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The newlyweds Monica and Erico Ladra.

Erico Ladra stood at the foot of the church altar gazing at the huge Holy Door, longing for it to open. His smile shone brighter than the afternoon sun as he said, “I want to see Monica already!”

His parents Edgardo and Susan Ladra stood lovingly beside him. When the wedding march was played and the doors finally opened revealing the first glimpse of his beloved, the groom burst into tears of uncontained joy.

His radiant bride Monica Yaptangco walked slowly towards him, entering the beautifully carved doors of the St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish in Magallanes Village, Makati City. Their eyes met, joyful laughter ensued, filling the church with love.

Erico gratefully kissed Monica’s parents, architect Daniel and Maripaz Yaptangco, for entrusting their precious daughter to him. He took her hand so tenderly and together they approached the altar with intense excitement.

The wedding date is most significant as this is the jubilee year of this church, hence the Holy Door. The wedding Mass was very special because it was officiated by two priests, Fr. Jorge Seldon Coronado and Fr. Mario Ladra, the uncle of the groom.

Fr. Mario’s homily covered four of the most important words to ensure the strength and vitality of a marriage.

The first is communication. “Keep the line open. Dialogue no matter how busy you are.  It is the key to a beautiful relationship. Communication, however, is not always about talking. Sometimes, it can be about silence and listening. So, I urge you to learn to listen to one another,” he said.

Second is compatibility, which is not about an absence of differences, but rather acceptance and respect. “Marriage is a package deal,” Fr. Mario explained. “You must accept differences and imperfections. Learn to respect, accept and understand each other.”

Third is commitment. “You are now tied together by a cord so remain faithful to one another for better or for worse.”

Fourth is Christ. Fr. Mario said, “A most important ingredient. Choose to make Him the center of your marriage. The foundation of your family. Remain focused on Jesus, not distracted from him throughout your married lives and you will be blessed. Finally, don’t just pray for one another but pray together as a family. It is a very powerful commitment.”

The intimate reception, which followed at the Manila Polo Club,  turned out to be lively and relaxed for family and friends. Laughter reverberated in the Turf Room as the best man Carlo Collo, in full comic detail, shared how he paired up Monica, the “new girl in town,” to his dear friend Epoy, the “most eligible bachelor” in Melbourne, Australia. “These two outstanding nurses, both so caring and funny, very hardworking, responsible and smart  are a match made in Aussie heaven. They will live joyfully ever after in their new upcoming dream home in Melbourne.”

Both their mother’s hearts were full. Monica’s pretty mom Maripaz warmly welcomed him right in, “Epoy, I know you will make my daughter very happy. You can now call me Mama!”

Epoy’s mom Susan expressed much gratitude to all those who supported the couple with loving prayers. “Let us continue to thank God each morning for the miracle of our lives,” she said.

Best wishes and congratulations, Erico and Monica!

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

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Be alert whenever you walk, swim or drive a jet ski around All Hands Beach Resort in Zambales,” warns my brother Mark. “There have been regular sightings here of pregnant giant mother turtles. The ‘ber’ months are approaching and soon they will swim up to lay their hundreds of eggs around the sandy areas of their birthing place.”

It’s a phenomenon that never ceases to amaze those who are privileged to witness such a rare moment of turtles laying their eggs at this resort on San Bernardino Road, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales. “It is a life-changing experience because you become so attached to these gentle sea creatures that you will do anything to protect them and preserve the environment they need to survive in,” says my one and only brother, a passionate steward of nature who carries on his cellphone priceless videos of his pregnant turtle encounters right here on the very beach I was standing on.

I fondly recall the day his pretty daughter Sam was walking on All Hands Beach at 2 a.m. one cool December morning when she spotted a mama turtle the size of a table. In her shocked state, she froze and failed to wake us all up. “Why didn’t you wake us?” I asked her. She woefully said, “I thought you guys would be too tired.” Ugh! We missed it! So we just have to keep coming back here until Mother Nature shows us what we are yearning to see.

That particular weekend, Mark organized a family trek to conquer Mt. Pinatubo’s volcano crater, a picturesque lake filled with clear turquoise waters. On our way up to the top, we bumped into Swiss tourists who were on their way down. We overheard their conversation candidly comparing the view to their native Switzerland and we were so flattered by their description. This exhilarating Mt. Pinatubo trek is one destination every family should experience, too.

But let me get back to the pregnant turtles. In my quest to see one up close and personal, I excitedly interviewed the turtle conservation officer of the beach resort, Mang Nick, about the turtle egg-laying season. He asked me and my youngest sister Yvonne to guess how many eggs have hatched on this beach and how many babies have taken to the water since his stewardship in 2011. A whopping 3,800! The eggs that look like ping pong balls are safely protected, documented and marked with dates. When the sand around the nest begins to sink and move, this is the sign that the time has come. Hatching ensues and the hatchlings walk directly to the beach and swim away under their watchful guardian’s eyes. Birthday prayers are even offered up on the day that the turtle eggs hatch and the babies are welcomed into the world. Being a turtle lover, I frequent this family resort because it is also known as a sacred turtle sanctuary where the eggs are properly cared for. Upon arrival, the first thing we do is visit the protected nesting site to check if there are eggs nested and we check on the hatching date. They’re usually due 60 days after laying.

Our cousin actually saw one pregnant mother turtle swim out of the water on to the beach one night. He watched her as she walked around, then settled down, and began laying her eggs.

 

One of our friends, as he was cruising around on a jet ski, saw a huge turtle swimming to the water surface to get a breath of fresh air. Because of this friendly encounter, he has come back here several times since then to check on the turtles, too.

Aside from turtle watching, another activity I love doing anytime on this beach sanctuary is cutting up pieces of bread, tossing them into knee-deep water and watching schools of frisky fishes swim up to devour them. I also snorkel around the coral restoration project started last year by a team of divers led by Jojo Rodriguez of Sankalikasan, who said that the water here is clean and the temperature is perfect for coral growing. Colorful schools of fish have started to multiply and more varieties are beginning to thrive. This area is cordoned off and regularly patrolled by a lifeguard on a kayak. My husband Benny enjoys biking all day through the forested roads of Subic Bay. After a long refreshing swim at the sea and sipping ice cold beer on the beach under a full moon with his biking buddies, he is an image of contented bliss.

Every Saturday at 7 p.m., I look forward to seeing Father Reggie Tiongson, a very funny priest and a gifted homilist, celebrate with the many families who gather in the beach resort for anticipated Sunday Mass. His recent Godly reminder was, “Do not stop being a child. Never lose that sense of wonder, joy, laughter and simplicity or mababaw na kaligayahan. Never cease to be excited!”

I took his words to heart. While admiring the beach view outside, I felt God’s loving hand inviting me to an ocean full of surprises.

I was not disappointed on this trip for the very next day came the highlight of my stay. Our young group of family friends went on their much-awaited diving trip just two coves away from the resort. They explored a US wreck and there encountered many sea creatures, among them a very special one. The young divers watched in fascination as this awesome creation swam back and forth to the ocean bottom to nibble on the grass. They emerged smiling jubilantly after this incredible encounter. Arriving back at the resort where we all waited eagerly, they shared their precious footage and we clasped our mouths in delighted surprise. Caught on video was young diver Jainil Nilesh underwater, sea dancing with an enormous yet very graceful Mama Turtle.

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

 

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DIAMONDS. Brgy. Bel-Air officers Cynthia Cervantes, Carminda Regala, Ope Lopez, Aileen Dionisio, Nene Lichauco, Pinky Uy, Corie Gomez and Malyne Lorayes.
Here’s a diamond that sparkles in the heart of the city.

“Bel-Air sparkles at 60 as a family-centered community,” said barangay captain Constancia “Nene” Lichauco, beaming from ear to ear with pride and gratitude, at the recent Pasinaya, a yearly festivity at Bel-Air Village in Makati City. She has faithfully served as captain of Bel-Air since 1989 and is considered a mother figure for the barangay.

The village’s 60th year called for a diamond celebration aptly titled Kumikinang. This thanksgiving fiesta succeeded in uniting the proud villagers for a weekend celebration culminating in a night of spectacular dance production. Enthusiastic performers aged three to 93 gave their best and were gratified to receive wild applause for all efforts to show their neighborly love.

Joey Camus, finance governor for Bel-Air Village Association, lauded the tireless efforts of the ever resourceful Women of Bel-Air Foundation Inc., whose members have successfully organized and mounted projects such as the popular Saturday Community Market in Salcedo Village and the Concert at the Park series.

 

“What started out as simple projects to enliven the community have now become a yearly calendar of events that serves not just Bel-Air but is enjoyed by all of Makati. This is another testament to working together successfully as a family-centered community,” Joey said.

One of the most significant Bel-Air projects with committed villagers working as volunteers is the Kabalikat sa Tahanan program. This 25-year-old program is so focused on assisting household helpers improve their lives through skills development and intensive formation sessions.

As the Bel-Air residents look forward to another 60 years, the Bel-Air Village Association commits to nurturing the values — community centeredness, family, commitment and dynamism — that have made this village one of the best in the country to live in.

Congratulations to the Bel-Air community!

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

A soulful soprano named Tetris

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Teresa Christine ‘Tetris’ Melecio.
Resplendent in a flowing red gown, her lush dark curls swept back in an elegant chignon, soprano Teresa Christine Melecio rested her right arm on the ebony grand piano, as she stood on a white stage adorned with greens and roses. Her pretty facial features expressed a myriad of emotions as storied notes unfolded through every song. The audience who filled up the UST Museum for her graduation recital listened intently, drawn by her powerful voice and stage presence. No doubt this young soprano was born to sing and delight the world with her incredible talent.

Tetris, as she is fondly called, was born on Jan. 21, 1991. She started singing Disney songs at age three and got enchanted by the theme song of the movie Titanic in 1998. Her first musical was a school production of Annie at age 7, casted as Pepper and it was also the age when she started out with Repertory Philippines. Her big break came when she was given the lead role of Mulan in her grade six school production. Her mommy Carmen kept encouraging her to keep on singing. Her older sister Karina, the biggest, most loving and No. 1 supporter of Tetris, never failed to attend all her school recitals.

“As a toddler, she looked forward to going to school so I enrolled her in International Play Group Center at age two, International Montessori for school under Miss Gonzales from Grades 1 to 7, and Assumption for high school. She has spent her six college years at the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree, major in Voice Performance,” said Carmen. Tetris’ goal was to excel not just in her major subjects but in her general studies as well, resulting in her being on the Dean’s List for two years to the delight of her mother.

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Tetris’ current dream is to become an international opera singer and come home to open a stand-alone conservatory to mentor those who cannot go abroad to study. She has a solid plan to fulfill this dream, including further studies in Europe. So after graduation, she will audition in six conservatories in Zurich, Salzburg, Leipzig, Florence, Rome and Barcelona. A devout Catholic, she prays for a happy family life and to have five boys, if ever, with a man who will love and support her endeavors.

Her sentimental mommy Carmen reminisces, “When I gave birth to Tetris, I knew she was a star because everyone around her doted on her and loved her. She even attracted strangers. She has this charisma and it is very evident on and off the stage, according to people around her. She exudes respectfulness, kindness and tenderness. Tetris is hardworking and independent. When she wants something that she can’t get from me, she will work for it or find sponsors just to be able to achieve it,” Carmen said.

One precious memory Carmen holds dearest is their 2016 journey together to the Holy Land. “It became so meaningful to me and our pilgrims group headed by Father Larry Tan because Tetris sang during all our daily Masses. The cave house of St. Anne was wonderful because of the acoustics. Her soulful singing moved them to prayer and tears. When we got to the Colosseum of Julius Caesar, there was a set up for a concert, and we asked her to sing on the stage pretending she was the event performer. She obliged. I believe this experience made her stronger and determined to be a great opera singer for the glory of God.”Teresa-Christine-Tetris-Melecio-4.jpg

The recital program, held at the main gallery of the UST Museum, opened with a difficult rendition of Parolette, Vezzi E Sguardi from the operas Rinaldo and Giulio Cesare by Georg Frideric Handel, which Tetris performed with ease. Then she tackled As It Fell Upon a Day by Aaron Copland with Nico Dioneda on flute and Andrew Constantino on clarinet.

Porgi, Amor, Qualche Ristoro; E Susanna Non Vien!s Dove Sono, I Bei Momenti from the opera Le Nozze Di Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart came next.

After a 10-minute intermission came Siete Canciones Populares Espanolas by Miguel de Falla with Ludwig Zerrudo on guitar. Tetris sang El Pano Moruno, Seguidilla Murciana, Asturiana, Jota, Nana, Cancion and Polo.

A highlight was Alin Mang Lahi by Antonio Molina with the USTSO Chamber Orchestra conducted by Andrew Constantino. A beaming Tetris presented them to the audience as, “My beautiful orchestra! They are the best for sacrificing their time to practice with me.”

She sang Mutya ng Pasig and Ang Aking Bayan by Nicanor Abelardo, accompanied by her collaborative pianist, assistant professor Mary Anne Espina. Ang Ganda Mo by Juan Buencamino was her finale.

A standing ovation brought her to tears. As she embraced her two loving nieces Marianna and Kristianne, Tetris said, “First of all, I want to thank the Lord who has been with me for all six years of my college life, and all the angels who have been with me all the way especially my mom and my sister who have journeyed with me and helped me to endure all my challenging moments.

“I am grateful for the gift of music and the many opportunities that came with it, especially to be mentored by Maestra Thea Perez, a most important person in shaping me into who I am today,” Tetris said.

She also thanked Fr. Manuel Maramba, OSB for his prayerful support, the jury, her classmates and all those who helped to ensure the success of her graduation recital. She then invited her guests to a sumptuous dinner reception specially prepared by her mother.

Congratulations, dear Tetris!

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

 

La Bella Maestra

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Dr. Preciosa Soliven.

I received a beautiful-looking book written by Nelson Navarro titled La Bella Maestra. It is the life story of Preciosa Soliven and the making of OB Montessori Center. The night I began reading the book, I couldn’t put it down and finished reading it in the wee hours of the next morning.

I have the privilege of knowing Preciosa Soliven as an enthusiastic and committed educator, a doting mother of three daughters, grandmother to nine, widow of brilliant journalist Max Soliven. But this book revealed much more about an extremely brave, accomplished woman and the pursuit of her lifelong passion.

Preciosa Silverio Soliven was born in the summer of 1938. The book further revealed that she was a precocious little kindergarten student when war broke out in Manila. Her peaceful world turned into fearful chaos as Japanese and American armies exchanged fire night and day. The family abode located on San Marcelino street, near the south bank of the Pasig River, was dangerously close to the walled city of Intramuros, which was taken over by Japanese troops who refused to yield. It was therefore bombarded non-stop by American forces.

According to the book, at the onset of terror on the street where the Silverios lived, Preciosa’s father, Calixto Silverio,  a judge, and her deeply religious mother, Meding Quioque Silverio, did not hesitate to move with their three small children to safer ground a few kilometers away, in Singalong.

One fateful day, Calixto braved the danger zone and returned to their abandoned home to obtain important legal documents. This was the last time he was ever seen by his family.

Some recollections in La Bella Maestra are heart-wrenching. Take for example how a caring neighbor who managed to evacuate came to report to Calixto’s stunned widow many days later what he wished he had never seen. The decomposing body of her husband, mercilessly bayoneted and defaced, lying on the tracks close to Ayala Bridge. Sadly, with the heavy fighting still ongoing, it was simply impossible to retrieve his body and pay respect with a proper funeral.

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Navarro wrote, “True to her gentle personality and strong Catholic faith, Meding Silverio received the devastating news with stoic resignation.”

Upon receiving the most cruel blow of their lives, Precious recalled to Navarro: “In the face of Papa’s death, there was no fuss, no tears. My Mama’s eyes were moist, the tears just fell and fell. When I asked her, ‘Why are you crying?’ she said that Papa died already. We didn’t ask where or why. We just accepted it.”

Navarro added: “It was this stoic attitude and inner strength that would become Precious’ saving graces in facing similarly unbearable trials in the future.”

With peace in the country restored, she was able to complete her primary education in San Andres Elementary school where she was accelerated from Grade 5 to 6. High school to college were fruitful years spent at St. Scholastica with German and Filipino nuns. Precious loved children and devoted much of her time to volunteer work, teaching Cathechism in public schools and depressed areas of the city. One day, Precious expressed her earnest desire to become a nun. After a spiritual retreat, however, she was advised not to enter the religious order. They reasoned that her good looks and gregarious personality would spell distraction. According to her spiritual advisers, it would be better for her to pursue what she excelled in and loved most — teaching and social action. Thus began her life’s passion.

La Bella Maestra also tells of a love story. In God’s good time, Preciosa’s prayers for a good husband were granted. A man named Maximo V. Soliven wooed her by calling her up on the phone every single night. He was a budding journalist, kind, intelligent and courageous. She was poised to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition. Her final requirement was a thesis of 250 pages to be typed in triplicate copies, which Max gallantly offered to do in between his day job, night news desk job and avid courtship. Max won her heart and married his pretty “Precious Silver” on June 1, 1957. She was 19. According to Navarro, “He was eight years her senior and destined to be the most influential columnist and newspaper publisher of the Philippines in the post-Marcos dictatorship period.”

As the couple traveled together extensively all over the world, moved in influential social and diplomatic circles of a charmed life, God was planning Precious’ own destiny.

By some accidental twist of fate, as the story goes, Precious became known as a Montessori teacher. She had taken a part-time job teaching kindergarten kids in a Montessori school in San Lorenzo Village in Makati. Suddenly, her Swiss boss was recalled to her own country while Precious was immediately given the task to take over. Under the circumstances, Precious wasn’t ready for this position as she soon discovered that the teaching materials left and methods taught were insufficient. How could she survive this? She always applied the right attitude. Never one to panic, she stayed calm. She managed to improvise through resourcefulness and intuition.

Serendipitously, she and Max ran into a friend shortly after this teaching dilemma.

Italian Ambassador Eugenio Rubino surprised her by offering her a very generous scholarship grant to get properly trained in the Maria Montessori method of teaching all the way in Italy. With deep gratitude and the keen encouragement of her husband, Precious accepted his offer. This was a sacrifice of love for Max because they had small daughters to care for. Their two daughters Marinella and Rachelle kept Max awake at 3 a.m. to change diapers and prepare milk bottles. Yet he allowed her to finish two 10-month intensive courses in Perugia for pre-school from 1964 to 1965; and Bergamo for grade school from 1968 to 1969. Max was so proud of her.

Life was not without ups and downs for the Soliven couple. Precious continued to exhibit courage and dignity through unforeseen trials. On Sept. 23, 1972, they were roused from slumber after midnight. Martial law was declared and Max was arrested. He was in prison for three months and released only to be under house arrest for the next eight lonely years. Her daughters told Navarro that  instead of dwelling in fear due to the big loss of income and uncertainty of the future, she silently accepted their fate. “My mother was the family breadwinner during those trying years,” according to Marinella Soliven, her middle daughter who now works for the Los Angeles City government in California. Eldest daughter Rachelle left for nursing studies in the United States in 1983 and lives there, too. Sara, her youngest daughter, likewise completed college there but came back to work as Precious’ assistant and eventual successor.

Max Soliven, according to Navarro, once described his wife as a “pillar of strength” in the face of bad news.

“She never complained, never blamed anybody. She is not a worrier. She just works quietly to solve the problem.”

From a humble kindergarten classroom with 20 students in a tiny Malate apartment, OB Montessori has grown impressively into a chain of five private schools around the metro (Greenhills, Santa Ana, Las Piñas, Fairview) and one campus in Angeles City, Pampanga with 5,000 students enrolled, plus 156 Pagsasarili or self-help outreach programs in economically distressed provincial communities.

Leading the notable alumni of OB Montessori are Lea Salonga, Aiza Seguerra, Geneva Cruz, Isabel Granada, Rachelle Alejandro and Rico Blanco.

OB Montessori’s 50th anniversary in 2016 is a significant milestone and tribute to the good teacher who started it all with her great love for children, passion for education and dedication to creative learning. La Bella Maestra (the beautiful teacher) — Preciosa Soliven.

(La Bella Maestra and How Well Do You Know the Wonders of Your Children are available in selected National Book Store and Fully Booked outlets. They are also available at the bookstore in all OB Montessori campuses (Greenhills, Santa Ana, Las Piñas, Fairview and Angeles, Pampanga). For inquiries, call 722-0019.)

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

A Missionary’s Journey

(From left) Assumption College dean Ola Regala, Marlu Balmaceda, Sister Remedios Carmen Locsin r.a. and Fr. Jun Sescon.

My Assumption classmates and I had a gentle, loving nun as a teacher in Grade 2 named Sister Remedios Carmen Locsin, r.a.  She taught us that we each have a guardian angel that is constantly watching over us.

“Ask your angel to help you,” she said. “And do not be afraid whenever you pass through darkness at anytime in your life because you have a star that is shining bright even if you don’t see it.” The times of our youth went by quickly but we never forgot our dear Sister Remedios, who eventually moved on to work in Japan as a missionary.

Sister Remedios arrived in Japan on Nov. 16, 1974.  For the first two years she studied the Japanese language. Exposed to the beauty of Japanese art and culture, she fell in love with the Japanese people and the mission country to which she was assigned. She was happily teaching English to Grades 1 to 6 students when she was visited by a Japanese Sister of Mercy. This moment changed her life.

The Japanese Sister of Mercy informed Sister Remedios that many Filipino women in Japan were victims of human trafficking. She said they were victims of the underworld and gangsters brought them in for prostitution. “What a surprise! She wanted me to be on the lookout for them. She emphasized the need for a Filipino sister who could speak their language.” Sister Remedios initially asked herself, “How could I be of help to them since I am an educator and not a social worker? I needed to consult my superior and ask permission if I am allowed to do this type of work.”

Sister Remedios recalled, “On the days that followed I prayed very hard. In my prayers it became very clear to me that our country was going through a most difficult time and this could be one way of being in solidarity with our suffering people. I felt very strongly about being involved in the apostolate of reaching out to the Filipino women. But I also assured my provincial that I would not give up my 16 hours of teaching. She was extremely understanding and assured me that all the sisters would be supportive of this work. What encouragement!  I called up the Sister of Mercy to give her the good news.”

Thus began the dramatic journey of Sister Remedios as a Filipina missionary based in Japan for three decades. She ministered to the spiritual and psychological needs of Filipino migrants and entertainment workers in Japan, especially those who were abused by their employers and spouses. Sister Remedios found herself doing things she could never imagine she could. “Can you imagine me a nun in full habit coming out of a night club accompanied by a priest in his brown Franciscan habit? Well that’s just one of the many things I did,” she laughingly said.

Strengthened, led and protected by a divine power, Sister Remedios was able to help so many of our struggling kababayans in Japan. In 2002, she was presented with the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Award for her work with the migrants.

When she returned to her native Philippines and shared her many stories with her former students, priests, friends and her superiors, there was but one clamor. “Sister Remedios, you must write down all your stories in a book!” It took years again till she finally found the courage to do so. She sought the assistance of Assumption Alumnae Association secretary Gretchen Recto who helped document her stories. Melissa Wong reviewed the stories while Angie Barrera edited them. Marlu Balmaceda lovingly produced this book and organized a book launch in record time.

The book launch was a memorable one held at the PCFC in Assumption San Lorenzo last March 8. Sister Remedios’ precious little book titled A Missionary’s Journey: Selected Stories of Filipino Migrants In Japan was launched in the presence of the Assumption community led by Sister Sheryl Reyes r.a., who encouraged Sister Remedios to come up with the book; Bishop Teodoro Bacani, DD, who wrote the foreword; and Fr. Jun Sescon who wrote the introduction. Gracious singer-composer Jose Mari Chan and his family, who have generously supported Sister Remedios’ advocacy through the years by sharing their gifts of song, prepared two numbers enjoyed by everyone.

Sister Remedios received a Missionary Cross blessed by Bishop Bacani and a pray-over by the Assumption community in a solemn send-off ceremony. She’s going back to Japan to serve in the Assumption community there. Visibly moved, she said, “I never thought that I could do all these things. When I finally wrote the stories to prepare for the book, I felt lighter. I am so grateful to all those who helped me.  I never thought this would happen.  As I go back to Japan, I do not know what lies ahead but I know God has plans for me there.  So I humbly ask for your continuous prayers.”

(The book is available at Assumption San Lorenzo’s PCFC building. Please look for Myrna or call 0926-7242935. Proceeds of the book will help Filipino migrants in need.)

Sharing the love

A hand-mime performance by the students of the Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon. Photo by Büm Tenorio Jr.

The Samsung Hall of SM Aura was filled to the rafters with generous hearts who came in full force to show their support for the students of the Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon. Father Gerard Deveza, a compassionate healing priest and founder of the mission school, now on its 14th year, expressed his loving gratitude to all who came to this thanksgiving concert.

“The love you shared has allowed these children to complete their education year after year,” Fr. Gerard said.

Several talented students of the Divine Healer Academy came all the way from Sorsogon to personally pay tribute to the benefactors who have supported them since Kindergarten.  They came well prepared to open the show with a doxology, their unique rendition of The Lord’s Prayer, a beautiful prayer dance that moved the audience to prayerful tears of joy and wonder.

Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon students give roses and handwritten letters of gratitude to guests.

Orven Ebrada, an exceptional student who serenaded guests with a love song, drew much appreciation. The students’ hand-mime performance drew raves from an enthralled audience.

Mitch Valdes brought the house down with rib-tickling wit and candor. The gifted Minstrels Divos, composed of Ding Mercado, Eugene Villaluz and Chad Borja,  joined Mitch on stage to take us all happily back in time through the disco tunes of the ‘70s. The trio then kept us swaying to romantic ballads and swooning over Broadway hits.  Little did people know that Ding was nursing a severe case of painful laryngitis while Chad was mourning the loss of his lovable mother who just passed  five days before the show. So grateful were the students for their loving sacrifice, of being there despite their pain.

The joyful finale brought the students back on stage holding hands with radiant smiles as they sang the OPM song Magkakapatid. They delighted their guests by going down to personally deliver roses and handwritten letters of gratitude to each one.

The students’ parting words: “You are so much a part of what we are right now. Your love and support has made it possible for us to continue our education and make our dreams come true. Thank you for being our inspiration. We will always remember you in our prayers, our beloved benefactors.”

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