To Ate Janet

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“Pain teaches, pain reminds.” (Micah Pascual)

My sister, Janet Gonda, passed away last Sunday, ending a long and hard fought battle with Lam Lung Disease.

She was just 50.

About 11 years ago, she was diagnosed of this sickness and though the doctor gave her 10 years max, by the Grace of God she survived one more year. That was enough for her to leave us a valuable lesson.

My sister is a leader. She led a life of generosity. When she was still well, she was a giver. She gave when we asked, and sometimes even when we didn’t. She’s the reason why some of my college tuition fees were paid. So it was really a pain knowing she’s a really good person for me yet she had to go through this ordeal.

I was pondering the whole time, what is God teaching us in this situation and through her death, I learned generosity.

Honestly, I am a stingy person. I feel like I need to save up always; that’s self-preservation. I think I made some developments, all thanks to what the Scriptures teach, but it’s really different when there’s real life application and personal economics is affected.

What usually happens is she asks for food every Sunday for her family, or some sweet stuff like cake or junk food (I don’t condone that junk food), I guess her way of providing for her family. This led to some times having some thoughts of being selfish because at first it was just one time deal that became weekly. It did hit my current budget as I provide too for the house and being someone who just jumped from corporate to business, sometimes when there’s no collections, I tend to be rattled.

I was reminded though of what real giving is all about–that even when you don’t have much, give. Real sacrifice DEMANDS to be felt, and that’s the time you’d know it’s real giving, and that’s what she left for me to really understand. As I write this, I could remember me sitting down and thinking, knowing that she wouldn’t last that long now, and the only thing I could really do is… give.

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Sure, there was still moments when I had to back out, which is a painful regret now, but because of what she taught me, hopefully I do retain it. It’s different when you read about giving, but it’s different when you see someone actually live it out, and she did until her last breath. That’s her lasting legacy. Makes me think about mine.

We love you, Ate Janet. We’ll surely miss you. 

If you could read Tagalog, sharing some thoughts from her kids who wrote tearjerkers.

From her eldest son, Tyrell: To my mom.

From her second child, Kiara: Sweetest Mom

 

 

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From where I stand (Pt.3): Integrity and Commitments

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We build relationships and trust through a person’s consistency and keeping his word, right?

I have had so much experience about delivering on promises and work, with me missing a lot of them in the past. Though that has lessened today (I hope!), I still miss some of them. This I try to keep to a minimum because even in this field of design, what I truly try and take care of is my name and reputation. It’s like if someone is asked on your name, what would their first response be? Jolly? Witty? Creative? Committed? As for me, I’d like to be known as someone who delivers and solves problems.

If there’s someone I personally know who really I can trust in terms of work, it’s my good friend Santa Bondesto. I have known her from 2011 and I know her work ethic. I always say to people, “If you want something done (events), ask Santa.” She goes above and beyond and ensures that things do get done, sometimes to a fault because she would sacrifice health and family time just to ensure items are in place.

But of course, she does have her share of shortcomings and broken promises but because of her reputation, I give her some leeway.

For our leaders, and for ourselves too as we lead, we want to have consistency in what we say and do. If we want to lead effectively, we’d want to have integrity as our solid foundation. That starts with being able to do what we say, and be consistent about it.

If there’s one man who said something so ridiculous but actually went over it, it was Jesus. Continue reading “From where I stand (Pt.3): Integrity and Commitments”

From where I stand (Pt.2): Cost of Leadership

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As we grow on our leadership, everything goes up, except for one: rights.

You read that correctly, rights. Sadly, when we see our leaders, especially what seems to be prevalent today, leaders get all the rights and privileges. Not saying all, but some. It’s visible not only in the positions in the government but also in our offices, families, and yes, even in the church.

Reading John Maxwell’s book, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, one chapter there is dedicated on the Law of Sacrifice. In that chapter, one line struck me:

“As you rise in leadership, responsibilities increase and rights decrease.” (John Maxwell)

Continue reading “From where I stand (Pt.2): Cost of Leadership”

From where I stand (Pt.1): Care for some feet?

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Have you ever had that time wherein you had to wash someone’s feet? Or say, accidentally, you had to face someone else’s feet?

I know. Our feet, being a part of the body in close contact to the ground, tend to be really gross and stinky. Good thing we have shoes compared to people before, but still with it enclosed and after a long day, I doubt you’d like to hold and smell them, right?

This week, we commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ. It’s a story that unfolds dramatically,
Roads in Israel is filthy, and imagine yourself walking at those roads. With or without sandals, it will surely make your feet nasty too. And for ancient Israel, it is very important for people to be clean, especially before meals. As additional detail, people ate in low tables, thus feet can be seen at that point, which makes it important to wash the feet thoroughly.

We all know the Last Supper and what happened there, and Jesus has shown us leadership by washing His disciple’s feet. This was a work so filthy Jews do not allow other Jews, even as a servant, to do this that’s why they ask Gentile slaves to do it. Yet Jesus, who the disciples see as their Lord and Savior, did this stunning act. It was a work for the lowliest, and also timely because recently the disciples were arguing who’s the greatest among them all (Luke 22:24). Jesus was showing His disciples on how to lead—by serving in humility.

not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

Oh how wonderful if only we’d have this kind of attitude of leadership, right? Just imagine our leaders today acting upon Jesus’ example of service and humility? Just imagine us acting upon this kind of leadership, acting to build one another in the light of humility and love? How would the world look like?

I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15)

Would you have the same posture like how Jesus did it? Can you wash your neighbor’s feet? Would you have the heart to serve as leader like Jesus did?

 

There is no Plan B

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You are Plan A, and there is no plan B.

This was the key takeaway that I got from this year’s Discipleship 2017 held earlier at SM Mall of Asia Arena. This is a gathering of at least 12,000 Victory group leaders and interns to talk about engaging more people to know about Jesus.

This is my first time in this kind of gathering and attending as an intern for leading a group of my own (hopefully this Q2) and again, I didn’t prepare much into the details. I do this on purpose so that I come empty and just expecting for an encounter with God, as He has done to me in the past.

It was Victory’s founding pastor, Steve Murrell who shared to everyone this:

You are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13)

I personally love how these five words packs a lot of punch in terms of explaining the role we have here on earth. Jesus explained the role of His followers as salt. Back in the day, salt’s use is vital in the Jewish community, with it being used as preservative for meats, fish since they didn’t have the technology we have now. That’s how important salt is.

The power of this message too lies in its context which starts with YOU.

Yes, you. The one reading this text. The one who’s broken, who’s life is a mess, who can’t plan well for the next week or even the next day. Yes, you.

Remember, the audience back then weren’t the most educated, the most sophisticated yet Jesus called them the salt of the earth. They knew how important salt is and to be called that is just… unbelievable.

Yes, you are plan A, and there is no plan B.

Was Jesus in His right mind when He went up to heaven and left the Great Commission to his disciples, with their staring at the heavens, guessing almost blankly? Really, to these disciples who just almost few days ago were scattered across towns afraid of their lives? These men who were called uneducated, with no regal background were entrusted to share the Gospel, a news so good it still resonates until today. See, Jesus gave us the command, regardless of background, but it is He who qualifies the called. There wasn’t any life stage requirement; He just called people. It wasn’t when you’ve achieved some status, have some money in the bank, or any category–He just needs the you now. The present you to move and share the Good News that one is saved by grace, through faith, not  by works so that no one can boast (Eph 2:8).

You are the salt that Jesus called to preserve this earth from rotting. You are important, and you are called to move. Jesus addressed this to every single one of His audience back then and He made sure it reaches us, thus we’re here, and we are to show who He is, even in our messy, broken lives.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)

And it will never be our power. May this serve as a reminder, that is it by His Grace that we stand, and we are empowered. We are to engage people, much like how Jesus did it–with extreme compassion and doing it extremely personally, like to the soldier, a woman with multiple relationships, and even to a demon-possessed man. To places that no one dared to touch, Jesus went and changed situations. That is becoming salt.

And that’s leadership too–we move according to our call, and act upon it. We cannot abdicate our role; if we do, others will suffer.

May we be reminded, that there is no plan B. You are plan A and we better be working our role as salt of this earth.

I used a clear stage photo. Sure, with all the glamour of the event, lights, sounds, and even confetti, may we be reminded too that this is all for Jesus. No one else will and should be glorified. In the middle of all the wonderful songs, and powerful words spoken, if the core is not Jesus, all of that is in vain. Clear the stage for Jesus alone.

Now, how do we engage? By living out our role as salt of this earth, just as Jesus said and did it.

You are plan A and there is no plan B. 

With the end in mind.

Single-minded: /adj/ having or concentrating on only one aim or purpose.

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Last night I attended Victory Alabang‘s event, Single-Minded and I like how for me it has double meaning or purpose.

From the outside, it is indeed packaged as a “Singles” event, targeting single people, with raging questions on love life and what not. To make things better, the speaker is one of my favorite writers/bloggers, David Bonifacio.

I like David and his no non-sense, almost tactless style of speaking in his blog. From my perspective, he’s like that impatient boss yet he walks his talks, and he might be like that because all he wants is excellence. Last night I got to listen to him. One of the reasons why I also wanted to see him speak is I try to learn a lot from the speakers I listen to and apply what I can in my life, and to speaking engagements I do (which is mostly I Saw Design only, for now).

He started off with his disclaimer, and right there I got something already. He said he doesn’t like being idolized or being put in a pedestal and that the audience is very much welcome NOT TO take what he says word per word, that we are given a brain to countercheck with people, and most especially, the Bible.  Continue reading “With the end in mind.”

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

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I don’t usually start these blogs with quotes but I just think it’s very appropriate, and this one is very simple and beautiful; it’s an advice from an old carpenter to his apprentice:

“Measure twice and saw once.” (taken from Maxwell’s “Think of These Things” book)

It’s amazing how simple this quote is; it’s about building a house yet applicable in how we should go about life. Measuring twice is about planning, ensuring that we thoroughly think on what we do now as it is critical and if we don’t, the repercussions are more expensive when we don’t.

I am writing about this because I recently have an experience that showed the importance of planning ahead and planning well, or else it’s going to take toll on you. Though I have more experience before because I know I wasn’t a planner before, this one I took note because it’s just timely and expensive at the same time. Continue reading “Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail”

#MayForever , really?

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Spoiler: There really is a forever, and you know it.

Victory Malate, the local church I am going to, just had a singles event earlier entitled #MayForever which directly contradicts the popular hashtag #WalangForever, spurned by a lot of stories of heartaches and broken relationships due to several factors.

The idea of forever has always been present in the human psyche ever since. That’s why we have always been fascinated by stories of immortality (vampire stories), elixirs, fountain of youth, and with the change in time, the common view of forever now is in the context of love, or companionship.

Humans have a vacuum, a void inside us. We may not readily admit it, but we do, that’s why we try to fill this void with a lot of things, like the next adventure, newest gadget, or say… relationships. The classic “You complete me” line brings chills to us yet in reality, it falls short to our expectations. It’s romantic to hear, but when we fill ourselves with someone who’s also finite, things could and actually WILL fall apart. We’ve seen this with countless stories of failed relationships; I know because I have been in one.

Going back to the event, the speakers are Malate’s own power couple (or it’s just me saying that as I look up to them), Charlton and Vanne Maderal. Continue reading “#MayForever , really?”

Gleaning on Grace through a Gown

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The Philippines is a big Miss Universe fan and recently had a dose of it when it was held here. It was an event filled with glitz, glamour, and women with seemingly effortless grace. Personally, I am not a follower of it but this headline sure caught my attention.

Before leaving, Miss Universe Bulgaria Violina Ancheva decided to give away her gown “to a girl in need that can’t buy a dress for her prom next month.” She got great and positive responses from Filipinos right away, and she picked Issay Gallano, a single mom who gave it to her precious daughter (photo above from CNN).

This is when it became sad for me. Some netizens quickly turned sour and cyberbullied the girl, saying things to her, with main point as “she does not deserve it.” The great thing about Miss Violina Ancheva, she quickly defended Zyra Nicole Cifra.

“It’s hard to believe that it is possible (for) somebody to write negative and rude comments to one 15-year-old girl. The decision to give this dress to this girl was mine and you have to respect my decision,”

Now, what can we learn about grace here, as demonstrated by Miss Universe Bulgaria? Continue reading “Gleaning on Grace through a Gown”

The Natural Law of Respect

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I find this post a bit funny because I felt like it was a late reaction, a connected learning from last time’s post.

To expound, in the Head Teacher’s equipping, we had two group exercises that checked our dynamics in working others. Of course, these games aren’t just games but also character and attitude tests for us. How do we cope in working with others, and how do we think and move under pressure. Our group MO-ONE-NA (yes, puns, because we are group ONE), lost the first game but it did help us bond together because of the ‘record-setting’ number of failures in that game.

What’s cool about that is that I am, again, an “outsider” in this group; all of them are head teachers but some of them while even in the same ministry, they don’t know each other because of different schedules, but still, by grace we are bonded.

Come second game, we came out with more strategy, and this is what surprised me: I was nominated as the leader of the group and they told me that they will listen to what I say. That caught me off-guard and I was really hesitant, but because they had confidence in me, I tried my best in directing what to do and amazingly, we won this round (but I don’t think it was because of my leadership, still).

Now let’s pause for a moment to check what just happened. Continue reading “The Natural Law of Respect”