a friend’s psalm

A sleepless friend on the other side of the planet shares a Psalm.

Psalm 103

Of David.

1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-

3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

And half-a-world away I say, “Amen!”


It’s harder than I had expected, this blogging marathon of mine. Tonight, coming home from a coffee meet-up with friends, I was looking forward to jumping straight to bed. Then I remembered that I still had one thing left to do before the day ended: blog.

And so here I am, on the third day of my 30-post challenge, cramming because in less than half-an-hour this day will be over. I rack my brains for ideas. Most that pop up in my head require time to simmer before they could be written with any semblance of coherence.

My head is still spinning from hearing my friends’ stories and sharing some of my own. The laughter still rings in my ear. I won’t be surprised if my dreams tonight are a montage of mispronouncing college professors, an alleged transvestite named Jean, a badly written novel that could give you a heart attack laughing, Pinoy bloopers abroad, tear-jerker movies and favorite movie lines…

Now I just need to wait for the effects of caffeine to wane so I can start snoozing my way to these crazy dreams.

(One minute to midnight. Whew.)

dirty translation

My friend Jeanix and I challenged our American friend Dan to show off his command of the Tagalog language. We asked him to translate to English a Tagalog song popularized by the Pinoy rock band Asin. Dan has lived in the Philippines for ten years and has managed to be conversant in both Tagalog and Cebuano. Quite impressive, actually.

Me (singing): Wala ka bang napapansin sa ating mga kapaligiran?
Dan (reciting his translation): Don’t you notice anyone from among your ‘barkada’?

Jeanix: Anuba, this isn’t a love song!
Me: And, hello! ‘Barkada’ is not English!

Next line, please.

Me: Kay dumi na ng hangin…
Dan: The air is dirty…

Jeanix and me: Good! Good!

Me: …pati na ang mga ilog natin.
Dan: Our… eggs… are also dirty?

Anuraw?! HAHAHA!

And just like that. The song will never ever be the same to me again.

bro bonding

We’re ten years apart, my eldest brother and I. You’d think a full decade’s gap is more than enough for people to tell easily who’s the younger bro and who’s the older. Not quite. On several occasions, people have mistaken me for the more senior sibling. And when this happens Kuya Arnel just smiles and does nothing to rectify the unjust assumption, while I fumble for words to correct the rude stranger (hah!). Maybe it’s the height – I’m a few inches taller…

kuyai.jpgGrowing up, Kuya and I were not close. He started preaching at age 17 and so he was away or busy most of the time. Because of his calling, I saw more of him from the church pew than from the living room sofa. When I went off to college and he and family relocated back to Davao from Iloilo , things took a turn for the better. Kuya and I began relating with each other more, mostly during my vacations in Davao. It was a delightful discovery that there was a friend in this preacher-brother; that it’s not just blood that is binding us – our hearts have been knitted together in fellowship.

Last month, the kuya and the bunso were on the phone catching up. Kuya‘s stories are always interesting and many times a source of inspiration. We are the family’s clowns and so we naturally find ways to enjoy laughs with each other. But for months he has been under tremendous stress, growing weary from the pressures of life and ministry, and I could sense this over the phone. He told me he would be speaking at a conference in Dagupan and Baguio end of April. I urged him to spare a day or two after his engagement to spend some down time with me in Manila before he flew back to Davao. I would take time off from work to host him. Nothing grand, just two brothers relaxing and catching up.

I knew he would object to the “inconveniences” that having fun in Manila entailed, but I was patient and firm. He complained when we took sardine-packed MRT rides. He complained when I checked him in a budget hotel, sarcastically muttering under his breath, “Third world!” (Haha!) He complained when we took a long walk on University Ave before dinner. He complained when… oh, for a minister, he was complaining a lot!

And yet all the while I knew he really wasn’t complaining. He was having fun 🙂 As much as he says he dislikes adventure and travel, I suspect deep down he longs for new things. And I think I’m right. “Complaints” and all, he did seem to have enjoyed our time together – enough to blog about it right away.

Grace does come to us in unlikely packages. For that short time last week, I didn’t mind playing the kuya, cajoling a complaining minister to take a break and loosen up a bit. If it was fun for Kuya, it was doubly fun for me. After all, it’s not every day that I get to spend time with family.

Sa uulitin, bro?


Today was a flurry of activities at the office. I didn’t even have time to open the organizer application on my office PC to look at my to-do list. Somehow I just got caught up in the day’s demands, succumbing to the mad current of urgency.

There were ’emergency’ meetings to attend, urgent marketing artwork for evaluation and signing off, projects to be coordinated via email and phone… Before I knew it, the day has ended and I have a slight ache on my left shoulder blade and lower back.

The coolest part of the day was lunch with the best friend. Roovin came by the office to buy some books. Since he was on leave from work for the day, we had time to grab lunch at the nearby mall. Over pizza and ‘pasta negra’ (which stained our lips and teeth black!), we caught up on each other’s lives.

Having been a married guy for a year, Roovin felt it was his duty as best friend to dissect my (non-existent) love life and its little disasters (hoping perhaps to hasten my transfer over to the other side of the civil status fence?) Of course I let him probe, seriously considering what he had to say. Close friends have a way of letting you see different sides to your life story. And it helps that they are not easily derailed by your witty (read: evasive) retorts or lame justifications.

Great. Now I have ‘more pressing’ things to think about and sort out other than work.

P.S. I promised Besp I’d post this pic on my blog 🙂


Wala lang. Taken during one of the dinner meetings with friends from college. The “teleserye” look was my idea; the movie poster was Roovin’s doing. (He must have a lot of free time.) It’s “Ang Pelikulang Walang Bida” because, according to Roovin, none of us looks like a protagonist. Haha! You think so too?