"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." (Albert Einstein)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Blessed CHRISTmas to All!

"For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this." (Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV)

As we celebrate the birth of the Christ of CHRISTmas, Who is the Reason for the season, I wish you a Meaningful CHRISTmas! May He bless you with love in your heart, warmth in your soul, contentment in your life, and peace in your home. Hope you'll be inspired by this poem as it has inspired me!

What do you see?

"Christmas is a Time for Loving"

Christmas is more than a day at the end of the year,
More than a season of joy and good cheer.
Christmas is really God's pattern for giving,
When He showed His unlimited love to all living.

For the holiday season awakens good cheer
And draws us closer to those we hold dear,
And we open our hearts and find it is good
To be kind to all men as we know that we should.

But as soon as the tinsel is stripped from the tree
The spirit of Christmas fades silently
Into the background of daily routine
And is lost in the whirl of life's busy scene.

All unaware, we then miss and forego
The greatest blessings that mankind can know.
For if we kept Christmas love strong in our heart,
We'd keep giving and loving each day from the start.

We'd find the lost key to meaningful living,
That comes not from getting, but from unselfish giving.
And we'd know the great joy of peace upon Earth
Which was the real purpose of our Savior's birth.

So let's sing the glad song of the first Christmas night,
Then let's live in His love and stay in His light.

- Adapted from Helen Steiner Rice

Sunday, December 04, 2005

CHRISTmas Still Shines!!!


I like to sing.
Moreso, I love to sing for the Lord.
And it brings me immense joy to sing in celebration of His birth!

I began with my mom's love for music & singing. I was exposed to hit tunes at that time, classical music, musicals (Broadway), even oldies, etc. Soon I discovered the acoustics of the shower room. And in family reunions, we kids were given (by the oldies) a gift per song, kaya paiksian (para makarami) at paramihan talaga kami ng kanta. I remember a 2nd cousin finish all the 12 days in the song "12 Days of Christmas"! We thought she'd get 12 times the gift, but then she only got one gift for her lengthy song! :-)

When I was 5 years old, in Kinder 1, a few batchmates & I were picked from each of our class to sing (in the Marcos years) at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Little did I know, that the awesome experience was a foretaste of what is yet to come! I actually experienced singing for the Lord at 13, when I joined the high school glee club. In the tryout, I was classified as a mezzosoprano. I still remember discovering how beautiful it is to lead people to sing their hearts to Him in our cantatas/concerts!

Then I joined the Greenhills Christian Fellowship (GCF) Chancel Choir in my teens & some years after. We sang church anthems, in Christmas & Easter cantatas/concerts (in church & at the Meralco Theater), in "Concert at the Park" (Christmas & Easter) & other tv shows, did Christmas carolling, joined 1000-voice choirs in crusades & conferences, in recitals for music degrees, in charities, in parties, in weddings, in hospital visitations, in wakes, etc. Some of us even recorded the theme of another church... I guess we sang everywhere & in all occasions. But most importantly, we sang our hearts to the Lord! What inexplicable joy! Post-GCFCC, I still sing, but I'll always cherish our memories! One lovely memory is singing a cappella under the moonlit night sorrounded by fireflies in an out-of-town choir retreat.

Our Easter Cantata in "Concert at the Park"

So the songs continue... Last February 2003, we celebrated at the PhilSports Arena (formerly ULTRA) the 25th anniversary of GCF. It was a joint celebration of the GCF Center & its satellite churches (South Metro, East, San Fernando, Batangas, North, Cebu, Naga, Malolos, now we have Marikina Valley & Legaspi). Rev. David Y., GCF founding pastor, and his wife Patty Jo were brought back to address GCF at this momentous occasion. Our hearts swelled with joy & our eyes welled up as we celebrated God's blessings & faithfulness to us. There were presentations from all GCF music groups - adults, teens & kids. I sang with the joint choir of the GCF Center (dressed in white) & satellites (dressed in the other rainbow colors). It was overwhelming! I guess the pictures below will speak for themselves! (Pictures below are from http://www.gcf.org.ph)

GCF's 25th anniversary celebration at the PhilSports Arena in Feb. 2003

The Praise Factory (kids), singing & dancing!

Rev. David Y., GCF founding pastor, and his wife Patty Jo were brought back to address GCF at our 25th anniversary.

I sang with the joint choir of the GCF Center (in white) & satellites (in the other rainbow colors)!

And on & on... In the next two weekends of December, my fellow alumni & the current members of the GCFCC will convey through songs, at the "GCF Chancel Choir Reunion Concert" (circa 1985 to present), that Christmas still shines! The GCFCC & the Praise Factory (kids) will join our voices to celebrate the birth of the Reason for the season: the Christ of CHRISTmas! This is also a reunion with our beloved Ate Nila (concert conductor) & Kuya Ed D. (composer, arranger & pianist of the "Christmas Still Shines Overture"), who are "home for Christmas" from abroad. And just like old times, dear Pastor Dave & PJ are back & will celebrate Christmas with us (on the 1st weekend performances)! For those in the Philippines, join us in celebrating the real meaning of CHRISTmas, bring your friends & loved ones. For those abroad, you can spread the word to your friends & loved ones here that "Christmas Still Shines"!!!


Christmas Still Shines: A GCF Chancel Choir Reunion Concert

Join the GCF Chancel Choir with the Praise Factory in a reunion concert this Christmas.

The concert is directed and choreographed by Rene HofileƱa, with Janet Sabas-Aracama as musical director and conducted by Leonila Velasco-Dimangondayao.

Performance Dates:
Sat, December 10 (3pm and 8pm)
Sun, December 11 (8pm)
Sat, December 17 (3pm and 8pm)
Sun, December 18 (8pm)

Ticket Price: P100.00
Venue: GCF Ortigas Worship Center, Ruby corner Garnet Rds., Ortigas Center, Pasig City, Metro Manila

For inquiries, please contact Ms. Louella Chua, 6321354 loc. 115 or 0920-9612603.
This concert is for the benefit of the GCF VM711 Project.


This post is also entered in Lasang Pinoy (LP) 4.5. Lasang Pinoy is "a monthly food blogging event to promote Filipino food" (as described by Karen of The Pilgrim’s Pots and Pans). LP 4.5 is a special edition LP with the theme "No to Plagiarism" - hosted by Stef at Beyond Adobo. Reflecting on this LP theme, I fondly remembered the yummy pancit. Sponsors have generously provided food for our choir rehearsals. We usually had oodles of delicious noodles, all types of noodles: canton guisado, bihon guisado, mixed canton-bihon, pancit palabok, even pasta carbonara, pad thai, etc. I wasn't fast enough to get a picture of the ever-so-popular canton guisado before it was consumed. So in keeping with the LP 4.5 theme, I asked Karen if I could borrow a picture for this entry. Since her picture is not yet posted online, she referred me to Mike of lafang. He kindly offered to lend me (from his LP 4 entry on the theme "Soul Food") all three (3) photos of his own home-made pancit (canton, bihon & lomi). Thanks Mike, I borrowed your photo of the scrumptious canton guisado, which is posted below. Now, doesn't this picture really whet your appetite?! And thanks Karen! :-)

pancit canton guisado from http://www.mikemina.com/index.php/2005/11/26/lasang-pinoy-4-pancit-guisado/

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Boracay (part 3 of 3), sa wakas eto na ang kabanata...

Some more pictures I took in beautiful Boracay!
How I marvel at God's wondrous creation!!!
Nature (creation) testifies about its Creator, Almighty God!
Indeed, there is no denying! Just look at the skies...

As God's Word says in Romans 1:20
"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

And in Psalm 19:1-6
"For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Ever Been This Tired?

My sister just sent me an email forwarded to her by a friend. Thought I'd share the pictures here! Aren't they just so adorable & really tired?

The Key to Real Rest:
Jesus said: "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I Miss My Time With You!

This is a favorite song of mine.
It never fails to move me everytime I hear it!
This song is a dialogue between God & a person.
The person speaks in the 1st & 2nd stanzas.
God speaks in the chorus.

God says in His Word:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

I Miss My Time With You!
by Larnelle Harris

There He was just waiting
In our old familiar place
An empty spot beside Him
Where once I used to wait
To be filled with strength and wisdom
For the battles of the day
I would have passed Him by again
If I didn't hear Him say...

I miss My time with you
Those moments together
I need to be with you each day
But it hurts Me when you say
You're too busy
Too busy trying to serve Me
But how can you serve Me
When your spirit's empty
There's a longing in My heart
Wanting more than just a part of you
It's true
I miss My time with you

What will I have to offer
How can I truly care
My efforts have no meaning
When Your presence isn't there
But You'll provide the power
If I take time to pray
I'll stay right here beside You
And You'll never have to say...

(Repeat CHORUS 2x)
It's true
I miss My time with you

Saturday, August 20, 2005

EDSA, Protest Rallies & Healing!

A day in EDSA:
I was a very young student then. I went to UP in the morning to go to class. Then I met there one of my close college friends, Cacofonix. We found out that our classes were suspended because of the EDSA revolution! The day before this, I was not allowed by my parents to go to EDSA for my safety. So this was the perfect opportunity for me to go to EDSA, coz they thought I was just in class! That was such an unforgettable & incomparable experience! People from all walks poured into the streets! We had to walk from way before EDSA-Cubao all the way to EDSA-Ortigas! But while walking, people in cars were giving us different free food! I vaguely remember what kind of food, except for one food item that I still remember: pandesal! There were plain pandesal & pandesal with different "palaman" (the photos are posted below)!


"Hot Pan de Sal" (Filipino wheat-flour buns) is a staple in the traditional Filipino breakfast that goes with the morning cup of coffee. It's delicious when eaten plain as well as with any "palaman" (filling).


Atinna, also a close college friend, recounted on her blog her experience in EDSA. Incidentally, she was one of those people in cars who gave food, her contribution: Ludy's peanut butter on "Tasty" (a brand name of bread). She needed to come up with a reason to go there, coz she also was not allowed by her dad to go there. At that time, there were no cellular phones or even pagers yet. It was almost impossible that Cacof and I would be able to meet Atinna with the large number of people all over EDSA, but we were able to meet her. It was such great timing that Atinna went to EDSA the same day Cacof and I went there too! Strange, it was like a big fiesta, and yet scary for me at one point... only when a government military chopper hovered over my head! Amazing, there was this unity among us to topple the regime... but miraculously & ultimately, it was God who toppled the leader peacefully! Thank God, that by His grace, we three, and everyone there, were kept safe from harm, even from the chopper!

Another story worth telling (among others), which happened before EDSA:
Cacof & I saw student activists converging in UP to go to Liwasang Bonifacio (in Manila) for a protest rally. We decided to go and protest against the regime (I didn't know then that Cacof had one other agenda). We still had classes, so we just had to catch up with them. I said, I didn't know where Liwasan is. Cacof said, she knew coz she grew up & lived in Manila (while I'm from Quezon City). Guess what? She brought me to where there's a monument of Andres BONIFACIO! When we asked around, people laughingly said, that place was MONUMENTO in Caloocan. After I wanted to strangle Cacof, did that deter us? NO!

Imagine this: We were just catching up, we lost our way coz Cacof misled me (literally), but we were still determined to go! Then we asked how to "really" get to Liwasan, so we finally got there! Since it was a big group, we lost track of the activist-schoolmates we were supposed to go with. So we just joined the group to protest against the government. After a few minutes, it started to drizzle, we were supposed to get umbrellas from our bags until somebody said (in Tagalog): "Only Imelda uses an umbrella." So we just endured the (good thing, short) drizzle, not wanting to be likened to Imelda. Then, as if all those deterrents to our stints as activists were not enough, the sole of one of Cacof's shoe came off! For a while there, Cacof still wanted to stay, until the atmosphere started to be chaotic, so we finally decided to board a jeepney for home! Inside the jeepney, some rallyists, who didn't know that the two of us actually came from the rally, convinced all of us passengers to get down the jeepney to join their cause. But we just stayed on the jeepney and went home!

After all these years, how many presidents have we elected and/or ejected? I'm seriously pondering about it... our country's problem is systemic. Whoever the political leaders will be, if their selfish attitude & the corrupt system remain the same, we will just get stuck in this vicious cycle! We need to break this cycle! We need a different kind of revolution, a heart revolution! What should change is each person's attitude, emanating from a heart in tune with Jesus! That way, our people (and government officials) will:
1) Love God above all; and 2) Love their neighbors as they love themselves!

This is what Jesus said in the Bible:
"One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with this question: 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?'
Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.' "
(Matthew 22:35-40)

Hence, they will have the conscience and the heart to "do unto others what they want others to do unto them" (the Golden Rule)! Some would say: easier said than done... But that's the only way! And it's well worth it! As Jesus said (in John 14:6), "I am the way & the truth & the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." So Jesus is our only HOPE for change, coz He works from within our hearts! And when people's hearts change, the system (made up of people) will also change, thus the healing of our land! Activism: been there, done that, still lurking but my paradigm has shifted! Vigilance, that's still important! Although now I march to a different tune, God's tune! May God bless us all!!!

So here's a song inspired by a Bible verse:
"If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)


If My people will humble themselves
Humble themselves and pray
If they seek My face and humble themselves
And turn from their wicked ways
I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin
I will hear from heaven and heal their land

Lord, heal our land
Father, heal our land
Hear our cry and turn our nation back to You
Lord, heal our land
hear us O Lord, and heal our land,
Forgive our sins and heal our broken land

Lord, we bow our knees, we humble ourselves
Humble ourselves and pray
Lord, we seek Your face, we humble ourselves
And turn from our wicked ways
Father, in Your mercy, forgive our sins
Father, in Your mercy, come heal our land

(Repeat chorus twice)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Boracay (part 2 of 3), abangan ulit ang susunod pang kabanata...

the pristine secluded beach... ang ganda!

swimming on a pristine secluded beach... sarap mag-swimming!

morning... on a boat, going island hopping all around Boracay!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Boracay (part 1 of 3), abangan ang susunod na kabanata...

here we were, strolling by the beach on a late afternoon...

Red Coconut in Boracay: Is this water ballet, synchronized swimming or simply kalukringan?!

Boracay, here we come!

the view from our boat ride on the way to Boracay!