change for the better
A year ago, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer posed an interesting status message on his Facebook wall.

Forget about those New Year’s resolutions in which you decide on the first day of January how you will be conducting your life for the next twelve months. Instead, set up day-to-day goals for yourself, and then resolve to begin living with present moment awareness for the rest of your life. When you get good at living your present moments one day at a time, you’ll see yourself changing right before your own surprised eyes. Remember, anyone can do anything for just one day, so tune out the sentences that keep you locked into your old self-defeating ways and begin to enjoy each day of your bright new year.

What are some things you’ve wanted to do for yourself, one day at a time.

I’ve always been a firm believer of one day at a time or a baby step at a time especially during the times of my deepest sorrow. It worked. Every day that I moved on to something “normal” felt like an accomplishment. I resolve NOT to list down New Year’s resolutions and instead, do those little things I have ignored or shelved aside the past year and continue those activities or nurture attitudes that improve my life.

It is my resolve to change for the better in 2013. Many of us want to do the same and one can take inspiration from taglines of ““change for the better with Krem-Top” and “mas masarap na pagbabago sa 2013 with KremTop” or even quotable quotes. Tahj Mowry advice is ““ Don’t think that things can’t change. Things can change for the better in an instant. Keep believing, keep standing, & keep hoping.”

krem-top change for the better

Every new a chance to change your life.

These are just some of my day-to-day goals that can happen anytime of the week, month or the year 2013

1. Improve writing skills.

Attend a writing seminar at Writers’ Block Philippines or finish those “How to” book on creative writing.

2. Learn public speaking and Tagalog

I am often invited to speak as a resource person and I often decline for either of these two reasons: (1) I can’t speak Tagalog fluently or (2) I don’t know how to convey my thoughts into a speech. I may need to teach myself or ask outside help.

3. Lose those 5 pounds. Exercise more. Be disciplined in portion control.

Since my USA trip in November 2010, I have not lost the 5 pounds that I have gained. Well, the good news is that I have not gained the past year. I will resolve to go to the gym at least five times a week.

4. Explore the Philippines.

This year was about travelling to new places in the Philippines like Davao, Naga City, Kalibo and Batanes . I want to promote the various places in the Philippines by travelling to those provinces that I have not visited.

5. Learn to take more videos for my blog entries.

Youtube is the number one social media. Delivering a message is best if I tap this medium.

6. Try to earn more.

I am passionate about doing meaningful work that I tend to neglect avenues for income opportunities. For me to continue my advocacy, I need to be be self-reliant.

7. Continue to develop emerging media

Emerging media is the evolution of utilizing technology to share information in new and innovative ways. I value my independence as a blogger and will continue to hone my knowledge and skills.

8. Inspire more change makers

Jay Jaboneta in his first blog entry for 2012 inspire more change makers where he states that

the ultimate goals of leadership are two-pronged: influence and reproduction. Success without succession is a failure. Success without inspiring others to do the same is also a failure.

I don’t have a grassroots movement to change the world like Jay but perhaps, I can inspire younger bloggers (like Anna Oposa) to be change makers by using Blog Watch as a start.

9. Continue to nurture old and new friendships

Busy schedules should never be in the way to nurture friendships. I have two groups of friends who resolve to meet up for birthday clubs every quarter. Perhaps , meet up more just for coffee breaks.

10. Continue to affirm myself.

I often read daily affirmations in the past to help me in my recovery (grief journey). But as I know it, recovery is a work in progress.

This is one beautiful meditation from Louise Hay that quite applies to me.

In the infinity of life where I am, all is perfect, whole, and complete. My life is ever new. Each moment of my life is new and fresh and vital. I use my affirmative thinking to create exactly what I want. This is a new day. I am a new me. I think differently. I speak differently. I act differently. Others treat me differently. My new world is a reflection of my new thinking. It is a joy and a delight to plant new seeds, for I know these seeds will become new experiences. All is well in my world.

12. Live a life of gratitude.

It took some time to be in a state of gratitude but I managed to do so for everything that shows up in my life. I am thankful for the “typhoons” as well as the smooth sailing. There is a lesson or gift in each of these experiences.

I try to find joy not in what’s missing in my life but in how I can serve.

What about you? What are some things that you want to change for the better? Share with your friends by logging on to

batanes hedge rows1

Change for the better Photo via

dado family 2012

What better way to spend Christmas than be with family and sibling.

If I could give each of you a gift I’d like to give you the gift of peace, as much peace as you can possibly find. If you find your situation is less than ideal, I hope you take what’s good and let go of the rest.

Enjoy and cherish the rest of the Christmas season.

Here is our Christmas day in a Photo Video:

If you can’t view the video, just watch it in youtube:

Merry Christmas to all. Happy Holidays to all my readers.

Today, December 21 is the most dreaded day of 2012. If we are to believe the Mayans, today is supposed to be  the ““end of the world” and the start of a global apocalyptic event. Like other predicted doomsday events, it will cause destruction and the end of humanity.

A descendant of the Maya, Jose Manrique Esquivel from Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula says  the December 21 date is a celebration of their survival despite centuries of genocide and oppression. He blamed profiteers for fueling doomsday fears.

Esquivel added that “for us, this Dec. 21 is the end of a great era and also the beginning of a new era. We renew our beliefs. We renew a host of things that surround us”.

While some believe that the Mayan prediction is true, I  look at it as another prophecy that will not happen. Doomsday scenarios are bound to happen again. What do we do when it comes again?

I say to just let go and let God.


I recall a few years ago, my daughter  wrote that “ the only thing we should strive for, she said, is calm. “. I immediately thought of serenity. The following day, I asked “did you mean serenity?”

And she said “I think so”.

I explained that most human beings search for serenity in their otherwise chaotic life. It is probably true that the end of the world may come sometime in the future but what can we do about it?  Things will never be within our control.

So I told my daughter Serenity isn’t freedom from the storm , but peace within the storm and I reminded her “Remember the Serenity Prayer poster you bought for dad two years ago from the States?”

serenity prayer
The Serenity Prayer Poster Lauren bought at is now placed at our bedroom wall

The Serenity Prayer is a prayer that applies to most of us in recovery whether in grief, loss, broken-heart, alcoholism, addiction or some dysfunction. And what is the most common element?

God or God as we understand God , to be more politically correct.

Without sounding preachy, I enthused that  “it was God that helped us in our grief recovery. Despite our initial anger with God, He helped us through the pain. Perhaps God can guide you too”.

True, it is God that is our source of guidance and positive change. It doesn’t mean we’re not responsible for ourselves. We are but we aren’t alone. Recovery is not a do-it-yourself project. We do our part, relax, and then trust that the changes we’ll experience will be right for us. Recovery does not mean looking at other people as our source to meet our needs. Sure they can help us but they are not the source. We can tap and trust God for the energy, wisdom and guidance for our recovery process.

Living one day at a time

We live life one day at a time which requires so much faith in us. We don’t look back at the past unless healing from the past is part of today’s work. We look ahead to make future plans. We focus on this day’s activity, living it to the best of our ability.

We surrender to God’s will . We stop trying to control and settle for a life that is manageable. We trust that God ‘s will for us is good, generous and with a direction. Through trial and error, we learn to separate our will from God’s will. An important of recovery is owning the power to take care of ourselves. Sometimes, we need to step out, step back or step forward which can be very frightening.

Without God’s help, I would not be where I am today in my grief recovery.

And so every time, some thing bothers me like the angst of my daughter, I always recite the Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

And I call upon God to help me and I will ask for what I need.

Just like Esquivel,  this Dec. 21 can be the end of a great era and also the beginning of a new era.

Christmas lights bring out that warm fuzzy feeling that glows inside for the entire season. Childhood memories of twinkling lights along with Christmas carols are enough to lift my mood. Even during the darkest moment in my life when I lost my son, the fond memories brought joy in my heart.  It is my wish that others who feel sad, lonely and blue can find the joy of the season.  According to Ruth Carter Stapleton, ““ Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most.”

christmasdecorations (1)

I love it when anyone tries to lift spirits up for the Christmas season especially for the poor and less fortunate Filipinos.

Take for example One Meralco Foundation, Maliwanag ang Pasko(MAP) tie up with the Department of Tourism (DOT). Both are making Christmas brighter and more fun by energizing island schools and creating more Liwanag Parks .

DOT Secretary  Mon Jimenez explains that    “the creation of Liwanag parks will bring our people together, making the Christmas spirit stronger as we approach the actual day. And yes, it is a vision that can only be made through collaborative efforts. This  newfound partnership, therefore, is one perfect example that hinges on private-public partnership. This time, it is focused on the business of giving glory, where both parties work with their strength to create something bigger than themselves, reflecting the true spirit of Christmas,”

How to be part of the Maliwanag ang Pasko

Maliwanag ang Pasko  (MAP) has been around since 2006 and  it   promises to be bigger and brighter this year and they want you , my dear readers to be part of it. By joining the program, you could be one of two daily winners of P5,000 from December 1-22, 2012. At the same time, your support will help them energize island schools in Palawan, Bohol, Quezon and the Dinagat Islands, to help bring Christmas cheer to more children and communities around the country.

dinagat islands
New Nazareth NHS, Basilisa, Dinagat Islands

Imagine how your help can benefit the beneficiaries of the Maliwanag Ang Pasko program:

1. Cagbalete Island National High School (Mauban, Quezon)
2. Cagsi-ay III National High School (Mauban, Quezon)
3. San Fernando National High School (El Nido/Bacuit, Palawan)
4. Teneguiban National High School (El Nido, Palawan)
5. Gaudencio Abordo (Bulawit) National High School (Linapacan Island, Palawan)
6. Pandanon National High School (Jetafe, Bohol)
7. Cabul-An National High Shool (Buenavista, Bohol)
8. Rizal National High School (Basilisa, Dinagat Islands)
9. Cab-Ilan National High School (Dinagat Islands)
10. New Nazareth National High School (Dinagat Islands)

Join now by following these easy steps:

1. Like the Meralco Facebook Page on

2. Install the Maliwanag ang Pasko app at

3. Take a photo of your home decorated brightly with Christmas lights or take a picture when you visit one of the Liwanag Parks, either here at Meralco or in one of the participating LGU areas

4. Fill out your details on the app and submit the photo

“Nobody is left behind when our bright tomorrow comes,” says MAP Program Head Jeffrey Tarayao

As Christmas blessings brighten our world, let’s help brighten others. I am sure  the school beneficiaries will  go back and remember these warm childhood memories of a brighter and  fun Christmas.

maliwanag park


For many years, my family greeted the Christmas season with great joy and heavy despair. Every Christmas without my son, I sensed my husband saying “I’m not ready yet….”I’m not ready for the annual flood of memories without Luijoe. “ Butch dreaded the sight of the cheerful Christmas decorations especially Santa Claus. I wasn’t ready either but I had two surviving children who wanted to celebrate Christmas. They experienced many magical Christmas memories so my daughter once wrote in a Christmas greeting card. How could I take that away from them? I tried to figure out how to handle the holidays I’m never going to be ready for in places I may never be settled in. I thought…as long as we have the stockings up and Christmas tree and cookies ready, then let the holidays come!

gingerbread garland

I decorated our new home (our new normal?) with the treasures that speak of our Christmas history, finding joy in the memories they sparked. As I caressed Luijoe’s stockings on my cheeks , the flood of memories spill out. It was even more stressful during the first Christmas without my son. I wasn’t ready for the clutch of pain that wrapped my heart in grief as I placed the ornaments on our tree. Oh yes, I have learned through the years. I brought some of the old, added a few pieces of new and practiced the art of blending yesterday with today in hopes of creating another memory for tomorrow. That’s how the “Christmas Angels theme” evolved in our home, in honor of our own angel, Luijoe.


I created two color themes for our Christmas decors, the traditional red and green for the informal family den and burgundy, purple and silver theme in the formal living area. Maybe I just wanted to be creative and innovated for the sake of my new normal , my new life without my son. I never got the chance to be in total despair because I baked Christmas goodies like sugar cookies , food for the gods, fruit cake and the Gingerbread man cookies. I started the Christmas Angel themes as a symbol that Luijoe is not far from home, that he lives with us. Joyful activities like baking and decorating proved therapeutic as it evoked feelings of love for my children. I continued to survive because of that love. The spicy aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and mace that wafted our house brought warm childhood memories. Blending this old tradition with new tradition helped me cope with grief during the holidays.

I notice the difference in my husband’s grief during the holidays. Butch is more cheerful. There are less tears yet I know the pain is still there. The heart never forgets, even when the world does. It looks like we’re getting better, improving either with time and patience. Or maybe because it is simply becoming a thread in the continuing fabric of our new normal. The fact that Butch bought Christmas Lanterns is a huge step in the grief journey during the dreaded holidays.

The change in mood happened six years ago. It came as a surprise when my husband wanted to go to Divisoria. I asked “what will we do there?”

His reply “buy ribbons”. I raised my eyebrows. We have never been to Divisoria together in the longest time. . Then he added “I noticed you are running out of red and green ribbons” . Wow, he noticed these minute details when in the past he was oblivious to anything that glittered in the household. I believe I learned to be more creative because of the artistic streak from my husband. He wanted me to have my usual supply of beautiful, color-coordinated ribbons to adorn our Christmas presents and cookie baskets. (Remember I have two sets of Christmas color themes?)


I look forward to the holiday season more than ever. I smile and sigh that finally my husband is able to handle the holidays a little bit better. I gather in my blessings and count them all. I count the blessings of the most important people in my life and I find the peace that comes with counting a holiday of joy remembered and love shared. Love never dies, and the light always shines in our hearts and home.

christmas family 2011

Other Articles on Coping with Grief during the Holidays
Handling the Holidays
How To Help Yourself Through The Holidays
Do I Celebrate the Holidays or Not?

“To children, stuffed animals like teddy bears are more than toys. They’re imaginary friends who are effective comfort givers in times of extreme stress and fear, helping them heal from trauma and tragedy” – A Thousand Bearhugs Project

My friend, Cathy Babao is once again spearheading the Bear Hug project which she started for the children in Bicol in 2006. Around this time last year, super-typhoon Reming (Durian) caused so much havoc in Bicol like no other. Not even World War two was like this. Cathy also organized the same Bear Hug project in Sendong stricken areas and the Negros Quake.

Bicol tragedy
And now Davao Oriental. I cannot begin to imagine their trauma in losing their homes, and even loved ones.

Storm “Pablo” “washed away entire villages and hamlets, wiped out roads and bridges; flattened cornfields and banana plantations; wrecked fishing fleets; and buried homes under landslides and walls of mud.

Sonny Tadanon, a fisherman and a father of nine, said at the evacuation center in the town of Davao Oriental recounts. ““I’ve lived here all my life and I am now 45, but I have not experienced anything like this before” .

Julius Julian Rebucas, told Reuters that his mother and brother had been swept away in a flash flood. ““I no longer have a family,” he said.The young boy recalls the last thing his mother said was  ‘I love you”.  ““It’s sad because I no longer have a family.”

When you hear this terrible news, one begins to ask is there anything one can do? There are many ways to help and one way to help out is checking our closet for plushies, stuffed toys or teddy bears that you can donate to the children of Davao Oriental.

teddy bears

Donate a teddy bear.

Send your donations to Sto. Domingo Convent, Information Center, 537 Quezon Avenue.

Please take time out from the Christmas rush to see if there are any stuffed toys or teddy bears your children no longer use.

Every bear that arrives matters because it counts towards making one more child happy. To share and to give is the true essence of the season. I pray that you help us make the thousand bears a reality. Think of one bear as one smile, one hug – one young life given joy and love this Christmas.

Two thousand years ago, a child was (and is) the reason why we celebrate the most important holiday of the year.

Photos from Inquirer

Gingerbread ManOnce upon a Christmas season, a mother baked Gingerbread Men cookies to the delight of her three children who eagerly waited for the cookies to bake. The waft of molasses, cinnamon and spices excited them. “We’re hungry, mom!”. The mother told them to be patient and promised to read them the Story of the Gingerbread Man as soon as the cookies were baked.

She got three cookies and laid them on a platter.

“Can we eat the Gingerbread Man now?” The children tugged at their mom’s apron.

“Let’s read the Gingerbread Man story first so you know the legend…” the mother said and left the platter of cookies on the table. The three children and the mother huddled around the Christmas tree as she began to read…

Once upon a time a little old woman and a little old man lived in a cottage………
The little old woman and little old man were very hungry and wanted to eat the gingerbread man. As soon as he was cooked, the little old woman opened the oven door. The gingerbread man jumped out of the tin and ran out of the open window shouting, ‘Don’t eat me!’……..

The mother continued on until the end where the fox ate the Gingerbread Man.

“Did you like the story?”

“It’s sad that the fox ate the Gingerbread Man in the end. Can we now eat the Gingerbread Man Cookies? We’re not like the sly fox.” The children discussed among themselves.

“Sure…get your cookies on the plate.”

The three children turned to the platter…”Mom, look… the Gingerbread Man jumped out of the plate. He’s gone. ”

The mom looked surprised “Maybe he ran away… Let’s look for the Gingerbread Man”

The three children looked all over the house until each of them found their Gingerbread Man hidden in their toy chest.

The kids beamed with laughter “Silly Gingerbread Man. The fox will eat you anyway. Don’t run away now.”

And so this mother carried this tradition until the kids were older and wiser to know that the Gingerbread Man didn’t really ran away. By now you know I was that crazy mother. Hehe.

I instructed the kid’s yaya to hide it discreetly while I read the story to my three children.

For the past 20 or so years, I bake Gingerbread Man Cookies only because my crazy tale and the warm fuzzy feeling of christmas memories give my two older girls some comfort. The holidays are a wonderful time to fill my home with the aroma and fragrance of Christmas through baking Gingerbread Man and Christmas cookies. I ‘ve baked all sorts of Christmas goodies like Lemon Squares, Fruit Cake, Brandy Cake, Apple Pie, and other bar cookies but the demand of Gingerbread Man cookies are high on the list.

Though I don’t read the Gingerbread Man story anymore, I hang the cookies up on the garlands of our kitchen and dining area. The kids share the cookies to their close friends and they often say that they have never tasted a Gingerbread Man cookie.

Sure there are a few Gingerbread Man sold in other bakeshops. I bought the Gingerbread Man cookie in other bake shops but it tasted mostly of flour. Maybe because it’s not that easy to bake Gingerbread Man cookies . Our tropical climate makes the dough difficult to handle. Constant chilling is needed. Baking at the right temperature is tricky. If underbaked, the cookie crumbles easily. If overbaked, the cookie taste burnt and bitter. Still, I am sharing my Gingerbread Man Cookie recipe and the story for all to enjoy.

According to my girls, it’s the baking of the Gingerbread Man Cookies that evokes childhood memories of Christmas.

Communities across the globe are joining in The Compassionate Friends on its 16th Annual Worldwide Candle Lighting on December 9, 2012.

16th Worldwide Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting
 Where: Kiosk area of the Church of the Risen Lord,
 Laurel Avenue, UP Campus, QC
 Map : Check this google map:
 When Date: Sunday , December 9, 2012
Time: 5:00 to 8:00 PM
Contact me here.

Here is a simple memorial which you can do at home with four candles.

Memory Candles

Read More →

16th Worldwide Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting
 Where: Kiosk area of the Church of the Risen Lord,
 Laurel Avenue, UP Campus, QC
 Map : Check this google map:
 When Date: Sunday , December 9, 2012
Time: 5:00 to 8:00 PM


Holidays are a season of cheer and happiness for many of us. For others it serves as a constant reminder of their loved ones who are no longer with them.

On the second Sunday of December, parents worldwide join together and light candles for their dead children.

For 12 years, parents gathered on the second Sunday in December in homes, churches, parks and gyms. Sunday night, families all around the world lighted candles at 7 p.m. in remembrance of their beloved children. It has been 4 years for the Compassionate Friends Philippines.

“You wish you could be naive again, go back to your life the way it was,” said Kristy Mueller, who organized the South Bay candle-lighting ceremony in Palos Verdes Estates in the USA.

“But you can’t,” she said. “You don’t get over it. . . . And this is a hard time of the year. When you can’t help but think about what you’re missing.”

For many of bereaved parents, this is a difficult month. Holiday traditions bring families together, but they also spotlight grief and amplify loss.

The company of other parents is part of what made Sunday’s candle-lighting so special.


Our candle lighting ceremony is usually simple with traditional Christmas music being played softly, candlelight videos, poems read , stories of our children shared, candles lit — but it was packed with meaning.

A fellow parent wrote this poignant poem in Tagalog.

Sa Bawat Hakbang

by Vilma Dee

Sisinghap singhap ako’y nagsikap
Upang sa kalaliman ng dagat ako’y umahon
Tila ba sabik sa salubong mong yakap
Tulad ng hamog sa sariwang dahon

Unti-unti mula sa kawalang hanggan
Lagusan ng kamalayan aking narating
Tila ba sabik sa salubong mong yakap
Tulad ng maog sa sariwang dahon

Ano’t nasilaw sa bagong mundo
Sa dating payapa ngayo’y magulo
Tila ba lahat sabik ako’y masdan
Tulad sa hamog ng sariwang dahon

Di malimot unang haplos na iyon
Maipadamang pagmamahal tanging layon
Tula ba lahat sabik ako’y masdan
Tulad ng hamog sa sariwang dahon

Sa unang hakbang kamay mo’y kaagapay
Lahat ng gawin nais mo tayo’y sabay
Tula ba sabik na ako sa iyo’y matulad
Tulad ng paruparo mula sa kanlungan

Kay ganda din pala buhay sa lupa
Nguni’t di singganda ng tahanan ng MANGHUHULMA
Tila ba nagising sa mahabang paghimlay
Tulad ng paruoparo mula sa kanlungan

Sa piling mo nadama ko kaibang pagsinta
Nguni’t di singtulad ng pagibig ng MANLILIKHA
Tila ba nagising sa mahabang paghimlay
Tulad ng paruparo mula sa kanlungan

Iglap lang pala tayo’y magkakasama
Salamat AMA sa maikling magsasadula
Tila ba napagod sa pagsamantalang laya
Ngayo’y bumalik sa IYO puno ng sigla

AKING AMA, ako’y narito na
Dala ang masayang kwento sa lupa
Mula sa pansamantalang laya
ANAK mong ito’y muli kang bibigyang saya

A short video of our beloved children