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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sharing our Love at Tahanan ng Pagmamahal

It was again time to visit my favorite orphanage and share our blessings with the less fortunate kids of Tahanan ng Pagmamahal. This was already my colleagues and I's 3rd straight year of giving joy to the children (ages 3 to 15) at this shelter for wounded, orphaned, abused and abandoned children.

This is a very small shelter, housing only 18 children (latest this year, but last year there were only 12 kids) and receives no financial support from the government. They sustain the kids purely through the kindness of private donors and individuals. This is the reason why I choose to go back here every year as I feel my efforts, even small, will make a greater impact. We even had my little boy's 1st birthday at this orphanage.

I am thankful for the support of my boss in Australia for our cause. Last year, they matched our donation for the children and we were able to give more than what we expected. This year, our company, through the kind heart of the owner, Alec To, will be donating a brand new computer for the children.

We didn't have a formal program. Normally when we visit, we just mingle with the kids and try to interact with them as much as we can. It was great that they remember me by my name, since I've been visiting a couple of times already. I like the fact too, that we (my colleague Liezel and I) already know the faces against the names and the sad story why they are not with their parents. It makes our interaction with them more natural and spontaneous.

Mutya - the youngest child at the shelter. She's only 3 years old.

The kids danced and sang for us which really warmed our hearts. During the 'welcoming ceremony' where they introduced themselves one by one, some of them were very shy and almost teary-eyed when they recited their names and what they want to be when they grow up. But during the dance presentation, all the meekness and shyness somehow flew away. Even the special children (those with disabilities) participated.

We cooked a simple merienda of baked macaroni, egg salad sandwich, hotdog on stick and bought cake at Goldilocks - staple food in every children's party. We didn't want to spend a lot on the meals (opted to cook instead of ordering from Jollibee) so we can give more grocery items for them.

Aside from the groceries and other basic necessities we bought for them, we prepared individual gifts for each child. It contained various goodies they need in school and for their hygiene like underwears, socks, and slippers. We also threw in some chocolates and biscuits and dolls for the younger ones.

Like our previous visits, this one made us appreciate the life that we have and the blessings we have been given no matter how small they were. Personally, I feel lucky to be have been born to a set of responsible parents who raised me to what I am today, who provided me not only with shelter, food and education but all the affection and care one could ever hope for.

I'd like to thank my colleagues who gave their love offerings, to my friends who sent their donations for this endeavor and for sharing their time with the children. I will call for your help again next year :)

God Bless Us All! 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Different Christmas

A few days ago before Christmas, one of my friends posted in Facebook how dry she's been feeling about the holiday season. Honestly, I feel the same 'lack of vigor' for the Christmas season. The absence of a family member always bring a tinge of sadness in every occasion, and Christmas being the happiest time of the year especially for Filipinos, makes the longing even stronger. I am again missing my Dad and also my Lola, who both made Christmases extra memorable in their many unique ways.

Also, it was our first time in 10 years since The Hubby and I tied the knot that my parents-in-law didn't make it home for the holidays. My father-in-law is sick and undergoing chemotherapy, thus, traveling overseas is out of the question.

My Darling Sister too, is under tremendous stress due to her very difficult pregnancy and she and husband are literally living by the day, dreadfully awaiting what seem to be the inevitable loss of their third child. We believe and continuously pray for a miracle, after all, being without any amniotic fluid for almost two weeks and the fetus still fights with a strong heartbeat is already a miracle itself.

I also lost a friend three days before Christmas. I was supposed to meet her for cake and coffee on the 22nd and received the bad news that she had passed away on the exact same time we agreed to meet. I was shocked and saddened, especially that she died of a simple, highly treatable urinary track infection. She left three young children, ages 3, 11 and 15.

However, being a mom, I need to shun my negative emotions and focus on the reason for the season. This is the time to be thankful for what we have received throughout the year and the many blessings that we pray to come ahead. The fact that my children are sooo looking forward to Christmas is enough for me to try and make it as memorable for them as possible.

My daughter asked me a couple of weeks ago, "Mommy, why is it that we give gifts during Christmas? Is it someone's birthday?".  The innocence of her question made me smile but reflect at the same time. True, Christmas has become very commercialized these days that we value it more for the presents we receive rather than its meaning - the birth of Jesus, our Savior.

my little ones and their Christmas loots :)

Indeed, this Christmas is an extra ordinary one for our family. It may seem one for the simplest, less festive compared to the previous ones, but still we should not forget that this is not for us adults - it is for Jesus and it is for the children.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nine Mornings

I don’t remember anymore when I last attended Simbang Gabi, a nine-day early morning mass in preparation for Christmas. It starts on the early morning (usually at 4am) of 16th December and ends on the eve of Christmas (Misa De Gallo), 24th December before the traditional Noche Buena.

Many believed when one is able to complete all nine masses, he/she can make a wish and that will surely be granted. So when I was in my early teens, peer pressure and this promise of a 'wish come true' enabled me to wake up at ungodly hours in the morning and attend the mass. With eyes half-closed, we'd walk from our house to Lourdes Church, about 5 blocks away. I couldn't even remember what transpired during the whole celebration nor what the Gospel said - needless to say, I, my friends and cousins were all busy chitchatting the hour away. All we wanted was to complete the 9 mornings for our fervent Christmas wish to be granted.

Strangely, when I look back today, I have no idea anymore of the wishes I've asked and if anyone of them were ever granted. I think there was nothing material back then that I wanted so badly, else, I surely must remember it now. Was it a boy that I like? NO, I don't think so. No guy was ever worth disturbing my precious sleep for when I was 15...

Anyway, my retrospection made me realize how some people do things without even knowing why they are doing it. It made me wonder how many of those who went to church this morning really wanted to hear mass while everyone snores. My guess, maybe only half, and I am already being optimistic. Most of the time, it's the youth (teens) who does the ritual with eagerness. And sadly, we see them in pairs and use Simbang Gabi as an opportune time to date.

Simbang Gabi is a Filipino Christmas tradition that I hope will be passed on to the many generations ahead. But I wish the purpose and meaning of this practice is understood and embraced by everyone who choose to make the morning sacrifice for nine straight days.

I wish my wish will come true without me going to Simbang Gabi.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

More Than 'Good Morning!'

I have yet to see a kid who wouldn't go gaga at the sight of a playground. My kids in fact would trade a favorite toy for an hour of playtime at Kids Republic or any play area in malls.

The Hubby and I have been planning on getting a Little Tykes play set for them, but the price, oh the prices are prohibitive! So our plan was to get them a set this Christmas and tell them it's our gift for both of them.

But luck was on our side because when we attended The Hubby's company Christmas Party at the SMEX Convention Center, Toy Kingdom was also holding a grand sale. The moment I saw the sale (there were also a mega sale of shoes, clothes, and bags!) I wanted to leave the party and start my retail therapy.

BFF and I actually sneaked in for a couple of minutes to browse what we can buy and I spotted the outdoor play sets of slides and swings. But because we're in a gathering and we parked the car in another building, I had to delay buying 'til after the party.

And that was a big mistake! At 10pm, all play sets were gone except for the slides which I still grabbed because at 50% discount, it's still a good buy.

The Hubby and I went home at past 1 o'clock in the morning, but we're both excited to see the kids' reaction when they wake up and see the slides so we decided to assemble the set before we hit the bed. And yes, this was suppose to be our Christmas gift but I guess we both have low emotional quotients (EQ) :) :)

When the kids woke up, we asked them to go down immediately and seconds later we heard laughter and sounds of excited feet hurrying up the plastic stairs of the slides and the voices of the nannies reminding them to be careful.

I guess that meant they love the way Daddy and Mommy greeted them "Good Morning!".
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