Wednesday, March 7, 2018


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What would books or newspapers be without editors?

Almost incognito yet blessed with paaaaa-tience, they're like forensic scientists scouring through a manuscript's every word and phraseology to make sure the author's intended message gets conveyed.  

More than just minding a writer's grammar, sentence construction and logic, the editor is also a psychologist who second-guesses an author's intentionsall to make sure the reader gets his point.

Bluntly now: competent editors make writers, especially author-wannabes, seem flawless and smart.

A special shout-out to my editors Bezalie Uc-Kung, Lindy Hope, Karen Huang and Beng Alba-Jones for patiently poring through my book texts with laser eyes and hearts.

I had my own share of editing corporate newsletters in my past life. It was, to say the least, exhausting. I edited mercilessly (but with my clients' blessing)because company newsletters need to project an image of excellence and professionalism.  

After an edit, manuscripts turn into easy-breezy readsgrammar ironed out, words pruned down, inactive sentences made active, syntax fixed. Perfect mind tools to de-stress, dream-boost, discover new stuff, or plain put you on sleep-mode while comfortably curled up in bed.

Our lives could use some editing too.

We long for easy-breezy days yet we fill them with so much stuff we could hardly breathe. Just like unedited text, we may be subsisting on unnecessary fillers, or taking convoluted and messy turnssimilar to hanging predicates which make sentences hard to comprehend.

Trying to impress or please people, wanting to acquire more so you work to the max and find no time for restthese can make you lose your God-ordained flow and focus, with stress and toxicity gnawing at your joy.

Such was my novella until I met the best Editor of all. Jesus replaced my complaining with contentment, my fears with a peace and joy which could not be explainedin spite of my angst-filled situations.  

He's taught me to edit my own words and declarations too. I may get sick once in a while but I continue to confess Him my Healer, and so He doesimmeasurably. How many times have I lacked? He's become my provider, Jehovah Jireh, and has proven Himself so, many times over. 

Nowadays, peace guards my heart instead of worries.

Isaiah 45:2 "I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron."

Jesus can even edit out one's heart of stone, replace it with one attuned to Him.

Ezekiel 36:26 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."

You too could entrust your life story to the consummate Editor of all.

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Augmentation gives a ray of hope for women who want to counter the inevitable sag of their front and rear fenders. 

More like grasping at straws or wind if truth be told, because really, youthful-you will inevitably  wilt like a prune in spite of your plastic surgeon's add-ons. Fact of life: your north wanting to meet with your south is irreversible. 

Makes you wonder, and while we're at it, why not go for ear augmentatîon instead? 

With mal-hears, less-hears or miss-hears resulting in frayed nerves and bungled relationships, maybe we need more ear-lifts than any kind of lift. 

But larger ears may lessen your curb appeal, metaphorically speaking.  Imagine yourself looking like a beagle or a rabbit with your augmented ear. 

Besides God made sure our two cute side flaps are perfect as they are. Our ears are magnificent little organs which direct sound waves into our brains and help our bodies maintain balance. So let the two ears suffice.

That's why He instructs us on their use. "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry," James 1:19.

Listening must be intentional, otherwise, heard messages just get stashed in our brain's trash bins or, as we often say, go out the other ear. Most of the time, we listen to rebut or to impress others with our counter-ideas. These can lead to senseless arguments if we're not careful.

This teacher prays her students would be quick to take notes to thoroughly understand their lessons, especially those on character, values and morals—versus their ears being tuned out and turned on to their smart phones instead. 

I bombard heaven with prayers for my children and grandkids, that they will heed Jesus' words instead of the voices subliminally spoken and peddled by a worldly system which labels good bad and bad good. 

A  Christian network reports that even children raised on biblical principles and environments have left their faiths to follow feel-good, live-free doctrines. 

But the hearing or listening issue is just the tip of the iceberg.  

James 1:22 "But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." 

"Teachable" is what we call someone who applies the good that he hears. 

You may have a masteral or doctorate degree, or lord it over a number of people in your place of work, but if you're a bully and insensitive to people's situations, then you're just like a cloud without rain—high up there, but utterly useless. 

Listening is a heart matter as well.

King David was clearly a man after God's heart. Because David remained focused on God, he oftentimes heard from Him. And whatever God instructed, David obeyed—except for one, when he let lust get the better of him, resulting in the downfall of his kingdom. 

Lord, may our ears and hearts be totally attuned to You, in Jesus' name. 

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Image result for orange fruit cross sectionWhat's your favorite fruit? Mine's pomelo, known too as grapefruit.

But for now, make that orange, for the point this blog wants make about "love".   

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."

Notice: "Fruit," not "fruits".  It's all or nothing!

Intriguing, isn't it, that love is bundled with eight other traitsjust like an orange with its nine segments, a metaphor which graphically explains the wholeness of genuine character.

1 Corinthians 13 mentions "love" as the trait of all traits: "1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

"4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

"8 Love never fails."

Facebook has become quite a stage for overt declarations of love. Forgive old-fashioned me, but the first thing that comes to mind is, "Really?"

Is she that perfect? Does he indeed complete you? Is your life worthless without him or her?

Would anyone dare write this message? "You're arrogant, demanding and selfish; I love you anyway; and I'd be willing to take you back even if you make a mess of yourself."

Someone did, a long time ago. When he hung on the cross, Jesus made it known, "You have fallen so far away from your Creator, but I love you, so I came down from heaven to rescue you and bring you back to the Father."

The mush and the fluff, the flowers and the chocolates, the lavish dinners and gifts, and flowery FB messagesthese are feel-good declarations of love. Nice and sweet.

But don't mistake the wrapping for the real thing. Because the real deal can also be a deal breaker, if

The butterfly in your stomach will soon turn acrid. Betrayal, selfishness or jealousy may dent your relationship. Arguments may soon turn ugly. And for the married ones, bills will pile up, career issues may draw you apart, health issues will creep in. But genuine love never gives up.

Love is unconditional. Love forgives. Love embraces. Love cares. Love covers all wrongs. Love persists even if the object of your love has turned unlovable.  

And love is willing to start all over again, with the past left behind and never again reviewed.

Impossible? Yes, by my own effort! But with Jesus, everything is possible. 

Monday, January 15, 2018


Image may contain: 1 person, indoorOur five-month old granddaughter Coco is on a roll, more aware now of the many things going on around her, and discovering too that the world is not just about feeding, fussing, fretting and falling asleep.

She is now into more flavors than just milk, tinkers with toys in her secure play space which we call her office, and has lately discovered her voice.

She's found out she could screamand catch everyone's attention with it, which then leads to more screaming. LOL and Kodak moments, I assure you.  

And because of that, I decided to write this blog.

I apologize for my long absence here. Things had been a blur these recent weeks since we came to visit our son's family this side of the globe. Grandparents need to be grandparents and so that's what my husband and I are, currently, totally.

But back to my topic of discovering one's voice.

"You have your own voice, and nobody else can articulate it for you," said my friend Grace.  

I had long wanted to write for very specific demographics, particularly my students, yuppies and people in the corporate world, but I thought I didn't have it in me to write as excellently as her, Grace being a multi-awarded author of children's books and other inspirational literature.

"Just write," was her simple advice. And that encouragement has resulted in five books. I'm raring to continue writing the sixth, having finished two chapters back in Manila.

So I have my own voice afterall! That I could join the conversation, be a point-of-view that my students or any yuppie or someone trying to climb up the corporate ladder may consultbecause, come to think of it, I've been there, done that.

But it's really not just my voice. I am able to write because of my rich experience, the people who figured in it, but more so, because of the Word of God which has become my ultimate compass.

And that's my prayer for my children, grandchildren, loved ones and even my students. That they would develop their point of view, order their lives according to biblical truths, and talk about it with the same passion that Jesus had when He walked the earth.

Call it purpose, your calling, your reason for being. How could your  lifetalents, experiences, even your faithadd value to someone else's?

Coco's discovery of her voice surely animated her, giving her more reason to scream and experiment with her sounds. And we were just too happy to hear her do that.

Would anyone be excited to hear your point of view? More to the point, would anyone be blessed because you've lived according to that point of view?


Friday, September 29, 2017


Whew! What a roller coaster ride.
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This current school term has just been a blur of preparing lesson schemes, Powerpoint lectures, assignments and exams; a whirlwind of class discussions, workshops, students' presentations; and agonizing exam/assignment checking.

I love teaching. 

My spirit has always been willing, but this time around, my senior selfaka, aching knees, forgetfulness episodes, impatience often rearing its ugly headunfurled the red flag, cautioning me to slowdown, go easy, and take each day as it came, otherwise...

So here I am singing alleluia as each of my subjects winds down and anticipate a well-deserved vacation. It's only been by God's amazing grace, wisdom and strength that this achy-breaky mentor still stands.

It's been a school term of firsts, as far as this teacher is concerned:

My first time to handle a string of subjects and levels, from senior high to college undergrad to post-graduate (MBA).

My first to teach quite a number: 68 students all in all.

My first attempt at different and creative assignment and exam configurations, because I would have drowned in a hurricane of words and unintelligible essayswhich would take me forever to make sense ofif I insisted on traditional course work outputs.

Too, I learned to let go, giving my students more leeway to explore more information and concepts, but mindful that as a teacher, I must impose boundaries so that their curiosity doesn't bring them to the edge where radical ideas may poison them.  

I pray my students have learned, and gained wisdom in the process.

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I pray too I've helped them be refinedthat their character went through some molding, stretching, even breaking, and with a lot of aha moments besides.

Did I discipline them enough, reminded them of the consequences if they slackened?

"Smug!" I've at one point sternly told one group.

I waited for repentance, but got this chorus instead, "Ms., what does smug mean?"

"Look it up in the dictionary," I replied rather smugly too.

Anyway, next time, they were more considerate.   

It was a learning overload for me too! Just like a caffeine fix on IV (intravenous) drip perennially pumped into my veins. Some nights I spent just concocting strategies to engage them.

Where I struggled most were our discussions on family issues―domestic violence, divorce, abortion and the LGBT culturein the subject "Understanding Culture, Society and Politics".

To put a closure on the different ideas that were almost flying off the handle, I relied on my believer's toolbox, sharing with them biblical truths as anchors for right living.   

One of my biggest realizations: special kids are special indeed! I prepared a special exam for my special student Ana*. She insisted on taking my original exam and got an even higher grade than her other supposedly "normal" classmates.

Miracles indeed happen in the classroom. Some may take longer to gestatelike students who may bungle it again and again, but shape up later. But many changes happen right in front of me.  

That's why I love teaching. Thank you, Jesus, for being my teacher.  

*Not her real name

Friday, July 14, 2017


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It's fascinating that with Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels, folks from all over the globe are able to seamlessly connect wherever and whenever they please.

That wasn't so in my heyday. That was when we wrote lettersdone very sparingly because postage stamps cost a fortunewhich reached the other side of the globe in weeks. Or we phoned. But that too was expensive. With my P300 salary (my first pay-check after graduationshould reveal how ancient I am), no way!  

If I went on fieldwork, I'd fall off the gridmy boss never knowing if I made lakwatsa (goofed off) or was in fact working.  

Thank God for the likes of Google's Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, whose algorithmic minds have made real time and in-your-face connectedness such a whee-some ride. And at hardly any cost to ordinary people like us!

So today, we no longer search but Google information, or tweet them, or FB-post them; plus say "good morning" and "nitey-nite" to nanay, ate or your bestie via Facetime, Viber, Messenger or Skypeall while you're having breakfast or while you're preparing to call it a day.

And who's complaining? How convenient! What a blessing!

People we've not seen in ages have suddenly materialized. Class and family reunions are more complete because no matter how far off the grid one is, somebody's bound to be found.

Our UST Education High School class reunion FB page is alive with reports of classmates long lost but now found. You've surely heard of high school sweethearts finding each other again, rekindling the fire for another chance at love. Cheesy ba?

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But too much of a good thing can also be a curse. It's not Zuckerberg or Brin's fault. We still celebrate their algorithmic minds or anyone with a new gadget or app to make life a bit easier, especially for those with limited means or those hindered by age or disease. Technology has levelled the playing field, don't you think?

We've become overly dependent (like an addiction) on the net and social media that we've used them as substitutes for genuine social interaction. Doesn't if feel good to have face-to-face or shoulder-to-shoulder interaction, with some fist-bumping, back slapping, foot stomping and guffawing besides? I'd feel warm and secure if in the midst of a loss or tragedy, my loved ones and friends came to embrace me or cry with me.

I feel sorry for the US president. The more he goes on Twitter, the more his popularity takes a beating. Because leading is not a matter of writing slogans or words with shock effect, or facing TV cameras and shooting off one liners and smart-alecky comments for social media mileage or to fill primetime news.  

Managing a nation or our lives is about confronting issues, spending time with people, seeking their feedback and making decisions that build bridges rather break them.

Notice how people have made social media their megaphone for expressing feelings which they could not tell you otherwise in person.

"You are the best thing that ever happened to me. You are my life and my joy! I wouldn't know how to go on with life if you will not be here by my side." When I read this, my first impulse was, "I hope he said this too, and more, in person."

Funny and sad scenes: family members fiddling with their cellphones at dinner time; teeners burning the midnight oil, not because of their assignments, but on their smart phones; and them coming to school with none of their lessons in mind.

This teacher has seen the quality of students go downhill each year. The internet bug has so inhabited young people's minds, they're unable to analyse or even carry on  decent conversations.    

Worse, many have taken to social media to curse and cuss others for their perceived inappropriate actions, decisions or words. Filipinos bashing Jeff Horn because he was declared winner over Manny Pacquiao? Shameful, wasn't it?

With all the negativity and sub-culture of hateplus the selfie-showinessdisplayed every day, many have started to treat social media in a sort of standoffish way.

Thanks, social media, I still love you. But I've decided to limit your intrusion, and resolved instead to heed Hebrews 10:24-25:  
"… consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching."

Monday, June 5, 2017


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Kiana teaches Aeta kids. Not only that, she sponsors 18 of them so they could go to school. At this stage in her life, Kiana is paying it both waysbackward and forward.

Flashback, 1991. Kiana's father, Artemio Castillo (Manong Arting), faced his most harrowing experience. Mount Pinatubo erupted, entombing whatever little dream or hope they held on to.

"Ayaw ko nang balikan ang ala-alang 'yun," he testified in the recent World Vision (WV) appreciation event for its sponsors. "Kapapanganak pa lang ng asawa ko. Napakahirap umalis. Unahan (ang mga naiwan) sa pagkuha ng kabaong. Dating nang dating ang mga patay." (I want to forget it ever happened. My wife just gave birth. It was hard to leave. (People were) jostling for coffins. The dead just kept coming.)

Manong Arting's Aeta community became World Vision's special project. Not only were the children provided education. More than 150 Aeta families from Iba, Zambales, were relocated to a place they called "Lupang Pangako" (Land of Promise). Manong Arting today pastors his Aeta congregation, constantly reminding them of God's great love and faithfulness.

"Inspiring" was this event's recurring tonewhen WV Vision recognized the role of child sponsors, sought more sponsors to commit, and demonstrated that lives can indeed be changed if people cared.

You may on the surface think that WV is all about sending underprivileged kids to school. Look further and you'll realize that for each child that you send to school, families are likewise engaged, through livelihood, health and spiritual programsall to empower communities towards productivity in all areas of their lives.
WV's 15-year sponsors with
WV chairman Liwayway Vinzons-Chato

"It takes a village to raise a child"an African proverb. 

Note that many among the five year loyal donors are millennials! A shout-out to my students! :) 

Many of these sponsors (some of them 15 and 20-year sponsors) support not just one but many children. The World Vision staff, management and board membersheaded by former BIR Commissioner Liwayway Vinzons-Chatothemselves have their own personally-supported kids. That's walking the talk!

Jack and I continued the sponsorship of our daughter Carmela (whose family now lives overseas) who at a young age deemed it proper to extend help in a disciplined way. Our sponsored child, Leah Melcah, is now a high school student. Her recent letter to us: "Thank you for all the advice nyo sa akin. Makakaasa po kayo na panghahawakan ko ang inyong bigay na mga salita ng Diyos. Ganon din po kayo…patuloy na kumapit sa Diyos at 'wag kaligtaan na mag-pray sa kanya…" (Trust that I will hold on to the Word of God which you gave me. May you too hold on to God and not neglect to pray.)

When Jack and I retired and started to depend on our SSS pensions for our daily provisions, the temptation to stop helping charities bugged us. But how could we when God is our provider? When has He ever failed us? True, nowadays, we give sacrificiallyespecially since our maths still would not add up. But what's P750 a month if it means a child (without the means to make it because of extreme poverty) will have a chance to become a doctor or a scientist or a soldier?

Giving up six Starbucks lattesor a pair of jeansa month in exchange for a child being freed from scarcity? That's a no brainer!

One of the event's guest performers, contemporary artist, Quest (his real name Jose Villanueva III, himself a child sponsor) summed up the WV challenge via his "Sige Lang" song's chorus:

Walang imposible sige lang nang sige
Abot mo ang mundo
Malapit o malayo sama sama tayo (sama sama tayo)
Hanggang sa dulo ano man ang pagsubok
Hindi susuko, alam kong kaya mo
Sige lang sige! Sige lang sige!
Walang imposible!

People helping people. That's what it's all about! I pray you will be up to the challenge.

Jesus says in Matthew 25:40 "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

To get in touch with World Vision: Email Donor hotline  +632372777.