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 would like to share this picture taken 24 years ago during our Citizen Army Training (CAT) days in high school.


“Be an Encourager: When you encourage others, you boost their self-esteem, enhance their self-confidence, make them work harder, lift their spirits and make them successful in their endeavors. Encouragement goes straight to the heart and is always available. Be an encourager. Always.” Photo credits to Batch Lima (1996) Adjutant Joseph Delgado. 

I was the First Battalion Commander back then.

CAT (Citizen Army Training) was part of the fourth year high school curriculum in the 90s.

To be at the top, my fellow CAT officers endured all the physical, mental and emotional trainings.

Just like the military, we have to go through the drill and formation.

Our CAT uniform was the fatigues or battledress, a military suit.

I was part of Batch Lima (1996), our corp commander was a lady who stood tall amidst strings of challenges.

We were the triumphant group who took home the Championship trophy for the Best CAT Platoon of the Division of City Schools Manil held at Araullo High School.

Our training was spearheaded by the Naval Reserve Command (NAVRESCOM) officers.

We have continually exemplified that honor is not a medal pinned to our chests but a way of life embedded in our hearts.

We were always encouraged to have an overflowing love for service and integrity.

We thrived in the spirit of volunteerism and bayanihan.

“Champions are those who never quit,” this quote inspired us to never give up easily.

We were required to memorize this poem by heart.

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won if he’d stuck it out.
Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are –
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

Indeed, quiting was never an option before and until today.

Whatever life throws at you, remain grounded, head held high and never give up.


I have always loved cartoons. I might not watch as many cartoons now as I did when I was a kid but I enjoy them way more than any other adult I know. A significant part of my childhood has been spent watching cartoons, especially Tom & Jerry.

I saw this Tom & Jerry – true to life photo shared by Mr. Jerry Fernandez, a dear friend from India and a former colleague in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


The bitter-sweet relationship of Tom and Jerry taught us why life is meaningless without a partner to share moments of fun and laughter with.

This particular piece of animation uncovers the reality of our everyday life.

The twisted friendship between Tom and Jerry draws a brilliant analogy with the relationships we share with people in today’s world.

According to NoisyRadicals.com, there are valuable life lessons from Tom & Jerry:

There will always be someone you will meet in your life who will make you feel ‘small’ or ‘big’.

We often feel that others are more superior than us and believe that there is someone better than us and we are, after all, not that great.

Your strength and your might is not measured in physical attributes. You are bigger than you think you are!

It is not always the external appearance that matters. The ways we think also matters a lot. A person should not be judged as a powerful human being only in the basis of his/her physical strength.

Is there ever a shortcut to success? Haven’t we all learned it the hard way?

We often tend to take shortcuts to reach the acme of success. But the shows presents a lesson that there is absolutely no shorter way to achieve what we really want in life.

Life will constantly push you. Change is the only constant.

We hardly take a moment to breathe and don’t take enough breaks. We have reached a stage where when we do take moment to chill, we feel restless. Even though, this show was made way before the internet generation was born, it spectacularly sketches an image of something way ahead of its time.

Every scar is a story to tell.

Crossing difficult destinations with patience and determination makes us a strong person. The same is implied in the cartoon. Every experience is a lesson to be learnt.

Changing the way, you look at a problem can prove to be a game-changer.

When one solution we think does not solve the problem, then think from a different perspective to solve it. Jerry tries to escape in every different way and Tom chases the same way. So it is all about looking at a problem from a different perspective just like Tom & Jerry who never seem to give up.


Last Sunday, the children at Awesome Kids Ministry learned about Job. The kids enjoyed a video presentation about him.

Book of Job

So what would happen if we start to trust God during the raging seas of life? During the times we question, still thanking God like Job did, even though outwardly it appeared there was nothing to be thankful for, no reason not to abandon our trust in God and grow angry at Him. Why? Because God is faithful and just; He sees the big picture. He loves us enough to not always give us our way, to give us reasons to search for Him.

Job had 7 sons and 3 daughters. He also had 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, 500 oxen, 500 female donkeys and a very large household.

One day, Satan told God that the only reason Job was faithful was because he had so much and he had an easy life. So, God told Satan that he could do anything to Job, except lay a hand on him.

Then Satan caused terrible things to happen to Job. A messenger came to Job and said that enemies had attacked Job’s flocks and stole his oxen and donkeys and killed his servants. Job was just thinking about how terrible this was when another messenger came and said that lightning had struck and burned up all his sheep. Then another messenger came and said that more enemies had raided the camp where all of Job’s camels were. All of the camels were gone and the servants who had been watching after them were dead.

Job was very sad. All of his riches were gone! At least he had his family! Job knew that all of his children were visiting his oldest son’s house. They were all together and they were safe. Then, a terrible thing happened. Another messenger came rushing up to Job’s house with more bad news.

“Your sons and daughters were feasting at their oldest brother’s house, when a very strong wind came up and knocked over the four corners of the house. The whole house fell down and crushed everyone in it. All of your children are dead!”

Job was so upset that he tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell down on the ground and began to pray. But he did not hate God like Satan said he would. He prayed to God and worshipped Him.

When Satan came before the Lord again, he told the Lord that Job would curse God if he did not have his health. Satan wanted to test Job again. The Lord knew that Job would pass the test so He allowed Satan to make Job sick.

Big sores appeared all over Job’s body. Even the soles of his feet and the top of his head had sores on them. The sores hurt and they itched. Job used to use bits of broken pottery to scratch his itchy sores. Even though Job hurt he still did not curse God. He did not understand why these things were happening to him but He did not hate God for it.

Job’s wife told him that he should just give up. He should curse God and die. Job’s friends came and visited him. They thought he must have been doing bad things for all of these bad things to happen to him. Job knew he always tried to do well. He told them that but they did not believe him. Everything was going wrong. Job loved God but he did not understand God. He began to ask God ‘why?” “Why was I ever born?” “Why didn’t I just die when I was a baby?” “Why am I alive?”

Everything was going wrong. Job loved God but he did not understand God. He began to ask God ‘why?” “Why was I ever born?” “Why didn’t I just die when I was a baby?” “Why am I alive?”

Finally, the Lord spoke to Job. He told Job that He should always trust God . . . even when he did not understand God.

After all, how can anyone understand everything about God? No one can know as much as God. God knows everything!

People may know about birds but God knows how to make birds fly. People may know about the sun but God causes the sun to come up and go down each day! People may know about animals but God made the largest animals and can control them!

Job learned and important lesson about God. He already knew God and loved Him. Now He knew that God is wiser and stronger than anything on earth. Job knew that he could trust God.

The God caused all of Satan’s wickedness toward Job to be stopped. He gave Job twice as much as he had before his suffering came upon him. He also had other children—seven more sons and three more daughters. Job had 14,000 sheep, 6000 camels, 1000 yoke of oxen, and 1000 donkeys.

Job lived to be a very old man and he was always happy and loved and trusted the Lord.

Job does not fail to praise God, even in his bitterest laments: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (1:21) and “With God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding.” (12:13) Praising God in the most desperate of situations is quite difficult, and challenging even if one’s trust in God is great.

Sometimes it may seem that everything is going wrong in your life and that maybe God has quit caring for you. But remember the story of Job and remember that God always cares and will always help you through your problems if you remain faithful to God.


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.


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.”