Spend each day with your loved ones as if it was the last.

I still remember our last conversation.

“My, you pray because the Lord will hear your prayers,” and I replied “Really, tay?”

“Yes, of course,” he answered back.

I was feeling so low and almost depressed because I was going through a lot of problems during that time and I felt that almost everything was falling apart. But I was thankful that my grandfather needed me. Of course, he didn’t ask me to be there for him but his caregiver resigned from the job and no one else was available to take care of him. He was my only confidant during that time and I felt so blessed to have him.

We swapped stories about our lives and he even kept on teasing me last December because he – who was lying on bed all the time had a bonus while I didn’t. He joked that I was so foolish for resigning from my job when my papers for Qatar weren’t ready yet. He always kept on saying “No work, no pay!” and we’d both laugh together. He was worried about me not having any job during that time. But I, on the other hand, felt lucky and blessed to have spent time with the most important people in my life, including him.  I knew that his time was near and I could not imagine myself being in Qatar when that time comes.

When Tatay was still strong, we weren’t very close and we didn’t talk often because, like other grandfathers, he was always busy attending to his chickens, turkeys, and other “man-business”. But when he was already bedridden, he had no other choice but watch TV and chat with whoever he’s stuck with. Haha.

I felt so touched when I was so sick and no one else could accompany me to the hospital and he told his caregiver, Ate Minda, to be with me. Even though that would mean nobody else would be there by his side to change his lying position (he usually asks Ate Minda to “takilid” change his lying position every 15 minutes because his back would ache). He was so worried about me and would ask Ate Minda every fifteen minutes if I already got out of the hospital – when he was also sick himself.

Tatay was bedridden for almost six years. It was hard for all of us – there were conflicts among his 8 children, caregivers gave up and could not sustain the loss of sleep and daunting task of taking care of an old person, and most especially, I knew it was harder for him to have to ask someone else to do simple things that he used to do all by himself – eating, taking a bath, and even taking a pee.

He was the only granny left to me. And I still feel so blessed to have the opportunity to do things for him that I wasn’t able to do for my other grannies. Being away from home almost my entire life, one of my fears is to go home when someone has already passed away. That is why, I always try to make it a point to spend time with my loved ones as if it was the last.

One of the things I wish we were able to do for my grandfather is to have had a family reunion. I wish he had a chance to see all of his eight children and apos before he died. Isn’t it ironic how people go home when someone in the family has passed away to attend the funeral when they passed the chance to let the person know they care when he was still alive? I know that Tatay could have been so happy if he had that chance.

Spend each day with your loved ones as if it was the last. Tell them how much you love them, show them how much you care. Because you’ll never know when they – or you, will leave this world.


Happy birthday Nanay!

Today is the birthday of one of the most influential persons in my life… my first teacher.

I remember when I was about 3 years old when she taught me the poem “Once I Saw A Little Bird” and she’d show me how to say the poem with actions and feelings. Until now, I could still imagine how she’d wave her hands in the lines “… and he shook his little tail, and far away he flew..”.

I was four when I started going to her class at a public elementary school. She’d fetch me at home and we’d walk to school together. She always let me sit in front of the class and she’d often call me to answer her questions. I was just a “visitor” then but she’d put me in charge of the class when she went to meetings, which I enjoyed a lot. =)

When I turned five, I was officially enrolled as a grade 1 student in her class and she was always proud of me for getting  better grades than her other “older” students. That is why when I turned six and was a kindergarten student at John Bosco, she was so upset that I didn’t get into the honor’s list. Once, when we were at a party, she saw my kindergarten teacher and asked her why I was not on the honor’s list. She said that I was a good student and performed well when I was in her class. She indirectly accused my kinder teacher of “favoritism”. I got mad at her because my kindergarten teacher humiliated me the next day in class because of that incident.

But somehow, that incident also motivated me to do better at school because she believed in me so much that I didn’t want to disappoint her again…

I remember a lot of things about her. She was great at the kitchen and would call me from her window when it’s time to eat. She made the weirdest – but delicious “kakanins”, salads and juices (fresh pipino, guyabano, ..). She also brought me to prayer meetings, Bible sharing, and masses. I was oftentimes reluctant to come with her but always ended up enjoying and having a great time.

She went to my high school graduation and promised to attend my college graduation too.  She was already old by then but she was still energetic and full of life. I looked forward to that day when she will be proud of me and see me receive my college diploma and medal.

But it didn’t happen because she was brought to Cebu and was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks before my college graduation.

She was never the same again after the chemotherapy, medications, and tests. She was not able to make the delicious salads and juices like she used to. But she was still able to teach me about other poems and prayers that she memorized. We’d sing Christian songs together and she’d tell me about verses and stories from the Bible. She’d tell me stories about her life as a teenager, how she brought up her children, and how she managed to raise all eight of them to become professionals.

It was painful to see how she suffered from cancer and how she grew weaker and weaker each day. Even at her weakest, my first teacher taught me about the important things in life – God, family, … love. She died on February 14, Valentines Day. I will always be grateful to her for being proud of me and believing in me. To my first teacher, my friend, my fan, my grandmother, Happy Birthday Nanay! We miss you and we know that you are somewhere in heaven watching over us… 

Happiness Project

Photo Credits: http://olazojane-reina.blogspot.com/
  1. Start right on time.
  2. Make friends.
  3. Work Smart.
  4. Learn to FOCUS. Know what you want and keep your goals in mind. Bank on your strengths, hobbies, and interests which you definitely enjoy spending lots of time on. Before you know it, you’ve acquired the art of making use of quality time and staying away from useless distractions.
  5. Don’t forget about family and old friends.
  6. Update yourself with the trends. It’s best to know what’s going on, especially along the lines of your interests. With today’s fast-changing times, staying updated allows you to further hone your craft, encounter new experiences, and discover more of your talent.
  7. Think positive. Don’t give up at the early signs of roadblocks and dead-ends. Believing in yourself and in your capabilities will make you stronger and a better person. Staying optimistic will keep your spirit in good shape and will make others enjoy your company even through the toughest times.
  8. Make the most of your free time. Taking time off from your usually loaded routine will definitely help refresh your body and mind, and give you much-needed quality time with the best person ever – YOU!
  9. Keep fit.
  10. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Learn when to hold on or when it’s best to let go and accept defeat. Mistakes make you wiser and teach you a great deal about living life. Learn to stand up from a fall, and start anew, knowing fully well that if you weren’t successful at your first try, there are still plenty of reasons to smile! =)

Japan Earthquake and Possible Tsunami in the Philippines

I have seen videos of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan on YouTube and they really look so horrifying.

We fervently pray that we will be spared from such disasters here in the Philippines. Japan must have suffered tremendous loss from the experience but they are better prepared. They have installed disaster control and recovery mechanisms (especially for earthquakes) within most of their buildings. I have seen one when we had our plant visits during my training in 2009. That is why, even if they were hit with an earthquake having a magnitude as high as 8.9 (as reported by most sites), the destruction was not as much as what would have been anticipated if the earthquake hit our country.

For disasters like this, the best we can do is be vigilant but not panic. Be responsible for what you tweet or broadcast on the Internet because that could cause tension among people and could even cause more trouble. I said this because someone tweeted about a supposed earthquake in Samar but when we verified it, it was not true. =( I mean, I’m happy that Samar was not hit but unhappy that an irresponsible person joked about it.

I was told by my officemate that we should always have a disaster kit with us (especially those who are living in high-risk areas). Our disaster kit should contain:

  • water
  • food (good for at least 3 days – maybe easy-to-open canned goods)
  • first aid supplies
  • sanitation supplies
  • flash light
  • communication device (radio)

I was really concerned when I read the news article about the provinces that are likely to be hit by tsunami because it included Davao and Surigao del Sur. I am glad that our government is doing whatever they can to save and protect their people from such disaster. I have read that they are already performing emergency evacuation for residents who are living in coastal areas.

The Most Meaningful Ash Wednesday for Me

Photo Credits: http://geoffreyholsclaw.net/

Yesterday was the most meaningful Ash Wednesday for me.

I know that for some, it was just an ordinary “ritual” of putting a cross made of ash on their foreheads. But for me, it was the day when I finally, fully decided to surrender one thing that I have clung on for so long… that God wanted me to give up.

Why was I certain that God wanted me to give it up? Because I have been struggling with this “thing” for so long now. And this has caused me immeasurable pain, self-doubt and confusion. This has even caused me to sin, hurting me and my relationship with the Father.

I felt like it was a hopeless battle with myself because that thing has been my source of comfort for a very long time already. I have chosen to ignore the pieces of advice that friends and family have given me simply because I felt that I needed that thing to survive.

But through prayers and reflection, I have finally made a decision to give it up to Him. I know that there will be tougher days ahead when I would feel the need of having it back. Luckily, I have read one of Bo’s articles on Focusing on your dreams and not on addictions. Instead of thinking that I don’t want to…. over and over again in my mind,  I have to think about my dreams and holy ambitions in my life and direct my energy towards their attainment.

In Bo’s article, he said that if you say
“I don’t want to think about a pink elephant” five times, you’d end up thinking about a pink elephant! So he suggested to FOCUS on YOUR DREAMS instead. So if you are like me, don’t despair, there is hope. You can start by making a list of your dreams and defining your ultimate purpose in life. Then be confident that you will be able to achieve your dreams!

Here is the Self-Confidence Formula from Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich:

First. I know that I have the ability to achieve the object of my Definite Purpose in life, therefore, I DEMAND of myself persistent, continuous action toward its attainment, and I here and now promise to render such action.

Second. I realize the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually reproduce themselves in outward, physical action, and gradually transform themselves into physical reality, therefore, I will concentrate my thoughts for thirty minutes daily, upon the task of thinking of the person I intend to become, thereby creating in my mind a clear mental picture of that person.

Third. I know through the principle of auto-suggestion, any desire that I persistently hold in my mind will eventually seek expression through some practical means of attaining the object back of it, therefore, I will devote ten minutes daily to demanding of myself the development of SELF-CONFIDENCE.

Fourth. I have clearly written down a description of my DEFINITE CHIEF AIM in life, and I will never stop trying, until I shall have developed sufficient self-confidence for its attainment.

Fifth. I fully realize that no wealth or position can long endure, unless built upon truth and justice, therefore, I will engage in no transaction which does not benefit all whom it affects. I will succeed by attracting to myself the forces I wish to use, and the cooperation of other people. I will induce others to serve me, because of my willingness to serve others. I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness, and cynicism, by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude toward others can never bring me success. I will cause others to believe in me, because I will believe in them, and in myself.

I will sign my name to this formula, commit it to memory, and repeat it aloud once a day, with full FAITH that it will gradually influence my THOUGHTS and ACTIONS so that I will become a self-reliant, and successful person.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle

I went to NBI (Davao) today to get a clearance. At 9:30 am, it was already crowded with people who, like me, are also getting a clearance for employment. I knew that getting my clearance would take a lot of time because there were too many people who went there ahead of me. What I was not prepared for was the rude behavior of some of NBI-Davao’s staff.

One of the staff keeps on embarrassing people over the microphone. Having a bad sense of hearing there was a crime and you’ll get embarassed in front of hundreds of people. There was one guy who misheard the announcement and the impolite lady behind the window told him over the mic that he should have removed his sunglasses because he can’t read his priority number well.

Most of the people who were waiting there sympathized with the poor guy. One of my seatmates commented that people had the right to wear sunglasses because they might be suffering from sore eyes or other eye diseases. It was funny but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guy.

Some of the staff were also sarcastic and would not answer your inquiries well. As if you are the dumbest person on Earth. Sigh. I always get this kind of maltreatment from people working in the government. How I wish they would treat people kindly. Smile, be gentle with your words and act as if you have the best job in the world.

This just reminds me to be nice to people who will need my service. I know this is hard to do all the time because sometimes we could be undergoing through some tough problems and we bring them to our work place. But, as one saying goes,

Be kind, for every person you meet is fighting a battle.

This could be our simple contribution to world peace…right? A single act of kindness you show to a person could mean a lot and he might give it back to someone else. =)

Don’t settle for less than what you deserve!

Today I want to share with you a beautiful story…I have read this a long time ago and I read it again in Bo’s article in Kerygma magazine. Here it goes…

One day, a little girl named Jenny was with her mother in the grocery store. She saw a toy pearl bracelet worth P20. She became giddy with excitement and asked her mother to buy it for her. “Are you sure you like it?” her mother asked.

“Yes, Mommy! Please, please, please buy it for me!”

So the mother bought the toy pearl bracelet for little Jenny.

Jenny’s father, who loved her very much, read a bedtime story to Jenny each night. One night, after reading to her, he asked her, “Jenny, do you love me?”

“Of course, I love you Daddy,” she said.

“Can you give me your pearl bracelet?” he asked.

Little Jenny pouted. “You can have my princess doll, Daddy, but not my pearl bracelet. That’s my favorite. ”

Daddy smiled, “That’s OK Jenny, I love you.” He kissed her good night.

Seven days later, after another reading session, the father asked her again, “Jenny, do you love me?”

“Daddy, you know that I love you, ” the little girl said.

“Can you give me your pearl bracelet?” he smiled.

“No Daddy, please. You can have my brush, my violet pen and my red hair band. But not my pearl bracelet!”

He chuckled. “That’s OK, hon. I love you, ” and kissed her goodnight.

But a few days later, a teary-eyed Jenny came to her father and said, “Daddy, I love you very much,” and placed in his hand her toy pearl bracelet.

Her father gave her a big hug and said, “I have a very special gift for you, little girl.”

He pulled out from his pocket a beautiful velvet case with gold lining. He opened it, showing to her a genuine pearl bracelet. “This is yours. No more toy pearl bracelet for you, my princess. You deserve the real one. ”

Friends, this is the kind of wise exchange that God wants to give to us. God wants to take what is cheap and fake in our lives, our addictions, so that He could give us something much, much better, our holy ambitions. Give up your addiction. Give up what is counterfeit. Give up what destroys you. Give up what pulls you away from God and life and happiness. Like Jenny, you deserve BETTER – Bo Sanchez

I love this story because I can relate to it so much. Many times in my life, God wanted me to give up something (or someone) that was not right for me and would not make me happy in the long run. But I am too stubborn and I kept on holding on to my addictions. Many times during prayer, when I was in pain, I could almost her God saying, “Please give it up My, because I have something better for you. I don’t want to see you in pain. I want you to be happy.” And I would reluctantly give Him what He’s asking from me but after a few days, I would come back to Him, begging Him to give it back to me.

PhotoCredits: deskofbrian.com

I am grateful that I have a loving God who doesn’t give up on me and who wants to give me nothing but the BEST… =)

The FEAST Davao 1st Anniversary

Image borrowed from avanar.wordpress.com

Yesterday, I attended The Feast Davao. I’ve been wanting to attend The Feast since I read about it in Bo’s blogs. But I was never able to. I’m glad to have finally attended it yesterday, on it’s 1st anniversary. =)

The Theme was: Life of No Regrets. Here are some things I learned from the speakers:

  • Happiness comes from living for something bigger than yourself.
  • Thoughts create action, and they become your reality.
  • There are 2 greatest moments in a person’s life: 1st is when you were born, and the 2nd is when you realize WHY you were born… when you finally discover your PURPOSE.
  • And Bro. Adrian also shared about Four Facts of Life:
  • 1. Money can be earned. God wants you to live in ABUNDANCE!
  • 2. There is no conflict that can’t be resolved with communication.
  • 3. The life of a loved one can’t be replaced.
  • 4. The greatest failure in this life is the loss of your soul.

The praise and worship time was great! The songs were moving and the singers were fantastic! Plus, Jeremie Tampoy of Pilipinas Got Talent also sang That’s All I Ask of You, which really brought me to tears…angelic voice… gave me goosebumps.

Happy Birthday Cha! :)

Today is the birthday of one of my closest friends, Charisse. We met way back in 2005 when we were taking up our Masters degree in IT at Ateneo de Davao. I never thought we would click because we were so different – I was bubbly and outgoing while she was the silent type.

We haven’t spent much time together since our Masteral days but I was the maid of honor when she tied the knot with Reuben, the loving man who made her dreams come true 🙂 I was so happy to see them finally making their vows… and now I am happier because they are about to become proud parents to my soon-to-be inaanak.

Happy birthday Cha! Thank you for being such a wonderful friend. I won’t be there to give you our traditional birthday cake but I know you are very happy and excited to see your best gift for this year. I share the same excitement and I hope I can see you both soon. Though we are now miles apart, you will always be in my heart. She started our birthday cake tradition – this photo was taken on my 24th birthday. =)

Lifting of Hold Departure Order for CHED Scholars

Last November 8, 2010, I wrote a post on How to Secure Clearance from CHED. Back then, I really thought that the CHED clearance was the only thing I needed so that I won’t get held at the airport. Luckily, someone commented on my post saying:

jason71668 – Hi, I would like to add as well that the application process for the Travel Clearance does not end up with CHED. You still need to go to Bureau of Immigration for the actual permit. I called BI a while ago and they told me that the processing time takes at least two weeks just to grant you that temporary permit. I find this absurd as I was able to go to Singapore with just the CHED clearance (for academic purposes), maybe I just got lucky. Make sure to keep all of those clearances with your passport as the Immigration guys still hold people even on arrival (which is again absurd). Im really hoping that they would speed up processing of requests as its too tedious and time consuming to process all of these.

I am so grateful to Jason for sharing what he knew about the lifting of the hold departure order for CHED scholars. I never would have known about the more tedious process with the Bureau of Immigration (BI) because the CHED people said that the clearance that they will give to me is already enough – my ticket to freedom from the hassles of getting held at the airport.

As far as I can remember, CHED nor AdDU never told us about this hold departure order during our orientation (was there an orientation?-I could not remember). It was not also explicitly stated in our contract. They should have told us about these things because it is our right.

Actually, I also found out during my visit  to Manila last week that people from CHED were not aware about the BI’s requirements. One of their staff accompanied us during my re-processing of my papers. Lucky us (CHED scholars) that she was there to submit some names that should be lifted from the hold departure order. It was a blessing in disguise because it was then that she knew that the clearance issued by CHED was NOT ENOUGH for us to get through the Immigration officers for travels abroad. If she wasn’t very nice to me, I could have felt very, very frustrated.

So anyway, for the information of other CHED scholars who wish to travel abroad for training, work, or pleasure, after securing the CHED clearance, you should have it stamped by BI that you don’t have any derogatory record. Here’s a letter from BI stating the procedures on getting a ticket to freedom. 😀 este, ticket to International travels pala.

We advise you to proceed to the Bureau of Immigration Main Office in Intramuros, Manila and file an application for the lifting of the Watch List Order.  Herewith are the procedures for the said application:

Procedures for Lifting of Watch List Order for CHED Scholars:

1.    Get Letter Request addressed to the Commissioner from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). – Actually this refers to the clearance that will be issued by CHED.

2.    Bring Letter Request to the Verification and Certification Unit (VCU) of the Bureau of Immigration for checking of Derogatory Record. – Make sure that you have this photocopied and signed (received by BI) so that you will have proof that you submitted this document. Because in my experience, they “lost” my documents last December and I had to submit new documents again [ >:(] Grr..

–       For those with Derogatory Record:

a.    Bring printout of the Derogatory Record to Window 5 and apply at LID for Allow Departure Order (ADO) or Lifting of Watch List Order (WLO).

b.    Pay corresponding fee of Php 500.00.

c.    Bring back approved ADO or Lifting of WLO  to VCU

d.    VCU stamps “NO DEROGATORY RECORD” on the Letter Request which can already be presented at any port of exit.

–       For those without Derogatory Record:

a.    VCU stamps “NO DEROGATORY RECORD” on the original copy of the Letter Request which can already be presented at any port of exit; or they may apply for Certificate of No Derogatory Record at VCU for P1,010.00.

At first I was confused about derogatory records. Apparently, if your name was not yet submitted by CHED for lifting, you will fall under the category with Derogatory Record even if you already secured a CHED clearance. But if your name is already submitted by CHED for lifting, then your records will be clean (yey!!!) and you will fall under the no Derogatory records category.

It is not stated in this letter but you also have to submit a letter request addressed to the BI In-charge.

Should you have further immigration-related queries, please do not hesitate to call the BI Helpdesk Hotline at (63)(2)524-3824 or (63)(2)524-3769.

I hope this post is helpful to you! 🙂 Happy traveling! Sana may pasalubong ako. Hehe..

Oh, by the way, make sure that you go to BI at least a week before your departure date. This could really be annoying especially when you don’t live in Metro Manila. If you’re like me, you can ask a representative to do the processing for you. In this case,

You may authorize a representative to apply for the lifting of the Blacklist Order on your behalf provided the following requirements are presented:

1.    Special Power of Attorney

2.    Valid ID of representative

3.    Valid ID of applicant

I guess these are all the information you need. I hope I can get my clearance stamped by BI soon. 🙂