True North August 2013

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volume 8 • number 2 • august 2013


Jesus and the Poor

Faithful and Wise Stewards1

VOLUME 8 • NUMBER 2 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 Cleone Baradas CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mae Abiva-Leung Manny Manuel Madel Sabater-Namit Mars Quizon Therese Pelias Mich Cruz-Villar Ellen U. Virina Jun Viterbo PHOTOGRAPHERS Mike Villar John Rich Villas

ABOUT THE COVER Charmz exudes confidence and charm as she regally sat on the weave chair of award-winning designer Kenneth Cobonpue. In between shots, she and husband Rico bantered with Jun Cruz and the rest of the gang, setting a light and free-flowing atmosphere for the rest of the photoshoot.


Editor’s Note Entrusted and Empowered #TrueNorthAsks Blessing and Being Blessed God@Work Working for the Least Teaching Blessed are the Poor

TRUE NORTH BEAT 1 11 14 16 20 22

TRUE NORTH BEAT 2 24 27 30

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.

Earthly Gains & Heavenly Rewards Pray, Work, Serve, Play The "Right Time" to Serve Reuse, Recycle, Renew the Face of the Earth Nurturing Body & Soul

Yours, Mine and Ours Quirky and Funny 10 Questions Good and Faithful Servant

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 (

you are invited

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 Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon and all its outreach organizations are welcome to email or call Monching dela Cruz at or 0917 891 7644.


the crew

Brother Gary Mendoza sits in the main chair, while the editorial team hams it up. (L-R) Jhola Salazar, Mae-Abiva-Leung, Cleone Baradas, Monching dela Cruz, Manny Manuel, Aly Sulit-Placino, John Rich Villas and Therese Pelias.


Entrusted and


To whomever much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48) During our recent men’s retreat, Fr. Dave Concepcion reminded us about the sin of “missing the mark” – being less of a person than who we ought to be because we don't challenge ourselves to do more and to be more, despite the many abilities and resources entrusted to us. In this time of plenty, many of us may be missing the opportunities to harness our potentials to the fullest by not using our time, talent and treasure well to love and serve others. Time and again, we have acknowledged God's blessings – our family and our home, our jobs and our health, our intellect and our strength, and the gift of Community. Just like the servants in the Parable of Talents, what should we do to protect and develop them in the meantime?

Fortunately unlike them, our Master did not leave us to our own devices. There are books, magazines and TV shows to help us manage our time and money well. We even have real people in our Community who are sharing their stories and insights on this issue with a God-centered perspective. Our cover story for the Stewardship Issue tells us how a simple purchase of an ordinarylooking tape dispenser led Charmz Bautista of North Sector to look at family budgeting in a different light, which eventually helped her find her passion in helping other people plan and manage their personal finances (pages 10 to 12) Willy Salvador of South Sector shares his “pray-work-serve-play” philosophy in time management (pages 14 to 15); while four Young Adults reveal their fears and revel in their triumphs in sharing their talents by serving other youth during the Kairos camp in Mindanao this summer (pages 16 to 19). The husband-and-wife team of Ben and Nattie of South Sector tells us how they are using their God-given intellect to help protect the ever-fragile environment. While Abe Pascual of North Sector relates how he and his company are advocating healthier and more natural lifestyle for every Filipino. Amid all these blessings, Brother Francis Iturralde reminds us about our Christian duty to help the poor in our country. His fitting and direct-to-the-point exhortation and practical tips on social justice is a must-read (pages 8 to 10). In all these, we must remember: “Without cost you have received,

without cost you are to give” (Matthew 10:8). Speaking of blessings, we would like to thank the Lord for giving us Sisters Mae Abiva- Leung and Madel Sabater-Namit into the True North family. We also feature our own version of a modern family – a beautifully blended family of the Lasas who loves and follows God’s directions. On the lighter side, we cast a sharp, yet humorous, take on the uniquely Filipino Catholic idiosyncrasies and how do they fit, or don’t, into the Catholic cathechism. The riotous 10 Questions with Brother Jun Cruz wraps up this issue. We hope that this issue will empower us to become “good and faithful servants” who will eventually be called to share our Master’s joy. PS: True North has been in the digital realm since 2011 in www. You can read and share past and future issues.




Blessings & Be Blessed “What was one opportunity that you were able to share your blessings, that both you and the person/s you shared with came out blessed?" Singles District – North Sector

I was able to cross off one item in my bucket list which had to do with starting a scholarship fund this school year. The first recipient of this fund expressed his gratitude to me for this blessing which will allow him to finish his college studies this year. I also thanked him for the blessing of being able to pursue something that I am passionate about, being a teacher and imparting the value of education. ---------------------------------------

Marc Alejo

University District – North Sector

During community assemblies and gatherings, I help other brothers in venue setup and then cleaning up afterwards. I know that carrying several equipment from the service van to the event venue and back might be “little things” to do, but I gain satisfaction from doing. In doing these tasks, I get to talk to brothers and get to know them more. It is also an opportunity to share about myself and allow


them to get to know me more. Through sharing of life stories and serving together, the brothers and I are able to build relationships. I personally feel blessed afterwards because of what I have gained. Surely, no effort exerted to serve God and His people is wasted in His eyes. ---------------------------------------

Dave Cruz

University District – North Sector

The last semester of my 3rd year in college was when God taught me the real meaning of faith and generosity. I was working on obtaining a certain grade in a major subject that would allow me to graduate from my preferred course. But at the same time, I was given the responsibility of leading a Christian Life Series (CLS) for the Christ’s Youth in Action (CYA) in UP Diliman. I had doubts whether I could do both successfully at the same time. I challenged myself: “If I could consider devoting time and taking responsibility on my academics, why couldn’t I also consider it as necessity devoting time and being

responsible in serving the Lord?” Because of this, I decided to serve in our CLS. In the end, the CLS was a huge success and I was able to pass all my subjects and achieve the grade I needed and am now looking forward to graduating from the degree program that I am in. I knew that I was able to do all things and give my all because of how gracious He has been to me. Because of this experience, I learned that if you decide to give to the Lord and delight in what pleases Him, He will give you the desires of your heart and even so much more. ----------------------------------------

Rach Cahilig

University District – North Sector

Dancing for the Catchfire Prayer Rally two years in a row has blessed me in so many ways. It allowed me to trust in the Lord and to rely on His grace, especially at times when anxiety and stage fright get the best of me. It also allows me to share the gift of community to other people. Dancing in Catchfire gave me and my fellow dancers from the

photo credit:

Manny Manuel

community the opportunities to evangelize some of our dancerfriends, since some of them were not members of Ligaya or any other community. At first, we were hesitant to explain the concept of community to them. But as they experienced the prayer rally, they were able to grasp what it is all about and experience the joy in praising and worshipping God, not only through dance, but also through our way of worship. ---------------------------------------

Mina Agbayani

Pathways – Obispado de Cubao

My 16-year old son, Ethan, had

so much anger inside of him that he had become disrespectful and violent. In one particular encounter, I was deeply hurt by his disrespectful words and actions that I became very emotional. He saw how hurt I was that he started crying too. He hugged me and said, “Sorry, Mama.” I hugged him back and said, “I forgive you.” Then, he asked me, “Ma, bakit ang dali mo mag-forgive?” I replied, “Kasi mahal kita.” That moment blessed us both by making us realize that we have a loving Father who forgives us. It is His character to love and forgive, and He wants us to forgive others and reach out to them in love. In Colossians 3:13, it says, “Bear with one another and forgive whenever there is any occasion to do so. As the Lord has forgiven you, forgive one another.” I know it is difficult to forgive those who have deeply wounded us. But through prayers, we can ask the Lord for the grace

There are many opportunities that the Lord has given us to share our time, talent and treasure. As the recipients of such generosity experience blessings, the givers also experience being blessed.

and strength to let go of the hurt and to have a forgiving heart just like what I did with my son. Both of us came out of that encounter experiencing the blessings of love and forgiveness. ---------------------------------------

Jonah Maloles

University District – North Sector

I was filled with the priceless joy of serving our Young Adults (YA) in the YA Camp last May. It is truly in giving that we receive, for it has been a wonderful privilege to laugh, run and get tired, pray and worship with the YAs. Moreover, I was very blessed to get to know and pray for the group of sisters assigned to me. During the camp, we took time to share personal concerns and pray for one another. We all came out of the camp blessed with newfound friendships, filled with joy and with so many stories to tell. By the way, I was in the camp when I found out that I passed the board exam for Civil Engineering, with my YA sisters sharing in and celebrating this blessing with me. ---------------------------------------

Crisille Villaluna

University District – North Sector

We visited the lolas of Little Sisters Home for the Aged during the CYA women’s summer household last April. We shared stories, laughing with one another as each story was narrated. One of the lolas shared that she enjoyed talking with us because she got to share her story and this was a welcome break from her usual routine in the center. During this time, I remembered my own grandmother and came to realize what a blessing she truly is in my life. The other sisters also shared how the lolas inspired and encouraged them to love their parents and grandparents more. ----------------------------------------

Ayelle Garcia CYA - UST

Last year, we had an outreach in Parañaque where we taught advance classes for kids. I taught English to 6th graders. At first, they were shy and hesitant to participate in my class. But as I gave more efforts to engage the students, they began to enjoy their lessons. On the last day of that outreach, they handed me a cartolina showing their version of the Creation. At the back, there were messages of thanks saying that they learned a lot from me and appreciation of how patient I was in handling them. On my end, I feel that they are a blessing to me, because I’ve learned from them how to love what I'm doing, how to love others without having preferences and how to be patient in dealing with people, especially students.



Working for the Least by Therese Pelias and Mars Quizon

Pope Francis recently lamented that society has turned a blind eye on the plight of the poor. It is no longer scandalous to see a homeless person died of hunger and cold, he said.

Nina Lunar

NGO Worker for Children


Just like many young girls, Nina Lunar wanted to become a nurse or a stewardess when she was growing up. But it was not meant to be for her. After working through several finance-related jobs, she has finally found her passion in the field of NGO. “I’m merely a steward of God's plan. I’m here to show God's love for the people. My life is not my own to live the way I want to; but to live according to His plans,” Nina shares. Nina is a member of Lingkod-Alabang branch and currently serves as its Women’s Moderator. After taking on several jobs in for-profit organizations, Nina eventually joined SOS Villages Philippines, an NGO that focuses on providing a loving home for orphaned, abandoned and neglected children. The NGO guides the children in developing their skills in order to become selfreliant and contributing members of the society. “I want to really make a difference. I wouldn't mind all those sleepless nights of doing my work to meet the deadlines of reports for external and internal stakeholders,” Nina says of her experience as Senior Finance Co-worker in the NGO’s Finance Department for some years. After a lot of prayers and

discernment, Nina eventually transferred to the Programme Development Department of the same NGO where she got to deal directly with the children. Nina has had her own story of pains and challenges. But working with the kids, God has shown her that her pains are nothing compared to what the children had. “I felt the desire in my heart to somehow be of service and help these little ones even in the simplest way of listening to them, understanding and loving them. These children are given another chance to have a family and grow with love, respect and security,” she adds. Nina further recalls, “Nung 2012 youth camp namin, ang mga batang participant namin ay yung mga unfortunately nababansagan na pasaway. Striking sa akin yung sinabi ng isa:, ‘Auntie, hindi naman kami pasaway. Minsan, nagpapapansin lang kami kasi kailangan lang talaga naming na may makikinig at uunawa sa pinagdadaanan namin.’ Akala namin mahirap sila mapasunod sa mga activity pero it turned out susunod naman sila.” “Na-realize ko rin na hindi mo kailangan na maraming alam para makatulong ka sa kanila. Malaking kailangan nila yung may magmamahal at iintindi sa kanila. Just listen, accept and love them. Darating din yung time na ready na sila mag-mature. Sila rin makaka-realize na kailangan na

photo credit: john rich villas

Despite the general observation, there are still brothers and sisters in our Community who have heeded the call to directly work with the least in the society through non-government organizations (NGOs). They have offered to God their “five loaves and two fishes” so that He can work through these that many may be filled.

GOD@WORK nila mag-aral mabuti at magkadirection ang buhay nila,” Nina adds. Nina also sees God’s hands in her career path. “Now I fully understand why my childhood dreams didn’t come true, because God has His much better way to grant the desires of my heart: I wanted to become a stewardess to travel, He granted me a job that requires lot of travelling. I wanted to become a nurse to be of service to people experiencing pains, I am given children whom I help to ease the pains that they have.”

Yo Galvez

NGO Worker for Farmers “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23 NIV) This is Mario “Yo” Galvez, Jr.’s favorite verse as he reflects on his 15 years of working in an NGO while his relationship with the Lord has grown through these years. Yo’s work in Kaisahan Tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan (KAISAHAN) focuses on agrarian reform – providing rights-based empowerment to farmers, their families and communities. He and his wife, Gemma, as members of Ligaya Central Sector – District B, also currently serve in Tahanan ng Panginoon. Prior to that, Yo also served as the Ministry Head of the Social Action Team of Lingkod Makati Yo had always felt the passion for empowering the marginalized as early as his college days. After experiencing being a volunteer teacher in public schools, he was encouraged to take up NGO work after his graduation. One of the high points of his career was when he became part of the team that successfully assisted Agusan Del Sur farmers assert their rights, obtain a reaffirmation of the indefeasibility of their titles and support them as they stepped up as community leaders. Yo was amazed at how

one of the farmers, shy at first, was eventually empowered to articulate himself well on national television regarding the lack of security for poor farmers, despite having been awarded land titles. “Kasama talaga sa theme namin ang turuan ang farmers maging mindful of helping others. We tell them na-solve mo na yung problem mo sa lupa, so may security na ang inyong pamilya, , sana matutunan niyo rin mahalin at tulungan ang mga kapwa ninyo, lalo na ang mga ibang magsasaka na maayos din ang buhay,” Yo says. Yo has experienced doing field work in faraway places where there were no mobile phone signals and hoped that he and his guide would meet in a particular waiting shed at the right time . Yo also shares that while working in the field, he still makes sure that he finishes his work even without his boss watching over his shoulder. During the time that internet was not yet readily available, he also experienced making sure that he would write brief and concise reports and send them to his boss via the fax machine or read to his boss over telephone calls. Moreover, to get to a phone in nearby town, he had to travel early enough for him to ride a tricycle back while there’s still sunlight. Yo says that NGO life has made him appreciate the value of managing one’s resources and of recognizing the contribution of each person. “We have to make sure that our assistance has a real positive impact on society, and that no amount is wasted. We also value the time and effort put in by our beneficiaries who chose to trust us and attend our developmental programs, even if they lose their income for the day in doing so,” he says. Asked as to what kept him going, Yo shares that he always just goes back to his favorite verse – that above all, he works for the Lord. “Noon, ‘pag andun sa field, minsan naiisip mo na baka ‘di kailangan magdasal, na baka ang kailangan

lang ng taong tutulong sa iyo pero that all changed when I developed a personal relationship with the Lord. Looking back through the years, I came to realize na dapat unang-una pa rin sa lahat, always look for or think what the Lord wants in everything.”

Yo's and Nina’s lives show that, in giving your time and resources in loving your neighbors, these time and resources really belong to the Lord. Their response is the humble proof that they are good and passionate stewards of what the Lord has given them.




are the Poor by Francis Iturralde


hen the suicide of a UP Manila freshman made headlines a few months ago due to her family's poverty, not a few were aghast and shuddered in dismay. For how indeed could such a young girl, with an entire life before her, know the depths of human despair? The incident became a media sensation, with editors and columnists commenting and pontificating on the issue of poverty. But poverty is no longer simply an economic issue. It has become fashionable today to see it as a political (read: politicized), social (read: ideological), moral (read: religious) and emotional (read: personal conscience) issue. This article, however, is not about poverty as such for volumes have been written about it. Rather, I simply want to de-romanticize poverty, stare at it squarely in the eye as Jesus did, and see what a middle-class, average Juan de la Cruz like you and me can do about it. Poverty is a painful human reality that assaults your senses each time you walk the alleys of Payatas. It is a reality that cannot be over-spiritualized with the rhetoric of liberation theology and sentimental Sunday homilies, or simply dismissed with grandstanding antipoverty programs.

For your sake, He became poor So, how exactly did Jesus see the poor? First, the poor was, for Jesus, both a practical and a spiritual reality. Practical, because it involves the physical and material requirements of being human. Spiritual, because it also involves the non-material requirements of being a human person. All this points to the reality of the human person's make-up: that because he is both matter and spirit, both body and


soul, both physical and transcendent all at once, then his needs are both physical and spiritual. Therefore, his poverty is both of these at the same time. Second, human need for Jesus was never just either physical or spiritual only. A human person, whether he is rich or poor, always has both physical and spiritual needs. When Jesus, in Luke 4:18-21, referred to Himself as fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy that He (Jesus) was sent "to preach good news to the poor. Proclaim release to the captives. Recover sight to the blind. And set at liberty those who are oppressed" (Is 61:1-2)."

TEACHINGS Many Scripture scholars would maintain that Jesus was not only referring to its literal fulfillment but, more importantly, to the dawning of its spiritual fulfillment in Him who is the promised Messiah. Healing and salvation are both physical and spiritual realities resulting from the work of the Messiah who has come. Third, and this perhaps is the most important and striking component of Jesus' view of human poverty, Jesus became one with the poor: us! "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich. Yet for our sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich." (2 Cor 8:9) Jesus did not look at the poor as if they were some distinct, distant and faceless mass of people apart from His reality and world. Jesus was one of them. He came among them as Emmanuel to share and be one with them in their darkness and pain, yes, in their poverty. For He did not hold on to the glory and wealth of His godhead, "but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:6-8). Now, how more intimately close can one get in identifying with someone's poverty? And what is even more mind-boggling is "that by His poverty, (we) might become rich"! By His self-

emptying, His kenosis, Jesus shares with us the riches of the life of God. And so we become rich and in need no more. Our material poverty is alleviated, and our spiritual hungers and longings (for meaning and for eternity) are satisfied by Jesus.

So how about me? In 1991, the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines proclaimed its vision of being a "Church of the poor". This vision emerged out of a growing national awareness that the large majority of our people is poor: they are hungry, powerless, deprived of even the most basic means to survive, they are exploited and marginalized. And I am part of this Church of the poor. Because I, too, am poor! It is quite ironic and paradoxical that I, who am poor, am also called by the Church to be a "prophetic sign" to the world. I, the very object of transformation, am myself also the means of that transformation. My transformative role in the Church and in society, therefore, demands two significant paradigm shifts in my orientation and attitude towards the poor: • A change in the way I relate to the poor–that, like Jesus, it is no longer them but us. I serve and work not for the poor but with the poor. • The "preferential option for the poor" ceases to


photo credit: john rich villas

Six possible first steps or personal initiatives that you can consider taking in helping the poor 1. Personal immersion. Spend a week or a month or so with a poor family (urban or rural setting), while going about your daily work. Eat with them, work with them, sleep with them, do chores with them. Join them in their dayto-day activities. Share their joys and pains. Get involved with their lives. Know how it is to be poor. And be blessed by them. 2. Possessions purge. Go through your stuff (clothing, gadgets, bling-blings and what-have-yous), once or twice a year. Get rid of those you don't absolutely need. The key here is to know what you need

versus what you just want. Then donate what you purge to your favorite charity. Better yet, give them away to your neighbors in the squatter area nearby. 3. Volunteer for social action. Do some research and see what others are already doing to alleviate poverty. Choose what suits your temperament, schedule and available resources. Volunteer to serve with them on a regular basis (e.g. Gawad Kalinga, He Cares Foundation, World Vision, etc.). 4. Create your own vehicle for works of mercy. Be creative and sensitive to the many needs that require new and responsive solutions. My friend Sharee, a good cook, started a soup kitchen with some of her friends to benefit inmates of a city jail.

5. Adopt a poor family. Take on a poor family from a depressed area you are familiar with. Pay them regular visits. No dole-outs, but invite them to your family celebrations, treating them like you would your relatives and family members. Be careful, however, not to encourage emotional or economic dependence from them. 6. Establish a personal alms/mission fund. Set aside regularly (say every payday) a certain percentage of your income to build an "alms/mission fund" for your mission to the poor. Decide to use the funds that have accumulated for mission work that benefit the less privileged (e.g. disaster victims, scholarships for poor kids, etc.).


photo credit:


be an option but becomes, and is, my very nature. Being poor is no longer an option because I am, in fact, poor myself. In many ways, poverty is who I am! In recognizing this personal poverty, I then see my own needs: for help, for freedom, for meaning, for relationships, for daily sustenance and health, for renewal and restoration, for life, for God. This recognition of my personal poverty moves me now to see the poverty of others as my own and ours collectively. With this – and like Jesus himself – I am now able to empathize and be truly one, in all respects, with the person of the poor (Heb 4:15).

Begin with one Empathy is one thing. But making concrete and real such empathy is quite another. Given the paradigm shifts, how am I to express my transformative role as a leaven in the "Church of the poor" to which I belong? Because of its realistic simplicity and down-to-earth effectiveness (which put many grandiose anti-poverty programs to shame), I personally like the approach that Mother Teresa of Calcutta took many years ago – an approach that started her on her own life-long work with the poorest of the poor in India. Asked how she got into this work, she replied: "Maybe if I had not picked up that one person dying on the street, I would not have picked up the thousands…We must think ek (Hindi word for "one"). I think ek, ek (one, one). That is the way to begin." And so I start with one small step, but a step that leads to other small steps until the area of my responsibility and influence is transformed.


Giving out of one's poverty In Luke 21:1-5, Jesus sees a poor widow put in two small copper coins (perhaps worth a few centavos today) into the temple’s offering box. He compares the widow's offering with those of the rich as more than all what the rich has given, because "they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." Who, then, is the poorer? I am poor. I am in need. But in my poverty I am rich enough to give and share myself with anyone in need. But like Mother Teresa, I just need to begin with ek.

"Maybe if I had not picked up that one person dying on the street, I would not have picked up the thousands…We must think ek (Hindi word for "one"). I think ek, ek (one, one). That is the way to begin."


In Search of

Earthly Gains Heavenly Rewards by Mae Abiva-Leung


t all started with a tape dispenser. Rico and Charmz Bautista were newly married then. Charmz, a university professor, went to the bookstore to buy some school supplies. She spied a tape dispenser that she thought looked nice and durable. “I thought it was just 200 pesos. After paying for it, I was so shocked to find out that the tape dispenser was actually worth more than 2000 pesos!” Since they were just starting out with very little savings, Charmz was terrified on what would Rico think of her extravagant purchase.

KEEPER OF GOD'S TREASURES That was the first time that Charmz realized the importance and perils of managing a family budget. “As a wife, you really have to be responsible in what is



We cannot do anything more but to give back to Him what we can. A good number to start is 10%.

given to you. That was the first eye-opener for me. “ “A steward is somebody who is a keeper. You have a Master who owns all the resources, which he can get from you any time. That means I should not be attached to it and I should use it accordingly to his purpose,” Charmz explained. “You are just a keeper of God’s resources. If you are blessed with finances, then you have to take care of it well. Using your talents and skills well in managing your finances means growing it not only for your family but also for His kingdom,” she said. With this realization, Charmz empowered herself by reading books, attending training and seminars, as well as learning about the different kinds of financial products to become a good financial steward.

As God’s disciples, Rico and Charmz have learned to seek God’s direction in all areas of their lives. “With respect to our finances, we pray and offer all our financial plans to the Lord,” she said. Their ultimate goal as a couple is to be financially free to serve the Lord full time. Charmz also believes in teaching their children, even at their young age, to be good financial stewards as well. They have shared with their children their financial status and taught them how to live within their means. This means buying only what is needed and using it until it’s worn out. When asked if they ever encountered any financial difficulties or problems in the family, Charmz smiled: “We’ve been blessed! God gave us simple hearts and desires. Rico and I are always content with what God has given us.” Another important financial lesson is tithing. “Tithing is done in gratitude to God’s goodness to us,” Charmz said. “We cannot do anything more but


photo credit: john rich villa s and (hand with coin)


TRUE NORTH BEAT 1 to give back to Him what we can. A good number to start is 10%.” Charmz started tithing when she was still single. As a married couple, Rico and Charmz used to struggle to tithe, mostly during the early years. “But the Lord has always been gracious to our shortcomings. He allowed us to grow and mature that we are now able to freely tithe and contribute to the building of God’s kingdom.”

PAYING IT FORWARD The lessons and experiences eventually led Charmz to teach other people about managing one’s finances. From the moment she bought that tape dispenser in 2007, God planted a seed in her heart to share her knowledge. She realized that this was her calling – to educate and inspire people to be good financial stewards and take the road to financial freedom. Recently, Charmz put up her own company, wei2success (Wealth Engineering Institute), to teach and empower people in managing their finances. The program is comprised of seminar-workshop modules which tackle several lessons in financial planning. It ranges from a three-hour workshop class to a two-day seminar. “Financial freedom is not worrying about the resources you need to be able to send your children to school, to travel to all the places you want to go, or to buy all the things that you see; But it is to live as a disciple and not be concerned of anything else. You can achieve financial freedom with simple living,” she said. "God has given His children a lot. He has given us free will, His only Son, Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon, our loved ones and our family. My only response is to be His disciple, to be a responsible disciple. The Lord would want me to grow these resources so that I can do His works, spread His word and reach other people. As we have been entrusted with God’s blessing and talents, we should give them back to Him by being generous through our service,” Charmz added. To be a good financial steward is a challenge that we have to face on a daily basis. However, when we empower and educate ourselves on how to manage our resources properly and continue to be anchored on God, our goals will be met and more financial blessings will surely come our way. By the way, Rico didn’t get made at Charmz for buying that tape dispenser as after 13 years, the tape dispenser still works.

Charmz'S FINANCIAL ADVICE: 1. Know where you are at. Assess your assets, debts, expenses and savings. 2. Set goals as a couple and as a family. 3. Plan your yearly budget.

4. Execute and implement your budget plan.

5. Monitor and review your budget, assets, debts, expenses, savings in the middle and end of the year. 6. Adjust accordingly and try to think of ways to improve your net worth.

7. For investments, educate yourself, consult knowledgeable people in the field of investing and choose your investment company carefully. The Lord has empowered us to make decisions on which investment products to buy. Our decisions may not always be right. But at the end of the day, we remain at peace knowing that we did was what we thought would best to honor the Lord with the resources He’d entrusted to us. 13


Managing Time In a Hectic World

PRAY SERVE WORK PLAY by Aly Sulit-Placino


t’s been said that time is the ultimate leveler – rich and poor, young and old, male and female, even Gentiles and Jews – all have the same 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. What we do with it defines the kind of life we live. Some let the hours pass them by, while others put it to their advantage. When True North went out on a search for a person who made good use of the time in his hands, we found a lead with a profile brief that reads: “Semi-retired LNP Coordinator who also serves with Familia, does an ‘apo-stolate’ in Canada looking after his grandchildren and makes time to help his youngest daughter with her business.” We were curious. How could this be possible?

The true secret of Willy lies in the guiding Bible verses he has adopted to guide the conduct of his affairs: “Everything in God’s own time” (Ecclesiastes 3) and “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

TN: What are your current involvements?

Willy: I do management consulting and training for clients of Asia Business Consultants where I am a Director for Quality, Productivity and Project Management.


photo credit: john rich villas

Meet Willy Salvador. Although he may not admit it, he’s got time in his hands and he uses it well.

TRUE NORTH BEAT 1 In LNP, my designation is Coordinator and Chief of Staff handling special assignments for the Sector Coordinator. Presently, I am in charge of the South Sector Pastoral Leaders Training Program and the expansion of the sector to the Deep South (Sta. Rosa and Laguna areas). In Familia, I am a Board member, Vice President and Treasurer. Together with my wife Sonia, we are the Pastoral Leaders of the top leaders of Familia who are not members of Ligaya.

have time to unwind and get refreshed after a hectic week. My wife Sonia is also semi-retired, working only three days a week. We spend our free days together doing something else, like sorting and disposing our things in our other house in Posadas, Muntinlupa, renovating, and rearranging our furniture in our condo in Quezon City, trying out new restaurants, watching telenovelas etc.

“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing.” - Thomas Jefferson

“The more business a man has to do, the more he is able to accomplish, for he learns to economize his time.” -Sir Matthew Hale

TN: What is your typical day like?

Willy: My days are not always the same. If I am conducting seminars (usually one week per month), I start my day very early, waking up at 4 a.m. for my daily prayers. I leave the house in Quezon City by 5:45 a.m. for my seminar that usually ends at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday nights are for my Fraternal Group meeting in LNP, Thursday nights are spent with my leaders’ home cell in Familia. Every month, I will attend the South Sector Leadership Team meeting, the Deep South Leadership Team meeting and the Pastoral Leaders meeting. I also attend the Familia Board meetings and other special meetings. I also give talks in LNP and Familia as needed. I also help my youngest daughter Rej in her two food businesses.

“Time stays long enough for those who use it.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

TN: Do you ever NOT DO anything?

Willy: Yes. Since I am not required to go to our office every day, I

TN: How do you make time for everything?

Willy: I am guided by the set of priorities that I have lived by since I joined the renewal 24 years ago: God, family, work and service. I always begin with the end in mind (my objectives or purpose in life). I have annual, monthly, and weekly schedules and my daily “to-do” list. In case of conflict, I just follow my guide on priorities.

“He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out the plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life.“ – Victor Hugo

TN: Has service always been in the forefront of your schedule? Willy: Sonia and I have spent a great deal of time for service ever since we joined the renewal in 1989. Service has been a part of our family life. God’s faithfulness and generosity to our family have never waned all through these years. At age 64, many of our

brothers and sisters are wondering how we manage to attend prayer meetings and continue serving in the south while staying most of the time in QC. My answer is always: “It is the Lord who enables.”

“In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do; it is not really the time but the will that is lacking.“ – Sir John Lubbock

TN: Is there something you said you would do “when I have the time” that you never got around to doing?

Willy: I really wanted to spend a lot of time with our children and two grandkids. Unfortunately, they live in different countries. Our eldest daughter Nina, married to Agustin, and her children Gavin (8) and Elise (5) migrated to Canada in 2008. Our daughter Patricia is in Chicago taking up her medical residency and specialization. It is only our youngest Rej who stays with us. We try to visit them at least once per year for one month each time. In 2011, the Lord gave me free time to stay for five months with Nina’s family in Toronto that gave me the opportunity to re-connect with them. I missed the time when we all used to stay together in our house.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt Everybody starts with time in his hands, but ultimately, other factors come into play. We cannot control time; we can only make the most of it. Like Willy, we must learn to balance “praywork-serve-play” in the 24 hours we are given and then we can sit back to enjoy the benefits of a life well-lived because as promised, God will do the rest.



The "Right Time" to Serve at kairos camp

Therese Paman

We, the YA batch 2014, stand together in mission to grow as soldiers ready to persevere and serve, with God as the source of our strength and inspiration.

Daughter of Nick and Lizette Paman of South District C


Our batch made this motto during one of the many weeks we spent together preparing ourselves for Kairos Camp Mindanao. In those weeks, we practiced our entertainment night presentation and some of us worked on our talks. I was given the opportunity to be a Discussion Group Leader (DGL). It wasn’t my first time to be a DGL, but it was my first time to be a DGL to people who are older than me and who speak a different language. One of my fears was that I won’t be able to communicate with them because of the language barrier. It took a long time for me to get accustomed to their dialect. At first, I had no idea what anyone was saying. I would just smile and nod at my fellow roommates. After a while, I began to recognize some common words and phrases. My group was so patient with me, that they even took the time to explain and translate some words. By the time camp was over, most of us understood Bisaya, and some can even speak some. I can never forget the last night in camp. The DGLs were told that we would have some ministering time right after the Lord’s Day celebration. I was already

seated with my group, anxious of what would happen next. I knew some words and phrases in Bisaya, but I wasn’t so sure about it during the pray over. So, right before we gathered into a circle, I sent a silent prayer to God, asking Him for guidance. As each person shared their stories and concerns, I found myself understanding them more easily. I was amazed by their stories and how strong their faith was. After we were done praying as a group, we joined the worship. People started to worship spontaneously, each speaking their own language. That was when I was truly amazed by God’s love. Even though some were speaking in Bisaya, I understood what they were saying and it filled me with gladness to know that even if we come from different places and speak in different dialects, we can do things together because we have One Great God. Despite of the problems we faced during Kairos Camp Mindanao, I can say that this batch motto really says what we do. We stood together, persevered and served, with God as the source of our strength and inspiration.


I will never forget the time we had to pray over our members. We knew how it was to be prayed over, but praying over someone is an entirely different thing. Daughter of Noel and Jane Billoso of Central District E

photo credit: john rich villas

Janielle Billoso The night before our flight to Cagayan de Oro, I could not sleep. It wasn’t because of fear of what was about to happen, but more out of excitement. It was my first time to visit Mindanao so I wasn’t only looking forward to seeing the place but also the people we were about to encounter. In the Kairos Mindanao conference, Ligaya was actually the only community that isn’t from Mindanao. At first, I feared that there would be a difficult language barrier, but they all spoke Filipino and surprisingly their dialect was quite similar to Ilonggo which I understand. We were able to make friends easily because everyone was just so friendly and hospitable – the typical Pinoys. They told us that we were going to be Discussion Group Leaders (DGLs) and although it was my first time to be a DGL, I wasn’t really scared because we were taught how to be effective DGLs during the iServe Retreat. Seeking the help of the Holy Spirit, listening attentively to every one of your members, having an open mind and being impartial make a good DGL. Issa de los Santos and I were allowed to go by pair as DGLs.

We were assigned to a group of 13 sophomore sisters whose ages are 14 to 15 years old. We had a quiet and shy girl, the one with many stories, the neutral girl, and other types of personalities in a typical discussion group. The challenge for us was to have everyone speak out their own opinions. Eventually, our whole group became close friends. I will never forget the time we had to pray over our members. We knew how it was to be prayed over, but praying over someone is an entirely different thing. Issa and I called ourselves a “tag team” during the prayover because I’d be very direct and aggressive while she’d come in to mellow it down and keep it cool. After the whole session, we told our friends, “Ang dami naming napaiyak, grabe!” During our discussions, I realized that our members were touched and overwhelmed by God’s grace and it felt great to know that they experienced this through us. Our trip to Cagayan de Oro is definitely a summer’s highlight. We met new friends, experienced new things and deepened relationship with our brothers and sisters in the City of Golden Friendship. I praise and thank the Lord for giving me such an opportunity.



Bogart Amarra

I wish that I could go back in time and experience the Kairos camp once again. I really miss my friends back in Mindanao and I hope that I will see them once more. Son of Archie and Agnes Amarra of South District C

Last April, the YA Batch 2014 participated in the Kairos Camp in Cagayan De Oro. I was pretty excited to go to the Kairos camp, because based from the stories of people who participated in the previous Kairos camps, it’s a lot of fun. Kuya Jopeng (Piquero) informed us that we were going to be DGLs and speakers, which was okay with me since I was assigned to be a DGL before and I was comfortable with that role. But he assigned me a special task to lead in the morning prayers. Upon hearing this, I was very nervous since I didn’t know how to lead a morning prayer and what to do. But Kuya Jopeng told me that he believed that I was fit for the task and I could do it well. He helped me by giving me ideas on how to lead a group prayer. With God’s help, I was able to lead the morning prayers successfully. This was actually my first time to go to Mindanao and I did not really know what it was like there. I realized later that it was just like one of the provinces up in Luzon. I knew that their dialect


was Bisaya, so I expected that there would be some sort of language barrier but that did not really hinder us that much in communicating with the other kids in the camp. The kids were really fun to be with and they were really united because they knew each other very well. They were also very friendly because they would talk to us and hang out with us. I was able to meet many new friends during the camp. The activities during camp were fun as well, especially the worship time. I love the vibes around me when it’s time for worship. It surprised me that, they were really into the songs and were really giving it all to God. I was touched when I saw all the people in camp worshipping together. It was a really wonderful thing to see. It was nice to see that everyone in the camp had a very strong and unbreakable bond with God. I wish that I could go back in time and experience the Kairos camp once again. I really miss my friends back in Mindanao and I hope that I will see them once more.


Bart Leong

I felt very much at home in the Mindanao camp. The amazing race was one of the most intense and challenging activities that happened during my stay

photo credit: john rich villas

Son of Ali and Nanique Leong of North District C

Going to Mindanao for the second time is one of the most exciting things that ever happened to me this summer. For me, Kairos this year had been a step more thrilling than my past YA camps. In the Kairos Mindanao camp, we are the ones serving, a thing that we’ve been trained for in the previous YA camps. This was the first time I served as a DGL. At first, I felt uncomfortable because some of the guys in the group I was serving were of the same age or older than me. It was also difficult to communicate with them because most of them spoke Bisaya more than Tagalog and English. At first, di ko kabalo. They soon opened up to me though, and I also kind of understood them when they spoke in Bisaya, probably because my dad speaks Bisaya at home. Prior to the trip, one of the things I was afraid of was that the plane might crash or all the luggage would fall to the sea, then we would have no fresh clothing for the whole trip, or we’d be in a real episode of Lost. Fortunately, none of those things happened. I felt very much at home in the Mindanao camp. The

amazing race was one of the most intense and challenging activities that happened during my stay. At one station, I had to do the cinnamon challenge, where you have to put a spoon full of cinnamon in your mouth and keep it there for 10 seconds. It felt and tasted worse than chopped chili. It was one of the simple but deadliest experiences I had in Kairo. I guess that’s why it was fun. My most unforgettable experience in Mindanao though happened during the white water rafting. I fell off the boat in the middle of the rapids and before I knew it they were so far away already. I got really scared because there were sharp rocks under me and the waves were really big, I even lost the paddle I was holding, but that added to the fun. Going back to the boat was hard since the waves were going against me, but eventually I got back on the boat. I learned a lot from my groupmates and the people in the campsite. I hope that I’ll see them again even after Kairos. Kairos was one of the most memorable grace-filled events that happened to me this summer.



reuse, recycle

renew the face of the earth by Madel Sabater-Namit


od made man steward of all His creation. It is, therefore, every man’s responsibility to ensure that the natural resources are well taken care of. The husband-and-wife team of Ruben and Natividad Villostas in Ligaya ng Panginoon-South District D is taking this stewardship call to heart. Ruben, or Ben, relates that while he was working for a coffee company in the 1980s, he saw how waste materials from coffee



processing were indiscriminately thrown into river tributaries. “Wastewater is a problem not just in the Philippines, but in the world,” Ben said. “So naging personal commitment ko na kung gagawa ako ng project on wastewater management , hindi

lang for personal fulfillment but for the good of the country.” This led him to develop a technology that would treat wastewater. Nine years ago, Ben, a chemical engineering board topnotcher, developed the “membrane technology” that enables wastewater treatment using locally sources materials. The process can produce clean water that is even safe for drinking. The technology, which is similar to that being used by Singapore for treating its wastewater, is now being used by multinational firms as well as academic institutions like Xavier School and De La SalleCollege of St. Benilde In Xavier School, for example, the treated wastewater is being used for irrigation of its football field. It has saved the school an estimated 200,000 pesos on water bill every year. It has also eliminated the stinking smell from the school’s septic tank after the wastewater facility was put in place. Natividad, or Nattie, also has her share of contribution to the protection of environment. Before her retirement as a senior science research specialist at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Nattie has developed a formulation that creates facial creams out of ripe mango seeds. The end-product is called mango butter, which is comparable with the pricier shea butter. “Mango growers were having a problem where to throw the seeds because mango seeds take time to disintegrate,” she said. Wastes from ripe mangoes are estimated at 15 tons per day. Experimental tests have shown that mango butter are proven

to minimize wrinkles. It can also treat dry skin, heal skin rash and skin peeling after tanning, clear blemishes, relieve itchy skin, treat small skin wounds and skin cracks, moisturize rough skin, prevent stretch marks, and relieve skin allergy like poison ivy and poison oak. It can also be used as shaving cream. Not only that, Nattie was also involved in an innovative project minimizing hazardous wastes coming from the semiconductor industry, also known as “electronic sludge”. By adding lahar from Mt. Pinatubo, electronic sludge can create floor tiles for homes and gardens. Her project was able to help save local companies from spending millions of dollars exporting electronic sludge for its treatment or disposal. Because of her efforts to decrease hazardous wastes in the mining and semiconductor industries, Nattie was awarded the first prize in a national competition on Outstanding Research and Development for Industry and Energy in 2004, an award bestowed to her by the DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development Ben, who is currently the vice president for water services for Technotest Inc., hopes that more new and innovative technologies will be invented and used to protect our fragile environment. And people will take a more active role in protecting the environment as God has entrusted us to do. “Actually, some of the technologies are already there. All we would need is the support of the government and the cooperation of the public,” he said.




body & soul O

by Mars Quizon

ur body is a temple. And Abraham “Tito Abe” Pascual is making sure that he is taking good care of his own body, as well as the bodies of the whole Filipino nation. Tito Abe is a natural and healthy lifestyle advocate. A member of the Ligaya ng Panginoon North District, he is also the Chairman Emeritus of Pascual Laboratories that is producing herbal medicines and other healthcare and pharmaceutical products in the country. Tito Abe said that it was his personal relationship with the Lord that pushed him to lead a natural lifestyle. “By having a close and intimate personal relationship with the Lord, you will also want to please Him through taking care of the body that He has blessed you with,” he explained. He is grateful that he did not have to go through any life-threatening disease before he pursued this lifestyle some 10 years ago. “If you look at the Scriptures, it is our obligation to take care of our body as this is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, a Christian’s life is always about serving God and others. If you have a family, you have to stay healthy to raise them properly, and the same goes for all our other roles and obligations,” he added. Tito Abe shared this secret: It is really not THAT difficult to go into natural and healthy lifestyle. “Sa totoo lang, if you know what your calorie



count is, you should not take more than that. If you are conscious of taking care of yourself, you’ll practice control and manage your eating habits and preferences,” he advised, confiding that he takes a lot of fruits, fish and vegetables together with some supplements. He also prioritizes getting proper amount of sleep. Reading up on natural products and their effects is also helpful. “Once you’ve become aware about the benefits of these foods, you’ll be encouraged to do it. Knowledge of the positive, long-term effects of the food is very important so that you can compare these benefits to the short-term conveniences offered by a lifestyle of just eating what you can grab,” he said. As a result, Tito Abe is able to perform all his roles very well. Aside from being a family man and serving in the community, he is also active in his organic farm and he happily volunteers for some non-profit organizations to help the poor. Tito Abe said that his preference for natural products was bolstered by the miracle that he saw happened in their organic farm. Their farm in Nueva Ecija used to have very poor soil quality.

As the family wanted it to be the farm to supply the company’s herbal products, they hired an agriculturist to restore the fertility of the land. “Since organic farming was then already gaining ground, the agriculturist started using natural ways, such as manure, dead leaves, and composting, to improve the soil quality,” he said. They also prayed over the farm

while it was being restored, which later on became a place where the providence of God is proclaimed and where spirituality is very much practiced. The farm is now certified by the Organic Center Certification of the Philippines as the first and largest organic farm in the country. In all these aspects, Tito Abe is advocating and aiming to serve the Lord.

2 Chronicles 31:21:

In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.



Yours, Mine and Ours by Ellen U. Virina

When Marriage Means More Than A Union of Man and Wife



he was an attractive, self-supporting young widow with a 10-year old daughter. She was on the mend seven years after her husband's demise, a target for Cupid wannabes. But another marriage was the farthest thing on her mind. He was a good-looking, relatively young doctor who had spent some time in the US, with dual practice in Batangas and Metro Manila. A widower of three years, he has two sons: a midteener and a tweener. He was also an easy target for match-making friends on the lookout for a suitable candidate for him. A persistent friend who was a classmate of the widow at UP Elementary School and who was also a high school friend and fraternity brother of the widower arranged that the former would unknowingly get to meet the latter at a class reunion at a home he could casually "gate-crash". And that is how Peggy AlejandroPilapil met Dr. Charlie Lasa. Two years later, the couple wed, but not without much discernment on how two very different lives and families (with their own histories and traditions) could build a happy blended home.

Do We? Don't We?

How would the children take it? Chris was 6 and Carlo was 14. Elyse was in the middle. Carlo wanted his dad to put off any courtship plan for about five years. Elyse was cold to the idea of another man joining the family. Chris was neutral. For Charlie? Five years was too long a wait. Charlie and Peggy read books on how they should handle acceptance in a blended marriage. This was a major concern. They later realized that luckily, they did not have to worry too much. When the children got together, they got along well like they were siblings from the start.

Long-term viability

Though Peggy and Charlie had common friends, their UP education, spouses who died early of dreaded illnesses, and some shared values, the commonality ends there. Had they met earlier at UP, Peggy muses, she couldn't imagine hitting it off with Charlie. He was into things and organizations she steered clearly away from. Now they laugh and admit that maybe they needed


to grow up and go through some things for them to appreciate each other. Peggy was raised by strict and very protective parents and she lived a very ordered and sheltered life. Even as a widow in her 40s, she had to be chaperoned on their dates! Charlie, on the other hand, had a more liberal upbringing. As fairly long-time member of the Ligaya ng Panginoon (LNP), Peggy consulted her leaders regarding the wisdom of even pursuing a relationship with Charlie. A casual statement he made that he was not the type who liked going out at night troubled her. How could she even consider someone who would not be willing to attend the evening meetings? Little did she know that he meant "gimmicks". Peggy gave herself a year to discern from the time the relationship started taking a serious turn. Though she did not

categorically tell him that joining LNP for him was non-negotiable, she told him in a roundabout manner that his not joining would mean her having to leave the Community. Charlie, on his part, saw the importance of LNP for Peggy – but he still had to find out for himself if that was the kind of life he could live by – and if this was the life his family could embrace. He was not in Community at all. “While I was courting her, I attended her Fraternal Group meetings and assemblies to find out what it was that she was so involved with,” recalls Charlie. And the more he got to know of LNP, the more convinced he was that this was something he wanted for his family as well.

Wishes vs. Reality

Charlie admits his children needed the love of a mother. Foremost on his criteria for a new wife was

the good motherly trait. This he saw in Peggy. He also noted how obedient Peggy was to her parents. She honors her parents. He admits, “I wanted someone who's God-fearing. My parents were involved with the Cursillo, CFM and later Couples for Christ. My dad was also a commentator at mass. Religion played a big part in my upbringing. At my age, I already saw many marriages breaking down. I knew that the only bond strong enough to unite people with two different personalities and perspectives would be God.” As for Peggy, her criterion is: “God-fearing. Someone I could respect and believe in. I have strong opinions!” Then seriously, she says her condition was: “My daughter would have to be with me.” Charlie thought of heading back to the US and staying there. His sons were all born there. But to



few resolutions charlie and peggy made for a harmonious blend: 1. The biological parent has the final say over the child. This does not disallow though a balancing of parenting style. Charlie's liberal style is tempered by Peggy's strictness. 2. Related to this, they agree that certain financial matters have to be made clear. Whatever is due the child/children by inheritance or benefit from the previous nuptial are to be kept to the children concerned. With their marriage, their common finances start anew.

The question of nonnegotiables

Looking at what she thought were non-negotiables (e.g. no to a very western upbringing with its culture and values, and wanting to raise Elyse to be a member of LNP, etc), Peggy came to the realization that all that really mattered was: Is this what God has planned for me? She felt the Lord was not asking her to give up Elyse for something, but for Peggy to trust in Him. At no other time in her life had she felt the need to know the Lord's plan for her. Her life was already in order. Even when her first spouse, Jing, was dying, she just felt like she had to go with what the Lord allowed in her life. No discernment. But now she had to decide. God's plan was what she later realized was the non-negotiable. To help affirm her understanding of God's plan, Peggy asked for signs. When the affirmation was given, serious discussions and decisions were laid down.


4. Both Charlie and Peggy agree not to impose on their stepchildren rules on calling them “Papa” or “Mama”. They respect the children's right to reserve those names for their biological parent.

5. Allow your spouse or stepkids to talk about their life in the previous nuptial. Respect that there was a past you were not a part of, but was important to them. 6. Take a family vacation! They had good times and started building memories as a family.

I knew that the only bond strong enough to unite people with two different personalities and perspectives would be



photo credit:

Peggy, even leaving Elyse with her grandparents to raise her should they relocate to the US, was unthinkable.

3. Give time for adaption and integration. Elyse’s acceptance of Charlie came even sooner than expected. It took all of their strength not to choke and shed tears of joy when it happened.


QUIRKY AND FUNNY Travails of misguided pinoy catholics by Jun Viterbo

We are one of two predominantly Catholic countries in Asia, a distinction we share with East Timor. While we remain loyally connected to Rome, we have a penchant for “Filipinizing” how we practice our religion. Some may call it “folk Christianity”, but it can be more aptly described as “Catholicism with uniquely Filipino characteristics”.

SPLISH SPLASH How to spot them: Once the priest sprinkles holy water (usually after Mass), they are the ones whose necks suddenly extend to giraffe-like proportions or whose hands become like octopus

tentacles just to make sure they are sprinkled with holy water. Sometimes, they would adopt a stance usually seen when we are entering the doors of crowded LRT/MRT coaches, using their elbows, as if for combat, to get within the “sprinkling” range. But once the person “receives” the water, it is immediately wiped, not with reverence but with the same manner we take away sweat, rain or dirty water. But then: The power of the blessing is not measured by milliliters. Everybody in Mass, wet or dry, receives the blessing in equal measure.

MULTI-TASKERS How to spot them: They are the ones kneeling and murmuring in church in the middle of Mass. Their body language emits a “DO NOT DISTURB ME” sign at all times. They will not say “peace be with you” unless they have finished what is presumably the 5th mystery or the 20th mystery. But then: Perhaps the recitation of the rosary during the Mass comes with the sincere desire of multi-tasking and coping with the ever-demanding time management of city living. However, the Holy Mass and


TRUE NORTH BEAT 2 the Holy Rosary have different definitions. The Rosary is a series of Scriptural reflections on the life of Christ, while the Mass is primarily a communal celebration of Christ’s resurrection. The dual practice can be traced to preVatican II times when not all could hear or understand the priest during the Latin Mass. Nowadays, where the Mass can be celebrated in the vernacular, it seems anticlimactic to pray the rosary in the middle of Mass because the Mass is already the highest form of prayer.

THE AGE OF AQUARIUS How to spot them: They are the ones who intersperse their faith with what is written allegedly in the stars. Reading the horoscope section of the newspaper will set the tone of the day. Other variations of this will be those who consult fortune tellers, tarot card readers, palm readers, and new age masters. But then: The Bible is replete with references about belief in horoscopes and other occults. (see Deut. 4:19, 17:3; 2 Kgs. 17:16, 21:3–5, 23:4; Jer. 8:2, 19:12–13; Zeph. 1:4–6). Depending on earthly things on what will happen in our lives attempts to take the place of God in our lives. Soothsaying, vibrations and crystal ball interpretations are actually big businesses. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear on these: “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to 'unveil' the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human


EXPRESS LANE TO HEAVEN? How to spot them: They are the ones lining up on the longer side of the communion line, because the line is for communion given by a priest, monsignor, bishop or cardinal. Usually, the shorter line means the communion is being given by a lay minister. But then: The power of the body of Christ is in the sacrament itself and not dependent on the giver. Receiving communion should not be likened to getting a CD autographed by singer to add value. We don’t keep the host given by someone like Pope Francis as a souvenir. Communion is meant to be taken, not displayed.

TRUE NORTH BEAT 2 beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.” (CCC2116) As Jon Jakoblich of Catholic Answers said: “By consulting a horoscope to show ourselves the path for our day, we usurp the place of God in whose hands we should place our concerns, allowing him to lead us down the path of holiness in discerning His will for us. Astrology, fortunetelling, tarot cards, and the like are no replacement for God’s providence.”

THE ALL-STAR CAST How to spot them: These are the stores that prominently display the Santo Niño, Buddha and Maneki-neko (the supposedly lucky cat with the upright paw), sometimes all figurines are adorned with Sampaguita or everlasting flowers. But then: Catholic owners of these establishments usually explain the simultaneous presence of the three as “wala naming mawawala kung ilalagay mo sila, panigurado lang”. Do we mean we want luck from the Christianity, Buddhism and Shintoism at the same time? It seems wrong to equate the child Jesus alongside non-Christian idols to bring the same comprehensive luck. We seem carried away by the wrong notion that having all three figures are decisive in success in the retail business. Lest we forget, Jesus’ infancy was characterized by simplicity and poverty.

But then: Attending Mass means attending all of it, from the entrance procession until the last note of the closing song. Each and every part of the Mass, from beginning to end, has a meaning and a part of what it considered the highest form of prayer. Father Edward McNamara, a professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, said: “each part of the Mass relates and complements the others in a single act of worship even though some parts, such as the consecration, are essential while others are merely important. To say that there is a particular moment before or after which we are either ‘out’ or ‘safe’, so to speak, is to give the wrong message and hint that, in the long run, some parts of the Mass are really not all that important. It may also give some less fervent souls a yardstick for arriving in a tardy manner.” In a culture known for being fashionably late and a penchant for grand entrances, perhaps we should challenge ourselves in arriving on time for anything, especially for Mass. We don’t want to be tardy in our appointment with God.

THE BETTER LATE THAN NEVER CATHOLIC How to spot them: They are the ones who try to surreptitiously pass through the aisles before the homily ends.



Jun Cruz

My Good and Faithful Servant


Naughty! That was how kids like me were called when we tried to experiment on things which get destroyed in the process. Nowadays, they are called "inquisitive." I was also imaginative and creative, making my own toys, setting up my own duyan on top of a tree and fabricating my own weapons (ninja stars, pen pistols). Then, I was called a "war freak".


When did you know that you were a good speaker?

I don't think I’m a good speaker - my grammar is not very good looking and my vocabulary is not very extension (he said jokingly). I see myself as a good story-teller. When I speak, people listen to me because my stories are real and sometimes meaningful to them. What I learned well, though, is how to "land" my stories to bring home a point.


Have you ever wondered what it would be like if YOU join showbiz instead of your sister?

Catastrophic, catatonic, epic! I don't think I will do well in showbiz. But I have had a good amount of TV exposure during the days of "Sharing in the City" with Fr. Sonny Ramirez. There I did well, but I won't call that showbiz.

photo credit: john rich villas


What were you like as a kid?


Can you share with us your greatest speaking engagement blunder, if any? If none, any "greatest experience" you have so far?

You won’t go wrong with telling stories, so I don't remember any blunder. What moves me though is whenever I speak of the love and forgiveness of God. People would come to me with their hurts and problems and they open their lives to me.

One time, I gave a talk at the Edsa Shrine. After I left, a lady ran after me and told me her pains right along Ortigas Avenue. She was crying in front of the "takataks" and the balut vendors. I was there just to listen and then share God's word to her. She thanked me profusely but when I went home, I knew God was the one who was ministering to her. That has always been the case. When I tell stories of God's great power and love, people get to connect with God.


You and your wife have raised such wonderful kids, what parental principle can you share with the community?

Marion, ano daw? Oh yes, always consult your wife. Let your children know you are a team. We also realized that the through years, we need to adjust our style of parenting and learn to move and dance with the changes. The principles though do not change: Sincerity, Affirmation, Yield to the Spirit, Acceptance and Withholding judgements. We dance therefore.


What music do you listen to when driving alone? with your family?

Alone, I listen to the oldies. Fan ako ni Dr. Love. I enjoy it because I still can understand the lyrics. Many of the songs now sound Greek to me, if not grunts and growls. With the family, though, we enjoy The Beatles and their genre of songs.


How do you unwind? What are your secret guilty pleasures?

When I am tired, I get noisy. I tell jokes. I make fun of things and circumstances and laugh aloud. Then you will hear in unison: "Dad! Quiet!" My only secret, unhealed, deeplyrooted addiction is Chippy! And the excitement grows as I grow older. Now there is Chippy Salt and Vinegar, yung green, grabe!

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Which celebrity would you like to have oneon-one dinner with?

Before it was Jackie Chan. But now, I wouldn't mind if Donnie Yen (aka Ip Man) would come along. Hiyahhh!

What's your greatest fear?

Honestly, my greatest fear is to lose my fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. At my age, I know I can't afford to lose wisdom, to fall into sin, to get into a scandal or to put my God to shame. That is why I am praying always for protection and the awareness of God's presence in my life.


What would you tell your 18-year old self?

My 18-year-old self? "Hoy Guapo! Mag- ingat ka. Hindi sa lahat nang pagkakataon, makakalusot ka sa kalokohan mo. Isipin mong mabuti yung mga ginagawa mo at baka sumabit ka. Isang pagkakamali lang, habang buhay na impyerno ang aabutin mo." But as a seasoned youth worker, I might say it differently to the young people under my care. I will say: “In life, you must always play like a good chess player. Best move! Always think of your best move. In life, when you say YES to one thing, you say NO to a lot of other important things. Make sure you consider your best move before saying YES to something. Lastly, you can never be wrong with Obedience to God. Obedience to God and saying Yes to Him have always been my best moves in my life”. Raymond Daniel "Jun" H. Cruz Jr., is the Executive Director of the Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community since 1984 and has worked fulltime for the community since 1993. He and his wife Marion has two daughters (Erika and Ysabel) and two sons (Danic and Pio). Aside from his day job, he also serves the Catholic Church as the Youth Coordinator of the National Service Committee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of the Philippines.


And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6 32

photo credit: john rich villas