Tag Archives: ideas

Gearing up for Christmas!

I’m excited that Christmas is just around the corner!

Christmas is a wonderful time to spread the love and cheer, and it’s also a great opportunity to create memories with loved ones. Today, I’m blogging about what our family has done in the past so you can get some ideas.

Every Christmas Eve, our Claudio clan comes together to celebrate. We exchange gifts and eat lots of food, like most families. Two Christmases ago, we decided to add something extra and share what we were most grateful for in the past year. In a clan of 30+ people, it helped us to get to know a little something more about each other and in the process, thank God for all the blessings He has showered on our family.

Last Christmas, we had extra time to spare, so I got an idea to do something fun. I recruited my art teacher friend Linny to help me make some plain top hats out of black cartolina (known in other countries as cardstock or construction paper), then I emailed our relatives to tell them to bring art materials and other props that could be glued. All we needed to prepare were some glue guns and we were ready!

When they arrived, each person picked a top hat (the men got the taller ones), and we challenged them to come up with a creative hat using any of the materials that were available. I was blown away by how creative everyone was!

Here are some photos from that night:

We made mini top hats for the kids

Even the adults were into it!

My nephew made his own hat

Talk about effective use of props!

More of the finished products:

This was the winning hat:

The kooky Claudio clan:

You’re welcome to try this out with your family this Christmas!

Meanwhile, we’re still figuring out what to do this year. Got any ideas to share? :)

So you want to be a volunteer! (Part 2)

As I promised in yesterday’s post, I’d get into more tips on volunteering! :)

1) Do some research.

One good place to start would be Hands On Manila (http://www.handsonmanila.org.ph), a non-profit organization “dedicated to providing members with diverse, flexible volunteer opportunities that address the needs of the community.” This is one of the first sites I visited, and I learned about a lot of worthy and wonderful causes here.

Pay attention to the articles you see in the newspapers or the features you see in magazines and blogs. A lot of great non-profit organizations are highlighted in the media, and you just might hear about a cause that will tug at your heart.

On the right side of my blog page, you’ll see some links under the heading “Pieces of Me”…those are some of the groups that I support because they have causes that are personally close to my heart. ♥

2) Tell your friends about your ‘hunt’.

Maybe some of your friends already do volunteer work but don’t announce it to the public. Or maybe they know of an organization that could really use the time/talent/treasure that you have to offer. At least two of the organizations that I volunteer for at the moment came to my attention through friends, and I’m really thankful they were able to make a match (whether they meant to or not!).

Volunteer Weekend 2009: KC teachers w/the Victory Fort Superheroes!

I love Kids Church! These are my co-teachers with the "Victory Fort Superheroes" during Volunteer Weekend 2009!

3) Sometimes you don’t have to look very far.

Surely, your school, office, village, or church could use your help! One of the groups I love volunteering for is the Kids’ Church (KC) at Victory. Once a month, I get to be a teacher for the Primary class (7 to 9 year olds). It’s really such a privilege to be able to help build and prepare the next generation, not to mention the fact that I just love being with kids! The KC team is amazing, and I’m grateful to be able to serve with them!

4) If you have an idea and no one else is doing it, take a cue from Nike and JUST DO IT.

Don’t let the lack of options stop you. Maybe you’re really meant to start something new! I wrote about my friends Gang Badoy and Carisse Escueta a while back. Read the blog post here, and be amazed at how each woman turned her vision into a reality.

5) Don’t compare yourself to others.

Let’s say that one day you went on an outreach trip and it didn’t turn out to be a very pleasant or fulfilling experience for you. Don’t close your doors forever, and don’t feel bad if you didn’t turn out to be the next Mother Teresa. God created each person to be unique, and maybe your heart just has a burden for another group of people, another place, or another cause. What moves you to tears may not be the same for some of your friends, and vice versa. In this case, it’s better to focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do. Better to move forward than to run away and turn a blind eye forever.

6) Every little step counts.

Many times, it’ll be tempting to just be a spectator. Don’t let procrastination, laziness, busyness, or fear stop you from making a difference. A small step today, a short message of encouragement, a free meal, a couple of hours…every little thing you do can make a difference. Sometimes you may not see it, but you’ll be surprised how one little step of faith you take can change someone’s life.

With that, I’ll leave you with this quote by John Mason from one of my favorite books, The Enemy Called Average:

“Gifts and talents are given to us not only so that we can fulfill to the fullest the call in our own lives, but also so that we can reach the souls attached to those gifts. There are people whose lives are waiting to be affected by what God has placed within you.”

Happy volunteering! :)

Artwork courtesy of http://www.volunteerbc.bc.ca and Victory Fort superheroes photo by Anson Yu

* * *

If you want to receive updates when I publish new blog posts, you can subscribe via RSS or e-mail. You can also follow me on Twitter.

So you want to be a volunteer! (Part 1)

Early this year, I had this thought: “I want to be of more service.” I was doing the occasional outreach, but I felt I needed to be more consistent. I wanted to be face to face with the people I wanted to serve, not just reading about them or blogging about them–I wanted to interact with them! But who were these mystery people that I wanted to serve, and what could I do for them? I didn’t have the answers just yet, but all I knew was that I wanted to do more.

I guess God heard my prayers at that time, because He brought me face to face to a bunch of teenagers that I would be able to help, and eventually grow to love, and it just worked out that what I had to offer–life skills and personality development training–was exactly what they needed.

So if you find yourself in the same place where I was, start by asking yourself these questions:

1) Is there a person or a group of people (or a species!) that you’d like to serve?


Do you have heart for children?

Try to be specific. Do you have a heart for orphans? Abused teenagers? Children from marginalized areas? Malnourished families? Drug addicts? People with disabilities? Couples with marital problems? Street children? Animals? Trees? Whales? The options are endless.

For instance, I have a heart for people who are confused, lack confidence, and need direction–specifically people of all ages who don’t believe in themselves, and don’t know how to get passion and purpose back in their lives. I used to think I only had a burden for teenagers with this problem, but I also see it a lot in people my age, and I also see it developing early in young children who feel ignored or forgotten.

Be sensitive to the people around you. Don’t ignore the moments when you felt moved to tears because of something you saw, something you heard about, or someone you talked to. That could be your heart giving you a little nudge in the right direction!

2) If time, money, or resources weren’t an issue, to what cause would you devote yourself?

The options are, once again, endless: abortion, animal protection, alcoholism, child abuse, crime and corruption, disabilities, domestic violence, drug addiction, educational issues, environmental issues, family issues, health issues, homelessness, human rights, human trafficking, hunger, justice system, physical abuse, poverty, spiritual apathy, etc.

Right now, I have a deep desire to help educate the Filipino youth. Not necessarily in the typical school setting, but I have a desire to get people to love learning, and find ways to help them learn important foundations and life skills. It can be through a training program in their community or church, or through a mentoring or life coaching program. Or in the case of RepubLIKHA, it can even be done through music! ;)

Don’t think about what you need yet…just focus on discovering what’s in your heart. :)

3) What do you have to offer? Time, talent, or treasure? (If you have free time, how much time do you have? If you have certain skills or talents that you could offer, what are they? If you have cash or other resources that you can donate, take note of that, too!)

b14Some people get bogged down by thinking, “I don’t have much to offer!” But that’s so untrue! For some people, they have more time on their hands, so it would be practical for them to spend several hours weekly cheering up and taking care of patients in a cancer ward.

Some people may not have a lot of time, but they have certain talents or skills that they could ‘donate’ to other people or groups who could use their services for free or for a discounted rate. For instance, today, I’m looking for a scriptwriter who can help out a friend of mine who’s working on a benefit concert. Or maybe you don’t have to DO something, because in some cases, it would actually be better if you TEACH something. This Saturday, my friend, Camille, is going to teach scholars from the Smokey Mountain area how to bake. And the baking class isn’t just for fun; the students can learn how to bake certain pastries that they can sell in their community so that they can earn money, too.

But for some people, they know that they don’t have enough time to spare at all, but in this case, they know they have some extra resources that they can channel to others who are available to serve. Whether it’s supporting non-profit organizations or missionaries with cash donations, or simply blessing people who are in need–whatever small amount you give could make a huge difference! In many instances, you don’t even have to give cash. You can donate books, clothes, food, etc. Just last week, I have another friend, Karlo, who donated his guitar! It may be random to some people, but I know a group of teenage guys that live in a center/shelter, and all these guys happen to be musically gifted. I also happen to know that they’ve been praying for an acoustic guitar to call their own, so I know their faces will light up when we give them this guitar next week. :)

There you go! Start answering those questions, think about them, and pray about the answers! Tomorrow, I’ll talk more about concrete ideas and action steps you can take. :)

If you have some thoughts about this post–especially if you have some realizations about yourself and how (or who) you’d like to help, leave a comment! I’d love to hear about it! :)

Artwork courtesy of http://www.greenobin.com, 3rd image courtesy of Anson Yu

* * *

If you want to receive updates when I publish new blog posts, you can subscribe via RSS or e-mail. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Journals and blessings

n518889038_736550_2458When I was a kid, I tried to keep a diary. Every year, I failed miserably. I would start writing in one, then I would stop after a few months. Needless to say, I wasted a lot of perfectly good notebooks all the way into my teenage years.

Fortunately, that hasn’t been the case these past couple of years. Two years ago, I decided to keep a journal where I could write down the great Bible verses that I came across and the good quotes I got from books and various preachings. I also wrote down my prayers, and I’ve been doing so until today. I know a lot of other friends who do the same thing, and we all agree that it’s a great habit to pick up! Especially when you look back at your old journals and see how your prayers were answered.

The other day, I took a colored pen and went through my old journals, and underlined every blessing and answered prayer that came my way. It really helped bring back so much joy, when I remembered how good and how faithful God has been. Sometimes, problems and difficult circumstances help me forget, and I linger around despair’s territory longer than I should.

If you keep a journal, let me encourage you to grab that pen and find those answered prayers!

My 4 great reasons to start running!

As I said in my last post, I am in need of physical exercise. When I was younger, I was a volleyball fanatic. My neighbors would attest to the fact that I always found a way to gravitate towards a volleyball. But once I got diagnosed with rotator cuff tendinitis while playing volleyball in my sophomore year of college, I just finished up the season, and traded in my uniform for a cozy seat on the bench as the team manager. And I never really got into a sport again…which is really sad, because I know I need some exercise! So I tried badminton, I tried golf (driving, at least), I tried going to the gym, but I never really fell in love with any of those things. This month, I’ve started getting into running. This is actually quite a struggle for me, because my least favorite part of volleyball training was running. But hey, I need my cardio exercise, and I’ve found my 4 good reasons to start running, which I will share with you today!

#1: The new iPod Shuffle

I’ve been wanting an iPod Shuffle for the longest time because I cannot run without music. Thank God for untouched rewards points, because I was finally able to get the shuffle, and I think it rocks (I just wish they had colors to choose from, though, but that’s just me, being a girl. Haha)! You can put playlists, and it has a voice that tells you what playlists you have in your shuffle and the name of the song/podcast that’s currently playing. Plus it’s so tiny, I just want to bring it everywhere!

#2: My “Cardio Praise” playlist

Like I said, I can’t run without music. When I used to go to the gym, I had a “Cardio Workout” playlist that would have enough BPM (beats per minute) to motivate me to run. But nothing lifts my spirit like praise music, so I figured I would make a “Cardio Praise” playlist. I’m pretty sure this isn’t a new concept for Christian runners, but the reason why I bring this is up is because I wanted to share the songs that I put in my list. I chose them out of all the praise songs because they had the right pattern of beats that would get me moving and running with joy in my heart!

What’s currently on the list:

His Love” – Hillsong, God He Reigns
“Take it All” – Hillsong United, United We Stand
“The Time Has Come” – Hillsong United, United We Stand
“We Shine” – Fee, Passion: God of This City
“You Are Good” – Israel & New Breed
“Let God Arise” – Chris Tomlin, See the Morning
“Sing, Sing, Sing” – Chris Tomlin, Passion: God of This City
“King of Majesty” – Hillsong London, Shout God’s Fame
“My Savior Lives” – New Life Worship, My Savior Lives
“Lift My Praise Up” – Citipointe Live, Anthem of Our Heart
“Tell the World” – Hillsong United, Look to You
“Break Free” – Hillsong United, With Hearts As One
“The Freedom We Know” – Hillsong, Mighty to Save
“Solution” – Hillsong United, With Hearts As One
“I Am Free” – Desperation Band, Rooftops
“My God” – Hillsong London, Shout God’s Fame
“Alive” – Hillsong Kids, Jesus is my Superhero (okay, Camille pointed out that this sounds like an Aqua song, but I’m a Kids Church teacher and we use this for Praise Dance, so I have a special love for this song…it makes me happy!)

I’d love to hear any other suggestions! :)


I really have no excuse not to run now, because my family has officially been bitten by the running bug. This is also my way of showing my support for my brother, because they’re finally opening his new brainchild, RUNNR, a running specialty store in Bonifacio High Street. It’s on that row near TGIFriday’s and Starbucks. Because I’m really ignorant when it comes to all the terms, just read this press release!

Continue reading