Today's my 32nd birthday, "wala na sa kalendaryo.." (not in the calendar anymore.) In all honesty, I actually prefer backward-23 but there's no such thing. Facebook has a greeting card which says, "Age is just a number, and mine is not listed." Well, I do consider age as just as a symbol for the number of years I've been temporarily "lodging" on "Earth."

Maybe it's a sort of defense mechanism... but I also believe that "Age is just a state of mind." The mind is the most powerful organ in the human body and I've proven first-hand for several times that the condition of my brain dictates the way I look.

One case in point was when I felt so old, tired and weary and the thought in my mind as I was entering the door to the office was "I feel so harrassed." Faster than the snap of a finger after I've thought of that, one of my 'younger brothers' who saw me remarked, "You look so harrassed!" It ironically brought a smile to my heart and I actually replied, "Thanks for the compliment!" in all sincerity. I felt it as a sort of validation to how transparent I was as a person.

So, I'm not really surprised about the state of my health these days. Aside from the fact that I haven't been able to run in months because I've been losing sleep, the constant thought in my mind is "I need some rest." I just can't take a rest, though. Not... yet.

I know that God knows my heart and He's the only ultimate judge of the motivation behind everything that I do. I know that if I need to be disciplined, He will discipline me. If I need to be reminded first before He disciplines me, He will remind me first. If I need to be consoled, He will console me. If I need to be uplifted, He will uplift me. If I need to be assured, He will assure me; if I need to be rewarded, He will reward me.

Nine years has passed since that 'peak' in my life when God allowed me to have the limelight for a few hours, when the stage was mine, when everybody sort of knew me, when I was a winner and felt that everything was possible. It would be an understatement to say that nothing much has happened. Well, a lot has happened since July 2000 when I had "glory," when a sparkling crown was on my head and camera lights flickered on every side.

But then again, what of it? What tangible significance has it made on my life and the lives of those who helped me get there, who cared enough to encourage me and let me shine? Where are they?

My mother is still here, thank God that I still have a chance to "pay her back" for all the years she has reared me. But Papa, he's "asleep" six feet under, awaiting Christ's second coming. My sister Joy is in Singapore, my 'bunso' (youngest sibling) Amy is leaving for London soon.

How about my mentors, Jojo and Kuya Rogil Flores? My make-up artists, Tita Jeanne and Tita Atlas? Where could they be? I wonder if they are still in the country. I wonder if I could still have a chance to make them feel how deeply grateful I am for all the help they've given me. I don't think I have really thanked them enough.

My city, Pasig, is still on the map. It is thriving, it is growing. My town, Sta. Lucia, what of it now? I haven't visited it in years..

The pages of my lifebook has quite a number of open-ended chapters. As God is the Author of that lifebook, He will give fitting 'endings' to those chapters -- if He wills it. At 32, I haven't really reached the peak yet, I haven't reached my full potential and exhausted "all of me" so I could be the kind of person that God has designed me to be. I am yet to get to the top of my game, I am yet to endure a thousand laps towards a strong finish. I am yet to do what He really wants me to do.

Will I get there? Will I endure further? Will I scale the slopes to reach the peak and wonder at the beauty of the horizon?

Only God knows. For now, I can only move forward and pray that next year would be better.

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