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?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Antidote for an Unhealthy Life

I have been asked to write an article about Christmas. As I was browsing some of my notes, I came across this old article I wrote years ago about healthy living. This thought has been formative on my understanding of the relationship of the body and spirit. Let me share it with you again.

We want to be healthy, especially during the “- ber” months. Fever, cough and colds are common during this season and we don’t want to get sick. That is why whenever we don’t feel well, feel weak, have body pains or other symptoms, we immediately take medicines that will help us feel better. It is good that we have access to capsules and syrups that help us get rid of the harmful elements in our physical bodies that make us sick. But, what about our Christian well-being? How can we get rid of the things that makes us spiritually unhealthy? Every day we encounter temptations in this world that leads us to sin. We commit sinful acts that make us live unhealthy lives. Sin poisons our bodies. Is there an antidote for this poison? Is there a medicine that can help rid our bodies of the poisonous effect of sin?
Gregory of Nyssa, one of the early Christian teachers, described the Holy Eucharist as a medicine. The Holy Eucharist, or what we commonly call the Holy Communion, is a medicine that counters the deadly effect of sin. He said that the Holy Eucharist is an antidote that heals us from the poisonous sin that leads to death.
Every day, in our work, in our school, in our offices we are tempted to commit sin. These temptations make our thoughts, words and deeds acts of disobedience to God – we sin. Sin poisons our Christian well-being. Sin leads us to an unhealthy life. We need an antidote against this poison. The antidote must be something that has power to overcome sin and death. That antidote is, of course, the body and blood of Christ. This becomes the antidote because the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate on Christmas overcame death when he resurrected from the dead after three days. That body and blood of Christ is present in the elements of the Holy Communion. Remember, Jesus said, “Eat this bread for this is my body… drink from this cup for this is my blood…” Thus, partaking in the Holy Communion allows our body to assimilate the “healing effect” of the body and blood of Christ. Through the sacrament of the Holy Communion, we receive the outward sign of the inward grace from God. John Wesley emphasized that the Holy Communion is a means of grace. When we drink from the cup and partake of the bread, we are actually receiving the grace from God and the power that gets rid of the poisons of sin in our bodies. Isn’t that great? We actually have a medicine that keeps our Christian well-being healthy. And wouldn’t our bodies be healthier when we get rid of the poisons of sins frequently? Wouldn’t we be healthier if we receive God’s grace through the Holy Communion more often? After all, Jesus invited us to do it frequently when he told us to drink from the cup of the new covenant, “Do this as often as you drink, in remembrance of me. (1 Corinthians 11:25)”

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Church Role in Empowering Communities

Faith-based organizations (FBOs) can help empower the community to actively participate in improving the health condition of the society. The Comprehensive Rural Health project in Jamkhed, India is an example of how FBOs and churches can influence the health of a community (Chand & Patterson, 2007). Educating the people and influencing their behavior to choose what is healthy and beneficial to the community are strong contributions of churches and FBOs. One such field in public health is the increasing cases of maternal death around the world where the church can positively contribute to its reduction. This has been the contribution of the FBOs in India where the communities where empowered to choose facility-based deliveries with skilled birth attendants to reduce maternal death (Chand & Patterson, 2007).

It is important to measure the contribution of FBOs and any other agencies in empowering the community. Community empowerment can be measured using the five domains of empowerment including confident, inclusive, organized, cooperative, and influential (Community Development Exchange, 2008). We measure empowerment because it is important to assess if there is real community empowerment that happens in the community after health promotion programs. Real community empowerment needs a shift of power to the people where they are the ones who are able to identify the problem, sort through it, and find solutions to the problem (Lord & Hutchinson, 1993). An example of a strong involvement of the people is the community-based participatory research. This type of involvement allows learning, research finding and dissemination of results through the help of all actors in the community (Thompson, Viswanath, Molina, Warnecke, & Prelip, 2016). We see such kind of participatory research in Gbanko. In this area, community participation in health has dramatically reduced their maternal mortality rate (Gala, Umar, & Dandeebo, 2015).  FBOs are also catalyst of real community empowerment which is important in sustaining the change that takes place in the community. Evidences have shown us that deep community involvement is crucial as it provides the necessary resources to keep the program sustainable over time (Nation Online, 2013).


Community Development Exchange. (2008, April). What is Community Empowerment? (CDX, Ed.) Retrieved Octobe 18, 2018, from
Lord, J., & Hutchinson, P. (1993, Spring). The Process of Empowerment: Implications for Theory and Practice. (C. J. Health, Ed.) Retrieved October 18, 2018, from Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health:
Mbuagbaw, L., & Shurik, E. (2011, October 26). Community Particiaption in HIV and AIDS Program. (D. E. Barros, Ed.) Retrieved October 18, 2018, from
Thompson, B., Viswanath, K., Molina, Y., Warnecke, R., & Prelip, M. (2016, August 1). Strategies to Empower Communities to Reduce Health Disparities. doi:

Friday, October 5, 2018

Universal Health Care

This month is crucial in a paradigm shift on the health care system of the Philippines. We dream to have healthy communities free from preventable diseases. We dream of having an accessible and affordable health care readily available for ALL. We dream of a Universal Health Care anchored on a strong Primary Health Care.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Health Board

I traveled in the morning. I traveled at night. But the whole day was a fruitful day.

The Davao Episcopal Area was able to organize the Health Board that will over see the direction and implementation of the Health Ministry of the Church. Last September, the board elected its set of officers. We were also able to set the direction of the ministry with the identification of the priority health concerns in the area.

Freedom was remembered on the day of the declaration of the Martial Law. The DEA Health Board gave me an insight on the boundaries of freedom that we exercise. Freedom does not allow us to do what we do but rather guides us on the good that we need to do that others may benefit from.