Sunday, March 24, 2019

Part 1: My First Jornada Mundial de la Juventud (JMJ) Experience Panama 2019

WOW. It has been so long since I last updated this blog. I admit to have lost the 'interest' to write and blog about my life seeing how things had been going on with me. Been through some good and bad times, but it felt like more 'bad times' in the past year but, I digress...this post is not going to be about the reasons why have I stopped blogging but I wanted to share about one of the best and amazing experiences that I've encountered, which is attending the 2019 World Youth Day in Panama. There are just so many things to share about and to be honest, I have not really digested everything that has happened during the whole event. But I definitely do not want to delay this post any longer seeing that it is soon going to be two months since I left Panama. I will try my best to share everything and using the JJJ (Joy, Jesus and Junk) method. It's going to be a long post so do prepare your snacks before you dive into reading this post :)

The Beginning

3 years ago the World Youth Day (WYD) was held in Krakow, Poland and I missed the opportunity to attend the event because during that time I was in my final semester of my MA studies and since WYD was held during the summer season and the deadline for my finals was in August, I couldn't risk myself to take a break for 2 weeks and then come back with limited time to finish my finals. I know my friend encouraged me strongly to attend WYD because he knows I needed 'spiritual healing' because of all my anxieties and mental health issues wasn't my call to go yet and instead I promised myself to go to the next World Youth Day. This time around, I must say 'yes' without hesitation but little did I know, although I've said yes, deep down in my heart I was already feeling all kind of worries and wondering if my decision was right. 

I am sure if you've been reading this blog long enough, you would know how bad I am in dealing with my insecurities and anxieties right? Also how I am not always keen in taking the risks in any situation so, saying 'YES' to God and 'to go forth' with this WYD mission was quite a challenge for me. So I ended up convincing myself to just have faith in God, leave it up to Him and all things will be A-OK. 

But boy, little did I know how much of my faith was tested throughout this entire World Youth Day event and some of the outcomes was just not good. Well, what is a 'pilgrimage journey' if it doesn't come with challenges right?  More on this later.

Preparation and Formations

From April to November 2018, we the pilgrims representing KL started our monthly formations in order to prepare ourselves mentally, physically and most importantly, spiritually for WYD. The formations were catered based on the 2019 WYD theme which is based on the Bible verse of Luke 1:38. "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done according to your Word." This was a powerful verse during the Annunciation of Mary where the angel Gabriel came to visit Mary and told her that she will conceive and bear a son. Mary, without hesitation affirmed and said yes to God. Mother Mary was the main dominant figure for the whole WYD event hence, during our formations we got to deepen our understanding on Mother Mary. 

This formation was also time where we started to build new friendships among each other as we are going on this journey together. I wouldn't say that I actually made instant friends with everyone because I attended the formation all by myself and we went all the way to Raub. I tried my best to get out of my introvert self and talk to the pilgrims. It was actually alright but I was still very quiet most of the time haha. The second formation was held in ASAYO KL and it was quite disastrous for me because we were given a task to go around KL city and talk to strangers. I did not managed to do so and when I shared about this experience, I bursted out in tears. Oh gosh, thinking about it now made feel like why on earth am I being so hard on myself? 

Anyway, like I was one of the many tests that I have to go through. The formations actually helped me a lot especially to re-focus my mission and purpose to attend WYD. We only get to meet once a month but it helped me to clear my thoughts, not thinking about work or my worries for once and focus on praying and be present in the community. I did enjoyed all the out-of-KL formations because I hardly get the chance to travel around the other side of Peninsula Malaysia so being able to go to these places were nice and not forgetting the Catholic communities that welcomed us with open hands. When we were in Raub, we celebrated the Feast of Annunciation of Mary. It was a big celebration for the Catholic community here and although community is small, everyone came and helped to make the feast a success.  It is their sincerity to lend a helping hand that I admire the most about them. The formation ended in November and then we had only a month left to do our final preparation before heading to Panama in January. 

If there was one thing I wished I had more time to prepare, it was reading and doing more research about Panama. I mean I even bought the Lonely Planet book about Panama but only managed to fully read through about Panama city about 2 months before flying. Also I wished that I spent more time to learn Spanish because it was a challenge to communicate with Panamanians as their English is limited too. Thank God for Google Translate and Google Maps for making our lives a lot more easier.  But still, I wished I got to know more about Panama better.

My JJJ Experience in WYD Panama

Cinta Costera (Campo Santa La Antigua). Taken with: Fujilfim disposable film camera.
This is where all the main events were held during WYD.

JMJ pilgrims attending the welcoming mass for Papa Francesco in Cinta Costera.
Taken with: Fujilfim disposable film camera.

Joy Moment
There are a lot of joy moments during this World Youth Day. Being a first time participant and to be able to be in Panama has already given me joy because come to think about it, if I were to travel to the America continent, would I consider Panama as one of the countries to visit? I guess we sometimes get so influenced by watching movies or listening to music that we generally will only think of going to either North or South America but, it never cross our minds to make a visit to Central America instead. Panama was definitely a whole new and eye opening experience for me. Everywhere around the Panama city, there are banners, posters, billboards on WYD to welcome all pilgrims and most importantly, how much effort the Panamanians did to make the entire city hospitable to all of us. There are so many posters and banners with Papa Francisco's face almost every corner of the buildings and you can definitely tell how happy and joyful the Panamanians are in looking forward to meet him. Because Panama is a Catholic country, it was really a beautiful thing to see how everyone are sharing the same faith freely and openly. I mean, to profess my Catholic faith freely and openly in Malaysia sometimes can come with circumstances seeing that Islam is the official religion here.

The first day of WYD and the opening mass in Cinta Costera (Campo Santa Maria La Antiqua) was also a very beautiful experience for me because it was my first time EVER to be in the same place with thousands of people from around the world. Some from Panama's neighbouring countries that I wasn't so familiar with like Nicaragua and El Salvador. It felt so surreal but it did put a smile on my face to know that we've come from different walks of life, sharing the same faith to walk with Jesus. Each one of us might be carrying the burden from our crosses, from the hardships in our lives or currently going through hurt and pain but what is wonderful was our call to say 'yes' and to take this pilgrimage trip as part of our spiritual healing. Well, at least that's what I like to think of it like that. When the first day of WYD has ended, I felt like the Holy Spirit has inflamed in us and we were ready go and walk through this pilgrimage until the end.

Jesus Moment
One of the important things that we were asked to do during this event was to attend catechesis every morning and also the daily mass before going to all the other events in the city. All the catechesis sessions that I attended was held in our Parish Church, Iglesia Nuestra Senora Del Perpetuo Socorro ( Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help). The Church took care of us the Malaysian pilgrims, Ghana, India, USA, Myanmar and Canada. I can resonate with a lot of the sharing during the catechesis sessions and it definitely serves as a daily reminder to me on how all the challenges that I am facing can be triumphed if I can fully put my trust and faith in God's plan.

The first catechesis session that I attended was by the Archbishop of Melbourne ( can't remember his name) talked about the reading from Samuel 3:1, where the Lord was calling Samuel while he was resting. He mentioned how in our busyness of life, hearing the word of God can be difficult as there are so many voices that is trying to grab our attention. But we can listen to the voice of God calling us in the stillness of silence as God is always gentle in calling our name. The Archbishop also said that in order to teach, you cannot use a baseball bat but instead, teach gently so that we are able to listen God's calling properly just as Eli told Samuel "Speak Lord, your servant is listening." Another good point mentioned by the Archbishop was on how do we practice discernment? He said one of the important question to ask yourself while you discern is: What brings you peace in your heart? This brings back to the main point of this session because in order to discern, we will need God's voice to guide us as well.

I managed to attend the Fiat Festival 2019 organised by FOCUS, USCCB and the Panamanian Knights of the Columbus with a bunch of my KL pilgrim friends (thank you Ivan for bringing us there). This event is specially organised for the English-speaking pilgrims and  most of the pilgrims who attended this festival were from North America, Australia and other English speaking countries. We only arrived in the evening so we did not get the chance to listen to the morning and afternoon sessions. But what was important was we were able to experience the encounter of God during the Holy Eucharistic of Adoration that evening. I cannot help but had tears in my eyes as I was praying and constantly asked God to give me the strength and patience because upon arriving to Figali Convention Center (where the Fiat festival was being held), I made a HUGE deal about not being able to see Pope Francis on his arrival day. But more on that in the part 2. Anyway, yes the presence of God and the Holy Spirit was strongly felt that the entire convention centre became quiet as soon as the Eucharistic of Adoration started. Again, I am in awe to see each and everyone of us who comes from different parts of the world are able to embrace this beautiful moment of silence and have our own one on one personal encounter with the Lord.

After the Adoration, it was Bishop Robert Barron's turn to share his homily. I knew about Bishop Barron through my friend Ivan but I don't really follow any of his updates through social media because I mostly only read more news about Pope Francis (don't judge me lol). But Bishop Barron is actually very famous amongst the Catholic youths and his media organisation, Word on Fire is a great platform to understand more about Catholicism since it is very active in the social media world. Well what do you know, Bishop Barron's homily was actually one of my favourites in this WYD event. One of the things that struck me was when he talked about 'The Invasion Grace', explaining to us on how God enters our lives without being asked. God can give us His grace anytime but whether we want or be willing to accept is something that we should consider about. Bishop Barron uses Simon Peter as the example for his sharing telling us in the gospel of Luke 5:1-11 where Jesus told Simon Peter to lower his fishing net and Simon Peter followed his command immediately and ended up catching a lot of fishes in the sea. What we can learn about this is, Jesus wants to command in every aspect of our lives and just like Simon Peter, we should let Him in to the boat. Say yes to His grace, follow Him into the depths and you will see the light.

I felt like all the catechesis sessions are all inter-related, telling the pilgrims a very straightforward message. Just like the last catechesis that I attended, it was a sharing by Cardinal Blase Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago. Didn't knew he holds an important position to Pope Francis! I liked his final message to us which was: "Keep walking, never fear. Don't try to bottle the evil, but allow God's love to be in our heart."  Again, another good daily reminder as we go through this entire WYD journey. We may be afraid on what might comes but with the power of Christ, His grace is definitely more powerful.

//End of Part 1. Part 2 coming soon!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

World Cup 2018

Thought I'll drop by just to do a little update before all the memories from my brain is gone lol. This month is the WORLD CUP month yassss. Can't believe another 4 years has gone and it is time for another round of the most anticipated football event. I have been watching a couple of group matches since it started 2 weeks ago and so far it has been quite interesting, especially last night's match between South Korea vs Germany because it was such an unexpected match and not forgetting surprising too since South Korea managed to defeat Germany, the 2014 World cup champions into proceeding to the Top 16 round. Towards the 90th minute of the game, I thought both teams won't have the chance to score a goal anymore but lo and behold, South Korea's determination proved that they can defeat the champions. I mentioned before that I used to not be a fan of South Korea team back in World Cup 2002 because they defeated Italy and made it into the quarter finals. Yes, the young and dumb m at that time thought everything revolved around team Italy only and I did not even try to give an Asian country a try. Anyway long story short, I'm sure they did the country proud last night and even though they did not make it to the Top 16,  they've already made history with their victory (just had to rhyme it lol)

 I look forward for the Top 16 round in the hopes that if Portugal wins against Uruguay and Argentina wins against France, then these two countries might be able to meet for the quarter finals. It's gonna be the clash of the G.O.A.T.S and that is going to be very very interesting๐Ÿ˜ฑOn the first week of World Cup, my girlfriends came over to KL for a short trip since it was Raya/school holidays for them as well. We managed to watch a couple of matches and also placed our bets on our chosen teams. I only managed to win once and basically just lost on the rest of my bets haha. On the second day of World Cup, we wanted to watch the match between Argentina and Iceland while we were down in KL and it was so apt that we ended up watching the match in this Latin American restaurant, La Boga in Pavilion KL. Always wanted to go to that restaurant to try out the food but never got the chance to. I am all for the nachos, guac and churros! I think the owner of the restaurant is Argentinean because of all the South America flags that was on display, Argentina was the most dominant one in the restaurant. The match was very enjoyable to watch and I was very impressed by Iceland's defending skills and also the goalie even managed to save a penalty kick from Messi...I was quite stunned by that haha.

I had a really good time with my girlfriends when they were down here although it was just for a couple of days, I felt like I have not been truly enjoyed myself for the past couple of months. This is what happen when your anxiety attacks you so bad that you ended up feeling hurt and sad all the time *sigh* But still thankful for having people that I love who is still going to stick around with me through thick and thin. Hopefully when the next World Cup arrives, we will still be able to hang out and watch it together again....but I don't even want to think how old we'll be in year 2021 ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ
Eve and I just HAD to take a photo with CR7 because he scored a hat-trick against Spain the night before haha.
La Boga restaurant in Pavilion, KL. See that Argentina flag?

With my girlfriends aka childhood friends. 

After Vel, Simone and Eve went back to KK, I made plans with Ruth to continue watching the some of the matches after work. Fun fact: I've known Ruth since we were 9 years old! We lost contact for a couple of years after high school but got reunited again. We were taken care of by the nuns in the Catholic Convent after school since both our parents were working so that was how our friendship grew lol. She was the one who introduced me to the Disney cartoon 'Bambi' haha.

Some World Cup thoughts:
  • Watching Cristiano Ronaldo played football for years, sometimes I still think that he still acts like a little kid whenever he fell down on the field hahaha. I mean don't get me wrong, but kinda whines like a kid. But contrary to that, he is indeed a good player and I truly admire his determination to always want to win. Love him or hate him, I'd still give my support to him. 
  • Seeing that Italy did not qualify in this year's World Cup, I will be rooting for Portugal to the finals but I also am hoping that this year's World Cup Champion will be from a country that has never won a World Cup before. 
  • I kinda like Messi with beard? Somehow he looks like Adam Levine in some sort of way haha.
  • Iceland players are so damn tall and manly. Love the 'Vikings' vibe on them haha. This team is definitely an underdog team that I will root for.
  • Nigeria's World Cup 2018 kit design is so nice, I love it and probably the best WC kit design this year.
  • I'm trying to get to know all these young England players as I only knew some of them who are playing for MUFC. But these young players are pretty impressive so far. MAYBE they could be in the finals?
  • There are more than 15 penalties being awarded already, I am starting to think whether is this the World Cup or Penalty Cup? 
  • That VAR system thing is so high-tech...very amazed by that!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Lunar New Year 2018 Pt. 2 & VLOG

I thought I should finish updating on the Chinese New Year celebration before it's too late...I mean CNY is officially over and it is almost mid-March now. Seriously, can the time just take a chill pill for a while and not move this fast? Anyway, as I've mentioned in the previous post I went to Tawau for CNY this year with my mum on the 2nd day until the 4th day of CNY. Indeed, it was a short but I do feel like it was a pretty good trip. Part of my childhood was spent in Tawau especially during CNY so it will always hold a special memory to me although a lot of things have changed now. Seeing how my nieces and nephews have grown up reminds me that I am obviously not young anymore haha. Still, it is nice to be able to meet up with the relatives again after so long. 

Before I came back to Sabah, I told my mum over the phone that I am worried if the relatives will ask me the dreaded question: 'When are you getting married?' But it turns out it, my very own mother was the one who asked me that question a few days after we are back from Tawau ๐Ÿ˜…

The first night when we arrived Tawau, my ่กจๅ“ฅ brought my mum and I for a small family dinner at a Malay seafood restaurant nearby the hotel that my mum and I are staying. Food was alright, I mean of course I would still prefer good authentic Chinese food but as you know, a lot of Chinese restaurants are booked during this festive season. I don't get the chance to eat seafood very often so this was already a privilege for me to be able to eat it free of charge ๐Ÿ˜‚So thank you Biao Ge and family. 

Also met up with this niece of mine...I think the last time I saw her was back in 2011 when we celebrated CNY in Kundasang. Always nice to have a relative that is very easy to talk with.

Photo taken from her FB.
After dinner,  Ivan brought me to experience the nightlife in Tawau which is pretty much similar with the nightlife in Penampang. I know both of us hang out a lot in Subang and see each other almost every week but I guess the feeling is different when I hang out with him in his hometown? Anyway, we went to a karaoke pub called Maze and it is definitely a place where you can showcase your singing talent or maybe if you've been longing to let people hear your voice, it is a good place to do so haha. Obviously Ivan is way better in singing than me so I was there just to support and to see him shine with his voice in the pub. Although this kind place is really not my scene, I mean I hardly even go to karaoke pubs in KK as well but, it is always good to have a friend who is willing to take time to spend it with you and even bring you around. I appreciate that.

The next day, I attended Sunday Mass with my mum in Holy Trinity Catholic Church. I've been to Holy Trinity about 3 times I think and it is the only Catholic Church that I know in Tawau. My parents actually got married in this Church and my brother was baptised in this Church too so I'm sure it holds good memory especially to my mum. After Mass, we continued our round of visiting relatives. By noon I was already feeling doozy so we went back to the hotel and had a nap. During this entire trip, I was experiencing a bad backache like seriously, the pain can be so unbearable at times. I got so worried about it that I was already making plans to go and see a chiropractor when I am back to KL. But thankfully, I don't feel the pain anymore as of now so I guess I must've pulled a muscle or something when I was working out in the gym few days before CNY.

Mum and I at Holy Trinity Church.

My uncle invited us over to his house for a simple home cooked dinner at night and then Ivan came over to pick me up and off we go for another another karaoke pub session ๐Ÿ˜œ So there was actually a fight in the karaoke pub that night...I was quite startled when I saw it happened but of course I am in no position to say anything about it, just that sometimes these kind of things tend to happen between friends. Anyway, that was how I spent my last night in Tawau. My mum and I flew back to KK the following day, taking the last night flight also, my first time flying with MAS Wings. Oh, I just have to mention about this cafe in Tawau called Indo Cafe. They serve really good mango sago, I love it! Not forgetting pisang goreng cheese as well. Glad that my uncle brought us to try it out for tea time.

Dinner at my uncle's house.

Pisang Goreng Cheese & Mango Sago at Indo Cafe II.

Back home in Penampang, I stayed at home for the first couple of days since my cousins and bffs are working so I can't really meet them expect at night or during the weekend. I did managed to catch The Black Panther with my brother on Chor 8 in Suria Sabah. I would give the movie 8/10 because I honestly liked it haha. #WakandaForever and...also managed to have k-food dinner with Simone and Sono on the same day. Simone has been wanting to bring me to this Korean restaurant in Market 88 and we finally made the time to do so. Apparently, the restaurant's owner son looks like Tablo of Epik High and I can honestly say, yes he does lol.

Managed to also spend my weekend having breakfast with my cousins and also my adorable nieces. Not forgetting making a visit to Oliver and Anne's soon to be new home in Sarapung. Really happy for them for finally have a place they could call their own and I look forward to visit again once the house is fully done. Then, it was already time to fly back to KL and with that, my CNY holiday has come to an end. As always, being back home is great. I will always love the chill and relaxing vibe in the kampung. I love how I get to always eat good home-cooked food at home and I love to spend time with the people that I am very close with here. But over the years, I personally felt like I don't feel homesick that much anymore? Like I am okay to be away for a longer period of time than always planning my trip to go back home. I don't know if it is a good thing or feel a sense of detachment? I think it's the fact that I am so used to be by myself here and also the fact that I have more freedom here to do whatever I want so...thinking about home is not always a priority? I don't know man...but that's life to you. Things change, people change, feelings change...

In Tanjung Aru.
4/6 of Half a Dozen Craze.

Anyway, I just want to say thank you to my family, cousins and bffs for spending time with me during the CNY break. Not really sure when I am coming back home again...I'm looking in August but I'm not sure if I can and going back for Christmas this year might not be happening to. Currently working towards #PANAMA2019. More on that in the coming post. So that is how my CNY holiday break went. I'm including a vlog that I made so you can actually see a glimpse of what I've been doing back home. I am definitely not a youtuber/vlogger but I actually like editing videos and I do want to learn how to edit videos properly as an additional creative skill :) Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Lunar New Year 2018

I guess I owe this blog a HUGE explanation on my really long absent from the blogsphere. I know, it's been too long since I last updated anything here and...I don't even know how to even start in explaining my reasons haha. But so you know, 2017 hasn't been the best year for me. In fact, it has been really hard, challenging and emotional. I've had my fair of ups and downs over the years but I've been experiencing more downs (I mean A LOT) than ever before. But thank God, I survived and seeing now that it is already a brand new year, I guess it is also time to start it off with a new slate? Oh gosh, I don't even know if 2018 will be better but, let's not lose faith and hope after all it is still too early to tell. I will definitely and slowly try to update more, will try to explain my reasons for disappearing and will try to get this blog back to normal again, although I can't promise anything! But I really do miss writing my thoughts and posting random stuff here so...I will try *crosses fingers*

Anyway, Happy Chinese New Year! It is the 5th Day of CNY and I am currently back in Kota Kinabalu. I was in Tawau with my mum on the 2nd until the 4th Day of CNY, just visiting relatives and getting angpows lol.  The last time I was in Tawau was 5 years ago and it actually felt good to be back again although there's nothing much to do over there to be honest. Thought I share some photos that I managed to snap when I arrived home on the 1st Day of CNY. I had a good catch up with my cousins, Audrey and Adrian in the afternoon just updating each other with what's going on with us. We stopped by Megalong Donggongon for a while and when I saw the CNY decos outside around the Datuk Peter Mojuntin's statue, I immediately had to go and take some pictures albeit the crazy scorching hot sun. Hope your CNY has been good so far. I've got a couple more days to stay in KK before I am back to work next week.

This area of Donggongon Town is very sentimental to me cos it brought tons of memories especially during my high school days. Used to hang around this area after sports practice or before tuition. Actually, I enjoyed the company of my friends in the tuition centre more than studying hahah because I can never be good in Maths and I've already accept the fact until today ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

Friday, November 17, 2017

Getting it together

I just had my annual appraisal with my Division Head (DH) a week ago and while there wasn't any big issues, I've been told that this year, it seems like I was on a 'sleeping mode' Meaning, the things and tasks that I have promised my DH to complete is not completed yet. The new course that I was asked to develop from scratch hasn't seen much of a light yet and there's also the revamp of the course that I am currently handling...almost complete but definitely already passed the deadline. Although there are still so many pending tasks to finish, I do think I've been quite diligent with conducting all my classes and lessons in this semester and I really try to channel myself into being a positive person to my students, just so that they won't feel discouraged with their assignments. At least, that's something that I have been doing despite being a bad procrastinator.

I do feel disappointed in myself to be honest because I really don't like not being able to complete all these important tasks but I am aware and understand that it has been a challenging year for me and because of this, it kind of makes me lose my focus. All I do most of the time is to have self-pity and dwell with my sadness to the point that I could cry for days. It is just so bad for my mental health. This also led me to look at my own friends and made me wonder how could they still keep their head up and most importantly stay in good focus even though a whole lot of shit storm just came over them? How did they overcome it? Or how can they hide their sadness so well? Is it because I have so little faith in myself? (I think so), is it because I've not prayed enough? I don't know. The hardest part to deal with myself is definitely my own emotion and it  really has been an issue that I've blogged about for so many times. Yet, I have not overcome it at all *sigh* 

Earlier this year, my best friend and I were also planning to do a calendar project which I was so keen to start since I have more time after finishing my studies. We discussed, planned and finalised our ideas but alas I had to break the news to her earlier this month and informed her that I wasn't able to complete this project in due time. Again, I was super disappointed in myself for letting people down. I even promised to revive this blog but ended up not doing it.  I just don't know what to do when I felt so disheartened by so many things this year. But I know for sure that I can't continue to be like this until the end of the year cos I would probably be more depressed when Christmas is here. So, I really need to get it together like for real. If I still can't be done dealing with my emotions, at least I have to put my focus on my work and all the important tasks that needs to be completed soon. Praying that I can do it (I know I can) and work on to better myself before the year ends. The emotional turbulence part will be another story for another day. I think it's gonna be a real long story to tell haha. Anyway, LET'S GET IT!