Students get their cape on

Performing Fix you are (front) Shaun Marcus Rodriguez and Sahil Jiandani; (back) Glaiza Ponferrada and Andrya Mori.

One of the most meaningful Christmas shows I was very fortunate to have seen was a well-thought-of production called Get Your Cape On by the students of ChildStart International and Reach International School held at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium of RCBC Plaza in Makati City at the start of the Advent season.

School administrator Martha Cynthia Tinsay Gonzalez stood proudly on stage, applauding all the performers and profusely thanking show director Marites Bichara del Rosario, who began working with the students early in the year to prepare them for this much-awaited annual school event.

“Empowering students to make a positive influence in their own little ways is essentially what this year’s Christmas show is all about. We began this empowerment by giving them the voice to share their ideas during the planning stage,” Cynthia shared.

 This show was very memorable because it was the first time that the students got involved in the show’s conceptualization. Director Marites beautifully wove the students’ thoughts into a show, as she carefully chose appropriate songs and choreographed the dance numbers.

During brainstorming, Marites discovered a recurring thought among the students: that at some point in their lives, they felt that they needed to step up and help. There was a time that someone stepped up to help them, similarly, the students realized that, consciously or unconsciously, they have hurt others while at times, they became a hero to another. This meaningful sharing gave birth to this year’s Christmas Show theme “Get Your Cape On.”

“Get Your Cape On is a song performed by Jordyn Kane for the DC Superhero Girls franchise. It’s a title borrowed for this year’s annual school show as we aim to empower students to be a hero to other people in their own little ways,” Cynthia said.

(Would love to hear from you at miladayjewels@yahoo.com.)

Azaya Garden Resort of Capas. Photos by Mike Mina

The Belenismo is one of the most awaited events held in the province of Tarlac during the Christmas season.  This project has served as an avenue for the Tarlaqueños to showcase their creativity,  which in turn has brought pride to the different towns of Tarlac as well as the local establishments that participate in this belen-making competition.

This annual tradition, conceptualized 10 years ago by Isabel Cojuangco Suntay and her devoted daughter, Dr. Isa Cojuangco Suntay of the Tarlac Heritage Foundation, has become the apostolate of these two passionate Tarlaqueñas.

Aside from the showmanship, a deeper purpose of the Belenismo is to unite communities and send the spiritual message of God’s love. Each belen is made with a prayer in front of the Holy Family that is posted. According to Isa, “The story of the belen is the reason why we celebrate Christmas. It is a call to prayer.”

At the start of the Advent season, my sisters and I look forward to viewing the different belen entries located all over the province of Tarlac.

Each belen is beautiful and unique because it is lovingly made by the hands of the townsfolk, who gather to pray for spiritual guidance as they reflect on the blessings they have received before discussing how best to present the Holy Family using what they have.

Creativity is unleashed when making the belen as participants are encouraged to use discarded, natural and recyclable materials. One of my favorite entries ingeniously used mounds of dried cow dung, which they painted into the prettiest pink and green roses to adorn the columns of the amazing Capas belen.

A touching Belenismo story my sisters and I experienced this year was walking on the newly paved stone courtyard of the St. Joseph’s Parish in Capas, which was a muddy walkway last year. Parish priest Father Noel Paguinto was so happy at being able to use their prize to improve their church grounds that are enjoyed by the parishioners today. Another success story came from an entrepreneur, who recalled that since joining Belenismo, his fast food store flourished and he was able to put up his second store that also participated this year.

Here are three special belens I admired in the 2017 Belenismo.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish of Tariji.

Azaya Garden Resort of Capas

This luminous belen stands on the peaceful grounds of the Azaya Garden Resort in Capas, Tarlac. It is the handiwork of the enthusiastic team of resort employees,  who humbly claim that God’s kingdom is their inspiration. They made use of old bricks, hay, vines, bamboo, pillow cotton, rags, metal wire and capiz shells. Bright lights covered the manger from the ground to the top to create a crown that symbolizes the kingdom of God. They wish to send a message that the kingdom of God is where mankind will find peace.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish of Bamban.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish of Tariji

This belen is an expression of humility and the mercy of God. It was completed though the efforts of parish volunteers who dedicated their time to this endeavor  with the support of the Mount Carmel Parish Pastoral Council of Tariji, Tarlac City. They used scraps and recycled materials, which symbolize nothingness and brokenness. They made use of bottle caps for the background, stick brooms for the ceiling, coconut shells for the roof and columns, saw dust, bamboo, tree branches and stones for the base.  It is their belief that the mercy of God makes a community whole and one. Hence, they came up with the concept of gathering used materials to show that putting them up together is a manifestation of oneness before the Lord lying in the manger.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish of Bamban

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish (OLGP)  lies in the center of Dapdap community in Bamban, a resettlement founded after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991. Survivors coming from all walks of life evacuated to this hilly place to safeguard their respective families. That tragic event moved people to become more pious believing all that is happening has a Godly purpose.

This belen stands as a symbol of hope, faith and love. Its flower-shaped figure is an eco-friendly creation entirely made of recycled materials. Plastic spoons and bottles were creatively designed to bring out their desired beauty. It took a week of preparation for the team to put up this symbolic creation with Resty M. Datu, a teacher in Dapdap High School, at the helm.  This belen, built at the façade of OLGP, now stands proudly as the center of attraction in the community. As people and public vehicles pass by it, they are called to pray.

This endeavor signifies how the people of Bamban embrace the Christmas spirit.

This celebration symbolizes the meaning of the most beautiful time of the year. It is the time of forgiving, sharing and loving.

(Would love to hear from you at miladayjewels@yahoo.com.)

A Victor of life & love

There are heaven-sent superheroes in our midst. They are sent to us by God in the form of people who have overcome many obstacles, received miracles and gathered immense strength from being able to rise above their own pain.

These superheroes aim to save lives as well as create better lives for those they encounter. It is their lifelong advocacy to give back. Like our Lord’s servants in the Parable of the Talents, they are faithful stewards who continue to share their gifts so generously with others in order to please their heavenly master.

Let me tell you about my superhero — a surgeon filled with compassion named Dr. Victor  “Vic” Gozali.

Born in Jakarta to Indonesian parents who raised him in a loving, prayerful environment, Victor, the eldest of four, grew up as a nurturer of his younger siblings. One day, while running around, this playful boy had a bad fall. He was 12 and thinking it was nothing, picked himself up and did not feel the need to tell his parents about it. He was perfectly fine until six years later, he woke up one day unable to walk.  He was a bright and active teenager at the prime of his youth. His parents were devastated. They took him to the best spine and orthopedic specialists but none of them could make him walk. Vic went to school on crutches, studied diligently, continued to pray with unwavering faith and never complained.

One day, a nun invited Vic to go on a 14-day healing retreat. Before proceeding to the convent venue, his parents reminded him, “Victor, if nothing happens on this retreat, please do not turn your back on God.” He firmly assured them that this would never happen. Despite his debilitating condition, his young heart was still loaded with faith. Lo and behold, what happened next was a miracle. During the retreat, he was able to stand up and walk. The journey of his miraculous recovery began. It wasn’t easy because after almost a year of not walking, his legs had atrophied so badly. They were extremely weak, wobbly and shook so terribly. But Victor, filled with spiritual fervor and grace, was only too grateful. He persevered through every single step in order to regain the use of his legs. He succeeded and put away his crutches.

This life-changing experience had such a compelling impact on him. He wanted to become a doctor and decided to pursue medical studies at the University of Santo Tomas because he believed in the quality of education in the Philippines. He sought his father’s blessing, who, upon agreeing, gave him some money and parted with a few family treasured diamonds and handed them to Vic to finance his education and necessary living expenses. Victor rented a simple apartment in Manila and went through the rigors of medical school far away from his Indonesian family. One day, somebody broke into his rented place, opened his safe and took everything in it. Vic was unfazed. He went to a pharmaceutical firm and offered to sell its products. He had to work doubly hard, persevere in his studies and tighten his belt. He was able to finish medical school.

Doctors Vic and Baby Gozali with their children Kara, Armand, David and Cristina.

After those strenuous years of lengthy study, he was eager and ready to practice. However, he could not get his license to practice as a doctor in the Philippines because of his citizenship. One solution was to give up his Indonesian citizenship in order to fulfill his dream. He did it and never looked back. God, whom he always consulted, clearly had a plan for him.

While doing his residency at Makati Medical Center, he fell madly in love with a very lovely pediatric resident, Lourdes “Baby” Martinez, who was destined to become his wife. Their union was blessed with four wonderful children: Kara, 25, a Medicine student at UST; Armand, 23, is at UP Law School; David, 22, who takes up Business Administration at UP; and Kristina, 20, who takes up Life Sciences at the Ateneo.

My husband Benny and I met the Gozalis in 1998 because our sons were schoolmates in preschool. So charmed were we by their family that we easily became friends. In 1999, Baby was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. They were all shocked. Baby and the kids broke down when they heard the news. Vic lovingly gathered them around him and said, “Don’t worry. From now on, our lives will change. For the better. Why? Because we will all stick together. Every day we will pray harder. We will take even better care of each other. We will love each other more.”

After her treatment, their tears of terror and fear turned into joyful gratitude to God as Baby survived. And this praying family emerged stronger, closer, happier. Life for them became even better than it ever was before. (Baby is a two-time cancer survivor because she also had lung cancer in 2013.)

In 2012, I was diagnosed with stage 3B breast cancer. The news reached Baby through prayerful friends. She immediately called me, “Michelle, please come to the clinic. We want to help you. Vic is now the head of the Cancer Center of Makati Med.”  Vic came quickly to our rescue. He led me and my family through this cancer journey. He held our hands every step of the way with Baby showering us with words of wisdom, encouragement, prayers and support. He knew how to calm down my excitable family and guided my husband in making the right decisions. He attended all my chemo sessions, which turned into parties. He performed my double mastectomy, removed all the affected lymph nodes and visited me every night in the hospital. He was an engaging storyteller and life coach. I followed his advice to share my joyful story to give hope to others.

In many ways, Vic is our superhero. He saved my only son Vincent from a rapturing appendix. He even performed a very delicate thyroid surgery on our loyal, longtime nanny Josie. He humbly acknowledges the power of prayer before each surgery. “I cannot do it without praying since it is God who guides my hands every single time,” he says.

Very recently, Vic’s family and friends gave him a surprise 60th birthday party.

To express their love to the man they are all so proud to call their dad, the Gozali children surprised him with their very own production numbers.

Victor’s advice to his children: “Make one person happy each day and you make 365 people happy in a year.” He always tells them: “Never give up. Keep believing in the power of prayer. Miracles do happen.”

Dr. Victor Gozali is an obedient son to his parents, deeply loved by all his siblings, nephews and nieces. This compassionate man is a successful surgeon, a great leader and mentor, a devoted husband and father, a loving boss, a caring friend. Victor is much sought out for valuable advice and practical solutions. His strength of character and wisdom are culled from lifelong experiences and a very deep sense of spirituality.

He is a true Victor of life and love.

(Would love to hear from you at miladayjewels@yahoo.com.)



Happy Old Girls’ Day! It’s the special time of year for grateful alumni to come home to their beloved Assumption for a grand velada and meaningful reunion.

This year’s  gracious hosts, the Silver Batch of 1992, challenged each of their guest batches to present their very own AC (Assumption Convent) class legacies through acts of service, creative fundraisers, song and dance numbers, generous gifts and donations to keep the AC mission schools going.

Marlu Villanueva Balmaceda, dynamic president of the Assumption Alumnae Association, congratulated all the jubilarians and thanked them for their energetic performance. “It is through your AC legacy that the Assumption Alumnae Association will build its future,” she said.

Blue Diamond (HS Batch 1952)

A legacy of  giving is what lights up the lives of Batch 1952. These Blue Diamond ladies gleam with all the good deeds they have done through the years as classmates, great grandmothers, servants, Marian devotees, prayer warriors, matriarchs and entrepreneurs. “Love must not be kept but given away,” said Trining de Leon Panicucci, who lovingly nurtures babies in her own home until they are wholeheartedly received by adoptive parents. “And always remember that whatever you do must be accompanied by prayer,” she added. “Because prayers move mountains.” These ladies continue to live life to the fullest by giving glory to God in their every day lives. And dear Lord, they can still dance!

Jade (HS Batch 1982)

“Thirty-five years after graduation, we are closer than ever,” shared Marissa Alejandro Lopa, lead singer and writer of Batch 1982. “Although the last few months have been tumultuous, marked by the heartbreaking loss of two much-loved batch mates, we still find ways to make each other laugh. In keeping with our motto, ‘What thanks can I render thee my God?’, we choose to live each day with gratitude, humbly realizing that foremost among our God-given blessings is the special brand of sisterhood we share.”  This beautiful batch of dancers, who love each other deeply, rocked the stage with a heart-stopping dance medley led by their classmate, excellent dancer Christine Blando Frederiksen and a touching video tribute to their “Pilar of strength” (their batch mate Pilar Estrella) titled 82 days of Christmas, which lovingly displayed their legacy of solid sisterhood.

Pearl (HS Batch 1987)

On their 30th year as graduates of the Assumption, Batch 1987 continues to embrace their legacy of faith as a pearl of great price. “Our faith keeps us together in prayer, moves us to action, helps us to transcend all human hardship and teaches us to aspire to be joyful,” shared Yvonne Dayrit Romualdez on behalf of her batch. These women, whom I am so privileged to know, are always ready and willing to respond to those in need. Drawn by compassion for the selfless soldiers who risked their lives in Marawi, they quickly filled care packages with goodies, handwritten prayers and letters as tokens of thanks and support. Through their classmate Nenita and her husband, Lt. Col. Demy Zagala, the goods were happily received by the Special Action Forces with utmost appreciation.

They continue to follow our Mother foundress St. Marie Eugenie who said,  “Our mission is not only to know, love and serve the Lord but to make Him known, loved and served.”

All hail to our beloved Assumption!

(Would love to hear from you at miladayjewels@yahoo.com.)


Silver jubilarians dancing to Rhythm of the Night are Pixie Sevilla, Jesica Garcia, Kat Gomez, Dette de la Fuente, Irene Dee, Leah Santos, Pam Molinyawe, Amanda Carpo, Tiffy Floresca, Rissa Ramos, Cookie Bernardo, Allen Tan, Myran Cajucom, Tricia Villar,  Vicvic Tambunting, Sharon Palanca, Barnee Bartolome, Tina Montinola, Bessie David, Racky Torres, Anjeanette Turalba, Anna Alcaraz, Mailen Roceles, Joan Sanchez, Roz Facto, Letlet Austria, Maida Pineda, Vicki Abary, Mayenne Jimenez, Chimmie Tapia, Julie Chua, Chat Fores, Emy De Guzman, May Ann Tabaquero, Joyce Dela Fuente, Tracey Fragante, Tricia Bautista, Ines Bautista, Fran Ng, Mykee Veloso, Jolly Marcial, Lisa Kwek, Tessa Guadalquiver, Maricris Legaspi, Emille Apepe, Chrissie Velayo, Ava Sanchez, Alice Escalona, Pia Alpapara, Maricon Fabros and Janelle Layug. Photo courtesy of Ruby Jubilarians

Happy Old Girls’ Day! This year’s Assumption Convent (AC)  homecoming was doubly significant because it took place on the 50th anniversary of the Assumption Alumnae Association as well as the bicentenary of the birth of our Assumption mothers Saint Marie Eugenie of Jesus and Mere Therese Emmanuel. Together, these two extraordinary women, who became best friends, founded the Assumption congregation and gifted generations of Assumptionistas with a legacy of transformative education.

They certainly inspired this year’s jubilarians, led by High School Classes 1992 (Silver), 1947 (Platinum), 1952 (Blue Diamond), 1957 (Diamond), 1967 (Gold), 1977 (Ruby), 1982 (Jade) and 1987 (Pearl), who all came home to Assumption to share their own class legacies. As friends, sisters and gifted individuals, they came prepared to give back to their beloved Assumption in their own special way.

This year’s hosts are the Silver jubilarians, who gave much thought to the planning of this highly anticipated celebration, beginning with a significant theme. Their witty classmate Carina Guevarra Galang recommended “LegACy” and it was enthusiastically accepted.

“Our theme raised the question in our  minds: what will be our legacy?”

As the journey to velada began, they held a recollection conducted by Mrs. Ana Casas and Mrs. Cory Villafania, who said, “What is legacy without spirituality?” Velada representative Vicki Abary recounted, “It was a wonderful time to reconnect with God, with one another and learn  more about the trials of St. Marie Eugenie.”

And soon, many more meaningful activities ensued, which included medical missions, fundraisers, a cookbook, a banquet to honor former and current teachers and staff at the Assumption San Lorenzo.

Lifestyle Feature ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch:

For the velada program, they chose their former teacher Vicky Salvador as musical arranger and voice coach. They also requested talented Maribeth Bichara to be the choreographer and over-all director. The result was a seamless, meaningful and superb two-day performance enjoyed by everyone. The appreciative hugs and kisses Maribeth received at the end of the show from dancers, AC sisters and alumni brought her tears of joy. Like a proud mother to her children, she had given her all.

Tiffy Floresca Lorenzana shared, “Legacy for me is our gift to those around us, now and long after we’ve gone —that by how we live, we are able to lovingly inspire others to be better.”

Thank you to the Silver Batch 1992 for inspiring us to reflect on our own legacy.

Platinum (HS Batch 1947)

 The ladies who braved the stage are fondly called the Magnificent 7. These noble women of Batch 1947 brought the house down. The secret to living a long, peaceful life is  their cool, calm and collected spirit. Their hilarious spiel delivered by Cherry Castro Aquino with such wit and humor drew raves, roaring laughter. Their video on Facebook garnered almost 3,000 views and counting. Truly rare and precious!

Diamond (HS Batch 1957)

The Diamonds of Batch 1957 have a class motto engraved on their class rings that says, “To give is to love.” These ladies, who have learned to cope with birth and death, joy and sorrow, youth and aging, continue to hold on lovingly to one another. In good times and in bad, they continue to give of themselves. They choose to give a legacy of love.

Gold (HS Batch 1967)

“Marking 50 years of post-graduation togetherness is certainly a cause for celebration,” said Babs Ansaldo Estrada of Batch 1967. Turning Gold releases the floodwaters of old and not so old memories. The batch is especially proud of  Stella “Chinit” Rufino, who was given the Bicentenary Legacy Award for her 25 years of service to the Mission of the Assumption’s transformative education  through the Marie Eugenie Institute, an adult formation and research center on the philosophy and pedagogy of Saint Marie Eugenie. So here they are at 50, ever more aware of  how much  they have to be grateful for as they celebrate a legacy of friendship.

Ruby (HS Batch 1977)

A gentle kind of inner strength emanated from the Rubies on and off the stage. Their opening veladadance number began with pretty Joey Albert (a three-time cancer survivor) belting out the iconic Irene Cara hit song Flashdance (What a Feeling). As Joey sang the words “Take your passion and make it happen…” everyone cheered as her classmates came running to dance joyfully on stage. Friendships were rekindled, making this batch stronger just  by being together, embracing each other’s crosses with gentle caresses and comforting words. The Rubies impressed the audience with their grace, strength and beauty.

Congratulations to all the AC jubilarians of 2017!

(To be concluded.)

(I will feature Blue Diamond, Jade and Pearl jubilarians in my next column. Would love to hear from you at miladayjewels@yahoo.com.)

Laffter heals

Jon Santos has been making audiences roar with laughter for almost 30 years now. Today, his name has become synonymous with happiness.

Early this year, Jon wanted to offer a token of gratitude to God for his many fruitful years as a successful comedian.  He reached out to Fr. Gerard Deveza, a compassionate healing priest and founder of the Healing Servants Foundation, who runs a mission school called the Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon in Cabid-an, Sorsogon.

Aware of the needs of the mission school’s 365 underprivileged students from Kinder to Grade 12, Jon decided to gift them with an original comedy show in order to raise funds to keep the school running for another year. He coined the title “Laff Heals.” And what an enjoyable show it turned out to be!


At the ‘Laff Heals’ benefit show are (front row, from left) Healing Servants Foundation’s Arlene Tang, Yvonne Romualdez, Anissa Tang, Sam and Vanessa Sy, Lilian Tang, Kelly And Wilrich Lim, Vincent Soliven and Dale Carpio; (second row, from left) Ding Mercado, Büm Tenorio Jr., Benny Soliven, the author, Carin Romualdez, Lucy Lee, Orven Ebrada, Jon Santos, Trining Panicucci, Fr. Gerard Deveza, Edwin Tang, Jessica Gordola, Tasha Sy, Joy Sy, Rotina Lim, Sister Myrna Diokno and Wilbert Lim.


Jon generously poured out all his comic energy into the hilarious side of Wonder Woman, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, Vilma Santos, Aling Dionisia Pacquiao, Imelda Marcos after the burial of her beloved Ferdinand Marcos and, finally, Jon Santos himself in a brilliant and witty update of life in today’s world, much to the delight of the crowd who filled up SM Aura’s Samsung Hall last Sept. 30.

Highlights of the show included a beautiful opening prayer and two finale Christmas duets rendered by Divine Healer Academy students Orven Ebrada and Jessica Gordola, as requested by Jon. They certainly awed the audience with their spectacular voices.

Each guest was gifted with a colorful bunch of intricate paper roses painstakingly made by the students as their tokens of appreciation.

Father Gerard profusely thanked Jon, all the benefactors, members of the Healing Servants Foundation, families and friends who took time out for this cause.  “Your enthusiastic response, your presence, this full house of support make the students of the Divine Healer Academy feel loved,” he said with a grateful smile.

(Would love to hear from you at miladayjewels@yahoo.com.)

The hero of our household

Every day for the past 26 years, Yaya Josie has quietly served and cared for our family with faithful love and compassion. Her integrity and loyalty remains solid through all these years.  Her dedication to us, who she considers her family, is one we are most grateful for.

From her hometown Roxas City in Capiz, Rica Jocelyn Depol Rubio came to us when Benny and I were a newly married couple, still childless and in need of a single, all-around helper. My husband and I were both working 9 p.m. to 7 p.m. jobs. We discovered early on that she is not a talker but more of a doer, her love language is serving.

We transferred homes several times and Yaya Josie never complained about how tedious it was. She tirelessly packed up our wedding gifts of porcelain, glass, silverware and household appliances. She wrapped up oriental furniture, mirrors, paintings and reorganized them in our transient homes. She cooked, cleaned and washed for us daily.

It took me eight and a half difficult years to conceive and she was constantly by my side caring for me and my husband as well. We went through bumpy emotional roads, through several medical work ups and procedures. She was our caring angel who walked with us daily on this challenging journey.

I finally got pregnant in the US in 1995 after a successful medical procedure. I came home jubilant and my whole family was excited. It was my first trimester. My two dear friends Isabel and Maritess visited me at home and I remember getting up from the sofa to head to the bathroom when they noticed I was gushing blood. They hurriedly called their doctor friend and he advised them to take me to the emergency room of Makati Med. My ever attentive hero, Yaya Josie, ran next door to our neighbor and asked for help. So their big burly guard lifted me up and carried me to the car where Isabel drove quickly to the ER while Yaya Josie cradled my head lovingly in her arms to ease my nervous anxiety. Dr. Lazaro did an ultrasound and we were all relieved to find that the baby was safe. But I was in danger of losing the baby anytime. So the doctor kept me in the hospital for seven weeks.

Yaya Josie cared for me and provided my endless needs in the hospital every day. When I was discharged after seven weeks, I went home to a hospital bed set up in my room with no bathroom privileges. Everything was done in bed. Bedpan, shampoo, sponge bath by Yaya Josie during that delicate semester of my pregnancy was our daily routine. There were times when I would itch so badly and couldn’t take anything in so Yaya Josie would massage me lightly and tenderly with baby powder and lotion all night long till I could drift off to sleep. She cooked food that she felt was good for me. She had a solution to everything I suffered from.

When I finally gave birth through Caesarian section, she was there to help me heal and walk around. She washed my hair, my body and made me malunggay soup. She prepared everything our baby needed. We named him Vincent. She was always so attentive to his needs and ours — helping me to breastfeed and encouraging me to keep at it. She would take the night shift and whenever it was her shift, I slept soundly, but when it was the midwife, I could not.

My late dad Vincent Dayrit noticed her devotion and said Yaya Josie loved that baby. And so she became his nanny.  She was noticeably so proud of her new assignment and worked so lovingly. She massaged his baby legs, to the relief of my late mother Mila Dayrit, so Vincent’s legs are nice and straight today. She stayed up all night when he was awake, and bathed him with tender loving care. She went with him to toddler school when I couldn’t go and attended to his every need. She supported and encouraged him through all his endeavors and took videos of his basketball games.

Now, Vincent is 21 and has grown up feeling loved. He, too, is very grateful to Yaya Josie.

I had a long and treacherous medical history. She nursed me through calcium stones, infertility pains, dengue. And she cared for me when I had endometrial cancer in 2007. In 2012, she cared for me as I battled breast cancer, stage 3b. Through chemotherapy, double mastectomy, radiation and Herceptin infusions, she nursed me back to health, never leaving my side, caring for me as my mother had passed away in 1997. She helped me to recover and continues to care for our son, my husband, too, up to this very day.

She loves cooking and cooks for our frequent prayer meetings, family dinners and heads our household with quiet strength. She goes to Mass in Assumption to be with the Sisters and she loves cooking for them on occasions or no occasions.

She generously supports her family’s needs through working all these years and though her parents have passed, she continues to send money to her family in Capiz. She has also helped us in our advocacies, especially in our mission school in Sorsogon, for the past 14 years. She likes to pack relief goods and helps us sell our goodies to raise funds for underprivileged students. She patiently prepares all our medicines, and now our healthy meals where she tenderly removes the skin from the chicken and skims off all the fat from the meat. She never complains about the tedious methods required to cook healthy. She loves going through the internet to research on healthy meals for us to enjoy. She never draws attention to herself but remains thoughtful and humble. She goes out of her way to find solutions to our every household problem. She even hardly goes on day off by her own choice as she is simply happy to be at home.

It’s been 26 years and she remains single. She remains devoted to our family and keeps happily caring for us. She also cares for my husband’s brood of five lively chihuahuas. She bathes and talks to them like they are her babies.

Our Yaya Josie, who lives a life of dedicated service, daily kindness and compassion, is  the hero of our household. We thank God every day for her presence in our lives.

Recently, Yaya Josie received her 2017 Barangay San Lorenzo Everyday Heroes award. Other awardees included Junieta Panunciales, Maria Fe Muana, Paul Amaguin, Benjamin Segurigan Jr., Lita Magbanua, Editha Goyo, Rosemarie Villas, Corazon Traigo, Eugenia Severino, German Magbanua, Ramona Amador, Antonio Lolong, Emma Estuya, Gina Escano and Gloria Teves.

To us, Yaya Josie is family.

(Would love to hear from you at miladayjewels@yahoo.com.)