Benji and Carina Reyes.

Benji Reyes is a very special artist, born with a strong spirit and an incredible God-given talent. He is a wood sculptor, furniture designer, design consultant and a craftsman whose bare hands have produced the most unique and lasting artworks. Most sought-after and respected he is as an artist, so revered are his exceptional creations that some pieces are already pre-committed and sold to loyal collectors even before they are made.

A Filipino through and through, Benji likes to play with Tagalog words through the catchy titles he gives his famous furniture pieces. He coined Juan Tamad for his lounger, which is an ingenius take on the La-Z Boy. His extremely comfortable chairs are called Salumpuwit because he created grooves that are oh-so-smooth and soothing on the butt. No joke! Meanwhile, his romantic love seats are called Kasintahan.

Tahanan Bistro’s braised beef brisket linguini.

The passionate artist’s greatest masterpiece, however, is one that is not for sale but for keeps as he lovingly calls it Tahanan. A stunning four-story structure built incredibly so into a sloping cliff in the verdant hills of Lores Farm Subdivision in Antipolo is a gift of love to his family.

When he talks about his family home, his eyes light up. “It’s my wife and daughters’ house. I just live here,” says this kind and humble man who designed and built the house with his own hands using a collection of Filipino hardwood, all of them recycled. Even for its roof, he used recycled tiles. He planted more hardy trees on the slope of the property. From his upper balcony, he is welcomed by chirping birds and the sound of water echoing from a river gorge below.

Benji’s wife Carina, his beloved who stood by his side through his early struggles as an artist, fondly recalls their eventful life together. They lived in a bodega where he made furniture from discarded old wood. Today, he has a beautiful workshop and gallery right there in Tahanan. When asked about her home, she says, “This house is full of happy memories. When our two daughters Eena and Keesha were much younger, we preferred to host their friends here at home rather than let them go out. We built them a pool to enjoy with their barkada.” Their exquiste-looking kitchen was always open to prepare hearty snacks and meals for the hungry ones. Carina fondly recalls how one of their friends came over to meet up on the way to a resort outing. When the gate was opened, their friend thought this was already the resort and wanted to stay.

Keesha Reyes and chef Kevin Tuason.

My brother Mark, who is president of the Lores Farm Subdivison Homeowners Association, and Benji, who is vice president, work so well together. They have become good friends through the years. Benji has become design consultant for Mark’s summer house and events place. “He is so generous with his talent, so enjoyable to work especially when we have meetings in Tahanan,” says Mark who fell in love with the place.

One day, Benji’s second daughter Keesha, who completed her studies in Australia, thought of putting up a special by-reservation-only restaurant. She had her eye on their upper dining room surrounded by koi ponds, the most picturesque part of the house. Her college sweetheart, now her fiance, Kevin Tuason is a gifted chef who, after graduating from the Ateneo, studied at the culinary school Academia International and worked in the restaurant industry also in Melbourne. Together, they were ready to take on the challenge. Thus, Tahanan Bistro was born.

As a result, many families and couples are now able to enjoy this unique home away from it all where every single object is a piece of art. I heard that there have been marriage proposals, family reunions and an intimate wedding for 30 held there. Last weekend, my family celebrated our sister Christine’s birthday. Seated at their longest table, each dining chair was different and was a thrill to inspect in close detail. What amazed us all was the comfortable feeling Benji was able to create in each one. The smooth gleaming wood seemed to caress our bodies to rest and relax at his dinner table.

Tahanan Bistro’s main dining room.

Chef Kevin had just launched three new Filipino menus presented Australian style and we were able to enjoy all three. The Arayat menu I chose included prawn and pumpkin tortellini in coconut cream, hearts of palm, pulled pork on polenta with arugula, apple vinaigrette, pineapple popsicle and a delightful Dutch pancake with lemon whipped cream and pink peppercorn caramel sauce, a dessert I was reluctant to share because it was so good!

My son Vince and nephew Matthew enjoyed their Banahaw menu, which included grilled chicken skewers, mango and shrimp paste salsa with coconut sticky rice as main course. My sisters liked the Kanlaon menu, which had braised beef brisket, linguini, poached egg, pangrattato, green onion and 70-percent dark chocolate. The other two desserts — the churros and the purple yam and white chocolate lava cake accompanied by cheese ice cream -— were excellent. Best of all, we were honored to be in the loving company of Benji and Carina, Keesha and chef Kevin, who came out of the kitchen to meet us.

After our dinner, we were graciously given a tour of the Reyes family’s gallery and their awesome art collection. If those precious walls could talk, they would surely reveal countless family stories and grateful prayers to a God who never turned His back on them through Benji’s journey from humble beginnings to glorious success.

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



A family proposal

The happy newlyweds Patricia and Stevie Uy.

When their firstborn son Stevie was finally ready to propose marriage to the girl of his dreams, Patch, the excitement of my dear friends Martha and Nori Uy could not be contained as they have been praying for this moment for years.

Martha fondly recalls the day in 2011 when Stevie said he wanted them to meet someone. “This is serious,” Martha told her husband Nori. “Because nobody introduces anybody to the family unless he is serious.”

Patricia “Patch” Feliciano lost her father when she was 16 years old. She is an obedient child and a good student, who persisted in her studies and graduated magna cum laude. Upon hearing this, Martha was enthusiastic in meeting Patch. “What a jewel! I would very much like to meet her, Stevie.”

When Nori and Martha first met Patch during a dinner, they were so enamored by her from the very first day. “Keep her. Keep her, Guapo,” said Martha to her son. Even Stevie’s siblings Sarah and John were likewise charmed by their future sister-in-law. “We really admire how Patch is a creative and innovative thinker, so passionate about books, so good with kids and people,” said John, who is also Stevie’s best buddy.

Patch describes her loving relationship with Stevie as one big adventure. After six years of going steady, Stevie was ready to propose to Patch. Martha and Nori were so excited.

Stevie, together with his brother John, planned an exotic wedding proposal in Anilao, Batangas on a diving trip. The plan was to hide the ring in a conspicuous place about 30 feet under water. As a group, the family would be diving, with Patch supposedly soon discovering one clam had the engagement ring. Unfortunately, this elaborate plan did not push through due to certain circumstances. So, the family had to resort to Plan B.

In June 2017, Martha and Nori had just arrived home from a vacation in the US to visit their only daughter Sarah who is studying there. Subsequently, they called for a dinner at home because they had not seen their two boys and Patch for quite sometime. Also present at the dinner was Patch’s amiable mom Amy Feliciano.

The joyful Uy family: John, Sarah, Stevie, Martha and Nori.

Martha bought Patch several dresses as her pasalubong. As part of the plan, she asked Patch to try all the dresses and wear one to fit their colorful dinner theme. While Patch was trying on the dresses, Nori, Stevie, Martha and Amy distributed amongst themselves small posters that had one word per sheet and a picture of the couple in the background. They lined up around the table and hid the poster behind them.

When Patch and Martha arrived, they sat down at the festive table. Martha blindfolded Patch and dressed her with a flower crown on her head. She also asked Patch to hold a fan in her hand for good measure explaining that it was a Mexican fiesta-style celebration, with Martha saying it was also a game. Eventually, they asked Patch to take off the blindfold. Patch gasped as each member of the family held up a poster that read “Patch, will you marry me?”

“Patch joyfully accepted Stevie’s family’s proposal. After saying yes, she laughingly asked, ‘So, this is the game? I like this game!’ The couple kissed, then hugged each other for a very long time. Everyone was deliriously happy,” recalls John, who was also Stevie’s Best Man.

On a dewy afternoon of March 8, in a lovely garden wedding at the Manila Polo Club, in the presence of family and friends, Stevie declared his promise of love to God to keep his bride forever. Patch lovingly responded, “My dearest Stevie, the best thing that I will ever do in my life is to love you. I promise to choose you always, to celebrate and appreciate you for who you are and for who God is molding you to be. I promise to respect and honor you. To support and encourage you to reach for the dreams God has called you to fulfill. In all seasons, I promise to stand by you and pray for you in love. When times are tough, I promise to stay. I promise to forgive and to follow God over my selfishness. I promise to open and seal every day with a kiss in good times and especially in difficult times. Whatever may come, my confidence is in God’s faithfulness in our lives.”

Everyone at the wedding was so happy and felt the overflowing love in the beautifully orchestrated wedding celebration — from the verdant ceiling tops of the ballroom and the gorgeous floral-themed tables, all the way to the most joyful dance floor, where the guests enjoyed the music of the band and the energy of dancing! The couple was so thankful and appreciative of everyone who made their special day a great one.

At this point, Stevie raised his glass to thank his mother-in-law Amy. “I would like to assure your family that I will take care of your daughter and put her needs above mine. I love her. I would like to thank my family and everyone else, the crew and staff, photographers caterers and videographers, and all those who made this wedding happen.” With a gentle smile he said, “Thank you, my beautiful wife Patch, for loving me and supporting me, for being right here by my side.”

The newlyweds with (from left) Malou, Rohan, Elise and Gen Gerard Feliciano, Jennifer Feliciano-Hern, Amy Feliciano and Angelica, Ysabella and John Gregory Palanca.

Patch was likewise profuse in her thanks. She said, “I want to thank everyone here who came out especially those who traveled all the way to be with us today. Thank you for giving us your time. I would like to thank my family, my mom, my dad who is in heaven, and my older siblings, all of whom didn’t marry until I graduated from college because they put me through it. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for you. Thank you very much for your sacrifices for me.

“I would like to thank Stevie’s family for being so kind and generous to me. I am really blessed to have met Stevie and his family. None of this would have happened if not for sisters Ina and Tanya Manalaysay who introduced Stevie and me to each other. They actually set us up. Seriously, God used you both to be his instruments to start this beautiful love story, which God had written even before we were born. Thank you for being a part of our lives — our friends, our entourage. Our ninongs and ninangs, thank you for agreeing to be our counselors and advisers. We look forward to spending more time with you as the years go by. And last but not the least, we would like to thank and acknowledge God for without him, there would be no us, there wouldn’t be a marriage. And so we would like to give all the glory and honor back to Him.”

Best wishes and congratulations, dear Patch and Stevie! May God be with you always.

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

A voice for the children

Fr. Gerard Deveza sings I Will Be Here with the students of the  Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon Ana Grace Guab, Ela Diaz, Mae Franze Jimena, Rizza Mae and Cheska Nicomedes, Carinna Ebrada, Hanna Doctor and Christine Joy Tobes, Jennylyn Docot and Jessica Gordola. Photos by Vincent Soliven

It all started with a phone call from singer Ding Mercado, who is my dear friend and co-servant at the Healing Servants Foundation. “Michelle, I have been seriously thinking of doing a sort of solo concert, which I have never done before. And I would like to do it to benefit the students of our mission school, the Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon. I have a repertoire featuring love duets, OPM medley, dance hits and old favorites. What do you think about that?” he asked.

Upon hearing it for the first time, I enthusiastically agreed with all his show ideas. Thrilled and touched by his generosity and thoughtfulness, I said, “Ding, you must present this to our founder, Fr. Gerard Deveza, at our next servants meeting.” So, he titled it “A Voice for the Children,” which our members and Fr. Gerard himself gratefully approved of since the school children are the beneficiaries.

In early February, Ding flew to Sorsogon to invite some of the most talented students of the Divine Healer Academy to perform as his special guests. He stayed there for days coaching the students through his song choices, adding in his special choreography and carefully guiding them to a graceful execution.

Ateneo Code dancers (from left) Harold Lim, Angela Garcia, Sam Sy
On March 3, we began our event as we always do, with a thanksgiving Mass. Fr. Gerard gave thanks to all those who have supported our mission school for the past 15 years in both big and small ways. “Our hearts are full and gratitude overflows. So, we hope you enjoy this special night prepared especially for you, our beloved friends and benefactors as our special way of saying thank you to all of you.”

At 8 p.m., it was time for the show to start at the Samsung  Hall of SM Aura in Taguig City. The Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon students opened the show with a prayerful song called Il Signore, which left the audience visibly touched, some even shed tears. Fr. Gerard, who sang I Will Be Here with the children, drew so much applause from the start. A charming Pipit song-and-dance medley performance by the students drew smiling approval from the audience.

Ding Mercado welcomed guests with the song I Only Have Eyes For You followed by Pure Imagination. The talented performer dazzled with so much energy, wit and charm while performing on stage. He performed with no intermission throughout the night and left the audience loving him more.

Some highlights of his show included a salute to OPM composers as Ding performed Tuwing Umuulan, Ikaw and Kahit Na; performance of his ‘70s hit single See You There and a Nat King Cole medley. My favorite parts of the concert were those dancing hit songs You To Me Are Everything and the Rick Astley medley, which included Together Forever performed with the Ateneo Code dancers Maxi Tomelden, Angela Garcia, Harold Lim, Renzo Herbosa, Sam Sy, Vanessa Sy and Joji Ravina Lourence. This part made the audience get up and dance! His solo number Kiss by Tom Jones was unforgettable because it prompted my Assumption classmate Yvonne Policarpio to go up on stage to reveal dance moves we never thought she had!

Healing Servants Foundation members (first row, from left) Anissa Tang, Wilrich Lim, Kelly and Rotina Lim, Vanessa Sy and Büm Tenorio Jr; (second row, from left) Anthony and Tasha Sy, Fr. Gerard Deveza, Ding Mercado, Lucy Lee and Joy Sy; (third row, from left) Wilbert Lim, Lilian, Edwin and Arlene Tang, this writer, Yvonne Romualdez, Christine Dayrit, Tanya and Nikka Carlos, Sam Sy and Benny Soliven.

The love duets Ding performed with singers Nica and Kharen drew laughter and surprise. Sweet Caroline and succeeding songs had the audience’s heads and hands swaying to the beat because the band that played for Ding that night was excellent: musical director Jay Agustin, second keyboardist Jem Floirendo, guitarist Noel Santiago, bass guitarist Joji Magadia, drummer Lawrence Nolan and percussionist Otep Concepcion.

The rendition of What A Wonderful World by Fr. Gerard and the students, and Isang Mundo Isang Awit with Ding were a fitting finale.

Everyone was so happy at the end of the show. The audience did not stand and simply rush out. We all felt like we had just seen a feel-good movie and it was such a happy night! We are still receiving happy feedback till this very day.

Thank you, Ding, for an exuberant evening that will allow the students of the Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon to continue their schooling.

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


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.)