Naiveté

Today, I added “natural medicine” to the list of “Things You Only Talk About To A Select Few”. Politics is obviously right there. You want to lose some friends? Bring up Duterte and Marcos. (Thankfully, religion is something I will not hesitate to talk about. Specifically, my faith in Jesus, because this is THE one topic worth dying (and living) for.) I remember what my pastor told us in church one Sunday, that there are some debatable things worth dying for, and there are some debatable things that you don’t have to win. Drums in church. Unclean meat. Women pastors. Tattoos. All controversial, but not worth losing sleep, friends, or your life over.

Still, I have to admit it does bug me how difficult it is to deal with people. (late-bloomer, eh?) Specifically, realizing how different we all really are. It doesn’t matter whether you both are Christians, or you’ve been friends for a long time, or that you hold shared values and beliefs…there will still be some things you will disagree about, things that people just respond to differently. That’s what makes relationships so beautiful and hurtful at the same time. That’s why in instances like this, where I said something with no other intention but to simply share something I assume would be worth thinking about, and got back an unintended effect, I go back to God’s word (sanity-saver) that teaches me important life lessons:

  1. Before you react, stop. Be quick to hear, slow to speak… James 1:19
  2. When you stop before you speak, before you type, clarity takes over the impulse to react. Proverbs 14:29
  3. With clarity of thought, you clarify the message:
    • What do you mean? (Removes misunderstanding, allows you to ask for intention)
    • Can you clarify? (Allows you to state your position clearly)

The key, I’m learning, is still communication. It has to remain open and intentional. When people react instead of respond, offenses take place. Instead of reacting, we can ask questions so that the things we do not understand, we understand a little or a lot better. I think this is responsible, mature, and demonstrates integrity.

Also, what comes to mind is how crucial empathy is to making relationships work. If we make it a habit of placing ourselves in another’s position, or better yet, to defer to one another (Philippians 2:3), how different our responses would be!

Unfortunately, many life lessons come as thorns. My naiveté in the protocols of relationships, in the Things You Only Talk About To A Select Few, in the life area conveniently called Experience, temporarily cause me heartache. Things like, “why should people complicate it?” Or, “why must the response be adversarial instead of accommodating?”, or “why not just say, thanks for sharing” nag at me. See? Naive. Experience is indeed the best teacher. Tomorrow I’ll laugh about it. Today, I’m learning. And hopefully I’m a better person for it.

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How then shall Christians respond?

I think, in my lifetime, I’ve never been part of such a time as this, where people are so divided over what they think is right versus what is wrong.

I’m speaking of President Duterte; his unconventional, even controversial ways of implementing the changes he wants to see in our country. So much has already been said and written about him and his methods, and while I have my own opinions on the matter, I’m not here to write about those things. Rather, I want to address this post to fellow Christians who, like me, struggled or are struggling with how to respond to what we are seeing and hearing on the news, and what we are reading on social media and the Internet.

First, as Christians, how should we treat President Duterte?

His presidency is ordained by God. Therefore, we are to live in submission to his authority.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Romans 13:1

Secondly, what does the Bible say about speaking evil or blaspheming God-ordained rulers?

And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.

Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?

And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?

Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

In the opening verses of Acts 23, we see Paul standing before the Sanhedrin, addressing them to defend the gospel and his actions. As he spoke, men beside him were commanded to hit Paul on the mouth, to which Paul responded angrily and carelessly with a curse against Ananias, high priest of the Sanhedrin. Paul was rebuked and in humility, admitted that he had done a wrong thing by speaking evil against Ananias.

Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people. Exodus 22:28

This part of the story could have been left out of the Bible, but everything that is in the Bible, God has a purpose and a lesson. Aside from this being contrasted to how Jesus responded against those who hit him, I believe this also teaches us that regardless of who is in authority, be it Stalin, Hitler, Trump, Obama or Duterte, we are to honor them (context, of course, as long as it does not contradict obedience to God’s commands, which are paramount)

Of course, lest people take this out of context: While Paul’s short outburst was an issue between him and God, God still vindicated and honored him for his confession before men. Therefore we have the assurance that injustice committed by God-ordained authorities will not go unpunished.

The bible talks also of submission to authority:

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 1 Peter 2:13-14

Therefore, we must check our hearts if we are sinning in this respect.

Finally, having established President Duterte’s authority, how then do we respond as Christians, whether we are in agreement with Pres. Duterte’s methods or not?

We all know how social media amplifies thoughts and opinions, and how quickly one can go viral or be subject to cyber-bullying.

I have had my moments of posting my thoughts on Facebook. Thankfully, I have not been trolled (since my posts are private) but I’ve seen some spirited discussions from friends, some of them from Christians, partaking of the vitriol, the mockery, the sarcasm, the ridicule, the hate, the anger.

I took a step back and asked myself, is this what God wants from His people? How can we be salt and light to the world if in our Facebook posts, our conversations, and our actions, we contribute to the confusion, hate, anger, and distrust, whether intentionally or unintentionally?

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Matthew 5:13-15

What then sets us apart from the people who do not know God?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be vigilant of what’s happening; that we should turn a blind eye or live as if everything is fine. I’m not even saying we should not complain, or not have any say at all.

I’m saying, as Christians, what do our actions (posting critical thoughts and articles, engaging in debates or arguments) achieve?

  • Does it glorify God? (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

  • Does it build up other people? (Ephesians 4:29)

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

  • Does it promote unity in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 1:10)

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

  • Does it point people to Christ? (Matthew 5:16)

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

I’m saying, as Christians, we ought to exercise more restraint, especially in this day and age of social media where it’s so tempting to join the fray and let our thoughts be heard, because the world is looking at us. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 1 Corinthians 10:23

I’ve realized, more than ever, we ought to pray. In prayer, we can bring all our complaints, cares, worries, fears, and anxieties over what is happening in our country.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Philippians 4:6

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

In prayer, we acknowledge that we are sinful and tend to worry. In prayer, we bring all these things to the proper authority. There, God will meet us and assure us He is sovereign.

As I began to think about these things, I checked my heart and motivation. What did I hope to achieve? To have more people on my side? (nope) Knock some sense into them? (probably) Just air my grievance for friends to know where I stand? (a little)

Ultimately, to what end?

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and these other social media platforms, are powerful platforms. They are neutral in themselves. We can either choose to use these platforms to glorify God, or turn people away from God, through our words and actions. My prayer is that we choose to use it in a God-honoring way.

I am still learning these lessons, and in the past have failed by sharing my thoughts needlessly. I have realized, more than anyone, it is God to whom I should be sharing my thoughts and anxieties, and allow Him through His Spirit to work through my heart; to help me be prayerful instead of critical; to see the good instead of the bad. Situations do not make character; they reveal them. My prayer for you and I is that we will develop the spiritual maturity in responding, as we ought to.

prau

Live in view of eternity

…Being oblivious to eternity leaves us experts in the trivial and novices in the significant. If life’s greatest certainty is death, wouldn’t it be foolish not to prepare for what lies beyond this life?

-Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions and Eternity

Why Optometrist

My classmates and I undertook a project last semester on the public’s knowledge of the term “Optometry” or “Optometrist”. I already know, by firsthand experience, what kind of answers we will be getting even without documenting it. Nevertheless, it was a great experiment because it opened my classmates’ eyes on how the public sees optometrists, and it allowed us to educate those whom we were able to interview.

Now, I don’t exactly know if being made aware of the perception and knowledge of the public on optometry made my classmates feel good about our profession. Sure, we got a good laugh on their incredulous answers, and we probably made a mental note to do our best to educate the public. But it got me thinking, what are we really doing, intentionally, to educate the public on what is optometry and what is an optometrist? More importantly, if we really want to educate the public, then why are we so scrimpy on referring to ourselves as optometrists? How can we make the term popular (in the Philippines, that is) if even amongst ourselves (not me, I can tell you that!) we’d rather use “eye doctor” than optometrist?

Think about it. Dentists are “teeth doctors”. They wear the “dentist” proud and don’t trifle with terms like “teeth doctor”. Optometrists are eye doctors, yet we don’t use it as if there is something to be ashamed of. Is there?

Perhaps the reason why most optometry students prefer eye doctor is because of the perception of optometrists, in general. But how will we change the perception of optometrists if we don’t use the term and practice clinically, as doctors?

We have observed that the general public equates optometrists (generally) to those who only sell glasses or measure eye power. They don’t see that refraction (and selling glasses), which optometrists are known for, constitute such a small part of primary eye care and clinical optometry.

This public perception on optometry is almost unique in the Philippines. In other countries, optometrists are well-respected doctors. They are equal with ophthalmologists. So why isn’t it so here? I think (and I could be wrong) optometrists have settled for selling and just doing refraction, “labo-linaw” – the very thing the public knows about us. Only a small percentage of optometrists practice clinically. And so, when we tackle the issue of public perception, is it accurate to conclude that it is how it is because it is what most of us have been portraying all along?

What’s my point? We’re still optometry students, and hopefully in a year, we will graduate and become licensed optometrists. Do we want to change the perception of the public and educate them? Then I advocate using the term Optometrist. Make it popular. Wear it proud. More importantly, I advocate practicing clinically, because it is in this area where we truly fulfill being eye doctors. Otherwise, if we stop at selling glasses and refracting under a strict chair time, we perpetuate the perception that optometrists are more salesmen than doctors.

The onus is on us, future optometrists, to elevate the standard and practice of optometry in the Philippines. It is so much easier to just sit back and be indifferent or apathetic towards this reality. This is the curse of the “millennials” – wanting change but not acting on it. My appeal is not so that we will feel better once we’ve educated the public. No, it is so that optometry will survive in the future. If we do not take ownership of our would-be profession, somebody else will. And yes, it starts with the simple act of calling ourselves Optometrists, proudly. That is why.

Hong Kong tips for the Pinoy Tourist

Hong-Kong-Skyline

First time to Hong Kong? Here are my suggestions on what you need to consider:

1. Accommodations

Hong Kong is one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in. In fact, it ranked No. 2 in Mercer’s Cost of Living survey. So, expect hotels to be expensive. Good thing, though, if you’re on a budget, there are many options in Hong Kong. You’ll probably come across Chungking Mansions in your research. It’s along Nathan Road, a very busy road in the Kowloon side where most of the cheapest accommodations can be found (and where you probably will end up). Chungking Mansions have perhaps the cheapest accommodations in HK (Kowloon), but as with many backpacker areas, rooms are basic. Sometimes, you have to bring your own towel and toiletries. Rooms are also very small. This is nothing unique to Chungking Mansions. Rent in HK is very expensive so rooms are small, like 8sqm at least. Some tourists complain of feeling unsafe in the environment, and that’s why we chose a different area when we went to Hong Kong.

I highly recommend looking for rooms in the Jordan area, which is near Nathan Road. There are plenty of good and cheap options there. Your accommodation “necessities” should include good accessibility to public transport (our was right beside the MTR station), good reviews, and with hosts or owners preferably conversant in English, which will really make your lives easier.

 

2. Commuting

Hong Kong Ding Ding

Commuting in Hong Kong is very  convenient. I recommend you try all modes of transport, just to experience it.

First things first, I suggest getting an Octopus Card upon arrival at the airport. It costs 150 HKD (Php 600.00) where, 50 HKD is the deposit returnable when you depart (less HKD9, so you get HKD 41 upon return of the card). With your remaining HKD 100, you can use it already to take a bus from the airport to your hostel. Your Octopus card can also be used for the ferry, the buses, the ding-ding (tram), McDonalds, and most establishments, actually. It’s very convenient to pay for transportation with the Octopus card. Otherwise, you’d have to be prepared with loose change for bus payments (They don’t give you back any change so it has to either be exact amount or a little more).

Star Ferry

You can take the Star Ferry at Tsim Sha Tsui going to Hong Kong Island (Central Pier) for 2.50 HKD (Php 15.00). It’s surprisingly relaxing and a good way to spend around 15 minutes of your time. The view at night is also amazing.

The Tram

Hong Kong Ding Ding

The tram, or fondly called the ding ding by the locals, is an excellent way of exploring the HK Island side. A ride costs HKD 2.50, flat rate, and it traverses the city. However, because it has so many stops, it’s very slow. If you have the time, ride the ding-ding from one end to the other, and make sure you’re on the upper balcony so that you get to see the sights in Hong Kong Island.

MTR

Obviously, this is the most convenient means of transport. I loved commuting in Hong Kong because it’s very tourist-friendly. You might need to get a map of the train stops at first but at the same time, as long as you know where you need to get off, you’ll be fine.

3. Places to Go / Things to Do

Victoria Peak

My uncle, who lives in Hong Kong, said any first time tourist should go to Victoria Peak, arguably the best viewing spot of Hong Kong’s famous skyline. I agree. I would suggest to try and catch the sunset on the peak so you can see it in all its magical glory. Here’s a timelapse from youtube to give you an idea, and a screen grab:

maxresdefault

(You have to still see it for yourselves, ok?)

Going up, there are two budget options:
1. By Bus (Bus 15 from Pier 5 or Exchange Square, Central)
2. By tram (at the peak tram terminus)

Most tourists prefer the tram because it’s faster (around 15 minutes). It costs HKD 40 one-way. If you plan to go down by tram, you need to decide before buying the ticket because there is no option to buy from the peak. This is another HKD 40. If not, then you can take a bus back to Central, which takes around an hour I think (I slept all the way back).

There are sellers of combo tickets on-site which include Madame Tussauds Hong Kong + Peak Tram Sky Pass return for around HKD 320 (Php 1,920) but we did not avail of this. Don’t be swayed by the Skypass ticket because actually, you can still see the skyline for free! The viewing deck is inside the Peak Galleria, a mall on the peak. Of course the Sky Terrace offers a wider perspective from a higher altitude so if you’re very particular about this, then by all means get the Skypass combo.

Shopping

Hong Kong is almost synonymous to shopping, and believe me, you’ll be literally overwhelmed with shopping areas, malls and stores at every corner. It’s fascinating in a way because as a tourist, you have access to buy just about everything imaginable: brands that are probably not available in the Philippines, or electronics that are cheaper (but generally, everything is more expensive in Hong Kong), etc. After 8 days, though, it was tiring for me. I didn’t go to Hong Kong to shop anyway; the shopping culture wasn’t so appealing to me. In any case, it’s still worth visiting these areas if you really plan to shop, or just want to experience their culture.

Mong Kok

The Mong Kok area is like our Divisoria, only, cleaner and maybe safer. This is another can’t miss destination because of the variety of things you can find there.

Causeway Bay

Causeway is in Hong Kong Island and more conveniently accessible by MTR. This area is like New York’s Times Square, where shopping areas, stores, and just a sea of humans converge.

Causeway, Hong Kong

Harbour City

The official description says: Hong Kong’s largest mall is actually three malls in one: Ocean Terminal, Ocean Centre and Gateway Arcade. The upshot for the shopper is a choice of over 450 shops, around 50 restaurants, three hotels and two cinemas. Fortunately, this mind-boggling selection has been intelligently organised into four distinct zones for kids, sport, fashion, and cosmetics and beauty.”

So this mall is really massive, and they provide you maps so you can navigate through the entire area. Lots of walking required. If you’re on a budget, I doubt you’d want to buy anything here because everything here is so expensive. Like, really. This mall is in Kowloon side and is walkable from the Tsim Sha Tsui ferry if you’re coming from the HK Island side. On the upside, it’s a great area for window shopping and people watching. Two free, enjoyable things to do.

Stanley Bay

Stanley Bay, Hong Kong

If you get tired of all the shopping and the skyscrapers, you may want to visit Stanley Bay, a popular destination for both locals and foreigners.

This is a refreshing change of scenery. Going here, you either have to take a cab (very expensive) or a bus (cheap and accessible). It’s quite far from the city but really worth a visit. What to see here? Well, the bay, for one. Then temples, shopping areas (but not like the ones in the city), a park, and nature!

Quarry Bay Park

QuarryBay

This park is in the Hong Kong Island. It’s not actually a famous tourist spot but I think it is worth a visit if you’re in the area anyway. It is one of my favorite places in Hong Kong because of its peacefulness and it being beside a long stretch of harbour, giving you a good view of the skyline and other famous landmarks.

Quarry Bay Park

I imagine this is a good place to jog, to do a morning stroll, to meditate… The harbor even has fishing spots, if it fancies you.

4. Where to Eat

Of course, the all important question. Hong Kong is a foodie’s mecca. I knew that even before I went to Hong Kong. From Anthony Bourdain’s adventures to other foodie features on TV, I knew Hong Kong would offer me a variety of food choices. Fortunately for me, I don’t eat pork, which is a staple in Hong Kong (or Chinese cuisine, for that matter), and I’m allergic to some seafoods, so my choices were narrowed down. But there’s still a lot to taste.

I love that almost all of the restaurants we went to had vegetarian options, so if you’re vegetarian, you’re covered. Decent food starts at around 40HKD (240) up. So it is quite pricey if you’re on a budget. But there are cheap alternatives. If you’re in the Kowloon area already, you must try out the food stalls and shops at Temple Street.

Temple Street Market, Hong Kong

They have a variety of food choices and it is where we found the cheapest (15HKD) BUT good enough food during our stay.

 

One thing you can’t miss is Ikea. It was my first time to visit an Ikea store (hopefully they open here in the Philippines) and in my curiousity, spent at least 2 hours exploring all of the floors. What surprised me was that they had a bistro and the food being served was really cheap. If you’re on a budget, this is the place. They have complete meals and snacks.

Ikea Bistro, Hong Kong

Here are other must try foods in Hong Kong.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog, I hope this article was helpful!