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Volume 3 • Number 3 December 2015-February 2016 2 Homework

What Willpower Can Overcome

4 Family Note

Celebrating Family Tradition

5 Letters

6 Frameable

Be Positive and Proactive

Youth Talk The Younghusbands Play It Forward, 34 Disaster Master, 36 Students of the World, 39 The Builder, 43

Good Parenting 8 Relating


A Meaningful Christmas

10 Bonding Rituals of Love

12 Balancing Holiday on Hold

15 Parenting False Idols

18 Growing Skin Deep

21 Protecting Save Your Smile

46 Eating

Stars of the Noche Buena

8 46


By Fr. Bernard P. Nolasco, SDB

Vanquishing an addiction takes strong resolve that can only come when you develop, exert, and uphold mind control.

What Willpower Can Overcome My dad used to be a chain-smoker. But when he finally decided to quit smoking 45 years ago, he successfully managed never to smoke again. Relatives and friends advised him to quit gradually, and others even gave him the benefit of the doubt should he waver in his resolve. But my dad did just the opposite.

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Strong He chose a date when he would stop Willpower knows smoking and simply followed through. Forty-five years later and still counting, no gentle hands. his success story continues. What made him achieve this feat It is drastic, radical, where other individuals have failed? Two words: STRONG WILLPOWER. strong, direct, Strong Willpower knows no gentle hands. It is drastic, radical, strong, direct, and focused. and focused. It knows no in-betweens, no compromises, no middle ground, no ifs and buts, no grey areas, no turning back. It is either right or wrong, left or right, black or white, forward or backward. A choice has to be made. And once made, the choice must be embraced totally, wholeheartedly, single-mindedly. The gradual giving up of something you are addicted to will never work because you will still have a connection to the source of your addiction, no matter how you try to justify the situation by saying that you are gradually minimizing your interaction with your addiction. Once contact with the addictive matter continues, no matter how seldom or rare, the craving for the cause of your addiction stays. And once the addiction stays, irrational behaviors also stay. The exercise of willpower always lends itself toward the good of the person and towards the common good. It creates and builds up life. Willpower manifests in different forms: gentleness in words and actions, self-control and discipline, respect and courtesy, law and order, moderation and sobriety. Whenever we enable our willpower to have control over our appetite, urges, cravings, and even self-preservation,



we enjoy its fruits—the serenity and calmness of life, the balance of nature, and the gift of rationality. We make decisions that are well thought of. We fulfill duties and responsibilities with focus and determination. Strong willpower, when consciously used, prevents any desire for or inclination toward something that could later develop into an addiction. It also helps us to make the wise decision to not even attempt to do or to try something bad in

the first place, like gambling, smoking, drinking liquor, pornography, going to places of ill repute, stealing, cheating, and lying, among others. Computer games are not bad in themselves, but they are intentionally designed to be very addictive. Developing strong willpower is necessary for any person who wishes to engage in computer games so as not to fall prey to their addictive nature. No amount of guidance from other people (parents, teachers, counsellors) and no amount of systems and laws can make us use our willpower against any form of addiction. It will only work when we allow our willpower to work in us. To those who are into some sort of addiction, it is never too late to stop. You may ask the people around you for help, support, and encouragement. In the end, however, the person you can best rely on in order to quit your addiction is yourself with your own strong willpower. To those who are just in the early stages of addiction, take the addiction away from you now. Delay it no longer. Use your willpower to uproot the addiction while its hold on you remains shallow. To those who are living a life free from any form of addiction, may you keep your life pure and happy. Keep using your willpower to be in command over all sorts of appetites, urges, and cravings. Remember, God created you to rule over mundane matters and not to be ruled by them.

Whenever we enable our willpower to have control over our appetite, urges, cravings, and even self-preservation, we enjoy its fruits—the serenity and calmness of life, the balance of nature, and the gift of rationality. DECEMBER 2015 - FEBRUARY 2016



Family Note

Celebrating Family Traditions

FamilyMatters bookmark

If there’s one thing that the three months covered in this issue have in common, it’s that they center on one thing—our loved ones. Traditionally, unless we are far away from them, it’s unthinkable for us to spend Christmas or New Year’s Eve not surrounded by our family. As for Valentine’s, it is not just a special day dedicated to our romantic partner but also the perfect time to tell those we love—our grandparents, our parents, our children—how precious they are to us. Why do so many of our traditions revolve around family? It’s because of the fact that who we are, how we think and act, and how we relate to others have been shaped by the house rules, interactions, and experiences we grew up with. Thus, knowing the influence of family on the individual, society has created traditions that are designed to strengthen our familial ties, because studies show that happy children usually come from happy families. Unfortunately, the opposite also holds true—unhappy families produce unhappy children who are likely to grow up with some kind of maladaptive and self-destructive behavior, including indulging in addictions. This is why we chose to highlight the topic of addiction in this issue. Healthy family settings serve as the children’s firewall against the temptation of addiction, whether to drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography. And if a member has already succumbed, it is the willingness of the entire family to offer a hand to grab or a shoulder to lean on that can successfully pry an addict away from his or her addiction nightmare. Our special section on addiction (starting on page 22) is for every family— happy or not. If you want to addiction-proof your family by building a cheerful household, the article “Happy to be Home!” shares five simple rules on how to do it. In “The Addict’s Secret World,” our writer-counselor identifies the kinds of family systems that compel addictive tendencies, while “All in the Family” details the support and intervention that can be provided to help a loved one escape from his or her fixation. It may seem contradictory but traditions can be new, too, or at least updated to improve their gluing power. The holiday season, Valentine’s, and any other special occasion—even every day—present an opportunity to introduce a new family ritual or reinvent a tired one. In “Rituals of Love” (page 10), learn why having family traditions is absolutely essential and how we can tweak goodenough routines to make them even more potent. May this Season of Smiles see more joyful, loving, and pleasant routines being adopted in your home.

Cut out and paste on a cardboard, punch a hole, and put a ribbon through.

“ Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world. ” –Susan Lieberman


Romelda C. Ascutia, Editor E-mail:

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Photo by Jun Pinzon



We’d love to hear your thoughts! Share with us your best wishes for the Pinoy family for 2016, together with your family’s latest Christmas or New Year’s photo, and we’ll publish them here in the next issue. Please don’t forget to identify members of your family and give brief details about the happy occasion. Deadline for submission is January 20, 2016.

Send your entries to

familymatters14344 Note that all submissions become the property of Family Matters and will not be returned. Letters may also be edited for clarity.

Vector: fre

FamilyMatters Volume 3 • Number 3 DECEMBER 2015-FEBRUARY 2016 PUBLISHER Don Bosco Press, Inc.

Ruth Manimtim-Floresca Annabellie Gruenberg Stephanie Mayo Dr. Elyz Medina-Sembrano, DMD Ross Valentin, M.D.

ADVISER Fr. Bernard P. Nolasco, SDB

Photos and Studio DBPI-Multimedia Section

EDITOR Romelda C. Ascutia ART DIRECTOR Haidee De Guzman CONTRIBUTORS Maridol Rañoa-Bismark Aileen Carreon Rolando C. delos Reyes II, MA Ed, RGC Excel V. Dyquiangco Erlinda Esguerra Cecille Esperanza

DBPI-MMS PHOTOGRAPHERS Raymond S. Mamaril Ma. Patricia R. Baltazar PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Early Macabales PRODUCT SPECIALIST Jino Feliciano CIRCULATION Don Bosco Press, Inc.

LEGAL COUNSEL Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan Law Offices PRINTER Family Matters is a quarterly magazine published by Don Bosco Press, Inc. (02)816-1519 • (02)893-9876 Antonio Arnaiz corner Chino Roces Avenues P.O. Box 1601 MCPO, 1223 Makati City, Philippines All rights reserved © 2015 by DON BOSCO PRESS, INC. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without permission from the publisher. Tell us what you think! Your news and views are welcome. E-mail us at All submissions become the property of FamilyMatters and will not be returned. Letters may be edited, and full names will be published unless otherwise specified by the sender.




Be Positive and Proactive Hello good habits! Good-bye bad habits! BY FR. BERNARD P. NOLASCO, SDB In making a fresh start with oneself at the beginning of this new year, instead of focusing on the ‘don’ts,’ let us focus on the ‘dos’; instead of making a list of ‘what I should not do,’ try to make a list of ‘what I should do.’ Here are 15 ways to conquer the negative with the positive.

Offer to God all your plans and activities for the day and ask for His blessing.

Focus on what you ‘need’ and not on what you ‘want.’

Go with good companions that uphold Christian moral values.

Read and reflect on the Word of God daily and be guided by its rich message.

Spend your allowance wisely and save whatever is extra for more useful things.

Make a daily ‘What to Do’ checklist that will lead you to form the habit of planning.

Always be thankful to the people who care for you.

Be happy and make the most of what you have.

Be fully present in every family activity. Remember, family always comes first.

Share with the poor the things you no longer need but are still in good condition.

Get enough time for rest at night by ensuring at least six hours of sleep.

Honestly seek advice from respectable elders before making important decisions and choices.

Be friendly while respecting the healthy boundaries of others.

Go for clean fun in wholesome places.

Make yourself available at home especially for house chores.

Believe in the power of optimism. The only person who knows you is yourself. Build your life; never ruin it. Create your life; never waste it. Seize every opportunity to develop your great potentials; never let it pass you by. Remember, you only have one life to live. HAPPY GREAT NEW YEAR!!!

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Here it comes again—

A Meaningful

Remind your family of the real reason for this season. BY ERLINDA ESGUERRA

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the most awaited time of the year—Christmastime! For children especially, and for adults too, it’s the season when there’s always stardust in the air, and smiles come easily to people’s faces. Truly, the birth of our Savior, which was God’s gift to humanity, can never be over-celebrated. And giving gifts to one another is a natural offshoot of this season. A lot has been written about the commercialization of Christmas, about gifts that burn through our pockets and credit cards, about us forgetting the reason for the season. I will not pretend to be an expert on gift giving and bombard you with a litany of suggestions about how to make homemade gifts, gifts that come from the heart, gifts that keep on giving, etc., for I know giving is a very personal matter. Whatever you feel inspired to give your loved ones, it is your prerogative. Follow your heart! God the Father is our example for no-holds-barred giving. He did not withhold anything from us. He sent His own beloved Son as a gift to us, the ultimate sacrifice so that our sins could be paid for. His love became a person in Jesus. Is it any wonder the whole world jumps with joy in remembrance of His birth? Jesus came so that we might have life, and have it to the full—an abundant life. I feel that heaven is happy when we are happy,

especially at Christmastime. There is nothing we can do to repay Him for the gift of salvation, nor does He expect gifts from us because His grace is free. As believers, the only act of gratitude we can probably do is not to forget it is His birthday that we’re celebrating. I myself have missed out on this. For the past years, we have been fixated on the Christmas tree, the Christmas ornaments, the stockings, Santa Claus, and the gifts. This Christmas I would like to restore

putting the Nativity scene, or the belen, in my home. When I was a little girl ages ago, I remember the little belen my mother would set up on a small table, then the children would help her carefully set up the Holy Family, the barn, the animals, shepherds, and Three Kings. We would even put fresh grass around the stable. I so loved that scene that, during one Christmas, the most memorable gift for me was the tiniest plastic belen in a small box given by my mother (she was famous for being thrifty). Yet now, more than 50 years later, I can still remember how it looked, and I can still feel the roughness of the tinsel on its roof. A practice we can probably try is to wrap the Baby Jesus a few days before Christmas and unwrap Him on Christmas Day. That could start a


Here are some ideas of things to do together as a family to revive the Christmas spirit. 1 Watch movies about Christmas. 2 Read Luke 2 on Christmas Eve. 3 Visit an orphanage or volunteer at a feeding center. 4 Hang a stocking for Christ and �ill with letters of gratitude from the family. 5 Set a place of honor for Jesus at the Noche Buena table. 6 Attend church together on Christmas Eve. 7 De-clutter and donate useful stuff that’s still in good condition. 8 Put away gadgets and hold a traditional program of games, skits, and carols. 9 Opt for precious gifts like inspirational books, handcrafted prayer beads, or Unicef cards. 10 Reconnect with far-away relatives or long-lost friends through video chat. 11 Make up with someone who has wronged you or someone you have offended. 12 Keep the Christmas spirit alive yearlong by letting God work through you every day.

As parents, let’s think up new traditions or practices that will put Christ back into Christmas.

conversation with the little ones on why Jesus is a gift to all of us. Then we can also have a little birthday cake for Jesus. Children are the most imaginative people on earth. We can ask them to prepare their own little gifts for Jesus, like a little homemade thank-you card. Also, now that I’m a grandma with a very creative granddaughter, we’ll have fun dramatizing the Christmas story, the Three Kings looking for Jesus, and so on. As parents, let’s think up new traditions or practices that will put Christ back into Christmas. I know that Santa Claus has taken most of the credit as the source of good gifts and happiness. Nothing wrong with Santa, but let’s not forget that Christmas is our  biggest teaching opportunity for our children to love Jesus, and to say “thank you” for all the blessings He gives us, not just during Christmas but every day of the year.





It’s said that “old habits die hard,” and I believe this holds true even with established and positive family traditions. Since my siblings and I got married, we’ve made it a point to get together as a clan during special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve to catch up with one another and be with our mother as Tatay already passed away 15 years ago. On a smaller scale, my husband and I also observe certain traditions with our sons. Weekends and holidays are often spent either at home or in a family outing. Although our eldest is already working and our second son has classes in college that sometimes extend until early evening, we target several nights a week to have dinner together and pray for each other. For us, taking Christmas family portraits is also a cherished habit. It is always nice to see in print our physical changes over the years even as our closeness as a family remains constant. In doing all these things, our hope is that, when they are raising families of their own, our boys, nieces, and nephews will carry on these simple traditions that nurture our love for each other.

Importance of traditions

Rituals of Love

If you haven’t done so yet, this Valentine’s Day is a good time to start creating happy family traditions. You’ll soon see how they can bring changes to your home—in the most positive way! BY RUTH MANIMTIM-FLORESCA

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Marison R. Dy, Ph.D., a professor at the Human Family Development Studies, College of Human Ecology in U.P. Los Baños, describes family traditions as rituals or activities that families engage in regularly. She adds that having family traditions is important in many ways. “These help strengthen family bonds because the time spent together makes the members know and appreciate each other, especially when laughter abounds,” she explains. In addition, family traditions create lasting memories. “It’s like depositing happy memories in your children’s mind and you hope that they will keep the tradition in their own families later,” says Dy. “Traditions also contribute to a sense of well-being and fulfillment, making the parents and children feel good individually and as a unit.”


“Traditions contribute to a sense of well-being and fulfillment, making the parents and children feel good individually and as a unit.” Room for more

“Everyone, not just the parents, can suggest a new family tradition, more so when the children are much older and can already help in the planning,” points out Dy, adding that planning new traditions is something that should involve everyone. She relates that in 2012, their family went on a trip that became a yearly event. “It was something we adults initially planned. After that, we talked with the children about where to go, what places to visit, who we can ask help from, and things like that. There’s a task for everyone to contribute to.” Dy suggests one way for families to start incorporating family traditions into the home. “While the children are still young, start with some traditions that the kids can experience daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. When the children are older, make them part of planning for new traditions or making old ones better.”

A family Valentine

If you haven’t embarked on it yet, this coming February 14 can be the beginning of celebrating Valentine’s together as a family to foster closeness

with one another, especially with the younger kids. “Why not start with a Valentine’s Day-themed breakfast of heart-shaped pancakes and strawberry jam? You can also have some arts and craft time where you and the kids can cut paper hearts to decorate the house with or give to each other. These paper hearts can likewise be hidden in places for other family members to find,” suggests Dy. After a Valentine family dinner, mom and dad may want to leave the kids with the grandparents or aunts and uncles to go somewhere special as a couple. “If that’s not possible, just have your own sweet date at home with the children. Some parents even ask for their kids’ help to prepare something special for their spouse,” she says. “The important thing is for parents to explain the significance of that day and to spend part of it together in a special way.” Dy assures that there are no specific traditions that every family should adopt. “Following traditions will depend on the family’s values, religion, and resources,” says Dy. What’s important is having wonderful traditions that work for you and your loved ones.









Sweet hellos and goodbyes Pretend your arriving child is a prize by saying, “Winner ka, Kuya/Ate!” and on leaving, try, “Kaya mo ’yan!” Facing worries with faith Help kids face their fears by creating a "worry jar." Regularly empty it, petitioning God to send peace as promised in Philippians 4:6-7. Mealtime prayers As your family gives thanks, hold hands around the dinner table. After prayer, squeeze hands while saying “I love you!” You've been quoted! Post quirky quotable quotes on the fridge to elicit some good-natured laughs and help build your family identity. Bedtime prayers with a twist Instead of praying at your child’s bedside one night, let your child tuck you into bed and pray over you for a change! Better than before Whenever you visit the playground or park with your kids, leave it cleaner than before. This time last year... Note anniversary dates of special occasions, then make a game of asking, “Guess what we were doing this time last year!” TGIF On Friday afternoons, enjoy merienda together and review the best parts of your week and any exciting plans for the weekend. Sunday morning breakfast Begin the Sabbath with a special almusal together. Praying and relaxing together is a great way to start your day of rest with God. Staying in touch Place a weekly family call to Lolo and Lola if they are far away. If they live nearby, visit them for a weekly or monthly family meal.

– Adapted from Focus on the Family Canada





Holiday on Hold

How should a family face Christmas after a deep crisis? Here, a grief expert and those who have mourned the loss of a loved one share their insights. BY RUTH MANIMTIM-FLORESCA

My father, who had never fallen

seriously ill before, passed away unexpectedly 15 years ago from a heart attack. Our first family Christmas without him was bittersweet, as we grieved but took comfort from the happy memories he left behind. In 1998, Lem Lamigo lost her daughter Arla, who had congenital heart disease, at one year and three months old from pneumonia and other complications. “The first Christmas without Arla was spent quietly with my husband. We couldn’t resist thinking that our child was the choir newbie, singing majestic carols among the saints and angels in heaven,” recalls Lem. “And then suddenly and sadly, we [would realize] that we were just a couple again, instead of a family of three.” Nine years later, on Arla’s death anniversary, Lem gave birth to a son, her third child. “So every year, on October 18th, we celebrate not only Arla’s memory but also the blessing of having Joaquin and the gift of life!”

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Jacqueline Dy lost her mother to abdominal aortic aneurysm in 2011. “She had surgery but did not recover. My father and I spent Christmas and New Year with my sister in Australia,” she shares. Olga Joson-Espino gave birth to premature babies in July 2008. Jade, the smaller twin, proved to be stronger. The other, Jake, underwent surgery on both lungs and acquired an infection before passing away soon after. “Seven days later, we were called to the NICU for permission to pull the plug. I was allowed to hold my baby close to my heart for the first and last time,” remembers Olga. “Had I known that she was fated to go to God’s garden early, I would have requested her to be taken out of the incubator so I could have held her while she was still alive.” “We were blessed to still have Jade so, even though we were grieving, we made an effort to make her first Christmas a special one. We bought an angel to put on top of the tree to remind us of Jake,” continues Olga. “Unfortunately, I suffered heavy bleeding on Christmas Eve. I was then three months pregnant with my son, Jakei. Thankfully, he turned out fine. In a way, I looked at it as a blessing to have spent Christmas in the same hospital where all memories of Jake were.”

“After accepting, take small steps to reorganize and build a new normal—life after the loss of the loved one, which will now become your new reality.” Accepting the loss

According to Cathy Babao, grief educator and coach, author, and columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, loss is loss and all pain is the same. “They just hit us in varying degrees depending upon many things such as personality, the type of loss, and the dynamics of your relationship with the person now gone.” The most important thing, she says, is to acknowledge the loss early on rather than deny it. “Acceptance is always key,” she emphasizes. “After accepting, take small steps to reorganize and build a new normal—life after the loss of the loved one, which will now become your new reality. It’s also important to have some form of support system in place.”

Here, Cathy enumerates tips to cope with loss and grief at Christmastime: Take a break. “You need not follow your usual routine this year, and your extended family must understand that the circumstances are extraordinary. Explain the situation to them and build new rituals.” Cathy suggests traveling out of town with one’s immediate family, booking into a hotel, or doing something special to honor the departed loved one. “A change of routine in the first year after a loss has proven to be helpful for many families and individuals. There are others, though, who still find comfort in the usual holiday routines. Do what you feel is right.” When Lem’s dad passed away from a heart attack 46 days before Christmas in 2009, she chose to spend the holidays away from their extended family. “One of my closest family friends welcomed us to their lovely home in Baguio. I was pleased with the change of environment. It was a good holiday especially for my two sons who enjoyed the company of other kids.” Accept however you feel and be patient with your progress. Stay true to yourself because pretending to be happy is an added burden to your grieving heart. Take it one day at a time. “Grieving is non-linear. You can take one step forward today and find yourself taking two steps backward tomorrow. Listen to yourself and get enough rest. Physical rest is very important to a heart that needs to heal,” explains Cathy. Olga dealt with Jake’s loss by focusing on her other daughter. “Jade was the one reason that made life




Prevailing bearable. I was clinically depressed after Jake’s demise. If I did not have her twin to take care of, I would most likely have lost the will to live.” “Grieve for as long as you want so long as you are not harming yourself or those who are dependent on you for support and care,” reminds Cathy. “If you feel that you need to get professional help, go and seek it. There is no shame in that. If you are unable to sleep or function well, please find someone to talk to.” Lem shares that she coped with grief by finding quiet places for reflection. “I avoided people who, although wellmeaning, easily gave advice on how to ‘move on.’ By reading about other parents’ experience of catastrophic loss, I was able to gain perspective on the mourning process.” Focus on the children and consider their feelings, too. They may be too young to appreciate the depth of your feelings, and because Christmas is often a special time for them, they might not take to the changes very well. Scale back on your holiday plans, but still think of the kids’ need for some semblance of Christmas. If putting up a tree is all you can manage this time, explain to them why. Give cheer to others. When you step out of the shadows of your sadness and give of yourself to others in ways that honor your loved one, your sadness will somehow be lifted.

Finding peace

After her mom died, Jacqueline acknowledged, “Faith and family gave me the proper perspective and strength. Sadness can strike any time so it’s very important to have a good relationship with the Lord and with family to be able to cope with such a devastating loss.”

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“Grieve for as long as you want so long as you are not harming yourself or those who are dependent on you for support and care.”

“Cry and grieve. When we lose people we love, we are often told that we must remain strong and that they are in a better place. That makes us feel that grief should be avoided. It should not,” points out Olga. “In our hearts, we will grieve forever and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just don’t let grief overshadow your life. Your loved ones will be happier in heaven if they see you joyfully living with a purpose.” “When your faith wavers, pray. Pray unceasingly. If you are unable to do so, ask a family member or a friend to be your prayer partner,” she adds. “Having someone by your side who can help you renew your faith is essential in the healing process.” Grief is like an ocean that comes in unpredictable waves, says Cathy. There are good days, there are bad days, there are calm days, there are terrible days. As such, “do not make any major decision in the first year of your loss because your mind and your heart are very vulnerable. Let time pass before you decide on anything major,” she cautions.

“Know that no matter how dark the road ahead may seem right now, it will get better. Pray a lot,” urges Cathy. “Prayer and His love will always see you through. I like what Corrie ten Boom wrote, ‘There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.’ Even if, at the moment, it doesn’t seem so, He will always be there to pick you up.” “Grief doesn’t fully end,” agrees Lem. “To this day, I still want my loved ones back. A part of me longs to see my daughter and my Dad every day, if only in some form—like in a beautiful landscape, a dream, a soulful song, a lovely sunset, or a flower.” “To those who are grieving for a child, a parent or mentor, or anyone who can never be replaced in your life, I hope you are surrounded by family and friends who care for you,” adds Lem. “But if you are alone, take courage! Grieve, but with hope for a better day. When pain becomes too much to bear, ask for help and hold on to Him who is the author of life and perfector of our faith.”


False Idols Is it just admiration, or is your child’s celebrity worship turning into an addiction? BY AILEEN CARREON




Parenting Just like their grandparents

and parents in their younger days, today’s teenagers are also drawn to celebrities. Teen boys idolize LeBron James, while young girls swoon over Justin Bieber and One Direction. Indeed, the phenomenon of celebrity worship is nothing new. “Celebrity worship is when a person becomes overly interested or involved in the life of figures in the public eye—an athlete, actor or actress, singer, band, politician, model, beauty queen,” shares psychologist Naira Orbeta. Looking for an “alpha” male or female to follow is as old as time and programmed into our DNA as social animals, adds Orbeta. “We naturally try to find leaders to model, admire, follow, imitate, emulate. This may be especially true for teens that are in the process of identity formation.” For teens, the term “celebrity” is connected to popularity, looks, and talent in the areas they are interested in, like pop music, dancing, acting, or sports. Young people usually don’t look at deeper qualities to emulate, but are focused on the external. “Teen boys worship on two levels. They may worship a male celebrity because they want to look like them or have talents like them, and worship a female celebrity because they are attracted to them because of looks and sexiness,” notes Orbeta. “Worship for a male celebrity involves physicality. This means that if they idolize LeBron James or Stephen Curry, they try to emulate his basketball moves and follow his career. Some teen boys may try to imitate the physical style of, say, Daniel Padilla. Some may try to get into a fitness phase to get the abs of James Reid or Paolo Avelino. If a teen boy worships a female celebrity, it has to do with looks, lust, hormones, and attraction,” explains Orbeta. On the other hand, teen girls worship a female celebrity because of her looks, and idolize a male celebrity because they are attracted to him. As an example, Orbeta cites the case of Anne Curtis who has millions of

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“The relief that they experience by escaping into the life of another may turn into a need for a regular fix of that celebrity which may eventually become a type of addiction.” Photo: Roxanne Tam


male celebrities that borders on hysteria. Nowadays, says Orbeta, “there’s the love for One Direction, Daniel Padilla, the latest craze about Alden Richards.”

Admiration or addiction?


areze Stam

Photo: Ch

Twitter and Instagram followers, majority of whom are teenage girls. “They like her face and figure. The same can be said of Kathryn Bernardo, Nadine Lustre, and Maine Mendoza whom teen girls idolize.” She adds, “At some level, when they watch TV and see the success these females have in popularity and in obtaining the ‘love and affection’ of some handsome guy, they idolize them and think that if they could be like these females—they too can have success, love, and popularity which they equate with happiness.” As seen with the Beatles mania to the Menudo craze before, teenage girls have been known to have intense worship for

So when does your child’s fondness for a celebrity turn into obsession? “Celebrity worship as a pleasant and harmless diversion while continuing to live a rich and meaningful life is fine. Trouble begins when the fascination with celebrities becomes a substitution for real life, [when the child starts] focusing too much on the life of the celebrity and disassociating from one’s own life,” answers Orbeta. According to her, this can be triggered when a person who is experiencing difficulties in life and suffers from low selfesteem, sadness or depression, or anxiety or social dysfunction turns to celebrity worship as a coping mechanism. “The relief that they experience by escaping into the life of another may turn into a need for a regular fix of that celebrity which may eventually become a type of addiction,” says Orbeta. Back then, you probably put up posters of your favorite idols on your bedroom wall. These days, your child might download a picture of his or her fave celeb as wallpaper on tech devices. This is normal behavior. ge Parilla

Photo: Geor

“What you would like to watch out for is the number of hours your kids or teens spend reading about and watching a celebrity,” says Orbeta. “Sometimes, it really is just a phase. However, if you notice they spend an inordinate amount of time following the life of a celebrity with accompanying negative Photo: Eva Rinaldi

Researchers have identi�ied three levels of idol infatuation. While there are relatively harmless, non-pathological forms of celebrity worship, there are also pathological forms. As parents, you would want to make sure that your teens are not going overboard with their “fanboying” or “fangirling.” Entertainment-social is the normal appreciation for a celebrity. “This is the lowest level and involves watching and reading about celebrities. People who are at this level may use this as a pleasant diversion and not have their lives center around a celebrity,” expounds Orbeta. Intense-personal is the intermediate level where a person develops intense feelings about the celebrity, including having fantasies about the personality. These fans go to concerts or TV stations to meet the object of their worship, but usually don’t engage in extreme stalker-like behavior, explains Orberta. She says celebrity worship at this level can be either positive or negative. “It can enhance or inspire the life of an individual without detracting from his normal life. It becomes bad when it takes too much time away from what the person has to do like study or work.” Borderline-pathological is the most severe level that is already unhealthy and harmful for the child. “This is marked by uncontrollable behavior such as following every detail and aspect of a celebrity’s life, imitating the celebrity, engaging in ‘stalker-like’ behavior such as following them home or waiting outside their home, repeatedly trying to in�iltrate the celebrity’s life,” explains Orbeta. Some fans, on the other hand, may not undertake these extreme actions, but they may dissociate from their own life, she adds. “This means they shut off normal and meaningful relationships, don’t care about school and don’t study and do homework. Instead they spend many hours obsessing, watching, and fantasizing about the object of their worship.”

behavior change such as sullenness, depression, a lowering or questioning of their self-esteem—you need to examine what is occurring.” She further advises, “If they ask to go to a concert for instance and are happy after, that is OK. If they pout a little if you don’t allow them but recover after a little while, that is fine too. It’s the drastic change in behavior you need to watch out for—when they don’t want to go out with their regular friends, shut themselves in their room, or are not interested in their old pursuits.”

Keeping it normal

Orbeta shares these pointers on how parents can guide their children so that celebrity worship does not get out of hand. Develop a good personal relationship with your kid or teen and talk to them about their normal, everyday activities or relationships— friends, school, hobbies. This will ensure they are grounded in reality, not in the fantasy world of celebrities. Get them involved in meaningful activities like volunteer work, charities, and church group activities to develop good values. Police the use of social media, TV, and the Internet. Check out the sites they visit and disallow those you are not comfortable with based on your own beliefs. Instill a positive self-image in your kids so that they don’t get carried away by superficiality. As they enter puberty, watch out for any distorted perceptions about body image. For boys, especially those hitting puberty, the father or a male figure should talk to them about sexual feelings. It must be explained that all women, whether in media or in real life, must be treated with respect.

Naira S. Orbeta is a private consultant-psychologist, trainor, and counselor. Currently she is a sport psychology consultant at De La Salle University (DLSU) and works for Moozen Consulting. Orb eta has a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from DLSU.





Skin Deep A zit on the cheek can affect the self-confidence of a child. Here’s how you can help your adolescent overcome common skin problems and recover that glow of youth. BY ROSS VALENTIN, M.D.

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We often laugh at commercials that show

tweens or teens ducking behind walls or covering up their pimple-filled face out of shame when their crush approaches. But the truth is, untreated skin problems can deflate the budding ego of adolescents and may even cause irreversible damage to their self-esteem. When children hit puberty they undergo bodily changes that foster the development of skin problems as well. Here are some of the most common skin conditions teens encounter, their treatment, and their prevention.


Also known as a pimple or zit, acne is very common during adolescence, often appearing on the face, forehead, hair line, neck, arms, and chest. Acne does not pose serious health risks, but it can be unsightly enough to cause emotional distress, and if severe, can lead to permanent scarring. Acne comes in many forms. Whiteheads stay beneath the skin and produce a white bump, while blackheads reach the surface of the skin and open up the surface.

Papules are pink, small bumps on the skin that are inflamed and therefore tender to the touch. Pustules (pimples) are white or yellow pus-filled lesions atop a papule that may have a red base. Nodules are solid lesions that are found deep within the skin and are painful and large, while cysts are pusfilled lesions that are painful and deep and result in scarring. Acne is believed to be caused by several factors including genetics, hormonal surge, hormonal changes (in women), oily cosmetics, and certain drugs. Contrary to common belief, eating greasy foods and chocolates and poor hygiene don’t cause acne. The condition can be aggravated by pollution, humidity, squeezing or picking, use of oily-skin products, stress, hormonal changes in women, and pressure on the skin from tight collars and clothing. Treatment will depend on the age, skin type, and severity of the acne. Initial treatment is with overthe-counter medications containing benzoyl peroxide or a low percentage of salicylic acid. However, if there is no improvement in six to eight weeks, a dermatologist should already be consulted. For moderate to severe acne, it is best to consult a dermatologist, too, for proper treatment to prevent scarring. Removing acne usually takes time, and improvements can often be observed only after eight weeks of regular treatment. It is important to seek treatment early to help prevent scarring.

• Avoid touching, pinching, and squeezing acne lesions as these can worsen them and lead to scarring. • Shave carefully to prevent further injury to the skin. • Use oil-free hair care products and cosmetics. • Use water-based non-comedogenic cosmetics. • Avoid wearing tight clothing. • Avoid too much sun exposure.


Warts can develop at any age, but tend to affect young people (teenagers especially) more than adults. Warts are fleshy or dark-colored growths on the skin that may have a smooth or a rough

surface. They present as soft or hard lumps or bumps on the skin, appearing singly or in groups. Warts are caused by viruses such as the human papilloma virus (HPV) or the pox virus. They are contagious, can spread to other people through direct contact, and can spread to different parts of the body. Moist areas like shower rooms, locker rooms, and swimming pools are places where one can easily contract the virus. There are many different types of warts. These include common warts, filiform warts, flat warts, foot warts, and genital warts. Typically warts are painless, except for those that are found on the soles of the feet. Warts are usually harmless and are rarely a health risk. Most warts go away within two years even without treatment. Available wart treatment is applied on the skin where the virus is. Over-thecounter wart treatments are liquid or film medications that contain salicylic acid,


• Clean skin with mild cleanser and water morning and evening. Ask your doctor about the best cleanser for your skin type. • Shampoo hair regularly.

Acne does not pose serious health risks, but it can be unsightly enough to cause emotional distress, and if severe, can lead to permanent scarring. DECEMBER 2015 - FEBRUARY 2016



Preventing which acts by softening and dissolving abnormal skin. The film type work better due to its higher salicylic acid content. Treatment takes weeks and needs to be repeated as necessary. For warts that don’t go away, there are several treatments available, including laser surgery, liquid nitrogen freezing, immunotherapy, trichloroacetic acid treatment, and electrodessication. These treatments need to be repeated every three to four weeks and may take a long time. And although warts can be treated, they can recur with exposure to the virus. Because treatment may cause blisters and scarring, good wound care is important throughout the healing process. For any wart treatment it is best to consult a skin specialist for best results.


• Avoid direct physical contact with those who have visible warts. • When in public shower areas or swimming pools, always wear rubber sandals or shoes. • Observe cleanliness and good hygiene.

after bathing or swimming, sharing towels, and walking barefoot in public swimming pools and bathrooms. Symptoms of athlete’s foot are cracked, scaly skin, itchy rash, peeling skin between the toes or on the sides of the foot, oozing blisters, pain, and a pungent odor. Treatment includes application of antifungal powders or topical creams. The infection usually resolves within days to weeks. If athlete’s foot does not improve in two to four weeks after self-treatment, it is best to consult with a dermatologist.

Avoid sharing towels, clothing, and other personal items. FUNGAL INFECTIONS

Commonly known as ringworm or tinea, this fungal infection presents as itchy, red, scaly patches or rings with raised borders and clear centers. It is caused by different species of fungi and easily passed through contact with an infected person, animal, or personal items such as clothes, towels, and combs. These fungi thrive in warm and moist areas and can grow on different parts of the body. The most common types of fungal infection seen in teens are:


Also known as tinea pedis or foot ringworm, it is one of the most common fungal infections especially among teenaged boys and men. The fungus grows on the soles of the feet, on the heels, and between the toes. Athlete’s foot is easily spread through contact with items such as socks, shoes, surfaces of showers and swimming pools, as well as through direct contact. The condition can develop in warm weather. It can also arise from wearing tight shoes, not washing or changing used socks, incompletely drying the feet

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• Dry feet after bathing or swimming (especially the areas between the toes). • Wash feet twice a day with water and soap and dry them completely. • Provide ventilation to the feet, change socks often, and use clean cotton socks. • Use loose and ventilated footwear, and wear slippers in public facilities.


A fungal infection affecting the groin area, jock’s itch (tinea cruris or groin ringworm) is more common in males and overweight individuals. This condition frequently occurs during warm weather. Tinea cruris presents as rashes with a scaly, red, raised border that spread to the inner thighs from the groin. This condition can be very itchy. Treatment usually includes antifungal creams. If creams fail, a skin specialist may prescribe oral antifungal medicines. This kind of fungal infection has a tendency to recur after treatment.


• Dry the groin area completely after taking a bath. • Use a separate towel to dry the groin area. • Lose weight if you are overweight. • Treat fungal infection in other areas of the body. • Avoid sharing towels, clothing, and other personal items. • Wear loose clothing and cotton underwear.



Smile 7 essential steps to a perfect set of choppers no matter your age. BY ELYZ MEDINA SEMBRANO, DMD

antibacterial rinse. Chewing sugar-free gum after eating can also help prevent tooth decay as it encourages saliva to flow within the mouth, washing bacteria away and neutralizing acid.

Make two visits to the dentist yearly

During a routine check-up, your dentist should do a thorough inspection and cleaning of your teeth, especially of areas not easily reached by ordinary brushing and flossing. Your dentist should also recommend treatment and care options, especially for problem areas. Tips: • Start ‘em young. Dental care should begin as soon as the first tooth erupts, which should be around the sixth month of life. • Apply sealants. Sealants are protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth or molars to prevent decay in the fit and fissures. • Adults should get thorough checkups. This will help lead to the early detection of oral cancers, bruxism (wear and tear from tooth grinding), and gum diseases.

Wear a mouth guard

People engaged in sports and

Before wacky poses became trendy, toothbrush, which is a special toothbrush recreational activities should wear pictures were taken with one instruction: better suited to clean around braces. Smile! A great smile requires an equally Make fluoride your friend great set of pearly whites. Here are ways to take care of your teeth so you’re always Studies show that fluoride strengthens the enamel, making our teeth less prone camera-ready. to decay. This is why good toothpastes and mouth rinses should contain Brush twice and floss once daily sufficient fluoride. Brushing twice a day is the most basic upkeep for healthy gums and clean Rinse mouth with water or chew teeth. Also, remember to give your gum after meals tongue a good scrubbing to get rid of If you’re not able to brush after bacteria that cause bad breath. Flossing eating, rinse off with plain water or daily is a big help in cleaning the sides of the teeth that toothbrush cannot reach. Tips: • Change your toothbrush three to four times a year, regardless of its condition. • Those wearing braces are encouraged to use an orthodontic

mouth guards to protect their teeth from injuries. Dentists can make custom-fitted mouth guards for your extra comfort and better teeth protection.

Don’t smoke

The nicotine in tobacco stains the teeth, making them look dark and dirty. More importantly, smoking significantly increases your risk for gum diseases, dry mouth, and oral cancers.

Eat healthy

A well-balanced diet that includes grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products is essential to healthy teeth and gums. Avoid sugary foods as they produce acids that can erode tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay. If you cannot avoid them, make sure to rinse your mouth after.



Recovery starts when the person admits to being helpless and surrenders to the healing power of God through others’ loving support. By Rolando C. delos Reyes II, MA Ed, RGC

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eing in the field of counselling, I am well acquainted with addicts. In this article I hope to describe the obsessive, distorted fantasies and behaviors that surround addiction, the causes and effects of addiction, its prevention and cure, and God’s amazing plan to “proclaim freedom to the captives” of this oppressive disease. Addiction expert and counselor Patrick Carnes defines addiction as a “pathological relationship with a mood-altering experience.” The phrase “mood-altering experience” tells us that addiction takes on many forms based on experience—an encounter of a behavior that changes one’s negative emotions into something more positive. “Pathological relationship” tells us that addicts develop a destructive connection with this experience that greatly diminishes their ability to choose. A person developing an addiction is experiencing such painful realities in life—losing a job or a loved one, catching a debilitating disease or getting in a serious accident, discovering an imminent sombre future for self or family—that he or she seeks behaviors that will numb this pain.


As an illness of escape, addiction, like other disorders, also finds its roots in the family. These tranquilizing behaviors can be anything from eating, smoking (cigarettes or pot), drinking alcohol, taking prohibited drugs or chemicals, gambling and gaming (actual or virtual), engaging in sex (pornography, masturbation, premarital and extramarital affairs), to entering emotionally dependent relationships (face-to-face or social network). The main objective is to escape the pain of reality and enter a world of fantasy where one ceases to be a victim of circumstances and starts to be in control. An addict says to himself or herself—“I am not harming anyone else but myself,” “I can always stop if I want to,” “My family is to blame for why I am doing this,” “I deserve this after a hard day’s work (or after everything that I do for these people),” “This is the only thing that I can hold on to.” But these deluded beliefs are farthest from the truth.

Me an Addict?

The irony of addiction is that it brings with it layer upon layer of denial that is founded on delusions that prevent the addict from seeing reality and leaving the fantasy world of his or her creation. This denial runs so deep that this person does not see the consequences no matter how obvious. Carnes, in his book Facing the Shadow (2001), describes these consequences. Among these are physical consequences, which include health problems like ulcers, cancers, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDs, or extreme weight loss or gain; getting involved in potentially abusive or dangerous situations; sleep disturbances (too little or too much); and physical exhaustion. Emotional consequences include feelings of hopelessness and despair for living a double life; loss of touch with reality; loss of self-esteem and life goals; strong feelings of guilt, shame, isolation and loneliness; depression; paranoia; loss of interest in hobbies; and homicidal or suicidal thoughts or feelings. Career and educational consequences include decrease in work productivity or failing grades in school, loss of business or educational opportunities, demotion at work or termination of services, and changing careers or schools to cover things up. Societal consequences include becoming estranged from one’s family, increase in relationship problems and loss of respect from others, jeopardizing the well-being of your family, loss of important friendships, stealing or embezzling to support behavior, financial problems, illegal activities, lawsuits, isolation, and inability to relate well with others. DECEMBER 2015 - FEBRUARY 2016



Spiritual consequences include feelings of emptiness, a sense of disconnection, perception of abandonment by God, and loss of spiritual faith.

Fertile Ground for Addiction

Reality distortion is both the effect and the cause of any type of addiction. As an illness of escape, addiction, like other disorders, also finds its roots in the family. There are four types of family systems that bring about this distorted reality. “Elephant in the living room” syndrome. This is a classic case in which everyone pretends there is no problem. In this setup children learn early on to look at addiction and not see it. A rigid and authoritarian family environment. In such a setting, there is only one way of doing things— the parents’ way. Children give up discovering who they are, and either become rebellious or develop a secret life—resulting in the distrust of authority (which extends to God) and a poor sense of self. A disengaged family. Checking reality requires sharing with others and learning from another’s perception. Here, the children develop few skills in sharing, in being vulnerable, and in taking risks— resulting in them trusting no one but themselves.

An abusive and neglectful family. Neglected children live with high levels of anxiety, while abused children tend to be reactive and to compartmentalize their life experiences. This family system brings about distorted realities that set the stage for addictive behaviors. Preventing addiction then means continuously educating the public about these parenting styles, and enabling a more communicative and engaging family that embraces the uniqueness of everyone.

To stop this cycle, the person should first admit that he or she has an unmanageable problem—that means breaking through self-delusions and self-denials. 4-Part Pattern

Addiction follows a cycle: preoccupation, ritualization, compulsion, and resolution. This cycle starts with triggers—places, things, people, present-day catalytic environments, and the five basic feelings of HALT+B: hunger, anger, loneliness, tiredness, and boredom. Notice how the addictive cycle follows when a person has negative feelings about himself or herself. Preoccupation begins in the mind, as when a person starts to continuously think about the object of addiction,

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whether it be food, a chemical, or a relationship. Ritualization happens when a person starts preparatory activities to the compulsive behavior—withdrawing money from the bank, texting contacts that contribute to the behavior, opening one’s laptop and browsing through some “normal” websites, going to “familiar” places, or taking a shower and preparing what to wear. Compulsion involves actualizing the compulsive behavior—the point of no return.

Resolution follows, accompanied by feelings of guilt and shame, and a sense of despair for falling again, and thoughts of getting help or hiding this secret life. This ends another addictive cycle. When triggers arise again, the cycle begins anew. To stop the cycle, the person should first admit that he or she has an unmanageable problem—that means breaking through self-delusions and self-denials.

I Am Powerless

The Twelve Steps to Recovery is a therapeutic process that starts off with the addict saying, “I admit I am powerless over (state type of addiction), and that my life has become unmanageable.” This is the first step. It takes a life-changing event (sometimes several), such as an accident or a loss of a loved one, before an addict realizes that the compulsive behavior has become a problem that has brought insurmountable difficulties and needs to be faced. One way to bring some sense into an addict (on sober days) is to let him or her draw up an inventory that could bring about a realization of his or her powerlessness. This could mean listing problems (like the consequences experienced due to addiction), secrets kept to cover up the addiction (including living a double life), and excuses or rationalizations made to justify the addiction. Admitting to this powerlessness is just the beginning of the journey toward healing. Breaking the addiction cycle is the next step. Becoming consciously aware of one’s unique triggers to addictive behaviors is helpful in drawing up red flags in everyday experiences. Only in the preoccupation stage can one possibly stop another round of compulsive behavior. Once in the ritualization stage, it would be difficult to curtail it. Upon realizing that one has been “triggered” and is entering the first stage, an escape plan has to be put into action. An escape plan includes developing a low-risk lifestyle, listing off-limits behaviors, defining sobriety, dismantling

It takes a life-changing event (sometimes several) before an addict comes to realize that the compulsive behavior has become a problem that needs to be faced. one’s denial system, and lining up action steps against triggers. Developing a low-risk lifestyle may entail getting rid of cable television or Internet service or any other source of addiction, erasing contacts that contribute to one’s addiction, looking for a new job with lesser triggers, finding a different route home, and having a new set of friends. Off-limits behaviors may be staying up late at night, dating persons with loose morals, and other acts that are part of the ritualization process. Sobriety needs to be defined in terms of the compulsive behavior that is to be stopped. Tearing down the denial system means destroying the whole arsenal of self-deluded beliefs about God, self and

others, and excuses that have been accumulated to explain one’s addiction. Action steps would include calling someone, planning activities for unplanned downtime, practicing the presence of God, involving oneself in community service, or just taking a welldeserved rest. But we cannot do these alone.

Into-Me-See Breakthroughs

Addicted persons were hurt within relationships, and are designed by God to be healed also within relationships. It is within a safe and God-centered community that addiction can be prevented and cured. This community has to have two elements to be helpful to a recovering addict—support and accountability. Support brings in emphatic immersion, the nonjudgmental presence of another person that conveys an unconditional love towards the recovering addict and the pain he or she feels. Accountability requires a caring confrontation that breaks the silence over one’s own responsibility towards one’s actions, and destroying the strongholds of delusions and lies that a recovering addict believes in. Combined, support and accountability spells true intimacy. Intimacy means “into me see.” The distorted realities of an addict can be transformed into redeeming realities by a God who sees us for who we truly are. Discovering God’s unconditional love enables us to accept who we are, and we become truly free.




Recovery from an addiction is an arduous journey that can be successfully completed with a loving family by one’s side. BY ANNABELLIE GRUENBERG f a family member— whether an adult or a teen—is struggling with substance, alcohol, or other forms of addiction, it presents a threat not just to the person with addiction but also to the whole family. This is because when normal routines are interrupted, imbalance and disconnection ensue, giving rise to a dysfunctional family mired in stress, anger, frustration, and blaming of oneself and others. If left untreated, the addiction can eventually destroy the stability of the entire family, affecting in particular the younger children who may move from


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Don’t isolate the person with an addiction; there will always be a silent plea for help which everyone should be able to “hear.”

feeling secure and safe inside the home to feeling anxious, fearful, and confused.

Involving the Family

Successful treatment of addiction requires the family’s involvement right from the very beginning. Predictably, family members will initially manifest shock, anger, embarrassment, shame, confusion, anger, even denial. But they must learn to overcome these emotions if they really want the patient to recover and the family equilibrium to be maintained. They must be willing to open their eyes to the addiction, have professionals confirm the diagnosis, and go to the root of the problem. Only then can healing methods and modules be started. When a family chooses to be part of

the solution and join in the journey towards healing, it makes a huge difference in saving the affected family member. For in-patients who need to be confined in a rehabilitation center, regular interaction and communication with family is vital. For out-patients, it is crucial that they not be separated from the family and that family counseling is sought.

What You See, What You Don’t

9 Steps to Healing


Know what you are dealing with. To educate yourself, get hold of all relevant materials on the addiction and possible interventions. This will also help you to inform other members of the family of what is happening and how each one can contribute to the healing process. Open communication lines. Don’t isolate the person with an addiction; there will always be a silent plea for help which everyone should be able to “hear.” Don’t allow the person to feel abandoned, and don’t resort to blaming either. Instead encourage and empower the patient to help himself or herself. While doing so, be patient and persistent, since the individual’s thinking will be clouded by drugs, alcohol, or other particular addiction. Focus on solutions. Remem ber that the behavior of an individual with

Crying on the outside and dying on the inside. That’s me; that’s all you can see. But what you don’t see is that it’s not really me, Or at least not the girl that I once used to be. I’m drowning in my addiction, this is true, But I’m desperately reaching out to you. Won’t you throw me a lifeline, And try to help me save this life of mine?

an addiction is just the manifestation of the problem. It may have started from taking a certain medication that the individual became dependent on, or as a coping mechanism from emotional struggles related to some form of abuse suffered. Know how the addiction started and concentrate on how to deal effectively with the cause. Seek professional help. Search for modules the whole family, especially the addicted individual, will be comfortable in. If a module does not work, keep looking. Know that counseling or therapy can be equally

beneficial to the loved one undergoing the therapy and to the other members of the household. At the same time, seek other people who overcame similar struggles. Search for support groups and attend their programs and activities together as a family. If the individual resists therapy, don’t give up. Do everything to create the space or condition that will encourage the troubled person to seek help. You must also involve the patient in all decisions concerning the problem, because his or her willingness is key for therapy or healing to become effective. If the depth of the addiction prevents the patient from getting involved, the family should think of what

Successful treatment of addiction requires the family’s involvement right from the very beginning.




would work for the individual and not just what the members want, particularly if what others want is immediate results. For most patients, a combination of medical and spiritual support works. This is especially true if the addiction started from a psychological issue. Prepare the young ones. Though children must be protected from the whole trauma, it is best that they are told in their language and within their capacity to understand what is happening to the family. This is better than letting them hear wrong information from gossip outside the home. Be open to the idea of professional intervention. If the individual insists on rebuffing help, consider the services of a well-trained professional interventionist (such as an addiction therapist or counselor, or a psychologist) to guide the whole family in convincing the patient to undergo therapy. Have healthy, wholesome family activities. Nature heals, whereas noisy environments overwhelm. So that family members don’t succumb to pressures or temptations, encourage family-bonding activities that provide fun and relaxation for everyone. Enjoying nature—such as by walking barefoot on the grass or watching the stars—can give us quiet moments in which to savor the peace and reflection we crave.

Road to Recovery

Any form of addiction can be treated, especially in its early stages. But healing will not be easy or quick—for both the

person with addiction and the family. This is why it is essential to ensure the health and well-being of each member so that energy levels don’t get depleted during the long process of recovery. Moreover, a relapse by the patient is always possible, and this requires that the whole family remains vigilant for any signs of backsliding. Though hard to believe, a family crisis like this can also be a good thing, as it is an opportunity to define relationships and values, reform bad habits or problematic ways, begin working on other unresolved family issues, and build stronger connections. As each family member undergoes counseling and therapy along with the patient, personal

A family crisis can also be a good opportunity to define relationships and values, reform bad habits or problematic ways, begin working on other unresolved family issues, and build stronger connections. 28 FamilyMatters


issues can also be addressed, forestalling similar entrapment in an addiction. And towards the end of the therapy when the relapses are fewer, the family can create new rituals or practices that boost bonds, like eating together at dinnertime with only happy conversations around the table, and learning to enjoy both family time and “me time.” It is also good for the children to see that no matter how grievous the problem, the family is ready to solve the issue together, and to give their time and effort to a loved one in need. The individual who has escaped from his or her addiction nightmare in order to reintegrate into the family is like a battered soldier returning home from a battle—he or she might not show much enthusiasm or appear to be truly all right. But that is to be expected. Space, time, assurance, vigilance, and constant communication are weapons at the family’s disposal against self-doubts and negative thoughts that could sway the patient into regression. Once the recovering individual is successfully reintegrated into the family, it will be easier to reintegrate into society, too. It all begins in the home.

Adopt the five habits of happy families and your children will never be tempted to explore the self-destructive pathways of life. BY STEPHANIE MAYO


reputable school, wealth and privilege, and a family with the mother and father both present are no guarantee that a child will grow up a welladjusted, productive, and compassionate individual. What is crucial for the positive mental, physical, and emotional development of a child is a happy family—the operative word being “happy.” The power of happiness in the home can never be underestimated. If you want what is best for your kids, now is the time to examine the kind of family environment you have created for your brood.

The Unhappy Family

There are two types of unhappy families: the enmeshed and the disengaged. The enmeshed family is “emotionally involved and displays modest amounts of warmth,




but (the members) struggle with high levels of hostility, destructive meddling, and a limited sense of the family as a team,” according to a psychological research paper discussed in an article on disengaged family, on the other hand, is “marked by cold, controlling, and withdrawn relationships.” According to Melissa Sturge-Apple, lead researcher of the paper: “The study shows that cold and controlling family environments are linked to a growing cascade of difficulties for children in their first three years of school, from aggressive and disruptive behavior to depression and alienation.” The study also finds that “children from families marked by high levels of conflict and intrusive parenting increasingly struggle with anxiety and social withdrawal as they navigate their early school years.” An unhappy family can have dangerous, long-term effects not just on the child’s development but on the health as well.

“Negative, critical, or hostile family relationships have a stronger influence on health than positive or supportive relationships,” says Thomas Campbell, chair of the Department of Family Medicine at University of Rochester Medical Center, in his article, “The Effectiveness of Family Interventions for Physical Disorders,’ in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. “Being nasty is worse than simply not being nice.” Campbell says schizophrenia, depression, weight management, asthma, diabetes, and migraine headaches can be linked to conflict and criticism between family members. If a child is often anxious, angry, sickly, or has a very low self-esteem, these are red flags for an unhappy family, and the negative effects can be carried on long into adulthood.

The Happy Family

A happy family is not synonymous to a perfect family. There is no such thing as a perfect family. “The truth is, happy families have

“Children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant, commit suicide, and develop eating disorders.” cranky kids, messy houses, and money struggles, just like everyone else. But underneath it all, they have a core of contentment that sustains them through all of life’s ups and downs,” says Jeannie Kim in her WebMD article “4 Keys to Building a Happy Family.” Sturge-Apple termed a happy family as a “cohesive family” characterized by “harmonious interactions, emotional warmth, and firm but flexible roles for parents and children.”

Happy Home Checklist

These five hallmarks of a happy family can help parents identify what needs

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produce happiness. How often have we ourselves been made happy by kind words, in a manner and to an extent which we are unable to explain!” 2. Playing together. Happy, cohesive families regularly take time off from work, unplug from the Internet, and spend quality time together, whether outdoors or indoors. “There is nothing like play to bring about family togetherness and communication,” says Burns. “Play builds family memories, reduces family stress, and produces support and affirmation.” Michelle is strict when it comes to her family’s weekend getaways. “If we missed family leisure time on one weekend due to a valid reason, we need to double our family activity next weekend, like going

to an extra special place: the museum or the amusement park.” Choose activities where all family members are involved and active communication is promoted. If budget is an issue, a board game can be a great solution. “Board games are an effective tool for family communication. It’s easy to make conversation over a board game. Games set up a relaxing atmosphere, so laughing and sharing stories about school, work, friends and life in general flow easily from parent to child, and child to parent,” says Sylvia Rimm, a psychologist and the director of Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. Rimm also says board games increase attention, listening, and concentration skills; enhance vocabulary; encourage

improvement in their own home for the sake of their growing kids. 1. Positive communication and listening. “Positive communication is the language of love for our children. Parents must take the initiative to set the tone for family communication—which includes the important skill of listening,” says Jim Burns, Ph.D., in his article “10 Building Blocks for a Happy Family.” Michelle Encarnacion-Flores, RN MAN, a professor at the College of Nursing at Rizal Technological University and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasig, shares how she and husband Ron make an effort to foster positive communication with their children—three boys aged 16, 13 and 7. “We ask what made their day special, we show concern, and we gently encourage them to express their feelings and confusions, and problems with classmates,” Michelle explains. “The entire family talk about everything under the sun. It’s a form of therapy for all of us. We make sure that the communication line is always open between us and our children. We especially make an effort to be a friend to our teenagers.” And communicate kindly. As Frederick William Faber said, “Kind words

“Happy families have cranky kids, messy houses, and money struggles, just like everyone else. But they have a core of contentment that sustains them through all of life’s ups and downs.” DECEMBER 2015 - FEBRUARY 2016



“Energize your family’s spiritual growth. Your greatest calling in life is to leave a spiritual legacy for your children.” higher levels of thinking skills; and teach good sportsmanship. 3. Partaking of family dinners. Kids who have dinner with the whole family will fare better in almost all aspects of their development. Impossible to schedule dinner with the entire family? Try breakfast together. And it doesn’t have to be every single day; eating meals together on more days of the week will do, and here’s why: “A recent wave of research shows that children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant, commit suicide, and develop eating disorders,” reports Erik Barker, in his article on happy families published in TIME magazine.

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“Additional research found that children who enjoy family meals have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem.” 4. A loving marriage. A significant number of studies prove that couples who love each other unconditionally have a profound effect on kids’ well-being. “Children living with two biological married parents experience better educational, social, cognitive, and

behavioral outcomes than do other children, on average,” according to the article “Marriage and Child Well-Being: Research and Policy Perspectives” by Susan Brown, in the Journal of Marriage & Family. “A loving marriage brings hope and security to your children,” says Burns, but added that at times, this means putting your spouse’s needs ahead of your children’s. “We know intuitively that how happy we are—in a relationship or otherwise—affects our children. Our emotions are contagious, and so when a romantic partner loves us unconditionally, the happiness and security that love brings can spill over, to our children’s benefit,” says Christine Carter, a sociologist and happiness expert, in her HuffPost article “Why a Happy Marriage Makes for Happy Kids.” “Romance also has the potential to make us better parents: positive emotions (like love) and the social support of a partner can make us warmer and more responsive to our children,” Carter adds. 5. Guided by morals, values, and spirituality. A family that promotes a strong moral compass, Christian values, and spirituality within the family highly contributes to a kid’s well-being. Since kids mirror their parents’ behavior, it is important that parents are the first ones to live a genuinely Christian life. “Energize your family’s spiritual growth,” Burns advises parents. “Your greatest calling in life is to leave a spiritual legacy for your children. Pay close attention to your own spiritual health and model a healthy spirituality for your family.” Your child’s healthy development depends less on material wealth or access to a recognized school and more on the happiness found in your family. Raise happiness in the family! Cultivate love inside the home and raise children who become caring, generous, and honorable adults—assets to a society that badly needs more positive role models.

Youth Talk-Starring

The Younghusbands

James and Phil reveal their goal—to open the exhilarating world of football to Filipino kids. BY MARIDOL RANOA-BISMARK

You will know them by their fruits.  Star football players James, 29, and Phil Younghusband, 28, have such a squeaky clean reputation that you marvel at the way their late parents— Phillip and Susan—had raised them. And when you discover that they’re also products of a Salesian education in their native United Kingdom, then you begin to understand why. But while James and Phil are not your typical rowdy boys, James insists they’re just as human as you and me. “I did a bad and naughty thing by throwing a (stink) bomb on the train 34 FamilyMatters


when I first started at Salesians, and I got detention,” he admits. James was digging up a not-soproud memory from his teenage days at Salesian School, Chertsey, United Kingdom, where the Fil-British brothers studied for seven years. It was here that the two started playing football, the sport that would become their ticket to fame in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world.   Those early years instilled in them the discipline and never-die-spirit that catapulted the brothers to great heights as athletes and role models of their generation. “We were playing for our school football team and winning all the championships,” James says with a big smile.

Photos by Walter Bollozos of Philippine Star

play it

Coaching athletes-to-be

James adds that St. John Bosco is a great influence in their lives, especially the Italian saint’s passion for guiding boys down the right path. Years after they left the UK and made the Philippines their second home, they have put up their own football school in Manila—The Younghusband Football Academy or TYFA—to train boys in the sport so they, too, can discover the thrill of the game. TYFA teamed up with the renowned Chelsea Football Club, one of the top English football clubs where the Younghusbands had their start, to give local students the same world-class training in the sport that the brothers had received.  As coaches, James and Phil

don’t just sit on the bench shouting instructions. They go out on the field, answer questions from the boys, and play with these aspiring athletes from Manila and all over the Philippines.   The brothers are this passionate about the sport because their own mentors from way back had shown the same fervor for football.  James says, “The biggest memories

program in Don Bosco schools.  Not only that, James says he wants to help in non-sports-related programs as well. James and Phil have visited the Don Bosco campus in Makati, seen the students, and envisioned teaching the future generation about football and the discipline, sportsmanship, and camaraderie it imparts.

St. John Bosco is a great influence in their lives, especially the Italian saint’s passion for guiding boys down the right path.

(Topmost right) Phil gives pointers to aspiring athletes during a visit to Don Bosco Makati in 2012; (above) James showcases his playing skills before the young Bosconian crowd; (below) the Younghusbands with Fr. Paul Bicomong, current Provincial Superior of the Salesians-Philippine North Province.

with the (Salesian) priests and brothers were they loved football as (much as) we did.” “We’d talk about recent football goingson,” James says, recalling their animated conversations with his Salesian mentors. It warmed the brothers’ hearts to know that the Salesians felt proud seeing how two of their students stood out in the Chelsea Football Club. James earned a football scholarship and Phil went on to become the youth team’s star player. “It was good because it felt like (the Salesians) did really care about our progression,” James explains. Given the chance, James and Phil would like to give back to the school that molded them into the fine young men and athletes they are today. And the way they think they can do this is by helping set up a football

“It was really cool. I hope to visit more (Don Bosco schools) in the Philippines in the future,” states James, who, like Phil, used to serve in the Mass when they were kids. Their Salesian mentors will also be happy to know that the brothers continue to practice what they learned in their Don Bosco school. Phil states that he seeks divine guidance by reciting the rosary every day. James, for his part, hears Mass as much as he can. No wonder you never hear the brothers get in trouble. Furthermore, they help needy relatives and are good surrogate parents to only sister Keri, 14. As a parting advice, James tells Bosconians this: “Enjoy your time at school as much as you can. And don’t be afraid to try new things and fail. Failure helps us learn and grow as people. No one is perfect but the best ones have failed many times.” DECEMBER 2015 - FEBRUARY 2016



Youth Talk-Choosing

You’re home alone when the house starts swaying. Or you’re walking home when lightning erupts. When disaster strikes and no parents or teachers are around, will you know what to do? BY EXCEL V. DYQUIANGCO

Filipinos are all keyed up anticipating The Big Earthquake. But if experiencing an actual calamity, we—adults and youngsters alike— would likely panic. According to Christy Donato, manager of the Environment of Care Department at The Medical City, however, panic would be felt most when People Are Not Informed Correctly. “If we are not knowledgeable about the things that we (should) do during the disaster, we tend to do everything in a chaotic and confused manner; therefore we tend to panic,” she says. “So the first thing that we should do is to keep calm and relax so our adrenaline won’t rush.” Of course, reining in your fear and striving to be in control of your senses is easier said than

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done, especially when everyone else around you is probably running around aimlessly or standing there helplessly screaming their heads off. Donato suggests that the best thing to do is to prepare in advance so you’ll be calm and clearheaded should you find yourself in the midst of a crisis. Here are disaster survival tips that will boost your chances of survival in times of emergency.


When inside a structure • Remember the mantra “drop, cover, and hold”—drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy table and brace yourself. If you don’t do this, the intensity of the earthquake can throw you against the wall or cause things to fall on you or fly your way. • Look for the columns in your house and stand against one of them. “The sturdiest foundations of a house or structure are the columns and the beams,” Donato explains. • Stand against a wall. If there are no hardy tables or columns, you can either stand or kneel against the wall with your arms protectively above your head. Donato says this position will afford you some safety and prevent the ceiling caving in on you. • Stay away from falling objects, glass windows, cabinets, and shelves. • Stay indoors until the shaking stops then exit the house or the building. When outside a structure • Look for clear areas and drop to the ground. Make sure no power lines or buildings are near you, says Donato. “The important thing is that nothing will fall on you.” • If inside a car or any form of transportation, have the driver pull over to a clear area with no power lines, bridges, and overpasses. • When out hiking, be alert for falling rocks and other debris as landslides can happen during this time. • When out swimming at sea or in the pool, immediately head for shore or the pool’s edge and get out.

The best thing to do is to prepare in advance so you’ll be calm and clearheaded should you find yourself in the midst of a crisis.


At the onset of fire • For electrical fires, remove the plug if it is safe to do so. “But if not, look for the breaker and turn off the electric current in your house,” Donato says. “And then pour water on the affected area.” • You can also use a wet blanket to cover the fire. • Use a fire extinguisher. Tell your parents to buy one as a precaution in case your house should catch fire. Ask your parents to teach you how to use it. In the midst of a huge fire • When the fire is far from you, crawl towards the nearest exit with your body at least 18 inches from the floor. This is the safest position because all toxic and nauseous gases which are lighter than air are above you. • Break the windows. If the only exit is already in flames, go to the nearest window and break it. If the windows have grills, cover your nose and head to the nearest exit.




Youth Talk-Choosing • Don’t lock yourself inside the bathroom. “There are fires which react to water and when you go inside the bathroom, the water gets heated which brings you more harm than good,” Donato says. • Use a fire extinguisher. Whether at the onset of fire or flames are already licking the curtains, make sure you know how to use a fire extinguisher. • Have someone call a friend or a family member. If you are with a companion, let him do the calling while you do the fire-fighting.


When outside your house • Stay away from broken transmission cables and power lines. • Stay away from the floodwaters as they can not only suck you in but also give you diseases such as leptospirosis. • If you are already being swept away by the current, look for a sturdy object to hold on to. “The water current gets dangerous and intense so make sure you have an item to hold on tight to,” Donato says.

Equip kids with coping skills Although young, children should still be taught how to make wise decisions and correct moves at a moment’s notice, according to Teach your kids vital info like his or her full name, address, phone number, illnesses, and your name, phone number, and place of employment. Put this information in your child’s backpack and teach him or her where to �ind it if it is ever needed. Teach them how to get home and give directions. Your child should know how to provide directions as well as �ind his or her way home from common places like school, the grocery store, or grandma’s house. Teach them how to use the GPS function. GPS systems may not always work and not all kids have cell phones, but if they do, teach them how to use the GPS system to get home. Don’t forget to plan. What if your house was destroyed and you have no way to get in touch with your child to arrange a different meeting place? Consider all eventualities, then practice your action plan. Make sure your kids have everything they need to get home, like a bottle of water, energy bars, a compass, and a whistle. • When water has overcome you, relax. Make yourself float. Don’t resist the water. “Just go with the flow and put aside everything that comes your way,” she says.

Whether at the onset of fire or flames are already licking the curtains, make sure you know how to use a fire extinguisher

They can learn best through fun games and activities that allow them to �lex their problem-solving muscles in disaster-related scenarios. It’s in your child’s best interest to develop positive and realistic ways of coping with the ability to manage anxiety during a catastrophe.

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When inside the house • Turn off all gas-fed and electrical appliances if you still have the time. • If living in a two-story house, bring furniture and appliances up the second floor.

Storm with lightning

When caught outside • Seek shelter in a strong, safe place such as a building or a car. You’ll be okay if you are not outside in contact with metal. • Don’t go under a tree or other tall objects. Lightning looks for tall structures to strike. • Don’t go near any forms of water such as the sea or pool or stay in an open space. When inside the house • Turn off any electrical appliances such as computers and television sets as the lightning current can spark a short circuit and cause fire as well. • Always have flashlights handy just in case the electricity gets cut.

Youth Talk-Growing

Students of the World The rewarding, life-affirming journey of foreign exchange program recipients. BY STEPHANIE MAYO

“Exchange isn’t a year in your life… it’s a life in a year.” Imagine the adventure, the thrill of living an entirely different life in an unfamiliar world. A different family, a different school, a different land. It’s like a dream. Only you wake up one year later back to your old life in the Philippines. But you’ve come home a positively changed person. You are still you—but now with a touch of French, Japanese, American, or Korean—depending on what country you lived your life for a year. Such is the rich and life-changing experience of a foreign exchange student, who usually studies abroad for one year at a

foreign institution as part of a reciprocal program between two countries or institutions. An exchange student travels to a host country and stays with one or more host families. The student attends the host school, and independently discovers the country’s people, culture, language, and lifestyle. The program is not just downright exciting for a student—it hugely benefits him or her, because the program advocates international learning, interest in global issues, problem-solving skills, and a multifaceted education.




Youth Talk-Growing Also, exchange students are found to come home with a higher level of self-confidence and social poise, and have more favorable employment opportunities due to the student’s amassed knowledge, culture, and language from their experience. We interviewed two Filipinas who have experienced life as a foreign exchange student: one in France, and the other in the U.S. Their stories will provide a more intimate glimpse into the life of a Pinoy exchange student, and may inspire you to apply for the program! Meet Jaxynne Aleix Ann C. Alcala. She was a Rotary Youth Exchange Student 2014-2015 at the age of 17, going to France and studying at Lycée Blaise Pascal. She applied to the program after being inspired by her grandfather and mother’s wish for her to experience an international education. We also have Cebu-born and raised April Mae V. Ong Vaño, who experienced her exchange almost 10 years ago at 17, right after high school graduation at St. Theresa’s College. Also a Rotary International exchange student, April stayed for one year in the United States and went to the O’Fallon Township High School SY 2006-2007. Her decision to apply to the program was to become exposed to a different culture, mindset, and lifestyle, and learn to be independent and deal with people from

various backgrounds. It is also a way for her to represent our country and share our own culture to her host community.

(Topmost) April, on the far left, wrapped in the spirit of camaraderie with fellow students in the U.S.; (above) Aleix with the Eiffel Tower in the background in France, and (left) with her young peers; (below) April out and about outdoors with friends.

40 FamilyMatters


FAMILY MATTERS: Your first reaction when you were assigned a host family and school? What were your fears? Aleix: It felt both exciting and nervewracking at the same time. It was like having a ticket to another chapter of my life without a hint of what’s in store for me. I was then worried about how my host family would be like and how my classmates in France would treat me. I feared that they would discriminate or bully me and that I may not be able to defend myself well enough. For a while, I had second thoughts. I feared the unknown. I remember my first bus ride going to school. I was shaking, so afraid to get lost in a country too foreign for my understanding. All the lessons and books in school were in French, and most of the teachers and students couldn’t understand English. I honestly thought I would go home 10 months ahead of time. I knew I had to be strong and that there were a lot people who trusted me, so despite the homesickness, I chose to

I learned that there are things greater than what I learn in books and what professors teach in school. go on. That was the best decision I’ve ever made so far. April: I found out that I was assigned to a city called O’Fallon, Illinois, and I would have three host families within the year. I learned that O’Fallon was a small town with less than 30,000 people. This was surprising at first because I thought that Cebu City was already small compared to Manila and I imagined other international cities would be bigger. Honestly, I was worried if it was going to be a bit duller not living in the urban area. But as soon as I got to know people better, I realized that they were inclusive. I also learned that several students came from military families wherein they frequently moved to different countries growing up. So they were very welcoming to me and revealed a diverse set of personalities. FM: What was the best thing about being a foreign exchange student? What did the experience teach you? Aleix: The first-hand experience of being independent. Going abroad is a lot more than doing things alone, washing your clothes, or finding your way home without a driver—it’s mostly about

In my first few months in a country where only very few spoke English, I had a hard time ordering food, shopping, and conversing in general.

personal growth. You mature and grow along the way, in the process of getting used to what once used to be so alien. As an individual, I learned that there are things greater than what I learn in books and what professors teach in school. During my exchange, we had two big trips: the Paris-Barcelona and the Euro tour. Each trip was participated in by 50 exchange students from all over the globe. During these trips, we were given the chance to really know other people and understand our differences. I had the time of my life with these internationals that I got to interact with! April: I was able to learn lessons in life beyond the classroom. Being away from home makes you miss and appreciate the mundane and significant things your family back home provides for you. At the same time, you are able to open yourself up to meaningful relationships. It takes you out of your comfort zone. It challenges your worldview. It gives light to the diversity of people and cultures around the world. With that, you can become more proud of your own country and heritage. You are also more aware and appreciative of other cultures and the concerns affecting different countries other than yours. There is more understanding, openness, and oneness with people around you. The experience teaches you to become a global citizen. FM: Any challenges you encountered? Aleix: One of the biggest challenges I had to face was the language. In my first few months in a country where only very few understood and spoke English, it was very difficult. I had a hard time ordering food, shopping, and conversing in general. Second were the people. French people think very differently from Filipinos, from me. It was challenging to understand and accept two contrasting cultures. April: One personal challenge for me

was regarding my religious practices. My host families were not Catholic and did not attend mass. But thankfully, they were all very accommodating and introduced me to the Catholic community in O’Fallon. I was able to join the Sunday celebrations at St. Nicholas Parish and also meet new people there. Another personal challenge for me was the weather. In the Midwest America, we experienced the four seasons. Obviously, the cold winter was tough for me especially with my tiny frame. I actually experienced an ice storm during that winter. FM: How did you deal with your homesickness? Aleix: I made myself busy with the new life I had there. I enrolled in a language school, made friends, and went out with other exchange students every once in a while. I made myself engage with the French way of living. I found balance between my life in Europe and in the Philippines. I needed my family to assure me that I’d make it through, but I knew that detaching myself a little from them for a while would make it a lot easier for everyone. April: The worst time I got homesick was during Christmas time. It was definitely a happy celebration with my host family and new friends. But I really felt the cultural difference with the Filipino way of celebrating the holidays. But I think technology was already helpful at that time for me to be able to speak with my family back in Cebu. I was also able to share some traditions including food recipes which my host parents helped me prepare. Fortunately, the Rotary program was also very useful in gathering fellow exchange students. They were able to manage our expectations from the beginning and help us with any concerns along the way. It was also comforting to open up with them about DECEMBER 2015 - FEBRUARY 2016



Youth Talk-Growing my experience because we were all going through similar things. My group was very diverse so I had good friends from Finland, Germany, France, Taiwan, Argentina, and Brazil. My school was also very accommodating and I was part of a group of new students who mostly came from military families who had been newly assigned. It was a good balance of support with fellow international students and new American students. FM: How long was your adjustment period? Aleix: I think it took me four months to say that my life was already Frenchtouched. When I began to finally speak the language, I was able to really understand others’ opinions, and I enjoyed every aspect of their openmindedness, well-planned activities, ways of celebrating, their relationships, and finally, their culture. It became better and better as days passed by, and this foreign culture eventually felt like home. April: Quite frankly, I think it was easy for me because there was already very much American influence in the Philippines. I grew up with the same pop culture icons in music, films, and other pastimes. I also want to share that it was actually more difficult for me to adjust to the reverse culture shock when I

April poses for their graduation photo.

Where to apply for a foreign exchange program • Inquire at your school if you have an exchange program. De La Salle University and the University of the Philippines have one. • The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program (http://yesprograms. org/country/philippines ) • Rotary Club Philippines (rotaryphilippines.wordpress. com/students-and-youth) • AFS Intercultural ProgramsPhilippines ( intercultural-programs/schoolprograms) • Philippine Global Undergraduate Exchange Program ( Or for more information, visit programs/country.

returned home. I was already exposed to different views in life from my host community as well as my new friends from all over the world.

Aleix is now back home and studying at Ateneo de Manila University.

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FM: Why the need for the program? Aleix: Exchange programs promote inter-cultural exchange that exposes young students to different perspectives, peoples, and beliefs. It is essential in crafting the youth to

become open-minded individuals who crave for nothing less than first-hand experience. Programs (such as these) create confident, independent students who do not fear change. They are essential because they change lives as they give opportunities to those who are willing to take the risk. April: I think these programs are essential as a unique opportunity for young people to grow and mature as global citizens. The world is actually your classroom and real-life experiences are your teachers. These values and wisdom do not only come from within classrooms. Before I went on my exchange, I wondered if it was going to be worth it to be a year behind in college. I can still remember what my dad told me, “Don’t let school interfere with your education.”

Where they are now

Today, Aleix is an 18-year-old student at Ateneo de Manila. She admits that even though she loves the Philippines with all of her heart, when she got back from France, she was never fully home again because a part of her was left in France. After graduating from high school, April attended university at Ateneo de Manila, taking up A.B. European Studies. Now age 26, she is a consultant in enterprise development and corporate social responsibility. She worked in Paris for a year as global exchange manager for AIESEC France, and as a corporate social responsibility officer for Resorts World Manila for a year and a half. At present she also actively supports social enterprise and sustainable development initiatives.

Youth Talk-Choosing

Renato overseeing a high-rise residential building project in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

A civil engineer recounts the arc of his successful career. BY EXCEL V. DYQUIANGCO

As far back as high school,

Renato Tulio was already bent on taking up Civil Engineering in college to realize his dream of building dams, bridges, and roads. But because his dad was a seafarer, his family convinced him to take up Maritime Engineering instead. However, due to financial constraints, he had to drop out of school and concentrate on raising crops on their farm in Pangasinan. “At the back of my mind I still wanted to pursue my dream,” Renato recalls. “I guess my parents heard my plea and asked my sister who was working in another country to support me. I then went back to school and took up Civil Engineering in Luzon Colleges, now University of Luzon in Dagupan City.” After graduating in 1992 and while waiting for the results of his Board

exam, he went to Manila to work as a cadet engineer at a construction firm, attending to site clearing works and installation of temporary construction fences and hoardings for three months. His company then promoted him to site engineer, assigned to supervise civil works such as building storm drains, and service roads, and landscaping, while also serving as a surveyor. “Working on all of these projects was a dream come true because I love to handle big infrastructure developments such as building storm drains and service roads, and water supply systems, and high-residential and hotel buildings,” Renato says. But for him, the best part of his job is getting to work with so many people who put their trust in his capability and his vision. This, he adds, is “because

civil engineers do not only design, but typically manage people as well as projects, and they oversee the construction site of the structures that they have designed.”

Off to Vietnam

In 1998 Renato was offered the post of project manager in Vietnam. He admits that arriving at the decision to accept the job was difficult because he was well aware of the sacrifices to be made, the risks involved, and the language barrier he had to face. But he soon learned to adjust to the local culture. As project manager, his tasks include ensuring that construction projects are completed within budget and target date. At the same time he makes sure that projects follow technical specifications and design drawings, as DECEMBER 2015 - FEBRUARY 2016



Youth Talk-Choosing well as adhere to acceptable quality standards. However, he does face challenges in his line of work from time to time. For instance, he has to deal with contractors who don’t deliver on their commitments, causing project delays. “That’s the most difficult part of it—dealing with the management of resources and obliging contractors to continue their work based on our agreed contract,” says Renato. Other challenges that he frequently encounters include lack of funds and insufficient resources, which jeopardize their ability to meet the target date for project completion. But Renato tries to come up with creative and practical solutions, including establishing his own cash flow system and checking every detail, cost, feasibility issue, and safety concern to pre-empt further problems. Definitely, he misses his family back home. “As an OFW, the hardest part is that I am not always present to attend to family matters or be there for family

(Top) Celebrating Christmas with his family in 2014; (below) enjoying a family summer vacation in Danang, Vietnam, earlier this year.

Strong Work Ethics

2015 Family summer vacation- Danang, Vietnam

Civil engineering is the oldest engineering discipline and one of the world’s great professions. It deals with the building of physical infrastructure and can be dated to the �irst time someone placed a roof over his or her head or laid a tree trunk across a river to make it easier to get across. Civil engineers are responsible for virtually all the great structures around us today and throughout history. • A civil engineer created the slippery part of the water slide. Without the right �low of water, there is no ride. • The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world and has become an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco and California. • The Burj Al Arab is a �ive-star luxury hotel located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. At 1,053 feet, it is the fourth tallest hotel in the world. The shape of the structure is designed to mimic the sail of a ship. • The Millennium Force Roller Coaster in Sandusky, Ohio, is the world’s tallest (310 feet) and fastest (92 mph) roller coaster, and is supported by 226 footers using 9,400 yards of concrete. • The Channel Tunnel is one of the greatest civil engineering projects of the 20th century. It has an ultimate design capacity of 600 trains per day each way under the English Channel.

44 FamilyMatters


affairs and gatherings. I wasn’t there to personally witness the growing years of my children. But I always make sure to be with them during special occasions such as Christmas, New Year, and graduation ceremonies,” he says. Despite the work issues and the constant longing for his family, Renato knows that the pros still outweigh the cons, not just financially, but in the fulfilment he derives from being directly involved in exciting development projects in the fast-rising Southeast Asian country. The perks include seeing his projects transform from blueprint to reality and getting the chance to live inside the hotels that he personally helped to build.

Working in Vietnam for almost 18 years now, Renato has grown to know well the Vietnamese customs and culture, and learned how to deal with the local staff. “I have learned to value opportunity and to trust the nature of my work as a contractual employee, where after one project there’s always another one waiting,” he says. “I thank God that I always get an offer and that I don’t need to present my work qualifications. The employer would immediately offer a good salary because they already know me, my attitude, and my work ethics.” He attributes his career success to his employer and colleagues back in the Philippines who were the first to put their trust in him and who taught him the skills needed to make it big in another country. “Also in times of difficulties, my family is there to give me strength and support,” he says. “They serve as my inspiration.” As for his plans, Renato wants to eventually put up his own firm. “With God’s help, I want to build my own company,” he says. “I want to help others as well. I want to create more jobs where many aspiring and qualified engineers can work. I want to impart to them my knowledge and my love for both buildings and designs.”


of the A toast to the well-loved family treats that make the holiday season complete! BY CECILIA ESPERANZA

We all know that the line of a popular song that goes “Christmas won’t be the same without you” refers to the season losing its meaning without that special someone beside you at Christmas. But in one sense, the holidays just aren’t the same either without the special dishes that traditionally enliven the Filipino family’s Noche Buena table each year. So in this issue, Family Matters presents the recipes of four of the most popular dishes served during the happiest occasion of the year. What’s more, we’ve added a sparkly drink for good measure!

Depending on the kind of rice you use, you may need to soak it in water before cooking to help speed up the cooking process. When you do this, you naturally use less cooking water. 46 FamilyMatters


Serves 6 to 8

Easy Seafood Paella

INGREDIENTS 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 large yellow onion, chopped 4 cloves garlic, chopped 1 /2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 2 cups Spanish rice or short-grain rice, soaked in water for 15 minutes then drained 2 large pinches of Spanish saffron threads, soaked in 1/2 cup water 1 /4 cup chopped fresh parsley 4 cups chicken stock

2 lemons, zested 1 teaspoon paprika 1 /2 teaspoon cayenne pepper Salt, to taste 2 large Roma tomatoes, finely chopped 200 grams French green beans 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped 1 /2 kilogram chorizo sausage, casings removed and crumbled 1 /2 kilogram prawns or large shrimp, peeled and deveined

PROCEDURE 1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Sauté onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes then add rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads and the soaking liquid, parsley, chicken stock, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 20 minutes. 2. Stir in the, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt. Stir in tomatoes and green beans. Bring to a boil and let the liquid slightly reduce then cover and cook on low heat for 20 minutes. 3. Stir in bell pepper and chorizo. Uncover and spread shrimp over the rice, pushing it into the rice slightly. Add a little water if needed. Cover and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until shrimp turn pink. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. 4. Serve the paella hot with your favorite white wine.

Serves 8 to 12

Chinese Ham

INGREDIENTS 2 kilograms leg of ham 1 carrot, chopped 1 onion, peeled and quartered 2 garlic cloves, crushed 1 stalk celery, chopped 1 cinnamon stick 1 /2 tablespoon peppercorns 1 bay leaf Water, enough to cover meat 24 whole cloves

Serves 8


INGREDIENTS 11/2 kilograms beef round or flank steak or sirloin, butterflied 1/2 inch thick 1 /2 cup soy sauce 1 lemon 1 /4 kilo ground beef liver 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish Salt and pepper, to taste 3 eggs, scrambled and fried 2 chorizo de bilbao, halved lengthwise 2 pickled dill or sweet pickled cucumber, cut lengthwise divided into 4 equal pieces

1 medium sized carrot, cut into long strips 3 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into strips (about 1/2 inch thick) 1 /2 cup flour 1 /2 cup cooking oil 1 onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 tomatoes, diced 1 tablespoon peppercorns, crushed 2 beef cubes dissolved in 3 cups boiling water 2 bay leaves 1 small can tomato sauce

For the glaze 1 /2 cup soy sauce 1 /2 cup pure maple syrup 2 tablespoons char siu (Chinese barbecue) sauce 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon five-spice powder

PROCEDURE 1. Put leg of ham in a large pot. Add carrot, onion, garlic, celery, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, bay leaf, and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for around 2½ hours, adding more boiling water if necessary to keep ham fully covered. 2. Remove ham from stock. Set aside and let it cool. Preheat oven to 350°F. Transfer ham to a roasting pan. Using a small knife, cut away the skin leaving behind an even layer of fat. Run your fingers under skin and carefully lift it off in one piece, removing as little of the fat as possible Score the fat all over in a diamond pattern. Stud the center of each diamond with a clove. 3. In a small saucepan over low heat, mix the glaze ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened. Brush ham with some glaze mixture and bake for 40 minutes or until golden and well glazed. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes then spoon more glaze over the top. The ham can be roasted on the day itself or up to 2 days ahead and served cold.

PROCEDURE 1. Marinate beef in soy sauce and lemon juice for at least 1 hour. Set aside. 2. Mix ground beef liver and sweet relish. Season with salt and pepper. Remove beef from marinade, reserving the marinade. 3. Place beef on a flat surface. Lay cooked egg over the beef. Spread the ground beef liver mixture over the egg. Arrange chorizo, carrot, pickles, and cheese over ground beef liver. Roll the beef like a log until the filling is entirely covered and secure at both ends. Tie the meat roll with a string. 4. Dredge meat in flour. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat and fry all sides of the meat roll until brown. Set aside. 5. In the same pot, sauté onion, garlic, tomatoes, peppercorns and reserved lemon-soy sauce marinade. Transfer the fried rolled beef to a casserole. Pour in the beef broth. Add bay leaves then bring to a boil (about 2 hours using ordinary casserole or 30 minutes in a pressure cooker). 6. Add tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 20 minutes over low heat or until meat is tender. 7. Remove meat roll from the sauce and remove strings. Cut crosswise and arrange slices on a platter. Pour the sauce over and serve.





Replace empty platters rather than add fresh food to a dish that already had food in it.

Serves 6

Photo: Luchrupan

Leche Flan Makes 3 llaneras INGREDIENTS /4 cup white sugar 8 egg yolks, lightly beaten 1 big can condensed milk 1 can (390 grams) evaporated milk 1 medium calamansi


PROCEDURE 1. Divide sugar among the 3 llanera molders. Over low fire, caramelize the sugar, tilting the pan once in a while to avoid burning the sugar (do not stir) until all sugar granules are melted nicely and turn golden in color. Set aside. 2. In a mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, condensed milk, and evaporated milk. Mix gently to combine. Add calamansi juice together with the rind to extract flavor. 3. Pass mixture through a strainer or fine sieve to remove any unwanted particles and achieve a smooth, velvety flan. 4. Cover llaneras with aluminum foil. Steam for about 45 minutes over low fire. Remove flan from pan and set aside. Let cool. 5. Chill in the refrigerator before serving.

Always serve food on clean plates—never use plates used for holding raw meat and poultry for cooked food. 48 FamilyMatters


Hot Spiced Punch

INGREDIENTS 2 cups grape juice 4 cups apple cider 2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger 8 whole cloves 6 strips orange peel (3” x 1/2” each) 12 cinnamon sticks, divided 2 /3 cup raisins 2 /3 cup slivered almonds

PROCEDURE 1. Combine juice, cider, ginger, cloves, orange peel, and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan and place over medium heat. 2. Cool the mixture down then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let it cook for 15 minutes. 3. Add raisins and almonds. Cook until raisins are tender. Serve hot garnished with remaining cinnamon sticks.

Family Matters December 2015-February 2016