Monday, December 12, 2011


I was probably 8 or 9 years old when I first learned how to ride a bike. Our housekeeper-slash-assistant-slash-helper-slash-my yaya (nanny) taught me how to ride. I don't know if my parents gave her specific instructions not to bring me outside of the house just to teach me to ride or maybe it was just my unfounded paranoia because I remember sneaking out with her in the middle of the day when the sun was out with such fierceness that I see steam rising from the cement roads. We only did this during the weekends right after lunch. I'd wait for her to finish up her duties then tidy up the kitchen before we leave. And we made sure my parents were in the bedroom or the living room having their siesta (afternoon rest or nap).

I think the sneaking out part was more exciting than the actual bike riding lessons. The lessons weren't too bad. I would hop onto the bike and she would hold the back side while I try to balance as I pedal. I learned very quickly but I lacked the confidence. I wanted her to run behind me and hold on my bike while I pedaled. Sometimes I'd see her in my peripheral view to make sure she was still there guiding me, holding the bike. Sometimes I won't see her at all and I would steal a glance backwards just to make sure she's still there and she was always behind me. She taught me and coaxed me while still holding on to the bike until my confidence increased. We did this for a couple more weekends and then she told me I was ready. Ready for what? I asked. For me to go on my own without her holding the bike as I ride. I protested. I asked her not to let go and  I demanded for her to always stay behind me and hold my bike. She said ok. End of conversation.

On the third or fourth weekend, as we planned to sneak out again after lunch, I was still very excited about the whole thing. As usual, I'd hopped on to my bike and I would start to pedal while still making sure my yaya was behind me. I loved to feel the wind in my hair, the sun blazing down on me and the pavement passing by me oh so swiftly. I was riding my bike! Then I heard a loud sound coming from a big horn. A huge truck was coming on towards me from behind! Fast! So fast that I can feel the trembling of its tires on the cemented road. I started feeling scared, my heart was thumping so hard and my balance started to waver. I glanced back to look at the oncoming truck when I suddenly realized I was riding alone! My yaya was far behind and running towards me. I panicked, all of my confidence now gone. I didn't know what to do! My bike started to wobble a little because of my panic and the handle bars was shaking so hard from left to right. I tried to keep it steady and to focus on the road ahead. There's plenty of room for a bike and a truck on one lane, right? Then I felt the rush of wind with such power on my left side as the truck passed me by. I was ok! I was safe! And I was still riding my bike, all by myself!

That was one lesson I will never forget for as long as I live. As my yaya came near me, screaming on how proud she was of my accomplishment, I felt angry at her for a moment. I felt she abandoned me. I thought she betrayed me as she left me alone. But she was so happy with my success and as she explained how she can't catch up with me anymore because I was pedaling so fast that she had to let me go that's when I understood she really didn't want to leave me or to have me harmed in any way. She still wanted to hold on to me but at the same time she also wanted to see me ride on my own. After that day, we didn't sneak out anymore. I told my parents that I already know how to ride my bike and they were happy for me but they told me no more main roads or highways. I must stay only within the neighborhood paths. I complied. 

"Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." -Deuteronomy 31:6 

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" -Psalms 27:1 

"So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." -Hebrews 13:6

With God, don't we feel like we're riding a bike most of the time like novices? God provides us with all the tools we need in order for us to have His knowledge and wisdom, to learn from the Bible and to mature in our walk with Him but there are times when it feels like we're going to lose our balance and our confidence seems to grow thin amidst discouragements and fears. Then we think we're alone in our sufferings and pain. Those are BIG lies! Blatant lies from the biggest liar of all time -Satan. And on top of those lies, we sometimes feel that we can pedal so fast that we don't need help anymore. We feel that the wind in our hair and the pleasures of the ride will last forever and ever. Until we're faced with danger. And then life happens. This is when we begin to look for God all over again. We scramble not to fall. We're not too great on our own after all, are we?

Most of the time, we do know how to ride our bikes. We've got the balancing thing down and we can pedal with no problems. We've been riding long enough to have that bike almost like a part of ourselves. We don't need to worry when adversities come our way. When we are faced with humongous trucks coming on towards us, we've got it! And this is not because of our skills or talents nor of our intelligence or power, it is from God. He promised never to leave us nor forsake us. Jesus is our light and our salvation, and He is our strength and our helper. Sometimes we might feel that we're riding alone but no, those are the times when God has our bike, our pedals, our path, our confidence, our worries and our life all held together in His loving hands. And surely, He will never ever let go.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Behind The Scenes

I was very much into the performing arts and the theater when I was in college. I considered it as one of my "passions" back then and I thought that I would end up doing something related to the arts for the rest of my life. My father, on the other hand, was not so thrilled about the idea. Aside from the late nights (and sometimes even until the wee hours of the morning) of endless rehearsals and practices for upcoming performances, and then all the traveling on top of actually attending my classes, he wasn't too excited for me in becoming a full time "artist." He told me to enjoy the theater while I can but he made it very clear right then and there that there's no point for me ending up as one of the many "starving" artists out there, he said. I understand now that he was only being practical and was thinking of what he thought was best for me, but at the same time that he was telling me all that, my heart and my mind were already rebelling against his advice. I thought I knew what I wanted and I thought I knew what I'd love to do with my life. But I didn't have a clue.

I was introduced into the world of theater through the courses I had to take in college. But the more appealing introduction came with my membership in a college performing arts group named "An Balangaw" or The Rainbow. It's where my love for theater, song and dance, performance and the arts in general did really take root. I loved the process of creating, writing, deliberating with the performers, the directing, designing, acting, and watching a piece of art on stage evolve right before my eyes. It almost seemed like working with something that is alive because a performance piece continues to change, mold and remold, and it takes on some of the adaptations from audiences' reactions as well as from the actors' contributions to the show.

My experience with theater was not with the classical plays by Shakespeare, Ben Jonson or Tennessee Williams, and neither did we do anything from the classical Greek tragedies or comedies, although studying and learning about them in the classroom was so much fun and educational. The group's forte was the local folklore, the Filipino music and dance, and the indigenous way of life and traditions of the people. The performers traveled around the Leyte-Samar area (in the Visayas or the central Philippines) to research and learn the various songs and poems, traditions and legends, the folk dances and musical compositions of the local people which have been passed down from generations to generations without any proper documentation. The whole experience served as an eye-opener for us "city folks."

I loved to perform back then. I enjoyed entertaining people with the songs, dances and the stories we gathered from our travels and research. This is one of the wonders of theater --what you see on stage is not the actual, whole picture of the total process on putting up a show. Almost 85% of what's in a performance happens behind the scenes. The research staff and the writers are the mind of the theater, the directors and the creative staff are the heart of a performance, and the props, stage design, costume, make-up and lighting people compose the skeleton or backbone of the show. The actors are the soul of the theater and the audience completes the whole package. Theater can never be successful if it's not a collaborative work. Each piece of the act will crumble without one and the other. 

"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." -1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 25-27

Glory be to God for He designed His church as a collaboration or teamwork as well. As Christians, we are members of one Body. No matter what my role is in His body, my role is important. Without my small part in my local church, the whole piece will not function as effectively. I'm expected to do my work without any grumbling or envy, without any comparison to the roles played by other members of the church, and without any complaint. Unlike when I was younger when I used to "rebel" against my father's wishes for me, now as I mature I ought to listen and take good advice from my pastor and the leaders of my church on how to do things.

Just like in theater, the bulk of the work in a church is not readily visible. There are jobs done by most members that are not "advertised," like cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning and making sure the pews and the auditorium are ready for Sunday service, and maintaining the building structures. These are very important work and often times the people who do these remain unappreciated. As for me, I need to make sure that I do what I need to do and do my part in order for the members of our church to be honored and to rejoice in Christ. This time we are not in the theater. We are not performing. This is the real thing. This is highly important. Christians need to make it right or else answer to God Himself.
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