Code 1.1

Friday, December 14, 2012

"Our Hearts Are Broken"

Woke up to devastating news about another senseless massacre in the US where around 25 victims, mostly ages 5-10 years old were shot by a disturbed young man.

I saw President Obama's address to the nation about the recent tragedy in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and felt his pain and cried with him as he delivered the sad news to the country.

When President Obama said that these children were deprived of "birthdays, graduations, weddings and kids of their own", my heart began to break as he had said, "our hearts are broken today". Here I was so worried about not being able to give a fancy Christmas gift to my son this year due to my lack of finances when at that part of the world, those parents weren't even going to have a Christmas ever with their children who were taken away from them so suddenly.

At Marti's 4th birthday
As the President ended his speech saying that he would be going home that night and hugging his children a little tighter, I hugged my son Marti now 13 years old and thought of him when he was about the age of those victims, overwhelming me with gratitude to the Lord for all these years that I am able to hug Marti, celebrate every occasion with him and look forward to graduations, his wedding and to my grandchildren. 

Recent photo with my son Marti

I write this post for the victims, their family, as well as to the survivors and pray for their comfort and healing at this very sad and difficult time. 
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mommyla and Ima: What I Inherited From My Grandmothers

Was listening to one of Bro. Bo Sanchez's recorded preaching on "Know When To Quit", talking about path and purpose when I found myself thinking about my grandmothers Mommyla and Ima and the paths they have each taken in their lives.


Mommyla and me at 4 months old
Mommyla is my mom's mother and my sister and other cousins grew up living with her in her house. We used to be so terrified of Mommyla, whose intense temper matched that lovely face! But as the years went by and hearing her story during the Japanese occupation of Manila in the 40s, I began to understand and love her more.

Mommyla comes from a brood of sisters, the 2nd to the oldest with their only brother dying as a young soldier during the war. My great grandfather died before the war broke out, leaving my great grandma, Lola Canora with six children the youngest being an infant. Their eldest, Auntie Toyang was studying to be a teacher and recently got married so the task of working for a living was passed on to Mommyla at the age of 15. Mommyla would sell in the marketplace everyday all sorts of food items, at the same time trying to ward off suitors. She even risked her life, working for the cause of the Filipino guerrillas by gathering empty shrapnel shells for them. And during the Japanese massacre, she and a male cousin had to transport their entire family by pushing them in a "kariton" (wooden cart) from Guadalupe to Antipolo, with Mommyla nursing a bayonet wound. Mommyla was the only one among her sisters who wasn't able to finish her studies, sacrificing her education to feed her family. But all of that paid off when after the war, she and my grandfather Daddylo lived a blessed, well-off life and she didn't have to work a single day thereafter. 

Mommyla's life is the living example of Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well." Mommyla had a struggling early life and later on an emotionally-hounding one when she had to suffer the passing away of Daddylo, of her eldest Daddy Boy and then her youngest, my Mom. But all of these she endured with an ever intensifying faith in God. She raised all of us with a strong faith in the Lord, always reminding us that no matter how great the trial in your life, God will see you through it.  


Ima and Tatay

Ima was my Dad's mom and although I didn't spend that much time with her while I was growing up, we became closer during the last few years of her life especially when I became a mother myself. 

Ima was just as lovely as Mommyla but hers was more of a quiet beauty. Growing up, I knew her as being demure and submissive, very motherly which I think, in hindsight, characteristics my Mom chose to emulate as a mother and as a wife. 

Ima was a teacher who decided to become a full-time housewife like most of the married women in the time of the second World War. One time when my Dad was boasting as usual to me and my cousins that he was the favorite child, Ima told a story of how she braved a tornado after the war, 6-months pregnant and tugging along her eldest daughter Auntie Ising and my Dad who were both toddlers. Tatay was away so Ima had to save herself and her children and as they were running for shelter, my Dad was throwing a tantrum and crying really loud. Ima shouted, "tumigil ka kungdi iiwanan kita (stop it or I'll leave you here!)" My cousins and I laughed so hard as my Dad was put in his rightful place by his mother!

Ima and Tatay started a family with almost nothing, having newly moved to Manila from Tarlac. As Tatay worked as an electrician, it was Ima who had the entrepreneurial spirit and her chicharon was what made their family of six children get by. Before laundry services even became a popular business venture, Ima had already laundry contracts back in the early 80s with Vicks and Procter and Gamble when their production plants were still in Manila. 

I remembered when I became a solo parent, Ima would often tell me to get married someday, reminding me that I was not meant to live my life only as a mother. Was surprised with her advice, coming from someone who was known to be a dedicated mother. Ima explained that she didn't want me to end up like her older sister who became a widow at 24, never remarried and in her old age became estranged from her only son who lived abroad. I was touched by Ima's hopes for me that I would be with someone whom I love and be with me in old age. 

In the first few years after my Mom died and we had to move out of Mommyla's house, we spent our New Year's Eve at Tatay and Ima's house for the first time. I was so depressed back then, missing my Mom and fantastic New Year's celebrations at Mommyla's house, that I ended up with an intense flu, spending the entire evening in Ima's bedroom while the rest of the family celebrated outside the house. I pretended to sleep so that relatives would stop asking me if I were okay every five minutes but then I heard Ima come in and lie down beside me and stayed there, patting my back as if she was putting a baby to sleep. I don't think she knew because my back was turned to her but I was crying the whole time, feeling her love and understanding without words and with just a simple gesture. I may not have grown up close to Ima but she let me know how much she loved me in that last New Year we spent together. Ima passed away in May of the following year, barely 6 months after Tatay died.

Looking back and remembering the lives that these fascinating women led, can't help but think that I owe them both the traits which makes me a better person, better mother and better woman now: Mommyla's unwavering faith, Ima's unfailing love and both their fierce perseverance for their families. These are indeed the inheritance that no amount of money or jewelry could surpass. 

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Friday, November 2, 2012

God Knows

While channel surfing, I caught the tail end of a Jimmy Stewart film entitled, The Mortal Storm, and heard this beautiful line: 
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went into the web to look for the complete text and found out it was from a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins, a noted British academic on sociology and economics.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

God's Grace Overcame My Crisis of Faith

I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. I went through a crisis of faith for the past two weeks which left me physically weak and spiritually broken.

Just a few months ago, I had been courageous and optimistic about the turn of events in my life: quitting my 7-year desk job and ridding myself of unnecessary stress, becoming completely financially independent by going full-time on oDesk to
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Exorcism: Tangible Sign of Jesus' Victory

Spiritual Warfare: 
Talk on Exorcism 
by Fr. Jose Francisco Syquia,JCS of the 
Office of Exorcism, Archdiocese of Manila

National Shrine of the Sacred Heart
September 28, 2012

Spiritual Warfare presentation of Fr. Jose C. Syquia

"Our struggle is not against human foes but against cosmic powers"
- St. Paul

There is an active entity acting on our weaknesses.

"Our enemy may also be compared in his manner of acting to a false lover. He seeks to remain hidden and does not want to be discovered."
- St. Ignatius of Loyola 

Christ himself encountered the devil. Why not us?

We can never understand man unless we also understand the Devil, evil and the redemption. 

Demonology grants us true appreciation of what God has done to us. Helps us better develop our Christian identity. 

Sin brings disorder to the faculties which gives the demons more power over us. The Devil can work on your emotions.

Exorcism is a tangible sign of Jesus' victory on the Cross over the powers of darkness. Even if the devil has been conquered by Christ he can still be active because he can only be thrown back to hell for all eternity in the final judgment, in Christ's second coming.

As Christians we have power over evil spirits.

Fr. Syquia

In the Gospels, Jesus desires that His exorcisms are public unlike His other miracles.

Demons cannot live where Jesus is. As Christians we are more targeted by the Devil because we have a direct line to God.

Three Openings to Extraordinary Demonic Attack

Notes from the Vatican:

  • When Christianity is forgotten, the vacuum is filled with the occult. Curses come from the power of the evil spirits and not from the power of the magician

  • The Church betrays itself when it denies its power of exorcism. It is a work of charity.

  • Occult practitioners take advantage of the sufferings of other people when they are vulnerable.

  • Uncertainty in life and in loss of faith makes a person turn to occultism

  • What is possession?  Temporary substitution of the self-awareness of the person. Discernment is important in healing/ exorcism

  • Heavy metal music is music consecrated to Satan: 
       78% of teens have contact with satanism (44% through music)

  • Satan does not subdue Satan so he only subdues a weaker demon and remains in that person. 

Diagnostic Procedure

Angels were very visible during the Old Testament because they were bound up with the preparation of the coming of the Messiah. It is their mission to lead the pagan peoples to God. But the devil corrupted this by making men worship these angels thus resorting to polytheism.

Religions of old resorted to idolatry and polytheism except Israel who believed in one God because their guardian was St. Michael the angel who battled and won against the devil. 

Man experiences God through His conscience and, through divine intervention, is led to faith

Occultism, folk Catholicism leads to blocking of blessings. 

There is no middle power, if you use powers other than that of God then you are using that of the Devil. You have to be very discerning. 

"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters."

- Matthew 12:30

There are no good spirits other than the angels. All else is the Devil.

The Sacramentals by which to fight against and protect us from demonic attacks:
Holy Water

Exorcized/ Holy Oil

Blessed Incense

Exorcised Salt and Holy Relics

Imagination can be read by the devil because it is not a spiritual faculty. Also memories and emotions. But he has no access to the intellect and the heart because only God can read the mind and the heart of man. The devil victimizes those who rely on their selves and not on God.
"We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
Dear children, keep yourselves from idols."
- 1 John 5:18-21

You don't need to have your 3rd eye opened to be holy. Occultism goes against the 1st Commandment: dealing with psychic abilities and getting in touch with the spirit world. 

In an exorcism it is between God and the victim. The exorcist is only the instrument. If a person goes back to God he may be tempted again but can never be oppressed. 

The only power the devil can cause is fear! They cannot even kill us. There is nothing outside the providence of God!

Know your enemy then know your authority over them which Christ has given us. 

"When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick." 

St. Therese of Lisieux
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Monday, September 17, 2012

"Faith, Without Works, Is Dead"

Missing the Makati Feast for a week, felt like a month. The weekly Catholic prayer meeting has become so much a part of my and my son's life that the community seems more like an extended family for us. And it never fails that when I am at a low point, it is through the Feast where I hear God's message to me the loudest. 

A week ago, I blogged about being spiritually weak amid my
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Thursday, September 13, 2012

It's Just Material

Image: Papers and Collected Material in the Library of Carl Linnaeus Found on in affiliation with 

"It's just material!"

Whenever I feel anxiety overcoming me, thinking about the low point of where my life is right now, I'd say those words to myself. 

Yup, my pains and struggles are only materials for my story which God is currently writing; a story that He will use to show that He is bigger than any problem and that His Grace is enough.
"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."
~1 Peter 5:10 

This realization came to me while listening to Bro. Bo Sanchez's old talks which I've saved up as an mp3 in my Ipod. Every time I feel spiritually weak, I'd play Bro. Bo's talks and I'd feel nourished every single time. Bro. Bo's stories of triumphs all began with trials and strife:

- Bro. Bo started out as a penniless preacher
- Sylvester Stallone was an actor nobody wanted
- Manny Pacquiao came from a very poor, single-parent family
- Gary Valenciano has been a diabetic since he was 14

And many others who are now successful and whose stories filled with "material" they can now share to bless many others through hope and faith in the Lord. 

So when you feel drained and stressed-out, look around you, more importantly look within you. Isn't your life filled with "material" you overcame, eventually strengthened you, and can now look back on with certainty that these happened for a purpose, the Divine purpose which God has planned for you even before you were born?

Next time you find yourself neck-deep in problems, say this to yourself:
"It's just material for the great story my life is about to become!"

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

When God Pushes You To The Edge...

On the edge of a cliff.

Yup, that's how I felt this morning. At the edge, at a loss, not knowing where else to go. Actually, that's how I've been feeling for the last two months ever since I gave up my 7-year desk job and decided to take control of my life instead of depending my life on other people.

But there are days when I really reach a point when I question my decision back then, days like these when some emergencies happen and my bank account is almost depleted. And yet I could never shake off
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Friday, August 31, 2012

Believe In Yourself

Katherine McPhee sings "Don't Forget Me" in the Season 1 ender of Smash

Even toughies have tough times...

Whenever I feel down (yes, I do have those moments even if it seems I'm a tough cookie), I've taken to the habit of coaching myself back to emotional health :) Sounds lonely, I know, but I was never a fan of depending my happiness on someone else.

Anyway, I'd just like to share my latest picker-upper: Smash
"Smash" is a musical drama that celebrates the beauty and heartbreak of the Broadway theater as it follows a cross section of dreamers and schemers who all have one common desire - to be a "Smash." The series centers on a desire to create a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe
Getting addicted to this new TV show, made me read about the life of Marilyn Monroe
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Taken from Pablo Neruda's 100 Love Sonnets

Been going through a myriad of emotions for several weeks now with all the big changes in my life and today, I felt like reawakening my romantic side which has been dormant for the past 12 years. Being a solo mom with double the hard work, I have taken for granted that part of me which has inspired so much of my creativity throughout my life from my designing to my writing to my handicrafts. 

Browsing through love poetry on the net, I came upon this beautiful piece from Pablo Neruda's 100 Love Sonnets:
I love you without knowing how, or when or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.

It was so beautiful that it felt like it was sacrilegious to merely reading it on the screen, that somehow the words called out to me that they had to be handwritten and so I did as you can see on the photo above. 

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Project Author 1.2: One Step Closer to My Dream of Becoming a Published Author


Yup, as Anna put it, that's how I would describe my day at Project Author 1.2.

First off, a chunk of my solo parent budget for the month was originally meant for a web design workshop which was cancelled a few days ago due to low enrollment so I decided to attend the Project Author seminar instead. Thanks to Juliet of Salt and Light Ventures, she e-mailed me that I could pay at the event.

Entering the function room of AIM, saw that most of the attendees looked like seasoned individuals and I felt that nervousness again whenever I'm in a room full of strangers. Thankfully, I heard someone call out my name from across the room: it was Anna Santos, author of fab solo mom journal Happy Even After! I felt relieved that I knew someone there and more so it was Anna who was our MasiPag Care Group's special guest just a few days ago! We excitedly shared our book plans and I promised to talk to her more after the seminar.

The seminar started with Mr. Ardy Roberto sharing his story on how he and his wife Tingting founded Salt and Light and it was simply awe-inspiring. Talk about seeing every cloud's silver lining! Imagine one of his best-sellers "Ang Perang Hindi Bitin" was written during a horrible parasitic attack of the skin.

Ardy asked all the participants to introduce themselves and mention what kind of book we were working on and the title if any. When it was my turn I nervously shared that a friend of mine wanted to collaborate on a book on stories of solo parents but the book I was really working on for over a month now is about my own ups and downs as a solo mom with the working title as "How to Turn Your Rock Bottom into Your Launching Pad" which was inspired by J.K. Rowling's account of her life as a solo mom. Saw the approving nods around the room and also from Ardy and I felt a little confident. Now there's no chickening out anymore and procrastinating with the public admission of my attempt as an author!

The program was a powerhouse line up of best-selling authors like Samantha Sotto (Before Ever After), Larry Gamboa (Think Rich Pinoy), RJ Ledesma (Lies My Yaya Should Have Told Me, among others), multi-C. Palanca awardee Grace D. Chong (Gifts of Grace among others) and Charles Tan of Flipside, the country's pioneer in digital publishing. With the exception of RJ, all the speakers didn't have writing backgrounds before their first books, only the relentless passion to tell their stories and that alone revived my determination to share my message out there. I was especially inspired by Sam Sotto who used the 3 hours of waiting for her son's dismissal from preschool to write Before Ever After and by Larry Gamboa who has amplified the success of Think Rich Pinoy with internet marketing, speaking engagements and mentoring. 

I got really excited to hear that Larry is also a fan of Brendon Burchard of Experts Academy since Brendon was the one who inspired me to put up a website dedicated to the financial, emotional and spiritual health of solo parents and their children. Mustering up enough courage, I approached Larry after the seminar and told him of my book and the website I was putting up which was a result of the video challenge of Brendon Burchard awarding a scholarship at Experts Academy to anyone who will submit a video on 5 things to help improve people's lives. Getting tongue-tied, I gave up on the video and turned it into a book instead but after a month, all I had was a 20% book and a website that's still under construction and I didn't know where to go from there. Larry advised that I should start on the book first so that it would be come the content basis of the website and he even urged me to finish that video and e-mail it to him!  Whew, now there's another thing I can't chicken out of, with a challenge from Mr. Larry Gamboa himself :)

All in all, it was such a heartwarming experience. It felt like I belonged and was really meant to be there on that day: meeting Anna and coming up with future activities for solo parents, getting RJ to sign a book for my son who is a big fan, soliciting valuable (and free!) advise from Larry and learning from these superstar authors whose humble beginnings are no different from any of us. 

Can't wait to be a part of Ardy's mentoring program. Keep up the good work and may Salt and Light Ventures continue to be blessed so you may bless more people!
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Saturday, April 21, 2012


Mommy and me at 2 months old

"No amount of money could ever account for not having a mother."~ Drop Dead Diva

Was watching a marathon of one of my favorite series Drop Dead Diva and saw the episode where Deb reincarnated as Jane faces her mom who's filing for a divorce from her dad and I found myself crying, with that ache in my heart feeling like becoming fresh again. 

I miss my Mom. I've missed her every single day from the day she passed away a day after 9-11 in 2001. A few years ago in a Facebook application where you're asked to reveal 25 things people don't know about you, I listed there that I cried everyday for my Mom for 5 straight years. A lot of people got surprised of that revelation, especially to my own family. No one close to me knew how deeply I was still mourning for my Mom even after so many years. 

One day I was hearing mass and the priest said in his Homily that mourning is normal but mourning for more than a year is an insult to God because it signifies lack of faith. I felt guilty. Now I wasn't only hurting because of my grief, I was hurting doubly because I never even realized my faith was in crisis!

But how do you get over losing the one person who made everything alright? Someone who sacrificed everything for you and yet never complained? One who loved you unconditionally in the truest, most genuine sense of the word? Today, as I was watching that episode, it suddenly dawned on me. Aching this much over someone you truly love and someone who loved you as much or possibly more could not be wrong. I mean isn't that the way God ached for us? So much so that He gave up His only Son? And isn't that the way we should long for Jesus in our life? I learned from the Makati Feast that we should long for Christ like we thirst for water or gasp for air. 

So all this aching and mourning could not be wrong if it is meant to always remember how the person we long and hurt for once cherished and cared for us; if every tear reminds us that we were and are utterly loved. Besides, I don't mind the tears because of The Father's promise: 
"When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth."

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Friday, February 24, 2012

From Supermodel to Role Model

Was checking out my Twitter account and saw a very interesting tweet:

' closet, 's baby tweet,'s empire & more
It's unbelievable how Kathy Ireland rose to stardom as one of Sports Illustrated's most famous cover model back in the 80s and is now a CEO to a multi-million worldwide brand name.

I love it when she said these inspirational words:

Whatever material thing you've got to give up to live your dream; it's not a sacrifice, it's a bold investment.

Powerful and compelling words from someone who started her empire at the kitchen table, making a pair of children's socks!

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Monday, February 6, 2012

You Will Never Lose Your Way

This week was probably one of my worst.

Thought that the year had started out really great: signed up as a Care Group head apprentice, got into a new hobby that could become a new side business, got 2 new employers from oDesk, attended the first Light of Jesus Leadership Assembly and got paid big time by Google Adsense and that was only in January. The highlight of it all was probably when I attended the webinars of Brendon Burchard. This amazing guy instantly became my hero after I saw the Experts Academy series. I realized what Brendon was talking about was what I have wanted to do all this time, something that I could give back after receiving a ton of blessings from the Lord: to share my story and be a testimony to God's love and generosity. And Brendon was offering to give an all-expense paid trip to his headquarters at Experts Academy and a free course there to anyone who would submit the most impressive and inspirational instructional video to his website.

Got so excited about the idea that I spent the next few days writing the message I wanted to put in the video, practicing my speech by recording my voice and speaking in front of Marti.  Marti liked it so much he even gave me some powerful inputs that I immediately added to what I was writing. Within a week the message I wrote seemed to be looking more like a motivational book and I even got more excited with the idea that this simple story was going to help a lot more people, especially solo parents like me. I began to have sleepless nights.

Back in the office, I felt uninspired, thinking my day job was now a hindrance to the many things I've always wanted to do. Looking back at my work life, I realized that my career was based on what people expected me to do and not what I wanted to do. By the middle of the week, I was so depressed I could hardly get up from bed. It didn't even matter my boss scolded me for the first time in 7 years because he needed me so badly at the office; I just wanted to sulk. What was really eating me up was that I wanted to pursue my passions now but it would be irresponsible for me to give up my day job when there were a ton of bills to pay and we were in danger of losing the place we were staying when my Dad said he couldn't help out anymore. I felt like a fake writing a self-help book when I couldn't even help myself. I stopped writing.

In all of these I tried to remain faithful, asking God to calm me down and grant me the gift of discernment but all I heard was silence. More sleepless nights with a lot of crying.

Sunday came and we were late for mass for 15 minutes so decided we should wait for the next one as I never liked hearing mass only halfway through. Marti and I went to the Blessed Sacrament to at least spend an hour there and hope would somehow receive the grace I was praying for. I felt the serious desperation for God that I haven't felt in a long time and that reminded me of one of the talks at the Makati Feast where it was said that our longing for God should be as desperate as our need for air.  Half an hour passed by and still nothing and I felt the tears well up. Drowning in despair, it was I who broke the silence and shouted with my heart to God that no matter what, even if I had but 1 peso in my wallet, I would continue to serve Him! And that's when I got His reply in one powerful word "SERVICE".

Wow, it felt like water was splashed across my face! I had lost my way for awhile there, going inside and nursing my ego instead of staying on track and concentrating on my initial intention of helping other people, of serving. At mass, I received  God's message in all 3 Biblical readings:

The First Reading was from Job 7: 1-4, 6-7, telling of Job's sentiments and hopelessness.
The Second Reading, taken from 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23, where St. Paul explains the rewards of preaching the Gospel.
The Gospel from Mark 1:29-39, where Jesus, after healing hundreds including Peter's mother-in-law, found time to be alone and pray and later on informs His disciples that His real purpose was to preach the Good News.

In the First Reading, I learned that all of us go through times of despair and God permits such moments in our lives so that we may gather strength and fortify our faith that even in our darkest hour, He will never abandon us.

The Second Reading made me realize that sharing my story to others of the miracles that God has done and is doing in my life is not a self-serving act but an obligation. For someone who has received salvation, it is now my obligation to testify to the All-powerful, All-merciful love of God to others who were just like me not so long ago: alone, hopeless and ashamed. As St. Paul wrote, "If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!"

And the Gospel showed that even Christ gets distractions but He never once wavered from His true mission; moreover, He always found time to pray. Reminded me of this favorite line I heard from my college Theology professor: "Fix your gaze upon Jesus and you will never lose your way."

So now I'm writing again with a renewed fervor. I will finish this book and even if only one person would be transformed in his/ her faith in Christ through my story, I would be the happiest person in the world because  I could finally say that, in the simplest of ways, I have SERVED.

To God be the greater glory!
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Am Home

More than a year ago, I never would have thought I would be in this place, this place where God has led me to out of the stormy desert of my life.

It's been a year since my son Marti and I joined the Makati Feast and it wasn't an easy journey, filled with growth pains and despite the miraculous turnabout that God blessed my life with through the Feast, I would still sometimes find myself asking why do I have to be there weekly. I've always had an insecurity over belonging so when I begin to feel left out in a place or event, I also start doubting my presence there. And that self-consciousness made our first few months attending the Feast a mighty struggle for me especially when I knew no one there. Marti seemed to fit right away, finding his place at the Kids' Ministry which made me more nervous sitting  alone in a room full of strangers for an hour or so.

But it's amazing how God would simply not let me be disheartened because when I seem to be in those insecure moments, I would feel His encouragement through the warmth and sincerity of the people of the Makati Feast. 

The first step was the hardest but was worth it: I decided to show up every week. In all honesty, my initial intention in coming to the Feast was based on integrity (I always, always keep my promises even if it's just made to myself) and little else. And then I met Tita Eva Relova and everything started to change. 

One night while buying "Feel God, Feel Good" t-shirts for me and Marti, Tita Eva began to talk to me and finding out I was a solo mom, she encouraged me to join the Solo Parents Caring Group. She promised to have the CG Heads contact me for the membership details. Boosted by Tita Eva's concern, I decided to say yes. 

The following week, entering the doors of the AIM Conference Center, a cool-looking dude called out my name "Millicent!" as if we've known each other for so long. It was Brother Monty Mendigoria, he was the first Feaster to add me up in Facebook and to welcome me he asked his wife Sister Yolly to give me a free CD of the Feast's worship songs. It was such a kind gesture from someone I only met on that day.

In the weeks that followed, I came to know Brother Noli Benavent in one of the icebreaker activities then Sister Faye Dondiego who was the second one to add me up in Facebook. The CG Cycle began and I met our CG Head Sister Gail Franco and later Brother Jay San Luis. Becoming a part of MasiPag (Married Individuals and  Single Parents Caring Group) and finding friends among all my CG mates has blessed me a hundredfold---this is a group where we comforted each other in our unique situation as parents and as individuals. The Sunday Feast started and I was warmly welcomed with a hug by Sister Anne Relova whom I had no idea knew me at all.

The last quarter of 2011 was the toughest time for me as a Feaster. The Lord was calling me to participate more in His Ministry and it was such a tall order at a time when I was swamped with financial and family problems. I had heard great things about the Kerygma Conference and after hesitating for a long time, I bought my ticket just 1 day before the event. Of course, I hesitated,  I was going to be alone again in a room of strangers and this time for an entire day! But still I went and turned out God was waiting to bless me more with not just the phenomenal speakers but more with the other solo parent Feasters I came to know and share stories with. 

But my most trying part of that year was at the Makati Feast Christmas party. I had looked forward to this because Marti was one of the 3 Kings in the Nativity Scene and yet on that night feelings of being left out was so overwhelming, I sulked on my chair the whole night without talking to anyone and not even partook in the buffet dinner. I began to question myself again why do I even have to show up here when I still feel alone after all that's  happened? And as I was about to leave before the program was over, a person beside me who also came alone began to talk to me. Her name was Sister Lydia, a widow (another solo parent!) and who was so concerned that I hadn't eaten at all, offered to get me food! I thanked her and politely declined but deep inside I was beaming that the Lord is not only faithful to those who are faithful to Him but also relentless in helping those who have committed to Him.

A year later, here I am: a CG Head apprentice and just signed up to serve in the Set Design Ministry. From someone who was in despair and completely clueless when I came through the doors of the AIM Conference Center for my first Makati Feast, I am now basking in the infinite grace of the Lord who had brought me to a place where my son and I found another family and feel we truly belong--- 

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Not Worth All the Work

Friday night, I saw the guy I liked (gosh, sounding juvenile there) OK, a guy I was attracted to and I suddenly felt so insecure. The last time I felt that way was back in high school and I never thought this would haunt me again in my mid 30s. 

Tried hard to fight it with ego-boosting thoughts but instead, what came into my mind was "you're not worth all the work." Sad. But what's even sadder was I believed that. I mean, for someone single such as this guy I liked to even think of dating me, he'd have to consider my status of being a solo mom, my responsibilities, my age (especially when this guy is younger than me), my career, etc. 

The last time I seriously dated was 9 years ago and my last serious relationship was 12 years ago (Marti's Dad) and when people ask me why I'm not dating, it's like adding insult to injury so out of politeness I'd usually answer that I'm too busy with family, career and service. In the first place, although my life views have changed drastically over the years, I still believe that the "asking out" should still be a male responsibility. Second, most of the men who ask me out are either too old (as old as my Dad or even older!) or too married or worse, both! 

It's not as if I'm not open to dating. Just a few days ago, talking over the phone with my cousin Paola, I replied to her question that of course I was ready for marriage. Her comment was "you may be open to marriage but you should be open to dating first." That was quite insightful but it made me think about the blind date I went on almost 3 years ago. As I strode into the restaurant and approached the table where my blind date was, I reached out to shake  his hand with the warmest smile I could give and the first thing this guy says  to me is "Naku mukha kang mayaman (oh my you look like you're rich)" Wow, this guy hasn't even heard a word from me and he already thinks I'm too much work! OK, the guy may have self-confidence issues but the experience somehow made me think that dating, at least for blind dates, could take a backseat for the time being. 

Looking back now I realize, that's just it, I AM a lot of work. Simply because I have put a lot of work in myself. I've worked hard  on my self-confidence so much so that I hold my head up high when I say I'm a solo parent to a wonderful son. So if you're insecure, I'd be too much work. That I've learned to celebrate my curves and make peace with my physical flaws. So if you're narrow-minded, I'd be too much work. That I've reached the pinnacle of my career on my own, continue to be a voracious learner and even find time to serve the Lord in the best way I can. So if you can't handle that, I'd be too much work. 

As one of my favorite authors, Dr. M. Scott Peck says, "the antithesis of love is laziness" therefore if a man thinks that I'm not worth the work then he's not worth the love. 

One last thing, to Mr. Nice if you think I'm sorta aloof because I keep looking away when you're near and you're not going to find out why (it's because I like you, silly), then it's your loss :D

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Becoming Brave

Suffering from dysmenorrhea and migraine, I spent the day home instead of the many social commitments I had last Saturday: St. Paul Makati's 1st Grand Reunion, St. Paul Pasig High School Grand Reunion and a night out with my Grade School batch-mates. 

It's probably the stress taking it's toll on me again. Stress from overwhelming bills, expenses, pressure from everywhere topped off with stress from my job. Don't get me wrong but I really, really love my job especially my boss and his wife who are like my parents otherwise I wouldn't have lasted for 7 years there. But the imminent management transition has gotten me nervous about my financial security or more importantly, my family's (that's me and Marti) future.

It's just that I promised myself that this would be my last job, that I would just wait til my bosses retire then I would be my own boss, going full-time with my Virtual Assistant job, expanding my handmade accessories business and finally finish the book I've been working on. Being a voracious reader of financial and business books lately had drastically changed my goals and motivations in life. I don't want to look forward to retirement and a measly monthly pension. That way of life has done nothing good to the elders in our family and I swore that I will not have the same situation when I reach their age. I know deep within my soul that I was not meant to be a mere employee but someone who can reach her maximum potential. As T. Harv Eker says in his book, "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind":
By the way, if you don't have the time to do things you want or need to do, then you're probably a modern slave.

But being a parent, especially a solo mom, it would seem a selfish act to choose to pursue one's passion when you're the only one who brings home the bacon. Problem is whenever I try to stopple the creative juices, the suppression manifests physically. So here come the occasional migraine and a bout of depression and lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling, I began asking God again of the question I always ask Him in my weak moments: what else would You have me do? Yeah, despite my renewed faith, I still have flashes of self-doubt and despair. 

But it is in these moments that God would choose to answer me in the simplest of ways. While browsing my latest addiction Pinterest, I came upon this success story about a handicrafter mom

I started to cry. I cried because I felt the hardships and the despair Jenna Sue went through. And I cried because I realized that although I have been brave as a daughter and as a mother, I have never been brave for myself. I had to tough it out when my Mom got sick because I was the only one who could take care of her since my Dad had to work and my sister was still in medical school. Against all odds, I chose to be a solo parent knowing that I would be alone in raising my child despite the love and support of my family. I've always wanted to be a fashion designer--- it was my dream since I was 8---yet I didn't pursue it thinking that it wasn't a college degree so I took the next best thing which was interior design but I was never happy and to this day I have not practiced my degree. If only I was brave...

Coming across Jenna Sue's story, I believe God is telling me that it's never too late and that His plans for me are yet to unravel. So from now on, I will silence the voices that feed my fear of fulfilling my goals in life and let God take over the wheel. After all, He's a much better driver in taking me to the road of fulfilled dreams!

"Begin to weave and God will give you the thread~German Proverb" 
 (Got this from the Facebook page of co-Paulinian  Bernardita Regina)

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