Monthly Archives: September 2010

Tell Me Thursday: A question about your mission (A guest post by Linny Lareza)

Today’s Tell Me Thursday question comes from Linny Lareza. She is one of the wisest, most gentle, and most creative people who I know. She has a way of asking just the right question at the right time, so I knew she was the perfect person to ask today’s Tell Me Thursday question…in her own unique way, of course. :) Look at it, think about it, then share what comes to mind in the comments below!

Linny Lareza paints pictures with words and writes stories with pictures. She is an artist, a teacher, a writer, a listener, a speaker, and a friend.


Never Say Never (A guest post by David Bonifacio)

This is a guest post by David Bonifacio. I am constantly amazed at how David balances all the things that he has on his plate. But companies and job titles aside, I know this to be consistently true: he is a gifted writer and artist, and he composes music, too. He’s one of my favorite bloggers, so I’m grateful that he gamely agreed to write a guest post for this blog while I’m offline. This post is classic David: it’ll reel you in and make you think. I’m glad to share it with you:

Most of the people who know me know that I spend my Saturday mornings at the Real LIFE Foundation’s feeding program where we feed and play games with kids every week at our eco-friendly facility in Pasig. Despite usually having only 3 staff members there, Real LIFE is able to pull this off with a lot of help from volunteers and the LIFE Scholars, young men and women of leadership, integrity, faith, and excellence whose educations are sponsored by Real LIFE.

While at I was at last Saturday’s feeding, I was talking with one of the LIFE Scholars when, while talking about how much we both loved kids, he asked me a question from my personal FAQ (frequently asked questions):

Scholar: Planning to have some of your own soon?

Me (sidestepping the question): You? Haha!

Scholar: I never want to have any.

Me: You don’t? But you’re good with kids.

Scholar: I’ve thought about it, and I don’t want my children to experience what happened to me because of my dad. I don’t want to make them go through what my dad made me go through.

When I heard him say this I really felt something inside drop, not so much because he didn’t want to have kids, but more because of his reason: “I don’t want my children to experience what happened to me because of my dad. I don’t want to make them go through what my dad made me go through.” Here was this wonderful young man, smart, hardworking, determined, can run 5k in 15 minutes (that’s fast by the way), telling me that his reason for not wanting to have children was his fear of following in his father’s footsteps.

And many of us have similar fears.

Fears that we’ll become like our predecessors.

Fears that we won’t.

Fears that we’ll make the same mistakes.

Fears that we won’t reach the same heights.

Fears of never being able to break the limitations they’ve lived with and passed on to you.

Fears that we will drop the baton when it’s our turn.

We have our own versions that have trapped us Never-land–not the one from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, but a lie cooked-up in hell–that we will never fulfill a dream because it’s too big, that we will never make a wish since it won’t come true anyway, or that we will never break through because no one has.

But as I said, that’s a lie–a lie that has no power over us unless we let it capture our hearts and minds.

So let me tell you the truth, and this is what I told my young friend earlier: Never say never. Because the things we call impossible today will be reality tomorrow, just like the things once declared impossible. Here are some examples:

  1. “Well informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value.” — The Boston Post, 1865
  2. “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidised item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.” — Steve Ballmer, USA Today, 2007
  3. “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” –Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.
  4. “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” –New York Times, 1936.
  5. “We will never make a 32-bit operating system.” — Bill Gates, speaking at the launch of MSX in 1983

These statements seem dumb today but these were made by respected experts who knew what they were talking about–or so they thought.

Sometimes the world seems like an impossible place to realize the dreams and imaginations of our hearts and minds, but never say never. Never say you’ll never make it, because you don’t know what breakthrough is waiting for you. Never say you’ll never be successful; you don’t know what great thing has been prepared for you to achieve. Just because no one can see it, doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Just because you don’t know, doesn’t mean you won’t discover. And just because you never have, doesn’t mean you never will.

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David Bonifacio is the president of Issho Genki International and founder of When he’s not working he spends his time serving with Habitat for Humanity, Real LIFE Foundation, and the Center for Community Transformation. You can read more of his work at and

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Missing Melody Gersbach… (A guest post by Joyce Burton Titular)

This is a guest post by one of the women that I look up to: Joyce Burton Titular. Her wisdom, her genuine care for others, and her ability to empower and motivate people are just some of the reasons why I totally love her. She took the time from her busy schedule to write this beautiful blog post, and I am honored to share it with you today.

It’s been a month since the death of Melody Gersbach, Bb. Pilipinas International 2009, but I still feel the sorrow. And I confess that I am having a hard time understanding why she was taken so soon and in such a violent way: her car had a head-on collision with a bus; an accident that left half of her baby-doll face smashed in.

The other day, I found a magazine (the bridal issue of Hair Asia) with Melody Gersbach on the cover dressed as a bride. Seeing her so alive on the bookstore shelves just broke my heart. This was apparently one of her last modeling stints before the accident. The Hair Asia magazine was, for me, a stark reminder of how life and beauty can be cut short at any moment and in the worst way possible. I wanted to cry.

Why do things like this happen? Don’t beauty queens get an extra guardian angel or two from God? Apparently not. So, what gives; what went wrong?

While I struggle with these questions, my former pastor comes to mind. He once said at Sunday service that there are questions in life which only God can answer. The one thing he DOESN’T do is expect people to answer them. What he DOES instead, is he writes them down in his list of “Questions-to-Ask-God-When-I-Get-to-Heaven“.

Great advice! If only it would clear away the web of confusion in my head.

But God is gracious because even if I stumble over questions that can never be answered on earth, He picks me up and gives me comfort. Here are three things God has whispered to my heart as I try to make sense out of the death of Melody Gersbach:

1) Jesus Wept.

John 11:35 owns the distinction of being the most economic Bible verse with only two words: “Jesus wept.” If you read the entire chapter of John 11 you’ll see that Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus who was one of his good friends. Short as John 11:35 may be, it sums up the entire heart of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t just love us from a distance. He loves us (com)passionately. He cries WITH us and FOR us. I find comfort in knowing that the King of Kings cries tears of love for Melody Gersbach and her family.

2) Jesus Lives.

1 Peter 1:3b-4 says: “In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you…”

God helps me focus my eyes on heaven when the goings-on on earth become too painful to look at. I remember attending a talk by Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of evangelist Billy Graham and she said something I will never forget: “Life. Is. Hard. And that’s why,” she says, “we need to hang on to Jesus and pin our eyes on heaven.”

With that reminder, I am believing that I’ll be seeing Melody Gersbach when it’s my turn to face the pearly gates of eternity.

3) Jesus is our First Love.

At the end of the Hair Asia bridal issue interview with Melody Gersbach, she talks about how much she loved the wedding gowns she wore for the cover shoot saying:

“Feel ko na siya – yung mga gowns and jewelry and hair and make-up. The whole package. I know I’m definitely going to be a bride but I have yet to meet my groom.”

But this is never going to happen. Melody Gersbach is never going to know what it is like to stand before the altar and promise herself to a man. She will never feel the pangs of birth nor the joy of hearing her baby’s first cry. The gown she dreamed of wearing will never be sewn.

While it is tempting for me to simmer in these sad thoughts, God is gracious enough to remind me that Jesus is our first love. And we belong to him. Jesus says it himself in Revelation 2:4. So I comfort myself with the thought that Melody Gersbach HAS met her Groom, not on earth, but in heaven. She walks in a white flowing wedding gown, carrying a bouquet of lavenders with Jesus, her first love, by her side.

I guess she doesn’t need an extra angel or two anymore to keep her safe.

Bye Melody, til next time!

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Joyce Ann Burton, now Joyce Burton Titular, is a former Bb. Pilipinas Universe winner. She is now married with two grown children and is currently the news anchor for RPN News Watch. She keeps a blog called Adventures of a Beauty Queen and in it she features Filipina beauty queens. Her blog’s goal is to showcase the best in Filipina beauty–and she does an awesome job at it! Show her some love by visiting her blog at

Joyce had the chance to interview Melody Gersbach before she flew to the Miss International beauty pageant where she made it as one of the Semi-Finalists. You can read more about Melody Gersbach’s story here:

Joyce Titular’s photo is by Ree Soria

5, 6, 7, 8…

The subject of this post is attributed to an interesting conversation at my friend’s birthday dinner. The dinner was filled with creative types because the celebrant was my uber-talented friend Chinie, who is a theater actress/singer/dance choreographer. Sometime in the middle of dinner, our friend Steve Cadd (who also happens to be a director, singer, actor and pastor–ain’t that an awesome combination?) offered an observation: he said you can tell what industry a person works in by the way he or she counts.

Directors say: “3…2…1…action!”
Conductors say: “1…2…3…and…1!”
Mic/sound system technicians say: “1, 2…1, 2…”
and of course, dancers say: “5, 6, 7, 8!”

We went into a technical discussion about the reasons behind each industry preference, but it just got me thinking about the importance of a prompt, a cue, or a signal to indicate that something important is about to take place.

If these numbers could be translated, they would say:

“Get ready…”
“Be prepared…”
“Check yourself…”
“Take a deep breath…”
“Get into position…”

Anyway, I bring this up because this week is 5-6-7-8 week for me. It’s one of those times that I really need to refocus, prepare, quiet down and be still, which means that I’m drastically cutting my online time. (Do you ever feel the need to have one of these weeks? It can be pretty challenging, but I highly recommend it!)

But that’s me. My blog? It’ll keep on going. :)

In the coming days, you’ll be treated to several great posts from a variety of guest bloggers that I handpicked to take over my blog while I go offline. They’ll be posting about a variety of topics from life, death, love, learning, and a bunch of other thought-provoking stuff. I’ve already read most of them and they’re good. So please keep dropping by the blog and show our guests some love! :)

Alright, here we go! 5, 6, 7, 8…

Why bother changing?

I read that verse a couple of weeks ago and I really liked it. God has a way of making everything beautiful, because right before I read that verse, this was the message that was playing in my head: CHANGE IS SCARY.

Changing can mean…

  • going in another direction
  • taking a step into the unknown
  • moving away from what’s comfortable
  • letting go
  • taking a risk
  • making a new commitment

…and the list goes on.

But on the other hand, Spirit-led change leads to growth, hope, transformation, healing, restoration, renewal, and more.

Change can be scary. But for us humans, it’s often necessary.

I’m going through some changes in my life–some are major, and some are pretty minor. Just to give you an example of one of the minor ones, I’ve decided to make a change on this blog by revising its tagline. This blog’s tagline used to be “Thoughts on walking by faith, seeing with hope, and living with love,” but as important and valuable as these three are, I’ve realized that they simply serve to provide the backdrop and the feel of what this blog has really been about all along: LEARNING, LOVING, LIVING…and SHARING all of that.

So I’m retiring the old tagline, and you know what? This change is making me queasy. It’s making me downright uncomfortable. Why? Because it’s CHANGE! But you know what else I’ve realized? It isn’t a massive change (I’m sure some of you have already been thinking this, haha!). My fear was making the challenge bigger than it actually was. The reality is that it’s just a small change, but it’s a small step that will be a big help in the long run. By making this change, I get to narrow the blog’s focus, so that it makes it clear and simple for myself and everybody else. And, hey, if it doesn’t work, then I’ll just change it again. It may not be the best idea to keep making changes, but the fact is that this blog is a work in progress…just like me. :)

For now, I need to move out of my comfort zone. So today I will push my fear and discomfort aside, and move forward in faith.

How about you? Is there an opportunity for change calling out to you right now?

What I’m Loving This Week: Potluck themes, games, and more links!

Another random week!

1) Potluck themes – This week, I had some of my close high school friends come over for our usual reunion. When we have potluck dinners, we’ve learned to have themes to help everybody decide what to bring. This time, we chose Asian Food, mainly because my newly married friend Jenny announced that she and her husband were going to bring Hainanese chicken. Here are the dishes our other friends brought: a california maki platter, packs of cheap-but-super-delicious siomai, and Charlie Chan’s pasta from Yellow Cab. Everything was superb! Sorry, I don’t have any photos to show this time, which is just as well, or else you’d all be starving as you look at them. :) Another theme that has worked for us in the past was the “Bring the best ______” theme. You know how everyone says, “Oh, this is the best dessert,” or “She makes the best pasta,” or “We have the best baked chicken recipe,” etc.? Well, we just asked everyone to prove it. We did this several years ago and it was one of our best dinners ever. Okay, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

2) Games! – I have two favorite games at the moment: the compact version of Boggle and MISMO. I like this version of Boggle, because it doesn’t take up much space, the letter cubes don’t fall out, and it comes with a built-in timer. My family and I played it last night and we had tons of fun competing with each other!

As for MISMO, it’s a must-play board game for Filipinos, especially if you were born sometime in between the 1940s-1980s. It’s been a hit with all my friends! I kind of feel bad for my neighbors, because ever since I received my own MISMO set (thanks, Mom!) we laugh out loud nonstop every time we play the game. You can read my game description and review  here.

3) Link Love!!!

  • Questions or Answers by Seth Godin – He always manages to make short blog posts that make a big impact.
  • A Day for Anonymous Commenting by Mandy Thompson – I was debating with myself whether I should share this or not because the content is pretty heavy. But reading the comments really did something to my heart. This post reminded me of several things: we’re not alone, we’re all works in progress, we all need help, we all need a Savior. If you read it, you’ll understand.
  • Beautiful Things by Lindsey Nobles – Her beautiful words captured exactly what I’ve been feeling and thinking about over the last month. So glad she wrote it.
  • California Love! by Rob Johnson – One of our pastors (and one of my favorite friends!), Rob, officiated the wedding of our friends LJ and Jimmy at Laguna Beach last month. I liked that he posted what he shared at the wedding. More great advice for the married folks!
  • Sticking to One @ Tumblr by Me! – Yes, I finally gave in and created a Tumblr page that I hope to maintain this time around (I started a Tumblr page more than a year ago, but that sort of just fell by the wayside). In case you’re wondering, it won’t take the place of this blog, it’s just going to serve as an extension of sorts. It’s called “Sticking to One” because you’ll only find one thought or one question which will link to the rest of the post here on the WordPress blog. So if you’re on Tumblr and you prefer checking your Tumblr dashboards instead of your RSS feed reader, then do follow me on Tumblr and get the excerpts and previews for my blog posts. If you did not understand a thing I just said (“Tumblr? What’s that?”), then just feel free to ignore this part! :)

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Tell Me Thursday: What are your unique or unusual talents?

Once again, it’s time for Tell Me Thursday!

Are you a master at turning trash into art? Are you a walking sports almanac? I want to know! What are your unique or unusual talents?

Here are a couple of mine:

  • I’m a doodler. I can listen to a whole talk and doodle at the same time and not miss an important detail. For the record, I do know when to pause to write down an important point! I try not to doodle when I’m sitting in front of someone speaking, though. But sometimes it’s just too difficult to resist a blank space on a sheet of paper!
  • I spot errors really, really quickly. I’m almost ashamed at how fast I can notice what’s wrong, because even though it makes me a good editor, I’m always in danger of becoming overly critical. Whether they’re spelling errors or typos, or they’re errors in displays or designs, I spot them immediately. I’ve been learning how to pick my battles, be more gentle, and know when to bite my tongue and stay silent altogether. After all, I can be my own top critic too! Terrible!

How about you? What are your unique or unusual talents?

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What makes you come alive?

She was petite, she looked like she was in her 70’s, and she had a kind and gentle face. I noticed her as I approached the row of bathroom sinks because she was busy going through her little bag, pulling out a number of colorful sheets. It looked like she had around a hundred stamps, preserved in clear plastic sheets. She looked up to me and smiled, and asked, “Do you collect stamps?”

I smiled back and replied, “No, I don’t. But wow, those are a lot of stamps!”

“I’m giving them away,” she said, “but I’d like to give them to someone who really collects them.”

“Oh…” I said, not knowing how to respond, but trying hard to think if I knew anyone who collected stamps. Not being able to think of anyone, I just asked, “Why are you giving them away?”

She gave me a small smile and said, “Well, I’m getting old…” and she trailed off, as if she expected me to know the rest of the sentence. She shrugged her shoulders and started heading for the exit. I didn’t know what to say, so I just said the standard “Sayang naman po,” which is translated in English to mean “That’s too bad.”

As she was walking towards the door, she stopped and turned around to face me, she paused, then asked, “Would you like them?”

I looked into her eyes, and she looked like a woman who felt resigned, and had no other option. It was an incredibly generous offer, but I felt like if I would take the stamps, I would not be doing justice to what this woman has invested in over the years. She noticed my hesitation and asked if I would like her to teach me. Since this conversation was not in my plan for the day and I still had errands to run, my automatic response was, “Hindi na muna po, pero thank you! Baka po hindi ko matutukan, sayang naman po. Sana po may mahanap kayo na pwedeng pagbigyan!” (Loosely, I meant to say “Now is not a good time, thank you! I might not be able to focus on it, and it would go to waste. I hope you’ll be able to find someone to give them to!”) We smiled at each other and parted ways.

This happened last week, and I’ve been thinking about this encounter since then. I’ve been thinking about our hobbies and our passions–those stuff that bring light to our eyes and joy into our hearts. Sooner or later, we will grow old, and one day we will pass away, but we won’t be able to take these things with us. What will happen to them?

Some of us would like to think that one day, we’ll have children to pass them on to. But what happens if our children don’t like them as much as we do? Or what if we don’t have children to pass them on to?

As I write this post, I can’t help but regret my response to the kind lady. I wish I took the time to say yes, ask her name, sit down with her, and let her tell me all about this hobby that she was so passionate about. I wish I had the chance to see her eyes light up as she would tell me about what makes each stamp valuable and unique. If I could turn back time, I would have answered differently. Maybe I wouldn’t take the stamps, but I would at least let her tell me about them.

I can’t turn back time, but all I can do is write out my thoughts and appeal to you: if there’s someone in your life who wants to share a piece of themselves with you, would you let them do it? You don’t have to make any promises and rearrange your life, but you can simply say, “I want to hear about what makes you come alive.” And on the flip side, don’t let your life pass by without sharing what you’re passionate about with other people. Speak about it, write about it, take photos of it. Thanks to technology, there are many ways to do it. When you share what you’re passionate about, you come alive. As  author, educator, and civil rights leader Howard Thurman once wrote, “what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I totally agree.

And as I write this, I know I’m ‘speaking’ to myself, too. :)

Why I love kids

Kids always say the craziest and funniest things. I love it! :)

Once a month, I volunteer for Kids Church at my home church, Victory Fort Bonifacio. It’s  always one of the highlights of my month because I have lots of fun working with our passionate team and I love seeing the kids.

Yesterday at the Kids Church service, Gary Quizon, our preacher for the day (who consistently does an awesome job!), asked the kids to name Asian countries that started with certain letters.

Gary: “Give me a country in Asia that starts with the letter C!”
Kid #1: “KOREA!!!!”


Gary: “Give me a country in Asia that starts with the letter V!”
Kid #2: “VICTORY!!!!!”

Don’t you just love these kids? :)

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Speaking of kids that I love, my nephews are growing up so fast! Here they are, the boys who always make me smile:

What (or who) made YOU smile over the weekend?

The Winners of the OMF Lit Gift Certificate Giveaway

Congratulations to Jerrik Legaspi, Trina S., Michelle Padrelanan, MM, and Amrie!

I’ll contact you by Monday to let you know how you can claim your P500 gift certificate from OMF Literature (I’m going to let the Book Fair craziness pass first before bugging them!).

Thanks to OMF and to everyone who joined (and left those awesome suggestions)! I give away goodies from time to time so keep checking back. :)

Happy weekend!

P.S. Winners were chosen via :)