Archive for October, 2010

Hubby and I started the day by attending the 6am mass at our  parish, Our Lady of Light!  The kids had work so we decided to just have dinner at home, a simple meal of pasta, garlic fried chicken, marble potato salad and shrimps cooked in Sprite.  In between though, I was a little busy at Facebook. One of the joys of doing admin work  is that you begin to realize that the day will not be complete if you won’t be able to post anything  at the site.  I love AFCC (short for Apostles Filipino Catholic Community)  and I feel that  all the members are my “one big happy family”.  I am not pretending to be more knowledgeable than the rest on Gospel readings, reflections and meditations but I find that after almost two months of constantly updating the site,  sharing  my  own prayers or quotes or linking sites that would help strengthen one’s faith in God is truly uplifting and gratifying.  You couldn’t be more happy being told in simple ways that you are touching lives and giving hope through prayers.

Yes, it was not just another birthday after all.  It was a day full of blessings and prayers.  Three of my priest friends offered masses for my personal intentions,  I could not thank you enough.  I love all those wonderful greetings from friends and relatives who remembered me on my birthday.  And here are some of the shots we took at dinner.

It’s spending time with the family, the mass offerings and prayers  that made it complete and the messages of course, which I received from friends and relatives.  I particularly love this from Marisse:

Tita, happy happy happy birthday po! I know God has already blessed you with a lovely and loving family so I’ll just wish for more joyful moments w/ them. Take care po always! Hugggs.

And this one from Father Jhoen:

Happy Birthday po! I will offer my Mass today for your intentions. God bless!

Fr. Ross who is based in Rome, sent this through a private message:

Happy birthday, one mass for your intentions!

And this is even more touching, from a new found friend at AFCC:

Hi, Arlene, dropping by to wish u a grace-filled birthday.. may our Loving Father continuously bless u more… good health, happy life, good friends and everything your heart desires. may u continue to touch and inspire people’s lives sa pamamagitan ng inyong online apostolate (on and off the screen)… thank u for gen…erously sharing with us your time, effort and God-given gifts unconditionally. u will be blessed a thousand times for that…happy, happy birthday!

And it came with this birthday card. Thank you so much Jo.

And the message below came from Jules, another caring friend:

Hello Arlene, you are truly blessed with wonderful, thoughtful and caring friends who only wish you the best of everything in your life. It’s a blessing to have met you and shared the beauty of life…HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ARLENE!!!

Another one from Ella, a cousin from Barcelona, Spain:

Happy birthday ate arlene! Know that God loves you so dearly and so do we… God bless u always! Mmmmmmwa!

I like this – from Blooey – one of my book buddies:

Happy birthday! Cheers to more years of reading!

Which reminds me, Nissa and Obet gifted me with a copy of  World Without End, the sequel of the book ,  Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.  I’ve been looking for it at NBS last Sunday.  I have started reading a few chapters and it is just as engrossing as Pillars.

And here’s  another birthday greeting from Belle, a treasured friend:

And with it came this message:

Arlene, so many happy returns of the day!

And I found the message from Carol, a high school classmate,  so touching:

Happy, happy birthday to you, Arlene! May our Lord pour out His bountiful blessings to you in every detail of your life..health, relationships, wealth, and above all, to know and love Him in a more personal and intimate way..we love you!

And this came from Deacon Rey:

Happy Birthday, Arlene! 

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May He look upon you with kindness and give you His peace.


There were so many more birthday greetings from Facebook,  personal calls from some relatives,  and text messages from friends. Again I say, it was not just another birthday after all!


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The first time I blogged about my birthday was two years ago, at Multiply and I named it  Growing Old…Gracefully.  Last year, I spent my birthday at the hospital for my fourth round of chemotherapy so I wrote  Another Year of Blessings and Celebrating Life. Have you ever thought of birthdays  being  new years in your life?  Fresh start, a new chapter, a new beginning and another year of bountiful blessings.  Another three hundred sixty-five days to look forward to, another forty-eight weeks or so of  challenges and possibilities, another twelve months to learn more about life and its beauty.  And it’s another year of making memories and searching for old dreams, chasing rainbows and reminiscing.

Last Sunday, hubby and I went to Metro East mall after the 9am mass at St. Jude Thaddeus Parish.  First stop of course was NBS but I was disappointed when  the cashier told me that the book I was trying to find  was not in their inventory.  World Without End is Ken Follett’s sequel to Pillars of the Earth.  I should have bought a copy during one of my rare visits to Bestsellers at  Robinson’s Galleria.   Why is it that bookstores have that certain irresistible pull every time I see one?  So off I went next to Booksale, and look what I’ve found – some hidden treasures – Sara Ban Breathnach’s  Simple Abundance, a small volume of Richard Paul Evan’s A Christmas Box and a lovely journal entitled Sunday Mornings,  more blank pages to fill up. I’ve  been collecting  journals since I can remember, those cute notebooks that simply shout, “fill me, fill me with your lovely thoughts.” I started reading  Simple Abundance, savoring the first few pages and to my delight, it’s just the kind of book I need.

Some friends ask why I chose the title Dreams and Escapes for my blog.  And I would always answer, “I am a dreamer and writing is my sort of escape from the daily vicissitudes of life.” Oftentimes, bright,beautiful ideas start with a dream.  And nurturing one’s inner longing gives that feeling of wholeness – a sacred space to grow and believe. Because trite as it may seems, we can make dreams into reality.   I love the way Sara Ban Breatnach puts it,  “Only dreams give birth to change.  Believe that there is a loving Source – a Sower of Dreams – just waiting to be asked to help make your dreams come true.” Yes, I do believe!

I’ve received advance birthday greetings from my friends at Facebook.  Come to think of it, this is my first birthday at FB.  A few more hours to go and I’ll be turning 54.  Lovell just texted and said, “Isang tulog na lang po! Yahuuuu! It made me laugh, and I say, “happy birthday to me, thank you Lord for all the blessings!”

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I’ve been inspired tonight to write about this video,   a video made by one of my friends at Facebook.  Fr. Louie Coronel, OP is the creator of the online site of Apostles Filipino Catholic Community.  Being one of the permanent admins is such a joy to me because in the process I am learning a lot aside from meeting lots of people from all walks of life who join the site to strengthen their faith and go back to their roots as Filipinos.

I cannot exactly describe how I felt watching  this video and listening to the wonderful affirmation of how God works in our lives.  It reminds me so much of the time I was in pain and struggling to overcome such realization that I was not hundred percent fit.  Those were the days when having someone to talk to  was such a joy to me because it somehow eased the pain of knowing that I was sick.  I cannot begin to fathom how I survived those days but one thing I know is that,  God gave me the strength to carry on, God gave me the shoulder to cry on,  God gave me the will to live again like nothing happened. I held on tight to the belief that He won’t  forsake me in those trying times of need, I  can honestly say that apart from the support of my family, my friends and my doctors, He  was there all the time, embracing me with His love.

The Lord will fill our emptiness

We offer to God all our pains

We humble ourselves and He will listen.

These lines touched me to the core.  Why is it that sometimes, we still doubt?   Why is it that sometimes we still don’t believe?  God’s love is immeasurable, God’s love is eternal.  It is only when we are at the lowest ebb of our lives that we begin to know that He is always there,  He has never left our side and He never will.

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Except for No. 5 which I have neglected for the past few days,  I was able to update my blog, wrote to a friend who will be celebrating her birthday in a few days, was able to chat with some relatives and found time to  hold one of my TBR books and do some reading marathon.  Finished two light reads in three days.  That was a feat considering that I haven’t read for quite sometime.  Anyway, I am cleaning up my site at Facebook .  I do get bored so I visit the site more often now.  I removed all the recent activities on my wall and removed some contacts as well who earlier requested that I add them up but not even a “hi” or “hello” can be heard from them.  Talk about having you  as an added number in their list of friends.  Come to think of it, can you really call someone you’ve just met a friend?  The word is overused, if I may say. There is more to friendship than that.

I am looking forward to my next birthday, in a few days!  Here I go again, talking the same language, “I am really getting old” and with it comes my wish that I’ll be wiser, more tolerant of the mistakes of others, never too judgmental, and more gentle with myself.  And I look back without regret and look forward with appreciation on what life will bestow on me.  I will enjoy the ride, no matter what!

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Have you noticed that lately, 5am is still a little dark?   Longer nights, shorter days! Yes, for us who prefer longer time to sleep, this is a welcome change, and with it comes those mornings that  I call misty.  Who’s counting, but it’s  75 days to go before Christmas.   I am looking forward to another celebration of Jesus’ birth. And I’ve said time and again that no matter how commercialized the celebration has become,  I still get excited , awaiting the event  like a child.  Come to think of it,  I guess,  the Philippines is the only nation which celebrates  Christmas as early as September and as late as January each year.  It never fails, every first of September, you’ll hear a Christmas carol being played on the radio or a group of singers belting out some Christmas songs of old.  Then you have that big smile on your face because  you start counting the days.  Whoa,  I love Christmas, who doesn’t?

We were at the supermarket this morning doing our monthly grocery shopping, and the pipe-in music  was a Christmas song.  I was busy reading labels, then one shopper casually started  a conversation with me.  She has this long list of to-buy-items.  “Pasko na ulit, at ang mahal na ng fruit cocktail”. A casual exchange between two moms who are quite conscious of their monthly grocery budgets.  True,  the price  of canned goods and other grocery items are  rising (price still subject to change two weeks before Christmas).   If you are clever enough, and if you have extra budget for groceries, you would think of stacking up on some items needed for the Christmas holidays.   Some of us prefer to do last-minute shopping though, be it for gifts for our family and friends, be it for groceries that we forgot to buy earlier and some other items we need for the season.  The adrenalin rush, the frantic way we go from mall to mall to find those perfect gifts on our lists, sometimes, we end  up not buying  at all.  I’d like to think that I am sort of organized when it comes to gift-giving.  I have a small notebook where I list down all the gifts I have given the previous years, be it birthdays or Christmas presents, so there would be no duplication when I buy gifts again.  And I also have a check-list of all the people I want to remember.  Gift-buying for me is done all year round because when I find something that would fit the personality of a friend or a family member and I have enough money to buy it, I buy it no matter what month, no matter what day, no matter what occasion.   A few years ago, I was usually done with wrapping Christmas gifts as early as October but since I got sick, I seldom go out.  My comfort zone is limited to staying at home –  reading, updating my blogs, doing a bit of gardening, doing macro photography or experimenting on some new recipes in the kitchen.  I am not complaining because I feel happy doing these things.  Simple life, you say?   Yes,  happiness is  how we make it.

And always, I equate long nights and misty mornings with the coming of the Christmas season – something to look forward to, something to anticipate, something to share with friends and family.  How do you celebrate Christmas?

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Today,  October 7, we celebrate the Feast of  Our lady of the Holy Rosary.


Prayer To Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary

Queen of the most holy Rosary, in these times of such brazen impiety, manifest thy power with the signs of thine ancient victories, and from thy throne, whence thou dost dispense pardon and graces, mercifully regard the Church of thy Son, His Vicar on earth, and every order of clergy and laity, who are sore oppressed in the mighty conflict. Do thou, who art the powerful vanquisher of all heresies, hasten the hour of mercy, even though the hour of God’s justice is every day provoked by the countless sins of men. For me who am the least of men, kneeling before thee in supplication, do thou obtain the grace I need to live righteously upon earth and to reign among the just in heaven, the while in company with all faithful Christians throughout the world, I salute thee and acclaim thee as Queen of the most holy Rosary.

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This reminds me of how Life is, we are scarred and yet we rise and continue to admire another day of sunlight. It’s God’s way of saying, “I am here”.

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