World Read Aloud Day

“Are you busy?” I asked my friend V on the phone.  

“About to read aloud a story to my grandson,” she replied.

“You’re three months too late,” I joked. 

“What? Why?” 

“The World Read aloud Day happened on the first Wednesday of February,” I said laughing.

“There is a World Read Aloud Day?!” she was incredulous. 

“Every year,” I said in jest, “but not too many people are aware of it. Hahaha! Let me send you my blog on it,” I boasted. 

o o o

It turned out I had not written about it. It was all in my mind.  

So I called her back and said, “Sorry, the joke’s on me. I thought I had already blogged about it, but I-” 

“Totally forgot!” she supplied the missing words. 

“Hahahas” crackled from both ends of the line.  

Those two phone calls once again proved that my friend(s) and I have reached that life stage where “I totally forgot” and “It escaped my mind” are common excuses for mental lapses. 

It’s a few months too late, but let me upload screenshots of that day when I actually read aloud my book "Gone?" for kids virtually. I had more slides than what you see here, but I chose these to stress that beyond all the important benefits of reading, the most vital is: 

Kids who love books will love the Word more—with its many grace stories (awesome, fearsome; uplifting, exciting; glorious, joyous; name it)—because they will discover how God weaves all these narratives to show His great Love for them, for all.  

If you are a grandma like I am, try to read aloud a Bible story to your grandchildren often, even before they can read. 

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8 NIV)


Tangled Thoughts

Trying to keep my mind off the election results, I visited one drawer where I keep my sewing notions. What greeted me was a clutter of snaps, collar stays, needles in all sizes, threads in all colors, pins, marking pens, elastic, seam rippers—name it, I have them all in an unsorted heap. 

Now working from home, I no longer have the zest to use these once-loved thingies. They used to be my change-of-pace buddies. I would add buttons on blazers, re-hem skirts, embroider jeans and blouses, crochet trimmings for  pockets and sleeves, etc. But I have no need for decent clothes anymore. Old t-shirts and frayed shorts have taken over me.   

I stared at the tangled yarns, which reflected my tangled thoughts.           

It's been four days after the elections, and the candidates I passionately campaigned for, will not make it. There are rumors of massive cheating and the numbers do not match statisticians' figures. Despite the mammoth rallies, the awakening of the youth, and creativity shown all through the campaign from all sectors, "defeat" seems a foregone conclusion. 

What happened? This is a question in many people's mind—expressed online. The answers are too complex to unravel.  

My mom, who taught me how to sew, once said while we were untangling threads, “Actually, worse tangles happen in our minds.” 

Just a couple of hours after the polling places closed on May 9,  the election returns were shown at breakneck speed on TV, auguring a landslide loss for VP Leni and her team. 

I am quite proficient in—and enjoy—untangling threads, but not my thoughts these days.    

Mental knots have been all over social media as posted by kakampinks (allies in the campaign). One of them uploaded his self-portrait in one unbroken line. I attempted doodling in an unbroken line as well to echo my own thoughts.   

That's me, all tangled up, but struggling to smile—perhaps to never let go of hope that was symbolized by the PINK color of our campaign.      

We are the sole listeners of our thoughts, both positive and negative, that power our emotions. I read somewhere that indeed, the most complex tangles happen in our brain. That's why it is difficult to unknot them ourselves—even if those emotions, either exaggerations or over-reactions, are a total waste.  

Untying mental knots is not simple. Some get professional help. Some try self-help books. Alas, some retreat in the tangles. 

I have no panacea for tangled thoughts, not now anyway. But I am confident that by constantly listening to God’s Word over the din of confusion, His grace will help me unsnarl them.   

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)


Philippines My PINKlippines

The polling places have closed and vote transmissions have begun. 

We have cast our votes. We have taken a stand, praying on our knees that this will be a better country with new, sincere leaders who will drive us forward to a future better than the grinder we have been through in the last six years. 

It will be difficult to re-build an ailing  economy that is still saddled with the pandemic. And it will even be more difficult to improve our moral compass, which has sunk so low (with social media language and manners, plus fake videos as ugly proofs). 

But if anything, this is what the PINK campaign has taught me: look back to the old adage of “hope springs eternal.” Although it is so easy to fall in love with VP leni because of her humility, her values, work ethics, and track record, it wasn't her person we supported. It was what she represented and the hope she inspired in us. 

I, and my dear kakampink friends, are going to bed tonight hoping for . . .
  • A rose-colored Philippines—with compassionate new leaders, whose platforms that were laid out during the campaign will be fullfilled and provide people the service we so need.  
  • Better hearts—of grace-reliant citizens who will embrace the culture of radical love and volunteerism, as modeled by many during the PINK campaign. 
Before we hit the sack, I wish to thank, via virtual hugs, all co-volunteers in my close circles, who helped in various ways (why does this sound like a graduation speech?), for their passion and determination. They rubbed off on me! I will miss the urgent GCs and timelines—the assignments, to-do lists, prayer brigades, debriefings, and "cry me a river" moments, which is happening to me now, as I write this.     

All these, plus the macro view of the PINK wave, contributed to my new badge of courage: Never despair; keep praying; there is HOPE.  

The election or selection process today, May 9, is the backdrop of a political renaissance. Win or lose.
“. . . select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.” (Exodus 18:21 NLT)


It’s a PINK Day to a Mom like Me

As a mother of three sons and a grandmother of one grandson, I am basking in the glory of PINK today.     
This is the first Mother’s day that I have been greeted by hundreds of new online friends: kakampinks (co-volunteers in the campaign for VP Leni’s team).  

One is an excellent artist, whose works I was not familiar with before this PINK era—a special period for people with a common dream to work together for a rosy Philippines.  

As a kakampink, I could now freely visit Fredi Agunoy’s page, which features his paintings. A mother-and-child fan (I have several hanging on my wall by esteemed artist friends), I was drawn to his PINK series, which he titled either Rosas or Madonna.  

Rosas is VP Leni’s campaign color, and Madonna is her role at home and in the country, once elected as our presdient.  

Art pieces by artists that depict the bond of a mother and her child have always captivated me, even before I became a mother myself. Why? The unspoken message between a mother and her child is, to me, a most meaningful relationship that keeps hearts beating.   

I asked Fredi’s permission to post them, and what better time to do so than today? 

Like an an added bonus, he sent me a photo of the mural at Dingalan Artist Village, located in Fredi’s Farm at Brgy. Matawe, Dingalan, Aurora. It is the home to the Dingalan Artist Guild. 
I consider it a privilege of the highest order to have visual artists as friends. Their language is grace for the eyes and soul: balance, contrast, colors, patterns, rhythm, texture, depth of feelings, plus more.  

If you are a mom or a granny, or both, Fredi’s paintings are a tribute to you and me.   

Happy Mother’s Day!  

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future." (Proverbs 31:25 NLT) 


Profile Photos turn PINK

Am I dreaming? I thought, as I rubbed my eyes.  

Upon getting out of bed early yesterday morning, I visited my FB page. I was surprised to find my wall all PINK! Majority of my friends have changed their profile pictures, and I was even more pleasantly surprised that kith and kin, who were unPINKable in the past, have likewise joined the PINK bandwagon.

Metaphorically, they have answered the call of VP Leni and Sen Kiko to hop in the ride zooming toward a rosy future. 
Without missing a beat, before I tackled breakfast, I changed my own—a bit challenging for a non-techie, but I did it! Upload. 

After hurriedly slurping my coffee, I revisited my wall, and was surprised anew at the many heart emojis this new profile pic got and is getting—like a fountain of grace. Scrolling down, more PINK photos materialized.

And more pleasant surprises:  

Several kakampinks (online friends, whom I have never met in person) messaged me and asked how I did my profile pic. I sent the link and an easy tutorial. But some messaged back with their photos and said they are technically challenged and could I please do it for them? 

I’d do anything for the PINK campaign. 

Collages of profile pics with the same PINK frame have emerged. One claimed, “There are now over two million of these.” Whether he was kidding or not, I am borrowing some—to remind me, years from now, that at one point in our political history, social media was painted with the color PINK, visually demonstrating unity in our quest for good and honest leaders to run the country we live in. 
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1 NLT) 

Say It with PINK Placards

“Let’s go!” kakampinks (co-volunteers for VP Leni’s team) nagged me to attend the PINK rally near our place.  

“I am too old to survive the heat and the crowd,” I declined. “I’ll watch it online.”

“It’s not the same. You have to be there!” 

They’re right, of course. There is no substitute for presence—for being there. 

In any political campaign, presence is a must for candidates. And yet, the electorate has been repeatedly denied and deprived of the presence of a candidate for president and a candidate for VP during debates. These events would have been the venue for them to explain their platforms, and to showcase their astuteness, if any, to answer doubts about their qualifications.   

The grace of watching rallies online is catching details in the crowd when the camera zooms in. The placards were mind-boggling! But one (perhaps because I write books for children), although crudely written on a used carton, touched my core and will remain in my heart. 
(Rough translation: My child, when you grow up, you will read this. On March 20, 2022, I was here. I fought for your future and our country. I am standing by Leni, because she is on the side of truth; I am helping make truth prevail. Your father, Emil)  

My list of adjectives to describe all the others, which VP Leni tries to read aloud in her sorties, is long. Let me lump them in one phrase: gracious words, vintage Pinoy.   

There may not be another ennobling time in our history such as this, that's why I am documenting them.  But I am unable to translate them all to English, without losing their flavor and essence.    
On Valentine’s Day, people wear red and say it with flowers; on VP Leni-Kiko rallies, people wear pink and say it with placards. 

Both occasions are about celebrating love—of being one, of being bound by shared emotions and hope for a rosy future. 

What can be more powerful than an impassioned crowd saying it with placards?  
Oops, I just saw a placard from the Naga rally yesterday and it seems like the placard of all placards in magnitude. How on earth did they do this?! Let me upload it—like a visual P.S. 
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Proverbs 16:24 ESV 


What Will They PINK of Next?

Creativity is immeasurable.  

The breadth and depth of brilliant ideas by kakampinks (co-volunteers in the presidential campaign) can't be measured by any stretch of the imagination.  

When I hoot and applaud, believing I have seen the best, they outdo themselves over and over again. What will they think of next? 

As a creative director in my past life,  I preached creativity at every turn. “Anyone who is in this creative department should have an endless supply of light bulbs!” 
The light bulb, as we know it, is the universal symbol for innovation, intelligence, aha! moment, problem solving, and wisdom.   

It is likewise regarded as a metaphor for God’s grace. When switched on, it illumines a dark path, and suddenly, we receive a burst of enlightenment to find our way. 

I have been out of the workplace for sometime, so the inexhaustible light bulbs of VP Leni’s supporters are reminiscent of what I used to demand from my myself and my staff. But there is a chasm between then and now. 

Then: we did it for the job—we were handsomely paid for it. 

Now: kakampinks are doing it for love of country—unpaid; in fact, they shoulder the cost.   

I have no space big enough or the facility to document the slew of creative output—from over a hundred songs, testimonies, ads, books, blogs, flash mobs, works of art, and varied performances recorded on video—so I’m limiting these to only 60 representative images by kids and adults alike: 
Before I could post this blog, a photo caught my eye on FB. It won't make it to my collage, so I am uploading it solo. The caption reads, Jopay, a Sugbuanon volunteer designer for the Leni-Kiko tandem, flaunts her masterpiece at the "Kiko Rally in Cebu," May 4.  
This campaign has taught us that creativity is God’s gift to all. What one has to do is use it not for its own sake, but for serving others—in this case, creating something extraordinary to help elect good, honest leaders who will usher in a better life for all. 
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace . . .” (1 Peter 4:10 ESV) 


U.P. Beloved and Ateneo Go PINK

For one whole day (but ad infinitum for sports enthusiasts) on May 1, this rare occurence in sports was the talk of the town.  

“U.P.,” sports pages screamed, “pulled off the biggest upset of the season. The fighting maroons spoiled the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ sweep bid on the last day of the UAAP men’s basketball eliminations.” 

UP alumni and students cheered. Son #3 and wife of son #2 from Ateneo must have moped.  

I sang "UP Beloved!"* 
What’s that?! 

"UP Beloved" was the original hymn of the university, circa 1917.  It was composed by Nicanor Abelardo, considered one of the country’s greatest musicians, and written by Teogenes Velez, then a Liberal Arts student.

Sometime after I graduated from UP, the hymn was translated to Filipino: “UP Naming Mahal.” So now, when I blurt it out, UP students and young alumni ask, “UP Beloved?!” 

But I insist. Whenever there is something to celebrate about UP, I still sing the original hymn. After all, it was four years of my life on campus. I liken it to grace that never leaves you. 

This basketball bout, however, was not the only beloved factor of the event. The coming together of two rival universities as one, undivided by school loyalties, needs to be celebrated ad infinitum as well.  

Instead of donning their colors of maroon and blue, the crowd trooped to the SM MOA Arena in PINK. And as though on cue, at half time, those in PINK chanted:  “Leni Robredo! Kiko Pangilinan!” (popularized by Gab Valenciano in his electrifying song/dance numbers in Leni-Kiko rallies.) 

Turning UAAP into PINK this season is a first in the history of Philippine sports. 
Wishful thinking: 

If only we could, as a people, disregard our differences and unite in our love for a decent, competent, and honest government dedicated to our children, what a good, beloved place this would be! 
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." 1 John 4:7 ESV
 *Lyrics of UP Beloved, first stanza

U.P. beloved, thou Alma Mater dear
For thee united, our joyful voices hear
Far tho we wander, o'er island yonder
Loyal thy sons we'll ever be
Loyal thy sons we'll ever be.

Photo credits: Thank you to those who posted the images. CTTO They passed through my wall and I borrowed them for this post. 


When PINK Blossoms

“Whoever thought of PINK as VP Leni’s campaign color is a genius,” Sam, our long-time family driver, entoned, like announcing a doctrine.  

“What made you say that?” I asked, looking up from my crossword puzzle.  

“There!” he replied, slowing the car down. 

I saw clusters and rows of various pink flowers, mostly bougainvilleas (they are in our garden, too). 
And there were many others—gumamelas, lilies, marigolds, roses, etc.—swaying with the wind in yards, on the sidewalk, and over fences. 

Sam added, “He/she knew that PINK flowers bloom before and during election day. 

Hmm, I never thought of PINK that way before. But yes, like flowers, PINK has blossomed in the political campaign, despite profanities, fake news, and insults belched by trolls on social media. 

Whenever I read them (it's my self-assigned job as a keyboard warrior) and spend time blocking as many as my arthritic fingers can manage, I need to come up for air or drown. I visit my therapy lab, online sites featuring flowers, and save images of blooms I don’t normally see around:   
In the Bible, flowers symbolize beauty, growth, and life—to convey God’s grace over our fleeting life on earth.

Because life is too short, we need to make enlightened decisions, based on history and facts, in electing our next leaders. There are aren’t too many chances to do so.  

It’s amazing that many places in the country are blossoming with active citizens (from ho-hum survey numbers), whose zeal has been roused to fight for the country’s future. This is just Region IV-A or CALABARZON (provinces of Calamba, Laguna, Batangas,  Rizal, and Quezon).
Based on actual drone shots of rallies all over the country, PINK has blossomed beyond imagination!

As for me and my house, we will vote for candidates who have already done so much for the country long before politics beckoned.
“Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. Song of Songs 2:12 NIV  


Doing a World of PINK

Online trolls have been the bane of my involvement as a PINK volunteer in the political campaign that will end on May 9, election day. As a blogger on grace, I decided early on that I would comment only on positive messages with heart emojis, congratulatory lines, rah-rah phrases, and encouraging news. 

But what do I get in return? 

Curses, disrespect, insults, fallacious reasoning, smut, unreasonable hate speech, and fake information. One was a grave threat laced with expletives: “#$^% you! Go back to China where . . .” All unprintable, sewer language. I reported it to FB, but the message I got back was, “It does not violate our community standards.” 

How do I stay sane? Since it is impossible to raise the conversations to decent discourse, I do two things: 

One, block the trolls (over 3,000 now and still counting; and two, enjoy the posts of over 500 new kakampinks (kindred spirits in my quest for good and honest governance). These are images and words of wisdom, facts-laden analyses of what is and what will be. 

On the opposite side of wicked trolls are people who have elevated the PINK campaign into a crusade and are doing a world of PINK, activities that give hope to a country suffering from moral and economic collapse.  
One kakampink wrote, “Never before in the history of Philippine elections have actors, both film and theater, other artists such as musicians, dancers,skaters, painters, sculptors, filmmakers, songwriters, composers; authors, writers, game developers, educators, indigenous people (e.g. aetas,) farmers, fishermen, doctors, lawyers, dentists, student leaders and students, the LGBTQ community, youth groups, laities, sports groups, etc. etc. (i.e. PINK volunteers in general) gone this far to passionately impart their burning desire for the betterment of the Philippines and the Filipino people, especially the poor and marginalized, the children, from now through the generations to come!”  

Trolls notwithstanding, I continue to work hand-in-hand with these volunteers, because giving of ouselves for our country is doing us a world of good, too:
To my e-friends who are unfamiliar with the Philippine political scene, this is the PINK team for whom I will cast my vote, and whose tagline resonates with me: “Under a good and honest government, life will be better for everyone.” 
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9 NIV 


Touched by PINK Angels

On the first day of the lockdown, a PINK angel flew into our home, and stayed in.  
She used to be our three-times-a-week househelper, who had other jobs elsewhere. On days without her, Tony and I would hope she'd come more often, as we slaved over the housework,   

It was not easy, especially for one who wants to do nothing but write.  

Because of health protocols, our PINK angel lost her other jobs and could no longer go home. Now, as our resident angel, she not only campaigns for VP Leni, she also works non-stop to make things better: greener plants; cleaner clothes, yard, and home; yummier food; neater cabinets and shelves; happier pets . . . I can go on. (I can go on writing non-stop as well.)  

We are blessed . . .   . . . but aren't we all?  Look around! There are legions of PINK angels (angels of hope, I call them) spreading acts of kindness.
The touching stories of grace about these PINK angels—celebrities and ordinary folks, farmers and executives, young and old, rich and poor—often move me to tears.    

They donate materials, food, and other needs for rallies; go from house to house educating people about good governance; write inspiring messages on social media, newspapers, blogs, and books; produce videos, songs, and ads; dance, sing, perform; and create inspiring wonders to help in the PINK campaign. 

These photos show only a tiny fraction of their selflessness:    
Where is this spirit coming from? 

This heart-tugging, awe-inspiring art by Jason Confesor answers that question. VP Leni has, for many years, been taking men, women, and children in marginalised, far-flung areas under her wings as a development lawyer. She is therefore the role model for all other PINK angels doing good deeds for free to get her elected as our next president. Our behaviour in our varous groups is premised on her dictum to exercise radical love even to uncivil jeerers.
But VP Leni says, “No! This is not about me. I am just a symbol. It could have been anybody."  

Indeed, she symbolizes our HOPE that one day soon, the Lord will allow honest and caring leaders to transform this land into a good place. To get there, PINK angels are working and praying hard together. 
“Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? Matthew 26:53 

Photo credits: Jason Confesor, thanks again for lending me your art work; (CTTO) all photos were grabbed from the FB walls of kakampinks (kindred spirits). 


PINK Flowers Around My Heart

Two years ago, the Lord took Minna, my best cousin forever (BCF), home. I knew she was going to that forever place where everything is beautiful, safe, and trouble-free. There, she could have endless conversations with our Saviour face-to-face.  

But her loved ones still grieved. 

I grieved, not only because I will never ever have those fun times with her again, but because she was so far away, and it was impossible for me to see her one last time to say goodbye. 

And so two years later we continue to grieve. 

“The Lord never really takes away the grief,” a dear friend, who recently lost a loved one, messaged me. “He just surrounds our heart with flowers.” 

I replied to ease his pain, “In my case, those flowers are PINK.” 

He messaged back, “Ha-ha-ha!” 
Minna would have readily caught the joke. If she were here, she'd know why I am so invested in PINK these political-campaign days, and she'd have a sharp repartee.  

Sharp. That’s one of the hundreds of adjectives I used to describe her. She was a genius in accounting, a distinguished officer in a big bank n New York, a writer and poet. In 1984, she penned this poem. 
On Earth, we all have fears on many different levels, especially when we are at the crossroads and fall into the valley. But we have been promised grace . . .  

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3 NIV)

BCF, I miss you. 



PINK Plea: Vote Right for the Children

In two weeks, we will trek to the polls and vote for the officials who will lead our country in the next six years. Before we do, let us please think of our little ones. 

What the children will reap tomorrow depends on what we sow today. We need to vote right, elect role models, and leave a good place—where hard work, good values, inclusivity, and honesty are just as important as a strong economy. 

This is powerfully communicated in images by Robert Alejandro, one of the A-list artists I admire (hope to meet and thank him someday) and a kakampink (a fellow PINK volunteer), who has been producing tons of beautiful works of art for VP Leni’s team. He posts on his wall what I express in words in my books for children. 

I downloaded (all up for grabs, he said) those with children in them.  

"Why write for children?" people often ask me. I wish to help reinforce the vital values that kids learn at home, in church, and in school, or I don’t write at all. 

That’s why when artists, particularly creators for children (writers, designers, illustrators, editors, publishers, printers, musicians, translators, actors, producers, and directors), bonded together to endorse VP Leni’s Team, I wanted to be counted. 

Here is the formal endorsement of over 200 of us:  

The first paragraph of the text reads (translated from Filipino): 

"Every written story, every illustrated image, and every staged performance that we, people of the arts, create bears a collective dream and a prayer—may the work of our hearts usher in a peaceful and progressive life and future for the children."  

VP Leni, as shown in many of her photos, love children. A mother of three well-mannered daughters, and soon, by God’s merciful grace, the president of this country, she wants what is best for the children.  

On May 9, let us please shade those ballots with the future of all Filipino children in mind.   

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” (Psalm 127:3 NLT) 

Photo credits: All images, aside from Robert Alejandro's, were also borrowed (CTTO) from the Net as uploaded by kakampinks from all parts of the country. My deepest gratitude to all. 


Push for PINKclusivity

This has been the recurring message of VP Leni through the years. 

After being relentlessly vilified as VP, Leni is unfazed and repeats what she has been pushing for since day one: inclusivity.* 

*All Filipinos. Everyone. Pinclusion. Nobody left behind. 

The evolution of her team’s campaign logo illustrates this: 
I am taking the liberty of translating her statements in Filipino, on various occasions, to English:  
Her team’s campaign slogan, which she crafted herself, encapsulates all of the above: 
(Under an honest and efficient government, everyone will have a better life.) 

These, for me, are words of grace. And on Easter morning, after being belittled and badmouthed by three male candidates for president, with two male candidates for VP as witnesses, Leni issued this statement: 
Meaning, push for inclusivity! (My term: PINKclusivity)  

Again, why Leni for president? 

It is she whose values and platforms give me HOPE, as symbolised by the color PINK. It is she who  echoes God's Word on inclusivity. In her interviews and sorties, she never neglects to push it.  
"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible . . . live at peace with everyone."  Romans 12:17-18 (NIV) 

Photo credits: CTTO