Category: Uncategorized

7 things I learned as a church volunteer and a tribute to MBC

Never imagined I’d develop a working and personal relationship to a priest. Perhaps I was just lucky to be in a position that I got to work closely with a priest, being a church choir conductor and eventually an organization officer.

That’s why I am very grateful to the Lord for the gift of Rev. Msgr. Roberto C. Canlas, MBC or Mons Bobby to us volunteers and the community, Lolo Mons to Aria. To me, he was a spiritual adviser and a father figure, influencing most of my adult life as a Catholic, church volunteer, musician, and parent.

To honour Mons Bobby, here are some of the best things I learned from him and from the Shrine of Jesus community all these years. There are more, but these ones I would like to share to others who, like me, might be inspired and be reminded of, too.

1. Discipline. Mons Bobby makes this a top priority all the time. As volunteers, we should be the first examples of this to the churchgoers. Discipline in arriving early at church for Masses, meetings, or other events. Discipline in proper attire. Most of all, discipline and decorum during Holy Masses. He is being misconstrued as masungit and suplado (strict and a snob), but I totally get it when I had my own child, too. Discipline must be instilled by parents first, for who else should do this to their own children?

2. Give until it hurts. For Mons Bobby, helping is the constant call of a Christian. He would always call for a second collection or for help from volunteers whenever there are typhoons and earthquakes. He has a string of outreach activities to mark the Shrine’s Fiesta celebrations, be it medical mission, building classrooms, rebuilding communities, outreach visits to our needy brethen–in orphanages, home for the elderly, the sick. One of the most remarkable was when the Shrine raised one million pesos for the PGH Pediatric Cancer ward, and this was topbilled by a concert of the Philippine Madrigal Singers. Mons made sure all volunteers and the community, regardless of the amount given, for as long as you have done your part is more important to him.

3. Planning ahead. For me, Mons is the king of planning. He would plan out church activities at least two months before. He has a clear picture of what the liturgy would be, and delegates the tasks to the council and officers to cascade to co-volunteer members. As for me, this includes planning and properly coordinating liturgical music prior the Mass. I learned to use the Ordo, too. I used to make a lot of mistakes, but I learned from them eventually.

4. Honour and love your parents. We are witnesses to this as he honours his own, especially Nanay Pining, who lived beyond a hundred years. What blessing it is for him to have served his own mother for a long time, even with his priestly duties.

5. Pray without ceasing. There are so many things I learned from Mons Bobby about praying. Sure, we pray everyday and hear Mass, but we should be specific in our prayer. Pray before and after each meeting or activity. Pray before and after meals. Pray for our departed loved ones. Pray during difficult situations. Pray during happy moments. Pray for families, friends, and other people. Seek the intercession of Mama Mary, the holy angels and saints. The holy hour and rosary during feast days help the community pray better and focus more on Jesus.

6. Honour the priests, especially the retired and elderly. Mons taught me to love, honour, and respect our priests. He has an annual activity for retired and elderly priests, and he invites us to sing for the Holy Mass and the program to sing some songs for them. Praying for the priests and the religious vocation is the best way to honour them.

7. Attitude of Gratitude. Walang Hanggang Pasasalamat. That was our theme for his tribute program. And that’s what he teaches us to do, as he also never runs out of words and ways to thank us, too, for serving our Divine Master alongside him all these years. Truly grateful for the opportunity to serve through the gift of music the Lord bestowed on us.

Walang hanggang pasasalamat, MBC! We wish you well in your new pastoral assignment. But we pray for your health and full recovery, first and foremost. Praise Jesus for the gift of new rector to the Shrine of Jesus as well as to all the churches of the Archdiocese of Manila! No goodbyes, Mons, but we will see you soon.

Will treasure that hug he gave during our wedding day which he officiated, and that hug as we were singing Walang Hanggang Pasasalamat.

(In)security Shawls

Pardon the blurry, but I just want to get back to my writing mojo. Been quite a while, but here I go, trying to find my writing voice (yet again) in the midst of all the (social media) noise.

Back in the time when masks were not the “in” thing, my “mask” was a shawl.

Hung around my neck, around my waist, or onto my bag, I have always carried a scarf. Long ones, short ones, colourful and plain ones. I got one for each occasion that would require me to dress up and be in front of people.

I loved my shawls! Some I purchased abroad during tours, others lovingly gifted to me by family and friends. Keeps me warm when it is cold. Or to cover my nose and mouth when smoke and dust hit my face as I walk the polluted streets. Or just to accessorise.

But not anymore, I have not worn one since the pandemic began.

You see, I had a realisation that the shawls were just an accessory I can easily do away without.

So, in the middle of quarantine in 2020 and when we had to go back to serving at church, I found myself not bringing or wearing any. I realised it only a few months ago, while fixing the closet.

I then asked myself, what was I hiding with these shawls? My uneven looking body? My crooked waist, my be-pimpled neck? Will it hide my huge belly?

The shawls, I realised, felt like a rope stringing around my neck while I grasp onto my feelings of doubt, envy, hate, insecurity, weakness, fear. And as soon as I let go of that shawl, the negative feelings go with it and kept in the closet. Kept, not thrown, just like moments and memories, not to be forgotten. And worn again the next day.

I never got to touch any of the shawls for quite a while, not until I had to clean a corner of the closet which was left untouched for most of the quarantine.

And there it dawned to me, I was not anymore a prisoner of the shawls. By not wearing them, I also let go of the doubt, envy, hate, insecurity, weakness, fear.

As I was refolding and tidying my closet, I held each shawl and think about the memories I had with it. Good memories. The not so good ones were still there, not forgotten, but learned lessons from.

One of the last times I wore a shawl, a few days before the pandemic hit the country.
What’s left of the shawls. Some I have donated, some repurposed as keyboard and barre cover. And hello, Sablay! 😘🌻 best college graduation memory.

~ Touringkitty

Request Civil Registry Documents online and anytime through PSAHelpline.ph

Back in the day, I used to line up very early in the morning in the Pasay NSO Office in Macapagal Avenue to request for my Birth Certificate whenever we have a trip abroad, or for school enrollment. It would take up much of my time that sometimes I need to take a leave from school just to get one, or ask my mom to get one for me.

Things got easier, eventually. Malls have offered these services, too. However, you’d have to wait for a bit longer, and there is a bit of additional charge. Still good, compared to a whole day of lining up and picking it up.

Now, everything can be done online, anytime, and from anywhere in the Philippines, using the PSA birth certificate online application.

Website’s landing page.

The website is clean and easy to navigate. That’s always a plus for me and for most of us, for sure.

Upon clicking the Order Now button on the landing page.
I requested for a Birth Certificate for my daughter.

Enter the requested details and information, and you’ll be led to the payment options.

Conveniently pay using these channels, online and over the counter.

We received the document at home after 4 days. An ID is requested to receive the document.

You can also request for other civil registry documents such as Marriage Certificate, Death Certificate, and CENOMAR.

And there you have it! Hope ALL government agencies get to this point wherein Filipinos get quality service we truly deserve. Request your or your family’s birth certificate now through PSA birth certificate online application.

Thanks to Mommy Bloggers Philippines and PSAHelpline.ph for letting us experience this service.

Virtues over virus: A Christmas Essay

By: Ariadne M. Alcantara

Christmas is not just about the decorations and the presents we get each year. There is something much more important than all of those, and it is celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. He came into our world to save us from our sins and lead us to everlasting life. This season is a great way to make ourselves better people and to help others do so as well, and we can by spreading hope, peace, joy, and love — the virtues of the four Advent Candles.

The first candle is hope. Many of us have been affected by fear of a dangerous virus for almost two whole years. In order to help the world rise once more, we all must spread hope and continue to pray and stop the spread of COVID 19. Following health and safety protocols, getting a vaccine, and staying at home can make a small but vital contribution.

The second candle is peace. Each and every one of our lives have been drastically impacted and changed, from our career, school, and everyday life. We must try not to get too overwhelmed by all the bad things happening and maintain peace in ourselves, the family, and the world.

The third candle is joy. It is true that these are very hard and trying times and the only ways we can help are by sympathizing and praying. But even through all of this we have to stay positive and help others be happy, too. Ways of doing so are by singing to our favorite songs, reading, talking to friends — anything to brighten up the day.

And finally, the greatest commandment, love. The Bible says to “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). If we love something or someone, then it means something important to us and we will do everything to protect it. This Christmas, let us learn to be more grateful for all of the blessings God has given us, and to learn to love others, too, especially those in need.

If we continue to spread these things, then we will get through every single problem and lead a meaningful life. Merry Christmas to all and happy holidays!!!

The importance of getting a vaccine

New covid 19 variants are rising, and it turns out that these new variants can infect a lot more people at once. Because of this, we must continue to protect ourselves from getting sick, and a way of doing so is by getting a vaccine.

Whether covid vaccine or not, vaccines are essential in giving you extra protection against a sickness. They usually give you a high chance of being immune. But even if we are vaccinated, we must not be careless and still follow health protocols. It is really difficult to get sick, especially in this time of pandemic, so we must do everything we can to stay safe.

Another reason why we must get vaccinated against covid 19 is because we must protect our friends and family. The new covid variants are much more infectious than the original virus, so we must get vaccinated to keep our loved ones safe.

Whatever covid vaccine is available, we must take any opportunity to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and, of course, we must make sure it is approved by our doctors and health workers. It is also important to remember not to judge a vaccine by its brand. Having a vaccine is vital to protect ourselves, and doing this is better than having no vaccine just because you do not like the brand. And of course, we must have the freedom to make this decision and not let others force us.

Still, many people are afraid, so we have to spread truth and hope to others by sharing true news about what is happening around the world, politely reminding others to follow minimum health standards, and to get vaccinated to end the pandemic.

~ Aria

Voting for the elections

The 2022 elections are coming up here in the Philippines, and many people are planning to vote. But other than voting, we must ensure that we vote wisely and look for the right people to lead our country.

First of all, a good leader must be a good example to others. If someone has a sufficient amount of kindness, compassion, generosity, courage, and leadership, then that person will succeed in a lot of things and is someone who we should think of voting for. We, too, must learn from that person and live a dignified life as well.

Second, a good leader must make the right decisions for the country. If one of the candidates wants to improve things like sheltering homeless people, preventing crimes, or making sure people are being treated equally, then they can be trusted to lead the Philippines. On the other hand, if someone just wants to make these problems worse, then it shall greatly affect the nation.

Finally, a good leader must have proper reasons for wanting to join the elections. An example of these reasons is helping our country improve and prosper, and we should keep this in mind, too.

In conclusion, we can all make a contribution to build a better Philippines. Even if some of us are unable to vote yet, we can also help by praying for and giving guidance to others who can vote. We all have a role to play in these times, so let us not waste this opportunity to help our country, for this can affect not only us, but the whole nation and our future.

A, 11 years old

Ariadne turned 11!

We have an eleven year old! We just blinked and suddenly Aria is 11. Where did time actually go?!

We always ask Aria what she would like to do for her birthdays, or at least make her part of the planning when she was smaller. This time, everything for her celebration she planned by herself, and we just executed and supported her decisions.

On the first of August, when the hard lockdown was once again in effect, we asked her what she wanted to do. The first thing she had in mind: a birthday concert! And that she wanted to play violin, me play piano, and daddy play guitar for her.

She also asked if she can have a party for her friends online, similar to what we did last year. We cannot do this on her actual birthday, aside from it being her concert night, it was a schoolday, so we had it done the Sunday before her birthday.

Daddy chimed in the idea of sending food to her friends, so we did, with the help of Mcdonald’s McDelivery Send to Many. And since it was our first time to do this, we did it late, with some orders being made on the day of the party, but nevertheless, all orders were sent out successfully! Everyone had food to eat while the games were ongoing!

The party was a hit, kids from our different communities got to know each other and played with each other. Each of us prepared and facilitated the games – Pictionary via Zoom whiteboard, Alphabet Soup, and Kahoot, which Aria facilitated and was a big hit, that some kids played several more rounds after the party. It was so fun!

Our theme was Japan, as Aria’s latest favourite is Rurouni Kenshin, which she and her dad watched on Netflix on weekend (sometimes weekday) evenings after dinner, while I was still attending workshops or working.

BIRTHDAY CONCERT

On the day of her birthday, we had online mass and her favourite food delivered. Mommy took a day off from the kitchen! After lunch we began setting up and preparing for the highlight of her birthday–the concert!

The repertoire consisted of violin music and songs. She chose her most loved Suzuki pieces, and songs she sung with Daddy playing guitar or singing with her. We had to perform something with the three of us, so we decided on You raise me up by Josh Groban. So proud of how she put the repertoire together, and emceed a bit as well.

To make the concert more meaningful, we put up a donation drive, where viewers may donate any amount for Aria’s chosen charities. She chose Hospicio de San Jose, Philippine General Hospital, the Trappist Monastery in Guimaras, and the Shrine of Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

She truly enjoyed performing! Far off from when I was eleven. I mean, I have played for piano recitals, even danced the Binasuan by myself at that age, but performing for me back then was more like a chore. Aria, meanwhile, enjoys performing and rehearsing for it.

I am just so proud of this little lady, how she’s thrived especially with this situation we have. Her creativity, positivity, and religiosity sparked all the more, and we, her parents, are just in awe.

Watch her concert here: https://youtu.be/DVDSX_8kMS8


No time to grieve

19 years has passed since Papa went back to the Heavenly Creator.

I clearly remember everything that transpired that week–from the day we visited him–our last time to talk with him– to the day he passed on two days after that visit–his birthday, and until after he was laid to eternal rest.

BREAKING THE NEWS

It was a normal school day for me and my sister, and normal work day for my mom. Mom received the news while at work, and had to shepherd my sister and I back home. I was in the university at that time, an hour away from home, and had to hurry back just as I arrived school, clueless as to what was happening. As I arrived home, that’s when they broke to me the sad news.

It came as a surprise, as Papa was even excited for his upcoming birthday when we saw him. But thinking about it, it was probably a sign–it was enough that he saw us before he passed on.

AUTOPILOT

Mama had to be on top of wake and burial preparations. Looking back, she was really a SuperMama for doing everything, despite the situation and circumstance back then. She barely sleep, super tired, and seemed like she was on autopilot. She had solutions to everything, and we were really so grateful for family and friends who supported and assisted us.

And since she was too preoccupied, she had to leave the Eulogy to me. Writing it was one thing, reading it in front of so many people was another, and a tough act to do.

NO TIME TO GRIEVE

After the burial, we went home, heard Mass the following day (which was a Sunday), and went back to work and school on Monday. My sister and I had to catch up on missed school days, quizzes and exams. I recall now, every Saturday after that was spent on general cleaning at home. Some evenings, we spent laughing at classic Papa moments. We rarely saw Mama cry. But when she does, she has few tears. Or none, as she has dry eyes.

Or probably, the general cleaning was her grieving. But we know she has to grieve at some point, too.

She lost a baby boy seven months in her womb, two years after I was born. She probably didn’t grieve properly yet with that, I’m not sure.

She had no time to grieve.

She had to work for me and my sister who had to study. And probably, she carried this grief for always.

My sister and I probably had no time to grieve, too. We got back to school immediately and had to study really well, cos Mama singlehandedly raised us, and it’s our way of honoring and thanking our parents, especially her.

GRIEF AMBUSH

This pandemic made me discover so many dishes. As we are all quarantined at home, I have to learn to cook more types of food for my husband and daughter.

And lo and behold, I was crying during the first weeks of the lockdown last year while cooking.

I miss Papa, best cook ever.

Grief ambush. I first learned this term from a pastor friend. And yes, it attacks you at the least unexpected moments.

You’d suddenly recall a special moment, a happy one, and tears start to fall.

What do you do during these moments? Do you deny the grief? Do you acknowledge it?

I acknowledge it, cry if I must, and communicate how I feel to my family and friends.

Of course, I pray, and lift up my grief to the Lord. And pray for the eternal repose of Papa, and all our loved ones and friends who went back to the Lord ahead of us. That’s what our shrine rector and friend reminds us of always–to pray for our departed.

You know what made me even sad? Papa never saw me as a singer anymore. He passed away just as I was beginning to study for a career I never thought of doing, and I bet Papa would be the proudest and happiest if he was able to watch my shows and operas.

Papa, we love you and we will forever remember you in our prayers and in every moment we can. Sometimes I tell Aria about you, because she is so smart and witty just like you.

Thriving (and learning) at home: online summit for homeschooling and distance learning families

A lot of relatives and well-meaning (and some who are not so) friends/people have asked me and my husband WHY we homeschool. Our answer is usually simple: because we can.

And I tell you, you CAN, too, as long as you pray for it, strive for it, so you can thrive as a homeschool family, even while at home.

Technology, I must say, helped us make decisions for our family. Because resources and readings are on my fingertips literally, I can easily do my research and share a link to my husband, who is the best partner in this thing called child-rearing. We agreed on so many life-changing things like breastfeeding, attachment parenting, babywearing, and homeschooling. Now we’re going trying to be vegans. You might say, that’s going way overboard, but really, it isn’t–for us, we just make decisions for our small family.

The pandemic somewhat made it “equal footing” for all–that all learners are at home and studying. And I think attending this online summit might just help you decide better for your family. Looking at the topics and the speakers, I’d say there’s something for each one in the family. I am so grateful to the many homeschool online communities for the exchange in ideas and inspirations. Visit www.educatingforlife.net and check out #CHIPSThriveAtHome.

Educating for Life (EFL), the organizer of national homeschool conferences in the Philippines since 2014, and the creator of the Philippine Homeschool Convention and Connect Homeschooling and Intentional Parenting Summit (CHIPS), is proud to present CHIPS 2021: Thrive at Home or simply #CHIPSThriveAtHome.

Happening online via the Accelevents platform, the Summit will take place on July 30-August 1, but participants will be able to access the event anytime and learn from all the Summit talks even after the event dates, up to August 31, 2021.

#CHIPSThriveAtHome is similar to EFL’s CHIPS event last year, which was their big-scale online event created in response to the needs of families who suddenly had to face a year of strictly home-based learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Driven by this same objective to help families, #CHIPSThriveatHome will feature bite-sized learning sessions for families who are already homeschooling, exploring or preparing for homeschooling, or struggling with the challenges of their kids learning at home via distance learning. 

With talks focused on the sub-themes Thrive In Your Mind, Thrive in Learning, and Thrive in Family Relationships, EFL hopes to equip families with strategies for joyful homeschooling and distance learning. Through the specific parenting and family life topics of #CHIPSThriveAtHome, EFL hopes that more families will be able to cope—and even thrive—despite the pandemic.

The Summit’s line-up of speakers consists of both international and local speakers who will leave the participants inspired, encouraged, empowered, and equipped to start or continue their respective home-based learning journeys more than ever before. This applies to both homeschooling and distance learning families.

Below are just some of the 30+ #CHIPSThriveAtHome topics: 

  • “Well-Being Matters: Supporting Parents’-Kids’-Teens’ Mental Health” by Dr. Michele Alignay
  • “Lead Your Family to Thrive: The Importance of a Father’s Presence” by Bo Sanchez
  • “Mother Culture: How to Thrive When You’re With Your Kids 24/7” by Gina Guerrero-Roldan
  • “How to Thrive as a Solo Parent During Challenging Times” by Professor Nina Era
  • “How Homeschooling Helps Our Family’s Relationships to Thrive” by Julius and Tintin Babao
  • “How to Help Your Kids Thrive in Distance Learning” by Dr. Queena Lee-Chua
  • “Survive and Thrive: Stories of Homeschooling COVID-19 Survivors” by Joe and Rica Bonifacio
  • “How to Keep Your Family Safe Online” by Kenneth Lingan
  • “What We Learned After a Year of Distance Learning” – A Panel Discussion by Ina Arabia-Garcia, Jing jing de Guzman, Michelle Aventajado, and Pehpot Pineda
  • “The Most Important Person in Your Homeschool is You” by Julie Bogart

There will also be sessions for kids and teens. All the #CHIPSThriveAtHome topics and speakers can be seen here.

ONLINE EXPO

Besides learning from all the talks, #CHIPSThriveAtHome participants will also be able to visit the virtual expo within the Summit event platform. The expo will feature products and services that will help support families in their respective home-based learning journeys. Business owners and entrepreneurs that may be interested in joining the expo may sign up here or contact Michelle Padrelanan via michelle@educatingforlife.net.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND THE EVENT?

#CHIPSThriveAtHome is open to everyone who wishes to learn strategies for joyful homeschooling and distance learning. This includes parents, students (kids and teens), educators, and other people who see the importance of thriving in your mind, thriving in learning, and thriving in family relationships.

REGISTRATION PROCESS AND FEES

Registration is currently ongoing at www.educatingforlife.net 

The fees are below:

Early Bird Family Learning Fee: P1500

Deadline of payment to avail the early bird rate is 11.59pm July 23, 2021

Regular Family Learning Fee: P2000

Effective July 24, 2021

SPECIAL EARLY BIRD OFFER!

Right now until July 15, 2021, EFL is running a SPECIAL EARLY BIRD OFFER! Participants who will register AND pay the family learning fee of P1500 by 11.59pm on July 15 get FREE access to exclusive bonus talks worth P13,0000+++, including:

  • A live webinar on “Grit and Resilience: The Most Important Things Parents Can Do to Help the Pandemic Generation Thrive,” to be given by Dr. Queena Lee-Chua, one of the most sought-after speakers on parenting, education, and mental health in the country.
  • A “He Says, She Says” type talk on “How to Handle Family Finances During the Pandemic,” to be given by Charlie and Paula Fernandez. Charlie is a financial advisor and Paula is a child advocate who shares her husband’s passion for helping families be financially literate.

EVENT SPONSORS:

Platinum Sponsor: Peniel Integrated Christian Academy of Rizal
Silver Sponsor: HomeLife Academy
Media Partners: 
ANC 24/7
theAsianparent Philippines
WhenInManila.com

It all began with a brownie

Happy Valentine’s Day! I have no photos to share about my day today. The three of us were busy bees–at church, at home, with online choir rehearsals, ballet class, etc.

But it was a fun day, it was just busy. And I received the best gifts–the gift of music and service during the Mass, a surprise email from my little darling, and a bouquet of flowers from the man of the house. We had a hint he’s getting us flowers because he went missing after we finished online rehearsals! My mom and sister, and one of our co-volunteers gave chocolates, too.

How about me, you might ask. Of course, I got them something! Yesterday, I gave them tikoy and hopia (post-Chinese New Year treats) while today, I got them a box of brownies–the same first gift I received from my husband back when he first said he loved me.

It all began with a brownie. A box of six brownies was his first “gift” to me back when he first courted me. So, this particular store has a special place in my heart (and in my tummy!).

Not an ad. But yes, special place. With special yummy brownies, too.

He loved giving gifts. He made sure I get something during special occasions. He’s the same with Aria now, so he also gave Aria flowers to celebrate today.

Having him as my husband is the best gift. I really wouldn’t ask for more. I appreciate him more everyday, especially the past year facing this pandemic. My daughter and husband are the best quarantine buddies.

Happy Valentine’s Day again, everyone! Especially to my one true love and my little lady love. I am so blessed to witness God’s love through the two of you.

#

And, that’s it for my short Valentine’s Day post. Keeping up with the blog with one post a month (at least!), but will try with all my might to blog as often as I can. Until the next!

~ Touringkitty