Responses, Opinions, and Our Character

Another tragedy has hit our beloved Philippines. One of us, a young lady, has taken her own life, and the reason that has been reported is that she could not afford to pay her tuition and had to take a leave of absence.

Now before I continue, I will admit up front that I am not completely informed on this event, and all I know comes from links and reports. I say this because I want to make it clear that I am not writing about my “analysis” of the circumstances of this tragic death.

I am writing about our responses.

How one responds to tragedy, to pain, to criticism, to correction, to offence, to discomfort, to lack, to persecution, to threats, reveals more about the responder than it does about the circumstances. Circumstances are what they are, how we face these circumstances, how we act and respond is what will decide whether we move forward or backward.

Now the mind of the mob is always “someone needs to pay”. So we must identify that “someone”, and, by making him pay, the problem is solved.

Or does it?

History will tell us having a scapegoat never solved anything. Logic will tell us the same thing. If someone ate your cookie and you punched him in the face, it doesn’t give you your cookie back. Yes, it may prevent a future theft, but it doesn’t bring what you originally lost back to you, and you sever the chance of building anything meaningful with the person you punched.

You’ll say, “He severed it.” Just like a 6 year old saying, “He started it.”

And that is why our society is the way it is. We have placed our personal entitlements, real and imagined, over others. We, who want the benefits and freedom of adults, process circumstances like 6 year olds.

Yes, there is a place for punishment – but that is for the proven guilty. And punishment alone doesn’t make life better. You cannot weed a garden without planting and watering flowers and trees and expect something beautiful. What you’ll have is a desert. With the removing we must be including.

What I am about to share next is my personal opinion, an opinion that is under-informed on this topic so take it with a grain of salt.

Also, don’t put much weight on the words of those not willing to scrutinize their own soul nor act on proclaimed convictions. So until you have ascertained that I do consciously reflect, that I apply high standards to my own life, and act on my convictions, don’t believe everything I write.

This applies to all the different opinions and messages thrown at us every day. The source of the opinion matters. There are wrong opinions and right opinions, and it is important that people learn how to discern between both. Don’t be so quick to take something as truth because its initial taste was pleasing to your sensibilities.

Listen to the critic who studies his own motives, to the citizen who is a neighbour with principle, to the radical who serves others. The opinions of those who will not pay the cost of seeing their convictions made real are shallow – no matter how loud they are.

Anyway, here is my opinion.

We should wait before blaming UP or the officers for this suicide. It is inaccurate and reductionalist to crucify without the full story. Society is always looking to crucify a “criminal” for a “system” we ourselves perpetuate with our own apathy and pride.

When someone else is guilty that means we’re not guilty right?


Just because someone is guilty, doesn’t mean we don’t bear any responsibility.

If there is anything true about the story of The Good Samaritan it is this: we are all always responsible. I wrote more about my thoughts on responsibility in the article Whose Fault Is It?

When a tragedy hits, must we bicker amongst ourselves on who should be sacrificed to atone for our collective responsibility?

I believe there is a better response, and I’ll try to be as practical as possible. Instead of spewing all sorts of opinions and blame, use suffering to build character by coming together and persevering together in the direction of our collective dream.

In short, instead of collectively finding someone to blame. Let us collectively take on the responsibility of showing love, of giving comfort, of repairing brokenness, of educating others, of preventing future incidents.

Now, given how fragmented our country is, it is currently unrealistic to expect some national coming together, so in your own circles, particularly your own families, come together and ask this question:

How should we respond?

Parents, group your families, discuss and pray. Take this is a call to get to know your kids, to show more concern for understanding them, to learn to listen. Pray as a family for those affected and that God will show you how to live in harmony.

Children, honor your parents, listen to them. Ask them about the challenges they have faced and how they overcame. Fill your soul with stories of those who faced severe adversity yet did not give up. Care for your siblings, spend more time with them. If you’re older show a good example. If you’re younger show respect.

Teachers, it’s time to go back to true education. To educate someone means to bring out the best in them. It is not merely a downloading of information so that someone will pass a test. It is a deliberate effort to identify the best traits of a person and use your expertise to cultivate these traits.

Politicians, obviously should lead, but you’re not just a politician. You’re a public SERVANT. If you succeed in the popularity contest but didn’t succeed as a servant – you’re a failure – and you who have been given much will be judged with a higher requirement.

Churches, it’s time to promote true Christianity, which is Christlikeness that loves and lays life down because we overflow with the life He has given us and the love He fills us with. It is not a sanitised theology that believes God is here to make my life problem-free and as comfortable and respectable as possible.

We can go on with examples but the point is, whoever we are, wherever we are, whatever group we belong to, the ability to respond and make a positive difference in the lives of others is within us, and the first step is admit, “I AM RESPONSIBLE. I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING.”

Then follow this up with deliberate prayer and reflection asking God, “Father, show me how You want me serve.” I use the word deliberate to indicate discipline and action, NOT a mindless habit.

Then go out and lay your life down.

Now imagine what that would look like: lives laid down to form a bridge instead of a mob erected into a wall.

Again, I want to be clear that these are humble opinions, and are in no way comprehensive solutions to our society’s ills. I do hope that this drop will ripple in your minds, because I do believe some of you, if not many of you, will be blessed with creative ways to make our country more beautiful for our beautiful people, and all that’s needed is for you to respond.

My Heart

“Oh, I’ve loved you from the start
In every single way
And more each passing day
You are brighter than the stars
Believe me when I say
It’s not about your scars
It’s all about your heart”
– It’s All About Your Heart

Last Saturday, my aunt, Carol Lozano, celebrated her birthday with some friends and the kids of the Real LIFE Foundation. If you haven’t been to a Real LIFE event, make sure you contact Real LIFE at

While playing with the kids, I told one of the kids to get up from the floor and held my hand out to pull him up. I was caught off guard when the child extended an arm that ended oddly in the palm of my hand. I don’t know what happened but he didn’t have a hand. I took hold of him, lifted him, and walked him to a chair.

Later, while eating, I saw him using his good hand to hold his spoon and his stub to keep his bowl in place. I had a thought, “One doesn’t need two hands to eat. One only needs to be hungry. Success is the same way.”

But then I remembered the story of Nick Vujicic, a man with no limbs, not just no hands, no hands, arms, legs, and feet, and I thought of how many lives he inspires and brings hope to, including mine. I looked at this boy and could feel God speaking to me, “Man looks at the outside. I look at the heart. There are so many limbs out there I can’t use because their hearts are so far. Watch what I can do with when you give me your heart.”

So I sat the boy on my lap, looked him in the eyes, and told him, “You’re going to be a great man someday.” I gripped his stump and continued, “You’re going to be great. Your hands are going to shape the lives of others. Thank you for teaching me something today.” And I thanked God for using this child to remind me of such a fundamental truth of what Christianity means:

A Christian is someone who has a heart that is exclusively offered to God. Man looks at our achievements, our looks, our success, our behaviours. God, who sees EVERYTHING, who does not miss a thing, focuses His sights on our hearts. 

I was reminded of a beautiful song I stumbled upon after uncharacteristically purchasing Mindy Gledhill’s album on iTunes. I first liked the song It’s All About Your Heart because it starts off by saying, “I don’t mind your odd behaviour. It’s the very thing I savour.” The people that know me know that I have quite a set of odd behaviours, and I like the idea that someone might not just be able to stand my idiosyncrasies but actually like them.

I also like it because it reminds me of a failed attempt to tell a girl how beautiful she was. At least now, if a similar event ever presents itself I’ll just tell her to play this song. Haha! Sometimes the perfect song comes too late.

Anyway, here’s the song but please read on.

I think too many times, we live out our Christianity trying to prove to others, particularly our “leaders” that we’re Christians. It’s like a guy who spends more time trying to impress everyone he deserves a girl but fails to do the necessary things to win her heart. Guess what the outcome is going to be?

He’s going to lose her – even if he manages to convince everyone else.

It’s the same way for me. If I don’t spend the necessary time with God, if I don’t love Him on my own, in my isolation, in my difficulties, if I don’t spend more time seeking Him, if I spend my time seeking the approval of respectable people, if I waste my time trying to convince everyone and become an example without daily, consistently, truthfully, sincerely spend my energies on having a relationships with God than I am wasting my time. 

If I don’t seek Him I will lose Him, not because He remains aloof, but because my heart will inevitably seek something or someone else.

Even if I manage to convince everyone, even if everyone thinks I’m blessed, even if everyone calls me a “leader”, even if I check every box on man’s approval list, if maintain a heart that is still self-centred than I am going to lose.

It’s really that simple.

Again, Remember…
I’m a very forgetful guy. I’m very forgetful of the fact that I live each day only through the grace of God. I forget that everything I enjoy is His goodness. I forget that everything I don’t enjoy, every worry, fear, pain, is still His grace showing me something, teaching me, moulding my character, teaching me to see past comforts and trappings. It’s still Him reminding me that what is important to Him are not the things people admire, not even the things “Christians” admire. What is important to Him, what He admires, is a heart, broken, whole, wounded, healed, hurting, joyful, in whatever state, offered daily to Him.

Again, I am reminded, “Watch what I can do when you give me your heart.”

My Habitat for Humanity Ambassador Video

It is truly my privilege to be a part of Habitat for Humanity. I may be on the video, but I would like to say that the true heroes of Habitat for Humanity are the men and women who, though remain unrecognised and unrewarded, give their life daily to the cause of building decent homes for others. Greater honour awaits them, than this honour I am receiving on Earth. Greater is the honour that God prepares for those who choose to live for heavenly treasures and are not motivated by the rewards of man nor the recognition of man.

Greater is the reward of those who know, who understand, that the best of our lives, make that all of our lives, are meant to be lifted as worship to our maker.

I’m sharing this video of some of my motivations for helping. A part that was not included in the edit is when they asked me what verse has influenced my lifestyle of service and giving, and the first one that came to mind was this:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

While I was still poor, while I was broken, while I was far away, while I was offensive, while I was ugly, while I was stinky, while I was undeserving, while I was dying, even dead, Jesus Christ, loved me. And even during the times I fall back, He still loves me. Those who have been loved this much, forgiven this much, love much.

The mark of someone who has truly experienced the love and forgiveness of God, is not merely a philosophical understanding of what is right and wrong, neither is it a shallow acceptance of anything for the sake of getting along with others.

The mark of someone who has truly experienced the love and forgiveness of God is a life poured out in worship to God and in excellent service to others motivated by the greatest motivation of all: love.

By the way, the last part of the video, when I’m supposed to invite you, took me so long to get, and it still comes out quite awkward. Haha! Thank God I’m not an actor, not just because I can’t act, because it seems acting talent is quite absent in many actors anyway, but also because I can’t pretend I enjoy something I’m bad at.