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It has been more  than five years now since I ventured into blogging at WordPress. It took me almost a year before I was able to add something to my lone post  (a short poem, if I remember) because I didn’t even know how to navigate the site. I didn’t even know how to pick a nice theme that would go with what I planned to write about. Blogging at Friendster and Multiply before opening one at WordPress was quite easy but I was not able to save all my blog posts there when the two platforms  bade goodbye for good. Sometimes I wish I could recapture what I wrote there but thoughts are fleeting, you’ll never know what would inspire you, something good enough to share, something good enough to write about, something good enough to inspire others too.

I started Dreams and Escapes  because I wanted to share my journey as a cancer patient/survivor. I dreamed of inspiring people who are traveling the same journey with me, maybe not  on the same road but with the same destination, that of getting well and living life without that extra baggage of thinking that we are  not hundred percent fit.  I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of them found my blog and they come back to update me on what is happening in their lives. That alone is one blessing that I treasure so much.  Through the years, it has evolved into an online diary (well, sort of). Through the years, I have shared so much of myself through my short posts and I deeply appreciate  the views, comments, likes and finding new online friends.

Life is hard. Who said it isn’t? Life is one long journey of faith, hope and dreams. Into each life some rain must fall so they always say. Sometimes though, that bit of rain becomes a deluge and it’s hard to see the sun shining through. Sometimes, you swim into it without knowing how you will reach the shore. Sometimes, you just stare and remember in some distant past how life has been. You wonder how you stayed standing still.  You wonder how you got through the storms. You remember the days you cried. You remember the days you laughed with tears of joy.

I always look forward to this day. September 8 is Mama Mary’s birthday in the Catholic calendar. For the past three years, my blog  has registered a tremendous leap and all because of my various posts on Mama Mary. WordPress must be wondering where all these viewers are coming from because they have sent three messages since last night saying that my stats are booming and my  blog is getting lots of traffic.  And all because of Mama Mary. Though  one can’t measure how popular or how good a blog is, having more than a thousand viewers at any given day is so amazing.

Life may be hard but the lovely moments always stand out. The meaningful experiences always teach a lesson.  Here I am, standing still.

WordPress says: 

You published your 1500th post on this blog!

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Allow me to be a little sentimental once more so I quote:

“May I see you again?” he asked. There was an endearing nervousness in his voice.

I smiled. “Sure.”

“Tomorrow?” he asked.

“Patience, grasshopper,” I counseled. “You don’t want to seem overeager.

“Right, that’s why I said tomorrow,” he said. “I want to see you again tonight. But I’m willing to wait all night and much of tomorrow.” I rolled my eyes. “I’m serious,” he said.

“You don’t even know me,” I said. I grabbed the book from the center console. “How about I call you when I finish this?”

“But you don’t even have my phone number,” he said.

“I strongly suspect you wrote it in this book.”

He broke out into that goofy smile. “And you say we don’t know each other.”

Ah, the joys of discovering  what love is amidst the pain of  suffering.  Two months ago I read the book  The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, a new author in my list and wrote  a short review  about it here hoping that I’ll be able to watch the movie adaptation someday. I’ve finally watched the movie yesterday through Nissa’s phone while teaching my grandson Nate a few lines of the song Bahay Kubo, a timeless Tagalog folk song that every Filipino child knows by heart ( would love to make this into another blog). As a stand alone movie, it was very good and it strictly adhered to the story in the book. Isn’t that what movie adaptations should be?  Shaileen Woodley shines as Hazel Grace Lancaster, an intelligent sixteen year old teenager coping with terminal thyroid cancer. She was supported by Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters, her love interest,who lost his leg because of osteosarcoma.  I won’t go into details of the story, I am sure most of you have read the book too.

When you are going through the same journey, it does not need much to understand how it is to be afflicted with a terminal illness. You would understand the pain and insecurities one goes through while undergoing treatment. You would understand the moments that you almost want to give up on life but still you hold on because there are people around you who love you just the way you are, baggage and all. Watching the movie reminded me of my pain of surviving cancer making it easier to relate. Believe me, I had a good cry. Nissa said she cried buckets when she watched it.  If you ever get the chance to see it, have a hankie nearby and a hot cup of coffee.

John Green says “there is no shortage of fault to be found amid our stars”.

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My Christmas countdown begins.....

My Christmas countdown begins…..

Welcoming the BER months with  anticipation and joy! It’s the month of the year when you think of Christmas, family reunions, Simbang Gabi, longer and colder  nights.

Hello September, what do you have in store for me?

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I love taking shots of the blue sky. Everything looks so clean and fresh when you see the sun after the rain.

I love taking shots of the blue sky. Everything looks so clean and fresh when you see the sun after the rain.

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I have often raised my hand in the silence of the night and in my solitary cell, blessing you all and presenting you to Jesus and to our seraphic father, St. Francis of Assisi. – St. Pio of Pietrelcina

I have often said in my previous blogs that when you are touched by God’s graces more than you ever expect, your heart sings with joy and gratitude.

The arch at the back entrance at Padre Pio Chapel. Notice the hundred of rosaries hanging there. A tremendous and overwhelming show of faith.

The arch at the back entrance at Padre Pio Chapel. Notice  the rosaries hanging there. A tremendous and overwhelming show of faith.

Yesterday, I was so blessed to be able to visit St. Padre Pio Chapel again after more than three months. This time, I was with some friends and a healing priest. Fr. Cris Bautista, MS  belongs to the congregation of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette.  I was there earlier than the appointed time because I want to pray the rosary inside the chapel and write my petitions at the prayer room of St. Francis  of Assisi. I am always touched by the silence and beauty of the place.  I saw some visitors too wearing head gears, hats and caps with matching face masks. Deep in my heart I know that some of them are cancer patients or maybe cancer survivors like I am. Until now, I still wear face masks too when I am in the middle of a crowd and when I am traveling in a public conveyance. There was even a patient in a wheelchair being fed via an intravenous tube attached to his body.

The silent moments, the peace within, the joy of visiting a sacred place to pray.  I always feel so blessed every time I have the opportunity to come here. This time though, I call it a truly blessed Saturday for me and my friends. Fr. Cris prayed with us, anointed us with Holy Oil and we sang with him songs for Mama Mary  (Salve Regina) , we prayed in thanksgiving  for our health and healing – memorable moments that made my day complete, and the tears flowed freely while Fr. Cris was praying with us.  What a beautiful message faith brings, trusting in the Lord’s goodness, secure in His love.

I posted this simple prayer at our online page this morning.

I choose to be brave

I choose to be strong

I choose to have an unshakable faith despite the raging storms in my life.

St. Padre Pio, please pray for me.

Mama Mary, thank you.

Lord Jesus, bless me.

Fr. Cris gave us rosaries and prayer pamphlets of  Padre Pio. September 23 is a special day for Padre Pio devotees. It is his feast day. I’ve long wanted to buy a biography of Padre Pio. One of these days, I will visit St. Paul’s publication to find one.

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One is never too old to read wonderful fairy tales of our childhood.

One is never too old to read wonderful fairy tales of our childhood.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side
near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that
happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play
with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by
bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a
long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or
have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you
are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you
get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all,
because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand”.

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Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear
For I wear a mask. I wear a thousand mask
masks that I’m afraid to take off
and none of them are me.
Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me
but don’t be fooled,
for God’s sake, don’t be  fooled.
I give you the impression that I’m secure
That all is sunny and unruffled with me
within as well as without,
that confidence is my name
and coolness my game,
that the water’s calm
and I’m in command,
and that I need no one.
But don’t believe me. Please!

This is just a part of the poem I copied in my journal when I was just starting college life. It’s entitled  The Mask I Wear, the author is unknown. Seeing the news today and the many tweets on the death of Robin Williams made me recall this poem. How much pain do we hide behind the mask? How alone do we feel after all the laughter and smiles? How often do we see ourselves in others? The gaiety becomes a feeling of anguish after a while.

Robin Williams is one of my favorite  actors.  Although I am not much into watching the big screen and television  reruns, he is one of those who could hold  my attention from beginning to end. I loved him in Mork and Mindy, I loved him in Mrs. Doubtfire, I cried  watching Good Will Hunting.  I am sad that he passed on at such an early age.  His legacy lives on.

You made me cry, you made me laugh. Robin Williams, may your soul rest in peace.

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