World Ends on Saturday? Nooooo…

Rev. Harold Camping of Christian group Family Radio is alerting the world that the world will end this Saturday, May 21st, with banners to boot. The billboards are, quite frankly, a cause of additional anxiety to the rest of us world citizens.  I distinctly remember the Y2K bug in 2000 and everybody partied like crazy in 1999.

(image credits go to Brian Cameron of Flickr, as featured by CBC)

Some of the previous end of the world prophecies that bombed include October 22, 1944 (Miller), 1914 (Jehovah’s Witnesses), December 17, 1919 (Albert Porta, meteorologist), and August 18, 1999 (American psychic). The predictions come from various sources. This particular present prediction I am posting about is apparently based from Family Radio’s Biblical interpretations and a bit of Math!

Yet to be proven is this Saturday’s prediction and the famous December 12, 2012, as derived from the symbolic end of the Mayan calendar. Even my 150+ IQ-laden dad somehow believes the 12-12-12 theory. My friend in UP said that she is waiting for this date to finish her thesis because it might all go to waste if she tried to finish it now and experience the end of the world after (LOL!).

Interestingly, the Family Radio community has not asked for monetary compensation in exchange for this prediction, which is a tell that they really are hell-bent and serious in digging this end of the world thing.

True or not, I have always believed in seizing the day and living each day as if it were my last! (But I sure hope it’s not true because I still have lots of dreams, stuff to write and things to change within myself.)

 

The Pioneering Randy Jackson

One of the most interesting famous musical people I look forward to watching on cable (at the rare instances that I get to do so!) is Randy Jackson, a prominent and mainstay judge in American Idol. Recently, he hit the headlines because of his word war with The Voice, AI’s new rival show. The thing is, he was not really the first to throw stones against this new show. Apparently, The Voice‘s Adam Levine was the first to voice out the unpleasantry that lead to a backlash from this highly respected AI judge.

With his judging abilities, one can deduce that he really knows what he is doing. He is able to spot the best talents in the show, as well as jell well with the other judges in AI. He himself won a Grammy, and he is now in the process of discovering more Grammy-worthy talents with the other judges of AI. (One teacher in college told me that one marker that he is successful in his teaching is when his students surpass his achievements.)

One of the things that he mentioned in his recent statement against The Voice was the fact that AI was the pioneer and the other shows similar to AI would not have the chance to hit prime time had it not been for the pioneering efforts of the proponents of American Idol.

There is really something about pioneering efforts that make huge successes out of people. And sadly, the ones who try to imitate the pioneers are often the ones who pelt the oldies with mud just so they can get ahead.

Anyway, regardless of the current mud pelting, I am still totally hats off to pioneers in all aspects such as Randy Jackson!

 

Blessie and Neil (Part 2): The Firefighting Strategy to Relationship Success

Here in Part 2 of Nay Blessie and Tito Neil’s story, we get advice from them on what made their love story a success. Some people are amazed that I am doing this for free. In reality, I believe I am paid beyond the monetary gains with this project. After years of lamenting and asking pointless questions about romance, I decided to shift my energies to the other end of the spectrum of questions: “What is right?”, ‘What contributes to the success of a relationship?”, and “What makes it work?” Some people made it despite the difficulties. And, through this series, I hope that this blog’s readers may also gain insights from them.

The world already has more than enough resources on heartache. I had my fair share of tears in this department and based on the numerous women who can relate to my heartache posts, most of us, in retrospect, already habitually ask ourselves the “What’s wrong with me?” question when we go to bed. And often, we only get eye bags for the next day, more negative vibes to last until God-knows-when, and zero tangible answers. Enough is enough! Haven’t we tortured ourselves enough by wasting time with the wrong person/s?

 

While there is no foolproof formula that will work for all couples and celibates in the world, in the second part of each love story, I allow the couples or fulfilled singles we feature to give advice to both single and married readers on what worked for them.

And since I interviewed a candid and prolific online editor and writer for the first love story we featured here in this post, I will let her own words take it from here:

 

Nay Blessie’s Message for the Married Folks

You know, people fall in love and people fall out of love. Marriage was made so that when you fall out of love, you are forced to stay together until you fall in love again. But when leaving is an option, some people never get the chance to fall in love again. Impatient, they are, and near sighted.

Remember that when you got married, you did not only promise to your mate that you would stay for better or worse. You also made that promise to God. And though your mate, being human, would break his/her promise, God never does. So you may feel validated in breaking your promise to your mate, but how can you excuse breaking your promise to God who never breaks his promises?

Pray to God. Ask him to give you the strength to stay, the wisdom to change yourself, and to stop expecting change from your partner. Stop being a drama queen. We’ve all been lied to, betrayed, hurt. If your physical life or the lives of your children are not at stake, there is no valid reason to go. Grow up.

 

For the Singles: How Nay Blessie Found that He is “The One”

We were both willful, so we had constant power struggles. We both had tempers and no inhibitions about showing them. I was ready to give up on him, but I felt I had received a sign from God that this was the man he wanted for me. You see, I had always said that the man I marry has to come from UP. Neil did not know I had said that, and he had never finished his college course in Mapua either. But when we were together, he enrolled in the UP Open University, which made him a UP student. That, for me, was a sign.

There was another one. You see, Neil’s big failing was that he was not very good at earning money. He would sell things and fail to collect payment. He wouldn’t stay at a job long enough to be regularized.  But I had a dream wherein I had the chance to choose between a rich man and Neil, and there I found that I would rather stay with Neil than with some rich man. Then I knew for sure that my heart yearned towards him.

But though I loved Neil, I could not marry him. At that time, he was jobless, and I was a starting public school teacher, on a Php10,000 salary. Our plan was to wait until we were financially stable before getting married. Then I chanced upon a book about Joshua crossing the Jordan river and entering the Promised Land.

Do you know that the first time the Israelites came upon the Promised Land, they turned back because they did not believe God could really lead them across the raging Jordan River and the high walls that surrounded the land? For decades after that, they wandered in the wilderness. Then in Joshua’s time, they returned and faced the Jordan River again. But this time, they believed God would see them through against all odds. And he did. He stopped the Jordan River — but he waited for them to step in it first before the waters stilled. And he made the huge wall fall.

I did not want to wander in the wilderness, waiting for God to fulfill a promise that he knew I did not believe in. So Neil and I put our feet into the Jordan River, so to speak, and got married.

Today, we are still not financially stable (can you imagine? We should still be single). But we are blessed with three beautiful children, and we are working on our dreams together, and we are, in fact, richer materially now than we had been when we were single, with only ourselves to take care of.

He still loves many of the things I hate, and we still quarrel at the top of our lungs.

But we are together, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most.

 

Blessie and Neil (Part 1): From Firefighter to Eternal Flame

On my frequent way home from work, I have often looked indifferently at the fire station that I see when I am nearing the bus stop. But after interviewing Nay Blessie, that fire station now serves to remind me that true love can ignite even in the humblest and unromantic places. Life has handed me a valuable lesson as I write this post: Never write off the mundane places and activities on earth as unlikely venues where you can meet the right person. Love can begin anywhere. In the case of Nanay Blessie and Tito Neil, it all began in a fire fighting activity.

Who knew that this encounter at the fire station will eventually lead to a lovely church wedding at Bamboo Organ Church in Las Pinas? The synergistic romance of this couple– a writer/editor mother and a fulltime father– continues to sail through life’s storms strongly since their civil (July 7, 2002) and church (December 26, 2002) wedding.

Now close to their marriage’s ninth year mark, they continue to sharpen each other’s saw as they raise their three children: Josh, EJ, and Bea. And this partnership also helps them effectively manage their business, Blackie’s Bed and Breakfast, the most affordable dog boarding facility in the country. Nay Blessie generously shares their daily grind: “Today, I run one main business (the writing group) and one minor business (the dog boarding facility). Neil helps with those in any way he can: drives me to interviews, deposits checks, picks up the doggie clients, bathes and feeds them, etc. He’s also in charge of the household duties. He owns the kitchen (he won’t eat my cooking). He does the marketing and laundry, cleans the house, and bathes the kids.”

“Fire-st” things First

 

She likes books, and he likes guns. She is an introvert, and he is an extrovert. But in the midst of those personality differences, there were still some similarities. Both are now in their thirties, with a four-year age gap. Both grew up as the eldest in their respective families. Interestingly, both of them were nursing a broken heart when they met. Nay Blessie volunteered as lieutenant for a fire group in Binondo. Tito Neil, on the other hand, was an EMT who was assigned to equip members of Nay Blessie’s team with first responder skills.

Except from the expected sparks from literal fire emergencies they were preparing for, there were no initial sparks flying between them. Nay Blessie was, at the time, reeling from the aftermath of a disastrous relationship with her first boyfriend. “I was in a relationship that was falling apart. I was too busy staring into space wondering if getting hit by a truck would create a bigger pain than the one I was feeling at that time.”

Her first impression of Tito Neil was that he was “handsome, but too full of himself.” But Tito Neil did not see her in that way. “He told a common friend he liked me… Then, he called me and asked, “If I were to court you, would I have a chance?” I told him he would never know unless he tried!” And try, he did!

Flames of Courtship

They became an official couple when she said yes to him as he echoed the hero of a romantic movie that they were watching. Their journey as a couple is not always movie-like, but they did have their memorable moments: long talks by the bay near CCP, going to the mall together (possibly HHWW-ing), and hanging out at Nay Blessie’s home.

While finances are really a major consideration, Nay Blessie provided me with a rich, alternative perspective: “His weakness was his strength: because he never had a steady job, he had a lot of time for me, and I loved that…He stayed a lot at my house and slept at my aunt’s house next door. She liked having him because he would cook for us and she hated to cook.”

Modern-day polls reveal that many Filipina women prefer a man who is rich and stable for a husband. I frankly have this personal preference of financial stability as well. Had this been a major factor for Nay Blessie at the time of their courtship, perhaps there will be no love story for me to tell today. Understandably, Nay Blessie’s family and friends were worried about their future stability: “They did not approve of him at first, but they knew better than to give me advice, I’d never been known to take it LOL.”

At one point, Nay Blessie actually thought of giving up on this relationship, but Tito Neil did not allow her to do so: “I tried to break up with him but he said he would kill himself :-P”

I realized that committing one’s self successfully was not really a matter of material stability; it bordered more on acting on the mutual, sturdy, and unbreakable will to make things work regardless of the given circumstances. It was not easy for them, certainly, but it was possible because they were both willing to stick around and work it out. And all those initial worries of not having enough financially got solved eventually with their persistent efforts in overcoming life’s hurdles together.

 

Firefighter Style Wedding

They used the element of speed to get hitched against all odds, in the same way that firefighters harness the element of speed in avoiding increased casualties during a fire emergency. They were in love but financially insolvent, which was one of the concerns that caused their friends and family to disapprove of their tying the knot. They continue to have arguments over financial issues now, but they often resolve it simply by making more money.

But since both are headstrong in taking their relationship to the next level, they made secret arrangements with a judge and took their families by shock.

The day before the civil wedding, Nay Blessie just casually called her mom at the office and asked her to go on leave the next day to witness the marriage. And they were married at the judge’s sala the next day, witnessed by Nay Blessie’s mom, one ninong, and one ninang. She fondly recalls: “Two weeks after that, he finally found the courage to tell his parents they had a daughter-in-law. His parents arranged a very pretty, very conventional church wedding immediately.”

 

 

Fruits of Time-Tested Love

The common gripes I have heard and seen in the lives of many married couples involve the death of the magic of courtship after the honeymoon stage and the marital problems that ensue from the day-to-day frictions of being together. But this has not been Nay Blessie and Tito Neil’s experience. “I am more kilig with him today than I was when we first met… The more kids we have, the more in love with him I get.”

Likewise, Tito Neil has warmed up to the idea of PDA now, when during courtship he disliked it. But do not be deceived into thinking that their relationship is smooth sailing 24/7. For their arguments, she has this to say: “Oh, we shout! Then we stop talking. Then, of course, he apologizes (because I’m never wrong.)”

There is one vital issue that they do agree on: how to raise the kids. They are solidly in favor of home schooling their kids and raising them in a fairly strict environment.

As for keeping the fire of love burning, they take advantage of expressing love in the little things: “A simple hug three times a day can make a lot of difference…When we know the other loves us, we can forgive a lot of other things, and we don’t make mountains out of molehills.”

 

Read the continuation in Part 2: The Firefighting Strategy to Relationship Success

 

Music Therapy: Theme Songs for the Five Stages of Loss

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross had the theory on the five stages of grief and loss. It is not really a linear thing. One can jump from one stage to another, or even have them all at the same time. Anyhow, I have found these songs on my iTunes playlist that I believe depicts each of the stages. Most of the songs I placed here are ranked five stars on my playlist. I actually listen to all the songs and rank them so that I can easily find my favorites. 🙂

Music is very therapeutic. I hope you enjoy this list of songs as much as I have! 😉

(If you have a hard time downloading the song, shoot me an email at me@helenmarylabao.com and I will send you the Mediafire link or even the songs that you want, if email attachments allow it.)

Warning: If harboring suicidal tendencies, please don’t play the Depression Songs. 😉

 

Stage 1: Denial (a.k.a. Please Don’t Leave Meeee!)

Baby Don’t You Break My Heart Slow – MYMP

Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis

Can’t Let You Go – Cueshe

Come Round Soon – Sara Bareilles

Decisions – Ne-Yo and Brandy

Don’t Speak – No Doubt

Here Without You – 3 Doors Down

I Don’t Want You to Go – Lani Hall

If I Didn’t Love You – Tina Arena

If You Ever Come Back – The Script

In My Place – Coldplay

Linger – The Cranberries

Little Miss Obsessive – Ashlee Simpson

Littlest Things – Lily Allen

Love Will Lead You Back – Kyla

One Last Breath  – Creed

Our Love (Don’t Throw it All Away) – Jennifer Love-Hewitt

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing – Jack Johnson

Still Loving You – Scorpions

Talking to the Moon – Bruno Mars

Torete – Moonstar 88

Tuliro – Sponge Cola

Wherever You Will Go – The Calling

Wish You Were Here –  Incubus

You Belong with Me – Taylor Swift

You Were Meant for Me – Jewel

 

Stage 2: Anger (a.k.a. Go to hell, sucker!)

Apologize – One Republic

Barely Breathing – Duncan Sheik

Because of You – Kelly Clarkson

Fuck It – Eamon

Fuck It – Eamon (Girl Version)

Fuck You – Lily Allen

Gives You Hell – All-American Rejects

H.A.T.E. – Plain White T’s

Heartless – Kanye West

Hush Hush – Pussycat Dolls

I Don’t Want to be Your Friend – Nina

I Never Really Loved You Anyway – The Corrs

Jaded – Aerosmith

Just Like a Pill – Pink

King of Anything – Sara Bareilles

My Happy Ending – Avril Lavigne

Numb – Linkin Park

Since You’ve Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson

Stronger than Me – Amy Winehouse

That’s it, I Quit, I’m Moving On – Adele

Torn – Natalie Imbruglia

Vindicated – Dashboard Confessional

Walang Kadala Dala – Sandwich

Wasting My Time – Spice Girls

You’re so Gay – Katy Perry

Stage 3: Bargaining (a.k.a. One more chance…)

4 in the Morning – Gwen Stefani

Back to You – John Mayer

Calling Your Name Again – Richard Carpenter

Can We Still Be Friends? –  Mandy Moore

Can You Help Me? – Usher

Emotion – Destiny’s Child

I Miss You – Blink 182

I Need You Now – Lady Antebellum

If I Never See You Again – Wet Wet Wet

Last Chance – Allure

Lie Low – Plumb

Long Gone and Moved On – The Script

Missing You- Case

Nothing Compares to You – Sinead O’Connor

Oo – Up Dharma Down

Stay – Lisa Loeb

The Man Who Can’t be Moved – The Script

The One that Got Away – Katy Perry

Unforgivable Sinner – Lene Marlin

What Can I Do? – The Corrs

What if? – Babyface

When Love and Hate Collide – Def Leppard

 

Stage 4: Depression (a.k.a. It’s OVERRRRRRR. wahuhuhuhu)

All Apologies – Nirvana

All by Myself – Celine Dion

Alone – Heart

Ang Pag-ibig Kong Ito – Moonstar88

Another Used to Be – Usher

Back to Black – Amy Winehouse

Breakdown – Mariah Carey

Burnout – Sugarfree

Butterly – Mariah Carey

Chasing Pavements – Adele

Creep – Radiohead

Exit Wounds – The Script

First Cut is the Deepest – Sheryl Crow

It Ends Tonight – All American Rejects

Jealous – Nina

My Immortal – Evanescence

Never Ever – All Saints

On My Own – Les Miserables

One Last Cry – Brian McKnight

Only Reminds Me of You – MYMP

Out of Reach – Gabrielle

So Far Away – Carole King

So Sick of Love Songs – Ne-Yo

Stop Crying Your Heart Out – Oasis

Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler

Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers

What Hurts the Most – Danny Gokey

When You’re Gone – The Cranberries

You Got it Bad – Usher

 

Stage 5: Acceptance (a.k.a. I am so moving forward, for real!)

All Behind Us Now – Patti Austin

Alright – Darius Rucker

An Updated Version of Me – KC Concepcion

Beautiful Things – Andain

Better in Time – Leona Lewis

Concerto #1 in E Major Spring – Antonio Vivaldi

Cool – Gwen Stefani

Everybody’s Changing – Keane

Feeling So Good – Jennifer Lopez

Get it Right – Lea Michele

I Used to Love You – John Legend

Just Fine – Mary Blige

Kaleidoscope Heart – Sara Bareilles

Learning to Breathe – Switchfoot

Lesson Learned – Alicia Keys

Life Goes On – Leann Rimes

Lovely Day – Bill Withers

Maling Akala – Brownman Revival

Move Along – All American Rejects

Nothin Hill – Trevor Jones

One Step at a Time – Jordin Sparks

Over You – Daughtry

Perfectly Lonely – John Mayer

Rollerblades – Eliza Doolittle

Shake it Off – Mariah Carey

Smile – Lily Allen

Somewhere Only We Know – Keane

Survivor – Destiny’s Child

Tattoo – Jordin Sparks

Today My Life Begins – Bruno Mars

With a Smile – Eraserheads

 

 

 

When A Lover Writes, When A Writer Loves

(This serves as an introduction to my new series on love stories. I hope you like it. 🙂 )

I creatively and gingerly drip thick ink on my favorite piece of paper with thoughts of you — thoughts that have been transformed into strings of words on an otherwise dry tabula rasa. I write now because I had a dream of you a few days ago. Visions or hallucinations, it no longer matters. I see you looking with me by the window of a house with brown walls, my head resting on the railings as I held my rotund belly. In that scene, you were looking with me, and not just always looking at me. You are looking at me AND with me because we love each other and we are headed in the same direction.

You hold my hand. You tell me that I am the missing part of your rib with no deceptive fib or playfulness whatsoever. You back up your claims with both actions and words, the former overpowering the latter in most instances. You do not complete me, and I do not complete you. We are both complete and we just choose to bask in the synergy of being together. And this synergy yields fruits both seen and unseen.

I am secure in you. I do not beg for your attention because you give it in sufficient measure. You have your life, and I have mine. But it will never keep you from your wanting to have me by your side. I do not feel any trace of insecurity because I know deep inside that what we have is unlike any other links with women you shall make in this lifetime.

I am like a lost ball in the high weeds when I think of you. I both see sunsets and sunrises in the dark pools of your eyes, our pupils dilated in attraction and unparalleled in its beauty. I drown myself in the windows of your soul. You stare back at me without flinching. And with that eclectic moment of gazing at you, I have no need to keep my powder dry, walk on eggshells, or tread through murky waters. It will always be as crystal clear as the pair of eyes that has been freshly awashed by saltwater tears.

You do your best not to be the cause of tears because you always want me flashing my not-so-pearly whites. I look at you and I see a hundred percent mutual acceptance of each other.

At your arrival, I finally understand why it never worked out with anyone else.

I nestle my head in your chest and be wrapped in your arms for an unmeasured length of time. And I see myself doing this in my young age and in my old age.

And while all this magic holds true at the first phase of being with you, I know that you will never be perfect. Feelings will eventually taper off into stability and maturity.

A time will come when you will fail, disappoint, and puncture my heart even with your best intentions. But it matters little when you do those. For all your failures, your honesty in acknowledging those things and not lying about them shall save you each time.

For all our failures, our willingness to continue trying to make it work is what will help us stand firm and strong.

We incur scars from each other, from ourselves, and from others. But we both acknowledge that in each scar, there is a lesson learned and a stronger bond that outlasts the storms. You will not give up on me, and I will not give up on you. Feelings may die, but we have the resolute will to stay on and withstand every storm.

Every moment that I am alone, I shall wait for you to fully evolve as a tangible part of my reality, romantic figment of my imagination. And I hope that when that happens, you will spend time with me in the one place on earth I have always wanted to go to:

 

As I wait for you, I write about other people’s real stories of love.

Someday, I will write ours:

beyond words,

backed by actions,

and lasting for a lifetime.