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My Virginity Isn’t Just Mine

My parents are in the country, so of course I spend a week with them at their place, which means I have a lot of time to think, a lot of time to watch some old tv shows, and a lot of time to write.

The TV show of choice this week is One Tree Hill because it was one of my favorite shows when I was in high school; however, by the time I hit college, I had already stopped watching TV altogether. I didn’t even know that One Tree Hill continued after its characters graduated high school! I do think it fits the actors way better; they always looked way too old for high school.

Anyway, the show made me want to think a bit and write a bit. So here I am, thinking and writing.

Because I do lot of chastity work, I can’t help but notice all the different ways the media forms our youth into thinking that there’s nothing wrong with casual sex. They do it in not-so-subtle ways by having all these lines and side plots that depict sex a casual thing. But that doesn’t bother me as much as when they do it in subtle ways because it’s just so sneaky. One line from One Tree Hill that really got to me was said by a female character, and it went something like.. “My virginity is MINE.”

Yes, this sounds really great at first and maybe forever to a modern day feminist. I’m sure all the modern feminists watching the show at the time stood up and applauded the character for being so brave and independent, but before you join in, I would caution everyone to think about it before turning this into a motto. Here’s a rule of thumb: anytime there’s an emphasis on the self when it has to do with sex and love, the moral judgement part of your brain should perk up and give it a second thought. Sex and love are never supposed to be selfish. So if the line sounds right but there’s an emphasis on the self, it’s probably part right and part wrong. That’s pretty much how the media convinces so many people of so many things that are wrong.—they say something that’s part true, but it’s so attractive that the audience takes the whole thing as true.

Anyway, I think the character is correct, but I also think she’s wrong. Nothing is ever a clear black and white nowadays.

So here’s the context: Millicent and Mouth are two characters in One Tree Hill who were in a relationship together. Millicent was a virgin, and Mouth wasn’t, but he was trying to be a noble guy who respected Millicent and sincerely didn’t want to pressure her into anything she didn’t want to do. To make a long story short, one of Mouth’s female co-workers was constantly flirting with him, Millicent got angry, and out of rage she went out and lost her virginity to some other guy. Mouth of course got angry that she gave her virginity away to someone other than him, and Millicent responded, “well, my virginity is MINE”—meaning Mouth had no entitlement to Millicent’s virginity.

So like I said, Millicent is right and she’s wrong.

Let me explain, she’s right that Mouth had no entitlement to her virginity, but she’s wrong by meaning that it’s hers to give away to whomever she felt. Someone does have entitlement to her virginity. And that someone is her future husband, not some random guy at a bar, not some temporary boyfriend, but a man who vowed his entire life to love her until death do them part. That man and that man alone is entitled to her virginity. Therefore, a woman who willingly loses her virginity before she’s married, in my opinion, owes her husband an apology. The same, of course, goes for men. A man who gave away his virginity to someone that is not his wife, owes his wife an apology. I’m not saying everything is ruined, but at the least, apologize for giving away what was meant for your spouse.

A woman’s virginity is hers, but it isn’t for herself. I mean, helloooo, you can’t give your virginity to yourself. It’s meant to be given as a gift to her husband (or to Jesus). So it naturally follows that a woman’s virginity is hers to protect until it’s time for her to give it away.

Mouth and Millicent weren’t married; they didn’t vow their lives to each other, so it’s true that Mouth did not have any entitlement to her virginity, but I can understand that Mouth would be upset because if he was serious about their relationship and serious about getting married, then her virginity should have been given to him—and not the first random dude she met at a bar—you know, after they got married of course.

The thing is, Millicent, as well as many girls in real life forget that they are worth something. They forget that their virginity is something sacred and special and they stop believing that someone will wait for them or fight for them or love them. So these hurt and broken women give their virginity away to someone who won’t wait for her or fight for her or love her because they just want to feel loved.

If Millicent were a real person, I’d be weeping for her and I’d also be angry at her. I’d be weeping because she her virginity to someone who meant absolutely nothing to her. She had waited so long to give her virginity to a special person, but she ended up giving it to a random guy at the bar. Her gift wasn’t cherished, rather it was just used for self-satisfaction. She wanted to feel loved by anyone, and he wanted just wanted to get some. Two people having sex and just taking what they want from the other person. That’s called using—adult, consensual using. Yes, it’s legal, and he media tells us it’s a good thing, but it’s not. The dangerous thing is that it can really look like love sometimes. And that’s how it all starts. I’d be angry because she had no business giving away a beautiful precious gift that she wasn’t meant to just give away like that!  She wasn’t helpless. She wasn’t forced. But she gave something away to someone to whom she didn’t have the authority to give. And that’s messed up.

Millicent is not real, so I have no need to weep for her, but do weep for all those girls in real life who do this, who think that their virginity is just part of some game. Who confuse fulfilling some guys “needs” as love. People like Millicent are real and they’re everywhere. Lust is being masqueraded as love and we are so desperate for love that we fall for it—or worse, maybe we don’t fall for it, maybe we just accept it because we believe that’s the closest that we can get.

Well, people. Don’t fall for it. Don’t accept it. Love is real. And my mission here in the Philippines is to show people what it really looks like .

Looking forward!

Life is just moving too fast.

I kinda like it.

But I don’t like the white hairs that come with it.

I’m not the kind of person who likes to plan and plan and plan. I feel like you can miss out of some awesome opportunities that way. I also feel like you spend so much time and energy planning and re-planning when at the end of the day, unpredicted circumstances usually cause your plans to alter and change anyway. For me, life is too short to be spending on planning. Some people enjoy the planning, and that’s great! I don’t. I wish I did. It’d make my job a lot easier, but I don’t. Actually I lied. I like that I’m not a planner. I feel like life is more exciting that way. One year ago, I had no idea I’d still be in the Philippines. Two years ago, I had no idea that I’d ever go back to the Philippines. Three years ago, I just had no idea. And I was totally okay with that.

BUT planning has its perks. Cheaper airfare would be the biggest one for me yet. So here are my plans for this year!

March: Going to Romblon to hangout with family. Pure Heart mission at the LWYD?!
April: Siargao for some surfing.
May: Holy Land for a pilgrimage. Pure Heart mission to Bohol!
June: Fr. Antoine will come for a childrens’ adoration mission.
July: Palawan, for some relaxing.
September: Maybe going to the states to see the pope.

In addition to all that fun stuff, I have goals!
I hope that we can do at least 1 Pure Heart Mission per month.
I hope that we can buy a car to make that Pure Heart mission much more efficient.
I hope that we can do 1 Pure Heart Retreat.
I want to run a 21k in June.
I want to run a 42k before the end of the year.
I want to raise a lot of money for WYD.

How will YOU prepare for Christmas?

Advent is here. It snuck up on me this time. I was really surprised going to Mass on Sunday and seeing the priests wear purple. I haven’t decided on any Advent-y fasts or devotions yet. I’m so behind on life. I think I’m going to slowly put back in my life daily adoration, exposed or not exposed. I let it get away when I moved out of the sisters’ place. My prayer just isn’t the same anymore. It’s lazy prayer. I don’t really like being out so much, so anything where I have to leave the house is a chore. I was really spoiled at the sisters’ place because I never really had to leave the house for prayer or Mass or anything like that. Now I have to work at it.

So that’s it. I’ll start with minimum 15 minutes a day, and more-or-less increase by 15 minutes each week until Christmas. This shouldn’t be too difficult, since I used to follow the sisters’ prayer schedule. Pray for me!

So, leave a comment telling me how you’re going to prepare for Jesus’ coming!

One Year after Typhoon Yolanda

November 8th marks the 1-year mark after Typhoon Yolanda. Recovery is still slow going, but thanks to non-government organizations, at least it’s going.

Sr. Agapia and I went back to Madredejos in Bantayan Island to see the progress. We went to each of the families that we bought materials for, thanks to all of your generous donations! It was really refreshing to see that it no longer looked like a typhoon just hit. There were fewer piles of branches and fallen trees laying around. There were almost zero tents left. We saw maybe 1 or 2, and at least one of them was being used more as a storage than a living space now. The people there were so grateful for what they received. The air definitely wasn’t as heavy as our first time going there, and it just seemed easier for people to smile. It seemed almost everyone has a house now. We saw a bunch of new houses that all looked the same. It turns out that our friends from EDM (Enfants du Maicon) happened to come to the same site and built 100 homes! Go NGOs!

Anyway, here are some before/after photos

 before (no house, just living in a tent)

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afterDSC05273

 before (the sisters already donated the roof)

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after
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 before

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after (now they can stand inside the house!)
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before (they got their new roof already, too)
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after

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before (they also already had  a new roof)

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after!DSC05258

before

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after! (they weren’t home to take a photo with us!)
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There were others, but I can’t seem to find the before photos! Here are some more photos from the day:

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Airplane Blankets

After moving out of the sisters’ guesthouse into my own apartment back in April, there were a few things that I didn’t have that I normally would have had, but went months without. One thing was proper beddings. For months, because I would no longer use the ones the sisters loaned me, I would use a fleece blanket, given to me by my cousin when she visited me. The blanket is too thick for the temperature here, but it’s all I had, except for an airplane blanket that someone took from the plane and gave it to me as a gift. It’s way too hot and humid in this country for blankets, but I needed 2 bedding-type apparatuses: something to sleep on top of and something to shield me from the vicious mosquitoes that enjoy Filipino-American blood for their midnight snack. I used the airplane blanket for the latter.

When I went back to visit the US, I stayed temporarily at Casa Guadalupe’s mission house. I happened to arrive the day all the girls were moving in. Since everyone’s stuff was packed or in storage, the only thing they had to offer to me as beddings was an airplane blanket. I stayed there for about a month using that airplane blanket just like I would use my own in Cebu (except in NY it wasn’t to protect me from mosquitoes, it was actually to keep me warm).

I’m writing this during a retreat at the brothers’ place, and again, I’m using my trusty ol’ airplane blanket, which brought back gool ol’ memories. Now, Airplane blankets symbolize “temporariness” for me. I had been using one every night for 5 months until just about a few weeks ago. I felt like such a nomad, a transient. So, when I returned to Cebu, I had to think about whether I should buy proper bedsheets. Afterall, isn’t life just temporary? Wouldn’t it be good to have something like an airplane blanket to remind me of this? Birds have nests and foxes have dens, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head. Shouldn’t I be more Christlike? I am a missionary for Jesus Christ, aren’t I?

I decided to buy proper bedsheets.

Not because I don’t believe in any of the things I just wrote. I do believe all that. In some sense, life is just temporary, so therefore, let us not store up our treasures here on earth. BUT I don’t think that’s what I’m struggling with (I’m pretty broke so I ain’t storing nuttin’ anyway). I decided to buy proper bedsheets because I need a different reminder. I don’t want to have the “well, I’m leaving in a few months, anyway” attitude. I began this mission fighting the temptation to think this way, and I will continue this mission in the same way. I want to be reminded not that I’ll be leaving this place someday sooner or later, but that I’m here to give myself totally, today, right now.

Too often do I forget this. Too often do I hold back myself for myself or for tomorrow. Too often do I make excuses that I should cancel with the children because of this or because of that.. because it’s raining, because I’m tired, because I’m stressed, because I’m busy, because I’m homesick, because I’m scared. All of these excuses are legit. It’s not wrong to cancel something because my body needs to rest. But, how beautiful an offering it is to see those children even when I could be resting. How beautiful it is to turn suffering into an offering. What a waste of suffering if not turned into an offering! It’s time to reset. Time to go back to the beginning. Time to go back to my first love. It’s time to serve again as if my happiness depends on it, because well, my happiness depends on it. I wasn’t looking forward to this retreat, but I went because it just felt God was calling me. Maybe I went just so I could use that airplane blanket to remind me of all this. And I pray that I continue to be reminded of this.

God bless ya.

Home

I think I got duped. I was supposed to be on a flight to Cebu at 5am. The guy who helped me carry my bags said the flight was full. The guy at the counter said the flight was cancelled and he’ll have to put me on the next flight two hours later. Now, it’s 4:40am, I see people boarding at the gate next to mine. I think they’re going to Cebu. I think they overbooked that flight and I got kicked off and onto the next flight without an apology. Had I complained, I probably could’ve gotten an extra free check bag or something complimentary! Oh well, what’s an extra 2 hours when you’ve been traveling for 31 already anyway? (I mean, besides a freakin’ lifetime.) If all goes well, I should be home in 5 hours bringing my total door-to-door travel time to 38 hours. The good news is that I won’t have to do this again until next year.

Since the wifi in this terminal doesn’t work, I have an extra two hours to turn some of my thoughts from this past month into words and share them with you.

I think I wrote my last post on my way out to the States, wondering if home will feel like home. It wasn’t a surprise that my parents house didn’t feel like home. That place hasn’t felt like home in years. After spending a week with my family on vacation, I ended up staying at Casa Gudadlupe’s new mission house in NYC for the rest of my stay. My first morning there, I got out of bed before the sun rose and went to the chapel to see Jesus, which I had done pretty much every day for about 3 years, but stopped when I moved into my own apartment in Cebu (no Jesus there). Don’t think I’m holy just yet. Most days my going to a chapel was just a change in location. I would move to the chapel just to go back to sleep looking like I was praying. Anyway, it was that morning that I had a mini epiphany.

I remember a sister of St. John saying how “home” to her was wherever Jesus was. I thought what she said and how she said it was beautiful; however, I realize now that at that time, I didn’t really get it. I was a bit sad for religious who had to move around every couple of years. Wasn’t it hard moving around all the time? Wasn’t it hard not having a place to call home? IS there a place that always feels like home?

But in those moments in the chapel of this house in which I spent no more than a few hours, I understood. Home is wherever Jesus is.

God bless ya.

One Year

One Year

I’m sitting at Mactan-Cebu Airport waiting for my indecisive flight. It was originally at 11:15pm, then was cancelled, I got moved to the 10pm, which was delayed to 11:15pm. Final destination? Newark International Airport, where I lived during my college years, then to good ol’ Piscataway, NJ, where I lived for the 17 years of my life (minus the first 10 months or so, when we lived in Brooklyn). I didn’t realize that this trip back home would stir up this much emotion in me. Maybe it was the busyness of these past few weeks, but I didn’t really feel any emotion until I turned off the lights in my empty apartment, locked the door, and carried my luggage down the stairs. It could have been the nostalgic music that emanated from the downstairs neighbors that stirred up the strange emotions. It was as if my life had background music and it was a scene from a movie. I almost felt as if I was in my own Truman Show. As I exited my home in Cebu, I realized how much my life had changed since last year, and well, I don’t know how I’ll feel when I get home. Will I want to change my mind about living in Cebu and stay home? Will I be totally bored and anxious to come back to Cebu? I hope for the latter.

This past 12 months of my life really allowed me to be stretched in ways that I’ve never been stretched before. There are different types of stretching. When waking up in the morning, I tend to stretch out my arms and back because it just feels so good. Before playing sports, I would stretch differently. I would stretch until there was a bit of pain in my muscles in order to become a bit more flexible and to avoid injury. Well, I think the stretching that was happening to me these past 12 months was a combination of the two. I was challenged, and it kinda hurt, but oh, it felt so good. If you didn’t watch the Lion King, you might be more impressed with my motto for the past 12 months, “I laugh in the face of danger!” If you did, then it’ll be difficult taking me seriously, but that’s okay because it’s not a serious motto in the first place.

I already wrote about this in a previous post, but in short, I wanted to live this mission giving my all. Fear is not a valid reason to say “no.” Period. And so, God gave me the grace to do all the things I was afraid of. Here’s a nice little list of things I was afraid of doing, but I probably didn’t admit it.

  1. Making friends. I had to get over my introverted self and make friends, and if anyone knows me, they know that I’m so intimidated by pretty much everyone. I knew that if I were to stay in Cebu, I couldn’t do it alone. I needed to make friends. So friends in Cebu, thank you for your friendship. It’s really important to me and keeps me going. 😉
  2. Buying and driving a motorbike. Yes. I’m not usually the scared of this type of thing. But I am quite wounded from seeing the effects of someone dying from a motorcycle accident. Plus, everyone and their mothers told me that when you drive a motorbike, you should just expect to get into an accident. That’s kinda an overstatement. That’s almost like saying, once you leave your house, you should just expect to get hit by a car. Well anyway, it only took a month since I arrived to get over that one.
  3. Starting Pure Heart Philippines. I’m not the type of person to be on the microphone in front of everyone. Or the person to make decisions about stuff. I’m really not the type of person who likes to be in charge. My comfort zone is behind my shiny laptop in my virtual world of Photoshop and Facebook. But God had other plans.
  4. Going to the market alone. I still don’t really like going to the market because I always feel like they’re charging me a whole lot more than everyone else. It’s true sometimes. I’ve been ripped off a bunch of times, but then I feel bad arguing because 50 pesos for me is really only a little over a dollar. Who am I to argue for a cheaper price when it’s already so low to what I’m used to? But now I go to the market and try to sound like a local. I’m sure they see right through me, but I’m not really scared anymore.
  5. Entering a Film Festival. What the heck am I doing entering a Film Festival?!
  6. Training people to speak. Who the heck am I to train other people to speak? I don’t even like speaking myself? And I’m not that great at it!
  7. Moving into an apartment away from the sisters. The life of the sisters is very beautiful and safe. My prayer life was more or less guarded. My angel (Sr. Agapia) was always protecting me. And one thing that I didn’t realize is that I always felt loved. The sisters always found ways to leave me nice little notes or flowers or pictures at my door. People in the world don’t normally do that. Also everything was prepaid, so my financial worries was finished before I arrived to Cebu. But when I moved out, I had to start paying rent again, I had to find a place, I had to detach from my besties who are nuns. (Well, I’m still at the priory almost every day, so I didn’t have to detach too much.)

Well, that’s all I can think of right now. My new fear is one that I shouldn’t really fear. I feel like everyone might be expecting all these amazing crazy stories from me, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to deliver! I’ll just point everyone to my blog, ha!

Other than that, I’m pretty excited about going home. I can’t wait to see all my friends and family. I can’t wait to be surrounded by people that understand my American-ness. I can’t wait to go to a business and not have to deal with everything being out of stock! And I can’t wait to not have to carry around cash because every business has a credit card machine! I’m also excited to see what words on coke cans they have in the States.

But in all seriousness, I’m most excited just to see if I feel at home when I’m at home. Or has Cebu become my home?

I Am a Woman and I Want to Pay for My Own Contraceptives

As a woman, I’m extremely offended that society thinks the government needs to pay for my birth control. It’s the most degrading thing I’ve ever heard. It’s like society is telling me, “Stay available for men to have sex with you, but please choke your fertility because it’s getting in the way of our pleasure. Just shut up and take these pills that cause dysfunction to your body. They’re free.”

The “women’s rights” label that society puts on this government handout does not fool me. We women fought for our right to work and earn and I intend on using that right to purchase with my hard earned dollar the things that I want and also the things that I need. I don’t need, nor do I want, the government to treat me like I’m too weak or incapable to pay my own share. I am a woman, and I can handle it myself, thank you very much. And, I’d appreciate it if the government would stop trying to force me to treat others in the same way. I’d like everyone, especially the government, to stay out of my sex life. And I’d like to stay out of everyone else’s.

I’m not ashamed to ask for help when I need it. I’ll take the help when I have an emergency—emphasis on emergency—but birth control isn’t ever an emergency.

Sure, I guess society can fight for women to have the right to cause dysfunction to their own bodies for free, but I don’t find that the least bit heroic. It’s more of a nuisance. And anyway, I’m not in a position that needs a hero. I don’t need or want to swallow a pill that has hormone levels that are way too high for my body to handle just to stay away from pregnancy. My body is working fine, thank you very much, I don’t need to cause damage to it. I have too much respect for myself to do that. I have too much respect for myself to digest a pill that causes an endless list of side effects written on the booklet inside the package (and that’s after drug companies negotiate to have some removed). I’ll use something else—something that upholds my dignity—it’s called, “I-respect-my-body-enough-NOT-to-swallow-that-poison-I-mean-pill.” It’s also called “self control.”

I also respect myself enough not to sleep with anyone who hasn’t vowed His entire life to loving me. I don’t need to give in to my passionate desires right now. I’m more mature than a child who throws a fit when he can’t have his toy. And I don’t need to satisfy anyone else’s passionate desires. I can wait for someone who will love me—and only me—for the rest of his life. And when I do marry, I respect my body enough to learn and study it so that I don’t need to take that dysfunction-causing pill in order to prevent pregnancy. And even if I have an unplanned pregnancy, I’ll love my child no matter how big the sacrifice. And no, love never means termination—that’s quite the opposite.

I’m also not fooled by the “other health reasons” that birth control advocates claim are good reasons to take the pill. If I have a problem with my body, I’ll go to a real doctor to get a real diagnosis before I fill my body with unnecessarily high levels of hormones.  And by “real doctor,” I mean the doctors that care enough to find alternatives to this poisonous pill. I understand that some people have bad acne, cramps, bleeding, irregular or heavy periods, PMS, etc. I am a woman, and I too have my fair share of these, but those real doctors tell me that it’s extremely rare that there isn’t a safer, natural option than the birth control pill. I am a woman and I respect my body enough to pursue those options.

I don’t know what the government is doing trying to finance everyone’s sex lives. It’s none of the government’s business. I find it offensive that society is trying to convince women that we need this death-causing pill. As a woman, I find that degrading and intrusive. I am a woman, and I insist that society starts treating as it claims it does—as a capable, strong human being, who.