ang tuluyan ang paalam

galing ako sa burol, kamakailan, jan.15, 2016, burol ng tatay ng isang kaibigan, si rene, sa st.peter’s sa quezon avenue.  may kasabay na burol ito, may kalayuan, sa marikina, burol naman ng pinakamatandang kapatid ng isa pang kaibigan, si bekha.

di-gasinong malapit sa kin ang mga yumao’t sumakabilang-buhay.  ang iniwan ang malapit ang kaugnayan sa kin.

kamakailan, dec.19, 2015, nasa ika-40 araw ako ng pagyao ng isang malapit na kaibigan at kaklase noong high school.  hindi ako nakarating sa burol, libing, o pasiyam; kayat pinilit kong makarating sa ika-40 araw nya.  apat sa mga kaklase ko noong high school na kapuwa malalapit sa kin, ang sumakabilang-buhay na — si mel, si owen, si dodie, at ang kamakailan, si jim.

hindi malaon, ako na ang ibuburol.  hindi man ito kapana-panabik na abangan — ang totoo ang kamatayan ang mananaig.  hindi rin kapana-panabik isipin kung ano ang bagay na ikamamatay ko — ang tiyak ang katawan ang susuko.

susuko sa panghihina ng gulang o edad.  susuko sa pananalasa ng sakit o karamdaman.  susuko sa di-kanais-nais na calamidad o akisdente.  hind ko nililinlang ang sarili ko at talos ng pag-iisip at kalooban ko na ang yumayao ang buhay ang iiwan.

masakit ang maiwanan.  masakit ang maiwanan ng tatay o nanay, tulad ng kaibigan kong naka-burol ang tatay.  masakit ang maiwanan ng kapatid, tulad ng kaibigan kong naka-burol ang kapatid.  masakit maiwanan ng kabiyak sa buhay, tulad ng maybahay ng kaklase kong ang ika-40 araw ang napuntahan ko.  masakit ang maiwanan ng kaibigan.  ang pamamanglaw ang dumadalaw ang pait sa pusong nilisan o iniwan.  ang pait nito ay walang lunas; at ang pait ang kapahayagan ang luha.

luhang pigil sa pag-agos; luhang pina-aagos ng walang pigil.  kaloobang tanggap ang pagpanaw; kaloobang di-tanggap ang pagpanaw.  pusong panatag; pusong hinayang.  ang buhay ang dulot ang aliw sa pighati’t namamanglaw.

ang punawaw ang tuluyan ang paalam.



“ikaw mag-lead ng tagalog service,” i told mark as he sat atop the pile of folded-down tables in the corner of the function hall where our church met.

“opo, kuya,” he answered, “kayo po magpi-preach?”

“hindi… ikaw.”

“ano po?”  mark was visibly taken aback.  “ako po magli-lead, kayo po mag-preach.”

“hindi,” i said, “ikaw mag-preach.  andun ako, makikinig lang.”

“ha?  eh… sige po.”

“training mo yan, wala nyan sa GMA,” i said.  “o, may ten minutes ka pa para mag-prepare.”

+  +  +

“pasensya na po,” mark was saying as he began; “pasensya na po,” he kept saying to his hearers, eight in all.

then he opened his mouth to declare God’s word.

the change in his demeanour was evident.

i cringe whenever a preacher apologizes to his audience about his feeling of inadequacy and unfitness; and mark made me feel that way when he sheepishly apologized to his audience.  but when he started to open God’s word, when he started to preach, he was full of confidence, bold and unafraid; addressing us “in earnest tones and grave, remembering we were the sinners whom jesus came to save.”  he sounded as though he was pleading — he was!

this (i thought) is a good sign that this young man had a gift to preach.

+ + +

obviously, i didn’t expect everything to be perfect and without fault in mark’s impromptu preaching.  there were a couple of things he could improve on.

first, i expected mark to have chosen an evangelistic topic or passage; since the tagalog service is an evangelistic service.  an inexperienced preacher, under the harrowing pressure of being tapped to preach impromptu, obviously falls back to what is familiar to him.  as preachers, evangelistic passages must be our fall back — our hearts and minds must be most familiar with the gospel message.  but mark chose to preach on james 1.19, 20, “my brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak…”

the redeeming thing was this: because it was impromptu, mark’s preaching was not too organized to follow his passage in an expository way along a straight line; he was preaching forgiveness of sins, and the need for God’s grace at all times, here and there in his message.  this (to me) reveals the burden of his heart — to preach the gospel.

secondly, because it is a tagalog service, whose attenders are mainly yayas and non-english speaking folk; the medium of preaching is or ought to be tagalog.  but mark obviously couldn’t help but speak a lot of phrases and expressions in english; totally oblivious.  he must learn to avoid that.

lastly, mark must learn to cite scriptures.  the consciences of our hearers can be bound by nothing less than the truth of God in scriptures.  a preacher must customarily let his hearers open their bibles and turn to texts or passages cited or alluded to; because this is only where faith can hold anchor.  mark didn’t cite scripture (i don’t recall any) in his entire 20-minute message.

at one point, i felt i needed to interject because one lady hearer asked him, “pano ba magalit at hindi magkasala?” when mark told them it ought to be so.  i had to clarify, “eh, hindi lang yun galing kay mark ha, nasa bibliya un,” and asked them to turn to eph.4.26 and explained briefly.

then mark slid back to his natural sheepish, apologizing self.

full of mystery

“O father, glorify me together with yourself, with the glory i had with you before the world was,”  john 17.5.

before the world was.  what was before the world was?  no one can really tell.  none except him who was or who already existed then.

we cannot describe it as “a time” because time never existed then; as time began when the world began.

we can only describe it as existence, being, and life in the most absolute sense of the word; because it is thence that all other existence, being, and life derive.

sometimes i wonder — it amazes me — how a human being with an average mass of less than a hundred kilograms, and a brain with an average mass of a lot less — one kilogram — would attempt to fathom the indescribable abyss into that existence and being that was before the world was: eternity.

but God stoops down to accommodate his unfathomable existence and being to our frail and puny human minds by saying in one place through one of his prophets, “he inhabits eternity;” as if eternity were a distinct place of abode from his being and essence who inhabits it, “the high and lofty one, whose name is holy.”

that which was before the world was is made known to us as “the word,” john 1.1.  it is by no means the nature or essence of his existence and being, but how our minds are to accommodate the unfathomable truth.  as the word reveals and communicates, so it is through him (made known as a distinct person) that true and reliable knowledge of what is beyond the world before the world was is transmitted.

glory.  “the glory i had with you before the world was.”

the sun is the most glorious being the naked human eye can experience.  but light, and effulgence of light is what only makes the sun glorious.  apart from light and the effulgence of light the sun emits, it loses all glory.

“the bright blessed day” is illumined by the light of the glorious sun; “the dark sacred night,” by the sun’s moonlight reflection and the twinkling of innumerable distant suns.

light is glory.  glory is light.  God dwells in “unapproachable light.”

light reveals.  light dispels darkness.  light communicates heat.  light sustains life.  God’s knowledge is glorious.  God’s holiness is glorious.  God’s righteousness is glorious.  God’s grace is glorious.

i had with you.  “the glory i had with you before the world was.”

it is virtually impossible to conceive of a relationship without imagining two distinct persons involved.  it is excruciatingly difficult enough for the human mind to conceive of what was before the world was — eternity; it becomes exponentially so to conceive of a relationship involving two distinct persons in that unfathomable existence and being before the world was.

but what we need to know (saving knowledge;) the truth which has been accommodated to our infantile minds, is that, the relationship intimated is both an equality in essence and being, and a subordination in function and office.

“father-son” is a word-pair that intimates both ideas, viz, equality in essence and being (same glorious nature,) and subordination in function and office (different gracious operations.)  once again, the relationship depicted or illustrated does not describe the nature and essence of his existence and being; but what we need to know, ie, true and reliable revelation about what was before the world was.

the father-son relationship began when cain and abel were born to adam.  the analogy is an accommodation for our finite, infantile minds to understand what God had predetermined before the world was; when it all unfolded.  there was no father-son relationship before the world was, ie, in essence, nature, existence, and being — there was only one God in three distinct persons, full of glory, full of life, full of light, and full of mystery.

the lonely ember

a member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going.

after a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him.  it was a chilly evening.  the pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.

guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited.  the pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing.  in the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs.

after some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone.  then he sat back in his chair, still silent.  the host watched all this in quiet fascination.

as the one lone ember’s flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more.  soon it was cold and “dead as a doornail.”

not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.

just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire.  immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

as the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, “thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon.  i shall be back in church next sunday.”

by dr. john macArthur

it’s just another day

happy new year!!! 

that is how i and a million others worldwide greeted the end of 2015, and the beginning of 2016.

but it is only because we have held on to the notion that january 1 is the beginning of a new year.  we believe it to be so, and thus, we live as if it were really so.  but not everyone celebrates the new year on january 1.

we (those who celebrate the new year on january 1) do so because we have followed the gregorian calendar, ever since we could tell what day today or tomorrow is; so for us, january 1 marks the new year.

none of us (i haven’t heard of anyone locked up under the gregorian calendar system) have sought to change it — too difficult, almost impossible, and practically needless.  besides, we are reasonable men; and reasonable men seek to adapt to what happens around them; it is the unreasonable men who seek what happens around to adapt to them — so, we leave change to these unreasonable men.

but the chinese (an old culture) celebrate their new year on an entirely different day and by an entirely different method of reckoning.  they base their method on the cycles of the moon or lunar cycles.  in 2016, as of this posting, the chinese are still on the old year; their new year will come on february 8 according to their lunar calendar.   this marks their spring festival.

the jews (another old culture,) on the other hand, will celebrate their 2016 new year from sundown of october 2 to sundown of october 4 — still a long way off.  they call it the rosh hashanah, or the head of the year.

i am a reasonable man, and therefore stay locked up in the 16th century gregorian reckoning of days — and this is the new year, and the time for new year’s resolutions: conjuring up one now… lose weight.

it’s just another day!


ginger chicken


i learned from a friend based in singapore, philip cu, about the 5S of good cooking: saute, sweat, steam, stir, and serve; (as far as i can remember.)  i applied it to the ginger chicken recipe i just cooked; (although 5S is best for stir-fried quick-cooking recipes.)

unfortunately, i wasn’t able to immediately dig into this delicious concoction i prepared, because i (and my wife, jane) got invited for lunch to a town fiesta — the feast of james the apostle, in plaridel, bulacan.  an office mate of jane, carmi enriquez, saw me at the wet market buying fish at our suki, and immediately shouted out the invite to me.

“wag ka nang magluto,” she said, “sa amin na kayo mananghalian.”

“oo, sige,” i replied, “sasabihin ko kay jane.”

so, jane and i went, ergo, we missed lunch at home.

prepare 3/4 kilo serving-size chicken pieces.

saute.  saute crushed garlic, minced onions, and chopped ginger root; (flame with 2 tablespoons cooking wine;) add chicken.

2-3 tbsp cooking oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2 medium (or 1 large onion) peeled and minced

4 tablespoons ginger, peeled and chopped

sweat.  sweat out the chicken under low heat for 10-15 minutes; do not cover; (this brings out much of the water inside the chicken meat, and partially infuses the chicken meat with flavour.)

steam.  steam chicken with leeks for 10 minutes; cover the wok or saucepan; (this cooks and tenderizes the chicken meat and continues to infuse it with flavour.)

4-5 bulbs leeks, sliced diagonally

add 3-4 tbsp oil.

stir.  stir in the other flavour enhancers, eg., soy sauce and sugar, and let it all cook in oil under low heat, until chicken is well done.

2-3 tbsp soy sauce

1/3-1/2 cup washed or brown sugar

savour and serve.