True North - Volume 8, Number 1

Page 1

volume 8 • number 1

april 2013

Moving in



They come in threes

God@Work: Scaling New Heights

VOLUME 8 • NUMBER 1 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Ramoncito dela Cruz Managing Editor Aly Sulit-Placino Editorial Board Gary Mendoza (coordinator-in-charge) Berry Marfori Anna Sobrepeña Chito Sobrepeña ART DIRECTOR Cleowe Flores CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Manny Manuel Mars Quizon Therese Pelias Mich Cruz-Villar Ellen U. Virina Jun Viterbo CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Mike Villar John Rich Villas

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. True North is a publication of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon ( 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 (

We are open

True North is inviting all engaging storytellers—through words and pictures. We are expanding our pool of writers, editors and photographers for our forthcoming issues. But before we can write beautiful prose and compose inspiring pictures, we also need story ideas. Interested members of Ligaya ng Panginoon and all its outreach organizations are welcome to email or call Monching dela Cruz at or 0917 891 7644.


ABOUT THE COVER Bright and early. The Lansangan mother and daughters came to the photoshoot very early on a Saturday morning, bringing with them their sunny aura. They were such a delight to work with, gamely posing for our photographer.


Editor’s Note We are pilgrims #TrueNorthAsks Most unusual place, most unexpected circumstances Been There Spiritual Journey in the City God@Work Come, Let Us Go Up!

TRUE NORTH BEAT 1 Show me Your ways, Teach me Your paths 12 15 18

Finding the Way Back Journey through Faith and Miracles Gather My Young People

TRUE NORTH BEAT 2 Bearing Fruits 22 25 27 30

The Ligaya Legacy My Take Embracing the ‘Present’ Christian Guide Driving and Commuting in Metro Manila 10 Questions Her Fruitfulness Comes from Him

OUR photographer John Rich Villas during Earth Hour


We are

PILGRIMS We all know that life here on earth is a journey. Sometimes it’s smooth sailing all the way. At other times, we hit roadblocks at every turn. We try to plan every step of our journey to ensure our travel will be as seamless as possible. It is thus fitting that True North come up with a "Travel Issue". Instead of a list for the best beaches or restaurants to visit, there’s a list of basilicas and churches to explore as pilgrim sites during the Year of Faith (pages 6 and 7). Instead of a list of essential gear and equipment to bring to a hiking expedition, you can find recommendations on what kind of attitude and mindset to bring to the mountains (pages 8 to 10). We also have a survival guide on driving and commuting in Metro Manila – the Christian way (pages 27 to 29). Yes, it’s possible. Some of our trips may take a long-haul flight, a short drive, or a day’s trek. For others, it may be a dive deep into our own selves. The Lansangans of the North District share their heart-breaking journey together as a family following a tragic accident that thrust their lives into unfamiliar terrain (pages 12 to 14). Their faith (though initially shaken) and fortitude have helped them travelled back to the path to healing and recovery. In their own words, LNP Sector Senior Woman Leader Beth Melchor ‘s valiant battle with the big C – cancer – with an even bigger C – Christ – serves as an


inspiration to all (pages 25 to 26). Sister Marivic Arago’s (South District A) steadfast faith amid two episodes of health scares in Switzerland is a powerful reminder for us on God’s love and amazing powers (pages 15 to 17). Despite uncertainties, their spirits are undaunted because they know God has grand plans for them. The experiences of single men and women of Ligaya and Lingkod who serve the youth of the Pamayanang Diego Silang neighborhood demonstrate how God is teaching and guiding them in their lives — as much as they are teaching and guiding the young people (pages 18 to 20). We are all pilgrims on a journey called life. And as much as possible, we want to gather as many people to join us in our walk. It is heartwarming to read the stories of four families with three generations who are journeying together as covenanted and underway members of the Ligaya ng Panginoon Community (pages 22 to 24). We pray that there will be more families solidly moving in one direction. Lastly, I pray that in any journey that we are going through, may our journey be always with Him. And may our destination be in Him.



Lot Cabasug, Ligaya Central District B

I was walking through the Philippine General Hospital to attend the noon mass. A lot of patients were seated outside the hospital building probably waiting for their turn. And then, I saw a man walking past the gate. He was carrying a young boy who was around 12 years old. The boy must have been heavy because I noticed the man really had a hard time and his back was bent low. As I was staring at them, these words came clearly to my mind: “All those times that you think you were alone, I was carrying you. And I will carry you still because I love you." That was the most unexpected moment of God's message of overwhelming love for me. That has been six or seven years ago but until now, I still remember it and it never fails to uplift my spirit.

Flooded with Love Caryl dela Cruz, Lingkod Marikina

What was the most unusual place or circumstance where or when you felt God's presence/love the most?

God is everywhere and ever-present in our lives. Just like a good friend who’s always around, He has his own unique way of making Himself known through both the mundane and extraordinary things that pop up in our day. #TrueNorthAsks, and the readers answer:


Alice Flores, Ligaya Central District B

I felt God's love the most on the Sunday mass right after my obstetrician declared with finality that my 7-week pregnancy had to be aborted due to early embryonic demise. The Gospel then was about the Transfiguration. In my prayer, the Lord allowed me to appreciate


His glorious brilliance that the three apostles witnessed and with it is His promise of an abounding joy. Filled with hope, I held on to that promise. Little did I expect that three weeks later, I would conceive our eldest daughter who is now four years old. Recently, we dedicated our third child named Pedro Juan Diego. He was named after the apostles who witnessed the Transfiguration.

I deeply felt God's presence and love most during the time of Ondoy. While we lost a lot of our material belongings, the Lord made sure that my family and I were safe. He also allowed me to experience His love and care through the generosity and support of the Community brothers and sisters.

Whisper of a Miracle Katz Festejo, Ligaya North District E

I felt God's presence at the bedside of my patient. He had been terminally ill and in a seemingly hopeless medical situation. We were only waiting for him to pass away. Then, I sensed the Lord moving me to pray for him right there. I shrugged the thought away and decided God was probably asking me to pray silently for my patient. The next time I made my rounds, the urge to pray for him became much louder. So I asked my patient’s permission to pray for him and even invited him

to pray with me. The Holy Spirit led the prayer because we both knew we were praying for a miracle. A day later, his blood started responding to our treatments and we were able to get him into the surgery he needed. Several weeks later, we were able to send him home.

okay not to sing or do anything, but just be still. The Lord made me feel He loves me just the same. For the whole seven days throughout the NLTC conference, I felt His presence and overwhelming love.

When God strums

Angels in Our Midst Tested Positive

Judith Alpay, Ligaya North District D

I was tested positive for cancer. Despite this, God’s peace has filled me with confidence as He is my Savior. I am still undergoing more tests to confirm laboratory results. But as I go through all these, I have experienced God through the power of intercession of brothers and sisters in the Community. I encounter Him ever more deeply in the comfort of prayer.

him through the street. My heart was filled with much emotion seeing God's angels pass before my eyes in those persons. Indeed, goodness still abounds.

Rye dela Cruz, Lingkod Marikina

Em Rabina, Lingkod Manila

One morning on my way to work, I happened to sit across a blind man. I figured he must have been a masseur because he was wearing a white polo, black pants and a pair of shades. He told the driver he would go down at Makati Cinema Square. On his way down the jeepney, I got worried because he almost missed stepping on the estribo. That made me worry about how he will get to cross that busy street. In my heart, I asked God to forgive me for not being quick to do something good. Then from a short distance, I saw him with two men, one each at his side, guiding

I decided one night to go to the Marikina’s prayer meeting around 15 minutes earlier than usual. I saw the branch leader practicing some songs, setting up the sound system, arranging the chairs and the LCD projector all by himself. So I went over and volunteered to help. He asked me if I could play the guitar during worship time, I accepted even if I was afraid that I was going to mess it up. It was my first time to play guitar for a charismatic community, but surprisingly, I was able to play all the songs and I think it went well too.

A Safe Home for the Night

Vivian M. Simon, Lingkod Marikina I felt God's love and presence most unexpectedly during my first trip abroad when my friend and I, being first-time travelers, became anxious of how to get to our destination. Our flight was delayed and we didn’t have a clue where to stay for the night. An airline passenger beside my friend offer us her home so we could spend the night safely. We felt that God sent us an angel through that person and indeed we felt protected and safe. I really felt God's love manifested through His protection.

photo credit:

Feels Like Heaven Wylene C. Lim, Lingkod Makati

I was so utterly sick and had been coughing all throughout the worship time during the National Lingkod Training Conference (NLTC) in Davao City two years ago. I couldn’t sing, and feeling helpless, I started crying. I felt Jesus silencing me, even felt Him hugging me from behind. It felt


It was my first time to play guitar for a charismatic community, but surprisingly, I was able to play all the songs.



Journey in the City

A pilgrimage is a journey to a sacred place as an act of spiritual devotion by Mich Cruz-Villar As the Catholic Church celebrates the Year of Faith from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013, the faithful are called to have a renewed enthusiasm of their encounter with Christ and rediscover their journey of faith. One way of doing so is by going on pilgrimages, to help the faithful live fully this Year of Faith as a special time of grace. The pilgrimages include visiting the See of Peter in Vatican to profess our faith in God, or to the Holy Land, the place which first saw the presence of Jesus, the Savior, and Mary, His mother. We are also encouraged to go on pilgrimages at major Marian shrines that we may turn our devotion to Mary and recognize her special role in the mystery of salvation. Thus, for Filipino Christians, rediscovering the journey of faith does not necessarily require travelling to distant places. We can go on pilgrimages, even here in our own country. Here are some suggested pilgrim churches within Metro Manila and nearby areas:


1. National Shrine of Our Lady of La Naval (Sto. Domingo Parish) Built in 1964, Sto. Domingo Church became the new National Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila, then under the care of Spanish Dominicans. Location: 537 Quezon Ave., Quezon City Feast Day: August 8 Would you like to take a pilgrimage? Contact (02)743-7756, (02)743-2124

2. National Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel The Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was constructed in 1954, the same time the Order of Discalced Carmelites was founded in the Archdiocese of Manila. Location: Do単a Juana Rodriguez (Broadway Ave.), New Manila, Quezon City Feast Day: July 16 Would you like to take a pilgrimage? Contact (02)724-5938, (02)725-1508

Plenary indulgence for the temporal punishment of sins will be granted this Year of Faith to everyone on the following occasions:

4. Antipolo Cathedral / National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Generally believed to have been originally brought by Don Juan Ni単o de Tabora from Mexico via the galleon El Almirante, the statue of Nuestra Se単ora de la Paz y Buen Viaje survived its burning ship and was given its present title due to this event. Every month of May, devotees from different parts of the country flock to the Antipolo Cathedral to pay homage to the miraculous Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. Location : P. Oliveros Street, Antipolo City Pilgrimage Season : May Interested to take a pilgrimage? Contact (02) 571-7347

a) Each time we take part in at least three instances of preaching during the Holy Missions, or at least three lessons on the Acts of Vatican Council II and on the Articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in any church or ideal place. b) Every time we visit by way of pilgrimage: 1) Papal Basilica 2) Christian catacomb 3) cathedral 4) church, a sacred place designated by the Ordinary of the place for the Year of Faith c) Every time, in days determined by the Ordinary of the place for the Year of Faith in any sacred place, we participate in a solemn Eucharistic celebration or the Liturgy of the Hours, adding the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form (for example, on the solemnities of the Lord, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the feasts of the Holy Apostles and Patrons, on the Chair of Saint Peter). d) A day freely chosen, during the Year of Faith, for the pious visit of the baptistry or other place, in which they received the sacrament of Baptism, renewing the baptismal promises in any legitimate formula.

photo credit: Mike Villar

3. National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help or more popularly known as the Baclaran church, houses one of the most venerated and celebrated Marian images in the country, called Our Mother of Perpetual Help, to which miraculous powers and historic events are ascribed. Open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, its more than 50 doors are ready to welcome people of all walks of life at any time. Location: Redemptorist Road, Baclaran, Paranaque Novena Schedule : Every Wednesday Would you like to take a pilgrimage? Contact (02) 832-1150


Going on pilgrimage to obtain Plenary Indulgence, however, is no field trip. It requires a certain disposition on the part of the pilgrim. First and foremost, the recipient must be free from the guilt of mortal sin. Furthermore, for Plenary Indulgence, confession and communion are usually required, while for partial indulgences, the recipient must at least have a contrite heart. When visiting a sacred place on pilgrimage, the faithful must also take part in a sacred function or at least pause for an apt time of recollection with pious meditations, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, according to the case, to Holy Apostles or Patrons.


Come, Let Us Go Up!


ormidable climbs and challenging treks can create an adrenaline rush that lasts for a time, but many young professionals who have conquered the mountain peaks are experiencing a new kind of exhilarating high. Dominic "Dom" Hormigos, a former Branch Leader of LingkodAlabang and is investigating the way of life of Ligaya ng Panginoon, has always loved traveling. As a child, his family would take several trips to visit his father’s relatives in Iloilo, Bacolod and Romblon. From his hometown in Basilan, he went to Cebu to study, and eventually transferred to Manila for his board exams. Dom has been actively discovering lesser-known island


beaches and mountain trails around Luzon, together with brothers from the Lingkod ng Panginoon Community. He recalled his first trek with the brothers. Out for an adventure, they all headed for Mount Makiling without a guide, relying on the reviews categorizing the trail as “easy”. The weather was fine at the jump-off point and their trek to the summit had been okay. However, things suddenly took a turn for the worse when they realized that they had insufficient water supply. On their way down, it started to rain very hard and none of them brought a jacket. At the end of the trek, Dom had an injured ankle, while some brothers suffered from leech bites.


by Therese Pelias and Mars Quizon

“Trekking involves being with the right team, having the right gear and the right mindset. Without a leader who had been to the same trail, by not bringing the necessary gear and equipment, and by having a ‘just go’ mindset could lead the entire group to danger,” Dom said. “Just like in life, facing the challenges requires being in the right group, having the right materials and the proper mindset. This is just like being in a Community, where you share your faith and experiences and are guided by the Scriptures and the way of life,” he added. Like Dom, Matelle Rivera, who is a certified public accountant and serves in Lingkod-Makati, has also been bitten by the travel bug. Her desire for adventure has led her to several expeditions – both to faraway destinations and unexplored corners inside oneself. “I thank God because I never knew that travelling could be a good way to learn more about life and experience His wonderful creations by personally witnessing the beauty of nature,” she said. She gladly helps out in organizing numerous treks for the


Matelle on the right

brothers and sisters. One of the most recent climbs was to Mount Pulag, the highest peak in Luzon There, they were fortunate to witness the famous sea of clouds. Matelle said that all her trips nurtured her hope in God’s promises. “After going through a difficult climb, an unexplainable, overflowing joy envelops me upon reaching the top,” she said. “Mountain climbing is just like the pilgrimage we are doing towards heaven. The road and the trail might be challenging. But you would surely witness the beauty of the summit. A successful climb is like a foretaste for the promise of heaven is much more than any summit we have here on earth.” These simple expeditions can actually be divine appointments

“Mountain climbing is just like the pilgrimage we are doing towards heaven."


Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens. Your faithfulness to the skies. Psalm 36:5

Dom has woven his passion for travelling with his zeal for evangelization. He has led others to Christ through these trips. Since 2007, Dom, together with Community brothers and sisters and some guests, has conquered Mt. Pinatubo, Mt. Pulag, Pico de Loro, Sagada and Mt. Gulugod, among other places. “It has become a venue for us to evangelize our officemates, friends or just about anybody person with the same passion,” he said. “In these expeditions, we are a team of experienced climbers armed with the Community's way of life incorporated in the trek. The trips organized by the Lingkod


brothers and sisters involve praying before the trek and before meals. As simple as doing these things, we get to introduce our guests to our way of life,” he said, adding that some of them have become open to join other Lingkod-organized activities. Dom himself appreciates how his expeditions have enriched his faith. “I get inspired and blessed during each trip as I experience opportunities to serve others. I am also always encouraged to live our way of life more after hearing the testimonies of brothers and sisters during these activities.” David in Psalm 139:7-8(NIV) says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there." God is the Creator of nature and everything majestic and picturesque in a mountain. He continues to meet us wherever we are—in the challenges of a treacherous climb, in the exuberance at the end of an expedition, and in the camaraderie with those who journey with us as we all journey back to Him.

Show me your ways, teach me your





Finding the

Way Back by Ellen U. Virina


er daughter Denice, who was only four years old then, still vividly remembers her uneasiness hours before the accident: "They had to coax me to go and ride the van with them. I had a feeling something (bad) was going to happen.� "I heard screaming and I felt that we were tumbling off a cliff. I fell to the floor of the van. I guess I was knocked out because the next time I came to, I was in a truck with two men who said they were taking me to a hospital,� recalled Therese, or Reese, who was nine years old at that time. It was to have been a usual trip to the province where Redesito "Sito" Lansangan (former district servant for Ligaya North District A) was supervising the renovation of his parents' home. Tired out from the stress of the week, Sito laid down across the middle row of the van and slept during the trip. His wife, Marilyn "Leng", and their children were seated at the last row.


location shoot: Van Gogh is Bipolar Restaurant photo credit: john rich villas


Feelings of devastation and ‘alone-ness’ were consuming me. I was truly broken. My faith was challenged. I asked God so many questions.

And then it happened. A tire blowout caused the van to tumble down a steep embankment by the side of the highway. In that August afternoon in 2000, this family's life was changed forever. Sito died from massive injuries hours after the accident. Leng and daughter Reese were taken by ambulance to the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City where they were confined for several days. Reese suffered a lacerated liver and had to undergo a major surgery. Denice, who was in Leng's tight embrace during the accident, came out with slight bruises and needed no confinement. They were told about Sito’s situation only several days after when the doctor deemed Leng and Reese were strong enough to take the news. "While Reese and I were confined in the same hospital room, I remember seeing our hospital room filled with Community brothers and sisters coming in droves and just being present, for they all knew that we still have not been told that Sito has been called home by the Lord." Leng recounted. "Little did I know that my MWG (men’s and women’s group) members were all busy scouting for a plot for Sito, making arrangements for the wake, the transfer of his remains from Pampanga to Quezon City and the daily masses, as well as the interment preparations. Brothers and sisters simply took care of everything for my family and me,” Leng said. Some even chipped in money to finance certain expenses.

Loss of the Better Half

"When your better half is gone, you can feel that half of you is gone as well,” Leng shared. The sharp pain of loneliness struck after Sito's interment was over. “When all the family, friends and Community members had gone back to their normal activities, my children and I went home where memories of Sito filled all the corners of our house. My overwhelming grief

was so intense that I knew it was in this stage I needed Community the most,” she said. It was also at this time when brothers and sisters were not quite certain how to deal with her – whether it would be best to just let her grief alone, or be present and keep her company. Admittedly, there was a time when Leng shied away from Community when she felt that no one who never experienced a sudden death of a spouse could truly understand what she was going through. "I would come home from work and just sulked in a corner and cried my heart out every single night. Feelings of devastation and ‘alone-ness’ were consuming me. I was truly broken. My faith was challenged. I asked God so many questions. I also questioned Sito why he did not negotiate with God to spare him for our sake,” Leng related. "It was a long period of grief which took me five years before I was able to fully embrace the reality that Sito was gone for good and that it was the Lord's divine will to take him home,” she said with a calm voice. She said she knew in her heart that God would deal with her grief, that He would patiently wait for her. And the healing quietly unfolded.

Road to Healing

Family weekend get-togethers and play time with their seven cousins helped ease the loneliness of the children. With the random out-of-town trips they used to take as a family now gone, the family made sure that weekends were times for bonding. Leng encouraged her daughters to express themselves through art. Weekend motherdaughter crafting sessions went on as usual. Denice recalled when they were kids, they were always enrolled in the extension programs at the University of the Philippines. "Halos lahat ng program we took up. Piano, guitar, violin, ballet,

TRUE NORTH BEAT 1 voice – we were attending these classes every Saturday. Instead of a normal day at home, pumupunta kami sa UP. Halos sunod-sunod ang lessons so ‘yan ang nakasanayan ko," she said with a smile. Today, Denice is a gifted violinist, while Reese sings her own compositions and plays the guitar – her dad's musical instrument of choice. Self-expression helped the girls verbalize their grief. Every year for five years, they would write letters to their dad, end Leng kept friends and family posted on how her family was doing. Reese said: "We never saw giving up as an option. Why would you give up on your family? The only option that we saw was to stick together—get through this alive and in one piece."

Family travels helped them temporarily escape the memories of home and allowed them to discover places away from home as well as rack up loads of happy memories.

The Faith that Saves

"What helped me through were the constant reminders for myself of God's great power and mercy. Since He allowed this tragedy to befall us, He must have a better plan for me and my children," Leng said. "I found myself being comforted by the Scripture phrase that ‘God loves the widows, and the fatherless He sustains.’ I held on to this promise and God in His faithfulness did spoil me with the constancy of His love and abounding grace."

As to how she managed to raise her daughters well, and achievers at that, she summed up: "I could have never done this all by myself, without the support of my own family as well as the Community, and all those who specifically prayed and interceded for healing. My journey in grief and sorrow is about knowing that God, in His great wisdom and power, can turn my deep sorrow and mourning into complete joy and happiness.” “He waited on until I have come into full acceptance and surrender to His plan for us. And He did just that for me, and I felt very dear and special before God's eyes."

Reese Remembers

Therese "Reese" Lansangan is a 22-year-old visual artist, graphic designer, musician, and fashion design student, all rolled into one convenient sushi. A recent graduate of Information Design at the Ateneo de Manila University, she is currently taking up her second degree in Fashion Design in the School of Fashion and the Arts. She loves cutting paper, painting in technicolor, strumming her ukulele while staring into space, and making unicorns out of stoneware clay among others. Her desire is to keep on creating things until her eyes gouge out.


At first, I wept for my loss. I wept just as how one would weep if they’ve lost their wallet, or their pet cat. But days and months after that, when eating lunch in school or when in a car ride alone with my thoughts, I would suddenly be confronted with an overwhelming sense of reality that my dad is never coming back. He was not away toiling in a different country. He was not asleep, waiting to be woken up. There would never be, not here or in an alternate reality, a possibility of him ever coming back. Coming to terms with that kind of irreversible reality was the hardest. Knowing that I can't ever embrace him anymore, or watch him strum his guitar by the couch, or hear him joke about my excessive desire to buy things, was painful. Knowing that he’d never be an audience of any gig I ever play, and that he wasn't able to see me grow up to love music just as much as he taught me to, it was painful. Knowing that he would never be able to walk me down the aisle

when I (if ever I) get married, it's still painful. It's been almost 13 years since we lost the only man in our lives, but my family has been holding up pretty well. My mom, Denice and I have slowly, seemingly molded into one entity—keeping one another close as if so afraid of another loss. Through the years, we got by our grief by searching for our own happiness —mostly by traveling the world, experiencing foreign places together, weaving a blanket of strong memories to keep us warm in the cold. But it doesn't mean we don't remember him. Even after all these years, we still do. Dealing with a loss is a difficult thing. You get upset by the loss of things that you thought were yours. But we never really owned him in the same way that nobody can never really own a person. What we did own were our memories of him. They are beautiful, they are intact, and they are ours. So we continue to live—taking comfort in the fact that at least, he can always visit us in our dreams.


journey Through



Miracles by Marivic Arago

photo credit: Mike villar


n 2006, I was blessed with an opportunity to work in our corporate headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. During our district meeting in Ligaya ng Panginoon (LNP) when our brothers and sisters prayed over us, we were given two prophesies. First: “Go and spread the Good News to the Gentiles”; and second: “No eyes have seen, no ears have heard, and no mind can conceive the glory and goodness of the Lord that await you.” With these words from the Lord, we went to Switzerland full of hope and joyful expectation. I kept these words in my heart. When we arrived in Switzerland, the first place that we looked for was a Catholic church. When we met the chaplain of the church he told us: “You Filipinos are blessed because you have the gift of faith.” A few months after, we searched and joined the Couples for Christ Community in Geneva.


On our third year in Switzerland, I got pregnant.

Not the Usual Pregnancy

On my third month of pregnancy, my obstetrician took sample of my blood to check if there is a possibility that my baby has Down syndrome. She said that it’s a normal procedure in Switzerland and she doesn’t think there will be any problem since my pregnancy is progressing smoothly. A week later, I was told my baby was tested positive for Down syndrome. To confirm this, I have to undertake amniocentesis. The procedure requires inserting a tiny needle inside the amniotic sac to get a sample of my amniotic fluid. The doctor told me that I have to be in bed for three days because there is a risk of miscarriage after the procedure. When I heard these, I hesitated to undertake the procedure. My husband Romy felt the same way. Sensing our hesitation, the doctor suggested that we do an ultrasound first and see the physical condition of

TRUE NORTH BEAT 1 the baby. She showed us the different body parts and organs of our baby. We were relieved when she said that she did not find any problem. However, she said an ultrasound cannot tell if the baby has Down syndrome. She told us that we cannot postpone the procedure because abortion can be done legally in Switzerland only within 20th week of pregnancy. We were shocked to hear that and told the doctor that we have no plan of aborting the baby. The doctor looked at us in disbelief. The issue of abortion is out of the question. If I take the procedure and find out that the baby has normal genes, then we can rejoice. But there is a risk of miscarriage. If I don’t undergo the procedure, the uncertainty and fear will be there constantly, but there will be no risk of miscarriage.


The Right Decision

We decided to live with our fear and uncertainty rather than risk losing the baby. The doctor asked us to sign the waiver and we left the clinic knowing we made the right decision. When my officemates learned about what happened, they could not understand why I did not undergo the amniocentesis test to find the actual condition of the baby. Fear and anxiety gripped me when I hear stories about Down syndrome babies. But this fear disappeared when I pray. We also found strength with the knowledge that my men’s and women’s group in LNP and friends are praying for us. Only with the prayers and support of the Community was I able to go through my pregnancy with peace in my heart. On December 26, 2008, I gave birth

to a healthy baby girl whom we named Angela Christina. My obstetrician was in tears of joy when she saw her. Our children were overjoyed too. But our son was disappointed because he wanted a baby brother. I panicked when he said: "I’m going to pray for a baby boy." Four months after I gave birth, we came home to the Philippines. While still adjusting to a new baby and new life, I got pregnant again. On my 37th week of pregnancy, I undertook a routine ultrasound and was told that the baby has an irregular heart rhythm. A more thorough ultrasound was advised by my obstetrician. This was the longest ultrasound I had experienced. I knew there’s something wrong when one doctor after another came to have a look, even the head of the department came by.

The miracles that happened to our children showed us that the wisdom of this world is nothing compared to God’s infinite wisdom and power. Another Test

When I asked what was wrong, they tried to pacify me. They would not let me look at the screen and even refused to allow Romy to come inside the room. After the test, we asked for the result. We were given the standard answer that my obstetrician would be the one to explain. When we insisted, the doctor told us that they found some things that were not found in a normal baby. The following day, I received a call from my obstetrician telling me that the hands of my baby were clenched, he had a thick fold on the neck, and has a cystic kidney. All these, she said, indicate Edwards syndrome. While my obstetrician was talking, I started googling to find out what is Edwards syndrome. I was devastated when I found out that it is worse than Down syndrome and the longest life span of babies with this genetic problem is only 10 years. I was afraid to give birth not knowing what to expect. I can still recall the faces of the babies with Edwards syndrome I saw on the internet. I was already due for delivery but I’m still not experiencing contraction. Only when I surrendered everything to God and asked for the grace to accept my baby whatever his condition is did I start to experience contractions. Again, God gave us another miracle; John Dominic was born without any impairment. They took another ultrasound of his kidney and whole abdomen and no cyst was found. My


doctor cannot explain it either. She said the sonologist who did the ultrasound was the best in the field and is in fact the head of the department. During my postnatal checkup, she showed me the ultrasound film showing the hands of my baby – the fingers were indeed connected and looked like there’s a web between the fingers.

Infinite Wisdom and Power

When we had the covenant retreat in LNP, God made me go back to these experiences. He made me realized that everything that happened was for a purpose. We had to go to Switzerland to experience His limitless love, generosity and grace. Our experience in Switzerland showed us the challenges in this world and we see that we are gradually facing the same challenges in our own country. We need to be ready to face these challenges. We need to hold on tightly to our true identity as sons and daughters of Christ. The culture we saw in Europe made us realize we are different because we are not of this world – we are God’s children and our place is in heaven. The miracles that happened to our children showed us that the wisdom of this world is nothing compared to God’s infinite wisdom and power. When I experience life’s trials and challenges, I look at my kids and remember how God has given me the grace to survive those difficult times. God sustained me in those times and I’m sure He will continue to do so.



e d i gu


lo ve

Gather My


photo credit: john rich villas

People 18

by Ramoncito dela Cruz


rom the outside, it may look like a typical Saturday night-out of young people. They come in by twos and threes. They start to mingle and banter, filling the lobby of the Ligaya ng Panginoon (LNP) Center with friendly chatter and boisterous laughters. After a while, the group will assemble in the second-floor room to begin their prayer and worship time. For most Saturday nights, they will gather for Bible study, teaching and sharing activities. In recent months, they listened to the Christian Growth Series talks that discussed issues ranging from prayers to Scriptures to evangelization. “These are young people who want to deepen their knowledge of the Bible. They want to know the Lord more through the Scripture,” Maureen Ramos, or Mau, said as she waited for the youth to arrive at the Center one late afternoon. “They call this place their refuge, their source of joy.” In here, these young people – aged 11 to early 20s – can worship the Lord vocally, study the Scriptures, and share God’s love and their own life stories with their peers. This group, in a sense, is quite unique from any other ministries of the LNP, as it wasn’t in the original plan of the leadership. In July 2010, while serving in the Kapihan breakfast sessions for the residents of Pamayanang Diego Silang community (where the LNP Center is located), Mau and Fred Festin were approached by the


young participants who requested for a separate Bible study session for them. The ‘breakaway” group wanted something more dynamic and youthful that they could easily relate to. “Eventually, due to their different demographic profile and conflict in schedules, they requested for a separate session, which is dedicated only for the youth,” Fred recalled. He and Mau have since become the pillars of the group that is now called the PDS Youth Ministry. As the young people find it

hard to wake up early and meet on Saturday mornings, the group moved the meetings to Saturday nights instead.

Bearing Fruits

From nine participants and two youth workers who used to meet in the LNP Center lobby, the group has grown to around 40 in just a year’s time. Not only that, 40 kids, mostly the siblings of these teenagers, had joined the group. Some months later, the LNP Kids Ministry was born. The original group consisted of the active church members of the nearby Maria, Reyna ng mga Apostoles parish church. They started inviting their friends and

neighbors, who in turn invited their friends and neighbors, over to the Bible study sessions. As the flock grew, the group issued a call for more workers from the different singles’ groups within the Community. One of those who responded to the call was Joseph Henson. Joseph, who is also serving in Lingkod ng Panginoon-Makati branch, was asked by his leader to attend and observe the activities. At first, he didn’t think that it was a right fit for his personality. “I didn’t see myself as a youth worker. I thought I will not be able to keep up with their energy or sustain their interest as I’m more on the serious side,” Joseph said. But soon enough, he started serving in the teaching team. At the start, some of the youth exhibited rough behavior, using colorful language and not very upbuilding in relating with one another, he recalled. But as time went by, the young people have matured in Christian values and behavior. Therese “Apple" Reyes, a volunteer from Lingkod Makati, can attest to this. She said that the young people have become closer to God and to each other. “There’s a desire to open up and share their lives within the small group.” Since then, the group has joined several Community gatherings such as Catchfire, Christ’s Youth in Action’s Crossroads retreat, sector’s recollection and others. Working with young people is close to Apple’s heart. She sees herself in them, as she was also evangelized at around the same age. “I can see some parallelism

Stepping Up

Last October, the group successfully organized a Life in the Spirit Seminar for the youth, culminating with 37 youth baptized in the Holy Spirit. Some of the participants are now being trained for evangelization and leading other youth into a deeper relationship with the Lord. “They are leveling up. They are being trained to be youth leaders themselves,” Mau pointed out. “Some are facilitating discussions, and some are serving in the music ministry and registration committee.” The experience has changed not only the lives of these young people, but also those of the youth workers. “This ministry is not only a journey for the youth but also for the workers. It has tested our faith, our energy and resources,” Fred said. Many of the workers had to give up their Saturday nights for this service. But they did not mind. “The Lord has used this opportunity for my own good,” Joseph said. “I get to appreciate the perspectives of the young


people again – their optimism and hope, and how they are not burdened by trivial things. I guess, this is how the Lord is leading me.” More importantly, the service allows him to do what the Lord is telling him to do – to serve His people. “Anyone who gives you a cup of water in My name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.” (Mark 9:41) is his inspiration. When the Center was built several years ago, God has appointed PDS as one of LNP’s mission fields. And Mau took it as her personal crusade. “I continue to receive God’s love and experience His mercies through the relationships I have with the young people here,” Mau shared. “Our experiences together, the sharing of our lives, have taught me how indeed to be a true disciple of Jesus. We only need to listen and then act on His world. This is the most exciting part of a disciple’s life.” “If the call is from God, iba yung joy, iba yung grace,” Apple added. While this ministry may just be an off shoot of the Kapihan, it is obvious that it is planned and being nurtured by God.

Anyone who gives you a cup of water in My name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.

photo credit: john rich villas

to my story. I used to be in a Bible study group every Saturday afternoon with my aunt.”



Fruits Fir st ge ne rat ion LN P Me mb er s, Me l an d Di ck Da ge let

o l an d e le ts , C ar ra ti o n D ag re n . e n ild ge ch d d n S e co o u se s an sp ir e th h R ic ky w it

Three generations: Teotico - Agsalud - Pilapil


Ligaya ng Panginoon aims to be a transgenerational community. In it's 38 years of existence, we are now seeing three generations from a family becoming actively involved in our Community, with the thirdgeneration kids taking their own underway commitments. Here are stories from those families, as compiled by Aly S. Pacino, taken from the perspective of the secondgeneration members.


the ligaya legacy By Ces Pilapil



Vic Pilapil joined LNP in 1975 during the second Community Weekend. His late wife, Mary Pilapil was one of LNP's first Senior Women Leaders. Ces married Chu Agsalud who joined LNP in 1983. She is the daughter of Ely and Ching Agsalud who are also members of LNP. Ces and Chu's son, JC, took the Community Weekend retreat in 2008 and is now with the Central University District. fervently pray that he too might have a personal relationship with the Lord and a continuing desire to become part of this bigger family we belong to. As parents, we often speak of desiring to give our children the very best this life could possibly offer. Many aspire of providing the best education or a sense of well-being in all aspects of one’s life. But I firmly believe that the best thing we could ever possibly leave behind for them is a full life in Jesus and the option to choose our way of life in Community. If we would only allow ourselves to be God’s channels in bringing them to embrace this life, then perhaps, we could confidently declare that we couldn’t have done any better in being good stewards of God’s most precious gifts to us - our children. God is indeed faithful from generation to generation. My son, JC, has now come to the point of joyfully owning the Community as his own. Not only has he accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior, but he has also experienced Community as God’s special gift to us as a family. Raising our children in the name of Jesus and within Ligaya is indeed our best legacy and inheritance to them. Let us pass it on in faith and hope in Him who has become our all.

photo credit: john rich villas

ur stories on how God has called us and brought us to this life may be so distinct and different from one another, but they all speak of one basic and fundamental truth – God’s great love and abounding mercy for each one of us. This is the profound reality of how God sees us - precious like no other. And throughout all of our lives, we are awed by how God has used our diverse circumstances to draw us closer to Him. In my life, He destined to work through my parents. I remember how they ever so diligently encouraged me to come to Community gatherings and created little windows of opportunity for me to better appreciate our way of life. They referred to this as "gentle persuasion" and although gentle, there was simply no letting up in their constant and tireless prodding. It worked wonderfully for me, who as a teenager, needed to be nudged every so often. Before long, I would tag along without being told. They also made certain that I would cross paths with friends of my age who were likewise eager to know and discover the Lord. They arranged opportunities for us to get to know each other better. Thus, I found my own circle of the very best of friends within the Community and established bonds of friendship that have remained strong and even growing in numbers to this very day. But there was something more essential which I knew my parents did to bring me closer to Jesus. It was the quiet prayers and intercessions for me to find Jesus and eventually discover my own unique place within the Community. God has indeed heard their prayers. For like so many of the children who were brought up in the Community, I hungered for Jesus even more and grew to be very much part of His people called Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon. God brought forth a strong and unwavering conviction within me for our common way of life, one that I shall strive to live out for the rest of my life. By His grace and mercy, the Lord has led me deeper and more fully into a genuine appreciation of this great gift. Community has become my home. When my turn as a parent came to bring my one and only son, JC, into a relationship with the Lord and an appreciation for Community, the process was simple: to bring him into an experience of our life in the Community, to allow him to grow friendships within the company of brothers and sisters, and to

Ampi Agsalud-Teotico: Our parents always supported us in our involvement with Christ’s Youth in Action and later on with Ligaya. They not only gave us permission to attend the various activities, but also drove us to the events. For two years, we faithfully attended Ligaya assemblies and Foundations Courses every single Sunday afternoon. And even after all the courses, we continue to faithfully attend Ligaya meetings. Since birth, my children Jorel, Janine and Jabby attended our prayer meetings, whether in a baby carrier or stroller. This is the only way of life they have known. Joey and I made sure that our children will grow up in this family we call Ligaya. It wasn't always easy to bring them along, especially during the ages when it didn't seem like it would matter that they be present or not. But as much as we could, we brought them with us. We also always spoke to them about what a blessing Ligaya is to us and our family. We also supported them in their activities in Ligaya, and prayed hard for them. By God's grace, they have come to embrace it and love it.

Carol Dagelet-Soriano: By simply being good and kind, my parents never gave me any reason to resent or rebel against them. They were consistent in what they believed in, what they valued and how they lived their lives. Bingo and I try to establish good, open and honest relationships with our children. And we make sure there are no resentment or broken relationships. Just like my parents, we try to be good members of Ligaya, live the way of life, follow its teachings, and be consistent in the way we live our lives. We try to be good role models, earn our children's respect and admiration, so it's easy to encourage them to this way of life.

Carol's parents, Dick and Mel Dagelet joined LNP in 1976. Carol is married to Bingo Soriano, the Coordinator of South District F. Their eldest daughter, China is an underway member of the Central University District while their youngest, Nicole is an affiliate member.


Ampi, the second daughter of Ely and Ching Agsalud, joined LNP in 1983. Her husband Joey Teotico, entered LNP in 1987. Jorel and Janine joined the Central University District in 2010 and 2012 respectively. Their son Jabby is an active member of the Young Adults.

TRUE NORTH BEAT 2 Andy Juan: My parents did not hestitate to share with us what they have discovered in Ligaya. Their own life transformation was a true witness for me. They patiently waited on and encouraged me until I fully responded to the Lord and their invitation to choose LNP for myself. Landa and I exposed our children to the activities even when they were much younger. We made them part of the different facets of our life: prayer, family time, Lord's Day, prayer meetings, outings with other families and even one-on-one meetings. Because of this early exposure, they have developed friendships with other kids in the Community.

Andy's Tatay Pete and Nanay Naty joined LNP in 1979. Today, Andy is the Sector Coordinator of the North Sector. His wife, Landa, North Sector's Senior Woman Leader, is also a second generation LNP member. Their eldest, Noel is an underway member of the North University District where son Paolo is an affiliate. Daughters Cecille and Angela are with the Young Adults and Friends of Jesus, respectively.

Lisa Juan Escarro: Andy's Sister, Lisa is married to Don Escarro, North District B's Coordinator. Their sons John, Justine and Joseph are underway members of the North University District. Joshua is with the Young Adults and Mariel is with the Junior Young Adults.

Our parents were persistent in bringing us to prayer meetings of Ligaya, to the point of "bribing" us. I remembered them giving us money to spend for snacks in Greenhills, while waiting for them to finish their Foundation Course talks in La Salle Greenhills. Four of us children would follow them there in time to have snacks prepared by Tita Hindang Herrera. To quote Nanay: Prayers, discipline and lots of encouragement and support just for us to "see" for


ourselves what Ligaya is all about.” Don and I tried to live out faithfully the covenant and our way of life in Ligaya – from the husband and wife dialogue to family prayers to Lord's day celebration and attendance in all Community activities. We used the Community way of life as our guide in establishing a household for God. So when the children started coming, they were born into this way of life, growing up having the Ligaya schedule as our family's regular schedule. Don and I also took our "parental authority" to full advantage. Along with loving discipline and open communication with the children, role modeling has always been evident in our family. Lastly, we continuously lift our children to the Lord – that they may come to know, love and serve Christ through Ligaya.


Embracing the

"Present" by Beth Melchor


othing makes you confront the reality of your own mortality as facing a life-threatening illness. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in January 2010. My suspicion was raised when I felt lumps in my armpit. I desire to live a full and meaningful life, and then die young just like many of my favorite saints. So my first thought was, “Is this God’s answer to my prayer?” As I waited for my annual check-up in a few days’ time, I scouted around for a surgeon who could perform a biopsy. I kept everything to myself until the tests confirmed my suspicions. Surprisingly I never had sleepless nights even after I received the test results that read: “High probability of malignancy.” Where did the peace come from? In prayer, God reminded me of the First Principle and Foundation of Ignatian Spirituality which reads:

“Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created. Hence, man is to make use of them in as far as they help him in the attainment of his end, and he must rid himself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to him.

Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things. Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created.”

My bout with cancer was giving me the blessed opportunity to not prefer health to sickness, desiring only that I live for the end for which I was created. I knew that God could heal me in an instant, if He so desired. I had witnessed miraculous healings. But I also knew that He could also be glorified if someone was able to graciously bear an illness, such as cancer. So I was open to whatever God wanted for me.


photo credit: john rich villas

The first real challenge was sharing this with my family. But since they are devout Catholics, they recovered quickly from the initial shock. The next challenge was to decide on the treatment


from the various options. Having cancer invites numerous opinions and suggestions on possible treatments from well-meaning friends and acquaintances that it seems like you are in a maze. Add to this, the burden of knowing that your decision will have life and death implications. Again, prayer is the source of wisdom and peace for such decisions. I decided not to go through an innovative treatment in China, which was very attractive to me because I had done mission work in China. I decided to undergo the standard treatment in Manila which meant six sessions of chemotherapy over three months to shrink the tumor, followed by surgery, then three months of radiation. After my second session of chemotherapy, my hair began to fall, so I decided to shave my head. I had heard that this could be a traumatic experience for cancer patients, but I saw this as an opportunity to further express my life choice to live as a lay consecrated person. Another possible traumatic experience was the radical mastectomy, but I recalled a discussion about if you cut off a person’s hand, the person is still a human; but if you cut off his head, you have taken what is essential, and the person ceases to be. At every opportunity I gave thanks for the blessings received – that the nausea was not as bad as people say, that sisters from our Community would accompany me during chemotherapy, that available resources made it possible for me to be treated, for the excellent health care professionals in the Philippines, for the help I received from so



In prayer, God also led me to accept the possibility that even after the treatment my cancer could recur, and to accept the possibility that I might die from something else, like pneumonia, because my immune system was compromised due to the chemotherapy and removal of malignant lymph nodes. In all these, I would continue to live my life as best as possible. I continued with my service in Community. I completed the projects I began at work, opening two new school campuses; after which I was granted my request for a disability retirement. Life in retirement has proven to be another blessing with so many opportunities to serve and freely give what I have freely received from the Lord. Life has become simpler having to choose which activities to devote my limited energies to. Living with cancer sharpens one’s criteria in making life choices. Life is deliberately reduced to what I believe is most important in God’s eyes. It’s now been three and a half years since I was diagnosed with cancer. Having to visit my doctor every three months, I am constantly aware of how every day is a gift and how we should embrace the “present”. If God had taken me home in 2010, I would have been at peace because I felt that the life God had given me to live was so blessed and coming home to Him would have been like icing on the cake. Things were pretty much in place as I had already identified people who would take over the responsibilities that were entrusted to me. But if God extended my time and gave me more years, I would use it for

His purposes. I am grateful to be alive in this Year of Faith where I continue to witness what God is doing in today’s world and be part of it. As a brother in the Lord who died of cancer said, “This is a win-win situation.” If I die, I get to be with the Lord. If I live, I get to continue building God’s kingdom.


For many, cancer is something they would as much as possible be spared of. But because of Christ, the bigger "C," it can be a wonderful blessing. We will all die one day. None of us lives forever. This just happens to be my path home to the loving arms of God. The words of St. Francis de Sales ring true for me:

“The everlasting God has in His wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost Heart. This cross He now sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms and weighed with His own hands to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His holy name, anointed it with His grace, perfumed it with His consolation, taken one last look at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from Heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms from the all-merciful love of God.”

photo credit: john rich villas

many people, even those I did not know personally, and for countless prayers that were offered on my behalf by so many friends and relatives. Giving thanks for the blessings instead of complaining about difficulties, made it easy for me to recognize how God was watching over every detail of my life even as I battled the “Big C”. By God’s grace, I chose to fix my eyes on the “Bigger C”, Christ.



THE SCENARIO: You are caught in the morning/evening/holiday rush, stuck in a narrow road, or barricaded by trailer trucks and buses on all sides. DON’T: Don’t curse everything from the time of creation until Jesus’ second coming; or honk your horn as if that’s going to add to your speed. SUGGESTED ACTIONS: Intercede for vehicles in front of you, at your back, to your left and to your right. Chances are, just like you, they are in a hurry to get home or to their destination. Pray for their concerns and sources of anxiety at that very moment. Pray for the families they are working hard for. After all the prayers, you can sense a halo forming above your head and your choice of words will be of praise rather than of pain. Try it!

A Christian’s Survival Guide

Driving and Commuting in Metro Manila photo credit:

by Jun Viterbo

Our transport system has been called unique because somehow it works despite the state that it’s in. Nowhere else can you learn and apply the true meaning of the term “defensive driving” than here in the Philippines. This seemingly “synchronized mayhem” does pose a challenge to a Christian: how to remain one despite of it. Below are some of the scenarios we have encountered and lived to tell. 27


THE SCENARIO: You ride the LRT and MRT 3 to save time. Unfortunately, thousand other people have the same idea. So you find yourself in the same situation as the Israelites before the Red Sea was parted. The train doors open and you are pushed into the train but at a cost. You are a packed like sardines in a can and a cornucopia of odors suddenly burst forth from the deep belly of humanity. DON’T: Don’t show your obvious discomfort or even verbalize it. Sorry, this won’t drive the smell away. SUGGESTED ACTIONS: Use this as a time to re-cultivate the Christian virtue of forbearance. Remember what comes, goes. It won’t last. Count your blessings —for a few minutes of “hardship”, you still save a lot of time and get to your destination safely (though slightly traumatized). Laugh about it after and trust



THE SCENARIO: You are a Christian man tired from a day’s work and just getting inside a train was already like journeying from Bethlehem to Egypt. Finally, you are seated in the regular train and you see a woman (healthy and independent looking) without any seat. DON’T: Brothers, don’t pretend to be asleep. For sisters, you can’t demand a seat either. There is no law compelling men to give up their seat. And no "damsel-indistress" sighs please. Remember that you are a daughter (not a damsel) of God. SUGGESTED ACTIONS: Seniors, pregnant women, disabled and those with children are no brainer – you give up your seat, pronto! Brothers, uphold Christian manly character and offer your seat, not grudgingly, but with a smile. Give gallantry a 21st century shine. Your act of random kindness is an act of random evangelization. For a few more stations of standing up, you have witnessed God’s goodness. Besides, no one really expects a man to get a seat in the LRT or MRT. You only expect that they take you to your destination. For the ladies: Forbear, if you must. Rethink the Eiffel Tower heels if you are a train habitué. They never help your balance anyway.

no mistake about it. Falling for that seminar trap and accepting the “settlement” won’t earn you points in heaven. SUGGESTED ACTIONS: If you have truly violated traffic rules, minimize the argument and cordially receive the ticket and move along. Just pay the fine for the violation and your conscience will be at peace. Attending a seminar isn’t all that bad that it’s made to be. Of course, you can plead innocence (or ignorance) in the hope that it will appeal to their emotions and they will let you by without anything in exchange. If you must argue, do so calmly and reasonably. A CCTV or an aspiring journalist’s cellphone might be just around the corner to record your meltdown for posterity. If you sincerely believe you have been treated unfairly, still get a

ticket and politely tell them that you will contest the ticket and appeal your case in traffic court. This means a big inconvenience on your part (attending hearings, getting legal advice etc.). It also doesn’t hurt to know that contested tickets are an inconvenience likewise to the traffic oficer. They have to appear in court as well to present their case.


THE SCENARIO: You are in a jeepney and you are seated right at the back of the driver. The jeepney is full and the driver does triple duty as driver, conductor and cashier. DON’T: Don’t pretend you are asleep and be oblivious of your fellow passengers. SUGGESTED ACTIONS: Serve the driver and the other passengers by collecting their payments


THE SCENARIO: A traffic officer flags you for a violation. They recite your alleged violations ranging from something specific as beating the red light to something as vague as obstruction of traffic. They go through the motions of issuing you a ticket and explain to you the inconvenience of going through a seminar for the violation. DON’T: Let’s call a spade a spade: bribing is a crime and a sin. Make


Intercede for vehicles in front of you, at your back, to your left and to your right. Chances are, just like you, they are in a hurry to get home or to their destination.

photo credit:

that it’s just God’s good sense of humor at work.

and passing them conveniently to the driver. This also means remembering the payment’s details – the destination and the number of passengers it’s meant for. The driver’s triple duty is not only difficult but potentially a threat to everybody’s safety. An earnest assist from you will always be highly appreciated and even life saving, if not always recognized.

you have the right to get off the taxi. Taxis here in Manila are supposed to prominently carry the LTFRB text hotline for any complaint. Use this inexpensive remedy. The thermal receipt is also prima facie proof of that you rode in the taxi you are complaining. Be prepared to attend the hearing if you want to contest the taxi’s franchise and the driver’s professional license.



THE SCENARIO: You ride a taxi after lining up for a long time. You are told that since your destination is traffic prone, you are asked to add an extra amount for the ride. DON’T: Don’t feel like you don’t have any choice in this situation. You are not at the mercy of the caprices of an arrogant taxi driver. You need not make a scene either. SUGGESTED ACTIONS: If you are truly offended by the coercion,

THE SCENARIO: You are peacefully staying on your lane, observing all the lessons from your driving school instructor. Out of the blue, a car cuts in front of you. You are now contemplating going into full road rage mode. DON’T: Revenge is like drugs. It can give you the high you seek for a moment then you spiral downward from there. Don’t roll down your windows and shout expletives that would a warrant a good soap washing of your mouth. Hand gestures are bound to be as creative as well, but will probably not resolve anything positively. Wishing him evil is not good for the soul either. SUGGESTED ACTIONS: Cultivate the virtue of meekness – strength under control. It takes a certain maturity coupled with a true love of God and neighbor to exercise this virtue. Give the motorist the benefit of the doubt that he probably had an emergency. Say a short prayer for him and for yourself. The term “nakakalalaki” is just a Filipino macho way of creatively calling “pride”. And pride is one of the seven capital sins.


THE SCENARIO: You take a bus. You have paid your ticket and decided to doze off, when somebody gets on the bus and says he wants to share about

God’s Word. You are immediately relieved that what he announced wasn’t a hold-up. He goes on to speak about the Lord, usually premised on John 3:16. DON’T: Since he got you awake, no use pretending that you are asleep. SUGGESTED ACTIONS: It takes courage and grace to stand up to strangers and proclaim God. Eradicate all thoughts of a debate. Instead, silently praise the work that God is doing in our preacher’s life. And then there’s the love offering. It’s usually a cacha bag the size of a laptop with a big heart on it. You may not agree with everything he said or you found his interpretation of the Bible quite challenging. Still, your humble love offering will nourish and sustain his mission. Furthermore, by doing so, you actualize your own ministry of encouragement. It’s a win-win situation.


THE SCENARIO: Once again, you find yourself in a train standing up. A couple of college students, whose concept of safety hand rails seemed to be each other’s hands, catch your attention. Obviously, they seem to think that they are truly, madly and deeply in love. DON’T: First of all, drop the fire-and-brimstone disapproving look. They would not notice you anyway. In each other’s eyes, they are the two less lonely people in the world who are going to be fine. A lecture on the different kinds of love (agape, eros etc.) won’t probably work too. SUGGESTED ACTIONS: Intercede for them that they may be protected from temptation given their penchant for physical proximity. Pray for purity for their relationship. Oh, and do so silently please.

Who says that standing up for your Christian principles was easy? True Christian integrity is a treasure of a lifetime. 29



What adjectives best describe you that many other people may not know about.

My life is pretty much an open book. I couldn't think of anything here. (But her husband Spanky lovingly interjects: She has a bubbly/sunshine personality, filled with so much energy, very generous, self-giving, sensitive about the needs of others, and compassionate.)


How long have you been married?

Spanky and I celebrated our 40th anniversary in May 2012. We both acknowledge the role Ligaya ng Panginoon (LNP) has played in strengthening our relationship and marriage. Of course, at the heart of these, is our personal relationship with the Lord.

3 Her Fruitfulness comes from Him 30

My fondest memories were the summers we spent in Baguio when we were young. As VP (Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines), my dad had the use of the official VP house in Baguio. Because the seat of government would move there, we would be there for a month, and so did a lot of our friends. My older sister, Peachy, and I would have lots of friends over, we would go bowling, boating and go on hikes and picnics. Those were really fun days! In fact, it was on one such summer that I met Spanky.


Who were your role models in LNP when you joined in 1982?

As a young mom, I really looked up to Vic and Agnes Gutierrez and what really impressed me was the way they brought up their children. It would always amaze me how their children could sit still all through the mass and the assembly. This is how I wanted my kids to be.

photo credit: mike villar

Apples Meer

What are your fondest memories growing up? (with five brothers and three sisters and being a daughter of a Vice President)


How do you manage your big family?

Having a big family just seems natural for me, as I come from a big family. I have to say that my mother had a big influence on me – the way she trained me and my sisters (especially me and my older sister Peachy) in and around the home. She took us to the wet market, made us help in the kitchen, taught us even how to clean fish, set the table, and serve guests. When my dad would have important guests, such as dignitaries, as guests at home, she would make us serve them. To round off our training, we had to clean our rooms on weekends and even learned how to iron. One of the most important principles that Spanky and I agreed on was as parents we needed to be always united in decisions pertaining to our children. So when we had disagreements, we discussed these in the privacy of our bedroom. That principle holds that it doesn't matter who is right or who is wrong, what matters is where there is unity, God reigns. Later in our marriage, we learned another principle to parenting. There are 10 rules. Rule No. 1: Spouses, love each other. Rule Numbers 2 to 9: Spouses, love one another. And rule No. 10, parents, love your children! My hope is that we have imparted these values to our children and from their experience with us as parents they may apply these same principles to their children.


Where can we usually find you during Ligayafree weekends?

From the time our kids were in high school, we made it clear to them that Saturday was their day and that they were free to plan their Saturdays. Now that the older kids are married, some of them call us and we would watch a movie together. It's different with Sundays. Although, we don't impose what time each kid will go to mass, as long as they go. We do expect them all for dinner whether we eat home or in a restaurant. This has been the understanding with them. When the kids were younger and all in school, Sundays meant coming with us to Community activities in the morning, then lunch with the extended family and dinner was exclusively for our family.


We know that your home is a good place to have a great meal and to get together. What is one menu you are proud to have served?

I have learned, practiced and taught my cook several menus. I like to serve themed menus—Filipino, Spanish, American, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Greek, Italian, Mexican or seafood. The range of dishes may not be extensive but it


is enough for a complete meal. I determine what menu to serve depending on who my guests are, or whenever I get a special request from one of my kids.


Being the wife of the Senior Head Coordinator, what were your concerns and apprehensions at the time of his selection?


What is the most memorable thing you have done with your husband?

My main concern was for Spanky – the responsibility of caring for all members of community, setting the course and direction of the Community. This concern is still there but seeing him spend a lot of time in prayer, waiting upon the Lord and seeking the Lord's mind, I am confident that our Lord will honor his decisions and plans for the Community. In the beginning, I think the members were not used to Spanky's emphatic and passionate way of speaking, but after three years, the members have accepted that he is really passionate when he speaks of God and the Community. Schedule was also a concern, but we have managed to accept certain demands on our time as individuals and we have come to just respect that. We do plan time for ourselves and for the family.

There are many memorable moments, although most of them are with our children. One thing though that stands out is not what we did together but what he did for me. In 2004, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I had my surgery and treatment in San Francisco. Spanky was my biggest support, he gave me courage and helped me through those difficult days.


What would you tell your 18-year old self?

Marry Spanky, join Community and enjoy all the children God will give you, plus the grandchildren. This year, three grandkids will be added! Apples is a Senior Woman Leader of the South Sector and wife of LNP Senior Head Coordinator Spanky Meer. Aside from being a handson homemaker, she is also an avid Bible student, an advocate of Mapawa Nature Park, a mover of an Alabang cancer support group, and an occasional entrepreneur.

Exodus 14:13-14 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today… The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

Crossing the Red Sea


LNP Pilgrims gaze into the horizon as the sun sets and visualize Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. (Photo by Merl Salgado)

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