Monday, December 21, 2009


(image from crystalinks website)

Christmas is dreadful.

Imagine the Father trading his One and Only for you and I. Heaven’s light becoming our light. The Creator leaving His glorious position in heaven to be among the created.

Because God so loved us, He gave. His only begotten became THE ransom for all.
Declaring those who put their faith in Jesus SAVED.

He thus became our wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of peace.

Savior, Lord, Healer, King of Kings. Rock, Refuge, Security, Provider. Bread from heaven. Word of life. The list goes on and on.

He ’s our everything!

God’s beloved Son came down from heaven and became man. His loss—but only for a while. Until He could put death and sin under His feet to win us back to the Father.

So he was born that Christmas day. And a people living in darkness saw a great light.

The babe in a manger was the opening scene. The final scene had Him hanging on the cross and crying out to the Father, “Into Your hands I commit my Spirit. It is finished.”

That’s the total picture. He finished the work. Exchange deal complete.

The trimmings of Christmas are just that—trimmings. Nice to have. Nice to look at. Nice to receive. But they do not define or dictate the climate of Christmas.

So it’s a pity if we have all the trimmings but miss the vine.

Jesus is the VINE. And how He'd love us to become His branch.

Have a Christ-filled life!

Monday, December 14, 2009


My niece Bambi recently ordered 12 copies of my book, “Sorry to Burst Your Bubble,” and asked for dedications for each recipient.

She picked up the books last night and texted her thanks, with this remark:

“I just can’t believe your message is right smack to what is actually going on in their lives and what they do or who they are. May prophetic gifting ka ba?”

Made me wonder too.

But all I did was ask, “Please give me the exact words fit for the recipient.” And He did. Here and there prayers—God listens to them all, big and small, even prayers sent like a text message.

He’s really not concerned with our words or the length of the prayer, but our heart.

By the way, if you’re still thinking of Christmas gifts, you may want to consider “Sorry.” (P190/copy at National Book Store and Powerbooks; or you can call or text me.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Seminar for the Young and Not so Young

This has been quite a hectic but incredible week of blessings.

Held a Life Leadership seminar this Sunday for Jesus is Lord Church (JIL) in Sucat. It had been a life altering experience, both for me and the participants. And it’s all because God graciously enabled and intervened!

“I’m so thankful for what you’ve done. Glory to God! We’re so blessed and learned a lot. I pray that you will inspire more people, especially kabataan. God really anointed you,” texts Brian Bagol—my new-found young friend who coordinates JIL’s youth sector in this part of Metro Manila—after the seminar.

The motivation had always been His. He gave me the desire to reach out to young people. That’s the reason I wrote “Sorry.” I’m doubly blessed today to be able to share the book’s message via its sister tool, a three to four hour seminar knitting purpose, dream, gift and character as a package deal from God.

I thank Him for my partners in this endeavor: my family; Jun Manzano and his lovely wife Ate Norma whom God gave the burden to see this seminar through in JIL Sucat; our bible study group; JIL Sucat Pastors Gary Castillo and Viviane Corsame, Brian, the JIL Sucat praise and worship team whose anointed worship ushered in God’s presence; and prayer partners led by Carol Roa from City Gate Christian Ministry and other churches.

Special thanks to Bobot Tarre who so graciously agreed to do—even at the very last minute— the musical scoring of the seminar theme song, “Higher and Higher.”

I praise God for all of you! He alone deserves the glory!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I will be 20,010 in two days.

Yes, by this time I would have experienced the dawning and setting of the sun 20,010 times as I celebrate my 58 years on planet earth. Taken in that context, I do feel like an ancient voyager, with the earth as my ship and the universe my vast ocean.

And yet at 58, I don’t feel that shipwrecked, spent or tired at all. The more years added, the more of God’s faithfulness I experience, and the more of it I relish.

I feel as young as ever. I could still follow my line dancing instructor though lately I haven't raised a leg to conquer my stubborn mid-portion.

God supplies my every need so I can’t complain. Life has not been such a smooth glide either, but hey, whose ride hasn't been rough or bumpy if you're travelling on space shuttle earth with its dizzying peaks and low low valleys, not considering its hurricanes and volcanic eruptions?

But I’m thankful for each day I can laugh, or cry, especially when I’m overwhelmed by God’s all encompassing grace, even during those times I stagger or stumble— sometimes literally falling, and my hipbone still intact.

I praise Him for my family: my husband’s faithfulness and continued good health in spite of his high blood sugar; the way our children turned out to be—God-fearing, loving and caring.

And our wonderful grandchildren Joaqui and Charlize! Just the thought of them causes my heart to rejoice, thank God and pray some more.

Then I remember the love of my parents (both deceased), brothers and sisters and my in-laws, our nephews and nieces, our dearest friends, our bible study group, our church brethren and most especially our pastors whose teachings inspire me no end.

And yes my students. What a joy it is to realize that one can impact young minds. Add to that my co-educators with their nurturing commitment to see their mentees through.

The list of people, things and situations to thank God for is endless.

But most of all, I thank Him for His GRACE. I am able because He enables. When I am weak, that’s when I’m strong. When I get lost, Jesus shows the way, because He is the Way.

During times when I feel I just blew it, He floods my heart with assurance that all will be all right. For every holler for help, He answers. Because He is both my Father and my Deliverer.

58 years and counting. I’m sooooo ready to get hold of my senior citizen’s card in two years’ time. Wow! Discounts galore in restaurants.

By the way, the only treat I asked my family for my birthday is a Conti’s mango bravo dessert, delivered a day in advance! Ang babaw! Yes, being shallow and inane, especially at 20,010, is forgivable.

Waiting for mango bravo with Opal, Jack and Carlo

Monday, November 16, 2009


A forwarded email listed the following clever business names:

Cut & Face, a parlor in San Juan. Cafe Pindot, a small internet café. Summa Cum Laundry, a laundry shop in Manila. Bread Pit, a bakery. Lito Lapida, a tombstone maker in Antipolo.

Very Noy-Pi, they’re not just funny, but apt and memorable. Branding coups if you ask me—a key factor for successful marketing.

What’s in a name really? And why all the fuss about having the right name?

Names were carefully chosen even in biblical times because parents believed that whatever they called their children influenced their future.

Noah, for example, meant “comfort,” because his father wanted comfort for his family as they toiled the earth’s cursed ground.

Remember Jacob? God changed his name to Israel because one night, he actually wrestled with God and he overcame. And that’s the promise every Jew banks on even today—that as a people, they will prevail.

But this name calling business becomes more interesting. He says in Isaiah 43:1, “Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

There’s more. He promised David in 2 Samuel 7:9: I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth.

Wow, not only does He redeem us, but He calls us by name, with promises of victory and success to boot!

However, only one name matters. By that name, every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth. And there’s no other name given by which everyone may be saved—but by the name of Jesus.

And His is the only name that will never fail our expectations. Bread Pit's pandesal may once in a while disappoint but this Bread from Heaven will forever satisfy.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


( photo from

My friend Yna Reyes recently forwarded an article about famous violinist Joshua Bell playing incognito at a Washington DC metro station—a social experiment conducted by the Washington Post two years ago on “perception, taste and priorities of people.”

Bell’s Boston concert two days earlier cost avid music fans a whopping $100 dollars per seat. Yet this 45-minute performance at the metro station—where the grandiose sound of his $3.5 million Stradivarius violin melded with Bell's passion for Bach—bagged only a handful of appreciative onlookers and $32 in coins.

How could have thousands missed this awesome brush with greatness? It was free yet only a few cared to stop and savor. If they only knew!

Some caught the moment though. A three year old boy stopped and listened. Egged on by his mother to keep moving, he nonetheless tarried. “This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on,” noted the author of the forwarded article.

Busy? Don't allow your day-to-day activities dictate your priorities or you'll miss life’s rarest gifts.

Getting things accomplished makes good sense; it's a prescription for success. But we must not lose life's breathtaking "wow!" moments. And they come when you least expect them, yes even when you're rushing, catching a ride to somewhere.

We spend a lot of money on entertainment or some form of therapy, believing that these will soften the blow as life takes us on sharp detours. But really, the best things in life are free!

Children know that. Like God’s gift of salvation in Christ. We didn’t earn it. He gave it freely because He loved us. And He doesn’t ask anything in return. For it is by faith, not works, so no one would boast.

That’s why Christ taught us to be child-like: (Matthew 18:3) “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of God.”

Joshua Bell paid a handsome price for his Stradivarius, making sure that with his talent and his instrument, music lovers would experience the extraordinary. But commuters just passed him by, oblivious to a prince in their midst; some dropping a cent or two, probably to assuage their guilt.

Jesus paid with His life. It is a free gift. None of us could ever pay for what He did on the cross. All because He wanted our journey to lead us heavenward. The Prince of Peace, more than that the Savior, awaits your audience. This we could not miss!

"There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

That’s more than extraordinary. That's priceless!

Nikki could have been one of those who stopped for Bell's music.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Our son Carlo is very business-minded, probably just a wee bit more than his Ate Lucci who if given the chance will also go the entrepreneurial route.

Carlo has this uncanny ability to hear ca-ching or see the glitter of gold in something as commonplace as fish ball, daing na bangus or a pillow case. A chat with him always veers to livelihood prospects—conversations which could go on and on and on. Well, in the meantime, he’s still marketing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for his multinational employer but I don’t doubt at all that he will one day be his own boss.

His numero uno disciple is who else but his wife Opal. It’s not uncommon to hear them chatting and painting scenarios pertaining to their future business, no matter how silly or out-of-the way they may seem. But their concepts really make sense.

“Hebrews,” I overheard Opal say when I hitched a ride with them the other day. She was apparently referring to their dream coffee shop venture. “It will be a place where people can relax, listen to inspiring music, even read Christian literature, with menu fare like “manna cake” or “whole wheat heavenly son-wich.””

HEbrews. What a swell idea! A brew-haven for those who want to have a quiet time with oneself or friends. Or Him.

Jesus is the ultimate brew-master, making sure you and I are transformed, drop by tiny drop, into a full-bodied brew, flavor and aroma pleasing to the Father, filling our cups daily so we become another person’s caffeine fix. Expertly brewed, we may in a day yet be a lifter of others’ sagging morale.

Jesus himself passed the brew route. He spilled his own blood, drop by agonizing drop, as His body got lashed, head crowned with thorns, hands and feet nailed on the cross, body speared till the last drop of blood poured. Man, this was some brew! All to prove His love to a people who didn’t even know or care that they were perishing.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Heb 9:14 NIV)

The next time you crave for your morning brew, seek your ultimate BREW first. No match to any wake-upper, His is a brew that satisfies, no matter how thirsty or hungry you are. A caffeine fix is nothing compared to the fine-tuned life He offers.

Living water, just as Jesus promised. Opal may have struck gold there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


A trip to my father’s hometown—Lucban, Quezon, a mere 30-minutes ride from my mother’s town (Sampaloc) where we used to live—had always been a treat, especially when I was in grade one.

I loved to splash and wade in its canals with their free-flowing clean water teeming with tadpoles which my brother Dan and I merrily scooped with our hands. Further uptown, women washed their laundry underneath the bulwak, giant water mains spewing fresh spring water from Mt. Banahaw.

Bedtimes were a struggle to snuggle under Lola Dudang’s starch-stiff kumot especially when the temperature turned more chilly as mornings descended with the pitter-patter of rain on the washbasin outside our window—flung wide open every morning by Lola for the ritual hilamos with icy-cold water.

Merienda times meant a quick dash to the palengke for some binanging saging na saba (broiled banana) or pansit habhab, tasty (read MSG-flavored) noodles heartily slurped from a piece of banana leaf.

The Lucban of my youth no longer exists. Its canals have dried up; the weather is not as cool; and its once quiet streets teem with smoke-belching tricycles and droves of young people noisily coming and going to the province’s biggest university.

Its delicacies however remain, perpetuated by entrepreneurs who have kept the town alive with their sense of community—catering to basic needs with downright simple yet endearing goodies to make your day complete: pansit habhab, Lucban longganisa, broas, tikoy, etc.

How could I forget Lucban’s espasol vendor? “Pasol, pasol, pasol,” he cried sing-song every time passengers boarded a bus bound for Lucena. My viajes were never complete without his glutinous rice goodies. And believe me, he was eternally there, his gentle soul always smiling at you every time you left Lucban! “He’s retired,” someone said the last time I inquired. He sent all his children to college through his pasol-pasol-pasol calls.

On our recent trip back home, my cousin Kuya Ador treated us to lunch at Palaisdaan, Lucban’s version of a floating restaurant on bamboo floors. We chanced upon Aling Norma peddling kesong puti and espasol. “My six children are able to go to school, thanks to this job,” she good-naturedly chirped in her puntong-Lucban tagalog. By just going from table to table, and with the restaurant staff kindly letting her sell to their customers, Norma must have made a lot of money that day.

I saw this selfless sense of community in Duval, our neighbor. He runs a thriving small enterprise—a karinderia and a boarding house for students. I happened to stray into his store on this recent visit, lamenting that the nearby panaderia didn’t have my favorite Lucban bread, marquina. (I never fail to bring it home to Manila.) Without hesitation, he mounted his motorcycle and hurried uptown to get the stuff for me.

Yes, things are no longer the same in Lucban. But its essence remains—a sense of what really matters and what works. And its growth is not driven by taipans or the super rich, but by folks who recognize that life is all about being there for each other and meeting day to day needs. No more, no less.

Nobody seems to be poor in Lucban.

“The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” (Proverbs 13:4)
Lucban's Aling Norma peddles kesong puti, made of carabao milk.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Today is my dyeing day, an event which repeats itself twice a month. So instead of "Happy Birthday," you may want to greet me with, "Happy new hair!"

“I will dye and dye until I die,” must be one of the mottos I share with a lot of ageing baby boomers who won’t be caught dead with white mane on their furrowed forehead. Of course I'm not yet in the purple or orange hair niche hogged by more elderly seniors like Senora Perez, my once-upon-a- time Spanish professor.

I’m actually half excited about having a full head of white. My mother looked radiant in snowy-soft hair even before she died at 92. Besides, my former crowning-glory-turned-receding-glory now only boasts of just few and far between strands of hair; so white may fake a full-bodied haute coiffure.

“No way,” said my better half. He probably didn’t want to be mistaken for chaperoning her mother or older sister. “You may want to just stay at home,” he butted in when I intentionally let him overhear my self-to-self dialogue on turning totally white at the top.

Of course he couldn’t now object to my dyeing bills which on occasions unfortunately come with manicure, foot spa and massage add-ons. Now you know why I look forward to dyeing days as real "D" days.

His concern had basis. A few months back, as he asked for our bill after a quiet dinner in a restaurant, the waiter asked, “Me senior citizen card po ba?”

Que barbaridad ,hindi kami ganon katanda!” My mind objected. How could he even think we were THAT old! But double horror! The waiter didn’t mean my husband. Jack’s pinkish well-stretched skin (double talk for chubby) made him look younger than his age. (He turned 60 recently.) I realized that from where the waiter stood, my crowning glory was indeed crowning with the white rays of the early morning sun. Am definitely not ready for the humiliation that comes with white!

But I will be more at ease, in due time. My brother Dan, two years my senior, had for many years been going around with white hair. He found dyeing cumbersome. And he really didn’t care if he looked older than his age. That's what I call ageing graciously, minding the inner man more than one's facade.

Jesus Himself dazzles in white. Revelation 1:14: “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire.” White also symbolizes God’s cleansing power through the blood of Jesus: “Wash me and I will be whiter than snow,” says David in Psalm 51:7b. White is pure good! Eternal haute couture.

Thank God dyes will not follow me in heaven. You mean no foot spa... no manicure? I'll gladly trade all these for white!
Of these baby boomers (l-r: my niece Gennie, me, my sister Mita, our grand niece Macky- the exception, my brother Dan and cousin Kuya Ador), guess who dyed or didn't?

Friday, October 2, 2009


The Lord listens and answers, for He is God! As we fell on our knees begging God to have mercy on our country---for we could not endure another disaster after Ondoy, He relented. Typhoon Pepeng became just a whimper. Pepeng is just a name and the bible says that every name that has been named will bow down to the name of Jesus---the name above all names. Read this entire text from Jeremiah 10:1-16:

"Hear what the LORD says to you, O house of Israel. This is what the LORD says: 'Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them.

"For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.'

"No one is like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you. They are all senseless and foolish; they are taught by worthless wooden idols.

"Hammered silver is brought from Tarshish and gold from Uphaz. What the craftsman and goldsmith have made is then dressed in blue and purple-- all made by skilled workers.

"But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath.

" 'Tell them this: 'These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.' '

"But God made the earth by his power; He founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His understanding. When He thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

"Everyone is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. His images are a fraud; they have no breath in them. They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish.

"He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, including Israel, the tribe of his inheritance-- the LORD Almighty is His name."

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Lashing

Everyone thought it was just one of those usual typhoons which regularly visited these islands. Today, three days after typhoon Ondoy ravaged the Philippines, the horrors just keep unfolding:

Shanties shattered just like fragile matchsticks. Houses with their occupants on rooftops as fast-rising floodwaters chased them there. A battered refrigerator and unimaginable debris upended on electric wires as if someone hang them there to dry like laundry. Upturned and piled up cars, scenes from a demolition derby, though in this case, the players were unwilling.

Most harrowing of course were snapshots of grieving families still looking for the missing, or finding theirs but already lifeless in muddy graves.

We haven’t seen the rest of it. As clouds turn inky black again and the wind starts howling, we start groaning within, “No more Lord, we can’t bear another one.”

Let’s be confident the Lord has heard. He always does. This we can hang on to: “When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…. Do not be afraid for I am with you” (Isaiah 43:2a&5a).

We ask why but we may never know why. This we know: The God who enabled Moses and the Israelites to cross through the Red Sea to distance them from the pursuing Egyptians, is the same God who saves today.

I heard my pastor say, “Life sucks. That’s why we need Jesus, because apart from Him we can do nothing. He alone is the way, the truth and the life, giving us peace in the middle of chaos, our only comfort in time of need--- and refining our character in the process.”

Even at the height of, the storm, rescuers, volunteers and donors started mobilizing, giving and calling for more aid. God indeed heard!

Tomorrow, the sun will shine bright.

Friday, September 25, 2009


My grandson Joaqui is quite perceptive.

While having dinner one day, my sister Dulce tried to explain to him, "What you're eating is pumpkin. It's colored yellow so it is good for your eyes." Two-and-a-half year old Joaqui seemed stunned but recovered his poise and replied, “No, that’s not good for my eyes. That’s good for my mouth!”

My daughter’s family lives in Australia and came home for a visit early last year. Joaqui was already five years old then. My husband Jack asked him one day, "Do you have classmates who are white, black, brown and yellow?" As the conversation progressed, Joaqui almost tearfully argued that skin color could neither be black nor white nor yellow nor brown, but only dark or bright.

“You’re embarrassing me,” he blurted out to his Lolo Jack, as if the latter’s insistence to refer to people in terms of color is a sin. Well, I guess he learned that in his prep school in a country which emphasizes political correctness because of its multi-racial and ethnic mix.

We were all young once and have formed our own world view as we matured. As a youngster, I thought I knew it all. Now that I’m almost 58, I realize more and more that I’m clueless about so many things. I now recognize too that it’s not what we know but whom we know that matters.

Let me explain. Before I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I knew of no other lord but me—my plans, my agenda, my opinions. As I got to KNOW him day after day by reading the bible, He became bigger and bigger as I got smaller and smaller in my eyes. “Apart from Me, you can do nothing,” Jesus said. He is really all the wisdom we need. Now, I depend on Him for everything, including my thoughts and actions for everyday victorious living.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7), sums up God’s offer of success for everyone who FEARS Him. I’m pretty certain a bright future awaits Joaqui. His parents are making sure, applying this wise proverb from Solomon:

“Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Prov. 22:6).

Monday, September 7, 2009


It was that time of year again.

We clasped hands, so tight ligaments could have fallen off; held our breath as our hearts pulled on heaven for His promise of a win. The third place winner was announced. Not us! Then the second placer. Not us again! Then the screen glowed, “Champion,” followed by a flash of that oh so familiar insignia. That’s our school’s! Then the loudspeaker boomed, “and the champion, Southville Foreign Colleges!”

Shouting and jumping and clapping, we---faculty members, our president Dr. Rudy Ibañez and our students---momentarily lost our poise to revel in that victory. Who cares! This is our second straight win as champion. Southville Foreign University bested close to 30 educational institutions nationwide in the Strategic Marketing Competition sponsored by the Philippine Marketing Association (PMA). The announcement highlighted the recent PMA students’ “Stratmark 7 What’s Hot? What’s Cool?” conference at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.

This was our fourth straight time to make it to the finals of this prestigious competition.

To Leizl Yambao and the rest of the team, great work! More than the trophy and the title, know that LEARNING is the greater trophy. Competitions do not only measure ability. They are the grinding stones through which character is tested and molded, and faith strengthened. And I’ve seen all of you grow a bit more in both. “You have the mind of Christ!” could not have been demonstrated more clearly.

Thanks, Dr. Ibañez, Dr. Alfred Milevoi, Misses Carol Mediodia and Ampy Baviera for your all-out support; Ms. Evelyn Aguilar and Mr. David Masindo, for your precious guidance; and Mr. Roland Quirong, for your spiritual wisdom and encouragement. And of course, the rest of the SFU faculty and staff who smiled and sighed through it all while the team occasionally fumbled with forgotten forms and notices, and missed classes.

To God be the glory!

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I have been privileged to be the adviser of our school's (Southville Foreign University) marketing team in the past four years. My task consisted mainly of overseeing a group of students as they tackle a marketing challenge posed by the Philippine Marketing Association in its annual Strategic Marketing Competition.

We again made it to the finals this year. But last year was a banner year because we wrested the championship title from the state university which had dominated the competition for some time. "Southville what?" People would inquire whenever our school was mentioned. How could this relatively unknown and tiny "David" go head-to-head against established Goliaths like the University of the Philippines, Ateneo or La Salle?

We are confident of bagging the title again this year. (The winners will be known this coming Friday, Sept. 4, 2009, in the Strategic Marketing Conference at the Cuneta Astrodome.) This year, competing schools designed and implemented a market research proposal, with the finalists presenting their work last week to a panel of judges.

Congratulations Team Aspire, for a job well done. A champion's performance indeed!

And believe me, this conviction proceeds not necessarily from conceit but from faith. You see, whenever we set out to tackle a contest like this, we remind ourselves that, "The battle is not ours, but the Lord's," and the only way we could win is by humbling ourselves before God. "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Matthew 23:12).

He then becomes the center of all our efforts, trusting Christ to guide us with His wisdom, understanding, clarity of mind, even strength; so that every member of the team endures through marathon and late-night meetings, break-up sessions and field work (either to brainstorm, draw up budgets, craft and produce creatives, interview respondents, tally results, etc.---whatever the contest required) to submit a paper within tight deadlines. He even sent highly qualified people to critique or give their expert advice!

These on top of the team members' need to attend regular classes and turn up exhaustive assignments.

"Whatever happens, we are the champion!" One team member declared. I bet you she was not referring to just the trophy or the title. "The experience, the application of principles to actual situations, plus being able to endure personality differences, discouragement, even conflicts while you try to function as a member of a team---if we learned from all these, we are indeed winners."

A champion's attitude! The trophy and the title are really just icing on the cake.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Feeding Sessions

Isabelle is as pretty as a doll, what with her dainty pink dress, full bangs and shoulder length curly brown hair. It’s her second birthday and we’ve been invited to her party this particular Sunday at Max, ATC. Isabelle is the daughter of Franjo, my (late) brother-in-law Onib’s second child. In a number of weeks, Sofia, granddaughter of my sister-in-law Papoose, will also celebrate her second birthday.

These are some of the happy occasions my sisters and brothers-in-law, and even our sons and daughters, look forward to as a reason to chill out and catch up on family matters: “Does Jojo have a girl friend yet?” “What about Joy, is she ever settling down?” “Ria is already five months on the way, how is her paglilihi?” “When is Bambi due?” Etcetera.

Most of the answers to these questions we of course know, but we just want to talk about them. Or probably, in our own little way, show that we are family and we are concerned about each other.

Because we’re not really lacking in updates. Everyday, bits and pieces of comments, jokes, reminiscences and even sarcasm easily get passed around the family e-group. Even now, I’m learning interesting shreds of information about Mader and Pader (my parents-in-law Mama Lourdes and Papa Luis) from (their eldest sister) Polong’s hilarious emails. Their brother Pats has his own way with words, murdering English as though in a rampage. I tell you, each of these ten sons and daughters—two have sadly passed away—possesses a unique brand of wackiness, bequeathed by their Papa. No wonder no one wants to be the first to leave these happy affairs. (Only the waiter’s nicely-stated warning—“additional charge po if you exceed use of the function room”—made us dash for the door.)

With birthday celebrants covering practically all months of the year, we do not need more lunches (No more dinner gatherings—seniors must go to bed early.), aptly called the birthday club, but recently dubbed by Polong as feeding sessions. Imagine how oldies with low metabolic rates attack a Chinese lauriat! “Too much feeding sessions,” quipped Papoose, when she felt terribly ill after last Sunday’s affair.

Why the need for these events? “Our numbers are dwindling,” noted Bettina, Isabelle’s Mamita (Lola) as we posed for the customary “picture-picture” last Sunday. As on my side of the family, quite a number of my in-law's’ immediate family members have migrated elsewhere, others to the hereafter; so why not spend more time together while we could.

Isabelle’s recent birthday party photos will soon be emailed, downloaded, filed and maybe soon forgotten. Some things however could not as easily be stashed away. The pat on the shoulder. The request for a prayer. The kind “How are you?” The kiss, the hug. The jokes and the laughter. The expressions of wonder on those little apos’ faces. And of course the realization that these little children, as they have seen in these oldies, will grow up loving and reaching out to their next of kin too.

Unconditional love, that probably sums it up. When family members take each one for who he or she is, and through thick or thin lift each other up. Because honestly, we have a lot lot more than just feeding sessions.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Book Crazy

Now with more time in my hands because of a hiatus from teaching, I've decided to muster all I've got to put together my third book and bone up on my writing skills before I get busy again in the next school term.

Am still at a loss though on that book project. My heart and mind went rah! rah! when the concept ignited, all possible chapters listed, and the intro drafted; with my publisher giving her thumbs up. But everything seemed to have been reduced to a whimper lately. That's funny because my proposed topic was precisely meant to encourage women my age to get a life after retirement.

So I turned to my second objective---be a more savvy writer. Writing a novel had always been percolating in my mind. Should I take the plunge? In a seminar for women writers sponsored by OMF LIterature Inc. (Thanks Yna Reyes!), renowned Christian author and mentor of writers Miriam Adeney challenged us to rise above the clutter to fill the void for "readable" Christian literature. That novel-kneivel desire creeped up again!

So could I really do it? I don't know. Only God knows, and I need to pray about it some more. He promised to open the door if I would just knock and continue to believe His promise: "Turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you look for it as silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding" (Prov.2:2-6). This I know: I need to start writing that third book. Up your butt, Lola!

But a dam had been burst. Craving for the classics, I went to Powerbooks and blew my tightly-guarded allowance on some Hawthorne and Dickens books. How could I refuse when they came as hard-bound, gold-rimmed and expensive-looking, and on sale at just P63 and P198!

Many days and nights, I found myself lingering in the world of CS Lewis, wishing the breathtaking episodes in the Chronicles of Narnia would stretch forever---and be real! Adding fuel to the cause was OMF's Lindy Hope, who gladly lent me a Jane Austen book from her immense collection. Current day writings pleaded stronger, so I went back to William Young's The Shack, and fell in love with Bodie and Brock Thoene's Vienna Prelude, bought for a mere P25. OMF had it on sale!

This crazy book episode my have been ignited by my grandchildren's love for books. Visiting my daughter's family recently in Australia, I often substituted to put her kids to sleep. Joaqui, six years old, just could not go to bed without a read. My convenient pasalubong for him from the Philippines were Grace Chong's books (mostly of the "O Mateo" series) which we read and re-read many times over. So I inquired, "Do you like Tita Grace's books?" "No. I don't like them," he replied ho-hum style. Then crescendoing, he gushed, "I love them. I super-duper love them!"

I used books to lure two and a half year old Charlize to more quiet playtimes---kinder to her sedentary Lola. But here's the rub: Hardly had a page been turned, she'd say, "Wead mo book, Wowa!" forcing the book from my hand and thrusting another.

I'm happiest knowing that my apos are growing up loving books. (Lucci makes it a point to regularly borrow books from the public library, guaranteeing a fresh supply always, at no cost.) Even if my dream of becoming a novelist fizzles, Joaqui just might. Well, only the good Lord knows.

Monday, August 17, 2009


"Wuk, Wowa, wuk!"
These are my granddaughter Charlize's words whenever she wants to call my attention to whatever new find or skill she suddenly discovers she's capable of doing. "Look, Lola, look!"---uttered in her two and a half year old twang ---always sounds jazz and every marching band to my ears. That's me, proud Lola!

Charlize is my daughter Lucci's second child, next to Paolo Joaquin, my other source of joy (a lot more "Lola" stories about them in later postings.) A few days ago, Charlize happily found out that she could actually hold it a little while longer and dash straight to the toilet to poo. Being set free from stinky and sticky bumbum (She used to do it with her nappy or diaper still on. As if you didn't know!) must have been such an allelujia moment in her blossoming life! Had I been there, she would have excitedly called out and showed Wowa this "accomplishment" herself.

But it's been more than two months now since I last heard her say, "Wuk, Wowa, wuk!" That was when I visited my daughter's family in Australia's New South Wales last April. I gladly babysat Charlize to give my daughter, even temporarily, some reprieve from her multi-tasking go-round. Charlize's short attention span and inquisitiveness made her mind wander from wonder to yonder. Lego blocks now, tinkering with her mini piano in a minute. Browsing a book now, dancing a moment later. Now vying for space in the kitchen sink to "help" me wash the dishes, in a wink scrambling for her toy michrophone for an urge to sing. Oh how she croons at the top of her larynx while Maria coaches her wards with "Do Re Mi" in the movie The Sound of Music.

Age of wonder! Since when have I last viewed things like Charlize?

We of the mature ("old" sounds so yawny) generation used to wonder too, so much so that a day was not enough for discovering new joys. Young once upon a time, we rode the train or the bus and pressed our noses---even poked our heads out the window to savor the rushing wind, and let our eyes be overwhelmed by the amazing sights around us. That was when we used to look at the world without filter or bias, but as it was, bursting with color and texture and sound and life. That was when like us, our playmates were not afraid of touching bugs or earthworms, "cooked" leaves and flowers for little paper dolls, frolicked under the rain or rolled in muddy pools.

How many times have we asked, "Why?" And not seemed to have been satisfied with the answer, we begged with another, "Why?" Those instances in our young lives when we were just like sponges, readily soaking up each new "Wow!," "Aha!" and "Cooool!" moment because they were just too precious to let go. And by God, they were just so wonderful we could not stop figuring them out, so we desperately needed to run to somebody and say, "Look, how awesome!"

Even without cataracts or jaundice, a lot of people's eyes (or is it hearts?) have become jaded. "I'm too old for silly things. No time to waste. Busy! Don't bother me with childish matters." Thank God for grandchildren. They let us see the world and each fleeting moment for what they are.

I wonder what Charlize will teach me next time I see her again.

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the
kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Doing this blog, my first, is not easy. I'm probably just afraid of stumbling. I've always had this fear of being vulnerable if I said too much, with strangers ganging up on me for whatever reckless things I say. But I succumbed finally.

My author friend Grace Chong has been blogging successfully---and quite happily---for a few years now and I am just awed at how effortlessly she lets us know God's gifts of grace even in the most mundane and insignificant situations. And she often nudged me to start blogging. "I have become a blogaholic," she proudly proclaimed as she gave a testimony about my first published inspirational book when it was launched last year at Powerbooks. Blogging is like child's play once you get used to it, she suggested.

Because, frankly, there are just too many things to write about, little life lessons which I believe someone can identify with and learn a thing or two from, especially those in the most interesting and care-free part of their existence---meaning people in my age group who are nearly or already flashing senior citizen cards whenever they eat in restaurants; or young people who may benefit from the wisdom of the young once. So save your heart, your fear or your tear, dear. I didn't grow grey hair for nothing. Let's sit and talk a while.

Know that these little nuggets of wisdom come from someone who's been there, done that. I'm my first reader and demonstrator actually. My everyday is a series of stumbles, fumbles, foibles and rising up; and what lessons these crashes and rises bring.

Besides, at least if the good Lord takes me anytime soon, and I face Him to give an account of my life, I will not be accused of having hidden and squandered whatever gift He's so graciously lent me. Too, while my memory is not yet on silent mode---because I feel it unexpectedly snoozing even without prompting---I might as well put these musings to bed. Also, what if my next book doesn't get printed? A blog entry is alive forevermore in this etherworld called the net even if it doesn't see print!

So there you are, blog. You're finally out in the open. That wasn't so hard after all. Yes, by God's grace, I did it!

With my encourager Grace Chong