We Can’t Afford It

Before the school year ended, our family was faced with a dilemma. Do we go back to homeschooling for both girls or do we put them both in regular school? Or should we keep one in regular school and keep the other in homeschool?

Our original plan was actually to put both girls in Danae’s school, but we were suddenly apprehensive about the cost due to certain changes that the school made. I told the girls that we may not be able to afford it. But Danae really wanted to stay in her school. She said if she had no choice then she would agree to homeschooling again. Noelle said she was fine with continuing homeschooling. Perhaps I was not convinced of that plan, that I would constantly check the girls about what they thought about it. I would go back and forth, thinking and asking God what would be best for our girls.

I was leaning towards homeschooling them both again (with the help of a teacher), but no matter how hard I tried to convince Danae, she would not budge. Even when she would recall hurtful situations that happened in school and cry while telling me, she still insisted that she wanted to stay. She believes that she learns better there. Noelle started out excited about homeschooling again, but then slowly seemed indifferent. One morning, she quietly told me how she really felt — she wanted to go to Danae’s school! She was willing to homeschool only because we could not afford to put her in regular school.

That broke my heart. I really cried to God and to King. I did not want to put the burden on my daughter about what we can or cannot afford. She should not have to sacrifice for us. That is our job as her parents, to make sacrifices in order to give her and her sisters the best that we can possibly give. That pushed us to rethink and reorganize.

As I was talking to one of my mentors about this, she told me that they never tell their kids that they can’t afford something. That’s where I realized my mistake. Even though I want my children to be aware of the reality of expenses and I don’t want them to grow up feeling entitled, I should never say the words “we can’t afford.” I realized that telling them we can’t afford something tells them that it is useless to dream, that some things are just not possible for them. Telling them that sends the message that we are relying on our own capacity and looking at ourselves as the source. Instead, like what my husband always does, I should encourage them to pray and ask God. I should help them believe that God is able, that God owns all, that God is good, that God knows and gives best to His children.

Though it may be true that we cannot afford all things, I do not have to burden my children with that fact. I must encourage them with the truth that with God, all things are possible. We do our part as parents, and we wait on God and watch Him prove Himself faithful.

This school year, they are both going to The Sycamore woohooo! Not because we can afford it, but because we believe that God will provide. However, they also know that we take it a year at a time. Next year may be different, not because we can’t afford it, but because their needs may be different. We have been pleased with the regular school set up of The Sycamore (formerly 360 Studio) because basically it is homeschool away from home and we have been happy with the character building and the disciplines Danae has learned, but we do not close our doors on homeschooling yet. The Lord knows best and we will submit to His will for our children.:)

 

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

 

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Luke 12:24-26

 
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Psalm 34:8-10

Undeserved

I have random conversations with my kids, some silly and not so important, others deep and meaningful. Sometimes it starts out with a question or a simple topic, but then I get these thoughts that turn the conversation into a teaching moment. Admittedly, some are so far off topic or too deep that they go way over my kids’ heads haha, but some make easy sense.

Kids: Mom, can we have…. (I forget what they were asking for)

Me: Hmmmm. Let’s see.

Me: Do you know that we don’t deserve anything good? (hahaha. Sometimes we get tired of hearing sooooo many demands)

Kids: (insert crickets)

Me: Everything you have is a gift from God. A gift that you don’t deserve.

Kids: Mmm yeaahhh…..?

Me: Do you remember what an undeserved gift is?

Danae: That’s called grace, mom.

Me: Yes, that’s right. Everything we enjoy is because of God’s grace, only because of God’s grace.

I pray that our children learn, not just in their head but in their heart and living it out, to be faithful, not irresponsible. To be careful, not wasteful. To be joyful, not resentful. To be content, not critical. To be sensitive, not indifferent. To be grateful, not entitled.

I pray that we, their parents, set the example as well.

 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

 

 

 

Yes-No

We stayed in a small hotel in Lucban, Quezon the other night because King officiated a wedding there. The door handles weren’t the regular round type, but kind of like a bar that you twist down to open.

I was in the bathroom. Gianna opened the door and stepped in. Her sisters were excited that she could do this without help.

Me: Are you a velociraptor? (Jurassic Park fans will get this)

Gianna: (emphatically)  Yesh.

Haha. Unlike other babies, Gianna says yes to everything. She nods her head or says yesh even when she doesn’t understand or the answer to your question is actually no. Well she says yes to everything, except when she really really wants to stop or she really really wants you to stop.

Like a couple of weeks ago, I was pretending to play the guitar and singing More Than Words.

Me: (singing with feelings) Saying aai lo-ove you is-

Gianna: (waving her hand) No na, no na.

Hahaha.:)

VBC 2016

We just finished Victory Alabang’s Vacation Bible Camp entitled Waterworks Park! It was a great 3-day event for kids aged 4 (though a few were 3) upto 9 years old. Our Kids Church team has been preparing for this for months — production, design, snacks, registration, tech, team leaders. I once again was privileged to be part of the praise dance team!!!

 

These are just what the design team did on the outside. I wasn’t able to take pictures of the wonderful rooms! We have such talented people serving in church! 

The very first ministry I volunteered in when I came to church and got discipled was Kids Church. I was single, but had always liked kids. As a kid, I was fond of babies. I grew up enjoying playing and talking to kids. My friends trusted me with their babies too. And when I started with my discipleship journey, my victory group leader then was a Children’s Church (4 to 6-year-olds) teacher. She included me in her team. I served in Children’s Church a couple of years, til I got engaged (see here how Kids Church played a role in the start of our courtship), got married and got pregnant.

The baby-making train paused for a few years and so I was able to volunteer for VBC 2013. Noelle was 4 years old, Danae was 7. With two small kids, I knew I couldn’t go back to being a regular volunteer. Summer was the perfect time for me, VBC the perfect event to serve. Both girls were attendees (Noelle’s second VBC, Danae’s third), and Danae joined me also in the praise dance team. However, the train got going again later that year, so I wasn’t able to volunteer for VBC 2014. The girls attended, and Danae chose to be part of the kids’ choir at that time. For VBC 2015, which would have been Danae’s last, we already began our practices when I realized that our family was set to go to Cagayan de Oro for my cousin’s wedding! Thank God we were able to tap my friend Bianca Peralta to lead the team. They were in very able hands.

Early this year, Ms. Fely, our Kids Church staff, made sure we were free for VBC 2016 hahaha. I am so honored and privileged to be part of the praise dance team!!! Bianca and I were the mentors (aka the old ones). And not only did Danae and Noelle join me, their friends decided to join us as well! At first I felt sheepish that I invited 5 additional kids to the team without permission, discovering that there was a limit haha, but I think we all agree that it turned out for the better. This is the first time that we were more than 20 in the team and that there were more kids than teenagers and adults.

The praise dance team, ages ranging from almost 2 to 16 years old. Not included are a 14-year-old and her 20-something-year-old sister, a 38-year-old (me), and the youngest 40-year-old.:)


It’s such a joy to see 11-year old Bianky and 12-year old Josh, who have been Kids Church volunteers for a few years already, lead the team. Such a joy to see the faithfulness of all the kids, even the teenagers, to be there for practice week in and week out. I am so proud of the team! The biggest surprise, especially for me as a mom, was Gianna. She was not only such a trooper as I took her to all the practices I attended, but she actually danced with us and memorized all the steps! She is only 21 months old and she already has the makings of a dancer, just like her dad.

Technical rehearsal. Gianna knows all the steps! She loves to dance.:) photo credit: Ms Fely


My daughters make me so proud. They practiced in church and at home. They took it to heart. They were taught first to follow, so that they could lead. And because they are leaders, they must set a good example for the other kids. They were reminded that all we are doing is for the Lord. I love what Ptr Carlo said to us on the last day of practice. How we worship reflects the kind of God we worship. When we worship and dance with all we have, the kids will see that the kind of God we serve is deserving of all we have. They will see that God is an awesome God because His children worship Him so.

Danae and Noelle, and even Gianna when she was not sleepy or distracted by the other kids, gave it their best. Danae stepped up and wanted to greet the kids once we were in the praise dance room. She smiled the whole time she was in front leading the kids in praise dancing. When it was Noelle’s age group’s turn to be in our room, Noelle owned it. She was up there leading her class, smiling and giving it her all.

VBC participants Coleen and Noelle leading their age group (7-year-olds). Their song, “I am not Afraid.”


Josh with the mic, Bianky to his left. Danae also with the other mic (under her elbow). The 8-year-olds’ song, “People Be Strong!”


Bianca and I could have dominated everything, but we truly believe in the next generation. Some were nervous, but they took on the challenge to be the ones to lead, to talk to the kids and teach them the steps, to greet, encourage and even pray for them. It’s such a privilege to witness young worshippers worshipping and young leaders rising. We agree with what Ptr Carlo said in our meetings — we want to get out of the Holy Spirit’s way. We don’t want to be the ones hindering these children from doing what The Lord is calling them to do. We do not look down on them because they are young. We nurture them, teach them, disciple them, pray for them, equip them, empower them.

 

happy servant leaders!:)


I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be volunteers alongside my daughters and the future leaders of our church and our country. I pray they will never stop giving of themselves, of their time and talents to serve God’s people. I pray that faithfulness, commitment, servant leadership will be instilled in them. I pray that they not only strengthen their existing relationships, but also establish new ones as they bond over serving in church. I pray that their hearts remain pure before the Lord, living the truth that nothing is ever about them and everything is always about Jesus.

Our awesome volunteers!!! One last dance — Splish splash, it’s a bible bash!:)

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” Matthew 21:16

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre. Psalm 149:3

 

My Thoughts on the Elections

Do not become the very person you despise. I was writing a Facebook status but realized that my thoughts couldn’t be contained in one line. But don’t worry, this won’t be very long either.

The 2016 elections have certainly brought out our values and our character as individuals. I appreciate our freedom to speak, share our opinion, express ourselves. What I do not appreciate is how careless some people have been in how they’ve used that freedom.

Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for the passion displayed by many Filipinos in the past months. I am grateful for the education. I have quietly read articles that have been shared by friends who are passionate about the elections. I have quietly read comments and discussions. I even liked some posts when I felt like I could relate to what they were trying to say. I love my country and I have been conflicted about who to vote for for the past few months as well. I read, I watch, I pray, I talk to people and seek their opinions, I listen, I learn, and I am forming my own opinion.

I understand that many are angry and are discontent with our current government. I understand that many are appalled by certain presidentiables. I also understand that people will believe what they want to believe, and those strong in their beliefs want to convince others that their beliefs are right. But do we really need to be rude? Do we really need to insult or look down on other people because they think differently from us?

I don’t know about you, but my ears tend to ring and my mind tends to close when I feel judged or am called names. Maybe other people engage and try to defend themselves, but I usually get annoyed and then check out. Either way, if we want people to listen and see our point of view, being aggressive may not be the way. It may catch a person’s attention, but to what, really? That our candidate is better? Or that we’re acting like jerks? That we’re encouraging people to think? Or that we’re being arrogant and feeling superior? Don’t get me started on the words I’ve seen used and the attitudes displayed in the comments section. They seriously shock me.

Like I said, I appreciate most posts because they educate me. They make me think. They give me perspective. I myself do not feel offended because I do not believe I am one of those some die-hard supporters of a couple of presidentiables are targeting, but others will feel offended. By all means, share your opinions and beliefs, but could we please keep the peace and respect one another? Could we care about people and our relationships more than pushing our opinion? Could we bring back the H in IMHO?

Let’s agree to disagree. We may not all have the same presidential bets, but I believe most of us love the Philippines and want what’s best for our people. Not one of us knows that for sure anyway. Let’s put our trust in the One who does know. Let’s cast our cares on Him. I know it doesn’t help with making the decision of who to vote for, but for those who believe in God’s sovereignty, power and goodness, it’s a good reminder to stay calm and just continue to pray for our country.

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picture grabbed from a friend’s social media post. I do not own the picture, nor do I know who the original owner is. But I agree with its message.

Use your right to vote. Make sure you are at peace with your choice. God bless you. God bless the Philippines.:)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, Philippians 2:3

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance. Psalm 33:12

#proudmorena

So I saw some posts on Facebook about this girl who disrespected celebrity mom Bianca Gonzales on social media, by insulting her baby. I didn’t get to read the comment, but the article said that her baby was called negra (dark-skinned) and ugly.

I cannot believe that someone, a woman at that, could say mean things about a baby…A BABY! And I cannot believe that a Filipina would insult another Filipina, A BABY Filipina(!), about her skin color.

Bianca responded graciously in my opinion, and I agree with her. Morena is beautiful! It’s 2016 and it’s high time we own and be proud of our natural Filipina skin tone. We should teach our kids to be comfortable in their own skin by loving them, accepting them, and verbally appreciating their beauty, no matter the color of their skin. I am annoyed by these commercials of whitening this, whitening that. Why do Filipinos want to be white anyway? Or why do beauty lines here in the Philippines keep promoting these products as if to say only being fair-skinned is beautiful?

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I grew up loving swimming and going to the beach. I never cared about getting dark because my cool parents never made it an issue. My mom always told me that caucasians love getting a tan — something I naturally had. When I got a bit older, I did care about how my tan looked. I didn’t like swimming in the pool because the chlorine made my skin look grayish, while the beach gave me a nice brown. I eventually learned to apply beer on my skin so that I would get that beautiful glowing tan afterwards. It stank, but the results were always awesome. I don’t do it anymore because I don’t want my kids to smell and taste the beer, plus I don’t really have time to sunbathe these days haha.

Being a proud morena myself, no way am I going to let my 2 morena daughters (out of 3) buy into the “lighter is more beautiful” nonsense. They tan pretty quickly the way I used to, even with sunblock, and we have never told them to stop swimming or to get out from under the sun because they were getting dark. To rest and not suffer from heat stroke, yes. But never because they were getting “too dark.” Before summer vacation officially started this year, Danae commented that she didn’t want to get dark, but was quick to take it back when I offered her the alternative, which was little or no swimming. Thankfully, she cares more about having fun with her friends than about what her skin looks like haha. About the same time, she told me that she knows somebody who would comment (though I’m sure not insultingly) about her deep tan. I told her to tell the person that she is making good use of the sun and is enjoying summer. She laughed and agreed.

I believe it starts in the home. Our daughters learn their identity from what we their parents teach them. We always remind them that God made them beautiful — all of His creations are beautiful. When they are focused on their looks, we remind them that man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. We remind them that inner beauty is more important. We remind them that what God thinks is more important than what people think. We tell them that they are princesses, not because they have a tiara on their head or because they have riches or beauty, but, besides being daughters of their daddy King, they are daughters of the King of Kings. They are loved, valued, accepted, and blood-bought!

We pray that our children will not look to the world for their identity, but find it in Jesus Christ. That way, no matter which way the world swings, our kids will remain steadfast and secure, knowing who they are and knowing their God-given calling. No matter what the world thinks or says about them — negra, ugly, stupid, worthless, OR radiant, gorgeous, intelligent, admirable — they will be secure of and be humbled by God’s love for them and they will remain steadfast in their faith.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:26-27

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God John 1:12 ESV

Me and My Dad Camp 2016

Last April 1, three-fifths of my family went to Bangkong Kahoy, Quezon for Me and My Dad Camp. It was the fifth time for Danae and third for Noelle. It is a yearly event that King and our girls look forward to — a great bonding time for father and daughters, “roughing it” in tents, participating in water gun wars, cooking and eating all the junk food that they don’t get to eat much of at home! Noelle is looking forward to have her turn alone with King in camp when Danae is too old to join, and to have Gianna with her and King when her little sister is old enough to join them.

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Our Kids Church team led by Ptr Carlo always devotes a session for only the fathers to encourage and empower them to be the dads that God has called them to be, to be worthy of the respect and adoration their children give them. The team never fails to teach the kids to love, appreciate and honor their fathers. This year’s theme was My Dad, My Treasure. The kids were taught to see their fathers as their precious treasure.

The kids had an activity where they were to choose among many words on the board, one word that would best describe their dad. Words like courageous, bald, TV, workaholic, handy man, cigarettes, smart, funny, brave, busy, and more. Lo and behold, both our girls chose the same word for King without the other’s knowledge!

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How amusing and how wonderful to know that King and the girls are consistent. Last year, their activity was to write one word to describe their dad on a paper cup. Both girls also wrote the same word — FUNNY. Haha. I guess among all other descriptions, it’s their dad’s playfulness that resonates with them.

Thank you King for being the best dad to our girls! Thank you for making sure that they know that you love and prioritize them. Thank you for making family, whether on ordinary or extraordinary days, fun! We pray that your joy, your sense of humor, and your childlikeness will remain as we all grow older. May you influence us to always look at life with enthusiasm and to live life with much faith and grace, loving and honoring God. You are the father that you are because of how our Heavenly Father fathers you. We love you.:)

 

P.S. Thank you Kids Church for thinking about our children and helping us be better parents! We still have the booklets you guys had the kids answer last year to discover their love language. They are precious to us because they help us understand our girls better. They help us love our girls better. Thank you.

 

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matt 13:44-45

I’m Sorry

Is it too late now to say sorry? I don’t particularly like the Biebs. I do like this song of his. But that’s not what I want to write about.:)

The other day, I was driving home from church with my daughters. It was after 5pm so traffic on Commerce Ave was building up. I was approaching the block where Jollibee and McDonald’s are, in front of Acacia Hotel. I don’t remember what we were talking about in the car, but I do know we were talking (you know how girls are) so I was not able to pay attention to the pedestrian lane in the middle of the road, not at a traffic light, that allows people to cross from the fastfood joints to I guess Commerce Center. Traffic suddenly halted, so I was right on the pedestrian lane. To my dismay, I saw a dad pushing a stroller while holding his toddler son by the hand. The stroller was empty, thank goodness. But the dad was not happy with me at all. He looked at my car, paused in front of it and scratched his head. He made sure to show me just how annoyed he was at me for making it hard for him and his son to cross the street, without really looking at me. I knew from his facial expression and body language that he was completely annoyed. I was blocking his way. Who knows, maybe he was stressed out. My blunder didn’t help. I’ve had those days, too, for sure.

As they emerged from the outermost lane (I was in the innermost), before the dad even saw my car, I noticed them already and I noticed where I was. Under my breath, I said “Oh no.” I knew I had made a mistake. I wanted to back up but there was a vehicle behind me. Danae asked me what was wrong but I couldn’t explain to her just yet. I was watching the father and son to make sure they were okay. As they clumsily made their way onto the island, which I doubt has a ramp, I found myself lowering my window and saying “I’m sorry.”

I don’t think he expected that. I didn’t expect that I would be quick to do that either. I hope he felt even a tad appeased by my apology. He did give me a glance and he did muster a tiny smile. I’m just grateful he didn’t hurl insults or yell at me for being a bad driver (ugh, I hate contributing to the bad rap women drivers get), even though he probably wanted to. I’m glad I apologized, audibly. I meant it.

I am also grateful for the opportunity to set an example for my kids. I hope that even when we’re not around to correct or remind them, they will take a position of humility when they make a mistake. I hope that they will not justify the wrong they do or blame others for it. I hope that even though they may feel and act defensive at first, they will not keep that wall of pride up. I hope that they will accept correction from others and seek forgiveness sincerely. I hope that they will care about people, and not be indifferent to their needs and their circumstances. I hope that they will look beyond the mess, so that they can see and appreciate the lesson. I hope for these now, not later. In their childhood, not to impress people or to prove something, but to honor God.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

 

Humility is the fear of the Lord;
its wages are riches and honor and life. Proverbs 22:4

 

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8

 

Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Psalm 144:12

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Courageous Caitie

I don’t personally know this little girl, but her story touches and breaks my heart. I was not able to follow the whole thing and to this day, even after she has passed, I cannot yet bring myself to read her parents’ posts or look at her pictures. The first post I read, when Courageous Caitie came to my attention a few weeks ago, was one where a picture of Caitie’s bruised arms were shown. A picture of her smiling through all the equipment connected to her was also there.

Oh the courage of this little girl indeed! A tiny body enduring so much, and still having the ability to smile through it. And her parents! Their unwavering faith in God. Watching their baby go through, cry through everything she did must have been torture. Being torn between crumbling like children themselves and being strong for their little one. Being torn between trying every possible treatment in the book and letting Caitie’s body rest. But through it all, they remained steadfast. Not knowing whether God was going to heal Caitie or take her, they still trusted God and believed that He is good. How blessed was she to have been loved, cared for, prayed for by such faith-filled parents.

Now that Caitie is resting in God’s arms, I cannot begin to imagine how much they miss their precious princess. They must be at peace knowing that she is safe, no longer suffering, and happy in heaven, but their hearts must be longing to hear her laughter, see her beautiful face, hold her hand, and cuddle her in their arms. I look at my 1 year old baby (who is also Kaitlin) and I think about my two older daughters. I can’t imagine losing any one of them. It would be too painful. I mourn and cry with the Lucas family for their loss. I pray that the Holy Spirit and the love of so many friends and strangers alike would comfort them in this season. And at the same time, I celebrate with them the life of their courageous Caitie. At such a young age, she touched and inspired so many of us.

I believe that God never moves without purpose and Caitie’s death is no exception. What that is exactly may escape us, but I know her death leads me to pray. I pray that all of us parents will never take for granted the time we have with our children. I pray that we will not be consumed by the trivial, but invest in the most important — God, family, people. I pray that we will celebrate our children, love them, appreciate them, teach them, build them up. I pray that when we (or even they) die, there are no regrets because we loved them well, in words, in actions and with our time, while we were alive.

Children are a blessing
    and a gift from the Lord. Psalm 127:3 CEV

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; 

his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1 NIV 

The Lord works out everything to its proper end— Proverbs 16:4a

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 NIV

“When the time comes for you to die, you need not be afraid, because death cannot separate you from God’s love.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon

 

 

 

My Yaya Flora

My Yaya Flora came to work for our family before I was born. I’m the youngest of two, so she first took care of my brother. It was merely a year and 8 months before my brother was upstaged by the new star in the family hahaha. Yaya took care of us. She couldn’t stop our countless fights, but she would be there to comfort me. Because my parents both worked, she was my constant companion. Come to think of it, I don’t know how she juggled her time and energy between me and my brother. She was in her 50s when she became our nanny. All I know is when I needed her, she was there.

I didn’t like taking the plane when I was a kid, so my parents would let me ride the boat (Negros Navigation) instead. Summers were spent either in Cagayan de Oro or Iloilo, and sometimes without the rents. My brother would fly with one or both parents, or alone. I would take the boat with my dad but mostly just with Yaya. I remember even staying in the  economy section, sleeping on yellow hammock-like beds with hundreds of other people, no air-conditioning, no privacy. It used to take 24 hours to get to Iloilo and 48 to Cagayan de Oro. We would have numerous bags with us (no wheels in our luggage — that’s how Yaya rolled), and we would bring adobo for our food. Other times we stayed in a room with 6 other strangers, with air-conditioning, and we had food stubs. There was some privacy, but bathrooms were for common use outside our quarters. I had pretty cool adventures as a kid. And I had a pretty cool and strong yaya.

I remember she would always set aside mangoes for me. She knew they were my favorite. She would tap my butt so I could fall sleep when I was little. She would sleep with me in my room. She would feed me. She would take me to school with the tricycle service. She interviewed the little boy who said he loved me, asked him if he was ready to marry me, hahaha. She would tell me stories about the children she took care of before us. I would ask her about her husband and if she had any kids, and she would always be coy about it. I never knew the real story. She would even buy clothes for me in the palengke, bring me pasalubong from the province. She did everything to help my parents take care of us while my parents pursued their careers. And I was not the easiest child (or teenager haha) to take care of! She was so patient. She loved me even through my outbursts and tantrums. She stayed with us for over 20 years.

I remember she broke her arm in my cousin’s house because she slipped on wet cement. That probably happened because she was protecting me. I might have been around 7 or 8 then, she was 65 or 66. Her body never fully recovered from that. She would complain to me about it as she/we got older. I may have asked for one massage too many hehehe (I liked massages even as a kid — my dad always massaged us too).  I remember when she would heave deep breaths and would lay down to rest. I was in my teens then, her in her 70s. Maybe I was afraid that she would die soon. I remember asking her if she wanted to go to heaven when she died. She told me of course she did. I asked her if she believed in Jesus. She told me she did. I remember leading her in prayer to accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior. I was not a practicing Christian then (I only became one at 24). Maybe I was on one of my highs after a retreat or something. Thank God she didn’t judge me and my rebelliousness, but accepted my words. The seeds of the Gospel that was sown in my heart since I was a child were at work somehow.

I remember when she got sick. I was the one taking her to the doctor to figure out what was wrong. She was in pain and I distinctly remember two doctors. One was a christian doctor who did not charge us for the consultation. The other was too rough handling her. My poor yaya yelped in pain, but I was not able to help her. I still remember that doctor’s face and his built, but not his name. I guess Yaya also couldn’t explain what she was feeling. She was already around 80 then. I don’t think there was any diagnosis. I don’t remember anymore. But I know that we decided it was better for her to go home to San Carlos, Negros Occidental, where her sister and daughter could take care of her and where she would not feel obliged to work. We felt that even though we told her to stop working, she would still do chores at our house.

The next time I saw Yaya was when we visited San Carlos in 2007, around 5 years later. I was married and Danae turned 2 then. Yaya was 88 and doing well! I made sure I got some clothes for her and that she met King and Danae. She was after all a huge part of my childhood. It was such a happy reunion. Amazing that she got to hold Danae in her arms, the way she held me in hers! Funny that I think every year before that, she would call the house and remind us of her birthday hahaha. She had the same birthday as Jose Rizal, June 19. It would be so hard to talk to her because she couldn’t hear well, but we assured her that her birthday cash (c/o my brother and mom) would be given to her. My parents honored their promise to take care of her financially in her old age as she had honored her promise to stay with us and take care of us kids.

The next time I saw her was in 2009. King was not with us, but I had Danae and Noelle with me, along with my mom. Noelle never met Yaya because Yaya was sick in the hospital. I did not want to bring my kids there. I went alone with my cousin. It was heart breaking. She could barely open her eyes. I don’t know what was wrong then. All I know is it was hard for me to see her like that. I just caressed her hip, said hi. I didn’t want to add to her pain. I don’t even remember if I prayed for her. I hope I did.

I thought that was the last year Yaya would be alive. But to my amazement, it wasn’t! God extended her life a few more years. We haven’t been able to visit San Carlos again and so that was the year I last saw and talked to her. She passed away last Friday, peacefully in her sleep, at age 96. She was buried yesterday. Her sister and daughter were there. I wish she could have met all my girls. I wish she could have met my brothers’ boys. She would have been thrilled. I wish I was able to hug her and say goodbye. I am sad that she is gone but I am happy that she is finally able to rest, to truly rest.

Thank you Lord for my Yaya. Thank you for the sacrifices she made for us. Thank you for the opportunity you gave us to love her back and appreciate her, though words and financial support I know are not enough. Thank you Lord because you are the one who loves her perfectly and completely. Thank you that her service was worth it. She had a hand at how my brother and I turned out. She was one of the channels of Your love and care. Thank you because she is now at peace with You.

Danae's Bday in Bacolod 2007 -102

Yaya and her sister Angheling:)

Danae's Bday in Bacolod 2007 -107

2007, right before Danae’s 2nd birthday. She was 88! I love you Yaya!:)