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Posts Tagged ‘keeping on’

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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Christmas is a time our hearts turn to the Savior Jesus Christ. This is a true story of one woman’s experience as she learns that the Lord loves us and knows our specific circumstances.

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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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It was a very long weekend and I had a wonderful privilege of spending time with my family on a scuba diving trip for the very first time. The seemingly long journey to the isolated island became obviously worth it as soon as we stepped out of the van. Blue skies. Calm waves. Cool breeze. Friendly staff. Expert diving masters.  I thought it truly was a perfect day for amateur diving.


As soon as we settled down, we were given an overview of scuba diving basics, with particular emphasis on how to use the oxygen tank to breathe under water. When it was my turn to dive, I was reminded by my instructor on the basic stuff that we were taught earlier in the day. I introduced myself and asked for his name and told him this: “Jason, you do realize that I am trusting you and placing my life in your hands the moment we left the water surface.” He assured me, “Yes ma’am, your life is in good hands.”


Trust. Such a small word with a significantly great impact that affects each of us.


I once heard a talk on various corporate strategies in handling human resources. One manager said his style was to make the employees work hard and exert every effort to earn his trust until they finally deserve it. The other manager said he would rather empower his employees and give them his full trust right off the start until they do something that make them not deserve it.


In my many years of existence, I have taken the latter’s advice. Just as I’ve trusted my diving instructor that early morning with my life, many times I have put various aspects of my life in the hands of those that I’ve trusted. Some proved they were worth it, others caused me to doubt.


At the temple grounds this morning, I felt such an assurance that there is One whom we can all trust with all of our lives without having to fear that our trust will ever be betrayed. Even Him who summoned: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).


May we all find peace and reassurance as we learn to trust in Him, while we gather the strength and courage to put our lives in His hands.

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The way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life.

I’d like to share these excerpts taken from a general conference talk of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin as he spoke of an advice given him by his mother when as a young man he came home discouraged after losing a game of football.


The complete transcript of his talk may be found in:

http://lds.org/general-conference/2008/10/come-what-may-and-love-it?lang=eng&query=come+may+love

Enjoy watching!! 🙂

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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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(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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