INC Launched a Major Defamation Lawsuit against CBC’s The Fifth Estate program

Deception. Discouragement. Division.

CBC intentionally and maliciously published untrue and defamatory statements and innuendo about INC on their Fifth Estate program citing allegations of “murder, kidnapping, financial wrongdoing”.

It is time for iterative lies and regurgitated news be put to rest. They become exhausting when divisive intents are known.

INC is a Christian religious organization whose primary purposes are to serve and worship, and share the gospel of salvation with all people.

In many instances since January 2018, CBC rejected INC’s request to air their side of the story. Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief of CBC News never even replied to an offer of an interview in early August 2018. It was the first request. 

At the behest of the expelled members of the Church, CBC had already formed its predetermined opinions. Given the perception of bias and prejudice within CBC, there is no guarantee that divergent views will be reflected respectfully by both Rankin and McKeown.

“CBC journalism promotes balance, impartiality, accuracy, integrity and fairness for information content.”

Balance, as defined on the CBC website, is the fair presentation of a range of views and perspectives over time.

In a display of arrogance and insolence, they attempted ambush interviews in front of chapels and venues holding sacred worship services, in Sacramento with 17,000  attendees and Toronto with about 2,000 worshippers. 

They tweaked their videos to show that they were the ones harassed.  Their sentiments were so harrowing that, in effect, portray the INC members and worshippers as members of an organization involved in “corruption, kidnapping, murder”. Through repetitions of these allegations, McKeown was quoted saying ” it ups the ante, but you also want to tell it in a way that people can understand and appreciate what the severity the allegations is”. 

It was condescending. 

CBC sourced their information from a few disgruntled members, who hurl invectives on social media using dummy accounts and fake profiles. 

Iterative lies and regurgitated news are just too exhausting.

It is but vital for INC members to seek justice in a temperate and rational way– in the proper forum, at the right time, for the right reason.

INC Launched a Major Defamation Lawsuit on CBC

Winnipeg, Manitoba (February 11, 2019) – The Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) or Church of Christ, an international religious organization, launched a major defamation lawsuit against Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)- The Fifth Estate’s TV program “Church of Secrets”—that they aired in November 2018.

The Notice of Action against CBC and those involved in the Fifth Estate program had been served on the people being sued. The actual lawsuit was filed in the Court of Queen’s Bench in Winnipeg, in a historic city where the first congregation of Iglesia Ni Cristo was registered in Canada.

A news conference organized on behalf of the INC held in Winnipeg on Friday announced that the charges were based on the scandalous, outrageous and false accusations against the Church in that program.

At the news conference attended by several Ministers of the Church, members of the Church, and the Church’s lawyers, the following points were made by Minister Rod Bruno and Minister Sidney Santos:

  • The Church is seeking, above all, vindication for the false allegations made against it by CBC’s Fifth Estate program and, Timothy Sawa and Bob McKeown. There was and is no evidence to support these false allegations;
  • The Church is seeking an apology and retraction for the misrepresentations and falsehoods asserted by the Fifth Estate program. CBC is not prepared to offer an apology and retraction and have therefore left the Church with no alternative but to pursue this lawsuit to hold them accountable for these grossly unjust accusations which were based on nothing more than innuendo and speculation;
  • The program included an allegation by an individual which turned out to be false.  Well before the program aired, the individual disavowed the information she had provided to CBC.  CBC should have known full well that what the individual said was false and had been disavowed, yet they proceeded to include it as part of the program.
  • The program referred to Iglesia Ni Cristo as the “Church of Secrets.” The point highlighted at the news conference that the Church had nothing to hide. The Church has been very involved in outreach programs, humanitarian programs of all sorts and has participated in assisting victims of calamities: hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, etc.
  • The Ministers made clear at the news conference that the members of the Church are law-abiding, God-fearing and peaceful citizens of Canada and the rest of the world.

The Church could not remain silent and do nothing about these spurious allegations against it that have stained and damaged the Church’s reputation. The Church is determined to hold CBC accountable for the gross misrepresentations that tainted its reputation worldwide.


Amazing Graces Strong

Gratefully Yours

December 2019- The Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, Photo by Artiese

That one beautiful hymn.

One lovely piece that is both aching and inspiring. It tells the silent bravery amidst impoverished means; of quiet courage in moments of adversity.

Lord Jesus, help me please to persevere and carry on;
Because my heart is hurting and my mind is tired and worn.
I thank You that You always let me recollect with such joy:
There is a home You are preparing, Lord.

The balance has tipped too far.

This temporal dimension of our ambitious lives— always charging the facets of time and space. Oh, the vocation of perfecting our lives to the full measure to which we are, so-called, destined.

Still, the world breaks everyone.

But in the grandest scheme of things, there’s one path to freedom.

To salvation.

For there’s so much more to give and share—the love that meets our life’s purpose.

Our faith.

I am resolved and ready to stand firm and sure,
In full obedience, to patiently endure;
But one thing I implore—I beg with all my soul,
Oh, bring me there with You; Lord, take me home.


I vow to stand firm; fortitude sublime. To share with my neighbours, this love You gave. When hope is wanting, I will reach out; That I resolve, to impart this faith I have.


Amazing Graces Strong

CBC Fifth Estate has created perception and prejudice against the INC

“A total hogwash”,  critics said about the CBC program.


CBC Fifth Estate’s odd documentary on “Church of Secrets” once again highlighted their standard practice of sensationalizing news.

Their video clips were taken out of context; some were cut and dried from fake news outlets like Rappler and some dummy news outlets on Facebook.

They may have gained traction on the number of viewership–assisted, wheeled and peddled by the anti-INC propagandists. The only fact is that they are REGURGITATED FAKE news. 

It’s not certain yet of the CBC ratings, but based on the mainstream media, most of their programs were failing ratings. Until they have shown the “Church of Secrets”.

CBC’s The National and CBCInvestigates were too tempted on the prospective viewership and inserted the teaser-trailer with a much-publicized caption of “murder, kidnapping, and financial wrongdoing” on their programs.

How do they push their stories forward? 

First, they make allegations, even though no evidence whatsoever to make such an outlandish statement. Next, they IMPLY with repeated questions. The goal was to raise doubts.

Typical smear job.


…particularly concerned with the CBC’s insidious slanting of news, their innuendos about people who do not fit their particular profile of what they deem acceptable, their non-reportage of the ridiculous quotes and ideas put forth by their pet people. 
 …sadly, [they] are intellectually lazy, and almost all accept the outright lies..

Yup! Above online comments may be from 2012 and 2013 national news on what CBC had been doing. The fact is: they haven’t learned. 


How many times did Bob McKeown mention the words “murder, kidnapping, and financial wrongdoing”?***     

Mr. Bob McKeown was videotaped saying, “We look forward to having theINC debunked!”…”Because we have been speaking to people, whose lives have been threatened by the church… husband killed by church…” and “I did not say Manalo killed anybody…What I did say is that the church is alleged to have been associated. People have told us, people say there were victims. They told us that the church is associated with the kidnapping murders and systemic corruption. Skimming from collections, smuggling money…”

He was the one bullying the Filipinos at the parking lot of the Golden Arena in Sacramento, and not the one intimidated by the presence of the ‘small guys” who stopped CBC in getting an ambush interview with the Church Leader.

CBC has already received the cease and desist order– days before Timothy Sawa attempted an ambush interview in Toronto in September 2018.

Timothy Sawa and his crew were already anticipating the unwelcoming crowd. So, they filmed it, recorded the conversations, then manipulated their video and played like they are the heroic journalists.

Their news sources: Menorca, Dizon, De Ocampo, Canono, et al were expelled members of the Church, so-called dissidents.  

There was no secret whatsoever that happened inside the Toronto chapel. It was a sacred gathering, a traditional worship service with the choir singing, homily, and prayers.   

Outside of the chapel, while the volunteers and a few paid-security staff were protecting the solemnity of the event, CBC Sawa made a litany of “alleged murder, kidnapping, and financial wrongdoing”.

It’s arrogance at its worst.

Here are the legal notes and comments on the CBC-FifthEstate’s program, “Church of Secrets” which, in part, will form the basis of the lawsuit against CBC, Sawa, McKeown, Menorca, Dizon and Liz De Ocampo:

1. The allegations against INC of kidnapping, murder and financial corruption are based on rumour, innuendo, gossip and speculation. The innuendo is very strong and severe. 

2. The allegations are not supported by any evidence and are uncorroborated. 

3. The allegations are not only untrue but are scandalous and vague. 

4. CBC and its journalists on this matter think they are above the law. They and the show portrayed arrogance. 

5. CBC complained about the program about being harassed by members of the church when it was, in fact, the other way around: they were harassing members of the church. 

6. CBC did not give the church an opportunity to present their side of the story despite several requests by us to do so. 

7. Our offer to produce a senior member of the church as a spokesperson was rejected by CBC. 

8. Calling the church the “Church of Secrets” was not supported by any evidence. 

9. McKeown referred to “sources” in a vague way without saying who they were, where they were or when they spoke to them. 

10. McKeown also said “people,” told them certain things but, again in a vague way without saying who, where or when. 

11. The Iglesia Ni Cristo has been defamed by baseless innuendo, gossip and speculation and should be sued along with the others listed above.

CBC reports should have been more mindful of how stories are framed. CBC reporters should also be mindful of the divisive and controversial intents of Lowell Menorca and his group.

Based on the aforementioned, CBC programs have demonstrated the intent to cause offence or instigate hatred against a group based on religion. Members of the press should and must have a duty to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards.

Theirs was a big neglect.

Since January 25, 2018, when Mr. Eric Rankin published his story about Lowell Menorca II, quoting the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) of Canada, that the “Philippines-based church has ‘means and motivation’ to kill refugee if returned”, CBC has already formed their predetermined opinions prior to gathering the facts of a story.  

Given the perception of bias and prejudice within CBC, there is no guarantee that divergent views will be reflected by Rankin, Sawa, McKeown, Swain and their crew.

They should be ashamed of themselves.


***My apologies, I have repeated these words too many times for the purpose of desensitization– to diminish readers’ emotional responsiveness to negative, aversive, and false allegations.


NOW, let’s share this with everyone else with the same media template and hashtags that incsilentnomore is using:  


#iglesianicristo, #inc102, #inccentennial #centennial #inc4life #incootd #incfashion #incmedianews #inctv #net25 #incmedia #increview #fymfoundation #mycountrymenmybrethren #kabayankokapatidko #incselfiechallenge #incwikileaks #sanggunian #radelcortez #gerrypurification #junsantos #gliceriosantosjr #rolandoesguerra #benefridosantiago #rodelcabrera #biensantiago #erdzcodera #ernestosuratos #mattpareja #antonioebangelista #silentnomore #iglesianicristosilentnomore #onewithevm #accessthetruth #iglesianicristoblogspot #mandirigma #spiritualwarriors #arneltumanan #babylynmanalo #jojodeguzman #TJOrosa #GPSantos #SergieSantos #AnnieSantos #incradio #angelomanalo #churchofchrist #Johncollado #orthodoxpriest #angelmanalo #lottiehemedez #36tandangsora #sirkular #circular #proudtobeINC #sherlock #thetakingofroviccanono #PhilippineRedCross #RichardGordon #andrewE #philippinearena #christmasdaygames #pba #oilfracking #southdakota #standingrock #violieedrosalan #roviccanono #bairanfamily #australiasilentnomore #mandirigmanomore #maribelmetano #spiritualbusinessmen #rommelsanpedro #regaladodelosreyes #isaiassamsonjr #aidtohumanity #inc #lingappamamahayag #lingapsamamamayan #incinafrica #stampedeinafrica #venerationforevm #evmministers #felixvillocino #dannypatungan #farleydecastro #rodrigoduterte #jameswhite #joeventilacion #incfakepriest #incfakenun #nonoponce #newsanjosebuilders #joseacuzar #nureauofcustoms #teddyraval #dollytoledo #mandirigmanomore #episode2 #thepawnnameddolly #justiceforlitofruto #litofruto #incwhistleblowersreport #diplomaticpassport #dfa #gemmamanalo #stf #evmsalaysay #angelomanalo #newbreedofdefenders #felixvillocino #danilopatungan #jonathanledesma #sterlingcañete #inchinirang #incmurderers #inccriminals #rommelsanpedro #carmelitasanpedro #evmobsession #accessthetruth #fakevideos #isaiastsamson #junsamson #remnantfew #chrisbrown #incextortionist #maligayadevelopmentcorporation #mcconchielaw #faithweaponized #rappler #ramonang #philippinedailyinquirer #canada #immigrationandrefugeeboard #ericrankin #cbc #specialenvoy #duterteseelshissoultothedevil #cyberattack #TunaynaDefenderofthefaith #michaelsandoval #bobbyfernandez #jessemacaspac #inckillings #richmondnilo #oxnardlocale #recycledchapel #rededication #hendersonlocale #golden1center #50thanniversaryinthewest #immigrationandrefugeeboard #CanadaIRB #donorozco #reyfortmediagroup #philippineasiannewstoday #cbc

#fifthestate, #bobmckeown

… and with my favorite #cbcExposed

The Welkin Rings

Thanksgiving 2018

Pivotal moments happen when you know a quick decision will define who you will become.

For this year 2019, knowledge will be excitingly pushed forward—that will make our lives healthier, longer, wiser, but non-insightful on the contrary.

There will be many moments of miracles.

There will be greater challenges ahead of us. Our ardent work continues, thus, moving forward.

Friendships will abound like flowers blooming in the spring.

There is a vibrant awareness of the reason why we’re here. A heightened pulse of life to pursue our calling, and stand by our election inside the Church.

We are grateful– there’s so much gratitude for the blessings of being inside the Church. There is hope, there is peace, there is the appreciation for life’s spark.

Hence, we shall remain inspired and steadfast in our faith by the great victories and the triumphs that through God’s help the Church Of Christ has now reached.

We shall remain proud of our membership in the Church Of Christ.

“Not defeated, nor overcome,
Don’t retreat but pass each test.
Victory is yours,
Now and evermore…”
#onewithEVM, #iglesianicristo

Amazing Graces

Fortitude in Battered Spaces

Originally posted by the same author on November 16, 2015.

That part of the RH advertisement gave me a way to indulge in soulful furniture, even at what cost.

The invoice posted 2015 November 13. The day RH delivered an artisan-crafted, Vintage French Fluted-Leg Extension dining table. A purchase —wooden furniture made from drifted, weathered oak.

RH dining-table-vintage-french-fluted-leg-dining-table (2)

“Timeless”, my daughter prodded me to buy them. Her love for Paris is reflected in her regal photographs and purchases from the city.

A framed evening shot of the Eiffel Tower displayed ostentatiously in a corner or our living room celebrates her precious work of art.  On her 5th trip to Paris, she purchased mini-Eiffel Tower keychains, CDG (Charles de Gaulle airport) coasters, and crème-coloured, linen table napkins. All Paris in its essence.

Many of her book collections and Artiese dreamy, romantic, timeless photos were French-inspired. These are charms of grace and composure—a historical remnant of indulgence and perseverance.

But personally, my purchase was made by my sentiment that is attached to the dining table—the driftwood that breathes stories of ages unknown, a reclaimed remnant of fragments from nature.

And I remember Tatay, whose love for carpentry was equated with his passion for life. With his bare hands, he could sense the grain of the Philippine-grown Narra lumber from end-to-end;  he revered the shaved wood for its bark’s furrows and grooves –graciously polished by wind and rainwater.

When I saw his impish smile, it was a growing pride in his own simple work of art. Hewn from massive timbers of narra, its exposed nicks and knots celebrate the wood’s earthy appeals.

The wood’s natural colour of yellowish brown came out polished and cultured.

“This wood is resilient to elements”, he acclaimed with pride. “It darkens with a fine shine upon extended exposure.”

During that early, impoverished, relentless time of earning a living, his work was about creating a legacy. “This furniture will outlive you…a classic for all time,” he added.

He embraced that sense of discovery in his creative pursuit. He would ask me to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, the new in the old.

He taught me the uncommon perspective of an unyielding drive to live happily. Years after, these lessons would allow me to see the possibilities and potential of any ordinary object: lessons about resilience with grace; and fortitude in battered spaces.

On the evening of the same date, November the 13th, it was announced around the world, in real-time, that Paris was under attack.

A repulsive news that devastated people who care about life.

Revolting with a putrid scent.

As of this writing, 3 days after the gruesome mass murder, its death toll stands at 160—incidental people were murdered– victims of savage thoughts, idealistic presumptions, and darkened perspectives. Hundreds still injured; 150 specialized counterterrorism raids across France; thousands of people making their comments on social media and showing their support by sympathetically changing their FB profile with Paris tricolour flag of blue, white, and red.

I can only sympathize. The history’s natural course of a vicious cycle of war and peace will never end. Domino effects of blind, blinding, blinded ideologies. ..

I still dream of visiting Paris’ charm with or without the threat of terrorism.

I still nurture the American dream of progress and economic evolution.

Because I am here living the Canadian dream of peace and fortitude.

Paris and the world will, however, overcome this prophesied timeline…

My father was right when he talked about his narra furniture. While he gave it to me as his legacy, he said “…this is resilient to elements. It darkens with a fine shine upon extended exposure.” It must be an aphorism for fortitude.

This Fall season, days grow shorter, but looking past the dim sky of clouds, I still see the world in a new and inspired light. I am at peace with the world. Even as I daily tune in on CNN and CBC, and gorging on their “real” news and a few perceptions, I am not consumed by worries and grief.

For inside the Church of Christ, there is peace and hope. Our membership in this true church fosters my faith and my hope of salvation.

Come what may.

We will stand our ground with graceful resilience; breathe fortitude in battered spaces and peaceful even at the noisy edge. Like my father’s narra.


A Willing Domestication of Ourselves

This is my turf. The innuendo of a solace- far from the maddening crowd. I
can be myself. This is where I can see myself. Humbled. On the ground.

This is my yoga. A meditation of what I can willfully resolve and fulfill.
An assessment of what I will and have accomplished. This is a moment I
rehearse the words again and again– as a reality check of who I am and what I can subliminally impress.

.. and this is my affair I attend every week.

It is a menial job that no one cares to appreciate. This is the fabric of
a paternalistic upbringing where subordinates lovingly do. I surrender my
strength and my will to dispense this labour of love.

This was my avenue of daydreaming, as a kid and until now– when I decide to become busy rather than wallow in desperation of the hardship and stretches of life.

Separate the white from the colour. The judgment call of discriminating
evil from good. A hundred decisions of green and black, of white and
yellow, of pod or powder, of liquid or bar, of bleach or tablet, of baking soda and vinegar splash. The distinction of keeping the wiser choices.20181015_A Willing Domestication of Ourselves

This is my weekly affair. No words, just emotions. My moment of the silent eloquence of knowing where my children were– the whiff of perfume, the scent of spring, the marinara sauce spill on a white silk, the old sweat marks of Goodlife gym…

Stains are dissolved with a soak of a little vinegar, a sprint of baking soda, or maybe a dab of bleach. And gone. Hope this is reflective of life.

No one else can diligently do this best but mothers– with all their strength, with all their love…

As I carefully tuck these clothes at the whirlpool, I’d learn my family’s
whims and wants, preferences of silk than cotton, of cotton than wool, and
wool from abaca. Keep them clean, keep them soft, keep them fluffy. Keep
them crisp. Keep them neat. Keep them close. Just like life.

This is my escape from the too many worries of life when chores and actions become the panacea to entangled thoughts.


Grief in Blurry Details

Your life offered me grief in blurry details…  Your roguish smile masked the longing you have secretly harboured for years- the absence, the worries, and legacies. These details in your picture, I think, will forever gloat my pain.

You asked my niece to send me this picture through a snail mail, some years ago…

Tatay in Kabading, Antipolo

There are mountains behind you- the same piece of paradise you dreamt of conquering. This was the heart of your labour– the land that was a witness to your struggles. And the tangible wealth to bestow to us, your children.

Though, I heard from Nanay that you gave your cousins, my nieces, my uncles, our neighbours – farms that they can till and lands that they can start their lives with.

I have no qualms about that, too. Until now, I can only imagine your gentle heart of giving, even to our neighbours an opportunity to make a living.

In essence, you taught me not to covet anyone’s possessions or for the things that you gladly gave away.

Your heart was as generous as it was brave.

Unparalleled lessons.  You taught me to swim hard—that even in frailty, I must give my best. When we had a weekend in a kaingin, I remember you pushed me to cross a river full of leeches.  You followed me, though. I was screaming hard and loud after that ordeal. You took your knife and scraped a leech in my arm–nonchalantly. You said it was nothing. I was 9 when I learned not to be afraid.

I was 6 when you left me in the park, and you said that you just had to meet with a client in a nearby house. I waited. It seemed forever. I assumed the long hours I waited –from sunrise to its peak. I cried when I felt alone—stranded in the middle of a big space. When you came back, you offered no apologies. You asked me not to cry, not even attempt to cry-  when someone leaves…

Like a rock- robust, faithful and true. You loved mom for 50 and odd years, but you never indulged in any celebration of anniversaries.  You were modest, you were humble, you were kind.

You were a prized fighter, called “Kid Kaliwete” in your prime, but never did you raise a hand to any of us. But your whistle is trembling enough—that a second later, we will be at your beck and call.

You punched my bitter suitor in his stomach– as you demanded respect with your fist. Nanay had to stop and remind you of the weight of your palm.

With that scent of little victory, I dreamt and sought for friendship with bravery.

Some unreasonable care. You did not allow me to go to Japan when I was supposed to work at Yomiuri Shimbun as a foreign correspondent. You did not agree, too, when I was called to work in the Middle East.

But, I’ve never seen you so proud when you gave me away to the man I married.

So my cycle of familial love began.

Yet you were still around.

You built our house—with your design and architecture. I’ve seen your attention to each bark of the wood, to each brick you laid down for the foundation, to the roof that could withstand the storms and strong winds. I have admired the Italian glass brick you used to separate the kitchen from the living area. You said that I could better see my family while I prepare the meals. The vaulted ceiling, the sunken living area, and the 2 bathrooms you built side by side.  You impressed your mark, in every detail, in every nook.

I should have told you all these beautiful words. It would have made you very happy hearing these from your daughter.

Yet, we did not live there.

Instead, I sold my first house.

I saw the smirk in your eyes, the knitted brows when we sold it. You glimpsed at your calloused hands, and I felt your disappointments.  For the lack of better words, I failed to explain that hard and life-changing decision. Always in my assumptions and experience–that you will forgive your children.

And you forgave me the following day.

I should have kept that property to always remember you by.

It was the year 1998– nine thousand miles away from you, you asked me to call home at least once a month. It should have been easy to say–quick phone calls–even in the midst of the bustling schedules of work, life, study, family, and acculturation.

Over the years, our conversations had become scarce and meaningless, as life here has engulfed us– as modern life faded us from our native land.

And that one last phone call- this very same date, two years ago, you were begging me to come home. You did not have to beg… when you were breathing your last…

It was July 2014.

The guilt remained as a passage to grief. The longing is at times unbearable. Prayer is comforting enough. But, today, for some reasons, I am not sure what to pray for. Instead, I allowed myself to wallow in desperation, in anguish, and in regrets.

At this moment, let me mourn. Let my tears feed the angst, the desperation of longing, the anguish, and the regrets. Let me cure my grief by grieving. These must be the price of my father’s love.

I looked at your picture again. Now, I see the details—no longer the blurry memories of the lessons you taught me- but of a clearer picture of love for your family.

Then tomorrow, I promise, I will not cry- because you left. I will be brave again, with newer perspectives, with a clearer understanding of what love should be.

For this is the daughter’s love for her father.

Amazing Graces creative writing Strong

A Primitive Sense of Giving

I came from a culture that commits to a sense of giving—where a communal sentiment of sharing unites the neighbourhood. Whether it’s salt, vinegar, or a can of rice, it was as significant as surviving for another day. I still remember the impoverished days but happier moments; and mornings are regarded as opportunities to touch lives.

I grew up in a slum neighbourhood where mazes and row of houses are slanted and rushed overnight. It was where the stretch of river banks became a community of distant relatives and new friends. It was when a Filipino gesture called bayanihan mushroomed the place like children’s fairyland—eclectic, colourful, vibrant. At that time.

Behind our shanty was a river that flows a few kilometres to Hinulugang Taktak. The water always glistens and crisp with the morning’s rays.

The street used to be called “Del Baño”—a name derived from its old public bath built by the Spaniards in the late 1800s. Natural springs abound along the river. It was a place for giggling grandmothers for noontime showers. And by the river, they talk about gossips, while chewing betel leaves. It was a popular spot to wash clothes on weekends.

To my father, that piece of land was a sentimental choice. He grew up with all his mischievous and rogue years swimming across the river—competing with his own skills against the currents.

Our neighbourhood was a stigmatized part of a town. Most people think of slum residents who deviate from the morals, norms, and standards of public decency held up by the wider conventional community. The area was wanting of decency, yet my father refuted that the locals should not even be considered as socially disorganized. They may lack coherence that were found in more economically stable environments. And there may be 2 or 3 criminal instances in my 10 years when I lived there, but calculating the many quiet days and peaceful nights, it is convincing to state that my neighbours there were the best I have, so far.

We were compassionate with one another.

We said bad sermon to children when we caught them running naked on the street. We scrounged old clothes, and for some days, our old favourites to clothe them. We felt good when they fit and laughed when they ran away like rugby players, back to the playground.

It was a place where a child’s 5th birthday were attended by a populous children in the barangay. My neighbour Emmy would cook Arroz Caldo for 100 children, and we’d buy bags of pandesal. It was when spaghetti with meatballs seemed so special on New Year’s Eve.

We were there when every childhood was celebrated by playing in the rain; and hide-and-seek on nights under the full moon.

It was an awesome spectacle of innocence.

My sister, who was practicing midwifery, became a go-to person for neighbours who were sick. As such, in our neighbourhood, it became a norm for pregnant mothers to pay her in kind– chickens and backyard produce for my sister’s services. Visiting a medical doctor was a far-fetched idea for reasons that they did not have money.

My nanay was more generous; she would cook tinola or sinigang with overflowing soup stock and vegetables, and then send a big bowl to a sick neighbour, or to children who were left alone by their parents.

So, as it turned out, my mom did not become a good entrepreneur when she built a sari-sari store.

So was my sister.

Nanay adopted another child, Gadoy– the day he was born. I was 18 then, and with a family of 5, I thought of feeding another mouth would be too burdensome for my father. However, my father was so amused when my mother named the child after my father’s nickname, Gado. All is well after that.

There was no set of expectations when these gestures were made. Not even emotional expectations that those instances would have something in effect in the future.

But there is.

We were a family of a giver. I grew up with a happy bunch of friends and neighbours.

The most sublime task my mother taught me was to give thanks to God and share whatever I have with others. I was 4 years old when she taught me to kneel and say my prayer.

The struggling years taught us to be resilient and prayerful. Surviving decently would mean we needed to study hard and work harder. I was asked to finish my studies so I can help my sister continue her studies, and my sister would have the same expectations to do the same with my 3rd sibling.

The responsibility of the eldest was the most challenging. I knew that. If I failed, the cycle would start on my second sister. It would be disastrous. For our family to succeed, I needed to obey my parents and sacrifice whatever self-longing, self-indulgent material things I dream about having.

My family met challenges and tribulations along the way.

My high school years were either sponsored by the municipality or by Mrs. Martinez who gave me transportation money and volunteered me at the school cafeteria– for free lunch.  My university fees were all based on scholarship and monthly stipends from the school paper.

So from slum to Canada, what did I do to deserve a happy family life? What else can I dream of, if I am where I dreamt of being here, 30 or 35 years ago?

A childhood dream.

Contentment and peace. These are my barometers for success. Nothing grand. Nothing fancy.

What I am trying to explain is the reason why our lives are blessed.

There are thousands of people out there who are ‘fascinated yet livid’ on why we give monetary offerings to our Church. What point of comparison in their experiences can I show to prove that being inside the Church of Christ is the only way one can achieve hope, blessings, and peace even in this temporal life? This is the only Church where there is hope for salvation.

Nothing is in vain. Not when you serve the Lord.

Looking back, there was no deadweight loss for those ‘gifts’ that I gave, no regrets even a pinch, for the offerings I made to our beloved Church of Christ—for I have given them with all my heart, with all my faith–that this is how I praise our Lord God.

It is the only sincere, proper way of Thanksgiving I know of, one good way I can praise Him with all His good works.

…Over time, a buoyancy of the spirit of giving remains. I will continue to give and share for mine is a memory of love, laughter, divine guidance and blessings of peace.

It is still my primitive sense of giving. No receipt required.

Nothing is in vain. Not when you serve the Lord.###

Amazing Graces