A confession of an ex-con: “I met Jesus in Prison”

As I’m writing this entry, a little fete in the house still continues in honor of our Patron Saint. Kin and fellows come by round the clock to share sumptuous meal with everyone. Hankering for fresh air, I decided to stay in the vestibule earlier – not knowing a metamorphic conversation would take place there. Julius Perez, a distant kindred and an ex-con (as how he introduced himself) took my faith to the next level.

03 December 2015, Julius, together with a minor, has killed an allegedly male AKRHO Gang member. According to him it was a crime of self-defense since he was pointed with a gun first. Financially crippled to obtain a private lawyer fighting for his case, he ended up spending 12 years in prison with a tag– MURDERER.

It was difficult. At times I think of his family. At times I think of my future. I was struggling the first few months in jail but I have had high hopes one day I can be free”, he reverberated when asked about the challenges he went through.

Determined to get out from prison with head held high, he behaved accordingly abiding all cell rules. From an ordinary inmate, he was chosen to become a commander (jail lead) from for he portrayed a commendable behaviour. He created fair rules and camaraderie among fellows. He also learned as much as he can, in fact, he was the very first detainee to graduate from ALS (Alternative Learning System).

Notwithstanding , the rumination that startled me most was when he shared HOW HE MET JESUS IN PRISON. Inside bars and in the midst of distress and anxieties, he found Jesus. He felt like a little voice was comforting him with powerful sweet words of fortification. By then, he never let go of the connection and worked so hard to grow his relationship with God. He started the art of silent prayers. He read all chapters in the Bible from Old to New Testament. He attended every Holy Masses celebrated inside the prison, and he led the recital of Holy Rosary – a life completely antithetical before his conviction- when all he knew was to have a good time (barkada, barrio disco and booze).

“God exists and so does blessings. I thought being in prison is the end of everything, yet, it became the beginning of all great things. God showed me his ways and I accepted it with open heart, and now I am trying to continue my very intimate relationship with HIM.”

Julius, is one of those stories that truly touched my inner being. His story is a testament that God reaches to us wherever we are under any circumstance. He never abandons His children specially the lowly ones.

Today, being a freeman, Julius relentlessly sustains his reverence to Jesus and even compound this to others. He is now teaching his girlfriend how to read the bible and to pray the Holy Rosary. He is also never embarrassed being called an ex-con for he’s aware that God has pardoned him.

Editor’s Note: Although, Julius is an ALS graduate (HS Level), he still finds hard to find a decent job due to his history of being an ex-con. However, from our conversation earlier, I can vouch that he is a man with good and pure heart. Definitely, full of gratitude. May all my blog readers be able to help him in his journey towards starting a new life outside the prison cell. Julius, may you be blessed even more and may God’s name be glorified because of your humility!

From Sole to Soul in Seoul, KR; Why I quit FB and IG for sometime

Soon as the plane landed, I immediately posted a video of my ‘juiced-up face’ in one of my social media accounts – Welcome to Korea! Promptly, I received gibberish comments and PMs… 

“Good luck on your plastic surgery. Hope everything goes well.”

“Do well on your K-Pop audition. We are proud of you!”

How much I wanted to lob stern remarks to these “social homophobes” but chose to remain silent and left them on a seen-zone. Yes, those are real messages from real people. 

Why such messages, I pondered. Is there something wrong with my feat or am I really that talented to likely earn a spot in the Korean stage. LOL! I was not informed by my very self that I am going under the knife. I am blest with this Jollibee-face feat. And no offense, I don’t hate K-Pop but I not a fan either. I embrace Philippine folk songs and folk dances as Tininkling and Singkil – both would remain the closest to my heart.

Is South Korea only known for plastic surgery and K-pop? Or there’s this clandestine beauty we still yet to unearth? Perhaps, there is no need for another discovery since these treasure troves have been there for so long, we’re just oblivious and too focused on beauty and fame.  It was not like it until the birth of Friendster, Facebook and IG – the social media craze! The beginning of vanity where people find solace in the number of likes and reactions pinned.

Are you conscious on how people look at you? If your face looks symmetrical or if your skin is fair and flawless? Are you worried whenever you post a selfie and nobody notices? Are you rooting your self- worth on tip-top comments which seems sincere but are actually a mockery? Do the fragmented moments you spend on social media make you feel depressed and lonely – comparing self to friends, envying folks traveling often, enormous jealousy seeing a family happily having a get together and more? Do you also get easily affected when people flaunt their outrageous comments on your posts?

I was then…..that’s why I let go of the debauchery. I was completely consumed by such nonsense and my trip to Seoul saved my poor Soul. I started taking control and took regard on things that verily matters. I went back to my books. I started writing again. I spend more quality time with my kith and kin – simply having great moments which are not curated and not publicly posted but are forever cherished.

Was it easy giving up the drill I was used to for quite some time? Sincerely, it was not and the first 2 weeks were the hardest. I was always tempted to re-download FB and IG app – open it and just start browsing recent activities of friends. However, I kept the discipline. I called some good friends to help me be on track. I prayed well not to be tempted too.

Today I am enjoying my freedom. I worry less. No more distractions. No more scrolling up and down. No more wasted time. I expunged my accounts but I jumpstarted this personal blog few months back. I lost a thousand FB and IG followers but gained real friends. I no longer have that strong connections to the virtual world but I am very much attached to the real world – real people with real stories. 

***

“How long are you going to stay there?” Frankly I don’t know. Perhaps, until my sole is jaded gallivanting Seoul or when I can finally feel the revival my Soul.

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Changdeokgung Palace

Myeongdong Cathedral
The national cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seoul –  Church of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception also known Myeongdong Cathedral
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A night of drink and fun with friends at Itaewon.

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Deoksugung Stone Wall Road where I’ve finally revived my soul.

Ways to become a Bibliophile

Years ago, I was not profoundly engrossed with reading. I detested it a lot especially prints of small fonts. That moment I open a book, I would feel like having mental diarrhea. Long passages and literary works are my prime enemy. They make me puke.  This self-proclaimed diagnosis prompted me to create an excuse of not reading at all. Instead, I go to Youtube, grab graphic magazines, or watch movies to keep me lucid. For long I had convinced myself that I was exclusively a visual learner – deciphering and recollecting things by sight, and that I will never be a pundit in reading.

Momentarily it worked until I discovered my incompetence. I cannot write. I cannot put my thoughts into words. I cannot talk. I cannot convey my message. I was doomed! I got perturbed and so I started making a big leap. Reading is the only way, I extrapolated.

The hows:

  1. Start now. Start with a book that pique your interest. A book that when you close your eyes, you can visualise the trend of the story. The very first novel I read was The Alchemist by Paulo Cuelho. A novel you cannot afford to put down even for commode moments. I finished this in one day.
  2. When ready, read another genre. If you’ve vanquished reading a certain genre, it could be the right time to try another class or style. Try to go deeper. I began reading Religious, Management, Economics, Finance, Literature, Memoirs and Fashion books the moment I felt too comfortable with fictional novels. History, Architecture/Engineering and Cooking books could be later since I do not have the acuity for it yet. You can choose what is your priority.
  3. Patience. It takes a bucketful of patience when you morph from novel to business readings. Business books have to be read ofttimes to get authors’ point.  Normally, I read it 2-3 times in order to get the gist of the piece.
  4. Highlight. You may highlight words and phrases you do not understand. You can also check the meaning of strange words from Meriam Webster Dictionary (MWD). For convenience you may download MWD app from Play Store or App Store.
  5. Take note and apply. Regularly, take note of phrases which move or impact you. Then, apply what you’ve learned but never exaggerate it. Always stay in context.

The ramifications:

  1. Makes you smarter. Reading books help you gain new knowledge and information you wouldn’t have known. It surges your deep understanding on myriad of topics or subject matters.
  2. Fosters good health and improves your brain’s capacity. Reading keeps your brain cells alert preventing it from hibernating. It keeps memory and thinking skills unscathe. Research shows that reading can stave off Schizophrenia and Dementia in old age.
  3. Improves Imagination and takes you to places you’ve never been to. Fiction books take you anywhere and everywhere. It allows you to travel to another world and get a glimpse of people’s culture and beliefs.
  4. Improves oral and written skills. Reading definitely widens your vocabulary and ameliorate your writing skills. You’d be startled how you can effortlessly put your words together, thus, improving your relationship whether at work, home or school.
  5. A rock-bottom recreation and productive hobby.
    Books are affordable and are for keeps compared to movie tickets. Reading also makes use of your time well since it keeps you occupied and diverts you from tedium. At times when you read a certain book and watch its movie, you will discover that some parts are omitted or never captured.
    • The list goes on and you will discover it once you start. I wish you well. Happy reading.
Books Mo bought during the Big Bad Wolf Sale in Cebu. I’m guessing a busy day ahead of me. 

Looking for an authentic Indian Cuisine in Cebu? Bollywood Tandoor is your go-to

Yesterday, I scribbled about Incredible India and enunciated how much I miss its dishes. Providentially, Mo invited me for lunch today and decided to go for Indian savory at Bollywood Tandoor.  It is both our first time to try this piquant. Though we always traverse the thoroughfare near this diner, we both didn’t really get the chance to drop by and try… until this very day.

Bollywood Tandoor is located right at the foot of Banilad flyover. It opened last 2016 sharing to the people of Cebu the flavourful taste of India. It offers a complete set of biz ranging from delectable food, cultural ambiance, scintillating entertainment, ambrosial boozes, all the way to charming customer service. Even the owners intermingle with its patrons. Prices come modestly too. In fact and to our awe, we received a discount on our bill today as they were celebrating their Year 2 anniversary.

Cebu is opportune having Bollywood Tandoor in the breath. A Cebuana doesn’t need to fly miles just to smack an authentic Indian Cuisine. This is your go-to place for a delectable and exquisite Indie foodie.

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Filling this belly with these piquant. Oh, makes me feel like I’m back in India.

 

A month sojourn in Incredible India

I am taking a vacation for a month.

“Where are you going?”

I N D I A!

In a split of milliseconds, people appeared whammy as if a thunderbolt just flashed before their eyes. Myriad of cynical reactions are blabbed out.

“It’s dirty there.”

“You might get rape.”

“You are going to call home and regret it.”

“You won’t survive the food.”

Even some mainstream news remarked it as one of the worst go-to countries of the world.

For some reason, I did not listen to the claptrap. I was stalwart with my plans and I was ready to prove them wrong.

I left for India and wore my windbreaker of valor. The courage came from the thought that my Spiritual Father and Reverend Sister were waiting for my visit. The truth is… India is idiosyncratic. It’s one of a kind like other countries and it takes an ardent eye to see that. To flaunt fairness, here are my candid scrutiny:

  1. India is a beautiful country rich with terra firma and crowds of people.
  2. It’s a very big country that it takes at least an 8-hour drive to go from one state to another (Kerala to Bangalore).
  3. Indians are beguiling and it’s pleasantly amusing how devoted they are to their religion. I was staying in a foster loving Indian family and they were all just so hospitable.
  4. You see monkeys, swines and elephants not on cage. There was this incident that a monkey was peeping on my window. Little monkey wanted to come inside and mug my food.
  5. People are just good singers. In Kerala, the catholic masses go for 2 hours with all the croons and chants.
  6. Their doctors are first-rated. Exceptional! I had my diagnostic there at St. John Hospital and I got scolded for being stubborn with my medicines.
  7. I love their food. I love eating with hands, and now I suddenly miss eating biryani and hummus.
  8. For a shoe-girl like me, you will love Bata and Moochi.
  9. Wearing Saree will make you feel like a princess.
  10. They speak good English so it’s easy to ask for directions when lost.

It was a ravishing one-month stay. I enjoyed farming, the monastery visit, the short stay in the hospice, the long travel, the weather… EVERYTHING. Perhaps, because I have a heart that finds pleasure in simple things and a mind that is not shaken with anything. Huge caveat though, always bring skinnies or pants with you. Never show off your legs since Indians find it repugnant.

There is no bruise in exploring new places even being terror-stricken by friends before you could pack your luggage. Just be careful.Traveling can be a life’s greatest teacher. You will never know the veracity of people’s assertions if you will not check it yourself. Go and make a discovery!

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Truly an Incredible India!

Townhall Meeting with the Masters

Townhall meeting is one of the most important and notable events of Cebu Landmasters Inc. (CLI). CLI holds this meeting bi-annually and is attended by each and every family member of the organisation. It is that auspicious moment when the heads of the family present what has been happening to the lineage for the past months or what will happen in the next months. Today is the first townhall meeting of CLI for Y2018 and surprisingly a bucketload of good news has been echoed to everyone.

The meeting formally started with EVP for Operations, Jose Franco Soberano, sharing the company’s significant milestones for the first 6 months of 2018:

  1. 5.8 Billion sales in less than 6 months (compared to 1.1B biggest sales in 2012)
  2. 51 Projects in Key Cities, in different stages of development
  3. No. 1 Local developer in Cebu with 18% share of all active projects; No. 1 fastest selling condo in Davao and Cagayan; On track to be the No. 1 Developer in Visayas and Mindanao (VisMin).
  4. Publicly listed company and had attended the annual shareholders meeting
  5. Received prestigious awards (the only VisMin awardee for BCI Asia)
Jose Franco Soberano feels ecstatic engaging with one of his staff and at the same time a buyer of CLI property.

We are really sustaining our momentum and I am confident we can exceed the target this year. We are taking CLI at a greater scale. Trajectory is stable and the journey continues. What we are doing now is not enough and there is still much we can do”, reverberated by Franco as he advanced his disquisition to the next pace: What’s next for CLI?

  1. 23 projects launching this 2018
  2. New expansion cities in 2019: General Santos, Ormoc, Butuan and Roxas
  3. Landbank – 1, 079 542 sqm

He also highlighted Davao Matina Business District project juxtaposing it to Fort Bonifacio in Manila. The project’s intent is to help the city and its dwellers. He also made mentioned each team and its accomplishments contributing to the success of the company, starting off with Accounting and Finance, Business Development, Customer Care, Engineering, HR and Admin, Documentation, Legal, Licenses, Property Management, Purchasing and wrapping it off with Sales. It was a well-applauded presentation making each member feeling proud of its ancestry.

Supervening Franco’s yarn is the visionary Chairman and CEO of CLI, Joe Soberano. Everyone was sharply listening to the Father of the family speaking with illumine wisdom and shrewdness the moment he took the center stage. He encapsulated the whole schmear in this phrase, “It only boils down to one reason for having been able to do it… it’s because basically of the people behind the organisation. This is important for us to realise that this is the key and focal point of our organisation. How valuable the company is or has become is because of the people behind the organisation. We have to always bear in mind that you are the extension of the company. Its not just working hard within the office but even when you go outside the office; how you will carry yourself; how you will impart the message to the different people you will be interacting outside; even the matter of having to share your time and the things that go around in the office with your family…something that you have to bring forth in a very positive way because this is the company that will continue to strive to bring more not just for the people or the market that we are serving  but also for us.”

Joe Soberano intently listening to all his staff suggestions to further refine CLI’s current management system,  employee’s well being, training and others.

Joe also emphasised the weight of refining and boosting the well-being of every CLI employee. He encouraged small group activities, excursions, even the spiritual side of things in order to create camaraderie and goodwill. He also imparted how he values work -life- family-balance, the rationale why CLI working hours was tapered down from 6 to 5 days. As quoted, “We want you to be with your family and enjoy the weekend with them. While work is very important, it is also equally important to share the fruit of our work to those who are close to us.”

He further alluded how things can be of convenience for employees who cannot afford to acquire a private vehicle yet. He also remarked the activation of corporate social responsibility programs and the promotion of goodwill by constantly being able to develop quality products.

Newly-promoted employees were also broadcasted during the event. Some faces bolt from the blue when they heard their names called upon.  An open forum also took place where few employees aired out their humble suggestions and which were well-received by the management.

Congratulations Promotees!

The EVP for Finance, Marose Soberano, has also made a short note. She was underlining the importance of being a family helping each other. “Help us. Help you. Help us take care of every family members” as she zealously raised to everyone.

Marose Soberano standing as the ever-loving Mother of the CLI family.

The Townhall meeting curtained with a photo op and a sumptuous dinner everyone shared.  It was indeed a moment with and for the family connecting and reconnecting with one another — a creme de la creme working with the masters.

The Cebu Landmasters Inc. one big family.

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The blackjacket story: I have always been proud wearing this identity whether I am in a client meeting or traveling back to home town.Definitely, I’m a proud Cebuana working with the masters.

3 of 10: Leyte getaway to amble Philippines longest bridge – San Juanico

I woke up one morning and decided to go to Leyte. I phoned J right away and informed her of the unpremeditated getaway. Without uncertainty, she agreed to my impetuosity. Our intent on the journey is merely to walk on Philippines longest bridge –San Juanico Bridge – as we often read this coinage in history books back in grade school.

While I was at work, I asked J to buy the tickets. We rode Roble Shipping, 10pm schedule. Arrived in Ormoc 4am the following day. Attended the 6:15 am mass at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish where we were amused with its Architecture and ID. It was a perfect blend of old and modern art.

We stayed in Travelers Suite, an affordable hotel located at the downtown of Ormoc. We took a brisk nap and washed up. By afternoon, we were bestirred to conquer the City of Beautiful People.

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The most hospitable steward of Roble Shipping. Salute to you, John. Until our next trip. 

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Right here. Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church

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C’mon gents, follow me. 

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Made it to the longest bridge of the Philippines – San Juanico Bridge. 

Item #3 unlocked.