9/28/2020

PVGC: Never Ever Forget (Part 2)


(This is the second and last part of an earlier blog posted four days ago.) 

Growing-up years  

Shortly thereafter, the Pilar Village Community Center, Inc. (PVCCI) was organized & registered with the SEC to run and maintain PVGC. 

And as the membership grew, so did the building. The members pooled their physical strength and resources together to erect a bigger and sturdier place of worship—continually being refurbished and improved until today.   


Then a series of movements again shook the church. Many members immigrated and worked in other lands. And some moved to bigger churches. But the few remaining families, again, walked on and never wavered, with the help of  CAMACOP pastors assigned to be our shepherds.   

Maturing phase 

There is no stopping the work of the Lord. 

Ministries have blossomed: visitation, musicales, celebration of important dates, children’s choir, Sunday School, Junior church, DVBS, all part of the programs  outlined during Church Board strategic planning sessions at the beginning of each year. 

Enlarged mission field

Village Christian Alliance School was founded to help nurture pre-school children in the ways of the Lord. 

In the year 2009, VCAS was registered with the Department of Education and was renamed ACTS (Alliance Christian School and Tutorial Services, Inc.) to include grade school. Now even with the pandemic, ACTS remains strong and ready to take on fully virtual or blended learning. 

Organizational support

Meanwhile, the PVCCI Board keeps busy and elects a Chairman yearly. Two pioneers, who never faltered in serving God despite the many trials, were: 

Atty. Ireneo Espiritu+ 

Arch. Ephraim Santos+ 

The others: Bro. Art Eugenio,  Bro, Rolly Balabagnp, Bro. Samuel Pagdilao, Sis. Bing Talahuron. Bro. Sam Pagdilao, Jr., Ley Sarinas (8 terms); Ernie Uy, (10 terms); Bro. Mario Ayon; Bro. Manuel Batto, Sis. Grace Chong, and Bro. JR Chong (8 terms).  

Aside from Pastors Franco+ and Domingo+, and Pastor Joe Dalino, there were  other lead pastors at PVGC (please refer to the timeline for names and dates).  

Year 45

Today we thank the Lord for Rev. Ralph Dulman (associate pastor) and Rev. Ariel Cole (senior pastor) who lead us in keeping the PVGC light shining. Sis. Kamilla Barbo recently joined the pastoral team as our intern pastor for kids. We praise the Lord for picking us up whenever we fall down and make us stand up again.   

Ten decades and six years since our birth, we celebrate the ministries the Lord has entrusted to us: 

    • Children: outreach program, Sunday School, VBS, ACTS, children’s Sunday worship 

    • Auxiliaries: seminars, workshops, Life Growth

    • Cottage Groups: weekly meet-ups for prayers and Bible study 

    • Elderly: Sunshine Fellowship 

    • General activities: Virtual worship every Sunday; daily prayer time; medical/dental mission; disaster relief; scholarship programs; commemoration of special occasions, and many more. 

We remember the trials and the missteps, but we remember even more vividly the days of triumphs and blessings that kept us going. We, who saw those early years, now remind our children and their children’s children . . . 

". . . when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” (James 1:2-3) 

Never ever forget what PVGC is all about.  

* * *

(Addendum: son #3, who was born five years after we found PVGC, is now chairman of the church board. And although this piece has been published online, I am uploading it here as well, so I will always remember, for as long as my mind is intact or until the Lord comes again, or until He calls me home.) 

Son #3, in front wearing blue polo barong 

9/24/2020

PVGC: Never Ever Forget (Part 1)


(Note: PVGC is Pilar Village Gospel Church, my family’s home church. This “historical” article was written for Pathway, the official newsletter of the church—now online.) 

 “. . . Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.” (Deuteronomy 4:9) 

Now nearing the age of Methuselah, I seem to be the go-to person at PVGC when it comes remembering the church’s history, But as I am not a historian—one that records exact dates and cold facts—I narrate what has been stored in my heart for 44 continuous years (2 years after PVGC’s birth), like treasures that only memory loss or death, whichever comes first, can steal.  

Call this narrative, then, a stream of consciousness voice. 

My second son was newly born when we moved to Pilar Village. The first thing we did on our first Sunday was to look for a church. What we found was a bodega spilling over with so many people, seated like sardines in makeshift pews. 

The next Sunday, I was shocked to see the bodega almost empty. There were less than a dozen people inside. The message was delivered not by the bombastic pastor the previous Sunday, but by a white-haired pastor who said the benediction in Spanish—Pastor Severino Santos+.   

There was no word about where the throng of people went, but the very next week, the few women who were in church visited our home that was still brimming with stacks of unpacked cartons.  

The visit: women's group with me and son #2
Upon seeing my piano, they chorused, “Oh, answered prayers. Now we have a church pianist!” 

We later found out that the members who left put up a UCCP church and those left behind were CAMACOP members. I belonged to two generations of UCCP members and had never heard of CAMACOP, but I felt that this was now my home church—God’s appointed place of worship where I could serve in every way I could  and where our children would grow up in the Lord.  

The birth of PVGC 

PVGC began as a small home Bible Study Group among homeowners, led by a pastor sent by CAMACOP: Pastor Francisco Franco+. A member of the group, Arch. Ephraim Santos+, offered the Pilar Village bodega, storage of construction materials, to be their place of worship. 
The lowly bodega finally had a name

It was lowly, but it was granted by the government the wide open space that allowed many possibilities. Quickly, worshipers came to honor God Sunday after Sunday—up until that Sunday two years later when majority of the people went pffft.  

The crisis worsened when Pastor Franco was suddenly called home by the Lord. CAMACOP assigned Pastor Apolonio Domingo to the rescue. But another tragedy struck: Pastor Domingo was called home, too. 

CAMACOP quickly sent a young, single, and a healthy pastor—not likely to be called home soon—to take the place of the first two. He stayed for five years. His name? Pastor Joe Dalino. 

Pastor Joe with my son #1 (left) and son #2 

(Part 2 will be uploaded four days from today, this blogsite's rhythm or frequency) 

9/20/2020

September (and Sleep) Loss


It was in the month of September when we lost dad to cancer 38 years ago. We had not commemorated his death anniversary for years and years because we (my siblings and I) have always believed in remembering his life, not his death. 

But yesterday, my younger sister, Aie, posted online dad’s photo and I sat up and remembered—especially the part of him that has now become a daily part of me. 

I have been having half-insomnia for a few years now. I say half because I sleep so well from 9 PM to 3 AM. And then I couldn’t get back to dreamland after that. 

All through my growing up years, I would see dad reading a book in the living room at three in the morning, my usual pee time. I’d quickly get back to bed and three hours later, when we had all risen and shone, he'd stir from his chair, close his book, and join us for breakfast.  

I see his image vividly in my heart now as I think of all my three o’clocks and me grabbing a book and reading, too. 

Sleep-deprived is how I describe myself today with all my tossing-and-turning and reading at dawn. 

Once long ago, I could sleep anywhere, anytime, in any position. That was when I was still in the stress-filled workplace. Sleep was my panacea. 

Between client meetings, as soon as I had stepped inside the car, my eyelids would shut off the world and I’d doze until the client’s parking lot—fresh and ready for another word-and-psyche war. 

On the drive home late at night, after a long day of production meetings and ad shoots, I would immediately snooze away the one-hour trip.  

Behind my desk, after I had discussed a storyboard with a concept team, I’d cat nap before the next team entered my office door. 

No wonder I survived the corporate pressure cooker for 20 years!  

In contrast, here I am today enjoying the things I had no time for—writing, blogging, reading, teaching some, and idling some (a lot during this Covid-19 pandemic)—but could not get the same quality of sleep that used to come unbidden.  

“You don’t need that much sleep anymore, Mom!” son #3 says to stop my incessant whining.  

He means, of course, you’re old. 

And, of course, I am. It’s been years since I left the workplace and there have been changes—as many and as much as the grace that comes with them. 

So why complain? Well, I often asked myself, What happened? 

Now I know; I took after dad. My dear Ading Aie jogged my memory. 

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . .” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

9/16/2020

Lost September

 

September is the month every writer I know looks forward to. 

This ninth month of the year holds two very important events: the Palanca Awards Night, where authors like me hobnob and celebrate with lovers of the printed word; and the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF), where my new books are launched, where I can buy all the books I saved for all year, and where I meet my readers up close.  

These two grace events are a dream, magical almost.  

September is all about excitement, joy, if not bliss. I spend all year wishing it would come sooner, counting the days when it will finally say, “I am here!” 

But this year 2020, September is lost somewhere. It didn’t come; it is nowhere to be found. 

No Palanca Awards Night, no MIBF. No September.  

In its place is the fear of being infected with the corona virus if we as much as left the safety of our home . . . 

In its place are terrifying photos on the Net of people suffering from lack of transportation and means to buy a decent meal for their families. . . 

In its place are rants on social media about an inept government . . . 

In its place are curses and fake news about how great the government is. . . 

In its place are requests for prayers for someone languishing in a hospital and needing blood to survive . . . . 

In its place are lawmakers whose eschewed priorities at this critical time of life and death can make ordinary citizens puke in disgust . . . 

I can't go on. My blood is curdling and my pulse is racing.  

Where are you?  

Will you ever come again? 

“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!” Psalm 43:5 (NLT)  

9/12/2020

Sorry We're closed


Closed is undoubtedly one of the most distressing, even depressing, words in the dictionary. When you’re raring to buy something very important from a store and right on the door is the word closed;  or when you need to withdraw some cash for an emergency from the bank and this sign greets you:   

How would you feel?  

$%$#@#!!! 

That’s exactly how my stomach churned after reading today’s news: over four million students have not enrolled and 748 private schools have closed. 

What’s sad about the word closed is that, at one time it was open. So now it means: boundary, barrier, restricted, and worst, blockade, like a fire wall or an iron curtain that divides.    

Those now-closed private schools have educated hundreds of thousands of students over the years. I know many private school owners and teachers who had been passionate about their roles, going beyond the call of duty to prepare kids for the future.  

And today, or perhaps the days thereafter, I grieve with them—not so much for the income and jobs they lost (that goes into another chamber of weeping and wailing) but for the students deprived of education that would teach them life skills, their armor in this world that has become a war zone

Parents, more than ever, upon our shoulders rests the job of educating our children from our homes. I have no how-to manual, but we can begin by reading our Bible and teaching our kids about grace and the ways of the Lord. 

Deuteronomy 6:7 tells us, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” 


9/08/2020

Right Click

 

All along I thought that “right click” meant the opposite of wrong click. 

Whenever I made a mistake or couldn't find the command for whatever I was typing, I blamed it on my fingers, which are no longer dexterous in clicking the right buttons, and my eyes, which have dimmed from overuse (or more correctly, through the passing of years).  

But when I complained—aloud, very loud, so my sons could come to my rescue without moi having to beg them—they would holler, “Right click, Mom!” 

All the more I thought they were subtly berating me for clicking the wrong button.

And then one day, I was gifted with a grace moment. One of my fingers stiffened and I accidentally clicked on my mouse’s right button. Voila! 

There cascaded a list of things that could solve all my problems: paste, paste special, synonyms, insert comments, paragraph, bullets and numbering, etc. etc.  I no longer had to spend hours and hours looking for those commands. 

Indeed there is a right click, aside from a left click, and it is not the opposite of wrong! It almost froze or rusted on me from years of under-use.

I was wildly ecstatic that I hallucinated I was now a techie, which I really was after meeting with my friends, my age. 

“Hey, I just had an amazing discovery!” I gushed. 

“What?” they chorused and held their breath.

“Right click!” I said, almost shouting with excitement. 

Again, they chorused, “There is a wrong click?!”  

I stopped and felt another grace moment: my brain has not atrophied; it continues to absorb new digital wonders. 

Who ever said technology is for the young? 


9/03/2020

Are You an Entrepreneur?

 

An entrepreneur I am not, and will never be. All my audacious attempts at “business” were a dismal failure. All my investments fell under one category: sad. So why was I excited to read “The Happy Entrepreneur,” a book by Ardy Roberto

Ardy is a friend, a faith brethren, and a writer, with whom I share a book publisher. I bask in the successes of fellow pilgrims on a writing journey, leaving tracks of words that hopefully will, as Bud Garner wrote, “echo down the ages.” 

“I have just finished writing my first novel,” Ardy told me in one author gathering. 

“A novel!” I gushed. I personally know very few people who have attempted a novel and succeeded. 

“I can’t wait to read it,” I said. 

“The Happy Entrepreneur,” published by ABS-CBN Publishing Inc., hit the bookstores a few months after that meet-up. I believe it will just be a matter of time before it becomes another bestseller like Ardy’s other books, which are contextualized (Taglish) for Filipino readers. 

What riveted me was not the thread about conglomerates but the parallel, and more moving, story of redemption. Beneath the mentoring of a business wannabe with mental issues, there lurks a triumphant tale of discipling, a mandate for followers of Christ to embrace, which shone brighter for me. 

  

Tim, a successful businessman enters into a one-on-one relationship with a not-quite-yet a believer Eddie and guides him through the Word, based on Tim's own highs and lows in the business arena.    

Here’s a made businessman, whose genuine interest in the life of a nobody makes him reach out, way beyond anyone in his shoes would be willing to go, and help a goner meet and grow in the Lord. 

This entrepreneur teaches endurance and the joy that accompanies the learning; he teaches forgiveness the way we are edified in Scripture; and most of all, he speaks the language of business when he talks about the Truth to hard-nosed businessmen like the John Gokongwei in, of all places, the clouds inside a cramped airplane.  

I have met and heard the real people (fictionalized in the book’s pages) speak about their early beginnings, and what led them to success. But it is in the book’s dialogue, peppered with Filipino words and nuances, that the power of discipling comes alive. 

The reader is invited inside the mind of Tim, who is astute about the spiritual needs and struggles of Eddie—and able to communicate them. 

In their travels together, Tim witnesses for Christ with clockwork precision, carrying the Great Commission that should be in every Christian’s soul-winning program—preceded and ended in consultation with God through prayer. 

How Ardy was able to interlace entrepreneurship with discipleship is, for me, a work of grace. May the business world, Ardy’s milieu, be blessed with Tims so that the Eddies will one day discover the right path. 

“Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:6 NLT)