Busy Advent

Good old reliable Wikipedia.com defines advent as a season of the Christian church, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Christ (from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”). Well, we all get tired of waiting. Since the first candle of the advent wreath has been lit, it seemed like my busy days never stopped.

After more than three months of practice, 10 o’clock prayers, vocalization and rehearsals, we won! My first and last experience as a member of the UST College of Science Glee Club has been very fruitful. Our group won 2nd Runner-up among the eight chorales who joined the UST-wide song festival. I am so amazed by our performance I can’t still believe I was part of it, not until the 10th time I watched our video through Youtube.com (Behold, I was really there!). A massive improvement can be observed in the way the organizers held the contest. It was also the first time I was given a bouquet of flowers (courtesy of my block). I love wearing the purple monochromatic Barong Tagalog costume. One side effect: I still sing “Kaisa-isa Niyan” and “Scenes from the North” while taking a shower (weird, but true).

Teen No More
Gone are my teenage years. I’m twenty. Interestingly, I turned twenty in Los Banos, Laguna during the time my thesis group mates (Sherry, Tina, Krizia and TJ) and I were presenting our thesis in UPLB for the 12th Annual Convention of the Natural Products Society of the Philippines. During the afternoon of December 6, TJ presented our thesis. A guy from UP-Diliman made a ‘comment’ about our research. This was graciously honoured by our group and TJ answered back well. (People from UP tend to be very inquisitive!) After socializing with other young scientists, the real activity began – vacacion engrande!

We went back to our hotel (Anest Tower) around 5pm and changed into our swimming attire. After packing, we went straight to Splash Mountain Hot Springs Resort and checked out the amenities. We left the place to grab dinner at Pizza Hut and went back to the resort where we plunged into four pools with water coming from the mountain hot springs. It was a relaxing experience. It was my first time to dive into hot springs and I enjoyed the smoky mist while swimming. We came back to our hotel room before midnight. When December 7 came (around 12 MN), my friends sang a birthday song for me, gave me a weird-looking cake, and poured some mudslide, but all of us were sleepy so after about five minutes of smiles, everyone was knocked-out and went to bed.

The next day, we took more pictures of Laguna, stuffed ourselves with more food, and hurriedly drove our way back to Manila.

Christmas cheers me up. Whenever we put up our Christmas tree and I see trimmings of red and green wherever I go, it means that my birthday is fast approaching… and more importantly, the birth of Jesus is near. The mood carries me away. The December breeze relaxes my tired muscles, the Christmas songs make me sing along, and the colourful campus lights make me smile. No matter how crowded the mall gets, how traffic the roads be, and how hectic my schedule turns out, I am still happy during the holiday season. There is still that excitement whenever I receive a gift (knowing that I’ll have another mug, candle or organizer). December is also a party-filled month. It is also during this season that I ran out of money because I have to buy gifts. Even if telephone companies crash, and we all have hard times in sending SMS messages or calling our loved ones, we still do it. It is a yearly tradition that runs forever.
Behind the festivities, I think people must always be reminded of Christ’s birth. If it wasn’t for Jesus who lived among us, there will be no Christmas. Throughout the holiday season, one song keeps on playing inside my head. It is entitled ‘Munting Sanggol’ by Ryan Cayabyab. Its lines capture the real meaning of ‘Pasko,’ and since I heard the UST Singers’ interpretation, it has been etched in my eardrum. Here it is:

Munting sanggol kalung-kalong ng iyong ina
Munting sanggol may ningning ang iyong mga mata
Batid mo bang kay raming naghihintay sa’yo
Nananabik, nag-aabang sa pagsilang mo

Mga pastol sa sabsaban ay nagpupugay
Tatlong hari mula silangan ay nag-aalay
Dala’y ginto, kamanyang at mira
Para sa’yo Hesus hari ng sanlibutan

At nagsisiawit ang mga anghel sa langit
Luwalhati sa Diyos sa kaitaasan
At sa lupa’y kapayapaan
Gloria in excelsis deo

String of Parties

All I can say is that this month has been a ‘December of Parties.’ I just turned 18 and my schedule has been full of get-togethers. What a way to celebrate the merry season of Christ’s birth!

Currently, I am subscribed to SEEK through my mobile phone. Through this, I receive daily GOOD NEWS, not exactly Bible verses but thoughts which make one reflect about life, love, and to my surprise, about parties! One message suggested that I must look at parties in a different way – look at its purpose, result, and value. Because of that, I have written this sort of evaluation regarding some of the parties I’ve attended this month.

Dec 03 @ Gerry’s Grill:
It was my classmate’s (Krizia) 19th birthday and I’ve found out that ‘Pecten’ (scallops) really do taste good. Aside from that, it became a ‘bonding’ moment for our block. It was a confirmation that each of us in our class care for one another. I am very thankful for the ride home (c/o Kix).

Dec 07 @ Cafe Dapits:
I turned 18 on this day and I celebrated this special event with my blockmates. There were three of us who organized this party almost a month before the event. It was a success! Without the efforts of Sherry and Vincent (also December celebrants), our party would’nt be that great.

Dec 17 @ an orphanage and @ Lampara w/ 2B:
My emotions were controlled by the kids at the orphanage I (together with 2B) visited. We fed them, took care of them, and touched their lives even for a few minutes. I felt unusual happiness, specially with a kid named RJ, specially when he flashed that innocent smile. After that heartwarming experience, I attended their (2B) party at Lampara where I felt very welcome and entertained. Lesson: visit children and orphanages once in a while, it makes your heart softer. For the party? Well, it taught me how to laugh for almost 10 minutes straight! (Oh, how my jaws hurt!… Thanks for inviting me Raf & Jomar)

Dec 18 @ Benavides Park:
I made new friends through this Christmas Party of the College of Science Journal. People who I haven’t talked to very seriously before seemed like close friends of mine. I also felt the real spirit of sharing – food sharing that is – as we fed ourselves with a bucket of KFC chicken, Greenwich pizza and bottled Coke, the amount of which were EXACTLY enough for us… No more, no less.

Dec 19 @ Ty’s Residence a.k.a. Class Party:
Who would’nt take note of the exchange gift? We had this ‘wish list’ and my wish was granted. It was a party to remember because never before has our class bonded together – in song and in dance! One room thumped as the boys went wild singing Britney and Boyzone hits (freaky!) and the other danced like there was no tomorrow. How thankful I am for having this chance to wind up after academic suffocation.

Dec 23 @ Bougainvillea ala-debut!:
I never imagined that my 18th Birthday celebration here in my hometown will be this great! I invited my high school batchmates and it became a simple reunion. Not only that, there was a program – the stand-up comedy left us with stomachaches, my classmates gave some mushy messages, games were played, and of course, great food!

Dec 26 @ my Bestfriend’s house:
I told my Dad that I’ll be back at 9pm and guess what, I went home at 7:30 in the morning. Our high school class reunion became an overnight stay! Anyway, a lot of things happened but it all boiled down to one saying: Make new friends but keep the old ones…

There is only one thing I regret – I never completed the 9 mornings of Simbang Gabi (ironic huh? mornings but ‘gabi’? whatever!)