My Five Happiest Happenings in 2015

I normally post my happiest happenings of a (solar) year on its last day, or on the first day of the New Year (2014, 2012, 2011, 2010). However, December 2015 and January 2016 were über-hectic because of my relocation, so  I’m posting this on the first day of the new lunar (actually Chinese lunisolar) year instead. My five happiest happenings in 2015, in chronological order:

1. Ninong at Four Weddings

Three FORMDEV faci  alumni got married last year – Nikko (FORMDEV Batch 8) and Chry (Batch 11) on June 28, Adz (Batch 5) and Ibe on Aug 28, and Danon (Batch 6) and Treena on December 6 –  as well as one of my PhD mentees, Tessie, and former CCS faculty member, Philip, on June 27, and I was honored to be asked to be one of their ninongs. I do my best to pray daily for them, that their marriages would grow stronger each year and last until the end of their long, God-blessed lives!

Ninong of Nikko and Chry
Ninong of Nikko and Chry
Ninong of Adz and Ibe
Ninong of Adz and Ibe
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Ninong of Danon and Treena
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Ninong of Tessie and Philip

2. A Month in Italy

18As I wrote in God’s Canvas, I love travelling in Italy, enjoying its food, language, and art. The things I especially loved during last year’s month-long trip were: the presence of Jesus in the daily Eucharist; interacting with Lasallian experts and researchers such as Br. Alain Houry and Br. Diego Munoz; attending a concert of the Vienna Philharmonic at St. Paul’s; witnessing the canonization of the parents of my favorite saint, Therese of Lisieux, at St. Peter’s; a half day at the Sistine Chapel;  a full day in Pompeii (at the ruins) and Naples (where pizza was said to have been invented); and a weekend in Milan, my favorite city, where I attended mass at my favorite Gothic cathedral, toured the 2015 EXPO, partied with overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and bought what has become my favorite pair of shoes of all time, a pair of brown leather Nero Giardini trainers!

Mass at St. Peter's
Mass at St. Peter’s
With Br. Diego and Murphy at a concert of the Vienna Philharmonic at St. Paul's
With Br. Diego and Murphy at a concert of the Vienna Philharmonic at St. Paul’s
Pompeii and Vesuvius
Pompeii and Vesuvius
At the EXPO 2015 in Milan with Neil, Sue, and Gil
At the EXPO 2015 in Milan with Neil, Sue, and Gil
Halloween Party with Charito Borras and Milan OFWs
Halloween Party with Charito Borras and Milan OFWs
My favorite pair of shoes -- Nero Giardini leather trainers
My favorite pair of shoes — Nero Giardini leather trainers

3. Receiving and Driving a Car

20151202_124658I’ve always thought that buying a car was a waste of money since it depreciates as soon as it is taken out of the casa. But when the Lord gave me in cash (Amazing! Thank you Lord!) exactly the amount of the best Toyota deal I got, how could I say no? I also never thought I’d like driving, but I do – though only when driving at high speed and listening at the same time to good retro music :-).

4. Living in Nuvali

A Strategic Architecture for DLSU STCThree years ago, after writing a 124-page strategic plan for what would become the De La Salle University – Science and Technology Complex (DLSU-STC), I was so convinced of the potential of the said campus to be the premiere Catholic S&T campus in the country and Asia, that I bought a house and lot in Nuvali, only 10 kilometers or 15 minutes, away, though I didn’t get to live in it until last December (long story). I love it here – the open spaces, the cool air, the gentle rain, and waking up to a couple of birds singing (not a cacophony). And I’m very glad that as early as my first month here, the house has been used by the Lord to minister God’s word and encouragement to several groups of people already (see photos below), all of whom the Lord is using or will soon use mightily in his Kingdom.

Something Old and Something New (The carpet's from my first condo; the painting, from my second; the sofa set and blinds are new.)
Something old and something new (The carpet’s from my first condo; the painting, from my second; the sofa set and blinds are new.)
With Dad, Mom, Penan, Ptr Jun, Sis Janet, and K2
With Dad, Mom, Penan, Pastor Jun, Sis Janet, and K2
With current and potential youth leaders
With current and potential youth leaders
With Pastor Arnold and family
With Pastor Arnold and family
With Lizette and Josh
With Lizette and Josh
With Gwen, Divine, Yet, Bing, and Mina
With Gwen, Divine, Yet, Bing, and Mina

5. Floodway 3000 (F3K)

Spiritual Fruit, Gifts, and Disciplines FrameworkI was tasked to lead a church project nicknamed F3K, short for Floodway 3000, the goal of which was to bring to Christ 3000 unchurched men and women living in an urban poor mega-community. To equip our local church to do this, I developed a framework that treats evangelism and discipling as spiritual disciplines in the same way that reading God’s word daily or praying daily are, and presents all these disciplines as simple three- or four-step processes. After an evangelistic Christmas concert last December, four unchurched teenagers started attending the youth fellowship in the afternoon, which I was called to revive just a month ago. Though few, these four  are very precious, for they are the first fruits of our labor, a promise of more to come!

Singing "For All You've Done"
At the Christmas concert, singing “For All You’ve Done”
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Telling of God’s everlasting love and wonderful plan for every person

 

I thank the Lord for all these undeserved blessings. Truly, our God is able (and willing!) to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)!

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My Top 5 Happiest Happenings in 2012

The 31st of December. As in 2010 and 2011, I revisit the top 5 happiest things that happened to me in 2012 as a way of thanking God for all good things.

1. The Great Bow

"Blessing and honor and glory and power be to the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever." (Revelation 5:14)
“Blessing and honor and glory and power be to the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.” (Revelation 5:14)

Early in 2012, soon after I began a preaching series on the Book of Revelation, I also began to worship God each morning by bowing with my face to the ground. Inspired by the manner in which the twenty-four elders in Revelation 4 and 5 constantly give glory to God (see the image on the right for an artist’s portrayal), I would, in this  position, first worship God for his infinite power and wisdom in creating the universe (Revelation 4:11), and then worship the Lord for his sacrificial love in redeeming mankind (Revelation 5:9-10). Since then, this has been, by God’s grace, the second thing I do each day. (The first thing I do is empty my bladder.)

This manner of prostration, though not commonly practiced in Protestant Christianity or Roman Catholicism, is called “zemnoy poklon” (great bow) in Eastern Orthodoxy. It is also a traditional prayer posture for the Jews (see Hayim Donin’s To Pray as  a Jew). I worship God in many ways, but I now especially and regularly love to worship the Lord in this manner.

2. DLSU-STC Strategic Architecture

Strategy Process (Sison, 2011)
Strategy Process (Sison, 2011)

The establishment of the DLSU Science & Technology Complex (DLSU-STC) at DLSU’s 50-hectare campus in Laguna is an enormously complex undertaking, especially coming after the new articulation of the DLSU vision, which is to be “a leading learner-centered research university, bridging faith and scholarship in service of society, especially the poor.” For the DLSU-STC, I developed, using a strategy process I had earlier designed in one of the courses I took under the PhD Ed program, the following: (1) three strategic intents or ambitions based on the new vision; (2) ten strategic competencies that need to be cultivated in order to achieve the strategic intents; and (3) thirty strategic methods or guidelines for developing the strategic competencies. All these make up a strategic architecture, which is a high-level blueprint for the acquisition of the competencies necessary to achieve the strategic intents.

To develop the strategic architecture I had to read countless books and papers on principles and trends involving all the major aspects of a modern university – research, teaching, community engagement; faculty, students, management, support staff, alumni, and many other external stakeholders; international rankings, income streams, the “new”” fundraising, organizational culture and structure, leadership, technology – as well as Lasallian pedagogy. I also had to conduct countless interviews and FGDs with representatives of all stakeholder groups. Never in my life have I talked with so many people and read so many books for a single output, not even for my PhD dissertations! Nevertheless, I enjoyed the whole process and am proud of the 124-page document that God’s grace has enabled me to submit to the DLSU President. This is not to say that the strategy process, which is iterative as well as recursive, is done; in fact it has only just begun!

3. Interviews with University Presidents

Fluvial Parade by Carlos "Botong" Francisco, National Artist and the Philippines' Greatest Muralist
Fluvial Parade by Carlos “Botong” Francisco, National Artist and the Philippines’ Greatest Muralist

The dissertation I am writing for the PhD in Education, major in Educational Leadership and Management, describes a grounded theory (GT) of the psychosocial process that presidents of autonomous and deregulated higher educational institutions in the country go through as they lead their institutions toward even greater heights. Glaserian GT relies heavily on constant-comparative interviews, and I have so far interviewed 16 presidents. Being the heads of the very best private universities in the Philippines, these 16 men and women had impressive CVs, of course. But I also found every single one of them to be very gracious! I therefore thoroughly enjoyed all the interviews.

Above is a photo I took of National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco’s Fluvial Parade (1961), which is in one of the universities I visited. The vibrant tropical colors symbolize for me the university presidents whom I interviewed, while the scenes and stories that the mural depicts symbolize the utter complexity of the psychosocial process that these outstanding presidents have to go through.

4. Mom and Dad’s Golden Wedding Anniversary

Mom and Dad Carrying the Sacred Vessels  (Ciborium and Cruets) on their Golden Wedding Anniversary
Mom and Dad Carrying the Sacred Vessels (Ciborium and Cruets) on their Golden Wedding Anniversary

This year marked my parents’ fiftieth year together, by God’s grace. We had a simple but joy-filled celebration, which began with the most important thing — a beautiful service of thanksgiving and renewal, which was held at the new Christ the King church atop a hill in Muzon, Taytay, Rizal. (This church’s adoration chapel is one of the biggest and most beautiful I’ve been to in the country. The adoration chapel is one of the first things I seek out when I visit a church for the first time.) After the mass, the family and extended family had a great time fellowshipping over lunch and merienda cena.

May the Lord grant Dad and Mom more years of fruit-bearing and ever-deepening purpose discovery and fulfilment in Christ!

5. FORMDEV’s 10th-Year Anniversary

Last but not the least, the FORMDEV family celebrated, by God’s grace, its 10th-year anniversary this year. I’ve already written a two-part blog on this so there’s no need for me to repeat here what I said there other than to say how very, very thankful I am to the Lord for FORMDEV.

With FORMDEV Facis,  celebrating 10 years of God's love and power.
With FORMDEV Facis, Celebrating 10 Years of God’s Love and Power Working in Us and Through Us

Thank God for my families — my natural family as well as my spiritual families (my church and FORMDEV) — and friends!

With Mom and Dad, Penan (my brother) and Tetet (my sister-in-law), nephews, nieces, uncle, aunt, and cousins. On my lap is my beloved niece, Téa-pooh. :-)
With Dad, Mom, Penan (brother) and Tetet (sister-in-law), Nephews, Nieces, Uncle, Aunt, and Cousins. On my lap is my beloved niece, Téa-pooh.
Celebrating my Birthday with Dad, Mom, Pastor Jun and Sis Janet
Celebrating my Birthday with Mom, Dad, Pastor Jun, and Sis Janet
Carlo and I arrived were the last to arrive at our DLSU Batch's reunion, but we both won prizes! In front of me are Donna and Jennie, who have been generously supporting the studies of a couple of youth at my church.
Carlo and I were the last to arrive at our DLSU Batch’s Silver Anniversary, but we both won prizes! In front of me are Donna and Jennie, angels who have been generously supporting the studies of a couple of youth at my church.
Serving as Godfather to Rem and B-Ane at their Wedding. (B-Ane is my pastor's only daughter. I was also a godfather at his only son JD's wedding.)
Serving as Godfather to Rem and B-Ane at their Wedding. (B-Ane is my pastor’s only daughter. I was also a godfather at his only son JD’s wedding.)

I thank God for a wonderful 2012, filled with so much joy (and several anniversaries), by God’s grace!

A blessed New Year (2013) in Christ!

“See I have given you this land. Go and take possession of [it].” (Deuteronomy 1:8)

Br. Ricardo Laguda, FSC, 22nd DLSU President

Yesterday, Br. Ricardo Laguda, FSC, was installed as the 22nd President and 4th Chancellor of De La Salle University.

Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle leading the Investiture Mass for Br. Ricardo Laguda, FSC

My favorite Catholic prelate and priest, Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, led the celebration of the investiture mass. Wearing red vestments in honor of the Feast of the Cross, Archbishop Tagle first expounded on Jesus’ death on the cross: a death taken up in obedience to the Father out of love for the Father, and in solidarity with mankind out of love for mankind (I’m paraphrasing here). He then blessed Br. Ricky saying, “May you be crucified (eliciting chuckles from the audience)…, may you have the power and wisdom to love (God and the DLSU community)”. He ended by welcoming Br. Ricky “to calvary,” i.e., to a calvary of love.

Br. Ricardo Laguda, FSC, 22nd DLSU President, with the University Fellows and Nobel Laureate Richard Heck

In his speech, Br. Ricky talked about the accomplishments and challenges of DLSU. He then shared his dream not only of a leading research university that bridges faith and scholarship in service of society, especially the poor (i.e., the new DLSU vision), but of a community of learners and scholars striving to live the Lasallian values (of faith, zeal for service, and communion in mission). He ended by inviting everyone to the calvary that such a dream entails, thereby eliciting everyone’s laughter and approval.

With Br. Ricky Laguda, one of my favorite profs at DLSU. May his sanctity rub off on me!

Together with all who have associated themselves, formally or informally, with the De La Salle Brothers in their mission, I have been on the Lasallian road to calvary for some time now. And I look  forward to continuing the journey, this time under the leadership of Br. Ricky Laguda, one of my favorite profs at DLSU. May his sanctity rub off on me! 🙂

(Many thanks to Andrew Pamorada, FORMDEV Faci  Batch  8, for the photos.)

Gawad Br. Cecilio Hojilla, FSC

Soon after our FORMDEV Bible study ended this evening, as I was leaving the faculty room, I met the Dean who was in a nice Filipiniana attire. When I asked her about the function that she attended, and she said it was the Gawad Lasalyano night, I was so shocked…

I was supposed to be there to receive the Gawad Br. Cecilio Hojilla Award for Outstanding Lasallian Mission Partners.  This was the first time that the award was given.

When I received the letter informing me of the award almost a month ago, I wrote the organizer back:

“I am very happy to accept this award, especially because it bears the name of FORMDEV’s most beloved brother, Br. Ceci, whose love I will never forget, and whose ministry of connection and affirmation enabled me and the FORMDEV community to become who we are today.

May I bring with me a couple of FORMDEV facis, especially those who have served with me for a long time? This award is theirs as well, and I would like to dedicate this award to them and FORMDEV.”

I am so very sorry to have missed this opportunity to honor Br. Ceci and to dedicate the award to the FORMDEV facis. I thought it was tomorrow, Friday. And so, doing what I normally do every Thursday evening, I was with the FORMDEV facis studying God’s Word and fellowshipping with them, totally oblivious of the awarding ceremonies happening at the same time.

Now that I think about it though, I believe that this is what Br. Ceci would say:

“My friend, you honor me by being with these young Lasallians, whom we dearly love.”

May this boo-boo remind me to remain faithful to the work that we started, by God’s grace, more than a decade ago.

We love you, Br. Ceci.

And FORMDEV facis, this award is for you. YOU are De La Salle’s Outstanding Mission Partners. God bless you!

(Thanks to Gwen Centeno and Joseph Añonuevo for the photo.)

FORMDEV’s 10th Year Anniversary – Part 2

In Part 1, I mentioned that it gave me great joy to see facis from all the FORMDEV Batches (1-11) come together!

Here are some photos of the facis grouped according to their batch.

Below are facis from Batches 1-5, together with faculty facis. From left to right: Pre Torres (Batch 5), JayR Tuason (Batch 5), Stef Ulit (Faculty Faci, Batch 10), Joel Ilao (Facutly Faci, Batch 6), me (Faculty Faci, Batch 1), Pogz Ortile (Batch 4), Gucci Gutierrez (Batch 4), Franco Mesina (Batch 3), Bing Ruiz (Staff, Batch 1), and Gwen Centeno (Staff Faci, Batch 4). I think all of us looked quite good in this photo! 🙂

Below are facis from Batches 4-8. Standing from left to right: Pogz Ortile (Batch 4), Lon Marcelo (Batch 6), Gucci Gutierrez (Batch 4), Adz Villaluna (Batch 5), Patrick Marquez (Batch 7), JayR Tuason (Batch 5), me (Batch 1), Nikko Reyes (Batch 8), and Milts Caluya (Batch 5). Seated from left to right: Carlo Fajardo (Batch 6), Larisse Tapel (Batch 8), Jas Siy (Batch 6), Alvin Garcia (Batch 6), Stef Lucila (Batch 8), and Francis Lai (Faculty Faci, B atch 6).

Below, with Batch 6 facis, “compressed” pose. The guys, from left to right: Francis Lai, Jao Zafra, Lon Marcelo, me, Carlo Fajardo, Paul Chua, and Calvin Po. The girls: Ces Santiago and Jas Siy. (Jen Ong was also with us but had to leave early.)

Below, Batch 7 facis, wacky pose. From left to right: Eddie Santillan, Ryan Dimaunahan (toward the back), Rigor Mendoza, Nicole Inciso (who courageously came despite her not feeling well), me, Walton Go, and Patrick Marquez.

Below, with Batch 8 facis. On the stage, from left to right: Lexis Boac, Brian Tan, AC Miranda, me, Nikko Reyes, MC Miranda, and Andrew Pamorada. Below the stage, from left to right: Ian Veto, Jara Alonzo, Joanne Co, Larisse Tapel, Alvin Garcia, Janine Trogo, Joenard Abelarde, Sandie Roa, and Gena Esperanza. (Andrea Albaña was also with us but had to leave early.)

Below, with Batch 9 facis, wacky (except for me). From left to right: Mike Lu (wearing a vintage FORMDEV shirt), Josh Lachica, Zel Teng, me, Gemi Ablaza, Jacats Catan, Jar Quinto, and Mikey Ylaya.

Below, with Batch 10 facis, wacky. On the stage, from left to right: Kyla Iglesia, Tiano Magdaong, Den Abad (hardly seen), Reggy Rañoa, Sherlo Cantos, me, Ion de Jesus (toward the front), Carlo Aragoncillo (toward the back), Pat Lim, Michael Boñon, Chai Musni, and Jannah del Barrio. Below the stage: Sheng dela Cruz, Mary Yeung, Danjo Jacinto, Raus Ablaza, and posing quite wackily in front, Jann Garcia.

Below, with the latest batch, Batch 11. The guys on the stage, from left to right: Kevin Panuelos, Raven Ching, me, Eric Marquez, Darwin Magat, and Josh Avecilla. The girls onstage: Celine Villafuerte, Berna Cagampan, Czarnin Villafuerte, Joyce Wang, and Jema Banogon. Below the stage: Erika Magpayo (wearing the FORMDEV Anniversary shirt), Edmon Cua, Trish Eugenio (in red), Joy Mahinay, Mica Tiu, Kyrstyn Iy, and Mikko Arlanza.

Thank God for a joy-filled 10th Year Anniversary Celebration!

God bless FORMDEV!

Thanks to Andrew Pamorada (Batch 8) for the photos.

FORMDEV’s 10th Year Anniversary – Part 1

Last Saturday was a day of great JOY for the FORMDEV community as we celebrated our 10th Year Anniversary!*

It was for me a JOY-filled celebration 🙂 for many reasons.

First, it gave me great joy to lead the facis in thanking the Lord for the superabundant grace (unmerited favor) he has granted the FORMDEV community all these years!

Second, it gave me great joy to see facis from all the FORMDEV Batches (1-11) come together! We’ve had Christmas reunions since Batch 6 started the tradition in December 2008, but last Saturday was the first time that all the batches were represented! (The only drawback of a large reunion is that there is not enough time to spend with everyone, which is why I look forward to weekend retreats with different alumni batches, as Pre Torres of Batch 5 suggested and volunteered to organize. Thanks, Pre!)

Third, it gave me great joy to hear the former and current Student Heads deliver the opening and closing prayers and remarks. I cannot overemphasize the very crucial role that the FORMDEV Student Heads (SH) have played ever since the number of student facis exceeded that of faculty and staff facis in AY 2003-2004, and I am very, very proud of every single one of them. [Below, next to me from left to right: Franco Mesina (1st Student Head), Gucci Gutierrez (2nd and longest serving Student Head), Eddie Santillan (4th Student Head), Ryan Dimaunahan (5th Student Head), and MC Miranda (6th and current Student Head).]

Fourth,  it gave me great joy to see facis ― whether student, faculty, staff, or alumni ― working and praying together to make the anniversary celebration a success. Thanks, everyone! Special thanks to Rachel Roxas (Batch 2, who is the current CCS Dean), Bing Ruiz (Batch 1, who is secretary of the Dean), and Franco Mesina (Batch 3 and former Student Head) for the poignant opening remarks; to Gwen Centeno (Batch 4, who is secretary of the Vice-Dean) and Gucci Gutierrez (Batch 4 and former Student Head) for the uplifting closing remarks; and to MC Miranda (Batch 8 and current Student Head) and Ryan Dimaunahan (Batch 7 and former Student Head) for the beautiful opening and closing prayers, respectively. Thanks, too, to Tiano Magdaong (Batch 10) for emceeing, and to Den Abad (Batch 10) and his team for leading the P&W session and singing the mass songs. Thanks also to Rhia Trogo (Batch 4) and JayR Tuason (Batch 5) for serving as impromptu commentator and server, respectively, during the thanksgiving mass celebrated by Fr. Joddy Turnip from Indonesia. Thanks also to LSPO’s Gina Cejuela, without whom we wouldn’t have had our thanksgiving mass. Thanks also to Aurel dela Cruz, DLSU’s AVC for Campus Development, for making it easy for the FORMDEV alumni to enter the campus and join the celebration.

Thanks also to the FORMDEV anniversary committees, headed by Nikko Reyes (Shirt and Video), Danjo  Jacinto (Invitation and Registration), Paolo Gervacio (Memory Walk), Pat Lim (Decoration), and Sherlo Cantos (Activities), for their excellent preparations! Thanks also to Andrew Pamorada and Brian Tan (Batch 8) for taking great photos. Special thanks to Eric Marquez for the beautiful 10th-Year Anniversary logo.

Finally, very special thanks to Br. Michael Broughton, FSC and Br. Rey Mejias, FSC for their heart-warming video messages, and to Br. Ceci Hojilla, FSC (1944-2009) for his prayers in heaven and for the FORMDEV blog post he graciously left behind as a reminder of his undying love and support.

A few days prior to the anniversary, I asked the FORMDEV facis to email the Student Head their answers to the following two questions:

  1. Describe in a few sentences your overall experience as a FORMDEV facilitator.
  2. What has been the greatest impact of FORMDEV on your life?

Here’s a slightly modified version of what I sent the Student Head:

If I were to pick only one word to describe my overall experience as a FORMDEV facilitator, it would be JOY. My ministry in FORMDEV is, first of all, to the FORMDEV leaders, especially the Formation (Bible study) leaders, then to the FORMDEV facilitators, and finally to the FORMDEV students, and serving them through the gifts and by the power of the Holy Spirit has, by God’s grace, given me so much joy: the joy, firstly, of obeying God’s will; secondly, the joy of seeing lives transformed; and thirdly, the joy of receiving “bonuses” in the form of simple words or gestures of appreciation, and unexpected yet overwhelming blessings.

FORMDEV is one of my spiritual families. Like any spiritual family/community, it is therefore here where I experience fellowship and corporate worship, and where I use my spiritual gifts in ministry. But due to the special mission and vision of FORMDEV, it is through and with FORMDEV that I am most effective in using my spiritual gifts for evangelism (or what Rick Warren calls mission). The greatest impact, therefore, of FORMDEV on my life is that it has enabled me to bear both types of spiritual fruit described in Galatians 5:22-23 (the character of Christ) and John 4:36+15:8 (persons who come to Christ). Without FORMDEV, which is a special gift of the Holy Spirit to CCS and DLSU, it would be impossible for me to bear spiritual fruit to the degree that I have (though that degree is still quite small), for the glory of God.

The FORMDEV community will face new challenges as it branches out to the envisioned DLSU S&T Complex in DLSU’s 50-hectare campus in Laguna, where I will be moving to in AY 2013-2014, and where the FORMDEV course will be integrated into the curricula of all the degree programs. But I know that as we face these new challenges for Christ, we will receive even greater grace (unmerited favor) from our Lord.

May everyone in the FORMDEV family remain spiritually and physically strong in Christ Jesus until we open our Time Box during our Silver Anniversary Celebration in AY 2026-2027!

* Actually, though this academic year marks our 10th year of offering the FORMDEV course to students of the College of Computer Studies, the FORMDEV community is already 11 years old, having been established a full year before the course was first offered. However, circumstances led us to celebrate FORMDEV’s anniversary this AY 2011-2012, the hundredth year of Lasallian presence in the Philippines.

Celebrations with families and friends

In my Top 5 Happiest Happenings in 2011, I wrote as the fifth item “Celebrations with families and friends.” Who, exactly, are these “families” and friends?

1. My natural family

I always look forward to Sunday afternoons, when I get to joyfully celebrate with my dad, mom, younger brother, sister-in-law, nephews, and niece, the amazing grace and steadfast love of our Lord! 😀

Celebrating the New Year with Dad, Mom, Penan, Tetet, Karl, Paolo, Joshua, and Téa; and Cousins Mau, Tess, and Charm, and their families.

2. FORMDEV

FORMDEV is one of my four spiritual families. There are around 60 student facis, around 200 alumni facis, and around 15 faculty facis in the FORMDEV family, many of whom are my spiritual children (in the sense that the Holy Spirit chose me, undeserving man that I am, to lead them to Christ). I especially look forward to FORMDEV’s 10th year anniversary celebration — Praise God! — which we’re planning to hold sometime in April, before the DLSU centennial year closes in May.

Post-Christmas party with FORMDEV alumni and student facis. May we all remain faithful ambassadors of Christ in the workplace and at school. Thanks to Nikko Reyes for the photo.

3. My local church

I’m so proud of being a member of this beautiful church (where by “church” I don’t mean the edifice but the people who make up the church), which is situated right in the middle of a huge urban poor settlement. I’m proud of the pastor and leaders, who, by God’s grace, have faithfully and zealously obeyed God’s call to love, and of the members, whose slow but sure rise from poverty of many kinds, as a result of faith in and obedience to God, is a miracle that I witness every Sunday morning!

With Pastor Jun and some of the leaders of the church, after a powerfully symbolic and Spirit-led worship service on 1st Jan 2012. Thanks to Tony Pacadar for the photo.

4. My spiritual parents

Always in my prayers are Pastors Shinji and Kayoko Kimura, my spiritual parents, in whom I saw Christ’s agape love for the first time. I was so happy to hear from Pastor Shinji last Christmas of how, by God’s grace, he recently facilitated the visit to Japan of around 20 Youth with a Mission (YWAM) young missionaries from various countries. Alas, my last visit to Japan was in 2005. I hope to visit them again when I take my sabbatical.

A very old picture. I’m not fond of taking pictures, and if it were not for my blogs (which I only began to write in 2010), I still wouldn’t be taking any. This is with Pastor Shinji and his youngest, Ilie, in front of Mt. Fuji, when I was still a PhD (Computer Science) student in Japan.

5. My accountability partners

Also always in my prayers are Pastor Arnold, my accountability partner, and his wife, Sister Mina. There are certain habitual sins (spiritual strongholds) that can only be overcome with the help of an accountability and prayer partner. May everyone have such a gift from God.

With Pastor Arnold and Sister Mina in what has become our favorite Chinese resto chain – David’s Teahouse – since our Baguio trip last May.

6. Special groups of friends

a. My best friends

All but one of my best friends who are not pastors are citizens of other countries (one is a citizen of Canada; another, of the U.S.; another, of Australia and the U.K.; and another of South Africa). Though it saddens me to think that the only one who is based in the Philippines is going to Canada soon 😦 I am buoyed by the fact that our friendships have, by God’s grace, stood the test of distance as well as time.

Celebrating Christmas with favorite high school math and science teachers, Ms. Cordero and Ms. Jarumayan, best friend Carlo, based in New Jersey, and very good friend, Tookie.

b. The Gorettis

We served as deans of DLSU at around the same time and I can’t believe that we have remained friends after more than a decade. All of us have retired from DLSU administration but we’ve amazingly been able to meet up every trimester for fellowship. How we got to be named the Gorettis is a long story. 🙂

An old picture. Unfortunately, we forgot to take pictures when we had lunch last December. According to my camera (which has date issues), this one was taken last October.

c. My PhD (Education) classmates

Studying to obtain a PhD is tough. Doing so when one is already old and with many children (some even with grandchildren) is a lot tougher. So I’m proud of my classmates for having finished our coursework! Now, after two years, “all” that remain are the written comps and the dissertation. By God’s grace, may we finish all these before the academic year ends!

Celebrating the end of our coursework over buffet breakfast overlooking Taal lake, with Sr. Joy Luz, our last prof. Thanks to Jenny Banal for the photo.

I’ve got several other groups of very good friends, but we were not able to meet up during the holiday season. Nevertheless, I will add our photos here when we’re finally able to celebrate the new year together.

Thank God for families and friends!!! 🙂 It is because of God’s love and theirs that I am able to fulfill the purpose of my life!