Five Learning Nuggets this 2013

This year is so amazing, too bad I missed a lot of opportunities to write and share about it. Looking back at my 2013, I could not help but stare in awe at how God could transform my then ordinary plans to extraordinary encounters and raising it to greater heights. Thus, I would like to spend my last post for the year remembering each memorable and life-changing realizations:

1. Success is achieved by those who envision it. Instead of writing resolutions, I made a detailed goals last Jan. 1. It is not enough to write “I promise to be …” rather I chose to write very specific and time-bound goals i.e “Engage in contact sports; get a job before graduation; learn to drive before the year ends.”

Every now and then, I update my bucket list, and even then, I surprise myself about how easier it is to not just achieve but also exceed such . For every goal, claim it, take it as yours, and breathe life into it. >

2. Smarts are good, and so is discipline. People tend to label me as smart, genius even by some of my classmates in the University. When asked how come I’m able to do it, I would always tell them “I’m not smart, I’m just disciplined to get the job done”.

Many things whether in school or work are quick to learn…only if you have the discipline to do it. It is not enough to have goals, but to progress from one goal to another for the next 365 days and more, the discipline must be hay-wired into your being…into your very core. It has to be your mindset, your attitude.

3. When your mind/body tells you to quit, don’t. Many times, just when I’m about to quit, the Universe sends signals telling me to hold on a little bit more. I realize that when the going gets tough, it’s time to listen to the heart more and to follow my guts.

More often than not, I did not regret wherever my heart and guts lead me into. 😃

4. Be a learning sponge, and be great at being one. . This year opened new opportunities and blessings from me: graduating University with honors, finding a fantastic job, meeting new friends, living alone, etc. and with each encounter, I discovered a new thing or two–about myself, about others, about life in itself.

This year, I set aside my shy self and plucked up the courage take my learning as my responsibility. Life as an adult did not come with a manual nor it is served with a silver spoon. Experiences are sure to be great teachers, but I also learned significantly by asking advice from my family, trusted friends, and mentors.

The best (and unfailing) advice I got is “do things with great love, it never fails”. If you love what you do, you’ll never stop falling all over again and learning a lot from what you do.

This 2014, I certainly hope to be a more absorbent learning sponge.

5. Keep yourself firmly rooted to your values and beliefs. With so many changes (both bad and good) happening all at the same time, the most important thing is to keep oneself true to your values and beliefs. What matters in life is to have that desire to be good and to do good, not to hurt others intentionally, to learn from mistakes, to keep one’s integrity and dignity intact, among other things.

I could not count how many times my values and beliefs were challenged, but I realize that it is part of the whole how-to-learn-to-live-your-life process. When all material things are taken away from me, what remains is the things that remain invisible: love, faith, charity, forgiveness, determination, quality time with family and friends, among others. May this year be a year where we inhale and exhale love. ❤

Decision to change

Decision to change

“You are where you are because of your choices. There is nothing to gain by regretting things. Review your past decisions for lessons and make a new decision to change. Take Action Today.”

— Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is a strength and conditioning coach from Toronto, Canada. He works closely with athletes and is a consultant for Rugby Canada.

Reference: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/cb.htm

Out of the nest and aiming high

The past 19 weeks is a blessing for me. The reality is far from what I have imagined myself to be. I am nearing the end of my third internship–my final requirement in the university, and I am this close to graduation. I admit I am excited for the things that will happen, for the adventures that await, and for all the other things that will challenge me more.

But I am also aware of the growing fears inside of me…a deadly poison of failures and rejections. No matter how many small victories achieved throughout the years, the fears of making mistakes and disappointing others (and ultimately disappointing oneself) can easily crush my afraid soul in an instant. 

Instead of spreading my wings and bravely venturing horizons, I am trapped in my own nest, entertaining “what-if” thoughts and still weighing the pros and cons of my options. Fears condition the mind of the impossible things, thus limiting the actions that one can do, and effectively cutting all possibilities of new triumphs. 

Such fears must come to an end. Now is the perfect time that I do it. All I need is to breath all the courage in, and exhale a positive and confident attitude out.

“I can do all things through God who strengthens me.” Yes, I am quoting Phil. 4:13 as a reminder that faith should always be bigger than my fears. God will always be with me. I can do it!

In reality, people make mistakes and will make mistakes, and people disappoint other people. A winning and brave attitude is needed to recover from all mistakes and disappointments to move forward and learn from. I need to tell myself I need not to be afraid in making mistakes, it only means I am trying to do something. I can do it!

I guess, it’s now time to spread those wings and aim high! 🙂

“The longer you…

“The longer you have to wait for something, the more you will appreciate it when it finally arrives. The harder you have to fight for something, the more priceless it will become once you achieve it. And the more pain you have to endure on your journey, the sweeter the arrival at your destination. All good things are worth waiting for and worth fighting for.”

— Susan Gale

What keeps me going?

Faith. It gives me hope in His beautiful promise that everything will be just fine so long as I work (insanely) hard in all the things that I love to do.

Best advice I learned so far: Do the things you love doing, because (striving for) excellence becomes second nature to you. It will enable you to wake up each day knowing that there is a reason for your existence. Every effort is borne out of that love you can give, and it will never stop you from making (great) things happen.

True story. ❤

Elections 2013: The best day to be a Filipino

Estrella

Today, my friend tweeted that May 13 is the best day to be a Filipino. For more than the 52M Filipinos eligible to vote, this day marks the day when your voice matters in every vote casted. For some, it is just another extension of their long weekend–perhaps to go on vacation, to cram for some takehome work or to wait for election results. 

Our family decided that instead of voting in the morning, we will just go to our precint at Palatiw Elementary School in the afternoon. As I was writing my list of candidates to vote for, I can’t  help but notice on the news channel the (extra)ordinary stories of the people who truly maximized their right: (1) a man refusing to vote since the PCOS machine broke down, ergo he doesn’t trust manual count of elections, (2) a guy who was born without hands who voted and asked the COMELEC officer (who is a public school teacher) put the indelible ink in his toe, (3) old men and women in their walkers or wheel chairs who never failed to vote, and (4) public school teachers who spent their own money to replace the marker pens allocated in their precints so more people can vote. It was my second time to participate in the national elections, and apart from wanting my choice of candidates to win, these stories are more than enough reasons for me and my family to go out and vote.

My experience in this year is almost not quite different as it was in the 2010 elections. The lines were long but manageable. Even if there were 6 precints clustered in our area for one PCOS machine, our family finished voting by 4 PM, an hour after we arrived. Despite the sweltering heat and occasional downpour, one thing that I noticed was how the humor of the Filipinos to keep the people amused. It was not easy for the teachers, poll watchers, and volunteers who stayed in a small room full of people without a single electric fan working, but their interaction with us voters were full of fun and witty lines that only Filipinos could understand. Lining up for 30 minutes is not that bad after all. I only wish that in the 2016 elections, the PWDs and the elderly will receive more assistance.

Another change was the fact that more youth are active discussing political issues and stating their stand months even months before the elections. In spite of the selfie pictures via Instagram of their inked index fingers indicating that they already have voted, their tweets and posts are reminders that the voting youth is accountable to their own future, and each wanting to pray for change in the Philippines. Information regarding the candidates’ profiles are available online, and the COMELEC even developed an application for Apple and Android users to help them find their precints. Still, the Filipino humor cannot be eliminated via memes and hashtags in the social media.

While I cannot say in behalf of everyone, my take on this elections is that people should always realize how their vote is crucial not only in the next six years of their lives, but in fact in the more years that follow. If you sell your vote so you can have money to pay for your basic needs, take the money and don’t vote for that candidate. Chances are that candidate will never respect your rights for he or she cannot even respect your right to vote. I do not think that my list is a perfect list, but I selected them based on the integrity of their character and the sincerity of their platforms. My ballots may have included names of several independent candidates, and I chose them not because it is the hipster thing to do, but because my conscient tells me that these names speak for the change I would love to see in the Philippines.

For some who did not register for unexcusable reasons, your taxes may have earned you the right to blame the politicians and how their idiotic acts give your life in the country a living hell, but it  does not earn you the right to call the voting massess as illiterate or uneducated.  Whatever the election results may be, I just hope that violence and cheating will be reduced if not totally eliminated. We must respect the country’s democracy, and let the seemingly unqualified candidates who will be seated to be challenged and prove the nation that the votes they received are all worth it, simply because our country is worth it.

 

A Mother’s Love

A Mother's Love

There are times when only a mother’s love
Can understand our tears,
Can soothe our disappoints
And calm all of our fears.

There are times when only a mother’s love
Can share the joy we feel
When something we’ve dreamed about
Quite suddenly is real.

There are times when only a mother’s faith
Can help us on life’s way
And inspire in us the confidence
We need from day to day.

For a mother’s heart and a mother’s faith
And a mother’s steadfast love
Were fashioned by the angels
And sent from God above.

— Anonymous

I will always be grateful for my mom, a God’s gift in our family. She is a pillar of strength, and it is no wonder why our father falls in love with her each day. She is the epitome of life’s wisdom, practicality, and beauty. Who we are today is a reflection of how our mothers have raised us. Things and situations may not be perfect in our family, but she makes a way for us to always feel at home. Some may say that every day should be Mothers’ Day, yet we dedicate each second Sunday of May to honor our mothers because they are just that SPECIAL.

In our mother’s eyes, we are the most perfect beings on earth and that their confidence in us makes us believe that we can achieve anything and everything. She is the first person to cheer for us, to comfort us, to believe in us, to live and to die for us. She taught us how meaningful the phrases “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, and “Thank you” , and how these phrases will never EVER leave us.

I always pray that God grant her many more years to live. Someday, I hope I can be just as a good mother as her. With the rest of my siblings, we vow to take good care of our Papa and Mama.

Echo

Echo

A year ago, I said goodbye to a fluffy little friend of mine. He’s a dog, a perfectly adorable black chow-spitz I had as an early Christmas present. It seems like December 20, 2011 was  only yesterday, but looking back it also seems like ages ago. He died six days later in a pet hospital.

I feel all dog-lovers would agree how tragic losing a dog, even if you only owned him briefly. I remember we even got him his own baby cage and dog food before picking him up. Oh yes, there were two of them, but I chose him because he was all jumpy and I just could not resist those round black eyes staring back at me.We named him Echo, because “E” is the fifth letter of the alphabet and he is the fifth dog we had. He’s the cutest in my eyes.

Those first few days were a real experiment. Our family hasn’t got a dog in almost a year since Ziggy, our black Lab, died and we don’t know what kind of puppy food he likes. My sister even bought him two cute clothes that he worked so hard to get off after I bathed him. My parents had fun playing tug of war with him on his bed cloths. Everything was supposed to be fun. Alas, it was only a momentary bliss.

He was barely two months old and there he is fighting for his life. It pained me to see how weak and dehydrated he is.. The vet gave us updates on  his health progress–how well he was eating, and how many days will we have to wait before we can start his shots. I wasn’t able to visit him on Christmas day because the pet hospital is closed to customers.

But on the dawn of December 26, 2011, my brother received a call. Echo didn’t make it through the night. I went there myself and see him all wrapped up in a tiny box and green plastic. After paying for all the bills, mom and I went to the backyard to dig up Echo’s grave under the banana bush.

Here I am 365 days later, still thinking about Echo. I even dreamt about a full-sized Echo months ago, cry about him a few times in the past, and yes I miss my  dear dog. I hope he’s having a blast in doggy heaven with Rocky, Assunta, and Ziggy among other dogs. I know you’re watching over Chuck and Koko. Our entire family misses you. 🙂

 

Beautiful people do not just happen

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” — Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Not my own strength but His

“We are not on this earth to accumulate victories, things, and experiences, but to be whittled and sandpapered until what’s left is who we truly are.”  

– Arianna Huffington

God allowed me to experience many, many things to appreciate how He works through my life. I know that despite the negative things that has happened to me a few days ago (losing phone, failing a quiz, hurtful comments), I anchored my strength in Him to keep going. If I just rely on my own strength, I know I will just go back to the pessimistic-and-easily-discouraged version of myself. But  God is so good, He disguises these sad moments to make me see how my family and my friends love me. I sometimes feel ashamed that I am not worthy of this amazing love, yet God’s love overflows. All I can do is stare in awe, and do my best to respond in His call to love others.

Today is one of those days when I felt so energized. Though I already know how God loves me, it is still different when you try to reflect back on those moments when you think you’ve exhausted all of yourself, when you were so much in pain, when you think you’re already a hopeless case, when all you want is to shut yourself from the world away from every living fiber. But God is so great, He surrounds me with a loving God, family, and friends and I find strength to face my fears and uncertainties all over again.

Five months before, my relationship with Him and my family and friends is not like this. Not at all. Before, I would rather keep things to myself or write it down on my journal. But God showed me that why not open up to people and see how they can make me see the world beautifully. Why not allow Him to take control of my life again? I’m glad I did.

Fast forward to the present, God never stops moving mountains and oceans right before my own eyes. I know that the remaining journey is long, winding, and difficult. There will be storms to chase and dreams to fulfill. My bucket list never stops growing. But after talking to some of my closest friends today, I know that God’s plans in my life will bring me beyond my own dreams. He will turn them into a beautiful reality. All I need is to continue to draw strength, trust, and inspiration from Him.  To choose Him even when the world doesn’t.

As the year 2012 draws near to it’s end, I am getting clearer picture of what God’s plan has intended for me. This year has been a year filled with discernment. This year I felt I was at my lowest point, but  it is the same moment that my vulnerability opened me to the biggest changes in my life. This year God showed me how important it is to invest in people and earn life’s greatest rewards in return. This year I had to deal with tragic losses, but gained significantly in y relationship with Him and with my loved ones.

With a brave heart, I know I can be bigger than my own fears for the years ahead because I have a great God with me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is one of my favorite worship songs at the moment. Thank you Lord, for using people’s talents to inspire me as well.

How He Loves Us

He is jealous for me
Love’s like a hurricane,
I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of
His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me.

Oh, how He loves us so
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves us so.
(x2)

Yeah, He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves.
(x2)

We are His portion and
He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption
by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart turns
violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way

He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
OH, how He loves
(x2)

Yeah, He loves us
Oh, how He loves us
Whoa, how He loves us
Whoa, how He loves.

Yeah, He loves us
He loves us
He loves us
He loves.

Yeah, He loves us
Whoa, how He loves us
Whoa, how He loves us
Whoa, how He loves

He loves us,
Whoa, how He loves us
Whoa, how He loves us
Whoa, how He loves

 

Much bigger and stronger than any storm…

Image

“Every storm, no matter how big and strong, passes eventually.
Just know and remember that your spirit is much bigger and
stronger than any storm that comes your way, and that all
storms will fall apart long before you ever would.”

— Doe Zantamata

 

Image credits: http://favim.com/orig/201106/08/girl-poland-red-storm-summer-umbrella-Favim.com-68475.jpg

Musings over the grave

Yesterday, we visited my uncle’s grave to pay our respects and pray for all the demised members of our family from my mother’s side. It was a peaceful time reminiscing about his life and sharing this moment with my relatives. Even if it is All Saints’ Day and not yet All Souls Day, it has been a tradition to visit the cemetery and spend the day in solemn prayer in the company of family members.

I realize that indeed, time is quickly passing and fading right before our eyes. Especially with this year’s two deaths in my father’s side, it is difficult losing your loved ones and even if it has happened months ago, I know there is still pain. Somehow I wished I was in our province right now to remember this day at their graves. Praise God we still have each other to give comfort and pray that all our loved ones and the lost souls in the purgatory may rest  in peace.

While my mom and sister were talking to our relatives, I looked around at people on how they are also spending this day in this place. I also glanced at some of the graves and gave a short prayer, hoping that they will receive a visit from their living loved ones. As I peer at the dates etched on the graves, I could not help but wonder if these people were able to celebrate life to the fullest or brought secrets and regrets to their deaths. I thought about why some had to die so young while  some seemed to have been forgotten by friends or family. Well, who knows? These things, they are always part of His Divine plan.

I remember the quote from Mitch Albom’s latest novel, The Timekeeper, when Dor asked the old man about why God limits the time of people on earth.  The story is riveting, involving about a person who counted time but never truly lived it, an old but rich man who wanted more time, and a hopeless romantic who wanted less of time. I realize that yes, God limits the days to make each moment precious. It is a hard truth to realize that when people who matter in life cease to exist that begin to understand and wished that we should have done more for them.

As I removed myself away from these thoughts, I caught my relatives engaged in conversation about our annual family reunion. I realize that life on earth is temporary, and we really should make an effort to enjoy it, just like getting excited about the family reunion. I’m getting pretty chummy about it because that is the occasion that I look forward to right after Christmas and before New Year. It is when almost all of the relatives in my mother’s side gather in one place and have fun over food, games, gifts, and just being together, not to mention that this year, we might celebrate it right in our own home.

It is an amazing life after all.

 

Promise Yourself

Promise Yourself

by Christian D Larson

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature you meet.

To give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud word, but in great deeds.

To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

Musings over train ride: A child’s smile and a gesture of hope

A heavy downpour, suspension of classes, and a train ride on the way home made this day the most amazing day of October. I took the usual route every day for the past five years of college life, but today, seeing him with his father changed the way I see my train rides. The father was carrying his son inside a pram, and looking at the son, my heart broke a little because he was diagnosed with epilepsy. I decided to take the seat next to them, and for everything that happened in between, I am grateful for it.

The passengers kept giving the father and son furtive glances, as if not knowing on how to express sympathy for the sick child. I was one of them. The father, probably used to the sometimes hurting stares, just kept quiet and continued to attend to his son’s needs. As I am the one sitting closest to them, I realize how loving the father was, for taking care of his son, for looking at him with love in his eyes.

When his son was finished with the milk, the father gently patted his son’s back so he can burp and breathe easier. At that moment, I looked at the child, and he flashed me with his wide and toothy grin. I could not help but return that smile. He is happy, that’s all I know. His radiating smile changed the gloom inside the train and made his father beamed back at him. How could not anyone love this sweet and innocent child? His father took out an almost-empty medicine bottle, and then I really felt sorry because there are probably quite a few pills left for his son.

Silently in my head, I was praying that the weather be more friendly because it seems like the father and the son still had a long way to go. I was hoping I brought food with me to share or I had extra money at that time to give, but all I did was mutter a short prayer for them.

A few more stations later, a lady–dressed simply in white shirt and jeans–sitting across the father suddenly took out her wallet and drew PhP 500 cash to give to him. God bless her, she did not say anything else but this: “Sir, kunin mo na ‘to. (Sir, take this.)” The two young girls who were beside the lady and were busy laughing at their own conversation suddenly became quiet. It is almost as if time froze and all passengers were touched by the lady’s simple gesture of help. The father humbly accepted the money, “Salamat po, salamat. (Thank you, thank you).”

Initially, I thought this lady was one of those passengers who would just give a couple of stares to the father and child. But out of her desire to help, she did not hesitate to extend the money for child’s medicines. The way she even handed the money is not “show off”. She wasn’t staring at the child out of pity, she was gazing at him of pure love.

At that point, my eyes were brimmed with tears of joy. Literally. I don’t want to embarrass myself, and it was a good timing too that an old lady came in so I can give her my seat. I stood up two stations ahead my stop and saw the elderly lady engaging the father in a conversation to wipe my tears away. I gave the kid one last glance and he just smiled back as I stepped out the train’s doors.

Today, I would like to honor all the fathers and mothers who would give up anything and everything for their children. Their unconditional love shows us that as children, we are also called to love others unconditionally. The lady who gave out her money could have spent her cash on something else. Instead, she selflessly shared a part of her own so that an innocent child may continue to live. Like her, we should use our blessings to become blessings for others.

The child’s face is always smiling and his eyes are windows of hope for everyone to see. He reminded me of how we, adults, see life as difficult, thus we tend to look at our situation in a negative perspective. Yes life is not easy, but it should not stop us from approaching it with a smile. His story gives me hope, and I am glad that today, God granted me the opportunity to sit beside him and his father. Sometimes, even if we have lived here on earth for so long, a child can teach us more than what other people can’t.  Indeed, a smile warms the heart and soul. Thank you dear child for reminding me that even in the most difficult situations, we can still smile with life.

Right Minus Wrong: Joe Cool, Aplikante (Play)

Joe Cool: Aplikante, written by Joshua Lim So, is the second play presented during the Right Minus Wrong production of Dulaang Laksambayanan, Inc, after Ang Huling Lektyur ni Misis Reyes.  The short play revolves around two characters, Joe Cool (Aaron Ching), the job applicant barely out of college, and Miss Lyka Agurela (Leah Tarynne Abella-Johnson), the receptionist and administrative assistant of Dohesta Corporation.

All Joe wanted was a job that would earn him a living, but when he went to Dohesta to submit his application, Miss Lyka does not make it any easier for him. For several times, she refuses to entertain him—from not confirming that this is Dohesta Corp., to citing reasons that they do not need someone who does not follow the “system” that they strictly implement or that they do not even have an opening at all. She even tells him wrong directions to keep him at bay.

Joe still not gives up as he tries to keep his cool (and his matching “swag” attitude and looks) by calling her cute nicknames and rides along with her grammatical and pronunciation errors (“Are you applicating?”, “Where is your resumi?”, and “Do you want to eat me?”) just to see at least one of his multiple resume submissions processed. Even if Joe tries to correct her with her poor command of English, she still acts like a know-it-all.

As the story progress, things get more absurd when Joe realizes that there are no other employees at the floor except for Miss Lyka. Seeing that he had no other choice, Joe began to answer the interview-turned-interrogation. But it began to become ugly when she exposes him to be fabricating his personal information from his name down to his credentials. As if this was not enough, she tortures him with a shock gun, and asking him why he wanted the job in the first place. After all, the job is valid only for less than six months, with low pay and no benefits.

He also wonders how come Miss Lyka becomes deathly afraid of Dohesta’s CEO, Ernesto Karera, when this boss seems to never step out of his office? Is there someone inside the CEO’s office? She often tries to appear busy and confident, but when her boss calls her, she acts like a prey about to be consumed any minute by an unknown predator.

Joe then accuses Miss Lyka of sexual harassment, forcing her to breakdown in tears. She then starts her monologue—in straight Filipino than using her grammar-prone English—about how she also dreamt to be a famous actress and become rich before, and not in a deadwood and menial job in this place right now. Joe seized this opportunity to try to enter the CEO’s door, and the cat-and-mouse chase ended with Joe successfully entering the CEO’s office and Miss Lyka walking out of the company premises. The play wraps up when Joe takes the place of Miss Lyka and is about to entertain a new applicant for the company.

Joshua Lim So’s play Joe Cool: Aplikante provokes the audience to reflect on how the society is run by a certain “system.” Who runs the system? Is it the government, the businessmen or both? How come this “system” can make people be certain and uncertain of their actions at the same time? The mere title of “CEO” connotes power, and even if one cannot be sure if this Ernesto Karera persona actually exists, both Miss Lyka and Joe allowed themselves to be swallowed into the “system” out of their need for jobs.

Looking at the two main characters, the play teaches us how one work around his way into Dohesta Corp.’s “system.” Miss Lyka obediently (albeit blindly) follows the rules of this “system”, she still has dreams that she hope to achieve some day, only that she is stuck in this job that has no growth and meager pay. She cannot even improve her English, but still speaks in a know-it-all twang that pisses Joe off several times.

Joe, an outsider of Dohesta, applied to enter such “system” because he was desperate to have money to help cover his  family’s expenses. Throughout the interview-turned-interrogation, Miss Lyka questioned his motives of applying into this job, asking him repeated “Why?” for each answer. The classified ad that Joe refers to is not specific as to what position he is applying for, but shows off he has enough experience to work it out. It was later revealed that the job is actually a replacement of Miss Lyka; hence, the mention of the six-month contract, little pay, and her extraordinarily rude behavior. Perhaps, if she tortures him hard enough, he will lose his interest of the company and she will secure this job.

Beyond the issue of contractualization of jobs, the play transcends to delve also on the theme of how one loses the idea of oneself when he or she allows to be subjected into the system. Miss Lyka is a dispensable person to the “system”, and she wanted to remain important by imposing her authority in her territory for the outsiders (for as long as Joe does not get too near the CEO’s office). But her fears and untoward behavior only magnify the curiosity of Joe in Dohesta. When he finally replaced Miss Lyka, he also loses his “cool” identity as he identifies himself to be an employee of Dohesta already. But the company treats its contractual employees like objects that are easily disposable once their contract expires.

The sexual innuendos and mild profanity in the dialogue between Miss Lyka and Joe Cool keeps the play in a somewhat lighthearted mood. It is noteworthy that the name of Miss Lyka Agurela is a loose joke of the phrase “like a gorilla”, which explains her behavior. Joshua Lim So’s portrayal of Joe’s character ponders on our personal dreams and sacrifices when it comes to necessity and family matters. There is always an answer and a purpose to our life’s repeating questions of “Why…?” If we do not know what we are doing and where we are  going, chances are we are submitting ourselves in the predatory system that  is hard to get out, unless it kicks us out.

Right Minus Wrong: Ang Huling Lektyur ni Misis Reyes (Play)

Last weekend, I had the chance to watch “Right Minus Wrong”, a twin bill production of Dulaang Laksambayanan, Inc. presenting two plays Ang Huling Lektyur ni Misis Reyes and Joe Cool: Aplikante.

The first play titled Ang Huling Lektyur ni Misis Reyes, written by Tim Dacanay, is a story of a resigning teacher delivering her last lecture for the school year. Instead of saying personal farewells and thank yous to her students, Mrs. Reyes (Lotlot Bustamante) dared to discuss a sensitive topic you cannot expect a Music teacher would discuss: sex and sexuality.

While Mrs. Reyes often amuses the crowd with her quick wit and contagious laughter, her final lesson was filled with stories of her life. She saw how students nowadays become victims of social ridicule and deprived of education because they became pregnant or they have engaged in homosexual acts. Mrs. Reyes opened the discussion that it is okay to discuss human sexuality in class by relating it with the musical concept of “dissonance.” She felt the urgency of questioning the system and the society in making better life decisions, and she does so with a group of people that became closest to her hearts–her students.

Certainly, Mrs. Reyes’ last lecture would not have been appropriate for a Music teacher’s lesson plan. The sister-principal disapproved her well-researched coverage of topics many months in advance before her last day in school. The principal even questioned her capability to teach such lesson, and even demeaning Mrs. Reyes’ passion for yoga. But Mrs. Reyes is not the ordinary teacher; she is also an idealist who believes she can help reduce the rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases with proper education of the youth.

In between her lessons, she injects in snapshots of her life’s issues on relationship troubles with her husband, her son’s addiction to computer games, and her misunderstanding with her sister, and her sister’s gay son. Despite her not-so-perfect past and present, she sets an example that you can still do responsible actions for a brighter future. She wished that her students will not give up their hopes and pursue with their education, because life will always have its struggles but these should not stop us from becoming better persons.

The style of Mrs. Reyes’ lecture is reminds me of Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. She felt that her last day will also be her last chance to teach them. Her students may not remember a year’s worth of Music lessons, but she hopes that they will remember her as a teacher of life and of hope.

If we were Mrs. Reyes and today is your last lecture day, what wisdom would you impart on your students?

Light Bulb Jokes of the Economists

I’m trying to inject some humor over aspiring economists here. 🙂 I was surfing a lot of jokes about economists but probably these set of light bulb jokes are among the funniest. Enjoy! 😀

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Q: How many Chicago School economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None. If the light bulb needed changing the market would have already done it.

Q: How many mainstream economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A1: Two. One to assume the existence of ladder and one to change the bulb.

A2: Two. One to assume the existence of latter and one to change the bulb.

Q: How many neo-classical economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: It depends on the wage rate.

Q: How many conservative economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A1: None. The darkness will cause the light bulb to change by itself.

A2: None. If it really needed changing, market forces would have caused it to happen.

A3: None. If the government would just leave it alone, it would screw itself in.

A4. None. “There is no need to change the light bulb. All the conditions for illumination are in place.

A5. None, because, look! It’s getting brighter! It’s definitely getting brighter !!!

A5. None; they’re all waiting for the unseen hand of the market to correct the lighting disequilibrium.

Q: How many Keynesian economists does it takes to change a light bulb?

A:All. Because then you will generate employment, more consumption, dislocating the AD (agg. demand) to the right…

Q: How many central bank economists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Just one — he holds the light bulb and the whole earth revolves around him.

Q: How many Marxists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: None – the bulb contains within it the seeds of its own revolution.

Q: How many environmental economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Eight – one to turn the light bulb and seven to do the environmental impact study.

Q: How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Seven, plus/minus ten.

Q:  How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Irrelevant – the light bulb’s preferences are to be taken as given.

Q: How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Eight. One to screw it in and seven to hold everything else constant.

And lastly…

Given 1000 economists, there will be 10 theoretical economists with different theories on how to change the light bulb and 990 empirical economists laboring to determine which theory is the *correct* one, and everyone will still be in the dark.

Sourced from: http://www.ahajokes.com/econ002.html

A Rumpelstiltskin By Name

 [Disclaimer: This is a revised essay for my online class. The essays are part of the assessment and the basic requirement is the length to be between 270-320 words. I assume you have already have a background of the story, and I am simply trying to enrich the discussion. :)]

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The tale of Rumpelstiltskin gives us views on gender discrimination, greed, and deception. The characters are classic: a show-off father, a greedy king, and a wise goblin (Rumpelstiltskin)—all exploiting the daughter. The father jeopardizes his daughter’s future and she became helpless because of her inability to spin straw into gold. Thus, the king wanted her for the probability of multiplying his riches. The woman is seen as an object: a gold-producing machine. Otherwise, for what other reason would the king marry a miller’s daughter? It seemed a profitable deal with the king.

Rumpelstiltskin used his magic intelligently; for he knows that taking the firstborn child would be useful by either in gaining more power or as a ransom in the future. But why was his identity a secret? Mystical creatures opt not to reveal themselves fully to mankind—especially to women, as they are perceived to be unworthy of trust. He also challenged the queen that she cannot guess his name, a further insult to a woman’s intelligence regardless of her position in the society. When she got his name right, Rumpelstiltskin can no longer claim her child and the woman triumphs over someone who is not human. The story ends with a defeated and outwitted Rumpelstiltskin tearing himself into two out of anger.

Grimms’ Tales are not like Aesop’s Fables in directly telling the moral of the story, but it challenges the readers to learn it by unlayering the characters. The father wanted power by lying on his daughter’s reputation while the king wanted to get richer. The protagonist daughter is not perfect, yet she becomes victorious over trials. Rumpelstiltskin can even be seen as a compassionate antagonist by giving the daughter a chance to redeem her child. He thought creatures like him cannot be outwitted, but he was proven wrong. Don’t we, at some point in our lives, identify ourselves as the daughter, the miller, the king, and Rumpelstiltskin?

Fight all your battles on…

Fight all your battles on your knees and you will win every time.

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The Paradoxical Commandments

by Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

I’m not making sense but I’m writing it anyway

I do not know how or why something “beautiful” has to end– a promise, a relationship, a life–at the moment when you know things are going so right. In our human knowledge, our perception of things shape our actions.

It is strange, isn’t it?

But the way we feel about beautiful things ending shows how much we value it, how much of ourselves that we invested on it, and how far we are willing to stretch ourselves to hold on it–all of these happen in our minds. Yes, whatever the mind knows and thinks, the body will follow.

We notice we have inner conflicts or tensions in our bodies, as our minds reject the bitter reality that there are things we can no longer do. We feel hurt when we cannot understand. We cannot accept that there are moments like these when we simply have to let things be.

People say the things that go beyond our control are the most frustrating events in life. These are the moments we cannot accept, simply because we did not anticipate it from happening in the first place. We have expected it the way our minds framed it to happen exactly.

It is a dilemma to see how the people you gave so much importance and priority will be the same people who will end your relationship intentionally. It hurts your inner core and your entire being at the same time. But relationships are like that, it is always two-way. If the other decides to hurt the other person, what else can the injured party do? The people who hurt you may or may not realize the repercussions of their decisions, anyway.

To experience something to end shocks our minds and damages our bodily functions. Endings distorts the alignment of heart and soul. Endings disengage what was built in our minds versus the reality that people and things falling apart.

And at that precise moment, you think the world you created is permanent… You are hoping it will last forever, as you expect it to be. But it did not.

So what went wrong?

As you are searching for the answers, then you begin to doubt if everything was a lie to begin with.

Was the intention for their own purpose? What was in their mind to do it?
Why was I not consulted?
Am I not important?
Am I not enough?
Why did it not work out?

In your mind it is beautiful, so beautiful that it becomes painful to end. But on the other person, it is not even beautiful and pain becomes its means to end. Simply, people are not always on the same page when they think and decide.

We deny ourselves of the fact that when things end and can no longer do about it, we still hold on for it to go back where it used to be. But it won’t help. We will just get stuck in a situation and deprive ourselves of other things and people in life. Buying time is lost time. Patience can only go so far until our minds say to stop.

Yes, it is difficult. It will never be easy. There will be times you want to blame the persons and events or even yourself. In moments of solitude, thoughts and questions will always linger. We can ask Life or we can ask God the question, “WHY?”

But we will never carry on with life asking ourselves with why’s. What must be framed in our minds and move our actions is responding with the how’s. As sometimes, why’s cannot and will not take us anywhere.

How can I turn things in my life around? How can I improve myself?
How can I move on with life?
How can I forgive and forget?

The reality we face may not what we have anticipated. The adage, “Expect the unexpected” is true. Changes are inevitable in life, and we cannot escape reality unless we gamble our sanity.

Life is a process of learning and unlearning. We learned how it is to be happy and how it is to grieve. We learned to create relationships and we also have to unlearn our attachments from what brings our pain. We learned how it is to have loved and lost, and eventually we unlearn from the pain and try to love once again.

Humans can only think and feel so much.
People love people only exist if people hurt people. Before something or someone beautiful has ended, it has started at a certain point somewhere sometime.

Thus, in endings come in new beginnings. People may come and go, but most importantly, it is up to us who and what we decide to stay with–and it must be mutual.

Unless we can think we can survive when things end, then you will know that you can. That is the reality, and it is a definite thing.

[Note: This is probably the last time I will write about you. If you have read this, you know who you are. I’m not coming back nor will I wait for you to come back. I’m happy where and who I am with now, without any guilt.]

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Something good in every day | June 18 thoughts

I received this quote via my Yahoo! mail subscription for daily inspiration. Truly, it is up to us as to how we will see each day. Instead of dwelling on negatives, I choose to look at what makes me smile.

“Every day may not be good… but there is something good in every day.”

Today, I thought my day will not be as good as I prayed it could be. The day greeted me with heavy rains, and I feel bad I will not be able to walk Chuck this morning. I was also running a bit late for my first class at 9:40 AM, and I really liked that class because the professor was good at what she does. The traffic in our area is really bad, which means I have to take an alternate route by riding an FX (airconditioned SUV) before I ride the trains.

Anyhow, I was glad to make it in class by 10:00 AM after climbing my way up on our classroom in the third floor. Praise God I was not lost in our discussion under Brand Management. At some point, I was getting frustrated for not getting my thoughts correct during the recitation, yet I managed to follow the thread and contributed during class.

My next class is Theology 3, and one of my best subjects so far. It is cool to have a visiting professor to teach us. It is a different perspective having a lawyer-turned-theologian to teach us. He’s actually from Malaysia and was educated in Great Britain, so we are not disappointed with our expectations of having good lessons about the Bible. I really like reciting and participating actively during the discussion. The only problem is, we are tasked to be the last reporter about literary criticism on the Parable of the Wedding Banquet and our presentation is not done well. I meant, it is complete in the essential details but we feel something else is lacking in terms of aesthetics and flow. But thank God again for He gave us additional time to present our report on the next meeting. I know we will do as excellent as we did during our two previous reports.

I have my three hour break after my Theology 3 class. So I ate lunch and used the remaining time for studying for my exam at 4:20 PM. I feel the pressure of the first quiz since I do not know how will our professor will ask us about the general provisions about partnerships. In the past terms that I took my two law subjects, I have a good record so I earnestly wanted to earn my way of achieving even better grades for this one. The scope of the lesson is not hard, but my inner conflicts geared its ugly head and distracted me hours before taking the exam. Praise God I have my copy of Student Prayers (Prayer before Studying, Prayer before taking Exam) and I was able to message my friends to pray for me. I am grateful that the prayers helped me comprehend the lessons while keeping my emotions in check. Praise God even more than the exam was not that difficult as I was able to confidently answer the five question essays in less than half an hour.

Needless to say, finishing the exam ahead of my usual class dismissal at 5:50 PM is a blessing in disguise. I was able to pass by the office of my organization and help out our activity for the upcoming job expo. Then, I was able to make it just in time to meet my friends for our gym session. I was only supposed to go there every Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, but praise God for giving me enough time after school for myself and my friends on this day.

I am still new in working out in the gym with my friends. Praise God I still have enough strength for a more than an hour of bonding with friends over various gym equipment and exercises. Engaging in a regular exercise keeps me more energized in school and my mind and body conditioned. It is a different sense of accomplishment to improve my speed, stamina, and endurance. Thank you, Lord for the blessing of friends who will never put you down.

I arrived home at around past 9 PM. Praise God again for great food! Mama really makes great veggie salad and my sister’s cooking of grilled pork and beef stew significantly improved. I can feel I will bring food in school tomorrow. Even if there are soft drinks, I prefer to drink water instead. Praise God for a healthy meal and great bonding time over dinner.

After the quick dinner, the weather feels good for my own quiet time. Praise God for my mom and dad for fixing Chuck’s cage with the tray. It looks awesome. Thank God for parents who treats our pets like their own children.

I got Chuck out of his cage for our one-hour walk that was cancelled this morning. Praise God that I my tired legs do not feel tired at all at that moment. I love bonding with Chuck because he is a great dog, even if some people find him scary. Praise God that my gym sessions strengthened me against his strong pulls when he feels like being playful. It was also great because we are starting to jog some streets around the village already. Chuck only gets distracted with the cars’ lights so hopefully, the next time he will not chase them as much. At home, I get to spend time with our other dog, Koko for loads of fun and play. He is dancing while my sister sings and teases him with dog treats.

I arrived home realizing that today, I wanted to write about how God has transformed this day from something good to even something better. Yes, just counting the blessings make me realize that there are always something good in every day. Today, I feel good about my school, my friends, and my family. Praise God for today, and every day of my life. I feel more alive and happier. Praise God! 🙂

Interview with the Dog

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Honestly, other versions of these images were stated as the “10 Canine Commandments.” I found this image over Facebook and it really touched me. I remember all of the dogs we owned from past to present, and how having pets is a good bonding time with my family. Our dogs before were usually fed from table scraps, but now we try to give them the best possible health and care.

As far as I can remember, our dog-loving family has owned over 7 dogs. Rocky (mixed breed) , Assunta (mixed breed), Kento (shih tzu), Ziggy (black labrador mix), and Echo (black chow-spitz mix) are all in doggy heaven now. I really miss them so much. I hope they do have a heaven for them to have fun and play with other dogs, and just be happy and feel no more pain. It is a huge loss each time we have to let go of our dogs.

At home, we still have Chuck (Siberian husky) and Koko (chocolate brown labrador mix) who keeps us very happy and entertained. Next time, I will make a write up for them next time when I can get a decent photo of them together aside from those stored in my Blackberry. I love them very much. It is not difficult raising them up, especially if you have your family to help you out. They are our joy, and they really feel that they are our babies. They love being fed and walking around our village. Plus, they are very cute and commands a lot of attention even from strangers.

I hope this photo that I shared is a reminder to all those dog-owners. It is really very important to spend time with them even for a few minutes, because they easily get bored especially when they are just shut in their cages the entire day. Taking care of dogs requires great commitment and love. They are not stuff toys you can just abandon and leave if you do not want to take care anymore. They have feelings, too. They know how to appreciate and they are a reflection of the emotions that you show them. It is awesome seeing them grow, they do make me smile with their crazy antics and tricks. Even when I get tired after hitting the gym or coming from school, it excites me to go home and check up on them. I do appreciate how they wake me up at exactly 5 AM each day, just so I will not be late for school and I can get decent breakfast. In return, I would feed them and spend time with them for play or walk, or simply just cooing them.

Okay, I will stop now talking about Chuck and Koko. ‘Til next time! 🙂

In Tonight’s Household: Love

This afternoon, we had our household meeting in my friend’s house. In YFL, a household is a small unit of members who regularly gathers to pray, to worship, and share insights about a certain topic. The blessing of a household is the friendship that bears fruit out of the love, trust, and hope.

Today is an “upper household”, which means the YFL core leaders in our areas would comprise the meeting. Our topic could never be even more perfect. It is about “Love” and I strongly believe God placed me here in His time. God will unfold His beautiful message to me, and all I can do is surrender my heart in Him.

1 Cor. 13: 4-8 (RSV):
4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

After our worship and usual mini sharing about how we were these past weeks, we were tasked to make a list of 3 people we love and 3 people we have issues with. At this moment, it was not difficult to do the list, but organizing my thoughts and reasons for these people to be in that list was both happy and sad.

For the list that makes me happy, I wrote Family, Friends, and YFL. I am blessed how the recent turn of events made our family closer and more understanding. As we grow older, it is not about the fights but how much we care for each other. They are the ones I know who loves me permanently and unconditionally. Even if the world turns back against me, I have my family who will pick me up and count on.

I am blessed with friends because these are the types of relationships worth investing my time and myself. Some friends may come and go, but those who stick around through thick and thin are worth it. At this point, I realize there are friends that I took for granted, yet they are still with me. I am grateful that there are friends I still have way back from my childhood. There are friends I gained from school, organization, and everyday encounters. God gave me friends to have a happy life.

YFL is special in my heart because this community helped me know God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Some of these people I knew since our kids’ ministry until now, and I am already in my ninth year in the youth ministry. All throughout my life since I was five years old, I have served God and the community. I cannot imagine how my life would have turned out if not for this blessing. I have built my confidence and growth as a person through kids and in YFL. I know that even if I move to singles or couples ministries years from now, God will always keep me close to Him.

For the three persons I listed for whom I have issues with, I know they could have been perfect candidates as well in the list of the people I love. These people I have loved so much, yet there are reasons when I simply have to let them go. Two of them are my friends, and the third is someone I truly love. I am the person who keeps on trying to save my relationships with them, yet, their actions have caused me pain. Yes, I still love them all, I wish I would not put their names on this list, but God clearly has other plans.

If God brings me to it, He will bring me through it.

I know that in pain, God gives me the appreciation of what love really is. I never hated them in spite of what they have done to push away my love for them. God tells me that right now, these people I do not deserve to prioritize with my love. In His time, these persons and I will be blessed to fix things. Only time can heal these wounds in my heart. It is never easy especially now that it is still fresh. But God is my healer.

Honestly, these people I have issues with cause me tears and disappointments. But I do not blame God for putting me in this situation. All I can say is I trust God that these pains will change me. My trust and faith in them might have been broken now, but in my broken self, God will make me whole. My hurts remind me that I am alive and human. I still love them. I know I also have others whom I love, and I know that I can love them more.

As the sharing among YFL members progressed, I am amazed how open we all were in pouring what love is and the reasons why they chose those names on the list. Some were almost in tears while sharing (I am one of them) especially when we talk about our families.

YFL community truly changes us on how we now value the people we love and how we are praying for the people we have issues with. Our lives were never the same when we were gripped by His grace. God transforms us to live our difficulties as blessings in disguise. Thank you, Lord for bringing me here.

“We are called to love and we have the burden to love,” this is what our household head said. Indeed, God tells me to love because He has first loved me.

I am surprised that even if I have lost loved ones along the way, I never wished anything bad for them. Sometimes, we find it difficult to love them or we cannot love them either it is because (a) they are source of sorrow, (b) they are “ignorant” or “insensitive” of our sincere efforts to love them, (c) they “irritate” us to the point why we lose the reasons to love them.

Everything is part our “cross” that we have to carry on our own. These are the things that we have to bear, but we have to always choose Jesus. Choosing less for myself and more for others, this is a cross of selflessness. Being part of YFL taught me not to judge others, but to practice the culture “no one judges, everyone understands”.

God loves me so much that even in pain, I choose to be happy. Our smiles may hide our deepest hurts, but our smiles also bring happiness to others. After the sharing, these are the important realizations and learning I got from the household:

1.) No matter what, understand – This is hard, but pride has no room if you truly love. Pride only speaks about “rights”, but understanding speaks only but love. It is about seeing things in the eyes of God.

2.) Try to reach out – “Everybody needs God, they just do not know it yet.” I realize that when I joined the community and learned about God, this taught me to cling to His promises.

3.) Stand firm – Yes it is tiring and almost impossible, but the Lord affirms us to be strong. I realized that Jesus stood up for you and me, thus even if I am hurting, I will continue to love.

In reality, when we are happy and feel loved we do not always grow. True love encourages us to grow, even in pain. In the end, true love endures “in pain or happiness, in abundance or absence.” At the end, conquering the difficulty of loving will make us stronger.

Aside from God, when I personally source happiness and love from family, friends and YFL, I become equipped to love by understanding, by reaching out, and by standing firm. Even without our “rights”, our love gives us real freedom. As YFL leaders in our areas, we are called to love our members even more. We become God’s instruments to love them unconditionally.

The most important realization today was instead of hating, we focused on loving even the most difficult persons. This is the way that Christ taught us. He was able to love even the unlovable. It is great how our love for God changed us that we never wished something negative for the people we have issues with. We lift them all to Him who will bless our relationships. Right before our eyes, we will always find reasons to love. We will be witnesses of God’s love as we try to understand, to reach out, and to stand firm.

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“Don’t judge ea…

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

— Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer. His most famous works are Treasure IslandKidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Reference: http://www.robert-louis-stevenson.org/