volume 10 • number 1 • MAY 2015
Wisdom and Grace THE WOMEN'S ISSUE
Women of Wisdom, Women of Grace Finding Joy in Waiting
Fashion Tips: Grace in Style1
For the cover of our Women’s Issue, we gathered the four women of the Community Women’s Council for a photo shoot over afternoon tea, hearty conversation and lots of laughter. The genuine friendship and sisterhood was felt among them. In this photo, they huddled together for a group selfie or “groufie”, showing how these ladies are in tune with the times.
VOLUME 10 • NUMBER 1 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Mich Cruz-Villar Managing Editor Aly Sulit-Placino Editor Ramoncito dela Cruz Editorial Board Gary Mendoza (coordinator-in-charge) Berry Marfori Anna Sobrepeña Chito Sobrepeña
Behind the Scene
True North staff take a break during the fun fashion shoot for this issue to pose with our fashion experts and models. See story on page 21.
Art Director Joseph Manglicmot CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mae Abiva-Leung Marla Espiritu Ruby Manuel Madel Sabater-Namit Ellen Viriña Jun Viterbo PHOTOGRAPHERS Mike Villar John Rich Villas Oliver Embradora
Why True North?
IN THIS ISSUE 3 Editor’s Note Essence of a Christian Woman Teachings 4 Two on Two: Two real-life sisters of this generation reflect on two women of the New Testament
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.
Keepine Sane in this Insane World
God@Work What a Girl Wants
True North is a publication of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (www.lnp.org. ph) and its partners – Christ’s Youth in Action, Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon, and the Institute for Pastoral Development. LNP is a member of the federation of communities around the globe, Sword of the Spirit (www.swordofthespirit.net).
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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. 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 ramoncitodelcruz@ yahoo.com or 0917 891 7644.
12 Soul Sisters: The Community Women's Council
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Seasons: Stories of Women Who Found Joy in Waiting Waiting for God's Best The Dreamer and the Daughter
21 Grace in Style 27 Raising Daughters Women of the Bible 29 Discovering God through Bible Study 30 Deeply in Love....with Scriptures 32
NOTE: All recent True North issues can be shared and read in www.issuu.com. Look for the True North page.
Essence of a Christian Woman many responsibilities at home, at work, in the community and in society, just like any other multitasking woman of today. In the preparation of this issue, as in life, we sought God’s WISDOM to make the right choices, and relied on His GRACE to carry on through our daily struggles. Hence, we give you “Wisdom and Grace” – the first-ever True North Women’s Issue. This issue is especially for all Christian women as it celebrates our role in building up God’s kingdom. It is packed with stories to inspire and practical advice for sisters of all ages to live by our Christian way of life. It is likewise for the men who love their mother, wife, sisters and friends.
“What for you is the essence of being a woman?” goes the question that made Sushmita Sen win the 1994 Miss Universe crown. As cliché as the question goes, it is indeed difficult to put a single definition to being a woman. Women are very dynamic and multi-faceted. Our roles in society have constantly evolved over the years, and even more so in the Christian perspective. As we prepared for this special issue of True North, we tried to define the modern-day woman of God. Our pursuit lasted for months – almost long enough to bear a child! We talked to various women in community. We wanted to find out their hopes and aspirations. We listened to their reflections and felt inspired by their spiritual journeys. This we did alongside carrying out our
It was a privilege to sit down with the four ladies of Ligaya ng Panginoon’s Community Women’s Council over afternoon tea as they shared words of wisdom on becoming the Ligaya woman in the modern world. (page 12) We take a closer look at two women of the New Testament, Martha and Mary, through the insights of real-life sisters Cor Marcojos and Christine Caoili (page 4). Turn to pages 30-32 to read about how studying the Bible has enriched the lives of Monette de los Santos and the Bible study groups for women. How is it like to raise Godly daughters in this digital age? The Hong Family share their experience in raising their all-girl brood (page 27). True North takes a pulse on the single women in community to know what matters most to them – their essentials and preferences, and priorities in life. Find out their answers in an infographic on pages 10–11.
A woman of God is beautiful inside and out. Four fashion experts who are members of Ligaya ng Panginoon share some practical tips on how to honor the Lord and others in one’s attire in a stylish way. See our fashion spread on pages 21–26. The process of waiting – be it for something trivial as waiting through traffic or as significant as waiting for your future spouse – can be a test of patience and requires a lot of grace. In a section entitled ‘Seasons’ (pages 17–20), Tetel Fernandez and Wendee Montano share how they were able to find joy in waiting in their respective stages in life. Juggling our different roles as mothers, wives, daughters, professionals and community members is an everyday struggle for women. Dra. Jojo Uson gives advice on how to keep it all together, gracefully. Finally, we share a light moment with Lou Sitaca as she candidly answers our 10 Questions. “The woman of character, where is she to be found? She is more precious than any jewel.” (Proverbs 30:10) We hope that this issue will be a source of inspiration in our pursuit to be women of character, women of God.
Two on Two Two real-life sisters of this generation reflect on Two Women of the New Testament REFLECTIONs ON MARY and MARTHA by Christine Barredo-Caoili
Who is Martha? She is a take-charge person, a leader, an efficient host, and the sociable sister. She welcomed Jesus to their home. She ensures that her guests feel at home and are well fed. She gets overwhelmed though, but Jesus reminded her during His visit that she should not be anxious and worried about so many things. Who is Mary? Mary is the one who honored Jesus by sitting at His feet and listening to Him speak. She showed interest in what Jesus shared and taught. In return, Jesus honored Mary by saying that she chose the better part. She was different from her sister Martha who thought that hospitality and fussing over Cor Barredo-Marcojos (left) and Jesus will merit His praise. Christine Barredo-Caoili (right) I am the eldest in the family and I lived in a home that later did not have helpers as we grew up. Early on, my parents gave me the responsibility to take Study Group, and most of all, praying to Him during care of my siblings. First, there was my sister Cathy, my prayer time. then my sister Cor, and much later my youngest For a while, I thought I was fully transformed to brother Olin. Me and my siblings were also expected becoming a Mary, but still the Lord gave me another to help in the household chores. I was very much a opportunity to become more like her. Not only did Martha given this set up. Back then, I only became He make me listen to Him intently, but He allowed me prayerful when I needed favors from the Lord. It was to feel and experience His presence even more in my more of me talking than listening. life. After many years, when I started to have my own I used to be a busy and preoccupied person. My family, I continued to be a Martha. I was still anxious, time is filled with so many things to do. I was once worried, and burdened by many things, aside from an office worker and a radio anchor, I was active in taking care of my husband Patrick and my children the PTA, I took care of a Men’s and Women’s Group, Corinne, Maco, and Ana. Have I ever been a Mary? and joined marathons. Anything I can do, I did. I I am very grateful because I now belong to our was a wonder woman. My close friends used to community Ligaya ng Panginoon. This is where I call me “ang babaeng walang pahinga”(a woman learned how to listen to the Lord. Just like Mary, I without rest). However, all these changed when I was am able to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him diagnosed to have breast cancer. Being the Martha speak by reading scriptures, attending mass almost that I was, I immediately scheduled myself for an everyday, doing regular Bible study with my Bible appointment with a surgeon. When he confirmed
TEACHINGS that I needed surgery, my desire was to do it at the soonest possible time. It was only after I was scheduled for an operation did I tell Patrick. He saw it best for me to get a second opinion so the surgery was postponed. Unfortunately, the next doctor also recommended that I undergo surgery. I was finally operated on last June 10, 2010 which was coincidentally my sister Cor’s birthday. After the procedure, I was given until end of the month to decide on the kind of treatment I would be taking - traditional or alternative. The Lord was very quiet. I was getting anxious as the deadline drew near. At first, I wanted to take alternative treatment like my dad who survived cancer of the pancreas for another three years. Still, I had to listen very hard and was sensitive to where the Lord was leading me. I asked Cor to discern with me. In one of our conversations, she said that my case was different from Dad’s. Her statement hit me like a cold shower. I suddenly knew what God wanted me to do. I finally went through six cycles of chemo. It was during my therapy and my experience of its side effects when I was able to hear clearly what Jesus was trying to tell me for quite some time. My hair started to fall a week before my 2nd chemo. When I was in the shower, I grabbed my hair and tried pulling. I thought I did not get any. But when I looked at my closed fists, I saw the many strands in them. It was a reality check for me and I started crying. In that moment of desperation, all I could say was “Lord, Lord!” It was then when I heard Him say, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). He further assured me of a long life and of His presence every step of the way. I later found out that the treatment given to me was incomplete. My oncologist inadvertently missed out on administering Herceptin – a type of treatment that should have been given alternately with my chemo therapy. I then consulted different doctors soon after. Two of them pronounced that I only have a year to live if I decide not to continue with any treatment.
Through deep prayer and scripture reading, He led me to undergo alternative treatment. The Lord reassured me again. The Lord continued to reveal more things to me. First, He made me see that Patrick and I were growing apart, and for us to put our marriage in order, we should follow His leadings. Jesus likewise made me look at my children and how they were growing up so fast. He wanted me to attend to them closely. In another instance, I also heard the Lord telling me that Patrick will undergo a trial that will be difficult and life changing for him. True enough, his employer of 30 years later retired him without giving him his expected retirement pay. Finally, Jesus also knew how I longed to go back to broadcasting. He confirmed in my prayers that I will be doing that again. I can say that I am neither just Martha nor Mary at this point. In this fast-paced world, often I have to multitask and attend to so many concerns just like Martha. However, listening to the word of God, like Mary, enables me to work cautiously. Now I know that whenever I start getting worried, anxious, or burdened, I should stop for a while and choose “the better part” which is to listen to what God is saying so He can see me through. Listening to Him closely also allows me to hear His commands clearly. Therefore, I am able to do what is right, obey His holy will, and even anticipate His promises.
The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. 42There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Luke 10:41-42
TEACHINGS REFLECTIONS ON MARY and MARTHA by Cor Barredo-Marcojos
I once attended a retreat where all participants were asked who among a given list of women in the Bible best describes ourselves. Among them, I quickly chose Martha without having to be apologetic. I once saw myself as a person who had so much on my hands. I was then a young wife and mother. Even these two roles already opened up to multiple responsibilities - I was a homemaker, a caregiver, a formator, an intercessor, a driver, a runner and what have you. Outside my home, I was an 8-to-5 working professional, a pastoral leader, and an active community member who had commitments to keep and schedules to meet, among other things. I had to hold things together knowing that my husband Melmarx was also busy earning a living and doing Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work. Moreover, as a result of my training at home (under the mentorship of my hardworking mother*) and my exposure to corporate life, I was wired to attend to peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s needs and accomplish many things at a given time. I love serving the Lord, my family, and other people, but I can recall being consumed and sometimes being drained by my daily tasks. Years later, through teachings received and through lives modeled by my pastoral leaders** and various women in community, I learned to peacefully accept my various roles in life and see them in a renewed way. I realized that God has specifically
appointed me to fulfill these duties and accomplish them with greater joy. Without being condescending to Martha, this is how I discovered the Mary in me. Though I continue to wear many hats and have far greater responsibilities now than I once had (well, I am still a homemaker, a caregiver, a formator, an intercesseor, a driver, a runner, yet much more!), it is my love for God, more than anything, that drives me to do all the work I need to do and manage my schedule accordingly. I also devote more time now to listen to the Lord as His word provides me guidance and appropriates the grace I need to serve Him and the people whom He has entrusted me. The Bible describes Martha and Mary (including Lazarus) as special friends of Jesus. They appear in two portions of the New Testament, namely, when Jesus visited their home and when Lazarus died. On these occasions, Jesus empathized and shared His joy and sorrow with them. This is how close Jesus was to these women â&#x20AC;&#x201C; He comes to them, spends time with them, and even manifests His power to them. Their deep friendship may also be noticed in the tone Martha used each time she conversed with Jesus. She was always emphatic and candid. I see Martha and Mary as women who both have a great love for Jesus but have different expressions. Martha expressed her love by means of practical service. She was a gracious host and a woman who strove for perfection. She opened her home and gave her special guest the best she could by preparing well for His visit. Meanwhile, Mary expressed her love through her ministry of presence. She dropped everything so she could give their
TEACHINGS guest her full attention. While Martha offered the work of her hands, Mary offered her listening ears and a heart that was intently focused on Jesus. I believe that as daughters of God, we are called to follow the examples of Martha and Mary and exercise their best traits. While God embedded in our nature to be nurturing and to be of loving service to others, He also desires that we become women of prayer and trust. Doing our womanly duties may sometimes be daunting, whether one is single or married, young or old. We are confronted by our daily concerns such as taking care of our families, attending to our aging parents, doing some work or study, serving others, driving amidst traffic, dealing with health issues, and the list goes on. Amid our circumstances, we are called to do our duties excellently and fulfill our commitments faithfully. Just like Martha, we must give our best in everything we do. However, God neither wants us to be consumed nor be distracted by the cares of this world. He wants us to remain focused on Him and aim at His promise of everlasting life. He also desires that we constantly seek His holy will through daily prayer. Like Mary, we should put God first in our lives and be able to surrender everything under His feet. Through the inspiration of Martha and Mary, I know I am a happier Christian than I ever was. God has given me enough wisdom and humility to discern which things matter most. I am able to accomplish more (though not always perfectly) with less complaint or agitation. With a more willing spirit, I am also able to forego my preferences in favor of someone else’s and let go of things that are not important in light of eternity. Spending times in daily prayer and pausing at different times of the day to converse with the Lord enlightens me, strengthens me, and gives me a sense of balance. More importantly, it also reminds me Who is supreme over anything or anyone else in my life. Now, my Christian life is far better lived with more patience, more ease, and more joy knowing that I am not in full control but God is!
“Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.” – last lines of Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr Note: special mention to *Josie Barredo, and **Lylette Lorenzo, Liz Venezuela, and Ginny Talavera
Women's Survival Guide
Keeping Sane in this Insane World New gadgets and tools have set the trend for the century. You’re either “in” or you’re out-moded - keep up with the times or get left behind. It is indeed a double-edged sword. Resisting change and not going with the flow can cause undue angst for the tech laggards. On the other hand, you can be consumed by technology overload - with smartphones in your pocket and tablets in your purse, stress can follow you wherever you go. things. Maintaining seven to eightand-a-half hours of restorative sleep a day can work wonders on your mood, disposition and energy level. Good sleep also helps build resistance to stress. If your budget and schedule permit, take your family out of town once every three or four months, or spend a vacation out of the country at least once a year. Be mindful that R&R’s need not be extravagant nor a pain on the pocket.
X#2. Practice acceptance.
Here are 10 easy prescriptions to help you overcome stress in your life:
X#1. Find time to relax. Take refreshing mini-breaks in between work, school, or household errands. Ten to 15 minutes of deep breathing while clearing your mind off anything and everything is enough to refuel your mind and recharge your body during a long day. Get sufficient sleep at night. The importance of sleep can be underestimated. Do not cut down on sleep just to catch up on other 8
You need to accept that certain things cannot be changed, may not go your way, or are simply beyond your control. It goes a long way to realize this early enough and to let go when necessary.
X#3. Get organized. Develop a realistic schedule of activities. Find a good balance between work and other equally important aspects in your life like relationships, hobbies, and spirituality. This isn’t a 50-50 per cent scale either. It depends on your order of priority and you have to ensure that what matters most to you is on top of the list. Having too much on your plate can also be overwhelming, so
choose wisely and learn to say “no.” It’s better to focus on one thing or manage a few things at a given time. It pays not to do them simultaneously either so as not to compromise the quality of your work. Improve your physical surroundings. You can think more clearly and function better if your place is conducive for it and has the proper ambience. As the adage goes, “a cluttered environment leads to a cluttered mind.” Make a checklist of things to do and estimate how much time you need to get them done. Establish attainable timelines within days, weeks, a month or so, and make allowances for unexpected events
photo credit: Image courtesy of RAWICH at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In this ultra-modern, fast-paced world where we live in, we are confronted day in and day out by numerous pressures. The word “stress” has easily become part of everyone’s vocabulary. Even schoolaged kids are not spared from its ramifications.
photo credit: Image courtesy of nipitphand at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
by Josefina T. Ly-Uson, MD
Women's Survival Guide that can derail you from meeting your due dates.
X#4. Reduce time urgency.
Allow ample time to get things done. Plan your schedule ahead. Why resort to hurrying when you can pace it? Recognize that you can only do so much in a given period of time. Rushing only adds to the tension. If it takes you a good half-an-hour to get to an appointment without traffic, allot extra time for traffic, you’ll never know when the road will stall you. It pays to arrive at an appointment with calm and ease, rather than panting your way to or starting a meeting with an apology for being late.
photo credit: Image courtesy of artemisphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
X#5. Disarm yourself. Not all situations require competition. Harboring a competitive nature can leave you dissatisfied, keep you on the edge, and add to your level of stress. Avoid shouting or raising your voice, having the last word, putting someone else down or blaming others. These can be emotionally draining and can produce negative psychological effects on both you and the unwieldy receiver, not to mention, result in detrimental consequences on your health.
X#6. Practice quiet time. Unwind by taking a leisurely stroll in a park or watching the sunset by the bay. But if it will be a hassle to take a trip there, you can find equally rewarding time right in the comforts of your home by listening to soothing music or having an express massage on your own bed.
X#7. Talk to friends. Men
usually talk about politics, sports, stock market, or business. Women exchange notes about raising children, kitchen recipes, household tips, or fashion (and God forbid, anything under the sun but gossip). Although you can coast safely on neutral topics, it certainly makes a difference to share your deep feelings with a close friend or confidant. Studies
show that people with close emotional and social ties are physically and mentally healthier and live longer.
X#8. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Proper nutrition and exercise are anchors to good health. Eat a well-balanced diet. Eating too much or too little can cause gastric problems. Refrain from eating foods high in fat and salt as these can increase the risk for hypertension and high cholesterol levels. Avoid alcohol and cigarette smoking. Excessive caffeine and sugar can be bad for your nerves. Limit your coffee intake to two cups a day. Occasional indulgences are fine, but practice moderation in general. Balance is the key to wellness.
X#9. Eliminate negative thoughts. Negative thoughts burn a lot of energy unnecessarily (not effective for losing weight either), whereas positive thoughts earn energy. Stay connected with your emotions. Identify how you are feeling at a given time. Ask yourself: “Am I angry? Frustrated? Upset? Sad?” These negative feelings are valid. But strong negative emotions usually stem
from negative thoughts which burn a lot of energy. You can make a choice to replace them with positive ones. These can in turn alter your feelings in favor of your preferred emotional experience. Among the list of positive emotions you can choose from are gratitude, tolerance, inner peace, harmony, love, and joy.
X#10. Pray and pray more. It is easy to get caught in the rat race and be attached to worldly things. Ask yourself what the purpose of your earthly existence is and stay centered on what drives you. Faith in the Divine Overseer may shed light and direction to your life. Praying is a means of communicating with Him as you would a best friend or a partner – your thoughts, concerns, grievances, fears and joys. It is a means of nurturing this special relationship. When you have exhausted all your human powers and the daily grind is tiring you out, it’s time to let Him take the wheel. He will give you the grace you need to go the extra mile. None of us are spared from life’s challenges. The stressors in your life may keep coming … traffic jams, unexpected car trouble, heavy work demands, unreasonable bosses, computers or cellphones crashing, scorching hot weather, or days when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed. You don’t have to get bogged down or stressed out. Hopefully, with these easy and rapid-relief prescriptions/ techniques at hand, you can be better equipped to master the stresses in your life and buffer yourself against its ill effects. After all, it is not the kind of problems you encounter that matter more, but your ability to handle them that makes the difference. Dr. Josefina T. Ly-Uson is a clinical associate professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the UP College Of Medicine-Philippine General Hospital and an attending psychiatrist at The Medical City, Pasig.
What a Girl
GOD @ WORK
Soul Sisters The Community Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Council by Ramoncito dela Cruz
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The air is light and sweet inside the café. It’s not so much from the delectable pastries and aromatic tea, it’s the aura exuding from the four beautiful women sharing memories of and dreams for the one treasure that they all hold so dear – the sisterhood in the Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community. With over 140 combined years of being in the Ligaya Community, Apples Meer, Beth Melchor, Mae Legaspi and Landa Juan have gained precious insights and wisdom on becoming a Ligaya woman in the modern world, which they are now lovingly imparting to the sisters – who are more than half of the community membership. Apples, Beth, Mae and Landa comprise the Community Women’s Council (CWC) of Ligaya. “One of the things (that) they say is that the women are the heart of the families; and therefore women in Ligaya are the heart of the community,” says Beth who is the Sector Senior Woman Leader (SWL) of the Central Sector. “While men have their role in governing and setting directions for the Community, we, women primarily create life-giving environments, just like in a home, and care for the needs of brothers and sisters.” “We are key in the relationshipbuilding aspect of the community,”
adds Apples, who is the Sector SWL of the South Sector. “And in nurturing those relationships all throughout,” Landa, the Sector SWL of North Sector 1, chimes in. “We also sit in the Sectoral Leadership Team meetings, so when the coordinators discuss the different aspects of Community life, we do contribute to the discussion. While the men are the leaders, they welcome our input especially when it pertains to women and family life,” Mae, the SWL of North Sector 2, attests. Over the past 40 years, our society has gone through a lot of upheavals – social, economic and political. The role of women and the society’s standard of a modern woman have shifted several times. It’s difficult enough for an ordinary Filipina to navigate her duties as a wife, mother, daughter and/or breadwinner, how much more for a Ligaya woman who needs to stay true to her calling as a radical Christian woman in a moneydriven and morally ambiguous world. “We are counter-cultural,” Apples declares. When the women’s liberation was at its peak in the 1970s, many of the Ligaya women had decided to stay home and take care of their children, as that was their calling from the Lord. It was a major “step out” from the rising tide of that time,
and was frowned upon by many other women outside community. But when the economic crisis hit in the 1980s, many sisters rejoined the business world to help augment the income of the family, and many were blessed with good jobs and stellar accomplishments. Yet, the rat race in the corporate world can pose a huge challenge for the women. “There’s always a challenge in living as a disciple and also desiring to enjoy the perks of the world. The world is enticing.” Mae relates. “Our sisters are taught to put God first, develop Godly
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“We are key in the relationship-building aspect of the community.” – Apples Meer, Senior Woman Leader, South Sector
qualities like a quiet and gentle spirit, to live a simple lifestyle. But the world says otherwise. The sisters really need grace to remain righteous and God- centered in the world of work. “The conversion of career women must really be very deep for them to be able to live out and uphold the Christian values they treasure,” Apples says, adding that a highly-competitive corporate setting may erode the time given to her duties as a wife, a mother, and a servant of God. With proper guidance and support from their pastoral leaders, the Ligaya women are able to deal with the pressures of the corporate world. As part of their pastoral role, the SWLs are taking the community teachings very seriously. And with good reasons. “Now that the community is bigger, we want to make sure that we pass on the way of life in a more systematic way; we make sure that the lessons are
articulated well through the teachings,” Landa says. “The ‘whys’ are explained more clearly, so that the people can really absorb and understand them, and so that they will be more willing to live and embrace the way of life of the Community.” Ligaya women are taught to grow in their personal relationship with the Lord and participation in the community life. The teaching is complimentary and consistent with the overall pattern of community life and the pastoral direction established by the coordinators. The Community has developed specific teachings for married women, for single women, for the youth, and even for the very young children in the Friends of Jesus (FOJ) program. “The teachings are more purposeful,” Landa points out. For example, the teachings on modesty, moral relativism and the rationale behind the courtship pattern are being inculcated as early as the FOJ program, explained in a way that they can understand, so that when the time comes, they will know how to behave. As a result, “we don’t have very serious pastoral concerns that keep us awake at night, or down on our knees for a long time,” Beth says with a laugh. Earlier in the Community life, there was one pastoral issue that kept cropping up, especially among the married women. This was in the area of submission. The Community has come up with teachings and forums for married couples to deal with the issue. Primary among which is the teaching on regular couple’s dialogue and communication. “It’s not difficult for the wife to be submissive, if the husband knows what it really means to be the head of the family. He must understand that real headship is taking concern for his wife and his family.... That he is
accountable to God for their wellbeing, not only in the material sense, but in the spiritual sense as well. And that the headship is not lording over or being controlling. Headship is servant leadership,” Apples declares. “When you see your husband having a genuine concern for you, then it’s easy to follow, not because you have to do this, not because he said so, but because this is how God planned it to be.” “If there is respect, and you know that he cares for you, then it’s easy to submit,” Landa adds. “Kasi in a relationship, if he allows you to flourish and grow as a person, and not put you in a box where you can’t speak your mind anymore, there will be love and respect in the husband-and-wife relationship.” Besides, it takes humility on the part of the wife to be able to recognize and accept the authority and headship of a husband – which, in the first place, is God given, she further says. “The husband is there not to lord it over, but to put order and unity in the family, and allow the family to grow in one direction.” “In the family, as even in the Community, the leadership is
“Women in Ligaya are the heart of the community.” – Beth Melchor, Senior Woman Leader, Central Sector
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Women’s leadership should provide a balance for the leadership approach, emphasis, and gifts of the men who lead. Women leadership working well is essential for the overall health of the community life.” – Sword of the Spirit
“(Submission) is not about losing yourself, but an opportunity to grow in humility.” – Landa Juan, Senior Woman Leader, North Sector 1
God-ordained. It’s not about losing yourself, but rather it is an opportunity for you to grow in humility and unity,” Landa says. “The men in the family are the priests because they are modeled after Jesus. We naman are modeled after Mary, so we have a different role, but our role is complementary to the men’s.” “We exercise submission even in our community life.” Mae points out. “We are encouraged to seek the input of our pastoral leaders in the different aspects of our personal lives especially in making major decisions like career and change of residence as these may affect our primary responsibilities and our participation in the community. In my experience, seeking my pastoral leader’s input does not lessen my dignity. In fact, it contributes to my personal growth and my ability to serve the brothers and sisters,” she adds. Indeed, pastoral care strengthens relationships within the Community. With their loving concern for their members, pastoral leaders and senior women leaders in the Community, such as Ate Agnes
Gutierrez, are considered gems by their members. “The depth of their relationship with the Lord and with each other have been a source of wealth for me, and for the other women who have encountered them through the years. They were my mentors turned sisters and good friends – even ninang – all rolled into one,” Landa says of Beth and Mae. Apples cites Mely Fernandez, who is in her 80s and still attends their women’s group meetings. “She is such an inspiration. She has always been and continues to be a great support to her husband, a former coordinator, even as she continues her pediatric practice and keeps a very busy schedule. It is an honor for me to belong to the same women’s group.”
There are many role models who Ligaya sisters can emulate. “I admire many sisters, who in spite of their very busy schedules are still hands-on moms and wives, and still generously serve the brothers and sisters in the community. I also very much honor those who have put aside their careers to raise their children, attend to their husbands and home.” Mae says. She added that though many of these sisters may not hold leadership roles in the service area, the way they love the Lord, serve their family and those inside and outside the Community are worth emulating. “I guess they have internalized their identity as daughters of God.” And so are the four women of CWC. And the way we know that they are the daughters of God is through the way they love each other and the Lord. It’s evident in the way they lean over to listen to one another’s stories. It’s in the way they smile and finish each other’s line of thinking. It’s in the way they honor and respect each other’s wisdom. Apples, Mae, Beth and Landa. They all share the same heart that loves the Lord passionately and cares deeply for the women of Ligaya. With Jesus’ heart at the center of it all, this is truly the strength and the beauty of Ligaya sisterhood.
“While the men are the leaders, they welcome our input” – Mae Legaspi, Senior Woman Leader, North Sector 2
Photo Credit: Oliver Embradora Styling: Crystal Eduardo Location : Shine Bakery and Café , SM Aura
Seasons Stories of women who found joy in waiting
â&#x20AC;&#x153;There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..â&#x20AC;? (Ecclesiastes 3:1) 16
God's Best by Tetel Fernandez
I dislike being asked to wait. Many times my patience is tested when I have to wait for something, regardless of value or significance. Ironically, many of the good things that have come into my life arrived late after being asked to wait, i.e. they came beyond my preferred or planned time frame. I suppose God used all these situations, so that in the process of waiting, I could learn how to let Him be the Lord of my life and to teach me that He is more than able to provide for what I need. One area which God continually uses to strengthen this lesson is my state of life.
State of Life Discernment
It was very clear in my discernment that my vocational direction was marriage. Initially, this caused me a lot of grief because I preferred to live single for the Lord. Though I eventually went through the expected motions of moving forward, internally, may tampo pa rin ako kay Lord. Later on, as I got to know myself more, I realized that the underlying reasons for my desire to live single for the Lord were not Godly. I saw it as a higher vocation because only a few are called to it. If I lived that way, then I would be a “cut above the rest”, a member of God’s “elite”. I want the best husband who will love me, never hurt nor disappoint me. I was not willing to be vulnerable to a human being who could possibly fail me. In other words, I was fearful and lacked trust. How self-centered! My motivations were misguided.
Powerhouse of Mentors
Waiting on the Lord meant that I had to embrace God’s call. So, I acted on practical ways to help me appreciate it better. I used Proverbs 31 - the perfect wife - as anchor for this. I turned to modern day mentors, in addition to my mom, in order to learn how married women in the 21st century applied Proverbs 31. Community is a tremendous support for a single woman. When I moved out of the University District,
I was made part of a married group of Pastoral Leaders in the South B. Imagine that! The Lord gave me a “powerhouse” of mentors composed of married women leaders. What a rich experience that was for me! The sisters in my women’s group helped me to become more comfortable with and more appreciative of the married vocation. That experience made me realize that there really is no such thing as a “higher vocation”. God uses each vocation to bring us closer to Him. Another support I received from Ligaya was the annual Single Women’s retreat. In one of those retreats, the speaker reminded us that the State of Life (SOL) Discernment result is not a prophecy. It is a general direction toward which we should orient our lives. I realized then, that given my character and personality, I would have to change a lot more to be the kind of woman that God requires for a married vocation. No wonder I was called to take on this direction. This would be my specific, God-designed path to holiness. It is this direction, this orientation that will please my Lord. This realization was pivotal in being able to embrace my call.
The Waiting Game
I also had to actively do my part in the waiting game. Of course, as a woman, I am limited in what I can do to initiate a relationship, but I could at least put in some effort; like expanding my network of male friends in community, outside community, and at work. I even took my MBA in a school where the
Seasons: Stories of Women who found joy in waiting
The ‘state of my life’ at any given point, is more important than my ‘state of life’.
be happy if I have a ring on my finger? What does ‘God’s Best’ really mean? As I moved farther away from the Gregorian calendar, I started to wonder if I made a mistake during the discernment process. But after analyzing these thoughts and my situation, I realized that questioning my SOL was a cop out. I was using it to find some reason to explain an unmet expectation, an unmet need. It was easier for me to blame something than to deal with the nagging feeling of uncertainty. But deep inside I know my SOL discernment was not a mistake. It was in fact, among the times when I really experienced God being very near and His message to me was so clear.
A new meaning to God’s best
ratio of men to women is 2:1 and where men were less likely to be intimidated by women. In hindsight, maybe I could have done more instead of wasting time nursing my “tampo” with God. Nevertheless, I tried my best, within the bounds of decency, to make myself available.
In Search of Mr. Right
Oh, the “right” guys were always in sight but I was not the “right” choice for them. Too bad…for them! Seriously, there were occasions when I would worry about growing old alone. There were also times when I wondered if the Lord was playing favorites, or if I was being punished because I was initially reluctant to accept my vocation. There were instances when I would see a bride walk down the aisle and I tell myself, “mabuti pa siya”. But truth be told, there were also times when I looked at the groom, and tell myself “naku, mabuti na lang!” Somewhere in the process of waiting, I realized that marriage is not a guarantee that I will be happy. If I force the issue and marry the wrong man, I might actually end up depleted rather than “completed”. I started to ponder on what will really make me happy. Was I putting limits on my happiness? Was I creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by believing that I can only
I realized that I can be a Proverbs 31 woman even if I am single. I could develop some of her character traits, like faithfulness to my commitments, being hard working and industrious, loving and caring for my “spiritual children”, exercising submission by not acting on my own without consulting the Lord. The fruits of constantly living out these traits allow me to experience fullness of life. These fruits have given a new meaning to the term “God’s best”. Every day I eagerly wait for “God’s best” and every day, without fail, “God’s Best” arrives on time! It comes in so many forms - a supportive boss, a new pair of shoes, a faithful friend, a good massage, a fulfilling job, an apology from an annoying person, a cup of my favorite coffee, a loving mom, a trip to the Holy Land, a life-giving women’s group -- each one “completing me” because each one is provided by God, the real Source of my happiness. Now and then, I still have bouts of disappointment due to unmet expectations. I have learned a technique that helps me deal with these moments. Every day I count the things that I should be grateful for and this keeps me from obsessing about what I don’t have. I’ve redefined the phrase “state of life”. The “state of my life” at any given point, is more important than my “state of life”. When my time is up, I hope that God will be pleased that I loved Him and served Him with all my heart, mind and strength, with or without a ring on my finger.
r e m a e r D e h T and the
TRUE NORTH BEAT 1
DAUGHTER by Madel Sabater-Namit
A baby wrapped in a pink blanket, whom they shall name Angelique. This was how the Lord promised Wendee Montaño of South – UD that she would be given a daughter in a dream.
THREE BOYS AND A GIRL
Living in a home with her husband Terry and three sons: Rafael Dominic, 12; Laurence Paul, 10; and Nathanael John, 5 years old, Wendee said that she had always reminded herself that it would be a favor from the Lord if they would be given a daughter. She recalled that she wanted to have a baby girl for their second child. When she learned that it was going to be a boy, some of her friends advised her to use calendar method or other techniques that would ensure her a baby girl the next time she would get pregnant. However, Wendee was not open to the idea. “I don’t do what they recommend kasi if God gives me a baby girl, whatever happens, He will give it to me and I don’t want to put the credit partially to that system,” Wendee said. “I want to
wholly claim it as God’s gift.” When Wendee got pregnant for the third time, God prepared her heart, as He always did. She dreamt that she was going to have another baby boy. This was confirmed during her prayer time with the message: “…you shall bear with you a son.” Wendee’s third son, Nathanael, was one and a half year old when she dreamed that she would have a baby girl. However, it took five years before Wendee became pregnant again. Her pregnancy had been complicated and she was put on best rest on her eighth week. While on bed rest, Wendee’s eldest son, Rafael, told him that in his prayer time, the Lord told him that God will take away their baby but that she would get pregnant again after three months and that would be their baby girl. Although surprised with the premonition, Wendee felt it was the Lord’s way of preparing her. True enough, on her ninth week, she lost her baby. “I found that statement to Rafael as a word from the Lord,” she said. The Lord, however, fulfilled His
promise to Wendee. Six months after the miscarriage, Wendee learned that she was pregnant again and this time, she was confident that it would be the promised baby girl in her dream. Lo and behold, during her ultrasound, the sonologist revealed that it was indeed a baby girl. “I didn’t get pregnant three months after but I got pregnant six months after, the month that I should have given birth to the one that I lost,” Wendee said.
A Promise Fulfilled
On May 12, 2014, God unfolded his promise. Wendee, and her husband, Terry, received their daughter Angelique Micaela. Her name means ‘the angel took care of us.’ Wendee recalled that she couldn’t contain her joy upon learning she was finally having a daughter. While the pregnancy with Angelique had not been easy, it was all worth it. When Angelique was born, it took a little while before Wendee could finally see and touch her baby because Angelique had to stay at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for three days.
Seasons: Stories of Women who found joy in waiting She said she did not know that her life was already at risk when she was giving birth. “I was praying in tongues to protect my baby. Then there was a sudden light. I remembered Psalm 91: ‘I shall send my angels ahead of you to protect you,’” she said. “The Lord was pacifying me.” “When I was giving birth, I would always ask the doctors, ‘how is my baby?’ but they were more concerned about me,” Wendee said.
QUEEN OF THE HOME
Now with her three sons and a daughter, Wendee says she feels so blessed. Having three sons before her daughter came was all part of God’s perfect plan to ensure that her princess was well protected and taken care of. Terry taught their sons to treat Wendee with love and respect, and this is the way they treat Angelique as well. “I’m so blessed with my three boys kasi the way Terry raised them up, they really treat me so well. I feel protected, they are gentlemanly,” Wendee said.
WAITING: A GIFT AND A JOURNEY
Waiting for a baby, whether a son or a daughter, should not be a burden. Wendee said that for her, waiting is a gift and a journey in itself. “The waiting part is actually God revealing Himself to me in a way that I would be content of what I already have, to appreciate the blessing of every child regardless of the gender, and that a child in itself is an answered prayer, a gift,” she said. Though she had always planned to have a baby girl early on, she would be reminded that God should have a space for her plans. “You also have to listen (kung) nabigyan mo ba ng space si Lord? Nung nag-pray ka ng specific, saan na yung kay Lord? Ang sabi nga, you have to present your desires to the
Lord but you don’t have to dictate to the Lord. Allow him to work His plan into your life,” she said. For those who are also in waiting, Wendee shares this favorite verse: “Because God had decided on an even better plan for us. His purpose was that only in company with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:40) Throughout her journey of waiting for a daughter, Wendee has learned that God’s plans would not be made perfect without our cooperation. “Whether God gives you the Promised Land or not, He has walked with you throughout the journey already,” she said. She adds further: “Wag mo i-miss out yung life that you have just because you’re waiting for something. Your life in itself is God’s revelation to you, an experience of His mercy.”
The waiting part is actually God revealing Himself to me…that I would be content of what I already have, to appreciate the blessing of every child regardless of the gender, and that a child in itself is an answered prayer, a gift.
e c a Gr
e l y St
ooking at the latest magazines, advertisements and movies, todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fashion icons suggest that style is dependent on following the current trends, wearing famous brand names or flaunting those toned abs or slender legs. Amidst these wordly influences, honoring the Lord and others with oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clothing without sacrificing oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s personal style can sometimes be challenging for a Christian woman. The following sisters from Ligaya ng Panginoon community- fashion experts by profession will show how this can be made possible. Let us hear some of their practical advice on how fashion and propriety may go hand-in-hand among women of different seasons.
TRUE NORTH BEAT 2
DO: Experiment with colors and print. Play with accessorie s. Celebrate your youth through fashio n! DON'T: Try to look older than your age.
photo credit: john rich villas
as styled by Nikki Panajon Models: Mariel delos Santos and Claire Joseph
Underway Member from South District F Image Consultant, Visual Artist and Make-up Artist
TN: Is it possible to honor the Lord and other people with one’s attire yet still look stylish? How? Nikki: Yes, of course! It’s all a matter of choice. Choosing to educate ourselves with both our culture as Catholic-Christians and our own bodies can bring us steps closer to achieving just that. Know the expectations of different occasions as well as the choices you have in clothing to meet them. Stay current by browsing your favorite shops once in a while, and always have a mindset of gratitude: “Not to us, but to God be glory and praise.” And should you be complimented for your efforts, believe it and say a simple ‘thank you!’ No one likes false humility. TN: What is a guiding principle in dressing stylishly but appropriately? Nikki: Quoting the American fashion mentor Tim Gunn’s ‘Golden Rules‘: “The key is not being dressy. The key is being appropriate.” In
the same way, from a Christian perspective, having a sense of respect for God, oneself, and your fellow man is what it’s all about. Otherwise, one appears arrogant, careless, and uninvolved. TN: Any practical fashion advice for Christian women? Nikki: Try not to wear clothes that reveal what shouldn’t be seen (read: VPLs, cleavage, untrimmed armpit hair). Similarly, a well-meaning outfit can be distracting if basic grooming has been overlooked. TN: Can you share any guiding Bible verse when it comes to fashion and/or beauty? Nikki:“Likewise I want women to adorn themselveswith proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold& pearls orcostly garments, but rather by means of goodworks, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.” (1Timothy 2:9-10)
TRUE NORTH BEAT 2
20S WOMEN as styled by Danie Mendoza Models: Janice Aguilar and Jonah Marie Malolos
Underway Member from Central District D Brand Manager for a luxury brand
TN: Is it possible to honor the Lord and other people with one’s attire yet still look stylish? How? Danie: Yes! Modesty in one’s attire does not mean covering yourself up altogether but dressing appropriately: according to your age, body type and your situation, i.e. work, event, etc. It is also important to examine if you are dressing up and want to look good for the Lord or to draw attention to yourself. My brother once told me,“Imagine yourself having Jesus as your honored guest.” From there it stemmed out my wanting to look the best that I can be physically and at the same time, keeping in mind to look respectable in the eyes of Jesus. TN: What is a guiding principle in dressing stylishly but appropriately? Danie: Be modest; dress for the Lord and look your best! TN: Any practical fashion advice for Christian women? Danie: I strongly believe that women should stick to looking the way God has designed them to be which is to be feminine. Wear dresses, skirts, pink/yellow/purple/neutral tones, floral prints, as much as you can. But if the situation calls for a more masculine/ tailored approach like at work (i.e. blazers, trousers), try to incorporate a touch of femininity like wearing pearls, heels, makeup, earrings. TN: Can you share any guiding Bible verse when it comes to fashion and/or beauty? Danie: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)
DO: Stick to classics: a good pair of jeans, a basic black dress, knee-length skirt. Accentuate with accessories, waist belts or heels. DON'T: Try to keep up with all the trends.
TRUE NORTH BEAT 2 Fashion for
30S WOMEN as styled by MM Cruz-Bogarin Models: Anne Castaneda and Erika Delgado
DO: Blend prints with solid colors; bright colors with ne utrals DON'T: Let the clothes wear you. . Allow your own personality to stand out
TN: Is it possible to honor the Lord and other people with one’s attire yet still look stylish? How? MM: Yes, definitely possible. For me, being stylish is a lifestyle and a state of mind, more than an external expression. Being pleasing to the Lord requires more than just covering up one's body. It is a state of the heart - a heart that longs to please the Lord internally, and totally with heart, mind & body. So given the proper state of one's heart comes modesty –with one’s desire to please God first and foremost before pleasing oneself and others.
MM CRUZ-Bogarin Covenanted Member from Central District E Fashion Designer and Entrepreneur of her own RTW line: CCI CCI and Max & Me
TN: What is a guiding principle in dressing stylishly but appropriately? MM: When dressing up, be mindful of the purpose why we are dressing up. Is it appropriate for the occasion? Does it give honor & respect to the one who invited you? Our outfit shows how we value the occasion we are attending. The state of our mind (style) and heart (morals) will define our fashion sense.
TN: Any practical fashion advice for Christian women? MM: When choosing clothes, fit is the top priority over trends. Choose styles that highlight the good parts and hides the not-so-good parts. Balance your body length by wearing knee length or long dresses. Too short or too long skirts may distort your body length. Choose silhouettes that elongate your body and balances your body proportions. TN: Can you share any guiding Bible verse when it comes to fashion and/or beauty? MM: My guiding principle is from 1Cor 6:19 saying that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and that we do not belong to ourselves but to God. Whatever we do with our bodies is a reflection of how much we value this gift (our bodies). I like this verse because, for me, it sums up how we should take care of our bodies and how we present ourselves as a way of honoring God.
TRUE NORTH BEAT 2 Fashion for
as styled by GikiOliveros Models: Pinky Peregrin and Tess Estrella
Underway Member from North District E Product Developer for various popular local clothing brands TN: Is it possible to honor the Lord and other people with one’s attire yet still look stylish? How? Giki: Of course. For me, being stylish is not defined by the amount of skin you show. A good style reflects elegance, sophistication, and balance. Style also comes hand in hand with the way we carry ourselves. No matter what we wear, if we cannot walk with confidence and security in who we are, we would not look as good. TN: What is a guiding principle in dressing stylishly but appropriately? Giki: Whenever I would look for clothes, some of the things that go through my mind whenever I'd try things on are: - Is this fit for a princess (since we are daughters of a King)? - Do I wear it or does it wear me? - Is this appropriate to where I am going? Would I be able to also honor those whom I'll be meeting? - Why do I want to wear this? What is at my heart and mind? TN: Any practical fashion advice for Christian women? Giki: For me, fashion is about working around with the details. Teens can play around with colors and color combinations. For 20's and 30s, especially when we start working, we need to start looking a bit more professional and sophisticated, especially with the way we mix colors and textures of fabric. Seams, neckline, collar, and sleeves are interesting details to look into. For 40's and up, you can still work on the color, fabric, and shape preferences in clothing, and consider other dressing details like shoes, bags, scarves, etc. TN: Can you share any guiding Bible verse when it comes to fashion and/or beauty? Giki: “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.”(Psalm 51:10) This is for whenever I'd be tempted to overdress to look good for me, not for God.
DO: Go for a nice, comfortable fit with the proper accessories for a classy look
DON'T: Always go for price tag and brand.
TRUE NORTH BEAT 2
In occasions of worship, we want to dress in a manner that shows reverence for God whom we worship and respect for the brothers and sisters whom we love. In occasions of celebration, we want to dress up more than usual not only to show honor to the Lord and our brothers and sisters but also as an expression of the value we put on such festive occasion. The Archdiocese of Manila prescribes a dress code for the faithful when going to church. This is what is written in the posters that we see today in the parishes: In Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon, we fully support this and in social events, the following approach is upheld:
We will dress appropriately for the various situations we attend. Our primary attitude is to honor the Lord, the brothers and sisters, and the occasion as appropriately possible. In occasions of worship (e.g. Mass, Community Assemblies, Sector Assemblies, and District Gatherings), we want to dress in a manner that shows reverence for God whom we worship and respect for the brothers and sisters whom we love. In occasions of celebration (e.g. Easter Vigil, Christmas Eve Mass, Community Anniversary, and Feast of the Covenant), we want to dress up more than usual not only to show honor to the Lord and our brothers and sisters but also as an expression of the value we put on such festive occasion. In all situations, including noncommunity occasions, we want to dress modestly so as not to attractÂ attention to ourselves and even cause others to sin against the Lord.
photo credit: Holy Eucharist Parish
Approach to Proper Attire in Social Events
*In Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon, we dress up more special as worship is an important time with the Lord. Dress, dress pants or slacks and skirt culottes are appropriate.
TRUE NORTH BEAT 1
After God’s Own Heart by Ellen U. Virina
As a child, Jude Hong had always wanted to have a younger sister. “I never had a younger sister to take care of,” muses Jude. His Ate Joan (Joey Villamor’s wife) was the first born of the Hong family, after her came four boys. Jude is the fourth among the brood. “So when Jeannie (Jude’s first daughter) came, it was as if the Lord answered my prayer. And when more girls came -- sobra-sobrang blessing! I did not expect that later on in life that simple wish would come true, with us ending up with four lovely daughters.” Jude enjoys being a daddy to his all-girl brood – Jeanne, now 18; Frances, 16; Sam, 15 and Tricia, 12 – and does not see it as a worrisome challenge. Jude’s wife There (pronounced like Tere) chimes in: “I feel blessed and proud! I know it’s not easy to bring up daughters. I also think that there’s a greater responsibility and expectation...mas nakakatakot, but this is God’s plan for us. Of course, we were hoping to have a baby boy then, but ok na ako to have Jude as my only boy.” Jude and There’s backgrounds are some ways so different. Whereas Jude’s family is composed of mostly male, There’s side are mostly female. Jude
likens his side of the family – who are mostly abroad – to a platoon that could fill a bus. There’s clan, on the other hand, is as big as a squadron. There is a very supportive and capable partner in raising four girls. She has a lot of experiences to draw from: Her girl cousins are also her girlfriends while her aunts are like second moms. With her predominantly female relatives and their close-knit bond, There has had exposure to quite a wide range of female personality types, making her understand and deal with the different personality traits of their girls. Jude, for his part, had a steep learning curve. “I was in unfamiliar territory. It’s challenging, since women are way different from men. In terms of raising my children, There’s clan is a big help, since the love and concern of relatives were always present. And since most of them are female, the burden of explaining physical changes that happen to our kids is well taken care of.” So how does this dad bond with his girls? Father and daughter bonding sessions are over simple dinners. On weekends when there are no Community or school activities, the Hongs stay home. Shopping is done on a quarterly basis. Annual
TRUE NORTH BEAT 2 travels (if the resources allow) with the family are an activity the family enjoys.
Communication is Key to Harmony
Raising four girls requires dealing with four different personalities. “We have the ‘baby’ of the family; one who is mildmannered and gentle in action and speech; one is easy-going and loves to be with people; another one is responsible and possesses a strong personality,” says There. “It’s challenging to handle their uniqueness, but learning to accept them for who they are as well as having regular communication and interaction with them make everything smooth for us.” Despite the various personalities of the Hong sisters, There is proud to note that the girls rarely engage in arguments or quarrels, whether petty or serious. “Jude and I try to set weekly family meetings where we discuss schedules, activities, etc. We also talk over concerns about each other, if there are any.” Jude adds: “Issues are threshed out in the family meetings. In the end, we arrive at a general consensus for issues that affect the family.” “I try to be a father that grows up with my children. I do my best to be present in all their affairs in and out of school. I am fair and open. I make an effort to be diplomatic and not too imposing,” says Jude. There thinks Jude is the more relaxed parent between the two of them. He is spontaneous and funny, joking around and generous with the hugs and tickles. When the kids were toddlers, he would give them their baths and even massages. Jude can be stern when it comes to studies, Community commitments, and character formation. On her part, There admits to being both firm and flexible. “I don’t know why I tend to be strict with time! I always set a time for the girls to wake up, eat, sleep at night, watch TV, use of computer, time
to be at home etc. The girls could attest to this.” “There’s no good cop or bad cop with There and I,” says Jude. “When a daughter needs correction, she will receive it from me and There. When a daughter merits recognition, she will receive it from both of us.”
Keeping the Boys at Bay
With the Hong sisters’ refreshing beauty, parental anxiety is inevitable. There has this to say: “I was anxious at first. But after a while, I try to react normal. I strive to impart to them the value of studies and I wish that they are not distracted by crushes and boy-girl relationships. I always pray that my girls will find a man who is fearful and respectful of God, and one who will love them unconditionally.” Jude is thankful for the kids’ exposure to Community’s values and teachings on relationships with the opposite sex.
Recently, the family underwent a series of upheavals that could cause families of more fragile bonding to rend or unravel. A conflict in principles between Jude and his employer forced them to part ways, even if the job meant a high position and a comfortable income for the family. Barely had their family come to terms with the need to tighten their belts, There was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer and her faith was tested. Through all these challenges, the bonding and family support for one another plus the mighty glue of Faith that the Hongs have upheld all these years have kept them strong. Not just strong, but also in high spirits.
Women of the Bible
by Aly Sulit-Placino
There is nothing as obvious as a call to discover more about God through a Bible Study. But this can sound intimidating. The words BIBLE + STUDY are big words, often too heavy even for those who want more out of their Christian life. It is true that some people often look for more but tend to shy away from things that seem too serious and daunting. And many who join a Bible Study group never knew that they are in for an engaging and enjoyable experience that they never realized until they dip their fingers into. Ginger, a happy-go-lucky sister says: “The Bible Study has made me closer to Jesus. It is my weekly dose of medicine against evil. It made me appreciate the Book of Life, which before was merely a book to me.”
NO ONE GETS LEFT BEHIND
Unlike some prayer groups that limit participants exclusively to married couples or singles, purely Catholics or non-Catholic; an invitation to discover God through Bible Study does not discriminate. In my groups, wives whose husbands are uninterested in things spiritual have found that they can embark on a deeper relationship with God, without
having to drag them along. No one is excluded. Women of all sorts can become co-pilgrims together in a journey to God and self. No one knows too little or too much about the Bible for one to say that there can be no space for it in her life. As St. Jerome says, “The Bible is like a pool. It is both shallow enough that anyone can jump in and swim without fear of drowning, yet deep enough that you can plumb its depths and never reach bottom.” Nina, a daily mass-goer and fairly new in the study of Scripture shares: “Studying the Bible and not just hearing snippets of the Gospel at Mass made me realize that they are not fairytales or legends, but stories of real people – a true story of mankind. Even though the world was so different 2015 years ago, people then also had the same problems, worries, concerns that we have today. It makes me feel how all-encompassing God’s love for us is. Just being aware that we have a real connection to God, to Jesus, to the Holy Spirit, Mama Mary and the saints makes my faith more real.” Michele, who has been studying the Word since age 18 says: “In doing Bible Study, I get to appreciate the historical context by which the Scripture passage is written. For instance, Gehenna (which in the Gospel of Mark is referred to as a place “where the worms that eat do not die and the fire is never quenched”) is generally understood to mean Hell. Looking for the origin of the word in Bible Study, we learn that Gehenna was an actual place near Jerusalem in Old Testament times (2 Kings 25), where human sacrifice was performed to appease a pagan god Moloch. Hence, the worms
on decaying flesh and the fire of the furnace.” It makes vivid to the listeners of Jesus, who were Jews schooled in Old Testament accounts, what kind of place it is like when we do not have the Kingdom of Heaven. Being taught the skills in understanding Scripture is only one half of the joy that can be derived from it. Studying with others multiplies the learning as one finds out truths for one’s self and benefits from the discoveries of others. The sharing of experiences provides an added texture to Scripture. As one learns more about God, one learns more about one’s self and cannot help but be transformed. As it is written in Isaiah 55:11, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Discovering God’s Word has led some to “Become God’s Word to others.” New Bible Study groups have emerged from the group of sisters we belong to. The motherless sisters in the group, Arlene and Angga have even concretize their Biblical realizations, by establishing a “ministry of presence” in a home for elderly women, bringing medical, dental, free haircuts and manicure/pedicure services. “It made me realize that I should be mindful of my own relationship with God and my love for Him. Na dapat may gawin, hindi lang puro salita,” says Angga. Indeed, one cannot experience God’s Word and not fall in love with Him to the point of wanting to respond to His love. “Being surrounded by good and loving sisters gives me clearer picture of how God can be truly amazing and how truly blessed I am,” Arlene says.
Women of the Bible
Deeply in Love…
with Scriptures by Mich Cruz-Villar A deep love for Scriptures has led Monette de los Santos to a journey she least expected when she began her walk with the Lord. “I am a person deeply in love with Scriptures who desires to share that love to others,” she says. Monette’s desire to understand God’s word deeper started in 1983 after her renewal experience in the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP). She started with meditating on Scriptures in her prayer time, including reading the Bible starting from Genesis, hoping to cover it entirely in a few years’ time. She would also “cut” the Bible, seeking God’s words in the passage she would put her finger on.
A different turn
However, her journey towards studying the Scriptures took a different turn when she joined the Bible study group under Olga Larrazabal, a former member of Ligaya ng Panginoon. This study is called “A Call to Discipleship” by Fr. Joseph O’Brian from Orange County in California. Every year, he would literally go up the mountain to write the study of a particular book. The study took seven years to finish. Part of the commitment in that Bible study is to also share the study with others. This part of the deal did not come easy for Monette at that time, as she also looked after other responsibilities. “Although there was a nudging desire to take on the challenge of that study, being a wife and mother took center stage in my life.”
The call to share God’s word
photo credit: michael villar
It was only after the birth of her third child, Mariel, that she finally accepted the call to share the study of the Scriptures with others. She started with co-lectors in the parish she belongs to. “I felt that as proclaimers of the Word, it is imperative for us to know Scriptures.” There were thirteen of them that started that study in her house, meeting every Friday to get nourished by God’s Word. Her journey continued with a Teacher’s course in “Joy of Discovery” in Baguio with IPD (Institute for Pastoral Development). After that, in one vacation in Singapore, Carol and Bingo Soriano introduced her and her husband, Manny, to the “Bible Timeline” by
Women of the Bible Jeff Cavins. “Manny and I bought our set and our eyes were opened by a deeper understanding of the ‘big picture’ in our Salvation History.”
The Bible Timeline
And so began the teaching of the Bible Timeline course to a wider group. Manny and Monette started by inviting their parish priest, other priests in their parish in St. James and all other elders in their parish community to dinner at their home where they presented to them the Bible Timeline. They then introduced the study by starting a class for Men (handled by Manny) and a class for Women (handled by Monette) with the various BEC heads. These participants will then become the seed for introducing the study to their respective BEC’s. Today, the Bible Timeline is being conducted in the St. James Parish by a priest. In the South Sector of Ligaya ng Panginoon, where Manny is currently serving as Coordinator, the Bible Timeline course is likewise taken up within the men’s and women’s groups, which they started to introduce when Manny was still coordinator of South District A. As for Monette, she still maintains her small Bible study group of different organizations within the parish and is assisting other Bible study groups in the nearby parishes and communities. “I delight in God’s word and each study gives me a new discovery and insight I never saw before, even if I have to conduct the same study over and over again.”
Journey of Discovery
In her journey of discovering the Bible, Monette has come to appreciate a very important truth: God’s great love. “As I continue to study Scriptures, He continues to reveal Himself to me and I get to know Him better.” She further says: “How can you say you love God and yet not know of His great love? Studying Scriptures concretized the abstract. God is so much present in His word and
you can’t help but be awed by this great love.” In Isaiah 55:10-11, it says that God’s Word is not empty. It will accomplish the work and purpose for which it was sent. Looking back at her journey of spreading God’s word with others through Bible study, Monette can only aspire for one thing: “I just hope that in my spiritual life, the purpose which God has entrusted to me is accomplished.”
How can you say you love God and yet not know of His great love? Studying Scriptures concretized the abstract.
Interested in Bible Study? Monette recommends the following tools to get you started: • Ascension Press’s Jeff Cavins’ series • Scott Hahn’s Bible series in DVD’s • Agape Bible study for Catholics – available online • Joy of Discovery • Serendipity Bible While there are many options and tools available for studying the Bible, Monette suggests that you get into a Bible study that suits you - your style of learning and your time constraint. More importantly, pray that God may direct you to a Bible study of His choice.
Heart Works Reflecting God’s Word in Mixed Media
by Mae Abiva-Leung
Everyday, Patsy Paterno wakes up early to pray, reflect and “write down” God’s words - through mixed media arts. It wasn’t always that way. Patsy started writing a diary in grade school, and has not stopped since. But in 2006, Patsy realized that the things she wrote about were not connected to her prayer life. “How come I pray in the morning and by 10am, I cannot remember what I prayed about?” she wondered then. So Patsy decided to find ways on how to help her remember her “prayer time” and to connect it with her life. Patsy’s faith journal started simply with paint, cutouts and collages and the Bible verse that touched her. The artwork helped her visualize God’s word to her. “My journals are like scrapbooks of my journey with the Lord. Since I did it every day, somehow God honored my doing it…it has since developed and changed,” she says. Through the years, Patsy has developed her own art style but still continues to improve her craft by practicing and doing it everyday.
BUBBLING WITH JOY
These are the words that best describe how Patsy feels when she is praying and reflecting on God’s words. She really looks forward to spending time with God. “Prayer is really a means of connecting to God in whatever way we can. It’s a way of getting to know Him, His ways, His thoughts, so I can trust Him and obey Him. I know that God wants to bless me and He can bless me more if I understand what He wants of me, what He wants me to do. It’s also a way where I allow God to get close to me.” Her relationship with God continues to deepen as she reads, reflects, embraces and applies God’s teachings in her life. And an important part of her prayer time is to record her reflections and interpret a Bible verse into an artwork. It is through her mixed media art that God’s words are embedded in her journals and in her heart.
TOUCHED AND BLESSED
Initially, Patsy was shy to share her artworks. However, many people who saw them were touched and blessed by them. Their positive responses encouraged her to share her artwork through her Facebook wall, Twitter page and blog. A seed was planted in her heart. Patsy took it as a mission to share her artworks so that people may be inspired, evangelized and be reminded of God’s love in their lives. No longer shy to share, Patsy seizes every opportunity to share God’s words through her artworks. She even happily shares her techniques to other people, as she wants to spread the joy she feels whenever she prays and makes her journals. She holds painting parties or holds seminars to encourage other people to discover their own creativity and to learn an alternative and fun way of praying and “journaling” their thoughts. Prayer time has never been the same again for the people Patsy taught and touched. They have discovered how creative, meaningful and different a prayer time can be. Patsy implores: “Creativity can be expressed in cooking, singing, dancing. Use the gifts of God! We are our Father’s daughter and we should try to emulate Him. He is a creator. We are most happy when we are using the gifts that He has given us. The gifts of creation, whatever it is, we should use it.” Many people would tell her: “Hindi ako marunong, hindi ko kaya.” But she would lovingly encourage them. “You find your voice in writing or in art. If you really continue to do it, something is going to happen. I believe God was working with me. It would not have happened otherwise.” What’s next for Patsy? She dreams of publishing a book compiling her artworks. Who would have thought that the discovery of mixed media art as a means to embed God’s word in her heart would turn into something big? What began as art as a “means to remember God’s words” for Patsy has blossomed into a “means to evangelize God’s words”.
TRUE NORTH BEAT 2
Where can we find Patsy? Blog: http://patsypat.blogspot.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ patricia.paterno Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ patsypat/ Instagram: http://instagram.com/ patriciapaterno Twitter: https://twitter.com/patsypat Tumbler: http://patsypat.tumblr.com/ Blog: http://papemelroti.blogspot.com
Photo Credit: Robert Alejandro
Patsy Paterno is a covenanted member of Ligaya ng Panginoon NDA district. She is married to Luigi and has a son named Josh. She works in their family owned business-Papemelroti.
A Woman Of Substance,
A Woman Of God She is a lawyer, Company President, Scripture authority and a longtime Nora Aunor fan all rolled into one. By the world’s standards, she is one who can be called more than accomplished. Yet, Ma. Lourdes “Lou” Dabao-Sitaca, or fondly called “Inday Lou” by the Community sisters, really sees herself as God’s daughter and servant, journeying to discover and do the Lord’s will for her. Here’s Lou with answers that showcase the depth of her love for the Lord and the sense of humor that always goes with it.
You now project what you fondly call a “tweetums” image. What was Lou like pre-conversion?
There was a period in my life when I favored dark clothes and dared to have a “punk” haircut. I still remember the shock on the faces of my fellow law students when I first entered law school sporting my “spiked hair”. Years later, a couple of my classmates told me they did not think I would make it through law school looking the way I did.
Why is it hard to be a lawyer and a Christian? How have you managed this balance?
First, let me say that there are many lawyers who are good Christians. However, many lawyers struggle with balancing the directive of their clients to win at all costs while upholding Christian principles and legal ethics. The Philippine judicial and legal system, while already undergoing a lot of reform, does not encourage righteousness. I am grateful to have worked, and be working, in organizations that have clear guidelines against corruption and immorality.
If God made you a man, what do you think you would be doing?
I think I would be a Servants of the Word (SW) brother. A number of the brothers, like Francis (Iturralde), John (Keating), Ken (Noecker), Raoul (Roncal) and Jake (Yap), have been, and continue to be, very influential in my spiritual life. It would not have been farfetched for me to have joined them if I had met them as a man at the age I did.
Why Nora Aunor and not Vilma Santos? What’s your favorite movie of hers?
I like Nora because she is ordinary-looking but extraordinarily-talented. Her giftedness transcends her physical attributes so one cannot help but be drawn to every character she plays. Vilma is a good actress but I find Nora more intelligent and insightful, at least when it comes to acting. Of her many movies, my favorites are Himala (1982) and Bona (1980).
What’s a movie that made you cry buckets of tears?
Immediately, “The Passion of the Christ” (2004) comes to mind. But movies that have to do with the Holocaust like “Schindler’s List” (1993) have had a similar effect.
How are you as a boss of your company, CD Asia? Did this help in your evangelization efforts?
I am a strict boss. I might even say, a “masungit” one. However, our employees know I am strict because I want them to be good at what they do and I get “sungit” only if they are not giving their best. My being a boss helps in our evangelization efforts. I can “require” attendance in companysponsored spiritual activities like our quarterly recollections. I ensure most office activities begin and end with a prayer. When I have the opportunity to address our employees ( and they have no choice but to listen), I make sure I talk about God. All our employees know our company is dedicated to the Lord and we strive to apply Christian principles in all our dealings.
How do you deal with stress? What do you do for your "me" time?
My best weapon against stress is prayer. When I am overwhelmed by circumstances, I take a few moments to reconnect with God. For “me” time, I read (books by Christian authors, crime and mystery novels and short stories), rest (sleep), and play word (Scrabble) and computer (Candy Crush) games.
Describe yourself as a wife to Kent (Sitaca). Are you submissive?
I try my very best to be a good and supportive wife to Kent (currently Central District D Coordinator). I try to grab every opportunity to serve him which are limited because we are both busy with work and service. I think I succeed at being submissive more often than not. Not sure if he will agree with my answer, so please ask him .
You are a recognized Bible Quiz authority in community. Whose conversion story inspired you the most?
The story of Mary of Magdala is very inspiring to me – from a woman healed of seven (7) demons, she became Jesus’ disciple to the end. After Jesus touched her life, she never looked back and was with Him to the cross. No wonder she had the privilege of being one of the first witnesses that He had resurrected.
What do you think is God’s will for you? From a scale of 1-10, how far have you gone?
I believe God’s will for me is to be a disciple on mission. But whereas before I thought being a missionary only meant being sent out to a foreign land to evangelize unbelievers, I now know it means bringing Christ wherever I am situated. Often, I take two steps forward and one step back in this regard. I often dream of doing great things for God but when the opportunities come, I would question my capabilities. I would therefore rate myself a “middle-of-the-road 5” at this point. God’s word for me this year is MORE and the prophecy “I have built you for more than this” is a constant reminder I need to get out of my comfort zone and do more. After all, God’s grace is always available and abundant.
BONUS QUESTION: This being a Women’s Issue, let me end with a Miss Universe question, what is the essence of a woman?
For me, the essence of being a woman is being aware of your worth, roles and giftedness, upholding your sexuality the way it was meant to be, and living out the life you have well, honouring your Creator as you do. I doubt, though, if I would have answered this way if I only had a few seconds as the Miss Universe contestants do.