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Posts Tagged ‘generosity’

In 2009, when typhoon Ondoy devastated cities and towns (including mine) with unprecedented number of deaths in Metro Manila, I thought I already saw the worst—and then came typhoon Yolanda.

Super typhoon Yolanda (International Name: Haiyan) was declared as an “Extremely Catastrophic Super Typhoon” by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) a few days before it made its landfall in Central Philippines on November 8, 2013. At its peak wind gusting up to 380kph (235mph), it registered as a Category 5 Hurricane in the Saffir-Simpson Scale and was declared the fourth most intense tropical storm ever recorded and the strongest to ever hit land.

As we watched from a distance here in Manila how the affected families rose above the situation—with an estimated death toll of 5,632 (as of this writing and climbing), damage to properties and agriculture amounting to PHP 30.8 billion, many missing members of families, children’s education standing at a halt, people sleeping on the streets after losing their homes with no food and water for many days—we cannot help but reach out to find ways on where we can extend assistance and provide support and comfort, even from afar.

I had the privilege of volunteering for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their effort to donate 10,000 personal hygiene kits and 10,000 food kits from Manila to the survivors of the calamity a couple of days after the typhoon hit.  A total of 1,500 volunteers from different ages, races, and backgrounds came to the Aurora and Quirino meetinghouses to repack goods which were afterward picked up by Alagang Kapatid Foundation and the Philippine Navy for distribution to different parts of Leyte.

I also had the opportunity to assist in the interview of the first batch of missionary survivors who were evacuated from Tacloban to Manila and to listen in as they shared their individual stories that helped increase my faith in God and in the goodness of the human race.

Despite the bitter pain and trauma that most of the survivors experienced, they were extremely grateful that they survived the ordeal and that their lives were miraculously spared. Most of them lost all of their material possessions, but they were still very thankful that the most important of all their possessions were still with them—their families.

In this season of Thanksgiving, may we remember the things that matter most in our lives and have the heart to share some of ourselves—be it our time or material possessions—to those who are in need. Many lives have been lost and even more lives have been changed by this recent calamity. We are in a position to help lift heads that hang down and provide comfort to those who are in need of comfort. May we find time to reach out and offer a helping hand. As we do so, I know we will find joy in our hearts that no amount of money can buy and appropriately express our thanksgiving for all the blessings that we have.

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The Coat is a children’s story that depicts a young boy giving selflessly to another child in need.

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Photograph by Reddie J.

This morning I read in the news that the husband of an old lady that has been missing was finally found. The old lady put a paper sign on her clothes, front and back, with the photo of her beloved missing husband and sat for many days around the area where he was last found, hoping someone would recognize him. I was moved by the gesture and thought it was such an adorable way to show how much she really loves him. Someone posted that photo on a popular network site and somehow paved the way for them to find each other again. I’m glad they are back together in each other’s arms. They deserve to be happy.

Similarly, on my drive to work, I always see a homeless man sitting or sometimes lying down on the pavement of a certain street of a posh subdivision. He seems like a tall guy to me with a good posture. I know that some people driving by give him food and clothing, and today it made me smile to see him wearing a decent haircut!! Such a wonderful way to show love and kindness towards a fellow human being. This time I could see his face and I had to take a second look to view it. May the generous person who did it for him be abundantly blessed.


While waiting for my daughter to arrive for our movie date on Monday, I asked my son how his day was. He said nothing much happened in school. Same old, same old. Then I asked if he had done any good to anyone that day. He paused. I guess he was surprised that I deviated from the drill—and I suppose I was surprised too. But it got me thinking.


It’s a shame that sometimes a day passes by and we miss the chance to do something good to anybody. Sometimes we get too caught up with our own world and activities that we forget there are people around us whom we can serve in many little ways. Yet I know that it is when we go outside our comfort zones and make others happy that we experience true happiness.


May we open up our hearts and hands to those who need some type of comfort or help. May we learn to give more of our time, talents, and resources liberally that we may experience the real meaning of being happy.


Have a great week everybody! Let’s try reaching out to others and experience the joy and happiness that it brings! 🙂

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(Photograph by Melanie Gapiz)

After three years of planning, preparation, and thousands of cumulative hours of participant rehearsals, the Jubilee celebration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has finally come!!! 🙂


As I sat on the edge of my seat watching the festivity and cheering the other participants, I was extremely grateful and my heart was overcome with emotions for having had the privilege of being part of the momentous occasion! 🙂


Throughout the course of the rehearsals, I witnessed how the opposition worked his way through various means, using different people and their weaknesses, to try to stop this effort from progressing.  I have seen many frustrated faces, and people quitting in the midst of all the preparations due to disappointments and discouragement. Some left simply because they got exhausted and did not see the grand outcome that was meant to be. Many cynics doubted and some begrudgingly supported the event.


Yet a great majority withstood the test and endured to the very end. These are the ones who enjoyed their journey and learned the sweetness of its value as they looked forward to their destination. These are they who, despite their mortal differences, learned to exercise the virtue of patience, long-suffering, forgiveness, and humility. They are the ones who experienced the joy of service, unconditional love, and found among themselves new and lasting friendships.  


At the end of the celebration, I realized that all the grand preparations made were befitting the occasion. It was a token of gratitude from the Filipino people to our God and King, for all the blessings we received on this land since the preaching of the gospel 50 years ago. It was worth all the hard work putting everything together—our talents, our time—to come up with the best that we could offer Him. Hence, I was moved and most grateful to hear, by the mouth of one of His servants, that our offerings had been accepted.


I think that life in general will be like this Jubilee celebration. The preparations will not be easy for the glorious end. Many will fall and lose their way. Yet those who will endure to the end will receive their sweetest reward—much more than they have ever imagined.

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(Photograph by Franco Advincula)

On our way home from Church on Sunday, our conversation drifted from one topic to another. We passed by some colleges and it made me ask my 14-yr-old son the traditional question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I guess I was expecting to hear a response on what career he would like to pursue; more in the line of doctor, engineer, pilot, computer wiz, or even a fireman! Instead I heard him say: “I want to be rich.”


It made me chuckle, but I followed up with a question: “And how are you planning to do that?” He replied: “I’m going to be famous through my music.”


He then enumerated the things he’d like to do in order to make it happen. I was impressed that at his tender age he already had a plan!


How many of us have planned to become rich in this life? It’s very common for people to aim for the best and that includes being financially comfortable. It is a fact of life. I think that there is nothing wrong with wanting to elevate ourselves in a position where we would have the means and resources to purchase what we need, but more importantly we have to want it in order for us to be in the position to help lighten the burden of our less fortunate fellowmen and not just for our own selfish motives.


It is written in the scriptures that: “…before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted” (Jacob 2:18-19).


As we all know, it is nice to have money, but it is not the most important thing. We can’t bring it with us where we are all going. It isn’t wise to accumulate too much if we lose our souls in the process. I think it’s good to have enough of it for our needs and a little more for a rainy day and to help other people. It is very temporary and a lot of the things that really matter cannot be bought by it—not health, not friendship, not happiness, not peace, and as the Beatles say, not love.


So let us strive to keep our perspective in focus. Let us work hard for the riches of this world, but keep in mind to work harder for the wealth that really lasts—the riches of eternity. 


Have a fabulous week everybody!!! 🙂

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(Photograph by Franco Advincula)


My sister and I were making fun of my cooking skills yesterday during one of our many just-catching-up phone conversations. We had a good laugh when I told her that my son was able to tell what for dinner was after four guesses by enumerating what I usually cooked from my limited menu. She suggested that we attend a culinary class in order to enhance our cooking prowess and broaden our carte du jour. However, I told her that based on my many, many, (yes!) many years of experience trying to cook delicious meals and not being successful in most of them, I finally realized that cooking is a talent. I find it hilarious how sometimes people cannot tell what kind of cuisine I am serving by merely looking at the dish in front of them! Nyahaha! 🙂


But I am most definitely NOT discouraged! 🙂 I have two of the most avid and supportive kitchen fans in the whole wide world!!! 🙂 I think it’s thoughtful and loving of them to acknowledge my sometimes “creative” cuisines and even have the admirable courage to eat them!!! Hahaha!!! 🙂


How grateful I am for such supportive family members!! I know that the greatest joy we can find is within the walls of our own homes. It is where we learn to love unconditionally, forgive whole-heartedly, serve unselfishly, and be accepted unequivocally.


Once I was talking to a friend who just sent her daughter off to college. She said her daughter called and was feeling homesick on her first week away from home. She was a little worried about her daughter, but I told her that she should look at it as a good indication that she did a great job in providing a loving home for her daughter—enough for her to miss their home when she went away.


I think we should all strive to create a loving and comfortable home environment enough that we would miss it if we ever went away. Let us make our homes a bit of heaven on the earth; and despite the occasional burnt chicken in the oven and the bland beef stew from time to time, let us love and support our family members enough that we may all look forward to the day when we can be with them forever!! 🙂


Take care, everybody! Try to spend more time with your family this week!! And PLEASE watch that chicken in the oven!!! 🙂

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(Photograph by Franco Advincula)


While cruising down a road that led to our home the other day, I noticed some banners reminding the people that it has been a year since the catastrophic flooding that affected most of the metropolitan area occurred. It was a call for thanksgiving and celebration for the lives that were saved during that time and to encourage the people to keep moving on as they look forward to a brighter future.


It’s amazing how time flies, and the memories that these types of tragic incidents leave us are some that cannot easily be forgotten. They linger in our hearts and in our minds. Yet the wise thing to do is to look for all the good and positive that would come out of it.


What struck me most from looking at the banner was the photo that accompanied it. It was an image of a distressed woman being rescued from the flood, with someone helping her to swim in the water while someone ashore was pulling a rope tied around her body. I imagined how desperate her situation was and how grateful she must’ve been for all those strangers gathered around her trying to help and save her life. And they most probably did.


As I pondered about that photograph, I thought of how noble and praiseworthy those people are. How admirable that they were willing to put their own lives in danger in order to help a stranger from losing her life. And then a thought came to me: There is no wonder our Redeemer was willing to give up His own life in order to save us from losing ours forever. Because if these strangers were willing to do so with their fellow beings, how much more Him who created us and have known us even before we were born? If these strangers could love their fellowmen enough for them to do what they did, how much more exponential God’s love for us is?


And we should all be grateful.

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