Saturday, December 30, 2006

Hear ye, hear ye!

Photo from Pexels.com.
Vince and I are engaged!

It happened on December 22 at exactly 10 AM.

Actually, I proposed to him first! Yup, last December 1 with the Sony Playstation 3. I bought him one and as he was happily connecting the cables to his Bravia, I knelt before him with the controller in my hands and after intoning his full name, I said, "I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?" Vince got all red in the face as he grabbed my hands (or maybe the controller?) and replied, "Heart lang? Of course I'll marry you!"

He didn't want me to tell anyone until I had the ring, though. But I told people anyway! It is after all the 21st century so I think it's perfectly okay for me to tell people we're engaged (besides, the PS3 certainly did not come cheap! It's a very good... no, it's a fantastic engagement gift!). However, people didn't seem to believe we were engaged at all! They kept asking, "Eh, where's the ring?" Darn it.

Turned out Vince had asked his mom's jeweler to make me a special ring. And it sure took them some time to make it! Vince said he was getting nervous because it had been weeks (and he had turned over the wads of cash) and still there was no sign of the ring. But at last, a few days before Christmas, it arrived. His mom surreptitiously gave it to him while we were at lunch and I was none the wiser. That night, at the dinner table, his dad suddenly asked me, "So where's the ring?" Everyone at the table gasped in horror (stupid me, I wondered why). I shrugged, "Oh, he's still having it made po." And then I noticed everyone smile in relief, which I thought was weird (still stupid!).

The next day, everything became clear! Early next morning, I opened the door and there on the living room floor was spread a red picnic tablecloth, and on it were real wine glasses and real china. There were red wine and fluffy pastries. I was surprised but I still didn't get it! So I sat with him and asked for iced tea (who drinks wine in the morning?) and chatted away. Then as I was looking at the gifts under the Christmas tree, Vince suddenly took a little blue velvet box from under the tree and... then... I... finally... understood!

He knelt before me, opened the box and there nestled within was the most sparkly diamond ring I've ever laid eyes on!

I don't remember what happened next. By the time I came back to my senses we were in a hug and the ring was on my finger. But it was a blur! I don't remember anything!!!

He told me later that he had said my full name, had asked "Will you marry me?" and I had said "Yes!" and he then slipped the ring on my finger and then we had hugged. Then he had asked, "Why aren't you crying? You always cry when I give you gifts." And I had replied, "Because you told me before you don't like drama." And he had retorted, "Well, this is one of those times you're supposed to do drama!"

Or something like that. Like I said—it was such a blur!

I am so happy! And Vince is, too! He keeps calling me "my wife" these days, though. What a strange man! I so love him!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The perception of happiness is a strange thing

Photo from https://stocksnap.io/

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Kate invited me to the introductory meeting for the Landmark Forum. The Landmark Forum is a weekend seminar (that costs a whopping 19k, meals not included!) that will help you achieve your dreams, overcome the barriers in your life, improve personal relationships, and basically help turn you from a loser into a winner. How they do this I do not know. It's a tightly guarded secret unless you fork over the cash and attend the seminar in January or February.

Now I have nothing against groups of people who like to help others so I trotted along and found it all very interesting. I especially was amazed that Kate—my neurotic insecure and overly-nice friend who lets people trample all over her (yes, she's that sweet!)—has changed into this lovely peaceful and confident woman. So this forum must be doing wonders. Her relationships with her family, boyfriend and friends have improved, she says. And I believe her. In some circles, this change can be attributed to finding God. In Kate's case, she found the Landmark Forum.

Vince says there's nothing wrong with that. "We find God in all sorts of forms and places," he shrugged. Well, seeing the change in Kate, I'm glad she found her answers.

Anyway, she brought me there because she says she wanted my life to be better. This surprised me. My life is great! My only problem with my life is it's so great I'm scared something bad will happen to balance out the positive. Like I keep mentioning in this blog, I feel I need to pinch myself sometimes to make sure I'm not dreaming because life is so good.

Apparently, Kate doesn't think so. And so did the other people at Landmark Forum. Take this conversation for example:

Man: You're saying you have everything you want?
Me: Well, I'd like a marriage, and that's happening soon... so yes, I do have everything I want.
Man: Your relationships are perfect?
Me: Nope, but I am constantly working on those relationships. My parents, my family and my boyfriend know I love them to bits. We argue sometimes but we fix things soon enough. We like to talk, you know. So it's not perfect but it's wonderful.
Man: And your career is okay? Don't you want to be a boss?
Me: Er, I already am a boss. And yes, my job is very fulfilling.
Man: (shaking his head and smiling) No, no, no. You're only 30. You can't be happy!

So I was very frustrated and irritated! I mean, why must I defend my life to these people? Why can't they believe I'm happy? Yes, I used to be very angry and insecure but I've dealt with those issues. It took me a decade or so but I'm glad to report my anger is gone and my insecurities are over. How did that happen? By having this huge faith in God. I would never have reached this state of completion and happiness if it were not for God's grace and mercy. He has blessed me profoundly and I am humbled every single day because He continues to be there for me, guiding me, scolding me, comforting me, blessing me. He is the one friend of all my friends who never betrayed me, never failed me, never disappointed me. He was always there through my anger and bitterness and hate at life and the world and people. He brought me through all that. And He's still doing that because I admit, the demons of my anger and hate still haunt me sometimes. And when those shadows come, then I call on Him and He is there.

That is why I am happy. And that is why my life is good. Because God is good. And I trust Him, only Him, with my life.

But it surprised me that the people around me don't see my life that way. I guess it's because I'm not living the traditional life. I'm 30 but I'm not married. Most every girl I know my age has a husband and about three kids. I don't like having a lot of friends (residue of having been betrayed and hurt by my friends before) but the ones I do have, I treasure. So I guess people find it weird that my idea of a good time is being alone with a book, or alone with Vince, or alone with a friend or two. I don't like big gatherings, big parties, and big places filled with people, but since it's part of my job, I've learned to deal with it. I still don't like it but I can be cool. And I'm okay with myself being like this. Sadly, other people don't think that's okay.

On my side, I'm also guilty about this perception of happiness in other people. Yup, I realized that, too. A couple of months ago, I berated my brother Theodore and his girlfriend Rose for wanting to get married with only P3,000 in their bank account. I said they were fools. I also said that they will never be happy because he's a temperamental artist and she's a simple quiet girl. Well, what do I know about their relationship anyway? They've been together for ten years. There must be something there I couldn't see, the way Kate couldn't see my happiness. Some people think it's okay to get married even without money. Some people think opposites attract. So what do I know? Rose told me later on that she did not deserve to be judged that way. And you know, she's right. I don't know her. And she also told me that she knew my family didn't want her for Theodore but that she stuck around because she loved him. So she must be made of sterner stuff. She also said that she will never become close to my family, she won't even try. And you know what? I'm okay with that. It's not right I think, because marriage is all about family... but whatever rocks their boat, I can come to respect.

I think like this now because I realized that people have their own standards for happiness. Mine? As long as I'm writing and reading and can buy myself a pretty pair of shoes now and then, I'm happy. As long as Vince is around, I'm happy. As long as my family is healthy, I'm happy. Some people think a marriage and kids will make them happy. Some people think a career will, or a pet, or a house by the beach, or lots of friends, or the approval of others. We're all different.

And that should be okay.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

This is my birthday gift...

...to myself.

Breathtakingly beautiful Steve Madden heels. Hot pink satin. Baby pink leather trim. Naughty ribbon around the sexy heel.

Bought the pair off eBay. I paid more than I usually allow myself for shoes. I winced when I handed over the cash. But you've got to agree that these heels are special.

Vince did. Well, of course...!

But as these had cost me a pretty penny, I'm going to declare these not just my birthday gift, but my Christmas and Valentine's gift to myself as well!

UPDATE: I wore them to my wedding on April 18, 2007. They were the best shoes I ever bought.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

What I think about on a slow Sunday evening...

Photo from Pexels.com

I turned 30 this week, folks. And I gotta say it's not so bad at all. Vince told me that 33 is the crisis age ("Jesus saved the world at 33... What have I done?!") so I have 3 more happy years left, I guess! Although from how my life has turned out, I'd dare say that life is just getting better.

* * * * * * *

When I was 10, I realized I wanted nothing more than to be a writer. Mama and papa weren't so happy with that but while they always made it clear they disapproved of my career choice, they nevertheless encouraged me to pursue it. So 20 years later, it's sweet to see my parents proud and happy that I've fulfilled a dream that may not have been theirs, but they accepted it anyway.

My gratitude to mama and papa is profound and endless.

* * * * * * *

When I was 13, I decided I must be an editor-in-chief of a magazine by 35. Well, I was 29 when it happened. Though I'm not complaining (who would?!?), I confess I'm kinda at a loss right now on what to do next.

I want to be published. I've always wanted to write a book and be published. That will be the day... to see my work in black and white, bound and displayed on a bookstore shelf, and I can open the pages and sniff them, and realize in ecstasy that the words are mine.

* * * * * * *

I'm not very good at fiction, although my Creative Writing professors and fellows at the UP National Writers Workshop may disagree (I hope!). Philippine writing greats Jing Hidalgo, Jimmy Abad and Butch Dalisay seem to have liked my fiction (I was likened to Raymond Carver but when I read him I felt we weren't similar at all!). Other esteemed local writers like Charlson Ong, however, sneered at my attempts.

I don't really mind because fiction isn't my forte; I'm more comfortable with essays. My professors Marra Lanot and Neil Garcia will maybe agree that I write non-fiction well. Even the formidable journalist Jo-Ann Maglipon told me I write well.

I've always been a competent essay writer. I'm very confident about that. What I'm not very confident about is getting a book out there. It's insane really. To hell with modesty but whenever I open a newspaper or a magazine here, all I read is terrible writing. Terrible! Some celebrated columnists in our major newspapers can't even get their prepositions right (Truth to tell, I like reading Tessa's column and Tim's... that's about it). At the very least you expect your newspapers and magazines to hire people who have their grammar down pat. But I know that these days, it's celebrity that matters, not competence.

* * * * * * *

Aside from getting moody about the state of Philippine literature, I also am aghast at the state of local television. I have to watch local TV because I'm in the celebrity business, and it pains me. I am literally wincing. Watching local shows is like putting a gun to your head and blowing your brains out. Man, what a waste of life. The sadder and scarier thing about this all is majority of the 85 million Filipinos lap it up.

* * * * * * *

Now this is what people should be watching...


Battlestar Galactica is the best television show I've watched in ages. Nothing else comes close. Absolutely nothing.

This sci-fi show is the best example of magnificent writing, dynamic special effects, emphatic human drama, and excellent acting.

I hope people will start watching stuff like BSG rather than the inane monstrosities out there.

* * * * * * *

So I go back to my dilemma: What's left to do now that I've achieved my ambition at 30?

I don't know... Life is wonderful as it is. I'm in shock sometimes on how things have turned out so well. I used to think that happiness was for other people. Now I know better.

I like 30. It's a very good age to be.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Shopping for rings

Photo by Rowan Heuvel from https://stocksnap.io/

Since Vince and I have been together for 7 and a half years, a wedding is imminent. We've always been content with our current status but this year was exceptionally happy, so happy and blessed, we finally found ourselves talking about marriage.

Vince wants to give me a ring. I don't really care about getting a ring because I want a house instead (haha, pricier). Vince says we'll get a house anyway so that point is moot. And since we've been together for so long (and since Vince knows I'm so finicky about my things), Vince decreed he wants me to go pick my ring instead of him surprising me with something I, well, won't like.

So I found myself shopping for engagement rings. In my quest, I've pressured my friend AJ and my brother Theodore to get their girlfriends engagement rings, too. My bro was supposed to get a cheap ring for Rose (oh the horror!) after all it's the wedding that counts but it's a good thing he listens to some advice because now he got a really great jeweler to make him a fantastic ring! AJ, on the other hand, wants to spend a lot on Leah but since she's a practical soul, she's insisting she doesn't want anything too pricey. So looking for rings (mine and theirs) have been quite an adventure and an education.

Anyway, as I browsed through yet another jeweler's wares, it was then that I found it:

It's an oval blue sapphire ring surrounded by diamonds. It's lovely! It's so Princess Diana (and on local shores, so Lucy Torres). Sapphires are super perfect because they symbolize faithfulness. And I love that deep blue! I prefer yellow gold though. Anyway, I told Vince about it and this is what he said, "For our engagement, you better get a diamond."

Actually, I've always wanted a yellow topaz ring. That's my birthstone and I like the color yellow. But Vince said a big fat NO. He said topazes are semi-precious and therefore unacceptable for forever. After a year of hemming and hawing, he finally agreed I can choose sapphires or rubies. So if it's rubies we're going for, I like this one:
Doesn't that look royal? I found that on the Neiman Marcus website. The stones are actually garnet but you get the idea. Isn't it beautiful? It looks fit for a queen! But Vince said I should think of getting a traditional ring. He says marriage is all about tradition so I better choose a diamond.

Okay, I ain't complaining. After all diamonds are the most precious stones on earth. But I never liked diamonds. They're so... Traditional. Conventional. Expected. And I've never been any of those! And, really now, what's the point of making me pick my ring when I'm going to end up with a diamond after all? Ohhh ... I guess that's the reason I ended up with Vince. I'm used to having my own way, but when Vince puts his foot down, I obey. Yup, Vince is the only man on earth who can make me happily obey him. And I do believe that no matter what I get for our engagement (a ring, a watch, a house, or—best of all—a yummy kiss!), I'm a lucky lucky girl!

How's this, then?
You can't get any less traditional than this beauty. It's simple. And it will look perfect with the wedding rings we want to get—simple gold bands a la the ring in Lord of the Rings. If I'm going the diamond way, I might as well go as simple as possible.

I still want that sapphire ring, though. I can afford it, too. Maybe I'll just buy it for myself... After all, I am turning 30. I better start buying some serious jewelry...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Tim and Celine are cool

Photo by Piotr Lahunko from https://stocksnap.io/

I've been getting a lot of questions from people about Manila's society and media prince and princess, Tim Yap and Celine Lopez. Apparently, these two young people were not well liked by most of the denizens of social climbers that overrun this huge (and tiny) cosmopolitan city. And because I've worked with them before, people are hoping for the dish on these two, and I'm sure people want to hear ugly stuff. Unfortunately for them, I like Tim and Celine.

Now, as a rule, I don't talk about celebrities that I've featured in my magazine. But since these two people are amazing to work with, I'll describe how Tim and Celine are like.

The first time I worked with them, I admit feeling a bit apprehensive. These two were members of a class I never belonged to (and I feel very comfortable not to ever join as they still seem like a strange species), and I was a little afraid I'd be treated like a second-class citizen. But I must say that my fears were ridiculous. Working with them had been a breeze—no diva demands, every detail needed discussed briefly but efficiently, punctual, and whenever I needed something, one text message is all I had to do and I had what I wanted from them pronto. If every person I worked with were like them, my life will be so much easier!

I had asked Celine if we could visit the Lopez ancestral home in Iloilo. I anticipated a negative response since she's a very busy Manila girl, but surprisingly she said yes. The photo shoot had problems because I was on a limited budget and I didn't know how to tell Celine that I can't afford to pay for an entourage (I thought all society girls had that). When I mumbled out this concern, she laughed and assured me, "Don't worry! I can do my own hair and makeup. I'll choose my own clothes. And don't worry about the food—we'll serve you the best of Iloilo!" (She made good on her promise—my God, the food was incredible, and was served every two hours!) So off we flew to Iloilo with photographer Sara Black and shoot director Luis Espiritu. Celine brought a friend of hers, Miguel Pastor, but his airfare didn't come out of my budget. And since he was fun and intelligent too, it was definitely the more the merrier!

The shoot was a success. Celine woke up earlier than we did (an ungodly 8 AM for me since we stayed up late talking about Dynasty and ghost stories from World War II—which scared me hence I couldn't sleep!). She regaled us with outrageous tales about her (political) family, funny childhood memories, and even took us on a sightseeing tour of Iloilo City and Guimaras Island complete with tour guide commentary. She didn't complain about staying under the hot sun (I did—I get burned very easily) or lying down on the muddy grass, or posing in front of a carabao that had very scary sharp horns. Then when our van overheated in the middle of nowhere, she flagged down a tricycle. No airs at all.

But what really impressed me was how she treats the household help. Most of the time, you see the real character of a person by how he treats his inferiors. Celine treated all the manangs and drivers with respect, joking with them, making sure they ate already, always saying please and making lambing. And it wasn't an act. Parating pa lang yung sasakyan namin sa bahay, tuwang-tuwa na yung reception committee—definitely no fear of the master there.

Now Tim is Celine's friend and so when I called him up a few months later, I felt more at ease. I thought he'd be just as nice and I was right. For this shoot at his psychedelic home in Mandaluyong, I was late. I hate to be late because it's unprofessional. But when I got there, he was all friendly and chatty, like we were old friends. He asked if I ate corn on the cob because he had spied a street vendor and he wanted some hot mais.

While shooting, we realized to our dismay that because of his super colorful house, it was hard to photograph him. His surroundings (something straight from Alice in Wonderland and Austin Powers) overpowered him. The shoot dragged on and on as Tim patiently tried on one outfit after another until we found the perfect clothes and angles. All that time, he chattered non-stop about his life (our editorial assistant Kate Alvarez was interviewing him), his house, his dog Super, and so on and so forth. Kate's questions never seemed to stop yet Tim was game to answer everything, even the personal ones.

I learned three things from Tim that day:
  1. Never say no to work. Small-time, big-time, as long as it's decent, it pays you cold hard cash. Sleep is for the lazy or the dead.
  2. Always honor your parents. You owe them big time and the only way you can repay them is with honor and respect.
  3. Remember the people you work with. This town is small so if you want to be successful, treat everyone you meet with respect and you will be rewarded with more friends, jobs, and money.
I bump into Tim and Celine at parties now and then. I'm not friends with them but they are always very friendly to me, which surprises me because I'm usually very reserved at parties (I don't like venturing out of my house after 7 PM, which makes me gruff and monosyllabic at late-night gatherings). I don't claim to know Tim and Celine personally, but from what I've seen they are decent people. For those who ask me and want to hear nasty stuff about them, sorry, you'll have to look elsewhere. Good people are hard to come by these days so when I find them, it's only right to say they are good.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

In which I realize how lucky I am... all over again!


Vince surprised me with roses. Two dozen long-stemmed pale peach buds that blushed pink in their very middle. There was no real reason for the flowers, but I was giddy with joy. I love that he loves to love me!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Old Stories Continued

Photo by Alisa Anton from https://stocksnap.io/

(Note: This entry contains old posts from my former blog.)

MARRIAGE MATTERS
07/27/2005
09:35:53 PM

What a strange weekend I had. I was talking to Mama and Papa. The conversation inevitably turned to marriage plans—or rather the lack thereof. I know I'm 28, and for some unfortunate people, that age is ancient. I ought to be married and having babies by now. How funny really. I cannot stress enough that I am unlike many women—I have other ambitions.

I am not anti-marriage at all. I do believe in it. I totally respect that it is a sacred institution, a contract you do not go into lightly. And therefore, I have no romantic notions of it. While most girls dreamed of how they would look on their wedding day, I—at a very early age—had a startlingly clear concept of marriage: It is a life of complete and selfless service. So the gown, flowers and all of course had to be gorgeous and perfect! It's the last day you'll ever truly be your own true self. The rest of your life will be in servitude to your husband, your children and your now two families. Not that that's a bad thing, okay? A life of service can actually be filled with meaning. But do I have to rush into that?

Most of my early life, I had been taught to be a wife. I learned to cook, to clean, to wash and iron and mend clothes, to walk and sit and behave like a good wife should. Those skills are useful especially when you're living on your own. But back in the days, I resented the lessons so much (especially since I also had to actually serve everyone in the family—that's 10 of us. So you can understand that I'm quite tired of all this serving business). These skill were taught—not for my OWN benefit, but for the benefit of my future husband. 

It's hardly inspiring really, being told that I have to be beautiful all the time, and to be polite and pleasant, and charming and efficient, and dutiful, obedient and submissive—for an unknown MAN. I think parents should instruct all those things (which I believe are good) to their daughters and tell them it's for their own good, not because a man will benefit from such qualities one day. Parang bonus na lang yun, diba?

I do want to get married one day far off in the distant future. When I'm ready to serve. When I'm ready to lay down my life for people. When I'm ready to love—in all the true and deep and selfless sense of that word.

* * * * * * *

ALL ABOUT VINCE
09/08/2005 10:30:31 AM

I'm in love. I would never have thought it can actually happen in real life but after six years five months and three days, I look at Vince and realize I'm still crazy about this guy!

Now, it's not been a bed of roses all those six years. We've fought. And then we've fought badly. But we talk and talk and talk till it's okay and then it's wonderful again. Well, even when we fight or during the bad times, it was never of utter despair because we knew we were going to work things out anyway. We have never ever broken up. It is never a prerogative. Will Smith was once asked why his marriage was so intact and he said, "There is no Plan B." He said that signing a prenuptial, thinking of divorce, preparing for a life without your significant other is Plan B. And when you have a Plan B, there's no way you're going to work hard to make Plan A work. Sensible man, this Will Smith. So is Vince.

That's one of the things I love about Vince. He's smart and very very logical. In all our time together, I have never felt bored with him. He always has something interesting to say. He's always poking around for something new to know and he's always encouraging me in my self-improvement pursuits. Like my French classes.

That's another thing I love about Vince. He's so secure and mature and supportive. He has no qualms about my wearing sexy clothes, dyeing my hair crazy colors, going out all night with people he doesn't know... He has never ever told me I can't do anything. He encourages me to state my opinions all the time, he encourages me to make friends, he loves hearing about my adventures without him, he respects my need to be alone, he understands my need to be unmarried and my fear of becoming a mother. He lets me be who I am. He just doesn't like green eyeshadow on me! Now—aside from the eyeshadow comment—the ability of a man to allow his woman to be who she is and to do what she wants speaks volumes about that man's capability to trust and respect his woman and himself.

A secure and confident man is hell of a lot sexy.


And sexiness is something I also love about Vince. Looking at him—quiet, slim, and so docile-looking—sex may be the last thing on your mind. But when I look at him or think about him, that's the first thing on my mind! And how can I not think about spending 24/7 wrapped around this man? This man who is so passionate and eager to please and sweet and romantic and funny and naughty and amazingly smart and an endless source of surprise?

Yup, that's Vince and more. A whole lot more. I'll never find someone like him. I'm deeply, madly, incredibly, tenderly, passionately in love with him. Hence, I'm looking forward to forever with this man.

COMMENT:
Justinne
09/10/2005
08:35:11 AM
Woohoo! There's two of us now. Thought I was the only one very much in love in this world. =P
But really, I'm so happy for you (and Vince, too). Always stay happy and in love, Franz dear!


Liz
09/29/2005 05:45:50 PM

Awwww...you're very lucky, but at the same time, Vince is very lucky to have you :-) One day, I hope I'll have that special someone too :-) But enough about me....Happy for you! :-)

* * * * * * *

BLESSINGS GALORE!
11/16/2005
10:52:32 AM

I had a very interesting evening today. The editors of T3, Total Girl and OK! were invited to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at Promenade Greenhills. We learned how tea is made, the various types, the nuances in flavor, plus we got to sample their wonderful teas, breads and dishes. Man, I didn't even know caf├ęs served real GOOD food! Well, they don't; that's why I can't stand those places. Then we had this evening at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and my eyes were opened! Grabe, sarap! Vince and I were absolutely stunned at the tea they served. We have been tea drinkers for years but tonight, we are ashamed to call ourselves that. How can we be fans of tea and NOT KNOW what we learned and tasted tonight? Now we understand why the tea at supermarkets were reasonably priced—they taste awful compared to CBTL. There's no going back for us now!

This is one of the reasons why I love my job. I get to meet lots of people, learn new things, go to new places, and eat so well! For FREE!

Just recently, Lucy Torres taught us how to select cheeses for entertaining; I had a fantastic dinner (made my toes curl and my eyes roll in their sockets!) at the Manila Pen while I watched a fashion show; had a delightful afternoon with Audrey Tan and Rep. Miguel Zubiri talking about love and weddings; got to eat a whole meal made of the ingredients of Euphoria, a new perfume from CK (it was a fragrant experience, I must say); and was practically given a shopping spree by Debenhams (which I spent on mama, papa and Vince). That's just recently. I could go on and on about the many wonderful things I get to see and eat and do every month!

Growing up, I didn't have much. While I felt there was a world of experiences out there, I was always told I had enough, that I'm blessed, that I shouldn't look for more. Well, now experiencing all these things for free... NOW I can say I'm REALLY blessed!

It's amazing how the world is so full of beautiful things. Delightful things! Whenever I taste a treat like a delectable cheese platter served with dry wine and fruit, I am overwhelmed at how God can create such wonders and how He has given people the talent to put together these awesome dishes and how He has given me the senses to experience them. I mean, when the flavors hit your tongue, the smells, the textures, the gorgeous colors of the food... that's when you know how it really feels to be alive! I feel the same way when I go see a fashion show with beautiful clothes and design, or when I meet people who are so talented and driven to use their life for some good, or when I get products that work like magic because they make me look fabulous almost instantly, or when I go to places and I see how breathtaking the world really is. I mean, how can you NOT believe there is a God when you get to experience all these wonderful things?

Makes me wonder why my parents insisted that we remain poor to be holy. WHY?! How can you appreciate life and God when you're miserable?

COMMENT:
Justinne
11/16/2005
05:50:18 PM

Amen! God is really amazing. I just love Him!!!
Anyway, una muna, let me greet you a happy belated birthday. :D Pangalawa, paumanhin po at hindi ako nakapagparamdam nung huling uwi ko. :P Promise, I will contact you pag-uwi namin sa December. I hope you won't be too busy, though. Pero kahit pa busy ka, kailangang magkita tayo. Miss na kita e. :) Muahz!


* * * * * * *

New Blog, Old Posts

Photo by Luis Llerena from Stocksnap.io.
Hello. My name is Frances, and this is my new blog.

I've discontinued my Friendster blog for two reasons: I don't want to pay for it anymore, and I didn't like how a visitor had to be signed in to Friendster before he/she can post a comment. So here I am!

I still kept the old title, though. Topaz Horizon. Topaz is my favorite gem. It's also my birth gemstone.

I find it such a waste that my other posts will be deleted soon (I have until June 6 to transfer posts here!) so this first post will be a very long post. I'm putting here the best of the other blog. Enjoy!

MUSIC MUSINGS
05/24/2005 05:21:11 AM

I have no passion for music.

Vince was telling me the other night that everyone should study music. We were watching Discovery Channel and a particular topic was being discussed—that of the role of music in Christian history. They were saying that music is a mathematical method of subjugating new cultures. I wasn't really listening. As I said, I wasn't into the thing. But Vince then said what he said, and all my insecurities came bubbling up again.


Coming from a musical family, I have learned to tune it out, instead of embracing it as part of my heritage. It must have been all those piano and voice lessons where I was punished repeatedly, not for being dull but for questioning the methods of teaching used. My family and teachers got upset, and finally, through sheer force of will, I defied them all and said I will not study music. Ever. So while my siblings and cousins are playing numerous instruments, singing at concerts, composing songs and making albums, I'm writing. I never felt the loss. Well, except when my voice went away. I can't sing anymore.


So it's such a tragic irony that I fell in love with a man who is passionate about music. He is in love with all forms of music (except pop!). He really knows a lot about it, too. It's not just a laid-back appreciation but an active participation in the listening, discussion and love for it. I know he's disappointed that I don't care for it not one bit.


And then last year he met a girl who loved music. She says that music is "the river of her life." Vince was swept off his feet. He was intrigued. Fascinated. He couldn't get enough of this girl. I was furious, of course. I railed and wept and stormed. He said he didn't love her (which I do believe now is true); he just was amazed that he met a kindred soul. Someone who understood that huge aspect of him. And I was devastated. Especially since I could have been someone who shared that passion if I had grown up with different decisions. I had thought after that I would change to what I "should be", embrace music again, study it, learn its nuances, and maybe Vince will find me fascinating.


Strange.


I'm glad I didn't do that. I would've been doing it out of insecurity. I would've done it for him. Wrong motivations.


More than a year later, though, I am being reintroduced to Tori Amos' poetry, Maroon 5's scathing beats, swirling classical music, Lenny Kravitz's erotica, musicals and operas and so much more. It's wonderful actually. I like it. I don't think I'll ever love it as I prefer silence always. But it's an aspect of life I'm now more willing to explore. I've grown up a bit. And I like it more because it happened out of my personal awareness to discover more about life. And music, of course, makes up so much of life. I have been missing out a lot.


And obviously, there was no need to change myself. Vince is still with me despite my non-musicality. And I do believe we're even more in love than before. Thank God our love is more than about the music.

COMMENT:
Jillaceous
05/26/2005 08:00:37 PMFran,
You weren't meant to make music alone...
You and Vince -- now that's good music!
xxx

Ria
05/29/2005 12:04:15 AM
can totally relate - though, we come from different backgrounds, with me coming from a not-a-very-musical family... all my exes have been musica buffs. but i think this year, i started 'changing' a bit, for myself. have started listening to different tunes, orienting myself, but it's slow going, only last week i had to ask what r&b meant! hehe.
but im so glad to hear (read) that you and vince are still very much in love. its inspiring!


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SADNESS SMUDGE ON HAPPINESS
06/02/2005 04:44:09 AM

I had a strange thought today. After lunch, Vince and I were talking about an apparently silly thing—if we were interns now, which magazine would we work for? So we were joking about the different magazines and editorial teams, talking about the pros and cons then Vince asked me, "Didn't you want to be in Marie Claire?"

And I was caught suddenly in that moment, looking at myself in all honesty and seriously wondering why I had changed my mind.

Then I said, "I don't know, Vince. I still love that magazine but I'm a different person now from last year."

And he said, strangely insightful, "Yes, you are."

And we smiled and continued to smoke in silence.

What I meant by that is I'm no longer the gung-ho, let's-change-the-world activist that I was. I'm no longer the angry young feminist. I've changed, and I didn't even notice. Till today, of course.

I'm still very much the feminist, don't get me wrong. But there's no more anger there. I feel that battles can now be won with very feminine traits—gentleness, kindness, perseverance, endurance, understanding, and love. No chest-pounding, foot-stomping, screaming protests for me anymore.
I always did say that women are most powerful when they are at their most feminine.

Also, I realized as I typed away at an article this afternoon that I have changed from the happy-go-lucky, not-a-care-in-the-world girl of last year. Well, actually last year was such a traumatic time for me. I do feel I grew up drastically in the space of 12 months. But now, looking back, I realize that while I may not be the carefree girl anymore, in a strange way, I am so much happier now.

My happiness stems from knowing that everything I have is very fragile and fleeting, that I can't claim anything as my own, that the world can fall away any moment. Everything, suddenly, is so dear. A smile, a laugh, an I love you, a handhold, a kiss. My job. My few, few friends. My family. My life.

This temporal state of things is something we've always been warned about, but I never really felt it to be true till last year. So everything now is suddenly grandly majestic and beautiful. My happiness is always tinged with a little sadness smudge. And its presence makes every tiny bit of happiness all the more real and precious.

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CHRISTIANITY COMMENTS
06/19/2005 02:53:33 AM

Will it be so surprising to say that I'm a born-again Christian? Honestly, I don't want to be called that anymore. I just tell people I'm a very spiritual person, someone who believes in God with all her heart and struggle every day to be like Christ. I am not ashamed to be part of Christ. After all, He has rescued me from so many horrors. A lot of people will be more surprised to know what I've been though in my life—and it's not just the abusive relationship I had in college, which people do know about. I've had plenty more sinister experiences than that. Thank God for the resilience of childhood and His unending grace.

Still, I don't like being called born-again. They now have this terrible reputation of being some of the most judgmental people on earth. Gandhi once said that he admired Jesus Christ and would've followed Christ himself were it not for Christians. That is so sad. Well, I'm not going to be Pontius Pilate and say I'm so gloriously holy myself. That's why it's sad that a lot of people get shocked when they find out I'm, well, born-again. I'm a highly sexual being, I'm a bit averse to marriage, I'm very proud and selfish. Not very admirable qualities there, you may agree. I have a lot of things to change in my life but one thing I do try not to be is judgmental and cruel to other people.

There's this girl I know who got "saved" last year. I don't know... She seems to have turned out for the worse. She's more impatient with people now, more judgmental, more masungit and angry. Worse, she now has that fire-and-brimstone attitude and she wields it with all the fury of a holy man. "Everyone's a sinner! No one's good enough! You're all going to hell!" Except her, of course. I'm not surprised. Most new Christians are really like that. I should know. I grew up in that world. These Christians revel in their new-found salvation and like to parade it around: "I'm going to heaven, I'm going to heaven!" and then they love to point accusing fingers at other people. As if they never sinned, or keep sinning themselves. She's so smug, this girl. I'm glad I don't have to deal with her anymore so often. It's so sad. It's people like her that turned me off from my church. My so-called Christian friends treated the new guy I was dating back then—who unfortunately happened to be an "unbeliever"—like a pariah. Is that how Jesus would've treated him? Strange.

The thing is with these people, they like the thought that they're "washed with the blood" and others aren't. They become holier-than-thou. Having Christ in our lives, we should be humbled even more. We should have more compassion towards other people, knowing that Christ died even for them and that they need Him and His love. And that we are MERE INSTRUMENTS of His will. Instead, we born-again Christians behave like it's an exclusive club. "You're an unbeliever. I'm a believer. If you'd like to gain exclusive entry into heaven, here's the ticket: Say this prayer and voila! We're better than everybody else!"

It's just tragic. It turns away souls. I should know. It turned me away. I just don't want to have anything to do with these people. I just want to meet people who love God, are humble, and spiritual. People who are earnestly trying to follow His will and serve Him. People who'd like to spread the love of God in a humble manner.

I don't want to be surrounded by these ravenous wolves in sheep's clothing. They're out to kill.

COMMENT:
Heinz
07/06/2005 06:38:07 PMAha! Kapatid pala kita. ;)

I don't like the term either. For one, it's an oxymoron. And two, yes, it has been misused and abused by all kinds of people. And three, the behavior of some have turned off people. Did you watch the movie "Saved!"?
But you have to be patient also with some Christians. We are, after all, all works in progress. Pag-pray mo na lang sila. :)


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DEFINING ROMANTIC
06/21/2005
10:22:10 PM

"Perhaps the greatest measure of love is not in ending up with someone who Fate decreed was yours but choosing someone simply because you both want to make it work. I think that's more romantic, don't you?"

Vince said that. And you know what? He's right.

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(to be continued...)