I’m Back!

I know I abandoned this space for almost a year simply because I ran out of space on WordPress. Marc, my brother-in-law, graciously worked (and spent a whole day) on transferring my blog from WordPress for which I am very grateful. Thank you, Marc!

My father would have turned 86 today, 17th of April 2019, and these are two of my favourite photos of him as a young man. I say ‘young’ yet I always say that he died ‘quite young’, only 51 years old. To this day it’s still hard to conjure fond memories of him, of the past when the grief still seems raw and the sense of loss profound. If he’s still around and I could buy him a gift today, I think it would be something that would express everything I have felt over the years as his daughter: love, thankfulness, respect, pride, and appreciation. And so I ask myself, “how does one find a gift that expresses these things?” I don’t think such a gift exists in the material realm. I do wish my father is still around, and wish him a ‘Happy Birthday’ and I could tell him everyday how much I love him. Such things can be done effortlessly and mean more than any amount of money. As I ponder on losing my father at such a young age (as the youngest in the family I don’t have as much memory of him compared to my siblings), these are the things that I believe linger in my mind and heart, making me smile in remembrance and love, more so on occasions like this.

Around the time of my father’s illness, I started asking some very deep questions about life, but never talked about it to anyone. After the doctors told my mother that they couldn’t do anything more for my father, he was brought home to make him more comfortable after several months of hospital confinement in Manila. Providentially my dad’s illness, and death prompted me to search for the true meaning of life. I first heard the gospel through a home bible study with both of my parents still around, but my dad was practically on his deathbed. Though he was weak, I clearly recall him being able to walk on his own, and quite lucid. He could sit down for an hour or two and join in the bible study. I was quite young to understand everything that went on, but my older brother who’s already a Christian at the time, is convinced that dad was saved, and went home to be with the Lord as one of His children.

In my case, the search for life’s meaning went on; while other young kids of my age resorted to drugs, or alcohol, or some other vices just to fulfil their deepest longing, I went into reading self-help books and studying the bible. And the Lord has graciously saved me one day, while on my knees praying at my dormitory. No one has asked me to repeat a prayer or do something to be saved. He providentially arranged it all; worked through my roommate, Jen, to bring me closer to the Saviour.

I always say to the young people at our church to seek the Lord; not to be too focused on their future career and whatever worldly pursuits they may have. And not to take things for granted and think they’re too young and have all the time in world to seek God later on. We never know what tomorrow brings. Seek God while he may be found. (Isaiah 55:6)

Here’s an old post, one of my best memories about my father.

To My Dear and Loving Husband

A few years back I came across this poem To My Dear and Loving Husband and its author, Anne Bradstreet, in an old book I was reading about the Pilgrims. She was a Puritan English poet from Northampton, England, and the first woman to have her works published in America. You can read more about Anne Bradstreet here but a brief background is in order:
“Anne Bradstreet was the first woman to be recognized as an accomplished New World Poet. Her volume of poetry “The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America”  received considerable favorable attention when it was first published in London in 1650. Eight years after it appeared it was listed by William London in his Catalogue of the Most Vendible Books in England, and George III is reported to have had the volume in his library. Bradstreet’s work has endured, and she is still considered to be one of the most important early American poets.” Continue reading “To My Dear and Loving Husband”

From Ten to Twenty Eight

Last week I was reading through the sixth book of The Old Testament, and was struck with chapter 4, Joshua’s account when God prescribed the elders of Israel to take twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, so that when their children ask their fathers in time to come what these stones mean, the elders might reminisce on the faithfulness of the Lord bringing them safely across the river. I wondered how many times did the elders have to explain to their children the meaning of these stones. Or what about Rebekah? I have often wondered what evocative thoughts came flooding into her mind every time she drew water from a well after she met Abraham’s servant. Did Rebekah rejoice at the remembrance of that occasion which ultimately led to her marriage with Isaac? Or what about Moses? After God appeared to him at the burning bush that wasn’t consumed, did this great prophet pause with joyful memories every time he saw a similar bush? Or, what about Peter? Would this impulsive apostle remembered his denial of Christ afresh every time he heard a cock crow throughout the rest of his life? Did he break down in tears on each of these successive occasions? Or, what about Paul? Having persecuted the church of God prior to his conversion, what type of emotions stirred in his soul as a servant of Christ whenever he looked at the marks of the Lord Jesus he bore in his body? Were these scars in his own flesh a reminder of the scars he was responsible for inflicting upon many believers? Continue reading “From Ten to Twenty Eight”

A Bountiful Dose of Nostalgia

With the recent passing of my 95 year-old aunt, I decided to share my diary entry dated 26 Sept 2009. On this particular day, typhoon Ondoy brought massive rainfall and caused severe flooding, death and suffering to thousands of people in Manila and neighbouring provinces. I happened to be in the Philippines at the time taking care of my mother on her deathbed. My cousin, Manay Susan, and I, along with my mother’s caretaker, and with the help of other family members, we’d take turns keeping an eye on her. There’s always someone watching her 24/7 making sure she’s alright. She passed away three weeks after I wrote this.

As I am writing this, the wind is screaming, the rain falls in torrents, thunder is rumbling, lightning is flickering in succession in the distance but seems to be moving closer. The heavy downpour, what seems like buckets of water, is pelting the windows relentlessly. When I was a little child growing up in Samar, there were thunderstorms, similar to typhoon Ondoy, that visited my hometown. In memory, there was more thunder and lightning, and I used to be so frightened of them.

Continue reading “A Bountiful Dose of Nostalgia”

Thoughts on New Year's Day

As the year draws to a close it seems natural, at least for myself, to reflect on the year that has been and look ahead to the one to come. I’ve been thinking about what I want to hold on to and what I need to let go of — whether beliefs, or habits, or hobbies, or dreams. I realised a necessary pruning is in order, not just of the mind but also of the heart.  Continue reading “Thoughts on New Year's Day”

Christmas in London (3rd of 3 Parts)

The winter landscape in London is really a thing of beauty. I love taking long walks at the park even in the dead of winter, and I am always in awe of God’s work in creation especially by the sheer beauty of the seemingly dead (but actually teeming with life) trees. Continue reading “Christmas in London (3rd of 3 Parts)”

CHRISTMAS IN LONDON (2ND OF 3 PARTS)

Here’s the 1st of the 3 parts series.

It has been a crazy week so this is a quick post . . . 

XmasLondon17CantataBethesda

It has become a tradition at our church here in London, to have an annual Candlelit and Cantata Service at Christmas. We had it on Sunday last week and it was a joyful day of worship with congregational Christmas carols, special music by the adult and children choir, as well as lots of eating and fellowshipping. The catering/event committee prepared a Vietnamese-themed meal. Thanks to the choir, catering/event committee members, cleaning crew, and others who helped out.

ClaridgesTree17_1
ClaridgesTree17

On Monday morning my friend Adiben phoned to say that she just got out of work, and we agreed to meet up for breakfast. She came over to Notting Hill and after a quick chat on where we should eat out we decided to go to this place but more on that later.

ClaridgesTree17
NewBondSt17

In a strange coincidence, we bumped into Vic and so we abducted him.  We went to Claridge’s Hotel to see their ‘upside-town’ tree (not your typical Christmas tree, I must say, it was designed by Karl Lagerfield), walked around Mayfair, took photos of the street lights and storefront display, had pizza and tea, and walked more until it was dark. So the breakfast extended to lunch, tea, etc. 

BondSt_Xmas
BondStXmas

London is magical at this time of the year; every nook and cranny of the city center is practically decked out with lights and decorations.

OxfordSt
Oxford Street
IMG_7829
House of Fraser, Oxford Street
CartierLondonXmas
XmasLondon17_WinterWonderland

The Cartier flagship store, my favourite building (only at Christmas time I must add), truly stands out.

DominiqueAnsel_Pastries
XmasLondon17Maxi:Mavy

Our breakfast: pastries and coffee — the famous Cronut (not my fave but Adiben wanted to try it so we shared one), DKA (my fave), gingerbread and chorizo croissant (my first time to try — both very good!). I’ve been to Dominique Ansel Bakery 3x prior to Monday’s visit but haven’t done a proper review, may be after Christmas I will do a post about my dining experience there.

The last but not the least. I got to visit Maxi — my favourite one-year old girl in the whole wide world! It’s safe to say, after working with little kids at our church in the last 17.5 years, that Maxi is the best baby ever — not fussy, hardly ever cries (and when she does you’ll just see tears running down her little cheeks), and she’s just a happy little girl. It’s a joy watching her every Sunday. When she is away traveling with her parents and/or can’t come to church for whatever reason, I do miss her. It was nice being able to visit her on Thursday, we did some baking (notice her chocolate-filled face after eating chocolate chip cookies!), played a little bit and had chit-chat with Momma Mavy.  Can’t wait to do it again soon!

Two more days before Christmas. I’ve got to get some gift wrapping done tonight, and prepare for church. I wish you all a wonderful day of worship tomorrow. Love to you all, dear family and friends.

Have a happy christmas!

CHRISTMAS IN LONDON (1ST OF 3 PARTS)

The festive season is upon us and so I plan to mark the special occasion in my own way by posting reviews of events which feature people and places in a jovial mood.  I am kicking off the week with a little story about the events I attended last week. 

First and foremost, the ’Burlington Ladies’ annual Christmas dinner was held a week ago, the 12th of December. We had the usual exchanging of gifts, sharing of stories with lots of laughter, and simply catching up with one another —  it was a fun night as always. For this year’s gifts, we decided to do something different — it was a recycled or unused gifts we received and we had to give the reason why we didn’t use them. There’s 6 of us in the group but Dynah has already jetted off to the tropics and missed the fun for the first time. It wasn’t the same with Dynah’s absence — we missed you girl! By the way, we call ourselves ’Burlington Ladies’ not because we had some sort of upper story grandeur, we don’t. It simply happens that the first time we got together as a group was at a special tour organised by the management of Burlington Arcade in Piccadilly.  Long story that deserves a separate post for another day but just to say that just like the previous years, it was another fun-filled Christmas get-together with this bunch.

BurlingtonLadiesXmas17
BuglingtonLadies
The ‘Burlington Ladies’ minus Dynah. From L-R: Kristine, Marj, myself, Precy and Aimee

Then I attended another Christmas dinner on Thursday night hosted by Vic. This time, it’s our little ‘foodie group’ — there’s 6 of us, and just like the Burlington Ladies, we also get together not just to eat but to share gossip about Philippine politics – well, actually more about Filipino politicians and Manila high-society haha! What can you expect? Everyone is a diplomat aside from Aimee (who works for HerMaj Queen Elizabeth II) and myself (well, I work for the King of Kings, the Boss of all the bosses). So there. 

Foodie2017_2
‘Groupie’ courtesy of Emma. Vic provided those ‘cool’ shades. From L-R: Emma, myself, Kristine, Vic, Aimee and Michelle
Foodie2017_1
Foodie2017

I promise that there will be more photos on the next post, it will be about the two events early this week. Hope you’re getting all your shopping, gift wrapping, baking, and all the Christmas preparations done before the week is out.