Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Putting Out the Lamp

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December 17, 2008 is supposed to be a good day. I woke up to greet my mom a ‘Happy Birthday’. My sisters were also having their Christmas Party in school. It was a promising day, until…

“What a wrong timing…”, my mom said.

She was the first one who greeted me with so much remorse.

“Your grandfather is gone. He died just this morning.”, she added.

I felt sad when I heard it. My grandfather died on my mom’s birthday. I wonder what she was feeling. She didn’t tell the rest of my family that it was her birthday.

My whole family is really sad. There was no happy face today. We all know that my grandfather was sick with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but it was not the cause of his death. Rather, it was due to pneumonia.

I miss my grandfather. My sisters and I call him “Lolo”. He was a kind man. Lolo would always take chances in raffle promos in the town plaza. And when he won, he would give the prize money to me and Krichelle.

However, we got separated from him when we had to move to another house.

I am sad. Yesterday, I went to the hospital to do an errand for my mother. My grandmother, Uncle Wilson, Nonoy Jr, and Borjok were there. They were taking care of Lolo. I saw him lying down and suffering because he couldn’t breathe. His phlegm was clogging his lungs. And the only way to remove it is through suction.

I greeted and kissed my Uncle and grandmother. Hey, you didn’t kiss your Lolo. It was a voice from inside my head. But I didn’t listen to it. “I will be back here in the hospital on Thursday. I can just kiss him then.”, I thought.

So now, I regret for not having kissed my Lolo yesterday. I didn’t know that it was my last chance to do so. Why did I stop myself from showing Lolo that I love him? Now, it’s too late, I cannot kiss my Lolo anymore.

But I know that Lolo will be sad if he will see me cry. So, I dedicate this article to him.

“I love you, Lolo. I know that you are in Heaven now.”

_______________________________________________________________________

“Death is not extinguishing the light. It is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” –taken from http://www.famousinspiringquotes.com/author/Rabindranath_Tagore/

Friday, December 12, 2008

Starbucks Coffee® Bacolod: Now Open

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Starbucks Coffee is my favorite place to unwind. Nothing beats the aroma of coffee wafting through the air, the smiles of the baristas, and the world class drinks. That is my sanctuary on earth.

When I heard that Starbucks Coffee has finally opened in 18th Lacson St., Bacolod City, I was very much excited! Wow! Starbucks is here in Negros Occidental! I don’t need to dream of going back to Cebu just for me to have a Frappuccino! Really, I miss my favorite Toffee Nut Frap. And now, all I need to do is ride a bus for one hour and (voila!) I’m there!

As Gleenece once told me, “Wow, Kandace! You couldn’t come to Starbucks. So, Starbucks took the initiative to come to you! Hahaha!”

Yeah! And with this, I’m very thankful. I have always prayed to have my very own Starbucks in Negros Occidental. I mean, Starbucks followed me in Cebu and in Manila! Now, I’m pretty sure that Starbucks will follow me everywhere I go. It’s really true, happiness is easy to find.

I have always wanted to experience being a barista, even just for a short time. That is my short term goal. I want to discover coffee, to prepare it perfectly, to be a coffee master and to know the chemistry behind it. However, I’m so scared of what other people might think of me working there. It’s hard to make people understand.

Sigh! Sometimes, I just want to go to a place where no one knows me so that I can fulfill all of my dreams without hesitation. But no matter, with Starbucks finally in my reach, my dreams are being kept alive!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Big Surprise

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Chemist Board Exam Blog Series Part Ten

The Big Surprise

All of us were very happy when September 11, 2008 came. A whole load of pain was taken from our hearts. We were all relieved of the pressures of the Board Exam. Even if we didn’t know when the results will come out, it didn’t stop us from enjoying our time in Manila. As Ian told me, “What you will do now will not affect the results.”

A lot of us, including me, decided to go to the popular place called Divisoria. I was with the group of Jeb, Marvin, Gleenece, Bely, Jurgen, James, and Ate Ercel. We rode a jeepney going there. After a few minutes, Ate Ercel said that we reached the place. A lot of stores were completely covering the road that no jeepney could directly pass through.

On entering the place, we were greeted by a horde of stuffed toys! There were pigs, Looney tunes characters, Naruto and other anime stuffs. I was so amazed at the place that was Divisoria. It was truly a shopaholic’s heaven! I heard that they sell items there at a really cheap price. So, being a girl, I was overwhelmed by the familiar feeling of saying “Hey! That’s cute! How much is it?”. We purchased a lot of stuff at 168 Mall. Of course, I bought things for my sisters, for Bor. Apolonio, and for Ma’am Castañares. My most gorgeous find was a store full of chocolates at a lower price than those in the groceries! I just love chocolates! Each of us was bringing a huge striped bag afterwards.

After Divisoria, we headed off to SM Mall of Asia (MOA) by riding another jeep. We went down at Heritage Hotel, crossed the street, and found a shuttle going to MOA. After a few minutes, we got there and looked for a package counter to hide our big striped bags. In MOA, we found our other classmates and friends, Ella and others, who were sitting by the bench. Our concern was to enjoy life there. We looked for any “dimsum” but to no avail! Sigh! And then, we met Marvin’s sister, Alaine, in Starbucks. Together, we went to the hypermarket to buy beer and food for a night’s drinking session.

It was raining outside when we finally decided to go home. A lot of jeepney’s were falling in line and conductors were shouting. So, we got on a jeep that was second in line to a jeep going to Taft Avenue. But we were very unfamiliar with Manila and after a short jeep’s ride, we confirmed our worst fears: WE WERE LOST. It looked like we took the wrong jeep! The first jeep was headed for Taft but the second jeep was off to Laguna! Oh no! So, we just got off the jeep, not minding where we were.

Gleenece, Marvin, James, Jeb, and I decided to hire a taxi. No matter how expensive it would be. We were wet, cold, and lost in the rain. We didn’t know how to get home. So finally, a taxi driver agreed to let us ride going to Pius XII.

We were so relieved when we got home. And we laughed at our crazy adventure! Our friends who were waiting for us laughed, too. But oh! We were hungry when we got home. There was no way of going outside to eat as the rain was heavily pouring. So, we decided to make a phone call to Greenwich Pizza and order our meal. After about an hour, a very handsome man delivered our pizzas and all of us were very happy.

After that, Gleenece, Jeb, Marvin, and I started our drinking session. San Mig Light was my drink. It was bitter yet not full bodied. It was much diluted and I didn’t enjoy it. Gleenece, on the other hand, had just a few sips from her Pale Pilsen and she suddenly fell asleep. But the boys were tough: Pale Pilsen all the way down! Wow!

It was around 12 midnight when we were about to fall asleep. Gleenece was already in dreamland while I turned off our lampshade. I said a short prayer which ended this way, “Mama Mary, I believe in you and in God’s will for me. So, my faith is strong that I have passed the Board Exam. This moment is victorious for me: I have gone closer to you.” Then, I wrapped myself in my thick white blanket to sleep. But…

Rrrriiiiiiiiiinnnnngggggg……

Oh! It was my cellphone’s Robo N1X message alert tone. An SMS has just arrived. “Who could’ve texted at a time like this?”, I asked and then added, “Oh! It’s probably Ian. I’ll just read it tomorrow. I’m sure He’ll understand.” I was just too tired to care!

But the call of love is so strong that I couldn’t resist. I immediately came out from my blanket and grabbed the phone to read the message.

The results of the Board Exam are in!

My phone showed an anonymous number. At that moment, I didn’t know what to think or what to do next. It might have been just a practical joke from a friend who used a new number. This isn’t funny!

I gathered all of my energy and sanity as I replied an SMS, “Who’s this?”

After a few seconds, my cellphone rang again. The message was…

Anne

Oh! It was Anne, Jeb’s girlfriend! At that time, I got really scared. Anne is not the type to play practical jokes on people. My heart was beating fast and my I couldn’t even control my fingers as I replied to her messages. She was asking what our surnames were. At that time, I knew that she was serious.

The ones who passed are Jeb, Marvin, Kandace, Gleenece, Warner, Jason, Jerome, and Josephus. Congrats!

“God, what will I do?”, I just didn’t know what to do. And the first impulse that came through me was to phone Jeb in their room and tell them the news. I grabbed the phone and dialed 314. After a few rings, Jeb answered, “Hello?”. He sounded tired.

“Jeb, Anne texted me. She said that the results of the Board Exam are in!”, I replied.

“So? What did she say?”, Jeb was scared. His voice was cracking.

I told him all about my conversation with Anne. And later, Jeb and Marvin came running to our room! I woke Gleenece from her peaceful slumber and I told her the good news with all my might! Minutes later, all four of us were jumping and screaming the room as we celebrated and called our parents about it. The adrenalin rush was coursing through our veins. We didn’t feel tired and it was 1 AM.

But still, we weren’t all that convinced.

“Let’s ask permission to the Pius XII staff to let us go to a 24 hour internet café. I will not the totally convinced until I see the post myself.”, the boys suggested. Gleenece and I were scared. Manila is a dangerous place to go out during nightfall. But they persuaded us to go and they assured us that they will take care of everything.

So, we girls agreed. Pius XII gave us permission to go out provided we come back immediately.

We hired a taxi to the nearest 24 hour internet café and viewed the post. Our hands were cold and clammy at first. But when the computer got a result after every CTRL+F, we heaved a sigh of relief. We also looked for the names of our review center friends and told them the good news. We were extremely happy that we phoned our advisers about it. First, we phone Ma’am Gaya to ask for Sir Pat’s phone number. Hahaha! We didn’t care if it’s 2 AM! We were so proud of ourselves and at how our prayers worked!

It only took us a short time in the internet café. After that, we suddenly felt hungry. Looks like the effects of the adrenalin rush was kicking in. Jeb hired another taxi and he treated us to a 24 hour McDonald’s store. There, we bought spaghetti, chicken, ice cream, and drinks.

Home was next after that.

But Jeb said, “Let’s wake the others up! Let’s act sad and then break the good news to them! Let’s start with Warner and Jerome!”. And four persons with naughty laughs were walking down the corridors of Pius XII.

In Warner’s room, we acted out the scene and then burst out in laughter. “You’re a chemist now, dude!”, Marvin said. They were very shocked at the news. Jerome had teary eyes and all of us were jumping and screaming again. So the four persons became six.

“Josephus and Jason are next”, Jeb said.

Well, the whole scene of getting shocked, then jumping and screaming were evident in all eight of us. We were very happy. And after that, we went to Jeb’s room to eat our McDonald’s meal. Of course, we said our prayers to thank God, St. Jude Thaddeus, Mama Mary and all the others who’ve helped us.

God is truly good all the time!

Mama Mary is a wonderful woman. She brought me closer to God. She helped me in all of this. She helped me turn my loss of passion into a victory. All I had was faith. Now, all I know is that faith in your prayers are enough to make your dreams come true.

As Don Bosco once quoted, “Trust in Mary and you will see what miracles are.”

Monday, December 8, 2008

Two Exam Days

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Chemist Board Exam Series Part Nine

Two Exam Days

It was Mama Mary’s Birthday the day before the Board Exam. We celebrated that by attending the Holy Mass. And when night came, my friends (Gleenece, Jeb, Marvin, Warner, Josephus, Jerome, and Jason) and I gathered in Room 8 for a cramming session. Our mentors checked out on us from time to time. We were really scared but we didn’t let it conquer us. And by 10 PM, we headed off to sleep. We had a wakeup call at 5 AM.

Rrrriiiiiiiing.

It was my cellphone’s alarm ringing. Its volume was on maximum. But it wasn’t really needed. I didn’t have a good sleep that night probably because I was scared for the Board Exam that day. The cold shower surely waked me up! And that was all I needed to get my adrenalins running. Finally, it’s September 9, 2008!

All of us were wearing white tops. That was the uniform that PRC has ordered. It was a pleasing day: a good humid weather with no rain. The bus’s air conditioner heightened the coldness of that morning. We could see the white air coming out from the bus’s vents.

A lot of us prayed the Holy Rosary while on our way to the testing center: The Manuel L. Quezon University. We arrived late thanks to the boys that took long to get to the bus! But the proctor was very patient and he let us catch up with the class. He assigned me to seat no. 11. And he said further that four hours were the allotted time for each subject.

Bro. Apolonio gave me a set of prayer to pray on the day of the exam. And I never forgot to pray those. But at that time, I couldn’t keep myself calm. I could feel my hand trembling. My heart was beating fast. My hands were cold and clammy. Oh God, help! This is it! Thy will be done!

The first exam that we tackled was Inorganic Chemistry. I couldn’t even shade the questionnaire set (I was Set A) properly. I proceeded by reading the first question. Oh God, help! I can’t understand it! Then, I closed my eyes. Breathed in and out and prayed the three Hail Mary’s while doing so. That was all I needed to keep myself calm. And from that moment on, I relaxed a bit and my mind was clear. Then, I was myself again! I could easily analyze and answer the problems.

Inorganic Chemistry went well. It was pretty average. Some questions were very difficult, I must say. But it only comprised the minority of the exam.

When lunch came, we couldn’t help but discuss the questions and the probable answers of the exam. While doing so, we feasted on the Jollibee® two piece burger steak with rice and a glass of Coke®. After an hour of discussing and eating, we headed back to the testing center together. The next subject was rumored to be the Board Exam’s most difficult: Organic Chemistry.

Organic Chemistry happened to be my forte. So, the rumor didn’t scare me at all. However, as I took the exam, I realize that my knowledge in Organic Chemistry was not enough for me to say: This is easy. Most of the questions tackled on Biochemistry and Biotechnology. We didn’t expect that. The review center told us that the exam would comprise 10% of Biochemistry and 90% pure Organic Chemistry. But we were taking an exam of 50% Biochemistry (based on my POV).

It was something that we didn’t prepare for. So, the second exam was very, very difficult.

All of us were very silent as we headed home. We were drained of our energies. But the worry was there: Organic Chemistry was not expected to be that difficult! That was our main discussion in the bus as we headed home.

When night came, we didn’t have the usual group cramming session. Gleenece and I had some a very short review of some concepts before heading to sleep. And this time, God gave us a calming, long, and peaceful sleep.

Our mentors saw to it that we didn’t arrive late on the second day of our exam. They warned the boys to wake up early and go to the bus right away. We girls were on always on time. The weather was cloudy with some rain fall. It was suddenly September 10, 2008! Oh God, Help! Here we go again!

The third subject that we tackled was Analytical Chemistry. And man! It was more difficult than Organic Chemistry! The exam had a lot of electrochemistry questions. I just hate electrochemistry! It has a lot of math in it. I was hoping that the exam would have more spectrochemical problems, which I was more comfortable with. But it only had one or two. Oh my! I’m in trouble! But I believe that I can still pass this exam with your help, Oh God!

After four hours, it was time to go to the bus for lunch. All of us had the same menu that we had the day before: burger steak with rice and Coke®. We tried our best not to discuss the exams because it spawned heartaches within. I brought Ian’s letter and picture with me. It was my only inspiration. And I was very happy that I received a lot of SMS from him. Thank you, God! For this wonderful man!

I expected the next exam to be a nightmare for me. Physical Chemistry had always been my weakness and I just hoped that I did well in the last three exams so to cope up with the overall grade.

I went back to the classroom with a very pessimistic mentality. Physical Chemistry again! I hate this subject! And so, when the proctor gave us our questionnaires, I read the first question. Oh man! Still, I couldn’t understand it. So, I proceeded to the next question. Yes! Now this one is easy! Pure substitution!

Then, there was the third question. Am I dreaming? This is easy! Wow! Thank you, God!

It turned out that Physical Chemistry had the easiest questions of all. Most problems were substitutions and about one or two were difficult. It was easier than Inorganic Chemistry. The test was like that of high school Chemistry.

All of us went to the bus with a newfound happiness brought by Physical Chemistry. Finally, the four exams are over! It was like a Gaussian curve: starts with the easy, hard, harder, and easy. Wow! I was amazed at how happy I was that Physical Chemistry turned out that way.

“This exam was surely made for me. I hope that I did my best to make the most of it! Thanks, Mama Mary for keeping me calm and for making Physical Chemistry easy.”, I prayed.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

More Prayers

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Chemist Board Exam Blog Series Part Eight

More Prayers

Sharing the same home could really make friends bond together. Back in Manila, my friends and I considered Pius XII Catholic Center to be our temporary home. In there, we discovered a new side of ourselves that is rarely explored –us being more religious than we look. Nothing is sweeter than home!

For personal reasons, I never planned to share my pilgrimage and set of prayers to my friends. “They may not find it significant.”, I thought. However, I was surprised one night when Gleenece, Jeb, and Marvin invited me to prayer. Well, I thought that it would only entail the Holy Rosary. So, I decided to go with them, the Holy Rosary was part of my prayer routine after all.

In our four years of being friend, we rarely discuss religion in our group. But during that night, they revealed a religious side of themselves. They introduced me to a new prayer: The Novena to St Jude Thaddeus. Wow! I saw that prayer in Sto. Rosario Church but I didn’t bother saying it, I already have a set of prayer and it was enough.

I didn’t know that they were also desperate to pass the Board Exam as I was! They chose to pray to St. Jude Thaddeus, the Patron of Hopeless and Impossible Cases. His title is very prestigious, I must say. He is the perfect choice for our group. So, without any second thoughts, I joined them in their prayer.

The Novena to St. Jude went this way:

Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus,the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficultcases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.

Intercede with God for me that He may bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receivethe consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, andsufferings, particularly -(make your request here) - and that I may praiseGod with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to beever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you asmy special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you. Amen

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, and loved in all the tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.

May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen

St. Jude, pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen.

Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Blessed be the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Blessed be St. Jude Thaddeus, in all the world and for all Eternity.

Pray the Our Father and the Hail Mary

This prayer has to be said six times a day for nine consecutive days. And I would like to suggest that you shouldn’t pray it six times in a row. Try to break it to pieces by praying a set of two during breakfast, lunch, and then dinner. That way, you can avoid mental lapses which could eventually lead to confusion. Really, we have experienced those symptoms.

After the novena, we prayed the Holy Rosary. It was for the first time that I prayed intimately with them. This made me very happy.

After a night of prayer with yellow lights coming from the lamp shade of the room, we had a short conversation. I found out that they also performed a pilgrimage! That surprised me. They weren’t the type to do that. All of us were really desperate!

They told me that they went to eight Churches in Metro Cebu. The churches were (in the words of Gleenece): 1. Lapulapu, 2. St. Joseph-Mandaue, 3.Adoration Convent- Banilad, 4. Carmelites, 5. Redemptorist, 6. Guadalupe, 7. Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, 8. Basilica del Sto. Niño.

I was really glad that they visited the Churches is Metro Cebu while I visited those in Cebu South. “God will really grant our request at this rate.”, I thought.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

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The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term.
The answer by one student was so “profound” that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well:

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell.

Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, “It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,” and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct……leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting “Oh my God.”

THIS STUDENT RECEIVED THE ONLY “A”

==============================================================

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In Manila

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Chemist Board Exam Blog Series Part Seven

In Manila

September 7, 2008 marked our journey to Manila for the upcoming board exam. My friends from the Chemistry Review Center and I had fun in the Mactan International Airport while waiting for our scheduled time to fly. After a week’s vacation from reviewing, we missed each other very much. We took pictures of ourselves and the landscapes that surrounded us. Some of them said, “This could be my last photo in Cebu.”. They came from Davao and will be directly heading back there after the Board Exam.

All of us were both happy and scared. Happy because we will be staying in the Philippines’ metropolis for five to six days! But the tension of the Board exam scared our hearts! Passing the exam would determine our future in the scientific industry.

After about an hour’s flight to Manila, we safely arrived at NAIA Terminal 3. We immediately found Warner, Josephus, and Jerome waiting for us. They were our friends and they had their flight an hour before ours. But everyone wasn’t there yet. We waited until 11 AM for our mentors, Dr. Joy and Ma’am Abeth, and our friend Venus to arrive. They took the last morning flight from Cebu.

Our bus was all ready to take us to our hostel, The Pius XII Catholic Center, specifically in Friendship Hall II. The whole place was great! Two kind bellboys assisted us with our luggage from the bus to our room. The hostel’s foyer was so grand that it could pass as a luxurious hotel! Adorned with golden ceiling and flooring, the whole place basked in yellow lights. A chandelier was there to add in the grandiose scenery. All of us were amazed at how beautiful it was!

Later, we were given keys of our respective rooms. My roommate was my friend Gleenece and we occupied room no. 8. It was a convenient room because we were near our mentors’ quarters in room no. 7.

Gleenece and I really liked our room. It was very spacious, not to mention it has an air conditioner and a cable TV! Wow! We could unwind before our exams! That could absolutely make us relax from all the tension. Furthermore, the bathroom was so classy! The tiles were so clean and the lights were yellow! The shower had a heater. So, we didn’t have to worry about taking a bath at five in the morning! We could really say that our stay for Php 600 per person was worth it!

Personally, I was happy that we stayed in a Catholic Center. The place had a small church named after Sta. Maria Goretti. It was a Sunday when we arrived. And so, we attended the Holy Mass and prayed in there.

However, what really kept me inspired the whole time was the center’s Adoration Chapel beside the Church. It was air conditioned. A welcoming aura surrounds the place with its pink curtains, white wallpapers, and peaceful silence. There were no pews. Instead, cushions were on the floor and that made it unique. I could infer that they were adopting a zen concept of the place. I didn’t see a typical Altar table on front. Instead, I saw a garden. The Altar was surrounded by green plants. And on the center was a stone grotto which housed the Tabernacle. On the grotto’s bottom was a fountain which resembled a flowing spring. Looking at the influx of water calmed my mind and my spirit. Peaceful. Silent. Tranquil.

The view was so relaxing that it helped me in my meditations and prayers. I was so overwhelmed with the assurance that all of us could find spiritual support for the upcoming Board Exam. All of us were prepared. There was no turning back.

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