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

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

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