VOLUME 6 • NUMBER 4
WOMEN WHO SURRENDER YET
WORK nt How to preve rk burnout in wo and service
Succeeding in business by focusing on
Purpose & Passion living life with
Plus! PREPRARING A DESSERT BUFFET TIPS ON
TACKLED IN THIS ISSUE: The highs that keep you going in your ministry.
EDITORS NOTE EDITOR IN CHIEF Ramoncito dela Cruz
VOLUME 6 • NUMBER 4
Managing Editor Aly Sulit-Placino
ABOUT THE COVER Benjo Aganon’s love for music began as one way of catching the attention of females in his band-crazed high school, laughs the music ministry head of Christ’s Youth in Action and member of the University District. Inspired by ignoble objectives, the young musician’s passions eventually led him to a series of events that paved the way to a deeper relationship with God. Today, Benjo uses his gift of music to inspire others – especially the youth – to a richer and fuller worship life. More on p. 15.
Photographer John Rich Villas captures Benjo in action in this issue’s cover.
IN THIS ISSUE
Editor’s Note How do you live life with purpose and passion?
Issue’s and Question What highs keep you going in your ministry?
God @ Work Pray, Love, Serve How to prevent and overcome burnout
One book that has touched my life
TRUE NORTH BEAT
Editorial Board Gary Mendoza, (coordinator in charge) Berry Marfori Anna Sobrepena Chito Sobrepena
Take your passion and let it happen
TRUE NORTH BEAT
By teaching teachers to be the best all children deserve to have, she has uncovered even richer meaning in her life
The Bradshaws love them all
They raised goats, birds, cats and dogs for 17 years and now dream of putting up a shelter for animals
The Salvanas: Keeping fit for the fight
Dolly Rodriguez and Joy Castillo: Women who surrender yet triumph Despite the many twists and turns they have lived through, home makers Dolly and Joy find great fulfill ment in the custom-made roles God has prepared for them
Moving where the Spirit Moves
Inspiring stories that lead the way to living life with purpose and passion
Rogie Singson: Along the Narrow Path
A niece’s recollections
Kuya Rogie’s goal is to reduce corruption in one of the country’s biggest government agencies.
Her good-natured brother
The family behind this successful enterprise is convinced that their business continues to grow because it is not focused on money but doing the Lord’s will
Benjo Aganon: From mud to the stars
ART DIRECTOR Cleone Baradas
Therese Pelias: Teacher’s teacher
Fr. Herbert Schneider’s presence in the prayer groups of the ‘70s served as reassurance to many; he is here, it must be alright to worship this way, they would conclude.
Papemelroti: Hands to work, hearts to God
CREATIVE CONSULTANT Raymund Isaac
Coffee and condiments have no place in this household. Aldem and Vanessa’s brood is committed to fitness and health by eating the rights foods and exercise.
Tricia Villegas: The sweetest passion
This third-generation baker has taken baking to new heights with her buffet spreads of the most eye-catching and mouthwatering meal-enders
MY TAKE Rene Perez: Sulong para kay Kristo
Some people touch us in a big way Photo contributions from True North readers
In our biased opinion, the visuals of True North add a lot to its appeal. In most of our past issues and in this one, ace photographer Raymund Isaac put into photos what we could only articulate in words. He took the shots of Rene and Ginny Perez, Monching and Vi dela Cruz, Rogie Singson, the Alejandro family, Therese Pelias, Joy Castillo and Dolly Rodriguez. True North owes a lot as well to John Rich Villas who did the cover photo and inside photos of Benjo Aganon, Fr. Herb Schneider, the Salvana family, Tricia Villegas and her mouthwatering, lip-smacking desserts. We would also like to thank Edgar Unson for his engaging photos of Todd and Cristi Bradshaw’s family.
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mich Cruz Nini Icasas Agnes Gutierrez Vic Gutierrez Rene Perez Mars Quizon Ellen U.Virina Alvin Samson Business manager Beth Isaac
Why True North
In navigational parlance, True North is a constant that guides travelers. In the course of our lives, our True North is Jesus Christ, the constant for all times. TrueNorth is a publication of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (www.lnp.org.ph) and its partners – Christ’s Youth in Action, Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon, and the Institute for Pastoral Development. LNP is a member of the federation of communities around the globe, Sword of the Spirit (www.swordofthespirit.net).
Monching and Vi dela Cruz: Attempting to live each day like their first.
How do you live life with purpose and passion? Searching for our real purpose can be an exciting journey in itself. First, you have to know what you’re going to do. You have to know the purpose of what you are about to do. More importantly, you have to know what God’s purpose is for you. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the primary purpose of our life. And all things flow from this greatest of all commandments. Simply put, all our actions and thoughts should be anchored by love – love of God and love of neighbor. This is the reason why Kuya Rogie accepted the call to leave the comfort of private sector and plunge back into government service. His call is to become the Secretary of Public Works and Highways, one of the most corrupt government agencies in the country. The challenge is daunting, but Kuya Rogie stepped up to the challenge for the love of God and country (Read page 10). Knowing God’s purpose and living it out every day is exemplified by the Alejandro family, the
proprietor of Papemelroti, a thriving arts and crafts shop. The siblings recognize the talent that God has given them and use it to grow the business and help other people in need. (Read page 12). Teacher Therese Pelias heard a higher call, and she embraced it with courage and passion. (Read page 16). Joy Castillo and Dolly Rodriguez remain homemakers dedicated to God’s calling to them despite the twists and turns in their lives described in Page 18 onwards. Then there is Benjo Aganon who sings and plays his heart out for the Lord—and has seen the worship life of brothers and sisters in Christ’s Youth In Action nourished and nurtured. How do you do things with passion? By doing things with love and joy. Just as Aldem and Vanessa, Todd and Cristi -- and their respective families do -- with Tricia Villegas has who also found her passion in baking. The story of Father Herb Schneideris also a testimony of how God moves in the lives of ordinary people. And how these stories can touch and inspire others. Searching for our real purpose can be an exciting journey in itself. We may fumble and fall, or even lose our way at the start. But if we focus our mind and train our heart with the right attitude, we can certainly be led by the Holy Spirit to the right answer. And once you have found Him…Such joy. Such peace. So how do you live life with purpose and passion? To this I’d say “live each day like it’s your first day.” **** I’ve always been in love with writing. I knew that God has given me this passion for a reason. When I was first approached to help out in writing and editing articles for True North, it felt like coming home. After writing and editing for several issues, I’m now taking the helm from the able leadership of sister Berry Marfori. I share this task with the affable and efficient sister Aly Sulit-Placino as the Managing Editor, and an army of dedicated volunteer-writers from Ligaya ng Panginoon, Christ’s Youth in Action and Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon. I hope you enjoy this issue of True North magazine, which is lovingly dedicated to the One True North.
MONCHING DELA CRUZ
ISSUE’S AND QUESTIONS
When I help a child read, or bring a child back to school, or when I give the street mothers get a dose of God’s Word for their lives, I feel a rush and I believe I’m fulfilling God’s call to love His most beloved people. It is a high I cannot even begin to explain! – Tina Alejandro, Ligaya - NDE Organizing Lingkod events can really be challenging, especially during crunch time. But be assured in the faith, as the Lord works through the circumstances and sees us through. That’s the only way to ensure success! – Andrew Cruz, Lingkod - Makati
I get a high listening to personal testimonies of brothers and sisters who benefited from the ministries that we were involved in - especially their sharings on how the Lord touched their lives and led them to follow Him. I always get goose bumps whenever I realize how God orchestrated events, circumstances or chance meetings to personally minister to these people, and how He has given us the privilege to be used as His instruments. Whenever I hear or witness my two little children pray or worship with us, I am also reminded and greatly encouraged to continue helping other families lead their families to Christ as well. – Cris Hilario, Ligaya - CDE
Some of my ‘highs’ as a prayer warrior in our intercessory prayer team include a ‘thank you’ message for an answered prayer, a tight handshake from the bereaved after prayers at a wake, a smile from the sick during a pray-over session, a well-participated Christian Life Series session, an inspiring update on a prayer request, good friendship built on trust and mutual concern, moments of humility and awe at God’s goodness. - Aurora V. Lacaste, Lingkod - Los Baños
As for me, it’s to see people grow in faith despite the challenges. – Mel Llesol, Lingkod - Makati As a pastoral leader, what keeps me ‘high’ in my ministry is when I witness brothers and sisters step up and take on a service, even if they have some doubts about it. I am inspired to see on how God works in their lives. - Belle Zamora, Lingkod - Makati True, Christian service is not easy. But it is through serving God and His people that I can thank Him for the many good things He has done and will do in my life. There are challenging times, but every time I come to Him in prayer to tell Him of my difficulties, it seems that God is telling me that He knows everything, not to give up for He will be there at my side and that He loves me even with my imperfections. It is His encouraging words that lift me and keep me going. – Lilia Inumerable, Ligaya - NDA
What “highs” keep you going in your ministry? No one ever said Christian service would be easy. Fortunately, the highs more than make up for the lows.
Serving is not a list of things to do. It is a way of life. Our Lord said, “He who wants to be greatest among you, must be the servant of the rest.” And we can only serve one day at a time. I look forward to Jesus saying to me after I depart from this life: “Because you have been faithful to me, enter into the joy of my Father’s Kingdom,” – Melvin Montelibano, Ligaya - SDA I would like to believe that on Earth, I am a channel of God’s music. And my service, an expression of my praise and worship for Him, is everything that matters. - Raymond P. Dalay, Lingkod - Cavite
Every time I remember God’s goodness in my life, I have this deep desire to serve Him in any capacity. Sometimes, I don’t feel tired. As I serve, I trust that He will give me the strength and wisdom I need. He is always there to inspire me to grab the opportunity to serve. It is a privilege to serve Him with my ability, my personality, my character, my heart and my experiences. In serving God, we have no choice but to rejoice! Cito Inumerable, Ligaya - NDA
As a volunteer catechist for the parish in our nearby public school, I get a high seeing the work of the Holy Spirit in each and every class, especially on the unexpected responses from the kids whenever I ask them about our catechism lessons. I really cannot take full credit in all of them. Sometimes, I take new learnings from them, and not the other way around! – Wylene Lim, Lingkod – Makati
I receive more than I give... so growing in my faith and love for the Lord and community is really what keeps me going. – Connie Sanin, Ligaya - NDE
The active service and the faithfulness that my members are showing are enough reasons for me to keep going. Though there are times that I really grow tired of my service, I can’t help but be amazed every time I go to the prayer meeting after an all-day’s work because I am welcomed by inspiring examples and presence and smiles the members show as we prepare to praise and worship. Joel Bulangkit, Jr., Lingkod - Digos Affiliate Aside from the personal relationship with brothers and sisters, I think it’s my Covenant with God that motivates me to keep on going. I always look back on the day I said “yes” to the Lord. - Pia Domingo, Ligaya - South Singles
I serve as a sector servant of the South and as a speaker in TNP and Workers of Christ. I also serve in the prison ministry of the sector and in the ad-hoc service in PNP LSS’s. I believe it is the Lord who called and invited me to serve Him through community brothers and sisters, prisoners and their families, police officers, and the poor. He invited me and I responded with His grace and strength. As I gave my “yes” to my Commander-In-Chief, I knew it will not be a bed of roses and that it will require a lot of sacrifices. I do not even think of getting any reward here on earth. I just keep in mind that when God makes a promise, he will surely fulfill them even beyond my wildest imagination. As I serve the Lord wherever he leads me, I constantly remember John 12:26, “The Father will honor the one who serves Me,” (whether it be in this life or more importantly, in the next). That is the high that keeps me going in my ministry. - Mario Romero, Ligaya - SDA
Pray, Love, Serve: How to prevent and overcome burnout
By Mich Cruz and Mars Quizon
When service is viewed more as a task than a ministry, the essence of love is missing, thus the greater tendency for burnout.
Melissa Neri, RWM of Lingkod-Mega Manila and Singapore, advises: “One should always pray to God for sustenance because our strength comes from Him alone, as mentioned in Acts 17:28, ‘For in Him we live, move, and have our being’.”
“The difference between the two is that in doing a task, one has success as end-goal, regardless of how he attains it. When you look at service as a ministry, your end-goal is to minister to someone. And when we say minister, we mean care for, comfort, wait on someone. There’s more heart,” Melissa explains.
Pray and rely on God’s grace
Saz Chaves, Regional Women’s Moderator (RWM) of Lingkod-Northern Mindanao, shares that burnout from service often results from lack of prayer time, which eventually affects personal order.
Servants are reminded that it is by God’s grace that we will be able to serve, even amid challenges.
Focus on God
While it is tempting to serve for the recognition and affirmation from others, it is important to remind ourselves that God should always be the focus of service. Red Babano, who serves as Regional Leader of Lingkod-Western Visayas, stresses that we, “serve to please God and not men and that we should not expect to be appreciated.”
burn∙out /’b rn out/ • n.
Physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress (The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English)
Fatigue. Headaches. Lack of motivation and focus. Pessimism and irritability. These are the textbook signs of a burnout. Burnout results from exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation, coming from prolonged stress or frustration. Oftentimes, burnout is associated with work-related stress. With today’s competitive environment, it has become increasingly difficult, especially for single young professionals, to cope with the demands of the workplace while balancing their personal responsibilities and concerns. However, burnout can also be experienced even in the area of service. Do you remember how excited you were as an early Christian eager to serve in all capacities? Intercessory Prayer Team on Mondays, Pastoral Ministry on Tuesdays, Evangelization Ministry on Wednesdays, Social Action Team on Thursdays, Music Ministry on Fridays, and the list goes on. Whew!
Have you turned into a “Yes Man” - accepting more service than you can handle? Do you view service more as a task to accomplish rather than something that brings joy? Without the right disposition and attitude, even our initial energy and passion in service can eventually turn into exhaustion and frustration, according to psychologist Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter. As Christians, we are reminded to live balanced lives in order to love and serve God and our neighbors with our all. For it is said in Ecclesiastes, “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” How then can we prevent burnout? Servants from Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon (Lingkod) and Ligaya ng Panginoon (LNP) share some practical advice on how to keep the passion for service burning bright over the long run.
In a Christian Life Program (CLP) that Red once led, his focus on God enabled him to overcome the burnout he experienced. “At that time, I had exerted so much effort to evangelize during CLP- spent time, built relationships, used creative ways to bring other people to God. But the CLP turn-out was still low and/ or retention rate was still poor. It came to a point that I asked myself, ‘Is evangelization worth the effort or I should I just use my time for another activity?’ But then again, I remembered that this is the least that I can do as my grateful response to God’s limitless love and mercy,” Red shares.
In discerning a particular service, it is important to consider our call from God. This will then help us decide when to accept and when to say “no.” “Ideally, you should have one significant service that you have prayed about. You should always pray about all other service opportunities that come your way, whether to take them or not depending on what God wants you to do,” advises Edith Gonzales who serves at LNP’s Pamayanang Diego Silang Youth Ministry Outreach. “Our service should lead us to heaven – closer to Jesus and our brothers and sisters -- and not away from them. We should be discerning because the devil can and will use every opportunity to deceive us and to entrap us to sin. He will use even our service,” Edith stressed.. Servants should also be able to balance personal, work and community life by learning to prioritize and to say “no” and delegate, if needed.
“And what does God say about giving love? Matthew 7:12 says, ‘Do to others what you would have them do to you.’ Love begets love. When you give, you receive. One is filled with love and joy when one ministers. Then contentment in service is achieved,” Melissa adds. In loving, Red also reminds that, “servants must love unconditionally and must be humble in times of correction.”
Serve joyfully Even in the most stressful situations, laughter is always an effective antidote.
“Laugh a whole lot. Enjoy the service despite the seeming ‘bumps’. Serve with love and a joyful heart,” Melissa suggests.
Rest and recover Finally, after all the hardwork in service, we also need to rest and recover.
Melissa shares: “There was just one time I wanted respite from service. This was when I stepped down from service as Branch Women’s Moderator of Lingkod-Alabang. I overcame it with a lot of help from God, my then Spiritual Director (SD) from the Cenacle Sisters/Spirituality Center and my Pastoral Leader (PL) from Ligaya. The Lord spoke the same words through my SD and PL, particularly that, ‘you are a woman made for others, made to serve others; you are entitled to your Sabbath/rest, but you also ought to come out of it at some point and use the gifts God has gifted you with.’ And this was how I came to serve Lingkod again as RWM.” After all, even God rested on the seventh day. So as you read this article, relax and be inspired to serve, pray and love now with more zeal, knowing that with God’s grace, burnout in service is manageable and thus, should not stop us from passionately fulfilling the mission that God has called us to do.
ONE BOOK THAT HAS TOUCHED MY LIFE ‘Come Away My Beloved’ by Frances J. Roberts By Nini Icasas
Book Summary: Come Away My Beloved was written in 1970 by Frances J. Roberts, a poet, musician, hymn writer and author of nine books. More than a million copies of this book have been sold over the past years. Come Away My Beloved has been described as a timeless devotional classic, a constant companion next to the Bible, a devotional not about or to God, but a devotional from God to you and me. It has touched countless lives as it brings words of hope, encouragement, comfort, conviction and inspiration. In order to gain maximum blessings from the book, it is to be read slowly and prayerfully, a little at a time, allowing the treasures of the book to minister to you. “God who knows you by name and understands your deepest longings will speak to your heart from its pages, shutting out the world about you and bringing you into a richer fellowship with Him”.
Given to me six years ago by a very good friend who loved the Word of God and all books filled with it, this very intimate devotional classic is one book I continue to read regularly. On its inside back cover, my friend wrote: “May this book reveal to you God’s message for you.” Oh yes, it did! Many times over. The book is not just an invitation to come, but to come away with Him. Setting aside the tasks at hand. Seeking and seizing the opportunities to have more time alone with Him. And listening to him say: “ Lay thyself upon My breast and lose thyself in Me. Thou shalt experience resurrection life and peace; the joy of the Lord shall become thy strength.” Five years ago, I was discerning whether to take on a major post in the Board of the Institute for Pastoral Development. I had many reasons (or should I say excuses?) why I shouldn’t take it on. Through my devotional readings, God spoke to me: “There is a work ready for thee, and I have prepared thee for it. It is too wonderful to miss. I shall cause the veil to drop and you shall serve Me in ways you have never heard of before. It is My work. Keep clear of man’s work. Stay free to do Mine.” And here was the final and “non-negotiable” words for me! “No one else can do what I have reserved for you; and be very sure that if you fail, it will remain undone. Crucify the flesh and let the Spirit thrive. Bless Me. I will bless you.” I took on the post and served in that capacity for three years. Indeed it was a new area of experience and learning. A kind of knowledge in the Spirit that was not found in books. It was too wonderful to miss! Another time I was very anxious about a certain concern which was taking a while to be answered. God’s message for me through this book was: “ Lo, I am at thy side, but thy fretfulness has raised an iron curtain between us. For when thou art utterly finished and exhausted in thy struggling; when thou hast come to an end in all thy striving; thou shalt know that I have been constantly at thy very side; that I have never deserted thee. Cast aside thy fears. Relinquish all and thou shalt know release!” Indeed, this book has been a beautiful compilation of God’s faithful messages for me. It has allowed me to leave the complexities of life in His hands, to wait upon Him, to seek Him above all else , and to see the comfort and wonders of His love for me --- the love of my living God!
PASSION HAPPEN AND LET IT
Stories to inspire you to live life purposefully
“O My child, I love thee, I love thee. And My love for thee surpasses all human comprehension. For I am not a man that I should be limited; And I need not divide My Spirit among many, But I long to share with EACH My fullness; There is no partiality in My love.”
TRUE NORTH BEAT
now? Doing exactly the opposite,” Kuya Rogie chuckled.
Along the Narrow Path
God has blessed the marriage with four children. “Binggay is very supportive of me, not too demanding but she can be very firm,” he said. “My family has been very supportive of my major decisions.” Like many Filipino engineers, Kuya Rogie also worked in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s. It was in this non-Christian milieu that he began his search for his personal God.
By Ramoncito dela Cruz
PERSONAL GOD “When I was in Saudi Arabia, I noticed how fervent the good Muslims were in praying and worshipping Allah. I observed them go to the mosque and pray five times a day and go on a month-long fasting every year. The question that kept coming back is that why don’t I have this close relationship with my God,” he said. “I realized I was searching for a personal relationship with God. And this is what the renewal movement was able to offer.”
Rogie Singson “I just wanted to be a simple family man and be a good abiding citizen,” said the man who now oversees billion-peso public works and highway projects, and at the same time, is trying to clean up one of the most corrupt and intrigue-laden government agencies. Mr. Singson – or “Kuya Rogie” to many of his brothers and sisters in the Ligaya ng Panginoon (LNP) Community – has accepted the challenge of becoming the Public Works and Highways Secretary “for the love of God and country.” “I accepted this job with eyes fully opened and I knew what I was getting into,” Kuya Rogie said. “My passion and strength come from my motivation that this is all about doing it for love of God and country, and contributing to nation building.” He, together with some other LNP members, has valiantly responded to the call of President Benigno C. Aquino III to join his government towards the “Daang Matuwid.”
Amid his grueling work load and hectic schedules, Kuya Rogie still finds time to pray and attend the regular Ligaya activities. “This assignment is beyond experiencing physical discomfort, tiredness or even material losses,” he said. “Being here in this position is a partnership between God and me. God assured me that if I travel the ‘narrow road that leads to life,’ He will be with me forever. In fact, God has assured me when He said: ‘I will espouse you to Me forever.’”
In 1987, he was invited to join the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen of the PhilippinesMakati. He eventually moved to LNP where he later became the Coordinator of LNP’s Central District C.
Thirst in the desert Kuya Rogie grew up in a family that prayed the rosary almost daily and attended Sunday mass religiously. He used to be lovingly called “Babes” as he was the youngest among six siblings. But when he got older, his siblings started calling him “Rogie.” Kuya Rogie married Isabel “Binggay” Nepomuceno before he turned 24. “When I started working, I aspired to retire at 40 years old. Binggay and I have a very simple lifestyle. I did not want to kill myself working 24/ 7 trying to get rich. But look at where I am
PHOTO BY RAYMUND ISAAC
As a child, Rogelio L. Singson had dreamt of a simple and uncomplicated life.
From a servant-leader, Kuya Rogie was called (again) to live out God’s example of “heroic leadership.” It was in a retreat of LNP Coordinators in June 2010 when he reflected on what kind of a leadership Jesus Christ practiced – total surrender to the will of the Father, a life of sacrifice and finally dying on a cross. That same afternoon, he got a text asking him if he was open to be considered as the Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). He has many heroes in the Bible, but he finds inspirations from
Moses. “Moses was always an inspiring hero. He argued with God knowing his deficiencies, fears, and ability to lead. He tried to stay within his comfort zone. But in the end, Moses always followed what God told him to do.” Kuya Rogie said “yes” to join government after days of discernment. He himself told this story during the LNP’s Feast of the Covenant last year. Kuya Rogie is not new to government service. He used to be the Chairman and President of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority from July 1998 to February 2002. He also served as the Executive Director of the Coordinating Council of the Philippine Assistance Program from May 1991 to November 1992; and Assistant Cabinet Secretary under the Office of the President Corazon C. Aquino from July 1987 to May 1991. The previous government assignments were not easy. As a popular saying goes: government officials serve at the pleasure, and pressure, of the President.
PUBLIC TO PRIVATE Kuya Rogie moved seamlessly from the public sector to the private sector where he thrived. His last assignment was as President and Chief Executive Officer of Maynilad Water Services Inc. With a budget of more than 100 billion pesos a year, DPWH is rife with corruption. His goal to reduce corruption in this key government agency immediately merited him vicious black propaganda only days after he took office. With the truth on his side, Kuya Rogie was able to successfully defend himself. “The general public is my ally,” he said in a television interview, as he proudly proclaimed that he has garnered the support of all stakeholders, including nongovernment organizations, the Church, and local residents, to join him in monitoring public work projects in their areas for
“I realized I was searching for a personal relationship with God. And this is what the renewal movement was able to offer.” full transparency and accountability. Through prudent spending, or “doing the right project at the right cost and at the right quality,” DPWH has significantly reduced transaction costs and useless government spending resulting in substantial government savings in just one year. The job is not easy. and he continues to be the subject of intrigues – some of which have hurt him. Despite all these, Kuya Rogie serves with the confidence that he can count on God’s help. He has likewise found affirmation in a pronouncement of President Aquino who named Kuya Rogie one of his “favorite secretaries.” How does he fight off disappointment and despair? He disclosed: “I calm down, get my bearings, discern the situation and pray for God’s blessings.” He emphasized that in whatever one does, one must know his purpose inside out. This is true especially for government service. He warned: “Before ac-
cepting a government position, one has to be very clear about one’s motivation. Why do you want to join government service? A government job, they say, is a thankless job, the pay is low, you can become a public figure and as such may require a lot of sacrifice on you and your family. One has to discern well and pray about it even before considering or accepting a government position. Many good people have compromised or lost their moral values after joining government service.” Aside from keeping the fires of integrity and honesty alive in DPWH, Kuya Rogie hopes to use his influence to evangelize more people in the workplace and bring members of his family into a personal relationship with God. “I want them to experience the love and peace that come from having a personal relationship with God” Our God is not a distant God, Kuya Rogie proclaims with not a trace of uncertaintly.
TRUE NORTH BEAT
They provide livelihood programs for poor dialysis patients and their caregivers by helping them make some products that they can sell in their stores
Hands to Work, Hearts to God
By Mich Cruz
Papemelroti is a specialty shop known for its handcrafted figurines, kraft paper products and a wide variety of gift and decorative accessories. From its humble beginning as a little gift shop in 1968, it has now grown into a popular retail chain with 15 stores, a factory in Bulacan and an office building along Roces Avenue in Quezon City. The formula for this successful business? Faith in God as its capital, and passion as its cashflow. While many have mistaken it as an Italian store, Papemelroti is actually a product of a hobby in arts and crafts of the Alejandro siblings: Patsy, Peggy, Meldy, Robert and Tina; hence the name of the store, Papemelroti. Patsy, the eldest, shares, “We’re not really business people, which is why we believe the business is a miracle.” Unlike other successful businesses which rely on business plans, strategies and aggressive marketing campaigns, the Alejandro siblings simply placed their complete trust in the Lord, using the business as an instrument to glorify Him. “We really believe that God gave this business to us. It’s our God-
given responsibility. It’s not about money really. it’s doing what God wants us to do.” All five siblings are gifted in the arts. Trained by their mother, they learned how to make beautiful things out of scrap, fashioning twigs, eggshells and used bottles into dolls, figurines and the like. As a family, they would make decoupage, the art of applying cutouts (as of paper) and then coating with usually several layers of finish (as lacquer or varnish) They simply did what they enjoyed doing, and God did all the rest. Their work is a reflection of their values: Environmental, Filipino and Christian. Because they believe that God created the earth, they promote environmental awareness, carrying products that are 100% recycled and supporting advocacies like coastal cleanups and wildlife protection. They use materials that are sourced locally, supporting Filipino families. Finally, as a Christian family, they make gifts and home accessories that inspire, encourage and remind everyone who enters their store about the values of loving God, obeying Him and being grateful for each day that we live.
PHOTO BY RAYMUND ISAAC
(L-r): DADDY BENNY, MELDY, MOMMY CORIT, ROBERT AND PATSY
One time, a mother was visiting their store with her daughter and told her how one of Papemelroti’s figurines had changed her husband’s life. The figurine has this reminder: “Work for the Lord. The pay isn’t much but the retirement plan is out of this world.” When the mother gave the figurine to her husband, his values started shifting and he stopped working so hard. At that time, the Alejandro siblings thought that if one figurine can change someone’s life, how many more lives can they touch with all the figurines they have. That moment was one of the turning points in their business. More than selling products that inspire, Patsy and her siblings have given back to the community as a way of honoring God for their many blessings. They provide livelihood programs for poor dialysis patients and their caregivers by helping them make some products that they can sell in their stores, provide livelihood programs for poor communities and enjoin their customers to support their book-donation drives and other outreach programs. Through their business, they provide regular income to their suppliers and contractors as well. One of their suppliers expressed his gratitude to Papemelroti because he was able to send all his children to schoolwho have now graduated and have gone abroad- by supplying them with boxes through the years. “These are the things that keep us passionate because we are able to help,” Patsy says. Like any other endeavor, however, success does not come without challenges. For Papemelroti, there were times when they faced harassment, quite ironically because they paid the right taxes and exact fees to get their permits. They are being harassed by tax collectors because they don’t want to pay bribes. Through it all, they found strength in prayer. With God as their partner in business, Papemelroti was able to weather storms, endure the fluctuations of the country’s economy, even survive a disastrous explosion in a shopping mall where one of their stores is located. They continue to use their talent in designing and constantly creating beautiful products to innovate and grow with the times. Infused with prayer and a lot of faith, Patsy can only hope for a brighter future for Papemelroti. “The business is doing well. Every year it does better than the year before. I don’t know how but I know that God has a plan. He says ‘I have a vision for your business, just leave it up to Me’.” Papemelroti’s success story tells us that being in business is not just about making money. Rather, it is about doing what you believe in, with sincerity and passion, in line with God’s intent and purposes for our life. To aspiring entrepreneurs, Patsy advises: “Find the gift that God has given you because that’s where your passion will come from and that’s where you will enjoy what you’re going to do because that’s who you are intrinsically. The gifts that God gave you, if you use them, it will give you joy.”
TRUE NORTH BEAT
From mud to the stars
friends went separate ways for college. One of them went to the US. Benjo went to UST. “It was in UST where I got invited to attend activities of Christ’s Youth in Action (CYA) and the youth camps of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon,” said Benjo. At that time, their band had just split up and he was left on his own to play with his guitar. By the stroke of God’s hands, some of the leaders of CYA and Ligaya’s youth program reached out to Benjo who found a platform for the expression of his gifts in music. For a while, his band regrouped to perform in CYA activities such as the Freshman Jam, where new students can build friendships with CYA members.
By Alvin Samson
How a band member’s love for music found a purposeful expression
“We were sophomores when we first joined the Battle of the Bands. I played the guitar. It was an embarrassment. Feedback from spectators ranged from palpak to baduy,” he recalled. Thus they would be relegated towards the end of show, by which time the crowd would have thinned out and the remaining spectators had already enjoyed the main bands. These setbacks did not deter Benjo and his friends. Instead, he said that they, like many other artists, were so determined that they were willing to sacrifice anythingeven their studies-for their music. He would hang out
with his band mates for jam sessions which consumed much of their after-school hours. They would spend time composing melodies, writing songs, and watching band concerts for inspiration. A father of his band mate, in an effort to encourage the fledging band, set up a studio where he and his friends could rehearse. The result is an album of 10 singles written and composed by Benjo and his friends. While their other songs spoke of love and dreams, one song is held more specially close to their heart, the story of their band entitled From the Mud to the Stars. It is also the song that won for them the Best Band during their senior year. The combined experiences of ridicule, determination, and winning galvanized their vision of becoming the next. Like most other groups, they dreamed of performing together for a long time. It was a fleeting experience, however. Ice & Nails had to disband when Benjo and his
PHOTOS BY JOHN RICH VILLAS
hen Benjo Aganon and his friends at the Quezon City Science High School formed Ice & Nails, it was all for the single-hearted desire to win in their school’s prestigious Battle of the Bands, become famous among the crowded field of aspiring musicians, and gain a huge following of female admirers in a bandcrazed high school.
“During lull times, entertainment nights, or anytime there is an opportunity during camps and fellowship activities, I would pick up the guitar. The brothers and sisters would find me playing the songs they’d also love to sing. I would ask Marlo Valencia to teach me some of the secular songs that I was not very familiar with. One song led to another until I found myself also learning the worship songs we use in the community,” Benjo recalled. Eventually during gatherings, Benjo would play second guitar to Marlo, who was then leading the music
ministry, and later on with other brothers like Andy Jose and Joff Quiring. When these brothers moved on to other areas of service, Benjo was asked to step up. He might not have succeeded in pursuing his high school dream of performing with his band mates in front of an adoring crowd. But Benjo is now following a higher vision. He sees the need for music in youth gatherings and is now determined to provide good music that will enrich the times of worship and praise among the youth.
“A full band music ministry,” he said, “will add to the quality of our youth program.”
“A full band music ministry,” he said, “will add to the quality of our youth program.” So for two years, Benjo acted on his vision, gathered available equipment, and pulled ranks with other brothers and sisters with whom he shared his love for music and his desire to serve. With his signature smiling face, Benjo found fulfillment and a sense of achievement in seeing growth in the worship life of brothers and sisters who are singing their hearts out for the Lord. Footnote: Benjo is the son of Ruben and Elizabeth Aganon of Central District E. He serves full time in Christ’s Youth in Action and is in charge of its music ministry. He also leads a group of Ligaya’s young adults who are studying in UP Diliman.
TRUE NORTH BEAT
Teachers’ Teacher: Finding the Heart to Give More
The Lord gave me a chance to adjust myself by providing me a window of opportunity to revisit an old dream of mine to be a guidance counselor. Free from lesson plans, the passion to teach became a passion to listen. They say when there is a yearning somewhere in your heart, you must learn to listen to it and seek it out. But I did not want to take my licensure examination, so I had to leave counseling behind. I went back to teaching for a year and praying again to the Lord to lead me where He was to take me further.
My dreams and aspirations had not been about living a life in the academe. Although it was not something I dreaded, it just did not occur to me that I was destined to bloom in teaching, even if I come from a family of teachers. My life plans made several turns from the field of Journalism to Psychology and ended with a decision to practice Education by the time I graduated from college.
The Lord has His ways indeed. His joyful response to my prayer came when the challenge to teach in college knocked on my door.
A three-unit elective in Principles and Techniques of Teaching had given me the confidence to apply and eventually accept a teaching post in the Grade School Reading Department of a private school for boys in San Juan. The subject might have given me the skills, but it must have really been my prayer that made all the difference. My honest prayer was “Lord, lead me to where I will be most useful”.
Sometimes when you are being led by the Lord, paths just become so clear as if some holy spotlights have marked the exact steps for you to take. I took graduate studies without even aspiring to become a professor or even a Principal but it was this degree that allowed me to re-enter a bigger dimension of teaching with passion and purpose. I have come to realize that I am meant to teach. And this time around, to inspire young teachers to be the best teachers all children deserve to have – the passionate and compassionate ones who will be a happy presence in their lives.
The passion to teach was nurtured and developed in all those seven years I spent in that school. Although I was teaching to prove to myself how competent I could get, I knew in my heart that touching lives and helping other people had made me stay and withstand all the challenges that went with the daily classroom grind. The best gifts that I could offer found their best expression in teaching.
But I carried the passion to the extreme and found myself at the edges of burnout and workaholism.
I have seen that the Lord drew me to teaching and counseling so I would have something to draw inspiration from. My very life as Miss Pelias - the teacher, the class adviser, the school paper moderator, the writer, and the counselor, is an open book in my classroom. And I often tell my student-teachers that if they had been drawn to teaching perhaps this was where the Lord was also calling them to do and that all their giftedness could lead to a meaningful and purposeful life.
PHOTO BY RAYMUND ISAAC
I remember laughing with my gifted students as we discussed a novel. Days with the school paper were a mix bag of experiences like crying in the middle of a happy faculty room just because I was facing a printing press deadline and being gloriously happy to bag a Student Catholic Mass Media Award for Best Student Publication. I was really on a roll on teaching about things I deeply love—writing and reading about everything great I saw about life. I told the Lord how happy I was being useful.
Therese Pelias: I learned to listen to the yearnings of my heart.
I am richly blessed by being a teacher, mentor and counselor all rolled into one. The once carefree girls that I taugt are now happy teachers telling me about their own tales in teaching. The once rambunctious young men are now on to their happy adventures in the corporate world. Lately, I’ve also had a good number of adult students, daycare teachers from different places. I hold a unique joy among them as well. In teaching, they say, you cannot give what you do not have. There was a time that I had nothing more to give. But the Lord turned things around and made me realize that I can give much more.
The Lord has His ways indeed. His joyful response to my prayer came when the challenge to teach in college knocked on my door. 17
TRUE NORTH BEAT
Women Who Surrender, yet
Triumph By Aly Sulit-Placino
Conforming to God’s Purpose They found great peace despite the twists and turns in their lives.
ome people see detours in life as stumbling blocks but Joy Castillo and her husband Dennis look to them as God’s redirecting hand to a life of purpose and fulfillment.
Joy and Dennis Castillo were living a good life here in Manila with their three children: Bill, Jodie and Lanz. Dennis, a civil engineer, had a thriving construction business. Joy had left her public relations job at a commercial bank when her second child was born so she could care for her family full time. Everything was fine.
“Lord, bless our desire”
There was something about the American dream that attracted Joy. “Life was more organized there. Buses arrived and departed when they are supposed to; there was discipline, and it was clean,” she said. In 2002, Dennis and Joy went to the U.S. to check out options and consult with friends. When they got back, they decided that there were enough opportunities for Dennis’ line of work in the U.S. and to pass on the possibilities seemed irresponsible. They consulted the Ligaya leadership and met some opposition but their hearts were already set. They went ahead and sold Dennis’ truck and other construction equipment. They went into what they called “active discernment” and prayed: “Lord, bless our desire.” They knew they had to go through with it trusting that if they made the wrong decision, God would redirect their path.
Joy Castillo Dolly Rodriguez 18
PHOTO BY RAYMUND ISAAC
“Dennis laid the ground work in the U.S. and worked for our L1 visa, while I took care of the children in Manila,” Joy said. “I was determined to make that arrangement work because I was the one who was really fixated on the dream.” Dennis’ business in the U.S. was lucrative, but the physical separation took its toll on him. It wasn’t easy for Joy either. “My two older kids were college freshmen and I had to deal with issues like dropping subjects and shifting courses all by myself,” she shared. “My youngest was an adolescent too so you could just imagine! I kept saying to myself: ‘How can this lead to a better life, if being apart is so difficult?’”
“Lord, if this is not your will…”
When their youngest son, Lanz needed surgery for a cyst in his lower jaw, Joy could not bear the stress by herself any longer. She demanded that Dennis come home, even if this would jeopardize their L1 visa application. In desperation she prayed, “Lord, ano ba talaga? I surrender! Hirap na hirap na kami. If this is not Your will, please put a stumbling block.” Sometimes, all we need to do is ask God to stop us rather than to push us into something. And indeed, her prayer was answered because Dennis’ return to Manila guaranteed the cancellation of their immigrant visa. But instead of regret, Joy felt nothing but peace. “The desire (to migrate) was probably borne out of midlife transition,” Joy said in retrospect. “We were looking for a change of ambiance and pace of life and made our children the excuse thinking that we would find all that in the U.S. If our eyes were wide open, we would have realized earlier that this was not God’s dream for us. I was so blinded by the dream that I, an only child, was even willing to leave my mother, in the care of Dennis’ relatives,” Joy added. But God is faithful and even when we sometimes divert from the path, God works for the good of those who love Him. Two years after they would have been settled in the U.S., the economy began its downturn. Joy and Dennis were only too glad that they met that obstacle when they did. Life in the U.S. would have been extremely difficult. “We dreamt of doing the work of evangelizers in the U.S.,” Joy said. “But the Lord had a special place where He wanted to use us.” Shortly after they aborted their pursuit of the American dream, Dennis responded to the call to join the Asian Region team of the Sword of the Spirit as a formator and mission team leader of Ilaw ng Panginoon Community based in Dagupan City, Pangasinan. Today, Joy serves the Dagupan community as Senior Woman Leader. For almost five years now, they have been taking the trip there every fourth weekend of the month. Asked on what keeps her going despite the full schedule of Ligaya, Joy said: “There is so much fulfillment in knowing that you’re doing the work of the Lord.” As she helps her husband in forming a community, their dream of being evangelizers are fulfilled in a magnified way. By being able to shape a people’s way of life, they are able to help sustain the life of the community and impact the lives of more people.
“There is so much fulfillment in knowing that you’re doing the work of the Lord.” 19
TRUE NORTH BEAT
Living with God’s Visitation
olly Rodriguez and her husband Jiji have always had God in their marriage. They were about to get married when they joined a Life in the Spirit Seminar and were baptized in the Spirit on the eve of their wedding.
where the Spirit moves
Jiji was blessed with a good job. They lived a comfortable life with their three children, Laia, Bosie and Quinito. “Jiji spoiled me,” Dolly intimated. “He earned the money, and all I had to do was to take care of the home and the kids.” Life was no different from the life she used to live as her daddy’s girl.
By Victorino and Agnes Gutierrez
“I was attracted to Community for selfish reasons,” Dolly said. “I didn’t want my husband to fool around, I didn’t want my kids to be delinquents and I wanted to Jiji and myself to be together forever.”
The effects of the Asian Crisis of 1997 affected the business they hoped to be able to retire on. Jiji also had to give up his position in the foundation he helped establish. Their savings didn’t get them very far. They had to downgrade their lifestyle, let go of their drivers and helpers and transfer their youngest to another school. The teachings they attended and the belief that God is in control is what sustained them. Dolly knew the drill well: “We all have trials in life and God uses them to teach a lesson,” she said. “People say that when you are undergoing a crisis, you should be thankful because God is visiting you and refining you like gold because you are special to Him.” It was easy to agree with these concepts when it was happening to someone else but when it happened to Dolly, she naturally wanted out! She told God, “I Get it, Lord! Give me back my life! Nagluluto na ako, JOYFUL! Naglalaba na ako, JOYFUL!” But everything happens in God’s own time. Though life was difficult, Dolly refused to be defeated by her situation. She would stretch a kilo of ground beef to feed her family of five for several days and prepare lasagna, croquettas, minestrone, omelette, meatballs, rellenong talong, mapo tofu, etc. Dolly narrated: “My lasagna had very thin layers of ground beef and plenty of sauce but I prepared everything in a stylish way so when people drop in they would say, ‘Akala ko ba naghihirap na kayo?’” Dolly made effort to set up the ambiance and make every meal a gourmet experience because they could no longer afford to eat in restaurants. God ensured “together forever” in an amusing way.
Those who experienced God’s love through Dolly during better times were the same people who gave something back to them. Their family was able to celebrate Christmas as if they had no financial concerns. “We had Majestic ham, queso de bola, a box of ensaymada, etc. through the care of the brothers and sisters. We felt rich even when we had nothing because of God’s love through them.” The greatest gift that Dolly received was the gift of a career. When people noticed her penchant for making “borloloys” and creating beautiful things, they tapped her to do décor for events like their District’s Lord’s Day celebration. She did such a wonderful job that they practically gave her a career by asking her to decorate their homes and business establishments during Christmas. Later on, she was doing flower arrangements for all sorts of events, conceptualizing for birthdays, weddings, and debuts. Though seasonal, these projects gave her income to meet some of the family’s needs. Life is better today for Dolly and her family. They still have loans to pay off but Jiji has his consultancy work and their older kids are now gainfully employed. The Lord’s visitation has proven to be a journey of faith. The stretching allowed her to hone her creative skills and provided her a way for earning money. Someday, Dolly dreams of teaching others how to recycle and create beautiful things from the ordinary. She has also made it her special ministry to be a source of encouragement for others.
PHOTOS BY JOHN RICH VILLAS
Ensuring “together forever”
He used Dolly and Jiji’s difficulty to fortify their relationship. The kids never complained even if they knew what was going on. They learned to pitch in with the chores and became more responsible. They were happy even if they did not have enough. For instance, Dolly and her girls had fun converting the laundry area to a virtual spa by giving each other hot oil treatments between laundry loads.
PHOTO BY RAYMUND ISAAC
During prayer meetings, she would listen to sharings intently. She felt for the families who were undergoing difficulties and prayed that hers would never have to go through the same. She took note of their birthdays and when that occasion arrived, she surprised them with a gift like a bucket of fried chicken or a small cake. She did that to make them feel that God was taking care of them even in the midst of trials.
Fr. Herbert Schneider’s presence in the prayer groups of the ‘70s served as reassurance to many; he is here, it must be alright to worship this way, they would conclude.
TRUE NORTH BEAT
Her good-natured brother
A niece’s recollections
My brother, Father Herb, and I grew up during difficult times, and our family endured many hardships when we were children. Our parents tried to do their best for us with limited means and under tough circumstances, and they taught us, by example, to be kind, compassionate and tolerant people. Unlike my brother, I was a hot-head as a child, and it often took longer for my parents’ lessons to sink in. If someone dared me to jump from the apple tree in our garden onto the roof of the outhouse, I did. If someone said something I did not like, I hit them and pulled out their hair. (For all of this bad behavior, I was punished by my parents). One Christmas, Father Herb received two small mechanical cars that wound up and, if you put them on the table, the cars could sense the presence of the edge and turn around. I was fascinated by these cars and wondered what made them work. I nabbed one and took it apart. Naturally, I got into a lot of trouble from my father for doing so. My brother, however, forgave me for breaking his car. Even when we were young, I admired my brother for his character. I did not understand how he could be so good-natured! He forgave me and others; he was always the peace-maker when conflict erupted among friends. He organized games that everyone enjoyed, and he liked playing chess and other board games. As children, we went biking, hiking and camping with our father, we climbed the apple tree and, when we were a little older, we enjoyed ice-skating together. My mother was a great cook and baker, and we both inherited our love of cooking from her. Our maternal grandmother was a professional cook, and it seems that this interest runs in the family. I honor my brother for all the times he supported me and his family through action, advice, and prayer, and for the determination and certitude he displayed when he left his family and took up his vocation. He has a much larger family now and approaches his duties and responsibilities towards it with the same conviction and love that he always showed to us. I have always been so proud that he is my brother, and I know that his parents were equally proud of his accomplishments.
I first really became acquainted with my uncle, Father Herb, when I was a five-year-old traveling with my mother and grandmother to visit him in Innsbruck, Austria where he was completing his Ph.D. Over the Alps we all went in a small, blue Volkswagen Bug to tour towns, villages, churches, and castles in France and Germany. I pretended that I was a princess as I sashayed through castles and glided down cathedral steps into town squares. Uncle Herb pretended right along with me and helped to make it a truly magical and fun visit for a small child who, as an adult, still has many fond memories of the experience. Like many others who will honor him here, I would characterize my uncle as a generous and caring man, always eager to lend his ear or expertise to any situation. He has listened to my problems and concerns, stood by me through difficulties, and provided good counsel time-andagain. However, I would also like to honor him by pointing out (what so many have probably already discovered) that he is also the very best kind of company: knowledgeable, interesting and interested, and fun to be around. While my uncle works very diligently and treats his responsibilities with great seriousness, he also enjoys life and shares that joy with others. Many people spend their lives fixated on their worries and concerns and never recognize all the beauty that God provides us, both the simple and the profound. My uncle is a deeply spiritual man and I admire him for that. That is one of the most profound beauties of human life. My uncle is also a man who relishes the small joys that God offers each of us; be it music or books, cooking or conversation. And, most importantly, he is always willing and motivated to share those good things with others. Honoring him, I would also like to honor his mother, my grandmother, Francis. She was a woman who saw God’s blessings in each day, even though her life was not an easy one and, as she grew older, she suffered from increasing poor health. She taught us all to love others, and to do our very best to treat others as we would wish to be treated. Her hope and deep-seated faith are my family’s legacy and, through his work and commitment to Christ’s message, my uncle lives that legacy every day.
-His Sister, Gertrude
r. Herb Schneider, spiritual director of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (LNP) and one of the leaders of the charismatic movement in the Philippines, shares that his love affair with the Holy Spirit started on a Valentine’s Day in Innsbruck, Austria, where he was prayed over for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He was then in Innsbruck for his doctoral studies in theology and Sacred Scriptures. Providentially, he became part of a small charismatic prayer group where he experienced a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit and a deep personal relationship with God. That was in 1973. Then, and up to now, he continues to move where the Spirit blows.
To make up for the lack of Catholic materials, Fr. Herb set up a book table and made available photocopied articles from magazines in the US, booklets and audio tapes.
In the 1970s, the charismatic renewal was virtually unknown. It was thus very reassuring for us who got introduced to the renewal by way of the Assumption Prayer Group to know that a Jesuit New Testament professor was actively involved in the movement. Fr. Herb’s presence added credibility to the New Pentecost experiences that we were so unused to….”If he is doing it, then it must be alright,” we thought.
In response to the prophecy on mission that LNP received during the first community weekend in 1975, Ligaya started different outreaches that would strategically cover different segments of society. Under the guidance of Fr. Herb, Ligaya founded the following: World of Joy Foundation (for Christian publications) in 1975, Christ’s Youth in Action (for university students) and Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (for businessmen) in 1980, Couples for Christ (for families) in 1981, Institute for Pastoral Development (for training leaders) in 1982, Lumen Christi (for single women)in 1982, Lingkod ng Panginoon (for single professionals) in 1984, Tahanan ng Panginoon (for the poor) in 1986, Women for Christ (for widows, single parents and older single women) in 1988.
Fr. Herb was a key person in the early days of the emerging charismatic renewal. He was a kind of “complete gospel man.” He led the prayer meeting (then held at the Assumption College in San Lorenzo Village, Makati), taught charismatic songs, played the guitar, gave teachings to help people understand and exercise spiritual gifts and to help them appreciate the charismatic renewal. Fr. Herb became known as a charismatic priest at a time when it was not fashionable to be identified as such. Fr. Herb contributed a lot in setting the charismatic renewal on solid footing. He provided the Catholic orientation to the local “Pentecostal” experience. Take note that the “Pentecostal movement” (or renewal movement) started among the Protestant churches… Many of the books and experience on the Pentecostal experience were by Protestant authors.
(Eventually, members of the prayer group longed for closer relationships with one another through a common way of life and formed Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon) Formation for Ligaya came not only through teachings but also through the way life in Ligaya was lived. One area that Fr. Herb was bent on transforming was punctuality. Perhaps, his German mind and upbringing did not go well with our Filipino concept of time.
PHOTOS BY JOHN RICH VILLAS
Fr. Herb Schneider, the fountainhead and wellspring of inspiration for many of the developments that have shaped Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon, celebrates his 75th birthday this year. LNP marks the occasion by launching a website in his honor. Following are excerpts from key material in www.fatherherb.com. that capture his personhood.
Through Sword of the Spirit and Christ the King Association, the Ligaya community that Fr. Herb started serves many communities in the Philippines and around the world. He continues to make significant contributions to these international associations (often paving the way for a community to have close relationships with the Church leaders in the area). Fr. Herb’s love affair with the Holy Spirit has borne much fruit and keeps on growing as he continues to move where the Spirit blows.
- His Niece, Heidi
TRUE NORTH BEAT
Andie’s Take “We lived on a farm so we were surrounded by animals 24/7 then I’d help taking care of the animals, “ says 17 year old Andrea, the second daughter who is also probably the most avid animal lover of the Bradshaw brood. Six-year old Kati the youngest, readily chimes in: like Andie, she wants to be a vet when she grows up. Caring for animals went beyond feedings and caring for their puppies (“Ever since I can remember,” Andie further recalls, “there were always three animals in the house. One time we actually had 48 dogs. Three of our dogs gave birth at about the same time. Each dog would give birth to at least 10 puppies.”) The family also used to rescue birds-endangered species sometimes from the locals who would trap them and sell them.
The Interesting Ties That Bind The family has a lot of anecdotes to share of their encounters with animals. One outstanding recollection was of Penelope (“Dad’s girlfriend,” they all called her) -- a possessive and jealous hornbill who followed Todd around the farm, and would play pranks like stealing his eyeglasses and flying away -- only to return it later in the day, and sit on his shoulder during his prayer time on the porch. She would chase the kids away so they would not bother him at prayer.
By : Ellen U. Virina
(L-r): Mikkie, Andrea, Cristi, Todd, Katrina, Kieffer, Teddy
The Bradshaws Love Them All
“I was a city boy. Cristi was raised in the city. Even before we got married, we realized the Lord was calling us to do missionary work. We went through some discernment process with the community. Once we knew we were going to get married, we would be for mission work and be a witness to Catholic and Protestant unity,” narrates Todd Bradshaw, son of one of the older non-Catholic members of Ligaya, Mac and Rhoda Bradshaw who were also missionaries in the Philippines. Cristi, was Cristina Rivera of the University District who was also very active with the Music Ministry then. Mission was in Mindanao at a rural area among poor families. “We were missionaries in Mindanao for 17 years. Most of the time we were on a farm and we had goats and birds and cats and dogs. All our kids, except Mikkie were born in Butuan. Mikkie was 2 years old when we left. “We had a rural community project in Butuan and we had a goat extension program for community development. It was a missionary outreach. We would give them to poor families to raise for milk and cheese...kesong puti. We taught them how to raise them. “As to the dogs, we always had a couple of them but then Cristi developed a passion for yellow labradors so we had the first purebred yellow labs in the Butuan area. We began breeding them. Then they got out of hand. “Eventually practically everybody in Butuan had yellow labs. You can still see them everywhere today. But they helped us in our ministry because some of the priests from the seminary became interested. We gave one to one of the priests. Then we became friends. Then the bishop was visiting us all the time and from that became an ecumenical movement in Butuan between Catholic and Protestants.”
PHOTOS BY EDGAR UNSON
All Creatures Great and Small...
Though Todd was not a veterinarian (He was an electrical engineer in a nuclear submarine plant before he came to the Philippines), he performed the duties of one on the farm: delivering the puppies and kids. The animals they raised? Dogs, goats, sheep, cats, carabaos, cows, hornbills, birds, fish, mice, two chickens. When they moved to Butuan City, they trimmed down the list to dogs -- but Teddy, the only son, managed to raise other creatures that didn’t need the wide-open spaces of a farm. His fascination for insects led him to collect varieties of bugs and cocoons. In fact, the children have very vivid recollections of seeing butterflies emerging from their cocoons! Mikkie, the eldest of the Bradshaw brood, shares a dream of putting up an animal shelter with Andie. Mikki will fund it and Andie will be the vet. If Kati holds on to her dream, she will be a vet too. Todd would still be the chief animal caretaker, and maybe Teddy would be the resident entomologist. Cristi? She laughs, “I just look and appreciate!” Today, in their much smaller home in Antipolo, the menagerie has significantly shrunk due to space limitations. Still, this has not dampened the family’s love for animals. Andie, Teddy and Kati still manage to rescue strays tormented by the neighborhood children. Even baby Sofia loves animals and shows no fear. “I have to caution them!” Todd gripes with a laugh. “Thankfully rescuing animals has not become a ministry--yet!”
TRUE NORTH BEAT
KEEPING FIT FOR THE
was purely on a vegetable diet. (Atty. Mendoza is very much alive today and cancer-free).
By : Ellen U. Virina Ask Aldem to describe their family’s passion, and he would sum it up as having healthy a lifestyle.
Atty. Mendoza then introduced the couple to a progressive school in Manila where their son and daughter studied. Aldem found the school philosophy compatible with the lifestyle he and Vanessa wanted. There were organic farmers and natural medicine practitioners. It was a lifestyle embraced not just by the founders but the school community as well.
After being a college teacher for many years, Aldem suddenly realized that he was but a ghastly version of his former athletic self. Health was on the wane. He often felt lethargic. Aldem was desk-bound and sedentary most of the time. He knew he was overweight.
Aldem and Vanessa then met one of the school’s founders, Jake Tan, who is very much into homeopathic medicine. Aldem and Vanessa were keenly aware that without the medical benefits he used to enjoy in the university, they had to find ways to break the cycle of soaring medical expenses due to antibiotics and cough syrups for their kids..
A quick review of his family’s health history did not auger well for his very young and growing family. His side of the family has heart problems and short span of life. On Vanessa’s side (his wife), there are respiratory and allergy problems.
(L-r): JAMSYN, NICOV, ALDEM, MARTEUZ, VANE, KVELL, JOXAIN
The homeopathic therapy – which views the body as having the natural capacity to heal itself once freed of elements that could repress or distort the body’s capacity to build its immune system - greatly appealed to them. They were ready to give alternative medicine a try and undergo the great paradigm shift on health and wellness.
By 2003, Aldem knew he had to do something drastic and start a transition that would reverse his health decline. He also wanted to look for a job outside of the confines of a university. The Salvaña couple took a Management Consultancy Development Program that included coaching. It was the coaching course that challenged them to take on a Breakthrough Project that was both professional and personal in nature. What changes would they like to take on that would positively impact on them for the long term?
“It’s all about the patterns that you establish for yourself. They can be patterns that will lead to you greater unhealthiness,” Aldem said. “ And then you realize you can reverse the pattern and change things. You just change the way you do things.”
In 2006, Aldem left the university and started doing facilitation work in the corporate world.
PHOTOS BY JOHN RICH VILLAS
The physical and personal changes came a bit later. Aldem initially listened to and read up on alternative medicine practitioners, watched documentaries and studied the testimonies of people who were cured of dreaded diseases after changing their diet and exercise regimens. It was then that he met Atty. Joey Mendoza, diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, but on remission even without undergoing chemotherapy. He
Aldem likens the process of transformation to building habits. “Like the habit of prayer, if you start on it and do it on a regular basis....after a while, it becomes a part of you.” It was not an easy transformation. Aldem struggled at first. His diet changes were difficult as he brought his rice consumption down to a minimum. He could eat wheat bread every now and then, with peanut butter as an indulgence. He eats a lot of fruits. He minimizes the use of oil, and prefers eating food and fruit juice served near
their natural state. Their household is devoid of condiments, milk and coffee. Sweets are taboo. Aldem is a pesco-vegetarian now, with an 85-90% compliance rate. Vanessa and the kids are at lower degrees, but striving. The Salvaña’s living room is now a gym. The children work out with ageappropriate exercises. Playing basketball is an activity they all enjoy. Aldem is now 30 to 40 pounds lighter than 5 years ago, closer to his college fighting weight and stamina. With his healthier family and their lesser dependence on antibiotics and expensive medication, these are rewards too good to ignore. Fitness and a healthy lifestyle have truly become not just a commitment, but a passion to this family. The Salvaña’s life philosophy is this: “Stewarship of our bodies is to make sure we use it right and not abuse it. That means doing the best of eating the right food that will help our bodies become healthier rather than endangering or threatening them.”
The Sweetest Passion
Putting together the ultimate dessert buffet
By : Ellen U. Virina
One of them started the first pizza parlor in Iloilo renowned for its thin crust. Another made a name for her Black Forests when Black Forests were still little known. Heddy, her mom, began a home-based business in Manila, even if her educational background was commerce. Her lola on the father’s side was very good with pork and beans. An aunt made superb kare-kare, which her dad took to a higher level that Tricia termed as a “killer.” Their culinary slant was more on Ilocano, although her dad does great Chinese cooking. Tricia admitted that she didn’t enjoy baking when she was a kid. At age seven or eight, she was often tasked to chop walnuts at Christmas time. She managed to do this like a pro -- but to her young mind, it was time away from play. By high school, Tricia said she could bake, although her heart wasn’t into it. Tricia thought that at some point her lack of interest in baking was a source of frustration and disappointment to her mom as her one and only daughter did not show any inclination for the family passion. Her aunts each had a daughter to carry on the tradition. Tricia took up Business Administration in college, majoring in Marketing. Her first job in modular office furnishing earned her loads of money but no great satisfaction. She felt burned out after a while.
OPTING OUT One day, she looked out the window from her office and saw an available 20-square meter leasable space. She quit her job, rented the space and opened her first
business venture: a sandwich-pasta-pastry shop with her parents providing the food she sold. Not being prepared enough to handle the business, she closed the shop after losing money big time.
Tricia shares some tips
Her second job doing business development for a food chain left her unfulfilled. She eventually left the job.
Use Chinese teaspoons to serve bitesized pastries. Small servings allow guests to sample more yummies.
FAMILY GENES WIN Tricia’s consultancy for a bakery/food chain in her next job led her to realize her love for customized meals and desserts. She mustered her resources to open her first dessert shop: a cart business in Shopwise, Libis. This was the beginning of Pink Sugar, where people could buy cakes by the slice and place orders for whole cakes. Her mom was a crucial mentor, honing Tricia’s growing interest and baking skills.
Play around with texture. Put together pastries with differing surfaces.
The renovation of Shopwise and the opening of SM Pasig forced Tricia to pull out of Shopwise and find other venues for selling her cakes and pastries. She began tapping caterers in the Marikina area by supplying them desserts they could package with their menu. Soon after, people began calling her for desserts and that’s where the idea of dessert buffets and shot-glass servings took off. Today, Tricia no longer leans so much on her mom for the desserts she serves. Her one-to-one mentoring with her mom using the knowledge nurtured, passed on and improved through the generations have awakened in her the latent passion for the gift she knows her family has been blessed with.
Who says you can’t bring out the cookie jars?
“Anyone can learn business,” Tricia said. “But baking is a gift.” Culinary school can teach technique, but it all boils down to “pulso” -- having the heart, eye and taste for baking. And certainly that pulse for Tricia and her family has been a beat resounding through generations.
Tantalize your guests with glasses of all sizes and shapes. PHOTOS BY JOHN RICH VILLAS
The genealogy of dessert maven Tricia Villegas easily explains the art and passion she puts into her work. Her lolo from the mother side would bake almost every day as his therapy for work stress as an accountant in Iloilo. He learned his baking technique from the American GIs. His daughters picked up his passion, and each turned their baking know-how into flourishing businesses.
Build layers to achieve height. Use glass shelves that don’t call attention to themselves and allow the eye to roam.
ni Ginny. I was giving hope to the poor and yet we were struggling financially ourselves. Hindi biro ang maghandle ng 200 pamilya. Ang mga pinaglilingkuran namin ay mga married couples na may edad 40-70 years old. Bago pa lang ang Tahanan noon, limited ang resources at support kung kaya’t ang pinanghawakan lamang namin doon ay ang grasya ng Diyos na may kasamang dedikasyon at pananagutan sa serbisyo.
Mula kay Rene Perez
a 29 years ko sa Ligaya ng Panginoon community, masasabi ko na tanging grasya at pagmamahal ng Panginoon lang ang nagpatibay sa aking pagsunod sa Kanya.
Tulad ng isang sundalo, ako ay sumunod sa lider ng Ligaya at hindi nagtanong kung bakit ako pa. Hindi naging madali ang serbisyo namin doon. Gusto ko ng bumitaw nung unang taon pa lamang dahil napakahirap talaga. Ang pagmamahal ng Panginoon ang aking naging inspirasyon para gumaan ang aming serbisyo kaya umabot din kami ng masayang tatlong taon sa Tahanan.
Kaka-graduate ko lang sa unibersidad nang maghiwalay ang aking mga magulang. Naging rebelde ako dahil kung kailan pa buong pamilya kaming nasa Community, doon pa nangyari ito. Nanatili kami ni Nanay at mga kapatid ko sa Ligaya. Bagama’t nasa Community ako, bumalik ako sa dati kong bisyong pag-iinom at iba pang mga imoral na gawain. Galit ako sa Diyos at sa sarili ko. Ayoko na sa Community noon, nguni’t matiyaga ang aking men’s group. Pinagtataguan ko na sila tuwing sila ay pumupunta sa bahay. Marami akong dahilan kung bakit hindi ako aattend hanggang sa naubusan na ako ng dahilan, sapagka’t ang men’s group meeting namin ay ginagawa na sa bahay namin.
Nagsilbi ako bilang Area Head ng Tahanan ng Panginoon sa Barrio Pineda, Pasig noong 28 years old pa lamang ako tatlong taong kasal at may isang dalawang taong gulang na anak. Nag aadjust pa lang kami bilang mag-asawa
PHOTO BY RAYMUND ISAAC
Wala akong nadinig na pagsumbat sa akin bagkus ako ay lalo nilang pinagtiyagaan na akayin pabalik sa Panginoon. Hindi na ako karapat-dapat pang mahalin nguni’t ipinakita nila ang kapasidad nilang magmahal ng tunay. Nakita ko ang mukha ng Panginoon sa kanila. Kung hindi dahil sa kanila, maaaring nasira na ang buhay ko o di kaya’y patay na ako ngayon.
Dumating sa punto na ako na lamang sa aking pamilya ang natira sa Community. Napaisip din ako kung para ba talaga ako sa Ligaya o hindi. Naging malinaw sa akin noon pa man din na dito ako sa Ligaya tinatawag ng Panginoon kung kaya’t sabi ko sa aking mga anak na “dito na tayo mamatay sa Ligaya.” Masakit sa akin na mawala ang mga magulang at kapatid ko sa Community nguni’t may mga brothers and sisters pa rin ako sa Ligaya na maaari kong tularan, gayahin at gawing inspirasyon sa pagsisilbi sa Panginoon. Ang Panginoon din ang tangi kong lakas.
“Ngunit para sa akin at sa aking sambahayan, kay Yaweh kami maglilingkod.” Mayroon akong isang kinatatakutan sa buhay ko, lalo na kung wala akong kasamang taga Ligaya. Alam naman ng lahat na may pagka-gigolo ang mga lalaki sa aming pamilya. Dasal ko sa Diyos na huwag niyang hahayaan na may makilala akong babae habang malayo ako sa pamilya ko. Nguni’t may tuksong dumating more than 10 years ago. May nakilala akong taga Saigon noong may convention kami sa Bangkok at pansin ko parang may kakaiba siyang pakikitungo sa akin. Binigay niya ang room number niya sa hotel at sinabing magusap daw kami doon. Siyempre, hindi ako pumunta. Nung pangatlong araw ay nagkita kami muli sa convention area kahit 10,000 delegates kaming lahat. Hinikayat niya akong mag-extend ng isa pang gabi dahil gusto raw niya akong makapiling. Sa pelikula ko lang ito napapanood, pero sinabi ko sa kanya na mali ito, ako ay isang Kristiyano at mahal ko ang pamilya ko. Tumalikod ako at wala nang lingon-lingon pa.
Ipokrito ako kung sasabihin kong hindi ako natukso. God reminded me and allowed it to happen for me to realize what is said in Scripture that for whomever accepts Christ, “the old has gone and the new has come.” Naranasan din namin ni Ginny na magkaroon ng hindi pagkakaunawaan sa miyembro ng Community. Eto ang pinakamasakit dahil kapatid mo sa Panginoon at hindi kayo magkaunawaan. Naitanong ko sa sarili ko kung kaya ko bang lunukin itong pangyayari na ito sa relasyon namin. Meron akong tinignan na ibang Community at sinabi ko kay Ginny na may kinakausap na ako. Masasabi kong grasya ng Panginoon talaga ang humingi ng tawad at higit sa lahat ay ang magpatawad. Ang iniisip ko noong mga araw na iyon na naging mahirap din akong mahalin at may nagtiyaga lamang sa akin. Higit sa lahat ang Panginoon man ay hinamak, sinaktan, pinagbintangan ng masama, sinugatan at ipinako sa krus! Nagawa Niya iyon dahil sa pagmamahal Niya
sa atin. Wala naman iyon sa kalahati ng dinanas ko. Ang tao ay hindi perpekto, hindi din perpekto ang Community ngunit may perpekto akong Panginoon Diyos at yun ang pinakamahalaga. Sa kasalukuyan, ako ang Site Leader ng North Sector Pathways. Kasama ko si Ginny. Narinig ko sa isang seminar, “If we limit ourselves to what is comfortable, we limit ourselves to what is possible.” Sa Pathways, All He needs to hear you say is your “yes”. Then, He will equip you, empower you and give you the grace to do His tasks. Reward na sa akin ang makita ang dating mga nakasimangot ay nakangiti na after ng Choices Seminar. Ang madinig ang pagpapatotoo nila kung paano nila nakilala ang Panginoon sa Pathways at kung paano sila binago ng Panginoon sa Open Prayer Meeting. Higit sa lahat ay ang makita ko ang mga Choices graduates na nagsisilbi na rin sa Pathways. “ Natutunan ko sa pagsunod sa Panginoon ay hindi importante kung paano ka nagsimula kung hindi kung paano mo tatapusin ang pagsunod mo sa Kanya. Hindi mahalaga sa Kanya kung saan ka nanggaling. Mas mahalaga sa Kanya ay kung saan ka patungo. Ang hamon ng Panginoon ay hindi nagbabago: maging desipulo ka Niya at ihayag ang mabuting balita sa mga anak Niyang nauuhaw sa Kanyang Salita. Paano tayo tumutugon sa Kanyang tawag? Ano ang ating ginagawa sa hamon na ito?
Some People Touch Us In A Big Way Photo Contributions from True North Readers
odraws great joy from Go Contributor Omy Romero and ily fam ero Rom er of the ber, the youngest memb . t and faithful companion his wife Rosanneâ€™s constan
Contributor Mitch Sebastian has been touched in a big way by a little guy who goes to the gatherings of Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon Singapore. Daniel, 4, is the son of Dennis and Cindy Mocorro, former leaders of the group. When asked, Daniel generously gives hugs to titos and titas like Mitch.
Contributor Portia de Alba is deeply touched in many ways by her husband Paulo. His humility and concern for others reminds her to be humble and equally concerned for others.
Contributor Maila Blanza is filled with joy each time she beholds daughter Clara Sophia, whom she considers a gift from God.
Contributor Aly Placino realizes that former LNP senior woman leader Neng Isid ro continues to make an impact on community life by her mere presence. Tita Ne ng remains a woman of faithfu lness and grace.
Tamondong, who serves To contributor Nathski like Jacob Banog (left) and LNP of lts the Young Adu camps serve as a r Nathan Chavez , summe LNP. of re futu the see venue to
In putting together a website to honor LNP spiritual director Fr. Herb Scheneider, contributor Bingo Soriano realized how the Holy Spirit moved across historical periods and continents and used many individuals like the LNP founder to spark a renewal of the Christian Churches.