Maundy Thursday. Good Friday. Black Saturday. Easter Sunday. It's so easy to take the Holy Week for granted because we are so used to it. It's so easy to just brush it off especially in places where it's not really celebrated-slash-commemorated. It was business as usual this week in this office. You'd never know it was the Holy Week unless you took a look at the posts in my FB News Feed. I had work this Thursday, I had work this Friday, and yes, I had work this Saturday, too (as always).

Thank God the Urreas were in a game mood this weekend. They had heard about a free Easter Musical showing near my place so we all decided to drop by and have a look.

The musical, entitled Heaven & Earth Rejoice (performed by the good people of Calvary Church), made our jaws drop. It wasn't Broadway-level spectacular, but it was still an awesome display of skill and artistry. The choir. The ballet dancers. The soloists. The musicians. The actors. The videographers. The amazing production staff. All these people giving up their talents for God. It totally blew us away in that 5000-seater auditorium.

And of course, the story. The Story of the Cross and the Empty Tomb never grows old. This Friday, when an officemate gave me a "Happy Good Friday" greeting, I caught myself pondering about the weight (or, sadly, even the lack of weight) that Christians put on these sacred days (I hadn't been thinking about Good Friday that much before her greeting - I was too busy moping because I was stuck at the office working).

True, some may argue against the festival's supposedly pagan origin-slash-influence. Some may say we shouldn't come to a remembrance of God's sacrifice and unfailing love just this one time every year - we should stay in awe of His great love and mercy everyday (I heartily agree) and make all the days of our lives sacred and set apart our worship to Him.

But, upon mulling about how the heart of the Holy Week is fundamental to Christian spirituality, I wonder why we don't often put as much importance to these few days as we do Christmas. I mean, we're all geared up for the merry season by the time the "ber" months roll around, but only the devout anticipate Lent and its consummation.

I believe the Holy Week is a beautiful, beautiful celebration-slash-commemoration as it paints God's love for us in deep, gritty lines and colours. The night He was betrayed, He stooped down to a servant's level and washed His disciples' feet. Then His agony went on from Gethsemane all the way to the cross at Calvary. I'm not sold out to re-enacting the whole pre and actual crucifixion process but if we just take the time to gaze in wonder at the Cross - gosh. Can we even comprehend how great God's love is for us that He - fully God and fully human at that time - would bear all our sins and hang on that tree in pain and agony? Can we even wrap our minds around the mystery of how that final act of sacrifice paves the way to grace, how the words "It is finished" means freedom and redemption for us all?

I'm realizing that Black Saturday is rich with its own beauty, too, as I believe it was the time that all Jesus' followers were pushed to the edge of hopelessness, because the kingdom they were setting their hearts on was, in a day, reduced to a heap of imaginary dust and rubble. I know a lot of us have been there - believing for a promise only to come face to face with big stone walls of disappointment.

But come Easter - come Resurrection Sunday - we are told that all things were and are made new. The tomb was empty, the stone was removed - Jesus came back to life, defeating death, giving us hope, giving us a promise of new life. The Cross moves us to worship and repentance; the Empty Tomb moves us to celebration and victory.

If you come to think of it, these days are really the ones that mark the central aspects of Christian spirituality.

Forgive me for writing a piece so lengthy and coming off as a bit preachy. But I want to share my thoughts as I selah - pause and consider thoughtfully - about how the Holy Week isn't just about long-weekends or non-long-weekends.

We sang this song at Calvary Church before the musical started:

Once Again (by Matt Redman)

Jesus Christ, I think upon Your sacrifice
You became nothing, poured out to death
Many times I've wondered at Your gift of life
And I'm in that place once again
I'm in that place once again

And once again I look upon the cross where You died
I'm humbled by Your mercy and I'm broken inside
Once again I thank You
Once again I pour out my life

Now You are exalted to the highest place
King of the heavens, where one day I'll bow
But for now, I marvel at Your saving grace
And I'm full of praise once again
I'm full of praise once again

Thank You for the cross
Thank You for the cross
Thank You for the cross, my Friend

Indeed, I'm in that place once again. Would you like to come and join me?


Have a meaningful Easter, everyone! We are loved, we are saved, we have new hope and victory!

Heaven & Earth Rejoice! by Calvary Church

Bus Misadventure

So we almost found ourselves riding off to Ipoh last Sunday night. That would have been all well and good if Ipoh wasn't approximately three to four hours north of Kuala Lumpur. It would have all been fine and dandy if I didn't have work to attend to the following Monday. Well, how did we find ourselves almost heading off to Ipoh, you ask? 

Easy. We simply hopped on the wrong bus.

Partner-in-Crime was already waiting by the bus when we got to Kitchener Road. Ate Di and I had taken the wrong MRT exit and had to go through India just to get there. I had the printed itineraries. But we all needed to make a quick detour to the bathroom so we asked the driver to wait for us. He said, "Okay." We made a mad dash to the ladies toilet. Then we ran as fast as we could back to the bus and seated ourselves in our assigned seats.

"Where are you going?"


"KL? No, this bus is going to Ipoh. Go and check at the office."

Office??? Ate Di and I knew it. Buses going to KL usually had ticketing offices nearby. We found it strange that we could immediately get inside the bus with just our printed itineraries.

We scrambled out of the vehicle, scanning the perimeter for the said office. Where was it? We saw another bus and I asked the driver if it was going to KL. He said it was but I had better check with the office first. I told him, "Please wait for us." He said, "Okay."

When we go to the ticketing office, it was already 10:10 PM (our bus was supposed to leave at 10). The ticketing lady exclaimed, "Why so late ah!" and gave us our tickets and complimentary mineral water bottles.

We double-checked the tickets and it turned out that our real bus was thankfully the one with the driver who graciously waited for us after I asked him to.

Lesson learned: when booking buses online, look for their ticketing office first before making yourself comfy in what could be the wrong bus.

Check your ticket.

Singapore: Just a Stone's Throw Away

26 March 2013

Oh Best Beloved,

Singapore's just a stone thrown away from Malaysia. We went there last Sunday to attend a child dedication and church anniversary. I had work that Saturday so I just took an evening flight, arriving at around 8:00 PM. And then my friends and I all took a 10:00 PM bus back to Malaysia the following night.

It was fun but tiring. We got back to Malaysia at around 3:00-4:00 Monday morning so I did nothing but sleep the entire night through when I got home yesterday after work. Now I have a slight headache. And a stiff neck. It's so hard to drive when you have a stiff neck.

But we had a blast in Sg. Didn't get to tour much, though. Didn't need to tour much. We've been going back and forth from My to Sg for quite a while already. So I'll just share some photos taken from last time we really toured.

The shots below are from my parents' visit last September 2011. They came over for my MIT graduation ceremony and so we hopped off to Singapore to celebrate afterwards.

Merlion Jr. and Merlion Sr.

A panoramic shot from the Esplanede.

The view from above.


Mari... na bay.

There'll be more Singapore trips to come. Thank God for cheap airfares and affordable bus tickets.

Until next time,


S&S Reruns: Some Things Never Change

It's official. I'll be home in 51 days! Flight's booked, leave's approved - konting kembot nalang and then it's home sweet home.

So here's a post about my first homecoming after spending five months in Malaysia (But I am now pushing to four years - whew). Enjoy!

Originally posted here: 

* * *

I have a stiff neck.

I’m blaming it on the long bus ride home. I think I spent almost eleven hours on the road yesterday. Sleeping. Thinking. Sleeping again. Bumping my head unconsciously on the Victory Liner side window as I slept some more.

Thank goodness one bump knocked me back into consciousness just as the bus entered the city limits. Or else I would have missed the pretty city lights that have always signaled the end of my long bus rides and have always welcomed me back home.

Some things never do change.

I still get that warm, fuzzy “I’m home” feeling whenever I see those city lights.

* * *

I slept in this morning and woke up to groggily answer Jona who called me up using Prince’s unlicall-enabled phone. I wandered around the empty house (Mom, Dad, and Quantum had all left for school) as Jona and I chattered on and on about God-knows-what. As I made my way from room to room, I noted that indeed, some things have still remained as they were, as they are.

Our small bathroom still serves as a mini-library. And Mom’s shampoo and conditioner collection is still growing, growing, and growing.

My bedroom is still that colorful interior designer’s nightmare. My goodness. My colorful posters-slash-artworks are still up and my bed is still that mess of oranges, blues, greens, and pinks. And yeah, two-thirds of the colorful mess still serves as mom’s walk-in closet. Hahahaha.

The living room hasn’t changed a bit and the Cowabunga mirror (which has been there since forever) is still there, serving as a reminder of my teenage-mutant-ninja-turtle-filled childhood (hey, I was a fan of Michelangelo and his grappling hooks!).

Okay, okay. So I’ve been away for only five months. Parang naman daw ang daming magaganap na pagbabago sa limang buwan na yon.

Well, my brother has a new desk in his bedroom (say bedroom in a small squeaky voice). And there’s his new laptop.

And there are the million changes that have occurred inside Mari that I can’t explain and contain even up until now.

* * *

Okay. So I still can’t seem to express myself in the way that I want to. “Basta yun. Ewan.”

Has it really been five months that I’ve been out of the country? Has it only been five months?

It feels like five years. No, it feels like five days.

Sigh. So much has happened. But in some ways – it feels as if I had never left.

Ay ewan.

This is as far as my melancholic mood can get me today.

More writings later. Like, after the batch outing. Hehe.

KTV in Malaysia

Would you believe that, after all these years of living in Malaysia, it was only last Saturday that I was able to step into a Malaysian KTV bar? I kid you not. It was definitely a first.

I think what scared me off before was the thought that the song selections might not include English songs (just Malay and Chinese ones). But lo and behold! Neway Karaoke Box Malaysia had not only a collection of English songs, but Tagalog songs as well!

Partner-in-Crime and I sang our hearts out with some friends we made from singing last December in the Philippine Embassy Choir. We took advantage of the Normal Hour package, the one that included a dinner buffet. Yeah, it was a bit pricey. But there was so much food! And we partied from 7pm to midnight, so it was all worth the Ringgits spent.

Pick a song.

So happy that my face looks like a very round smiley.

With Partner-in-Crime.

Just singing out.

And singing out some more.


I am definitely going to go karaoke-ing again. 

S&S Reruns: By My Window

We're travelling further back into the past today - to 2010. I was still living in the dorm back then. Sigh. Memories. Originally posted here:


I’m sitting by my window. Looking at the sky. Listening to the merry chirping of the Za’ba birds. Savouring the cool, crisp, early morning breeze as it gently blows through my window.

The morning is unhurried. Unrushed. I’m simply watching and praying, noting that my to-do list can wait until a little bit later.

I hug my yellow fleece blanket to my knees, getting lost in the comfort of its warmth.

The view outside my window is a semi-strange sight. Morning has just broken, and clouds still fill the usually clear and sunny Malaysian sky. But that’s not what’s so strange about it. What’s strange is that it’s Malaysian sky.

The view is different. And the sounds that resound through the air are different as well. My room is somewhat an earshot away from the Surau and my mornings are usually punctuated by the early morning call to prayer.

But different is good. I’m loving living out my life in this foreign soil. This is what I’ve always wanted, right?

Sure, the language is somewhat crazy. “Uhh.. boleh cakap perlahan-lahan?”

And the weather is often agonizingly hot. “Sangat panas. Sangaaat panaaaassss…”

And public transportation leaves a lot to be desired. “Ayy.. Alamak.”

But the benefits of staying here override all the sacrifices that have been and still have to be made.

I close my eyes for a moment and let one last breeze caress my cheeks and I rise, ready to move on with the rest of the day.

The 10:00 am sunshine has already broken through, and now it’s time to move on to the rest of the day.

Petronas Twin Towers

So... Turns out that I have no photos with the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, yet, in this blog. I have tonnes of them, you  know. Or maybe I've just taken tonnes of pictures of other people with them. But here are a few decent ones I've found from my collection:

One of the more recent ones. Taken by my friend, Getabel.

2010! @_@ With a dear friend from back then.

From the other side. KINGDOMIZED.
Check out

So. This is the place that I call home, for now. Don't ask too much about the Sabah-Sulu issue. The whole thing's giving me a headache now. Let's all live peaceably with one another. :)

S&S Reruns: Change

Tuesday's post visited an event that happened one year ago. This one will visit one which took place two years before this one. 

Welcome to my trip down memory lane.


Change is inevitable. You can either try to ignore it, accept it, embrace it, or dive straight into it.

Because really, change will come whether we like it or not.

A couple of days back, I entered a Rapid KL bus bound for UKM and was greeted by the sight of passengers flipping through a couple of blue and red pamphlets. There was a pile near the bus driver’s seat and since the encik was still with his bus driver comrades, I helped myself to a pamphlet of my own.

“Introducing the NEW bus ticketing system!”

The red and blue paper said. “BIT! On entry! BIT! On exit! Sooo… Easy!”

Interesting. When I came here to Malaysia 1.5++ years ago, Rapid KL had these RM 1 tickets that the passengers could use the whole day. It was like a ride-all-you-can experience. After some time, they probably realized that the buses were getting low on dough. So they told the passengers that the tickets would now be good  for only a single journey. That was fine with the people who’d soon readily present the magic blue bill every time they’d enter the red, blue, and yellow bus.

So now they’re promoting the use of touch-n-go cards, like the ones Singaporeans use when commuting.

“BIT! Sekali masuk! BIT! Sekali keluar! BIT! BIT Kad Rabbit!”

Really, the Rabbit Card that I bought from the bus driver yesterday made me laugh out so, so loud. It’s the year of the funny bunny, alright.

I bought a card yesterday though I had been planning to get one ever since I read the Rapid KL pamphlet. I figured it would do me good. I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping RM 1 notes in my wallet all the time, plus I’d save up around RM 2 a week. I use Rapid KL busses like Filipinos use jeepneys and RM 2 is sorta a lot. I could buy a nice cup of teh tarik with that. Anyway. Well, now, I’d just bit, bit, bit away at the cost of RM 0.80 per way. However, I couldn’t help myself to a card immediately because the Rapid KL drivers were still easing up the transition stage.


I watched how the drivers discussed and had these impromptu tutorials inside one of the empty buses behind us the other day. I reckon they didn’t know how to use the card readers yet, so they had to get acquainted with them first. They had to, before they could even expect their passengers to do the same.

They had trouble implementing the whole thing during the first day, but yesterday, this guy rode with all the passengers and explained how the whole thing worked. I watched how theencik patiently explained everything to the passengers. I listened as one Malay girl asked all the FAQs running through every passenger’s mind. I had already decided that I would buy a card from him, but it was interesting to watch the whole introduction process unfold before my eyes first.

After the guy’s detailed explanation, a couple of people (me included) bought Rabbit Cards of their own. Today, quite a lot of people were already using them though some still had trouble “Bit-ing” the cards the right way. “Sila sentuh kad sebelah lagi”.

Well, it’s going to take some getting used to, but pretty soon everyone would probably be doing it like it’s their second nature.

Sigh. So many changes this season. But like I said. It’s going to take some getting used to. But sooner or later, it’s all going to be second nature.

Cheers to change!

One Year Ago

4 March 2013
Oh Best Beloved,

I just remembered that we also went to Cameron Highlands exactly one year ago. So much has changed since then. So much has happened.

But there's beauty in everything. I'm glad I was able to capture that beauty during our visit there. 

An almost black rose.

Look up.
Beauty for Ashes.
Embracing new things. :)

I hope you enjoyed the pictures.