Category Archives: Personal Blogging

Present on the Web

Found these new free sites to add interest to any blog or learning endeavor. On MakeBeliefsComics, you can create your own cartoon.  On Slide.com you can create your own online slide show .  The funky themes and eye candy are a come-on for younger users, compared to other online slideshow sites such as Slideshare.com   .

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PayPal4Ph

Have you heard about the movement for PayPal4Ph? Read all about it at JSpot’s J. Angelo Racoma’s blog.

Notes from the Peanuts Gallery

I must admit I am quite taken by Notes from the Peanuts Gallery of Palanca Award winner and businessman, Dean Alfar.  Just by examining his blog, I learned a couple of things about blogging, including breaking some rules in the service of better readability, stickiness, conversation generation or pure reading pleasure.

  1. Write long articles on the blog, put a generous amount of graphics.  Examining Dean's blog, you can savour the beauty of the well-written word.  Showcase other bloggers' writings, or include a good sprinkling of linked jpegs and commentaries to books and magazines, as Dean did in his Paper Trail sidebar. Peanuts Gallery is full of great food for sight and soul.
  2. Come close to real, authentic conversation with longer posts.  I frankly get thrown off by 2-3 sentence posts.  Since the asynchronous communication is devoid of the usual face-to-face human cues, a short sentence or two seems curt, impersonal. In Dean's reply to Banzai Cat's ambivalence about joining this year's Palanca Awards competition, Dean sounded like he really listened to, thought of–and respected–Banzai's reservations.  
  3. Blog about something you are passionate about.  Dean showcases his passion for writing, his interests, his roles as father, husband, playwright, businessman. Lesson?  Write about your projects, your observations. But don't be afraid to write for money either. I'm talking about problogging. I think problogging is a great way to combine both what you love to do or write about, while making some good cash on the side. For as long as your love for writing will outstrip your love for making money–out of problogging, that is.
  4. When you've done (3),  create a community of interest by networking and inviting conversation.With the content, create ways to lead visitors into conversation and build community. Do this online, but do this offline too.  Including a chat box widget is a great way to engage surfers to post.  Ask questions in your posts. Comment on other writers' works, and let them know you did! Don't forget to use the author's first name, not only his blog name.   When you do get a comment, reply as promptly as you can. Timely replies to another's comments will build the online relationship.  If you and the reader are part of a common association or group, do get together during your group's event and continue the discussions offline.  Suggest group activities, projects (online and face-to-face).  Elearningpost's Maish wrote an article that online communities can't exist without an offline one (I hope I didn't take him out of context here).  So all talk and no action create dull communities, and most likely dull blogs.  What do you think?

The Hands that Serve

It's Good Friday. We are listening to the Seven Last Words on TV. My kids are experiencing Philippine-style Holy Week for the first time in four years. They wanted to watch their usual Cartoon Network channel, but I insisted that for today, no arguments. They must listen to these words.

Television has been God's messenger of remembrance and convenience. We watched the telecast of Christ the King Seminary in Quezon City in the comfort of our home. The sacrifice was to listen to what we expected to be sonorous messages. Yet we were shielded from the pulsating heat which braver Pinoys endured while sitting in church for 3 hours.

However, kudos to the producers. My kids' listened to the beatiful choir, saw the beautiful altars, and listened to speakers give both fluent and heart-felt testimonies on God's faithfulness inspite of their own failings. I closed the books for a moment and let go of my dissertation worries for my blog experiment.

I felt re-assured that reconciliation with the Father is not only in the confessional. It happens everyday, and it happens through a restoration of broken relationships, bodies and spirits. I watched with awe as a pretty doctor relayed how, inspite of the death of 2 sons due to a rare, congenital heart disease, she has maintained faith in the power of an Ultimate Healer. How a drunkard and wife beater sobered up with the power of the Holy Spirit. I watched, with both slight amusement and humility, how a priest theatrically punctuated his sermon on God's inspiration. Somehow, his zeal made up for his lack of fluency. The hands that serve have discerned well what God's instructions were, and I was a bit ashamed that I mocked this priest's sincerity to be a willing messenger of God.

Still, I was glad when I finally heard one of my favorite tv priests, Father Gerry Orbos in his sermon on 7th Word, "Father, into Thy Hands I commend my Spirit". After re-gaining our spiritual life from the death of God's only Son, Jesus, we are now being gently prodded by a Loving Father. The hands that praise must now be the hands that serve. It is not enough to mouth what we know is right. It is not enough to teach what we know. It is not enough that we learn facts as we do in lessons. What may be factual is not necessarily true. We are all educators, priveleged to have so many tools to enable our teaching. But haven't we always said, teach by example?

In that short homily of Fr. Orbos, I remembered God's perfect lesson of sacrifice, to serve those you love by dying to one's self. To exemplify obedience to His Father, Jesus surrendered His life. He portrayed total humility and dependence on a just and loving God by commending His Spirit into the Father's hands.

As I've heard from the Father Abbot's sermon last Palm Sunday at St. Benedict's Chapel in Alabang, there are many ways to die to one's self. God will meet us where we are. So giving up saying a word to defend one's self in the face of an irritating colleague is dying to one's self. Fasting from harsh words is dying to one's self. Giving up coffee everyday for 3 months may be the equivalent of donating a kidney in your estimation.

It's not enough to know what we can sacrifice for love of God, for love of others. God is asking us to be available, to raise our hands to Him. To raise them not only in praise, but also with a willingness to say, "Father, I serve You for I love You. Take my hands and do with them as You will, not as I will it. Take them and use them for whatever purpose You deem fit with Your perfect plan".

And I knew then, that I had to bring this insight to my blog before the moment to serve passes me by.

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished!” and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30).”