Of Love and Bravery

They say a real friend can sing a song back to you when you have forgotten the words. I say, a true li’l bro can quote a movie back to you when you’ve forgotten the title. I really love the fact that I can last a day just chatting or running movie marathons with my younger brother. He is amazing like that. And more. So when he pushed me to watch Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, I know there would be some treasure in that movie. I could never be more right.
Here are some of the gems that I got from this movie:

1. “Try and try until you succeed” doesn’t mean doing the same thing again and again.

When Major Bill Cage (Cruise) tried to outdo the tragic end of the battle, he relived the moment more than a hundred times, with each moment working out a different tactic. He tried every single tactic combination to get through the situation and have both him and his love interest come out alive.

In life, things don’t always go as we wanted. Life is tough as it is. But we can always choose to be tougher, and persevere. Wisely.

2. You only get one life.

The problem that Cage faced was complex because it was unfamiliar. But figuring it out and planning to defeat it was easy because he can keep on repeating the scenario from the top by “dying”. He can just keep on “dying” til he gets the answer. But the moment that new blood was transfused into him and dying no longer meant restart from the top, he became more conscious of his steps and definite with his sacrifices.


This life is the latter. It is a one-take shot with no cuts or repeat from the top. We can’t just “die” when we feel like giving up, and start all over again. One shot is all we got, and we have to make it matter. No matter how pissed off or stressed or worn out or broken we are, we need to learn to let go and move on.

3. Courage comes from knowing what you’re fighting for.

Cage was a coward, and he counted the cost of staying that way. But when he met Rita and got a deeper understanding of the global situation, his motives changed. From barely surviving, he trained and fought to defeat the powerful enemy — and save Rita the entire time. He learned to fight not just for the sake of self, but for a significant other. He did not care then about the world at first. But he cared deeply for Rita.

Rita, on the other hand, was the hero. The angel of Verdun, she endured the battles in place of her brother whom she loved dearly. She was fighting for family. She also took a vow to protect her bigger family from an extraterrestrial enemy. This bigger family is the world.

Some people find courage in defending a cause that scales multitudes of people and impacts the whole world. This is amazing. But some people draw their greatest courage when faced with a challenge that concerns one single person that matters most to them — a friend, family, or a loved one. Whatever the underlying force, the principle remains: courage is not fighting blindly without fear. It is what happens when you value something so great it overpowers whatever stands in the way.

Courage, they say, is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it. I say, courage is the proof of a powerful love winning over fear.

What makes you brave? Whom are you fighting for?

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18


What Happens When I Wait (For Hours)

Cheers to a blog comeback!

It’s been a long adventurous journey so far, and it’s a shame that my last blog post here was dated more than two years ago! Well, to be honest,  I had a couple of drafts for the past two years but could not bring myself to publish them. Maybe it’s nerving to think people actually read my posts here. Haha. But I think the biggest contributing factor to the delay is time. I’ve got a job and  volunteer work that included mostly writing for the past two years. But rest assured that the passion for writing is still here, and refuses to be kept in.  If you would want to check on what I have been working on, you can view here.

I have also made a comeback on my reading hobby a few weeks back. But after reading six books in a span of less than a month, a feel indebted to write a post myself. I also realized that a lot of what I learn stay longer when I write about them. So here’s a shot on etching my insights on a slate that challenges the passing of time.

1. Book Thief

One big encouragement I received when I watched the movie then read the book afterwards.

This is one reading that nudged me to get back to personal writing. It revolves on the power of words on people’s lives — from relationships to large-scale movements that impact the world. Moments told from the perspective of Death made me value every minute of living. And by the word “value” I mean evaluating whether each minute has truly been living or plain existence. And I really checked out to see whether Liesel Meminger is a real-life character! Talk about inability to move on.

What a clear realization: all of us are going to meet Death one time in the future. What matters is that we make the most of the life we have today.


2. Little Prince


The little prince left me in tears upon his departure. He taught me never to grow old in spirit but always to see life in the eyes of a child. He challenged me to see things with wonder and needless complexity. The book is a breather from daily stressors, reminding me never to get indulged with figures or routines as the end in themselves. The infamous quote from the book goes, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”


3. The Alchemist


I began this book with the anime The Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood in mind. Apparently the book had a different focus — an adventure dedicated to pursuing a dream. This book gives encouragement for readers to reach for their dreams no matter how far they may seem, and no matter how big the opposition might be. Paolo Coelho said in this book that, “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” For those who seem to have special people standing in the way of fulfilling their dream, he advised, ” Love never keeps man from pursuing his destiny.” Rather, ” When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”

This learning is affirmed by the preaching of Bishop Oriel Ballano dreams. He said, “Dream is the language of God.” A dream that comes from God is a dream that goes beyond my wildest imagination and impacts a bigger number of people. A God-given dream is a dream that is greater than me and outlives me. This, is the dream worth pursuing.

4. Divergent trilogy


I’m not a fan of YA fiction, but it is a different thing to be asked by my manager to read a trilogy of it. Employee of the Year, if you bet. Haha This trilogy got me hooked for days; stating that I finished the trilogy in a week is an understatement. The fight that Tris and Tobias endured and overcame in a dystopic world challenged me. Can I fight to the end for what I believe in? Can I vow with my life to preserve what I know is valuable?

Reading Divergent, I would imagine myself fitting into one or two of the five factions. I’m afraid I would be as stiff as Abnegation or unattached as Amity, or tactless as Candor. I wished I could be Divergent — selfless and brave and kind and intelligent and honest at the same time.


But the last book opened a realization for me: to be Divergent is to be a normal human being as we know it today. It is not something that only a few has; it is what I have. Divergence in the trilogy represents everything a regular person in our day is capable of doing. A genetically healed person. This thought was both a pleasant surprise and a reprimand at the same time. How could I have desired something that is already mine? But then, how could I desire such thing when I have so much better? More than just the genes, I’ve been healed completely as a person. By the wounds of my Savior I am healed, set free, and made new. Now I have not just genetically healed genes, but the DNA of Christ. It freed me from needless desperation, and it empowers me.

To be selfless, one has to be brave. This is another learning I gained from the Divergent trilogy. If I have to do something for the people I love and for the cause I uphold, I would need to muster the courage to let go of my own desires. Tris demonstrated a huge deal of courage — leaving family and all that’s familiar in search of self, and later on to abandon self for the sake of what she calls her family on a bigger scale. (A family = an entity that gives someone a sense of belonging)

I gained so many insights from each of the books I have read — so much that I think I could write a blog entry on each. We’ll see how much time would permit me. Well, this blog post surely has gotten longer than it should be! I hope it has not been a boring read. How I wish I could do this often! Really hoping this would not be the last. So long for now.



PS This post was composed in between countless hours of traveling, waiting on elevators and turns in the comfort room, and printing cards and tickets. Perseverance, yo!

Courageous Kimmy

Does friendship end over two lost concert tickets? Well, it could have been.

I was astonished when one of my closest friends sent me a text message telling me that it is her goal for our relationship to level up this year. I thought, are we not that intimate enough? Didn’t we just practically spend almost our entire college life together? Then I realized that yes, there is more space to grow in our relationship.

Apparently, on the day Kim and I lost two expensive (well, this adjective is relative considering that at the time we were stretching our personal budgets) tickets to a local concert, we almost lost our patience on one another. Almost! And that’s when I saw clearly that there is still more to know and to love about this beautiful lady that we fondly call Kimmy.

aug 9 2011 kim and keren
Our first picture together, taken around 2011 (or I think around an earlier date?)
Second picture together (just the two of us!) taken around 2012. Is the rule one photo a year, Kimmy? 😉

Before plunging into the depth of what I still have to know about Kimmy, let me tell you a few of what I know–and like–about her. Well, she was born on the Day of Valor. At first, I took this fact for granted; only lately did I realize that maybe, God has indeed given this person a gift of courage worthy of inspiration.

Kimmy did not want to celebrate her birthday with many people. Lately, she preferred spending Christmas and her birthday alone at home in her room–spending time meditating on her life and her relationship with her God. It was a little astonishing at first, but on a deeper level it shows how she takes life seriously and not just play around. It shows how grounded she is in her faith in God, and how that faith directs her life on a day-to-day basis. I know a lot of people experience a lot of pressures from different sources each day. And I know it takes courage to accept defeat today, but striving to better tomorrow. I believe that Kimmy has this kind of attitude. Kimmy has the inner strength, that inner courage, to face each of them head on, determining to know each difficulty in detail and overcoming it.

I remember what I wrote on the college yearbook for Kimmy:

One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears, says Dean Rusk. Kim knows this best and proves it by what she does.

Kimberly Giel Joanne Fiecas is known to be a silent person, but deep inside is a person worth knowing, and worth cherishing. A listening friend, a persevering student, a reliable person, she knows where to invest her resources: her time, her effort, and her words. Kim treasures her family as priceless; she treats her friends as family; she considers her teachers her friends. People who see her in school perceive her as a silent, serious, and structured girl, but aside from her academic life, she has got a fun, social life too. She loves parties, sleepovers and movie marathons. She always aims to balance things up in her life, and knows it’s not always a score of perfect one. Life in UP means both victories and struggles, but Kim has decided to learn from both, and with every failure she is determined to rise up again and do better, all for the First Love who has given His life so that hers would be meaningful.
Life in UP ends so soon, but life itself continues, and for Kim, learning, living, and loving keep going on, as long as there is one soul around her left for her to love.

This beautiful, strong lady might be going through tough times lately, but I believe that she will make it through and emerge stronger after all the trials. I believe that in her silence is her strength. In her silence is her dependence on God. There is so much more to know about Kimmy, but one thing’s sure: deep inside this person is someone worth knowing, and worth cherishing.

I miss you, Kimmy! Hope to see you soon. We’ve still got a lot of pictures of ourselves to take! 😉

This year's goal: more photos together! And a level up in our friendship, of course. :D
This year’s goal: more photos together! And a level up in our friendship, of course. 😀

This past month I’ve been reading The Beautiful Side of Evil. Honestly, there was something in the title that made me want to read it. Could evil truly have a beautiful side?

Apparently, yes. Author Johanna Michaelsen narrated how since childhood she’s been experiencing demonic oppression. Inheriting the talent of her great grandmother as a spiritualist and a trance medium, she would hear ghastly voices, feel a chilly cold presence, and see terrifying, demonic faces. The encounters were predictable but nonetheless haunting. She never did feel comfortable with such encounters and felt extremely alone as no one could relate to her or even understand her.

She tried different pastimes to find a purpose for living. First was theater, then drugs, then mind control. Eventually as she ventured into mind control, she came across a psychic surgeon in Mexico who heals those patients doomed as incurable by medical science. She would see people flock the psychic healer’s house, bringing raw eggs as part of the consultation session. Waiting long hours in line proved to be worth the effort as they would come out of the house healed of their diseases. Johanna felt at home with the surgeon who operated the most hopeless medical cases with just a knife and a pair of scissors. She thought that only God could have done such miracles and so endeavored to be an apprentice.


Apparently, the evil that acquainted her since childhood had shown her its beautiful side. What seemed to be the genuine work of God proved to be a counterfeit. She found out that the healing miracles did not consistently end in success. Others did not get the healing they wanted; others even experienced hell in the hands of the psychic surgeon. Johanna was confused. Eventually in answer to her prayer, God revealed to her that the healing was the work of the enemy, imitating the power that comes from God. Through intentional searching and with the help of Christian friends, she was able to break free from the bondages of the occult and of darkness in general.

The striking truth in this book is that many people are deceived by the enemy and for so long, they are unaware of it. Our emotions, our experiences, the things we feed our minds daily, our contradicting beliefs and actions–these are all the enemy’s entry points for deception. The enemy crafts half truths and sugar-coated lies so well that we bite into them without second thought. But, as the author raised, it is never God’s will for us to be undiscerning.

We live in the age where deception abounds. The book offered ways on how to ascertain that we are grounded on the truth,  the bottomline of which is to be grounded in the word of God and to have a strong faith in the Lord. We need to ask wisdom in every step we take and awareness that every single thing we do counts–either for good or for evil. It is not enough that we believe; we have to know why we believe.

We need to stay on the right side and be careful what we allow to enter our minds through our senses. Just because we are sincere does not mean we would stay on the right track. Just because we have the right motives does not mean we won’t easily be fooled. We can’t afford to be played with by the enemy. In our present times, seeing is not believing. Every beautiful thing from the enemy is fleeting, and what follows that temporary enjoyment is lasting regret. 

Search the Scriptures. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13)


No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.

Mary Wollstonecraft


This Scary Thing Called Fear


It’s been a really long time since I last blogged, and now it’s 2013! So much had happened in those past three months that I didn’t even have time to blog about them. Anyway, I hope you had a great start for 2013. 🙂

colorful 2013

For me, I had a great bonding moment with my siblings and relatives on the side of my father. We spent the first day of the year swimming! There was so much fun. It was like I was relieved of all my worries back at home and at work, because I was with my second fathers and mothers, and my siblings were there enjoying with me. Wish I could have more of that this year! Haha. Cousins were just fun to hang out with. And it was then the Lord started speaking to me. He told me what I needed to know to get this year right, on the 1st of January.

So it was fun. But I was there, afraid to learn to swim, afraid to try the BIG slides. I heard myself saying, “Hey, Keren. What’s the big deal?” Trying hard to swim, gathering all my strength just to try one slide down that colorful-yet-scary-structure at the end of the pool, I realized once again that I’ve got so much fear overcrowding my little heart.  Even fear in the small things take up so much space in my heart. God was telling me there is no way I could face 2013 with all this heavy “fear” baggage. I needed to unload them. He asked me, “Child, what are you going to do now?” Of course, other than braving myself up that big slide and learning from my youngest sister the basics of swimming (what a shame for me!), I had to do something with this scary thing called fear.

You can be sure that when God asks a question you can’t seem to answer, He will show you the answer. In the following days, He showed me that for so long I have been living a sheltered life. I grew up in a Christian family, went to a Christian school all the way from nursery to high school, had selected friends in college, and took minimal risks even during my teenage years.

It might be really cute, but at one point, being sheltered and just sleeping like a baby is boring.

Maybe it is one of the reasons He took Mama and Papa so early–so I would learn to break out of the shell, and stand on my own feet.

The answer became ice clear when I read Bishop Oriel Ballano‘s slogan for this year: No Boundaries. This was the main theme for the preaching he spoke at church on January 6. The key context was in Isaiah 43:18-19:

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”

The message is clear. Forget the former thing. Clarify your focus. Commit yourself to God’s plan. This year, the Lord has greater things in store. He has new miracles to do, newer victories to give, and fresher tracks to lead me in. To be able to receive these, all I need to do is to let go of my fear, go beyond my personal border, and see myself fly.

This is the answer, clear and simple.

Now, I believe I can make it this year.

What about you? Are you done moving on from your failures and victories in 2012 toward a more glorious 2013? 🙂


Shelving “2” and starting anew with “3”. 😉

Perfectly Imperfect: Cyborg Girl

Oh, the power of foreign movies.

In the past two weeks I’ve been sleeping late because of a Japanese movie and a Korean drama series that Ate Michelle lured encouraged me to watch. The movie is Cyborg Girl by a director-writer from South Korea named Kwak Jae-yong.

The story tells of a lonely man named Jiro, celebrating his birthday alone for years because he has no family, until an almost perfect girl came from seemingly nowhere and made his 21st birthday unforgettably magical. But then she had to go. One year passed with no single trace of her. His waiting was rewarded when exactly on his 22nd birthday, she came back–with a message from the future.  She was everything to him. The beauty that left him dazzling. The perfection that made him feel everything is alright. The color that altered his boring life. The strength that rescued him from tragedy. She was everything… but real. She was a cyborg from the future. He loved her, cared for her, revealed his heart to her. But, she could not feel.

The story ended with a literal happy ever after (which I am not going to spill over here). But if you wanna know the story in detail plus the sought-after ending, you can check one good review here. You can find another review here where the movie is analyzed comparatively with the other films directed by Kwak Jae-yong.

I didn’t get the ending at one viewing so I had to re-watch it twice. After it dawned on me, I couldn’t figure out my emotions. But because I tend to over-absorb whatever movie I watch, I reflected on the movie and eventually two questions crossed my mind.

How much do we want to control time, and consequently, life?

Probably like Jiro, it’s a boring life we live today or a sad situation we do not want to be in. Maybe it’s a broken past that keeps on haunting us and affecting every day that we breathe. Or yet, maybe it is a part of the future which we couldn’t wait to know. These are the moments we wish we could control time and twist it the way we wanted.

How much are we controlled by our emotions?

Many times our decisions and actions are determined by our emotions. Be it anger, bitterness, love or any sort of emotion, it has the power to drive us, to determine our lives. Jiro lived the rest of his life building the love story he hoped would last–and it changed the course of his life forever.

This beautiful movie has a lot of implications–on philosophy, time travel, infinity, and many more. It is a launching pad for many to air their personal beliefs. But one insight I gained here is the significance of an All-knowing Being who orchestrates this universe and everything else within and without. Apart from the context of the perfect will of that All-powerful Being, everything is chaotic. Everything is a confusion. Every quest is a search for an answer, to an end which only leads to another quest for what could be.

I am just thankful. With the truth that a loving Creator wonderfully made me to live with Him towards perfection, I am at peace.


Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”

Job 42:1-3

It is so striking whenever foreigners speak good things about our country, the Philippines. This is because many Filipinos fail to see the privilege they have as heirs of this beautiful nation.

Kiva Stories from the Field

Anna Cleal, KF10, Philippines

1)    How to smile

At the moment I am working as a Kiva fellow with the field partner organisation Community Economic Ventures (CEVI), based in Bohol, Philippines.  Here there are some of the most fantastic smiles I have ever seen.  It’s the real face lit up, all teeth accounted for, glowing beam that can spread far and wide.

Lesson: Plain and simple – Smile! Remember to smile as much as possible because everyone knows that smiles are contagious!

2)      How to laugh

Another one of those contagiously good qualities – people in the Philippines can’t help but laugh.  I’ve worked in 5 different offices over here with one thing in common, LAUGHTER.  It is very easy to become disillusioned into thinking that your jokes are getting funnier, but in actual fact it’s just that the audience is ever so partial to good ole chuckle…

View original post 794 more words


When the person with the most reasons to be discouraged give out encouragement…

When the most stressed employee walks around to help others see life’s bright side…

When an overwhelmed man talks about strength  to overcome…

the inspiration simply resonates.

Photo from Jonathon L. Jenkins (JLJFOTO)


That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10 NLT

Cheers to planning for a wedding!

But not mine, of course. 😉 I’m just so excited about the upcoming wedding of my friend-slash-officemate-slash-roommate. Yey! Have I told you that I was fond of weddings? I enjoy reading about it, hearing about it, seeing photos of it, and even writing about it. If you haven’t chanced upon my blog about wedding, you can check it here. I bet planning about one will be so great, and for sure I’ll be doing it years from now. So that’s going to be quite a long wait, right?

Anyway, the other day I got hooked reading one of the blog posts of our dear American intern Josiah. It is really amazing how he put into words his first and might be last participation in a Filipino wedding! Imagine a clueless, young American being part of the processional of a traditional Filipino wedding, putting the cord over the wedding couple, and mingling with other guests for photo-ops! How about that? 😉 Well, Josiah’s blog is pretty long, but his writing can lead to more realizations than you could ever think the first time you read it. So here’s a few insights I got from his latest post:

  • Filipinos LIKE photos
  • Feeling “essentially useless” can be a good thing–if it leads to you realize that all you need is to rely on Christ
  • Your ONLY value lies in Christ
  • God is the Lord of all timezones
  • Present mindedness: focusing on the present and living fully in the present

And the most striking insight I got today:

Do not be so familiar with the need you see around you that you become numb to it and learn to live with it. Avoid desensitizing yourself to the need. Rather, know the need and meet it. How?

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19

P.S. Congratulations to Josiah for being engaged to Emily today! Yey!

Letter About the (Not so) Special Guy

Today I got surprised by yet another letter from the past which I forgot I wrote. Exactly last year I was writing about a guy who had taken a special place in my heart. But now I cannot even remember his name! The only thing that remains is the reminder that stands so true and so important even today, exactly one year after the letter has been written. So, to give you a glimpse of the letter from FutureMe.org:

Dear FutureMe,

I want you to know that on this day you’ve felt so much irritation that you felt you’ve disregarded all the people around you who cared.

On this day you kept thinking of ways to escape feeling so deprived of joy–or people, but know deep inside that it is not anyone else who can alleviate the pain, but God alone.

On this day, you have already counted weeks thinking how much this one special person takes a big space in your heart–and thinking how he could be the one you’re waiting for. Oh, well. God says he’s good, but the better and the best are yet to come. Maybe this guy thinks so, too, as he now tries to maintain some distance from you. But somehow you have this feeling that you want him to know how you feel for him–how special you place him in your heart. But you just can’t seem to do so.

On this day, you feel so confused, so lost, because you’ve gradually been missing on the only thing that’s needed–your relationship with God. So may this be a reminder to you, Future Self, to never regret this essential one thing in your life, less everything else will fall into pieces.

So long,

Your Old Self

Got the reminder? So what can you say? 🙂