The piano and my past
Some people say the best things in life are free.
In many ways, I find it true.
A few days ago, I dropped the Yupangco building along Buendia looking for an electronic keyboard that a brother-in-law wanted to buy.
The Yupangcos, I learned are one of the biggest dealers of musical instruments in the Philippines.
Upon entrance to their grand store, what immediately caught my eye was this grand piano, that was extraordinarily large.
That was the first time in my life I saw such grand piano of such size, "in the flesh", so to speak.
I was so excited I had my picture taken right beside it, like perhaps having my-self photographed with a superstar.
In the picture, I thought I looked more like a piano salesman.
I interviewed the lady in the store.
I was shocked to hear its purchase price: P14-million pesos (US$333,000).
Is there a piano costing that much, like that of a Porsche?
The lady responded, its P14-million because it old.
The brand new costs P25-million.
If you rent it, it costs P50,000, she added.
My goodness, I said.
"Will you charge me if I touch it?" I asked
The lady responded, "You can play even for free, if you know how."
"Really?" I asked, beaming.
Go ahead, she responded
I lost no time.
I sat down and played "How Lovely Is your Dwelling Place by Fr. Arnel Aquino."
And I was in awe, listening to the sound of each ivory key that I pressed.
It has been decades since I stopped playing the piano regularly, but I had a kid-feeling that moment, like I have never felt in a long long time.
I felt I was in a recital, savoring the sound of that piano reverberating throughout that sprawling Yupangco showroom.
After I did the piece, the store lady relayed to me the people who had rented and used it in the past, like David Foster and Ryan Cayabyab.
It was quite a pleasant afternoon.
Even for just a moment, I rekindled one of the nicest feelings of my childhood, which was performing at a piano recital.
That elegant grand piano became a time-machine, taking me to my distant past, relieving my musical memories.
The bonus part, I played the 'grandest' piano, at no cost at all.
Indeed, the best things in life are free.
Mother, the greatest blessing
What is God’s greatest, most significant gift to you?
To this question, I never hesitate an answer.
In my world, the greatest gift God has given me was that which I received the moment I was born--- my mother.
My mother is Marlen Icamen Dejaresco, daughter of Christian missionaries, a teacher, government worker, most of all a loving, devoted and faithful wife and mother to me and four siblings.
I have had brilliant, learned teachers, mentors all through my life.
But none of them equals the knowledge and wisdom imparted to me by my mother.
She taught me how to read the Bible at a very early age.
The simplest things to learn in life is to know what is right and wrong.
We make so many choices in life, some of them good, some bad, some right, some wrong.
But that is the essence of our humanity—we are not without sin.
Nevertheless, it sure has been helpful that many choices I made are guided by what was taught me by my mother even before I entered kindergarten.
I treasure those Bible stories of Joseph the Dreamer, Jacob the Deceiver, David the Goliath slayer, Daniel the lion-tamer Zacchaeus the tree-climbing, reformed cheater.
I learned of Jesus calming the storm in front of frightened followers.
I first heard those true stories from my mother.
I tell you , my mother tells true stories like no media person can.
My mother is my greatest advocate.
I am confident she would defend me, and be by my side no matter what.
I tell you, she would defend me like no lawyer can.
My mother is the ever-reliable physician.
When I got sick, she was there to take care of me.
She ensured I take my medicines.
She even bought me an expensive ozonizer so that my family would be as healthy, as we can be.
I tell you, my mother cares for her children’s health like no doctor ever can.
I was happy growing up with my mother.
She bought me new shoes.
She took brought me to Maricar’s to eat that unforgettable spaghetti, after her work.
We ate ice cream at Dainty (where Jollibee Alfonso XIII is now located).
I remember those ice cream pints sliced into half.
Or we went to cool off at Snow White (with no dwarfs) beside the bell tower.
I’m blessed I felt a mother’s love .
She loves us, her children like no person ever can.
No doubt, God’s greatest gift to me is my mother.
So, it would be fitting to say thanks to my mother for all things good, and happy.
Happy mother’s day, mama.
Pilar Benitez, a sister in the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals tells an inspiring story of unwaivering faith in the midst of the devastation by typhoon Sendong in Iligan City. Here's her account:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Let me just share with you a heartwarming story of faith and trust in our Father. As you know, Holcim has a cement plant in Iligan, thus quite a number of our employees were affected by typhoon Sendong. Most of them, lost their homes & property, while others lost relatives and friends. Now that the holidays are over, our Manila-based Iligan residents have reported back to work, they all have their stories to tell, and here is one of them:
At the height of typhoon Sendong, several residents found themselves jumping from one roof to another frantically trying to save themselves. A group of about 60 congregated on top of a large house and they settled there for the night. Most of them were BCBP members while quite a number were from Couples for Christ and a muslim family. The rain kept pouring hard, it was pitch black and all you could hear were desperate cries for help. Below them, these 60+ people could see that most of the houses were under water and those that remained were either washed away by the flood or were destroyed by the hundreds of logs that came crashing down with the muddy water.
In the midst of this chaos, our brothers and sisters came together and started praise & worship. Their prayers and their songs could be heard above the din and the noise of houses being smashed against each other. The muslim family did not join in prayer but kept crying out in desperation. One of our brothers approached them and invited them to pray - and they did. Across the street, there were several people also on top of roofs who could hear our brothers & sisters in prayer.
The next day, this same people across the street, told our brothers & sisters that their house was spared because they could see that there were several men in front of the house that kept pushing away the logs that came crashing down. Who were these men? And could ordinary men have the strength to push away these huge pieces of tree trunks? They didn't think so. It seems that their angels were working over time that night! The power of prayer. The majesty of our God. God is truly a faithful God!
Let us continue to include in our prayers all our brothers & sisters in Cagayan, Iligan and in Compostela Valley.
Friends, We wake up to a new year full of trials and uncertainty. But having had a Christmas break that was truly worthwhile and full of meaning, we are re-charged. For your good deeds, I pray with confidence God will shower you with abundant blessings this coming year. Giving is always a blessing. In our native language, “Sa inyong pagka-matabangon, ang Ginoo na’y mag-igo.” I am not praying for more disasters, but I hope you will continue extending a helping hand to others in distress. In the meantime, as we face fresh challenges in the coming year, my wish for all of us is that spoken in the old Irish blessing… May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sunshine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields and, Until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand. Happy New Year.