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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas 2010’


This is a little uncanny!  I looked at my last post a year ago and what do you know, I quoted same and exact words from John Burroughs while greeting everyone a happy year 2010.  I made my New year greetings early this morning and this is what I wrote on the picture that I took last December 25.

Compared to the bustle and clutter of 2009, this year has been a little subdued.   It was a year full of quiet musings and deep introspections.   I’ve gone on a few short trips, just testing how I can endure the long ride after chemotherapy.  Time was when, my life was divided into pre-surgery, recuperation and chemotherapy.  I thank God for giving me the strength to carry on despite the pain.   Hard knocks of life really make us a little stronger and enduring.

Hubby and I went back to Caleruega for an overnight stay last February 11, 2010 and as I have said in my previous blogs, that trip was  a  litmus test for me after six grueling sessions of chemotherapy.  If there is one place that I’ve blogged more than anything, it’s Caleruega.  It has become a sort of sanctuary for me.   And I thought, if I could survive that trip, then I am well.  I did and I am so much thankful for it.

Next came our Visita Iglesia last  April 01.  We did the rounds of at least seven churches in six towns in Laguna.   Every year, we make it a point to visit some churches during Holy Week .We traveled  via the scenic route from Binangonan, Cardona, Morong, Baras and Pillila, Rizal to the towns of Mabitac, Siniloan, Famy, Pangil, Pakil and Paete.  Laguna is famous for century-old churches.    It was a little tiring for me, what with so many people around and mostly under the heat of the sun.   I did okay, another plus for endurance, don’t you think?  Anyway, I thought that if I could spend the whole day outside without complaining of over-fatigue, everything would be okay and it was.   Hubby and I were also able to attend a Lenten retreat which made the celebration of Lent all the more meaningful.  God is so good!                                           


Finally had our small grotto blessed last April 11, 2010.  It was my promise to Mama Mary that I would have her image enshrined at our garden when I go out of the hospital.  Our garden was destroyed by typhoon Ondoy so we had to replenish everything planted there.   The grotto has a small pond and we have Koi fish swimming there now.  I am still not much into gardening except for an hour or two spent watering the plants every morning.

I was rushed to the hospital last May 01, 2010 because of  an acute UTI and my urologist found out that a kidney stone was lodged somewhere in my urinary tract prompting  him to insert a DJ stent for three months.  It was  a quick but an expensive procedure.   I have to make another visit to Dr. Ang’s clinic  ( he is my surgical oncologist) and he assured me that I could spend the Christmas holidays without the pressure of having another colonoscopy since he scheduled it early next year.  Hooray!

My life is slowly but surely getting back to normal.  Reading has taken a backseat though because I easily get tired while my eyes are focused on the small prints.  I remember the days when I could finish a book in a day, two or three days at the most for a long novel.  One of the joys of recuperating is having relaxed days, just concentrating on getting back your strength, never doing any taxing job.  I feel guilty though that I could not do heavy household chores although around this time, I could easily tag along doing the weekly marketing without complaints.

June 05, 2010 was Bank of the Philippines Island’s Family Day.  My daughter persuaded me to come but I was afraid to take any ride so I ended up just relaxing. I found a former office mate, such a perfect time to catch up on each other’s lives.

The month of July found me attending our  second grand reunion at the UST Library aptly called Balik-Aklatan 2. Ten years ago, we had our first reunion and this is the second time we had it. It’s nice to be back and see old friends and new faces . The three years I spent here were the best years of my teenage life. My love of books started during my stay here and I greatly appreciate what the experience taught me  – responsibility at an early age, juggling work with studies, meeting lots of friends and colleagues and most of all learning to appreciate good books.  I  was able to view the library exhibit’s  Lumina  Pandit which is in preparation for the  Quadricentennial  celebration of the University.

Remembering the good old days – that’s what the reunion was all about.   Hubby and I  had an overnight trip to Bataan middle of September.   We heard mass at Balanga Cathedral and met some new friends.  Awesome place, friendly people.  I want to go back there one of these days, if time permits.  September also started my journey as one of the three administrators of a Catholic page at Facebook.  Fr. Louie, OP calls it my online apostolate.  It is such a joy to be able to help and inspire other people.   Membership at the site is steadily increasing.  What a wonder, God is pointing the way for me to interact with people.  Last September 25, I was able to touch the image of La Naval when my good friend Lovell invited me to join them in praying the rosary when they transferred our Lady of La Naval in an enclosed room in preparation for the October Feast Day.  Awesome moments for me, seeing her up close! Last November 29, I met an online friend for the first time after exchanging notes and blogging at Multiply.  Bong is such a very gracious lady and we had a blast with her hubby, my daughter and my husband.

A few days ago, my daughter, his boyfriend and I went home to attend the barangay fiesta at our place. Though it was only a short vacation, I enjoyed it.  We’ve been able to visit some relatives and spent lunch at Maxine’s  facing the famous Hundred Islands.  I took lots of pictures of course.

At the marina, facing the lighthouse ….

The famous tourist attraction, The Hundred Islands in Lucap, Alaminos City

Somewhere along SCTEX , facing the Arayat Mountains in Pampanga

It’s been a good year so far and before it ends, I want to greet all of you HAPPY NEW YEAR.  May the coming year be fruitful, blessed and happy for all of us.

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Here’s a wish and a hope for a Blessed Christmas to all my WordPress readers!  Thank you for visiting my site.

 

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I am re-posting this message here – my Christmas message at our AFCC (Apostles Filipino Catholic Community) site

A BLESSED CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL!

by Apostles Filipino Catholic Community on Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 11:42am

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. today in the town of David, a savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger”.  Luke 2: 9-12

 

What fitting way to describe the coming of our Savior  in  these verses from Luke.  For the past several days, since the start of the Advent season, we have prepared for Christ’s coming.  Just like a family with a very important guest, we are excited about it.  Christmas has been and always will be an awaited season in our lives.  More than anything, Christmas is about families. Christmas is about friendship.  Christmas is about forgiveness and repentance.  Christmas is about reaching out and inspiring others. Christmas is about sharing.  But to sum it all up, Christmas is about LoveJesus’ great love for all of us.  I found these very inspiring meaning of what Christmas truly means and I quote:

“C is for Christ who came as a babe…living He loved me, dying He saved me, buried He carried my sins far away, rising He justified freely forever … One day he’s coming, Oh glorious day!

H is for hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time (Titus 1:2)

R is for righteousness that has been revealed by God, that is by faith from first to last. (Romans 1:17)

I is for Immanuel (God with us-John 1)

S is for shepherds of whom Jesus Christ is the Chief Shepherd…the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. (Psalm 23)

T is for the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are hidden in Christ. (Colossians 2:3)

M is for magi who came to worship Jesus for He is truly worthy. (Matthew 2)

A is for angels who sang, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

S is for the star that led to the bright Morning Star…Jesus Himself. (Revelation 22:16)”

It’s been almost four months now since the day I was appointed  admin of AFCC  (and I thank Fr. Louie for the trust) and  I must admit these are the happiest months so far, interacting with all of you, posting comments, videos, reflections, inspirational links, Daily Gospel readings, quotes, and occasional blogs from my  personal site.  It is a continuous learning curve for me and a journey that goes beyond the ordinary.  I  am inspired to share what little I know of what makes one closer to God.  And believe me, I am also learning a lot from all of you!

My wish for you this Christmas is this, may the blessings of the Lord ‘s birth be with you on Christmas  Day  and throughout your lifetime.  Maligayang Pasko po sa inyong lahat!  Ihanda natin ang ating sarili sa pagtanggap sa  Kanya.  Let’s make room for Jesus in our lives.

 

 

Arlene


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The nights are long and the crisp early morning air makes me want to go back to bed. I am an early riser  and  5am is already late for me.  When you wake up early, you have the privilege of enjoying the silence, you have the chance to get in touch with yourself through prayers, simple affirmations that there is always a loving God by your side.  This is one of those mornings that I am essentially grateful, loving every thought that sometimes makes me smile and laugh and think of the days past.  And I say,they’ve been good.

Yesterday, hubby and I were invited to attend the thanksgiving mass of one of our new-found friends.  It was Fr. Jhoen’s first Sacerdotal Ordination Anniversary and he celebrated it with us  at the EDSA Shrine.  What a very touching and lovely homily.  And I like how he affirmed his commitment and vows:

“Take O Lord and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will.  All that I am and all that I possess You  have given me.  I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will.  Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more.  Dear Jesus, THANK YOU  for the grace of Priesthood.  Today, I renew my YES. Only YES, always YES. Amen”

I told him we will visit him in Mariveles if we ever swing  by Bataan again and he said he will look forward to that.  He has just been transferred from Balanga Cathedral last November.

We passed by National Bookstore before we proceeded to the EDSA Shrine, just browsing without any thought of buying  anything.  Lucky, lucky me, I saw another book of my favorite author, Richard Paul Evans. He is on online friend at Facebook and over the years, I’ve followed every publication of his books, it’s just unfortunate that most of them were destroyed by the flood last year.  I only have a copy of his book Grace and this new find. You won’t know how happy I was having found something, a story very fitting for Christmas.  The Christmas List was published last year. I get frustrated when I could not find any book by RPE since every year he churns out lovely and intriguing titles.  It’s a nice surprise though to be able to find one when you least expect it.

I received an e-mail  from one of my close friends that she is coming home for a family reunion by January.  She wants us to meet, (the four of us), the student librarians who’ve kept in touch all these years since our college days.  Grace is like a big sister to me. She was the one I was closest to when we were at the UST Library more than thirty years ago.  She is now based in Canada. Sr. Thea is a Franciscan nun working with the Mangyans in Mindoro and Precy is a successful businesswoman.  This is an even a nicer surprise.  What more can one ask?

It’s the start of  Simbang Gabi tonight here in our place.  Wouldn’t want to miss it since I can’t attend the dawn masses  which are usually held at 4am.  Nine  nights of novena then voila, it’s Christmas!

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And still counting…..

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I am in the middle of reading Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breatnach, a day book of comfort and joy, 366 messages and essays that touch on so many subjects that uplift the soul.  And here is her list of the 12 Christmas gifts patterned after the famous song Twelve Days of Christmas.  It’s too good not to share.

  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.

Come to think of it, you can never buy them in any store or shopping mall, because they are gifts from God.  Peace of mind, happy smiles, contented hearts – they make gift-giving truly wonderful.

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♫Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy♪ ♫


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Imagine this!   I am grinning from ear to ear (if there is really such a thing) because I got more surprises than I bargained for.  I just received a  note from my brother Noel telling me  that he just paid one more year of Premium Account at Multiply.  And that means – unlimited storage of photos and videos,  and full resolution originals are kept forever.   I am simply grateful for having a brother who  supports and encourages my writing, who is forever praising me for learning new  tools  of the trade. Lately, I learned how to make videos, another plus for me of course!  And here’s what he wrote:

Here’s your redemption code for another year of premium Multiply account.  Have a  merry Christmas!”

Yesterday, I got a surprise visit from a cousin whom I haven’t seen for quite a while.  We were classmates in grade school.  And we spent a few hours reminiscing  and  exchanging news about our other classmates  way back then.  She is a member of  The Lord’s Flock – LWUA Psalm Ministry and she gave me a copy of their  CD called Lighting  Paths, Touching Lives. It is an inspirational album  and I love all the songs in it.  I was particularly touched by the songs  People Need The Lord, Love  Is The Answer and the solo rendition of You Raise Me Up. The latter  has been my favorite since I heard Josh Groban  sing it  and when I found out that it was one of the songs played during Dad’s funeral three years ago, I can’t help but remember him every time I listen to it.  Thanks Cynthia for this wonderful gift.

And here are more surprises that I truly, truly appreciate.  Nissa gave them to me before she left for Tagaytay yesterday, a journal and a calendar for the year 2011.  The calendar  has  lovely  paintings by  our national artist,   Amorsolo.   They are from the art collections of Bank  of the Philippine Islands where she works.

Last year I received the Contempo, a collection of modern paintings from the same art collections of Bank of PI.  I even blogged about it because I found the paintings so lovely.  I remember now, one  of the artists, Ms. Phyllis Zaballero  found my blog on google and she left comments  when she saw that I included one of her paintings.  She told me that she no longer remember who had that particular painting of hers.  I am quite an  “ignoramus” when it comes to lovely works of art but I do know how to appreciate though.  When I met the great artist, Manny Baldemor  two years ago, I even became more enamoured with looking at such awesome creations by our talented artists.   How I loved to visit the 1851 Club of Bank of PI when I was still working there.  Their function rooms were full of these lovely collection.  This time,  in their 2011  calendar notebook and journal, they featured the paintings of Amorsolo, our National Artist.  He  is one of the most important artists in the history of paintings in the Philippines.  I took pictures of some of his artworks because I find them all lovely and fascinating, some of them are countryside scenery that I love.

Trade In A Colonial Shore (Galleon Trade) 1959

 

Burning of Manila (Ano Nuevo 1942)

 

Fruit Vendors (1924)

 

Woman Washing Clothes (Lavandera) 1947

 

Tinikling 1951

 

Hinulugang Taktak 1951

 

Tinikling 1953

 




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4am.  The world is still asleep and I quietly sit in a corner of our living room watching the steady glow of the Christmas lights from our seven-foot Christmas tree.  Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  Advent comes from the Latin word adventus meaning  “arrival” or “coming”.  It’s the beginning of  the Christian Liturgical year.

We have lots in store for friends at the Catholic site in Facebook where I am one of the admins.  Fr. Louie, Jlyn and I did some research  the past few days to share with our AFCC (Apostles Filipino Catholic Community) friends.   Most of them are overseas Filipino workers who are far from their families, miles away from their children, miles away from their wives and husbands.  Come to think of it, there is something so meaningful, so touching and so inspiring when we celebrate Christmas with our family.  Every year, people from all walks of life plan for this big event, Jesus’ birth,  with  all fervour.   For me, it is still the best season of the year.  How I wish sometimes, that  Christmas could be celebrated quietly, just being focused on the Christ Child.  Christmas celebration has been so much commercialized but still, the essence of it remains in our hearts.


I love this, it is our profile picture for AFCC today designed by Fr. Louie Coronel, OP

Yesterday was another family bonding for us,  and Obet,  helped us to put up the Christmas tree, string some lights on  our fence and garden.  We started as early as 9am and  by 10 pm we were outside admiring the view .  It’s not much but the important thing is we spent the day together, sometimes laughing at some jokes, remembering Christmas past, and thinking of  how we will celebrate Christmas 2010.  We still have lots of things to do, put up our more than  ten-year old manger set sent by a close friend one Christmas season.  I could not remember now, but years ago, I also bought a Christmas water globe which I put up every year.  It’s been a regular Christmas decor for quite sometime.  When it comes to celebrating Christmas, I am quite big on traditions.  We try as much as possible to complete Simbang Gabi masses, and  gifts from friends and family quietly stay under the tree until we have attended the Christmas Eve mass and celebrated Noche Buena.

My favorite  Christmas decor, a water globe Belen!

I actually took some pictures of the Christmas tree we decorated yesterday. It’s not yet completely done, we need to put more icicles, I think.  You see I am documenting  our Christmas preparations  because I would love to put them on video later.  I finally learned to make one a few days ago.  Poor old me, but I was proud of it.  It is never too late to learn, don’t you think?

Obet painstakingly lined our front fence with rope lights.  Nissa was his assistant and they worked non-stop even under the heat of the noonday sun.  We were rewarded by this and I love how the green lights reflect on the clear waters of the pond.

It’s the  First Sunday of Advent, so I say, Happy New Year. Let us prepare ourselves for  Christ’s coming.  Let Christmas be not just a season of gift-giving and endless shopping, let it not be a season of food galore and merry-making.  Let it be a season of hope and joy and thanksgiving.  Let it be a season of forgiving people who may have hurt us in the past.  Let us welcome the Christ Child and what He represents in our lives –  LOVE.

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love .” Hamilton Wright Mabi


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We count the days, mark our calendars in red ink, make a list of what gifts to buy for friends and family, plan on what menu to cook on  Christmas Day.  And we are waiting with bated breath  when the day will come.  Yes, it will come soon!

We are happy that Advent is almost here.  And we say that Christmas is just around the corner.  So we get busy, we are frantic that we won’t be able to do the things  on our Christmas list , we are frantic that we would not be able to hang those beautiful lanterns and Christmas decor which we painstakingly chose, to the point of having Christmas motif every year.  We think of where to place the Christmas lights, the more, the better,  here or there, it does not matter as long as we have at least something to remind us of Christmas.  But after all this frenzy, we sometimes forget why we are celebrating.

In the Catholic Church, we celebrate Advent as the preparation for Christmas, the four weeks of preparing Jesus’ coming.   Sometimes though, we are in a hurry to celebrate Christmas. Some people put up their Christmas trees with all the lovely trimmings as early as October but by the time Christmas comes, they are too tired or even too drunk to welcome the day with joy.  We are too taken by  parties, shopping,  new clothes, new toys and all things that to us spell  Christmas. In the process, we tend to forget the simplicity of the Christ Child.  How have you celebrated the event in the past?

The Child Jesus is the most awaited guest.  So we prepare ourselves for His coming.  And  it’s just like waiting for some important guests in our homes,  we clean the house, put out our best silver wares, make the occasion a truly lovely celebration.   But what Jesus wants is to prepare our hearts for His coming, that is where He wants to dwell – deep in our hearts.

“The angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; 11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11-12). 

Dear Jesus, make me worthy to receive You this  Christmas!

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