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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

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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school bus

I was balancing my budget for the month and paused when I saw the entry “school bus” from the list. This entry is for the monthly payment of my son’s school bus fee, and since he would already be graduating from high school this month, then I would have already made my very last school bus payment for the rest of my life! I had mixed emotions about this—relief because it was one less bill to pay, but at the same time I felt nostalgic as I realized how fast time really flies. There is no turning back. My son (I originally wrote “baby” here) is growing up fast and there is no way I could stop it from happening.


Yet such is life, as I always say. We move on and progress from one phase to the next. This is an eternal principle that we must all go through. We cannot remain stuck in one place and expect growth that way. We should be ever learning, ever seeking for something better than we were yesterday. Life is a journey and I believe that every day is a chance for a new beginning.


As I see my children grow up and explore new things in life, I sometimes fear the thought that we wouldn’t be as close as we were before. Letting them go seems to be a sad and uncomfortable thing to do, but I know it must be done. This way they can find their own spots under the sun and bless the lives of those they come across with. I will not hold them back knowing what wonderful people they have become. It’s such a privilege to have been given a chance to raise them as their mom. I am very proud of both of them and grateful for the opportunity given me to have been part of their lives. They have taught me many things, above all, how to give and receive unconditional love. I thank our Father in Heaven for all His blessings and for helping me raise them up. Having them has been the greatest joy and priceless blessing of my life.


And now on to more adventures in life!


Have a fabulous week everybody!!! 🙂

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Two days ago, I was requested to participate in a series of corporate training called the “Fearless Leadership Program.” At first I thought it was a waste of my time. I was already being pulled in many different directions and I thought that one more training—with many succeeding sessions—was too much for me to bear. I thought I had more important things to do, but I was wrong.


I didn’t know what to expect from the training. The title itself sparked my curiosity. Fearless Leadership. Will they be providing a lecture on how to become fierce in implementing mandates from executive management? Or teach us how to be tougher or more strict towards our team members? I couldn’t wait to attend and find out.


All my qualms were quenched after the first session. To my surprise, it wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. The initial session focused on understanding our entire lives—from childhood to present—and analyzing situations that happened in the past that influence the kind of persons we are today. I was very uncomfortable at first. I didn’t want to reveal some things about the past—my childhood, my family, my experiences—that I’ve always kept hidden, even from myself. But as I saw how the other participants opened themselves up and shared their experiences freely, I allowed myself to open up and share my experiences as well. By doing so, I was able to understand myself a little bit more—why my priorities are such; what motivates me; why I react to certain situations the way I do. It was, I should say, a liberating experience.


As I listened to the stories that were shared that afternoon, I learned that people have common experiences—albeit different scenarios—that either make them or break them. In most instances, seemingly negative experiences that each participant overcame brought about success beyond what they expected or imagined. Those who thrived during the trying moments came out victorious as they looked at their previous challenges as stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks.


Some of us may be in a similar situation today. Some may be struggling to overcome certain challenges that may appear to be too negative at the moment. Let us keep in mind that these circumstances are temporary and if we gather the courage to overcome, we can look forward to that day when we could look back and stand, having a better perspective that these things will be for our own good.

Enjoy the rest of the week everybody! And remember, there’s always a rainbow after the rain! 🙂

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(Artwork by Greg Olsen)


It’s pouring outside. I had a chance to have some quiet moments to reflect on a few significant things in life and was reminded that the entire Christian world will commemorate Easter this coming week.


I am grateful for the Atonement and all the sacrifices that the Savior has done for us. I pray that we may be able to overcome our humanity and someday be found worthy of this divine gift so that we may be given a chance to return and enjoy His loving presence in the next life.


Have a meaningful Easter everybody!

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Happy New Year!!! This almost didn’t make the first month of the year, but I’m glad it did!!! I should renew my commitment to write more often. It’s something that I truly enjoy doing, so I need to manage my schedule a lot better and find more time for it.

As we welcome the New Year, it’s a wonderful time to reflect upon the things that we did well in the past year, and plan for what we could do better in the coming one.  In retrospect, we look back and savor the moments we spent with our loved ones, the successes we made in our individual lives, our moments of sadness and frustration, things we should’ve been doing but were not able to, the new additions in our families, our laughter, simple joys, and defining moments.

It is also a good time to evaluate significant decisions we made, important actions we need to take, changes we might have to implement, and to bring our focus back on things we might’ve neglected the entire year.

Each of us will have our own unique situation, but just the same it is good to be reminded that it is a great time for new beginnings. That we can start with a clean slate and direct our lives to the path where we want to be going. The first step is always the most difficult to make, but when we finally get the courage to lift ourselves up it will always be much easier.

I’d like to wish everyone all the best this coming year!! May we all be blessed with everything that we need—food on our tables, roof over our heads, and clothing on our backs. But above all, may we have abundance of those that are truly essential in our lives—love, peace, and harmony in our homes.

Have a wonderful year ahead!!!  🙂

 

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I have truly missed writing.


Lately, I have been preoccupied with my profession that I didn’t get a chance to write anymore. I realized that if it’s something that I really love, then I’d better make time for it. And so here I am. 🙂


It had been a remarkable weekend. I spent some quality time with my dearest sister planning and preparing for her daughter’s upcoming birthday. We see each other every weekend, together with the rest of our brothers and their families, but it has been awhile since we spent that much time alone. I kinda miss her.


But I recognize that love is eternal and it’s something we feel even if we haven’t seen those who are dear to us for a long time or even if they’ve already gone beyond the veil. Our hearts just never forget.


Hence I was touched to hear the words spoken by President Diether F. Uchtdorf during his address to the largest women organization on the earth. He spoke about a tiny flower called forget-me-not and used it as a metaphor to remind his audience to consider five things he would want them never to forget.


He said: “Forget not to be patient with yourself… Forget not the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice… Forget not to be happy now… Forget not the ‘why’ of the gospel… [and] Forget not that the Lord loves you.”


It was a very inspiring talk. I was reminded of a lot of things that I have almost forgotten.  Just like President Uchtdorf when he was a young boy, I sometimes feel small and insignificant in this vast world we live in. It was good to be reminded that we are “known and remembered by the most majestic, powerful, and glorious Being in the universe!” That “He who created and knows the stars knows [us] and [our] name.” That our ‘Heavenly Father knows, loves, and cherishes [us].” It was a humbling thought and it gave me such a reverent feeling.


I’ve posted President Uchtdorf’s talk here for those of you who haven’t heard it. And to those who have, it wouldn’t hurt to listen to it again! 🙂


Enjoy the rest of the week everybody!!  🙂 Take care!!! 🙂

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A snorkelling trip last weekend left invaluable impressions in my mind.


It was a good day to travel. We had clear, blue skies and we were on a convoy with family members in the short two-hour trip. My sister was very excited to snorkel and to just spend some serious time with the fishes. 🙂 Well, at least that was her ultimate goal for this vacation.   


But when we got to the place, other fun activities caught our attention and we spent a lot of time enjoying them. There was this very long slide (about 3-storey high) that brought us down to a funnel that twirled us around several times before it dropped us onto a small pool. Wheeee!!! 🙂 Then, there was this regular 2-storey high slide that made us splash onto a regular pool. There was also a large pool that created waves mimicking the ocean. And of course, there was the beach where kayaking and jet skiing were available. It was already mid-afternoon when we decided we still wanted to go snorkelling.


By this time, the wind was already blowing hard and the tide was up. Our two boat guides discouraged us from pursuing our snorkelling goal, but the group insisted. They said we won’t be able to see the fishes any longer and that the waves and the winds will make it a bit more dangerous to snorkel as anybody can easily get adrift. But the group was determined to do it. So we sailed.  


Amidst the waves and strong winds, our guides brought us somewhere in the middle part of the beach where there were interesting rock formations. One of them had to swim to where the rocks were to tie the boat up so it won’t float away. My 14-yr-old son, who probably was very excited to see what was underneath, jumped from the boat without warning. When the guide who tied the boat saw this from where he was standing, he waved frantically to my son asking him to get back into the boat. We later found out that this area had a lot of large sea urchins beneath that could sting divers fatally. My son was stung by one of them after he jumped, but fortunately not too deep because he was able to heed the guide’s warning right away.


I find this incident very similar to our life here on earth. We are here on “vacation” as this is not our permanent home. We came with a purpose, but we sometimes get distracted by a lot of fun activities that we forget what we came here for. As we navigate the waters with strong winds and waves, we sometimes plunge into it right away without first asking for instructions, not knowing that what lies beneath can spiritually kill us. We sometimes get stung because of these choices, but our Guide will always be there to frantically wave to us and lead us back to safety.


It was a fun weekend that brought me relaxation and happiness. Above all, I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned out of it. It’s good to be able to commune with nature and bask at the beauty of God’s creations while at the same time be reminded of the love of our ultimate Guide who will do everything to lead us safely back to shore.


Enjoy the rest of the week everybody! 🙂

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