Moving to Philadelphia

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Many people thought I was nuts for moving to Philadelphia.

People from Philadelphia don’t understand why people move to Philadelphia. My friends and family don’t understand why I moved to Philadelphia. It just didn’t make any sense.

For the last couple of years, I was seriously considering going to medical school in the Philippines. I grew up there, my family is from there (and is still there), my high school friends are there, and life is generally good and easy under my parents’ roof. There was nothing to worry about – no rent, no car bills, no laundry. It is a very stress free environment.

When my senior year at Penn State was quickly approaching, I started thinking about the unthinkable – moving to Philadelphia where I had no job offers, no housing, no car, and no familiar community. What suddenly changed my mind, you ask?

It was the Church.

Two summers ago, I had an internship just outside Philly to fulfill credits for college. During that time, I went to Citylight Church, a gospel-preaching Church with people who are so in love with Jesus and his people.

In college, I came to understand that Christianity is not about a man trying to work his way up to heaven to earn god’s favor. No. Christianity is about a God searching for man. It was about a God who died while we were sinners and not while we were perfect. Christianity is not about being perfect but about being imperfect.

I grew up believing that good people went to heaven and bad people went to hell. When I understood Christianity, I understood that no one was “good.” Everyone has fallen short to God’s law or even to their own personal standards. Everyone deserves wrath and condemnation. But, Jesus died a substitutionary death in our place, so that whenever God the Father looks at us, He sees not our sin, but He sees Jesus’ righteousness.

The gospel means good news. This is good news because we don’t have to live in fear of thinking God will condemn us because Jesus has already taken the punishment. When I first understood this, I can’t tell you how much I felt freedom. Great and marvelous freedom.

I no longer have to perform or try very hard to be good enough, because the truth is, I never will. I will always fall short and fall into sin, but the great news is, there is one person who is good enough and who decided that He would die so that we may live. I am secure with my salvation. It’s not something I earned because of my good works, but something I was given because of Jesus’ good works. It was given to me as a gift for a high and terrible price.

I chose to move to Philadelphia because that gospel was preached every Sunday. I chose to move to Philadelphia because I knew deep in my heart that I really only wanted to become a doctor so that I could maintain the same kind of lifestyle I lived in the Philippines. I chose to move to Philadelphia so that I could be surrounded by god fearing people who were serious about following Jesus and loving people.

My heart was in turmoil when I was trying to choose between Philadelphia and the Philippines. While I was in college, the pastor’s wife told me, “Peace is when you have two choices and they both come with their own set of anxieties. In one of those two choices, you know that God’s hand is on one of them.”

Every choice we make has its own set of anxieties. The Philippines felt like the obvious choice because I knew what med school was supposed to look like, I had support from friends and family, I had no bills to worry about, no housing to worry about. Philadelphia was a big question mark to me. No job, no housing, no familiar community, but there was a tug in my heart that said everything was going to be fine because God had his hand on me.

When I made the decision, I remember not feeling panic nor regret, but peace. I had to rely on God for all of it. I had to rely on him to provide me with a job, to provide me with housing, and to provide me with a community — all of which, He was faithful in giving.

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33 ESV)

Many people tried to dissuade me from going. Many people thought that it was just a “fad” I was going through. Many people thought they knew what was best for me. They thought they knew what would make me happy. The truth is: what used to make me happy has faded in comparison to the joy that comes from knowing God. Don’t get me wrong. What used to give me joy still gives me joy, but it is nothing in comparison to knowing God.

Deep in my heart, I know that I made the right decision. I have never been happier! 😀

– P

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A Year’s Worth of Paintings

During my fall semester,  I was able to take up a painting class, which enabled me to set 3 hours aside every Tuesday and Thursday to paint whatever and whomever. Most of my paintings were made then, some were made last summer, and others were created as gifts to people.

This post displays the paintings I’ve done for the past year, most of which were done in acrylic.

 

 

Hope you enjoyed it!
– P

My Struggle With Christianity

I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite some time now, but I always get scared about showing my weaknesses and my insecurities online… especially when it comes to my faith. Don’t we all? No one likes being vulnerable. To be honest, I am usually quite wary about posting anything Christian related. Today though, I want to be completely real.

Ever since I left the Philippines to go to Penn State for my college years, my faith got stronger. Weird, right? I went to Penn State, a public secular university, believing that I would lose sight of God and get involved in the party scene. I was afraid to leave the Philippines, a country that is dominantly Catholic where I went to a Catholic school and where I regularly attended Sunday Masses. I honestly thought I would distance myself from God by leaving, but boy was I wrong.

Penn State was the last place I thought I’d find God, and it was there where He found me. I found truth, grace, and love. I was hungry for righteousness and thirsty for spiritual milk. I wanted to learn anything and everything there was to learn about the man and God who was dangerous, unpredictable, radical, and amazing. My fellowship helped me a great deal in this as they fed me the gospel and left me wanting for more of Jesus. I’ve heard the same stories I’ve heard of in the past, but this time they made sense to me. They clicked. Bible studies and Wednesday worship nights blew my mind every week. I felt as though a veil was removed from my eyes. There was so much to this guy named Jesus. So much. He became my passion, and it got to the point where there was nothing I could talk about but Jesus. It was amazing.

I wish I could stay like that forever, but like all things, circumstances change. My walk has been fluctuating ever since. Whenever I go back to the Philippines, I find it harder to remain as faithful as I was when I was around my fellowship. It’s simply easier to be surrounded by other Christians who were so genuine in their faith. I was always so encouraged by them and the weekly meets and the accountability partnerships. Christians though, are not supposed to stay together. Francis Chan, an awesome pastor, once said that Christians are just like poop (yes, poop).

Put them together and they stink, spread them out and things will grow.

It was a great analogy. I’ve been finding it difficult, however, to be far from my fellowship. I feel far from God. I think somewhere along the way, I built my foundation on my fellowship and not on God… and I need to fix that. I don’t want to fall back to my old pattern, the pattern I walked on before I knew Jesus. I’m scared.


The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2)

Everything I’ve written above the Psalm was written 10 months ago. It was unfinished because I didn’t know how to end it. There was so much fear, so much temptation to return to the old way of life. The temptations now have not changed, but the fear, however, waned as my faith grew stronger. When we are in the middle of the desert, all we want to do is leave…is to give up. We never wonder or think that it is maybe in the desert where God wants us.

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. (Hosea 2:14)

Suffering has a great way of refining us and turning us more like Christ. Like Jesus, we trudge on and continue to rely on God. Jesus Christ was probably the most dependent man on earth. He trusted God. He was always in communion with His Father… in spite of the pain and suffering and in spite of how busy He was (Can you imagine his schedule of teaching and healing?). Therefore I encourage anyone who’s in a dry season, to stay in the Word. More often than not, God wants to reveal something to us… an idol maybe? Our pride? Whatever it is, God wants us to keep pressing in. Ask for more faith. Ask for more encounters with Him. Ask Him to reveal your sin… Don’t stop praying. That’s the last thing He wants. Just because you mess up, doesn’t mean you have to fix yourself before coming back to Him. He wants you as you are. Real, authentic, and messy.

Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Joel 2:13)

Ten months ago, I idolized my fellowship… so when it was uprooted or removed from me, I was helpless and weak in my faith. My circumstances with the fellowship determined my walk with the Lord, but can’t you see how unstable that is? Once it was taken away, I began to fall apart. This is what happens when our idols are removed.

We are all enslaved by something…money, fame, and power are a few of the big ones. And when we put our security in something so uncertain, it will disappoint us in the long run when it is taken away.

God meets us in places where we least expect Him to show up. If you’re thinking God’s not present because of your present suffering, try looking at the bigger picture. God is weaving your story to create you and shape you to become the perfect child that He created you to be. He hates suffering, but He allows it. He turns it and makes good things come out of it. Resist temptation and be strong and you’ll find yourself stronger and wiser in the end. C.S. Lewis once touched on this in Mere Christianity when he said:

No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.

Build your faith and your foundation on a solid rock and not on sinking sand. Fix your eyes on Jesus and run the race. Let’s do this together!

– P

Weekend at Coron, Palawan

Before starting my internship, I spent two weeks in the Philippines. On my last weekend, we flew to Coron, Palawan (an island in the Philippines) to enjoy the beach. We were welcomed with the beat of the drums, and everything after that was pretty much history. We went island hopping, snorkeling, swimming, eating… It’s been such a long time since I’ve been to the beach! Here are some photos I took during the trip.

It was so easy to take pictures because everything was just so beautiful! Hope you all have a fantastic summer! Oh and happy father’s day!

– P

The Internship

My very own office. I’m a little bit spoiled! 🙂

I arrived exactly two weeks ago. Arrive where exactly? Glenside, Pennsylvania, a small town 40 minutes away  (Google Maps is my new best friend) from Philadelphia’s exciting Center City. In order for me to graduate in my majors Health Policy and Administration and Psychology, I have to complete a 400-hour internship in a health care facility. After the spring semester ended, I flew back to the Philippines and stayed there for 2 weeks before flying back to the US.

Confession: I’ve never stayed in the US during the summer break.

Last semester, I applied to internships in Pittsburgh, State College, and Philadelphia. I was able to get interviews in State College and Philly, and fortunately, I landed on the hospital that I wanted. To be honest, I am not exactly sure if I’m allowed to mention the hospital’s name, so I’ll leave it out of this blog. Mostly, I just want to talk about my transition to my new environment.

Moving to a new place is scary. It kind of reminds me of college where I was new to the place, people, and culture. Here, I am new to SEPTA (the public transportation), new to the internship, new to the Church, new to my living situation, (and just like in college) new to the place, people, culture, and pretty much everything. It is uncomfortable to be unfamiliar with so much. I’m actually just starting to trust the bus system, and that the bus would actually come and not make me feel like an idiot. My stress level has finally died down low enough that I’m able to write this post.

The first two weeks, in spite of the stress, was not that bad. In fact, they were actually really really good, and a big part of that is because of the people. What makes a place a place, for me, is the people. And I was surrounded by great people.

I am living with a missionary couple who live only a couple of minutes away from the hospital. They are the sweetest and kindest people you could ever meet. Other than being amazingly hospitable, they are helpful, and so full of wisdom. I am truly blessed to spend the summer with them. I’ve received so much encouragement and love by being around them. One of my roommates in college also lives 35 minutes away from me, and so I could easily spend the weekend with her if I wanted to. Last Saturday, Luisa and I went to yard sales, ate at chipotle, took photos at the lake, watched Barcelona win, and played soccer and basketball all in one day! It was pretty crazy, but I loved every moment. On Sunday, I was able to spend the early afternoon with my boyfriend, Walter, where we walked around and explored the city a little bit. Oh and don’t get me started on the people at work. The reason why I chose to work at this hospital was because of the people.  The people at the office are incredibly friendly. Although my internship is non-paid, they are setting me up so that I can get the full experience of the job and be exposed to whatever interests me.

However, with new experiences come new frustrations. An hour ago, I came back drenched from the rain. I commute to work everyday via bus and train rain or shine. Two Sundays ago, I was frustrated because the train station I went to was closed, and so I had to walk a couple of miles to the next station to get tickets when it was incredibly hot and humid outside (and I was also hungry).

At this internship, I am hoping that I will be able to figure out my life. I will be exposed to the clinical and administrative side of the health care industry, and I will get a better gauge as to what occurs on a regular work day. I’ve only been working for a week and a half and already I feel like I’ve learned SO much. I also can’t believe that work requires you to sit down at your desk for a good portion of the day. I am so not used to it. Is this what everyday is going to look like for the rest of my life? Lol.

Wish me luck!

– P

Pencil to Trackpad Art – Walter

One of the best things about a semester ending is that I get free time to draw and play around with Pixelmator (graphic editor for Mac OS X). Now, I haven’t done much art since my elephant painting because I had more workload this spring semester compared to any semester I’ve had in college. Praise God though because I also performed my best this semester!

Anyway, enough about school. I decided to draw Walter! He’s a guy I’ve been dating for 2 months now. He’s pretty great! We first met in our church group at Penn State where he lied to me about his year. I’ll never forget. Lol. Liar liar pants on fire. All kidding aside, he’s definitely been a real blessing to me in the past couple of months. One night, I had to pull an all nighter and he surprised me with a delivery of two boxes of Insomnia Cookies…and this was before we started dating. From that moment on, I knew that he was a keeper. He’s real sweet and a little bit crazy, but I like him. Haha!

For this art work, I intended to draw and paint Walter using watercolor paint. As a watercolor newbie, I knew that my chances of messing up was pretty up there. I didn’t want my work to go to waste, however, so I took some pictures of my pencil drawing through my iPhone so I could salvage what I can and work on it somewhere else. Here’s what happened:

You could see how rusty I was in drawing.
Yay for improvements!

I was not pleased with the watercolor results, so I took my iPhone photos and worked on them with Pixelmator. All of the editing was accomplished through the use of my laptop’s trackpad accompanied by fierce concentration.

Hope you liked it!

– P

Shooting a Music Video in Tokyo

I know, I know. I haven’t posted in forever. It would have been impossible for me to post during the last week of December and the first week of January because of Christmas and the New Year. Celebration after celebration. Isn’t it great? Haha! Now this post is long overdue, but I still want to publish it because it’s one of a kind.

Last New Year my family went to Tokyo, Japan to celebrate the New Year! We loved it so much that we decided to go back there again to celebrate this New Year 2015. Before getting on the plane, my sisters and I decided to create a family music video for the trip. Why? We’ve thrown this idea around for a while, but we never had the opportunity or time to do it. This mini vacation, however, was the perfect time. We chose the song Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars.

The moment we landed in Tokyo, we started taking videos. Everyday for a week, we would go to a different place, take videos, eat food, and enjoy! I had SO much fun putting this video together. It took me hours to edit the video on iMovie, but I barely noticed time go by because I was having too much fun laughing at our silly selves.

Here’s the video:

I hope you enjoyed it! We definitely did. It’s nice to have memories compiled in a video instead of an album for once.

– P

Elephant Painting

During my thanksgiving break, I had a day to myself where I just painted to my heart’s content. I haven’t touched a paintbrush in months! School’s kept me so busy it’s crazy. I was very happy when I dedicated that one day of my break to Spotify and paint.

For this painting, I used acrylic paint on a 9 x 12 canvas. I was mostly inspired by a friend’s Instagram post of this one elephant. Here are photos of my work in progress:

…and the final product!

Hope you liked it!

– P

7 Things – 0814

Here is a list of 7 things that inspired me or put a smile on my face in the last two weeks.

  1. Alexa Meade – Her work is amazing. Alexa Meade is an artist who turns real people into works of art. She paints her living subjects and makes them go through photo shoots where they will end up with photos that will make you believe that the people are merely but paintings.
  2. Baby Yulo Cheesecake & Strawberry Shortcake – I cannot stress how happy I felt when I ate the Cheesecake (Php 1,200) and the Strawberry Shortcake (Php 1,500). Le gâteau est parfait! It was not too sweet. It was light, and it was fluffy. The cakes are homemade in Makati, Philippines. You have to call to make your order, and you have to drive to her house to get the cakes.

    Address: Pick-up is at 19 Kalayaan St., North Forbes, Makati City.
    Contact Numbers: 810-8078, 812-4961

  3. Soundtrack of Guardians of the Galaxy – After watching the movie, my sisters and I went on Spotify and started listening to the 70’s soundtrack of the mix tapes. Get your groove on. 
  4. Avery Loafer by Sperry Topsider – This pair is just gorgeous. I never owned loafers before, and after setting eyes on this one, I just couldn’t resist. Imagine all the outfits you could wear!
  5. Alunsina Handbound Books – My boyfriend, Jared, got me a beautiful hand bound book with my name engraved on it. For the book, Alunsina used cowhide leather, buckles, ivory paper, and stitching styles that are sure to make bibliophiles swoon. After taking my bookbinding class, I have found an appreciation for hand bound books. I just love how a person can put so much love and care into creating a journal that can hold one’s travels, memories, drawings, dreams, and hopes. It makes it all the more special. 
  6. Typography of Noel Shively – This guy combines pictures and letters to create inspirational prints. I follow his blog and his Instagram, and it is just uplifting to see his posts every now and then. I always find encouragement, hope, inspiration, and challenges in them. 
  7. Emma Watson’s Protest – Emma Watson made me smile when she took a picture of herself laughing out on the street right after the Turkish politician said that women should not laugh in public. Go Emma and to all those women who laughed their faces off in public!

What inspired you? What made you smile?

– P

Dad’s Birthday Dinner at Casa Roces

Three years ago, a house owned by the Roces family turned into a restaurant. The house was built around 1941 and it can be found near the Malacañan Palace, the president’s residence. My dad heard about the place from a friend and wanted to try out their Spanish-Filipino cuisine for his birthday. We left the restaurant with happy bellies.

While waiting for the food, the staff gave my family a tour around the house. They turned bedrooms into function rooms where people could host meetings or even propose marriages. They also showcased paintings that were up for sale. One painting hanging up there was by Juan Luna, an artist famous for his painting, Spolarium.

Then the best part came: FOOD! Let the pictures do the talking!


Happy Birthday Daddy! Thanks for always believing in me and for supporting me in whatever I’m doing whether it’s in painting, playing tennis, photography, or school. You’re super awesome and I wouldn’t have you any other way!

Lots of love,

– P