Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Road Trip for Christmas 2013 Part 1

This Christmas, I will be going on a road trip up North.

With my blue Vios, I will take a week long journey with my family for a Christmas celebration and fellowship. My wife and the kids, my brother and a friend rides with us. We will be travelling with my sister-in-law who will travel with her family on their car and we will meet up other family members in Nueva Ecija to complete our three vehicle convoy.

Day One - We woke up early. Our call time was 3 AM. After meeting up in McDo, we were able to hit the road at around 3:30 AM. We left early to avoid the expected traffic build up in NLEX.

The travel was smooth. We took the newly opened TPEX. The kids and my rear passengers were asleep during the trip but my wife kept me company to make sure I won't fall asleep while driving. I love long travels because it allows for good chit chats on whatever topic that may pop up. I always believe that a good conversation builds relationships and strengthens old ones.  This is a good way to catch up after being away from my family for two weeks to assist in the rehab efforts in Tacloban.

Our first stop was in Guimba. We took some shortcuts which led us to wrong directions. Good for us we were with "Magta" who helped us ask for directions. We arrived at our first stop in Guimba before 7 AM. We had a hearty breakfast of steamed vegetable and lechon paksiw prepared by the Barrientos family. At around 9 AM, we were back on the road towards Tuguegarao.

Since it was daytime, there were not too many cargo trucks travelling along the highway. This allowed us to have a speedy travel. After racing to the top of Nueve Vizcaya in Sta Fe, we took a short break to enjoy the view in Dalton Pass. It has been quite some time since I took a moment to appreciate nature. For me, mountaintop experiences always gives the perfect setting for a communion with God. Being at the top of Sta Fe, NV, looking up to heaven, it seems that God is closer to us. It is Christmas indeed for it is the time where God came to earth not only to be closer with us but to be with us.

It was now past 11 AM and we decided to have lunch in Cordon. We got there at around 2 PM. This is my favorite pitstop whenever I travel to Tuguegarao. The ambience is so cozy and relaxing. For a moment it makes me forget that I have been taking a long travel. We ordered their specialty of seafood kare-kare, fish fillet, vegetable salad among others. It was a full lunch.

The last leg will be towards Tuguegarao. We took the road via Roxas to save some time. It was already 3 PM and we don't want to be travelling before the sun sets. But the day is shorter and the nights are longer in December. It was only 5 PM but the sky is already getting dusky and dark. I don't have my glasses and I don't want to drive in the dark. Good for me that I am sandwiched in between our convoy. This helped me be guided in the road. We finally arrived at Tuguagarao safely at 8 PM. We were welcomed by my In-Laws and we feasted on seafoods and vegetables they prepared for us.  


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Are you the one who is to come?

Today is the third Sunday of Advent. The Gospel lesson comes from Matthew 11:2-11. This is a timely story to tell for all of us doing relief and rehabilitation in Leyte for the Typhoon Yolanda affected areas.

The story is about the disciples of John who went to ask Jesus if he is the messiah or is it somebody else. They know he is doing great things, helping the people, healing the sick, feeding the hungry and water to the thirsty. Yet, they are not sure if he is the messiah. John was pretty sure that his cousin, Jesus, was the anointed one by the Holy Spirit because he baptized Jesus himself. But, John is now in prison and he has doubts.

John has doubts. Whenever things go wrong, we doubt God. We are Christians, and likeJohn we believe in God. But, when things go wrong we doubt and ask, why would God let it happen to us if he loves us? Why would God let the corrupt suffer if he is just? Why would God allowed destruction if he is powerful?

We are like John, we have also doubts. Especially whenever we are in prison, like John. The bad things that happen to us could be considered our prison. Our prison could be financial burden, failed relationships, unrealized goals and targets and being sick or a love one with poor health. We focus on our situation and we fail to recognize who God is.

Why did John doubt if Jesus was really the messiah? Because John was expecting Jesus as the messiah to be able to help him. John had expectations of Jesus and they were not met. Expectations were big, and when they are not met, they fall big.

We believe in God and expect God to do certain things as our God. When our expectations of what our God should be able to do are not accomplished, we doubt if God and ask why did he allow it to happen?

The strategic targets for our organizations, the cluster targets and other deliverable are not according to our expectations. We are frustrated because we know we are doing this as part of God's ministry to the little children and their families. We doubt God because God is not helping us accomplish our plans.

We forget that God works according to God's own plan and not on our plan. God is expected to do the things God plans to do and not on our expectations and plans. We are blinded by our prison that we could not see the whole picture just as God does.

Whenever we are in doubt because our expectations of God's rewards for our hardwork, God's blessings on our faithfulness, and all the other expectations were not met, let us remember that God remains a God. And God is working according to God's masterplan which is better than ours.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Different Encounter with God this December

December is always unique and special. Yesterday, I had a different encounter with God. We went to the House of Refuge but it was not a church. There were songs of praise and worship but there were also sounds of laughter and joy. There were children all around and some adults too. Anywhere I looked, God was there.

Yesterday, December 8, 2013, we celebrated my sister-in-law's birthday in an orphanage. There were more than 20 boys and girls in that orphanage. We prayed, we sang, they danced, we ate good food and we had fun.

I was amazed by the ministry of this place. There were three house mothers taking care of all these little children, nurturing them and taking care of them. But they said a whole community of faith, the Bread of Life, showers them the love and support that they may grow according to God's plan for them.

The place is three storey's high and has rooms for girls and boys. They provide enough space for them to play. They have enough food for each kid. They can eat nutritious food three times a day. The children go to school. And they get enough school supply for them to do well. The place is amazingly decent considering it is run mostly from charity and donations. I was just blessed how this place can minister to children for decades now with support from the faith community. I can only imagine the dedication and the commitment of the loving people who showed the fruits of their faith.

I reflect back on the many big organized churches scattered around the world, yes, UMC one of them. I know our churches have made great advances in educating children with our pioneering work in kindergarten school. But I know there are people who have hearts to have a ministry with the orphans. I know KKFI ministers with street children. But I have yet to encounter a single local church who has a ministry for orphaned kids. I have yet to see a SEC recognized institution ministering to children supported by a single local church. I know there must be one out there. If not, will your church have the heart to start one?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Update 10 on Supertyphoon Haiyan

Update 10 - An appeal for our church friends and faith-based organizations to refrain from accepting milk formula donations (breastmilk substitutes).

"Breastmilk is the ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants and young children and it protects them from infection and its consequences. Especially in disaster situations like in affected Visayas communities, optimum breastfeeding gives infants and young children continued nourishment anytime; avoids risks of using contaminated water and materials; and gives protection from illnesses like diarrhea and respiratory ailments, which can be fatal in such situations.

However, uncontrolled distribution of breastmilk substitutes like infant formulas to affected families can lead to early and unnecessary cessation of breastfeeding. This could have dire consequences. Donation of breastmilk substitutes, especially during disasters, in fact, is illegal in our country. Relief assistance emphasis for infant and young children should be on protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding and ensuring timely, safe and appropriate complementary feeding."

Several civil society organizations in the Philippines like World Vision, Save the Children, ACF, Plan International and coalitions like KAIN has issued statements supporting the use of human breastmilk during emergencies. Let us not allow milk companies to influence our government in watering down the effective Milk Code of the Philippines (EO 51) that will allow them to donate milk to advance their agenda.

Please continue to help our brothers and sisters but avoid donating milk formulas to anybody. We want to give with integrity. We want to be faithful stewards of God. We want to give the best, and the best and practical for babies are human breastmilk.

To send help, contact Office of the Bishop - DEA or UMCOR.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Update 9 on Supertyphoon Haiyan

Update 9 - More than two weeks have passed since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines. Many have contributed to the relief work in Tacloban. Some have courageously went to the field to help. Most have contributed to fund raising cmpaings. One way or another, helped has been offered. Thank you. But after the relief efforts in the previous days has been done, the real work in rebuilding begins.

The government has now transitioned to the early recovery phase of the affected areas. It comes at a time when relief teams are starting to leave the area, when most medical missions are over and the media has started to shift focus on other equally important news topics. But the internally displaced people still needs support. The affected areas still needs help as they rehabilitate. This is where community development organizations from the religious groups, CSOs and other individuals make a great impact (and oftentimes away from the limelight).

If you feel called to help in this rehab phase please contact Office of the Bishop- DEA or UMCOR.

Photos by Rev. Bayani Alkuino

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Update 8 on Supertyphoon Haiyan

Photos by DS Roy Tibalbag
Update 8 - United Methodist Churches in Northern Panay destroyed. More houses of church members, the parsonage and their neighbors were flattened by Typhoon Haiyan. One badly hit community is Mina-a, in Ibajay, Aklan, which sits at the foot of a mountain. Ibajay is a third-class municiplaity with farming as source of livelihood. The livelihood and the crops were destroyed by the typhoon. People in this community need help and support.

As support from all over the world pour in Leyte, other municipalities in Northern Cebu, Capiz, Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental and Palawan have appealed to the international community to not forget them. Although this communities are doing their best to recover, the overall damage caused by the typhoon in the islands of Visayas had made it difficult for help to be delivered. Isolated areas has not been reached and help has not been delivered to them.

To send help to a particular church or community, please contact UMCOR or the Office of the Bishop - DEA.
 (All Photos by DS Roy Tibalbag)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Update 6 on Supertyphoon Haiyan

Update 6 - Different local United Methodist Churches in the Philippines has helped in responding to affected church members and fellow Filipinos in general. Donations in cash and in kind were sent to the Office of the Bishop in their respective Episcopal Areas and through UMCOR Philippines.

Even little children during their Sunday Schools are helping in their own little way by inspiring and praying for all the victims. A little inspiration can be very big as the government has stepped up efforts to address the mental health and psychosocial concerns of the affected population. A local reported shared how a father has been frequenting for 5 days now and wandering aimlessly in the same street in downtown Tacloban while crying and shouting several names (probably his children). Another young woman was noted to be circling around the rubble of her house while half-naked, dirty and in obvious state of shock. No one seems to take notice of them as most people are scrambling for whatever food and water is available in the area.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Update 5 on Supertyphoon Haiyan

Update 5 - The two missing United Methodist pastors in Tacloban City, Leyte are reported to be okay and their family is now in Ormoc City. Rev. Iris Picardal, who is still in Tacloban, and Ptr. Lito Luana are now safe but some of their family members remained missing. Affected residents of Tacloban City and nearby areas are moving out of the typhoon-affected areas into Manila and other key cities due to lack of food and water. Relief workers are having a difficult time distributing the goods because most of the roads are still scattered with debris. The government has hold-off the coming in of aide workers and Foreign Medical Teams (FMT) because of the scarce supply in the area. The government is asking the aide workers to be self-sufficient if they want to help in the affected areas.

You can send your donations to UMCOR or Office of the Bishop - DEA bank account. Bank of the Philippine Islands: The United Methodist Church-Davao Episcopal Area, acc. no. 2084-0457-59, Swift Code: BOPIPHMM

Update: (Nov 29, 2013)

Photos by Rev. Bayani Alkuino

Pastor Iris P. Terrana and her son Jayden.... the whole family is safe and in high spirit as the Lord covered them with His Divine protection during the super typhoon... their small house was amazingly un-scratched while houses in the neighborhood big and small were all blown away... Praise God...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Update 3 on Supertyphoon Haiyan in the Philippines

Update 3 - Two United Methodist pastors in Tacloban are still missing as of 7:00 pm today, Nov 13, 2013. DS David Dacaya Cosmiano reported that their church members has not yet receive any communication from Rev. Iris Picardal and family and Pastor Lito Luana and family. The UMC in Tacloban was destroyed by the Supertyphoon. Members described the city as a virtual mudwaste with a smell of death. Meanwhile, DS Cosmiano happily shared that his son Dzey-ahr Cosmiano texted them informing them that he is well.

On the otherhand, DS Irene Respuesto shared that members in Negros had their livelihood and farm fields destroyed. The government has appealed for support in other affected areas other than Tacloban. DS Roy Tibalbag also shared that churches in Aklan need help but because the area do not get enough media mileage, support has not been received. Local government officials in Panay and Negros needs food as their supply is also getting low. Food and non-food items donations are most welcome.

You can send your help to UMCOR or to the Office of the Bishop-DEA.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Update 2 on Supertyphoon Haiyan in the Philippines

Update - Church members of the United Methodist Churches in Leyte were affected by Supertyphoon Yolanda. DS David Dacaya Cosmiano shared that at least 60 family members of our local churches in Leyte are displaced. Ninety-eight 98% of all structures in Leyte have been destroyed by the typhoon. DS Cosmiano added that he received reports that several church members died in the storm surge. The local governments are fearing more than 10,000 people died in the flooding. Basic services like water, electricity and medical services are still down in the area. Phone lines are still down making communications difficult. DS Cosmiano has not been able to contact his son, Dzey-ahr Cosmiano, for several days now.

In Western Visayas, food and water are becoming scarce. The livelihood and crops were severely damaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda. At least five local churches in Aklan were affected. DS Roy Tibalbag is on the field right now to assess the extent of the damage. The Philippines has been placed in a National State of Calamity by President Aquino due to the economic effect of the Super Typhoon.

Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters affected by the typhoon. You can send in your help through UMCOR or the Office of the Bishop -DEA.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Public Service for Filipinos affected by Super Storm Haiyan

Update: Visayas UMC churches affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Intl: Haiyan)

DS Roy Tibalbag of Western Visayas District reports that at least 5 member families had their house damaged. The Panay island was badly hit by Supertyphoon Yolanda (Int'l Name Haiyan) last Nov 8, 2013. We have several local churches affected in Panay affected by the Supertyphoon. Affected areas include churches in the Rizal, Ibajay, San Jose and Mina-a all in the province of Aklan. Pastor Aguilar is coordinating with DS Tibalbag for updates on the affected members in the area.

On the otherhand, churches in Leyte and Samar still has no communication. The islands of Leyte and Samar are the worst hit by the Supertyphoon.  DS  David Dacaya Cosmiano of Eastern Visayas District initially reported that 98% of Leyte is badly affected. Our members are appealing for help. Any help to our affected brothers and sisters in the Visayas are welcome. Pls contact the DEA Office of the Bishop or UMCOR for details or PM me for other concerns.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Theology and Medicine: A Revisit

In the previous months, this blog has given space to encouraging churches to have a health ministry. It tried to engage churches to practice their faith beyond the four corners of the church building. This was in consonance as I started engaging with local churches, ecumenical groups and faith-based organizations this past several months.

However, one of the biggest struggles I have to hurdle amongst Christian groups is their persistence to implement medical missions as a tool for evangelizing. As I develop a curriculum for pastor's in health ministry, let me share with you a key theology that guides my actions on pushing for church health ministries, moving away from medical missions and capacitating pastor's on health skills.

God's two greatest commandment serves as foundation for our actions as Christians. First, love God with all your heart, mind and soul and the second, love others as yourself. Let me focus on "loving others."   

Love Others

I asked a fellow Christian doctor why he involves himself in free medical missions? He replied, it is his ministry to witness on God's love to people, especially the sick. I asked a bishop why he organizes and sponsors  medical missions in his area? He replied, it is an effective evangelical tool to introduce the Gospel to the people. The replies are theologically problematic in so many levels.

I will try to share in a series of reflections and essays on some theological points on health ministry, medical mission and evangelism. Watch out for these four topics :
- Health Ministry should be Free
- Health Ministry Impacts
- Medical Mission as an Evangelical Tool
- Medical Mission Impacts

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Things to think about your Church Halloween Party

Do you have Halloween Celebrations in your Church? Why? Or why not? Here are some reflections you can do in your church for the Halloween.

Halloween was traditionally celebrated by Christians as All Hallow's Eve on the night before All Saint's Day (Nov 1). It is a day to remember our continuing communion with the saints who walked ahead of us and to the recently departed loved ones. More than remembering them and celebrating their faith, we celebrate the object of their faith - that is Jesus Christ. We are reminded that even in the mortal death of our physical bodies, the object of our faith continues to live because we worship a living God.

A good scripture to reflect as we remember the dead is John 11:32-44(ESV). It talks about the dead Lazarus and the Living Christ Jesus.
32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

In the story of Lazarus, we are reminded that Jesus can raise up the dead (not a zombie – because they remain dead) and give life to it. It is not about raising a dead physical body but about GIVING LIFE TO A LIFE THAT IS DEAD. For our reflection:

1. Do you remember, once in your life you were dead because you did not know God. But God called you out (Lazarus... change it into your name, come out) And you came out of the grave and you now have life. How was your dead life before? Do you want to go back to the grave and be dead from God's presence? Is that what are we doing today, going back to the grave or following the voice of Jesus to come out?

On Nov 1 or 2, we go visit our dead. We go to the cemetery. What do you do there again? Do you pray for their souls or do you celebrate their life?

You can have your personal reasons. It may even include the reunions we have made as a tradition. But as Christians, we are told that everything we do, including celebrations, must glorify God. So the question I would like us to reflect:

2. Where is God in this holiday event? How is God part of this activity? Or maybe God is out of the equation. When you visit the cemetery, what will be the role of God? When you have a reunion with your family, what will be the role of God? When you will be invited to join Halloween parties, ask your host what will be the role of God? When Jesus came to see the dead Lazarus, Jesus had an important role to play.  What is His role now? 

Lastly, let us look at Mary. She loved her brother Lazarus so much. All she wanted was for him to get better. So when Jesus came in late, she was upset. Mary blames Jesus, “if you had been here... if... if...” Mary thinks of the possibilities IF Jesus came in earlier. Lazarus could have been saved. But Mary did not know what the heartbreaking death of Lazarus could turn out to be. That depressing event is now one of the most miraculous stories that manifest the power and divinity of Jesus. 

3. What depressing stories about our beloved’s death manifest the glory of God? Do we see anything good come out from the sad events in our lives? How can we turn the melancholy of November into a glorious story that points to Christ (mas)?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bohol Earthquake: 3 Ways How the Church Help Feed the Babies

Last October 15, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Visayas and greatly damaged Bohol and Cebu. Response for relief efforts immediately poured in.

Powdered milk for babies were donated by well-meaning groups. One of them was a Church-related organization. However, our law, specifically Executive Order 51, regulates donations of milk during emergencies. Violations of EO 51 has been reported in evacuation centers.

Breastmilk is still best for babies, specially during emergencies. When disaster strikes, water usually becomes scarce. In Bohol, potable water is one of the primary problem. Unclean water is dangerous for babies. Formula milk needs water. If it is scarce, you cannot feed the baby. If the water is unclean, you cannot feed the baby. Breastmilk is the best option for babies during crisis situations. Popular beliefs that mothers cannot produce milk during stressful situations are not true. Mothers can still produce milk as long as they keep breastfeeding babies. Breastmilk is still the best response during emergencies.

What churches can do, if they want to feed the babies?

First, the church can help find expressed breastmilk and donate it to evacuation enters. There are milk banks in most government hospitals. There are also mothers who express their milk and give the "excess" milks to these milk banks or to other organizations.They can also help find volunteer "wet nurses" to help feed breastmilk to babies. Wet nurses can be from among their members or from breastfeeding mom groups.

Second, the church can encourage mothers to continue breastfeeding. The church can partner with breastfeeding counselors to help educate mother how to properly latch the babies. The church can set-up lactation stations where mothers can breastfeed their babies confidently. This area can also be a venue where the church can teach the benefits and the advantages of breastfeeding infants to mothers and expectant mothers.

Last, feed the mothers. As long as the church can feed nutritious food to mothers to keep them healthy, the breastfeeding mom can sustain the nutrition needed by babies (especially those 0-6 months).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Three Steps To Know How Education Reduces Poverty

As part of the Children's month celebration, this week focuses on the Children's right to Education. It has always been communicated that education significantly reduces poverty.  But how do we understand this concept as Christians?

Countless research have shown evidence on the impact of education in reducing poverty. This is the reason why NGOs, CSOs and the national governments have intensified their efforts to strengthen the education of its population. The Global Partnership for Education has reported that:
  • If all students in low income countries left school with basic reading skills there will be a 12% cut in global poverty.
  • One extra year of schooling increases an individual's earnings by up to 10%.
  • Wages, income and productivity are higher where women receive a better education.

 So where is God in the equation? Is education really reducing poverty or is there a powerful God working at this and uses education as the tool for reducing poverty? Philippians 2:13 reminds us that "it is God who works" and not just us or our knowledge or education in itself. God is at work.

This Children's Month, we must educate children about the work of God in reducing poverty. We must emphasize that God loves people so much that God educates them and gives them knowledge to raise their living condition. Let us be careful about teaching them "the fallacy" that education is the key to fight poverty. Instead, we must emphasize God's work. Three steps needs to be settled to know how education can reduce poverty. If we can answer these 3 questions, people will see the real reason how poverty is reduced. Deuteronomy 11:13, 19 guides us in answering these steps.
  1. Who will teach? "You..." v19
  2. When and where to teach? "...when you are sitting... walking... lie down... or rise up..." v19
  3. What to teach? "love the Lord your God, and serve Him with all your heart..." v13
The Bible reminds us that God is at work and God wants you to participate and teach the children about God's work. Are you up to the challenge?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What to tell the parent beside you when they bottle-feed their babies during Sunday worship?

This month of October is Children's month. The theme is focused on fighting poverty through upholding Children's right. This week, I gave a short devotion on the rights of a child to the basic needs like food and healthcare. These basic rights to food and healthcare starts among infants by giving them exclusive breastfeeding for six months, not bottle-fed from milk formulas. Breastfeeding is the right of every children especially babies 0-6 months old.

Christians should be at the forefront of promoting exclusive breastfeeding simply because it is God's design. If we use properly what God has purposely designed, we are worshiping God. Simply, breastfeeding is an act of worship!

Let me highlight what Isaiah 66:11-13 assumes when it used breastfeeding as an illustration how God comforts and encourages those who faithfully worship God. The Bible tells us that breastfeeding:
-   nourishes ("nurse and be satisfied, v.11)
-   gives comfort ("be satisfied from her consoling breasts, v11)
-   supplies all the needs ("I will extend peace to her... and the wealth of the nations..., v12)
-   strengthens relationships ("be carried on her arms, v12)
-   comfort and security ("a mother comforts her child, v13)

Should churches just be a place of prayer? or should we intentionally have an area for breastfeeding mothers while they are in worship? Do you church actively advocate breastfeeding or its just another sermon on a Sunday morning? What do you tell the parent or guardian beside you when they bottle feed their babies during Sunday worship?

For some devotional materials on what the Bible says are the benefits of breastfeeding, visit:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Getting Ready for Exams (What the church can do?)

How does your Church help you prepare for an exam?

There are three thing you can ask them to do.

I've got one month to go before the Diplomate Exam for Family Medicine. Many of my fellow doctors are not confident in taking the exam. They feel they have not yet prepared fully even if they have done everything in their capacity to learn as much as they can. I share their sentiment. But we can never be ready enough. First, ask them to remind you to do your part - study. (i.e."Wag mag lakwatsa - aral muna", "Aral ka lang muna - wag ka muna nood sine")

I am reminded by a pastor who once preached that faith is when you recognize that your effort will not be enough. This is where we Christians hope in God. Whenever we recognize that our efforts in studying till the wee hours of the night is not sufficient for us to be ready, our faith will carry us knowing that God will help us. Second, ask them to encourage you with uplifting words. (i.e. "Relax, don't worry", "have faith in God")

The busy schedule and the numerous activities that are lined up for me will not make me tremble. As long as I am doing my part, God will carry me through this. This is also my prayer for all my friends who are discouraged. God is sufficient to cover for whatever shortcomings we have. If God wills it, it will happen.Third, ask them to pray for you. There is strength in praying as a community.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tips: Three Best Venues to get CME Credits

As medical doctors, we have the duty to update our knowledge. God gave us knowledge and we must use it and be responsible enough to be updated. We are lifelong learners especially with new innovations and knowledge coming up every hour. There are a lot of venues where we can have continuing medical education. But we also want to learn from respected and reliable institutions to ensure the quality of our education. Here are the top three venues you can learn for the coming weeks if you are around the Manila area.

1.) The 17th Post-graduate Course of the Department of Family and Community Medicine - Ospital ng Maynila, "Infectious, Occupational and Sports Update," on October 23-24, 2013.

2.) EBM Circuit Course of the UP-PGH Department of Family and Community Medicine, October 17-18, 2013.

3. Philippine Venereologists Society 10th Post-graduate Course, Sept 20-22, 2013.


Monday, September 16, 2013

What does 100 days before Christmas mean?

Today is the day when it is exactly 100 days before Christmas. This was the reminder given by the local evening news. I wonder what does that mean for many?

What does 100 days before Christmas mean? For that local news reporter, what does he mean by that when he reminded his viewers about it? My quick guess was that he was implying about the vacation that Christmas celebrations bring. Was he excited to get a break from work? Was he implying too that people get excited about the holiday celebrations? Does 100 days before Christmas mean also that merry-making and festive celebrations are near? This is probably the meaning for many, especially kids.

Most kids will probably get excited about parties and gifts they will receive on Christmas. And there are only 100 days before I get my most desired new toy gadget or doll or bicycle. That's what 100 days before Christmas may mean for some kids. For adults, they may also expect such gifts. Most will probably look forward to exchanging gifts and partying with friends. For some it will be a holiday vacation in some tourist spot. For business men, it means more income. For establishment owners like restaurants and hotels, it means more costumers and visitors. But not all will have a happy expectation to the 100 days before Christmas.

The less privileged will probably be reminded again of their miserable condition 100 days from now. The poor will most likely receive some "gifts" from good-hearted people 100 days from now. Some of the needy will think it is just another party day for the rich. But for most of the marginalized, 100 days from now will not matter - it will just be any ordinary day. But for religious people, it may mean something.

What does 100 days before Christmas mean for religious people? For Muslims? Probably not so much religious-wise. How about for Christians? What does 100 days before Christmas mean for Christians? If their answer is similar to those above, what makes Christians different from others? Is it a preparation for a church activity? Is it a countdown to the Christmas Camp? Or the number of days left to practice for the Christmas cantata? Or is it the number of days left before celebration of the birthday of Jesus? But why need to count? Would 100 days vs 99 days make a difference? So what if there is only 1 day left before Christmas? Does it matter? If it does matter for Christians, so what does 100 days before Christmas mean? Or maybe, it does not!

How about you, what does 100 days before Christmas mean?


Monday, September 2, 2013

Where is The Longest Birthday Celebrations

Have you ever wondered where is the longest birthday celebrations held?
The Philippines will have to own that distinction. The Philippines is that country where the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated for almost four months.  My little kid is quick to remind me that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. And Christmas celebrations in the Philippines start as early as the "ber" months sets in.
Today is September 2. When I opened my radio this morning to listen to the morning news, I heard my station DZAS play my very first Christmas Song this year, "Feliz Navidad." Christmas songs in Septmeber. That is not unusual here in the Philippines. The "ber" months are associated with the rainy (typhoon) season plus the cold breeze of the air. Such is the atmosphere of the cold nights of Christmas. So one can say, the cold breeze of Christmas is now felt on the air this early in September. That cold breeze will continue until the months of December, even early January.
 So, from the "ber" months starting this September, until the last days of Christmas on January, people will be celebrating Christmas. Most Filipinos don't mind. We shouldn't. Especially if we really believe in our hearts that we must not only celebrate Christmas during December 25 but we must make everyday feel like Christmas. Now, that will leave us with a year long birthday celebration.