Unsettling

Famished. I am famished for the Lord. Every day’s gospel, daily reflection, thoughts and messages of hope and reassurance fill my heart and replenish my soul.

But it’s not enough. I want more of the Lord.

Especially now that I am on the verge of opening new chapters of my life: PGH Pediatrics residency and whether or not to continue with the Ligaya ng Panginoon community.

Especially now that I am coming to terms with my personal issues and finding the grace to accept and love myself the way God made me.

Now more than ever, in these unsettling times, my seeking of God climbed with a sense of deep need and desperation. I need to hear His voice so that I know I am still following Him. So that I know, what I know to be the right thing is His thing.

I want to change and accept for the better. Lord, I just want to be healed, and experience the full glory of living the way I am truly created to live.

I am writing this because I ought to move in to my new place tomorrow for pre-residency, but I feel I am not yet ready to leave my home. I need more heart. I need more time with the Lord. It’s okay to get scared sometimes, as long as the Lord is with me.

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Love is (blind) dating

It felt like eons ago since I last saw my two best friends from high school. Coincidentally, we call each other “Mars” for “Mare”, amiga or close friends, the same way my closest friends in Medicine school call each other.

April, Tere and I have been good friends for 15 years now, through thick and thin, good and bad times. April is an aspiring lawyer and currently works for the government. Tere is a mother of three and belongs to the HR personnel in SM Puerto Princesa City.

It was catch-up time with all the people we knew, yet it never felt like there was ever any gap among the three of us.

We have grown, assuming the new roles we have chosen, trying to manage our priorities, lead our personal lives, achieving our dreams. Though I personally have to allot more time for them, they never really questioned the friendship. We have taken good care of each other for fifteen years and counting. I could never be more grateful for such true friends.

Being two of my closest friends, my lovelife (or its absence thereof) has been one of the hot topics of the dinner conversation.

“Hanapan niyo naman ako ng date,” I quipped.

A few rounds of kilig shrieks after, they rummaged through their facebook accounts, searched for possible and eligible men, called up their good male friends and went on to pile a list of names in their heads as to who would be my dates.

That is what you call supportive friends.

It was such a fun time with them compiling names, racking up their brains suddenly making an inventory of their male friends for a date with me.

Nakakatawa. I am excited how this date for me would turn out. *fingers crossed*

 

I Keep Coming Back to Manila

Two days ago I went back to Manila because of a speaking engagement.

It was for the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) by the National Youth Commission, Office of Senator Bam Aquino and Office of Senator Kiko Pangilinan called the TAYO Talks. It was a TED Talks style youth conference wherein we talk about the best practices of running a youth org, how to sustain youth projects and the ingredients of an inspired youth leader. (separate article for this)

Since I only brought two lightweight travel bags with me, I opted to commute from the airport to my apartment in QC to dodge expenses. Riding a public transport bus, a jeep an FX and a tricycle, plus heavy traffic to boot, I was tired and hungry when I arrived in Philcoa.

I walked over to the tricycle bay clutching my travel bags and a takeout bag from Jollibee. As I was descending the stairs that connected the sidewalk from the main avenue, a big slab of concrete step suddenly crumbled.

I slipped, fell down on my butt hard, and only managed to flatten my takeout foodie bag as I used it for support. The spaghetti spilled over a muddied puddle. For a few seconds the impact of the intense pain in my butt froze me. My first thought was, I hoped my vertebrae was not broken. I couldn’t afford to have back pain due to fracture.

I could hear the vendors’ voices, “Ay, yung babae!” An old blind dog was sitting on the concreted steps, and I fell beside him. He barked at the immediate thud and my audible gasp of surprise and pain.

A few seconds later, there was a chorus of laughter.

People were passing by, but no one came to help.

I stood up, brushed the dust off my butt, and continued walking.

Welcome to Manila, whose community’s mindset is each to his own. A stark contrast to the people of the province.

 

Thank you Letter Easter

Jodie. Thank you for inspiring change among 55 graduating IE students to think and step up in becoming future business leaders.

UST CYA, last April 2, 7 and on May 2 recently spearheaded Launch Out!, a series of talks about personal leadership that equips the students to think and decide to become the future’s successful business leaders.

But more than being successful, Launch Out! has driven the main point that a good and fulfilling life consists of becoming a person of significance, regardless of titles and positions of power.

“After listening to the talks, it just made me want to become a significant person who lives for others, not for myself,” says Berns, one of the graduating UST IE students.

This 3-talk series happens every Tuesday, 2-4pm in the Engineering Building. Speakers are Mr. Harvey Campos, Mr. Raoul Roncal and Mr. Jerome Quiring.

Into the Streets of Shaw

 

I live in a household with seven other empowered women of the Lord. We pray together, share common dinners twice a week and grow in faith as we live out our decisions to give our lives to the Lord.

Tonight is outreach night. Random acts of kindness with the “forgotten” unnoticed people of Manila: beggars and street children.

What a Spirit-led night! What did we do? Keep you posted! 🙂 #HumansofManila

Millennial Missionary

Three years ago you could not even expect me to pray for you. It would solicit an awkward and noteworthy cringe.

I was a third year medical proper student when I joined Christ’s Youth in Action. At that time I was struggling in the pit of disillusionment as the leader for the outreach arm of my sorority. Seemingly all my efforts to build projects and galvanize the sorority to social action were futile and fruitless. I felt like a failure as the head. With this mindset, I thought that the causes we spearheaded at that time were small, fleeting and disjointed bursts of inspiration that tickled but did not really last.

My core passion is service. Are you familiar with the typical questions junkies for life philosophy ask about finding meaning in what we do? Particularly about what makes you get up in the morning with that unmistakable fire in your belly? It’s service for me. Always been service for me. I would do anything to just go out there and serve. That’s part of the reason why I am a doctor in the first place. Serving the sick and the poor is God’s gift to me, and as a student leader at that time, I take that fervor to heart.

So I found myself on bent knees. Day in and day out, the prayers I uttered in the pews of the Philippine General Hospital Chapel were strewn with tears of frustration and ended with a tough grit to not give up despite my heart growing tired in serving. Little did I know that my saving grace would come at last.

It was Father Chester Yacub, the jolly, eternally smiling priest with that calm, therapeutic aura exuding from him, who told me to join his org back when he was a UP Diliman student. In dire and dying need of spiritual support, I attended my first prayer meeting with CYA the next day. A week after that, I joined the Christian Life Series where I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and came to know God in a deeper and more personal way.

Who would’ve thought that three years after that fateful encounter, I would make radical choices the old Gela wouldn’t even dare try? After finishing med school and passing the September 2016 medical board exam, I chose to set aside a year to volunteer as a youth missionary proclaiming God’s work to students. I even approach random strangers and ask them what I can pray for them. As for the disillusioned student leader three years ago, it is really gratitude to God that my sorority has been hailed as one of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations in the Philippines, and our service project for sick babies has been receiving national and international awards for its efforts to serve the underserved and in inspiring the youth to do more for the country.

Looking back at those three wonderful years of journeying with the Lord, I can only say that in God, all things work out beautifully for those who believe Him.

Incubator Bed 10

Since my baby patient’s birth up until his one month of life, he was hooked to a mechanical ventilator to help him breathe. He couldn’t breathe on his own. His lungs were ravaged by pneumonia. It could’ve been just a simple cough and colds for the adults, but when a newborn has been stricken by pneumonia, it spells an ominous life-or-death situation.

When he was born to her 16 year old teenage mother, his lola, who first saw him, was caught between rejoicing for his life and panicking for his eviscerated bowel contents. The disease condition was called gastroschisis. It is an inborn anomaly wherein the intestines and what-have-yous of the abdomen failed to tuck itself inside the body.

It was an emergency operation. He survived with his intestines intact and tucked in, but his lungs failed him. As the days passed I saw him transition from near-death to robust life, then to near-death again. It’s as if he’s just escaping death in the nick of time. This baby was a fighter.

The first time his mother carried him in her arms was when was dead. By then, he was able to escape the trappings of that dreadful blipping machine. Escape the webs of intravenous lines that carry donated blood (he was too pale), array of antibiotics and at least 2 kinds of fluids.

 

“…because the real thing is so worth the wait”

An Open Letter from Mr. Right from #Unfiltered’s blog

Dear daughters of God,

Contrary to what you have heard, I do exist. I’m no fairytale hunk with big muscles and thing for chick flicks (although, I may or may not have a man bun). So, put your daydreams of love off to the side for a minute and let me tell you what makes me, “Mr. Right” and why people keep telling you to wait for me.

The first thing I really want for you to understand is that I was not born your Mr. Right. I promise we weren’t destined to cross paths and lock eyes from across a crowded room and fall hopelessly in love. God has been working in my heart for YEARS! Do you realize what was in my heart before Christ saved me?! Of course you don’t because we haven’t met yet, but I can promise you it is equally as crazy and sinful as what you’ve been walking through. That is why I need some time… And it is also why you need the same. Let’s do each other a huge favor and give one another the time to heal from our pasts and become something different; something whole. I know that you’ve spent a lot of time feeling less than whole, like you’re missing something, and so have I. But now we have both been made new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and need to take some time to learn to walk in this new wholeness. So, I’m going to give you that space and promise not to pursue you until God has made it clear that you are in the right season in your faith.

But here is the kicker and the second thing I need you to know… As patient and trusting in God’s timing as I am, this thing between you and I also hinges on your obedience and trust in the Lord. Have you ever read the Song of Solomon? There is a part in there that I will never forget. It says, “Promise me, O women of Jerusalem (Daughters of God); not to awaken love before the time is right” (NLT Emphasis Mine). Let me fill you in on why she says that. She is begging women not hurry into love for two reasons; one, because the real thing is so worth the wait. And two, because being joined with a person out of season is one of the most painful things someone can experience. Sure you can frolic in lala land for a little while, but what happens when the romance and passion subsides and your left with just your hearts, left open and bare? What happens when the struggles hit and the person you’re with isn’t strong enough to fight the good fight of faith? What happens when they mess up and you’re expected to show them the same grace Christ showed you? I’ll tell you what happens, things will fall apart. Whether on the surface or beneath it, things will fall apart…. That’s the truth, if two people are not both firmly rooted in their faith in Christ, they will suffer for that lack together. I could walk you through almost any church and show you marriage after marriage where people are suffering because they aroused love before it’s time. They are paying for the consequences of that decision decades down the road. Which is why we must join together in patience, even though we are apart.

Here is what we are working towards and the third thing I need you to know: God has asked me to be so much like Christ that you are able to submit to me as unto Him (Ephesians 5:22-33). And He is asking you to be able to submit to me and point me to Jesus by your actions, even when I’m acting like a fool (1 Peter 3:1-6). So take a minute and think… Could you really do that right now? I’m getting closer, but I don’t think I could do that just yet. But when God gives me a peace about the continual growth of my own faith, I will know and I’ll be obedient to pursue you. And you will know that it is me because I will respectfully, tactfully, and politely pursue you with very clear intentions. When a guy begins to talk to you, know that it’s me because I’ll be respectful and not flirting with you via text. Know that it’s me because I’ll be clear that I’m asking you on a date and won’t create an atmosphere where you have to question what we are doing or where we stand. Know that it’s me because when we are dating, I’ll not only be respectful of your emotional and physical boundaries, but also have some of my own. And know that it’s me because I’ll be more interested in your faith and what your relationship with Jesus looks like than being romantic and creating surface level connections.

So, please wait for me. For your sake and my own, wait. Wait because God is telling you to wait. Wait because you have more growing to do. Wait because I have more growing to do. And wait because it will be worth it. Because at the end of the day, the reason I’m not pursuing you yet is because I’m just not ready. And the reason you’re not being pursued by me yet is that you’re just not ready. So join with me in individually submitting to God…Even if that means that there actually isn’t a Mr. or Mrs. Right waiting for us… Can we be ok with that? Can we trust God and be okay with whatever the outcome, knowing that we have already received all we need in His Son? That’s a hard question, but until you’re in a place where you’re okay with never getting married, you won’t be in a place where I will be able to pursue you. Thinking of and praying for you,

– Mr. Right

If You Forget Me

If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

 (This poem made me feel so alive. This is my Christmas poem.)