The KidZania RightZkeepers—Bache, Urbano, Beebop, Vita and Chika. They are the guardians assigned to protect children’s rights—the right to be, the right to know, to care, to create, to share, to play and the most important one of all, the right to be a child.

The KidZania RightZkeepers—Bache, Urbano, Beebop, Vita and Chika. They are the guardians assigned to protect children’s rights—the right to be, the right to know, to care, to create, to share, to play and the most important one of all, the right to be a child.

Though I don’t have little kids, I still get excited for all the kids in the Philippines. A city where kids rule—where they can imagine and actually get to experience what they want to be when they grow up—this is KidZania Manila!

I attended the presentation of industry partners last Thursday. KidZania Manila introduced and paid tribute to its Industry Partners during a presentation held at the Hotel Intercontinental Manila. Over 100 officials representing the different Industry Partners, along with members of the media and other guests, were in attendance, as they celebrated the wonderful play experience in store for Filipino kids.

KidZania Manila Industry Partners Director Cecille L. Mariño

KidZania Manila Industry Partners Director Cecille L. Mariño

Immersive, interactive role play rooted in real-life activities and establishments is at the core of the KidZania experience. And that is where Industry Partners support the experience: with their expertise in their respective industries, Industry Partners help bring realism to the kid-sized city, providing children with truly engaging activities and skills that they can use in real life. What would your kids want to be when they grow up? They will have a choice of role playing a pharmacist, a pilot, a doctor , nurse and more.

With more than 100 role playing activities, KidZania Manila empowers children to explore, discover, and choose whatever roles they want. Here, children get to experience how a community works, earn and manage their money, as well as cooperate and work with others. Each experience is completely hands-on and helps develop teamwork, independence, self-esteem, and valuable life skills – equipping kids to create a better world in the future.

At KidZania Manila, kids can be ever-reliable pharmacists at the Pharmacy sponsored by Mercury Drug. “Through this play and learn concept, they can better appreciate the pharmacists’ role in keeping them healthy,” said Vivien Que-Azcona, the drugstore company’s president. Pictured here are representatives from the Mercury Drug team (from left): Louie Calalang, Nikki Angulo, Vice President for Purchasing Cora Lim and Lyle Abadilla.

At KidZania Manila, kids can be ever-reliable pharmacists at the Pharmacy sponsored by Mercury Drug. “Through this play and learn concept, they can better appreciate the pharmacists’ role in keeping them healthy,” said Vivien Que-Azcona, the drugstore company’s president. Pictured here are representatives from the Mercury Drug team (from left): Louie Calalang, Nikki Angulo, Vice President for Purchasing Cora Lim and Lyle Abadilla.

In KidZania, our children can imagine, play and have fun, enjoying the amazing role play experiences at KidZania Manila. They will learn, as they play, about the varied, interesting roles and establishments that collaborate and serve to create a good community. KidZania Industry Partners will make the KidZania Manila experience as authentic and meaningful as possible for the children who will visit our play city.

kidzania manila

So when is opening day? It will open by summer at the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. As of this writing, construction is 80% completed.

kidzania layout

Excited? Visit for more information and updates.

By Lakwatserang Paruparo as originally posted on Blog Watch, Philippine Online Chronicles

They chose to become policemen.
They strived to be the best they can be.
They didn’t really want to be heroes.
They just wanted to do the job they loved to do.
And that job is to defend the country and their countrymen.

They lived by their core values of Service, Integrity and Excellence and their motto is “By skill and virtue, we triumph.”

But life can really be cruel sometimes. Despite the intensive training they got for being an elite group known as “The Philippine National Police Special Action Force” or “PNP-SAF,” it is unfortunate that the bullets that killed them knew no training to recognize them. Instead, the ones who pulled the trigger on them were the ones highly trained to recognize them as the enemy.

And so they fell.

Image from @MisterBanatero. Some rights reserved

Image from @MisterBanatero. Some rights reserved

Forty four brave young men fell doing their duty to their motherland. They fell on an unfortunate day, a Sunday. They fell on a day when people were mostly worshipping and praying for peace. They even fell on the birth anniversary of the late President Corazon C. Aquino on January 25. Incidentally, on January 29, 1991, or 24 years ago, she signed Republic Act 6975 and with it, the PC-SAF became the PNP-SAF. The objective of the said Act was the need to reshuffle and revamp every government agency to facilitate the transition of the government from Dictatorship to Democracy.

Those who have seen the photographs of the Fallen 44 on television cannot help but feel a tinge of sadness as if they know them personally. There is an invisible thread that somehow linked the country to them and their loved ones, a link that understood the grief, never mind the reason for their deaths. I watched and felt sad. As a mother, I couldn’t imagine what their own grieving mothers are feeling right now. I could only reach out in prayer that their souls journey and rest in blissful peace after their bodies have been brutally massacred.

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, son of the late President Cory, declared January 30, 2015 a “Day of Mourning” for these brave and fearless officers of the Special Action Force.

As in the days of Typhoon Yolanda, or the early days of the Pork Barrel and DAP controversies, or even the recent papal visit, nothing divides our country more than opinions relating to the words and actions of the President. I know he cannot please everyone: there will always be dissenters, bashers and critics and there will also be the perennially jaundiced followers and apologists but amidst all these, surely, there’s the right thing to be done at the right time and the right place. It’s not giving in to popular demand or riding the tide of a politically correct decision. It is simply being human and humane devoid of political trappings.

Prior to the “Day of Mourning” were days of waiting and expecting, and eventually, bashing and defending not just in social media but in mainstream media as well. #NasaanAngPangulo trended worldwide more than “TruthfortheFallen44” or “SAF44.” Former Presidents and former Generals joined in the fray as the President, his concerned cabinet members and the officers involved in the cover operation were catapulted into the limelight of notoriety once more. Suddenly, everyone had an opinion. Suddenly, everyone wanted to be heard. Suddenly, the war turned to a word war that burned in cyberspace.

That wouldn’t have been the case had the President did what he should have done as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and as a human being. The Head of the Roman Catholic Church, the charismatic Pope Francis just barely stepped out of our country leaving a trail of hope and faith amidst chaos and despair when everyone was suddenly jolted back to reality. The least that the Filipinos wanted to hear from the President during his televised address of the nation last January 28 was an honest-to-goodness admission of accountability instead of a “tour’ of his mind with its intricate and oftentimes misplaced logic that perfectly screamed “evasion!” What’s wrong with saying “I am responsible” the way sacked PNP Chief Supt. Getulio Napeñas stated? What’s wrong with saying “I am sorry” for the botched covert operations? Does he need the blood of 44 more men to write that down?

Then came the day when the 44 bodies in metal caskets arrived at Villamor Air Base where the #Fallen 44 was given the appropriate honors. After the much-criticized speech, the President could have redeemed himself by being present at the ceremonies. Voila! He wasn’t! Instead, he chose to grace the previously scheduled inauguration of the Mitsubishi plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. It’s in times like this when I think having a wife would’ve been beneficial to him because a woman’s wisdom sometimes can save a man’s ass. And I wonder, who in the world advised him to put a car above a soldier’s dignity, and never mind going to the arrival of the bodies because he will lead the necrological services anyway?

And people continue to ask, where is his mercy and compassion? If the Pope himself expressed his desire to be with the Yolanda victims as soon as he heard about the disaster in Leyte, and if he insisted on flying to Tacloban amidst a Signal No. 2 typhoon, why couldn’t the President personally condole with the bereaved loved ones and be at the arrival of the slain SAF officers? Why, oh, why?

Image by Paolo Arevalo. Some rights reserved.

Image by Paolo Arevalo. Some rights reserved.

Being there for someone in times of loss is more than enough comfort. It means a lot to have someone like the President of the country to be there to show he truly cares, that he has a heart for those fallen soldiers who he called heroes. Never mind if he doesn’t admit that he gave the marching orders and sent those men to their graves. There is no need for words, a strong presence is more than enough to show his big heart, if he really has one.

People of the Philippines: “Sir, where were you when your presence was needed most?”

President: “I don’t think I was ever asked that question. At the same token, parang it’s a rhetorical question, ‘di ba?”

People of the Philippines: Was that to much to ask, Mr. President?


Farewell #Fallen44

by Richard Ramos as originally posted Who or what is the Pinoy Millennial? at the Philippine Online Chronicles.

Selfie-Pasko-Tomic-300x198 (1)One should suppose that it is inevitable that each generation will have unique characteristics, all of which have been shaped by what has been happening in their times. If Generation X is known for its open-minded and philosophical bent (perhaps as a result of higher living standards and a reaction to the last decades of the Cold War), then what is Generation Y – The Millennials – all about?

Getting it right
The first thing that we should qualify is: what generation exactly are we talking about? Some people think of Millennials as those who were born in the 1980’s all the way to the early 2000s. However, still others think that Millennials should only be classified as those who have not experienced a life without the Internet, or were at least in on the rise of the online community. Whatever the case may be, it seems that if you’re in your early thirties or younger, then you’re probably a Millennial, if we’re going to go by age.

So, what are the big attributes of Millennials – and more importantly, Millennial Filipinos?

Is it all about “me”?
One glaring aspect – be it positive or negative – is the Millennial trait of being concentrated on the self. In the most negative of cases, you’re talking about a certain sense of entitlement, of how everything they do is designed to turn out in their favor. Even their shallowest habit – that of taking selfies at inopportune times – can be traced to these factors. With Filipinos, this can be a cultural one-two punch, as the younger generations are no doubt less community-minded, in the sense of formal institutions like the Church, Family, or Government.

On the other hand, even if they do have a narcissistic complex, they can also be very caring when it comes to their friends. Millennials definitely exhibit extreme loyalty at times to their friends – provided their friends are the same way. While parts of these closely-knit personal networks are based on a certain amount of selfishness and a need for a “custom-built” social structure, it can’t be denied that when it comes to Millennials, friends are family.

Instant everything
Millennials are not very patient. All you have to do is look at your younger cousins, brothers, and other family or clan members to realize that more and more, patience is becoming a scarce virtue. And it’s no surprise – after all, everything can be found online. Information is literally on-hand, and communication is a press of a touchscreen button away.

If you think that this is an exaggeration, think of it this way: Before the advent of the Internet or even SMS messaging, people had to call each other up to make plans to go out. This actually made people prepare well, dress up well, and basically treat being with each other as valuable time. Now that the younger ones can keep track of everybody from their mobile devices, keeping in touch isn’t a matter of being face to face: seeing them onscreen is good enough. Welcome to the instantaneous world of Millennials!

Wealth and materialism
This may be a good or bad thing, but Millennials are very much aware of the need to have the means to keep their lifestyles at a level they find comfortable. On the good side, this means that many young Millennials are preparing better for their careers, and are willing to work harder and at stranger hours then the generation before them. You need look no further than the rise of the call center industry to see how much they are willing to sacrifice many things, simply to make sure they have the resources for the lives they want to lead.

On the other end of the spectrum, Millennials can also be more susceptible to falling into questionable practices because of their needs. It’s not unheard of across the generations to see young people get into drug-dealing and prostitution, but Millennials may have a higher percentage of people who go into it willingly, and without much trauma – after all, for them, it’s just another way to earn money.

If the Gen-Xers were able to detach themselves intellectually and emotionally from older institutional and cultural patterns (hence the philosophy and need to change things), Millennials have taken this to an extreme, with many of them feeling detached or alienated from major social and institutional structures. They don’t feel like religion is addressing their concerns, and the government is just bureaucracy that gets in the way. Family is at best sympathetic, at worst another social layer they simply have to withstand.

How do you deal with Millennials?
The very first thing you have to understand if you’re not a Millennial is that they have a very different way of processing information. Millennials can process a very large amount of information, but at the same time, they don’t necessarily understand the deeper meanings or connections in the information that they have. For them, they prevent information overload by not thinking too deeply about all the information that they know. Millennials definitely know more than Non-Millennials (that must be accepted if you’re going to get anywhere with them), but when it comes down to thinking things through, Millennials may not exactly be the best generation for that.

Illumination, then, is one way to connect with them. Accept that they know more stuff than you do, and that they can access information far faster than you ever can (after all, they are the first generation to master living in a world with an online component). Make them understand, however, that your experiences and your method of thinking can give you a different insight that they may have missed. If there is anything a Millennial will like to hear, it’s a properly-given point of view.

Dealing with their emotions is probably much more complicated than normal, since by nature many Millennials (Filipino ones in particular) are suspicious of the older generation. Do you remember that thing about having intense relationships with their friends? Well, if you aren’t a friend yet, then the best you can do is be a friend to them first, until you become a person that they think of as a friend – there’s a very important distinction there. However, don’t be surprised that once the door has been opened, that it can still slam shut at the slightest provocation. For many Filipino Millennials, though they hope you won’t be like the others, they will still be jaded enough to logically think that you will revert to type as one of the “oldies.”

A final understanding
In the end, understanding the Filipino Millennial is accepting that they can be very intelligent, very profound, yet at the same time very shallow, and probably yearning for something much more than they can grasp or understand immediately. And if you really want to connect with them, you will just have to know that they really are more complicated than just being the “selfie generation.”

This is the full text of Pope Francis’ homily, as delivered during the Holy Mass at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, Manila, Sunday January 18 (Source: Rappler)

Pope Francis Homily

“A child is born to us, a son is given us” (Is 9:5). It is a special joy for me to celebrate Santo Niño Sunday with you. The image of the Holy Child Jesus accompanied the spread of the Gospel in this country from the beginning. Dressed in the robes of a king, crowned and holding the sceptre, the globe and the cross, he continues to remind us of the link between God’s Kingdom and the mystery of spiritual childhood. He tells us this in today’s Gospel: “Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mk 10:15). The Santo Niño continues to proclaim to us that the light of God’s grace has shone upon a world dwelling in darkness, bringing the Good News of our freedom from slavery, and guiding us in the paths of peace, right and justice. The Santo Niño also reminds us of our call to spread the reign of Christ throughout the world.

In these days, throughout my visit, I have listened to you sing the song: “We are all God’s children.” That is what the Santo Niño tells us. He reminds us of our deepest identity. All of us are God’s children, members of God’s family. Today Saint Paul has told us that in Christ we have become God’s adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ. This is who we are. This is our identity. We saw a beautiful expression of this when Filipinos rallied around our brothers and sisters affected by the typhoon.

The Apostle tells us that because God chose us, we have been richly blessed! God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Eph 1:3). These words have a special resonance in the Philippines, for it is the foremost Catholic country in Asia; this is itself a special gift of God, a special blessing. But it is also a vocation. Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia.

God chose and blessed us for a purpose: to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph 1:4). He chose us, each of us to be witnesses of his truth and his justice in this world. He created the world as a beautiful garden and asked us to care for it. But through sin, man has disfigured that natural beauty; through sin, man has also destroyed the unity and beauty of our human family, creating social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption.

Pope Francis in Luneta

Sometimes, when we see the troubles, difficulties and wrongs all around us, we are tempted to give up. It seems that the promises of the Gospel do not apply; they are unreal. But the Bible tells us that the great threat to God’s plan for us is, and always has been, the lie. The devil is the father of lies. Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being “modern”, “like everyone else.” He distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes. And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves. We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter. We forget to remain, at heart, children of God. That is sin: [to] forget at heart that we are children of God. For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world. That is why the message of the Santo Niño is so important. He speaks powerfully to all of us. He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family.

The Santo Niño also reminds us that this identity must be protected. The Christ Child is the protector of this great country. When he came into the world, his very life was threatened by a corrupt king. Jesus himself needed to be protected. He had an earthly protector: Saint Joseph. He had an earthly family, the Holy Family of Nazareth. So he reminds us of the importance of protecting our families, and those larger families which are the Church, God’s family, and the world, our human family. Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture.

Photo via @noynoyaquino

Photo via @noynoyaquino

In the Gospel, Jesus welcomes children, he embraces them and blesses them (Mk 10:16). We too need to protect, guide and encourage our young people, helping them to build a society worthy of their great spiritual and cultural heritage. Specifically, we need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected. And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets.

It was a frail child, in need of protection, who brought God’s goodness, mercy and justice into the world. He resisted the dishonesty and corruption which are the legacy of sin, and he triumphed over them by the power of his cross. Now, at the end of my visit to the Philippines, I commend you to him, to Jesus who came among us as a child. May he enable all the beloved people of this country to work together, protecting one another, beginning with your families and communities, in building a world of justice, integrity and peace. May the Santo Niño continue to bless the Philippines and may he sustain the Christians of this great nation in their vocation to be witnesses and missionaries of the joy of the Gospel, in Asia and in the whole world.

Please don’t forget to pray for me! God bless you!

Here is the full transcript of Pope Francis’ impromptu speech sourced from Rappler , as delivered during the encounter with the youth at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila on Sunday, January 18. This is the prepared speech which he did not use.

Pope Francis in UST

Dear Young Friends,

When I speak spontaneously I do it in Spanish, because I don’t know the English language. May I do it? Thank you very much. This Fr Mark, a good translator.

As translated from Spanish by Msgr Mark Gerard Miles

First of all, a sad piece of news. Yesterday, as Mass was about to start, a piece of scaffolding fell and, upon falling, hit a young woman who was working in the area and she died. Her name is Kristel. She worked for the organization preparing for that Mass. She was 27 years old, young like yourselves. She worked for Catholic Relief Services as a volunteer. I would like all of you who are young like her to pray for a moment in silence with me and then we will pray to Our Mother in Heaven. Let us pray.

Leads prayer of Hail Mary…

Let us also pray for her parents. She was an only child. Her mother is coming from Hong Kong and her father is here in Manila.

Leads prayer of Our Father…

It is a joy for me to be with you this morning. I greet each of you from the heart, and I thank all those who made this meeting possible. During my visit to the Philippines, I wanted in a particular way to meet with young people, to listen to you and to talk with you. I want to express the love and the hopes of the Church for you. And I want to encourage you, as Christian citizens of this country, to offer yourselves passionately and honestly to the great work of renewing your society and helping to build a better world.

In a special way, I thank the young people who have offered words of welcome to me.

To Jun and Leandro Santos II and to Rikki, thank you very much. There’s only a very small representation of girls among you. Too little. Women have much to tell us in today’s society. Sometimes we are too “machistas” and we don’t allow enough space to women. But women can see things from a different angle to us, with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions we men are unable to understand. Look out for this fact: she is the only one who has put a question for which there is no answer. She couldn’t put it into words but expressed it with tears. So when the next pope comes to Manila, please let there be more girls.

tulay kabataan children

I thank you Jun for talking about your experience so bravely. As I said, the heart of your question has no reply. Only when we too can cry about the things you said can we come close to answering that question. Why do children suffer so much? Why do children suffer? When the heart is able to ask itself and weep, then we can understand something. There is a worldly compassion which is useless. You expressed something like this. It’s a compassion that makes us put our hands in our pockets and give something to the poor. But if Christ had had that kind of compassion he would have greeted a couple of people, given them something, and walked on. But it was only when he was able to cry that he understood something of our lives. Dear young boys and girls, today’s world doesn’t know how to cry. The emarginated people, those left to one side, are crying. Those who are discarded are crying. But we don’t understand much about these people in need. Certain realities of life we only see through eyes cleansed by our tears. I invite each one here to ask yourself: have I learned how to weep? Have I learned how to weep for the emarginated or for a street child who has a drug problem or for an abused child? Unfortunately there are those who cry because they want something else.

This is the first thing I want to say: let us learn how to weep as she has shown us today and let us not forget this lesson. The great question of why so many children suffer, she did this in tears. The response that we can make today is: let us really learn how to weep.

Photo via

Photo via

In the Gospel, Jesus cried for his dead friend, he cried in his heart for the family who lost its child, for the poor widow who had to bury her son. He was moved to tears and compassion when he saw the crowds without a pastor. If you don’t learn how to cry, you cannot be a good Christian. This is a challenge. When they posed this question to us, why children suffer, why this or that tragedy occurs in life – our response must be either silence or a word that is born of our tears. Be courageous, don’t be afraid to cry.

Pope Francis with little girl

Then came Leandro Santos II and his question. He also posed a good question: the world of information. Today, with so many means of communication we are overloaded with information. Is that bad? No. It is good and can help. But there is a real danger of living in a way that we accumulate information. We have so much information but maybe we don’t know what to do with that information. So we run the risk of becoming museums of young people who have everything but not knowing what to do with it. We don’t need young museums but we do need holy young people. You may ask me: Father, how do we become saints? This is another challenge. It is the challenge of love. What is the most important subject you have to lean at university? What is most important subject you have to learn in life? To learn how to love. This is the challenge that life offers you: to learn bow to love. Not just to accumulate information without knowing what to do with it.. But through that love let that information bear fruit.

For this the Gospel offers us a serene way forward: using the three languages of the mind, heart and hands – and to use them in harmony. What you think, you must feel and put into effect. Your information comes down to your heart and you put it into practice. Harmoniously. What you think, you feel and you do. Feel what you think and feel what you do. Do what you think and what you feel. The three languages…

pope francis message

Can you repeat this? To think. To feel. To do. And all in harmony…

Real love is about loving and letting yourself be loved. It’s harder to let yourself be loved than to love. That is why it is so difficult to come to the perfect love of God. We can love Him but we must let ourselves be loved by Him. Real love is being open to the love that comes to you. The love that surprises us. If you only have information you are not surprised. Love surprises because it opens a dialogue of loving and being loved. God is a God of surprise because He loved us first. God awaits us to surprise us. Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by God. Let us not have a computer psychology that makes us think we know it all. All answers on computers – but no surprises. The challenge of love. God reveals himself through surprises.

Think of St Matthew. He was a good banker. But he let people down because he imposed taxes against his own people to give to the Romans. He was full of money. Jesus passed by, looked at him and said: “Follow me”. He couldn’t believe it. It you have the opportunity, see Caravaggio’s picture of him. Jesus calls him and those around say: “Him? He betrayed us! He is no good! He hoards money!” But the surprise of being loved overcomes him. The day when Matthew left home for work, saying goodbye to his wife, he couldn’t imagine he would come home without money and have to prepare a feast for the one who loved him first. God surprised Matthew more than the money he had. Allow yourselves to be surprised by God. Don’t be afraid of surprises. They shake the ground beneath our feet and make us insecure, but they move us forward in the right direction.

Real love allows you to spend yourselves, to leave your pockets empty. Think of St Francis who died with empty hands and empty pockets but with a full heart. Remember: no young museums, and wise young people. To be wise use three languages: think well, feel well and do well. And to be wise allow yourselves to be surprised by the love of God. That will guarantee a good life.

Rikki came up with a good plan for what we can do in life with all young people’s activities.

Thank you, Rikki, for what you and your friends do. I’d like to ask you a question: you and your friends help others but do you allow yourselves to receive? Answer in your heart.

Pope Francis smiling

In the Gospel we just heard, there was a beautiful phrase, for me the most important of all: Jesus looked at the young man and he loved him. When you see Rikki and his friends you love them because they do good things. Jesus says something very important: you lack one thing. Let us listen to this word in silence: you lack only one thing.

What is it that I lack? To all of you who Jesus loves so much, I ask you: do you allow others to give you from their riches to you who have not? The Sadducees, Doctors of the Law, in the time of Jesus, gave much to the people, they taught the people the law, but they never allowed the people to give them something. Jesus had to come to allow himself to feel compassion and to be loved.

Pope Francis in UST 1

How many young people among you are like this? You know how to give and yet you have ever learned how to receive. You still lack one thing. Become a beggar. This is what you still lack. Learn how to beg. This isn’t easy to understand. To learn how to beg. To learn how to receive with humility. To learn to be evangelized by the poor, by those we help, the sick, orphans, they have so much to give us. Have I learned how to beg? Or am I self-sufficient? Do I think I need nothing? Do you know you too are poor? Do you know your own poverty and your need to receive? Do you let yourselves be evangelized by those you serve? This is what helps you mature in your commitment to give to others. Learn how to open your hand from your very own poverty.

There are some points I have prepared. The first, I already told you: to learn how to love and to learn how to be loved. There is a challenge which is a challenge of u. This is not only because your country more than many others is likely to be seriously affected by climate change. There is the challenge, the concern for the environment. And finally, there is the challenge for the poor, to love the poor, with your bishops. Do you think of the poor? Do you feel with the poor? Do you do something for the poor? Do you ask the poor to give you the wisdom they have?

This is what I wish to tell you all today. Sorry if I haven’t read what I prepared for you but there is a phrase that consoles me: that reality is superior to ideas. The reality that you have is superior to the paper I have in front of me.

Thank you very much. Pray for me!


Pope Francis in UST with the youth

Mass with survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda”
Daniel Z. Romualdez International Airport, Tacloban City
17 January 2015
(Delivered originally in Spanish)

Pope Francis in Tacloban

We have a high priest who is capable of sympathizing with our weakness but one who is seemingly being tested in every way, yet without sin. Jesus is like us. Jesus lived like us. He is the same as us in every respect, except sin, because he was not a sinner. He assumed our condition and our sin. He made himself unto sin. This is what St. Paul tells us and Jesus always goes before us.

And when we pass an experience across, he passed there before us. And if today we find ourselves 14 months afterwards here,14 months precisely after Typhoon Yolanda hit, it is because we have the security of knowing we are not going to weaken in our faith, because Jesus has been there before us. In his passion he assumed all our pain.

I would like to tell you something close to my heart: When I saw from Rome that catastrophe I felt that I had to be here. And on those very days I decided to come here I’m here to be with you. A little bit late, I have to say, but I’m here. I come to tell you that Jesus is Lord and he never lets us down.

Father, you might say to me, “I was let down because I have lost some many things, house, livelihood; I have illness.” It’s true if you would say that and I respect those sentiments. But Jesus there, nailed to the cross, and from there he does not let us down. He was consecrated as Lord on that throne and there he experienced all calamities that we experienced.

Jesus is Lord and the Lord from the cross, he’s there for you. Therefore he is capable of understanding us – as we heard in the first reading – in everything, the same as us. That is why we have a Lord who is capable of crying with us, capable of walking with us in the most difficult moments of life.

So many of you have lost everything. I don’t know what to say to you, but the Lord does know what to say to you. Some of you lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silent, and I walk with you all with my silent heart. Many of you have asked the Lord, “Why, Lord?” And to each of you, to you heart, Christ responds from his heart upon the cross.

Pope Francis:  I know you have lost much. In my silence, I am with you.

Pope Francis: I know you have lost much. In my silence, I am with you.

I have no more words to tell you. Let us look to Christ. He is the Lord. He understands us because he underwent all the trials that we, that you, have experienced. And beside the cross was his mother; we are like this little child just there. In the moments when we have so much pain, when we no longer understand anything, all we can do is grab hold of her hand firmly and say, “Mom,” as a child does to her mother, when he or she feels fear. It is perhaps the only word that we can say in such difficult times: Mother, mom.

Let us together hold a moment of silence. Let us look to the Christ on the cross. He understands us because he endured everything. Let us look to our mother and, like that little child, let us grab hold of her mantle and with a true heart, say, “Mother.” In the silence say to the mother what you say to your hearts.

(Moment of silence)

Let us know that we have a Mother Mary and a senior brother, a great brother, Jesus. We are not alone. We also have many brothers who, in this moment of catastrophe, came to help you. And we, too, because of this we feel more brothers and sisters, because we helped each other.

This is what comes from my heart and forgive me if I have no other words to express this. But please know Jesus never lets you down, please know that the love and tenderness of Mother Mary never lets you down, and holding on to [Mother Mary’s] mantle, and with the power that comes from Jesus’ love on the cross, lets us move forward, always forward and walk together as brothers and sisters in the lord, forward.

Thank you very much.

Source : from @inquirerdotnet

Pope Francis for the poor
Will there be a renewal of faith among the Catholics? Since there have been conflicts with the church like the Reproductive Health law (RH Law) , I see renewed hope in Pope Francis’ visit. This pope, my pope has liberal views. I am reminded of his words “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems”.

Pope Francis arrival1

Pope Francis reiterates that ” the center of my message will be the poor”.  He might just be able to opens the hearts and minds of our Church officials since the RH Law is meant to help the poor make better choices. It is also good that he is close to Cardinal Tagle. Maybe his influence will be felt in the church hierarchy in the Philippines . A lot of our church officials are conservative and Filipinos are hopeful for a more progressive Catholic Church.

watching pope francis

I was not at the motorcade but I feel just as blessed to watch him on live stream. Using the live stream link from the government TV station, I followed his every move from the time his papal cap flew away till his arrival at the Apostolic Nunciature. Pope Francis must be getting his energy from the cheering crowd. He smiled , leaned forward and looked like he was enjoying himself. His smile is pleasant and authentic . Smiling with his eyes, he looks into the person he is smiling to.  It felt like Jesus Christ spoke to me through his smile, even if I am just watching from my laptop. He says “The Holy Spirit will have to work to touch all the hearts of these people that we see.” I believe the Holy Spirit must be working through his smile. It is not only me that noticed his pleasant smile. I read  numerous tweets  that gushed over his beautiful smile.

Pope Francis thumbs up

Gary Valenciano tweets, “Blessed by seeing smiling happy Filipinos showing so much love and gratitude to Pope Francis. I hope we’ve put a smile in his heart too”.

Ginger Conejero notes “Pope Francis’s smile is contagious.”

Mia Noreen added “Pope Francis’ smile is probably the best thing I’ve seen so far this year #goosebumps”.

Sharla Lacbayan ?can’t “explain how grateful I am for being a Catholic. Welcome to the Philippines, Pope Francis! I can see your smile on the tv!”

Julie Mae says “That genuine smile of pope francis is love”.

Jewel notes says “May kakaiba sa smile ni Pope Francis, na-mapapasmile ka nalang din”

Ella Drew calls it “the Divine Smile of Pope Francis”.

pope francis smiling

Even a non-Catholic like Zarlean Centino had this to tweet “I’m not Catholic pero I like the attitude of Pope Francis and his smile”.

That is why I think Pope Francis always asks the people to pray for him. He gets energy from the people around him. It works both ways. His smile is just contagious.

RJ Villaflor thinks so, too. “Yung smile ni Pope Francis nakakahawa, mapapangiti ka na rin pag nakita mo yung mga ngiti nya “.

Pope Francis smile

That smile from Pope Francis gives us strength and renewed hope. His smile is just so heartwarming. I  feel so happy and blessed with the presence of Pope Francis. May he continue to spread his message of mercy and compassion especially to our leaders so they will work for the poor of our country. I pray “renew our country, Lord. Rid us of selfish and corrupt leaders. Raise up only those who lead with pure hearts and wise minds. Amen.” May the cabinet secretaries , politicians and the President become blessed by the Pope’s simplicity . May he enlighten our conservative Church leaders.

Pope francis magnetic smile

I may not live by the rituals, the novenas and the rote praying but I feel that Pope Francis is an inspiration to a lot of cafeteria Catholics like myself to have faith. My daughter hopes “that Pope Francis’s visit inspires Filipinos to become more progressive, tolerant Catholics.” I am hopeful.

Photo via @rapplerdotcom . Other Photos by Robert Viñas/ Lauro Montellano Jr./Gil Nartea/ Malacañang Photo Bureau Some rights reserved.

Originally posted on “Charmed by the beautiful papal smile that brings the message of mercy & compassion“, Blogwatch, Philippine Online Chronicles.

virtual office
Remember what I wrote about the benefits of having a virtual office? Not just any virtual office, but this vOffice that I am registered as platinum member. One of the benefits is having a prestigious Bonifacio Global City (BGC) address at One Global Place which is my main vOffice. Not only do I have a virtual office in the Philippines, I can also use the virtual office spaces in MalaysiaIndonesia, Melbourne, Ho Chi Minh, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Bangkok. I can use meeting rooms in over 30 locations worldwide. A Virtual Office like offers mobile workers like myself the benefits of a serviced office environment but without actually renting physical space. With virtual office space, I pay a fraction of what I would to rent a physical location, pay for insurance and staff the office.

I like that vOffice has a portal for my use. I can reserve a meeting room in real time. There are 8 hours of meeting room every month  in my Platinum plan but I can unlimited use in the lobby  of One Global Place.

myvoffice portal

vOffice in Makati

The vOffice Boutique Center on the Penthouse of Mavenue Building does not offer unlimited use of their lobby unlike One Global Place in BGC. Even if Mavenue branch is smaller compared to One Global Place , I find their conference room adequate for my needs. One can fit 10-12 people in here. The best thing in having various vOffice location is the convenience. Sometimes, people prefer to go to Makati instead of BGC.

conference room at voffice makati

There is a whiteboard, a TV monitor and an outdoor view of the roofdeck.

conference room meeting room at voffice makati

The conference room faces an open balcony which can be used for event space that include the use of this room. I’ll get back to this later.

penthouse voffice mavenue

vOffice Premier/desk (vWorkdesk)

The conference room was too spacious for me so I decided to use the vOffice Premier/desk (vWorkdesk) which still had some vacancies. The vWorkdesk is place to get some work done and at the same time having a premium business address, phone number, receptionist to answer your calls in your business name and meeting facilities when you need it.  The vWorkdesk is not for me since I am very mobile. This is quite useful for startups and the small entrepreneur that need an office space without placing huge investment cost on  the lease.

virtual office

vWorkdesk can be leased for a minimum of 1 month but you can avail of discount for longer term lease.


table at voffice makatiSo what is included in the vWorkdesk?

1. Quality working desk and ergonomic chair

2. Fast wired or wireless internet for you to plug in

3. Backup internet service provider

4. Professional office setup. Not a call center environment

5. Unlimited light snacks, coffee, tea, filtered water and occasional beer

voffice makati pantry

There are even drawers beside each vOfficeWorkdesk for storage of files.

voffice workstation desk in makati

There is an ongoing promotion of 9,500 pesos a month for long term lease. Check the vOffice website for more details. It is nice to know that  there is real time chat with a service representative.

voffice mavenue makati

Event space at vOffice Boutique center in Makati

Like I said earlier, there is an event space outside the meeting room. One has an amazing skyline with plentiful parking space and centrally located right on Makati Avenue. It costs 20,000 pesos for 4 hours use,  inclusive of roof deck area and meeting room. Additional hours is at 5,000 pesos an hour.

voffice makati event space


The event space is 66 square meters. The lease includes a sound system, PA system, Smart TV for presentation, couch seatings, electricity, and great view of buzzing Makati Avenue.

voffice makati event space penthouse

For other needs, vOffice can offer assistance and recommendations in food and drinks catering service, cocktail bar setup, mobile lighting, DH, sound system solution setup, additional tables, chairs rentals, and PR agencies

roof deck in voffice makati


New branches in Cebu and Makati for 2015

I am excited with the opening of their second Makati branch in Rufino Pacific tower on February 2015. You might want to check the rates offered. I love that there is a Cebu branch in the Cebu Business Park, opening this first quarter of 2015. That now makes a total of six branches (two in the Fort, two in Makati and one in Cebu). The best part is you can have a meeting room in all of these branches, depending on your plan and number of hours per plan.

voffice in rufino tower

There is so much benefit for start-ups and entrepreneurs that need to keep operating costs low while developing a professional corporate image. Read again the benefits of a virtual office. If you do need a virtual office or vOffice Premier/desk within minutes,  check out the website of for their limited time offer for discounted rates. Now as low as 500 pesos a month for their lowest plans.

It’s a new year and there are new goals for whatever work you do.  Depending on your needs, now is the time to consider a virtual office or Voffice work desk.

By Toni Tui as originally posted on Waiting for Pope Francis, Philippine Online Chronicles

Pope Francis

Growing up Catholic liberated and stifled me at the same time. From prep to college, Sunday masses were regularly attended. The Holy Rosary was prayed often, especially during October. After graduation though, I began to question my faith. I didn’t see the point of going to Mass, especially when the homilies became too preachy about politics. I built a relationship with God outside the confines of a church, finding Him more in the quiet moments of a morning run or a midnight reflection. I felt guilty, feeling like I was being berated by the whispers of nuns and teachers from the all-girls Catholic school I attended for 12 years. My mother, a devout Catholic, also kept asking me why I didn’t go to Mass anymore. How could I explain to her that I felt more distant when I was in the midst of ceremony? That I found more joy in a quiet conversation with God than a community get-together? I felt like a bad Catholic, even though my relationship with God was becoming more solid.

Then Pope Francis came along.

Who is this rock star Pope?, I wondered. Social media was instrumental in building awareness and emotional affinity with this different kind of pope. Every week, there was a quotable quote in my news feed from this radical pope. Every week, I became more curious about him.

He’s the pope who refuses to live in luxury. No fancy cars or papal apartments for this man of God. We’ve read of him picking up the phone to call people, saying prayers for them. we see pictures of him riding the metro or walking down the streets and being welcomed by worshipers. He’s a Pope who doesn’t seem to be caged in an ivory tower. He’s reachable, simple, and friendly.

His words are big but relatable. When he met with his Vatican employees before Christmas, he had some reminders for them which may very well be reminders for our daily lives too. What touches me about these reminders is the simplicity in how it is said. There’s his reminder on how I feel talks about work-life balance: “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.”

There’s the reminder that can hit any chismosa. “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.”

Are you unhappy with work? Reflect on this statement from Pope Francis and you may just have a change in outlook. ““Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”

One statement I’ve reflected on is this: “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.” Feed your spirit. Nurture your soul. With this, all will be well.

Then there was this reminder from him for the youth during World Youth Day. ” I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage ‘to swim against the tide.’ Have the courage to be happy.” Take a risk on love!

This is the first Pope I’ve come to truly follow. Yes, he is the Pope. But I also see him, as some Filipinos have started calling him, as Lolo Kiko.

With him, I have been rediscovering my Catholic faith little by little. I have been trying to understand Mass and teachings with more openness this time. I am getting drawn back to the Church without the feeling of being stifled. Lolo Kiko has been gently provoking me to build my relationship with God again, this time with the community, but I don’t feel pressured. That’s what I like about this pace, this Pope. He’s a Pope with a gentle power, the Pope with the open arms you don’t feel shy running into because you know you’ll be blessed, no matter what kind of relationship you have with God. I can’t wait to welcome Lolo Kiko with the rest of the community this week! For the first time in my Catholic life, I am waiting for the Pope, my Pope. For the first time in growing up Catholic, I’m giddy about the Pope and learning more from him. Thank you, Lolo Kiko, for the gift of rediscovering my faith!

Photo Credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales) via Compfight cc

Check out this beautiful song for the Papal visit. The lyrics resonate the message of mercy and compassion, the theme of Pope Francis visit.

“A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.” – Pope Francis

Official Theme Song for the 2015 Apostolic Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

Do you see these children on the streets?
Have you walked the pavements where they sleep?
Do you feel their hands when you give them alms?
Did you ever give them bread to eat?
Have you seen their homes washed by the floods?
While a mother tightly holds her child
Do you hear the wind of the raging storm?
Can you tell them where it’s coming from?
Let us show our love and mercy
With true kindness and humility
For the God loves the weak and the needy
Just like you and me
We are all God’s children we are all the same
He is calling us by name to help the poor and lame
And learn what life is really for
It’s to know and love and serve the Lord

we are all god's children papal visit

Stand together and let’s do our part
Hear their voices mend their broken hearts
Choose to be brave fight for their rights
Give them back their honor and their pride
Please do not be blind and just leave them behind
To struggle in darkness or give them empty promises
We are all God’s children we are all the same
He is calling us by name to help the poor and lame
And learn what life is really for
It’s to know and love and serve the Lord
It’s to know and love and serve the Lord
It’s to know and love and serve the Lord

Jesus’ attitude is striking: we do not hear the words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversation. “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” Ah! Brothers and Sisters, God’s face is the face of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God’s patience, the patience He has with each one of us? That is His mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, He understands us, He waits for us, He does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to Him with a contrite heart. “Great is God’s mercy,” says the Psalm.

—Pope Francis, Angelus on March 17, 2013

Lyrics written and sung by Jamie Rivera with The Hail Mary the Queen Children’s Choir.
Music composed and arranged by Noel Espenida
Directed by Eric Teotico
Produced by Starmusic and Ligaya ng Panginoon
Published by Star Songs, Inc.