In the Philippines, we have sari-sari stores — small shops usually attached to a person’s home, selling different sorts of goods. As a child, I dreamt of having my own, but I guess this is the closest I’m ever going to come to it. Sharing different stories — sari-sari stories — most especially from my experiences and learnings as a daughter of the King of Kings, as wife of my husband King, and as mom to our three princesses. 😊
Victory Alabang had its 4th singles retreat out of Luzon (the 7th over all) last October 10 to 13. The first 2 retreats I was able to join, one as a single in 2003 and the other as an engaged single in 2004, were held within Luzon, in Tagaytay City. The 3rd was held in Quezon, also in Luzon, but I was married and pregnant in 2005.
The first 2 retreats outside of Luzon were held in Boracay in 2007 and 2009, the third in Bohol in 2011. Both islands/cities are located in the Visayas. This year, the retreat was held in Mindanao. It was a first for the retreat to be held so far from Manila, and it was a first to have it away from the ocean. We stayed in Forest Park in Dahilayan, Bukidnon.
I’m sharing my personal highlights of the retreat, including the events before and after, through some of my photos.
A group of Victory Alabang singles and I got together last week to respond to this ad to “adopt a day” in Villamor Airbase, and serve the Haiyan/Yolanda survivors who were coming to Manila. Honestly, when I posted it on our singles Facebook group, I didn’t know exactly what to do. I hadn’t figured it all out. I just wanted to gather people and be involved with helping the evacuees/survivors.
I am just grateful that the people who responded were the “right” people for the job. I believe they were looking for an opportunity to do more for our fellow countrymen. It was a long thread, but we were able to decide which day to go and choose who would be in charge of what. We decided to bring relief goods, packed meals, and to cook and serve hot noodle soup there for 200, at least 1 flight-full of people. We initially wanted to bring survivors home to their relatives in Manila, but we hesitated because we had transportation issues (i.e., number coding). I also, being a woman and not very good with directions, though willing, could not really commit to bringing them where they needed to go. I was concerned with my time because I would be leaving the girls at home — our helper would leave in the afternoon and King would be going on a debriefing in the evening due to his Tacloban trip. We decided that some of us would be food servers, food runners, marshals, and one would be a counsellor (he was the only one trained to do debriefing with traumatized victims), and immediately registered online.
I think we started talking online on Saturday, and had a meeting on Monday. Upon seeing all the goods we had asked from the church, which as mentioned in my previous blogs held relief operations when Haiyan/Yolanda hit, we realized that what we wanted to do was no easy task. Carrying one sack full of relief bags alone was already hard work, haha. We had around 30 sacks and 1 big box, plus boxes of noodles and bottled water! It was way more than what we thought we would be bringing. Loading, transporting, unloading quickly became an issue, especially since our target departure from my house was 6am on Wednesday because the shift we chose was 8am to 3pm. We were able to work it out though, thanks to our team, our guys in church, and a few friends. They were a huge help.
I love doing group “projects” especially when they’re for blessing people. I love the heart, the team work, the bonding. I enjoyed having some of our team at home on Tuesday night, doing prep work. I enjoyed seeing each one working towards the common goal of serving our country even in the small ways that we knew how. I loved getting to know them better, some of whom I have never talked to for more than five minutes. What an opportunity to make my small world bigger. Anyway, it was a big mess afterwards haha, but we had fun! The men had a good workout loading the sacks onto our rented jeepney. Most of us probably had at least 2 hours of sleep, except for one who came from work (imagine that?!), and after packing all our food, we left at 7am.
We were hurrying to get to Villamor Airbase by 730, but we couldn’t go too fast because our jeepney was fully loaded. We encountered all sorts of problems that day. From our jeep not being allowed to enter the airbase, to not being allowed to set up to cook food (though we did get confused, we cooperated and gave the “Ladies” our packed meals, noodles and water), to all our relief goods not being accepted anywhere in the airbase, to our jeep breaking down. Three of us spent a good chunk of our morning figuring things out, and I thank God for people like Maeriz and Ninoy who are always cool and calm, because when I was at my wit’s end, they pressed on. Ninoy, who was with the jeep and the goods outside the base, told me he didn’t know what to do anymore, but then minutes later texted me this:
“Kaya natin toh! Walang aayaw! (We can do this! Nobody give up!) There may be situations we cannot control, but let’s help hand in hand to *get it done! All for God’s glory!”
He made me smile. I was really encouraged. Maeriz was at that time trying to find someone who could help us carry and bring our goods from our broken down jeep to anywhere they would receive our goods, which she did! She was even willing, before that, to speak to the Colonel in charge of the whole relief operation herself! Thank God for the Pasay LGU who had a booth there, waiting for survivors to come so they could bring them to their area. Since there were none yet, they agreed to get our goods and bring them to Tent City, which served as temporary home for evacuees. It was inside the Villamor Airbase Elementary School. Our donations were in good hands, plus there was no hassle in giving all of it to them. They seemed to have greater need for them as well.
Upon returning to the airbase, we joined the others in the Grandstand. We were told that we should eat while there were no flights coming in yet. Apparently there was 1 C130 plane full of people that they were able to serve while we were out. The other C130 planes were empty, and were used for loading goods. There were booths in the parking lot that served hot meals for anyone, and I mean anyone, who was hungry. Oplan Hatid was there. There were ambulances that were ready. There was a tent for medical aid, and a tent for kids! And in the Grandstand, on the highest level, there were hair cutting and massage services available for I believe anyone who needed them (though of course the survivors are priority).
All those people, well maybe most, were there for one thing — to make sure that our brothers and sisters who suffered so much from Haiyan/Yolanda were served. It was so emotional when I saw the people coming out of the C130, right before our shift ended. There were kids. There were elderly people on wheel chairs. One soldier was running with a wheelchair to another elderly woman near the plane. There were people on gurneys, who went straight to the ambulances waiting behind the Grandstand. We, the volunteers, cheered for them as they came. Our food service head, Mark, who was so patient and consistently active, instructed us to do so.
I was not anymore able to serve food to them because the shift rotated (yes, there were more volunteers that came), but we were happy to see our packed food being served, and I was told, even to the American soldiers. A couple of our teammates said that they saw some survivors eat their food without waiting for the utensils. They just dug in. They were that hungry. We were holding back our tears.
I believe everything that is being done in Villamor Airbase is great. Yes, they definitely need a better system, but I believe that all the services that are made available for the survivors — a nice welcome, food, water, relief goods, counselling, medical aid, haircut, massage, entertainment for the kids, a ride — is much appreciated. It’s after all about them, not about our convenience or glory, or whatever other wrong reason we may have in helping out.
Our experience volunteering last Wednesday made a great impact on us. Our hearts are filled with compassion for our people. In fact, some, if not all of us want to go back and volunteer again. Our hearts are full, grateful to God for what we have, grateful for the opportunity and ability to actually help, grateful to see so many other people, Filipinos and foreigners, giving so much of themselves.
Haiyan/ Yolanda may have devastated our country, but it has not destroyed us as a people. The Lord is still good and He loves the Philippines. He will restore and heal us.
The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. Psalm 33:12
Big thanks to our team — Ninoy, Maeriz, Emma, Jan, Dwight, Clark, Elaine, Grace, Honey, Reg, Blanche, Mikko, and Minda! Thank you for your contributions in kind, in funds, in planning, timewise and effortwise. What generous hearts you all have. Thanks to some of your victory group mates who also contributed monetarily, to help us do what we set out to do. God bless them! Thanks Rej for giving us a connection. He was a big help. Thanks Kuya Orly for your jeep, and your effort to help us. Thanks Eileen for rewarding us with your yummy lava cake a week later.
Big thanks to Briann and Kim for helping us load, transport, and unload many of our sacks last Monday. It was unplanned, but thank God you were there and generously offered help.
Big thanks to Chris and our EGSI guys in church Raul, Bernard, Oliver and others, and our driver Victor for helping us with the goods we wanted to bring to Villamor Airbase. You guys always go above and beyond your duty. God bless you all!
*update: Schedules of shifts have changed apparently, and as far as we know, walk-in registration (but very early) is better than online registration (and we think there is no more online registration). Don’t be surprised if sudden changes occur in their system. Just be prepared to help and serve the survivors. This might go on a few more weeks. I really don’t know who to contact anymore, but these Facebook pages might be able to answer your questions — Oplan Hatid and Oplan Salubong (children’s activity area). 🙂
The last time I was at a Victory Alabang singles retreat was nine years ago in Tagaytay. It was my second ever. I was single, but already engaged to King. We were given the privilege to share our love story then. This year, King and I were given another privilege to impart and teach the singles of our church at our Singles Getaway in Dahilayan, Bukidnon. We had always wanted to join or help in the getaways, but of course my husband would be needed in church. So we thank God for letting us be part of this one!
GIVE HONOR TO WHOM HONOR IS DUE
I want to honor first my husband. Seeing you in action makes me admire you more, babe! You serve with a glad heart, and I see it on your face and in your body language. There may have been a few stressful moments, but you never let any of that get you down. Tiring as it was, I know you loved serving the singles. You were always willing to do what was asked of you. You went the extra mile even, all while making sure I and your kids were doing okay, and making sure we had something great to teach in our session. And you never forgot to have fun! You enjoyed the place, the amenities (rides, if you will), being with the participants, being with the committee, and being with your family. You had many hats on in those 3-4 days, but you never forgot to enjoy all of it. You’re the man, babe! Servant leadership at its finest! It gives me so much joy to see you do what you love to do. 🙂
I also want to honor our family ministry pastor Ptr Chico and his wife Maryanne, for being such good friends to us. You always encourage us and support us in the things we do. Thank you for trusting King to help out with the singles. Thank you for trusting us to impart to the singles in one of the sessions. I see your humility and security, that the “singles ministry” is not about you. The singles are not yours, but they are the Lord’s. You are stewards, and great ones at that! Your desire to get personal is so admirable — you guys sitting with different victory groups every so often is just amazing to me. You don’t mind the work of meeting people in small, intimate settings. You make time for the singles, even with such busy schedules of parenting, counselling, doing marriage preparation programs, doing marriage journey programs, and officiating countless weddings! King and I look up to you guys, and we always appreciate what you teach us. And to make everything sweeter, we love all three of your kids! It was a joy for each one of us to be there with your family. 🙂
I want to honor our discipleship pastor Ptr John and his wife Joyce, who took care of the singles for four years! You have taken the
singles to Boracay and Bohol, two beautiful cities in our country. And just like our recent trip, I am sure they were also life-changing for the participants. I see your love for the singles, and your desire for them to be great men and women. I know you are excited to witness them enter the season of marriage too. You have made a great impact in so many lives with your knowledge, your passion and your faith, no matter how differently they are “packaged” in each of you. I am so proud of you Joyce, for the woman that you have become. I am so excited to see you as a mom as well! We’ve been travel buddies twice now, and I appreciate both your love for our girls. Thank you. 🙂
I want to honor the committee — Nathan, Maeriz, Ninoy, Mark, Joanne, Marvin, Ivin, and Janice!!! You were only a handful, but you guys did a great great job. There are no words to describe how amazed we are by your hard work and service. I may not have seen firsthand what each of you did, but I know each of your roles was essential to the success of the event. There were no big or small jobs, and I saw that all the more from each of you, because you were so humble and joyful. You had no air of entitlement or arrogance due to position or amount of responsibility. It was not perfect, as nothing ever is, but there was not a critical spirit in any of you that it was a joy to talk to and work with you. And I am so happy that even though you were working as volunteers, you were able to truly enjoy the retreat! The work was balanced by so much free time to play! Well-deserved too! Thank you all, for making the Singles Getaway what it was — enriching, relaxing, invigorating, fun, and life-changing! 🙂
It’s no secret that most singles want to get married. I hear women, not sure about the men, say that they have a list of qualities that they are praying for. Some of them have an actual list. It may sound absurd to some of you, but to be honest, I had a list when I was single too.
My list had physical attributes specified, as well as pretty specific character and personality traits. I wrote down that list to know what I myself wanted in a husband and as a prayer of the qualities I wanted in him, as opposed to just wanting to BE married and praying for ANY husband.
I realize, however, that we women can take this to a dangerous extreme. We have a strong tendency to be DEPENDENT on this list, to be stuck on this list. What if the man that God is already presenting to you does not fit your list? What if he misses the mark, misses YOUR mark, in terms of looks, personality, family background, financial status, or character?
Don’t get me wrong. Standards are great. They speak about the value that we put on ourselves. They help us stay on the right track, remember our priorities, and make the right choices. They help us set boundaries that prevent us from putting ourselves in compromising positions, positions that will lead us to sin against God. We need standards. High ones.
As daughters of the King of kings, we ought to have high standards as He placed such a high value on us when His Son died for us on the cross. But make sure your standards are high when it comes to character. Put a premium on character and the man’s growing relationship with God, and not so much on his looks, height, weight, job, ministry, money, or last name.
Yes, there are many considerations in choosing a husband. Of course you want one whom you will enjoy looking at and waking next to. I am quite forgiving when it comes to that, NOT to say that I am not happy with my husband’s looks! I love his eyes and his loving ways. He has grown more handsome because of his love and his character. That’s way more important to me. I’m just happy that he is taller than me! And I can’t do anything about weight, as that fluctuates haha, just as mine does.
You want a husband with a good family background, not just a nice family name. All families have issues, but what matters is how your man treats his family, because it is an indication of how he will treat you and your family. It matters also how his family treats you, though it shouldn’t be your deciding factor. It’s his loyalty to you that will matter when conflicts arise. I happen to love King’s family and my last name.
You want a financially responsible husband, whom you are willing to support and cheer so that he can achieve his dreams and goals. You want a man WITH dreams and goals. Honestly, I did not even consider my future husband’s occupation. I didn’t desire to be a pastor’s wife. In other words, whether or not King was a pastor or was going to be one, I would’ve still married him. I don’t think I even thought of that. My “concern” was my freedom to continue to serve in church, therefore I needed and wanted a man who loved God more than he loved me, and a man who would lead and provide for me and our family the way God calls a man to. King didn’t have to be a pastor to be such a man. It just so happened that he was called to be one.
You want a husband that jives with your personality. I know I wanted a man who made me laugh, but when my eyes were opened to King, I thought we didn’t have the same wave length. I really thought there was no way we would work because I love and am good at word games, while he was (not anymore) pretty slow haha. It initially didn’t make sense to me, though it made sense to our friends. Today, our personalities still clash sometimes, but our commitment to God and to each other is more important to us than our petty issues.
My favorite item on that list, though, is: THAT HE WOULD DANCE WITH ME. And you know, God is just wonderfully amazing that he gave me a husband who does. A small detail it is, but it all the more has shown me what an intimate, PERSONAL GOD He is. He truly knows my heart’s desires.
You may have more considerations, but don’t ever assume that your list is God’s will for you. Chances are, your list is already based on someone you are eyeing (I wrote mine before I met King though). Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. You may not get exactly what you want or expect. Don’t be blinded by your list either. He may not match a couple of the items on your list, but he could be the best man for you. You have been given the free will to choose, but exercise wisdom and rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you instead.
Better yet, STOP MAKING LISTS! Pray. Seek godly counsel. Get into the Word and let your mind get renewed by it, so you can see God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. Have a grateful heart. Be grateful that you are single at the moment. Be grateful that God has your future in His hands and He knows what and who is best for you. He knows more and better than you. Be grateful that His timing is perfect. Be grateful that you are not useless, not worthless, or have to be joyless while you are single. On the contrary, God saw you worthy of His Son’s bloodshed. He desires to use you in advancing His kingdom. Joy is from Him, not from marriage or a man or a relationship. You have God NOW. Love, grow, serve. And all these “things” will be given to you as well. 🙂
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
S.elling yourself. You are not an item, a thing, a possession. You are not a piece of meat. Do not degrade or belittle yourself. You are valuable. Precious. Worth waiting for. Blood-bought by no less than the King of kings. Loved. Accepted. There is no need to advertise, to sell, when you are secure in your identity in Christ.
S.elling yourself short. Raise your standards! Remember who you are. Remember whose child you are. Don’t settle for anything less than the Father’s best for you.
T.esting the waters. Don’t waste a person’s time just so you can have fun. Don’t play around with their feelings, just to see if there’s a possibility for a relationship. If you’re not sure (ladies) and if your pursuit is not pure or purposeful (gents), stop. Stop making excuses, saying you’re just making friends, when you know your motives are not necessarily pure. Stop saying that it’s not your fault because you’re not really doing anything, when you and I both know that doing nothing can mislead another. If you want to be honored, you’ve got to be honorable yourself.
T.easing. It can influence a person to see another person differently, good AND bad. We don’t want friendships to unnecessarily grow apart, and we don’t want relationships to develop at the wrong time. If you are a true, caring friend, stop teasing!
O.verthinking. Never assume that another person’s actions mean something more than what it is, unless of course, ladies, the man (yes, man — of age, single, working, financially responsible, spiritually mature or maturing, provided you yourself are of age, single, working, financially responsible, and spiritually mature or maturing) has specifically laid down his intentions. The same goes for you, MEN (yes, men, not boys). Never assume. The only way to know if she likes you too is by laying down your pure and purposeful intentions. It’s not for the faint of heart. Only a man, who is truly ready for commitment or rejection, can and should do this.
O.verestimating your own ability. Get real. Seek counsel if you don’t know or are not sure of what to do. If it’s something you realize you can’t handle or you don’t want to be part of, pull yourself out of the situation. Don’t pretend you’re okay when you’re not. There’s nothing wrong with “friendship,” you know the kind where one likes the other or both like each other, but if it derails you from your God-given purpose, then keep your distance. If anything disables you from guarding your heart, stop it. Put up those boundaries!
P.utting your best foot forward. Don’t perform. Don’t pretend to be better than you actually are. You won’t be able to sustain it. Chances are, people see right through you anyway. Be real. Be yourself. Be the person God is transforming you to be. Let people get to know who you are. You are flawed, but they will see and appreciate your humility.
P.laying “the game.” Whether you’re in a relationship or not, there should be no “game.” No playing cool, playing hard to get, playing coy. No sending mixed signals, no best foot forward, no testing the waters. Relationships are not a game, and they shouldn’t be treated as such. Sometimes we need to be strategic, sure, such as when we share some news or when we plan a surprise or when we want to motivate another, but that’s done out of love and honor. Playing “the game” or any game is the complete opposite, operating in deceit, dishonesty, pride. Find out what God’s will is in the season that you’re in, so you can make wise decisions. That is your best strategy now.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
IF YOU’RE ENGAGED, getting ready for this lifetime commitment with your fiance, with the wedding date set, knowing full well that God has brought the two of you together, here’s a tip for you that will save you a lot of heartache. NO SECRETS! If you have a dark or even not-so-dark past, you owe it to your fiance to tell them the truth. Why? Why do you have to dig up the past and share it? You’ve gotten over it, already healed from it. So why is it necessary? Exactly. You’re over it and are healed, so why not? Unless….. you’re still hiding something, or still unconsciously living in the past. Think about it. Yes it’s hard to come clean in the beginning and feelings may get hurt, but it’s the best way to let your future spouse know who you were and how far you’ve come (especially in cases like mine and King’s — engaged 6 months after meeting — click here for full story), and it’s the best way to test your own feelings, your character, and YOUR RELATIONSHIP as well.
Once your relationship stands the TEST OF REALITY, you’ll see that it’s the best way to prepare for your marriage. You are giving each other the opportunity to forgive one another, because like I said feelings may get hurt, depending on what happened in yours or your fiance’s past. You are creating a clean slate between the two of you. You are creating a CULTURE OF LOVE, honesty, trust, open communication, forgiveness, acceptance, humility, security/confidence, peace, unity — basics and essentials in a great marriage — as you enter into yours. You are laying down the groundwork.
I admit, I am no expert since I have been only married to King for a mere 6 years and 10 months, but this is something I personally felt I had to do before we got hitched. I had to swallow my pride and tell King the truth about my past. Because I have been completely transparent to him, there is none of the drama! No surprises, except the good kind. No reliving of the past, pointing fingers, counting of wrongs, or bitterness and resentment towards each other. Our marriage is not perfect, and like everyone else’s it takes work and a whole lot of learning, but I believe in that aspect, we did good.
Having said that, I have an even GREATER TIP FOR YOUTH AND SINGLES. While you’re still young and single, or maybe even old(er) and single, BE WISE! Do things that need not be hidden. Have relationships that you need not be ashamed of in the eyes of men and in the eyes of God. Live a life that need not be kept secret. Imagine that you don’t have to come clean to your future spouse because you have NO SECRETS! The freedom, the joy! For both you and your fiance! It’s a great honor to God, a great gift to your future spouse, and the best gift to yourself. 🙂