Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Goodbye my brother

I just returned from a short trip to the Philippines.  I went home to say goodbye to my dear brother Rey, who passed away on the 11th of May.

In Rey's obituary, his children quoted the chorus from Dan Fogelberg's song, Leader of the Band....

The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through
My instrument
And his song is in my soul --
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy
To the leader of the band.

Clearly, the reason why they included these words was because of their dad's deep passion for music and the great influence he has had on their own love for it.  I, however, see these words in a completely different light...

You see, for 25 years, Rey lived a very troubled life.  He was distressingly into drugs and alcohol.  He was in and out of rehabilitation.  He went from being very successful to jobless, being healthy and handsome to wasted and haggard, from being so materially blessed to poor, from being number one in everything to hitting rock bottom.  I was young then and though I witnessed what was going on, I could not fully understand it.  I can honestly say that at that time, I did not feel any hatred for my brother, even though he caused so much pain and heartache to my parents and to his wife and children.  What I really felt was pity. I could not comprehend why I was seeing my brother suffer while we, his family, lived our lives comfortably.  I did not know how to help him.

Rey often labelled himself as the black sheep of the family.  I now realize that he wasn't the black sheep at all...he was in truth, the chosen one.

The Lord chose Rey for His mission...His mission to bring us all closer to Him.  Rey had to tread the difficult path in order for us to experience, through him, God's faithfulness, His perfect love, kindness and mercy.  We learned to pray hard because of him.  In the last 20 years of his life, Rey made a miraculous journey to conversion and in the process, led a lot of other people to conversion as well. The Lord gave him a new life and he lived it so well. I believe that his passing is the Lord's way of telling us that his earthly mission has already been accomplished. The Leader of the Band for Rey was actually Jesus Christ and his legacy is his own life story, which in his own words he said, was a testimony of how "astonishing Jesus' power is".  He truly saves!

Before I left the Philippines, I found this photo of my mom and Rey, taken years ago during one of our many family outings.


I was overcome with great sadness at this sight, but at the same time, I also felt consolation when I imagined what it might have been like when my mom welcomed Rey with open arms as he entered heaven.  What a joyful reunion that must have been!

Before I end, I would like to request that you may so kindly say this short prayer for my brother... 

May the choir of angels come to greet you
May they speed you to paradise
May the Lord enfold you, Rey, in his mercy
May you find eternal life
Until we all meet again.

May Rey finally rest after a job well done. Thank you all.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What a Great Feeling!

I am not a professional pastry chef or cake decorator. I have not had any formal lessons and am actually book and internet-taught. I am just a humble home-baker who loves to bake for her family and who is always on the lookout for new recipes and techniques.  That's about it.  Only recently did I start sharing my baked goodies with other people.  What they have to say about my baking always makes me anxious.  So when I get high praises, it is a big deal to me.  It is a good feeling.

Yesterday, my sister in-law's sister, Gina, picked up a birthday cake she had ordered from me.  The cake was chocolate chiffon with a basic custard filling, frosted with chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream and topped with the fondant roses I had made earlier.  At the last minute, I added flaked almonds to the sides of the cake as I wasn't too happy with the way I had frosted it. 

Gina had asked me to put the cake in a cake carrier as she was to travel about 2 hours by train back to her house.  She said that in her three train changes, people sitting next to her (viewing the cake from the transparent carrier and admiring it) asked where she had the cake made. She had some of my "business" cards with her which she then gave out to people right on the train! 

That alone would have made my day.  But the way she described eating the cake was even better.  She said "it was an OMG cake experience", that everything about the cake was perfect, even the flowers!  She had more gracious words, which to my mind were a little overboard, but she kept on saying she wasn't kidding...

If that doesn't inspire me to keep on baking, I don't know what will.  It's exactly the same feeling I got when my daughter's laptop bag became a conversation piece at her school.

Here's my cake...hope you'll like it as well!