my 21st birthday.  

Posted by Nigel J. W. Ong

its my 21st birthday today.

people used to say when its ur 21st birthday, you party and really enjoy it. you will have a bunch of friends around you to throw a birthday bash or something...

some will say its a passport to full adulthood, where u get blessings from your parents to really start living your own life - not having parents to mess it up again.

for me, as i started receiving all the birthday wishes, i started to look back into my first quarter of my life, which equals to 21 years of life.

i still remember how i used to create problems at my playschool, brawling with other students, create chaos in classrooms, guess i was the pain in the ass to my pre-school teacher back then.

i still remember how i used to not pass up my homework back at primary school days, how i got through 1 whole year of physical and emotional torture during my days in primary three. i got into a brawl with him, and threw my shoe at him. that shot my name into fame in the school. in fact, some of my primary teacher remembered me for that.

i still remembered how i used to play in marching band, and the passion for it remains with me till today. my finger itches for a pair of drumsticks all the time. how i used to be yelled at by seniors during training, and as i became a senior, i yell back at the kids.

i still remembered how i scraped through my PMR and SPM, and god i regretted not working harder for my SPM...

i still remembered my first step into my teaching college, and how i changed the way i looked into life. how i messed up my first week and had some good lessons from seniors. and also how to adjust myself to the city life - sleeping late and waking up early.

i still remembered my first encounter with Jesus, how i have changed my way of looking into life when i invited him into my heart...thanks to my mates in the college, and of course, to Angie that invited me to a church for the first time at the end of 2004. God bless you all.

i still remembered as i take my jet plane to new zealand to pursue my studies, my heart was heavy yet excited, as i thought about the prospect of freedom and yet uncertainty about my ability to adapt to culture and lifestyle here.

and here i am today, celebrating my 21st birthday.

i would like to say thanks to mom, for you endured the intense pain to bring this kid into the world, and still fed and raise him up despite him messing you life all the time. thank you dad for working hard to fed this food processing machine that just cant stop eating. i know its hard for you two to say 'i love you' but i know that you 2 does, and i love both of you too.

thanks to my brother, to be on my side when i need help, and to share my joy and sorrows, and of course, to assist me along the way as i made my journey to Christ's arms. god bless you.

thanks to God, for his grace alone kept me living for 21 years. i could have died anytime if he wanted me to. im sorry for all my sins, and im forever grateful for your forgiveness and promises..

and finally, to all my friends, teachers who supported me all the way throughout my first 21 years of life. i have no idea how i would thank you lots. all the help, support, guidance and advice are so meaningful to me, god bless you all.

signing off.


WYD 2008 day 1  

Posted by Nigel J. W. Ong

There it goes, after i finished packing back, and catch some sleep, i can finally start writing things about WYD, since i was asked by 3 people to blog my experiences.

I still can’t believe that WYD is over, just like that. After years of preparation, in which I still remember knowing about it exactly 1 year before the opening mass, because I attended the countdown celebration at SFX. Well, ive attended it, and I think I should share my experiences with people that I know, because I know some of them are much more enthusiastic than I do to attended WYD, yet can’t make it. It’s a 5 day affair, which will take a long time to finish, so ill write 1 part by 1 part.

Day 1 – Opening mass at Barangaroo

After spending 5 days with my mates from Macquarie Uni, its time to join my contingent members for WYD. Took a 1 hour train ride from Sydney city center to a small coastal suburb called Cronulla, which made their name from their sweet beach and the racial riots a few years ago.

Registered, done with the paperwork, and found out that I will be put in a Homestay, instead of sleeping in schools, or churches. Sweet.

Next, the whole lot of us, (ICP – Inner city parish of Auckland) rode down to Barangaroo for the opening mass with Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney.

That’s ICP. Sweet ey?

The Mass started at 4:30pm but we walked over together to Barangaroo around 2 pm from Central station, with thousands of other pilgrims waving flags of all nations, singing songs, strumming guitars, and joining in cheers to keep our spirits up. The distance from the Opera House to the mass site is only a couple of kilometers but it took our group several hours to inch our way to Barangaroo through the winding cobblestone streets of Sydney's neighborhoods which were jam packed with WYD pilgrims. I will forever remember the spirited pilgrims from Croatia, Scotland and the Pacific Islands who kept our minds distracted and spirits buoyed by their songs, dancing and music.

135,000 attended the opening mass. There are people from all tribes and nations, differed in skin color, and speaking different languages, yet share the peace and joy of the Lord. They waved their flags, telling people where they are from. I cant really describe this, so Ill just post in some pictures, as they tell…

…a thousand words.

the structure at the back of the picture, is the stage where the altar is located.

Newspapers mentioned that pilgrims for WYD 2008 came from 170 countries, which was a shocker to me. I never thought that the Catholic faith has its footprints all over the world. There are even pilgrims from the war torn Iraq.

The outdoor opening Mass was celebrated at Barangaroo, a large dockside wharf in Sydney harbor. We were led in prayer, song and worship by Cardinal Pell, a large host of talented musicians and singers, countless priests and religious, and fellow youth from around the globe who contributed their talents to creating a moving, multi-lingual and vivid liturgy. It was really awesome.

The Mass celebration comes in many languages, styles of music and dance, and also rich symbolism. The Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, welcomed the pilgrims and then the Mass began. Cardinal Pell made a point to welcome everyone--including all Catholics at all stages in their faith journey. I though this was unique because it made the liturgy personally relevant to me, as im not a full Catholic (not baptized yet). In his sermon, the Cardinal mentioned that it is good for us to make commitments in life--whether to Christ, the Church, our families and friends, or to accomplishing goals that may be larger than what we can achieve individually.

I still remember kneeling beside an American guy who actually cried after receiving communion during the mass. Honestly, I almost too. The communion hymns really spoke to me, as it tells me how much the Lord is willing to forgive and accept me as his children, no matter how much ive sinned in my life. The part where everybody sings Pater Noster (Our Father) is an eye-opening experience to me too. It’s incredible when people from various nations and languages unite in prayer, singing their hearts out, in the same language, Latin.

After Mass, there was a music festival highlighting local and international Catholic singers and musicians. This capped off the evening, as the ICP people sat on the dock sharing hot stews with bread with hundreds of thousands of other pilgrims--energized and eagerly anticipating the next first full day of World Youth Day 2008.

Before I call it a day, I snapped some pictures….with some sweet girls from…



OK. End of day 1. end of part 1 too.

World Youth Day - its getting closer...  

Posted by Nigel J. W. Ong

Yes, World youth day is 1 week away.

I can feel the excitement around the parish. As i helped out the youth group packing the goodie bags for overseas pilgrims that will stop by Auckland as they journey to Sydney for WYD, i can see everybody's face, glowing with excitement and joy. Well, me too.

The feeling just got pushed to another level, after i attended the special send-off mass for the WYD pilgrims of the Inner City Parish of Auckland right after helping the 18+ group out. the hymms, the readings, the homily sends the same message - that life is a pilgrimage to God, that a life's journey should be towards being closer with Him, and not away from him. That struck me. Honestly, my spiritual being had backtracked a lot. Im not praying Rosary as frequent as i used to. I hope that WYD will be the new gas that fills into my spiritual tank, and keep the fire of faith burning!

as i write this, ill be flying off to Sydney in 3 days time, to spend some time with my friends before embarking into my biggest spiritual journey. May everything runs well...

i never thought ill be a part of this, honestly. WYD will be the once in a lifetime experience that i will cherish forever!

my name is in the Straits Times!  

Posted by Nigel J. W. Ong

my pipe band snare  

Posted by Nigel J. W. Ong

As the concert approaches, my tutor believes that i should start getting on the drums, to get the feeling and be comfortable with it as i will be playing on it during the concert(duh..) so he managed to get me to strap on one, and also to bring it home and to keep it with me.

so this is how it looks like, with the drum bag still keeping the drum warm.

its a Premier brand hi-tension snare, with design suited for pipe band playing.

i initially thought pipe band snares will just be the same as the one i used to play in high school,. but once i played on it, it sounded too different to be the same as the Yamaha snare i used to play.

it sounded much more crisp, and that the sound generated from each beating is shorter than conventional hi-tension snare. the drumhead provide less bounce support as compared to the Yahama ive played before. The woven kevlar head might be the answer, as there is no coating applied on the woven kevlar heads, as compared to my old snare. that should explain the lack of bounce.

the lack of bounce also explains the reason for pipe band drum sticks to be extremely light. there is not much of bounce they can use to support the stick weights as drummers play. if they use general american drum corps sticks to play, pipe band drummers will sure have inflammation on their fingers.

However, it doesnt explain the crisp sound the drum genarates. Curiously, i turned the drum over and had a look.

ahh, found the answer. the drum uses steel wires instead of nylon, and that there is 2 separate groups of wires, one on the bottom and one on the top of the head. that explains the sounds..

there is one thing that is still the same, the weight. it sure will take a toll on my back....

i shaved my hair.  

Posted by Nigel J. W. Ong

i shaved my hair. its a weird decision actually, as until today, i still cant figure out the reason why i do so. most of my mates here actually thought that it was for some religious reasons. am i that religious in front of them? gosh...

the only way i can explain this, exam pressure has taken my head to a spin, causing it to think in an unconventional way. sounds good ey?



as i was shaving alone without anybody's help, i have to constantly take pictures of the back of my head to see if there is any part of the hair that i had misssed.


this picture, bloody honestly, is the first picture of my own, taken by myself. (typical friendster photos...) yup.

so you guys like it?