Hidden gems

It’s Kyla’s birthday!

So much love and admiration for this amazing artist. Her music is generation-defining; her style is unparalleled, and her voice is perfection.

Thought I’d make a personal playlist of Kyla’s B-sides, unsung, underrated, perhaps forgotten tunes and tasteful songs that seriously must be known, heard and loved.

Happiest birthday Queen of R&B!

The Lord bless you

Declaring life, restoration, healing, strength and refreshment in the coming year.

God is faithful and His Word endures always.

And as Numbers 6:24-26 goes, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”

Ang puso ko’y nagpupuri

Here’s an attempt to sing the first couple of sections from this rendition of “Ang Puso Ko’y Nagpupuri” (also known as The Magnificat) by Hangad. Takes me back to my choir days in Marikina!

This is based on Luke 1:46-55, Mary’s iconic, biblical hymn of praise. Mary knew she was uniquely blessed and magnified the Lord; she knew that when she accepted this extraordinary blessing and responsibility, she had nothing to fear, because God Himself was her “Saviour.”

So good to praise God in your native tongue!

To Paul

Dear Mr Cockrem,

Alright—Paul,

I have nothing but gratitude, respect and appreciation for everything you are and for everything you have done for me.

On a personal note, I am humbled and thankful to have met you and worked with you in RJ, even more so for taking a chance on a newcomer like me. I will always remember that conversation, that reassuring handshake and the heartfelt prayer that had welcomed me into my new home.

I have learned so much from you, and I really wish I had more time to watch you lead and love and nurture our School community (and literally take notes!). Your leadership is beyond inspiring. Every conversation with you is like a masterclass for me!

Most importantly, you demonstrate how it is to love like Christ and to meet people where they’re at with so much kindness and grace. You define what a great leader should be—one that leads from the heart, honours God above all else, and serves selflessly.

As you open a brand new chapter, I pray that Yahweh continues to bless you and shower you with the best of His favours and graces, fill your heart with His peace and relentless joy that comes from knowing Him and His salvation. May you continue to glorify the Lord in this next phase, and reflect His goodness and beauty just as you have in the last 20+ years.

So sad to see you leave, and the School will not be the same without you. But I believe that your legacy, your passion for God and people will live on and remain tangible in our School.

Thank you, thank you!

Sincerely,

RM

Rie Manaloto with Paul Cockrem

Sun and Moon

This is probably the most out-of-the-blue, spontaneous cover I’ve done! Barely any prep whatsoever, sabak lang!

The last time I saw and sang with my little sister Eugenie (or Euge) was over 12 years ago during our choir days in Marikina. She’s now a successful music teacher in Dubai, and she was literally at work while recording this!

And so, for the love of Miss Saigon, and for old times’ sake, here it is.

I want to talk about self-care

I want to talk about self-care.

Not to be insensitive of what’s happening in the world lately, but you may somehow find something useful, relevant or practical in this personal reflection. Especially at this time.

Also, turning 24 this year (Ows talaga), you start to realise the things that truly matter, particularly the ones you have control over, ones you can manage.

Another disclaimer: I’m not a Bible expert but I just happen to be someone who uses it regularly, believes the validity if it, and tries hard to make sense of it. I will be quoting a lot from it.

First of all, self-care is NOT about “putting yourself first before others” or “loving yourself first so you can love others”. Utang na loob. I don’t subscribe to all of that. You cannot even find these in the Scriptures. That’s just self-centredness at the end of the day, and can lead to a higher level of selfishness and narcissism, which is dangerous. Sorry, not sorry.

Self-care is simply looking after your mind, body and spirit the way you’re supposed to. It’s about enabling yourself to function healthily and properly the way it’s supposed to.

The Bible does not directly address this or outline the how’s of it, but it is assumed that we learn to take care of our overall health and well-being (Visit Ephesians 5:28-29). To put it simply, a person cannot function properly when his system is down or in poor condition; when he does not get the rest and nourishment that he needs. Even Jesus cared about this (Read Matthew 15:32). He tended to the physical and spiritual needs of the people in His care.

I believe it matters to God that we’re taking care of our physical body and our inner man because it’s His temple; it’s sacred and it’s that valuable (Read 1 Corinthians 3:16-17). This demonstrates gratitude and worship to Him, sa totoo lang.

So how do we accomplish self-care?

◾️Eat right (Again, not to be insensitive to those who could barely make ends meet. But if you are capable to put food on your table, or eat at least twice a day, carefully choose what you put in your body. Go for healthy. Yes, Rie. Cut down on sugar, jusko)

◾️Sleep right (I’m guilty of this myself. But basically a scientist once said, “the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life.” Tapos ang usapan. If you have a comfortable bed to sleep on, use it. 7-9 hours sabi ng health experts)

◾️Exercise regularly (Yes, this is unfortunately true. It’s so essential, kahit anong sabihin mo. You need to make time. You need to allow your body to learn how to gain strength and endure. It’s not solely about losing weight, but gaining physical strength. 2-3 times a week at least)

◾️Spend time with God (Yes, fill yourself with God. He is the ultimate source of strength, refreshment and peace. Humans will NEVER find fulfilment without God. This is biblical and in all sense true. With God, we end up in an even better place to be able to give and bless others. Hindi “love yourself first.” That will only lead you to more dissatisfaction. Even Jesus had His regular “alone time” or prayer time (Read Mark 1:35). Get over yourself and pray—seek God. Read the Word and make sense of it. If you want understanding, ask the Author. Malamang alam Niya ‘yan, Siya ang nagpasulat niyan eh (Read James 1:5).

◾️Renew your thinking (Regularly, actively, consciously, persistently. Biblical din ‘yan (Read Romans 12:2). Things will not always go as planned, but we can always change the way we think in many ways, and set our minds on whatever’s good and right—the list is in Philippians 4:8. If you’re still alive and breathing, you are not done yet. Move on na sa past. Look forward and hope for the best. Trust God wholeheartedly (Proverbs 3:5-6).

These steps seem simple and easy—c’mon, it’s not rocket science. But it takes commitment and regularity to achieve and fully benefit from. This is an ongoing thing, a lifestyle. A conscious choice. And the concept of self-care may look different for all of us.

We have to learn and/or be reminded how to better take care of what God has given us, so we can serve Him well and continually, and be His vessel, His hands and feet in this very needy world. This is to glorify Him, not ourselves.

This is only one area of living magnified, and not the only thing that matters. I hope you picked up something.

That one electric Bill

Excellent, electrifying, and extraordinary. I got to see Billy Elliot the Musical start off its tenth anniversary tour right here in Australia at the Sydney Lyric Theatre. What a brilliant production!

As we all know, this award-winning musical was based on the 2000 film written by Lee Hall, which tells the story of young boy who discovers a love for ballet during the UK coal miners’ strike in the mid 80s, and how he strives towards his dream amidst the adversities. The iconic Elton John wrote the music to Lee Hall’s lyrics.

It was such an incredible experience. I’ve not seen so many kids dance and perform together to a freakishly high standard as what I’ve seen in this production. So many breathtaking and mind blowing moments throughout the show.

And the Billy on the first Saturday night, River Mardesic was just remarkable! I could not believe I was watching a 10 year old just smash it on stage. What was I doing when I was 10? Surely not tap dancing madly or flying on a harness in all the glorious fog!

Rie Manaloto

Quick snapshot post-show

By Rie Manaloto