Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Goodbye, Kuya

Last December 23rd, my eldest brother, Freddie, lost his battle with lung and brain cancer. He was around 45, I imagine. I didn't expect it to hurt so much, but it does.

I never knew Freddie that well. He was old enough to have moved away when I was born, and he was never really required to hang around our house, because his mother and my mother were not one and the same. Of all my half-brothers, though, it was of him that I was proudest. Freddie was once the country's greatest dart player, and people I never knew often asked me if I were related to him once they learned of my family name.

Freddie was a nice guy, as far as I knew him. Perhaps it is best that my rather limited understanding of and relationship with him was limited to the cordial hi's and hello's of Christmas evenings when he and his girlfriend would come to our house for paella and pancit molo. Perhaps it was best that we never had heart-to-hearts because I might not have treated my relationship with my younger brother, John, if it came into context of how he treated me as kuya and I as bunso. A world of perhapses, a galaxy of maybe's, and a universe of might've been's, should've's, and mamaya na langs.

I didn't even get to say goodbye.

Ah, Fred, Kuya that never was, I didn't think I'd miss you, but it's in the void that you've created that I realize the biggest mistakes of all may have been the ones intentionally made.

The one with a sore throat

So, I'm dealing with a sore throat right now, approximately half an hour before I conduct a three-hour seminar on correct English.

No better time than now to connect to Jesus.

Monday, December 27, 2004

The one with biting the bullet

Happy holidays, everyone!

I remember one particular instance when I was about to graduate from college; my mother and I were seated for a heart to heart, and she was asking me of my direction. It was clear-cut in her perspective: she wanted me to pursue a career in law, and I wanted to change the world by becoming a teacher. Eventually, I followed my heart and broke hers, as far as I know.

Since that fateful decision more than six years ago, I have since become a teacher, a radio DJ, a voice talent, a musician/keyboardist, a multilevel marketer (ew!), a marketing communications specialist, a proposal planner, and most recently, a Christian teen magazine publisher. Both my wife and my mother are adamant: decide on doing one thing and do your best at it!

I know they're right, but I can't bring myself to sit down and get at it. Perhaps it's also for that reason that I have achieved only moderate success at these endeavors, because I'm too busy doing other things to settle down into this one particular role. Mind over heart, I'd win this thing hands down, but my heart really wants to play jack-of-all-trades, and unfortunately for me, my wife and son are in it for the long haul, and I can't drag them with me down the long road to bankruptcy.

So I'll continue to work at perfecting LIVEtheLIFE because this is where I've invested the most blood, sweat, toil, and tears, and because I know in my heart that God won't abandon my family while we work on a project that will bring more teens to a better understanding of Him and what a relationship with Him can do to a person's life. At the same time, however, since I still have to bring some food to the table and milk into my son's stomach, I will attempt to do two things on the side: 1) rejoin my old group, Release, to play keyboards for them and earn some much-needed cash, and 2) scratch the surface for some kind of career in the recording arts. Might as well bite the bullet and try to sell some songs to some record labels, if not score a deal for myself.

I have a load of 2005 goals, but those in a later post. Meanwhile, I hold onto God's promises, and am sustained by His love. It's all good when it's all God!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The one with the LIVEtheLIFE-unrelated post

90% of the posts for the past few months have been LIVEtheLIFE-related, and I admit it's taking a toll. I'm superblessed by all the writers, pastors, artists, musicians, celebrities, family members, and everyone else who've been praying and working with me to make this vision a reality. God bless you all; I pray you'll give me the guided tour of your mansions when we meet up one glorious day in Heaven.

Meanwhile, I'm really pressed for posting something totally unrelated to LIVEtheLIFE, so I just thought I'd say...

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Don't forget the reason for this season!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The one with the "shame on me!"

The other day, I was reading Job, and one of the verses hit me like a ton of bricks.

"We take the good days from God," he says. "Why not the bad days?" (Job 2:4, The Message)

Eugene Peterson, in his introduction to Job, writes accurately that most people are prepared for suffering in one way or another. What most people don't understand is undeserved suffering, like how to deal when a child dies, or if a job is lost unexpectedly.

There are days when I feel so down, wondering if I had made the right decision, looking at people sniff at the magazine and put it down when they read the word "Jesus" or "Bible," wondering if the magazine will really make a difference in the lives of teens and young adults. There are also days when I feel that God is carrying me high, when a new distributor signs on or when a teen emails in and says the magazine is cool.

Shame on me for losing sight of the big picture. I believe God will make His power manifest - through ways beyond me, and in ways I will never understand. Until then, it's push push push all the way, keeping it up, and knowing that teens need lit like this more than ever.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The one with Freshen Up Your Faith

One can spot a teenager who lives a healthy lifestyle a mile away. He is confident, not cocky; principled, not fickle; faithful; fresh; and attractive in a way that attracts people for his personality and aura. Teens who values family, self, God, and country, are what this nation needs.

Teens like these are out there. It is our mission to bring them together and make a statement to their peers: it’s cool to be clean and confident, it’s fun to be fresh and faithful, and it’s possible to be positive! Like you yourself say: impossible is nothing!

In 2005, LIVEtheLIFE Magazine launches the Freshen Up Your Faith campus tour! With several youth groups supporting the tour, including Youth for Christ, Campus Crusade for Christ, JZone (Christ’s Commission Fellowship Youth Group), Greenhills Christian Fellowship Youth Group, and Christ’s Youth in Action, among other groups, Freshen Up Your Faith stands to revitalize, refresh, and restore today’s young Filipino to a greater sense of self-worth and purpose.

Fresh confidence and fresh faith: your life depends on it.

Today’s youth need and want security and significance. This campus tour will revolutionize the way teens look at their faith: instead of looking at their faith with the typical bored, I’’ll-go-to-church-and-that’s-it attitude, teens will see the excitement, joy, thrill, and vibrancy that come with a clean and healthy lifestyle.

The campus tour visits different high school, college, and university campuses throughout Metro Manila. A fresh and cheerful display reflects the excitement of a life in Jesus! Yellows, reds, greens, and blues abound! It’s loud, it’s brash, and it brings a whole new face to one’s faith!

Performers (selection varies per school and musician availability) can include Barbie Almabis, Christian Bautista, GenRev.net, Hope of God, Kitchie Nadal, Musikatha, and dance and song numbers from youth groups of those particular schools. Expect Christian henna tattoo booths, basketball and other sports-type activities, books, tees, buttons, bags, jewelry, notebooks... everything one needs to live that Jesus lifestyle out loud!

For more information, including booth sponsorship and advertising possibilities email us at superblessed@gmail.com.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The one with the Frio Mixx shake

Despite this incredible diet that I've dropped 15 pounds on, the enemy finds new and exciting ways to tempt me. The latest is this evil, evil shake at Frio Mixx.

Don't be tempted by this sinfully delicious Chocnut Shake! Ignore its creamy, frothy, sugary goodness! Do not revel in its smooth texture, its chocnut bits... ohmygoodnessitssoincrediblygood!

Damn you, Satan! Damn yoooouuuuu!

It is truly a yummy shake, though. You'd do well to have it. Frio Mixx has triumphed.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The one with the Cindy survey

LIVEtheLIFE is experimenting with a bit of a layout change. I'd like to ask for your votes. Which cover (and therefore overall image) do you think speaks more to 15-20 year-old teens?

Number One, or

Number Two?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The one with the 2nd anniversary

On July 15, 1999, I entered the office of De La Salle University - Manila's Psychology Department. There was only one person in the room, a woman wearing a blue and white checked blazer over a simply plain white polo. Her hair was short, cropped a la Demi Moore during her cute Ghost days; on her face, glasses with thick lenses. She was going through her desk drawer, and when she glanced up to see who entered the room, I felt my world stop.

"Good afternoon," I smiled, "Miss Midel?"

"Mister Deen?" she smiled back.

In such a formal fashion began my love affair with Catherine Midel. That day was a blind date, set up by mutual friends of ours who were in the throes of a love affair of their own. We lunched at L.A. Yaki, a Japanese fusion restaurant on an upper floor of the nearby University Mall. I ordered oysters that did not agree with me; I forget what she ordered. We talked about life - and learned of a mutual appreciation of all things Deborah Gibson. The restaurant has since closed down; our relationship, however, is still going strong after more than five years.

Back in college, I wrote an essay about never wanting to get married, about jumping from one affair to another, possibly having a child, but not open to marrying the mother. Reading that essay now, I cringe at my misplaced priorities. Clearly, marriage mayn't be for some people, nor long-term relationships up the alley of some individuals. For me, however, I find it has brought me closer to this woman who I am so proud to call mine.

Let me tell you a little bit about my wife. Catherine and I are virtual opposites. While I am gregarious and talkative most of the time, she would prefer to sit back and listen. While I like going out to parties and being with a lot of people, she would rather stay home with chocolate and a movie. While I am admittedly on the chubby side, she's managed to maintain, to a certain extent, that hourglass figure with which God has so generously blessed her.

She and I do share things in common, though. We are both extremely passionate about things we believe in, and when you get us started, we'll talk your ears off in minutes. We both sing, although she in a key all her own. We both enjoy comedies, the occasional trip on the road, and obviously each other.

Catherine's personality is the love-her or hate-her type, and I fell for her head-over-heels. For me, she was easy to love: she never kept things from me, always lifted me up from my insecurities, always was concerned with my well-being. She also accepted my unconditional love, temper tantrums, and incessant desire for tickling, which she hates.

In 2000, Catherine found her way back to God. I, however, was content with my comfortable, relatively painless relationship with God. God told her to leave me if I would not commit myself to Him; she cried and fought, but was faithful. She never told me about what He told her, but God is faithful, too: a few days before her self-imposed deadline to leave me and remain faithful to God's instruction, I, without knowledge of her dilemma, accepted Jesus into my life.

It changed our lives forever.

It's been more than five years. With God in the center of our life together, it's easier to focus on doing things together. There's relevance in our life; there's purpose and clarity. There will be fights, and there will be make-ups - such is life! Together, we've become one heart, one mind, one spirit; together we've created one life, our pride and joy, Nathan; together, we've created a ministry that, by God's grace, will help bring teens back to Jesus Christ. When we're old, and her back starts to go, and my knees start to buckle, I will continue to thank God for blessing me with this life partner, Miss Midel, because she is everything I've hoped for, and God's ultimate blessing to me.

Happy 2nd year anniversary, darling!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The one with the new website

Visit LIVEtheLIFE.

The one with the excitement on music out

I am really excited for today's music. I was telling Cathy the other day that this is a great time to have cash (unfortunately, we don't) because a lot of great artists are coming out with great material, and music-lovers everywhere have got to be excited somehow with the quality of material that will head into music stores.

Look to purchase the following, they'll be fantastic:
1) U2, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Can't wait! Debuted at #1!
2) Michael W. Smith, Healing Rain. Go, MWS!
3) Fantasia, Free Yourself. I think she's the most exciting American Idol yet. Debuted at #8, but so what? Get this album!
4) Ruben Studdard, I Need an Angel. His voice is like buttah.
5) Creed, Greatest Hits. Enough said.

Sometimes, they're great, sometimes, they're not. I've purchased the following:
1) Destiny's Child, Destiny Fulfilled. This is an awful album, across the board. Only four songs are worth listening to: Lose My Breath, Soldier, Girl, and I'm Through With Love. The other tracks are the blandest R&B, which is a shame. DC used to be innovative and fun; this album is tasteless and dull. To complicate matters, Michelle compromises her faith BIGTIME with smutty photographs in the booklet, and singing some of the most horrifyingly sexual lyrics DC has ever produced. Awful, terrible, God-forbidden music. Do not get this album.

2) Music from Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. This would be a charming collection if based solely on Julie Delpy's waltzy, syrupy love song sung to Ethan Hawke in Before Sunset. It doesn't sound like her movie rendition, though, and the studio gloss kills whatever earnestness Delpy gives her own compositions. Her voice, while unique and sensuously French, has been traumatized by the cold sterility of the studio, and as a result, the spontaneity that comes across as refreshing in the Linklater series is severely compromised. Not a bad collection, excellent for coffee out in the brisk night air, but not something I'd listen to on a daily basis.

3) Diane Warren presents Love Songs. This is a Diane Warren collection, and every saccharine-sweet Warren ballad worth its salt is on this collection, from Celine Dion's Because You Loved Me to Aerosmith's I Don't Want to Miss a Thing to long-gone Taylor Dayne's Love Will Lead You Back. You know what? It's the best collection of the year! I don't care what you say: Warren knows how to turn a lyric, and push the right buttons, and make a song speak to you from deep within. I've loved Warren's work from the minute I first heard a Warren composition (Dion's I Love You Goodbye), and this collection has most of it, including Faith Hill, Leann Rimes, and, of course, my theme song with Cathy, I Could Not Ask For More from Edwin McCain. My two complaints: 1) the McCain track doesn't have liner notes from Warren!, and 2) the compilation would have done well to include some Warren songs that weren't hits but personal favorites of hers - including Chynna Phillips' Just to Hear You Say That You Love Me and Color Me Badd's Let's Start With Forever.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The one with the deepest gratitude

This morning, I swung by Magazine Exchange at SM Megamall to ask how sales were. They told me not a single copy had moved since I delivered the copies yesterday. So, naturally, I was pretty bummed. As I got into my car, I noticed a note on my windshield wiper. It was an anonymous note, written on Republic of the Philippines Office of the President notepaper, and on it was written:

"We love U, Ganz."

I got all teary-eyed, and thanked God for the heart of that anonymous person, whoever you are. You raised me up when I needed it most.

I am so grateful for the Family of Christ. See, we know that what we're doing is for His glory, but oftentimes, the economics come in, and when we realize that we have so much to do and so many places to go to make this mission come true, we can get overwhelmed. Right now, I'm just dying to get the mag out in as many places as possible, and it still surprises me how God's family encourages me at just the right time.

So, thanks, all of you, for helping me make my dream and mission come true:

1) All you Fil-Christian bloggers. You're spreading the word online and offline. Thank you so much; I couldn't have done this without you.

2) The writers and photographers.

3) PinoyExchange.com. Nix, Mike, Ada, and the rest of the gang have been there for us since Day One. They've directed a lot of traffic our way, and I pray that more PExers will join us in our mission. Thanks, you guys, thank you so much!

4) Kitchie Nadal and Roca Cruz. Unfortunately, a huge majority of people buy magazines based on the cover model. Fortunately, Kitchie is a solid musician for Jesus. Your music blesses us so much, Kitchie; keep on singing and using that God-given talent to bring His name glory. Roca, you've been so accommodating, it humbles us.

5) Avia Performance Footwear. Honestly, these guys make fantastic shoes. Seriously. Check them out at SM.

6) All our distributors. Shepherd's Staff, Magazine Exchange, Campus Crusaders for Christ Bookstore, Filbar's (Mr. Barbasa is a really nice guy)... thank you for helping us spread the word.

7) Youth for Christ, Campus Crusaders for Christ, Youth on Fire, and J-Zone.ph. These youth groups are amazing for their love of God, their purity of heart, and their campus network. God bless their hearts!

8) The EdgeRadio.net. The first Filipino-driven 24-hour Contemporary Christian Music station on the Internet and eventually local airwaves, The Edge is truly that - music with an edge, the holy sword of Christ Jesus that'll slash through the junk that's playing on local radio. Click Perfect Pitch. They sponsored our sound system during the Kitchie Nadal set of our launch. Please give them a visit and check out the amazing stuff they've got on sale for their Christmas Bonanza promo.

This list is bound to grow, so thank you for your support! God bless you!