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31 Flavors & Then Some. . .

Birthdays and blogs have the same effect on people. They entitle you to a little introspection and self-indulgence without the guilt. On the occasion of my 31st year on earth, I’ve come up with 31 facts to make you know/like/love/hate me even more. This entry is meant to be read from the bottom going up. Before you read the first factoid at the bottom, though, I hope you’ll take time to write down your birthday wish for me at the comments section above or below. Indulge me!31- The nicest comment I heard about turning 31: “You are now a Proverbs 31 woman!” I will make that my goal this year, Riz, Mylene, Perps & Cherry!

She is strong and graceful, as well as cheerful about the future. Her words are sensible, and her advice is thoughtful. Charm can be deceiving and beauty fades away,but a woman who honors the Lord deserves to be praised. –Proverbs 31: 25 & 30 (CIV)

Photo: Feeling super at 30!

30- The sweetest compliment I got at 30: “Brad Pitt doesn’t deserve you.” The most comforting statement I received: “When I met you last year, I thought you were 24.” The most endearing: “When I am sad, I think of Jenny. And then I can smile.” Thank you, Michael, Chris & Paul! And I believed them!

29- I have been to 33 countries around the world by the time I was 29, because of work and family travels. I noticed since my early twenties that every year the number of countries I have been to always exceeds my age. I can opt not to travel for the next 2-3 years, because I have been to 34 countries to date. At 29, I did my first on-camera work for Inquirer TV and was offered a job as a reporter for the Asian region by another company. Negotiations didn’t pan out the way I wanted to, though, so my career as a TV reporter will have to wait.

Photo: So showbiz with Boy A. and Alfred Vargas!

28-I gave up eating pork at 28 after reading a book written by Dr. Don Colbert entitled “What Would Jesus Eat?” It’s not against my beliefs to eat pork but I feel so much healthier and lighter after removing it from my diet. I have to admit, though, that I still occasionally indulge in sisig, hotdog, and chicharon. I am not adventurous when it comes to food but I have tasted ostrich, crocodile, deer, antelope, and lately by accident, carabao meat.

Photo: Me with Myles & Teri of 1Cubed!

27- I didn’t believe in love at first sight until it happened to me at 27. One magical April day, I thought I’d met the man I was going to marry. Sadly, the person pursued someone else. But that did little to change the hopelessly hopeful romantic in me. It was also at 27 that I first wrote, directed and edited an entire TV show–the MTV show One Cubed. How’s that to make up for a broken heart? Thank you, Erwin!

26-I didn’t discover my blood type until I went to cover a medical mission in Negros. I was doing the rounds with then vice-mayor Rio Diaz-Cojuangco, when she took my hand, and had a nurse prick my index finger when I wasn’t looking. It hurt a lot! But since Rio was holding my hand, I couldn’t complain. That’s when I learned that my blood type is B+.

It was also in that medical mission that I witnessed my first miracle—that of an old woman regaining clear vision after receiving Jesus Christ into her life. I took her back to the optometrist who had pronounced earlier that the woman needed surgery to remove her cataracts. The eye doctor was as amazed as I was.

25- Jenny and a gun are a lethal combination. That’s what my boss John and cameraman Roland found out when they took me to a shooting range when I was 25. I always hit target dummies on the heart. Because of my romance with the camera, I have developed a steady hand, said the coach of the Ateneo Rifle & Pistol Team back in college. I can be a sharp shooter if I want to, but I’d rather take sharp pictures. At 25, I was offered to write a book, which I graciously turned down, because I didn’t believe in the topic.

Photo: Me with CBN Asia staff & crew!

24- I directed my first dramatized testimony of a former satanist at 24, under the supervision of executive producer Maricel Endriga (Thanks, Ma‘am! You’re the best mentor one can have!). Since then, I noticed that most of the stories I get assigned to do for television almost always involve action scenes. Some of the most memorable ones are that of a kidnap victim, an albularyo who raised the dead, and a soldier who miraculously escaped an ambush when a bundle of paper in his backpack caught 2 bullets that were supposed to pierce his heart. I am so honored to have worked with the best production people in the industry (Hello, Alts, Cris, Erwin, Mang Boy, Aisan, Kate, Volta, Manny, Nena, Alice and Derrick!) especially cameramen Rey Ilagan and Roland Arana, who helped make my visions come true. We once overturned a car, made a 6-footer jump over a Honda Civic, had a Sto. Nino figurine dance and choreographed with live pyrotechnics a battle scene involving a battalion of soldiers in the mountains of Bataan.

I was floored when director Jeric Soriano, one of my idols in the industry, specifically called for me after watching the TV segment I did on him. “It was wonderful! Thank you very much, Ma’am” he said. He then took my hand and bowed for me.

23-I received my first marriage proposal a few months before turning 23, when an Egyptian offered 5,000 camels in exchange for my hand in marriage.

Photo: Traveling the globe!

22- At 22, I held my first 16 MM camera during director Yam Laranas’s Cinematography class. It was one of the biggest highs of my life. I didn’t get to sleep the whole night. I got an A in that class. I owe you one, Direk Yam!

21-I spent my 21st birthday locked inside my room. My personality profile indicates that I am sanguine-melancholic. Sanguines are people persons, the outgoing type, while melancholics are brooding loners, very artistic and intuitive. In other words, I am a walking contradiction. I guess I was leaning towards my melancholic side when I turned 21, but I am more of a sanguine nowadays.

20-I once got drunk after sipping a friend’s chocolate drink. Yeah, it was laced with kalua, but it was still just a sip! I also remember getting tipsy after tasting champagne at the Rustan’s Supermarket (at noon!), and at a wine cellar in Hungary while dining with my mom, sister and cousin. When I am drunk I tend to giggle and talk a lot, which is how I also am when sober. The only difference is that my face turns so red, like it was rubbed raw. It’s scary. I don’t like alcohol, by the way. I also shun iced tea and coffee most of the time, because taking them after lunch makes me stay up till 4 in the morning.

Photo: Queen of China!

19- My first published work was not in English or Filipino, but in Chinese. My high school Chinese teacher submitted my poem to a local newspaper. My uncle was so proud to find my name in the Chinese Daily. What he doesn’t know until now is that the poem is a direct translation of a Filipino love song—Randy Santiago’s “Hindi Magbabago.” Translation isn’t synonymous to plagiarism, is it? I’ve since repented of it.

18- I celebrated my debut, not on July 8 but on Aug. 23, because that was the only date available at the Manila Hotel. I was disappointed when my long-time crush called to tell me that he couldn’t come to the party, but I had fun nevertheless. It was the first time I had danced with all the male members of my big, extended clan (and for my paternal grandpa, also the last). My birthday cake almost burnt up when the candles ignited the paper décor. Four members of my cotillion, by the way, ended up marrying each other.

17- Prior to entering Ateneo, I had always thought I was going to study in La Salle. In fact, during the Ateneo Entrance Test (Nov. 17, 1990), I asked my friend to snap a picture of me in front of the Ateneo High School, saying that I won’t be setting foot on that campus again. I am glad that personal prophecy didn’t come true, because I fell in love with Ateneo’s vision of producing “men and women for others.” Even while filling up the application form, I had wanted to go to Ateneo but I never thought I would be able to meet the academic standard. I remember jumping up and down when I received the acceptance letter on Feb 23, 1991. By the grace of God, I even ended up several times on the dean’s list.

16-I received my first camera at 8–a Hello Kitty camera that my mother bought at Gift Gate. I brought a camera to school every day since 6th grade. I taught myself how to operate an SLR camera by reading books. I took my first photography workshop under Vic Valenciano, the humble dad of Gary V., when I was 16. That was also the year I participated in my first photo exhibit.

Photo: Ready, camera, action!

15-Although I’d rather work behind the cameras now, I was once hailed “The Actress” during my high school years. When asked to do oral reports, I would do monologues and short skits to keep my classmates’ attention. I even posed as Star War’s C3PO for a science report. My 4th year homeroom teacher Mrs. Quiambao actually believed I have what it takes to make it to the cast of Miss Saigon. Mrs. Quiambao has a big heart and, I suppose, a very active imagination. Haha!

14-Even though I don’t particularly like Math (I have nightmares involving math exams till now!), I perfected my quizzes and exams in freshman algebra and got a 100% score on my report card twice. I also got 100% on another subject that year, promoting me to the honors section.

13-I had my directorial debut in freshman year when my homeroom teacher asked me to head a speech chorale. My class won third place.The “baddest” thing I ever did in freshman year was to hit an annoying classmate with a blackboard eraser! I was writing on the board when he dusted the eraser in front of my face, making cough. He didn’t stop when I asked him to, so I did the basest thing a 13-year-old girl could do. I threw the eraser at him. He got hit in the head—hard! And when I looked, his face and head were covered with chalk dust! Bull’s eye! It was like a scene from the Three Stooges. He got a ribbing from all the boys in my class and I got his respect from that day on.

Photo: Me as cover girl!

12-When I am extremely sad or happy, I run. A coach recruited me to the track team when I was 12, after seeing me run during P.E. Sadly, I injured myself during my first track meet at the Rizal Stadium, because they didn’t give me spiked shoes. I didn’t run on a track again until my college days.

11-I was very studious as a child and loved cramming my summers with activities. One of my favorite activities during summer was taking reading classes at Reading Dynamics. That and improving my penmanship. I also studied advance Math, English and Computers on my own. One summer I enrolled in art, swimming, math, and speech classes, to the consternation of my mom who complained that her eldest daughter’s itinerary was fuller than that of the Philippine president’s.

10- My second childhood dream was to sing professionally! I bravely auditioned for a slot in the school chorale when I was 9 years old. That was my first time to sing on stage. They let me sing the national anthem. Although I couldn’t make out some of the words, I passed the audition, but my parents didn’t let me join. I made up for it by joining a church choir at 11, the Ateneo Glee Club at 20 and the Victory Christian Fellowship music team at 27.

9-I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at 9. An aunt told me the story of Jesus during one of my visits to her house that summer. It was the most logically thing in the world to invite God into my life, because as a child I instinctively knew He existed. God has been answering every prayer I make ever since. The first Bible study I attended was about the end times. I remember having theological debates with my grade 3 tutor, who was trying to convince me that Buddha also resurrected from the dead.

8-Natuto akong magbasa dahil sa komiks. Paborito ko ang Funny Komiks, Wakasan, Aliwan at Lovelife. My first A paper in Ateneo was about the history and influence of the Pinoy comic book.

7-My first childhood dream is to play the piano. My mother gave me a small wooden piano when I was 3. She bought me a real one when I was 5, because I wouldn’t stop pestering her. I took my first lesson at 11 and that lasted for 8 years. Yet, up to this day, it remains one of my biggest frustrations. I told God that one of the greatest ways He can show His miracle-working power in my life is by giving me this ability. A few weeks after, I actually received a prophecy that I am going to be an excellent pianist, so I am keeping my fingers on the keyboard.

Photo: Mini-me!

6-Contrary to what psychologists say, not all children have childhood amnesia. I can still recount conversations and events dating back to when I was two or three years old. This makes me very careful when dealing with children, painfully aware of the stresses a child goes through when mercilessly teased, tickled and bullied by the adults in her life.

5- As a child, I enjoyed playing with remote controlled cars, walkie-talkies and guns more than Barbie dolls, because I grew up with male cousins, who taught me how to swim, play basketball (I even had a Crispa jersey!), ride bicycles, climb trees, and catch beetles & dragonflies. I also received a lot of high-tech toys—a speaking typewriter, a pinball machine and plenty of Game&Watch gadgets. No wonder I am attracted to high-tech gizmos even now.

4-I was given a Chinese name by my parents upon entering nursery. My Chinese name is a derivative of Jenny (sounds like it, too). It means “real lady.” As much as I love the meanings of my name, I am even prouder of my initials JC, the initials of my Messiah. My middle initial Y, stands for “Yeshua,” the Hebrew name of Jesus Christ. I feel branded, marked and sealed by God through and through.

3- I am 100% Chinese, but being born and raised in the Philippines, my first language was Filipino. As a child, I thought I was Filipino, even though my parents talked to me in Chinese. Blame it on my yaya and the television.

2- My name Jennifer means “fair spirit,” which may partly explain the complexion I have. My nickname Jenny, I learned a few years ago from the World Book Encyclopedia, means “gracious gift of God.” This is what I strive to be.

1-My birthday is on July 8, 1974. I was born on the Monday Ms. Universe ‘74 Amparo Munoz held a motorcade in Manila. My mother said they had a hard time going to the hospital because of the traffic Amparo created. I praise God my parents didn’t name me Amparo Yap Caspe! No offense to all the Amparos out there.

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  1. hi jen
    thanks for the mention….
    I completely disagree with No. 8…
    there are no Pinoy Comic Books ONLY
    Pinoy Graphic Novels 🙂

  2. Jenny, I’m honoring your wish & have not taken a peek at your 31 Flavors piece 🙂 Advanced happy birthday! I believe there is a fragrant flower garden, a shimmering rainbow, and a dazzling fireworks display in store for you, to unfold when the Lord wills it. Fix your eyes on Him; remember that you are complete & whole in Him; seek first His kingdom & His righteousness, & all these will be added to you as well! 🙂 Myla

  3. wish ko sa bday mo, sana mahanap mo na ang Romeo Montageau (tama ba spelling?) ng buhay mo, Juliet Capulet. 😀

  4. my birthday wish for my siobe,
    hmmm…”The One Armed One Legged Man.”
    …he’s the man who said:
    I’d give an arm and a leg
    for the most beautiful,gracious,
    loving,humorous and
    wisest woman in the world.

  5. Hello jen,
    I had a wonderful and surely memorable =D time with you last night in our ENLI class. Just as I have promised, I’m sending you today, a day before your 31st birthday, my wishes/prayers for you…

    I pray that it would be sunny and cheerful in that place where you’ll be celebrating your birthday. I pray you’ll have an enjoyable time there and that God will make you feel super special – through the people, even the attendants at the port and hotel, through the sun, moon and stars, even the sand on your feet. May you enjoy His surprises. I pray for good health for you and for God’s loving protection to be upon you and your family always at all times. I pray that God will give you the desires of your heart and bless you abundantly, more than you can imagine.

  6. jenny, the carefree-spirited journalist who never ceases to enjoy every bit of life that the universe has to offer…

    i would want to wish you greater adventures in the world, perhaps even offer you the whole universe for the taking, as my birthday wish for you. yet perhaps the whole universe would still not be enough for you.

    have no worry, jen. you have a heart that can hold the universe tenderly. we are glad that God has given you such a heart.

    happy birthday, jen!

  7. God and I talked about you this morning. I thanked Him for giving you to me as a faithful cell leader, a caring sister and a dear friend.

    I asked Him to give you a “pleasant surprise” today because it’s your birthday. I wonder what you will receive. I’ll ask Him tonight what He gave you. 🙂

    I asked Him to fill your heart with so much joy and love so you’ll always have more than enough to share with others.

    God smiled when I uttered a special request. I reminded Him of the dream I had about you two years ago.

    He told me to tell you that this year, you will be surrounded with favor. (For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:12)

    God wants me to encourage you again with His Word from Psalm 16:5-6. Your lot is secured, Jen. Surely, you have a delightful inheritance! 🙂

    Talking with God about you is such a delight to Him and to me because we both love you. I pray that I’ll have the joy to do this often, not just today.

    Happy Birthday, Jen! Mwah!

  8. Proverbs 31:10-31 (Amplified) – from Woman of Excellence, Living Tapestry

    v 10 A capable, intelligent and virtuous woman, who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels, and her value is far above rubies or pearls.

    v 11 The heart of her husband [to be, wink! wink!] trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her safely, so that he has no lack of honest gain or need of dishonest spoil.

    v 12 She will comfort, encourage and do him only good as long as there is life within her.

    v 13 She seeks out the wool and flax and works with willing hands to develop it.

    v 14 She is like the merchant ships loaded with foodstuffs, she brings her household’s food from a far.

    v 15 She rises while it is night and gets [through communion with her God] spiritual food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks.

    v 16 She considers a new field [of interest or activity] before she buys or accepts it — expanding prudently [and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming others]. With her savings [of time and strength] she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard.

    v 17 She girds herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] and makes her arms strong and firm.

    v 18 She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good; her lamp [of faith and dependence upon God] goes not out’ but [full of the oil of His Spirit] it burns on continually through the night [of trouble, privation or sorrow, warning away such robbers as fear, doubt and distrust].

    v 19 She lays her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

    v 20 She opens her hand to the poor; yes, she reaches out her filled hands to the needy [whether in body, mind or spirit].

    v 21 She fears not the snow [of temptation or false teaching] for her family, for all her household are doubly clothed in [the] scarlet [of redemption].

    v 22 She makes for herself coverlets, cushions and rugs of tapestry. Her clothing is of linen, pure white and fine, and of purple [such as that of which the clothing of the priest and the hallowed cloths of the temple are made].

    v 23 Her husband [to be] is known in the city’s gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.

    v 24 She makes fine linen garments and leads others to buy them; she delivers to the merchants girdles [or sashes that free one for service].

    v 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure. She rejoices over the future — the latter day or time to come [knowing that she and her family are in readiness for it]!

    v 26 She opens her mouth with skillful and godly wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness — giving counsel and instruction.

    v 27 She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness [gossip, discontent and self-pity] she will not eat.

    v 28 Her children [to be] rise up and call her blessed — happy, fortunate and to be envied; and her husband [to be] boasts of and praises her, saying,

    v 29 Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly and well [with strength of character that is steadfast in goodness] but you excel them all.

    v 30 Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!

    v 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates of the city!

    You are indeed this kind of a woman, Jenny! You are truly one precious gift from God. I pray many more will be inspired by your life lived only for God!

    Happy Birthday!!! Mwah!!!

  9. Hi Jen,
    Amidst of all the things happening today, I hope you had a wonderful birthday. God have blessed you in so many ways and you, yourself is a blessing to others. You have a good heart that transcends love wherever you go. My wish for you today is that you’ll soon meet the man that God is perfecting to be worthy of that heart. Happy, happy birthday! love you..mwah!

    graveyard ako kaya
    pacific time ito =)

  10. 28-I gave up eating pork at 28 after reading a book written by Dr. Don Colbert entitled “What Would Jesus Eat?”

    ey sis, it had the same impact on me too! i stopped almost a year ago after reading the same book. =D

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