Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year Noche Buena

I love to cook. And I love to create and re-create dishes. I started cooking at 9, the right age -- my Mama believed -- to train girls' household stuff. That included going to the market and picking the right ingredients for the day's meals to making the house squeaky clean and of course, cooking.

Since my mother was Ilongga, most of the dishes had Ilonggo influence but the Cebuano part of the family also had its fair share. I've always had in my mind to blog about the dishes that I cook but never got down to it. And so finally, here I am trying to journal some of my favorite dishes.

For tonight's Noche Buena dishes, I've recreated some old time favorites to cut down on cholesterol and transfat contents. (A better way to start the new year with healthy eating. Haha!).

I'm a very practical person and I don't like tedious processes so I simplify my cooking, without necessarily sacrificing the taste. Tonight, I cooked three dishes -- chicken, lasagna and fried shrimp -- and one dessert, a re-created version of old time favorite Maja Blanca. The rest, we grabbed from Goldilocks, Red Ribbon and Andoks.

Here are my creations for tonight:

Tuna Lasagna


For the sauce
2 cans Century Tuna in Water (drain)
1/2 cup basil, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 clove onion, minced
1 560 gram Del Monte Spaghetti sauce
salt, to taste
sugar, to taste
black pepper, to taste

Procedure: Sautee the tuna with garlic and onion. Add the chopped basil. Add Del Monte Spaghetti sauce. When cooked, set aside to cool.

For the Cream
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 cups water
1 big can evaporated milk
pinch of salt

Procedure: Mix flour in water. When all the lumps disappear, pour mixture in a pan. (Medium heat.) Stir in milk slowly. Bring to boil but make sure to keep on stirring until it mixture becomes creamy. Set aside.

Since I don't have an oven, I just cooked the lasagna like the way I cook spaghetti (boil enough water and then add salt & oil). You can cook the pasta while doing either the sauce or cream.

Once the sauce, cream and pasta are cooked, lay down the lasagna on a microwable container. Add sauce, then put another layer of lasagna. Put cream. Another layer of lasagna, then sauce again. Up to six layers of lasagna would be okey. Microwave on medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes.

o 0 o

New Year's Eve grilled chicken

1 kilo de-boned chicken
1 cup vinegar
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar (or mascuvado)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 stalks of lemon grass (pound)
1/2 cup basil leaves (pound)
5 cloves of garlic (pound)

Mixed all ingredients well and marinate chicken for two hours. Grill or cook in greased frying pan under low heat.

(Since I don't like the smoke of the grill, I just cooked mine using a skillet.)

Here's the finished product:

o O o

Hipon a'la Andrea

For lack of better name, just indulge with me. LOL. Nothing extra-ordinary with the shrimp. It's cooked like Nilasing na Hipon but without any alcohol. (See recipe here) Here's mine:

o 0 o

Lastly, for the dessert, I made an easier to prepare Maja Blanca:


1 big can evap milk
1 big can sweet corn kernels
2 cups water
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup peanuts (pound)

pinch of salt


In a container, dissolve cornstarch and brown sugar in the 2 cups of water. Make sure to mix well. Pour in a pan under medium heat flame. Bring to a boil but constantly stirring. Slowly mix in milk, corn kernels and grated cheese. (Make sure to leave some corn kernels to put on top of the finished product.) Once the mixture is creamy, set aside. Let it cool down before transferring to a disposable container to a greased/buttered glass dish. Once the mixture has hardened, put the remaining corn kernels on top. Sprinkle enough pounded peanuts. You may put inside the ref first before serving. In 30 minutes or so, you can serve your yummy Maja Blanca.

See, wasn't that a breeze!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My life before God's eyes

Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death. (Isaiah 57:2)

(Photo by anglia24)

If I die tonight, what will God say of my life? How have I lived it?

These words echoed in my mind long after Pastor Manny ended tonight's service at the wake of the dad of two dearest sisters in Christ, Marie and Mariya.

If I may say so, this is a year of grieving for our cell group. One after the other, four of us in the cell lost our parents. Early this year, Kata lost her dad -- albeit in a very fashionable way -- "dropped dead" in the middle of a golf course. ("He really knows how to go in style," Kata tells us.)

Last month, I lost my father while I was in China. Days later, as my family and I were mourning in Negros, Mariya and Marie's mom passed away. And just the other day, their dad followed.

What a year for our small group of "feisty" women. We love to call ourselves "comrades in the Lord" because we were once together in a different cause, but thankfully, have been "arrested by Lord."

Just tonight, our cell group met in a not-so-pleasant-setting -- at the wake of the Jopson patriarch.

Before Pastor Manny shared the Word, the Jopsons flashed the life of their father -- a strong-willed provinciano, who thru sheer hard work and determination, became a successful entrepreneur. His was a life straight from the soap opera. From being a death march survivor to a respected businessman to raising 12 patriotic children including the great youth leader Edjop, Daddy Hernan definitely lived a full life.

I was blessed to have met him and his wife and got to chat with them on the few occassions I visited their Paraiso home. He would marvel me with the tales of old, his family and his passion for farming. He would share how Edjop, as a young boy, convinced him to purchase their Mamburao property which is now like the family's second "paradise."

But what struck me the most was how he evidently loved his wife and children so much. He was a father every family must have -- a strong pillar that holds the family together.

I remember my own father -- a man for others who sacrificed personal conveniences for the sake of the people. To the very end, he thought of others before his own, putting aside his health if only to bring order to what he expected to be a chaotic elections.

Kata's dad, though I haven't met them, surely raised his own children well. Even if she's not my friend, knowing Kata as a public figure, I surmise he did a great job.

Kata's parents, the Jopson's parents, my father -- they all lived lives that impacted others.

Which brings back to Pastor Manny's question: What is my life before God's eyes? How have I lived it?

Not much, I should say. Surely, I can do better. And deaths of people close to us always remind us of the inevitable -- the only sure destination for each one of us.

Death shouldn't bring fear. But rather, determination -- to do better each day and live it as if it were our last. And when we face our Creator, we can give a better accounting of how we steward what He has placed in our hands.

The dawn of a new day

(photo credit to

down_the_rabbit_hole 's photos)

This year has been a bitter-sweet year for us. Just last month, Papa passed on to the other side of life to rejoin our Mama who went ahead almost 20 years ago.

Early this year, our youngest daughter -- Star, was diagnosed with von Willebrand disease, a genetic disorder of the blood.

At work and in the homefront, we had been hit. Yet, all those sadness, frustrations and challenges were nothing compared to the blessings God has given us.

In sickness, God gave us healing. In our mourning, God gave us joy. In our lack, God gave us extraordinary provisions. In our weakness, God gave us the strength to persevere.

God is good all the time, and I say that with deep conviction. I believe, because I know. Though I may not always see, I believe, because I know that He who has promised is faithful.

I face 2008 with great excitement, with so much hope in my heart for a better, more wonderful walk. 2007 is just a dawn of a greater, brighter day. Welcome, 2008!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Our love story

It all started as a joke. I spotted this "ruggedly handsome" guy in the school campus with his thick law books. Back in college, having a law student for a boyfriend is cool. And so I jokingly asked a friend if he could introduce me to his brother who was then a sophomore in law school. "You're too good for him," he joked back.

Little did I know, a few months later, who would become my boyfriend but my friend's brother! That was 15 years ago. Today, that ruggedly handsome guy, the "bad boy" of his time at Silliman's law school is now my husband of 13 years. We've been blessed with three wonderful children, the greatest gifts we can ever ask for from God.

It's been far from smooth-sailing at all the past 13 years. But every year, it gets better and better. Looking back, I can only praise God for His faithfulness. Before I met Dick, I prayed to God to give me a person I can spend the rest of my life with. When Dick came along, I thought God was joking. But our Father always know what's best for us.

Ours may not be a perfect marriage. But I can't imagine being married to another person. We may not agree in everything, but I praise God for giving me a person who allows me to speak my mind out, a person who tries to do it better every time and tries his best to be the best husband and father of his children.

Marriage has transformed both Dick and myself for the better. In imperfections, we learned to be more patient, more understanding, more caring, more loving...Together, we have become better individuals.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The joy of giving

It all started with a thousand bears. Now it's a thousand homes.

Yesterday, parents of the graduating class in The Learning Tree met to discuss the possibility of donating a house or two to Thousand Homes for Bicol project, a wholistic program to help families affected by last year's Typhoon Reming.

By unanimous decision, the parents agreed to support the project as a legacy of the graduating class. Last year, children of The Learning Tree raised funds and donated to A Thousand Bears for Bicol (TBB) project spearheaded by my friends Cathy and Hector.

Thousand Homes is as an off-shoot of the TBB project, on a more ambitious scale, that is.

When some parents learned of the Thousand Homes project in July, they broached the idea to Teacher Francie, the school's indefatiguable founder, as a practical application of the values the school teaches the children -- love for God, country (others) and self.

Not wanting to impose anything on the children, Teacher Francie presented Thousand Homes to the graduating class and asked if they liked the idea of raising funds and donating to the affected families in Bicol. It got the children so excited that they even planned of going to Bicol themselves for the turn-over of the house they were donating.

Not to be outdone, children from the lower graders are now also talking of raising funds to donate to Thousand Homes. Amazing how kids can be so passionate, they even decided to donate proceeds of this year's annual Hele Bazaar for the Bicol project.

Of course, parents have to be informed of their children's decision and so the school called for a meeting yesterday. Since I'm one of the "promoteurs" of Thousand Homes, Teacher Francie asked me to present to the parents. They were as excited as their children.

I left the meeting with so much joy in my heart and a great hope for the future. Here is a small school with a great vision -- to be able to raise up kids with genuine love for God, fellowmen and oneself.

Indeed, when it is about giving, adults have so much to learn from little children. There is always joy when you give out of the abundance of the heart.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thank you, Papa

It's been a little over two weeks since my father passed on to the other side of life. There is peace in my heart knowing that he is now in a better place, yet the thought of not being able to see him again until the next life, brings pain.

He was a father every daughter would want to have. A man of few words, yet trustworthy and very dependable.

He singlehandedly saw us -- 6 young siblings -- through college after our mother's sudden death. He took on our mother's style of close supervision, yet gave us enough freedom to decide on our own.

Ours was a bitter-sweet childhood. As a result of Papa's political activism, we grew up practically without him. We went through some un-ordinary experiences, including brief overnights in the provincial jail when he got incarcerated during Martial Law.

In the mid-70s up to the '80s, he worked with PANAMIN and would visit us for a few days every two months. Yet, Papa compensated his absence by bringing us to wherever he was assigned. In summers, he would bring us to mountain adventures in Canlaon. He taught us to ride horses and carabaos. He marvelled at the beauty of nature and would take us for walks in the forests.

He loved the mountains. In fact, when our mother died 19 years ago, he moved to the family's farm in the hinterland of Guihulngan. It was there where he raised our two half-siblings by his second wife.

I don't know what happened anymore after his incarceration. We never talked about his ideologies. But when I started working, I would encounter people asking if I was related to the leftist organizer, Jess Trinidad. Many times, I would hear snide comments that our father was a communist. Yet, more people talked kindly of him for being a principled man.

Communist or not, for us, he was the best father in the world. I have always been proud of him and will always be. He was always concerned of the welfare of the masses. When Negros became militarized in the '80s, he opposed the entry of Cafgu's in our farm in Canlaon.

When he returned to Negros shortly before the Edsa Revolution, he was in the frontlines of rallies that denounced the dictatorship. It made me so proud that while others conveniently closed their eyes to the injustices around us, my father made a stand.

And up to the very end, Papa had the people in his mind. He delayed his check-up if only to ensure that the barangay elections went well. He was concerned that if he was not around, elections would be chaotic.

It was so typical of our father -- putting others first before his own welfare. Had he listened to my older siblings, he would still have been alive today. Then again, all things happen for a reason. Perhaps, his mission is already finished.

I praise God for giving us a father like Papa. Even in sorrow, I rejoice knowing that Papa is now with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Jesus V. Trinidad signs off at 71

My papa, a freedom fighter, one of the pillars of broadcast journalism in Negros in the 70s, peacefully joined the Lord early this evening.

I am still in Dalian, China, attending a global e-herbs conference. It was so gloomy when our group arrived here yesterday. I was already in Beijing when I learned that Papa had respiratory attack. Thanks to modern technology, my sisters kept me posted on the developments.

Yesterday, I spoke to my eldest sister Jessica and she told me that doctors were no longer very hopeful about Papa's situation. But we agreed that nothing is impossible with God. Having seen my own son survive cardiac arrest and rose up from coma, I have no doubt God can do it again on Papa.

We were hopeful that Papa would make it. After all, he was the "stronger one" in his family. Papa was always watchful of his health. Except that he would drink everyday. A little alcohol everyday is good for the heart, he would tell us.

Today, my sister texted that Papa seemed to be improving. His was red again early afternoon. I was silently praising God during the conference. Truly He is good all the time. I was already excited of going home to Negros right after my conference. Then, the sad news came.

God is faithful in all of His ways. Maybe, it's His perfect for Papa not to endure pains and difficulties anymore.

Of course, I feel very sad like my brothers and sisters. But I have peace in my heart that God's will is always perfect. He is our Father who knows what's best for us, even for Papa. And with that blessed assurance, we rest comforted by God's everlasting love.

To all who prayed for Papa's healing, thank you so much. He is now healed. He will no longer suffer because He has joined our loving Father in Heaven.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Quiet confidence

I just got off the phone with my sister. Papa has been in the ICU of Silliman University Medical Center since last night when our older brother rushed him to the emergency. Papa was really scheduled for check-up today because he hasn't been feeling well. But they decided to bring him to Dumaguete (about 3 hours drive from our hometown) when he started to have fever.

According to my siblings, Papa has been feeling weak and his tummy extraordinarily bloated. When they got to the hospital last night, his BP was very low. The doctors decided to place him in the ICU for close monitoring. This morning, they found out that there's a "slight" problem with papa's heart. Results of the liver work-ups is still pending.

My sister was on the verge of tears when I spoke to her on the phone. And really, if I have not seen God's miracles up close and personal, I would have already been panicking myself. Heart problems run in our family. In fact, four of papa's brothers who have gone ahead all died of cardiac arrest. Our lola, on the other hand, died of cirrhosis of the liver. Papa was a heavy smoker in his younger years and "occassional" drinker. But the good thing about papa, he's conscious of his health. He quit smoking in his late 30s. He regularly exercises and is in fact, the healthiest among his siblings. He has not been on top shape though when our mama died 19 years ago. Next week, Nov. 19, would have been their 47th wedding anniversary.

Amazingly, just before I spoke to my sister, my devotion was about God's blessed assurance. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" That's the Lord talking to Abraham in Genesis 18.14. He assured Abraham that though he and Sarah were very old, in the human point of view, to bear a child, there is just nothing that God can't do.

Having seen miracles one too many, I never ceased to believe that God can do all things. He is in control of everything. He has brought our Ben back to life when he suffered cardiac arrest a few days after his birth. Now at 12, you'll never imagine Ben went through so much as a baby. I always say that Ben is God's living testimony that He is a miracle working God.

On Wednesday, I'll be off to China for a business trip. Papa was suppose to come with me but there had been delays in getting his passport. Besides, he said, he has not been feeling well anyway.

I'll go with a blessed assurance from the Lord that He'll take care of papa. Nothing is too difficult for the Lord. No infirmities too hard for Him to heal. In quiet confidence, I rest knowing papa is in the hands of our Heavenly Father.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?

Something to think about...from Ben Stein, former columnist of E-Online.

Ben Stein's Last Column...
August 9, 2004

How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?

As I begin to write this, I "slug" it, as we writers say, which means I put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is "FINAL," and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started. I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end. It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person and the world's change have overtaken it.

On a small scale, Morton's [famous restaurant which was often frequented by Hollywood stars], while better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to. It still brings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars. I saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super movie. But Morton's is not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again.

Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to.

How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a "star" we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails. They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer.

A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world. A
real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him.. A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a
piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad.

The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists. We put
couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines.

The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.

I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton's is a big subject. There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament....the policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive. The orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery, the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children, the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards. Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse.

Now you have my idea of a real hero. We are not responsible for the operation of the universe, and what happens to us is not terribly important.

God is real, not a fiction, and when we turn over our lives to Him, he takes far better care of us than we could ever do for ourselves. In a word, we make ourselves sane when we fire ourselves as the directors of the movie of our lives and turn the power over to Him.

I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters. This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin--or Martin Mull or Fred Willard--or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman, or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them. But I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis, into a coma, and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms.

This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York. I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help
others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Where, O death, is your sting?

Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life." -- Psalm 39:4

(photo grabbed from

This is the time of the year when we put aside everything else and remember our dearly departed. During my growing up years in rural Negros, we would have "reunion" every Nov. 2. All Soul's Day is one of the top three most important days for our very traditional family. The first of course, is Christmas, which also happens to be our father's birthday. Next is the Holy Week, the time of the year where everybody in the family is busy dressing up our centuries' old Santo Entierro.

But Nov. 2 always gave me a different kind of excitement. It was like a big annual reunion not only for our family but for the whole town as well. We get to see our town's "Who's who" at the only cemetery. Everybody who mattered would troop with their families to pay respects to the dearly departed. (Sadly, my children, born and raised in Manila, missed this family tradition.)

As I grew older, All Soul's Day became a reminder of how short life is. My mother, for instance, left us when I was barely 17. She wasn't even sickly.

One of my cousins died of aneurism when she was just a little over 30. Two of my husband's close friends in college also died in their early 30s. Among my father's 11 siblings, only 5 of them are left. Most of my uncles died at 50ish or 60ish, except for their youngest, Uncle Benjamin, who died while he was a baby.

Talking about death is a little morbid. But then again, it is the surest destination for all of us.

Which makes me reflect: how have I lived my life? When I leave for the great beyond, what will people say of me? Of my life?
Have I made other people's lives better? Have I lived it according to God's plan?

Everyday, I pray to God to help me live according to His plans. For apart from Him, there is no reason for me to live longer. If I don't consciously seek to please God, then my life is futile. Be far from it that I live according to my own will. Yet, I struggle with it everyday.

Thank God, we have Jesus. When we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we are no longer bound by our sinfulness. He shed His blood for us so that in His death, we will live.

Now, I am no longer afraid of passing on to eternity. It is no longer about me, no longer about my own efforts to be good. It is about how Jesus saved me. Because of His death and resurrection, we too, will be resurrected with Him.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Friends in distress," a sequel

Whew! I didn't realize "my friend" is such a persistent person. After I emailed him in mixed Tagalog and English and asked if it was for real, he had the gall to email me back. Thankfully, I already found out that the real Benjie is just in town and so I didn't fall for the "friend" in distress.

Read my "friend's" email below. If I didn't get to contact Benjie's wife, I would have believed the email sender.


Thanks for the mail, I am very happy to read from you now, I am very happy that you are willing to help me out and I promise to pay you back. Please find the hotel manager information you need to send the money through western union below. I will really appreciate any amount you send me.I need this help so much and in time because I am in a terrible and tight situation.

Name: Joshua Reed
Address: Le meridian Hotel, Room 6 Victoria Island
City: Lagos
Zip Code: 23401
Country: Nigeria
Test Question: To who
Test Answer: Raymond

After you have send the money, I need you to send me the western union details such as the Mtcn and Sender's name, May the Good Lord bless you for helping me and I promise to pay you back your money as soon as I return home

Looking forward to read from you.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Warning! Beware of emails from "friends in distress"

I got an SOS email from "my friend" Benjie early this afternoon asking for help because he's stranded in Africa while attending a leadership program on youth, HIV/AIDS, etc. He left his lil bag in the taxi and lost important personal belongings including his wallet and passport. And so he needed to borrow at least $2,000 or else he'd be booted out of his hotel room.

At first glance, I found it strange because knowing Benjie, he would not send such a panicky email. A person of great faith, I know he has more faith in his God than in his friends. Yet, what if it really came from Benjie and as mentioned in the email, he would be turned over to the Hotel Management probably to be locked up somewhere?

Immediately, I replied and asked him to text me if indeed it came from him. I surmised that Benjie would definitely be on roaming because he'd be busy monitoring the preparations for their upcoming seminar. I tried calling him on his mobile just to make sure and if indeed it was true, I could quickly mobilize other friends to help him. When he didn't answer his phone, I thought he'd probably be in Africa after all. To be sure, I called our common friend Ammi and asked if she was aware Benjie left the country.

She said no and suggested I try calling Benjie's wife Hazel. I called their land line but it was on answering machine mode. I left a message. After a few minutes, I called again. Thankfully, Hazel answered the line. By this time, she had already read my email to Benjie. She was also concerned about it. What if their friends who got the same email fell for it? It was not unlikely considering that Benjie and Hazel are doing ministry work and they do have supporters.

Moral lesson #1: Talk to your friend first before sending help. Surely, you know your friend's voice.

Moral lesson #2: Always look-out for telltale signs. Somehow, you know your friend's personality, writing style, and maybe, even activities.

Moral lesson #3. Verify with others. Always check with common friends, relatives or people who know your friend in distress. They may give you a clue on your friend's whereabouts.

Moral lesson #4. Be wary if "your friend" asks you to send money to another person with the excuse that he can't withdraw from his bank account in the country where he's standed.

In this day and age, even scammers can be techie.

Bearers of good news

Fellowship of Christians in Media. (L-R) Kata Inocencio (CBN Asia), Allen Macasaet (Abante), moi, Pastor Ferdie Cabiling (VCF Galleria Senior Pastor), Alex Tinsay (GMA 7), John Consulta (GMA 7), Nona (IFP), Gerry Lirio (Inquirer), Baby Lynn Cacho (FEBC), Carlo Lorenzo (GMA 7) Dody Lacuna (RPN 9), Pastor Rey (VCF Missionary) and Al Pedroche (Ang Pilipino Star Ngayon).

What is the role of Christians in the media? With all the negative things going on in our country, where should the Christian journalist/broadcaster place him or herself? Do you report a bad news even if it comes in conflict with what you believe in? Or do you report a "good" news even if you know it doesn't have editorial value anymore? (like, there's nothing really new being said.) Do you accept that "love gift" even if the intention of the giver is not really "out of love"?

Being in the media can be difficult. Yet, it can be fulfilling. A privilege, to some extent. It can be an opportunity to be a tool for change for the greater good. Standing tall at all times can be a feat that is too good to be true. Like in any other job, there are ups and there are downs.

But being with like-minded people can definitely make the load much lighter. When you share each others burdens, bear with each other, pray for each other and of course, cry and laugh with each other, challenges become easier to hurdle. You become stronger to stand up for what is right at all times because you know you are not alone.

With this in mind, we have started an informal gathering of Christians in media. No religious stuff. Just followers of Jesus (born again, Catholics, protestants) who want to banner righteousness not necessarily by quoting verses from the Bible but really, by walking the talk.

Media plays a very crucial role in our society. We know how powerful media is. But as SpiderMan says (thanks to John Consulta for the reminder) -- With great power comes great responsibility.

And so let this blog be a trumpet call to all media practitioners out there -- if you are looking for like-minded people, feel free to join us every Saturday 8am to 12nn. Place of "fellowship" may vary so please PM me.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another sad for the Philippines

(Photo grabbed from GMANews.TV)

By now I'm sure everyone knows about the bombing in Glorietta. Today had been such a toxic day and if not for the text from my hubby, I would have been sitting in my computer all afternoon clueless of the goings on. Soon after I got the text, I switched the channel from Cartoon Network (where Ben & Star where hooked since lunch) to ANC. True enough, there it was in the news.

Immediately, Ben, Star and I huddled together to pray for sobriety and God's order to take control in our nation.

Sad day indeed. According to the news, 8 people already died and over 70 other wounded, some of them critically. It's so difficult to explain to the children what is happening in our country. Why is it that everytime a controversy hounds some "big house" out there, something like this happens.

Suddenly, I remember the Rizal Day bombing in 2000 when former President Estrada was in the midst of being impeached, "terrorists" bombed the LRT. How convenient for some people to ruthlessly kill innocent civilians by planting bombs in public areas.

I am still shocked. I pray that God's justice will flow like a river and may He judge those behind the murders.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Let's support this 'boy' from Bicol

Hi friends, church mates, and relatives...pass this to everyone. But read it first.

I was amazed when a young man asked Genesis to represent him last year. He was a huge soap opera star and film actor. Why on earth did he need an independent manager like us? He said that he wanted to go back to his first I was shocked when he presented an album be produced with 14 songs that he wrote himself in an album entitled LOOSE FIT...with the help of some members of a band he called JEANS. I was more shocked when he presented a couple of videos he directed himself and financed as well!

Then.....I was even more amazed when I found out that he used to be very poor before...selling fish in the market with the goods coming from Lucena, riding jeeps, taking trips to Smokey Mountain with friends to look for goodies and even going way back...walking two kilometers to school in Bicol from his home and back. Then he said...but he had to walk 4 more kilometers more when he had no two pesos (P2) for his lunch. He would walk home 2 kilometers more for lunch and walk another two to go back to school. He also said he walked so many kilometers in the rain when he auditioned for a declamation contest. And because of the rain, he lost his slippers and ended up walking It reminded me of another icon we represent..Jojo Lastimosa, who never had shoes as a child and also used to make his own toys in Cagayan De Oro..... but ended up endorsing FILA shoes.....and what about Gary who only had 5 shirts and 2 pairs of pants and 3 pairs of shoes when I met him because his house burned...and now he has 20 closets of clothes!!!! And maybe 200 pairs of shoes!

Meantime, this Bicolano went to Manila and started selling fish in Marikina. (A friend told me his sister is so proud to say she bought fish from this celebrity many years ago because he had a stall there and she could not forget his handsome face!) A talent scout encouraged him to join a contest in Eat Bulaga 10 years ago and he became...”Mr. Pogi!!!!!”

This man is Jericho Rosales.

Or simply Echo to those who love him in the entertainment industry. A true artist. And who we..the Valenciano and GENESIS family a musical genius. (I will never forget the stunned faces of Gary and our son Gabriel when they found out he wrote all the songs in album we were listening to on the way to the beach. Gab said, “WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!! He wrote those songs?????”)

Meantime, many in the media lambasted him, made fun of him and said he was stupid. They criticized him. They laughed at him and insulted his decision, called him “laos” and a “has-been.” And they did not lift a finger to encourage him. So he walked a lonely road...less traveled...and performed in music bars and joints to develop his craft for ten months..turning down 7 soap opera offers worth millions of pesos. A man, a breadwinner... who could earn P150,000 for three songs in what others call “rackets” and earn 7-figure amounts for his endorsements....would work for two hours for P3,000-P15,000. Because he loved music.

My husband Gary and I believe that Echo has what it takes to make it as a huge multi-media star including becoming a major musical performer. We laughed with him, prayed, and cried with him. It was an unbelievable journey. But then we recognized that he was ready.

So we decided to help him with his 10th anniversary and nudged him to accept the musical soap opera, “PANGARAP NA BITUIN,” his comeback on primetime and....his first major concert entitled “Raw Energy” at the Music Museum this week on October 18 and 19 for the benefit of the BICOL Scholarship Fund of the Shining Light Foundation. He and a man he calls “Chief,” Gary...are both Bicolanos who have decided to put together this concert to raise funds for their fellow Bicolanos and celebrate 10 years of blessings for Echo. Our son Gabriel agreed to support the project. Donita Rose said she’s in. His fellow Hunk Carlos Agassi or “Amir” likewise said he would love to do it. Gary agreed to co-direct it and has even composed the opening musical bed for the videos. Director Paul Soriano agreed to produce the videos needed for the concert. Jun Antolin will do lighting while Soundcheck with Rards Corpuz and Boyet Toquero will man the sound system.

Silvermoon and GV Productions Inc in cooperation with Manila Genesis Entertainment and Management, Inc. ABS-CBN, his ASAP family, MYX, Manila Bulletin, Penshoppe, Gold’s Gym, the BELO Medical Group, Goldilock’s, Walker, Pepsi, Traffic, DECs Plaza, Yupangco Music Corporation, our Radio Partners...the Quest Group, WRR, DZMM, Wrock, RX93, EMI Music, and many more are joining hands to support this wonderful project.

Would you like to be part of musical history as we witness the emergence of an exciting new concert performer, an under-rated musical genius who just happens to have also received two BEST ACTOR awards this year for his portrayal of the Champ...Pacquiao.?!

Whether it be in purchasing tickets, sponsoring or promoting the event. Or just simply whispering a prayer for us....take part in a great musical experience.

Let me know if you want to help and be a part of something very, very special.

I saw it in Gary on January 23,1983 when I watched him for the first time. So raw. But so energetic. I couldn’t sleep that night. I have waited long ...for someone to excite the concert scene. We believe we have found someone. Yes....still a bit raw...but his talent, his passion, his courage, his heart and soul and love for his craft will see him through. And guess what...he loves Jesus with all his heart...which is really the most important thing.

Be part of music history. Join us this week. :)

God is good. To Him be all glory.

Much love,

Angeli Pangilinan-Valenciano

P.S. Call 7214406 if you want to support this project....Buy tickets! P1500, P1200, P1000, P800, P600

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A man after God's own heart leads the judiciary

Despite the rains last Sunday, multitudes of believers (estimated between 200,000-300,000) filled Luneta Park last Sunday for JILs 29th anniversary celebration.

As a loyal volunteer of Bangon Pilipinas since 2004, I'm always present in major JIL activities to help out. Though I missed Sunday service in our church, I was so blessed to witness personally a historic event in our nation.

Two major things happened last Sunday. One, for the first time in Philippine church's recent history, the Catholic Church (with no less than CBCP president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo) declared unity with evangelicals in the quest for national transformation. I can almost hear the angels in heaven singing glory to the King. I explained to some reporters that it was a milestone because Christians have always been fragmented. Evangelicals don't call Catholics Christians. And Catholics seem to be allergic to "Christians" even though all of those who believe in and follow Jesus are suppose to be Christians. I'm sure God was pleased with the declaration of unity between the leaders of our Church.

The second major event last Sunday was the prayer of Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno for and in behalf of the judiciary. It was virtually a prayer of repentance for the judiciary, and at the same time, dedication of our nation's judicial system to the One True Judge. Wow! God is truly working in our nation. (Check out this link: Chief Justice makes humbling mea culpa for judiciary's "failures")

God make all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. This is true even for our nation's affairs. Sometimes, we get so tired with all the scandals implicating no less than the president's husband. But come to think of it, isn't it that it's also God who exposes what's done in secret?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Check this out -- 1st Pediatric Eye Clinic in a mall opens at TriNoma

Now busy moms like me won't have any reason to delay the kids' trip to the ophthalmologist/optometrist. Renowned ophthalmologist/optometrist couple Jade and Cynthia del Mundo has opened a new clinic at TriNoma, conveniently located at the second floor MRT entrance. So, you can now have consultations with the country's best ophtha/optometrist in between mall time with the family.

Incidentally, Del Mundo Pediatric & Adult Eye Clinic is the country's first Orthoptic Center. Orthoptics is a relatively new and specific field in eye care that is concerned with the diagnosis and management of double vision, misaligned eyes and the visual problems that result from them. In medical parlance "Orth" means to straighten. So that, Orthoptics is to the eye as Orthopedics is to the bones. In layman's terms, therefore, Orthoptics is the field that specializes in straightening of the eyes. (Read: cross-eyed, etc.)

All our three kids are patients of the Del Mundo Eye Clinic in St. Lukes. We're so glad that we can now bring them to Del Mundo anytime of the week, and even in between malling. At least we don't have to wait for the MWFS sched at the St. Lukes clinic.

The Del Mundos are two of my most-admired specialists. Aside from being godly, they are tops in relating with patients. While most doctors breeze through consultations (as in, parang dinaanan ka lang ng hangin), at Del Mundo they take time explaining to patients their conditions. It's specially good for children because they get 'processed'.

I'm so happy with the development of my kids. All three of them started wearing eye glasses at very young ages (5 to 7 yrs old). Doc Cynthia said eye problems can also be hereditary. Meaning, if you or your husband have eye problems, most likely your kids will also have. Both me and my hubby started wearing eyeglasses at young age (me, grade school). Ergo, all three of our kids inherited the problem.

Interestingly, they have different cases. Ben had astigmatism. Sofia has "accommodation" problem (which means, her eyes can't focus images beyond certain a distance. I'll blog more about this in the future.) Star, on the other hand, has eyes like that of old people. Weird. She's far-sighted and has a grade much higher than mine. Thankfully, Ben and Sofia are now off the eyeglasses although Sofie has to wear "flippers" to address her focus problem.

I learned all these eye chuva from Doc Cynthia. She's so nice to accommodate all my questions. Check out Del Mundo Pediatric Eye Clinic at the 2nd floor of TriNoma. They have free refraction for the first 100 patients. They're also giving big discounts on eye wears.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Is there a bleeder in the house?

I've blogged many times about the bleeding disorder in our family which affects our 8-year-old daughter Star the most. Since Star was diagnosed with von Willebrand Disease, we have taken a personal crusade to inform people about this disease and prevent senseless deaths like my mother's. I hope you can help me spread this blog especially to doctors and parents. Who knows, through this you'll be able to save a life. For those with a similar experience, please PM me or email me.

o 0 o

Is there a bleeder in the house?
By Andrea Trinidad-Echavez

Does your child easily bruise or frequently nosebleed? Do you wonder why he or she always gets bloody while brushing teeth?

Don't take those seemingly harmless signs for granted. They might just be symptoms of something else.

For years, my husband and I had been looking for answers to the condition of our youngest daughter, Star.

Catching colds from her older siblings few days after she was born, we were alarmed when blood started dripping from Star's tiny nostrils barely before she turned a month old.

At first, we thought hers was only a bad case of colds. Nevertheless, alarmed of the sight of blood, we rushed her to the emergency room. The pediatrician ordered blood work-ups on Star. When the results came, there was nothing significant in the findings except that she was anemic. She was given an extra dosage of iron.

As she was growing up though, Star's nosebleedings became more frequent. It came anytime of the day. Initially, we thought it had something to do with the temperature. But even when we confined her inside an air conditioned room on humid days, she would still bleed. It didn't also matter whether she was indoors or outdoors, or playing, sitting down, or sleeping.

Over the years, we got used to her teachers, school nurse or even school service driver calling us to express concern over her frequent nosebleeding. (Star started going to school at 6 months under UP Diliman's Infant Development Program of the Child Development Center.) We could only assure them that we had been seeking medical help on her case. She had undergone so many work-ups, ranging from blood tests to ENT (ear, nose, throat) checks and even neurological tests. Yet, specialists could not see anything wrong with her except that she was perennially anemic.

Last year though, Star's nosebleeding came at an alarming frequency – this time, almost daily. Sometimes, it would come up to four times in a day. After a series of trips to different specialists, we were already becoming frustrated. By then, Star was nosebleeding for almost a month in a row.

Family of bleeders

We had all the reasons to be alarmed. Bleeding runs in our family. My mother literally bled to death while undergoing a minor surgery. This, even after going through routine blood tests prior to the operation. The 10 bags of blood transfused on her didn't help at all. Few hours after she entered the operating room, she expired on the operating table while the doctors were trying to stop her bleeding. She was only 51. An uncle, my mother's older brother, almost died of bleeding while undergoing tonsillectomy. My eldest sister suffered hemorrhage and almost died during her first childbirth. My other older sister had two or three miscarriages.

Every time we bring our daughter to a doctor, I would give a rundown of our family history. Yet, it didn't seem to help pin down where Star's nosebleeding came from. Finally, we were referred to a well-known hematologist who specializes on hemophilia.

Von Willebrand Disease

"I suspect your daughter has von Willebrand Disease," Dr. Mary Chua, founder of Hemophilia Association of the Philippines for Love and Service (HAPLOS), told me after I gave her Star's and our family history.

Von Willebrand Disease, she explained, is a rare clotting disorder similar to hemophilia. While hemophilia is considered a "men's disease" because it occurs primarily among males, von Willebrand Disease can affect both males and females.

Rare genetic disorder

According to, von Willebrand Disease is the most common bleeding disorder. But bleeding disorders, in itself, is considered rare. Von Willebrand Disease, for instance, affects barely 1 percent of the population. In the Philippines, there are less than 20 known cases.

People born with the disease may either have defective von Willebrand factor, low levels of von Willebrand factor or no von Willebrand factor at all.

Von Willebrand factor is a protein in the blood that is necessary for clotting. Without it or with defective von Willebrand factor, the blood takes longer to clot. This causes abnormal bleeding, and in the case of my mother, could even lead to death from blood loss.

No diagnostic facilities in the country

Unfortunately, there are no facilities in the country that can diagnose von Willebrand Disease. We were told the tests are quite complex that it needed special reagents and machines. The technology is only available either in Hongkong or Singapore in Asia. We were advised to bring our daughter to Queen Mary Hospital in Hongkong.

We flew to Hongkong November last year. The procedure was as simple as regular blood tests, only more blood samples were taken. Since von Willebrand Disease is a hereditary disorder, the doctor also took blood samples from me.

Because of the intricate procedures in the tests, the diagnosis came out only in March this year. It confirmed Dr. Chua's suspicion. My daughter has von Willebrand Disease Type 2M. And I have it too.

Types of von Willebrand Disease

According to the World Hemophilia Federation, there are three main types of von Willebrand Disease – Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3.

Type 1 is the most common form of the disease, accounting for approximately 80% of all cases. It involves a deficiency of the von Willebrand Factor.

Type 2, of which there are four subtypes – Type 2A, B, M and N, involves a qualitative defect of the factor wherein it does not function properly.

Type 3, on the other hand, involves a near or complete absence of the factor, and is the most serious type.


Diagnosing von Willebrand Disease is not easy. That is why a lot of patients live with it for many years before finding out that they have it, if at all. Many doctors may not even be familiar with it.

In our case, we have sought out at least 10 specialists over the past seven years, ranging from hematologists, ENT, neurologist to nephrologists, if only to find out what was causing our daughter's nosebleeding.

Family history

Unlike hemophilia, von Willebrand Disease cannot be spotted in just a few blood tests. Oftentimes, it is misdiagnosed because many doctors are not familiar with it. For instance, a person with a low platelet count because of Type 2 von Willebrand Disease could be diagnosed with leukemia. Or a woman with heavy, prolonged menstrual bleeding because of von Willebrand Disease, who has not responded to hormone therapy, could be advised to have a hysterectomy.

In some cases, nosebleeding could be construed as deviated septum (physical abnormality in the nose) or that it could simply be brought about by either extreme or sudden change in temperatures.

Dr. Chua said this is where clinical history plays a crucial role. Most documented von Willebrand Diseases cases in the Philippines were identified through their clinical history, such as the symptoms shown by the patient. These may include frequent or prolonged nosebleeding, easy bruising, gum bleeding, prolonged or heavy menstruation, and prolonged bleeding during surgery, accident, medical or dental procedures.

Family history could also be very helpful in identifying possible von Willebrand Disease patients. In our case, my side of the family history helped Dr. Chua identify my daughter as a probable patient.

Laboratory tests are necessary to know what type of von Willebrand Disease the patient has so that appropriate treatment could be administered.

Not fatal but…

Fortunately, von Willebrand Disease is not as fatal as cancer, leukemia or other blood diseases. People affected by the disease may still live a normal life for as long as they receive regular treatment.

Treatment can vary from nasal spray, oral medication or blood transfusion depending on the type of von Willebrand deficiency.

But patients are normally advised against engaging in high impact activities that may cause injury. Because of the clotting factor deficiency, deep cuts may take long to stop and worse, may lead to death by blood loss like my mother. Von Willebrand Disease patients are also prone to internal bleeding.

In von Willebrand Disease, according to Dr. Chua, it's the patient's quality of life that suffers. "They have to contend with constant bleeding. They may feel weak or they may acquire other diseases as a result of the low immunity," she said.

Prior to any medical or dental procedure, patients are also advised to see their hematologist for proper treatment to regulate clotting and prevent blood loss.

So, if you suspect someone in your family has a clotting problem like von Willebrand Disease, don't waste time. See a hematologist. It's always better safe than sorry. (ate)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My Hero

Your miracle begins when you place whatever is in your hands into Jesus' hands.

It's been a roller-coaster ride of sorts the past month or so with all of us in the family, save for the hubby, getting sick one after the other. I had been practically bedridden for almost a week and managed to get back on my feet only late last week. Up to now, Star is still recovering and thankfully, she no longer has fever this evening.

I was tempted not to attend this morning's service because Star still had fever and she begged me to stay. But thanks to my husband's kindness, he volunteered to stay instead. I'm so thankful to the Lord for finally being able to attend service after missing it for three Sundays (first Sunday I was in Malaysia and the next two, we got sick).

Too bad I didn't catch the first parts of the Hero series. But the preaching on "The Kid" today was as powerful I'm sure. It talks about the little boy who gave up his five barley loaves and two fishes. We all know how the Lord used the little boy's unselfishness act to feed thousands. The little deed of a nameless child became one of Jesus' greatest miracles recorded in the Bible. Who would have thought that five little loaves and two tiny fishes would feed thousands of hungry followers, and with leftovers at that! In the hands of the little boy, the loaves and the fishes could have been more than enough to sustain him throughout the day. But he chose to give it to Jesus. And in Jesus' hands, the miracle happened.

The story reminded me of so many incidents where I saw God's miracles up close and personal. I dare not imagine what could have happened if Jesus didn't come to the rescue. Just last year, we were preparing to bring Star to Hongkong for her diagnosis. By our initial pencil pushing, we would easily spend tens of thousands of dollars in hospital bills alone. Already, we were a bit concerned. Then God pulled out a surprise -- Ben was diagnosed with Primary Koch Infection. Weeks later, just right before we were supposed to leave for Hongkong, he got confined. Worse, the water in his lungs increased so quickly and the doctor told us to brace for an OR appointment.

By this time, we were a bit shaken. We didn't see it coming. But then we realized, surely, God wouldn't give us something that He knows we couldn't take. We knew He would heal Ben. He had awaken Ben from coma when he was a tiny baby. How much more now that Ben was bigger and stronger. Yet, the mounting hospital bills and Star's overdue diagnosis stared at us in the face.

In my heart though I knew God would walk us through it. I didn't know how but I knew He would. He had plucked us out of the valley of darkness too many times for us to doubt. And so like the other times, I would surrender all concerns to the Lord and say, "Lord, problema mo na yan. Bahala ka na."

So with confidence, Star and I left for Hongkong not knowing how in the world would we be able to pay the bills both in Hongkong for Star and in Manila for Ben. But God is our Jehovah Jireh! Because we passed on the "ball" in His hands, He took over. Suddenly, blessings after blessings poured in. An overdue payment came -- more than enough to settle Ben's hospital bills. And more unexpectedly, a church in Hongkong gave us a love gift that enabled us to settle Star's hospital bills. What more, one of their pastors chaperoned us all the time and wouldn't let us spend a cent. So, after Star's diagnostic tests, we even had more than enought to visit Ocean Park and Disneyland!

Everytime we go through difficult times, I look back at the birth of Ben (how God woke him up from coma and now he's almost as big as I am), the incident last year and the many little triumphs God gave us along the way. My faith may not be intact all the time. Sometimes I falter. But one thing is sure, God is a mighty God. He is a miracle-working God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. The miracles He performed in the olden times, He is still able to perform today if we only allow Him to. But the miracle will only begin if we put all our cares in His hands.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ben is in the hospital again

After getting recharged from my trip in Kuala Lumpur, life has become a roller coaster ride of sorts again. I had to work double time on some unfinished businesses. Then Ben complained of dizziness. When I got home, I found out he missed school because he wasn't feeling well. I brought him to his pedia the day after I arrived and she ordered a new x-ray on Ben. We found out his Primary Koch has not yet completely healed. It means he has been having asymptomatic pneumonia for the past two years of his life. His pedia, a pulmonologist, said she found it quite strange. Even though Ben was born premature and had pneumonia at birth, he should have already been well enough by this time considering all the medicines he had taken. Dra. Mendoza, who heads St. Luke's pulmonary department, said she might have to do bronchoscopy on Ben soon to find out what's inside his lungs and why his pneumonia just wouldn't go. Aside from pneumonia, his allergic rhinitis is getting worse, so he was given two weeks worth of anti-biotics. We've been convincing him to take wheatgrass to boost his immune system. But sometimes it's just so difficult to convince kids to try something new. =(

After more than a week of taking antibiotics, Ben felt a little better only to get fever last Sunday. Like last year prior to his hospitalization, he wouldn't respond to paracetamol. When the fever persisted and even went up to 40.5C despite round-the-clock medication, we decided to bring him to St. Lukes. We stayed at the ER from midnight to 7am and went home when his fever subsided. But by mid-morning, he had high fever again so we went back to see his pedia. Upon seeing him red and all, Dra. Mendoza told us not to go home anymore.

Thankfully, his CBC shows high platelet count. But Dra. Mendoza said we should pray he doesn't have dengue although she highly suspects because of his physical appearance (red).
Today is Ben's second day in the hospital. Thank God, he is better. At least, there was a little window today when his fever was gone. Tomorrow, they will get his blood sample for CBC again.

Well, everything happens for a reason. Maybe, God wants to slow me down a bit to remind me where priorities should be. I'm sure He's telling Ben and each one of us other things as well.

I thank God that He is faithful in all of His ways. Times like these makes me appreciate Him more. Not that I like being in difficult situations. But truly when you're under fire, it makes you appreciate more the things that God has given but you sometimes take for granted -- like relationships with family and friends.

I praise God for the support of all our families (blood and spiritual) as well as friends. They are indeed God's great channels of blessings.

Please continue to pray for Ben's fast and complete recovery.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

When kids want independence

Mommy's baby no more.

"Mom, we will go swimming on Saturday and please don't go with me," our "baby" declared last night. Taken aback by her first "declaration of independence" (of sorts), I replied "but you don't know how to swim, darling, what if something happens to you?"

But she insisted by reasoning out that we allow her Ate to go swimming or go to birthday parties unchaperoned. "And mom, there's a kiddie pool anyway," she assured me.

Suddenly, it dawned on me. Oh, my baby girl. She's really no longer a baby. Few weeks ago, she asked me to stop calling her "baby." I insisted, "but you're the family's baby!" She relented a bit and said, "okey, you can call me baby only in the house. And only until Grade 6." Not a bad deal. Haha!

Our kids are indeed entering into a new stage in their lives. They now have minds of their own. Truly, it is high time that we step aside a bit in their lives and start teaching them more about responsibility.

Lori Radun, a certified life coach and inspirational speaker for moms, gives tip on teaching kids about independence and responsibility.

Encourage Independence by Refusing to Step In
When your child reaches an age to take on an age-appropriate activity, show your child how to do it, then let go and let your child struggle. It can be hard to watch children fight with their shoelaces, or stumble over their words in a new friendship, but it is in these moments that children are learning. The joy they feel when they gain a little more independence can be very rewarding, and a strong motivator to try new tasks in the future.

Believe in Your Child
Children need to know you believe in them. Encourage your children with positive words such as, "You are a smart girl. You can figure this out." Teach your children to think positively about themselves by modeling this behavior in yourself. The Little Blue Engine didn't give up and the reward was confidence. Confidence builds on itself, and your child will gain greater self esteem when you encourage independence and responsibility.

Build in Life Skills through Routines
Routines give your child practice and repetition. If, for instance, the after school routine includes putting away the lunch box and coat, having a snack, and doing homework, your child learns responsibility as a way of life. If you want your child to have good personal grooming skills, build brushing hair and teeth, and washing face into a morning and bedtime routine. When a child does the same thing over and over, he learns independence without even thinking about it.

Let Children Fall Down and Experience the Consequences
Resist the urge to be a helicopter parent and hover over your child. Life is full of opportunities to succeed and make mistakes. The lesson is reinforced and learning takes place when children are allowed to make mistakes. If your child makes a bad choice, let him experience the natural or imposed consequences. A "D" or an "F" on an exam sends a very clear message that the child needs to study harder. The effect is not the same when you are hounding your child to study so she doesn't fail. When your child makes the choice to extend his curfew by an hour, he loses the privilege of going out the next weekend. Guaranteed he will think twice before staying out late the next time.

Coach your Children towards Independence and Responsibility
When your child is faced with a future or past decision, ask a lot of open ended questions that encourage your child to think for himself. "What do you think you should say to your friend?" "What could you have done differently in this situation?" Giving advice teaches your children what you want and what you think is best. Coaching your children supports them in developing good decision making skills, and honoring what is best for them. It's okay if they don't make the best choice. Live and learn.

The goal in raising children is not to protect them from pain or undesirable circumstances, but to equip them with what they need to be responsible, independent and resilient adults.

To borrow from one of my favorite authors, Francis Kong, "Grow up, parents!"