Saturday, April 27, 2013


Charlize recently whisked me away to my happy place:

Lolo and Lola land---that special palace in the sky reserved for those who, having experienced life's worst and best, now find themselves joyfully entrenched in the lives of people so small yet so compelling. Oh yes, compelling enough to have us always thinking and praying for them, and experiencing joy as a result. 

We never expected it, but when our first grandkid came, it was joy unspeakable. Each apo afterwards came with her own joy igniter. Joaqui is now ten years old, his sister Charlize six, and their cousin Natalie ten months old. 

She was four when İ last saw Charlize in person---in one of my APOstolic works. (Both of our children's families have chosen to make their homes overseas so we've dubbed our visits as APOstolic, or caring for grandkids, missions.) 

Creative in every way, Charlize staged her own kiddie shows, made up songs and stories as she went along, sang at the top of her voice especially when "The Sound of Music" or "Annie" played, drew a lot, and asked, "Read mo' books, Wowa," most times. 

Thank God for technology, we now bond with our grandkids via Facetime, an app easily downloaded through İpad. 

Surprise, suprise, Charlize herself called us the other day! And it came in the middle of me watching "American İdol," my favorite show ever. But when Apo calls, Lola drops everything pronto, even if Ryan Seacrest proves endearing. 

Charlize turned out to be more of a darling, too. For more than an hour, she regaled me more than the "İdols" could have: 

"We have a lot of fun in school and Miss is so funny." Then came her litany of fun things she does in Year one. 

Scrounging for her sketch pad, she shows off her drawings of dresses. She would like to be a fashion designer when she grows up. Hmm, she's got fashion spunk. "You should draw some more," I pipe in. 

"Bringing" me to her brother's room, she finds some hand puppets, placing their faces up close to me for a mhwa-mhwa. So I mhwa-mhwa in turn with my hand-turned-puppet from my side of the globe. 

Finding her book of nursery rhymes, she reads aloud. Not one or two, but lots! So sweet of her. A few years back, she often asked to be read to. 

Now that she could read, she must have thought, "Lola must be so old, I better be the one to read to her." And was I pleased no end! 

During all these, Joaqui slipped in and out, making his usual funny faces; and showing off some of his books as I let both of them see the new book I was reading. 

But Charlize kept on and on, even if she obviously looked sleepy after more than an hour of chatting. Poor girl, un-savvy yet to exit the scene.

"You should go to bed now," I insisted, making it easy for her to say nitey-nite. 

Then I turned off Facetime, glad to have connected with my apos even if they're in Australia and their Lola in the Philippines. 

That's our very same routine with my son's family in the US. It's as if we're part of baby Natalie's everyday as Facetime affords us a chance to talk to her, sing to her, pray for her; and just be there to watch her bloom---in full color and in motion---everyday. 

When our children got married and Jack and I found ourselves empty-nesters, we never doubted God's grace to make it well for us. 

We've never felt the emptiness, because around us are brothers and sisters, bible study and other friends who've always been there through laugh days and feast days,
bad hair and heart days, and really really bad days. 

"We are really blessed," remarked my sister-in-law Papoose, when İ told her recently how great it must be for her and her hubby Tony to have their grandkids Sofia and Maia always coming around or joining them on trips. 

A third apo bounded in recently so Lola Papoose has her plate full! Happy full! Apos just a walk away.

However grandparenting catches us, it is still the most blessed season of our lives. 

Facetime, Skype, Facebook, call, write, fly, visit, walk over, whatever---make it a point to connect. 

The world is never too big for parents and children and grandchildren to cherish each other dearly. 

For more grandparenting joys and woes, and assurance of God's wonderful plan for your family, check out "Grandparenting: Happiness and Hard Work," published by OMF Literature and available in OMF Lit, PCBS, National and Powerbooks bookstores. 

E-book order through Amazon:

Sunday, April 21, 2013


İ love Sundays. Not that İ need them as a respite from work, now that İ'm retired from a full time job.

But even when I get busy once in a while, with writing and doing seminars or teaching some days, İ find myself goofing off a lot of times---sneaking off for some coffee times with my girl friends and relatives---any time someone hollers, "Tara go!" 

So why do İ love Sundays when I'm on R&R most days? Sunday truly is the day of the Lord! 

İt's like going on a picnic by a river on a hot summer day. Jumping into the river and wading to its deeper parts, you soon feel the the water enveloping, refreshing, envigorating and turning your body feather-light. "İ could stay here the whole day," you wish. 
Yesterday was one such Sunday. The refreshing came actually as a buffet of heavenly manna. Visiting my Citygate Christian Center family in the morning, I feasted on Pastor Brian Kairuz's anointed warning: 

Do not allow sin to rob you of your victory, so pursue Jesus, not money or women or men or fame. 

Come humbly to God first, repent. Don't say, "Kayang-kaya!" because if sin or pride is not dealt with, even the most mundane challenge will seem like a Goliath that you want to run away from. 

In the afternoon, Pastor Jeric Soriano of New Life Christian Center reminded us of God's love. 

It is a love so unconditional, it is not based on what we can do or perform, not if you've been a good or bad boy. God doesn't have bad days or tantrums. He loves us no matter what! 

Proof of that? He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2Peter 1:3). He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians1:3). And all of these are available in Christ! 

So isn't it wise to just do what Christ does, or follow what Christ teaches? And how I've been refreshed! 

Matthew 6:25-26: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" 

This was the very first lesson İ learned from Jesus in 1983 when İ confessed Him as my Savior and Lord. That too was when He changed my heart of stone to a heart of flesh, so that from then on, every Word He said became alive in my heart. 

İ ate every bit of it, relishing them as my daily bread, milk, butter, meat and veggie roll-in-one. Everyday has just been a basketful of masarap na baon. 

Life has never been more delicious---in spite of the sometimes acrid and putrid menu dished out by the temptations of this world, or during times that I dissed His word and followed instead old rotten me.

The "birds of the air" referred to here are sparrows, Pastor Jeric clarifies. Cheap birds, costing two pennies for five sparrows during Jesus' time. 

Yet not one of them is forgotten by God, says Jesus in Luke 12. 

İf you're prone to worrying, take a grip of this. İf God cares for cheap and seemingly worthless creatures like birds---protecting them from the elements, giving them food without needing to harvest and store them in barns---couldn't we believe that, we being His children, are secure in Him? 

He is our provider, our healer, our strength, our peace, our joy, our victory! Jesus is God İmmanuel, the God who is with us. He is the God who is more than enough. Best of all, He is our Lord and Savior. 

The answer to anything you will ever need and every situation you will ever face is in Christ! 

But this free gift of eternal life and security in Jesus is yours only if you commit your life to Him. "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12) 

The best part about these Sunday refreshings is this: İt stays with you through Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday as you read your bible and meditate on His greatness and love. 

By the way, this great heavenly food which gets deposited in us everyday must result in something, right? Love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, goodness, faithfulness. The fruit of the Spirit.

Planted by rivers of living water who is Jesus Christ, this tree  (our life) must bear fruit. Dapat my demo, para paniwalaan! (Must be demonstrated to be believed!)

Making a difference is not a result of studying much, says Pastor Jeric. 

İt happens because Jesus lives in hearts constantly being changed by His Word. 

photo credits:,, garthright.blogspot,

Monday, April 15, 2013


"Boring!" must be the thought bubble of many kids attending family reunions. 

That ho-hum, "mom-could-we-go-home?" look was evident in every family reunion I've attended, while the elders regaled each other with oft-repeated adventures and misadventures of their childhood days.  

Introduced to their never-seen cousins and made to mano po (kiss the hands of elders as a sign of respect) unfamiliar adults who are supposedly their lolos, lolas, titos and titas, they would uncomfortably settle, stone-faced, on their seats.

It's different, of course today, since many of them would just play electronic games using their cell phones or PSPs---oblivious to the reunion frenzy around them. 

But what did you expect? Reunions are the stuff of those who've done that, been there---together. That's why they're called reunions. Having gone through much together in the past, you get all giddy to have that blast in the past once more.

Well, that is so true of class reunions. Of some women I know (in my age group or a bit younger) who'd made a decision to attend their class reunions, the countdown would start months prior, with weight reduction as priority number one.

"For who knows, my first love might come!" said one.

And one couldn't give a hint of looking losyang or pinagtampuhan ng tadhana (a has been or in a lowly state) after all those years. So one prepares.

I've heard quite a number of childhood sweethearts getting back into each other's arms after years of having their own families, turning up single again in the class reunion---a de-ja vu---then marrying! 

I attended one such high school reunion, excited to see the crush ng bayan. Never mind what I saw. But what was I thinking? That the same youthful, slim Justin Bieber look-alike would make an entrance? 

And look at me! I've changed, heavier, rounder and with more wrinkles---eye bags to boot (my then very very senior mother jokingly referred to them as "eyes bag" and tried to conceal them with glasses that didn't have any grade)---around my eyes. I wonder what my classmates thought in turn?

So to even think that time would stand still on your crush or yourself---you're dreaming!

So when they say, "You have not changed!" charge that to flattery or defective eyesight! Or maybe they're saying the essential "you" is still intact. 

We all get old and that's a fact of life.

I recently attended the San Miguel Packaging Products (SMPP) retirees' reunion, a first such reunion for me. 

It felt good to be with people who were once your bosses and colleagues. I looked forward to seeing dear friends Cynthia Cabasag and Ceci Talattad. 

Honestly, these two looked the same as when I last saw them eons ago! Walang flattery! Both have continued to pursue their own careers and ministry work outside of corporate life.

And so have others. Some are still active in the corporate world, a handful are pursuing varied advocacy work; many are completely retired. 

Former San Miguel Corporation president, Frankie Eizmendi (FCE)---to me the epitome of calm, cool and collected--- looked as dapper and handsome, except for the more obvious lines on his pinkish complexion. How does he manage to remain so healthy, even as a septuagenarian?  I quite remember him (when I used to be one of his staff assistants) always taking a power nap every lunch hour, no fail!

Ricky Gomez, my Marketing mentor, looked like he hasn't changed at all. Honestly! (Again!)

Both of them talked about SMPP as a great division of San Miguel, it being the breeding ground of SMC's top executives, many of them having made it to CEO and COO positions in the SMC family and elsewhere. 

Rene Gener and his able team of angel volunteers ably organized the reunion, with fun, laughter, entertainment, nostalgia evenly handed out. 

He called for one minute of silence for SMPP members who have gone ahead of us. But it turned out to be longer than that. Seeing my Kuya Tony's name in that list made me teary-eyed. He passed away just a year ago; and yes, these people were all his friends. 

And here they were, honoring one another. 

Glory days may pass. Days of accomplishing much are soon over. But relationships are meant to last.

Thank you Lord, for this rare opportunity to reconnect with my mentors and friends.

Reunions, we need them---even if our eyes are faltering or our bulges are jutting out.


Friday, April 5, 2013


How do you do discipline your child? Several volunteered answers: 

With yantok (rod) or belt.  

Batok (a slap on the nape). 

Kutos (a knuckle blow on the head).  

Kurot sa singit (a pinch near the groin area) or pingot (ear-pinching). 

"Luhod sa munggo! (kneel on mongo beans)!" 

Our bible study group members seemed not to run out of recollections about how parents and teachers punished unruly kids during our time. 

C recalled being placed inside a jute sack, which was then tied and hoisted to a beam so she could not jump out until the punishment was over.

We've, in recent weeks, been immersing ourselves on the lessons of Proverbs, mostly written by King Solomon; pleasantly realizing that his words, though written in 931 BC (approximately 3,000 years ago), still offer wisdom for practical application in our time. 

One of these verses: Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death. (Proverbs 23:13) 

"We were always made to squat," Jack, our bible study teacher, said of his school superiors' style of discipline whenever they came too late for classes during his elementary grades. 
"Then we got the knuckle treatment when caught in misdemeanor. That was really painful." 

Of course, today, parents and teachers are more careful. Some countries, like the US and Australia, have severe laws protecting children's rights, mainly as a response to numerous cases of child abuse where the state must step in as an advocate for children who suffer harm from irresponsible adults. So a child can call 911 to ask for help. 

This issue has sadly turned sour because parents now refrain from using the rod, nor any tool of discipline at all, for fear that their children will report them to the authorities. 

But we must discipline and let our children know for sure if they have transgressed or gone out of bounds---for their own sake! 

Disciplining helps develop well balanced, stable individuals with a healthy worldview: That goodness reaps rewards while pooh-poohing what's right merits disapproval. 

Hebrews 12:6: For the LORD disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as his child. 

Following His example, we must also discipline our children, because we love them. No parent wants to punish a child. İ'm sure your heart breaks every time you need to confront your son or daughter because he or she has done something awful. 

But our heart agonizes even more if our children traverse the "do not enter" route, say they become barkada (part of the peer group) with those who do drugs or drink or bully others. Because if they persist in that, potholes and landmines may not be far behind. 

So as loving parents, we step in with a very clear rebuke---to make sure they don't repeat the wrong. 

We young once are learning from young ones. Today's parents have reinvented the rod so they can discipline their kids without breaking the law of the state. 

"Go to your spot!" İ've observed how a young boy---seemingly shamed and humbled---pleadingly cried, "İ'm sorry, İ will not do it again!" after his mother ordered him to face the wall and not sit or move out of that position for a long time (after he whacked a playmate). 

And this parent never hesitates to apply the face-the-wall punishment to her two kids, who it seems are growing more and more to be God-fearing and parent-honoring, considerate and kind to others. 

İn school, to have a student write, "İ will never copy from my seatmate again," 100 times, may reform a cheat.

"You're grounded!" seems to work with a lot of teenagers since it entails curbing privileges and freedom to do whatever they're used to enjoying. 

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Poverbs 22:6 ) 

Parenthood is awesome responsibility. Love. Care for. Motivate. Encourage. Teach. Train. Provide. Feed. Clothe. Educate. We owe our children these, having brought them out into this world. 

But the parenting package is not complete without the painful task of rebuking, disciplining or correcting. However, we need to do it while our kids are young, nipping bad attitudes and practices in the bud, even before they get entrenched and become lifetime habits that eventually lead them not to lala-land but to lose-lose-land. 

Some kids, in spite of their parents' careful training, have gone the forbidden way anyway. But His Word says, "when they are old, they will not depart from it." 

İn the middle of their disobedience, what you taught them when they were but toddlers or tweens will come back, just like a wave returning to shore even if it proudly surges out. 

Because you've planted it in their soul. The seed may take time to bud, but eventually it will, and you'll be surprised at the result. Any learning is useful even if it takes the longer route.

That's His promise if you are a good steward of your children. That's why He commands, "Train!" If we obey, He takes care of the rest. With Jesus, nothing is impossible! 

Better to have disciplined than not disciplined at all. 

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