Before and after (final)

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By Joel Panes

Optic Yellow

Monday, December 30, 2013


BEFORE and after is therefore about the constancy of change. Facts are great but beneath its façade, truths are skirted. Once the Truth was publicly buried but in a time called Feast of First Fruits, not Easter Sunday, the Messiah rose. But that is another matter for another day.

The Truth is like a bittersweet herb, a difficult pill to swallow. The bandwagon of Christmas was unquestionably as merry as many wanted to be. The greetings were warm, the coffee was great and the turkey on the plate tasted fabulous. Whether or not the Messiah has graced the season is a tough question to answer. For now, even if the letters of the Name were present in the season’s greetings and all things visibly beautiful, the personal realization that the day of December 25 was taught to be His date of birth has become fool’s gold.

Can this be a personal and national act of transgression against the commandment not to take His Name in vain? After fearfully and diligently seeking, I personally hold it to be so. Salvation is almost always personal. There were two laborers in the field. They were working for one company but at a particular time, only one was taken and the other one was left behind. The Messiah knows us all by our names just as He calls the stars by their names.

This cliché is true – goodbye 2013 and hello 2014! Except for the common hope that the year to come would be better, the numbers are meaningless. We are as clueless as Herod when the magi from the East sought him where the future King of Israel was to be born. Under today’s system, the magi’s wisdom of knowing heaven’s speech is an impractical and profitless degree.

On April 2014, blood moons on significant biblical feasts are coming. The discovery of Mark Biltz is exploding and this is not Peter Drucker’s cup of tea. The world is about to be shaken. NASA is silent on fizzled Comet Ison’s 40 million mile wide debris trail. Space watchers believe the earth passes through from mid-January. What is a sonic boom? What is cosmic dust? Soon we may know.

Earthquakes have become as regular as rice on our table. Bohol and Cebu were shaken. I remember 1990. From the nearby Maharlika, I scampered for safety at the nearby Melvin Jones grounds. People were on their knees crying, their heads facing the ground and intensely praying. The prevailing sense of the moment was the end had come. Had the Messiah come through the clouds, He would have passed over me.

We should be glad that 23 years after, that was not the time. I would not have seen four more lovely children born. I would not have been in an investment consultancy group that brought me to see the marvelous the Causeway connecting Bahrain and Saudi Arabia; the Giza Pyramids in Egypt and the beautiful place and ladies of the American University in Beirut. I would have not heard one eccentric Eric Feir and articulate Rhodora Ngolob make relevant Philip Kotler’s volumes in a nutshell. I am better.

Also, I wouldn’t have been part of something extraordinary. It appeared insignificant meeting Lakay Pete Mendoza but some things would be set in motion. Softball history in this city was about to be rewritten. Baguio ladies softball which I was to mentor was to be counted among national softball’s elite. Some have bragged earning a trip to a national competition but we have won consistently in last five years including one softball championship at the National PRISAA. It is a rare distinction which has changed young lives for all time. To the GOD of Providence which I also fearfully invoke, I am grateful. The righteous Elohim is also gracious.

Had I had wished others were a part? Yes. Claire Mainem with the SLU Navigators for years held a promise. She was a sight to behold. I thought Geraldine Caytap now of the BSU Wildcats was as promising. I did not enjoy recruitment success with Caramto of La Trinidad, Buking of Besao, Taynec of Bontoc and Cagalawan of Baguio. They were good talents to build a championship team. Royal blue was their choice. Fuchigame was one from Benguet which my sights missed. She chose yellow but Xadelene Guisob of Agbannawag in green has evolved to fearfully explosive. Are there others? There are diamonds but in the rough.

Recently a young softbelle watching practice approached my 2nd year ward. She said, “Ang galing mo, ate. Sana maging katulad mo ako.” In 10 years of softball in this city, I have not heard anything purer than that complimentary strain. The effusive praise redounds to the Great Benefactor of this stewardship. The landscape of this game in this city has changed for the better. I am glad to have been a part. Many heart shaking “afters” are to come but the sovereign Truth is GOD loves softball.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 31, 2013.

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