Tuesday, April 9, 2013

UPRHS Batch 2000: Time for some kamote again...

It started as a rumor: the Old Rural Building is going to be demolished soon. For those who aren’t from Elbi, it’s the Math Building, that haunted-looking structure in front to St. Therese Chapel. Our batch spent the first three years of our high school life wreaking havoc in this building, and just when we were about to inherit the much-coveted lobby when we became Seniors (an age-old Ruralite tradition), we were shipped off to some far-flung bukid then known as The New site. Urgh.

So, just before Eli, one of our seaman friends and the self-appointed lider-lideran of our barkada even way back, goes off a-sailing, we decided to have a photo shoot in the old site. So after loading up with beer (for the guys), juice, dynamite (that uber-hot cheese-filled jalapeno treat), sisig and liempo at Eli’s new ihawan (Wheeler's Elbi Grill, De Castro Cmpd, Lopez Ave. Batong Malake, Los Banos, Laguna, plug plug!), we went to the Old Rural at 1 AM!

In the middle of mugging it for the camera at the lobby and debating how we can sneak inside the premises (the guys wanted pictures in MPH and the Ipil room, which is the first room to your left upon entering), the guard approached us to tell us the rumor isn’t true. An Elbi landmark such as the Old UPRHS building will NOT be torn down daw. Wooh. Great. But anyway, since we were there, we had pics taken in front of the flagpole too. Tristan, another promotor of this early-morning trip and my co-head in our the planned 15th year reunion, took some random pics of the 2nd-floor rooms (which used to be Mancono, Molave and Mahogany) in hopes of finding something supernatural turning up in the photos later on.

Me and Chrys at the flagpole we spent some time being tied onto and pelted with flour and soy sauce as part of a school fair's "revenge booth." Kami na ang suki. 

We were known as the Millenium batch, the first batch to graduate from the new site (although thank God we had our ceremonies at the D.L. Umali Hall). During our move the summer of 1999, we had to "igib" flushing water from outside and bring it to the toilets each room had (parang grade school lang, wala pang common restrooms). There was mud mixed with decomposing leaves and animal poop everywhere. 

The UPRHS New Site. Trust me, it didn't look this great back then. Wish I had a picture.

Our canteen was a makeshift mesa resembling a turo-turo and our lunchmates were flies the size of dragonflies. The MPG or gym was built in the middle of our year and as a going away present to the school, our guys' barkada made like construction men and built the volleyball court from scratch, their punishment for being caught with booze during the senior trip to Ilocos.We dreaded doing PT (Physical Training) during the Citizen Army Training drill days on Saturdays because the ground was rocky and sandy and filled with sharp, broken pieces of shell and bottles and of course, the obligatory cow dung. 

We were denied of the upper lobby, especially since we bullied any lowerclassman who dared sat there. We flubbed leading the school song on one flag ceremony and had to endure a major lashing for not memorizing the song even the freshmen knew by heart. 

We sent home a class of lowerclassmen when, in our exuberance at having the dreaded Physics exam cancelled, instead of shouting "Walang exam!" some genius shouted "Walang pasok"! and kids started getting out the school and boarding the shuttle jeeps home. We incurred the ire of the faculty countless times for our katigasan ng ulo, kaangasan and kayabangan. 

We had a lot more and looking back at some of these mischief last night, we were amazed at our youthful naughtiness. I'm glad most of us (I can't say all eh haha!) outgrew these and became fine, upstanding (not to mention handsome and beautiful) citizens of the world. We became doctors, lawyers, teachers, businessmen, media people, graduate students, entrepreneurs, musicians, mothers, fathers, hardworking taxpayers, you name it. Our 10th year reunion was a blast and kudos to the organizers back then. I believe our yearbook was also finished without an official faculty in charge so my respect as well to the yearbook peeps. 

UP Rural High School Batch 2000 during our 10th year reunion last December 10, 2010.

So I really hope we can make that 15th year thingie happen. Batch 2000, I know we're used to reaching for those blasted stars with hardship, but let's make this easy and fun as well, yes? Make those calls, connect, suggest, volunteer, plan and strategize with us. See ya'll soon! Visit our batch's Facebook group (UPRHS 2000) for updates or just plain old kamustahan and chikahan. :)

Love - It Starts With Civility

My devo this morning gave me a good pause to think. God said in 1 Corinthians 13:1, “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” He exhorts us to “Do everything with love (1 Cor 16:14) and of course we all know the famous verses of how real love should be like in 1 Cor 13:4-7. (Our Daily Journey, RBC Ministries, 2012)

I remembered an instance when I was a fairly new Christian and were encountering various reactions (most of the violent, disbelieving kind) from friends who knew my wild past and were dismissing this change as “just another phase” for me.

An old friend was firing off one question after another about why I “coverted,” why the need to “force” other people in believing in our “movement” and others. I tried explaining it’s not about religion and struggled to illustrate it about having a personal relationship. He’s had a few drinks, but I know he is a sensible guy. Heck, he’s an intelligent guy gifted in conversations. But I felt he was attacking my inability to change because he knew my past so well and maybe didn’t think I can change, or need any religion to save me. And as I tried to lob back his arguments with bits from Scripture and my personal experience thus far, I ended up sounding very defensive and emotional. I mean, I cried on the spot.

That, I think was my ultimate mistake. I was arguing with him on the merit of defending myself. I was trying to justify my actions by seeking to find holes in his questioning and “misguided” thinking. I wasn’t trying to share the grace of God and the true meaning of the Cross to him out of  a noble desire to draw him near to the Lord nor out of genuine love for a fellow human being. I just wanted him to shut up. I was driven by a selfish, wrong motive.

Looking back now, I had prayed about that incident and that should similar situations come up, I hope God would be upon me and use my thoughts and words according to His will. I pray my heart would be clear of any erroneous or dishonest intention. I ask for the ability to be civil in discussion, especially to unbelievers, so that I may reflect not the flaws of our faith, but the power of Jesus in our lives.

Civility should never be mistaken for being “plastic” or fake friendliness. The former is about admitting you and the other parties have differences but you can discuss it calmly without resorting to petty arguments or mudslinging. Agree to disagree. The latter just buries the real issues beneath phony smiles and gestures. Opportunities for improvements are never discussed in the open so they are never given a chance to be resolved.

I had a friend that I had a gap a while back. For months after he hurt me, I completely ignored him. I felt vindicated and justified my actions by thinking, well at least hindi ako namamlastic. Only later did I realize I was not acting out of love. It was hard at first but when he approached me, instead of rebuffing him with harshness, I was civil. We didn't solve all our problems and we never got back to being the close friends we were before but it's better now. At least, we became friends again.

I hope we will also have the gift of discernment to see this on those people running for office this coming May elections. Times like these are always abounding in dirty politicking and smear campaigns between opposing parties.

In the past, I’ve been called “plastic” so many times if it happened now and I walked around Elbi or Muntinlupa, I would’ve been outlawed. Bawal ang plastik sa Los Banos at Muntinlupa. It was a very mean and unproductive quality I have that I truly regret and even now I call upon God’s grace everyday to help me be civil – not to be a phony – in my interactions with people I have disagreements with.

“Let’s make it our personal project to reveal God’s great love as we debate and discuss today’s issues with others.” ~ Roxanne Robbins (Our Daily Journey, RBC Ministries, 2012)

 * pictures grabbed from commonsenseatheism.com and www.wemakethefunny.com.  No copyright infringement intended. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

No More What If's

The movie One More Chance is famous for its quotable quotes. We all know that you-had-me-at-my-best tearjerker, for instance. But a while ago, when I caught the film for the nth time at Cinema One, one of Basha's lines earlier in the movie  caught my fancy (it's not verbatim because I forgot to take it down and Google just spewed off the usual lines):

"I don't want to keep wondering what if; I want to know what is."

Ganda. I'm sure anyone who's ever yearned about stepping out of their comfort zone, of wanting change in their lives, has uttered this line or some variation of it. 

Yeah, some changes are inevitable: puberty, hormones, wrinkles, getting older, death. Those are the inescapable changes life bring. But there are those kinds that actually require effort from us. Loving someone, following our dreams, turning a new leaf, forgiving someone, moving on - these require actions and decisions. More often than not, these aren't just results of our circumstances. It's a will issue. We know what to do or where we're going, but it's still our decision if we will go through it.So says Michael Jackson, if we want change, we gotta start with the man (or woman) in the mirror. 

At times we resort to using excuses to mask our fears, insecurities or inabilities. We say we're not ready when we're just afraid. We use the cliche we don't have the time because whatever or whoever it was that was asking for our time and attention just isn't important enough to us. It's not a matter of having time; it's about making the time. If it matters to us, we'll definitely make time. If not, then we're just playing until it starts getting too much of a responsibility and then we drop it just like that. 

Again, it's a decision. For instance, love. Loving someone is a decision, and you know what, so is moving on. Yeah, we might just wake up one morning and realize all the feeling is gone, but we actually decided beforehand to get to that point.

While some of us are innately brave, for some, it takes additional effort to muster the guts. So if it's asking too much for courage, then at least have respect. Respect yourself and the people around you. Sometimes playing too safe to avoid pain or hurting others can actually backfire; we end up hurting even more, and betraying the trust of those we care about.

I'm all for being cautious in decisions and guarding our hearts as well. But I also believe that sometimes, our well-laid plans get disrupted for good reasons. God is aligning our lives with His will, and it's all for the best. But following God's will doesn't give us license to hurt others or act like jerks. Instead, this knowledge should make us more humble, give us the confidence to be honest and trustworthy.

I once heard it said that the worst feeling in the world is that never-ending barrage of what-if's: regret. So yeah, maybe it's about time we start focusing on what is and what will be instead of the what if's that we can't bring back, yes?