Live Life in the USA

Live Life in the USA

It has been a long month! I am now back behind my desk at the CFC FFL Home Office, and I am still in awe at what actually happened over the past few weeks.

Last month, I went on mission to the USA. We started with 2 LIFT (LCSC Institute for Formation and Training) Training sessions. One in Houston with participants from all across the USA – which was held over the course of 3 whole, jam-packed days. And then in Dallas over three evenings – just focusing on the 4 pillars of LCSC: Live Pure, Live Life, Liturgical Bible Study and No One in Need, and the Servant Leaders Formation program (SeLF).

I presented Live Life and Family and Life Update on both occasions and for the rest of the trip and different appointments and assemblies.

From there, we went on the Cruise Conference of CFC FFL USA. Aside from a presentation of LL there as well, I gave the first session of the Mercy Abounds conference. It was a different experience, actually having a conference on a cruise through Mexico! A captive audience.🙂

Our schedule went full-blast after that. Flying to New Jersey, taking the train to Maryland. Train back to NJ to catch a flight to Chicago. Flying to San Francisco. Flying to Houston to drive to Rio Grande Valley. Driving back to Houston to fly to Manila. With assemblies, meetings, presentations all along the way.

All the people who helped us, hosted us, listened to us, fed us. You all inspire us to work even harder. The CFC FFL community who embraced this work, and saw how needed it is for the world – you push us even more to do better and improve what we have.

Now, back in Manila, gearing up to do even more.

Thank you. We continue to pray for our community, our work and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

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I’m Back.

I’m Back.

Today I go through the horrendous Metro Manila traffic, back to Starmall, for my first day.

Yes, I’m back.

I was going through my past blogs, and this jumped out:

I told Des to give me these three years to “scratch this itch” called politics. And then let’s see what happens next. I know I am capable of helping the country. And I am being mentored by one of the best. We can make good laws that will help the Philippines. It’s going to be an awesome ride.

The past three years were great years to experience politics, NGO work, volunteerism, disaster risk reduction and management, and so many other things. I was in the House of Representatives as part of Congressman Lito Atienza’s legislative team for one year, and then part of Dingdong Dantes’ YesPinoy Foundation as Executive Director for 2 years.

I have learned so much from these two men – who value integrity so much. That everything is done with love for the country, and respect for Filipinos. Still being part of the Boards of both Buhay Party List and YesPinoy is an honor for me.

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But now, I am called back. I was a full-time missionary for 16 years prior to the last 3 years.

16 years. I love being a missionary. And I will forever consider myself to be a missionary, even with these changes, changes, changes. Pray for me.

And now, it starts again.

Continue to pray for me. Pray for my ever supportive and loving wife. Pray for my family.

Let’s get to work.

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Thank you, YesPinoy.

Thank you, YesPinoy.
The very first event I went to as part of YesPinoy was the Etude Princess Run in May of 2014. We put up a booth, and I donned a very tight pinkish jersey to receive their generous donation. It was the start of an awesome two-year journey.
Don’t breathe. Too tight.
Since then, we have been around the country – from Isabela to Sarangani – to engage young people and show them good examples of people giving back to the Philippines. So that they too can give. And it has been wonderful meeting people from all over. Making new friends along the way. Experiencing real change from the people who choose to do better because of what they have learned.
I have learned so much from these past two years. From all the people we have met, the partners we have engaged, the people we have served – and of course from the people behind the scenes who make this all happen.
Our hardworking YP office:
Team YP! Me, Sucelle, Vanie, Liza, Trina, Arvin, Pebbles and Yani
The continuous support of all the DY fans – now also our friends:
Leaders of different DY groups
And the YP Board, of which I am now joining as well – an honor and privilege:
The YP Board and Staff
(Seated are the Executive Directors through the years: Joe, Pebbles (current), me & Elmer)
Thank you Dong, for trusting me with your baby (not Zia, YesPinoy).
Here’s to more collaborative efforts and opportunities to make this country a better place. The past two years (again) were amazing! Now back to familiar, yet even more challenging, waters.
#ParaSaBayan

1st Birthday Parties

1st Birthday Parties
Reposting from Facebook Notes:  about 1st birthday parties! We have had 5 of them (and it most probably will be the last, considering that Des has had 5 cesarian operations already).
When thinking of planning a birthday party, our major discussion would always be: do it on our own, or go to a restaurant and have them do all the work?
For Sabine’s 1st birthday, we did it all on our own. She had it here in Alpadi, and everything from decor to hosts to food was done by us (with extended family and friends helping, of course). Pictures here.
For Aida and Franko’s 1st birthdays, we had them in Fun Ranch. Easier because the hosts, games, food – all came from there.We just spruced it up with giveaways and more decor. Pictures of Aida’s here, and Franko’s here.
For Maria, we had it in Burger King. We had decor come in from Isabela (Mix Cuisines!), but the food and program came from there – we weren’t too happy with their program though. The clowns looked scary and weren’t funny. Pictures here.
And for Jax, we had it in McDonald’s. Everything came from them. We just brought in a cake.
You can see the trend, huh? From do it all on our own, and little by little giving in to the ease and less-stress way of doing it. Yes, having it in a restaurant (especially one that throws parties on a regular basis) is so easy. Everything is ready for you to just check off the boxes. But you do not have leg room to really do what you want – there’s a time limit, a room limit, etc etc.
If you want to do more stuff, and on your own terms – then building your party from the ground up is the way to go. A lot more “labor of love” (read: OC), but also you have the freedom to do whatever you like. Just plan earlier.
Whichever you choose, just have an awesome time. 1st birthday parties can be stressful, but the reason you are doing it is to celebrate the first year of your awesome baby. Just relax and enjoy! Then start thinking of the 7th birthday party next (we’ve had two of those already)!

Stay Informed and Get Involved

Stay Informed and Get Involved

It is already June, and in a few weeks our new President and VP will be taking office. He just had a press conference again last night (he starts his day at 1pm and meets all the way until morning), and again, he gets more controversial as he speaks.

He says if it is preposterous, then don’t believe him, he is just joking around. Though as President, maybe he should realize whatever he says makes an impact. Even maybe just whistling at a lady reporter should be refrained from doing.

We made a news bit about his stand on the death penalty. And as any topic so controversial, it got some comments:

There is a difference between “I hope this happens to you” and “What if it happens to you.” One is a threat, and the other is discussion.

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We all have opinions, and we can all express them. But let’s all be respectful of one another as well. Though yes, it does come with the territory. You won’t see the first comment anymore, it was reported to YouTube.

Watch the other videos on the channel as well🙂

What We Do For Our Country

What We Do For Our Country

Last Presidential elections, it took me almost three hours to vote (while Des took ten minutes). This year, both Des and I transferred our precincts to our current Barangay (my old one is now part of Marikina). And it took us about two hours to vote.

But, like I always say, it is a privilege to vote. Even if you have to line up to register to vote, again line up to actually vote and then line up again to get free Starbucks.

This time our precinct was located on the second floor of the school. So the line snaked until the first floor. I appreciate the effort of our teachers to explain the ballot to each and every voter, but that could have been one cause of the long line.

Just questioning why other precincts have such short lines. And why other voting places have aircon. Please, COMELEC, allow mall voting next time.

I voted Pro-Life, and even if a lot of my bets didn’t win, we vote based on our being Catholic, using our FORMED conscience and common sense.

Congratulations President Duterte, and still waiting for Vice President Robredo.

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Osaka for 10, please.

Osaka for 10, please.

We spent 6 days in Osaka with ten people. 5 adults and 5 kids all under 10 years old. It was such a fun experience! It wasn’t hard at all because Osaka is not as busy as Tokyo, so not that many people even in subways. The transport system is fairly easy to use (once you figure it out), and people are helpful – and try hard to answer you in English.

IMG_7541We stayed at an AirBNB, and it was a huge place considering Japan. Two floors, 3 rooms, 3 toilets, one bath. And it was walking distance from the Daikokucho Station. Our AirBNB link.

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We took Cebu Pacific and arrived in the evening of Tuesday. I wanted to commute directly to the AirBNB, but was prevailed upon to use an airport taxi. Especially with 5 kids at 11pm traveling. I booked the taxi service via the Kansai Airport website. The driver spoke English, the van had wifi and it was a spacious van good for all of us. The drive was 45 minutes away from the airport, and it was well worth it.

For our official Day 1, we started the day at 10am (had breakfast at home, got everyone ready – which was the start of the day for the whole week, except the last day). Our first stop was Osaka Castle with the cherry blossoms.

For the train system, as a foreigner, get the KANSAI ONE PASS card. It is for all trains and other modes of transport. There are two subway lines using different cards, so the KANSAI ONE PASS gets to use all of it. You can get it at the airport, and recharge it anywhere. Also, the remaining balance can be reimbursed before you leave.

Osaka Castle is a beautiful place, lots of history. I don’t really recommend going in the castle itself unless you are a lover of Japanese history. Or if you want to see a view of Osaka – though you can get that view in a lot of other places.

We had lunch right outside the castle with ready to eat ramen. And then took a river cruise which allowed us to rest for a bit.

From there we went to Umeda Sky Tower, and there is a wonderful view of the city. We got there at night, so it was even better. Had dinner at the tower basement – Okonomiya Kiji.

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Day 2 we spent the day at Universal Studios! They just opened the Harry Potter area, so it was more for us big kids than the little kids.

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Our third day, we went to the outskirts of Kansai – to Nara. Nara is known for the deer that freely roam around the area. You can feed them, and just enjoy the scenery. It was very chilly and windy when we got here, so it was even better! Escaping the heat of Manila. We spent one day each in Universal and Nara, and in the evening when we got back, the kids went home, while the moms went shopping.

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Day 4 we went to the Osaka Aquarium and the giant Ferris Wheel – they are right beside each other. The Aquarium was interesting because they had penguins, dolphins, etc. I just expected more though. The ferris wheel was another good view. And was so high! Hard to keep focused especially when you are at the top. We passed Kuromon Market on the way home to have fresh sushi! And walked through Namba.

Our last day was a Sunday, so we researched where to go to Catholic Mass – 9am. It was mostly Filipino and we got to introduce ourselves to the congregation. We had to check out by 11, so we rushed back to the AirBNB. We hired the same airport taxi to pick us up, tour us a bit before dropping us off at the airport.

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We were able to go to Dotonburi and try their awesome ramen. There were so much people there! Nice set up too. You get a ramen stall and they just serve you without you even seeing them. And even a quick stop at Toys R Us and the Rinku Outlet shops near the airport.

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Thank you for the wonderful time, Japan! We love you!