Thursday, September 30, 2004

The one with the peso drop

Yesterday, the peso dropped to a record low, plunging to PhP56.45 against the US dollar. Immediately, middle- to lower-class Filipinos started criticizing the Arroyo administration for its seemingly ineffective monetary control efforts, while the administration itself defended the move, citing a great demand for dollars combined with the sharp rise in the cost of oil.

Meanwhile, a full tank of diesel for my car now costs P950.00, and I am wrestling with God in prayer against a return to the work force. I do not want to give up my mission for God, not at the cost of making money, since Cathy is making enough to barely scrape us by. We do not wish to go into debt, and this is a solid test of how God will provide.

Prayers for my country are requested.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The one with Nathan's pics

With my new digital camera, I'm like a father gone mad! I've been taking pictures of Nathan left and right. Naturally, I don't have any instinct for this yet, and I trust good buddies Harold and Rick will train me well. :p

Nathan got his first haircut during his real birthday, September 23, 2004. We took him to Cuts for Tots, where he bawled his eyes out while seated in a red Corvette chair. Now, I would bawl my eyes out if I were seated in a Corvette, but for different reasons entirely. Since I didn't have the Panasonic camera at the time, we used a film-based camera, and are now waiting to finish the film so we can have it developed. How funny.

The one on my new digicam (and Name It contest!)

I have a new digital camera! The Panasonic DMC-LC 70! Thank God for 0% interest on my MyDream JCB credit card! At slightly more than P1300 per month, I can afford it. Oh, and Rick, you don't have a thing to worry about, since I am still nowhere near your caliber, dude.

Here's a review, and here's a photo:

Taking a tip from Tracy, I'm holding a contest. What name should I give my camera?

Friday, September 24, 2004

The one with the nervousness

It's September 23 today (Manila time), which gives us approximately a month and a week to roll out the magazine and its website, get at least ten schools to subscribe, secure fifteen advertisers, and launch.

With God, all things are possible. I'm pretty nervous, though.

On a more relaxed note, from Bene Diction, I note at least four Filipino-Canadians in the top 32 of the recently concluded edition of Canadial Idol. Elena Juatco (the highest-placed finisher at #6, and eerie Jasmine Trias doppelganger), Annabelle Lumayag, Bernard Quilala, and Jerrica Santos.

I am so frustrated they never had this kind of competition when I was young enough to compete. Not like I stood a chance, but still, you know. Dreams. I'd sing gospel all the way.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The one with freebies galore

Today, I purchased color and black Hewlett-Packard ink cartridges from Electroworld. I realize I could save a ton of money by refilling my ink cartridges from one of the refill stations that have popped up like mushrooms across the Paranaque and Taft Avenue landscapes, but I know that I may pay the price months later, should sloppy worksmanship rear its ugly head, and ink explode all over my printer. It happened to my brother-in-law, and the poor printer was ruined.

Thankfully, I get little perks for paying the premium price. Around my wrist is my brand new B.U.M. USA wristwatch, which came free with my purchase of the black ink cartridge. I can also collect two free dinners from Shakey's Pizza Parlor, in exchange for the boxes of the two ink cartridges.

That's how to do it, HP. Bribe me, you corporate hooligans. If y'all must rob me blind, I appreciate the little perks.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The one with the Live the Life debut cover

So, about 80% of the first issue of Live the Life is complete. I should upload the website by the first week of October in preparation for schools to visit for further information, but to whet your appetite (and get your feedback), I'm posting the tentative cover.

What do you think?

Can't see it? Click here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The one on our first subscription

I want to give praise to God for our first Live the Life school callback! I won't mention which school called until we officially book them, but I'm very, very excited for the possibilities. If this school subscribes, believe it or not, that's 1/10th of our total press run!

Prayers are requested.

The one on Nathan's birthday party

Catherine and I celebrated our son Nathan's first birthday party last September 18. His birthday actually falls on the 23rd, but we couldn't hold the celebration next Saturday because the second day of a church seminar leading to the church's 7th year anniversary falls on next Saturday.

Decor. Martha Stewart would have been proud. We decided to go with a Veggietales theme, given that it is Nathan's favorite show. We created thirty Bob the Tomato headbands for each child to wear around her/his head, and one giant Bob the Tomato to welcome guests into our home. We borrowed approximately sixty adult chairs and thirty kiddie chairs (with corresponding tables) from the village association (free! There are perks to being homeowners in South Green Park Village), and set them up around the garage area. We inflated ten long balloons and scotch-taped them to the walls; aside from that, we had happy birthday banners all over the house. We ordered thirty stick balloons, half red, half blue, and stuck most of them into the earthy soil of the garden.

Games. Next, we strung banderitas around the place, along with a pabitin and a palayok. Banderitas are triangular pieces of paper that are strewn along straw rope, and hung high above the ground, tied to trees and posts; they are standard decorations during Filipino celebrations. To picture a pabitin (which comes from the Filipino word, bitin, meaning short), picture a tic-tac-toe grid, made of bamboo. From the wood are hung toys, bags of candies, and money. The pabitin is tied firmly to straw rope and swung over a wooden rafter so an adult can adjust its distance from the ground with a pull of the rope. Children stand underneath the pabitin to grab the items of their choice when the adult lowers the pabitin suddenly, only to pull it up again out of the children's reach a few second later. The game ends when all the items are gone from the pabitin. The palayok is a Filipino version of the pinata: candies, money, and other items are put into a clay pot, which is then suspended from a straw rope. Children are blindfolded and given a wooden rod, and they try to break the pot.

Aside from those three, we also had balloon relays (for both children and adults!), which featured four kids in a team, with each kid having to run to a chair on the opposite side of the road to burst a balloon by sitting on it. Each child would then have to run back to the starting line, then the next child would have to run across the road to burst his balloon. We also had a "Bring Me" game and a Trip to Jerusalem game.

Food. The proudest feature of any party at the Deen home is the food. When we throw a party, the most time and effort go into the preparation of the food to be served, and Nathan's party was no exception. My grandmother and mother, along with a team of five domestic assistants, prepared pancit molo, a flavorful broth with meat dumplings, chicken, onion sprigs, and garlic; tenderloin steak with a mushroom gravy sauce; lumpia ubod, which is fresh spring rolls with garlic and chickpeas; spaghetti italiana; fried chicken; buko pandan, a coconut and pandan jelly dessert; and birthday noodles, which is essentially an egg noodle fricasee. We had a nice cake and Blue Bunny ice cream.

The celebrant. Nathan was pretty cranky, because he doesn't usually like noise, and believe you me, was it noisy! We dressed him up in a red "Number 1" tee and denim shorts, along with these adorable red rubber shoes that Caths bought for him at SM. He also wore one of the Bob the Tomato hats, but he wasn't able to make the rounds because the noise was simply too much for him. When you're one year old, you don't really care that much for a party, now, do ya?

Guests. We expected around 60 to 80 guests, excluding children, and got close to that number. What thrilled me were the arrival of some of my friends from college, and some bloggers even came to the party! So, thanks to Mikoid, The Rowster, Wangie, and Jay, because y'all thrilled me by showing up! God bless!

And that was the party. I hope to upload photos; I'm waiting for them to develop. Digicameras weren't part of the gifts given to Nathan, so I guess we're just going to have to save up a wee bit more. :p

Friday, September 17, 2004

The one on spirituality in hip hop

The American hip hop industry suddenly seems to be acutely aware of the importance of a god in their lives - and many are professing their faith in Jesus Christ as a strong influence, if not the main reason they exist. It is an exciting time in music.

Tops on this list, naturally, is the Kanye West original, Jesus Walks. This groundbreaking rap song peaked in the top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100, quite a feat, given the content of the track. West was recently given a nomination for best gospel rap album in the Stellar Awards Gospel Music Academy's upcoming awards show, a bestowed honor questioned by several in the gospel industry. Regardless of whether West will be given the award, that secular musicians are starting to pursue the possibility of a Higher Being playing an integral role in their success is something altogether unprecedented.

The return of Mase is another phenomenon. The one-time chart-topping rapper left the music industry in 1999 to become a minister (!), a calling to which fellow musicians DMX and R. Kelly are not completely averse. His return is punctuated by a new album, out August 24th, that featured clean lyrics.

Several articles have been written on this, but I think contextualizing it in the Philippine setting will make it even more interesting, because there are rock bands and hip hop gospel artists in the Philippines. I will undoubtedly make an article on this for the magazine in the December issue. I've written the homies at Roc-afella asking for an interview, so prayers are requested, that the major playas will be down with my request for the 411. [Lord, I am soooooo white!]

The one on fashioning a rubber tomato suit

Can you imagine the size of a tomato costume if the person wearing it is 200 lbs?

This is going to be a wee bit harder than I thought.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The one on Wifely's survey

Taking a tip from Wifely, I've decided to answer these before I go shopping. The narcissist in me rears his chubby head.

TOP 5 Frequently visited sites
1. Yahoo Mail
2. GMail (want an invite?)
3. Blogger
4. Relevant Magazine
5. Billboard Magazine

TOP 5 Favorite songs of all time
1. Everything To Me - Avalon
2. Broken World - Across the Sky
3. Big Yellow Taxi - Amy Grant
4. Tea and Sympathy - Jars of Clay
5. Walking on Broken Glass - Annie Lennox

TOP 5 Favorite Foods
1. Calzone di Biancco from Piadina
2. Turtle Pie from Sugarhouse
3. Sylvanas from House of Sylvanas
4. Adobong Balun-balunan the way my mother makes it
5. Pata Tim the way my mother makes it

TOP 5 Favorite Drinks
1. Ice-cold Coke Light
2. Ganns' special punch (email me for this recipe, it's top secret, but it'll knock your socks off, and it's non-alcoholic!)
3. Vanilla bean frappucino from Seattle's Best
4. Strawberries and cream from Starbucks
5. Water (that's really sad.)

TOP 5 Favorite Snacks
1. Ruffles Sour Cream and Cheddar
2. Mr. Chips Cheese
3. Kornets Cheese
4. Pringles Salt and Vinegar
5. Orville Redenbacher's Cheese Popcorn

TOP 5 Favorite Indoor Activities
1. [Too racy to mention.]
2. Friends! marathon
3. Playing with Nathan
4. Designing new pages for the magazine
5. Cooking (and the eating that inevitably follows)

TOP 5 Favorite Outdoor activities
1. [Too racy to mention.]
2. Shopping for Cathy.
3. Biking or brisk walking.
4. Tending my plants.
5. Walking Nathan

TOP 5 Accessories
I'm not a big accessory guy.
1. My mobile
2. My Palm
3. My T-Mac rubber bracelet

TOP 5 Major Expenses
1. Rent
2. Transportation
3. Groceries
4. Electricity
5. Insurance

TOP 5 Movies that you like
1. Mr. Holland's Opus
2. The Notebook
3. Sister Act
4. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
5. Courage Under Fire

TOP 1 people you miss
1. John my bro

The one on organizing Nathan's birthday party

I have three things I thank God the most for:

1. His Son, Jesus Christ, whose love has saved me from eternal unhappiness;
2. My beautiful wife, Catherine, whose love keeps me going day by day; and
3. My adorable son, Nathan James, who will be turning 1 on September 23.


If people still need proof of the existence of a loving God, I invite 'em to take a look into my son's eyes and see the love he has for me and Cathy (shortly before he tries to poke my eye out with his hairbrush). I promise photographs.

Planning a child's birthday party is not unlike planning a wedding proposal, except instead of pleasing one, you're out to please thirty kids and their parents, as well as friends, families, and the neighbors who are upset that they didn't receive an invitation to your child's 80-guest birthday party.

Taking a quick Net break here at Netopia Park Square to blog on my otherwise daunting schedule, I can't help but go "Grrrrr." Why shouldn't I? Cathy and I want to create a heart-stopping, memorable, totally fun day for a child who will be unable to remember any of these events three days after. Yes, there are photographs, possibly a video. Yes, there will be cake. I will dress myself up as Bob the Tomato and play clown for a day (most of you with offline relationships with me may feel the need to say "A day?!", but, please, I'm trying to paint the word 'maturity' all over my person).

Looking at the shopping list, I know we're feeding a veritable horde. Still, I never thought I'd see the day when glucose powder, rubber nipples (for Nathan's bottle, y'all), yarn, and unflavored gelatin would be on my shopping list at the same time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The one on updating one's blogroll

I have spent a significant chunk of my past few days running through the blogroll, updating links and getting in touch with my online brothers and sisters. It hasn't been any easy task: there are literally dozens of sites to whom I've linked, and I don't want to un-blogroll anybody, for fear of hurting that person's feelings, or possibly getting myself hate mail, which I have managed to avoid in general for the past ten years I've been online.

In the process of cleaning up my blogroll, I have walked into blogs silenced eerily in my absence - fellow God-bloggers who have decided to end their god-blogs permanently - and wondered if people felt the same way about the four-month silence on I have visited blogs that have removed me from their blogrolls, assuming, in fairness, that I would not return.

On the other hand, I have visited blogs that encouraged me immensely. Among them, Christopher Wright or What In Tarnation, Bene Diction of Bene Diction Blogs On, and Sue Prince of Sisters' Weblog, who visited this new Superblessed site without my prompting them, and blogged of my return. Others who have swung by to say hello: Phisch of In That Number (who logs the very first comment of my new blog - congratulations, dearheart!; Maan of My Silverchair; Pressed of Avoiding Evil and Michael of Time to Believe (you gotta love the GoneApeWeb family); Rachel of Cre8d; Mark of Check Mark; and new friend Deb Sawyer of Constantly Abiding.

This "welcome back" of sorts is great encouragement to me, a rush of giddy pleasure that transcends web traffic and URLs. It's the rush of knowing that you're appreciated and loved, missed and prayed for. That's something one doesn't easily receive offline, much less online. When you're in the family of God, you're grateful for any chance to connect with your brothers and sisters, and it warms my heart to know I was missed.

It's so incredibly good to be back. I've been superblessed, and now it's my turn to give it back. The world needs Jesus, and by gum, we're gonna win the world for Him, one blogroll at a time.

The one on Contemporary Christian updates

It's a busy season for Christian artists as they prepare to send new material to radio.

Most exciting for me is the new album from Dove Award-winning singer and songwriter Nicole C. Mullen. Titled Everyday People, it should be out tomorrow in the U.S., with the title track as its carrier single. I question the choice of Everyday People, given Mullen's stellar songwriting pedigree, but if hey, I'm just a fan. Avalon didn't listen to me.

Speaking of Avalon, why don't y'all call up your local CCM radio stations and request the incredible Jody McBrayer-carried You Were There? It's now #2 on the Inspirational charts, but languishing in the lower regions of the galaxy over at the crossover Christian charts.

James Caviezel, who some of you might know better as Jesus Christ in The Passion, makes a cameo in Michael W. Smith's new single, Healing Rain, off his new album with the same title. That ought to be delicious.

Finally, groundbreaking Australian Christian community Hillsong Australia has released For All You've Done, a record-setting new album that debuted at #1 on the Australian album charts, the first Christian live album to ever do so! Congratulations, Brian and Bobbie Houston, Darlene Zschech, and the entire HSA worship team! Go for God's glory!

The one on Oprah's giving away Pontiac G6's

During her season premiere, Oprah Winfrey decided to take reality television and living the life to the next level by encouraging people and basically being the positive role model she's attempted to be for the past few years. What did she do?

Well, she gave away 276 new Pontiac G6's to every member of her studio audience. Wow. Suddenly, Oprah's Favorite Things seems paltry by comparison.

While Miss Winfrey's Christian upbringing clashes every so often with her humanist desire to be that influential and positive role model, sometimes in the process voicing opinions on issues and concerns that would be better dealt with if she were to consult God's Word more deeply, there is no doubt in my mind that she is making leaps and bounds in making this world a better place (and not just through giving cars away, mind you). In a time and era when the Bushes and Kerrys mudsling and hedge on political Molotov cocktails, hers is a refreshing breath of fresh air that gives me faith in human nature and man's innate desire to want to improve his fellow man's lot.

Go on blessin', Miss Winfrey.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The one on the workout video

Last Tuesday, I ventured to National Bookstore to pick up a copy of Jackie Lou Blanco's Working Out 2 workout video upon the recommendation of a churchmate who says that it's solid material that should help me shed some unwanted pounds.

Saleslady: Sir, you get a freebie.
Me: I do?
Saleslady: Yes Sir.
Me: Well, bring it on!

Saleslady places a small can of Carne Norte corned beef in my hand.

Riddle me this, Batman: why do purchasers of this workout video get a free can of processed meat that is nothing but oil, salt, and calories? Is it part of one big conspiracy to get us to purchase more corned beef, or associate our weight loss with said product? And does poor J-Lou know about this blatantly unhealthy product placement? Huff, puff, snort, grrr!

Man, it was good, though. Mmmm, monosodium glutamate.

The one on terrorist attacks

Millions of people around the world commemorated the third year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York yesterday. Being one of 82 million Filipinos, who by nature and circumstance are seemingly distributed throughout the world in the course of keeping the rest of the globe together (the Philippines is the world's most distributed economy, and tens of millions of people rely on Filipinos for everything from domestic assistance to IT needs), it is surprising to me that I did not lose anyone in the attacks.

This does not, of course and however, stop my heart from bleeding for the losses of our brothers and sisters in New York. Nor does it numb the pain I feel when militant terrorists attack civilian innocents, regardless of unfortunate choice of venue. The recent bombing of the Australian embassy, owned up to, according to news reports, by Islamic terrorist groups, is one such source of pain.

The announcement on the group's website criticizes Australia's support of activities that, at face value, seek to put an end to terrorist activity, i.e., Muslim terrorist activity. This, of course, is ridiculous to freedom-loving citizens of the world, regardless of political affiliation, and my wife remarked to me over a rather insipid dinner of cow tongue, porkchop, and cold rice, how Islam through the Jihad was expected to win converts to its cause and worship of Allah.

Neither my wife nor I are Islam or Christianity scholars, so our understanding of either faith is not so deep as to encourage discussion (flammatory or otherwise) of a truly scholarly fashion, but when a group of people kill other people in the name of their god, in this day and age of otherwise brain-deadening tolerance, it hardly seems like the most efficient way to convince the world of the supremacy of their god.

Somehow, a loving god and the actions of a people of a loving god seem stronger arguments for the quality of that particular religion, and while Christianity certainly has a lot of blood in its hands in the pursuit of fanatical and misplaced ideal evangelism, I think these extremist groups do the Islam faith a great disservice by strutting the name of Allah in their terrorist activities. Mind you, I do not aim to generalize: to generalize is dangerous, because not all Muslims seek to kill people in remuneration for disservice done them by Christians, and not all Christians seek to embitter Muslims. But these groups would do better to call a spade a spade, and tell the world their real reasons for heartless massacre of world citizens, instead of dressing it up in the name of Allah, who I imagine is more loving than some of his followers.

Friday, September 10, 2004

The one on being back to blog

It has been more than four months since the blog at went offline, much to my chagrin. The reasons? An Internet cafe that wouldn't accept cookies, a blog interface that wouldn't accept my passwords, and a webmaster who couldn't remember the email he used when he signed me up. It was a recipe for Godblogging disaster.

In that span of time, I also found myself immersed in the relatively daunting task of setting up my God-mission: creating a magazine for teens and young adults that would glorify the name of Christ Jesus while remaining relevant and... well... hip. [The sheer choice of the word 'hip' automatically invalidates its hipness... oops, there it is again.]

Between setting up Live the Life Magazine, its online incarnation, as well as (which y'all can visit!), and preparing for Nathan's first birthday party this month (yes, it's been a year!), I found myself constantly online but unable to express myself. Ergo, back to good ol' Blogger.

I look forward to keeping this particular blog as my area of expression, and the nerve center for activities to unite young and young-at-heart Filipino God-bloggers. I look forward to your joining me on this journey. Paul says in Acts 24:20, "... I consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."

May our lives be the ultimate testimony to His goodness in our lives. Peace out, y'all!