Sunday, March 15, 2020

Faith Response in the Time of Covid19

I work in Southern Isabela Medical Center. I had the privelege of working with several hardworking and dedicated Methodist healthworkers. One of them is the Chief Nurse of our hospital, Ma'am Jennifer Manuel.

Mam Jen is from San Gabriel. She was raised in a United Methodist family. She started working as a nurse in the LGU hospital then moved to work with the DOH retained hospital.

When the Covid19 outbreak began, I was tasked to activate the Incident Command System of the hospital. Mam Jen is one of the key personnel that helped our hospital organize the necessary teams and units that will implement the Covid19 response of our hospital. Even though most of the people were overtaken by fear, she willingly worked. It was evident that he faith was the driving force for her to do her work. On the first week, we had to scramble and work fast to identify the physical resource we had and the complementing human resource to man the Covid19 areas.

Isolation Covid19 rooms had to be convereted from ordinary ward rooms. We also had to pull out our nurses and healthworkers then assign them to each respective isolations rooms. Mam Jen was very patient in planning and organizing the needed restructuring of our hospital services even if we had to work overtime. Her faith is obviously making her calm and composed in this time of crisis. That week, she would come early everyday and did not take any weekend off to make sure the hospital is Covid19 ready. The hospital was able to effeciently use our resources and open our services to help many PUIs and Covid19 patients.

It is very inspiring to see a fellow healthworker work passionately and becoming the hands and feet of Jesus in this world. Healing miracles still do happen. Mam Jen illustrates to us how one's chosen profession can be our ministry as a faithful child of God.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Judge and Health Advocate

I was invited by Judge Benjamin Turgano, the President of the Wesleyan University - Philippines, to give an academic lecture on HIV and AIDS as part of their 74th Anniversary Celebration.

Judge Turgano is a Pastor's Kid. I was introduced to him by my father and had that connection with him as a fellow PK. Since then, I have several opportunities to work with him in the different ministries of the church. One very important event was when he was the Central Conference lay leader and they were organizing a Quadrennial Plan for the Philippine Central conference back in 2012. I asked Judge Turgano if I can be part of that very important event in the life of the church even as an observer. He made sure I was invited as part of the health sector.

During that important planning event, we were able to outline the key health ministries that needs to be the focus of the church. We identified an interagency task force to implement a Central Conference wide health program. They asked me to spearhead that interagency group. As a young and idealistic health minister, I shared with Judge Turgano my thoughts about what the church can do to have effective and efficient in health ministries. I was inspired and challenged by his words that keeps me going even to this day. I can still hear him say to me, "what's keeping you from pursuing your proposed health ministries of the church?" I told him my worries and he said, "you got the support that you need." Indeed, since then, health ministries are always on agenda in the Central Conference matters. Judge Turgano was very supportive of the plan and he adopted and pushed for the scaling-up of the "Local Church as a Health Ministry Oupost" program.

The HIV program was one of the advocacy programs we recognized to be an important local church ministry that should be adopted by churches at that time. Immediately, Judge Turgano coordinated with different church agencies including the BCED and the BOWW to scale-up a national HIV awareness program among churches.

Several years later, Judge Turgano is still one of the church's most supportive leader in promoting church health programs especially in raising HIV awareness in the community.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Four Things to Know about Vesper Service in North QC District

We were looking for a Vesper Service in the North Quezon City District. I know of several big churches in the area but I am not sure which one has a Vesper Service. So here are four things to know about Vesper Services in QCPACE:
  1. We used to attend the Vesper Service in Lagro UMC and we were planning to attend that. As we were on our way avoiding traffic along SM Fairview, we were informed that Lagro UMC have moved the schedule earlier at 4PM, so we missed it already. The schedule would not be suitable for many who has 6:00 PM as the preferred time but it may work for others. Anyway, it was still early 6 PM so my family was trying to find a nearby church in the area. 
  2. Leave for church early. I tried driving around the city but traffic was terrible with all the MRT construction along Commonwealth Ave. I even got stuck along Zabarte trying to get to Deparo UMC. i had to turn around anticipating that I won't make it to 6:30 to any Vesper service if I stay in that road. 
  3. By God's grace, we received a text that Fairview Park UMC has Vesper at 6:30 PM. I turned around back to Commonwealth Ave. The church may not be along the main highways but it is really accessible. If you commute, you just drop at FCM along Fairview Road and take a tricycle that will bring you to the church. If you are driving from the South, it is easy to follow the church signs. From Commonwealth Ave take a left at Regalado Avenue with the Caltex Station as your marker. Turn right at Dahlia St. when you see Jollibee at the corner. Take another left in Lila St. with the Petron Gas station as your marker. And you will see the sign going to the Fairview Park UMC around 100 meters later.
  4. Church service starts on time. Don't be late.

For those who prefers to worship at night. Here is a place to go in Quezon City. The people called United Methodist in this church are very warm and welcoming.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Three Things to Love about Child Friendly Worship Services in Isabela

I have always advocated for the inclusion of children in the worship service. The worship is not exclusive for adults only. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14 NIV) That is why I love attending worship services in Isabela because they are intentional in being inclusive of children. Here are three things I love about our Child-Friendly Worship Services:

  1. One of the Methodist tradition I appreciate is allowing the children to take part in the Lord's Supper. In fact, children are called first to take the Holy Communion before the adults. 
  2. Another thing that I truly appreciate is the participation of the children in the litrugy. These churches make sure that during the worship service, the kids are part of the Litrugy with their participation in the lighting of candles and opening of the Bible. These seems a small task but this ritual is very formative and sends a strong message on the role of children in worship. I especially admire churches that have included children and junior youth in the choir.
  3. Another thing that I love about churches is the importance given to the growth and development of children. While there is Sunday School, it is important to have a dedicated time for children during worship even with a simple prayer time for them. The churches here in Isabela have Children's moments for teaching kids about the Lectionary Readings at least once a month or have a prayer time for chldren alternatively. 

Santiago Central United Methodist Church is one of the churches in Isabela that has continued this practice of allowing kids to take part in the Lord's Supper and giving them a space in worship. If you want to bring your kids during the First Sunday of the Month for Holy Communion, they have 2 worship services in the morning (7 AM and 9 AM) and another Vesper Service in the afternoon at 6 PM.

Santiago Central UMC is located along Abuag St in downtown Santiago City.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

3 Things to Know about Wesleyan Heritage in Surigao City

There is no United Methodist Church in Surigao City. Do not worry. You will still not miss your worship service when you visit this region. There are many Protestant churches in this area that shares a Wesleyan heritage with the United Methodist Church. So here are three things to remember about our Wesleyan heritage:

  1. We share a lot of common things with other faith denominations that share our Wesleyan heritage. That includes the liturgy, the hymns, and even the church architecture all feels familiar. You won't feel like a stranger when you visit other denominations that share our heritage. 
  2. The closest church with a Wesleyan heritage is the United Church of Chirst in the Philippines that shares a rich history with the United Methodist Church in the Philippines. In fact, they have close historical ties with the Methodist Church and the United Bretheren as part of the merging churches that formed the UCCP in 1948. 
  3. We can participate in their sacrament of Holy Communion. When we were in Surigao, we had our worship service with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines as we also celebrated the marriage of my brother in the same church. The co-celebrant of the communion was shared between the clergy of the UMC and the UCCP. As our Wesleyan heriate, the table of the Lord is open for all those who believe in Christ as divine Lord and Savior. The worship service was such a blessing. It helped that the congregation was very helpful and welcoming too.

The UCCP in Surigao is a big church with the first floor serving as a school with multipurpose classrooms. The second floor is the sanctuary which is beautifully designed to host more than a hundred worshippers.

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Surigao is located along Narciso St., Downtown Surigao City.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Five things to do when you visit Tuguegarao City Central UMC

I usually visit Tuguegarao City because it is the homeplace of my wife. My family usually spends the summer here. The city has still that old city feel whenever you go to the downtown area. But the landscape is changing with new buildings and large malls in the new busy districts of the busy. Even the landmark Tuguegarao Central United Methodist Church along Bonifacio St. is having a facelift. But never miss the other things that make your Tuguegarao visit memorable.

Here are five things you should try in Tuguegarao City:

  1. Try the Pansit Batil Patong. There are pansiteria offering this speciality in almost every corner of the City. But I would recommend the one near the airport. 
  2. Try the Kalesa. Unlike in Manila, the kalesa is still available as a common mode of transport. Each kalesa can seat 2 to 3 individuals. Maybe 4 if there are kids.
  3. This is tricylce city. Avoid the word "Capacity" though. The word means you pay for the whole cost of fare if the tricycle was full capacity of passengers. 
  4. Chicharabao. Visit the Lighthouse cooperative in downtown Tuguegarao for the best tasting and quality products of carabeef and chicharon carabao. 
  5. Worship at Tuguegarao Central UMC, one of the landmark of the city. This church has been home to several weddings, baptisms and other memorable events for many Cagayanons. There are four worship services in this church. The first is at 6:30 AM with the Ibanag Service followed by the 8:30 Service of the Ilocano then followed by the 10:30 English Service. There is a Vesper Service at 5:30 PM. 
Photo Credit: Google Maps
While the church is building a new sanctuary, the services are currently held a few blocks away at the Methodist Christian School of Tuguegarao located along del Rosario St. near Univesity of Cagayan Valley in College Avenue. Parking space is available at John Wesley College which is a few blocks away from the church. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Don't miss out these 3 things in Olango Island

I was excited to go to Olango Island in Cebu. I have been there before to see the Bird Sanctuary. But there are more to that that makes me want to go back. We went to visit a small congregation in the island. The church organized a revival worship. Together with us were some Christian friends from Michigan. It was a great experience to be in the island already, it was much more inspiring to meet the people called United Methodists in Olango Island.

Here are the three things that you must do so you will not miss out when you visit Olango Island:

1. Try eating the local seafoods. You may have eaten shells before but you will never forget how the taste of the spider shells from Olango. They are freshly harvested everyday. No, they are not your typical shells sold in the market. It was only here that I tasted those kind of shells and it was delicious. You have to eat it with your bare hands. Then partner that with the healthy seaweeds dipped in vinegar. Yummyyy... Then, partner your sumptous meal with a fresh buko juice picked straight from the coconut tree. You will love it. 

2. Bring your sunglasses. The island feel is awesome. It is February and the weather is unusually cold. It goes as low as 15 degress Celsius if you are in the city. But the island offers a different feel. The warm wind that blows from the sea is a welcome atmosphere. During the boat ride going to the Island, enjoy the seabreeze that is so relaxing especially in the afternoon. We took the tricycle to go inside the island village. Since the church was located inside the village, we had to walk around the houses. The morning heat of the sun is a welcome touch of the tropical paradise. You can never get enough of it.

3. Worship with the locals. The people there are amazing. We know that Filipinos are friendly. But the faith of the people in Olango Island are inspiring. They live in an almost isolated island with few people among them yet their faith is that of a thousand. When we worshiped and gave praised to God in their little church, as if a thousand people were with us. Their zeal and passion to glorify God with all the bounty that they have in the island reminds you the joy in the simplicity of life. It reminds me of the Gospel of Matthew 6, "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.... Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."