Archive for December, 2014

I know some of you would now be counting not days but a few more hours until the last leaf of the calendar changes to another year. We greet each other happy new year. We find ways to celebrate and welcome a new chapter in our lives. We  are grateful for the year that is about to become history and welcome with open arms what 2015 will bring.

For those of you who regularly read my posts here, you may remember that I always greet and welcome another year in my life during my birthday and that is self-explanatory I guess. We count the years, comparing notes on what event touched us the most or what experience taught us the greatest lesson. We remember them sometimes with a pasted smile on our faces. Would that be what life is all about?

Being optimistic might mean a different thing from being happy.  The journeys we take are sometimes so rocky that we think they are just long roads without end. Strength comes in the face of adversity. We will never know how strong we are until we face something life-changing, something we never thought would happen, something that would change our attitude towards life.


I am grateful for everything happening in my life. No matter how mundane and boring it may seem to some people and trite as it may sound, life is what you make it.  Happiness does not come in pretty ribbons and  gaily colored  and wrapped packages. Happiness comes in simple things – love of family, friends, health, faith and a strong belief that there is Someone up there who will always  guide and love you despite your inadequacies and frailty.

I am grateful  for the things that happened in the past that hurt me so much but taught me how to cope and how to dream and believe.  Sometimes, I am reduced to tears just knowing that I could be strong too and could survive all the upheavals thrown my way. It is the joy in  knowing that the days ahead could be better than yesterday.

I look forward to 2015 with anticipation and look back with fondness to the days that I laughed and I cried and been blessed with so much happiness.


“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” — Eleanor Roosevelt


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To feel the soft breeze

to   see the gentle unfolding of the morning

to listen to the silence all around

priceless gifts that another day brings.

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There is something nostalgic about it –  the changing years – saying goodbye to something old and saying hello to something new. Soon, the passing  days would just be memories that we will hug and remember perhaps with a smile or maybe, just maybe with a touch of pain and sadness. No matter how you look at life, there are days when the pain you feel overshadows the joy you show to the world, that all is well, that everything is just as it is supposed to be – happy.

Pretty soon or exactly three days from now, we’ll be stepping into another year of challenges, journeys to traverse, new friends to meet, things to discover. We will never know what is in store for all of us in the coming days. I’ve always written a year-end post since I started blogging six years ago (seven if you will include my blogs at Multiply). I’ve always written about all the important things that somehow made my heart swell with joy, events that left an indelible mark in my soul.  This time, I would love to acknowledge all those people I met here who made blogging worthwhile. I may not be able to mention all of you but you are in my thoughts. Blogging would not be what it is without your inspiring comments and like.

My gratitude goes to two lovely ladies from the US  (fellow Filipinos) who share their lives and adventures, places they’ve been to, and photographs they have taken. It is such a joy to visit their blogs. You can take a glimpse on what they share here. Wi’s blog is Simply Beautiful.  Take a deep breath and visit Lou’s posts, she is into gardening too and features fresh pick from her garden. I’ve learned a lot of country life from an online friend in England. Pete lives in Beetley and blogs about his dog Ollie. Be sure to read his earlier posts, he is a very good and inspiring writer. Thanks Pete for those lovely comments. You never fail to like and comment on every post I make since we became friends here. I only learned of her name lately but it does not really matter. We’ve been online friends for quite a while now and we both love Padre Pio. Kay, if you are reading this, I’d like to let you know that I am also inspired by your blog.  If there is someone whose blog posts I always look forward to and who also writes inspiring comments to my blog posts, it’s IT. Visit this link and you’ll know why. He always writes inspiring posts and comes from the Philippines although his family has migrated to another country. I’ve been acquainted with Tina for just a short while but I feel I could relate to her as we talk on life, families, journeys and such. Thank you Tina for making my blogging life one such lovely journey. Meet Laura,  another online friend who always visits my blog and shares her writings and food adventures. She goes by the name Sweet Pea To Love.  She calls herself The Dreamer Mom and she takes lovely pics of her daughter Maia. Cel, I hope someday I could meet you too.

Finally, my blog registered almost a 1,000 followers, thank you so much. Visits keep growing every day, a total of 305,550 as of this writing. Thanks again 🙂 I am glad you find something worth-reading here. And before I end this blog, I would like to wish you  all a HAPPY AND BLESSED year ahead. May we all find meaning in life’s dreams and escapes.

“It’s good to take counsel from the past but not to be ruled by it. Otherwise we end up using today to fight yesterday’s battles and miss tomorrow’s promise.”― Richard Paul Evans, Walking on Water

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“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
–Kahlil Gibran

Please indulge me. I promise I won’t be talking about Christmas anymore until next year.  Where was I? Ah, the beauty of seeing Christmas in the eyes of my two-year old grandson Nate. I think he is old enough now not just to make his eyes wonder at the tinsel hanging on a tree or and the nativity set he kept pointing at because we told him Baby Jesus was born today. In his excited voice, he greeted my brother and a close friend a Merry Christmas via Viber and they said that just hearing his voice was enough to make them smile and remember the significance of this happy season in our lives.

He was asleep when we came home from attending the Christmas  Eve mass last night but when it was time for Noche Buena, he was wide awake. He kept saying, “dami, dami” while looking at the gifts in one corner with his name in lots of the pile. Nissa gifted him with a big Mickey Mouse stuffed toy, almost taller  than he is and some battery-operated toys that he enjoyed playing with. At first he was reluctant to open the big package from Toys R Us. He only saw the back of Mickey and thought it was scary. We were laughing so hard when he finally glimpsed at his favorite Disney animal cartoon character and he embraced it while saying  “Mickey, Mickey” in an excited voice.

Christmas 2014 with Nissa and Nate and Mickey of course...

Christmas 2014 with Nissa and Nate and Mickey of course…

I told Nissa she should have taken a video on Nate’s reaction while playing with his robots and shouting and dancing at the same time – a spontaneous display of joy.  Such a simple thing to make a child laugh and smile and hug his mommy back. Every time I see a child’s  appreciation for what you give him, it reminds me of  how life should be lived – happiness is just within one’s reach if you’ll only learn to appreciate what is around you.  We can surely learn from a child.

Thank you so much for all your Christmas wishes and greetings. I am truly blessed and lucky for having you all as blogging friends.

Do you keep  a  New year’s resolution?  Have you made one?


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Let us for a while forget being politically correct and say a sincere greeting to all our friends out there. A BLESSED AND MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OF YOU!  Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth and not just a holiday so we don’t say happy holidays. It’s that time of the year when we remember old friends, even those  we only see once in a while. It’s that time of year when family togetherness is what counts most in our celebration and I guess Noche Buena would be the loveliest meal of the day when you take time to prepare something for the whole family. There is that feeling of joy in one’s heart , a feeling of hope, a feeling of love.


It’s a wet Christmas! So unusual that it’s been raining since I woke up and hasn’t stopped until now. PAGASA says it’s the tail end of a cold front (whatever that means) but it is cold and they have issued a yellow rainfall warning in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.  I am sure despite the rain, we’ll have a merry Christmas. Just waiting for daughter’s family  to arrive and son to come home early from work.  Done with preparing some favorite food, baking for my grandson, gifts are waiting to be opened. We only need to cook  something more tonight. We have this tradition in the family that we only open gifts after attending mass, partake of the Noche Buena, that’s only when we sit down and enjoy opening gifts. There will always be hugs, smiles and  shouts of joy because you got something you wished for.  Back when Nissa and Josef were little, they would wait patiently near the tree with that look of anticipation on their faces, trying hard to guess what’s inside those gaily wrapped boxes. My son used to say that he didn’t want something that he needs but something that he wants   🙂 Anyway, now that they are adults, we can tell each other what we want for Christmas and it’s fun. After all, it’s the thought that counts right?

Let me greet you in our language, MALIGAYANG PASKO SA INYONG LAHAT!  Wish you feel the joy, He has come.

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Come, Lord Jesus.  Come and visit your people.
We await Your coming.  Come, O Lord.

It’s the fourth week of Advent, the final week that we have been waiting for.  It’s Christmas Eve in three days and then Christmas, the mixed feelings of sadness, of joy, remembering Christmas past with awe and wonder. A friend asked me once why Christmas sometimes makes her feel sad despite that the season is supposedly for rejoicing and feeling happy. I sometimes feel that too, feeling alone despite the people around you. There is nothing like the Christmas celebration of old, the times when you were younger and the wonder of Christmas filled your spirits with joy. Oh yes, I remember.

I remember the days back in our hometown when my cousins and I would attend Misa de Gallo or the dawn mass which we now call Simbang Gabi. Electricity was only in the town proper so  we would bring torches made of empty bottles with kerosene.  We had to walk more than a kilometer to reach the Church but what joy  were those days. We would sing Christmas carols along the way, shout to high heavens that it was too cold but the highlight of our mornings after  the mass would always be buying native sweets like suman and drink salabat (ginger brew) or rice coffee from grandma’s kitchen. It’s a far cry from how we celebrate Christmas nowadays, with all the commercial exploitation attached to it.

For some, Christmas is just another ordinary day. For kids, it’s another opportunity to have new gadgets to play with, more toys to collect and maybe  some money to put in their piggy banks. For most of us, there are financial burdens that we have to face, conflict with families or friends, endless problems  that make us wonder, where is the joy in celebrating Christmas?  It does not really matter how simple the celebration is, as long as we remember and be ready to receive the Christ Child in our lives – the message He brings, that of hope and love.

Josef and I attended the morning mass at St. Jude Thaddeus Parish and we were surprised to find the image of the miraculous Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary from Manaoag. It’s been ages since I visited the shrine, now a Basilica in Manaoag, Pangasinan.The church is one of the Philippines’ most widely visited Roman Catholic Pilgrimage sites. Pangasinan is my home province. There were vendors selling religious items outside St. Jude Parish. Josef bought  a St. Benedict cross  and I bought a ring rosary. We have them blessed right after the mass. The cross (a necklace actually) is for me while I gave the ring rosary to him and told him to put it in his bag all the time. I make rosaries too out of hematite beads and Swarovski crystals  and I was fascinated with how these vendors make the rosaries from plastic beads and twines. I love to learn that and it was nice talking to them in our native dialect. I got some discounts because of it.

It was a busy weekend and I look forward to seeing Nate again on Christmas Eve. A  blessed and joyful Christmas to all of you.

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♫♪♫It’s that time of year
When good friends
Are dear
And you wish you
Could give more
Than just presents
From a store♪♪♫

Christmas gifts need not always come in glossy packages and colorful ribbons. They need not be elaborate things that you can only find in shopping malls or gift shops. They come from the hearts of those who believe that it is more important to have love, peace of mind and happiness to name a few.

Every year or when I am not inspired to write, I always read the book Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breatnach, a day book of comfort and joy that have 366  lovely and inspiring essays for women, one for each day of the year. It is one of the most treasured books that I have on my shelf.  I read the essays at random now but the December entries are my favorites. I am re-posting her own version of the twelve gifts of Christmas. I hope you will find the list as uplifting as I do. I remember posting this four years ago, the message is still the same though. And it’s six days to go before Christmas 🙂

  1. On the first day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Undivided Attention.
  2. On the second day of Christmas, I gave to my true loves:  The Gift of Enthusiasm.
  3. On the third day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Creative Energy.
  4. On the fourth day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Simple Seasonal Pleasures.
  5. On the fifth day of Christmas, I gave my true loves:  The Gift of  Tenderness.
  6. On the sixth day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Good Cheer.
  7. On the seventh day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Beauty.
  8. On the eight-day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Communication.
  9. On  the ninth day of Christmas, I gave my true loves:  The Gift of Surprise.
  10. On the tenth day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Wonder.
  11. On the eleventh day of Christmas, I gave my true loves:  The Gift of Peaceful Surroundings.
  12. On the twelfth day of Christmas, I gave my true loves: The Gift of Joy.

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Happy Birthday Pope Francis

Early this morning, I was  able to watch the TV interview of Bishop Soc Villegas. They discussed about the preparation  of the whole country specially the Catholic church for the upcoming visit of Pope Francis on January 2015.  A visit to Tacloban is included in his itinerary.  How lucky are those families who were chosen to share lunch with the Pope after the mass.  This will be the third time that a  Pope visits my university, the University of Santo Tomas.  I was in second year high school when Pope Paul VI visited UST back in 1970. Then it was twice visited by St. Pope John Paul II in 1981 and during the World Youth Day in 1995.

Going back to Bishop Soc’s interview, he related some anecdotes about Pope Francis, the humility of the man, his concern for the poor etc.  I asked one of my priest friends if there is a bio on the life of Pope Francis, he suggested that I visit St. Paul Publications. I would love to know more about him. Today he turns 78 years old.




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Tonight in some chapels and malls is the third night of Simbang Gabi (Night Mass). It’s also called Misa de Gallo. Over the years, it was simply called Simbang Gabi.  Since not all Catholics could attend the early morning mass at 4am,  they attend Anticipated Masses the night before. Even in offices, they have noon masses to keep up with this lovely tradition of celebrating novena  (nine days of masses/prayers).  It officially starts on December 16 and ends on Christmas eve. Christmas would not be Christmas without celebrating Simbang Gabi, the most festive being the Christmas Eve mass. Noche Buena  usually follows, a midnight special dinner with the family.The table is laden with  sweets, cakes, embutido (our own version of sausage), lumpiang shanghai, fried or roast chicken, hot chocolate, pancit, you name it but it usually depends on one’s budget for the season.

Finally done shopping for gifts for  the family and a few close friends. Gifts are wrapped and put on a table. We didn’t put up the  Christmas tree, for me having the Belen or Nativity set is more in keeping with the season.  It’s after all Jesus’ birth that we celebrate. Sometimes we forget the reason for the celebration. Did I say, it’s barely eight days to go before Christmas?

I searched the net for some new recipes that I could prepare on Christmas day, nothing elaborate but easy to cook meals that the family and I could share – callos, siomai, pasta, potato or macaroni salad. Josef loves gelatin so I will make a gelatin cake, the more colorful, the better. I am thinking of baking cookies this coming weekend to give to neighbors.

How do you celebrate Christmas?

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Early this morning I updated our Catholic page and posted a paragraph from a previous blog about giving during the Christmas season.  When you give, give from the heart. It does not need to be in terms of money.  Give time, some precious moments that would make someone smile, some words that would give comfort to a friend, give time to reach out and show how much you love your family, a hug, a kiss, an embrace, these are definitely priceless.

I’ve always said that prayers are our best conversations with God. It doesn’t matter how simple it is because He definitely knows our needs even before we utter them. Given what I went through the past years, having to undergo life-changing ailments –  two major operations in a span of ten years, chemotherapy treatments and kidney bypass that I never expected to undergo barely a year after I was done with my chemotherapy, sometimes I get so wary of feeling a little low health-wise. I have become so cautious of what I eat, what I do (should not be taxing enough to sap my physical strength) and  the ache and pains that are quite normal for someone who is growing older. I always pray for health more than anything else. As they say, health is wealth and I truly believe it.  Praying for health for the whole family, relatives and friends is number one on my list.

Do you believe in the power of prayers? I do. It’s what keeps me grounded. When you are blessed with something you don’t really expect, your heart shouts with joy and thanksgiving.  I prayed for a little surprise this Christmas….answered prayers.  You won’t believe it, this afternoon I received a lovely gift in the form of  stock dividends from another bank I invested in before I retired from work fourteen years ago. 65% is more than enough for that little surprise that I prayed for.  Unexpected blessings!

When you say “God is good”, Nate would answer, “all the time”.


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