He Cares




More than 200 kids from the poorest of the poor in the neighborhood of Quezon City taught me today the deeper meaning of true love.

Every Saturday, they looked forward to the feeding party led by Bro. Joe Dean Solas, a lay missionary who devoted his life in fulfilling God’s call of faith and hope.

He Cares Mission, a street children caring center started in 1996 with a humble promise made by Bro. Joe Dean to two little street children that they will never be hungry again.


He Cares

Together with our Light Group, Bro. Joe Dean Sola (seated in cap) was a source of inspiration to many. He founded He Cares, they takes care of street children, offering five programs that cater to the children’s spirituality, health, family, life, education, and livelihood.

The day started with prayer and thanksgiving through worship songs.

Then a short program followed. I took charge of the games.

It was not easy at first.

It was difficult.

Very challenging.

But, I learned to let go.

I just smiled a lot and I let God took full control.

I knew they enjoyed it.

Their smiles and loudest cheers took my breath away.

They have been to a lot of challenges.

A few minutes of fun and laughter was all that matters.

They are still kids after all.

It was the first outreach activity for 2018 of our Light Group (LG).

I was grateful to Bro. Mark and Sis. Lorrie Calangian together with their children Lance and Chase for sharing their service love.

They tagged me along for a road trip from Cavite to the City of Stars and it was a memorable journey.

After the short program, the volunteers prepared for a sumptuous feast of spaghetti, fried chicken, rice, water turned into iced tea, fruit salad and a mini pancake with choco fillings donated by a generous Japanese businessman who visits the center monthly.

The feeding party was organized by Bro. Joe Dean with love.

Lots of it.

He encouraged the volunteers to always smile.

Every table were assigned to a feeding facilitator that helped the children on their needs.

I met Kathleen, a kindergarten student who had difficulties finishing her food. Her seatmates encouraged her to wipe out the fried chix and rice. She brought home the fruit salad.

After the feeding party, the volunteers were led to a short thanksgiving prayer and had lunch. I met other volunteers who have the same passion of serving others.

A short presentation about a new vision for He Cares in the coming years was shared.

Help build the He Cares Mission Promised Land – a sustainable farm community that aims to go beyond feeding and giving shelter for a day, towards giving a meaningful and abundant life day after day after day.

To know more about the program visit http://www.hecaresmission.com and find ways on how you can make a difference.

Bro. Joe Dean toured us around the He Cares Mission Center and mingled with the fulltime workers.

Their story of selfless love was inspiring.

I encouraged you to volunteer now.

Visit them at No. 9 Mines St., Project 6, Quezon City or contact them at (+63) 02 928-8910 or (+63) 02 453-0100. You can also email: hecaresfoundation@gmail.com.

They also accept donation thru bank account name:

He Cares Foundation, Inc.
Bank of the Philippines
Savings Account #1953093053


Finally, I entered the seminary.

Not as a priest because I am happily married but as a lay servant.

Special thanks to the Erni Couple of our Light Group (LG), Bro. Anton and Sis. Flor.

There were so many challenges along the way but it was God’s plan that prevailed.

We attended the Jesus Encounter (JE) pastoral formation of the Light of Jesus (LOJ) community.


“You are the light of the world. Your light must shine before others so that they may see the good you do and praise God in heaven.” That’s our call, and we must find now the ways to live out that call as as a community of disciples of Jesus.





My big take away from the program’s experience of faith and love:

Jesus said that we are “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”. Being salt and light is not optional. Jesus did not say you can be…or you have the potential to be…He said you are.

When Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth”, He meant that all of His disciples were to serve as preservatives, stopping the moral decay in our sin infected world.

Christians, as salt, are to inhibit sin’s power to destroy lives. This in turn creates opportunity for the gospel to be proclaimed and received.

As “salt”, the Christian is to counteract the power of sin. As “light” we are to illuminate or make visible. Our lives are to be an on-going witness to the reality of Christ’s presence in our lives. When we worship God with pure hearts, when we love others as ourselves, and when we do good without growing weary, we are lights shining.

The more we look on the face of Jesus, like an impressionist painting, the more light we see and the more we are transfigured by it.

Jesus isn’t telling his disciples to let their light shine, only when they are with each other. No, He is telling them to let their light shine in the dark places.

Jesus is telling His disciples to let their light shine, wherever they are.

Let you light shine as a father.

Let your light shine at your work place.

Let your light shine in your neighborhood.

Don’t withdraw at the workplace.

When the opportunity knocks, don’t be a coward.

Light is worthless if it doesn’t shine.

God has chosen you and me to make a positive difference in the lives of mankind.

Jesus desires that we walk with Him, listen to Him and obey Him that we can be used by Him to bring about eternal change in the lives of others.

It is Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, living inside true Holy Spirit-filled believers Who causes us to shine brightly in a world of darkness!

We are to be salt for the world and light for the world — to the glory of God!

Let us pray.

Father, you are indeed worthy and deserving of a people who are fully committed to you and unafraid to say so. Forgive us for sometimes hiding our commitment to you in order to avoid unpleasantness from unbelievers. Help us to be unashamedly salt and light in your world, until you return with the full uncompromising brilliance of your Coming.

In Jesus’ name, we pray.



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!


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 chinesenewyear2018.com, 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.