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is a passionista and student often seen making her way to her next class through the buildings of the University of the Philippines Los Baños. She is also an obscure reference user, anglophile, pretty-things hoarder, closet hipster, time traveler, princess in disguise and more than a conqueror.

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This blog is an avenue for me to write down my thoughts about life, relationships, art, all things pretty, and my journey with God. I could be a bit random too, depending on my mood.. I hope you don't check out. ;)

Click here to know how God saved me, here to know more about me and here to know more about this blog!

Real Beauty

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4 ♥

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Bettina Esguerra

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Bettina's Bookshelf: Reading

Just Walk Across the Room: Simple Steps Pointing People to FaithThe Screwtape LettersThe Great DivorceA Brief History of TimeThe Last BattleThe Silver Chair

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All photos and content © Bettina Esguerra unless otherwise specified. Please don't steal or repost without my permission. Thank you!

23 August 13
12 August 13
Another day at the office.. #throwback #BuhayTheatreMajor #DeerInHeadlights

Another day at the office.. #throwback #BuhayTheatreMajor #DeerInHeadlights

8 August 13

One of the most romantic songs I’ve ever heard, from one of the most kilig movies I’ve ever seen. ♥ (Also one of my all-time favorites!)

21 June 13

An update on my academic life and the condition of my heart

There are three reasons I keep this blog, even though I barely find the time to post. Heehee. First, it’s a way to update my friends and family—that’s why I’m not afraid to be personal, sentimental and spiritual, even though people may find that off-putting. It’s also why I don’t publicize it. Not that I have anything to hide or that I get negative (because if there’s one thing I take pride in, it’s that I have never ranted online just because I can), but I like the idea of only a few people knowing about my blog. I just send links to people I’m close to, and that’s it. But if they want to share it with others, that’s okay too. Second, it’s the way I process myself. I find that when I go through something, it really helps to talk about it, but more so when I write it down. Third (and this is the last priority), if anyone finds my blogs helpful, then I’m not going to stop writing. 

That said..

I just found out I’m not graduating this coming October. I’m graduating next March, like the batch ‘10 people.

..but I’m still smiling. :)

When I first found out, I was paralyzed for like 30 seconds. I could not move or think. After months and months of thinking I was graduating this semester, I found out that two subjects that I needed to take have the same schedule—and both only have one section. I tried exhausting every possible means to get every subject I need this semester, but to no avail. Everything that I tried to do, failed.

So I called my mom and the first thing I told her was, “Mom, I need to tell you something. But first I need to know that you love me no matter what.” 

Of course she affirms her love for me, then goes on to ask what’s wrong. So I told her. And as always and as expected, she was very understanding, honest, supportive and encouraging, in that order. (I really wish everyone had a mom like her. The world would be a much better place.)

So I accepted my “fate” and just decided to pass my papers so I can finally register the subjects that I had, and I wanted to cry, because just last night I was looking for career options, going through the World Vision website and getting excited for the next season of my life. But alas, God has other plans.

So when I got to the College Secretary, about to cry, he tells me, “Ah, yung mga subjects na hindi mo makukuha ngayon, pwede mo kunin sa Diliman next sem kung taga-QC ka.”

I took a moment to let that sink in.

This is a big deal for me for three things:

  1. I was reminded that my journey is extremely unique. First of all, it’s only the world who says that I need to graduate after four years. But God allowed me to be in college for these many years because He knows me more than anyone—He knows how to shape me, how to build me, and He knows how to get my attention when I’m not listening, and that is to strip me off of things I don’t need so I could grow (and I have been stripped off of A LOT of things). He knows how stubborn I can be. And it’s just so sweet because it’s like God is telling me, “I’m mindful of you. I’m considerate of you. I know who you are. I know your story. And I can redeem it. This isn’t over. Let me show people my glory through you.”
  2. What the enemy meant for evil, God has a way of turning into good. I admit that if I wasn’t a Christ-follower, I would probably have attempted suicide by now. I had a lot of plans for my life—I wanted to graduate on time, get engaged by 20 and get married by 21. It makes me laugh thinking about it now but that’s the kind of life I wanted. I’m 22, and I have none of those things yet. But again, God has great plans for me, and I know that those plans are greater than the ones I have for myself. I really believe that.
  3. Me taking the rest of my subjects in UPD next sem is perfect because I’m starting a small group in Katipunan! This is the best part for me. :) Along with the small group I’m handling in my home church, I’m also planning on starting a small group with the ones I’m already discipling who are already in Katip (Hannah and Maika are in UPD and Dani is in Ateneo), and I have been connecting with a lot of Victory QC people to help me (because again, they’re the ones who are already there). And again, it’s just God telling me that He is so mindful of me that He will take me right to the campuses that I have the heart for! :) I wanted to cry when I was reminded of that. Because for months I have been asking God to lead me to the place where He wants me to minister. I have been doing this for years now in LB and for many months it just felt like my time here is over.. and this is the reason why. Because God is letting me study in UP Diliman for my final semester. And He’s confirming what’s been in my heart for the past few years now. (The Katip girls and I were also already kind of having a hard time finding a good time for us to meet.)

So yeah, my heart is just bursting right now, because I am so excited and expectant. God really has a way of answering prayers and faith goals, and now another one has just been answered. I am so thankful.

That said, can you guys pray for me this season? Pray that the UPD thing next semester is a go. Another reason is that my mom, being the single parent that she is, is already having a hard time providing for me when I study in LB so she wants me to transfer to Diliman also. Also, that God will continue speaking to me and confirming to me OVER AND OVER AND OVER again that this is what He wants me to do. 

All this said, I leave you with a video that single-handedly explains my heart for the colleges and for the next generation in general. :)

And the Ignite 2013 highlights, which always gives me goosebumps and makes me miss it every time I see it!

17 May 13

On falling in love with an idea, the emptiness of the American dream, and true friends

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DISCLAIMER: Spoilers ahead. Don’t read on if you plan on watching The Great Gatsby. :)

The first and last time I read the novel was in high school, so I was very rusty on the details upon entering the movie house. All I remembered was that the ending was tragic. And that even as a teenager, I loved and enjoyed the book.

Another thing that made me really excited about the movie is the fact that it was directed by one of my all-time favorite film directors, Baz Luhrmann. Sure, not a lot of people get his vision — he’s really all for visual spectacle and the use of contemporary music for classic stories (case in point: 1997’s Romeo + Juliet, also starring the very talented Leo DiCaprio), but being the naturally dramatic person that I am, I love absolutely everything he does! To this day, the aforementioned Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge are two of my favorite movies. I haven’t seen his other Nicole Kidman movie, Australia, so I can’t really comment on that one. Heehee.

If you know me, you know that I only write reviews about movies that I absolutely enjoyed and that I found valuable lessons from, so you would know that this is one of those films. The Great Gatsby, a novel by one of America’s greatest authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald, is considered a literary classic for good reason. It really is, at the core, a morality tale minus the self-righteousness and the preachy tone. 

I will no longer provide a summary for it because I’m sure all it takes is one Google search, so I’m just gonna go right ahead with the review.

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First, the technicals. Visuals were perfect, as per usual. The art director should seriously get an Oscar for his work! Even the obvious green screen parts worked. The sets and costumes were so beautiful, Jacky and I kept saying how much we want to live during that era! Luhrmann really captured the glamour and the excess of the roaring ’20s, when alcoholism was the bomb and excessive partying was not just socially acceptable; it was also encouraged.

When I found out Jay-Z was producing the movie, I had a gut feeling he was also going to meddle with the music. And I was right. At first the whole idea of his involvement made me feel uncomfortable, as I loved the book and I’m just generally protective of things that I love. But even the music felt right. I was never a huge fan of Lana Del Rey, but her song “Young and Beautiful” was so wonderfully integrated into the film that I am considering listening to her music now.

And I remembered one thing my brother told me when we were watching Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (a period movie which also used contemporary music): “I get what the director is trying to do here. Of course the music historical people listened to would be classical to us now, but to them those songs were probably rock and roll.”

Good point.

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All the actors were great — Leo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan have always been very reliable actors. You always know they would show up, do a good job and prove themselves worthy of the roles given to them, and this movie was no exception. I used to have problems with Mulligan before, as I have always felt that she’s the same in everything she’s in (she’s kind of like Jennifer Lawrence in that regard), but in this movie, that one character she can play, worked. Although I would have hoped for someone more playful, someone who seems like she can really make you fall for her one second and then rip your heart out the next — Rachel McAdams or Emmy Rossum, for instance. Mulligan made Daisy Buchanan very sympathetic, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing. DiCaprio, on the other hand, embodied Jay Gatsby. It was so kilig the way he was nervous about seeing her again after 5 years! 

The only flaw to an otherwise really good film, I felt, was Tobey Maguire. If only because he still freaking reminds me of Peter Parker! You know an actor is a one-trick pony if he never changes in anything he does, and Maguire is just that. Which is sad, because Nick Carraway is obviously central to the story, even though he’s mostly just a spectator. I would have picked someone like James Franco for the role.

The other actors, Elizabeth Debicki, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher and the guy who played the grieving husband (forgot his name, heehee) were all good as well.

I love how Luhrmann didn’t compromise the story. Of course nowadays anyone who films in 3D format will be accused of distracting the audience from a below-average script, but this time I felt like it was really a conscientious, creative decision. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s focus on the storytelling aspect.

Three things that stood out to me while watching the movie:

  • When you’re in love, you tend to love an idea, not really a person. That, I think, is what happened with Gatsby and Daisy. Gatsby was so intent on the idea of building a future with her, even to the point of doing illegal and morally reprehensible things, just so he can “earn” or “deserve” her (ironically, it’s proven that in the end, Daisy is the one who doesn’t really deserve him, not the other way around). I just hope that one day, when I fall in love, it will be because I love the person, not just the idea of him. I would see him as a completely flawed and broken person, yet I would still choose to love him, even when I don’t feel like it.
  • The American dream isn’t really all that much. The world has a tendency to place value on a person based on how much they have — and Gatsby has fallen prey to that. It’s great that in the end, he found out that if your identity is hinged on your net worth, then it’s pretty easy to fall apart when the going gets tough.
  • It’s really important to speak truth and life into the people you care about. I was so emotionally invested on the bromance (read: close, platonic relationship between two heterosexual males) between Gatsby and Carraway, and I kept waiting for the latter to JUST FREAKING TELL JAY TO GET OVER DAISY ALREADY, because it was going to ruin all of them! Lo and behold, that didn’t happen. No, Nick just stood there and let terrible circumstances happen to his friend and to his cousin. One of my favorite bloggers recently tweeted (not verbatim), “Tell people how to be sexy and you’re a great friend. Tell them to care for their soul and you’re a judge.” And I felt like Nick was being a “great friend”, tolerating Jay’s madness instead of telling him the truth he needed to hear. I’m glad that in the end, Nick was able to affirm Jay — “You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together” — but it was too late. It’s my prayer that all of us will find friends who won’t be afraid to correct us, because we all have the tendency to think that we’re doing great even though we’re not, and sometimes we need an outsider’s perspective to be honest about our blind spots. I’m so thankful I have people like that in my life.

Well that’s it. I know it’s currently getting mixed reviews, but I still absolutely enjoyed it and hope that people will give it a chance. 5/5 stars. :)

P.S. This character map is so cute!

22 April 13

humanrightswatch:

Burma: End ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ of Rohingya Muslims

Burmese authorities and members of Arakanese groups have committed crimes against humanity in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State since June 2012.

Human Rights Watch research describes the role of the Burmese government and local authorities in the forcible displacement of more than 125,000 Rohingya and other Muslims and the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Burmese officials, community leaders, and Buddhist monks organized and encouraged ethnic Arakanese backed by state security forces to conduct coordinated attacks on Muslim neighborhoods and villages in October 2012 to terrorize and forcibly relocate the population. The tens of thousands of displaced have been denied access to humanitarian aid and been unable to return home.

Photo 1: Ethnic Arakanese with weapons walking away from a village in flames while a soldier stands by. Arakan State, Burma, June 2012. © 2012 Private

Photo 2: An overpopulated IDP camp outside Sittwe. Tens of thousands of Rohingya who fled their homes in June 2012 now reside in such camps. The government constructed semi-permanent shelters in some camps, raising concerns about the government’s willingness to respect the rights of the displaced persons to return home. © 2012 Human Rights Watch

Photo 3: Local Arakanese dismantle and loot the site of a destroyed mosque in Sittwe, June 2012. © 2012 Private

Photo 4: A police officer points his rifle at street level in Sittwe in June 2012. The government claims a total of 211 people died in the June and October violence; Human Rights Watch research indicates far greater loss of life. © 2012 Private

Photo 5: The riverine Rohingya village of Zailya Para in Minbya Township burns after attacks by Arakanese mobs in October 2012. © 2012 Private

Heartbreaking. Praying for the hearts of the people who are behind this.

Reblogged: fotojournalismus

26 March 13
25 February 13

On disappointments

Today I received very disappointing news. 

It was something I was supposed to do this summer. It was something I was very much looking forward to, something that I was already planning and was very excited about. Then today I found out it was not going to happen anymore.

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The reason I was so disappointed is because I felt like for once in so many years, I was going to be able to do something different, something so completely out of the ordinary and something other than than traveling back and forth between QC and LB.

I don’t like complaining — I hate it when other people do it so I try not to as well, but if I’m being honest, I’m seriously sick of school now. I hate having to finish a mountain of handouts and a ton of papers to do. At 22, I just feel like I should be over this by now. Sometimes I hate where my life is at. Generally I am a fast-paced person and right now I feel like my life is moving at such a slow pace. My life’s theme song right now is The Weepies’ World Spins Madly On: “The whole world is moving and I’m standing still.”

So when I found out that the ONE THING I was very excited about, the ONE THING that’s been keeping me going (and was making me very anxious to finish this semester), suddenly fell apart, I just locked myself in my room and cried. I just felt like there was nothing else to do. 

Then while I was sobbing like a baby on my bed, a voice whispered in my ear: Sing.

And so, sing I did. And I sang the first song that came into my head: 

On the day I called, You answered me
And the hope in my soul increased 
I lift my hands and turn my eyes
To the God who heals my heart and gives me peace

You are more than my words could ever say
You are Lord over all, over all my days
I will see this season through 
I will fix my eyes on You
Only You,
Only You

And an overwhelming sense of peace overcame my soul. 

In that moment, even though I wasn’t praying, reading His Word or seeking Him during a time of pain and disappointment, God still did not fail to reach out to me and remind me of my convictions and how I thought I was going to react when disappointments happen: 

  1. God doesn’t owe me anything. Any good and perfect gift comes from above. So whenever I feel like I’m being deprived of something, I need to remember that God has already given me the best gift possible: Jesus.
  2. Disappointments can turn to His appointments if I let Him. I have to believe that God took this away from me for a reason. And God is not a God who takes things away just because He can and He wants to lord it over me — He took it away because in the end, He still wants to bless me through it. And I know that this disappointment, God can turn for good — the same way that so many of my past heartaches were turned into stories of redemption and restoration.
  3. I am not a lesser person in God’s eyes just because I haven’t finished my degree yet. I realized yet again, that my disappointment is not really about not getting this particular thing that I lost. It is, but the only reason I was so excited about it is because I wanted to be able to do something different other than school, which means tonight’s heartbreak is once again courtesy of the fact that I haven’t graduated yet (I have the tendency to over-analyze pain and brokenness — not just mine but others’ also. I guess I can thank counseling for that). But tonight God reminded me that if I didn’t have a relationship with Him, this would probably be an Achilles heel or a point of insecurity for me. Thankfully, in God’s economy, the value of a person is not based on degrees finished or net worth or good looks or Oscar awards. Because I am God’s child, I am whole, complete and not lacking anything. 

It really is the most beautiful thing in the world to be in God’s hands. No matter what happens to me in this world, I am so convinced that things will still work out for good, because God works for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose. I used to be such a hypocrite — telling people I was okay when I really wasn’t, but that was only because I didn’t understand the depth of God’s love and grace. Today I stand an unshakable woman, but it’s not because of anything I ever did, but only because I stand on a solid and unshakable Ground. And this time, I absolutely mean it. 

6 February 13

Things and people I am thankful for in 2013 (so far)

Because I don’t want to wait for the year to end to count my blessings. (I should really be working on a 1-act play right now, but whatevs.) 

Got this idea from Emily of one of my favorite blogs, Cupcakes and Cashmere. It’s a list of five random things (or people) I’m thankful for or inspire me. 

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I am thankful for the recently concluded Asian premiere of the dance performance Colonial. It was my first time being a production manager and I must say that my faith, patience, and yes — even physical strength! — were stretched to their limits. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world, though. I made a lot of new friends (pictures coming soon!) and it made me want to go to Canada!

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Yes, I posted pictures of a cupcake and a necklace. No, it’s not just what I’m thankful for (though I am thankful for good food and pretty things — always!). I’m thankful for what the cupcake and the necklace represent — which are gifts! The cupcake was randomly given to me by my cousin Bryan one Sunday, just because he wanted to and that’s how he shows love. I have the sweetest family! The necklace and letter are from Jacky, and it was a sweet surprise I received yesterday. I am blessed with great friends.

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I am so thankful for my friend Joy! We’ve known each other for years now but it’s crazy to me that we only became close middle of last year! But I think it was perfect timing because we were going through very similar things, and today we’re still great friends. :) It’s great because now that seasons are changing for both of us, we still get and understand each other because we really have the same interests and  share the same convictions. She is such a great testimony of God’s power and grace, and I believe God will continue to use her mightily to minister to women who are going through the same things she did. People who sincerely forgive, move on and get over the past are blessings. Only people who have been genuinely changed by God can be victorious in every area of life, and Joy is proof that what is impossible for man to do alone becomes possible when it’s God who does the changing.

Speaking of transformations…

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I am thankful for discipleship in general. I am thankful for Angel, who is already a small group leader herself and will be running for student council. Hannah is running for student council also, and everyday I am amazed by how level-headed, mature and kind she is. Her passion for God is also unparalleled. Dani didn’t have the best year, but seeing just how maturely she handled it and how in faith she was that God can turn things around, really inspired and blessed me. Bel has really been transforming. Every time I talk to her, I’m amazed by how God has been using her to minister to her friends! Bea and I don’t see each other very often, but her desire to grow in her faith and fix her priorities is admirable. She is also very excellent in her academics as an act of worship, and that’s even more admirable. Rachel has been in New Zealand for four months now, and while we haven’t been able to Skype yet (insert crying sounds here) I still believe in God’s work in her life. I always tell her that her faith is really deep and unshakable, because even if things are so different in her life now, she still doesn’t want to be (in her words) a “mediocre and Sunday Christian.” I am in faith that God’s purposes will continue to be done in her life because she has a right heart before Him. And last but not the least, I am so thankful for Jacky — because even though I am technically not her discipler, I still see the many changes God has made in her life — starting with her heart. It’s a great testimony, and I pray that one day God will give her the heart (and the guts!) to proclaim to the world just how good He has been to her. ;)

These girls build my faith. The more they grow in their knowledge of and faith in God, the more they become beautiful in my eyes. It is such a privilege to see them growing and to see them sharing their faith with others in different capacities. I am blessed to know them.

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I am thankful for my family. This really deserves its own entry (I’ll probably blog about them soon) but I’d still like to mention them now. I am thankful for life-laying love. I am thankful for relationships that don’t change, even when circumstances do. I am thankful for the kind of love that doesn’t change based on mood. I am thankful for love that mirrors Christ’s love, and that’s what I have with them.. and also what inspires me to believe for a romantic love like that one day.

These are five things and/or people (there are more!) I find myself thanking God for lately. I can say that 2013 started with a high note for me. How has God been blessing you lately? :) 

Ending this blog with a song I can’t get out of my head:

4 February 13
Meet me in our secret place when the time has come..

Meet me in our secret place when the time has come..

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