Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Won't Believe in the Bible If...

This blog spurred from our hot and deliberate discussion in the office about whether or not to believe in the Bible. And unbelievably, I got several, varying estimations from my fellow care center trainers who also have their own solid stand on the issue of the reliability of the Bible.

Some have stood on believing that the Bible is merely a literature created by men and is made to inspire and for people’s source of “YOGA” and feel-good; or basically, to give hope to a very hopeless world. In the end, one whose contention is this, is a self-confessed unbeliever of the Bible.

Some also had their contention that the Bible is made by the Lord, Holy, yet not all things written on it are Truths since most of its contents are not for literal or word-for-word understanding but all of it are merely “representations” of something else. Such as when “heaven and hell” may mean not the actual places but something else which we may not be able to decipher.

Some though, chose the safe, apathetic side.

Well, opinions were laid not on a debate manner as all were aware that debating on these topics meet not a common point. This is, by far, the topic that if conversed on, could result to something similar as a Corona trial.

What do I believe in? Well, I also spoke my own contentions, as of course, based on what I have believed in after my careful and deliberate search for Truth when I was young. Backtracking events, It was noted from many close friends of mine that I made a sudden shift of religion from Catholicism to Born Again Christianity. In fact, it was a shocker for some since it happened at the very height of my ‘being Catholic’ – having attended various catholic groups such as El Shaddai (where I was a senior choir member) and ELIM. Te shift happened at the point where I was flourishing my beliefs, more so that I have been developing academic participation in a catholic school.

I have my own safe yet grounded basis on what this Bible is: Literature, yes it is. Holy, yes it is. Yet it is simply written, inspired by the Holy Spirit to be carefully understood. Thought some are in parables and are written indirect, we could ask why would the Holy Spirit make it a material that's exclusively for the knowledgeable and genius? Well, it shouldn't be.

The very first verse even reads, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth”. There was no representation. The last is similarly simple as the beginning.

So what really made me believe in the Bible:

Something that my life was so AMAZED ABOUT, I will stick to it for life, there are too many prophesies that the Bible has told that did come true or were verified to be true in modern days. To point out some of the many are as follows.

For example, long before men went outside the space, the bible already wrote the following: (Isaiah 40:22) It is he that sits upon the circle of the earth... So the earth was known to be round in Bible days. Shockingly, the Bible knows better than men when it was written that (Job 26) "He hangs the earth upon nothing.." So Job knew the earth was hanging out in space by nothing.

In the last days as well, Revelations states “There will be famines and earthquakes”. Earthquake has never happened as often as this before… and Revelations already predicted that.

But more powerful than prophesies or mirales, there’s one singular basis as to why I believe in the Truths of the Bible. It is something that I know no one could take away from me. And that, I call as the unbelievable and unfathomable transformation that happened to many people that I have known to have lived a life of "former" ill-manner, insensitivity and ruthlessness.

My father, as one of its examples was one of town’s most miserable and notorious bullies in his younger years, have testified with tears (I have translated to English):

“I have seen the Truth and this has changed me suddenly to a person so different than before. During Bible studies I go inside our room and feel antagonistic about the pastor preaching at home; but as I was listening in the recesses of my room for months, I have been changed. I went out, joined them, and followed in awe with the Lord”.

Many people have been transformed by the Word of God. Indeed, it is a "double-edged sword", it is Holy, and this has strengthened my belief. The surreal feeling of transformation. This is what makes me believe the Bible. It’s not the text, or the so-called “literature”, or the passages that really count. It’s the transformation that it does, the healing that has worked to millions that no neither medicine, nor science, nor geniuses, nor kings can contend against.

I won’t believe in the Bible.. if these has not happened. But yes it did, and I am grateful my eyes have been opened. Hope transformation will also flow to you.

There's more reasons to Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

6 Ways to get "WOWED" in Bohol

"God's little paradise" --  Never a misnomer. Just plain truth.

The line prefectly befits the bounty and natural charm of Bohol - an island in the Southeast of Cebu. The feeling was plainly "luck" for me to get the chance to travel with my second family in my college years - The NORSUnian Weekly Publication writers - despite budgetary and professional reasons. But nothing stopped me when I gave a nod to the plan. The 3-point plan was simple: experience adventure with nature, thrill to the nerves, and... bond.

And adventure, we all had! We got wowed, and we know you will, too. So allow me to take you to the 6 places that will, without a single doubt, WOW you and take you to an everlasting travel fulfillment.

Travel needs ample preparation. So if you do, plan out the ways to get there first. If you're from Dumaguete, there are two Oceanjet trips you can choose from - morning and afternoon. Most commendable is the morning trip to avoid the hassle of looking for hotels at night - plus it simply is almost a bad idea to arrive at night. If you come from Cebu, daily trips from Cebu to Tagbilaran, also an option.

From the time you dock Tagbilaran Port (Tagbilaran is the only city in the province), astonishingly, a warm greeting of drivers will surely flock from the time you step out literally of the doors of their port. Drivers of a number of vans bring huge cards (which looks more similar to a resto menu) and where at least 8-10 of Bohol's top sites mostly are well-posted on cards (with travel rates included). Thumbs up to Tourism initiatives on this part.

Our team opted for a van. We had a van rented (roughly 1700Php all-in for a day-tour package). The driver will maneuver you to your best travel experience you will ever have with nature from that time on. So fasten your seatbelts, here we go.
XZOOTIC ZOO: From the port, the nearest is the Xzootic Zoo where life-size snakes can be found (that's what this place is visited mostly for). Harmless as they are, I felt jittery taking photos of them inside their cages. Phythons are all over the place. So be friendly and try to let them say "cheers". Amazingly, this place is a home to countless types of souvenirs you could bring home.

Aside from those, anyway, ostriches, iguanas, monkeys and a variety of animals can be found in the zoo premises as well. You'll not find them scary, you'll only find yourself amazed. I bet!

LOBOC FLOATING RESTOS: Okay, I overcame my fear of pythons there. Next stop will be a wide and seemingly endless river known to be the home of floating restaurants - Loboc River. If you are up for a nice and sumptuous seafood, then this native floating boats are paradises for you. They have shrimps usually served fresh when you arrive at 12 noon @ 400Php all-in.

(The view of another floating resto from the floating resto)

The boat will tour through the river and will dock on small cottages where a number of villagers greet you with their Rondalla and will sing usually folked songs to entertain. Village kids also sing and dance with tourist so by the time you head there, get those cameras ready. Dance on! After all, It's more fun in the Philippines! Second thumbs up for the admirable tourism initiative!

BUTTERFLY SANCTUARY. I'm a fan of environmentalism, but honestly, I am not very interested with butterflies. If you have a kid so indifferent to those floating mini-earthlings, go grab him and take a side-tour to Butterfly Sanctuary. With a P15 entrance fee, you get to learn interesting butterfly cycle/reproduction information from guides inside the butterfly exhibit, and they will take you after to the butterfly sanctuary itself. I did not seem to enjoy it honestly though, because the number of butterflies were not as much in number as expected. But nevertheless, I learned.

CHOCOLATE HILLS. The Choco Hills (no other term in dialect you could find) is the very attraction almost synonimous to "Bohol", you can never leave the place without it! It's the province's most well-renowned archeological marker. From Tagbilaran, the van driver will take you to Carmen, roughly an hour from the city. This will be the farthest destination, so most likely, the last stop of all.

From there, you go up to the hills with an entrance fee of 50Php. That amount will not hurt once you get up the 150+ steps to the hill since the place is more than marvelous; yet will surely make you sweat out more than expected too. But with patience and persistence comes beauty. The topmost part is a viewing deck, the best place to capture moments, with a life-size bell and a wishing well. If you ask me if I did, well, I didn't. Sorry.

You can check more of the history of this amazing place through: http://www.bohol.ph/.

TARSIER CONSERVATION SANTUARY. The world's smallest primate is here! Like the Choco Hills, you'll miss exactly 80-90% of your visit if you wouldn't see this small, cutesy creatures. The van will take you there, and an entrance fee of 60Php (if i'm not mistaken) will be your charge. Along it is a wonderfully made postcard for keepsake.

Once done, you can meet and greet the tarsiers. One rule: Never turn on the camera flashes. Tarsiers get scared when taking photos with flash, making them feel uneasy since they sleep during the day.

DANAO ADVENTURE PARK: Well, this was where the BEST HEIGHT-SCARE adventure of my life (by far) happened. Not for the fainthearted, let me remind you. The adventure is so extreme, you feel your spirit just got lifted somewhere to another dimension.

This adventure park is known for three things: The Zipline called as "SUISLIDE", the Cable Car (well, it looks more like cable tricycle), and the nerve-racking "The Plunge", a 200-meter bungee swing facility located in Danao, a 2-hour ride from Tagbilaran. The van cannot take you there because of it's distance from the city, so if you're planning, take Danao travel on 2nd day.

Here's a glimpse of the adventure we had. You can also check out through this link:

(video posting in progresss).

See more adventures on video on Youtube by typing in "Danao Adventure Park" on search box. Also visit Bohol Province's Official website here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My prediction to the Unpredictable American Idol

Today marks the elimination of the 5th guy in a finalists' circle of 13 in American Idol. That is, Colton Dixon. That's how crazy I am for American Idol, and its contestant, and its host, and its production. Everything I've been following like how shadow does day by day.

And I just love how predictable it is, most especially at this point and the previous weeks -- where BB Chez, as she calls herself, our Filipino-American singing icon on American Idol was put to the bottom of the bottoms, and finally, the precisely charismatic-to-teenagers Colton Dixon, eliminated tonight. We thought teenagers have the biggest voice as based on history of AI, but not this time. They seem to love the old-styled Joshua Ledet, and the stylish petite country singer Skylar Laine. So unpredictable, indeed, when you thought that the charismatic guys can win a landslide.

Amid unpredictability, I will still enlist my predictions here: That Jessica Sanchez will lose her spot in Top 3, that Joshua Ledet will wave goodbye before Jessica, and Hollie will leave very soon (like next week). So where then will Elise go? She'll follow Hollie. Then on top 2 will vie Skylar and Philip -- as I guess Americans still cling on their great grand Country Songs (a proof we could date back since last season where country singers faced-off - Lauren Alaina and Scotty Mccreery on top 2 last season) and a charismatic guy should always be in the top 2, as  history suggests. Since AI closed doors to our favorite Colton, then there's only one guy left (actually, one straight guy remains and I predict the other one will eventually go out his shell as an un-straight guy).

That's my prediction though my heart strongly suggests Jessica and Joshua should fight on final stage's stage.

But not all of those voters have the ear for music (so unfortunate), so unfortunately, we will have to live with the fact that the best will create records and not create a memory in top 2.

That ends it. I still and will love Jessica despite that. =)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The GYM and the CHURCH

Putting aside all the fun-packed events at Robinsons slated this summer for me to host, this summer is and will be extra fun even when my body bathed only half under the sun (by far). I was trying to avoid perhaps, but I just don't feel beach parties at this point.

Well, maybe the gym has made me feel that. Two weeks ago, I signed up for the gym @ Cellutrim Fitness Camp and yes, you know what to expect -- muscle cramps yet a very tranquil sleep. Gym is my official trip this summer and this time, like never before, I promised myself to never let a day pass without an exercise. I have even penalized myself at the same time by eating  measly amount of rice and calories a day. BOOM! It worked. The rest will be history. *Praying*

But let me make myself clear -- it's not all about getting shaped up but more of something health-wise. The more we make ourselves close to our eating habits, the closer the detriment.

On the other side of the spectrum, I already got myself back on track to where I really am -- being at CHURCH and spending more quality time with God. You hear it right -- Summer at church! I have had many points in life where I literally forgot about Jesus and led my life the way I wanted it to go. So this summer is the starting line of a lifetime change, thus, I made my spirit fit at the same time too.

Seeing these two words in my blog is not just because I have started to do both this summer but because there is a line than connects these two important things -- It's just because I have seen very important similarities with the two that I have realized lately.

It's an odd realization for me that came to like a flash flood this afternoon -- GYM and CHURCH have some similar qualities for me. (Though I know I should never exchange CHURCH with GYM. For what is for eternity is eternal and body is passing)


Today I realized a very important thought: Going to the CHURCH is like going to the GYM - You have to do more than "attending". "Gyming" is like "Churching" -- you gotta pull your self to do it when in times you get tested and tempted to fall into the trap.

For me, a church has to lift up like giving out energy and not a display of dormancy. You have to praise the Lord with your might, permanently retain the knowledge you got from sermon, apply in your life the thing learned, and not just go "just for the heck of it".


Some people often believe going to church is a way of simply "cleansing themselves out of sin", but CHURCH was never built that way. Some others may think that "GOING TO CHURCH is enough to save me", but its not that way. Just as you give your material possessions for the poor does not save you and gain you eternal life.

It needs personal relationship - going to church as if God is close to you and not a million miles high. It needs to have effort to fully say, "I've done what the Lord wills". At the end of the day, the two extremes teach me things I should shun away and things I should build a habit for. I should avoid what the gym instructor tells me to avoid. And I should avoid what the pastor tells me to avoid.

Going back, Just like the gym, you need consistency and takes a ton and more of dedication and oftentimes, patience. Going to the CHURCH is like going to the GYM - it entails strength, dedication, and consistency to make your spiritual body fit. It needs hardwork, strength, and effort. Just as I shape my body, that's how I should shape my spirit.

To God be the Glory!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Ruins: History, Architecture, and Love

Today marks the 24th hour from the time my jaw dropped in amazement. Yesterday, we had the opportunity of touring down to Talisay, Negros Occidental to visit the historical structure called "The Ruins".

I heard about this before, many times from my close friends from Occidental. Now that I've seen it, I want to even see more of it. But I won't blog alot about how amazing this is, 'cause most assuredly, the photos below will surely tell you of how amazing this mansion was despite being torched in 1930s during the World War II by the Guerrillas (Well, the black edges caused by fire made it even more marvelous). Good riddance!

History speaks about the abundance of great stories about this house. The romantic stories are engraved in the edges of this spanish-inspired mansion built in the early 90s. Don Mariano built this house in memory of his wife, Maria Braga. It's foundations are marked with letters M, placed sidewards on some of its foundations.

This house was built by pure cement with a marble-like effect when you touch its edges.

Touring the place made me proud of Philippines. It did attest that it's not only fun here, but with rich history and beautiful masterpieces that could compete with world's best (notwithstanding romantic stories that could be told).

See more of these photos in my facebook account, http://www.facebook.com/joelaba.