Saturday, November 17, 2012

My New Driver's License

It was 2 days ago when it dawned on me that my driver's license was expiring, and sure enough the subsequent panic spoiled my composure when it has only less than 24 hours to exist legally. Finding myself jumping out of bed so early in years was the next and most appropriate thing to do. This time I had to leave my larger-than-amoeba Suzuki Alto behind, as trooping to the place where to renew my license could be a hellish experience considering the never-ending excavations in Jeddah's major thoroughfares. I also kept telling myself not to meltdown when confronted with a Guiness-worthy bureaucracy (heard a lot of them and experienced quite a lot too). Sure enough, better be prepared to learn how to read in Arabic as English is not a known thing in that part of the world; yes you had to pay 20 rials minimum to hire someone else to fill out your form.

At first I went to Dallah office where I first got my license only to be told that the renewal is being done another 2 or 3 blocks away in their Muror office. When I went in, there's no queue, in fact, there were hardly any people inside. I thought it would be difficult to renew a driver's license, but it was actually very easy.

I first have to pay SR.200 (a little over $50) through a bank ATM which is located outside their office, then stand in a queue to submit all the necessary papers. They only require a photo copy of my iqama, a passport size photo and my expired driver's license. After giving them my papers, they told me to wait. Unfortunately, their system was down, so I have to comeback in the afternoon. When I returned, I simply asked the person behind the counter about my license and showed my iqama and he simply reached out and gave it to me, just like that.

And so, I've got another 5 years of driving to do around Saudi Arabia, God willing. I thank God for his help. First for reminding me of my license, for the ease of the process of renewing my license and for my friend who helped me through all of these. Thank you Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

BOLT: My Newly Rescued Kitten

Few weeks ago, I found a thin, sickly kitten behind a supermarket in Faisaliah district. The kitten's eyes were glued shut due to the formation of excessive eye crust and pus. I took him home, bathed and fed him though forcefully, but unfortunately his little body couldn't handle the pain. He was just too weak. I called him 'Stiffneck' because he could barely move his neck and it's tilted more on one side. Still I gave him a decent burial (I assume it's a he).

And on November 3, while I was heading for work, I saw a kitten as if it was running for dear life,  towards  4 Pakistani men across the street. He was actually following those men. The kitten was seemingly asking the men to take him with them. And there goes my heart again, and so I did  take him.

The kitten was so healthy, lively and energetic unlike the first kitten that I rescued  few days prior. They were the total opposite. And because of his physical attributes, I decided to name him 'Bolt', after the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt. He is now well accepted by my two other cats in the apartment, unlike the first few days that he's being ambushed and feasted on, though gently. And here's a latest  video of Bolt I took yesterday.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Vacation 2012

It has been more or less two weeks since I came back from my vacation in the Philippines. Since I arrived, I've really wanted to write about my experience back home, but those memories I have from my vacation, kept me from doing anything at all. I just don't have the drive to write. I miss my family already and it saddens me so much to leave them again now that my relationship with my family is starting to brighten up. 

There are many differences between my 2011 vacation to this one, mostly because of the changes that happened to me. Most of them have something to do with my relationship towards my family, but I don't want to elaborate it much further. Whatever it was, I'll just let my loved ones and those people around me there to contemplate about it. I just want to thank the Lord Jesus Christ for changing me and for giving me a second chance. God is really good!

Negros Occidental.

We've been to many places during my short vacation, some were far and some were minutes away from home. Just a few days after my arrival, we decided to travel to Occidental Negros for 5 days. It was I think the most exciting and I consider it as the 'centerpiece' of my vacation, so to speak. I was with my wife and my eldest daughter, my youngest could not come with us that time because of school. She's in first year of  college.

While there in Silay, Negros Occ., we visited Balay Negrense, the Jalandoni Ancestral House, and the Eco-Tourism Area in Balaring where my family had the most fun, but the most memorable to me was when we went to a family friend, who's also a pastor. It was in their church where my wife Grace first accepted Jesus Christ into her life. We also visited 'The Ruins' and afterwards went straight to Robinson's Mall down south in Bacolod City. 

Tagaytay City, Cavite.

After we came back from Negros, I took my youngest daughter to Tagaytay City. I missed the city so much especially its view of Taal Volcano, and not to mention Tagaytay's famous 'Mushroom Burger' where I used to go with my friends in olden days. The place hasn't changed a bit and they still serve that delicious meatless, all-mushroom burger. Of course when in Tagaytay no one would dare miss the famed grounds of Taal Vista Hotel, arguably the best place to be in if one wishes to be amazed by the view of Taal volcano, and also at the Picknik Grove where the faint-in-heart would dare not tread if only to be coaxed into venturing its dizzying zip-line ride. I've a thing with height (read as acrophobic), so you're not gonna see me up there just yet.

Island Cove & Digman's.

Days later, my wife and I decided to visit Island Cove. We had our lunch there and then went to see the animals inside their Animal island park. There we saw different animals like tigers, ostriches, wild boars and crocodiles. Although some of the animals' state saddened me a bit especially the tigers, the wild boars and the hornbill (bird) that seemed lonely enough to allow me to rub his bill. Right after Island Cove, we went to have our Halo-halo at Digman street in Bacoor. I love halo-halo the most during humid days just like that day.

The National Museum of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines.

This was the first time I visited The National Museum again in decades. The last time I think was when I was in elementary as part of our field trip. I went there by myself because my wife and children were all busy. There was no entrance fee that time. I never realized that Juan Luna's 'Spoliarium' is humongous and the San Diego Exhibit at the Museum of the Filipino People was equally amazing. While I was there, I had a chance to see the director of the museum himself, Mr.Jeremy Barns; we were at the same room. I think he was touring some people around that time. It was a great experience to know more about our history! Visit the National Museum 's Facebook page.

The Manila Zoo & The Manila Ocean Park.

I also went to Manila Zoo, The Manila Ocean Park and Luneta Park with my friend Boyet from Negros Occidental. I still have that sadness every time I go to Manila Zoo because of the condition of the animals, especially the plight of one of the oldest residents there - the lone elephant called Mali. Know more about Mali!

Manila Ocean Park was awesome! It was my first time ever to visit the park. The ticket was expensive, but it was all worth it. I especially enjoyed the aquariums at the first floor where one can see different fishes coming from various depths of the sea. Then we went to Luneta (Rizal) Park, which is just adjacent from the Manila Ocean Park for some photo op.

Aguinaldo Shrine, Kawit, Cavite.

I also can't forget the time when I went with my daughter to Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite to meet with our pastor Erickson. I've been there many times before and not much has changed. The place is just overflowing with so much history.

In general, I enjoyed my vacation and I want to thank God for it. I also want to say I love you to my wife Grace, I'm praying for you always and I'll never stop encouraging you to have a relationship with Jesus. I love you Maria and Celine, read your Bible everyday and my father Felipe, I'm also praying for you and I love you too. Until my next vacation. God bless you all!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

"When God Ran" (Video)

When I consider your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained; What is man, that you are mindful of him? and the son of man, that you visit him? ~ Psalms 8: 3-4


"When God Ran" by Philips, Craig & Dean

Friday, August 24, 2012

A New Creation!

 At the Red Sea 'Naval Base'. Aug. 23, 2012.

Jesus answered,“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ ~ John 3: 5-7

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. ~ Acts 2:38

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My 1890 Morgan US Silver Dollar

A Carson City 1890 Morgan Silver Dollar. Click picture to enlarge.

I've just read an article (which is also trending now in Yahoo as I write this post,) about an 1873 dime that was sold for $1.6 Million. Wow! And after reading it, I suddenly remembered that I have this 1890 - 1 dollar coin (in good condition!) which I've got in 2009 from my mother during my vacation in the Philippines, 3 years before she died. My mother have this coin like... forever. I remember seeing it inside the drawer of our shop as a boy (she's using it as a good luck charm). And I have it here right now with me.

Now, I'm wondering (after reading that article,) How much would my coin sell? or would it even come close to the selling price of that 1873 dime? How I wish!

I researched about it a bit and learned from a certain site that it's called a 'Morgan Silver Dollar' which is one of the most popular and most beautiful US coins out there. It was designed by George T. Morgan, hence the name and it's 90% silver and 10% copper. Unfortunately, my Silver Morgan turned out to have an "O" mark, but if it has a "CC" mark (which means that it was minted in Carson City, Nevada), it would have a much higher monetary value, (the mark can be seen just above the 'DO' of the DOLLAR word at the reverse side). I've also searched about it on You Tube and this is what I've learned (watch below).

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Proverbs 19:21

There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand. 
- Proverbs 19:21 (AKJV)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Goodbye My Nanay (1946 - 2012)

Florinia Sanchez Villanueva Cabrera was her name. Most people called her Sinia, but I called her Nay (or Nanay) which means mother.  A great businesswoman to most people, a complicated lady to others and an unconventional mother to me. 

When I was young, I used to envy some of my friends because of their moms. I used to think of reasons why my mother was so different from theirs. Then at the age of 26, I discovered the reason why. I was saddened, yet, I felt some sort of relief because now I've got a deeper understanding of our relationship and most of my questions were answered.

It was June 2011 during my vacation, when I last saw her. That time, she just recovered from an illness, and it  was because of that reason, why they transferred their bed from the room upstairs to the ground floor - she was having a hard time going up and down the staircase. That time she looked older and thinner, yet I can still see the old Nanay in her. She didn't change a bit. 

My wife texted me the other day (13th May Friday) and she wanted me to call her, it was an emergency, she said. I was already expecting the worst even though I did not know yet the reason why I should call her immediately. And when I called her, she first asked me if I could come home, and then she broke the news. It's about my mother, she died the night before. I was shocked and saddened. She was a strong and great woman. How can she be gone? I guess this is what we always feel when people we know die, especially those we love.

I always included her in my daily prayers. I always asked God to open her eyes and mind so that she may see what this world is really like and accept the free gift of salvation that the Lord is offering. I just hope that she repented of her sins and accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior before her last breath. Goodbye my Nanay. I love you!

'Death Comes To All' 
Ecclesiastes 9

1-This, too, I carefully explored: Even though the actions of godly and wise people are in God’s hands, no one knows whether God will show them favor. 2-The same destiny ultimately awaits everyone, whether righteous or wicked, good or bad, ceremonially clean or unclean, religious or irreligious. Good people receive the same treatment as sinners, and people who make promises to God are treated like people who don’t.

3-It seems so tragic that everyone under the sun suffers the same fate. That is why people are not more careful to be good. Instead, they choose their own mad course, for they have no hope. There is nothing ahead but death anyway. 4-There is hope only for the living. As they say, “It’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion!”

5-The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered. 6-Whatever they did in their lifetime—loving, hating, envying—is all long gone. They no longer play a part in anything here on earth. 7-So go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this! 8-Wear fine clothes, with a splash of cologne!

9-Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil. 10-Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.

11-I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time. 12-People can never predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or birds in a trap, people are caught by sudden tragedy.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Giving Thanks To God Amid Difficult Times

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Dear Lord, first of all, I must confess that I don’t always obey this verse. I am thankful at times, but surely not in all circumstances. When life is hard, when work is scary and disappointing, I must admit that it’s difficult for me to give you thanks. In retrospect, gratitude comes easily. But, in the moment of suffering or sadness or fear or disappointment, I often have a hard time giving thanks. Forgive me, Lord.

Help me to do what this verse encourages. May I be truly thankful in all situations. By your Spirit, remind me of your goodness, when I’m hurting or afraid. Make your presence known to me, Lord, so that I might offer you thanks. For all you have given me, and most of all, for your love and grace in Jesus Christ, I thank you. Amen.

Source: 'A Week of Thanksgiving: Be Thankful in All Circumstances' by Mark D. Roberts, Daily Reflections.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Spaying/Neutering of my Rescued Cats

A few weeks ago, my friend and I took our rescued cats to the vet. It was an answered prayer. Prior to this, we were brainstorming for ways to get our pet cats neutered/spayed at a low cost.  It's hard to take care of cats especially when there's a lot of them, not to mention the time and of course the financial side of it. We don't want our cats to multiply exponentially. 

It was God who led us to this wonderful veterinarian. When I stumbled on a Facebook page called 'Open Paws' which is based in Riyadh, I chanced upon a familiar friend on FB, Dr.Khumbulani, who is also a follower of this page, understandably himself a vet. Dr.Khumbulani was the doctor of my cat Paquito who unfortunately died last year. So I messaged him and asked about the spaying/neutering services and how much it would cost us. And he said that it would cost about 400 Sr. each, but he can lower that down to 300 Sr. each. Still it's very expensive and we can't afford to spend that amount of money for each one of them. 

Obviously Dr.Khumbulani knew of our financial constraint and instead gave me a name of a certain lady vet on FB and told me that she could help us in our predicament, but mind you, not kind of big time. When we contacted her through phone, she said that she's willing to spay/neuter all of our cats for free including those of our neighbors' pet cats. Yes, that's right, for FREE. Okay, paint a picture of how shock we were when confronted with such incredible generosity. I couldn't believe it, from 400Sr. each to absolutely gratis. I can't thank God enough for directing us to Dr.Ingrid. 

As she is based in Riyadh, Dr.Ingrid scheduled us a specific day for us when she gets to Jeddah. In fact she had herself soldiered up for a tough day for her expected 9 patients. (We promised her 9 but unfortunately we were only able to carry 6.) Her place was not that hard to locate. There could be no stupid mistakes of not trailblazing her private clinic as a familiar smell itself will lead you to where she is. True enough, there were more than a hundred cats living with her in her home. I've never seen that many cats in my life before. She has rescued all of them. I can tell how much effort and money she has invested in them by the looks of their healthy and happy demeanor. Or did I say some of them are too heavy to even carry their tummies? Lol! As soon as we dumped our cats to their cages we were told to pick them up in the evening. By the way, Dr.Ingrid is such a lively spirit to engage in a conversation, but we could not further waste her time as she has already rolled her sleeves up to start her day. When we returned to pick them up, they were all still groggy because of the anesthesia. The good news was, they were all spayed and neutered except for one, the youngest of our 5 cats, which we  thought was a girl but he turned out to be a boy. He/she will be back next month together with the rest of our cats (and the neighbors' cats) that haven't been spayed/ neutered yet.  

Thank you Dr.Khumbulani and Dr.Ingrid for all your help, you're a blessing to us and also to some of our dear friends who are helping us with the rescued cats, thank you for your support. And of course to our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you very much dear Lord for listening to our prayers. To you all the glory!

Here's the video of my 5 cats when they arrived from the vet, after the operation.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Conversation With Celine Dion (...In my Dream!)

Last night I dreamt of Celine Dion, yes the diva (of all people) and we had a short conversation about her daughter and a place where she will be going. This is not a joke (...but it sure is funny). This was part of a long dream that I had last night. 

In my dream, I was working in a department store, I was probably a salesman there and while I was walking and holding something, I then saw Celine Dion from a distance sitting (you guessed it right) on a chair with her daughter near a table (like those you see on food courts inside a mall). I then walked towards them to greet her and here's our short conversation. 

Me: Hi, you're Celine right?
Celine: Yes. 

Me: Is this your daughter? Her name is Patricia, right?
Celine: Yes, her name is Patricia. How did you know?
Me: I don't know, somehow I just knew it. (the newspaper perhaps? LOL!)

Celine: Do you know where Sin-Amar is?
Me: Hmmm...No. Sorry I don't know where that is.
Celine: Well, I'm going there tomorrow. (end)

It's so perplexing to me and here's why. First, she has twins, and they are all boys, not girls and their names are Eddy and Nelson, not Patricia (I Googled it OK?!). Second, She was asking me about a place called 'Sin-Amar' and it was just this morning when I was in the bathroom that it struck me and it's here where it gets weirder. 'Sin Amar' is Spanish, 'Sin' means, without and 'Amar' (verb) means to love, 'Without (to) Love'. She's going to a place called 'Without Love'?! It doesn't make sense. But wait. Yes, I know of a place 'without love' and she doesn't want to go there. Not in Hell and not without the Lord Jesus by her side, or else she'll be singing ' burn....' from the top of her lungs right away. But probably she already accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. If so, she doesn't have to worry about anything at all. She's in good hands. 

This reminds me of a dream that I had some 20 years ago of Whitney Houston, she was also sitting on a chair near a table, and when I got closer to her, she told to me, "Then you were thick, now you are thin". It's been years since I dreamt about her; could she be talking about my hair? LOL! This Celine Dion thing could be big. In fact, this might mean something humongous!...or ...totally nothing at all. Could be just one of those weird dreams. ha ha ha! Well, either way at least I already have a blog post for the month of February. Thank you Jesus for this dream; For your love and everything else that goes with it. God bless you all!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ginger Conejo & Cuty Cute - "Come Away With Me" (Video)

My pet rabbit, Ginger Conejo and kitten, Cuty Cute's bonding moment. I took this video just this afternoon around 2 PM, January 19, 2012.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My 4th No Smoking Anniversary (Thank you Jesus!)

Today I'm celebrating my 4th No Smoking anniversary. Funny how time flies, I can't believe it has already been 4 years since I stopped smoking. 

I honestly believe that it was Jesus who helped me stop the addiction back in 2008. I also believe that He was cleansing my body and was preparing my whole being until the day that I will receive Him back into my life, and that's exactly what happened. I received Jesus Christ into my life as my Lord and personal Savior 3 years later, in July 2011, after a huge problem I had during my short vacation in the Philippines, when He used POEA as a tool to draw me back towards Him. 

Thank you Lord Jesus for healing me, not just my body, but my soul. You comforted me whenever I'm troubled, You are my peace of mind. You give me courage whenever I'm in fear, You are my strength. You answers my every prayer like a string of pearls. Thank you for opening my eyes. You  are truly the one and only, all powerful  living God. The name above all other names. JESUS! 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~ Jeremiah 29: 11

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17