A Note to God…


Note from the author: This post is not inspired by Charice Pempengco’s song with the same title. My inspiration for this post is God.

For more than a month now, my family and I are in extreme stress because of my Dad’s ailment. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer 2 years ago.  He was in perfect shape before that (except for some occasional muscle cramps as he still loves to play Basketball and regular jogging with my mom to maintain healthy level of blood pressure). Suddenly, there was blood in his urine and finds it difficult to pee. He was admitted to the hospital and tests were made. Then they found a tumor in his bladder. It was eventually removed and comes the dreaded result of the biopsy. The tumor is malignant.

The family consulted several doctors about his case and some doctors recommended to have the bladder removed so the cancer will not spread out. However, my Dad do not want this idea because it will be very uncomfortable not having your bladder and only an artificial urine bag working for you. They went to a Doctor specializing in an alternative form of treating cancer, that is through Detoxification. There were so many foods that were prohibited that are cancer causing. He has to eat only organic foods and strictly no oil or salt in his diet.

First few months saw a sudden drop in his weight due to change in diet and lifestyle but we think it is working quite fine. The treatment and food ingredients (organic products) are very costly though. At certain point my Dad started to complain and misses the “normal food” so we obliged.

Unfortunately after almost 2 years when the tumor was removed it recurred and was detected last July. An immediate operation took place but sadly, part of the tumor cannot be removed cos the root is deep and the only way to take out the tumor completely and avoid spreading to other organs is to remove the bladder by surgery.

We had to agree it is the best move though it may be hard for my Dad. He actually do not want to have the operation because he knows it will be very costly and also because it’s back to back operation and he still yet recovered from the first one. In addition, his lifestyle will be changed from now on.

I am not ashamed to admit we are not a rich family. We are just a normal middle-class family who are living comfortably but not extravagant. Since my Dad retired from Government service more than 5 years ago, they only rely on his monthly pension as well as support from their children including me. After serious discussions and convincing, the operation was arranged.

Another challenge has come up before the actual operation. The hospital said we had to prepare at least 5 bags of blood from donors because it is the number of bags they expect to be used for the operation. Though there is a blood bank, we have to replace the blood. It was such a rush considering we learned about it only a day before the operation. We asked relatives and friends for help and even posted in Facebook. There were several kind-hearted volunteers but the hospital is quite strict in the selection of donors so many were rejected. Though they give a word that we can replace the blood later even after the operation so we were a bit relieved. Fortunately, only 2 bags of blood were used in the operation and we managed to get it from supportive friends.

The operation was successful thanks to the able hands of the Doctor and the medical team. He stayed in the hospital for 1 more week after the operation. My dad had a post operation trauma and he had nightmares so he don’t want to sleep for fear he will not wake up again. It is really stressful and the family had to endure it especially my Mom who was with my Dad all throughout. We had to assure him that he should not worry because the critical stage already passed and he must only think of recuperating.

As the days passed, the hospital bill is going up and so is my Dad’s blood pressure and blood sugar. Since he can’t eat anything including his medicines, it was higher than normal so they had to inject him some insulin to stabilize it. These added to the bill. Me and my siblings had to raise the money quickly cos the doctor already said he can go out in few days. Considering there was a previous operation done not over 1 month ago, it was really a tough time in terms of our finances.

Though it is really challenigng, I realized we have many relatives and friends who tried to help in every way they can either through some monetary help or a message of support through SMS, Facebook, e-mail, etc. We are really loved.

Moreover, it also proved that our family is stronger and despite the problems we are holding on to each other.

Importantly, I know God is with us and He remained faithful to my Family.

We had been very stressed but fervent prayers made us whole. God is with my Dad during the critical times and now as he tries to fully recover. God is with my Mom and continuously giving her strength and good health. God is with me and my siblings and giving us wisdom to support our parents in these trying times.

We pray very hard and everything is just falling into the right place. God’s hands is really on the works.

Before I retire to bed every night just after praying, I make it a point to listen to various Christian songs before I eventually doze off. There is this line in one of my favorite song “My Desire” by Jeremy Camp wherein every time I listen to it, I can’t help but be teary eyed and really feel humbled by God’s extreme sacrifice for us.

The line goes, “there’s not much I can do to repay all you’ve done so I give my hands to use”.

Truly there is really nothing much we can do to repay God. That’s why I am writing this note to express my sincerest love and thanks to Father God. It’s one way of bringing something back even how small it is to HIM.

I am so blessed. My family is so blessed. Thank you Lord. Thank you Jesus..

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A Letter of Apology from a Filipino teenager about the hostage tragedy…

By now most of the world has heard about the very tragic incident that happened in Manila on the fateful day of August 23, 2010 when a busload of Hong Kong tourist was hijacked by a former Police Officer by the name of Rolando Mendoza. The 11 hour hostage tragedy claimed the lives of 8 persons including the gunman himself.

Emotions have been high since Monday and social networks like Facebook and Twitter are abuzz with posts and comments from various regions of the world giving prayers and message of sympathy as well as condemnation of the incident. Sadly, there were harsh comments like Filipinos being tagged as Monkeys which is unfair and totally uncalled for as well as the Government and Police force as inefficient, incompetent sitting ducks.

Many had already been said. I would also like to share my piece about this tragic event….

Personally I condemn the violence and feel very sorry for the loss of lives as well as the trauma brought about by the incident to the survivors and I understand the high emotions. Like many, I also do not approve of how the incident was handled by authorities . It could have been better and no innocent lives lost. The media should also be more responsible in their news reporting.

The ruthless act of 1 person doesn’t mean the whole country is rotten. Filipinos are generally loving and God-fearing. Many Filipinos working abroad have helped and continuously helping a lot of people, companies and organizations in many ways. We are also helping our families.  I really hope this single unfortunate incident will not wipe out all the good things we’ve done in the past and striving to do in the present and that no harsh repercussions to any Overseas Filipino Workers because of the incidents. These fellows are just trying to earn a decent living and has nothing to do with the ruthless act of the gunman as well as inequities of some authorities.

I would like to share in my blog a letter from a Filipino teenager by the name Reigno Jose Dilao making an apology for what has happened. Some people actually do not approve of his letter because they say there is no reason to apologize. But being a compassionate Christian, I also feel we should be sorry for the loss of lives.

As the bodies of the people who died are now flown to Hong Kong and most of the survivors have gone home as well, it is time to show affection and compassion to the families who are grieving and together with it, a prayer that the said incident will not happen again in the Philippines or anywhere else in the world.

Full text of Reigno’s letter here.

Manila Hostage Crisis

Many of us has seen in the news or YouTube the very tense and tiring hostage crisis of a busload of Hong Kong Tourists in Manila today. The real life drama took 11 hours and several lives including innocent tourists and the hostage-taker, former Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza.

According to GMA news website, the 55 year old Mendoza was one of the five officers charged with robbery, extortion and grave threats after they allegedly accused a chef of the Manila Hotel of using drugs to extort money in 2008.

He was armed with an M16 rifle during the hostage-taking.

The Hong Tai Bus is reportedly carrying about 25 persons mostly Hong Kong Tourists when he seized it around 9:30 am local time. He demanded to be reinstated from his job.

The authorities tried negotiating with the hostage taker and the brother, SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza has been talking to Rolando and relaying his demands to the negotiators. The hostage-taker also tried writing his demands in paper and posting it on the bus’ windows.

However, the situation escalated when the gunman opened fire to tourists inside the bus. Some people claimed that it is because Rolando saw in TV about the “forced” arrest of his brother Gregorio as an alleged accessory to the crime while the hostage drama is taking place.

Latest news said 8 people died including Rolando.

I have seen the video footage and the incident is quite alarming. On a supposedly busy early morning, wherein the city is just starting to have life, a tourist bus was hijacked. Innocent tourists’ life including children were at stake.

We’ve seen news before about a man entering a school in China and killing several children or a man taking control of a building in America killing more than a dozen people. The world is no longer safe.

What is more disturbing is the fact that what happened in Manila today is isolated but has created a very big impact.  I can’t blame the man for trying to let the authorities hear his voice. But the way it was done is certainly not acceptable. I’ve never heard of such incident wherein the gunmen deliberately target a lot of innocent tourists. I’ve read in Facebook about comments like “Desperate times would make you do desperate actions”. Still not a good enough reason to take someone else’s life in our own hands as what has been inculcated in our minds since we were young if we really value our Christian beliefs.

The Philippines has been struggling to lure tourists to the country what with numerous reports of kidnapping of foreign missionaries or abduction of wealthy businessmen. We people working in the travel industry really work hard to bring tourists to the country. Tourism brings jobs and wealth to a country’s economy. However, tourism is always the first to be affected whenever security or safety is compromised.

The Security Bureau of Hong Kong has blacklisted the Philippines and declared a total travel ban to the country following the incident. We definitely cannot blame them especially since several of their citizens were killed.

This is a very challenging time for the Government. There must really be a drastic move to eliminate corruption, red tape and abuse of power in all Government agencies especially in the police or military ranks as they swore to serve and protect the country and the people.

It is just saddening the way Rolando Mendoza’s (a former awardee of Ten Outstanding Policemen of the Philippines) life and several others ended.

I join the people of Hong Kong as well as fellow Filipinos in praying for the eternal peace and salvation of those who died and also praying for full recovery and healing of memories of those who survived this tragic incident. We fervently pray for God’s grace and protection so that this dark moment will never happen again.

Goldilocks Bakeshop now in Bangkok!

The Philippines’ favorite Bakeshop, Goldilocks is now in Bangkok. News said there will be several branches in Bangkok but yesterday I was trying to locate the one in MBK Centre but even as I go through all the floors, it wasn’t there. It may be open soon.

However, today I was lucky enough to find a branch in Siam Square in a newly opened mall called Siamkit Building (earlier thought the building name is Benjakiti) just in front of Novotel Hotel at Siam Square.

I was able to take picture of the mall but not the frontage of Goldilocks cos I was kinda shy to take pictures up close..hahaha. I’ll try to take picture soon if I am with my friends.

The location of the shop is very good, in the Ground Floor, the first store beside the entrance and opposite Starbucks.

I really took my time to look for the place because as a Filipino, I am proud to see the Philippine brand in a foreign country. In addition, I am missing the bakery products of Goldilocks specifically the Mamon, Puto and brownies. Unfortunately, there is no Puto in the product line yet.

When I entered the store, the 4 tables of the bakeshop are full of Thai families which is a good start for the newly opened store (I think they opened only beginning of this month). Some spaces of the mall hasn’t opened yet.

They have opening promotion as follows:

Free 1 pc classic polvoron for a minimum purchase of 100 baht
Free 4 pcs classic polvoron for a minimum purchase of 300 baht
Free 1 package (10 pcs) classic polvoron for a minimum purchase of 500 baht.

However, I was lucky enough to be given 4 pcs of classic polvoron even if I only purchased around 200 baht of products. Maybe because I smiled at the crew members.  Ha ha ha!

I believe Goldilocks will be popular in Bangkok because Thais love bakery products and sweets including cakes. With the very lovely cake designs they make which is incomparable with existing cakes being sold in normal bakeshops here, I’m sure people will troop to the stores soon.

Hope Jollibee and Chowking will be here too sooner than later. 🙂

Update (as of March 14, 2011): I saw the complete list of Goldilocks branches in Bangkok from Ensogo.com. Last week, Goldilocks had a promotion in this website (around 50% disc. for bakery items if you buy vouchers via Ensogo).

– 1st floor Siamkit building, Siam Square, opposite to Novotel Hotel Tel. 02-250-7560
– Ground floor Chamchuri Square Tel. 081-733-3102
– Ground floor Column Tower Soi Sukhumvit 16 Tel. 02-258-2262
– Ground floor IT Square, Laksi Tel. 084-710-8282
– Chidlom BTS Station Tel. 081-733-3270

An intoxicating weekend…

This weekend has been great if not intoxicating so to speak. I used the word intoxicating but not meant on a negative way. Intoxicating in the sense that me and fellow Filipinos and some foreigner friends enjoyed good food, countless Karaoke songs, long and interesting stories and of course some hearty laugh.

It has been quite a long time that I joined some get-together in a friend’s house because many of us became quite busy and some of the people in our group either moved back home, went to other places or working in some provinces of Thailand.

We planned this party as a sort of house warming/despedida (Bon Voyage party) for one of our friends. Since they are a fan of my Kiko’s Kitchen food blog, they asked me to cook which I gladly obliged.

For the party, we decided to prepare favorite foods that we missed a lot. Later on, we realized all the foods that we selected are very complicated to prepare. We selected Pancit Palabok, Dinuguan and Lumpiang Shanghai. The easiest  dish in our menu is Kinilaw na Talaba (Oyster).

Me, the host and another friend troop to the local market to buy fresh ingredients. I am not a fan of the local markets here because I am worried that since I don’t speak really good Thai, I might find it hard to buy. But actually it’s not because you don’t need to talk much..just point at what you want to buy and ask how much is it (Tao rai krub?) Basically I already know the numbers in Thai so I can easily know the price of the item and also it helps that many of the products have their “price tags’ displayed.

We went to the market in the afternoon so naturally there was no pig’s blood available. We actually had our plan B menu just in case we are unable to buy the pig’s blood.

In the market, we saw fresh squids and since all of us love Adobong Pusit, we bought some extra (Squid is also part of the Pancit Palabok ingredients) for our dinner. We headed back home and eat dinner.

We started preparing the ingredients like cutting, marinading, boiling, etc around 9pm. There were only 2 stoves running and with lots of things to do, we finished our Mis en place at around 2:30 am and went to sleep.

The alarm clock rang around 7 am. We had to wake up early so we can buy the Pig’s blood in the market. Without having breakfast or coffee yet, we headed to our destination. Fortunately, we were able to find our “precious” ingredient– the pig’s blood.

As soon as we arrived home, the 3 of us busied ourselves in the preparation. I started cooking the Pancit Palabok sauce, while the other two are busy wrapping Lumpiang Shanghai. After cooking the Palabok sauce, I then prepared the Dinuguan.

I’ve never tried cooking this dish before though it is one of my favorite dish. I would see my mom cooking it and since I know how it tastes, I just copied her procedure and cooked it. Fortunately, it tastes like Dinuguan and not something else..  🙂

Since we advertised in Facebook that it was a lunch party, guests arrived on time. Luckily we had just finished cooking all the dishes and already starting to prepare the table when they arrived.

It was a small and intimate party among friends totaling to just 8 guests (including 3 foreigners). The foreigners were brave enough to try the Dinuguan even though many would find it quite disgusting from the color of the dish alone (looks like mud) and more so if they learned that it is made of Pig’s blood. Surprisingly however, they enjoyed Filipino foods.

It is very nice to hear your friends enjoying the food and giving praises on how delicious it is. Many of them had 2-3 servings which is actually a feast!

We plan to make our get-together cum pot luck  a regular habit (at least once a month). As early as now, we are looking forward to it and are already thinking what foods to prepare next time. Hope it is the easy ones. 😛