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..

Merry Christmas to all!

Yesterday, the world celebrated Christmas Day- Christiamdom’s biggest and happiest celebration of all. Filipinos traditionally celebrate it the longest, generally starting when the calendar announced the coming of the BER month (September, October, November then finally December).  Many houses starts putting decor like Christmas Tree, Lanterns and Christmas lights as early as September. Kids starts singing Christmas carols in the street when December comes. Truly, it is such a joyous season.

It is just too bad that I am unable to attend the Christmas Eve or Christmas Day mass here in Bangkok because the English mass is too limited and the timing doesn’t match. You see, I had to work on Christmas Day because it is not considered a holiday in Thailand.

Last Christmas Eve, we trooped to one of my friends’ Condo to celebrate the day and have Noche Buena with friends. We decided to do pot-luck instead of just one or two persons cooking the food. I think it is better since we are able to taste the specialty recipe of each. I decided to share Spaghetti and Beef steak. We prepared our favorite foods like Kare-Kare, Adobo, Grilled Pork, Grilled Squid, Fried Chicken, Macaroni Salad and a secret recipe of spicy squid from one of them.

We started dinner early, around 8:30 PM then we had Karaoke and sang to our heart’s content while sharing a glass of liquor.

It was a truly enjoyable night….

When the clock ticked midnight, we greeted each other Merry Christmas and exchanged gifts then continued eating, singing, drinking and chatting..the party lasted till the wee hours of the morning.

Finally, I arrived home quarter before 6AM. After 2 hours of sleep, rushed to work. What a memorable day it really was! Surely, I missed home cos this is the 2nd year I am celebrating Christmas and New Year away from them but I was able to call them early on before the network gets busy that day so it’s good enough for now.

We haven’t finalized our New Year’s Eve plans as there are many propositions. Hopefully soon we are able to decide the right venue and activity for that day.

I am sharing the pictures of our food taken during Christmas Eve. Sorry, I had to skip our own face pictures cos it will be very evident that we eat a lot! Ha ha ha! I think I am able to post our latest pictures after the holidays when the big eating is over..LOL.

A Blessed Christmas and bountiful New Year to all. May the season bring us peace, good health and contentment. Let us not forget the reason for the season..our Lord Almighty!

Simbang Gabi, a unique Philippine Christmas Tradition.

Today, December 16 marks the start of Simbang Gabi or Mass at Dawn. This is the longest and arguably most popular Philippine tradition and held nationwide and in other places worldwide wherein a good number of Filipinos are living or working. This unique Philippine tradition traces its roots in Mexico in 1587 when the Pope granted the petition of Fray Diego de Soria to hold Christmas mass outdoors because the Church could not accommodate the huge number of people attending the evening mass. What makes Simbang Gabi a very significant tradition for Catholics is that it not only builds stronger bonds between family members because in most cases every member of the family go to mass altogether to experience the Dawn mass. Moreover, the faithful feels the presence of the Lord even stronger because it is our preparation for Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas carols are sang before, during and after the mass to celebrate this season. Everyone is in a jolly mood even though they have to wake up early so as not to be late for the mass. Many people believe that if you are able to complete the 9 days of Simbang Gabi, your wish no matter how difficult- will come true.

After mass, most of the church goer will partake various local delicacies like Puto Bumbong, Bibingka, Salabat and many others. This is a most enjoyable activity because these foods are usually served or sold during the Christmas season and very rare to be found during a normal day.

It is so fortunate for me to be able to experience Simbang Gabi even when I’m overseas. Filipinos in Bangkok are not as many as other countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Saudi or even the US but luckily the tradition of Simbang Gabi remains. What made me even luckier is that the Holy Redeemer Church which is one of the biggest Catholic Church in Bangkok (and there are not too many Catholic Churches here being a predominantly Buddhist nation) is very accessible from my place (around 5 mins. drive in the early morning). Thus, it will not be difficult for me to celebrate this tradition.

I attended the mass today with few of my friends and approximately over 90% of the church goers are Filipinos. Surprisingly, there are some westerners and I saw an Indian Family attending the mass too. After the celebration, the popular Christmas Carol “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit” (Christmas has arrived) was sung. In addition, free breakfast is served at the back of the Church sponsored by various Philippine Groups or Organizations in Thailand which is really an enjoyable sight as you get to mingle with your fellow Filipinos while enjoying a sumptuous food and a cup of hot coffee.

Indeed it is such a good feeling to at least have a share of sacrifice during this time of the year by making an effort to wake up very early to attend the mass. Moreover, it is a time to remember and Celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the reason why we are called Christians.

The start of Simbang Gabi signals a bigger celebration as part of the annual Christmas festivities.