LISTEN

The wind seemed to stand still

The birds held close to the branches

The sun was shining so brightly

The leaves halted its sway

Then out of nowhere I could see

A heart curved beautifully

On the leaves of the trees

Then a voice came forth, saying

“Behold, it is Me.”

No Other Reason

I closed my heart; but you kept it open.

I ignored your invite; but you kept calling.

How can I resist you? There is no other way,

There is no other reason; no words to say, but                                      

Yes, I hear you, please stay and remain.

You are the fire that calms my heart.

You are the only reason.

Freedom To Love

To see is to believe.

I don’t totally believe, though.

If that is the measure

That God used on us

Then no one would pass.

But He believes in us

Even if He has yet to see

The change; we promise

The attitude; we aspire

We are given chances

To express the love we give

To the One who owes us none

But He loves us just the same.

He believes in us even if

He knows our shortfalls:

Because He does not have 

To see to believe.

He loves. He believes.

Please Be Okay

If you have the chance to meet him

What will you say?

It is funny that we believe we know him

But really, do we?

Is he happy? Is he delighted?

Is he sad? Is he worried?

We think not of these questions

Because we know he is everything.

But do you think he would mind

If we do not ask even for a while

Are you okay where you are?

Is that a smile on your radiant face?

Are you okay? 

Perhaps he would say,

“I am when you are.”

I cherish thoughts of you.

Please be okay where you are;

In my humble heart.

Constant Over Time

Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:13.

How reassuring are these words from the One who is constant over time. He knew His time with us, physically as man, was coming to a close. But even in His omnipotence and omniscience, He never failed to provide us a blanket of security. He asked the Father to give us the Holy Spirit who will be our guide; the most perfect guide to the heart of the Son, Jesus. 

Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” John 15:16.

From our mother’s womb, He has already marked us for His purpose; not by our works, not by our deeds. His love remains constant over time.

I could still remember that day in my life. I joined a Girl Scouts camping trip. This was a regional activity. So there were many representatives from different provinces and cities of the region. It was a one-week camping activity. Everyone had fun; putting up the tents, making the beds inside the tents, putting up the kitchen from the bamboo sticks we brought along, preparing the food, singing, chatting with friends from other places, getting to know new faces, and others. It was simply fun.

Then it rained. All our things, all our beds inside the tents, all that we put up for convenient camping, were wet. Our bags and clothes were wet. The camping ground was flooded. But since we were trained to make do with what we had, then we started to look for remedy. The fun became a nightmare. 

It was already dark when someone called my name. I looked behind and I saw my father. He was holding a big umbrella and he smiled. “Are you okay?” His voice was enough to make me feel alright at that moment. I hugged him and I did not bother to ask him how he came at such moment. He was there.

I may have missed telling him how grateful I was to see him. But looking back, I think it was enough for him to see me. He chose to be there. I did not choose that moment. He did. What great love it was!

Jesus is telling us that it is His choice to love us. It is His plan to be with us. It is His goal to bring us back to Him. His mere presence is enough. He knows that one day we will all be His; just as He planned. 

“What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27 

Meant To Be

Some things are meant to be. Yes, no matter how much you try to avoid them, they just can catch up with you.

Some things, too, are not meant to be. Yes, no matter how much you pursue them, you can’t seem to catch up with them.

Why? Because if things are plainly within our reach and within our plans, then there would be no need for Someone to see us through. But that Someone just wants to be a part of us. Yes, He is.

So no matter how good we are, or how excellently we can plan, a mere twist of fate can change things. Covid19 pandemic has made us realize this. Businesses, big and small, and the experts in all fields could not have thought that a small virus could stop the world.

It happened. Some things are bound to happen.

It is when unexpected things happen that we sit down and reflect. It is when we are in the abyss that we look up and see the bright shining star. From where we are, we see flickering starlights. But when we are down below, we focus on that one shining star; the tipping point.

The whisper of the coolest breeze alerts us to action. It gives us a new hope. We have to get up from where we have sunk so low and slowly rise once again. This time, we take more careful steps and we do not forget the lessons we have learned.

We need to be atuned to this Someone. We need to validate our actions against His plans for us. Yes, we have a purpose. We need to pursue that purpose; but only with His guidance. Only then can we create an impact, a legacy, a footprint; one that delights Him and one that engraves His name.

His Name is Jesus.

She Looked Back

There was a long line of vehicles; the wait was like forever. The entire day stood still as the rains kept pouring. The wind was angrier by the minute. Everyone was confused. Murmurs became louder. Food from the snackbar became the tension reliever.

“When is the barge coming?” This question was asked by anyone to anyone. No one knew the answer.

The unclear blare from a megaphone quieted everyone. “What did it say?” No one understood completely.

But who could give the right answer when everything beyond the port was dark. Not one knew what was behind that silhouette of dark clouds and pouring rain.

Everyone was praying. Rosaries were out from the bags and pockets. The murmurs stopped. Time stood still. It was time to pray.

As though prayers were answered, the sound of the barge came through the walls and glass windows. “The barge is here!” Everyone started to yell. As if on cue, everyone stood up, pushed one another to get to the line.

“First come First Serve,” said the Port Manager. “Do not panic; we are not boarding, yet,” he continued. Then he told everyone that not all could be accommodated; only a handful. Everyone started to murmur. Many complained. The crowd became a throng of angry people. They pushed and they pushed. Just minutes ago they were praying. But they could not be stopped.

The Port Manager left and the crowd hushed.

“We are now boarding those with Ticket numbers 1 to 150,” came the loud announcement. Everyone looked into their tickets. Then hands started to be raised. “What about us? When will we board?”

The Port Manager let off a loud and heavy sigh. He shouted at the top of his voice saying, “Is it our fault that there is a storm? Did we make the storm happen? Am I a God who can calm the storm? You better continue praying instead of complaining.” The Port Manager let of his heaviest sigh; a disgust of the crowd.

So the first one hundred fifty passengers got into the line. Nenita was one of them. She was going home with her children. Nenita had mixed feelings. She was happy that she could take her children home. But she was terrified to ride the barge in the storm. She held on to her children as she continued to pray. “Lord, please ride with us in this storm,” Nenita kept repeating this prayer in her heart.

It was dark out there in the sea. The waves pounded on the walls of the barge. Everyone screamed at every beating of the waters. Everyone got hold of life jackets. “Mother, we do not have life jackets. There is none left,” said the youngest child of Nenita. “It is okay, my child, let us just sit down and pray,” Nenita courageously pacified her son.

But the storm grew worse. The barge seemed like it was giving up. The sound of steel cracking at the beating of each wave sent chills and cries to the passengers.

Nenita, shyly stood up and said, “Dear friends, is it alright with all of you if we start praying in unison?” Then wide-eyed stares looked at Nenita. One Mother shouted, “Yes, let us pray as one.”

So Nenita led the prayer of the faithful ones. Each prayer was answered by the sound of the waves and the wind. “Let us pray louder than the winds,” said Nenita.

And they prayed.

It was a miracle that the barge arrived safely at its destination. It was a strong storm. When the barge docked at the port, people were again pushing against each other. Everyone wanted to be the first to get out of the barge.

Nenita and her children remained seated. They were still praying; thanking the Lord for answering their prayers. As almost everyone had left, Nenita told her children that it was also time for them to disembark.

And one woman came back. She said, “Thank you for leading us in prayer. We are home.” Nenita smiled and replied, “Thank God for the miracle.”

Dovey’s Slingbag

It was a bright sunny day. All the birds were out. They were flying everywhere. They were having so much fun. “This is the day!” One bird loudly exclaimed; and all the birds cheered along. They went into formations following Eaglet, their leader.

Eaglet did all amazing bird dives. He flew up so high that birds could not see the exact height where Eaglet went. Then out from somewhere, Eaglet would come flying into the ocean and he would catch a fish and held it up with his handsome beak. Everyone applauded. Everyone cheered. “Cheers to Eaglet!” That was the chant that all the birds were shouting at the top of their tiny voices.

Then Eaglet did his somersaults; that was his forte. He would curl his body and flipped 360’s several times over. “Amazing, Eaglet!” Everyone cheered on. Eaglet was happy, too. On such a lovely day, everyone was there to see his performance.

It was a fun day for everyone.

But not for one little dove. She was perched on a tree that was covered with leaves. She was sitting there with her mother. She was watching all the other birds who were having a fun time. She had fun, too. She cheered for Eaglet even if she could not really see what Eaglet was doing. Her view was only limited because the leaves around her were just too thick and green and lovely.

“Mother,” Dovey said.

“Yes, my dear Dovey, what is it?” Mother Dove’s voice was always calm. It was like a song to the ears of Dovey.

“I’m sad,” said Dovey. Mother Dove looked at her only baby and said, “Why are you sad, my dear Dovey?”

“Why can’t I be like the other birds? Why can’t I be like Eaglet?” Dovey’s question was too much for Mother Dove to bear. But Mother Dovey regained her composure and got on with her most tender voice. “You see, my dear Dovey, when you were born, I praised and thanked God that He gave me a cute little baby with one leg.”

“Why, Mother? How can you thank God that I am weak with only one leg? How can I be born with one leg?” Dovey was almost in tears as she continued with more questions that Mother Dove pondered in her heart.

“You see, my dear Dovey, you are different. When you fly, I have to be by your side and hold your other wing. When you are perched on a tree just like now, I sit beside you to make sure you do not fall. When you go out to hunt for food, I go with you. We do all things together.” Mother Dove hugged Dovey and poured all the love from her heart.

“Are you happy that I am like this, Mother?” Dovey was wiping off her tears.

“Yes, my dear Dovey. You are different. You see, Eaglet is amazing and many like him. Eaglet is soaring so high because one day he has to start on his own. But you will always be with me. I will always be with you.” Mother assured Dovey as she kissed Dovey’s forehead.

“Come on, my dear Dovey, do you want to fly high, too? It is such a lovely day. Let’s pack our bags with our little seeds and share these with others. Do you want that?” Mother Dovey was already picking up their little seeds and put them in their birdy slingbags.

“Yes, Mother, let’s do that. That is what I have always wanted in all of my life.” Dovey said.

Mother Dove and Dovey busily packed their tiny little birdy slingbags with their little seeds. They were singing their beautiful song along.

“We will fly in the sky; this is the day.

We will see Mister Sun and say hello to the One.

We will say to the clouds; please let us pass

We will tell Mister Rain; please hold the clouds for a bit.

We want to fly. We want to fly. We want to fly.

We want to see the world for just a while.”

That was the song that Mother Dove taught to Dovey.

“Are you ready, my dear Dovey?” Mother Dove was checking on Dovey and she was making sure that her birdy slingbag was tightly strapped to her frail body.

“Yes, Mother, I am ready! Let’s go, Mother,” said Dovey.

Off they went. They started low and higher and higher; still gleefully singing the only song that they knew.

“Look, Mother, Mister Rainbow is out today. Can we greet him first?” Dovey was so excited to see the rainbow.

“Yes, my dear Dovey. Let’s go over to greet Mister Rainbow and thank him for this day,” said Mother Dove.

They smiled to Mister Rainbow and they bowed as they continued to fly.

They flew over places covered with Red. Mother Dove and Dovey dropped their little seeds on Red and flew by. They looked behind them and saw that Red turned into Blue; and they continued singing.

Mother Dove and Dovey spent their whole day flying; resting only on some trees for food and water. They were so happy that they have shared their little seeds with Red; and Blue was everywhere around them.

When they were back on their nest Mother Dove said, “My dear Dovey, did you see what we did today?”

“Yes, Mother, the Red turning into Blue was very magical,” said Dovey.

“No, my dear Dovey, that was not magic. It was a miracle!” Mother Dove hugged her little Dovey as she thanked God for this precious gift. Dovey will always be with her and she will always be with Dovey.

We are all born with our own uniqueness. We thank God for that. We can always make a difference even with our limitations. We are grateful for that, too.

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Psalm 139:13-14

Bruises Gone and the Heart Heals

It was already late in the evening. But the City was still awake. Zenaida and her classmates were still enjoying the night. It was after all a Friday night and as people would say, “Thank God It’s Friday!” The Karaoke singing went on and on and the boys, that included Zenaida’s husband, were already, somehow, drunk; you could tell by the way they sang. They had become bolder and more out of tune. But it was okay. The point was just to enjoy the night after that very difficult exam they had.

Zenaida was just observing her classmates and friends. She always had fun talking to them. She could relate to their happy moments. They did not know, though, that Zenaida had fears in her heart. Her greatest fear was to go home.

The bar was closing and so everyone slowly left the Karaoke room; still laughing on the endless jokes from everyone. The fear in Zenaida’s heart was starting to become bigger and bigger. How would she ride home in their car when her husband was also drunk? She also knew that he was into drugs. She was not afraid of his driving skills. She knew that he could drive home even when he was totally spent. But her fear…her fear was that her husband may hurt her again, physically and brutally; as he had always been doing this to her over the years.

They were on their way home. Zenaida kept quiet; afraid that any word may trigger her husband’s irritable temper. And BOOM! Out of nowhere, he threw his anger again. “Why are you silent?” This was his question which Zenaida did not know how to answer. “I am just a little bit tired,” she softly said. “I don’t think that is the reason why you are silent!” He demanded. Zenaida bit her lips and quietly sighed in prayer. “Come Holy Spirit, please Come!”

“Are you murmuring? Are you complaining?” He was at it again. This time, his voice was very loud that it resounded on all the walls of the car and even the tires could hear him. He was shouting at the top of his voice. He sped off and drove faster in the night. Zenaida was really afraid this time. She did not want to be in an accident. “Oh, dear Lord, please do not let me die, yet. Please!” She was praying intently.

They were still half-way through their journey home. The car was speeding so fast and it was the only loud sound that disturbed the quietness of the night. “Are you afraid to die?” He shouted and hit Zenaida’s head that hit the window of the car. Zenaida felt the pain but she could not complain. She could not even cry as she was afraid that her husband might get angrier. “Why are you not crying? Are you not afraid of me?” He was testing the limits of Zenaida’s patience. The more he shouted, the more Zenaida prayed fervently.

But he would not stop. He drove faster; twice the speed limit. Zenaida was already trembling in fear. “Please stop. Please slow down.” Zenaida was begging. But he would not stop. He hit her again on the head and the arms. His big hands were surely stronger than what Zenaida ever remembered. This was not the first time of her being physically abused in the car, in the house, or elsewhere. But this time, Zenaida felt the difference. Perhaps, she already became weaker with all the blows that she received over time. The pain that she received this time did not send her to tears. But the memories of all that she went through flashed into her mind and tears started to fall; as if to wash her pain.

Zenaida’s husband saw that she was starting to cry. This triggered another fit of anger from him. He slowed down and hit Zenaida several times on the head, the shoulders, the arms. Zenaida was silently crying. Tears did not stop falling. She wanted to stop crying; but she could not.

The car finally stopped. Zenaida’s fear was now bigger than her nightmares. Her husband wanted to hurt her more. Zenaida quickly went out of the car and ran as fast as she could to nowhere in the darkness of the night. She just ran and ran and ran faster and prayed harder. “Lord, please save me!”

The Lord must have heard her. A well-lighted gate was slightly opened. Unafraid of what she would be encountering inside the gate, Zenaida went through and closed the gate after her. All eyes were on her. They were all men inside the compound. They were working on pipes. They all looked at Zenaida and they were shocked. Zenaida said to them, “Please help me. Please hide me from my husband. Please do not let him in. Please!” One of the men approached Zenaida. He was full of pity for her. He brought her to a shed and told her to hide. Just then, everyone inside that compound heard the knocking on the gate.

“Have you seen a woman just now? She came in here.” Zenaida could hear her husband asking the guys inside the compound. The man who helped Zenaida answered, “We did not see anyone here. This gate has always been closed just like right now.” But the husband insisted, “I saw her come in. She must be there inside. Why are you hiding her from me? I am her husband.” But the man insisted that Zenaida’s husband should leave and not to disturb them as they were doing their night work. He told the husband, “If you need help, you can always call the Police. Do you want us to call for you?”

The husband left, afraid of any intervention by the Police. The man locked the gate and asked Zenaida to come out from where she was hiding.

Zenaida thanked him and all the guys there. They offered her coffee and told her to rest a bit. After some time, Zenaida asked for a telephone where she could call somebody. She was led to the Office where she made the call.

Life is always full of surprises; there is pain, there are hurts and there are tons of fun. It is the balance of those things that we want. But the memories in our hearts are always those that set us into the extremes.

Zenaida’s father picked her up from that compound. He did not ask a single question. He just kissed her and hugged her. To Zenaida, that was enough. It took away all the pains.

It was already early morning when Zenaida arrived home. Everyone thought she had a good night. She could not share her bruises, her hurts, her pains to anyone. Yes, she enjoyed the night with her classmates and friends. She enjoyed listening to their stories, jokes, and laughter. She just kept the bruises to herself. It was not yet the right time for her to get out from that mess. “It is not yet time. I will persevere,” Zenaida assured herself. She offered to the Lord all the pains she had. They seemed to heal faster than the heart. But Zenaida knew better. She knew that she was worth more than just being the object of fits of anger, of physical abuse, of verbal abuse. She understood that there is a reason for everything. “One day, I will treasure all these in my heart; and I will remember these moments.”

Zenaida took away the bitterness from her heart. She replaced it with a calm surrender. She knew that after the storm is always a calm, a serenity, a bliss. Bruises could easily be forgotten and the heart can heal; in time, with Jesus. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21).

INSTAGRAMMABLE

WE have been through a lot. No one has prepared for what came to us. Not even the Giants were ready for it; how much more the dwarfs. No one thought about it. No one even imagined it. But it did happen. Yes, it happened and we were, we are, and we may still be devastated. We all lost some things, somehow. But it is not correct to say that “we are all similarly situated.” Correctly, we can say, “we are in this together.”

Before the pandemic, businesses had one focused goal – return of investments (ROI). Who would not think of that. Unless we are non-profits or foundations or charities, our business goal would always boil down to profits. There is nothing wrong with that. To deny it is a lie.

But the pandemic has awakened everyone, the government, the private institutions, big businesses, small businesses, big and small communities, brotherhoods, religious organizations, families, and peers that the saying, “No man is an island” is indeed true. What started in Wuhan spread throughout the world in just days and months. Realistically, though, our first reaction was to close down our doors. Yes, we literally closed down our doors.

But our altruistic nature sees things differently. We opened our hearts and we voluntarily helped one another. That is the most beautiful impact that came out from the worst situation that we were in. We realized that we cannot be “an island of blessings and opportunities in an ocean of turmoil and pain.”

Today, as the effects of covid19 has slowly eased up, we are coming out as renewed “selves.” We are not going back to where we were before covid19. We are moving forward. There is nothing to go back; as we saw how devastating the effect it can be, if we still follow the same protocols as before. There is no going back. We have to move forward with a better resolve.

With this scenario, what’s best for us? With what we have been through, what’s there for us to do? With what we have been through, how can we be resilient? We always say we are resilient. But how can we be resilient? What is the deeper meaning of even saying that “we are resilient?”

CHANGE is the only permanent thing in this world. We cannot deny change. We cannot ignore change. We cannot allow change to keep us stuck where we are. We must ride with change. Only then can we become relevant, realistic, and resilient; the 3Rs.

TIME is not something that we can afford to buy. No one does; no one can. So, if we do not act now then when? Time is uncertain and we do not know what is in store for us tomorrow. What will the future bring? Covid19 taught us a hard lesson.

So, while change is inevitable and time is uncertain, perhaps the right thing for us to do right now is to review our business plans and see how our story can be retold along with change and time.

Any business plan has a story. There is a beginning and there is that happy ending that we would want to hear, “and they lived happily ever after.” What’s your story? How can you reshape your plan to ensure that somehow it is not insulated but it is amorphous, in the good sense of that word, to the change around us?

As we go along, we will tackle essential business concepts that revolve around the basic elements of any business – purpose, people, processes, and finally our desirable products/services. 4Ps.

  1. PURPOSE. We will see how we can move steadily towards our purpose by discussing on these factors – input, activity, output, outcome, impact.
  2. PEOPLE. We will try our best to understand how we can lift our people to ensure that they, too, grow with our businesses. We remember that people is the backbone of any undertaking.
  3. PROCESSES. We will touch on how our processes can be improved by focusing on what matters most to produce the desirable outcome.
  4. PRODUCTS/SERVICES. We will see how our production of goods or how our services give impact to our communities, our local governments, and the country in general.

It is wrong to presume that only big companies with defined Corporate Social Responsibilities and the activities they undertake are creating impact in our communities. It is also wrong to presume that as SMEs we do not have the accountability to look after our Environmental, Societal, and Governance business model; the ESG model. These are the pillars of building a strong business. These are the foundations of our purpose. These are what makes us “Instagrammable.” We stand out. We stand tall. We gravitate to people. Say “cheese” everyone! Click and share to Instagram.

The 4th Industrial Revolution somehow creates fear of the uncertain. The interplay of the physical, technology, and biological factors has become stronger. The best evidence of that is covid19. But keeping our feet on the ground, we see that we have a bigger challenge before us. How do we ensure that the people who are directly under our care are equipped to face the new demands of this 4th Industrial Revolution in terms of skills, competencies, and means of livelihood?

No one is left behind. That is an ambitious yet very humane goal of the SDG in 2030. But we cannot just sit down and wait and see how the world around us will bring us through so that we would not be left behind. That same question is for us. That question awaits our response; NOW.

How can we be sure that no one is left behind as we go up and achieve our purpose?

The answer is the heart of being a Purpose-Driven Leader. After all, that is what we have been programmed for, to be instagrammably like the One who created us, in His image and likeness; Jesus, our purpose-driven master, a Leader with a heart.