something to give which could be beneficial to someone.

It takes us to a journey, an unexpected event that will open that shell so that we may be able to give life.

The process may take quite some time because sometimes, we don’t want to break it open.  Not because we don’t really wanted to but because we don’t know we have something we can give.

Maybe when events in our lives shakes us up, we may have to yield for a moment and ask God to show us what lies ahead.

A recurring scene from a Japanese drama had a dialogue that says something like this: “God only gives us trials that we can overcome”.

If today, you feel like an empty shell, somehow allow the light to show you that  you have given life somehow.

A Justice System Drama

Jury Duty

I had the privilege of serving as a juror yesterday.

I must admit that initially I was hopeful that I would not be chosen as a juror but you might call it gut feeling but I felt Thursday that I will be part of the 12 jurors. So although I had some pending things that I need to do, emotionally I was prepared for the task.

Having a pretty judge presiding the case made it much easier. I find it amusing that she resembles Lori Loughlin very much that could it be that this is just a taping of Candid Camera?

Anyway, the case is common in the auto insurance industry where people take advantage of the justice system that involves doctors (particularly chiropractors), attorneys, and a supposedly injured partcipant in the starring role.

The deception was so obvious from the evidence that it was a majority decision in favor of the defendant.

It’s bad enough that they made a mockery of the justice system, they also wasted the time of the all the people involved in the case. If you think about it, should the jurors charge the losing party some economic damage for the inconvenience, the stress resulting in failing to enjoy life fully, and for the pain and suffering from walking to the restaurants during lunch breaks.

Lots of people who need some help from the government would benefit from the waste of tax dollars that these crooks are trying to take from the insurance companies and the people being sued.

It’s infuriating but what can we do?

On a sidenote, I had a good time during lunchtime as it’s been a while since I had a good walk around downtown. I had the chance to take some pictures as I walk back to the courthouse.

Lot of changes have happened in downtown – the LAPD building in 1st Street, the japanese village in J-town, etc. Even downtown City Hall is taking a renovation.

Next time, I’ll probably take a whole day to take some photos.

The Quest For Meaning Begins

It’s been a while.  Time passed and another milestone is reached.

Today, the Good Lord has blessed me to see another morning in my life.  It’s my birthday.

I haven’t touched this blog for almost a year now.  I just don’t have the fire in me to write and I could not find a way to ignite the joy of writing this blog that I used to have.

Life’s been like going through the notions, chasing opportunities to fulfill obligations, spinning in circles, going nowhere.  And yet, God has been gracious and patient with me all this time.

And I am very thankful.  He’s still there.

Lately, I am going through some spurts of ‘revival’.  Mostly spiritual but at the same time, relating to career.  As I write stuff in the whiteboard in the office, erasing and writing, clarity surfaced.

It’s funny how writing out things that’s on our mind, stepping back, staring at times on a blank whiteboard, could actually clear up the clutter and regain what I’ve lost – my focus.

There were some things that I missed during these times:

    • I realized I totally forgot the message He gave me almost five years ago, which is to Reach and Serve.  Honestly, I believe I was scared to fail.  When you allow fear to take over something in your life, one thing is sure, you’ve already lost the battle.  And I don’t know why I let fear take over.  Fear is something that controls you but it is also something that you allow to control you.
    • It made me realized that I have not been spending as much time with Him as I usually have before.  And the essence of time is always something that He’s been hammering me through these years.  I was spending too much time perfecting craft and skills that I missed on the opportunity to become of value to someone who needs my help, NOW.

I have been spending way too much time crafting my online and internet marketing stuff, that I failed to see time slowly passing by right in front of me.  You know how one becomes almost like a spectator instead of becoming a performer.  It’s like going to Disneyland, but instead of going through some of the rides and become part of the action, one sits on the bench – totally in neglect of what’s going on.

I also knew that my insecurities got the better of me.  Yet I hope these recent realizations will allow me to move forward to achieve God’s purpose in my life.

Anyway, lately I have been concentrating on local search for local businesses and I hope to start with a select few small business owners in the next few weeks for pilot cases.

I have also been networking with some Filipino millennials hoping to contribute in some ways to the Philippine internet scene.  The Philippine labor force has been the country’s dollar earner and people flock outside the Philippines in hope of a better life for their family at the expense of getting separated from their loved ones.

I just hope I can be instrumental in educating some young kids to be able to use the internet to earn a living so they don’t have to be separated from their family.  Technology has made us closer and the Filipino talents have gained a lot of attention in the internet world already.

God has allowed me to have something that not a lot of people might have – a gift of technical knowledge that’s almost second nature to me.

I know I have already lost yesterday.  I don’t know what my tomorrow is.  All I know is that I have the time that He has given me now.   It’s now time to get out of the backoffice and be on the front line.

He had already given me the vision of the purpose.  The time has come to give meaning to that purpose.   Reach and serve.

Seeking The Balance

It’s been a while since I wrote on this blog. A lot of things had happened since and soon enough it’ll be fall.

I chance upon the article of Sir Richard Branson on Entrepreneur’s website, Finding the Right Balance in Business.  Honestly, I did not believe he operated that way.  Knowing how he set family life as consideration on how he operate his business is truly remarkable.

I could say I have succeeded with family life to some degree.  I am still working out or ironing out certain kinks with my son but to a greater extent, I would say I have a good family relationship.

My daughter is in her 2nd year with her nursing study and is on her way to a promising career after school.

Where I feel I failed is in my business accomplishments.  Well, not totally fail but I just think I have not achieved what I want to achieve in terms of business success.

For someone to have the gift of technology know how, creativity, and visionary functions, it’s a sure hit or a guaranty to success.  But I sure have a hard time to give myself a lift from my status right now.

Like Sir Richard, I operated my business and I’m proud to say that I’m a work at home Dad.  It’s challenging but at the same time, I was able to devote certain aspects of my time to tend to my children’s activities and school functions.  Not to mention an errand boy for my wife.

So what’s been missing?  What is the ingredient that I missed on the recipe to success?  Am I just simply lazy and in front of the computer seemingly all day?  Jumping around like a ball with no particular directions?

For someone who’s been claiming spiritually balanced, I have left out God in my equation.

I would not list down what I have NOT been doing but it boiled down to that simple statement.  I operated on my own and left Him out.

Almost three years ago, He gave me a purpose when I asked Him exactly what He wants me to do.  He gave me two simple action words, Reach and Serve.

You see, when you asked God a question, and He gave you an answer, that’s a good thing, right?  Certainly not everyone have that kind of experience.

But as I work on to that answer, I realized it was a huge responsibility.  And I was not ready for it.  It’s a serious undertaking for someone who just want to give and provide comfort to his family.  And although I took it in heart, I did not really put that words into actions.  And I drifted afar.

I told myself, someday I will.

Until about a couple of days ago, I was again reminded of that action words.

I took a step back and reflect on where I went during this past 3 years and the seemingly depressing direction my career have pummeled to.  I realized that I have been stronger than before but I have missed out on taking Him with me on the journey.

I am writing this so that maybe it could be a reminder for someone who is on the same wave that I am right now.  You’re probably still drifting.  Find a way to get yourself anchored back.  I don’t know how you do it but knowing Him and His resources, you’ll eventually find it.

Mathematically, S=R/t.  Translated, success is achieving the defined result over a period of time.

Spiritually, S=(p)/l.  Success is the summation of the purpose achieved over a period of lifetime.

In our finite minds, we seem to seek an ultimate purpose in life.  However, our purpose is never monolithic and it requires interacting with other people’s purpose for the accomplishment of God’s glory.  It’s not atomic, but it’s almost like fiber that intertwines to form a thread.

He has given me a refresh, a core to put my energy on, and a new direction.  I don’t know where it is going to take me from here, but I sure am fired up with the new dimension of the purpose that He has made me to reflect upon.

With love as it’s foundation, the balance starts with us.  It must align with God.  And be assured that by that alignment,  the balance you seek will be achieved with your family and your service.

What If?

Happy Chinese New Year to all who’s celebrating Chinese new year all over the world.

Friday evening I was awaken by my wife to learn that my father is in critical condition in the hospital. I took a chance of calling his private nurse to get his state but I couldn’t connect. Early Saturday morning, I learned that he had passed away.

My dad died from pneumonia and had lived 87 years old, a day before Chinese new year.

I was thankful to God for being able to see him last year while vacationing with my family in the Philippines and I will treasure those moments till the day I die. He was weakened by joint pains and was aided by a walker as he could hardly walk. But he still has a clear sense of everything.

Migrating from China before the second world war, he would tell me stories how he lived a very hard life in his adolescent years. He would hold up his tears as he recount how he was treated when he would take more portions for his meal. That incident have carved out a niche in his self esteem. He recounts memories of the spoils of war during the Japanese invasion in the Philippines and how scared everyone was.

He eventually was able to start a small hardware store partnering with a couple of his friends. I started helping in the stores at an early age of 10. I would bring him snacks my mom prepared for him and will stay there. I would stay the whole Saturday. As a kid, I don’t have any kids to play with in my neighborhood, and the store had provided a way for me to be around people.

I eventually honed my technical skills and learned much about construction. Some folks say I should have studied as a civil engineer instead of a chemical engineer as I know a lot about construction.

After 33 years, my dad and his partners have parted ways amid some nasty accusations and other things. We eventually build up a new store close to the old one. Until I left for the Middle East and eventually the States, my sister and I poured out all sweat to build it up.

My dad knew my skills and he let me pursued whatever it is that I have in my heart. He does not approve of me working for other people as he wants me to be in business but his hands are tied. He had to let me grow as a man and explore.

As most pre-baby boomers, most people during that time had very little education. However, he managed to learn and read little English enough to get him to sell merchandises to customers.

If there is any calm demeanor that I may posses, I would credit that to my father. If there is a legacy that I have received from my father, it was how he taught me how to use the proper words to express one’s mind and feelings without necessarily offending anyone as a result. He was always diplomatic.

I have a family of my own now, and sometimes I think if migrating to the States was a wise decision on my part. I could not help but think how it would have turned out if I had just stayed in the Philippines.

For some distinct moments, I questioned myself. Would it made a difference for my own family? I could have probably stayed and spent time with him more. Maybe my wife would not be away from her family as well. I have probably carved out an emptiness in her heart more so to her family. May be I was selfish?

I believe I have made some significant strides in my life in the States. God had taken me to a deeper relationship with Him along the way and had allowed me to be of service to people I meet in business and in life. God is taking me on another phase of life right now in rebuilding myself. I may not even carry his name with me, but God have given me a gift from him, my father’s blood.

I could not resist questioning myself on my actions.

What if?

2010: The First Week

If it’s any indication of the year ahead, the first week of the year has been quite interesting.

Last Wednesday, my son had experienced a lockdown at their school. Apparently, a junior student brought 2 guns, one was loaded and was left at the locker. An assistant principal saw the student a little bit ‘disturbed’. A canine check with a private security have confirmed an existence of gun.

I was able to check out and read some of the kid’s discussion on a web article that was posted about the incident. Of course, everyone has there say on the incident but bottom line, gun does not belong in school.

It’s now at the hand of the police but what about the kid. Obviously, with the economic situation most people are in right now, there’s a lot of quality time between families that are compromised as well.

I’ve always have this discussion with my son. There’s a lot of psychological noises going around our children’s lives nowadays that most parents are almost helpless on how to deal with it. I don’t blame it on the game consoles but if you have a chance to check on the video games, count the numbers of those that have violence as the central theme.

Reality vs. Virtual Reality.

I think the constant playing these war games trains the minds that it is almost not able to distinguish real and virtual. Computers and technology have gone a long way from their Jurassic predecessors and the rate of tech changes demanding a shift every 2 – 2.5 years.

I’m no expert and it is just my opinion. But I believe parents have a good deal of responsibility in all of these. I know it’s not easy and I know. I have a teenage son too.

The family is the core of our society and it is always under attack. Let’s put back God in the center of our family lives.

On This Day…

I thank God
For sending me a partner
In life that brought colors
To an empty canvas at that time!

I remember that day
When I first met her
With grace she moved
And flashed a smile that melt my heart

I knew her heart
Is with someone else
I had to take my chance
And patiently wait

We part our ways but
Soon fate took over and
The angels set the stage
For our heart to be together

We became one
And God blessed us
With two wonderful children
That became living treasures of our hearts

God have a funny way
Of bringing together
Two people of extremes
To meet with Him in the center of life

Our journey was not
Without challenges
But has made our love
For each other, stronger than ever

We’ll tread this path together
With God as our Light and Counsel
My heart belongs to you
Then, now, till heavens with Him!

Melita, I Love You
Happy Anniversary!

Happy Thanksgiving To All!

Leaves falling to the ground.  Chilly breeze brushing your cheek in the morning.  Maple trees with leaves crumbling to its colorful orange hues.

It’s that time of the year again in the US when we celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

It’s that day when we gather together as family or with friends in thankful celebration.  Although this year has been a great challenge to most people here and around the world, I believe there is much that we can be thankful for.

I am thankful for the great time that I had this year with my trip back to the Philippines after around 10 years of absence.  I had the chance to see my mom and dad, and my sister.  My in-laws, niece, nephew, old and new friends that I have gained.  It has filled up a void in me that I have not realized I have.

This year has been an eye opener for me and I believe a constructive one.  Pretty much the Good Lord have a way of using November as a critical period of my life.  Many revelations and visions came about during this time of the year during the course of my life.

I am thankful for the Good Lord for giving me a loving wife and wonderful children.  With no relatives here, He gave us a good support with our church family, and friends that became my guide through the early times when I migrated here in the States.

He gave me the trials to shape me up, challenges that I would have given up if not for the faith that grounded me.  The days ahead seems gloomy for most people with the insecurities that the financial crisis have created.  But I look ahead to the bright morning sky, the heartbeat that tells me I am still alive, and the vision He gave me to look forward to.

I am thankful for …

  • my wife, still not able to drive because that means I will have the chance to have some quiet time with her on her way to work
  • my daughter, for her new car because the family have a new driver
  • my son, with the mess that he makes in his room because it tells me he’s being ‘creative’
  • my family – my mom and dad, for allowing me to be who I am, exploring and discovering
  • my sister – because I don’t have no one else
  • my friends – because they make my life colorful
  • my clients, who are still trying to figure out when to single click and double click a mouse.
What are you thankful for?
Happy Thanksgiving!

Remembering Archie Paris, A Church Friend

About a week ago, our media team at church lost a dear wonderful friend, Archie, from heart attack.

We went to see him at the hospital 2 Sundays ago and he was at coma.  I don’t know about most of you, but going through ICU with all those device is not exactly a welcomed sight to see.  Somehow, I want to hope to get him back.  I remember talking to him and urging him to come back.  My wife and I prayed to God for His will on his life.

We left him after his sister came by to check on him.  Last Tuesday, Arthur gave me a cell call and told me that he’s at code blue stage.  Couple of minutes later, he was gone.

Archie is at what most of us would call mid life.  He’s 39 years old and left behind a family of three.  Archie served in the media ministry with the video team.  He’s one of the camera crew.  His family served the church.  Josh, his son, with the projection during worship and Queenie, his wife, at the worship team.

The first time I met Archie was after church service.  Queenie introduced me to him as he wanted to help out in the video ministry.  His demeanor struck me as qualities you would strive to look from anyone who want to work in a church ministry.  A committed, will do, servant attitude.

He want to learn whatever he can in the video ministry.  We don’t have much actually as far as video facilities but to him, it meant that he is one of the forefront in serving God.  I remember clearly how we talked about sharing God’s gifts and offering it back to Him by serving Him.

I have my regrets on not being able to deliver certain goals we want to achieve as far as the video ministry is concerned.  We talked about producing DVDs, and uploading worship footage to video sites, etc.  I felt bad for not being able to let him see the outcome of his vision.

This took me to a realization upon deep contemplation.  There are gifts that God gave us to serve other people – Christians or not.  Our life mesh with other person’s life.  The life that we have at this moment reflects but a minute instance of God’s overall purpose.  However, with the capabilities that He have empowered us, how are we doing with the stewardship of that talent.  Talent that should be used to serve His children.

If there’s anything that is common to all of us that we have right now that God has given us, it is time.  A simple but complex attribute of life that is at most, taken for granted.

Life, mathematically, is nothing but a quantitative amount of time between birth and death.

The true meaning of life extends that to a complex interaction of time between each other.  No matter what we do, our time affects another person’s time, one way or the other.

I don’t mean to confuse but rather to emphasize a simple point.  Our life is dictated by time.

How we take care of that is up to us.  The life that we have is a miracle, a gift from God.

We will never have the knowledge of when our life would be punctuated, as in a sentence.  But how are we taking care of that ability to use time?

Do we plan to serve someone or God at a later time?  Do we plan to forgive later?  Does the time that we ‘spend’ give meaning to our life?

I could go on, and on, and on with this kind of questioning.

Bottom line – the time that we have in our earthly life, we have no control.  But the things that we can do with that time, we have some control.

I don’t mean to over extend that control but rather to enjoy each moment that we have, to do what we must for God’s glory, to serve Him, for the peace of our mind, heart, and soul.

When was the last time you said ‘I love you’ to your loved ones – parents, children, spouse, etc.  Have you forgiven someone who has give you pain or hurt?

Love and forgiveness are just two of the simple things that anyone can give that will bring you peace.  Which God has willingly given and shown to us by Christ death on the cross.

All things come together in God’s time, but what have you been doing with the time that He’s given you?

A Rendezvouz With Good Friends And The Trip To Tagaytay

The past few days have been almost surreal to me.

Saturday morning, Margie and Gerald Lu picked us up for a rendezvous with Ramon and Juvy Gabaldon at the Mall of Asia.  The Lu’s were my wife’s college buddies from way back and happened to get to be good friends with them as they come to visit Gerald’s brother in the States every now and then.  Ramon and I happened to be high school classmates since 1st year high school and has been good friends ever since.  Juvy is also my wife’s high school buddy and has been a very close friend.  Melita, my wife, was instrumental in getting Ramon and Juvy together as partners in life.  Juvy and Ramon is also my Sasha’s godparents.

We went to Mall of Asia, a huge mall in a massive 410,000 sq. m located in Pasay City in Manila and is owned by the SM Holdings.  The last time that I was in the Philippines, they were just prepping up the development and reclaiming some lands.

We had breakfast with the Lu’s and Juvy until Ramon finally caught up with us after a morning meeting.  It’s been a while back since I had seen the Gabaldons and quite refreshing to had the chance to catch up and just plain talk about good times and what’s been happening with friends in Manila.

Afternoon, Ate Ruby had Mama and my three nieces picked up from our place in Paco to join us for a trip to Tagaytay.

For those who are not familiar with Tagaytay City in the Philippines, Tagaytay City is around 35 miles away from Manila with a temperate climate because of its high elevation and provides a good vantage view of Taal Volcano, one of Philippines dormant volcanoes.  Taal Volcano is actually surrounded by a picturesque lake and has been quite a popular tourist destination because of the popular claims of the lake’s healing power.

We went to  Canyon Woods, a residential resort in Tagaytay.  It is a resort subdivision with amenities that one normally gets with typical resort membership club or country clubs.  It incorporates lodging facilities in what they call casitas.  It also includes a 9 hole golf course.

After dinner, my wife and the kids went to play bowling while I called it a night.