During the SFC “Relentless” 25th International Conference, I finally met Bro. Donnie Ray Aquino, a fellow member of PICPA Riyadh Toastmasters Club (PRTC), a passionate communicator, a dedicated brother in SFC and a very talented fellow OFW from Oman.

I never had a chance to mentor him in toastmaster and he was full of wit. His charisma speaks for her gift of gab – a natural charmer.

He was a prominent humoruos speaker.

He joined the famous game shows like Game Ka Na Ba and Pinoy Henyo.

Recently, he joined Tawag ng Tanghalan as one of the contenders from Mindanao. It was an uphill battle but he fought hard. He did not win but the experience taught him to never surrender.


To feel truly confident, you need to really believe you are capable. The best way to get that belief is through using your skills and talents — by learning and practicing. Bro. Donnie did that with love.

I lauded his efforts to showcase his God-given talent whenever the opportunity arised.

Bro. Donnie, thank you for being fearless. Your self-confidence was an inspiration to many.

Win or lose, we are here for you. We are looking forward to your next endeavor. All the best!

Bro. Donnie’s confidence emanates from a place of truth.

Believing in yourself is the fire starter for success of almost any measure. But how do you develop that self-confidence?

According to the Dalai Lama, it’s simple: “Love brings self-confidence. Anger brings fear.”

Self-confidence, he says, comes from generosity, from thinking and caring about others.

If you live your life with a genuine concern for the well-being of others, you will feel better about yourself, and in turn, feel more confident.

This is who Bro. Donnie is.

Full of love and kindness, a true brother and a servant of God.


Today, we had a thanksgiving mass for the 37 years of love, service and faith of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila – Student Catholic Action (PLM-SCA). Fr. Santosh Kumar Digal from India presided the Holy Eucharist and he said that for our behavior to fit with that of our Lord Jesus, a gesture of humility is fundamental.

Jesus exhorted us to bear witness of our Christian life through our example, the consistency of our life and the honesty of our intentions.

We must behave, mostly, for the sake of our love for God and the glory of the Father. As we can read in the Catechism of the Church, «God created everything for man but man in turn was created to serve and love God and to offer all Creation back to Him».

I would like to commend Liz Manalang, a student servant leader who stood tall amidst great challenges. A torchbearer of the organization whose passion and commitment is a source of inspiration to many. Together with our members, our gratitude to all for keeping the flame always ablaze.

Many thanks to Ate Shionie Tabada, our PLM Campus Minister for all the love and support.

Special shout out to all our alumni all over the world for your unwavering hope in our vision and mission to bring more young people closer to God.

There were times we want to give up but God’s relentless love conquers our fear and our doubts. He is the source of our strength. He is our biggest why – the reason for our being.

Our hearts remain steadfast and full of zeal to continue and to strive harder.

Let us remain faithful and committed.

To more years of loving and serving the Lord!


“Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous; to serve you as you deserve to be served; to give without counting the cost; to fight without counting the wounds; to work without seeking the rest; to spend my life without expecting any other reward than the knowledge that I do Your holy will. Amen.” 

A Brief History of SCA

In the Philippines, the Student Catholic Action was founded in 1936. Since then, it has undergone a gradual process of development and expansion. Evolving from a loosely formed city-wide association in the early years it has established itself as a well-knit organization with SCA Units in practically all educational institutions in the Archdiocese of Manila.

Demonstrating adaptability as one of its main assets, SCA first concerned itself with the problem of education in the state university.

It was here that the first unit was formed by Columban Father Edward J. McCarthy in 1936 at the University of the Philippines-Manila. It was formally approved by his grace, Archbishop Michael O’ Doherty on April 12, 1936.

During the occupation era the impetus of the early enthusiasm of SCA maintained the organization for a short time. Registered with the Japanese authorities “SCA for secular colleges and universities,” the organization continued with its regular student Masses but eventually, due to lack of priestly assistance, all activities gradually ceased.

After the war in 1948, with the archbishop’s request in Manila, an immediate objective of establishing religion classes in non-sectarian and public schools was called for. SCA was revived and expanded for the main purpose of providing many catechists required for this work not only in Catholic Schools. SCA then had an increasing influence until such time it did not only focus on catechism but also embraced the SIX AIMS (presently the SCA Areas of Concern).

In 1969, during the heightened student activism on Martial Law Years, student organizations including SCA was banned due to the infiltration of the leftists. Other arch/dioceses however continued the program in their own. CBCP abolished SCA in 1985 and the national coordination was lost. In 1998, CBCP, through the efforts of Bp Rolando J. Tria Tirona, ECY Chairman and Ms. Teresita E. Nitorreda, SCA gained back its national structure and was granted a mandate as a recognized youth organization by the Episcopal Commission on Youth.


During the Awesome Kids Ministry service last Sunday, we shared the value of self-control to kids.

I was reminded of the famous marshmallow test back in 1960s. Researchers submitted hundreds of four-year-olds to an ingenious little test of willpower: the kids were placed in a small room with a marshmallow or other tempting food and told they could either eat the treat now, or, if they could hold out for another 15 minutes until the researcher returned, they could have two.

Most children said they would wait. But some failed to resist the pull of temptation for even a minute. Many others struggled a little longer before eventually giving in.

The most successful participants figured out how to distract themselves from the treat’s seduction — by turning around, covering their eyes or kicking the desk, for instance — and delayed gratification for the full 15 minutes.

Follow-up studies on these preschoolers found that those who were able to wait the 15 minutes were significantly less likely to have problems with behavior, drug addiction or obesity by the time they were in high school, compared with kids who gobbled the snack in less than a minute. The gratification-delayers also scored an average of 210 points higher on the SAT.

The test is a measure of a child’s ability to delay gratification, which subsequent research has shown to be linked to all sorts of positive outcomes, like better grades, good behavior and even healthy body mass index.

Self-control was never easy but it has a reward.


Self-control will lead you into a more intimate relationship with God.

A door knob hanger coloring activity capped the day. They brought it home and served as a reminder not only for them but also for their family.

Self-control is allowing God to be in control of your will and heart. This will allow us to have discipline and restraint with obedience to God and others. It is not letting distractions derail or remove us from His will and plan so we will not be held back with what Christ called us to do.

Let me share this prayer of self-control:

Dear Lord, help us to know ourselves. Teach us to recognize our weaknesses and work to walk in holiness.

Let us repent, and follow You in all things.

Thank You for Your unendeding grace and mercy toward us when we need it most.

Help us to trust You with our lives.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Be blessed always!


According to the Bible, to become a servant of God and to enjoy serving others is not only a decision that a person needs to take, it is first a gracious gift from God. A voluntary servant, who submits themselves to a higher purpose, which is beyond their personal interests or the interests of others and a servant who, out of love, serves others’ needs before their own.

During the weekend, some of our Light Group (LG) members attended the facilitator workshop organized by the Light of Jesus community. It was a whole-day of fun, learning and empowerment. Special shout out to our service team for all their love!

Aside from spiritual maturity, the training was geared towards technical skills’ enhancement on how to serve others effectively and efficiently as a facilitator.

The biggest lesson I learned during the training was centered on personal mastery which means that you are committed for your continuous improvement in everything you do -in all areas of your life. In short, ‘you cannot give what you don’t have’.

Our servant trainer was Sis. Gertrudes ‘Ruth’ Collantes, who passionately shared her story of self awareness and the critical role it plays as a facilitator. She is the team head for the Servants’ Resources Development Ministry (SRDM) of the Feast Bay Area. She has more than 20 years of organizational development and training experience.

Sis. Rezza Custodio-Soriano, the Pastoral Council Co-Head thanked everyone for their presence and love for serving others.

Bro. Audee Villaraza, Feast Builder – AM Plenary Sessions shared her faith witnessing experience on the importance of light groups in developing a deeper relationship with God.


Nothing will help you get closer to Jesus more than helping others get closer to Jesus! An empowering weekend for our Light Group (LG) members

Looking at the big picture, I realized that being a facilitator was being Jesus to others.

  • Christ-centered in all aspects of life (a voluntary servant of Christ)
  • Committed to serve the needs of others before their own,
  • Courageous to lead with power and love as an expression of serving,
  • Consistently developing others into servant leaders, and
  • Continually inviting feedback from those that they want to serve in order to grow towards the ultimate servant leader, Jesus Christ.

We are called to be God’s servants in every aspect of our lives. It means serving others in accordance with the higher purpose of serving God.

I am excited for this new opportunity as part of my healing journey.

To God be all the glory!


During my wife’s vacation last quarter of 2017, EDSA was a place of struggle – even until today. Monstrous traffic, smoke belchers’ haven and your patience’s tester to the hilt.


My wife and I during our EDSA travel sojourn. EDSA People Power Revolution black & white illustrations (photo credits to the owner).

As we traversed the highway and passed by the People Power Monument and EDSA Shrine, I asked myself – what did a bloodless revolution in 1986 make me who I am today?

When I went to Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as an OFW, we were reminded to always avoid discussing religion and politics because those are divisive issues.

But with social media, you can discuss anything under the sun and even upload photos/videos. Famewhore left and right and a lot political analyst wanna be.

Unfortunately, religion and politics have been weaponized and the issues that divide nations and societies are brought to our living rooms daily. Vicious wars are being fought because of it.

Back to the 1986 People Power Revolution, I was 6-year old when helicopters hovered around the city. There was panic and chaos in our neighborhood.

Everyone was hooked going to EDSA.

I wanted, too.

But, my mother asked me to pray for peace, instead.

It was difficult to fathom why there was such frenzy.

Few days later, it was an answered prayer.

As a young child, EDSA was a faith witnessing experience.

Three decades & two years, there was People Power at EDSA.

Epifanio De Los Santos (EDSA) in english, Epiphany of the Saints.

Epiphany, wikipedia defines it as “…an experience of sudden and striking realization. Generally the term is used to describe scientific breakthrough, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective.”

Isn’t that what those who came to the EDSA Peaceful Revolution encountered?

We were called.

We came.

We prayed.

We shared.

We stood.

We were ready to sacrifice dear life for the country, for freedom from the Dictator and years of Martial rule and from decades of disunity and apathy.

Those who were non-participants living at that juncture in history and remained apathetic and shoved that “peaceful uprising” as a political exercise than an exercise of faith, will never understand the true meaning of EDSA.

For me, it is like the Hebrews crossing the Red Sea whilst being chased by chariot riding Egyptians during the Exodus and the other God-manifestations that they experienced.

I remembered how the world looked at us and followed our People Power peaceful, bloodless revolution and peacefully resolved the major barriers to peace and freedom.

There was the collapsing of the Berlin Wall in Germany, toppling of the South Korean dictator, overthrow of communist party in Romania and years later the disintegration of the United Socialist Republic of Russia.

The world had seen our contribution to freedom and we here, just brushed EDSA and labeled it political. Yellow. Cory. Anti-Marcos.

EDSA is not Yellow or Red or Blue or White or Orange or what-not!


As a growing believer of the Christian faith, EDSA was an expression of the Church’s love for country and leadership.

It is God’s gift to the Filipinos.

Will we be like the Jews who up to now is waiting for the Messiah when we Christians already know that Jesus the Christ already came?

Or will we accept EDSA as an epiphany — a gift of the Most high to His long suffering people?


This coming Palm Sunday, March 25 we will be celebrating World Youth Day 2018.

Today, the Vatican released Pope Francis’ message for the said event.

I was grateful that I attended the World Youth Day 2011 with the Holy Father in Madrid, Spain.

World Youth Day was a very important part of the legacy of Saint Pope John Paul II and his love and ministry to young people in the Church. It has touched the lives of many millions of young people and helped them to experience the catholicity of the faith, to deepen their commitment to the Lord and their sense of being part of Jesus’ family in the Church. In general, the young people who go have a wonderful experience.

It is a great institution in the life of the Church and there’s no other gathering of young people in the world that consistently brings together the numbers that World Youth Day does.

It is also a great blessing for the place that hosts the World Youth Day gathering.

When I was in high school, the Philippines hosted World Youth Day in 1995. I was not able to participate. I missed the event.

In 2011, I took the opportunity and I was blessed that I did participate in WYD Madrid.

I was impressed by the volunteers from the parishes. There were thousands of volunteers who just were so helpful in organizing and directing people and helping them and making sure that everyone had what they needed. The Holy Father had a meeting with them before he left to thank them for their generous service.

I think the presence of so many young Catholics was a great consolation to the Church in Spain, which has been suffering from the secularization of Europe.

Below is the full message of Pope Francis:

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God” (Lk 1:30)

Dear young people,

World Youth Day 2018 represents another step in preparation for the international WYD due to take place in Panama in January 2019. This new stage of our pilgrimage falls in the same year that the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will meet on the theme: Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. This is a happy coincidence. The focus, prayer and reflection of the Church will turn to you young people, with the desire to receive and, above all, to embrace the precious gift that you are to God, to the Church and to the world.

As you already know, we have chosen to be accompanied on this journey by the example and intercession of Mary, the young woman of Nazareth whom God chose as the Mother of his Son. She walks with us towards the Synod and towards the WYD in Panama. If last year we were guided by the words of her canticle of praise – “The Almighty has done great things for me” (Lk 1:49) – teaching us to remember the past, this year we seek, together with her, to listen to the voice of God who inspires courage and bestows the grace needed to respond to his call: “Do not be afraid, Mary, because you have found favour with God” (Lk 1:30). These are the words addressed by God’s messenger, the Archangel Gabriel, to Mary, an ordinary girl from a small village in Galilee.

1. Do not be afraid!

As is understandable, the sudden appearance of the angel and his mysterious greeting: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28), strongly disturbed Mary, who was surprised by this first revelation of her identity and her vocation, as yet unknown to her. Mary, like others in the Sacred Scriptures, trembles before the mystery of God’s call, who in a moment places before her the immensity of his own plan and makes her feel all her smallness as a humble creature. The angel, seeing the depths of her heart, says: “Do not be afraid”! God also reads our inmost heart. He knows well the challenges we must confront in life, especially when we are faced with the fundamental choices on which depend who we will be and what we will do in this world. It is the “shudder” that we feel when faced with decisions about our future, our state of life, our vocation. In these moments we are troubled and seized by so many fears.

And you young people, what are your fears? What worries you most deeply? An “underlying” fear that many of you have is that of not being loved, well-liked or accepted for who you are. Today, there are many young people who feel the need to be different from who they really are, in an attempt to adapt to an often artificial and unattainable standard. They continuously “photo-shop” their images, hiding behind masks and false identities, almost becoming fake selves. Many are obsessed by receiving as many “likes” as possible. Multiple fears and uncertainties emerge from this sense of inadequacy. Others fear that they will not be able to find an emotional security and that they will remain alone. Many, faced with the uncertainty of work, fear not being able to find a satisfactory professional position, or to fulfil their dreams. Today a large number of young people are full of fear, both believers and non-believers. Indeed, those who have accepted the gift of faith and seek their vocation seriously are not exempt from fears. Some think: perhaps God is asking or will ask too much of me; perhaps, by following the road he has marked out for me, I will not be truly happy, or I will not be able to do what he asks of me. Others think: if I follow the path that God shows me, who can guarantee that I will be able to follow it through? Will I become discouraged? Will I lose my enthusiasm? Will I be able to persevere for the whole of my life?

In moments when doubts and fears flood our hearts, discernment becomes necessary. It allows us to bring order to the confusion of our thoughts and feelings, to act in a just and prudent way. In this process, the first step in overcoming fears is to identify them clearly, so as not to find yourself wasting time and energy by being gripped by empty and faceless ghosts. And so, I invite all of you to look within yourselves and to “name” your fears. Ask yourselves: what upsets me, what do I fear most in this specific moment of my life today? What blocks me and prevents me from moving forward? Why do I lack the courage to make the important choices I need to make? Do not be afraid to face your fears honestly, to recognize them for what they are and to come to terms with them. The Bible does not ignore the human experience of fear nor its many causes. Abraham was afraid (cf. Gen12:10ff), Jacob was afraid (cf. Gen 31:31; 32:7), and so were Moses (cf. Ex 2:14; 17:4), Peter (cf. Mt 26:69ff) and the Apostles (cf. Mk 4:38-40; Mt 26:56). Jesus himself, albeit in an incomparable way, experienced fear and anguish (cf. Mt26:37; Lk 22:44).

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” (Mk 4:40). In admonishing his disciples Jesus helps us to understand how the obstacle to faith is often not scepticismbut fear. Thus understood, the work of discernment identifies our fears and can then help us to overcome them, opening us to life and helping us to calmly face the challenges that come our way. For us Christians in particular, fear must never have the last word but rather should be an occasion to make an act of faith in God… and in life! This means believing in the fundamental goodness of the existence that God has given us and trusting that he will lead us to a good end, even through circumstances and vicissitudes which often bewilder us. Yet if we harbour fears, we will become inward-looking and closed off to defend ourselves from everything and everyone, and we will remain paralyzed. We have to act! Never close yourself in! In the Sacred Scriptures the expression “do not be afraid” is repeated 365 times with different variations, as if to tell us that the Lord wants us to be free from fear, every day of the year.

Discernment is indispensable when searching for one’s vocation in life. More often than not our vocation is not obvious or evident at first but rather something we come to understand gradually. Discernment, in this case, should not be seen as an individual effort at introspection, with the aim of better understanding our interior make-up so as to strengthen us and acquire some balance. In such instances the person can become stronger, but is still confined to the limited horizon of his or her possibilities and perspectives. Vocation, however, is a call from above, and discernment in this context principally means opening ourselves to the Other who calls. Prayerful silence is therefore required in order to hear the voice of God that resounds within our conscience. God knocks at the door of our hearts, as he did with Mary; he longs to establish friendship with us through prayer, to speak with us through the Sacred Scriptures, to offer us mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and to be one with us in the Eucharist.

It is also important to dialogue with and encounter others, our brothers and sisters in the faith who have more experience, for they help us to see better and to choose wisely from the various possibilities. When the young Samuel hears the voice of the Lord, he does not recognize it immediately. Three times he runs to Eli, the older priest, who in the end proposes the right response to give to the Lord’s call: “If he calls you, you shall say: ‘Speak Lord, for your servant hears.’” (1 Sam 3:9). In your doubts know that you can rely on the Church. I know that there are very good priests, consecrated men and woman and lay faithful, many of whom are also young, who can support you like older brothers and sisters in the faith. Enlivened by the Holy Spirit, they will help you to make sense of your doubts and understand the plan of your own vocation. The other is not only a spiritual guide, but also the person who helps us open ourselves to the infinite riches of the life that God has given us. It is important to create spaces in our cities and communities to grow, to dream and to look at new horizons! Never lose the enthusiasm of enjoying others’ company and friendship, as well as the pleasure of dreaming together, of walking together. Authentic Christians are not afraid to open themselves to others and share with them their own important spaces, making them spaces of fraternity. Dear young people, do not allow the spark of youth to be extinguished in the darkness of a closed room in which the only window to the outside world is a computer and smartphone. Open wide the doors of your life! May your time and space be filled with meaningful relationships, real people, with whom to share your authentic and concrete experiences of daily life.

2. Mary!

“I have called you by name” (Is 43:1). The first reason not to fear is the fact that God has called us by name. The angel, God’s messenger, called Mary by name. To God belongs the power to give names. In the work of creation, he calls into existence every creature by name. There is an identity behind a name, that which is unique in every single thing, in every single person; that intimate essence that only God truly knows. This divine prerogative was shared with man when God invited him to name the animals, the birds and also his own offspring (Gen2:19-21; 4:1). Many cultures share this profound biblical vision; they recognize in a name the revelation of the profound mystery of life and the meaning of existence.

When God calls someone by name, he also reveals to the person his vocation, his plan of holiness and fulfilment, through which the person becomes a gift to others and is made unique. And when God wants to expand the horizons of life, he gives a new name to the person he is calling, as he did with Simon, whom he called “Peter”. From here comes the custom of taking a new name when entering a religious congregation, to indicate a new identity and mission. Since the divine call is unique and personal, we need the courage to disentangle ourselves from the pressure of being shaped by conforming patterns, so that our life can truly become an authentic and irreplaceable gift to God, to the Church and to all.

Dear young people, to be called by name is therefore a sign of our great dignity in the eyes of God and a sign of his love for us. God calls each one of you by name. All of you are the “you” of God, precious in his eyes, worthy of respect and loved (cf.Is 43:4). Welcome with joy this dialogue that God offers you, this appeal he makes to you, calling you by name.

3. You have found favour with God

The main reason why Mary need not be afraid is that she has found favour with God. The word “grace” speaks of love freely given, not owed. How much we are encouraged to know that we do not have to earn the closeness and help of God, by presenting a “Curriculum Vitae of excellence”, full of merits and successes! The angel says to Mary that she has already found favour with God, not that she will obtain it in the future. And the same formulation of the angel’s words helps us understand that divine grace is continuous, not something passing or fleeting; for this reason, it will never fail. Even in the future, the grace of God will always be there to sustain us, especially in moments of trial and darkness.

The continuous presence of divine grace encourages us to embrace our vocation with confidence; our vocation demands a commitment of faithfulness that needs to be renewed each day. Our vocational path is not without its crosses: not only our initial doubts, but also the frequent temptations that crop up along the way. The feeling of inadequacy accompanies Christ’s disciple to the end. Yet he or she knows the help of God’s grace.

The Angel’s words descend upon our human fears, dissolving them with the power of the Good News of which we are heralds: our life is not pure chance or a mere struggle for survival, rather each of us is a cherished story loved by God. That we have “found grace in his eyes” means that the Creator sees a unique beauty in our being and that he has a magnificent plan for our lives. The awareness of this certainty, of course, does not resolve all our problems nor does it take away life’s uncertainties. But it does have the power to transform our life deeply. The unknown that tomorrow holds for us is not a dark threat we need to overcome, but a favourable time given to us for living out the uniqueness of our personal vocation, and for sharing it with our brothers and sisters in the Church and in the world.

4. Courage in the present moment

From the certainty that God’s grace is with us comes the strength to take courage in the present moment: the courage to carry forward what God asks of us here and now, in every area of our lives; courage to embrace the vocation which God reveals to us; courage to live out our faith without hiding or diminishing it.

Yes, when we open ourselves to God’s grace, the impossible becomes a reality. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31). God’s grace touches the “now” of your lives, “takes hold” of you as you are, with all your fears and limits, but it also reveals his marvellous plans! You young people need to know that someone truly believes in you: please know that the Pope has confidence in you, that the Church has confidence in you! For your part, have confidence in the Church!

To the young Mary was entrusted an important task, precisely because she was young. You young people have strength as you go through a phase of your lives where energy is not lacking. Make use of this strength and this energy to improve the world, beginning with the realities closest to you. I want important responsibilities to be given to you within the Church; that there may be the courage to make space for you; and that you may be prepared to take on these responsibilities.

I invite you once again to contemplate Mary’s love: a caring, dynamic and concrete love. A love full of boldness and focused completely on the gift of self. A Church permeated by these Marian qualities will always be a Church going forth, one that goes beyond her own limits and boundaries to let the grace she has received overflow. If we allow ourselves to be truly touched by Mary’s example, we will live out authentically that charity which urges us to love God above all else and above ourselves, to love those with whom we share our daily life. And we will also love those who may seem hardly lovable in themselves. It is a love that is service and dedication, above all towards the weakest and poorest, love that transforms our faces and fills us with joy.

I would like to end with the beautiful words Saint Bernard used in a famous homily on the mystery of the Annunciation, words that express the anticipation of all humanity for Mary’s response: “You have heard, O Virgin that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer… We too, O Lady, are waiting for your word of compassion… In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life… This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet… Answer quickly, O Virgin” (Sermon 4, 8-9;Opera Omnia).

Dear young people, the Lord, the Church, the world are waiting for your answer to the unique call that each one receives in this life! As World Youth Day in Panama draws closer, I invite you to prepare yourselves for our gathering with the joy and enthusiasm of those who wish to participate in such a great adventure. WYD is for the courageous! Not for young people who are searching only for comfort and who withdraw whenever difficulties arise. Do you accept the challenge?


Did you know that there are taboos being observed during Chinese New Year?

A taboo is an activity that is forbidden or sacred based on religious beliefs or morals.

Last February 16, our Light Group (LG) had a post-Valentines’ celebration that coincided the first day of the Chinese Lunar year.

We traveled all the way from South Luzon and went to North Manila for a sumptuous feast of Chinese cuisine and a special heart’s day gift-giving.

We would like to thank Bro. Fred & Sis. Jane Pagala for hosting the fellowship.

After the fellowship, we visited the business warehouse of our host. They are one of the big suppliers of plastic wares in the country. Some of our sisters enjoyed some shopping spree at very reasonable prices.

We ended the day with a delicious sticky tikoy and a flavorful drink of black gulaman.

What’s the secret of cooking tikoy? According to Sis. Jane, use a lumpia wrapper for a less oily tikoy.


Our Light Group (LG) – standing from left to right Bro. Fred & Sis. Jane Pagala, Bro. Allan & Sis. Bebet Gayondato and Sis. Flor & Bro. Anton Erni; seated me and Kuya Bene Gayondato.

Back on the taboos, according to, here they are:

1. Do not say negative words
All words with negative connotations are forbidden! These include: death, sick, empty, pain, ghost, poor, break, kill and more.

The reason behind this should be obvious. You wouldn’t want to jinx yourself or bring those misfortunes onto you and your loved ones.

2. Do not break ceramics or glass
Breaking things will break your connection to prosperity and fortune. If a plate or bowl is dropped, immediately wrap it with red paper. After the New Year, throw the wrapped up shards into a lake or river.

3. Do not clean or sweep
Before the Spring Festival, there is a day of cleaning. That is to sweep away the bad luck. But during the actual celebration, it becomes a taboo. Cleaning or throwing out garbage may sweep away good luck instead.

4. Do not use scissors, knives or other sharp objects
There are 2 reasons behind this rule. Scissors and needles shouldn’t be used. In olden times, this was to give women a well-deserved break.

Sharp objects in general will cut your stream of wealth and success. This is why 99% of hair salons are closed during the holidays.

5. Do not visit the wife’s family
Traditionally, multiple generations live together. The bride moves into the groom’s home after marriage. And, of course, she will celebrate Chinese New Year with her in-laws.

Returning to her parents on New Year’s Day means that there are marriage problems and may also bring bad luck to the entire family. The couple should visit the wife’s family on the 2nd day.

6. Do not demand debt repayment
This custom is a show of understanding. It allows everyone a chance to celebrate without worry. If you knock on someone’s door, demanding repayment, you’ll bring bad luck to both parties. However, it’s fair game after the 5th day. Borrowing money is also taboo. You could end up having to borrow the entire year.

7. Avoid fighting and crying
Unless there is a special circumstance, try not to cry. But if a child cries, do not reprimand them. All issues should be solved peacefully. In the past, neighbors would come over to play peacemaker for any arguments that occurred. This is all to ensure a smooth path in the new year.

8. Avoid taking medicine
Try not to take medicine during the Spring Festival to avoid being sick the entire year. Of course, if you are chronically ill or contract a sudden serious disease, immediate health should still come first.

Some related taboos:

  • Don’t visit the doctor
  • Don’t perform/undergo surgery
  • Don’t get shots

9. Do not give New Year blessings to someone still in bed
You are supposed to give New Year blessings (拜年—bài nián). But let the recipient get up from bed first. Otherwise, they’ll be bed-ridden for the entire year. You also shouldn’t tell someone to wake up. You don’t want them to be rushed around and bossed around for the year. Take advantage of this and sleep in!

10. Chinese gift-giving taboos
It was mentioned above that you should bring gifts when paying visits. It’s the thought that counts, but some gifts are forbidden.

Clocks are the worst gifts. Gifting clocks (送钟—sòng zhōng) is a homophone of paying one’s last respects (送终). Splitting pears (分梨—fèn lí) is also a homophone of separation (分离).

Some regions have their own local taboos too. For example, in Mandarin, “apple” (苹果) is pronounced píng guǒ. But in Shanghainese, it is bing1 gu, which sounds like “passed away from sickness.”

These don’t just apply to the Spring Festival, so keep it in the back of your mind!

For the Spring Festival, these rules may seem excessive. Especially when you add in the cultural norms, customs and manners. But like a parent would say, they are all for your own good. Formed over thousands of years, these taboos embody the beliefs, wishes and worries of the Chinese people.