Exactly four (4) years ago, Future Generation Philippine International School (FGPIS) in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia invited me to be their commencement speaker.

I was glad Facebook has an “on this day” feature to always look back at your special memories in life.

My wife was beside me when I received the plaque of appreciation.


“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”

I shared the value of finding true joy, accepting one’s limitation and loving your parents to the graduating students.

True joy doesn’t result from things or circumstances. Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.

Jesus never promised trouble-free living. In fact, He predicted the opposite, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

To quote C.S. Lewis, “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” New things may bring a temporary sense of happiness, but alas the newness wears off.

Lasting joy is not tied to material things but to a vibrant relationship with the one who is our source of joy! So take time to rediscover your joy, and learn to enjoy the journey.

Surrender to the existence of your limits. This is the only place from which you can truly start the journey of adapting, and when you accept and adapt, you can find a new way of living filled with a lot more peace – when you accept your limits, and when you accept reality, it’s then that you can discover what is still possible.

Love your parents. We are so busy growing up, we often forget they are also growing old. Appreciate your parents. You never know what sacrifices they went through for you.

FGPIS is one of the leading Philippine schools overseas committed to the holistic development of its graduates with special emphasis on science and technology.

They have a high culture of excellence imbued with personal discipline and multi-cultural consciousness.

The school was founded through the collaboration of the its owner Sheikha Bareah Bint Sabah Salem Al Hamoud Al Sabah, Kuwaiti princess and the group of seven dedicated, intellectuals, and efficient Filipino teachers headed by Mrs. Marie Con C. Caro, school principal and Mrs. Zenaida C. Meren, school assistant principal.


Last year’s Lenten Season were spent at Pampanga for my radiation therapy. Back then, there were so many uncertainties, worries and fear but I held on to God’s promise of healing.

Lent this year was a testimony of God’s relentless love. I’ve done things, I thought I never could.

My heart overflows with thanksgiving. God is indeed awesome!


So when you approach your God today, come with humility, a profound sense of wonder, and a sober fear of displeasing him. For He is awesome in power and a fierce and relentless warrior on behalf of his people. Whatever your needs are, you have not exhausted his strength and power. Whatever your concerns, you have not run his emotional well dry. Whatever your situation, his hand is not too short to save, provide, lead, and fight for you. Whatever the depth of your offenses against him, he is not prevented from forgiving, releasing, and drawing near the truly repentant person. Nothing is too hard for him!

I would like to share this reflection on Matthew 14:22-36 by Santa Rita Abbey:

During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once he spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.

Awe is a word that has been batted around so much these past years that it has lost a lot of its meaning. How many times have you heard or even used “awesome” in the simplest of circumstances?

And yet, maybe it isn’t so far from the truth, once you get down to the source of awe.

This Gospel passage speaks of awe at the presence and action of God in people’s lives. The disciples are scared out of their wits by what they think is a ghost. It appears to be Jesus, so Peter, at once terrified and irresistibly drawn, challenges the “ghost” to prove that it is really his Master, that he is really who he says he is. And Jesus responds simply, “Come” to Peter’s question of authenticity. You just have to love Peter in his humanness and his relationship with Jesus!

So Peter jumps out of the boat and starts walking. Then it hits him: “I’m walking on WATER.” Jesus is no longer the focus and motive of his action and everything unravels. The wind pushes him around as the waves try to knock him off balance.

He has the very human reaction of fear and yells, “Lord, save me!” Jesus takes his hand and they get into the boat. Then the wind dies down. Can you imagine the awe that filled those men? He IS all he says he is. Our master and deepest friend is the son of GOD!

Try to wrap your mind around that. You can’t.

It is only accessible by faith and the Spirit.

I think Jesus’ words to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” were not a slam for being human, but an acknowledgement that Peter was on the right track, and a life-lesson about what it means to have faith in Jesus and live from it.

The awe that they all felt opened them to see the very wellspring of awe: the presence of God in all that exists and his tremendous power exercised as love and goodness.

And this Presence can and will ask us to stretch our faith, love and trust in a God who fills everything and everyone by walking into circumstances where we must let ourselves grow and be stretched into discipleship as his friends and lovers.

We don’t have to wait for dramatic moments to arise to experience awe.

Every day holds many moments that can lead us to the same place. So, are they really “small” if they are filled with the enormity of God? Sunrise, sunset. A smile. A fawn with its mother.

An invitation to leave behind our selfishness to serve another in honest love.

I could go on and on, and I’m sure you can come up with a long list yourself.

The point is that we live in a world of nothing but awe and we can, like Peter, take the challenge to step out in faith in the Son of God who loves us and has given his life for us, and walk on the water of awe.

As Scripture says, “Truly you are an awesome God.” In the best and deepest sense of the word!

When have you been impressed, perhaps even overwhelmed, by the awesomeness of God?

Let us pray:

Help me to keep your awesomeness in mind even as I draw near to you. When I receive your fatherly embrace, may I realize just how amazing it is to have such a relationship with the King of kings and Lord of lords. When I come before you in worship, may I come with reverence even as I come with childlike openness.

All praise be to you, mighty, holy, awesome God!



I met Ate Wendy Samonte after the closing program of SFC International Conference 2018.

She wore a facemask and thanked a group of brothers and sisters in the parking lot.

Bro. Cris Serdenia, a fellow servant leader in SFC Middle East introduced her to me.

Ate Wendy

Dear Lord, I come before You today in need of Your healing hand. In You all things are possible. Hold my heart within Yours, and renew my mind, body and soul. I am lost, but I come to You with grace. You gave us life, and You also give us the gift of infinite joy. Give me the strength to move forward on the path you’ve laid out for me. Guide me towards better health and give me the wisdom to identify those you’ve placed around me to help me get better. Amen. (Together with Ate Wendy & Bro. Cris.)

Ate Wendy was diagnosed with gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs), a rare type of cancer found in the digestive system, most often in the wall of the stomach.

She undergone surgery in 2016. She has no stomach anymore. Digesting food is a big challenge.

She shared her pains during chemo and CT scan sessions.

I felt her agony because I experienced the same.

Her optimism was a source of inspiration.

She went to the event as a victor and full of gratitude.

The SFC community was a source of hope.

Stories about Ate Wendy gave me a deeper understanding of God’s relentless love.

She was a living witness of God’s faithfulness.

Let us pray continuously for her complete healing.

Amidst her condition Ate Wendy remains steadfast in serving the Lord in whatever way possible, her gratitude prayer:

“Thank you God for being with me, inspiring me and using me to speak Your words to my brothers and sisters. Continue to use me Lord, allow me to see Jesus through the people around me and to experience Your great love.”


Third day of February every year will never be the same again.

A memory of thanksgiving and overflowing graces.

“The biopsy result is out. It’s cancer.” Three (3) years ago, these words from my doctor crashed me into pieces. Looking back to where I am now, I am in awe of God. I could have easily given up but He has a better plan. Bigger than my vision.

The message of the gospel today reminded me to yield more in God’s embrace. (Payakap pa more Lord!) More years of loving and serving Him. Thank you for everything!


God’s love in action. Three (3) years of healing grace. Thank you Bro. Rommel & Bro. Cris for sharing your time. More years of serving and loving the Lord!

Celebrating it with Bro. Rommel & Bro. Cris from SFC Middle East.

#nootherwaybutforward #loved #healed #serviceaboveall


After many years, I finally took my ID photo again.

This is for a new journey in the horizon.


An ID is any document used to verify a person’s identity. Without a photo it is nothing.

Why do we need to have an ID?

ID cards have become a crucial part of the business world, making it possible to simultaneously simplify employee and visitor identification and enhance a company’s integrity and security.

ID cards typically include an employee’s name, photo, job title and department, making quick personal identification a snap.

Using photo ID cards makes it easy for security personnel to quickly identify each employee or visitor, minimizing the risk of impersonation and theft.

By restricting access to a building to allow only those with ID cards to enter, each company will be able to lower the possibility of unauthorized visitors entering the building.

But as a Christian, what is our ID?

According to Pope Francis in a homily back in 2016, the identity card of the Christian is the joy of the Gospel.

“A Christian is a man, or a woman, of joy: a man and a woman with joy in their heart. There is no Christian without joy! You may be told that there are many such Christians,” the pope warned, but “they are not Christians! They say they are, but they are not! They are missing something.”

“The Christian identity card is joy, the Gospel’s joy, the joy of having been chosen by Jesus, saved by Jesus, regenerated by Jesus; the joy of that hope that Jesus is waiting for us, the joy that – even with the crosses and sufferings we bear in this life – is expressed in another way, which is peace in the certainty that Jesus accompanies us, is with us.”

“The Christian,” he added, “grows in joy through trusting in God. God always remembers his covenant.” And in turn, “the Christian knows that God remembers him, that God loves him, that God accompanies him, that God is waiting for him. And this is joy.”

Turning to the Gospel’s story regarding Jesus’ encounter with the wealthy man, the pope observed the young man “was not able to open his heart to joy [and] chose sadness,” “for he had many possessions.”

“He was shackled to his belongings! Jesus told us that one cannot serve two masters: either one must serve God or serve riches. Riches are not bad in themselves, but slavery to wealth – this, is wickedness. The poor young man went away sad … ‘He frowned and he went away sorrowful’.

When in our parishes, in our communities, in our institutions we find people who say they are Christians and want to be Christian but are sad, something is wrong there. And we must help them to find Jesus, to take away that sadness, so that they may rejoice in the gospel, can have this joy which is truly of the Gospel.”

“Joy and amazement:” that’s what the Christian feels when faced with God’s revelation and love, and “the emotions stirred by the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis added.

The pope recalled Jesus’s disappointment when he told the Apostles that the young man could not follow him, because he was too attached to his riches. And when the Apostles asked the Lord, ‘who then, can be saved?’ The Lord answered, “Impossible for men, but not for God.”

Christian joy, then, and the ability to “be saved from worldly attachments” can “only come through the power of God, with the strength of the Holy Spirit.”

Pope Francis prayed that the Lord “graces us with amazement in his presence, in the presence of the many spiritual treasures he has given us; and with this amazement, may he give us joy, the joy of our lives – and of having our hearts at peace even when faced with many difficulties. And may he protect us from seeking happiness in so many things that ultimately sadden us: they promise much, but they will not give us anything! Remember well: a Christian is a man, and a woman, of joy, joy in the Lord; a man and a woman of wonder .”

From my ID photo to a Christian life filled with joy.

God loves you so much!


I went to National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help also known as Redemptorist Church and colloquially the Baclaran Church today and I saw a lot of pigeons on the way to the main church.

When I saw the bird, I was slapped on my face and I was reminded of this bible verse from Matthew:

“That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing!

Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are?”

The Lord provides, so why worry?


You must learn to live life one day at a time. God only gives you help you need for today. He doesn’t give you tomorrow’s help today. So don’t worry about what you are going to do tomorrow, because when you get to tomorrow, God’s grace will be there to meet you and give you what you need. 

One morning Death was walking into a city when a man stopped him and asked what he was doing. Death answered, “I’m going into the city to kill 10,000 people.” The man replied, “That’s terrible that you would kill 10,000 people.” Death responded, “Taking people when their time has come is my job. Today I have to get my 10,000.”

Later, as Death was coming out of the city, the man met him. Again, he was furious. He said, “You told me this morning that you were going to take 10,000 people, but 70,000 died today.”

Death answered, “Don’t get mad at me. I only took 10,000. Worry killed all the rest.”

Worry has an uncanny knack for killing people.

The poet Robert Frost (1874–1963) wrote, “The reason why worry kills more people than work is because more people worry than work.”

For many people, worry has become so ingrained in their personalities that once the old worries are gone they search for new ones. They’ve become dependent on worry as a lens through which to view life, and they’ve forgotten any other way to live.

Is there reason to be worried today?

Most people would say there is. High energy costs, a worsening economy, rogue nuclear nations, threats of terrorism, widespread job layoffs, and tension in the Middle East—all these make for uncertain times.

Fortunately, in the midst of a world of “worry-warts,” Jesus isn’t worried.

If you’re a chronic worrier, here’s a suggestion you might find helpful.

First, find a shoebox. Tape the lid on, and then cut a little hole in it. Call it your “worry box.”

Whenever you feel tempted to worry, write your worry on a piece of paper and drop it in the box.

You can say, “Lord, this is my concern, and it has the potential to become a worry. You have told me not to worry, so here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to put it in my worry box and let You take responsibility for it. Anything that I put in this box will be there because I can’t handle it. Once it’s in the box, I’m going to trust You to handle it for me, Lord.”

God asks you to take a leap of faith and trust in His ability. He is trustworthy and He alone can meet your needs. So trust Him today.

where it all began


I wish the teddy bear can ease the pain.


Fatigue, a black stool, nausea and constipation were the initial symptoms of the great battle.

It was just an ordinary day that became a turning point of my life.

I went to Hamadi hospital for my regular checkup – initial diagnosis was Anemia or low blood. Blood transfusion must be done as soon as possible. Unfortunately, they cannot accommodate me anymore. Beds were full.

So I traveled from Hamadi to Al Habib hospital without knowing that I was already a walking time bomb – ready to explode anytime because of low hemoglobin levels.

I met Dr. Sulaiman Gali, a gastroenterologist from Sudan and showed him the lab results from Hamadi. Hemoglobin level was 6 versus 12-14 for normal male.

Lo and behold, I was sent to the ICU immediately.

Panic mode erupted.

Nurses were squabbling to find veins from my fatty muscles.

Low hemoglobin was caused by internal hemorrhage from my digestive tract. Endoscopy was done to remove the blood clot.

Six bags of blood were transfused.

A brutal day in the hospital – flare attack from my gouty arthritis was hell, a slight touch on my hands and feet made me cringe in pain.

Hemoglobin went up but with on and off fever.

Body was not responding to several bottles of paracetamol and antibiotics. Two (2) probable cause: the gouty arthritis and digestive tract’s continuous bleeding.

Aspiration of synovial fluid from my joints was done. How? Imagine a long tiny needle inserted on your ankle to get a liquid in between your bones without anesthesia.

I closed my eyes during the painful procedure. It was difficult for the rheumatologist to aspirate because the space in between the ankle joints were very small and they need to prick several times. Ouch! They got a yellowish fluid, which means a sign of infection.

In addition, the doctor advised me to undergo a CT scan to check the digestive tract. Prior to the actual scan, I drank one liter of water with contrast formula. Tasted like metal but who am I to complain it was a requirement.

Nothing compares to my first CT scan experience because it was never my last.

Initially, the radiation technologist from India assisted me but had difficulties transferring me from the bed to the scanning area. My body was in pain. The scooping board was not used.

Grateful that I was endorsed to a Filipino radiation technologist. He did it with a breeze. My heart pounded because they found “something” and I drank more water with contrast formula to see it clearer.

After a few days, the CT scan result was out. A small tumor in the ampula or head of my pancreas was found causing a blockade in my digestive tract.

I have to undergo a biopsy to check if it’s malignant or not.

The tumor was not as big as a Nutella bottle.