: 4 wishes for my children

I am not a very religious person but I believe in prayers. I often drop by this quaint little chapel in Eastwood or the one in Greenbelt. See, my children don’t live with me anymore and I worry as most parents do. My only comfort is in prayers as it lessens my anxiety.

My prayers are always for my children: May they be safe, may they be happy and may they be healthy.

A friend shared me a 20-minute loving-kindness practice to help us extend compassion to ourselves, those around us, and the larger world. It is beautiful and reminds me of my own prayer except for the last line which I now believe I will add in my future prayers:

May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you feel safe.
May you live your life with ease.

Yes, I will add “May you live your life with ease.”

I will picture my two children and wish them with these four phrases:

May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you feel safe.
May you live your life with ease.

Listen to this:

But this loving compassion practice is not just for my children. This is for ourselves and the larger world. I must remind myself that I also deserve happiness. Life is not perfect. Maybe if I pray for my friends , difficult people, and the world, there might be some measure of peace.

Without any sort of demand, I will offer the same wishes I extended to my children:

“May I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I feel safe.
May I live my life with ease.”

This loving-kindness practice is also for the whole family.

I will picture my family as well and think:

“May all of us be happy.
May all of us be healthy.
May all of us feel safe.
May we all live our lives with ease.”

And if my husband and I are having challenges, I will also picture the same:

“May we both be happy.
May we both be healthy.
May we both feel safe.
May we both live our lives with ease.”

To you my dear readers, I also wish the same.

May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you feel safe.
May you live your life with ease.

christmas carolsSinging Christmas Carols has been a treasured family tradition. I remember the last Christmas I had with my mom. I was 18 years old then. All the 7 siblings gathered around the Yamaha organ as my late brother, Oscar played festive carols. Sometimes it was mom who accompanied the songs in the piano. Mom was an excellent pianist with a beautiful soprano voice trained at the UP Music conservatory. Each child was required to sing or play a Christmas piece in the piano. I can’t remember now if this was an imposition or else Santa Claus won’t bring a present. I just remembered it was a fun and festive family time. When I look back to that last Christmas when our family was still complete , a tinge of sadness overcomes me. I had such a loving family. I miss those times. There really is no comfort that I can have except those wonderful memories and the knowledge that I gained so much in the time spent with my siblings and my parents.

I know my mother continues to live in my heart . And as we know, death might have taken our loved ones away but their memories remain alive in our heart. I brought mom’s gift of music to my own children. Unfortunately , I don’t have the voice . The only musical talent I probably got is an ear for music. I can tell when someone is off-key, pitchy or just tone dead. I can play the piano , guitar and the organ . That’s about it. In the seventies, the Yamaha organ was the most groovy way to play music aside from the guitar. I think these days, one calls it the keyboard.

I discovered at an early age that L and M could carry a tune. Their first songs were Christmas carols which I taped and lately converted to CD format . Without sounding like a bragging mom, I think L and M sang beautifully at ages 4 and 3 respectively. I play their Christmas carols during the Christmas season but L begged that I never let anyone listen to it. “It’s only for your listening pleasure which should be confined to your bedroom.” L begged. I teased L, “But you sing so well at the age of 4 !”. Much as I want to let you hear their cute little voices, I’d rather not incur their wrath.

Instead, here are 3 Christmas Carol (in mp3 format) sung by L when she was 12 and M at 11 years old with another girl and 2 boys from the Manila Children Choir. The choir conductor chose only 5 children for this recording but with recent technology, it sounds like they are a big group of kids.

1. Hark The Herald Angel Sing (Click here to download– 2.9 MB) – Charles Wesley/Felix Mendelssohn , adapted by Jack North , Arranged by Jack North/John Wilson
2. Christmas in Our Hearts (Click here to download– 3.0 MB)- Jose Mari Chan , arranged by Carmina R. Cuya
3. Pasko Na Sinta Ko (Click here to download– 4.8 MB)- Aurelio Estanislao/Francis Dandan , Arranged by Bernadette de Leon

Christmas carols and hymns are one aspect of the holiday season that never fail to lift the spirits – and require no baking, no tree stands, and no extension cords. There is something about Christmas carols sang by children. Their innocence and eager spirit shows the true meaning of the Christmas season. It has been said that music can open a window to the soul. To a bereaved person music may either drive a knife into an already festering wound, or it my begin to soothe and bring comfort to a shattered and broken spirit. Christmas Carols sang by my children keeps me happy even if my other child is no longer with us.

I hope my children continue to preserve our family tradition of Christmas carols and hymns.

First published at Sunday Business & IT, December 1, 2019

A year ago, I wrote about “12 online shopping sites for your Christmas shopping.” I patronize budding Filipino entrepreneurs or social enterprises because I want to shop for gifts that keep on giving. These 12 online sites are still around and you could still purchase from them. But for Christmas presents this year, I am watching out for food-focused social enterprises that integrate community programs into their missions and address issues such as food poverty, sustainable farming or fair trade.

Food merchants from the BPI Sinag ng Pasko, a Christmas bazaar, will feature products from Filipino social enterprises at the Palm Drive Activity Center, Glorietta 2 on Dec. 11, 2019. You could order on their websites, Facebook pages or visit their booths at the Christmas bazaar.

Amazing Food Corp. (amazingfoodscorp.com)

Health is wealth. L’amor coco-ginger soothing herbal tea, made from coco sugar and ginger have many health benefits. Sometimes, I add coco-ginger to my coffee. Coco sugar is the sweetener I use because of its low glycemic index. Those in keto diet would prefer the coco flour as a substitute for wheat flour.  You could find more coconut-based and other organic products with brand names L’Amor or Santa Maria at Amazing Foods, a natural and organic producer and distributor of Coconut based products. Part of its mission is to educate and assist its farmers and communities on the latest organic practices.

Auro Chocolate (aurochocolate.com)

Philippine chocolates are the most requested souvenir items and a well-loved gift item. Auro Chocolate won four awards for the International Chocolate Awards, World Edition. It is time to get a taste of these award-winning chocolates: 70 percent Dark – Tupi Origin; Dalandan Tarragon Bonbon; 32 percent Moringa (Malunggay) White Chocolate with Pinipig and 32 percent Moringa (Malunggay) White Chocolate with Pinipig. One could order Auro chocolates online through karton.ph, but they are also sold in some stores like Kultura. Auro goes beyond “bean-to-bar” by working with over 10 cacao producing cooperatives and 80 individual farmers representing over 1,000 families and 2,000 hectares of farm land.

Balangay’s Best (balangaysbest.com)

Balangay’s Best is the brand of natural processed and wild-caught sustainable seafood products made by artisan Filipino fishers through Fishers and Changemakers Inc. It is heart-warming to know that the company started at Bantayan Island during the rehabilitation efforts of Typhoon “Yolanda,” to journey with the fishers as they recovered from the typhoon’s aftermath. They have since partnered with some municipalities in Occidental Mindoro, Negros Oriental, and Surigao del Sur. Darling Danggit, Papa Pusit, Mommy Dilis, Baby Bangsi and Seafood Halo-halo are gift items that would support this social enterprise helping Filipino fisherfolk communities.

Kayumanggi Organic (kayumanggiorganic.com)

As a partner of Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan, Kayumanggi Organic encourages and trains their farmers and partners to use only practices that are sustainable. While it also sells coconut-based products, other food items worth buying are Raw Coconut Nectar, Cacao Reál Pouch, or Golden Mango Gelato. You could also order their Homeland Coffee, a blend of Arabica from Benguet, Robusta from Batangas, and Excelsa from the coffee capital, Amadeo.

Saret Organic Farmville (saretorganics.com)

With the help of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Science and Technology, Saret Organic Farmville gives support to over eight farmer groups including a farmers’ association it helped establish called Kaanib ng Kalikasan. Try out the Bee Well Raw, Wild Honey made by the bees from the wild forest of Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan.

The Make Peace Bakery (facebook.com/makepeacebakery)

Natural and healthy pieces of bread by The Make Peace Bakery, a social enterprise empowering the disadvantaged youth through learning baking and business skills.

Natural and healthy bread are must-have items for Christmas parties. The Make Peace Bakery, Bakers of Change Inc. teaches baking to out-of-school youth as a source of livelihood and serving natural and healthier breads to community. Check out the Biscotso, Raisin-nuts cookie, Ube oats, Banana Choco chip Loaf, or the Banana Blueberry Loaf which you could order online at thegoodstore.ph

While you could shop for these food items online, they are also available at the Sinag ng Pasko. Other than these food merchants, the Sinag ng Pasko is a perfect venue to shop for other Christmas gifts, whether one is a zero-waste advocate encouraging your loved ones to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle or a proud champion of Filipino craftsmanship.

With merchants presenting gift ideas ranging from arts, fashion, food to home essentials, I am sure you would discover stylish and contemporary creations that offer a glimpse of Filipino culture, reusable everyday items built from sustainable materials, upcycled pieces, and food assortments made from locally sourced ingredients.

Having social enterprises in one place would be a faster way to shop, too.

READ : Sustainable and proudly Filipino products for your Christmas shopping needs