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Monday, August 29, 2016

Freedom, in My Perspective


Let me ask you a question: “Would you stand around stark naked in front of a crowd, if you could? Yes, and why, or no, and why not?”

For some, it may seem like a bizarre question. Who, in their right mind would do something despicable like that? Let alone, even think of doing such a disgraceful act? The decision on whether to do it or not  lies on  free will and freedom of choice, to which every human being is entitled to. What could be right or wrong for you, is not necessarily the same for everyone.

We are born free, and have every right to be free. People that have lost such fundamental freedom through external oppression or conquest are said to be “liberated”, when freedom is restored. We talk about different kinds of freedom-- belief, choice, expression, speech, assembly, and the list goes on. Human beings want to live their lives as they please, without coercion. But what is freedom, really? How does one become truly free?

Freedom is usually depicted as liberation from any form of restraint or from the power of another, usually in physical terms or aspects. It is often described as a source of happiness, the most important of values, and the hallmark of civilization. People pride themselves of freedom and democracy, continually promoting and emphasizing it as they live on. They dislike to a certain degree, being conquered by any type of negative power, and allow themselves to be dominated. If it were not for the brave, heroic figures who dared to fight against opposing forces in order to protect freedom, society would not be where it is today.

Nowadays, freedom is defined as independence, acting based on one’s own decisions without influence of any laws. People have no way of getting the purest form of freedom there is, which is absolute freedom. However, this is often mistaken as a right of getting what a person wants, usually through any physical, mental, or spiritual means. Some take it as fickle and arbitrary, though it should not be. They use it as an excuse to pursue whatever objective they have in mind, to live and act in whatever manner they prefer. Having the right knowledge and using choices for the right reason gives us the right to be human, however, doing the opposite makes us inhuman. Freedom allows each and every person opportunities to make decisions that govern their life, and make their quality of life higher, yet respecting the rights of others.

Our actions are undeniably constrained. “It is by the goodness of God that in most countries we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them,” according to Mark Twain. Genuine freedom doesn’t mean that a person could do just about anything he desires. A truly free person lives out their life making decisions based on their sense of morality, guided by their conscience, and follows obligations and relationships that provide the essence of their lives.


Freedom and the Youth

The youth often yearn for true, absolute freedom. They are put into situations wherein they often feel restrained, similar as being locked inside an imaginary prison, even in the comfort of their own homes. They cannot always get what they want, may it be physical or non-physical desires. They need to think about what actions to take and not to take, how to exercise self-control, how to exude politeness and manners, if deemed necessary, and to choose to do things for the right reason. "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others,” says Nelson Mandela.

In this era, rampant drug use, premarital sex, pornography, crimes, and other widely-known immoral issues are very common. The heaviness of mortal sin is evident. People are well aware of what is perceived as “good” or “bad” in the public eye, yet they still do it, whether performed in secret or not. Without proper guidance and formation, teens tend allow themselves to be led through the sea of temptation. The power and influence of society and environment play a crucial role in cultivating their desires. The tendency is to spiral out of control and before they know it, the deed is already done. To prevent these things from happening, one should be fully aware of the long term consequences and the harmful effects of giving in to the pressures of conforming to what others think is acceptable and right. This is where the gift of conscience plays a major role.

Every human body is the temple of God. Yes, people are born free, but they are not promised absolute freedom. We can do anything we want as long as it is in accordance with the Will of God, follows all moral laws and rules, and respects the rights of others.


Freedom and the Universal Laws

In order to act freely, one should not allow themselves to be affected by any peculiar circumstances, desires, or goals. They should choose the same way others would choose, with the guidance of right knowledge and reason. They should act as others ought to act. Knowledge of moral, civil and divine laws are taken into account, propelled with the right motive and intention.

The mind governs and controls all aspects of the body. It can command any part to function the way you want it to, such as bring forth positive, healthy energy or destructive, negative ones. Anything in excess becomes poison. The constant practice of self-control and fortitude will eventually form a habit that will benefit you in the long term. Make it a habit to think before you act.

The Law of Attraction states, “What you think, you become.” Further delved upon and explained in several books about how it governs every aspect of people’s lives, it empowers one to transform his, in every positive way imaginable.

Why are we born free? We are born with freedom to choose and free will in order to take care of God’s creations, which also includes us in the loop. The weight of our actions rests heavily on our shoulders, and builds up our character and personality, our lives, and how we choose to see the world. Freedom is all about respect; respect for one’s self and respect for the rights of others. Our human laws, the ones we act based on, is fully dependent on Natural and Divine Laws. We cannot become absolutely and completely free people, because we cannot achieve the impossible with our own human hands.



Expressions of Freedom and Psychological Slavery

Technology

In this rapidly evolving digital age, living and thriving in a period wherein anything and everything is easily accessible to all, regardless of where they are, makes one bound to be caught up in the indulgences of the world at some point. The culture of oversharing is the very definition of physical freedom. Through the use of the internet, blogs, social media sites, gadgets, and other wonders of technology, anyone can express themselves to a vast audience around the globe, in many different ways.

Do most people even pause to think about the appropriateness of their content and the value of the message they are trying to get across, to people who view their posts? How people act online is a reflection of individual strengths, weaknesses, and insecurities, no matter how perfectly they portray their lives. Enslaved by approval ratings measured through praises or number of “likes”, this represents an individual’s never ending quest for acceptance.

The Concept of Beauty

            Enhancing one’s external looks would be classified as one of the boldest, healthiest way of expressing freedom. There is that thought, until we burrow deeper into the darker side of beauty. Somehow, across the years, the demand for the use of modern cosmetics and plastic surgery has risen in alarming levels. The Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (USA) reported in October 2007 a fascinating survey from UCLA scientists. They had found that forty-eight percent of women said they would be interested in cosmetic surgery, liposuction or both, while another 23 percent said they would possibly be interested. This obsession with changing one’s physical appearance seems to be accompanied by a startling psychological devastation that afflicts even the youngest members of society. The National Eating Disorders Association (USA) reported that more than fifty percent of ten-year old girls wish they were thinner.

Even if freedom is widely present in our lives, psychological slavery coexists with it, as well. It is a terrifying thought that pre-pubescent children are willing to go under the knife just for the sake of appearances. The fact that they would even consider permanently changing at least one part of their body, is propelled by feelings of anxiety and inadequacy. It seems that in the olden days, early media have set up an unwritten standard for beauty, and this affected everyone’s perception about it. The said mindset is being passed on from generation to generation, up to the present. Having a sense of superiority among all the others aesthetically, seems much more important to some, than anything else. Rather than focusing on worldwide concerns and donating to organizations that aim to alleviate issues focused on real-world suffering such as poverty, hunger, and lack of education, people seem pretty keen on keeping their confidence about their superficial beauty intact, more than letting their inner beauty shine.

Idolatry
           
Another factor under psychological slavery is that it often comes in addiction. Addiction of entertainment, illusion and fantasy is another major part of anyone’s life. People have at least experienced fawning over a local celebrity, obsessing over a couple of TV shows and dramas, and tuning in to the latest showbiz, at one point in their lives. The popularity of these topics sometimes surpass those of war and worldwide suffering. They hinder focus on religion, studies, education, and work.

This is referred to as idolatry. Every type of idolatry is especially present in this modern age: through giving more importance on one’s self, long-spent hours on the television and surfing the internet, through worshiping and making celebrities seem like gods and not just role models, and so on. The act of idolatry violates Divine law, or the Decalogue, specifically in the first commandment.

Given the varying arguments about freedom, one question still remains: “Are you truly free?”

The decision lies on what we are and what specific goals we have in our lives and that of others. What is our purpose? What do we stand for? If freedom is love, living in accordance with God’s holy will and universal laws, being free means harnessing the good for the greater benefit of all. If freedom means moving in harmony and congruence with the world, devoid of hindrances that chain and enslave us, only then we can say that we are truly free.


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Did you enjoy this post? For more of my stories and adventures, you can subscribe to my updates via EMAIL or READER, or follow my blog through Facebook and Twitter. Take care, God bless, keep on shining and have a beautiful life! Mwah!






Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Playing with Kracie Popin' Cookin' DIY Candy Kit


Hello everyone! Happy 2016!:D

I know it's been almost a year since I last shared something with you. My Grade 9 school life has demanded so much of my time and concentration, leaving little room for extra activities in my spare time. But it's summer time and school officially ended last March 15, so yahoo for that!

I am so excited because today’s blog post will specially feature a Kracie Popin’ Cookin’ DIY Kit product! The Kracie Popin’ Cookin’ line comprise a series of different kinds of Japanese soft candy that come in themed boxes. I have familiarized myself with these products before, as my aunt had generously given these to me and my cousins as gifts or 'pasalubong' from her trips to Japan. We had so much fun making sweets we would eat up later. 

Kracie Popin' Cookin' DIY Candy Kit
Top view

There are various sweets in sushi form, in pudding form, and a lot more. To be honest, I don't know the exact name or theme of this box because it's printed in Japanese. There are so many products to choose from; you can check it out here. For this candy kit, I had a struggle finding what type of candy I would make. I know that it is not all that hard to come up with (instructions are in Japanese, as well), but I managed somehow by looking at the photos.

Instructions at the back

The packaging of the product is very appealing, with bold and bright colors. It was very easy to open. There were six candies, each in a different color, and sprinkles for the ingredients. When I opened up the packaged soft candies, out came the fragrance, They smelled super sweet and delicious! A cute mold and a stick for the candies were included as well.

Press on the perforated area to open the box
Tadaaaa!
Sealed package inside
Plastic mold
Soft candies in different colors and flavors plus sprinkles and plastic stick

I, then, started making my candies. I made a cake first. I remember the days when I was molding clay into different sorts of sweets and delicacies; I had often made cakes. It was color yellow and white, and finished off with a strawberry on top.

Cake

I encountered a problem though, when the candy started sticking to my fingers. There was a little struggle when it could not come off, as I won't be able to make what I originally wanted to do. The heat coming off my fingers made the candy moist and sticky (or maybe it's simply because of the summer weather), but I tried my best to make these as intricately as possible. 


Blue and Pink Candy Swirl with Sprinkles
Baby Blue Pie

Each candy had a different flavor. The white one tasted like bubblegum, the blue candy tasted like blueberry, the purple candy tasted like grape, the pink one tasted like strawberry, and the black one tasted like blackberry, at least it seemed like that to me.

In the end, I made ice cream, a lollipop swirl, croissant, and a cute pastry. And the best part is, after I molded and designed it, I get to eat them too!

Ice Cream in a Cone
Ice Cream Sundae
Pink and White Lollipop Swirl
Croissant
Cute Pastry

You can design and create whatever you want out of these soft candies. You don't have follow each and every design in the box, because the possibilities are endless! I think I had taken photos of our early creations. Hopefully I can find them so I could share the other designs with you. 

P.S. According to its creators, "all Kracie Popin Cookin DIY Candy Kits are edible and safe for children and adults alike. Popin Cookin is made of candy powder and all natural colorings. For example, red is from beetroot, yellow ​​from algae gardenia, blue from algae superurina. No artifical sweeteners and preservatives are added."


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Did you enjoy this post? For more of my stories and adventures, you can subscribe to my updates via EMAIL or READER, or follow my blog through Facebook and Twitter. Take care, God bless, keep on shining and have a beautiful life! Mwah!


Friday, May 1, 2015

Crazy Chocolate Cake: No Eggs, Milk, and Butter!

Crazy Chocolate Cake

I tried a new recipe last week, named "Crazy Cake" or Wacky Cake" otherwise known as  "Depression Cake." Apparently, it originated during the Great Depression era in the 1930s, when milk, eggs and other dairy products were scarce. It is amazing that the cake looks and tastes much like real moist and yummy cake even when there are no eggs, milk, or butter in the ingredients-- exactly the reason why it is called "crazy"! Best for those who have egg or dairy allergies, it is so easy to make.

I loved it so much that I decided to make another one again the day after. Now, here is how to make yours!



Crazy Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water


*Optional: 6-8 pieces of Hershey's Kisses chocolate 



1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celsius.

2. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt) all together in a greased square baking pan (8 inches).



3. Create two small depressions and one large depression in the dry mixture.


4. Pour the vegetable oil on the biggest depression, white vinegar on one depression and vanilla extract in the other.


 

5. Pour water over everything and mix thoroughly until smooth.


After mixing the batter well, I added melted Hershey's Kisses for a more chocolatey taste. This is optional and not included in the basic recipe. You can even add your favorite nuts if you wish to customize the recipe according to your preference.


6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or when toothpick comes out clean. Do not over bake.


After the cake cooled down, I smeared Caramel and Chocolate Duo Penotti spread on top as instant frosting, and even decorated it using a piping bag with the same filling. You can also use Nutella or any of your favorite spread that will complement the chocolate cake, if you do not want to go through the trouble of whipping up a batch of frosting from scratch.


I was so excited to let my family taste the cake after baking, and was curious to know what their responses will be. During dinner, everyone raved that it was delicious. My little cousin Sofia even commented that it tasted like the Lava Cake at Stacy's. Thanks to my Mom, I feel overjoyed learning about baking as a hobby this summer.

If you decide to try out this recipe, please feel free to share your creations with me. I would love to see what you've done with your own Crazy Chocolate Cake and how much fun you had making it! :)

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Did you enjoy this post? For more of my stories and adventures, you can subscribe to my updates via EMAIL or READER, or follow my blog through Facebook and Twitter. Take care, God bless, keep on shining and have a beautiful life! XOXO

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Day I Made Chocolate Fudge Cake

Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge Cake

This is the day after I had made my very first Chocolate Fudge Cake. 

I felt very ecstatic and a little impatient while looking at all the easy, and delicious recipes that my Mom told me to start with, the day before. You know, we had the 'make-your-summer-productive' talk that meant doing more fun things other than staying in front of the computer all day. 

So, yeah.

Luckily, I came across a Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix in our food supplies cabinet. My aunt told me that it was okay to use and  bake with; so I did. It was around 2:00 P.M. at that time. 

I started looking for the needed ingredients and measured them according to the instructions with my equally eager little helper, Sofia.  We had first taken out the mix from the box, then grabbed vegetable oil, water, measuring cup, wooden spoon, and a medium-sized bowl. We mixed all the ingredients in the  bowl, and added a little bit (actually, many, MANY bits) of leftover chocolate chunks into the mixture. After that, we each took turns in pouring the mixture on the glass baking dish, while my aunt readied the oven. It was set to 177 C or 350 F, and the baking time was about 25 to 28 minutes. We placed the dish it in the oven and waited. 

I paced back and forth, anxiously waiting for the results of my cake. After what seemed liked forever, it was finally done and the kitchen was filled with the heavenly aroma that came from the oven. I took the cake out and it looked so deliciously chocolatey. I placed it on a rack and waited for it to cool. Topped with some wafer bits, it was ready to serve. 

It was soooooo easy to make! But then I decided, the next time I bake, I would make my own cake straight from a tried and tested recipe, instead of a cake mix. Although using a ready mix somehow guarantees that your cake will turn out right, I want to learn the basics so I can experiment more later on.

I knew then, that day marked the beginning of  an exciting baking adventure. So stay tuned for more!

P.S. If you are interested to try, different brands and flavors of cake mixes are widely available in groceries and supermarkets. Happy baking! :)


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Did you enjoy this post? For more of my stories and adventures, you can subscribe to my updates via EMAIL or READER, or follow my blog through Facebook and Twitter. Take care, God bless, keep on shining and have a beautiful life! Mwah!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Reflection Sunday: Saved by the Bell


Me and Daddylo one Sunday afternoon
An inspired reflection I wrote on the second Sunday of November 2014, after hearing Holy Mass. 

I am a religious person. I have always been. 

I was raised properly, and taught at an early age to love and serve the Lord. I performed multiple religious practices when I was young, and diligently prayed everyday, thanking Him for everything I have, and will continue to receive in the future. I also pleaded for Him to lead and guide all the lost sheep that have come astray. 

I have done what a normal Christian would do. However, I shamefully admit that I was, not at all times, dedicated to the Lord. 

There were moments when I have committed disgraceful and irresponsible acts due to my own, selfish curiosity. There were also times when my lethargic self was sluggish and unwilling to spend precious quality time with the Lord, let alone one hour with Him on a Sunday. There were moments when I forget to speak with Him and bid Him goodnight before I sleep. There is literally no excuse for my actions. 

But there were precious memories when I had really communicated and expressed deeply my emotions and thoughts to Him. Those moments happened occasionally, regardless of time. It was the thought that counted. I remember having enjoyed talking to Him and spilling emotions kept locked in my heart, waiting to burst out when I really needed a person to lean on to, aside from my family. 

I told Him stories about how my life was going, my insecurities, and so on. Afterwards, I felt light and relieved, as if my burdens and worries have melted away—disappearing into nothingness. And then everything was alright. I sometimes wondered if He could have heard my prayers. 

Deep down, I knew that He is always there, watching and guiding me whenever I needed help. He is the closest friend I ever had. Everyday, I imagine that He is walking by my side, wanting to be a part of my adventure. No matter when or where, whenever I feel down or lonely, He comes right at me and says, “How are you doing?” in a jolly manner.

I always feel that I am watched, protected, and loved, anywhere I go. I always silently thank Him for being there for me. He helps me solve my problems and somehow, takes my worries away. Currently, I am attending a private Catholic school, where most of the time I feel like a loner standing at the side, watching everyone interact and communicate with their friends, when I don’t really have many friends to confide in. I have always felt awkward and out of place. But there He stands, smiling at me and telling me that I am special, loved, and that I am destined for a great future. He has always enveloped me in the warmth of His love. 

Whenever I don’t have the courage, and when I feel weak and helpless, He just smiles and gives me a gentle push, and we both take our time to complete each step towards achieving my goals and dreams. I always do things halfheartedly, and put a small amount of effort in what I usually do, so He, in turn, gives me a little nudge to motivate, inspire, and support me. He gives me the courage and strength to face my own fears and weaknesses, and helps me step out of my own comfort zone. 

I truly admire Him for making me the person I am now. In my own little ways, I am striving to become like Him, who inspires others and is a leader and follower in both mind and heart. 

I, like every other person in the world, cannot possibly repay Him in full for what He has given to us. We cannot repay His love, His kindness, His forgiveness, His mercifulness and His suffering. I cannot imagine why He has chosen to shower us all— weak and unworthy humans, with His love. We, who couldn’t do so much to deserve His wonderful, loving care and compassion. 

With the hard work and effort He has put into saving our lives, and all of humanity, regardless of the fact that He was aware that people will reject, laugh, and underestimate Him, I am proud to say that I am one of God’s children. 

I wish to be like Him someday. 

Here I am, a simple high school student going on with my simple life, walking through a bare empty street, holding my grandfather’s hand as I continue to silently walk to the nearest local parish. 

It is quiet, save for the low humming the engines produced coming from nearby vehicles. The streets illuminated by the soft, orange glow emitted by the lampposts. 

The starless sky is dark, the wind slightly rustling my wet hair. There is a full moon tonight. 

And as I listened to the gentle pitter-patter of our feet, we were nearing the church. After pausing slightly to greet some of our neighbors, we continued our walk. When we reached our destination, I glanced at my watch and smiled. 7:15 pm. 

I looked up to the sky, and at that moment, the church bells rang. It resounded beautifully, and echoed in various directions, signaling to everyone that it was time to glorify and to praise the Lord. 

Alas, saved by the bell.

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Did you enjoy this post? For more of my stories and adventures, you can subscribe to my updates via EMAIL or READER, or follow my blog through Facebook and Twitter. Take care, God bless, keep on shining and have a beautiful life! Mwah!