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."