How Do You Keep the Music Playing



For many years I have owned and managed many blog sites for myself and you can guess that the previous ones did not work out and stay long, hence this blog site. 

In the past weeks I have revisited those blog sites I left. Doing so brought back so many memories and emotions. Some of the articles there made me shiver, some made me laugh and some made me teary-eyed. Moreover, I realized that I have a variety of writing style and techniques and the different tones of my writing only proves that I have a very erratic personality. 



So after the painstaking review of my previous blogs, I have decided to permanently delete them. But before that, let me share with you some of the entries I hold on to so dearly. 

This first article I am reposting is one I have written way back September 14, 2010. It talks about love and relationship and how do we stay with it despite the odds and stumbling blocks we encounter along the way. I used my own experiences in having relationship as a peg and here’s what I have to say:
***
It was I think in my first year in high school when I first encountered that song from James Ingram and Patti Austin and right then and there my heart got captured by its essence. How do you keep the music playing? How do you make it last? How do you keep the song from fading too fast? Those are the questions the song asks and I knew, it is not literally about music but it is about love.
Unlike many people at the age of eleven, by that time I was already too romantically involved and by that I mean I was already very serious when it comes to love and relationship. It was then I first fell in love. It was then I first knew that love has an ugly face hidden behind the curtains of romance.
After my first major heartbreak with my first girlfriend, I thought love can never really last. That love was just a fleeting moment of elation in the company of another person. Since then I learned the art of letting go. I mastered how to welcome relationships warmly and end them without being hurt. I was convinced that I could never handle a relationship longer than 365 days.
I met a girl named Kenette sometime in 2005. She was a transferee to the university I was attending then. She was simple, not astoundingly beautiful but charming, conversant but no signs of superior intelligence. She was polite and kind to me. I found her sweet and fun to be with. Hence, we became friends. After 3 years, without any intention at all, she became my girlfriend. I got her pregnant. And now, we are on our third year as lovers and as parents to our cute little boy.
I was amazed at how we were able to keep the relationship stable despite the numerous challenges we encountered and despite the fact that we are far away from each other. I found myself wrong. Now I know that love can last forever.

So here’s how we kept the music playing:

1. Respect each other’s differences- Do not expect your partner to think and feel the same way that you do on the issues and decisions that you will face. Acknowledge that his/her opinion or ways may be different from yours. Respecting each other is not about letting each other be different all the time. It is about arriving at a common point where you will agree to each other.
2. Learn to give in- A common point is not at all times achievable. When this happens, try to give up some pride and give way to your partner’s whim or standpoint. Learn to give up an argument and always give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Try to think “What if he/she is right this time?”
However, when either of you find out that the path you took was repercussive or wrong, avoid saying “See? I was Right!” or “I told you so!” for these words are as dangerous as a ballistic missile. Instead, find a way to credit the effort and praise the judgment and then try to nicely pitch in a different option.
3. Be a friend- A major pitfall for most relationships is that they divorce from the idea of friendship. That is why sometimes, couples break up and say “We are better off as friends”. For me and my partner, we stick to the relationship because we are friends once and for all. Friends know how to forgive, how to give support, how to listen, how to console, how to be strong when the other is weak. As friends you share frustrations, success, failures, excitements and problems. You have to trust each other to accept you and whatever happens to you and whatever things or circumstances you encounter. Friendship is the foundation of every relationship and that is why couples should always treat each other as best friends.
4. Keep secrets and lies at the minimum- No relationship is free of lies and secrets. Both of them are inevitable ingredients of a relationship as they have their own benefits as well. However, never make secrets and lies the fuel to your relationship. Do your best to be truthful at all times and be critically selective on the things you want to keep as a secret or to lie about. There can never be a hard and fast rule on this. Just be cautious.
5. Be creative- Relationships while they last long can be very boring. The last thing that you want to happen to your relationship is for it to be an aerobics routine- predictable. Always find ways to throw in a surprise- be it a note in his/her bag, a flower or a gift you place in the bathroom, a surprise party, a kiss when he/she least expects it or even an extraordinary sex position. The important thing is you remain to make each other figure out one another. However, you have to make sure that your surprise is not at all exasperating. Always know how to choose time and place. A cyclic living in a relationship creates an impetus for your partner to seek for adventure in the company of others.
6. Stop acting like a prison warden- Do not hold your partner in the neck. He/she might choke and would want to let go. Afford him/her the liberty to do things that would make him/her happy. Remember, that a relationship does not give a person the license to create a separate world for both of you. You still have friends and you still belong to a larger society with many people, things and events. Allow each other to go out alone or with friends.
Keeping a relationship is not at all easy. There are a lot of tips out there that could keep your music playing and it all works on the overarching principle of being cognizant of the value of love.
Kenette did not possess the qualities I was looking in a woman. She was not the ideal partner for me. She was not what I wanted but she definitely was the woman I needed and loved.
If a relationship passes by the rough road, you shall not disembark the carriage. Stick with each other and just believe there is a smoother road ahead. And that is how you keep the music playing!
***
I reposted this entry because I have proven myself after more than three years since I wrote this, that our way of keeping the relationship works. By the way, Kenette is no longer my girlfriend. She is now my wife. Yes, we got married and now have another kid named Sophia. 

Cheers everyone! 

Because 2013 is extra special




In less than 24 hours the world will open yet another chapter of its existence and we will all celebrate the year that was and the year that will be. In less than 24 hours, social media outlets will be flooded with greetings, memes, posts and updates about 2013 and 2014. 

Party. Fireworks. Food. Booze. Laughter. 

Sadly, the turning of the new year will never end all sad things. Some people somewhere will still be desolate, homeless, famished and poor. But that is the reality we all have lived in ever since.

Anyway…


So here I am, awake at past two in the morning writing as if this is mandatory. The plan is to come up with something commemorative of 2013 and share my vision of my 2014. For many years, I had the same plan. For many years, I ended up with nothing. 

But this time I feel that I have to produce an output. No, this is not mandatory but 2013 has been really special.
***

THE HIGHLIGHTS


I got married in 2013. Finally! After 5 years of enduring rough patches, we have proven that love could conquer the challenges of a long distance affair and two children. I now have a different civil status and hence bigger moral and legal accountabilities. I have finally given up myself.
I got a promotion in 2013. What is special about it is the fact that I did not ask for it nor expect it to begin with. It just came. I am so thankful for those who recognized the love, hardwork, dedication and passion that I have poured in the work that I do. 
I experienced a lot of new things in 2013. I rode a helicopter and a private jet. Be in the middle of firefighting. Travel in many places in one day. Distribute relief goods to internally displaced persons. Been in the halls of Congress and the Palace.
And so much more.
But what I am most thankful about 2013 is the fact that my heart has been beaming with so much happiness despite the imperfections. I am happy that I complain less. I am happy that I became more optimistic. I think this is what they call contentment. 
For all these things I have nothing but gratitude.

THANK YOU
I thank my family and relatives for being so understanding and for putting up with all the flaws that I have and for sticking with each other even if it becomes painful sometimes.
I thank my wife for being the fountain of my happiness, for being my inspiration, for being my confidante, for hearing me out, for the respect and most of all the love. Thank you for carrying me all these years that we were together despite the gargantuan weight I have placed over your shoulders. Thank you for not bending down and for not letting me go. I admire and will forever be grateful of the fact that you continue to let go of many things for your self so that I would not have to let go of mine.
I thank my kids for pushing me to be better and for showing me reverence. Thank you for taking away all the sadness and stress just by letting me hear your voices and see your smiles. Thank you for that touch that heals every part of my heart that starts to get torn by loneliness. Thank you for bringing me brilliant ideas from your pristine and innocent minds. And thank you for making your mom happy.
I thank my colleagues in ARMM for accepting me as part of the struggle. Thank you for sharing me your colors, your music, your art, your culture which is beyond magical. Thank you for inspiring me to be better at what I do and to appreciate the things that I have. Thank you for making me understand what peace is all about, what true understanding is all about. For believing in me. For trusting me.

I thank all my friends for being not only my friends but my family as well. Thank you for picking me up when I almost had nothing, for not turning your backs on me and for seeing through the so pretentious exterior. Thank you for bringing many of the precious moments in my life. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for the appreciation even though sometimes I did not deserve them. For listening. For believing. For caring. For sharing. 
And most of all, I thank God for giving me all of the above, for the mercy and the grace. Thank you Lord for despite my undeservingness you have allowed me to enjoy so many things. Thank you for redirecting my heart whenever it goes astray. Thank you for sheltering me in those moments when I feel so stripped of everything. Thank you for the moments you have shared with me in the dark and lonely corners and for listening to my cries and helpless mumbles. For answering me in miraculous ways. For teaching me. For making me.
I apologize if in a way or another I have harmed a heart or a soul. It was never my intention. I am human and I am frail and sometimes I do not know what I am doing. I am sorry and thank you!

PRAYERS

As I have said, my heart is contented. I could live with the things and the people that I have right now. But I know the Lord will not limit my experience here on earth with just that. Personally, I still have dreams and wishes for myself. I am young and if God wills, I want to venture into many things.

And so for the years to come I pray…

…for a strong, happy and contented heart. I need it because I know that more and more difficult situations will come along and that my faith will continue to be tested.

…for good health for everyone. May we all be kicking and full of energy when 2014 will pour us all the good things that we are supposed to enjoy.

…for a stronger family.

…that everything’s going to be well at work. May I be able to improve myself in the things that I do and may I be able to contribute more for the goals and aspirations we have as a team.

…for more friends to come and for the old ones to stay.

…that this year I could finally build my own house, start my own business, buy my dream DSLR and travel with my wife and kids.

…that I will be able to continue and finish a masters degree.

…that I will have the time to read more, write more, play more and get fit.

…that I will be able to continue training debaters from my almamater and for us to finally realize the dreams we have for the organization.

…for more opportunities to help others.

…for more.

…for everyone to experience joy and happiness.

…for peace.

…for life.

Happy new year everyone!

WHEN DOWN IS UP AND UP IS DOWN


It used to be that tourists and even locals appreciate the verdant leaves and the cool shade from the tall trees surrounding the park and the municipal hall of Tolosa. It used to be that children play here, women do maniped while sharing funny gossips here and men play checkers and argue about things here.

It used to be. Because now the glee of the place is covered by the gloom of the skies and the sad aura of the rubble that covered the ground. Today it became a battlefield- one without guns and bombs, but a battlefield because they are without food, potable water and proper shelter. People here are fighting a war Yolanda brought upon them about two weeks ago. People here are soldiers without clothes whose only weapon is their faith in God and in humanity.

Tolosa, Leyte is a small town south of Tacloban City- the place now popular in local and international news outlets because of the massive destruction it acquired due to the super typhoon. And while the media is engrossed in the story that Tacloban brings and while aid from in and out of the country abound there, Tolosa remains one of those whose people desperately wave at passing helicopters for help.

Like Tacloban, everyone in Tolosa were not spared. Including their town officials. Including their town hall and basic-service facilities. It’s a mess in Tolosa too. Paralyzed. Stunned. Depressed.

But as Filipinos all over the world are organizing to help Visayas rise from the pit of mud where it stumbled upon flat-face, the people of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao did not remain silent and immobile. They saw Tolosa.
At the same date that Yolanda made landfall, the ARMM Capitol in Cotabato City was in its festive mood. Trucks were decorated lavish and flamboyant. There were so many colors. The gongs were sounded. The moros were happy. Why not? It’s the 24th year since it was created. And because finally they are seeing light shining from the current ARMM administration, they plan to pursue a commemoration (which will take place a month long) like never before- one that will roar of pride and of joy.
Shortly after the opening feast has mellowed down and as Yolanda went further away, people of ARMM learned- so with the rest of the world- that Visayas is crushed and is in need of help. They were all told about the tragic story. Sadness.
ARMM executives held a meeting and it was so decided that the celebration has to be toned down. “Cut the budget for the feast, make the celebration as simple as possible, realign the budget and spend it to help Visayas instead”. So ordered. And it was so.

The Humanitarian Emergency Action Response Team or HEART, relief and disaster response wing of ARMM went full force and gathered all resources together. The region’s health department contacted its national office and informed that ARMM wants to send a mission to the Visayas and they were informed of Tolosa, Leyte and the help that it needed- or needs. Eventually, ARMM sent its first batch of relief team to Tolosa composed of the members of the Bureau of Fire Protection to help rescue what and who needed to be rescued and to clear what needed to be cleared. Thereafter the medical team followed. Muslim doctors and medical experts from the region drove from South Central Mindanao to Tolosa. With them were medicines and other medical supplies. And finally, five huge trucks containing food and non-food items were sent. ARMM helps Visayas. ARMM helps Tolosa.

And this is interesting because…
It used to be that ARMM was the one needing much help from the government. It was so poor and was so marred by corruption issues plus wars that killed so many. It used to be that ARMM was a place where the best of the worst news would come from. No one wants to go to any ARMM provinces or cities. Most if not all, look down on the region, raise eyebrows and say yuck!
It used to be. Today, down is up and up is down. The tables have turned.
So what does this story tell us? Two things:
First, that life is indeed a wheel of fortune. Sometimes you are up there, so strong and seemingly infallible and indestructible. Sometimes you are down there creeping like a snail trying to avoid footsteps that may kill.
Second, that ARMM’s color is not red but green. Not of bloodshed from wars but of helping hands that sparks hope like the green leaves sprouting from trees dancing from the wind that blows in a silent rush. Not of hate but of love.
When the ARMM Regional Governor visited Tolosa in the eight day of its Solidarity Mission, the town mayor was most of the time teary-eyed. And you will notice that at the end of his sentences he cannot help but say words of gratitude.

I am not sure. But I think in the mayor’s mind and heart and that of his people, were the same thoughts and feelings as I had when I knew how to love our moro brothers and sisters. We are wrong. How could we have thought they were just a bunch of war-freak or angry or disorganized people? We are so wrong.

This is not a story of Yolanda and the havoc it brought. This is a story of brotherhood, of solidarity, of peace, of love and of rising from the ashes.
This is a story of Tolosa and ARMM and the lofty example it brings when down is up and up is down.

iOS seven



Yesterday many iPhone owners were raving about the new operating system for the phone that has defined so many lives and even the way smart phone makers craft their products. The iOS 7 was made available for installing in iPhones (4s and up), iPad Minis and iPads.

When I learned that it’s ready I immediately started installing mine. It took me quite a long time to finish– about 7 hours! Blame it on the bad internet connection in the Hotel where I was.

THE APPREHENSION

Since iOS 7 was introduced months back, many techno geeks and phone experts say that the new iOS seems to be losing its luster. Some say it’s not as creative and innovative as it has been during the time Steve Jobs was still alive. Others would say that it would make ones iPhone or iPad just like an Android gadget.
I even saw some friends who already updated theirs to iOS 7 saying that it was bad and they regretted switching from the old one. (And I was like, OMG!!!) I thought twice and even considered canceling the download, but then I thought, if it won’t work this time, for sure, Apple would make some developments and fixes.

OBSERVATIONS

After the long wait, finally it was installed and below are my comments:

1. There were many changes ti the point that I lost my calm looking for some things which were usually there using the previous iOS. But a friend told me, if I did not experience that, it means, the changes were not at all substantial. And so I went to my lappie and googled some guides for the new iOS.
2. Sure it looks like an Android platform— if you just look at it! But when you start swiping and doing some stuff, the iPhone feel is still there. The quickness and seamlessness of the response is still the same.
3. It is way too colorful for me.
4. The way they redesigned the icons looks so much like an Android. I would still prefer the classic and solid look of the past iOS. Today, my iPhone is so chic.
5. I like the new tones.
6. I like the new Spotlight Search. Now it can be pulled anywhere in the home screen. Unlike before, you need to swipe to the furthest left. Although, this is one of those things I had a difficult time figuring out.
7. I like the control center. Most things I frequently use are there already.
8. The multitask functionality is way better right now such that you are able to see a preview of the page you are working on. Previously, you only see the icons and you would have to press the icon for sometime before it will dance and be ready for clearing. Today, you only need to swipe the preview up and it’s deleted from its partial memory.
9. Call blocking feature is a wish granted!
10. I lament that the Calendar is not the same as it was. It’s difficult for me to move from dates to dates and see what are the events and schedules that I have.
11. I like how Notification Center though includes your activities for the day. But only for the day… :(
12. Camera filters are awesome!

So far these are the things I can comment about the the new iOS. Please note that the comments above are not comparative to any other smart phones out there. They are based on my personal preferences and how I view the iOS 6 and 7.

I do experience some lag or intermittent freeze. They said it is because iOS7 works optimally for iPhone5 and up. So now I wait for the iPhone 5s to be released in the Philippines so that I can experience iOS 7 at its best.

Overall, I still love the iPhone with the new iOS. Works for me!

Smiles at a Time of War


They should have been in the comforts of their home or outside in the grounds experiencing the warmth of the morning sun. But they’re inside a dilapidated building, seeking temporary shelter as theirs were burnt to the grounds by fire because of a war that sprung between government troops and rebels.
Eleven days and counting. Hundreds lives lost. Thousands wounded. Hundreds of thousands displaced. The colors of Zamboanga defined by its exquisite flowers and sailing vintas are now replaced with gloom from dark clouds of smoke covering the skies and the screams of turrets and guns and bombs.
The evacuees in different areas are running short of food and clothing. Some of them are getting sick. Some fear the night for the coldness that it might bring. They have no blankets, no mats, no mosquito nets. Nevertheless, they remain hopeful, they remain calm, they remain trusting to Allah.
But despite and inspite of everything- the fear, the uncertainty- they, whose innocence are now scarred by war and conflict, remain to be carefree and calm. The smiles of these children in Talon Talon, Zamboanga remind us that no matter how rough life could get, we should not lose hope and love as long as we are alive.


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