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."

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Four Things to Remember if in Baguio on a weekend

We attended the Business Building Seminar in Baguio on a Saturday. The next day is Sunday, so we went to visit the United Methodist Church in Baguio City.

In case you are there on a weekend, here are four things to remember:

1. The church is right across Bagiuo General Hospital along the Palispis Highway. So when giving directions to the taxi, you gan use BGH as a landmark of where you are going. It is just right at the junction of the flyover.

2. Worship starts at 10:30 AM. They start on time so it will be wise to come around 10 minutes earlier. I also appreciate the Children's time they had during the worship service.

3. Parking is available infront of the church. However, parking can get full fast. You can park also at the side street but this can also be limited. When you are bringing your own vehicle, I suggest you come early so you can get an available slot. 

4. Church service finishes at lunch. You can have the whole afternoon to visit other tourist spots. We went to spend the afternoon in BenCab Musuem. It was a great experience for the kids to get exposed to the modern arts of BenCab and the masters. The place is also a mountain resort. The fresh air and the beautiful garden can be very calming. It is a good escape from the busy hustle of the city. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Waiting for Advent?

This article was shared in a Christian magazine. I wanted to share it with you all here online. The message is inspired by the Gospell of Luke 1:26-38. 

Who among you already had their Christmas party? How many of you opened their gifts already? How many of you have their gifts still wrapped? We are teaching our kids to also wait until Christmas. We already gave Christmas gifts to our kids as early as November, but they are not yet opened until now.  This will be the message for us this early morning.

We are on the third week of Advent. Advent is a season of waiting – hopeful waiting. I hate to break the bad news, but in the Christian calendar, it is not yet Christmas. It is still advent, the season of waiting – a time of anticipation and expectation… expecting for the coming of Jesus and anticipating for that day to celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas day, and hopeful waiting for the second coming of our Lord.

Our story this morning is about that anticipation period. The time before Mary gave birth. This is the time when Mary became pregnant and had to wait for that first Christmas.  This was about a little teenager girl. Imagine a girl – in a patriarchal society, she is considered a second class citizen. This is a child – in a society, she is innocent and without experience. She was given a task by God and the task is big – to bear a king.

Let us focus as our story tells us that Mary will be pregnant. She will be expecting. She will be waiting for nine months until the boy whom Israel has been waiting to be their messiah will be born. I remember princess Kate and prince William when she got pregnant with her baby two years ago. It was all over the news, people were excited, not only English people. People were waiting and anticipating, they even camped outside the palace and the hospital during the due month. She will be the mother of a future king. People asked, “is it going to be a boy? lalaki kaya? Healthy ba yung baby paglabas? Guapo ba?” How did the Princess feel? Ano kaya yung iniisip niya? Ano kaya yung pressure sa kanya to be expecting a baby king? But that’s for a princess. How about the commoner? Yung ordinary pregnant women?

What is it like to be expecting a baby and waiting for it to be born? I had a patient who became my friend (Gina) who wanted to get pregnant. They were expecting to get pregnant for years. They waited for the baby to be born. They got pregnant after more than 7 years of waiting. While they were waiting, they were also preparing. While waiting for the baby to be born, there needs to be preparation. As doctors, we help the family, the father, especially the mother to prepare for the coming of the newborn baby.  

Pregnancy is a time of preparation. “Nine months of preparation yan.” You need pre-natal care. We make sure the mother is healthy. Regular check up is needed to make sure no infection that will jeopardize the pregnancy. We need to provide nutritious food and vitamins to the mother. Also given is vaccine to the mother to make sure no  infection happens. Then we need to monitor the baby inside that it is healthy. We do an ultrasound. We check the movement of the baby and the position of the baby. We also tell the family to prepare a baby bag ready to be brought during the due date. We ask the mothers to prepare a duster during that day. We ask the father to prepare diapers, ready some medicines that will be necessary during the birth.

Pero hindi ko pa rin maintindihan hanggang ngayon, kapag may nanganganak at dinala sa ospital yung tatay wala pa ring tsinelas. Kapag hiningi mo yung lampin, yung mga gamit, dextrose, gamut wala daw. Wala din daw dalang pera pambili ng gamut sa botika. Emergency daw kasi kaya nakalimutan. Nine months siyang nagbuntis, they were expecting for this day for nine months pero wala pa rin preparation. Emergency pa rin. Hindi napaghandaan.

The Advent season is a time for us to prepare ourselves as we wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus. Most of us are unprepared for that coming of Jesus. As Christians we are like Mary, we are made pregnant by the Holy Spirit. That is the good news. The Holy Spirit has filled us. Within us, we bear the image of Christ. But many of us are not ready to give birth to the image of Christ.

We fear and doubt that great things will be accomplished. We cannot do it because we are too small, we are too weak. We are just simple people. The Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 winner is the youngest winner. She is a little girl. She is only a teenager, 17 years old. She is Malala Yousafzai. She is a Pakistani. She is advocating for women to be educated. She wrote a blog for this advocacy because the Taliban ban the education of girls in their country. When she became famous because of this advocacy, the Taliban tried to silence her and shoot her in the head. She survived it.

Educating little children and forming them in Christian values is a preparation for these children to become willing instruments of Gods plan. We need to prepare them early and properly to become willing instruments of God. The world will experience the saving grace of Jesus in feeding the hungry, healing the sick, pulling down the wicked, finding the lost, through the body of Christ today.

We join the anticipation of the pregnant Mary. She anticipate the birth of a child who will deliver Israel. Mary was told that his son will be the king who will reign over the house of Jacob forever. We anticipate that day when the hungry will be filled, the rich are sent empty, the sick healed, the humbled lifted. As Christians, we are made pregnant by the Holy Spirit with the image of Christ. We wait with hope, we wait with joy, we wait in solidarity with all who suffer. We wait knowing that it will come. As we wait, we know that God is with us as all of us are pregnant and filled by the Holy Spirit. The challenge for us, are we ready and willing to give birth to Jesus Christ in our life?