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A beach trip

14 Jul

We commemorated our wedding anniversary with a very simple celebration… a sort of impromptu trip to the beach. Impromptu because everything was done at the last minute. If budget wasn’t an issue, I would have planned an activity or a vacation way ahead of time. But since it was, we didn’t have definite plans how to celebrate our 7th anniversary. Also, we weren’t sure if Eugene’s schedule would allow him to be away from work. He asked permission just a couple of days earlier and thankfully, he was allowed to take a leave.

Selfie galore. Our little one (LO) seems afraid of the boat ride with the way she held unto her Tatay. Or she was just sleepy.

And then a day before we were supposed to travel to the beach our little one (LO) had a runny nose which made me ‘paranoid’ because the last time she had a runny nose (just a month ago) she got confined the following day (for the 3rd time in just a span of five months) for pneumonia. Apparently, my LO’s lungs (and immune system) are weak so a simple cough or cold could escalate quickly into pneumonia. So I had second thoughts if we should push through with the trip we’ve been wanting to go to since summer but got canceled.

Our LO enjoyed her first beach experience…the sand and the waves were all new to her.

Because going to a resort is out of the question, I contacted an old classmate of mine who lives beside the beach and unashamedly asked him if he could accommodate us and tour us around (yes, gan’on ka-kapal ang mukha ko). I and my classmates had been to his house when we were in college and I remember that we went on a boat trip before. What prompted me to contact him was his Facebook post of their new boat early last summer.

7 years of togetherness…and a baby.

It was just a day trip and we didn’t really swim but just hung out by the beach. We were supposed to go to the Malabrigo Lighthouse but halfway through the waves got strong so Russel, my classmate, decided to go back lest we won’t be able to later if we decided to proceed with the boat trip.

We went with my family (my mom and sister). This shot is with my classmate, Russel. Thank you so much for hosting us.

We thank God for the gift of marriage and for His faithfulness to us for 7 years.

Batangas is known for its beaches. There are no five-star resorts here but I love this place because it is still undiscovered and undeveloped so not a lot of people go here and is, therefore, clean. Hope it remains this way but this place is already being detected by the radar as I’ve been reading about it in blogs recently.

Credits to my sister for the photos.

Family trip: Dumaguete 2017

4 Jun

While we were unloading our luggages upon arriving in the airport, Eugene said that he left his backpack in GCF (where we came from). It contained his laptop which contained his sermon notes so without second thoughts, he went back.

The funny thing is, while Eugene was locking up our luggages and was about to book an Uber, we saw two friends on their way to Batangas and he jokingly asked them if they would like to drive us to the airport. They obliged. And so Eugene was happy to have gotten a free ride to the airport… only to actually pay double the taxi fare later on because of the bag he accidentally left.

The first agenda of our trip… Eugene preaching at Dumaguete Christian Church (DCC).

Not only did Eugene left his backpack. When our luggages were weighed when we checked-in for our flight, we exceeded our baggage allowance for the plane ride. Ha! I somehow got a feeling we would actually be doing so, inspite of packing as lightly as I could, bringing clothes less than the number of days we would be staying in Dumaguete.

Reunited with Gran’ma Maya.

Eugene readily obliged to pay PhP 800 as penalty for exceeding 4 kg beyond our luggage weight limit. I, however, was not willing to ‘dispose’ that amount so I tried to negotiate with the airline crew and asked if we could forego it. ‘Di tumalab yung charm ko. Tsk! (Minsan daw kasi nadadaan sa pakiusap, ‘pag maayos yung pag-request mo). To avoid paying the penalty, we just hand carried Eugene’s luggage.

And that’s how our trip started… we haven’t even left Manila yet and I was feeling stressed already. I was just so thankful that we went to the airport early so Eugene had enough time to get his bag and travel back to the airport. And also that it was a Saturday so traffic was relatively light. Imagine if we didn’t leave home early and if it was a weekday. And imagine if Eugene didn’t make it back to the airport on time. I was also thankful that Eugene’s luggage was small enough to be hand carried.

Eugene preached on ‘Encountering Jesus’ on the Sunday morning before the start of the youth camp.

Ministry

We traveled to Dumaguete because Eugene served as speaker in the youth camp of Dumaguete Christian Church (DCC), a church attended mostly by Chinese in Eugene’s hometown. Pastor Thomas Sioson, their Youth Pastor who was Eugene’s classmate (in high school as well as in college in Silliman), invited him to talk to their youth on ‘rising above the label of being a mellenial’, the theme for DCC’s 4th summer camp held from May 21 to 26 in Camp Seasite in Banilad, Dumaguete.

Lunch with Elder Emmanuel Ho after Eugene preached. We are very grateful for Elder Emmanuel because he has extended a lot of effort in accommodating us during the camp.

Before the camp started, Eugene also preached in DCC the following morning after our arrival. The camp officially started after DCC’s Worship Service that Sunday, in the afternoon, and Eugene had his first speaking session that evening.

We had a blessed time serving and ministering in Dumaguete. It is always good to go to a church and meet new people you share the same faith with. Though Eugene already knows a few people in DCC or at least some faces are familiar with him since Dumaguete is just a small town that it’d not be unusual to meet people you know in small get togethers.

Eugene giving the message on the second night of the camp.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” –Colossians 3:1-3

This was the theme verse of the camp. In addition to Eugene’s exposition on this Bible verse on the first night, he talked about the life of Jonah for the rest of the sessions. There were about 60 campers who went to the camp. I am sorry to say, though, that we had very limited interaction with them. I, however, would say that they were receptive of the messages and were very honest in sharing their struggles and in asking questions.

The theme of the camp.

Camp culture

Unlike our youth camps in our church where we have plenary sessions in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening, the sessions in DCC’s youth camp were held only in the evening. I couldn’t actually believe when, before the camp, Eugene said he was speaking and, therefore, would go to the camp site only in the evening. I kept asking him if he’s sure with such arrangement and if he wouldn’t be needed in the camp during the day because I’m used to having our speakers present with us for the whole duration when we have our youth camp in our church.

Lunch with a DCC member’s family at Dong Juan.

It turned out such schedule worked for us. It afforded us time to relax during the day and we were not pressured to wake up early and be in a hurry to eat breakfast and get dressed in the morning… a very difficult ordeal when you have a baby. Haha. And even though the sessions were scheduled from 8 to 9 PM, it was not tiring at all as we were rested during the day. After each session, we were immediately brought back to the hotel (which is just a five-minute drive away) so we were not out nor didn’t stay up late either. If there is one thing we were thankful to do in Dumaguete, it was to catch up with sleep and relax and slow down a bit.

We did, however, go to the camp site in the morning twice. One was just to visit and see what the kids are up to during the day. Even though their plenary sessions were held in the evenings, they were still loaded during the day as they had activities, workshops, and trainings, e.g., the kids were taught how to do inductive bible studies as one of their training-workshops.

They also have what we in our church call love notes just like we do in our youth camps. Here they write messages to fellow campers as well as to the staff.

The second time we went to the camp in the morning was for a Q&A session. This was a session where the campers asked anything they wanted to the speaker (Eugene) and boy were their questions deep! Of course there were the usual questions on love and courtship and Christianity but I (nor Eugene, I suppose) did not expect the campers to ask about predestination, election, free will, Calvinism, and the like. Seriously! I was already an adult when I started to ask about those things. I didn’t even know anything about Calvinism until I was over 25 years old. The campers who asked about these things? They were just high school and college students!

Two campers playing with our little one.

Not only that, after the session, (some of) the boys couldn’t seem to have enough of their questions answered that they had an extended session with Eugene in an informal small group setting. I asked Eugene what did these boys ask. He just said the usual stuff about love and courtship. The session kasi was bitin. Eugene’s answers to the questions raised during the Q&A were long kaya only a few were asked. I think there are a lot of questions still lined up but the one-hour time allotted for it was already up. Anyway, I think an exclusive Q&A session is a very good idea to include in a camp as it would be a fun and learning session for everyone.

The elders and leaders of DCC were very much involved, too. They visited the camp and were present during the plenary sessions. Actually, during the Worship Service in their church before the camp started, it was announced that their prayer meeting for that week was cancelled as the members were encouraged to attend the camp instead. Parents also visited their kids. Back in 2014, Eugene has also been invited as a speaker in a youth camp (of a Chinese christian church, too) in Cebu and I remember that their pastor and leaders and parents of the campers visited and attended the plenary sessions of the camp, too.

This is the camp site which is interestingly called “Camp Seasite” in Banilad, Dumaguete. It’s not far from the town proper, just a few minutes drive.

The camp site is a single-storey structure mainly made of bamboo and nipa and is located beside a beach and a mangrove. The session hall, dining hall, and sleeping quarters are all located within the same building and are non-airconditioned. I even saw a tuko (monitor lizard) one time when we were there. A total of six kids occupy a room. The campers themselves served their meals and washed their dishes. It reminded me when I went to IVCF’s month-long Kawayan Camp way back in 2001 where we slept in kubos and also did the dishes.

Some of the campers washing the dishes after a meal.

Now, if there’s one thing that DCC’s and our church’s youth have in common, it’s the music and how they have their praise and worship time. The songs, the band, the dim lights, they were exactly the same Eugene actually said he felt like he was home.

The camp started on Sunday afternoon and ended on Friday morning. Eugene spoke in a total of five plenary sessions plus the Q&A during the six-day long youth camp.

Our little one (LO) playing with Pastor Thomas’ little one. Our LO loves to hug other babies.

Vacation

The rest of our stay in Dumaguete is the vacation part. We mostly spent the rest of our time hanging out and dining out with Eugene’s family. (And motorbiking around town… because it is something we wouldn’t dare do in Metro Manila). We wanted to go to Negros Occidental to visit Eugene’s only surviving aunt (on his father’s side) to let her see our little one (LO). And also to make a side trip to Bacolod but we were not able to do so. Sad. We also didn’t, even for a day or half, go to a beach! Too bad, I thought our LO would be able to go to the beach for the first time. Sayang. I could only console myself and say, “next time.”

During the Q&A session on the 5th day of the camp.

I also celebrated my 37th birthday in Dumaguete. There wasn’t anything special we did, we (with Eugene’s family) just had dinner at Lantaw, the most famous restaurant in Dumaguete right now, I think, as it is always full regardless of the day or time. The place is already big so imagine when I say it is full. There must be more than 150 persons dining all at the same time. My birthday was on a Monday and when we went there we had to wait for quite some time as we were 15th in line.

All in all, we had a blessed and meaningful time of ministry in Dumaguete and also with family. It is always a joy to serve and minister to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and we praise and thank God for the opportunity. We didn’t plan nor expect this trip so it was a blessing to go home to Eugene’s hometown and be with his family.

Hubby with his friend Pastor Thomas who invited Eugene to serve as the speaker for their youth camp.

We are very grateful to DCC and to their leaders and members for the very warm welcome and generous treatment we have received from them. We are very sorry we cannot remember your names but we would like to thank everyone who has hosted us for lunch or dinner and for the accommodation and transportation provided for us. Thank you especially to Elder Emmanuel Ho who has extended the most effort to accommodate us.

After the Q&A, the boys still had a lot of questions that they had an informal extended session with Eugene afterwards.

Of course, all these wouldn’t have been possible if not for the invitation of their Youth Pastor so to Pastor Thomas, thank you! Thank you for inviting us and for giving us the opportunity to serve and minister to your church.

We give God the glory.

Here are some more photos during our trip:

Dinner with another member’s family at Mooon Cafe. There was another member who hosted us for dinner but we were not able to take a picture with them.

On the last night of the camp, the campers washed each other’s feet as part of their Dedication Night.

Group picture with all the campers.

These boys took a selfie when I gave them my camera and asked one of them to take a picture of us with Pastor Thomas, his family, and Elder Emmanuel.

With Pastor Thomas and his wife and Elder Emmanuel. This was taken on our last night in camp after Eugene gave the final message and the challenge to the campers.

I bugged Eugene to take a photo with the banner bearing his name but he refused.

With Elder Emmanuel and his wife. This was taken on the last day of camp when they fetched us from the hotel to drive us to the house where we lived for the rest of our stay in Dumaguete.

Dinner with Eugene’s family in Gabby’s.

Lunch with Eugene’s family at Mooon Cafe after the Worship Service in First Baptist Church on the second Sunday we were in Dumaguete.

Dinner with Eugene’s family in Lantaw on my birthday.

Eating streetfood at the Boulevard, the road overlooking the sea.

Connect wedding: Alex and Ray Marie

19 May

Here comes the bride. Ray’s smile reflected her joy when she walked down the aisle to meet her groom, Alex.

It was an honor for Eugene and me to serve again as secondary (cord) sponsors in a wedding. It was our second time and it was also in a wedding of a couple who both serve in the Connect Ministry of GCF.

Exchange of vows. The wedding was officiated by Pastor Sam Rendal and was held in the chapel of GCF in Ortigas.

Though I am not very familiar with Alex and Ray’s story, I was really touched with their vows when they wedded last May 8 in Greenhills Christian Fellowship. They were really heartfelt. I’ve been to a lot of weddings and I’ve already heard different kinds of vows. It is the highlight in a wedding and the vows usually reflect the personalities of the couple getting married.

Can’t contain their excitement. This is just right before Alex and Ray were pronounced as husband and wife.

There are vows that narrates the couples love story… there are those that are full of humor… there are also vows that mention certain traits of the bride or groom which the husband- or wife-to-be promises to accept and submit to… and there are those that are impromptu, no kodigo at all… some are long… and some are cheesy and mushy.

Caption of the video above: The first kiss.

Alex and Ray’s vows were short, sweet, and simple… I would say straight to the point, nevertheless very sincere and heartfelt. I’ve been to a lot of weddings (as I’ve just said) and I can’t remember being seriously touched as much as like this time.

Photo session after the ceremony.

Alex and Ray did mention how God has worked to bring them together and how they are God’s answers to each other’s prayers. And in their words you could sense that they are devoted to serve and honor God through their marriage.

Selfie/Groufie with the newly weds right after the ceremony.

Sharing just a few more pictures of the event. 

Caption of the video above: The recessional.

We clanged our glasses non-stop so the newly weds would kiss again and again. Haha.

The traditional cake cutting ceremony.

And now a family picture with our little one.

We are praying for God’s blessings for both of you and in your marriage.

Mabuhay ang bagong kasal!

A shower of blessings for the Negis

27 Mar

We attended their wedding in June last year and now we attended a baby shower for them.

Emcees for the party.

Our friends Shyam and Christy are now expecting a baby boy. Their friends from the Connect Ministry (GCF’s ministry to workers in the BPO industry) organized a shower for them yesterday to bless the new family with love, prayers, and gifts.

There was a game for you to guess what gender will Shyam and Christy’s baby be.

It was just a simple party. Aside from the usual stuff (i.e., a couple of games and some snacks), Shyam and Christy revealed the gender of their baby through a gender reveal announcement. I’m aware of and familiar with the current trend on gender reveals and how it’s becoming a normal part of baby showers but it was my first time to attend one where there was an actual gender reveal announcement so I was excited about it. They’re having a baby boy, by the way.

Showers of gifts.

Of course, the party would not be a shower without the “ceremonial” gift-opening which was more or less the highlight of the event. We also showered the new family, of course, with prayers which Eugene led. We especially prayed for a safe and healthy pregnancy for Christy and the baby as Christy is experiencing some difficulty with her pregnancy.

Caption to the video above: I clicked on the record button too late to capture the start of the gender reveal announcement.

But what I find to really be the highlight and most meaningful during the celebration was when Christy shared the story behind the name they will give to their baby boy due in May. Christy shared that they will name their child Noah because Noah (in the Bible) was described as a “righteous man, blameless among the people in his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (Genesis 6:9). This is inspite of “how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth” (Genesis 6:5) and how “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence” (Genesis 6:11). “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). He was chosen by God to preserve the human race and eventually to save men through Jesus Christ. (Read the story of Noah here).

Showers of prayers and blessings.

And so they are blessing their child to be named Noah because when the time comes (when earth will be more wicked and corrupt than now), Shyam and Christy want their child to be like Noah, a “righteous” and blameless man who will be used by God to save people. Wow! That is a very powerful blessing to your unborn child.

Shyam and Christy with their Connect family.

(And that is also why the theme of the shower is Noah’s Ark).

Shyam and Christy, we pray for God’s mercy and grace to be upon you and Baby Noah. May God’s favor be indeed upon him and may he indeed grow up to be a righteous and blameless man in the sight of the Lord.

Eugene and I with the soon-to-be-new-parents.

We are rejoicing with you as you enter this new chapter in your life. We will also be here for you to walk with you in your parenting journey.

Our little one turns 1

21 Mar

We praise God we were able to pull off a party as our Little One (LO) turned one. I don’t have skills to host a party so organizing one was by the grace of God. We also praise God because we were able to celebrate our daughter’s first birthday and dedication in a special way.

Eugene giving his testimony on how we have been ministered to by Shiphrah.

When our LO was just a few months old, Eugene and I would casually talk about how we would like to celebrate her first birthday and dedication. I’m not really into parties (I always opt for a private celebration of personal or family events). But because she is our first born (which took us five-six years before we had her) and turning one is a major milestone (which I think deserves a celebration and because we didn’t celebrate her month-saries), something in me as a mother wanted to throw a party for her. But Eugene and I wanted it to be a simple celebration, something unique, something that would be meaningful to us as a family, and something that we hope she would appreciate when we tell her the story when she grows up.

Jeri Gunderson sharing what HELP Ministries is.

It was actually Eugene who came up with the idea of having it done in Shiphrah, the birthing home where our LO was born. We have been ministered by their care when I gave birth there last year and since then we have wanted to be able to minister to them, too. We’ve actually long wanted to let our friends know about it. We’ve also long wanted to visit the place again to say hi to the staff there especially to Ate Lorni and Ate Belle, my midwives. So when Eugene thought of the idea, I readily agreed and thought it would be the opportunity we’ve been hoping for. There would be no other better place to celebrate our LO’s first birthday and dedication than in the place where she was born with the people who helped me birth her. And to “return the favor” to Shiphrah, we thought of raising funds for them by requesting our guests to make an offering to Shiphrah in lieu of giving gifts for our LO.

Ate Lorni Bagro, one of my midwives, giving her testimony.

The party went well (I think so). It was short and simple but with the aim to introduce HELP International Ministries, Inc. (the missions organization that operates Shiphrah Birthing Home and ‘the little children’s home’, an orphanage) to our friends. Eugene and I started the program by sharing our testimonies after which Jeri Gunderson, Founder and Director of HELP, and Deborah Gustafson, Jeri’s daughter who also works for HELP, shared what the ministry is. Workers from ‘the little children’s home’ and my midwives from Shiphrah also shared their testimonies. After the highlights on HELP, Pastor Erik Dizon officiated the dedication ceremony. We then did the “traditional” (cup)cake candle blowing then Eugene closed the program in prayer. That was it. Short and simple. Of course, fellowship over simple refreshments followed after.

Pastor Erik Dizon praying a prayer of dedication.

Grateful

We are very grateful to God and to a lot of people who have helped us for our LO’s first birthday celebration and dedication. I still plan to personally thank each of them but I will still mention them here. In no particular order, we are thankful to…

Parang napaka-OA o scripted ng kuha namin. Hahaha.

  • The Handog family who have given a lot of their time, effort, and resources in helping me plan this celebration. They also made the decors, set-up the place, and sponsored the sweets for dessert.
  • Kuya Api and Ate Chette, Jon and Mayette, John and Rajsh, and to Caleb and to Luan, for accepting our request to stand as ninongs and ninangs (godparents) to our LO.
  • Ate Bettylyn who also helped out in setting-up the place.
  • Jeri Gunderson who I coordinated with in HELP. Thank you for letting us hold the party in Shiphrah.
  • Ate Lorni and Ate Belle and to the other staff of HELP for sharing their testimonies.
  • Caleb for the drinks and for all the other help that day.
  • Rajsh for serving as emcee and for the icebreaker game.
  • Nino for taking the pictures.
  • Pastor Erik Dizon for officiating the dedication ceremony.
  • Karen and Teacher Angel for lending the songs we played.
  • Carol (Sweet Caroline’s Cakes) for making the cupcakes.

Our family.

    • Alyssa for lending your photo frame.
    • To all our friends who came and to those who gave offerings whether you came or were not able to. Total offerings received during the event amounted to PhP 21,000, exclusive of those who gave/will give directly to HELP. Thank you so much for this. Thank you also to those who have pledged to give directly to HELP.
    • Thank you also to those who gave gifts to our LO in addition to the offerings they gave to HELP. We couldn’t be more thankful.
    • The Barrera family for donating their old children’s books to ‘the little children’s home’.
    • For the new relationships that were formed. I don’t know yet the details but I know that connections were formed between members of my local Church GCF (Greenhills Christian Fellowship) and HELP and there were initial talks for our friends to minister to them. We pray these plans would materialize.
    • Most of all, we are grateful to God for allowing us to have this celebration. To be honest, I wanted to cancel it two weeks before the event because our LO got sick and was confined in a hospital twice (you can read about her confinement the first time here and the second time here). Thankfully, the party pushed through. We are thankful for our LO who gives us so much joy. We are also thankful for the strength and wisdom God has given us in our first year as parents. We know there are more hardships to come but we are confident God will be there for us.

    The staff of HELP International Ministries, Inc.

          HELP International Ministries, Inc.

          Taken from their website and Facebook page.

          HELP International Ministries, Inc. is a family organization that ministers to their community by showing God’s love through practical ways of providing hospitality and care. It operates ‘the little children’s home’, an orphanage that provides a loving and nurturing home for children who are in need of tender loving care until they are born into their forever families, and Shiphrah, a birthing home which provides dignified personal maternal health care to women.

          Our LO’s ninongs and ninangs. We don’t expect gifts on special occasions but please make sure to pray for her and for us parents.

          Shiphrah is close to my heart because I have personally experienced their care. Their midwives have been instrumental for my birth experience. (If you are patient and willing enough you can read my very long birth story here). It is also close to my heart because more than just a birthing home, it is a ministry so there is more than just helping women give birth. Their primary ministry is to their immediate community in Taytay, Rizal but it has “gained popularity” within the gentle birth community that pregnant mothers travel as far as from Bulacan, Laguna, and Cavite just to go to prenatal check-ups and give birth there. Mothers actually have been raving about Shiphrah. Though a lot of first time mothers go there, too, I’ve noticed that most who go there are 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) time mothers who wanted to have a better birth experience after their hospital births. A lot of them are VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) moms, too.

          I need to have a picture taken by the dessert bar courtesy of the Handog family.

          I hope to share to pregnant mothers that you can have a say and a choice when it comes to childbirth. Midwives at Shiphrah are professionals and they are trained for birth emergencies. They would also require you to have a back-up doctor and a plan just in case hospital transfers are required. They are trained to recognize complications early on. They would also refer you to an OB-Gyne if you have risk factors that necessitates medical care. So you could be sure you are in good hands. I have been ministered by their care that sometimes I want to be a birth educator or a midwife or a doula so I can also minister to other mothers in this way. But by simply letting people know about HELP and about Shiphrah, I hope I have already ministered to both of them.

          With Eugene’s co-workers, the GCF staff.

            If you want to give

            For those who gave an offering, thank you so much again and please know that your gifts would be used for the renovation of Shiphrah Birthing Home and for the continuing education and certification of their midwives as required by the Department of Health.

            Do check out HELP International Ministries‘ website to know more about ‘the little children’s home’ and Shiphrah Birthing Home.

            Follow also their Facebook page.

            If you want to make an offering, you may check this link.

            Thank you once again to all.

            We give God the glory.

            With Growth Group-mates.

            With friends from Dumaguete.

            With the rest of our friends.

            With the Handog family (Pastor Art, Ate Rose, and Yayeeh) and Ate Bettylyn and her daughter Hannah who all helped out with decorating the place.

            #TeamPaRoll: Rollyvic and Pamela’s wedding

            24 Feb

            Nothing is more beautiful than a wedding that is focused on God.

            We are grateful for being invited to witness Rollyvic and Pam’s ‘I dos’.

            We had the honor and privilege of attending the wedding of Rollyvic and Pam last February 4. It was a garden wedding held at Lirabelle Nature Living (a farm of the bride’s family) in Batangas and officiated by no less than the groom’s father, Pastor Love Tira.

            The lovely bride who said her groom always makes her feel beautiful.

            The weather was cold but the hearts of the couple’s families were very warm as they welcomed the addition of a new family member into their respective families. I didn’t know that the Tira father and son were emotional persons. Rollyvic cried upon seeing her bride and there was a part when Pastor Love tried to control his tears as he gave his exhortation and message to the couple. The couple were obviously giddy and overjoyed they were getting married. Pastor Love capped the ceremony by singing ‘Our Father’ after which he requested all pastors present to pray for the newly weds.

            There was a very slight delay during the vows as they looked for who was holding the rings :).

            I don’t know the couple very well. But Rollyvic is Eugene’s fellow pastor who is currently the resident pastor in Greenhills Christian Fellowship (GCF) Makati. He is the son of Pastor Love Tira who is a well-known pastor within the Baptist community (and is currently assigned in GCF Metro Baguio). Pam, on the other hand, is a preschool teacher. I had previously met her a few times in the past in events/activities of the Crossover Ministry of GCF Ortigas Center when she attended a few times when said ministry was still active then. But I’m not sure if she knows or remembers me. Did I mention she surprised her groom with a song during their first dance? (She sang Yeng Constantino’s ‘Ikaw’).

            I couldn’t get any nearer to take a closer shot of the couple’s first kiss.

            What I like most and which, for me, gave the highlight of the wedding was when they gave (through a series of videos) their personal testimonies of their relationship with Christ, how they met, and how they grew more in Christ as they serve God together. Throughout the wedding, they honored and acknowledged Christ.

            The newly weds before the recessional.

            As I am writing this almost three weeks after the wedding, I couldn’t remember other details anymore. Sorry.

            Groufie with the couple. Sorry for the very poor shot.

            Mabuhay ang bagong kasal!

            Baby Mau’s 1st birthday

            30 Jan

            The backdrop during Maureen Adiele De Guzman’s first birthday celebration held at the Clubhouse of SM Jazz in Makati on January 29, 2017.

            We went to our first kids birthday party for the year. Thank you, Clark and Diane, for inviting us to baby Mau’s first birthday celebration.

            The theme of the party was coachella/bohemian but these pastel decorations made the party so dainty.

            We enjoyed everything in the party: the pastel set-up of the venue, taking pictures in the photo booth, going back for more snacks in the food stalls (we were a little early (and hungry) so we had time to eat before the main course was served), the balloons crafted by talented artists into different cartoon characters, the simple but heartfelt cake blowing ceremony, the main meal (it was honestly yummy), the magic show, and the games.

            What is a kids party without a candy bar?

            Baby Mau was so behaved all throughout the party. It was a short program but we definitely had fun.

            Cake blowing ceremony. Clark and Diane, Mau’s parents, wished for Mau to grow up knowing God.

            I also love the SDE (same day edit video) shown at the end. It was really nice because the clips were all so candid and spontaneous.

            The parents of the birthday celebrant. They are part of the Connect Ministry of GCF which Eugene handles.

            Happy first birthday, Mau. Just like what your parents wished for you, we pray that you would grow to be a God-fearing woman. Blessings to you and your parents.

            Finally a picture with Baby Mau with her parents.

            A baby shower for Andrei Nigel

            15 Jan

            ​We threw a baby shower for our fellow pastor’s wife, Nikki, wife of Pastor Gelo Tuanqui, yesterday. We held the party at Pastor Manny and Ate Tintin Enriquez’s house in Quezon City.

            It was just a short and simple party where we played a couple of games, had fellowship over food (of course), and, where we gave the soon-to-be second-time mom words of encouragement for the upcoming birth of their baby boy. Nikki is due very soon now.

            The soon-to-be second time mom, Nikki, with Ate Betty, wife of Pastor Sam Rendal. Photo by Bettylyn Rendal.

            What I find the most meaningful part during the shower was the short ‘devo’ given by Ate Ruth Dizon (thank you, Ate Ruth, by the way). She shared her experience when she became a first-time mom in her early 20s, how she was so clueless how to care for a newborn, that she went through PPD, and that she was fearful of so many things, one of which was the desire to be in control of her kids (two boys). But as she grew as a mother, she learned to release them to the Lord in faith. She said that the fears in raising kids will always be present, but we can find comfort because God will care for them even in the tiniest detail of their life. He is in control. I like the hashtag Ate Ruth used to caption our group picture she posted in Facebook: #ParentingInFaithNotFear. Indeed, raising a child in this fallen world, it is very comforting to know there is a God we can cast our fears to and put our faith on.

            Those who were veteran parents among us also shared some of their experiences of going through a difficult and painful time with their children but those trying times were, eventually, used by God for His purpose.

            Ate Ruth also shared ‘A Parent’s Prayer‘ by Pastor Arnel Tan which was taken from his book ‘The Language of Grace: Meditations on Prayer.’ I quote below…

            A Parent’s Prayer

            Abba,

            It is so comforting to know that You’re a parent, too. The moment You gave us our kids, You gave us a rare chance to know Your heart a bit more. The responsibility of rearing our children is immense; and our task to guide them through life is even greater.

            We come to You for mercy over our tendency to rule without relating. We ask You for grace so we could learn how to respect, and gradually release our children to become the persons You designed them to be.

            As parents, make us willing learners. Make us alert. Help us to not repeat the abuses in our past. Make us humble to admit the mistakes of the present. Make us confident in Your sovereignty as we face the unknown realities of what’s ahead.

            Grant us children who will do their best for Your glory. Don’t exempt them from pain, but equip them with faith so they may learn to depend on You. In the busyness of our lives and in the unbelievable demands of the urgent, teach us to be still and know that You are God. Give us the will and the wisdom to be truly there for them in times of crises, and of celebrations.

            Lord, when the time comes to give them up to marriage to the spouse they choose to love, help us to delight in releasing them so they can soar high on their own. And in the twilight of our parenting years, fill our memory banks with pleasant thoughts, with contagious laughter, and with hearts grateful for the privilege of becoming parents. You allowed us to see a glimpse of Your heart when we became parents ourselves.

            In the name of Your son, we humbly pray, Amen.

            Pastor Gelo, Nikki’s husband, prayed for her, to cap the night off.

            Group picture. GCF pastors’ wives showering Nikki with words of encouragement, prayers, and gifts for their soon-to-be-born Baby Boy. He will be named Andrei Nigel. What a very lovely name. Nigel is a combination of the parents name, Nikki and Gelo. Photo from Nikki Tuanqui’s Facebook.

            2016: My year in review

            2 Jan

            In between changing/washing/folding diapers, breastfeeding (on-demand), household chores, errands, pediatric appointments, impromptu dinner-hangouts, miscellaneous appointments, and Sunday Services, 2016 has been a whirlwind of weddings, fellowships, birthday celebrations, retreats, and parties.

            I thank God for the strength that sustained me throughout the year. As I look back, I also thank God for the things He has allowed me to do and experience and the places we’ve been to. 2016 has been such a busy, busy year that I pray for a slower pace this year.

            With no month that went without an event, “boredom” was definitely not in my vocabulary.

            Because I’m tamad in taking pictures, the ones below are grabbed from my friends’ Facebook. I hope I have credited the right person from whom I took the pictures. If I made a mistake, I’m sorry :(.

            January

            2016 came as I entered the third trimester of my first pregnancy so I was actually focused on preparing for our baby’s birth when I welcomed the New Year. I was still working then so trying to get everything we need for the birth ready was a challenge.

            01.04-06. Eugene and I always start the year with the GCF satellite-wide pastors and wives retreat held every January. In 2016 it was held in Mount Makiling Recreation Center in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. Our speaker was Ptr. Arnel Tan who we had for the second consecutive time. He is the Senior Pastor of Davao Chinese Baptist Church. Photo by Eugene.

            01.07. Pre-wedding get-together for Ria Pineda-Ramos. It was not exactly a bridal shower per se because we didn’t have gifts but it was a shower nevertheless as we showered her with wishes, prayers, and advices for her wedding day. Ria is a friend from the Crossover Young Adults Ministry of GCF back during its early days. The event was organized by her cousin Mabel. Photo from Mabel Pineda’s Facebook.

            01.30. Pastor Mike and Beth King Li’s wedding was the first out of five weddings we attended in 2016. The ceremony was held in Greenhills Christian Fellowship, Ortigas Center, and the reception in Crowne Plaza. Photo from Mike King Li’s Facebook.

            01.28. My office friend Ezza Medina treated us for lunch in Ba Noi’s, UP Town Center, to celebrate her birthday. Photo by Aldren Bigay.

            February

            February was a more busy month because, being in the last stretch of my pregnancy and still working, I had to squeeze in going to two separate pre-natal appointments every week.

            02.03. The pastors’ wives organized a baby shower for Yang and me. It was a fun-filled night. We played games, ate good food, had fellowship, and they showered us with gifts, prayers, and advices. Yang and I were due only five days apart, she on March 18 while I was due on the 23rd. But she learned she was pregnant much earlier than I learned I was. I was the one who gave birth on her due date. Yang gave birth the day after I did. Photo from Nikki Tuanqui’s Facebook.

            02.14. Our local Church, Greenhills Christian Fellowship, where Eugene is a pastor, celebrated its 38th anniversary in 2016. The photos were taken after the Worship Service. Photo from Eugene Geanga’s Facebook.

            02.25. Strong and Rachel offered to do a maternity shoot for us so s’yempre we grabbed the opportunity. With our really busy schedule, we really had a difficult time scheduling it (making sure we do it before I give birth). It was a holiday then and I can still remember I wanted to back out that morning because I badly wanted to take a rest. I didn’t do any preparation at all and just grabbed what dresses I have in the closet and did my own makeup. I am grateful for this shoot because, believe it or not, I didn’t take any selfies and I have very few pics of my tummy when I was preggy (I only have pictures taken by friends. I’m really tamad in taking pictures). So thank you, Strong and Rachel Photography. Location of the shoot was at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife in Quezon City. Photo from Rachel Tabac’s Facebook.

            02.28. Another baby shower thrown to us was organized by the Connect Ministry. This one was a surprise and I was really surprised because I didn’t expect an entire ministry to organize such an event for us. People I didn’t even know where there to shower us with blessings and well-wishes. I think I haven’t thanked them enough for showing their love and care for us. Photo from Robert Claudio’s Facebook.

            March

            03.11. The Burning Hearts (Original) Growth Group also threw a baby shower for us. But it was not the usual shower party. Eugene and I were put on a ‘hot seat’ and we were sort of interviewed like we were in a talk show. Photo from BHGG’s Facebook Group.

            No photo: 03.__ (I can’t remember the date). My office friends had a special lunch for me before I went on maternity leave (which I took when I reached my 38th week). My friend Ezza arranged the lunch.

            03.18. Carissa Rose’s birth. The day I became a mother. Up until this day I still couldn’t believe I’m a mother. I think it’s the greatest blessing and responsibility God has bestowed upon me. Photo from Isabell Steinert’s Facebook.

            April

            04.06. We pastors’ wives had fellowship with Ms. Leah Darwin, a pastor’s wife herself who authored the book “Yes, I’m a Pastor’ Wife.” Photo from Ruth Dizon’s Facebook.

            May

            05.08. My first time to celebrate Mothers’ Day. I forced Eugene to treat me to dinner in UCC Cafe, The Podium, but I was quite disappointed with the food I ordered. I am with my mother-in-law in this picture. Photo from Eugene Geanga’s Facebook.

            05.11. We pastors’ wives had an afternoon tea party with Ate Li Pantoja who was celebrating her birthday. I don’t have a picture of the whole group so I’ll just post this picture of Ate Li with Baby Carissa in Karen’s Kitchen, Kapitolyo. Photo by Linda Villoria.

            05.14. We don’t have a picture with the couple but we attended Pastor Mark and Kris Ann Del Rosario’s wedding held in GCF Center. Photo from Mark Del Rosario’s Facebook.

            05.14. Baby Carissa’s first out-of-town trip was up north in Subic. We went there to accompany the Core Team of the Connect Ministry as they checked out ministry opportunities to teach Sunday School in Subic Bay Community of Faith Church. The different Growth Groups of Connect now take turns in doing that once a month. Photo from Eugene Geanga’s Facebook.

            No picture: 05.22. The GCF Couples Who Care Ministry organized a fellowship for new parents to orient them in their new roles.

            05.27-29. Two weeks after going up North, Carissa’s second out-of-town was down South. Her first time to visit my hometown, we went to Batangas as Eugene taught a class in our Church’s Youth Camp which was held in Batangas Country Club. Photo from Eugene Geanga’s Facebook.

            05.29. The last day of the Youth Camp was my birthday. From Batangas Country Club we fetched my mom from Church and had lunch at The Other Place in Batangas City together with my two nephews who were on vacation in my hometown that time.

            June

            06.01. Eugene’s birthday. Our birthdays are only three days apart. We celebrated it dining in NIU in SM Aura Premier. The lunch was also my reward as I promised myself way back I would treat myself to a buffet after the labor (birth) I went through in March.

            06.02. GCF satellite-wide pastors and wives fellowship with Ate Li Pantoja where she spoke and shared the joys and struggles of being a pastor’s wife. Photo from Cecile Aristoteles’ Facebook.

            06.11. Third wedding for the year. Shyam and Cristy Negi’s inter-racial wedding held in GCF Center.

            No photo: 06.20. First day back at work after my maternity leave (ML). I was supposed to be back at work in May after just 60 days but I couldn’t take to be away from my baby. So I extended my leave for another month before finally going back to work. I just went back for two months as I eventually resigned in August.

            06.22. Pastors’ wives dinner-fellowship in Wooden Spoon, Kapitolyo. Photo by Chette King.

            06.25. Doc Bebet organized a surpise brunch with the youth leaders to celebrate Pastor BJ Sebastian’s birthday in Cafe 1771 in Ortigas Center. We are not in the picture because we were late because we went to the doctor for Carissa’s post-op check-up for her tongue-tie release. Photo from Dr. Bebet Sebastian’s Instagram.

            06.28. Celebrating Alyssa Ang’s birthday with a dinner in Alqueria, SM Megamall. Photo from Alyssa Ang’s Facebook.

            July

            07.01. Our friend Ces Perez got married in July. We were not able to attend the wedding but I was able to join her bridal shower her Maid of Honor, Luan, organized for her. The shower was held in Gloria Maris, Gateway Mall. Photo from Luan Yara’s Facebook.

            07.02. Eugene officiated the dedication-blessing of the Galelas new house in Cavite. The Galelas are part of the Connect Ministry of GCF. Photo from Lea Galela’s Facebook.

            07.09. We took a ‘selfie’ after we dined in Vikings, SM Megamall, to celebrate our 6th anniversary but the pictures in Eugene’s old cellphone were deleted so I’ll just use this wedding picture of ours instead. Yes, I know, sayang. Photo by Andy Samaniego.

            07.15-18. Eugene got invited to preach in GCF Metro Baguio so up we drove there. We stayed there four days and three nights but we didn’t even tour the area when we were there. We were so tired (and slightly sick) we just slept in the hotel. The picture was taken after Eugene preached in the Church’s Worship Service in Newtown Plaza Hotel. Photo from Raquel Tira’s Facebook.

            07.20. Occassionally, we ask our husbands to join us in our pastors’ wives fellowship. This night was a matching-outfit kind of night. Photo by Chette King.

            07.28. Lipat-bahay. We decided to transfer to a different house because I was resigning from work the following month and we needed to look for a more affordable house to rent. Aside from that, inspite of the convenience of living just across Eugene’s workplace, I didn’t want to raise a child in a condominium. As much as I miss living in a CBD (a three-minute walk to the mall), I wanted to live at this point in my life in a ‘real’ neighborhood. There are sacrifices we have to make (hello, traffic) but I love the subdivision where we live now. I now have access to sunlight (and dali magpatuyo ng sinampay), I can see a tree from our window, I open the door to the outside world, not a corridor, I can hear the sound of a rooster, there are kids that play in the streets, and there are sellers of taho and balut. There are some downsides, though (it’s an old apartment). Believe it or not, I just packed everything in three short days. Well, I was not the one who did the packing, actually. I sought help and I am very thankful to my fellow pastors’ wives who packed for us. They started packing Tuesday and we moved on Thursday. No stress at all (if not for them). Photo by Ruth Tiangco.

            07.30. GCF regularly holds a lunch fellowship but this is the only one I was able to go to. Photo from Mela Daniel’s Facebook.

            August

            No photo: 08.12. My last day in Manila Water. Quitting work was not in the plan. So I struggled so hard deciding if I should quit work or not. After much prayer and devotion, I took a step of faith and resigned two months after going back from my maternity leave. Before my last day my office friends and I had lunch in Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken in UP Town Center (no photo). I will miss my team’s lunch outs which we always do almost after every quarterback meetings (and other special occassions).

            08.25. Celebrating our good friend Rajsh’s birthday in Vikings, SM Megamall. Photo from Rajsh Velasquez’s Facebook.

            September

            09.09-11. We went to Baguio for the second time around together with the Core Team of the Connect Ministry for their annual retreat. Photo by Eugene.

            09.20. Celebrating Mich Curran’s birthday, a member of Burning Hearts (Monday) Growth Group which Eugene leads. Photo from Janet Chung’s Facebook.

            09.22-24. I’m with my small group-mates during the 3R Women’s Retreat I attended in CCT Tagaytay. Photo from Susan Dizon’s Facebook.

            October

            10.03-12. We went twice, unplanned, to Dumaguete, Eugene’s hometown, in October to visit his uncle who was sick then. It was Baby Carissa’s first time to ride a plane. It was also her first time to meet Tatay’s family, relatives, church-mates, and high school friends. Photo by Eugene Geanga.

            10.20-24. Just after a week upon returning to Manila, we needed to go back to Dumaguete again but this time, for a sad reason. Uncle Nathan, whom we visited earlier, died a few days after our first visit so we went back to attend his funeral. Photo from Ruth Lacson’s Facebook.

            10.29-30. I’m not in the picture and I couldn’t find the whole group pic. Eugene lead and facilitated the retreat of the Connect Ministry held in CCT Tagaytay. Photo from Robert Claudio’s Facebook.

            November

            11.17-18. I couldn’t find any uploaded picture of the group so I’ll settle with a picture of the kids during the Discipleship Staff retreat in Balay Indang, Cavite. Photo from Phoebe Guerra’s Facebook.

            11.20. We know it would be difficult to find a common schedule in December so as early as November we pastors’ wives had our Christmas fellowship. We met for lunch and ice cream in Papa Diddi’s, The Sapphire Bloc. Photo from Nikki Tuanqui’s Facebook.

            11.26-27. GCF holds an annual couples’ retreat but it was only our first time to join this year. It was held in Mansion Garden Hotel in Subic. Photo from the GCF Couples Who Care Facebook page.

            December

            Kamusta naman ang December ko?

            No photo: 12.01. The GCF satellite-wide pastors and wives had a short and sweet Christmas fellowship.

            12.03. The Connect Core Team had a bonding fellowship in Ace Water Spa. Cameras are not allowed inside so this picture was taken after when we had dinner in Gastro Park Kapitolyo. Photo from Rajsh Velasquez’s Facebook.

            12.05. It was our first time to serve as (veil) Secondary Sponsors in a wedding. This was Ton and Mich Esguerra’s wedding held in GCF Center and was officiated by Pastor Arnold Perona. Photo from Eugene Geanga’s Facebook.

            12.06. Baby Ethan, Pastor JP and Karen Kabuhat’s firstborn son, celebrated his first birthday and was also dedicated that same day. Photo from JR Buenazedacruz’s Facebook.

            12.08. I’m not included in the picture. This is Eugene’s co-workers taking pictures while waiting for the program to start during the Volunteers’ Thanksgiving dinner. Photo from Mela Daniel’s Facebook.

            No photo: 12.11. The pastors and wives had a lunch fellowship with Pastor Ed McLean, Senior Pastor of GCF Toronto, who was joined by his wife and a couple of their other staff. They visited the Philippines to get to know their Mother Church and also to share updates of their ministry in Toronto.

            12.11. Eugene gave a devotion as YACIES Tuesday Growth Group (GG), where I used to attend, together with other Young Adults GG, celebrated their Christmas party in Greeka Kouzina in San Juan. Photo from Luan Yara’s Facebook.

            12.13. Burning Hearts (Monday) Growth Group, which Eugene leads, celebrated its Christmas party singing their hearts out in a videoke night in Ace Party Party Family KTV in Kapitolyo, Pasig. Photo by Janet Chung.

            12.17. We weren’t able to take a picture with the couple and no official pictures have been uploaded yet but we were there when Ian and Athena Estrada got married in The Glens, Tagaytay. Athena is also from Dumaguete, from where Eugene came from, and is also a Sillimanian, so they instantly became friends when they met. Photo from Athena Estrada’s Facebook.

            12.19. We don’t have a picture again and there are no official pictures yet, too. We went to Baby Dia’s dedication. Dia is Pastor Migs and Yang Orlean’s baby daughter born just a day after Baby Carissa was born. The photo was taken one Sunday afternoon in GCF a few months ago. Photo from Yang Orleans’ Facebook.

            12.20. The staff of GCF held its Christmas Party with a buffet in NIU, SM Aura. During the party, Eugene was recognized for his five years of service in GCF. We praise God for the grace and strength He has given to Eugene to serve Him. Photo from Nikki Tuanqui’s Facebook.

            12.20. After the buffet in NIU, we headed home to Batangas to celebrate my mom’s 75th birthday. We had a very simple celebration of her diamond birthday. I praise God she is still strong and healthy and I pray God would still grant her a longer life to see Carissa grow. Photo from Ruth Tiangco’s Facebook.

            12.23. The Burning Hearts (Original) Growth Group celebrated its Christmas party with a ‘wedding banquet’ theme were married couples renewed their vows. It was officiated by Pastor Larry Pabiona. After the renewal of vows of the three couples, we surprised Ptr. Larry and Ate Joy as Eugene took over and ‘officiated’ their renewal of vows but not until after we dressed them up (Ms. Ruby Diokno provided our costumes). Ate Joy was really surprised. They actually celebrated their silver wedding anniversary last December 29. Photo from Ruby Diokno’s Facebook.

            12.24. Family picture after the Christmas Eve Worship Service in GCF. We always attend our Church’s Christmas Eve Service and it was the first time my mom and sister were able to join us. Photo by Ruth Tiangco.

            12.25. Christmas Day! After (again) attending the Worship Service, we had our Christmas lunch in Lido Cocino Tsina in Pasig before going home to Batangas where we spent the rest of the holiday season. Photo by Ruth Tiangco.

            12.31. We had friends from Church celebrate New Year’s Eve with us at home. We came from our holiday vacation in Batangas a few hours earlier and you now know how busy I was the whole December (the whole year, actually) that I didn’t really had time to plan and prepare for Christmas nor New Year. We just passed by a supermarket on the way home from the province for some last-minute groceries and just had pancit and hotdogs for our media noche. But it was okay. We are grateful to God for all the blessings He has given us in 2016 we give Him all the glory. Photo by Eugene Geanga.

            That’s it. Whew!

            I don’t know why but I just noticed we go twice to the places we’ve been to. Twice we went to Subic, Baguio, Dumaguete, CCT Tagaytay, Batangas. Amazing.

            New year’s resolution

            What is new year without making a resolution? Hehe. My new year’s resolution is to take pictures of the events I go to so I will not grab pics from friends. Hahahaha! 🙂 Thank you to those who took the pictures and for posting them on Facebook.

            Blessings to everyone for the new year!

            Mindanao trip (Part 2): Lake Sebu et al.

            14 Aug

            This is a continuation of my previous post on our trip to the south to attend Bitoy and Hazel’s wedding (Part 1) .

            August 4. Post-wedding lunch @ Lake Sebu

            Part of the activities that Bitoy and Hazel arranged for their guests is a lunch in Lake Sebu (which is incidentally the name of the town and the body of water), a natural lake in the Municipality of Surallah and one of the most important watersheds in the Philippines. Here you could see the Seven Falls, one of the main tourist attractions in South Cotabato, see members of the T’boli tribe, and (the best thing to do) experience riding the zip-line which, they say, is the highest in Asia. Continue reading