It’s Not About Competition

Ping Pong games always remind me of childhood memories with my dad and siblings. More than fifteen years ago, our dad bought a net, a huge piece of plywood, Ping Pong rackets, and Ping Pong balls for the house. Even though it wasn’t the real Ping Pong table, we were still able to learn the sport thanks to Dad’s patience and skills.

Playing Ping Pong is similar to riding a bike. You still remember how to do it even after years of not playing the sport. So, although it has been a while since I last played, I said yes to the challenge of joining the tournament in our office this year.

By God’s grace, He allowed my Ping Pong partner and I to win two games and advance to the semi-finals! Honestly, this was something that I did not expect because the other participants are really good. Plus, most of them usually spend their lunch breaks playing in the office way before HR announced the tournament. During our first two games, I didn’t pressure myself to win. I did, however, practice as much as I could and have fun in the process. But, now that we’ll be competing again, I can feel the pressure!

While my partner and I were practicing against other opponents earlier today, I didn’t do very well. Almost every missed turn or mediocre service that I did, my partner corrected me. Haha! At first, I thought, “Boy, is he competitive!” But, what struck me about his comments was this statement: “Palu-in mo nang malakas para hindi ko na ibabalik sa kanila.” To my foreigner friends, he simply emphasized the need for me to hit a hard and fast ball so that our opponents wouldn’t be able to return it to our side.

It took a while before it sank in me. After practicing and playing during the first two games, I realized that I was just playing it safe. I didn’t risk by hitting the ball as hard as I could. My only goal was to bring it to the other side. But, what my partner said was exactly what I needed to hear. As a team, we need to help each other out and make things easier for each other. Oftentimes, I would return a high ball and our opponent would easily smash it towards our side, making it hard for my partner to return the ball.

Just before I went home today, I had a quick chat with another participant who was staying at the pantry. I joked about how intense the competition was especially for me since I was feeling the pressure from my competitive partner. But, once again, I was humbled by the response of another colleague. She said that my partner’s competitive spirit and comments during our practices are helpful in developing skills. She pointed out that I improved in returning long and low throws compared to how I played a year ago.

She also said that since every hit was 50/50 for me, why not hit it hard, especially if I receive high throws? She gently rebuked me and said that I needed to let go of pressure or hesitation and just practice hitting hard as I aim. She also ended by saying: “Even though I hit the ball hard and it goes outside, I still continue practicing hitting hard the next time. We don’t always get them inside the court, but this is how we’ll grow.”

Wow. All I could say was “Wow!”. As I drove home, it hit me. It isn’t about competition, it’s about constant growth.
It doesnt matter who’s ahead or who’s number one. What matters is that I’m maximizing what I have now in order for me to keep on growing and learning.

In less than two days, we’ll be competiting again. But, this time, I’ll be having a new perspective in my mind and heart. No matter what happens, I will still be very grateful, not only because of the victories we’ve experienced, by God’s grace. But also, because of my colleagues who selflessly coach and help me to grow.

The Lost Boy at Mercury Drugstore

I passed by Mercury drugstore last night to buy some medicine again and I saw the same cashier lady from last week. As soon as I walked over, she gave me a second look and smiled. I then softly laughed and said: “No one’s lost, so far?”. She smiled and replied, “No one.”

Exactly a week ago, we encountered a lost boy inside the same Mercury drugstore.

On my way home last Friday night, I was only supposed to buy things from a hypermarket nearby. But somehow, I felt a strong nudge in my heart to drop by Mercury drugstore (a few blocks away) to buy medicine before driving to the hypermarket. As soon as I paid for the medicine at the cashier, I noticed a young boy (around 9 years old) who was crying. I overheard the cashier lady and the guard at the store talking to him and saying words like “España” and “Dapitan”. In an instant, I realized that the boy was lost!

I offered to help him find and contact his parents through Facebook because he didn’t know his phone number at home nor his specific address. For the next 20 minutes, we did our best to search and wait for the replies of his mom and aunt. But, we didn’t receive any. So, our plan B was to check if he left any contact information when he visitied one of the playstores in the area. The guard at the Mercury drugstore asked the other guard to accompany the kid back to the store. It was already around 8:30 pm.

After five minutes, I received a notification in my phone showing that the mom already accepted my message request! Yes! Immediately, I called her and she picked it up. To my surprise, in the video call, I saw her with the lost boy! They were reunited!! I traced my way towards where they were and said my goodbyes.

I also asked the mom to help the kid memorize their numbers and address so, if ever it happens again, he’ll know the way home. The mom kept on thanking me for helping his kid contact me and I knew that it was all by God’s grace. No wonder I felt the nudge to drop by Mercury drugstore blocks away first, even though there was a Watsons drugstore inside the hypermarket. No wonder I felt a strong urge to charge my phone in the car on the way home from work. I don’t usually do this, but I remember having a quick thought saying “Charge your phone now. You’ll need more battery tonight.”

Sometimes, God uses unusual and spontaneous ways to speak to us. But, if there was something that I won’t forget throughout the experience, it was learning to obey without delaying. I was in the Mercury drugstore at the exact moment that the kid was crying. I had battery and data that night which gave the kid comfort as we waited and tried to contact his mom. In the end, I was also able to talk to the mom about God’s goodness in what happened. All by God’s grace. What if, despite the nudge in my heart, I decided not to drop by Mercury drugstore that night? Then, I would have missed out on this special moment where I witnessed God’s goodness in the lives of the mother and son.

When I got home and until the next morning, the mom and I exchanged messages online to share what we experienced and to thank God together. The lost boy at the drugstore was found! I still remember feeling the joy when I saw them together! Even the cashier lady and the guard rejoiced with me that night!

I can’t help but remember how it is also the same in our walk with the Lord. We all are lost in our sins. But, God has been pursuing us ever since. Because of His unconditional love for us, He sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross and rise again to save us and give us the gift of being with Him in Heaven forever. We just need to believe and put our faith in Jesus, our personal Lord and Savior. (Eph. 2:8-9 and John 3:16)

Just like the lost boy at the drugstore, there are so many similar cases out there. And if we don’t act when God tells us to do something, we might miss out on helping them get found.

Britt Nicole said in one of her songs:

“Don’t let your lights go down
Don’t let your fire burn out
‘Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don’t you rise up now?
Don’t be afraid to stand out
That’s how the lost get found
So when you get the chance
Are you going to take it?”

 

P.S. Thank you also, Mercury Drugstore guard and cashier lady in Fun ranch, Pasig. :)

Thanks for Putting Your Phone Down, Dad!

At around 9:45 pm, I came home from a long, tiring, and interesting day. To be more specific, something happened between 7:30-9:30 pm tonight that was special to me. I’ll probably share it in a different post. But, those two hours had a huge impact on my heart and I couldn’t contain the joy and peace that I was feeling.

I entered the Master’s bedroom to greet my parents, but my mom was already asleep. My Dad, however, was still awake and was using his cellphone (I think he was playing a game). When I kissed dad, he asked me how I was and where I came from and I decided to take a deep breath as I said: “Dad, I just had a crazy and interesting night. I still can’t believe it happened.”

Sometimes, before, whenever we had the chance to talk in their room at night, he would continue to use his phone while I greeted him or while we exchanged stories. But tonight, he did something that I deeply appreciated. Dad put his phone down a few seconds after I started to share what happened to me tonight.

For the next fifteen minutes, I relayed to him the details of my night as my eyes watered. I got teary eyed not because of pain but because my heart was overwhelmed with joy and amazement at how God personally touched me in my fresh experience. As I shared, Dad eagerly listened and even affirmed what I was sharing. He continued to rejoice with me when I rejoiced and he praised God with me when I acknowledged His goodness and perfect timing. He even gave me a sincere advice to support what I just learned and shared to him.

After our talk, I walked out of the room and shouted “Thanks, Dad, for listening! Oh, and thanks for walking and feeding the dogs earlier too!”. Not only did he do the chore that I was assigned to do tonight, he also made sure to give his full attention to me, his daughter, while I shared my heart to him.

I am guilty when it comes to using my phone while I talk to other people. Sometimes, I even prefer to use my phone instead of starting conversations with friends or family members. But, tonight, I realized and saw how nice it was for my dad to be so interested in what I was sharing. He postponed what he was doing on his mobile phone, put it down on the bed, and engaged in conversation with me.

Tonight, I just want to appreciate my dad for this seemingly simple yet very impactful act of his. From a daughter’s point of view, I know that parents do have a great influence on their children. Their words, actions, thoughts, and even body language can either build them up or discourage them. This is also the same for children towards our parents.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” -Philippians‬ ‭2:3-4‬

Although I know that we are not perfect, I believe that by God’s grace, we can continue to grow in our relationships with each other. Even through the simplest ways, we can show sincere love and care for each other. By God’s grace, Dad continues to grow and improve as an intentional dad at home and I really praise the Lord for this.

Thanks again, Dad, for our quick magic moment tonight! You were the first one to know about my special experience! :)

BANGKOK TOUR: Khao San Road and Soi Rambuttri

After hours of walking inside the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, we continued our adventure a few streets away. This time, we tasted different kinds of food and drinks along Khao San Road and Soi Rambuttri.

Here’s a quick itinerary in the afternoon:

3:30-4:00 – From Wat Pho, hire a tuktuk to Khao San road street market (estimate: 150 baht)
4:00-5:00 – food trip along Khao San road
5:00-5:05 – walk from Khao San road to Soi Rambuttri
5:05-5:30 – food trip along Soi Rambuttri
5:30-6:30 – stopover at Fifty-five massage parlor and enjoy your choice of massage. I suggest 30 mins of foot massage + 30 mins of full back massage.

KHAO SAN ROAD

This one-kilometer stretch of street food stalls, restaurants, shops, massage parlors, and hostels was a delight to see! Our first stop: finally taste the famous Coconut Milk ice cream served with coconut meat in a coconut shell which was topped with roasted peanuts and chocolate syrup. I opted not to have the syrup because I wanted to appreciate the pure taste of the coconut milk.

Then, we tried their Pad Thai and fried lumpia. I am not really a fan of Pad Thai, but I liked the taste and texture of the one we tried in Khao San.

We also got to taste their sour green mango with rock salt and chili. However, the mangoes in Bangkok are bland compared to the ones in the Philippines. I’m not sure why. But, I personally like the mangoes in our country.

Some vendors also sold fried chicken skin, chicken satay, pork barbeque, and grilled chicken balls. These streetfood were delicious! Their barbeques were extra tender and juicy too!

Another common sight at their streets is the display of fresh fruits served in cups or sticks.

SOI RAMBUTTRI

After an hour of touring Khao San road, we headed towards Soi Rambuttri, which was just 5 minutes away. By that time, we weren’t hungry anymore so we decided to walk some more and have a foot massage nearby.

Thankfully, there was an affordable massage parlor (55 Massage) in this street which provided excellent customer service. Our feet and backs were aching and numb, so we stopped for feet and body massages. Aaahhhh! It was amazing. The staff members were very friendly. They did an amazing job massaging our feet and bodies. Plus, they even served us snacks and tea while we rested a bit more in their parlor. If I would have the chance to go back to Soi Rambuttri, I will definitely have massages there again. It’s a must-try!

It was nearing dinner time after our massages were done, so we went back to Khao San road to catch an Uber car going to our hostel. But before we went home, we had our last snack in the area: Nutella banana rotee/roti! Yum!


All throughout our trip in Bangkok, we experienced difficulty in communicating with some of the locals because they didn’t speak English. But, despite this, it was fun and interesting to go around their streets, explore and taste their food, and document the experience.