Monthly Archives: December 2012

Baby Janjan

We love you and we miss you.

We love you and we miss you.

It’s been more than 4 years when we had you, and then lost you, too soon. 😦 Despite all the sad memories of yesteryears the very clear image I have of your innocent face still lingers in our hearts and heads. And together with that are the precious lessons, your very short life offered.

They say that our names have stories to tell. They proclaim to the world the life we are to live. I guess it’s true. You made me realized that when you were gone. Before, I couldn’t quite understand its meaning. I couldn’t put it together. I remember one scene in the cemetery while looking at your tomb. I was asked what all these had brought me? I was stunned. I didn’t know how to answer. I was caught flat footed. Or maybe I was too sad, too blinded by pain that I can’t think of a sensible reply. So I just kept quiet. Looking back though, after weathering a number of storms, I discovered the wisdom. I, together with the whole family received the many blessings your name carry.

God is gracious, God has brought me PEACE. This I’ll remember all days of my life. This I’ll never get tired of sharing to my future daughters and sons. How surreal that was. I was in pain and at peace at the same time. I was hurting but I felt being comforted by Your warm embrace. I was crying yet I heard Your soft voice telling me to pick up the missing pieces of my life and find the joy I once had.

God is gracious, God has brought me UNDERSTANDING. That everything has a purpose even the pain in our lives. No matter how trite this sounds, pain is there to make me stronger and wiser. It will sometimes hurt like hell, but then it won’t kill. Things will get better but I have to will it. As they say, You cannot steer a parked car. I should be intentional in learning the lessons of life and finding joy doing it.

God is gracious, God has brought me FORGIVENESS. The heart was made not to carry grudges but love that’s meant to be shared no matter how difficult it is. Life’s a total drag when there’s too much baggage. Travel light. Forgive and forget. Easier said than done, though. I continuously pray that I’ll get better doing this. After all, I fail and go astray every now and then just like everyone else. Yet despite the ugliness of my sins, I can always run back to You and be forgiven.

God is gracious, God has brought me STRENGTH. Truly, I am made of really good stuff. After all I came from God. But these inner resources I have will constantly be tested by life’s adversaries. Life will never run out of stumbling blocks and pitfalls. I will falter and fall but I can always dress my wounds and stand up again. I’ve hurdled many storms and I’m still alive. That’s something to be mighty proud about.

God is gracious, God has brought me DREAMS. And these are not dreams forever flying in wonderland. These are dreams that are meant to come true. These are dreams which God planted at the very depth of my heart. I have the blueprint now. I will make sure it won’t take me forever to have them realized.

God is gracious, God has brought me COURAGE. The courage to push forward, conquer territories I’ve never seen before, try things never in my life I thought I would be doing. The courage to change, to keep moving, to keep growing by doing things even when I am afraid.

God is gracious, God has brought me JOY. The kind that is not superficial. The one that comes from the very depth of my soul. The kind that can make me smile even in times of stress and trials knowing that I am truly, perfectly, and completely loved. The kind that makes me sing songs of joy and gratitude even when my knees are shaking not knowing what things may come.

God is gracious, God has brought me FAITH. And it’s not something that was just handed over to me by someone else. Not a second rate version. It’s something I discovered myself with God’s grace and love. It’s something that I decided to own because I felt it and discovered its beauty and wonders myself. And when I did, my whole life changed. I felt renewed. I felt like being born again. New beliefs, simpler yet stronger this time around.

God is gracious, God has brought me HOPE. Hope for better days ahead. Hope for brighter tomorrows. Hope for many more joys yet to claim. Hope for endless good things to come even in times of trouble, even when it’s all dark around, even when success is so elusive, even when truth is hard to find.

God is gracious, God has brought me LOVE. And because of this overflowing love I was purified. I felt clean. I felt beautiful. I felt ready to love again. I felt ready to love others but most importantly myself.

God is gracious, God has brought me YOU. You and the many lessons you gave. You helped me brought back my life. A life that’s filled with peace, understanding, forgiveness, strength, dreams, courage, joy, faith, hope, and love. A life that’s meant to be lived wisely, fruitfully and gratefully. A life that should not go to waste.

I can never thank you enough for being with us even for just a short while. I will thank God a million times for letting you live with us. I hugged you. I carried you. I kissed you even for just a short while. I’ll think of you when I’m happy. I’ll think of you when I’m sad. I’ll remember you in times of triumphs. I’ll remember you in times of drought. I will love you all days of my life. 🙂


A Christmas Story


Candies, lollies, cookies. Trees, wreaths, socks. Stars, lights, and presents. Cold air, happy kids and Santa Claus of course. You can’t deny its Christmas.

It’s my second Christmas on board. Happy holiday once again! The lively decorations in every nook and section of the ship is truly a feast for the eyes. But then despite all the works, nothing compares to spending this joyous event with friends and families back home. It becomes more meaningful because you spend it with people you love.

Being busy has in a way its own rewards. One’s too occupied with something, you don’t have time to focus on things that make you sad. Home sickness, for instance. 😦 It’s strange how sometimes this can hit you. It can cut very deep to your core which can be stressful and draining. It can kill your joy and sap your strength. There’s an empty feeling inside, a void which is hard to fill. So thanks to the overtime work! Never mind the glitter I took with me to bed for many nights. In those few fleeting hours, I felt tired yet glad.

Random thoughts were still swimming in my head for days until came Christmas eve. I attended the mass together with some other youth staff before joining the Christmas party in our department. I felt extremely happy I went there to the Marquee for this. The priest’s homily was simple yet moving. For the first time in almost a month of preparation, I realized with new understanding what Christmas meant. The priest did this skilfully by sharing the story of a young boy he knows who has a part in a Christmas play. He was supposed to be one of the many people whom Mary and Joseph asked for a room to stay. They practiced for days and it all went good but then on the final day, the history of Christmas changed. For instead of saying no, he said “Yes there is” and he let the holy family in. 🙂  The priest never mentioned how the story ended. I’m pretty sure the audience were surprised and so did the other cast. But thanks to that small part of the story, a fountain of inspiration was born.

Jesus came many years ago to show God’s love for us. Sometimes in our desire to make Christmas an extra happy event we come up with many things that only blurs our vision of what this day is all about. But when we remove all the fluff and focus on what’s important, it’s really all about him. His mercy, grace, trust, and love. He comforts the lonely and uplifts the spirit of the sad. He forgives the sinners, brings hope to the sick. Yes, He’s all that I need. 🙂

Every day and not just on Christmas, may we never forget to let him in when he knocks upon our hearts. Let’s not get tired of writing our own Christmas story. Thanks for saying yes little boy! Merry Christmas to all.

2nd Christmas @ the Dawn

2nd Christmas @ the Dawn

Slowing Down in Fiordlands

Happy in Fiorlands with friends

Happy in Fiorlands with friends

I woke up very early with gladness in my heart. Welcome to Fiordlands. What a dreamland!!! Yet despite today’s promise, many times I tried to push away the cellphone alarming beside me. My eyes were heavy. I was hoping to get some more sleep. So ring, snooze, stop. Ring, snooze, stop. I thought it would go on forever. Thankfully it did not. After some time, I was finally able to convince myself to get up.

Without much thinking this time, I bravely went under the shower’s extra cold water. What a way to waken my senses! Good thing after a few minutes the water turned hot. I got dressed and tried hard to set aside the laziness still bugging me inside. And  then the phone rang. It was Ate Mona reminding me about last night’s plans. So I went to the mess to meet Donna and the other girls. We all had a   hearty breakfast. 🙂 Excitedly we gobbled our food. And this was very challenging for someonle like me who takes pleasure
doing things slowly particularly eating.

Right after, off we went to the nearest lift which took us to deck 11. Then we took a short walk which eventually lead us to deck 14, the top deck. Happy we came just in time. There were a number of passengers who were equally eager to see the majestic beauty of Fiordlands. Patiently, we all waited. It was freezing up there. I never felt this cold before. It was way colder than the how it felt the first time I set my foot in Sydney. There’s something about the wind that sends chills all over my body. I contemplated on going back to my cabin to get an extra jacket. But I know I’d be wasting my precious time so I finally decided not to.We walked around the jogging track. New Zealand is such a beautiful place. It was beautiful to me when I went here early this year. It’s still beautiful up to now. It’ll forever be beautiful for me.

Around 6:30 am when we started approaching the giant mountains which look nothing but big chunks of rocks from afar. The thick fog was all over the place blocking our view. But then after a while we witnessed with our very own eyes why this place is considered a treasure. The sun rays slowly unraveling the loveliness of the whole surroundings was picture perfect. Its beauty was priceless. Click, click went cameras here and there. There were so many free smiles to give and model poses to flaunt. Everyone wanted to make a tangible memory of the whole experience.

With this thought in mind we decided to get a better spot. Luckily, Donna’s friend was there and he helped us look for that secret niche hidden somewhere. Down we went to deck 8 forward till we reached the crew pool. And whoa!!! The sight was incomparable. It’ll forever be painted in my head. The bones inside me seemed to stiffen due to extreme cold. Hypothermia!!! But carry on I did just to partake more of this extraordinary event. It was truly overwhelming. There were mountains all covered with green.Waterfalls were there to enliven everything. There were soft clouds kissing the mountain peaks.These giant mountains were covered with pure white snow. We saw sea lions swimming beside the ship much to our hearts’ delights. There were 3 people kayaking to our left side. They looked tiny orange dots free floating amidst the vastness of the ocean’s blue water. Right where I was standing, I had a glimpse of Captain Lupo from the Bridge. Throngs of happy people everywhere.

All these and more. The smallest details were skillfully painted in my head. I must say it helped that Pacific Dawn was moving slowly. We got a clear view of Fiorlands’ impeccable beauty. It brought me peace and it brought me joy. These two feelings were enough to make me overcome the shivers
that tortured me for hours. Peace and quiet yet there’s a charming and grounding joy attached to it. I just needed that. In the stillness of everything I somehow heard a soft voice inside me that whispers just two words – go slow. Feel the movement of the placid waves as they go up and down, gently rocking a weary soul. Listen to the wind’s sweet lullaby. Go slow. Look for pretty things offered. Clear one’s thoughts from worries. Think about many good things to come. Go slow.Give thanks for all graces received. Be happy for the life we live.

Maybe sometimes we should afford to go slow no matter how crazy and fast paced everything is. Only then do see real beauty. Only then do we pay more attention. Only then we find meaningful joys. Thank you for this wonderful day! 🙂

On Break


Ships have their own language and terminology. This can be exciting but also a real burden for someone new to life at sea. These are just some of the interesting words that were added to my vocabulary last year when I joined Pacific Dawn for the first time. There’s actually a long list but I opted to cut it short.

aft – the rear of the ship
forward – the front area of the ship
bridge – the ship’s command centre
cabin – a compartment for passengers or crew
deck – floor
debark – an abbreviation for the word disembark meaning to land or go ashore from a ship
embark – to go aboard a ship to begin a journey
galley – the ship’s kitchen
gangway – location where the walkway is located to disembark a ship
IPM – in port manning, specific umber of crew members required to remain on board while the ship is in port, in case of an emergency
port – the left side of the ship when looking forward
starboard – the right side of the ship when looking forward

We also have the word dock, which in general use means the structure at which a ship ties up when in port. This word can be used in two different ways. We have what we call dry dock and we also have wet dock. In both cases, the ship is on a stop – having a break, getting fixed, being renewed. The main difference is that in a wet dock, the ship is still on the water while getting made over. For dry dock, on the other hand, the whole ship with its evident size and weight is lifted form the water by  some powerful machines to undergo complete overhaul.

In April of last year up to the second week of May, I personally witnessed how dry dock is done. For many weeks, the majestic cruise ship which is everyday busy went on a much needed break to get a new look. It was tiring for most of us because we’re obliged to have our own share of helping. So from morning til night, we’re all set to work. The crew were delegated to many different sections to perform specific tasks. Lucky for us if we’re given time off. We get to go to the city using the free shuttle on port. And from there, explore some new corners of Brisbane that were hidden from our view before. Funny how for many nights the Queensland library were filled with youth staff aching to have a word with families and friends back home. Thanks to their super dependable free wi-fi. Hehe…

On top of this collective effort by the crew to improve the ship’s condition and appearance, hundreds if not thousands of outside workers were contracted to work on the ship. These people came from different countries and have various expertise. Yet all are striving for the same end. Nothing’s small or big. Every single act is counted.

In less than a month, we were all rewarded. All the hard work paid off. Most parts of the ship were renovated and improved. They were even given new names much to the surprise of the passengers especially the old timers. Only it took a while for old crew including me to get used to memorizing all these. But then I got home weeks after that so in a way I was spared from this additional task.

Being away from the ship for months made me realized a lot of things. Interestingly one of these is that people also need to dock. We sometimes need to stop. There are times in our lives when we’re forced to be on a temporary hiatus, to get away from the daily routine and everyday grind and evaluate the lives we have, make sure it still matches the picture we have in mind. This way we can see what areas need fixing, which parts need changes.

For more than 3 months I found myslelf doing all of these. I was on a break. 🙂 A happy break, if I may add. A fruiful break, too. I got off from the ship and I had some precious times with loved ones and with myself. I must admit I was instantly bothered by the thought of getting broke since I was technically a bum in those times. But after a while, I felt thankful for those days I had which compelled me (more than inspired awww!) to once again contemplate on the things I really want, set a blue print for my dreams so I can make them real one day. Yes, make them real and not just tag them as dreams forever lingering in my head. Incidentally, just like the ship, I didn’t do it alone. I needed other people to do the fixing. I allowed them to work on me as well. It was again a collective effort. There were friends and teachers who helped me along the way.

And so after my “personal dry dock” I really felt ready to start again which surprisingly I was able to do first week of November. After more than 3 months of waiting, I once again headed to the land down under this time more prepared. I already know why I’m going there. I carry with me hopes and dreams which have deadlines to meet. I bring with me enthusiasm and gratitude for many good days ahead. I know that this time my plans will work out for I will not give up on them. And no matter how hard the signal may get, the good Lord will always find a way. 🙂